Saturday, January 7, 2017

New Years Yoga Retreat 2016 Recap

What happens when you invite 16 women to meet you in the jungle for 5 days of self-work, reflection, movement, breath and release, all during the sacred time when one year ends and the next begins? You get fireworks for the soul!

 Our second annual New Years Yoga Retreat in Sayulita, Mexico just wrapped up and it is hard to put into words what this experience meant to me. So much deep, truly healing work happened here. Years of unresolved inner conflict and pain was allowed to be brought to the surface and given permission to be let go. Sometimes, more than anything else, that is simply exactly what we need. Permission. An invitation to show up as your true, authentic self. Without judgement or expectations. 

When is the last time you sat in a room with 18 faces staring back at you with nothing but pure love and acceptance? Where you felt 100% safe to speak your truth and be received with warm hugs and understanding . . . 

Let's face it -- life is hard. It knocks us down and very rarely gives us the tools to know how to properly get back up. As women in this westernized, modern world, we are not taught rituals or traditions, nor do we grow up with ceremonies marking important female milestones in our lives. We are taught to grow up fast, dislike our bodies, be inconvenienced by our menstrual cycles, aggressively pursue our careers and push our emotions aside. When we are not taught how to appropriately tap into our emotions, we silence an important part of our female power -- our intuition. 

Our intuitive minds guide us in life, through challenges, away from danger, towards our truth and highest self. Now more than ever, it is beyond important - it has become imperative to our growth as women that we take pauses from life every now and then to unplug from the pressure and reconnect with our intuitive selves. The mind, the body, the soul, the heart. When properly taken care of, nurtured, supported, and nourished, it can give us all the answers we need to know. No more looking on the outside. For once, we can finally hear our own voice and know the right path to take. 

I am beyond proud of the 16 women who showed up to do this important work.  With the powerful Jade Alectra and inspiring Jenny Niezgoda as my fellow teachers on this yoga retreat, we were able to hold space for and witness some truly major breakthroughs. The Temazcal (tribal sweat lodge) ceremony on December 31st was the spiritual catalyst that allowed us all to look our fears right in the face and push through. The jungle hike on New Years Day gave us important moments of silence, and equally important moments of divine connection with each other. All in all, my heart feels fuller than before, my purpose is so much more clearly defined, and my commitment to helping all the women in my life (including myself + my daughter) shine has never been stronger.

Here is a video re-cap of one of the most powerful weeks of my life. #WomanPoetryRetreat
If the embedded video below isn't loading, use this link instead

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Zen Girl of the Month: Tambra Wayne, Founder and CEO of OM Matters

Today, I am so proud to introduce all of you to a woman I feel honored to call a friend. I first met Tambra four or five years ago when we practiced alongside each other at Bird Rock Yoga studio in Pacific Beach. When I became a yoga teacher myself, she started attending my classes.  I was humbled to have her there, to say the least! 

Over the years, we became good friends and have witnessed each other journey through many different stages of life like marriage, pregnancy, and big career changes. When Tambra told me that she was quitting her high profile commercial Real Estate job to focus more on herself and start a yoga-inspired business, I was thrilled! Some of you may remember, once upon a time, I had a yoga clothing line of my own called Zen Girl Activewear. After two years though, I learned that I was more passionate about teaching yoga and put that business to rest. Tambra, however, is a firecracker of a woman, a go-getter, with decades of experience in sales and marketing. She is pouring her whole heart into her new clothing line OM Matters, so I know it will be a huge success! The best part is that she is creating a purpose-driven company with a significant focus on giving back.

Last April, she asked me and fellow yoga teacher Sarah Clark to model her flagship line. Once again, humbled beyond words! At 6 months pregnant, the photoshoot crew was very patient with me as I did my best, medium-sized baby bump and all. 

Please take the time to read her very honest and open interview. I know her words will spark something in your soul, too!

1)  Where did you grow up? What led you to call San Diego "home"? I moved to San Diego when I was 4 years old, so I call San Diego home.  I grew up in University Heights about 1 mile from my grandparents and have wonderful family memories.  We were all so very close and that is what really made San Diego home -- having Sunday dinners at my grandparents, going to the Zoo, the beach and getting sunburned, and loving every minute of it. After I graduated from San Diego State University, I moved to La Jolla and don’t think I will ever leave this beautiful place. My husband grew up in La Jolla, so fortunately he feels the same way!

