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images“You Don’t Need to Meditate” is the title of a blog post J. Brown wrote last month.  It’s a provocative premise to throw out into the yoga community and the comments on it reflected that.  J. and I both have Mark Whitwell as a teacher. That doesn’t mean we have the same experience of Yoga but it does mean we share principles of practice and trust the experience that arises from their application.  So I thought J.’s post would be a good place to jump off of to share my understanding.

Here’s what I know: meditation isn’t something that can be done; it’s something that happens when the conditions are right. Meditation is the gift/siddhi we get when we immerse our mind in the intelligence that moves our body and breath. Meditation is not to become “conscious” because consciousness is what we already are and is something that is impossible for the mind to contain.  If we try never- the- less, consciousness’ free flow becomes restricted.  This happens when we aim to witness our experience, constructing an “other” that we can then observe. However, when we move fully into our experience, the boundaries we set up between ourselves and the rest of the world become irrelevant in the face of our essential limitlessness. This unfettered energy that is our life is the creative power of the Feminine.  When I gave birth, it became clear to me that there was no difference between me and what was moving through me, utter strength realized in utter openness. I was the receiver and the giver of life, both.  All of us, male and female, woman and child, are this source and force.  Trying to separate from ourselves in order to become “aware” is a brutal act of disintegration and our integrity is lost in the violence of it.

Mark says that it is not enlightenment that any of us really want but intimacy.  Intimacy is enlightenment though, not in the heroic ideal of being outside of experience, but in the real meaning of being at one with everything, even with what is unloved, our fear and dread, our sense of unworthiness and our shame.  Intimacy honours darkness and the wisdom found when words fail and even the idea of love loses its meaning. Still, intimacy remains. It is our natural state, what Yoga calls sahaj samadhi. We give birth in it; we are born in it and we die back into it. Intimacy is love divested of the mind’s parameters. This love is what Yoga practice is meant to offer us, not unending bliss but a heart that is whole. Pain is a “given”, necessary for our security and growth. Imagining that we can live apart from pain, and not cause harm in the process, is craziness and yet this idea is at the root of all transcendent philosophy, to which conventional yoga belongs. Recognition of the sacredness of our simple existence is essential to our sanity and the preservation of our humanity. Spirit isn’t absent from blood and bone and the fire that burns in the deep of the earth.

The challenge for all spiritual traditions now, including Yoga, is to let go of the dream of enlightenment and fully embrace our lives and each other. This means embracing the Feminine. I read yesterday here that for the first time in history Tibetan Buddhist nuns are being allowed to write exams that will grant them the title of “Geshe” and give them full access to the teaching monks have always received, which includes “ethics in their entirety”. As if ethical action can exist when we stand removed from others and deny their equal worth! I didn’t realize that the nuns have continued to be so overtly oppressed. They “have to obey the monks, can’t give them advice, and even the most senior nun still has to take a lower seat than the greenest rookie monk.” This is in a tradition that has at its root the knowledge that perfection is the nature of all things and that meditation is effortlessly present when we come into Yoga. That knowledge though, has been obscured in the misogyny of Tibetan culture.

A similar obscuration of wisdom took place in India. Krishnamacharya did what he could to restore the Feminine to its essential place in Yoga practice. Technically, he understood that it is in the union of polarities that life moves. But he didn’t realize the full implications of this, that love and its clarity is our natural state. His former student and lifelong friend, U.G. Krishnamurti, did and explained that Yoga practice is only useful, if it is an expression of our innate power. Krishnamacharya admitted to U.G. that he had no experience of what he had realized, a complete surrender of the mind to life. I think it’s vital that our idea of Yoga includes U.G.’s understanding, otherwise we are functioning within the limits of a hundred year old Brahmin’s worldview. He had a brilliant mind but it never let go its grip on him.

In the pervasive denial of the Feminine that still exists in Yoga, meditation as an escape from ourselves will hurt sooner or later. As the revelation of ourselves however, meditation is life, sex and spirit weaving us into the heart of the world. “Real silence is explosive”, said U.G..

