Health, Personal Wisdom, Yoga

Knees to chest

Knees to chest

The Earth Series of my Triyoga practice involved a lot of lying on your back and you pull your knees.

This. Is. Torture.


Apparently people like this.

To me, that’s like saying somebody enjoys being put on the rack!

– It’s horrible and awful!


There’s no natural curve left in my back. when on your back, the idea is to maintain a natural curve, so that if there was a small caterpillar under the small of your back, you wouldn’t squish it and it would wiggle away. My Caterpillar’s would be snatched. Flat.

Knees to chest, for me takes all the curve out of my back. It’s draining, and hurts, and is just awful. I think I mentioned that. This likely means there is a lot of emotion tied up in this move. So – now I have unpacked, shyness, embarrassment, weakness, and now our favorite – some deep shame.

Interestingly enough it’s awful for my mother as well. My teacher helped by introducing me to another of her Yoga students, who also hates this pose!  All three of us,  find child uncomfortable, in addition. It least I have some company!

The suggestion was that I  inheritage this body tension from my mother, as we share similar body types.  The other suggestion was that by fixing my body tightness, I could help her …..and I can help my daughter.  I don’t know that it’s true, but certainly something’s going on! Even if it is only the way we sit and are active.

I’m sure this is related to my difficulty with Bridge Roll 2. They all focus on my sacral area and lower lumbar spine. I understand that I’ll be able to work through this overtime. If I choose to.

I suspect I will choose to. I like the idea of healing myself. I also like the idea of healing my lineage. Is that possible? I don’t know. But I will give it a try.


by Tama Cathers,  from experiences July 2017

Health, Personal Wisdom, Yoga

Yoga – Bridge Rolls One and Two

Bridge Rolls One and Two

A year ago, I was at the All Choir Gathering of Threshold Choir’s – doing yoga and changing my life. I had some shoulder issues from chronic injuries. Old, so old I can hardly tell you what they started out as.  Years of martial arts training and American sitting posture has not helped. I’ve had sciatica for the last 20 years acquired as a student slave, standing on hard floors for 18 hours at a time for six weeks. Life-Long gift. Veterinary school – Cool. Thank you.

At the morning yoga, there were so many of the moves that I could not do. The yoga teacher was 15 years my senior, and she could do all these things.  I said that I was struggling, and she mentioned that she used to struggle with the same issues. After class, I asked her what she had done to resolve these issues. She told me her options had been surgery or physical therapy, acupuncture and yoga. She chose the latter. With intense physical therapy, acupuncture and yoga she was able to regain use of her shoulder. I decided then and there that I wanted the same thing for myself.

I am now a big believer in Physical Therapy. I only have to wonder why I waited so long! I used many modalities in the past, including emotional work, chiropractics, herbal therapy, massage, acupuncture, acupressure, stretching, yoga.…none ever affected permanent changes.

So here I am doing PT, and Yoga.

For years (maybe decade), I’ve noticed that I have the ability to do Bridge Roll One. This is really rocking your hips.  It is done by rolling your hips up, just a little bit, no higher than your ribs, and then back down again. Rolling up one vertebra at a time and then back down again – I can do bridge roll one.

I can’t do Bridge Roll Two smoothly. This has you roll your hips so that you form an slant between you knees and your shoulders, and then roll back down again. It’s odd, because the place I can’t do it is the same place I can do in Bridge Roll One – my lower spine. In Bridge Roll Two, I can roll my spine up one vertebra at a time, but when I roll my back down, my lower spine falls one complete chunk. Clunk!

It defies my understanding. I just did the same movement in Bridge Roll One. Why can’t I do it for Bridge Roll Two? You would think that the problem would be my upper higher spinal areas, the ones I hadn’t touched in Bridge Roll One. But that’s not true – I can roll this section of my spine in one instance, and I can’t in the other. The only thing that has changes is what action has just gone before.

It’s frightening and embarrassing how difficult it is. I struggle with my resistance to not being able to “do” it. Still, I can work on it and watch it.

I noticed this for years, without really noticing.  However, at a sloooow pace, I’ve had the opportunity to really pay attention. To get curious. To ask, why is this? Generally we move too fast to ask these pesky questions.

I think that maybe why we move too fast!