2) What did you do in your past life? What was your life and career like pre-yoga? Being an independent, successful business woman was my goal since I was 15 years old. Growing up we didn’t have much money and I saw the struggles my mother went through -- she was a single parent most of the time.  Plus she didn’t always pick the right men or pick them for the right reasons. On several occasions the relationships ended badly.  I left home at age 17 and was determined to have a different life. Not only was I going to be financially independent, I would only marry someone because I was madly in love.  

My career was in commercial Real Estate and I worked long, hard hours for many years. I enjoyed it (even the long hours) and was proud to have reached my goal to be financially independent. But as time went on and money was no longer an issue for me, I began to realize something was missing -- a life!  This realization occurred around the time I started practicing yoga. Something inside me started to shift, I began to soften and open my heart.  Yoga really changed my life is so many positive ways. The most significant was the opening of my heart which led me to marrying the man of my dreams. The second was gaining the courage to leave commercial Real Estate to start something that was more meaningful to me.

3) In your own words, what is OM MATTERS all about? Why did you create it? OM Matters is an eco-friendly yoga clothing company for women that contributes 10% of all proceeds to fund yoga for at-risk youth.  With the sole purpose to create something that makes a difference in others’ lives, I combined my passion for yoga with helping at-risk youth.

I’m passionate about inspiring people to bring mindfulness into their everyday lives and to have a conscious awareness that every action we take matters. Using the philosophy of yoga as a guide, this is being accomplished in 3 WAYS:

#1: Our Yoga Clothes - Our breakout line was inspired by the 8 Limbs of Yoga, outlined in Patañjali’s ancient text the Yoga Sūtras. Most of us are exposed to yoga as a physical practice, but it is so much more than that---it is a way of life.   The physical practice, āsana in Sanskrit, is the 3rd limb and is only 1/8th of what yoga is about!  I wanted to share with others the powerful teachings of all of the 8 Limbs of Yoga.  So we created 8 beautiful and thought-provoking images representing each of the 8 Limbs. International artist, Stina Persson, did a spectacular job creating these designs specifically for our collection.  On the back of each shirt is a description of each limb.  

#2: Our Give Back Component – The Give Back component is the main purpose for starting the company.  Having been a volunteer for 15 years for a not-for-profit organization that helps at-risk youth, San Diego Youth Services (SDYS),   I knew I wanted to start a company that could make a difference to kids on a larger scale.  Reflecting on the positive impact yoga had on my life, along with my desire to continue working with at-risk youth, it was a natural fit for OM Matters to commit 10% of its proceeds to fund yoga for at-risk youth.  

One of my favorite yoga events is our Farm to Yoga event.  At our last event, kids and their adoptive parents from SDYS joined us at Suzie’s Farm, a 140-acre USDA-certified organic farm in San Diego County, to participate in a family-friendly yoga class, tour the farm’s vegetable gardens and chicken coops, and at the end of the day we sat down to a beautifully prepared vegetarian dinner made with fruits and vegetables right from the farm… and the kids loved it, especially the strawberry shortcake! The point of the day was that the kids and parents learned about taking care of their bodies with yoga and organic food. They also learned about farming and the importance of taking care of our earth so we can continue to grow healthy produce. Everyone was dirty and exhausted by the end of the day, but the kids called it one of the best days of their lives! Priceless!

#3:  Our Commitment to be Environmentally Friendly – My intent was to ensure the company was kind to the environment. I established “Our Ahimsā Promise” policy which makes a commitment to source, manufacture, and package all of our clothing in southern California, reducing our carbon footprint by avoiding shipments from overseas manufacturers; and to use eco-friendly products made with natural, synthetic-free, and biodegradable fabrics. Additionally, all of our packaging materials are made from recyclable papers.

4) Who do you love taking yoga class from?
Who (from an industry other than yoga) inspires you? I love taking yoga classes from YOU, Mandy!  I also really like Sarah Clark with Interconnected Yoga.  That’s why I asked you both to be my models for my yoga clothes!!  You both inspire me in completely different ways and I’ve learned so much from you both.  I really appreciate your incorporating divine female energy and power into your classes and I love how you share your life stories.  Sarah’s focus on body aliment, breath work and meditation is awesome.  Plus through our weekly “dharma talks” she has educated me on the 8 Limbs of Yoga.  Interestingly, I have also done some work with each of your teachers, Stacy McCarthy and Michael Stone. Both are again, very different, but so inspiring.  I love you all!