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What makes yoga Yoga? Here is an opportunity to get to the crux of the matter.

Learn the technology of breath and body that makes practice a movement into the heart of what you are: the nurturing force of life.

I’m one of a few teachers in Canada who is passing on this knowledge. It is a revolution in understanding that recognizes the essential power of the Feminine in everyone and everything and offers a way to live in wholeness and grace.

Yoga teachers and new practitioners alike will get what they need in a small group setting where individual needs are honoured.

November 14, 21, 28, December 5, 12 & 19
Wednesdays from 7:00pm to 8:30pm at Eka Yoga Studio, 473A Church Street, 2nd floor, Toronto, ON  M4Y 2C5

9 hours over six weeks: $120.00

Registration is necessary: effie@ekayogatoronto.com; 647.748.4884

Red Thread Series

with Crescence Krueger

There is a ‘red thread’ of feminine knowledge that has been passed down person to person since ancient times.  It leads to wisdom, a clear and compassionate understanding of life that grows out of an intimacy with experience rather than a separation from it.  The following independent yet interconnected programmes give you an opportunity to become part of a lineage of teachers and healers who hold this thread, a way into love.

Heart of Birth Doula Mentorship  May 2012- January 2013

“Relationship moves the life force, nothing else.”  Mark Whitwell 

If you want to be of real help to a birthing woman, you need to come into relationship with her.  Then life moves with grace.  Early on, Ina May Gaskin, the now iconic midwife, recognized the crucial role a woman’s relationships play in how she gives birth.  Our work together will be rooted in this knowledge and the programme begins and ends in your relationship to your self.

A personal practice of breathing, moving and sounding connects you to the power of what you are: the tangible source and force of life.  This connection is Yoga and it offers a profound understanding of the Feminine and a complete container for working with birth and with your own ongoing life.  All other paradigms can be integrated into it, including the medical.

“At first, do no harm!” is the ethical foundation of western medicine and yet the high caesarean rate in Toronto is evidence that women’s power is restricted and much harm is indeed being done.  In learning how to nurture a woman’s strength to receive life and give birth, you are joining a group of gentle revolutionaries.

For her life’s work, Ina May received ‘The Right Livelihood Award’ this past year.  It’s known as the “alternate Nobel Prize”.  Mark Whitwell is a deeply respected “teacher of the teachers” who is restoring the Feminine to its necessary primacy in our contemporary understanding of Yoga and Life.  They are leading the way for us.

Because the heart of birth work is realized in intimacy rather than ‘professional’ distance, the structure of our relationship will be a close one.  A one-on-one relationship with me will be combined with group process and coming into working relationships with fellow doulas, clients and the larger community.  You will be well supported in your autonomy!

The programme is nine months long; it has a depth to its structure and content that gives you a whole understanding of birth and your role in it. You will know how to be with another and how to be with yourself, fully alive.

You will become a certified Doula through ‘Heart of Birth’.

Fee: $2,700.00

Please contact me, crescence@heartofbirth.org, for a detailed description of the programme’s content and structure!

 Birth Circle  Winter 2012

 Birth Circle is a once-a-month gathering of women who nurture the heart of birth, found in the strength to receive life. Birth Circle encompasses us all, mothers, maidens, doulas, midwives, teachers, healers…come join us!

Yoga, sound work and discussion nurture our strength.  In enjoying our fundamental unity with each other, we can be of practical help to each other. Relationship moves the life force, nothing else.

Saturday February 25th, March 24th, April 28th from 3:00pm to 5:00pm at the Winchester Street Theatre, 80 Winchester Street, one block north of Carlton, one block east of Parliament.

Fee: $20.00; bring a friend and split the fee; students $15.00.

Heart of Yoga Prenatal Teacher Specialization

June – August 2012  (80 hours)

 Offers an understanding of Yoga in the context of the regeneration of Life.  Practice is the nurturing of a woman’s strength to receive Life in order to then give birth to it.  The heart of Yoga is expressed in her: Mother, Source.

