Karuna: Hi, I’m Karuna, and I’m the Founder and Executive Director of Mind Oasis, and with me today is my guest, Rachel. Rachel, how are you?
Rachel: I’m very well. Thank you for having me on today.
Karuna: Where in the world are you?
Rachel: I am outside of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. So that’s why I’m wearing my headphones, because we’re in the land and the time of lawn care, so there’s lots of weed whacking going on around my house, but we’re grateful for it because that means the sun is out, the grass is growing and the snow is over. So it’s all good.
Karuna: Awesome. And so, Rachel Joyce, what is your jam in this world? What are you up to?
Rachel: My jam. My jam. My jam is the yoga. I am a classical yogi, I would say in that I study Hatha yoga, particularly right now. I am very immersed in Iyengar, yoga teacher training, hopefully getting certified at the end of the year, level one, you know. So that’s been a huge part of my life; studying, taking classes, but also teaching. So I teach group classes here in this little town called Hatboro, Pennsylvania. Nourishing Storm is the studio. So sorry, but taking a little plug time. I also teach privately and I teach essentially a Hatha yoga alignment based class as well as Yin yoga. Yin was super transformational for me as a practitioner. Energetically, physical health in my own postural practice in terms of quote unquote progression, because we don’t want to let folks think about it’s the the apex of the pose, right? It’s the journey to get there. So I am super duper immersed in this world and I also have a marketing career. So I’m a marketing director for a startup. And quite fortunately, the working from home thing has super worked out for both of my love and my jobs. Good times.
Karuna: Awesome. Yeah, it’s interesting to me when I think of Iyengar, I think of a very disciplined, very physical practice. And when I think of Yin, I think of a little bit more smoosh. Can you talk about kind of for you…that’s just Karuna. So just tell me like you hear that and can you talk a little bit about it?
Rachel: Yeah. Honestly, it’s the number one thing I hoped we could talk about. It’s confusing, I get all the time is Yin restorative, and the answer is no. Right? So when you are practicing Yin yoga, you are holding postures, typically seated or lying down. Sometimes you can be doing standing postures, for five to ten minutes and you’re doing so, so that you penetrate deeper than our large superficial muscle groups, our quadriceps, our shoulders, our buttocks to get to the connective tissue. Right. So that’s our Facia. That’s our ligaments. That’s our tendons. All the way into our joints. If we have stiff joints, tense joints, tight joints, and we’re practicing flow pretty typically or even restorative, we’re not penetrating deep enough into the body to release the connective tissue and to really help with joint tightness and overall tension. So while it’s a slow class, it’s a deep and an intense practice. Right? My mantra all the time with my students is “Don’t be the intensity, be with the intensity”. Right? So really a lot about your awareness, your mental state and how you come into a Yin practice and the connection between Iyengar yoga and Yin is actually really interesting. Iyengar Yoga is referenced in the Yin yoga Wikipedia page basically saying that because Iyengar as part of Iyengar Restorative was always talking about holding postures for a longer amount of time and breathing your way through it, but not necessarily being so comfortable that we feel a gentle experience, which is what more of…or smosh, if I may use your word. Right? That’s a little bit more of what restorative is. Does that clarify a little bit more?
Karuna: Big time. And so I think some people will listen to this and some people will watch it. I think that one of the interesting things for me and even maybe a misperception that I had and so you just enlightened us, is that somehow restorative in yin are synonymous. And it kind of sounds like maybe sometimes, but not necessarily.
Rachel: Right, exactly. I would say we do offer a restorative, maybe a little bit more towards the end of a practice. Right? As part of a cool down and a gentle experience because it is intense. So the combinations are basically classical Hatha yoga, what we know of in our postural practice. And I state that because alignment is necessary in Yin, whereas with restorative we can be more Lucy Goosey with the alignment. Right? We want our bodies to be soft. We want to sort of like let the edges blur and that’s beautiful and we should do that. Restorative is just as important as our Hatha yin and yang practices. It truly is. But when you’re in a Yin class, you do want to have proper alignment because again, it’s about joint health, it’s about bone health, it’s about connective tissue health. So if we’re not aligning our joints or the bones are not supporting the bones, we’re not going to get that benefit. Right? That.. a real release. And just like the emotional work that we do in our lives, you don’t get real release unless you go deep, right? Unless you kind of go right at the heart of the matter. Right? And kind of like walk through that emotional fire, if you will. If you go around the emotional fire you’ll learn some things, right? But you’re not going to really penetrate the issue, release and heal. Right? That’s the name of the game.