I really love Luke Weintzen too!  He has such a beautiful soul and a curious and enthusiastic spirit that is inspiring.  He loves life and it shows.  If I ever venture in to men’s yoga clothes I’ll ask him to be the model! :)

[Aside from yoga] Blake Mycoskie.  He’s the founder and “chief shoe giver” at TOMS.  The TOMS story inspired me to emulate this business model for OM Matters.  He actually wrote a book about how to do it, called “Start Something That Matters.”  Blake started the company with the purpose to give a pair of shoes to someone in need for each pair of shoes sold.  Not only do they sell shoes, they personally deliver the shoes to the people in need. Seeing the joy in the children’s faces is a big motivator at TOMS.  In fact, they attribute the giveback component as a huge factor in the success of their company because it makes people feel that they aren’t just buying shoes, but are a part of a movement that makes a positive impact on the world.  TOMS One-for-One business model has expand beyond shoes into coffee, eyewear and bags that help communities all over the world.  TOMS is making a difference in our world and I want to do the same.  I highly recommend the book to anyone who wants to start something that matters too.

5) What's the scariest thing you've done this year? Start OM Matters! It was more exciting than scary, but still a little scary! I launched in May and as the owner of a start-up business, I’m involved with every step---which I love (for now).  Many of the skills I learned in my prior career are very helpful in starting a new business, especially marketing and customer relations.  But there is so much more that I’m learning—which is fun and scary at the same time! I really enjoy being creative and expressive. Aside from learning about the clothing industry, social media and all the software used in an e-commerce business, I am constantly exploring yoga in many different levels.  Doing something new every day---scary and fun!

6) Where do you envision yourself in 5 years time? It's December 2021 - what are you up to, Tambra?
This is the first time in my life that I am letting go of having firm, measurable goals.  I am making a conscious effort to focus on what makes me feel good and then follow that path.  But I do have a strong vision of my life in 5 years:

My husband and I have created a life we are in love with!  We are both excited to wake up in the morning, to be with each other and to make a difference in the world.  We appreciate and love each other more than ever and love the journey we are on.

OM Matters continues to grow and expand its product-line.  We have brought yoga to over 15,000 at-risk youth (our current goal is to bring yoga to 10,000 kids by 2019).  I envision traveling across the country finding new Give Back Partners and hosting events for the youth.  I’m creating beautiful experiences to inspire people to live their lives with compassion and the mindfulness that everything and everyone is interconnected -- WE ARE ONE!

Thank you, Tambra! What a beautiful wisdom and insight you shared! And to all my Zen Girl readers: please support this female-founded, heart-centered small business by visiting their website, their facebook page, and saying hello on instagram -- @om_matters.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

My Top 3 Winter Health Rituals

As we wrap up December and prepare for the New Year, now is the perfect time to check-in with ourselves and take an inventory of our health habits. 

The change of seasons and colder temperatures of winter present the highest risk of compromising your health and potentially getting sick. Every year, a new strain of the Flu and other viruses start to circulate around. Especially if you frequent a yoga studio/gym/school/airports, your chances of coming down with a sickness are even greater. 

I stopped getting the Flu Shot 4 years ago and *knock on wood* have still not been affected by the flu or any other major illness since. Preventative health is key -- especially in the winter months. First, start by visualizing yourself with a strong, protective layer of vibrant health and wellness around you. Nothing can penetrate it. Hold this image steady in your mind and come back to it when you're feeling vulnerable. Then, create a magic formula that works for you of rituals that you practice frequently (every day if possible) to detoxify and beautify your system from the inside out.  

Here are my favorite Winter Health Rituals for boosting your immune system and fighting the flu naturally:

1) Oil Pulling: Every morning, spend 10-15 minutes gargling coconut oil. Wait, what?! I know this might sound crazy but if you do only one thing to better your overall health this Winter, oil pulling is it! Coconut Oil melts at 76 degrees fahrenheit, so you only need to barely pre-heat your oven (or if you live in a warmer climate, just set your coco oil on the counter the night before) to bring it into its liquid form. Note: never use the microwave! Start with one large tablespoon, and once it becomes fully liquid, start swirling it around your mouth, the same way you would mouth wash. It's easiest to do this in the shower while shaving your legs or washing your hair. After 10 minutes (go for 15 if you can!), spit out in the trash can. Be mindful not to spit down your drains as coco oil will build up over time and clog your pipes. 