Finally, I learned to do something different. Instead of just noticing that it is difficult, I am taking more time.  I am forcing myself to roll down, on vertebrae at a time – no matter how long, or how many breaths it takes.  I can do this!  I have to focus intensely on rolling each vertebrae down to the floor, pulling with my core, and breathing.  I have to redefine what a bridge roses. Just like I have to redefine what my life is. By focusing, by being conscious, and mindful.

This really sucks. And it’s just what I need.


by Tama Cathers,  from experiences July 2017



Burnout and Stress, Food Medicine, Herbal Medicine, Parenting, Personal Wisdom, Yoga

Food Wisdom Herbs Yoga: A Pursuit of Health & Happiness

Food Wisdom Herbs Yoga: A Pursuit of Health & Happiness

I am re-titling my blog page. When I started out, I wanted to share what I knew. I know lots of stuff, from herbs, to mothering, to medicine. What I was, however, was in search of the right stuff to make me stronger, more resilient, and to rebuild my body systems. I put up a lot of recipes. My search and growth lead me, and continue to lead me, down pathways different than I first envisioned. My subjects are broader and my search is still ongoing. The title I first chose, it’s not fitting me right now.

So as this is the beginning of the New Year, I am putting up my New Title, to better reflect this blog.

I will still be throwing in recipes, from my current explorations as well as from the past; you know, when I ate things normally.  In addition, I will be posting some of my stories chronologically.  I want others to be able to follow a progression.  I hope the story is one of growth and flowering, or at least change. I figure it will be, because, well – that’s what I do.

I have spent 9 months trying to figure my life out, inside and out.  Inside – that means how do I eat without craving, binging, eat for health, eat for vitality. My bar has fallen recently; all I want to do is eat without GI disturbances or pain.  Outside – that means how do I work in this world in a way that promotes health for others as well as myself. How do I negotiate the world of invariable stress, while remaining balanced, even through the tuff stuff.

I am still in search of that combination that brings us balance; parenting, working, studying, developing, self-care and nurturing others, relationships rocky and smooth, exercise, writing, insights, play…

I have come a long way already, from despair to curiosity regarding work. From hope, to despair, and now to curiosity about how to eat.  I am working hard at developing new parts of myself, and beginning to untangle the web of Unseeing that wraps around all women.  I am now parenting a teenager, and learning first hand about parental toxicity and alienation.  I am deep in two yoga teacher training courses, as well as a sex coaching program. They are very hard, but good work.  I am now married, and managing the tidal waves from that. So much good stuff, turned over and ready to be examined and learned from! It may sound horrible, but it is a really really good trip.

I hope you will continue to come along.

Let’s see where we can get to, together.


by Tama Cathers, ex-Marine, Snowshoe Bunny, Hollow Cave Deep Sea Diver, Monk, and Racer Driver….Nah! Not really!


Burnout and Stress, Personal Wisdom, Yoga

Cow – The Story of a Yoga Pose

Cow – The Story of a Yoga Pose (#1 TriYoga)


I’ve always thought I could do “cow,” or “table top.”  (The yoga name is Bitilasana.)

Today, I learned that I cannot.

I thought I knew and understood how to so this position. In fact, it looks like the simplest yoga pose besides the basic standing pose.  I guess I never actually thought about it. It seemed so simple.  I “just did it.”

Like many things, most things…everything, it bears thinking about.  Like many ‘simple’ things – it is simple, but it is not EASY!

The pose does have different versions, I learned, and differs slightly with which yoga system you are training under.  You may argue which one is correct, but as a student, I won’t join you. Different systems, different teachers teach the same thing in different ways.  That’s just life.  It is a table top type of pose, on your hands and knees.  Today, I was told that my knees should be behind my hips, and my hands should still stay under my shoulders, at least in this system. I didn’t know this, nor did I realize I wasn’t doing it correctly.

Now that I am getting some feed back, you would think I, and the room mate in my head, would be happy now.  Embarrassingly, I found the pose done this way extremely challenging. As soon as I got in this corrected position, my arms started to tremble and shake.