For yoga teachers and teachers in training. An 80 hour programme, which satisfies Yoga Alliance’s requirements to be designated a specialist in Prenatal Yoga.

Please contact me crescence@heartofbirth.org for more details!

Heart of Yoga Foundational Teacher Training

Beginning at the end of September 2012 (200 hours)

Please contact me crescence@heartofbirth.org for more details!

Crescence Krueger has been a part of Toronto‘s yoga and birthing communities over the last twenty-one years. Her direct experience of Yoga began when she gave birth to her daughter and realized that we are all the source and force of Life, what the ancients called Shakti.  It has continued through nineteen years work as a Doula, helping other women give birth.  Her ability to integrate the wisdom of traditional midwifery into current birthing environments has been supported by a twenty year connection to Isabel Perez and Ina May Gaskin. Crescence passes on the beautifully simple and effective Yoga technology she has received from Mark Whitwell.  It restores the Feminine.  She teaches and mentors yoga teachers and doulas and writes. Real relationship is at the heart of life and she is committed to working in a way that makes it possible.

In the wake of the disintegration of  John Friend’s authority and empire, William Broad’s recent articles in the New York Times and Mark Singleton’s book a year or so ago, the question that everyone with even the mildest interest in yoga seems to be grappling with is, “What is yoga?”  In the responses I’ve heard, the answer is absent.

Assumptions need to be put aside because without understanding what yoga is, attempts to practice and teach it won’t work and people will continue to get hurt.  Whether they are in physical alignment or not, lying down or leaping through space, using props or just the bare floor, in heat or in cold, in an intimate group or a mass of hundreds, chanting Sanskrit or never letting a word of it pass their lips, studying ancient text or ignoring it, moving to music or in silence, working their edge or staying clear of it, eating vegan or raw or pure or whatever they feel like, paying fees or getting instruction for free, working with a teacher who socializes with students or stays aloof, who has thousands of hours of certified training or none, who is part of an ancient lineage or who gives no credence to the idea of spiritual authority, who has the anatomical training of a physiotherapist and the psychological insight of an analyst or who thinks only of light and love, none of this matters.  What does is that you practice in a way that gives you the strength to receive… an inhale, a feeling, the movement of life.  Its movement is yoga.  Its movement is you.

This is obvious when you give birth.  Then the vast intelligence of life pours through you in waves, bringing new life to light.  Any distinction between you and what’s moving you dissolves.  Coming into unity with your experience is the consequence of giving birth and it’s what yoga practice should give you too.  Both activities return you to your natural state, sahaj samadhi, pure love.

In love, polarities merge.  The polarities of spirit and sex and pleasure and pain are particularly fierce in a world that denies the inherent sacredness of life.  Birth reveals it.  We need to speak about the insight women’s experience gives us.  It shatters dogma. What brings a person inside you is what brings them out: sex. The hormones that bring men and women to orgasm are the same hormones that control the birth process.  While pain is part of birth, so is ecstasy.  To give birth autonomously, you must leave your mental framework and enter the unbounded territory of primal experience.  Then sexual energy moves, unconfined by cultural definition and the manipulation of self and other that comes with it.  New life moves too and the sexual body and the spiritual body are known to be one.  Every cell in blood, bone and brain vibrates in harmony with life’s descent.  We are the source and the force of life, what yoga calls Shakti, so using yoga to make you somehow more spiritual is nonsensical.

Culturally, we are so very confused about love and sex.  We set up huge obstacles to being in relationship and it starts at birth.  The medical paradigm doesn’t understand how life works, only how to intervene when it doesn’t.  In the face of drugs and surgery, mother and child lose touch with each other and their ability to be as one disintegrates.  In a similar way, when yoga is misunderstood as a series of interventions that transform us into something else, something more beautiful, something more spiritual, they disassociate us from what we already are and become an assault on our integrity as life itself.  We lose our selves.