The physical benefits of this practice are too many to list, but include: cures tooth decay and bad breath, heals gums, prevents heart disease, whitens teeth, boosts immune system, improves acne, and strengths your jaw. Other benefits I personally noticed were: gets energy moving through your throat chakra and thyroid first thing in the morning, provides opportunity to practice mindfulness and a new form of meditation, relaxes and focuses the mind.

2) Acupuncture + Cupping: I am a huge fan of Chinese medicine. I've used it over the years to boost my immune system for relieving muscle pain and post-workout recovery. When I was pregnant, I worked with an Acupuncturist once a month to prevent morning sickness, dizziness, discomfort, etc. And it truly worked! After our sessions, I felt extremely grounded, balanced, and connected to my body and all the changes happening. Now that I'm 4 months post-partum and winter has arrived, I once again started working with Eastern medicine to realign my energy, increase blood flow, and give me more stamina to chase baby around with. 

At our last session, my Acupuncturist mentioned that I should try cupping as well to target my constant neck and shoulder pain from breastfeeding. I agreed, and have already felt the results! Cupping works in the opposite way of massage. Instead of pressing down into the muscles, it pulls up, drawing toxins to the surface (which is what causes the redness and bruising). Don't worry! The discoloration lasts only about a week, and the more you do it, the less you bruise. I highly recommend incorporating acupuncture and cupping into your Winter Health rituals to purify and re-align your system, on all levels. 
3) Bone Broth: Your intestines and gut are the foundation of your health. Many of the foods that we eat in our modern Western culture are highly acidic and over time, wear down at the intestinal lining and poke tiny holes in your gut. Even if you are eating 100% organic now, your digestion may be badly damaged from your youth and from prior poor health habits. The good nutrients that you are currently consuming end up leaking out of your gut and never get fully absorbed into your system. I first learned about "Leaky Gut Syndrome" a few years ago, and although I am not diagnosed with this, it did send me on a journey of trying to understand the gut health/overall health connection. I discovered that bone broth contains collagen and amino acids that actually repairs damaged cell walls. Also, its gelatin restores the lining of your gut, repairs your GI tract, and even makes your skin glow -- it's a win/win!

You can make bone broth on your own at home (which I tried and epically failed at!), or you can purchase from a reputable local source in your community. Since the benefit of this special broth comes from boiling the bones to extract powerful nutrients like collagen and glutamine, it is essential that everything used in the recipe is 100% organic and untouched by pesticides. I purchase my bone broth from a local farm-sourced vendor here in San Diego and enjoy one warm cup in the afternoon and one right after dinner. I find that in the winter drinking warm bone broth is a soothing ritual that takes little to no effort but has a tremendously positive impact on your health. You can read more about the benefits of Bone Broth here.  

What are your favorite techniques for staying healthy in the winter? Please write a comment and share!



Tuesday, December 6, 2016

A Love Letter to all my Sisters

Dear Sister,

I see you struggling. I see you fighting to catch your breath. I see this world pulling you in what feels like a million different directions and forgetting what your true north feels like. I see you trying to be strong, but forgetting to be soft. I see you so desperately needing a minute to yourself, a day to re-charge, an hour of silence . . . but on most days, feeding everyone else around you before feeding yourself.

I see you. I feel you. I am you.

And know this: there will never be a perfect moment to re-claim your life. And no one else can do it for you. It's gonna be the hardest thing you've ever done. Prepare to dig deep and scratch and claw your way out of the muck to find your light again.

But do it. Please do it. Fight for your sanity, find your balance, then fight some more.

It's perfectly OK if there are chapters of your life where you are barely surviving. Barely holding your head above the water. Barely breathing. All of this is OK, it's necessary, in fact. To our evolution, to our growth, to the shedding of our helplessness and the revealing of our badass-warrior-GODDESS-ness. 

So hang on tight. This chapter will pass. And soon enough, you will be shining so bright once again. 

#womanpoetry #alovelettertoallmysisters

Next Woman Poetry -- December 17th in San Diego!

As women, we have immense intuitive and healing abilities to positively uplift and nourish ourselves and those around us. Unfortunately, more often that not, we stand in our own way. We hold onto past pain, heartbreak, regret, disappointments and most of all -- fear. We cling to these emotions and allow them to grow inside our bodies and minds. This manifests as digestive issues, stubborn belly fat, tightness in the shoulders, hips and low back -- and that's just on a physical level. Energetically, we can feel stuck, stagnant, and uncomfortable. 