Karuna: Right. So what I love is the yoga asana that I am teaching currently, which I’m really…in all transparency, I’m a meditation teacher. I’ve been in like one hundred hours or something in Yoga Asana with Dharma Yoga down in Austin, Texas, and I learned a lot. I got a ninety five on my exam and I loved it. But at the end of the day, I mean, I’m really a meditation teacher, so what I teach is what I call yoga for snails, and and that is restorative truly like we have single song dance parties, and then we might only go through three poses in 40 minutes. But it’s a “what can you feel, sense and maybe just sit with”, like a lot of it is just like today we’ll be doing something around Tadasana Mountain pose and we might just feel what Mountain Pose feels like standing, lying. And then we’ll probably put legs up the wall and we’ll call it that. So this is like yoga for snails. I’ve been shocked at how much people really like it. And I have to tell you, Rachel, I am so excited to take your Yin yoga class on the first day. So you’re bringing Yin yoga, the Five Elements, on the 1st of May. It’s a master class, on Mind Oasis. It does not mean you are a master meeting other people. It means that the teacher knows what the hell they’re doing! So, tell us about yoga.
Rachel: First of all, kudos to you for doing a Tadasana class. Tadasana is one of the most important yoga postures, period. It doesn’t matter if it’s day one of yoga of your life or day five thousand of yoga of your life. Tadasana is Klutch. So I’m excited for that. I want to hear how it goes. So, yeah. So the Yin, three hour master class. So the other thing about.. So we talked about Hatha yoga as being one part of the Yin yoga equation. The other part is truly Traditional Chinese Medicine. So, Yin yoga was actually developed by a Taoist martial artist who was also… it’s so interesting. This Taoist yoga or Daoist, depending if you say the D or the T, which I wasn’t aware of. But essentially this teacher had all of these martial artists who were super, super tight and super tense from doing their martial arts. So so he starts to introduce, quote unquote, Yin yoga. Which is based on, of course, the Indian postures. So that’s sort of the historical genesis, the origins of those two branches. The Traditional Chinese Medicine comes in through the Daoism. So Traditional Chinese Medicine, in that practice, there are five elements, right? There’s fire, water, wood, earth and metal. And these, the balancing of these five elements energetically, is how we balance our beings. Right, essentially, and who we are in the world, in relationship with nature, in relationship with the cosmos, etc. One of the reasons I adore this practice is it’s all about relationship. So what we’re going to do is we’re going to take a quiz and we’re all going to find out what are my five element makeup. It’s going to have a score. Your highest score is your quote unquote type, right? I’m a fire type. Surprise, surprise.
Rachel: Shocking! Right? And so all of those types are associated with several things. So fire is associated with the season of summer. Fire is associated with the organs of the heart and the small intestine. Fire is associated with joy, the emotion of joy. Fire is associated with the archetype of the lizard. Right, all of these things. So you’re going to find out what your type is. Then we’re going to learn about these qualities of each single type, how the qualities relate to each other. Right? So how does water restrict fire? So every element has a restriction relationship and a generation relationship because that’s how we balance. If you want to garden it and you just let it grow and you didn’t do anything about it, what’s going to happen? It’s going to be a mess, right? You’re going to have to pull those weeds. You’re going to have to till the soil. You’re going to have to put the mulch down, restricting some of the growth, because if we don’t, then we don’t have a healthy balanced beautiful garden, right. So same thing. And we want to explore the energies in our bodies. So similar to what you were saying about yoga for snails, about sitting with it, what comes up, right? If we’re in a water pose and in water, we want to relieve the feeling of fear. and I’m holding you in a paschimottanasana, you know, five minutes, seven minutes. What happens to you with fear? What comes up? And the the goal is, again, to not be the fear. Don’t be the intensity. But you’re quiet and you’re deep. These are yin qualities, right? You’re within and you watch that and you say, oh, what is my relationship to fear? Is it fear in the body? Am I going to pull a hammy? Right. Is it fear in the mind, that I can’t take this anymore? This is going to kill me!
Karuna: That’s typically me.
Rachel: Is it emotional fear or is it existential fear, like is God real? You know what I mean? Whatever it is, what comes up for you in that five minute paschimottanasana, let’s examine that. Right? And then you examine that in the relationship to your entire elemental makeup with the hopes of releasing. And balancing across your bodies, your energy body, your physical body, your emotional body, your spiritual body. So that’s what we’re going to do,
Karuna: Super awesome.
Rachel: Yes. Yes.
Karuna: So the title of this podcast is called Meditation Happy Hour, Tea, Talk and Truth with Karuna. We definitely have gotten through the talk and I have coffee today. Do you have tea or water or anything nearby?
Rachel: I sure do. Hydrating.
Karuna: So what we haven’t yet discussed is truth. So, Rachel, what is your truth?
Rachel: What is my truth? You know, I’m going to be I’m going to be. I’m going to give it to you Karuna. Since you just asked me. Thank you for that. I’m a thirty- nine year old independent Western white woman. And my whole life I’ve been avoiding owning my spirituality. It has been something that I’ve always kind of kept away and in the corner. And I thought, you know, this is something that I’m going to be judged for. Or people won’t like me as much or in my profession, they won’t take me as seriously if I bring my spiritual life right to the forefront. And I just decided I’m not doing that anymore. And it has changed literally everything in my life to just accept myself as a spiritual being, accept myself as a part of everything and, you know, practice that and be in relationship with my spiritual life. To the point of it, I have an older brother and, you know, we talk all the time. We’re super, super close. And he’s telling me about things that he’s frustrated about in his life. And I’m like, bro, figure out your spiritual practice. I’m telling you, it’s the missing key. Whatever it is. Doesn’t matter what it is, I truly believe it doesn’t matter what your practices. You a Wicca go out there and you just be with nature, you know, and all of your Wicca-ness. And that’s going to bring to you – your truest self is going to come out of that spiritual practice, and it’s a liberation that I wish I wouldn’t have waited so long to experience, to be totally honest with you.