It looks like we are beginning to recognize the violence and betrayal.  But I don’t think the source of it is yet understood.  Denial of life runs deep.  It’s old and its craziness infiltrates every bit of us.  Without a technical understanding of how to develop the strength to receive your life, any attempt to “do yoga” is not going to work.  Adding beautiful words and concepts onto dysfunctional technology won’t help.  It makes things worse, intensifying the sense of lack and longing that grows in the discrepancy between how things feel and how we imagine they should be.

Mark Whitwell has been an enormous help in my understanding of all this.  What is missing in our collective understanding of yoga is a connection to life in all its beauty and pain.  When UG Krishnamurti realized this, he called it his Calamity.  It hurt to have his mind let go of its grip on his body, just like it hurts to give birth. UG insisted there’s no higher state to get to.  We are yoga.  Coming into love is heartbreaking.  And the only sane thing we can do.

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Want to get to the heart of yoga?  This training offers an intimacy and knowledge of the feminine that is missing in much of current teaching.  Without it, yoga is impossible!

Understand birth, and you understand yoga, the fact that you are the source and force of life.   Direct access to your power, what yoga calls shakti, is the gift.  It’s your connection to this power that gives you a real ability to mother, heal and teach.

In learning the principles of breath and body that let the vast intelligence of life flow, a woman has the practical means to prepare for the complete integration that giving birth entails. These principles come from an ancient knowledge of life that Krishnamacharya was blessed to learn but that has yet to become a part of our collective understanding.  Simple and safe, these principles lead to an experience of your natural state and the strong likelihood of an uncomplicated, spontaneous birth.  Birth IS yoga.

An exploration of the physical, psychological, and spiritual transformations a woman goes through in the childbearing year will give you insight into her needs and will help you provide a space that nourishes her connection to herself and her community.  The feminine force isn’t a concept, myth or metaphor; she is you and me.

Crescence Krueger passes on the beautifully simple and profound Yoga that she has received from Mark Whitwell. Her direct experience of Yoga began when she gave birth to her daughter and it has continued through eighteen years work as a Doula, helping other women give birth.  Her ability to integrate the wisdom of traditional midwifery into current birthing environments has been supported by a twenty year connection to Isabel Perez and Ina May Gaskin. Crescence teaches and mentors Yoga teachers and Doulas. Real relationship is at the heart of life and she is committed to working in a way that makes it possible.

BIRTH: THE HEART OF YOGA

with Crescence Krueger

An Immersion and Pre and Postpartum Yoga Teacher Training

June 4/5, 11/12, 25/26; Saturdays 2:30pm-6:30pm, Sundays 1:30pm-5:30pm;

and two private meetings with Crescence

at LiV Yoga Studio, 155 Liberty St. (King and Dufferin), Toronto.

Appropriate for anyone who is interested: teachers, pregnant women, doulas, midwives…the yoga will be adapted to you.

$645.00 + HST   Yoga Alliance credits; certificate given.

contact: crescence@heartofbirth.org   416.994.4566

A  Pre and Postpartum Yoga Teacher Training and Immersion: April 2/3 and 9/10, plus two private meetings

Understand birth, and you understand the very heart of Yoga, the fact that you are Mother, the source and force of Life.   Direct access to your power, what Yoga calls Shakti, is the gift.

By learning the principles of breath and body that let the vast intelligence of life flow, you’ll have the practical means to prepare for the complete integration that giving birth entails. These principles come from Krishnamacharya; in the deep denial of the Feminine that still defines our world, they have yet to become a part of our collective understanding.  They are simple and safe and lead to an experience of your natural state and the strong likelihood of an uncomplicated, spontaneous birth.

An exploration of the physical, psychological, and spiritual transformations a woman goes through in the childbearing year will give you insight into her needs and will help you provide a space that nourishes her connection to herself and her community.  The Feminine Force isn’t a concept, myth or metaphor.  She is you and me.