Life is not meant to be lived this way! The sooner we acknowledge these emotions and move through them, we create the space for NEW energy to arise. Positive, uplifting energy to nourish ourselves and others. The ultimate freedom. All of us deserve to feel FREE.

Woman Poetry is an incredibly healing experience. It is an opportunity to practice radical self-love. Woman Poetry is a chance to release, shed and surrender the negative emotions we hold onto. 

Saturday December 17
5 - 8 PM at Trilogy Sanctuary
hosted by Mandy BursteinJade Alectra

Do something different this Holiday Season -- treat yourself to a night of Divine Healing.

Experience a 2 hour Woman Poetry flow -- their signature yoga style that allows the body to express and move through past pain and heartbreak, without judgement, fear or control. Enjoy a luxuriously long Savasana with essential oils, sound healing, and guided meditation. The night culminates with a Goddess Circle, carefully cultivating inner strength, confidence, connection and sisterhood. Open to any woman that is ready to fall head-over-heels in love with herself!

Check out the powerful #womanpoetry movement that has inspired self-love around the world.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Our Birth Story: Luna Wild

During my pregnancy, people would say to me, "You're a yoga teacher, that baby will just pop right out of you!"  Every time, I would shake my head and laugh. 4 day-long labor. For some reason, that was stuck in my head. A few of my yogi friends recently had experienced 3 and 4 day long labors and I was convinced that mine would be a similar long, drawn out experience. I had come to terms with it and even had embraced it by convincing myself that this way, it would be long enough for my mom to catch a flight out from the East Coast and be there for the baby's arrival. Little did we know, this little babe had an agenda all of her own and would rock our world with her wild entrance.

Flash back a couple of months and Devin and I were deep into our Hypnobirthing classes. We chose this style because it encourages natural, peaceful birthing, free of medication and medical interventions, unless absolutely necessary. We worked with birth coaches and our beloved doula, Tema Mercado to visualize and mentally prepare ourselves for an unmedicated, all-natural water birth. That was my goal and in the weeks leading up to the end of July, I was meditating and breathing into this with every fiber of my being. I made sure to eat super healthy foods and practice yoga as much as possible to maintain my physical strength for such an undertaking. Everyone I sought advice from said plan for the worst and hope for the best, so that's exactly what we did. Here's a timeline of events leading up to the birth of our little mermaid, Luna Wild...

July 23: Our official due date! No signs of baby, just some general discomfort, so it was business as usual. I went for a swim in a friend's pool, then treated myself to a Prenatal Kundalini class where the instructor had us practice "breathing the baby down" and we belly danced with our eyes closed for 11 minutes. We chanted SA TA NA MA, a mantra for releasing limiting patterns of the subconscious to prepare for birth. It was definitely one of the most "hippie" things I participated in during my pregnancy but it turned out to be the most spiritually connected I ever felt to her on the inside. 

During the final meditation, the instructor asked us to listen to any messages the baby was trying to tell us. It sounded silly at first, but once I really tried to dial in and receive, I ended up having this beautiful conversation with Luna in which she said, "Mama, I need you to be three things for me. Be OPEN, STRONG, and LOVING." I have chills all over my body as I write this because that was such a profound, turning-point moment for me in my pregnancy where I, for the first time, really listened to her guidance and finally let her take the lead. Soon enough, she would become my biggest teacher and show me the way...

Later that night, we went out to dinner with friends and I made sure to order the super spicy pasta arrabiata and a glass of limoncello. My attempt at trying some Italian old wives tales to kick start this baby's descent. 

July 24: Still no baby.  Knowing that these are my last days to be completely selfish, I drove 30 minutes north to Encinitas to indulge and take one of my favorite classes of all time -- Bhakti Brunch at White Peacock Yoga. Audrey Sarquilla teaches this special class and it brings me to tears every time. I was craving the deep mind/body/soul connection and that's exactly what happened. My older sister Brandi came along for the ride because baby could arrive at any moment. Luckily, we made it through the entire 90 minute class and I left feeling so rejuvenated and ready for whatever the Universe wanted to send my way. 