Karuna: I can really relate to that. Most people in the Mind Oasis community know that I lost my mom when I was twenty-five and she was forty-six. And then I spent a decade – very unexpectedly motorcycle accident – and I spent like a decade of my life really lost. I have a son, so I was raising my son, but I was really lost. And then I found yoga asana in the basement of our local hockey rink in Aspen, Colorado. And I started going once a week. And you’d have to go into the hockey locker room and if you know hockey, it stinks to high heaven – well you’re in Philadelphia, you know, it stinks to high heaven. And then it was cold because it was like a gym. Right? It’s like gym-asana. It fefinitely doesn’t feel like a really she-she la-la studio. But this gal would just, like, make us hold these poses. And I had no idea what the hell I was doing. And she was constantly kind of helping with corrections and whatnot. But something opened up inside of me. And then I would hear these little Dharma nuggets about a spiritual life. And then just through happenstance, I’m putting air quotes up, for those of you who are listening to the podcast, “Happenstance”, I found a wonderful meditation teacher and then I found a Dhrama teacher. And then the rest is history and now we have Mind Oasis. But that transformation over since probably about 2010. So going on like eleven years or so of really putting my spiritual practice up as high as my trail running, as raising my son, as being a wife, as running Mind Oasis, like my spiritual practice, being as big of a priority as anything else has really transformed my life. And I, I kind of like preach it on Mind Oasis. So I’m so happy to hear that that’s an alignment for you as well, Rachael.
Rachel: Yeah, it absolutely is. I, I grew up in a mega mega Catholic household and I didn’t dislike religion necessarily, but I disliked that I couldn’t be a human being in that religion. And those who know me know that I grew up in a very rough way, and I’ve lost both my parents and a brother. And without a spiritual practice through all of those family deaths, I completely relate to you about that, lostness. There’s no understanding of why you’ve suffered, why they’ve suffered, what’s the meaning, what’s the point? I mean, it sounds hokey, but you get to that whole like, “What’s the meaning of life if this is what’s going to happen at the end of it?” Right? Like, why am I even experiencing this? And so, yeah, it was troubling, you know, to go through those things alone is what it feels like. But here’s the other trick, right? Just like your little Dharma nuggets, you’re never alone, right? Like you think you’re alone, you’re in your suffering and you’re in your ego. And you think that Oh God,I’m all by myself or Oh, Goddess, because I worship the Goddess. I’m all by myself. And then that’s your reality, right? Like, that’s what you actually experience. But once you drop that ego and realize that you are connected and, you know what, the powers that be, whatever it is for you, care about you. They really, truly love you and truly care about you. And you’re going to be uplifted no matter what. And so I’m so stoked that that’s where you’re at, too. And in my marketing job, I’ve actually started to bring in the yoga and and I have no qualms about it anymore. And actually, my boss is like, God, this is so helpful. And I’m like, yes, it is, isn’t it! It is just a boon that keeps on giving. And so I would tell you that honestly, the reason I want to be a yoga teacher is because it was the pathway for me to find a spiritual life, bring it into my suffering, help my suffering so that I can move forward in a more balanced, healthy and beautiful way. I want people to know that this is one hundred percent possible. Whatever you really are experiencing. And if there are other modalities you like, like therapy, if you have another religion, it doesn’t say that the yoga has to be in place of, you know, it’s a beautiful addition to whatever you need to move through it. But the fact of the matter is, anyone can practice, anyone can really, truly meditate and learn to be with themselves. Right. That’s step one of self realization. You’ve got to be with you, your soul, not your ego and all those other bits. Once you’re with you and your soul and you’re like touching your soul. You’re like, Oh, my God, it’s there, it’s real! Holy Moly, this is it! Then you have that direct connection, right, to the divine. You opened it up, you crossed the bridge. And it’s really there for everyone. And I’m a big believer that we can do a lot of real healing and transcendence through this practice.
Karuna: Awesome. So on the 1st of May, Rachel Joyce will be bringing her Yin Yoga and the Five Elements Master Workshop to Mind Oasis. You go to Mindoasis.org, and there’s a tab that says “Learn”. And you just keep scrolling down until you see the most gorgeous Rachel Joyce’s face. Thank you so much.
Rachel: Thank you Karuna. I’m so excited to teach on May first! I’m so excited to see you all there. And, yeah, let’s let’s get this Yin Yoga Party started, you know!?
Karuna: Awesome. Mindoasis.org and you go to the “Learn” tab. Thank you all.
Rachel: Thank you.
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