This experience has meant more than words can say.  I am leaving today with a full heart, deep inspiration and an overwhelming feminine connection.    Jessica Liebgott, Yoga practitioner and aspiring midwife

I don’t know if I can begin to express my gratitude for the love, incredible insight and passion you have shared with me and ignited in me!  It is with a sense of connecting with something much bigger with myself that I walk out into the world with after this weekend.    Amanda Montgomery, Yoga teacher and mother

Crescence Krueger passes on the beautifully simple and profound yoga she has received from Mark Whitwell.  Her ability to integrate the wisdom of traditional midwifery into our current teaching and birthing environments is rooted in eighteen years’ work as a doula, helping women give birth, and a twenty year connection to Isabel Perez and Ina May Gaskin.  Real relationship is at the heart of both yoga and birth and Crescence is committed to teaching in a way that makes it possible.  She was on the faculty of the Yoga Festival of Toronto in 2010 and has played a variety of leading roles in the community over the past two decades.

Included are two private meetings, one before and one after our group gatherings on April 2/3 and 9/10, Saturdays 9:30am to 6:00pm, Sundays, 11:30am to 6:00pm.  The one-on-one time is an opportunity to talk and to receive an appropriate personal practice in preparation for, and integration of, the training.  Your own practice is the source of your effectiveness as a teacher and your power as an individual.  Everyone, including pregnant women, is welcome.

Eight Branches Healing Arts Centre, 358 Dupont Street (west of Spadina) Toronto, ON, Canada

Fee $645.00;  Certificate; Yoga Alliance CEU’s.

Contact crescence@heartofbirth.org   416.994.4566

Yoga understands that you are Mother, the source and force of LIfe.   Connected to your power, you will know in your very bones how to give birth.  Learn the principles of breath and movement that forge this connection.  In the deep denial of the Feminine that still defines our world, this knowledge is missing from much of our current Yoga education.  Like a wave in rhythmic flow, breathing, moving, meditation and life are a seamless process.  Through it, you develop the strength to receive life and give birth… in peace and love.

Crescence Krueger passes on the beautifully simple and profound Yoga she has received from Mark Whitwell.  Her ability to integrate feminine wisdom into our current teaching and birthing environments is supported by eighteen years’ work as a Doula and a twenty year connection to Isabel Perez and Ina May Gaskin. She teaches and mentors Yoga teachers and Doulas.



Sundays, 11:30am to 1:00pm, February 13 to March 27
Eight Branches Healing Arts Centre
358 Dupont Avenue, west of Spadina and the Dupont subway station

$127.00 for seven week session; $20.00 drop-in, space allowing
Intimate class size allows for discussion and personal instruction.  Contact crescence@heartofbirth.org; 416.994.4566

Who are you? You are Mother, the very source and force of Life.  Having direct experience of your own power, what Yoga calls Shakti, is the opportunity that giving birth presents.  A complete understanding of Yoga gives you simple access to this experience.

So come!  Immerse yourself in four days of Yoga!  Deepen and refine your receptivity by learning the principles of practice that let the power and intelligence of life flow.  Krishnamacharya gave precise instructions so that you can create an authentic, safe and efficient Yoga practice for yourself and those you teach.  These principles can be incorporated into any “style” of Yoga. You’ll move to the pulse of your breath, release it on sound, work with yantra and mantra and know philosophy as your own direct contact with reality. Having the strength to receive life is the point of yoga practice and the challenge inherent in giving birth. The means to this strength has been missing from contemporary culture and yoga teaching; it is the Feminine.  In integrating the feminine principle back into how we practice, we no longer separate ourselves from life but have the ability to fully embrace it.

An exploration of the physiological transformations that occur in the childbearing year and of the “neural hormonal flow of love” that is responsible for the birth and breast feeding processes will give our work a good foundation and point to a woman’s practical needs during this time.  Her psychological needs are equally strong.  Understanding the universal arc of a woman’s journey through birth will deepen your ability to respond to where she is at.  I give you the means to teach pregnant and new mothers safely and effectively and know the feminine force not as a concept, myth or metaphor but as the real life that moves through us all.