Later that night, Devin and I went for our usual Sunday night beach walk and watched the sunset over the Pacific Ocean with friends. As we walked back up the hill to my house, I felt my first big shooting sensation wrap around my back and travel up my belly. I never had Braxton Hicks or any discomfort like this at all during my pregnancy, so I knew right away something was happening. At around 9pm, I was feeling super uncomfortable so we called my doula Tema and she said to just relax and take a bath. Devin was hovering over me asking, "Are you in labor? Are you having contractions?" Being a first time newbie at this whole thing, I had no idea the difference between an intense cramp and a real contraction, so it was a little confusing and overwhelming. In the movies, I had always seen a big dramatic water breaking as the first tell-tale sign of being in labor. My water had not broken, so I figured it was just pre-labor and we needed to chill because this could last a while. 

Around 9:30pm, I crawled in the bath tub and my girlfriend Rozy came over to keep us company. Remembering what we had learned in class, we quickly downloaded the "Contraction Timer" app and started timing the contractions. (Side note: in Hypnobirthing, we call them waves or sensations over "contractions" but for the sake of keeping everyone on the same page, I'll go with contractions for this story).

You're supposed to head to the hospital (or already be there) when your contractions are 4 minutes apart, lasting for 1 whole minute. At this point, they were anywhere between 15 and 5 minutes apart, lasting for about 30 seconds. I spent the next 2.5 hours in the bath tub going through my contractions with Rozy there rubbing my shoulders and holding me up, while Devin packed the hospital bag and got the car ready. 

At midnight, I got out of the tub and started bouncing on a giant exercise ball to relieve the immense pressure building around my tailbone. The contractions were now consistently 5 minutes apart, getting really close to a full minute in length and taking me out at the knees every time I tried to stand up. Then, out of nowhere, the contractions jumped to 2 minutes apart lasting for a full minute every time. Devin, Rozy and I all looked at each other wide-eyed and semi-freaking out, like OK it's game time! My doula was on speakerphone and urging us to get to the Birth Center ASAP otherwise we were about to have an accidental home birth. 

July 25: After what seemed like the longest, worst car ride of my life (picture Devin driving the fastest yet somehow the safest he's ever driven meanwhile I'm in the back seat screaming at the top of my lungs down the 5 South), we arrived at UCSD Birth Center at 1:45am. Seeing my doula's face in the parking lot was the biggest sense of relief I'd felt all night. Her strong, reassuring embrace, combined with Devin's supportive energy behind me -- I knew everything was going to be OK. 

As soon as we got checked into our birthing suite, the midwife came in and did my first pelvic exam. She happily reported, "You're 5 centimeters dialated! Congratualtions, you labored half way at home!" At that point, we were so excited to hear the progress we'd made, but also nervous of what's to come. To be completely honest, the next hour of my life was a blur. I was set up in this big, beautiful, sturdy 4 poster King sized bed where I alternated between clenching the headboard, laying on my side in fetal pose, moving into a table top position, occasional cat and cow poses, upright holding onto the bed frame, and eventually ended up on my back in a variation of happy baby pose. 

One hour after checking in, at 2:45am, the midwife came back in to check our progress and quickly blurted out, "You're 10 centimeters! The baby's head is right here, do you want to feel it?"  OMG. Words cannot describe the panic I felt at that moment. Everything had progressed so quickly and now the baby was actually coming! All I could think was, we were just watching sunset, just the two of us, like 5 hours ago, how did this happen so fast?!?! 

The midwife called her team of nurses in to quickly prep for a birth nobody was truly ready for. Looking back, I think me being a first time mom, they maybe thought I was exaggerating in describing the intensity of the contractions. Or maybe, from their experience, they thought I would get "stuck" somewhere between 5 and 10 centimeters and we'd have at least another day before baby, which happens quite often. Either way, all 6 women in the room plus Devin, all at once, collectively realized that my water hadn't broken, this baby was coming en caul (inside her amniotic sac) and there was no stopping her! My doula had to constantly remind me to keep breathing and stop clenching. Ironic, I know, considering that I've been teaching this to other people for more than 5 years. Subconsciously, or rather very consciously, I was trying to hold her in. I was trying to slow down the process, and somehow enjoy the moment, but she had already decided that this was her time. With fierce conviction, my doula urged me to listen to baby Luna. Through every contraction, Tema reminded me to talk to her, connect with her, breathe and open up to this experience. 

