My friend Alexandra has recently started a great blog called I Love Yogis. I Love Yogis is a site dedicated to showcasing and celebrating the global community of yoga teachers. The founding intention of the I Love Yogis project is to glorify all the hard-working, big-hearted teachers in the world who have the best interests of others at the center of their life’s work. While not everyone’s dharma is to act as a yoga teacher, we can all certainly cultivate yogic qualities and appreciate those who live their lives in service of those qualities. The belief is that the more we converse around these traits and the people who embody them, the better to aid the shift in global consciousness and keep the snowball of love rolling.
I am honored that she asked me to participate in this project. As each new interview unfolds, I am constantly awed by the different answers and perspectives, and all of the ways we find our Selves in the practice of yoga. If you are interested in reading my interview, I thank you for taking the time to if you choose and welcome your comments, as always.
This is well overdue, but I do have a good excuse… as I have been busy becoming a new mom and riding the waves of each new day as they are all an adventure of their own. (And that’s my disclaimer.)
A few months back, my friend Jenny, and also the founder of the Your Soul Style project, asked me to answer a few questions about my own personal style and how I have come to it over time. Your Soul Style is an online blog and platform dedicated to the ‘soul style’ movement, which is about self-expression through the vehicle of style. It clearly stands behind the notion that the most important thing to remember when developing your sense of style, is that you are at your best when you are truly being yourself. I couldn’t agree more with this sentiment and strive hard every day to be the most authentic version of myself. When I am trying to be something I’m not, I feel uncomfortable in my own skin and that shows in how I walk, talk and carry myself. Can you relate? How do you present the best and most genuine version of yourself?
To quote Jenny, “Mika has found the perfect balance of work and life, which for her are essentially one in the same. She has embraced the uncertainties of life with grace, poise, courage and strength and inspires others professionally and personally with the wisdom gained from her introspective experiences. Her biggest accomplishment happened this past October, when her and husband Ryan welcomed their son Jonah Mason Oakes into the world. She is glowing particularly brighter these days. As a brand new mom, she continues to welcome each new day with a lesson to be learned, a challenge to be conquered and emotional growth to be had. She is the epitome of soul style.” You can find the full article here.
Here I am in the very middle of the life that I’ve always known, and the life I’m about to begin as new mom. I am sitting on the fence and seeing both sides, but not comfortably grounded in either. It’s a very unsettling feeling and a very unsettling time, even though there is so much good to look forward to.
There are so many different forms of this in between place, existing in greater forms such as becoming a new parent, or lesser forms such as right after a yoga practice… you have just spent an hour or so breathing into your body, and that place – right as savasana ends and you are cued to rise up again into a comfortable seat and an aware mind. You are in between that quiet and still space you’ve just created after practicing, and the space before the rest of your day quickly kicks in.
We are so lucky that we even have these subtle yet important moments. As yoga practitioners, and as aware beings living through life, we sometimes get caught up in the moments. After all, we are human. Hopefully we have the ability to then realize we are caught up, and then take a step back and reassess.
Today I have reassessed where I currently am. I have been anxiously awaiting the arrival of my first child, a baby boy, who is comfortably nestled in my womb at this time. I don’t blame him, as I’m sure the safety and warmth that the womb provides is the best place on earth. So in letting my anxiety get the best of me in certain moments, and while trying to stay busy and keep things moving, I am the farthest thing from relaxed. Even though I am engaging in “relaxing” activities such as acupuncture, reflexology, walking, etc… This imminent birth and life changing experience that is looming overhead is way more palpable than any of the relaxation I am trying to embody.
Today I took myself onto my mat. I played music loud, closed my eyes and allowed my body to move into shapes that it was thirsty for. What a humbling experience it is to be a pregnant body as someone who is “so in touch” with what the body thinks it needs. Sometimes we over calculate what we “should be” or “could be” doing during these times of in between, when really all we “need” to be doing is listening with intense ears, not by trying to control outcomes we will never be able to.
The mat took me back into my body and my breath and transcended me into a place of peace… the first real time I’ve felt peaceful in a while. I lost myself in the beats in the background and breathed into the backs of my legs… my shoulders and arms. It felt amazing. I felt inspired enough to put some thoughts together in the form of this blog and figured I’d share, as it’s not that often that our awareness is palpable enough to articulate.
Yu – Ishq
Muladhara – Vive
Weather Storm – Massive Attack
Chopping the Woods – East Forest
Song 2 – DJ Krush
Apana – East Forest
My Angel Rocks Back and Forth – Four Tet
Launch – Rocket Empire
Bhakti – Ishq
Walk the Walk – East Forest
Uno – Ludovico Einaudi
Energia – Ishq
A New Life – Ishq
Enjoy the latest and greatest music compilation for yoga and more!