Who am I? I teach in the lineage of Krishnamacharya from the beautifully simple and profound yoga I have received from Mark Whitwell.   My knowledge of traditional midwifery comes from a nineteen year connection to Isabel Perez and Ina May Gaskin. The union of these two understandings creates a body of wisdom that is whole and relevant to our current circumstances and life style.  For nineteen years, I have also been a mother.  I gave birth in a way that rooted my daughter and me in an enduring intimacy.  The urge to pass on this power led to my work as a doula and teacher.  Helping women access their strength and receptivity, their awareness of their inherent perfection, has been the foundation of my work over the last seventeen years.  It brings me again and again into the heart of Life.

October 29 – November 1, 2010
10:00am to 5:00pm at Eight Branches Healing Arts Centre (formerly Kokoro Dojo),
358 Dupont Avenue (just west of Dupont subway)

To register, call 416.994.4566 or email crescence@heartofbirth.org

Space is still available in what will be an intimate and responsive learning situation.

Workshop fee : $485.00
Workshop Certificate; Yoga Alliance CEU’s.

For more about Crescence’s work, see www.heartofbirth.org

A full understanding of Yoga gives you not just a way to feel good in your body, not just a way to relax your mind, but a way to participate wholly in the birth process. You are Mother, the very source and force of Life. Connected to your fundamental power, you will know in your very bones how to give birth.

The yoga technology that gives you this connection is not widely available. I have gotten it from Mark Whitwell, one of the world’s “teachers of the teachers”. Curiously, Mark says, knowledge of the Feminine has been left out of western yoga education. In integrating her principles back into how we practice, we remarry Yoga to its non-dual Tantric origins and in the process, bring the fragmented aspects of ourselves together again. We move easily and efficiently into the freedom of our natural state.

In our practice, breath initiates, guides and completes our movement. We are soft and strong. We are like a wave in rhythmic flow where breathing, moving, meditation and life are a seamless process. We have the strength to receive Life and give birth. We are in true relationship to ourselves and our babies. We are love.

Beginning Sunday, November 7th, from 11:30am to 1:00pm and running for six weeks until December 19th (no class on Nov.21st)
at Eight Branches Healing Arts Centre (formerly Kokoro Dojo)
358 Dupont Avenue (just west of Dupont subway)
$20.00 to drop-in; $108.00 for the session of six.

Contact crescence@heartofbirth.org

Beginning November 7th, I will be teaching two yoga classes on Sunday mornings.  What I offer is not widely available.  I pass on the yoga technology that moves you easily and efficiently into the heart of yoga, into a clear feeling of your natural state.  I have gotten this technology from Mark Whitwell, one of the world’s “teachers of the teachers”.  This is a technology that links you to the life energy that got you born and that keeps you alive.  It is thought of as feminine; she is the source of everything and curiously,  Mark says, she has been left out of western yoga education.  In reintegrating the feminine principle back into how we practice, we remarry Yoga to its non-dual Tantric origins and in the process, bring the fragmented aspects of ourselves back together again.

The result is a feeling of wholeness and a way of moving and breathing where breath initiates, guides and completes our movement.  We are soft and strong.  We are like a wave in rhythmic flow where asana, pranayama, bandha, meditation and life are a seamless process.  We have the strength to receive ourselves and the ability to really be in relationship with one another.

Advanced Yoga for Everyone
Beginning Sunday, November 7th and running for six weeks until December 19th
(no class on Nov. 21st)
from 9:45am to 11:15am
at Eight Branches Healing Arts Centre (formerly Kokoro Dojo)  

358 Dupont Avenue (just west of Dupont and Spadina) $20.00 to drop-in; $108.00 for the session of six.

Prenatal Yoga  

A way of practicing that connects you directly to the force that will get your baby born.
Beginning Sunday, November 7th and running for six weeks until December 19th
(no class on Nov.21st)
from 11:25am to 12:55pm
Same location and fees as above.
Contact crescence@heartofbirth.org