Lying flat on my back, with Devin behind me massaging my shoulders, Tema on my left side doing aromatherapy and holding a mirror so Devin could the progression, my midwife told me to really bear down. After 10 minutes of deep, focused pushing (what felt like pushing out a water balloon since she was still in her sac), baby made her way through little by little. First the head, then the shoulders, and as the bottom half of her body came through, she stretched her little right arm out straight and burst through her sac. Devin was able to watch the whole thing happen. As the water poured out of me, baby Luna emerged down her very own slip-and-slide and was quickly placed on my belly. From there, she did the famous "breast crawl" in which newborns instinctively army crawl up your body and find the breast on their own. She searched around for a few seconds, then tried to latch on and nurse. Meanwhile, I birthed the placenta after just a few quick pushes. Compared to a baby, the placenta felt like nothing! We delayed umbilical cord cutting and kept her connected to her placenta for another 10 minutes, until it naturally stopped pulsing. 

By 2:59am, after 6 hours of active labor (5 at home and one in the birth center), our sweet baby girl had arrived! Weighing in at 6 pounds 14 ounces and 19 inches long, Luna Wild Burstein came out with a full head of blonde silvery hair and bright blue eyes. My favorite part of the whole labor experience was the few hours following her arrival. Between 3 and 5am, she laid right on my chest for some precious skin-to-skin bonding and learning together how to nurse. After that, I needed some time to clean up and process everything that had happened, so she went over to Devin for father-daughter bonding. Around 6am, I crawled back in bed with the two of them and together, we watched the sunrise from the window of our birthing suite, as a family of 3. I hadn't cried at all during the labor, I was more in shock and struggling to find my breath, but at that moment, as the sun came up on Monday morning, July 25th 2016, I finally broke down. She was finally here! I did it! We did it! In the end, it was much quicker, more painful and intense than I ever could have imagined (the midwives called it a precipitous birth, aka"FAST AND FURIOUS") but I am happy to say we ended up having the all-natural, unmedicated birth we had dreamed of and prepared for.

Our little baby girl had arrived safe and healthy earthside, in her very own water world! In the coming days, we would find out that being born en caul has a very special meaning. Many cultures believe that "caulbearers" have psychic abilities, are natural healers, and have a special connection with the ocean. During my pregnancy, she was alongside me as I taught hundreds of yoga classes, led many moon circles and goddess gatherings, and she even experienced a temazcal (Indian sweat lodge) while inside my belly. Her connection to the divine seems to have been established long ago. In the 6 weeks since her birth, she has already taught me so much about myself and the power of the divine feminine. I cannot wait to see what other lessons this little mermaid is here to teach us!

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

A Very Bohemian Baby Shower

Last month, we celebrated my 30th birthday by saying goodbye to my 20's and hello to mama life. As someone who designs events and leads women's gatherings for a living, thinking of doing one for myself became overwhelming and stressful. It was such a breath of fresh air for my family and friends to take the lead on this one and plan my baby shower! I'm not so good at giving up control and letting others do for me, so there were many conversations that started out with, "Mandy relax, we got this!" 

Luckily, I'm surrounded by a group of creative, resourceful, go-getter goddesses who worked together to create one of the most beautiful days of my life. Walking into the shower literally took my breath away. From the handmade flower crowns, to the long farm tables, to the prayer flags, acoustic live music, henna tattoo artist, green juice cocktails, tie-dye onesie station, and all my favorite people frolicking around the garden barefoot -- these girls truly outdid themselves! Every detail was so intentional. 

Thank you so much to my family for flying in from the East Coast to be there for this special day. Shout out to my 85 year old Grandma for making the trek out to San Diego in style! Thank you to my mama, sisters, friends, and our local community of yoga girls for coming together to create my dream Bohemian Baby Shower. This little girl is surrounded by the best group of Aunties to teach her how to be a goddess one day. I'm forever grateful! 

Vendor List
If you're in the San Diego area and need some amazing people to help you pull off a bridal shower, bachelorette, baby shower, or birthday party, here are the magic makers I highly recommend!
Green Juice //  Farm to Fork  La Jolla
Catering //  Poke platters by ILYLYFfoods - the lilikoi (passionfruit) salmon was to die for!
Dessert //  Raw dairy free cheesecakes by Jenny - recipe here!
Flowers //  by Leslie of Cleo Beauty 
Photography //  Rozannne Edwards Media
Henna Artist //  Tejal of Henna San Diego
Music //  island blues acoustic serenades by musician Matt Huz 

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