A Fuoco – Ludovico Einaudi
Die Junge Nonne – Antony Peebles
Dorval – Julia Kent
Composure – Bernhard Fleischmann
Sel – Smadj
Carnivores Unite – Blockhead
Grito Nocturno – El Percal
Summer Haze – Shapeshifter
Within – Daft Punk
My Sweet Lord – Joel Harrison
The Light – Album Leaf
Meditation, Transformation – Various Artists
Breathing In – Shaman’s Dream & Craig Kohland
My husband Ryan and I watched the documentary “The Business of Being Born” last night. As expectant parents, this might sound strange, but after watching the film, the actual notion of BIRTH itself hit home for me. It felt like the tip of the iceberg of information for the many questions already formulating in my mind. I realize now, that sadly, so much of the birthing and prenatal process is doing what we’re told to do. Without doing the research outside of what the doctor tells you, you follow western guidelines through the eyes of an OB/GYN and “normal” hospital procedures. As a complete novice to the world of pregnancy even with the experience of having worked with several pre and post natal woman along their journey… this film was eye opening for me.
“The Business of Being Born” was produced by Ricki Lake and follows different women (along with the actual film maker herself who was pregnant at the time) throughout their pregnancies. It focuses a lot on the medicalized experience at the hospital vs. a home birth. Often times, what we fail to realize as women who are going through this process is that much of the birthing experience is widely based on fear. Women are made to feel like they aren’t strong enough to withstand the pain of birth when actually we’ve been doing it for years… (think cave woman style) without the help of meds, epidurals, pitocin, etc.
Speaking from my own experience, when the initial news of the pregnancy happened, it was SUCH a loaded feeling. A mix of total excitement, absolute terror and then “now what?” When we first found out, the news came at a very bittersweet time. Ryan’s father had just passed away unexpectedly and two days after, we found out. We had the memorial weekend to get through first and then proceeded to tell our families. All I kept thinking about at the time, was that there was another soul inside of my body. That feeling was so real and so unknown. I felt that because of the recent passing of Ryan’s Dad, this pregnancy was meant to be. A true illustration of the circle of life… such a beautiful and hard thing.
With all there is to think about with pregnancy, oddly enough – the first thing wasn’t the birth itself for me. It was more like “will it be a boy or a girl” “will everything be viable with the pregnancy” worries and fears about all that could or might go wrong… then the excitement around the actual planning, while the change in the body starts to occur – it is seriously endless. When it came to thinking about the birth, I don’t feel like it truly set in until I saw this movie last night. I have thought about it on a somewhat superficial level, but envisioning myself in the actual moment is an entirely different thing. Obvious realization: in order to experience the joys of this child we are bringing into the world, I will have to give birth to him.
Here I am in full awareness now. I have planned on a hospital birth up until this point, and truthfully I feel I might still go with the hospital birth. The home births that were featured in the movie seem much more up my alley, but I can’t lie and say that because I have never done this before, being in a hospital provides me with a sense of safety. We hired a doula as well, and that also provides me with a great sense of comfort to take on birth feeling fulling supported. With that being said, I feel that it would be a diservice to myself to not research other avenues. In these next few weeks, I plan on meeting with both a home birth midwife as well as a hospital midwife just to see what some of the differences/pros/cons are.
The more information we have about the actual birth process itself, the better we can formulate the birthing plan that is right for us. As as yoga teacher and massage therapist, I would coin myself as someone who is very in tune with my body and my mind. Because of that, I truly want to create through empowerment of knowledge, the space for a calm birth not out of fear, but out of strength.
The Mouthchew, Stars of the Lid
Twenty Two Fourteen, The Album Leaf
Nothing Thought, Sonnymoon
Beatific, East Forest
Subterranean Sanctuary, Desert Dwellers
Cantamilla, Tranquility Bass
Grandmothersphere, East Forest
Come To Me, Björk
Breath, Helen Jane Long
Mirror, Helen Jane Long
Samadhi, Shaman’s Dream Project
1/1, Brian Eno
Sometimes Sunday mornings are the greatest… especially after a solid night’s sleep! There’s a brightness to the day when sleep is fulfilled, and as of recent times – since my sleep patterns have not been so great… I am fully aware of just how important getting sleep is.
Some of the benefits of catching zzz’s include:
Can add years to your life! (both literally and physically/aesthetically)
Helps relieve or prevent inflammation of muscles and joints
Sparks creativity and a new passion for the day ahead or life in general
Sharpens attention span
Helps with weight gain or loss
Helps relieve stress, anxiety and depression
Ways to enhance your chance of getting a good night’s sleep:
Drink less caffeine during the day, but especially at night before bed
Avoid eating dinner or snacking past a certain hour
Watch less scary or dramatic TV or media before bed
Give yourself the chance to unwind after a long day
Take a hot bath
Try to put your mind at ease by creating a dark and cozy sleep environment
Lavender under your pillow or a simple inhalation of the scent before bed sometimes help reset brain patterns and aids in relaxation
Repeat a mantra for peace and relaxation. This can also be an idea or notion you are working more on actualizing as truth in your life. This can be made up, or one that already exists that you can find in various meditation or yogic books.
**A mantra is a sound, syllable, word, or group of words that is considered capable of “creating transformation
You Don’t Know What You Mean to Me – Booka Shade
Peaceful Air (Album Mix) – Desert Dwellers
Four-Day Interval – Tortoise
Sel – Smadj
Days Gone By – Eastern Sun & John Kelley
The Nomad – Niraj Chag
Send and Receive – Tycho
Cosmo-Bali-tan – Prem Joshua
Computer Love – Techmaster P.E.B
Feeling Good – My Brightest Diamond
Roads – Portishead
To the Evening Child – Stephan Micus
Morning Meditation – Ali Akbar Khan