We work through as many of the variations and props we could throw at it.   It took a long time to work out what the problem was. Was it my wrists? I went through several blocks and wedges to find the thing that worked best. When I used blocks under my hands, I couldn’t do it at all. When I used fists that was OK. When I use my flat hand, I couldn’t staying in the pose but a few seconds. Even with my knees under my hips, it was hard. If I used a wedge and turned it with the high side towards me that helped my wrists, but it was not comfortable on my arms. This is the way wedges are usually used. When I turn the wedge around, so the high side was pointed away from me, I found it immediately relief. My wrist hurt a little, but it was acceptable.

Rather it being a wrist problem it’s a problem of upper arm strength. How embarrassing. I’m just freaking weak.


However – I consider this good news! I can work on that! I’ll get over my embarrassment.

What I did learn, other than how to correctly do the pose, is how much shame we carry around with our abilities, and disabilities. It’s amazing.  We invest so much in our beliefs about what we can do, our abilities, likes and dislikes, and even our weaknesss and disabilities.  Then we double the impact: we tie our views of self and worth to these abilities. I was acting like my worth is tied up in whether I can do cow asana?

Apparently it is.

It was.

I’m taking that investment back.

Ability is always a moving target. We start out unable – in everything we try. We develop ability through practice and healthy doses of failure. Eventually, over time, we lose our sharp edge of ability.  In the end, we often loose all ability and often even our eternally apparent wisdom. So given the fact all this – all of this – is temporary, I’ve determined to learn from the learning. That is practice. And practice, well that is The Practice.

Yoga is about the process of getting into a pose and out of a pose. It is about the experience. The whole experience.  Even more, it is about how that experience informs us about ourselves and our attachments.  This whole ‘failure of being able to do cow’ was a beautiful success in those terms.

I’ll take that and run with it!


by Tama Cathers, DVM, MS, BA, KSU-CVM Zoo Wildlife Exotic Animal Intern in another life,  Instructor Vicksburg Quest,  Elemental Self Defense supporter,  Threshold Choir Director, TriYoga & Sangha Teacher Training Student, Potter & Poet, Writer & Wire Wrapper, repeat offender – Appalachian Trail hiker, Gardener, Herbalist, Dog lover, Mother, and sometimes representing aspects of divine loving mother Kali who will cut your head off, all for your own good of course.


Burnout and Stress, Parenting, Personal Wisdom, Travel

The End of Our Trip

The End of Our Trip

It is our last day before heading home. Today we are sleeping in. This seems like the most important thing to do in London today. It won out over Windsor Palace, Harrod’s, Harry Potter, and the markets. It even beats going to Dover; the last stop on our tentative itinerary. Given the fact that we got up at 3 am yesterday, it makes sense. I think however, it is more than that.

We spent yesterday doing laundry, and eating. That is really all we had on our plates.

That …. is unusual. What I notice is that my life no longer has these gaps of time in which ‘nothing’ is planned. The time in which one might grab a book and read, or rest.

At home, I get to get over jet lag. This time we won’t have done any work to avoid jet lag, as we did on the way over.  A day after I return, I am getting married. (Yay!)  Somehow, I must unpack, write vows, and stay awake past 5 pm! (That will be the hardest part.) I do need to spend some time with my new husband-to-be. Then it will be off on a honeymoon.

In that upcoming trip,  hiking along the Appalachian Trail with my newly wed husband, those down times are required. Of necessity, there are days that one has the important tasks of eating, laundry, and resting. How will it feel, to limit myself, to revisit these times of recharging. I realize I have lost those times. Will I rage against them when imposed upon me? Will they be temporary? Will I bring them back into my daily life?

Through the thin walls of our cottage, I can hear the family next door, with several little children. They have the opposite problem. Days upon days of nothing but eating, laundry and naps. That too is extremely challenging. What does life mean without some sense of ‘doing” something? The question is how do we find, and maintain, that balance point, even through our career development and family emergence? I know many of us struggle with this.

It is interesting for me to experience the extremes of this dichotomy, within such a short period of time. I have gone from not a moment unscheduled, to an extended break from paid work, as well as my hobbies and vocations. I can really feel the challenges in both sides of this: Too Busy/Not Enough challenge.

We have not even dived into the deeper questions of why we do this to ourselves, and why we feel what we do when in these times. Why is it hard to acknowledge that living a good life is no longer enough? Why is it not enough to make it through the day, or through our life, without becoming famous (or at least having someone outside ourselves acknowledged us/our work?)

We use busy-ness to keep us from feeling empty, to keep us distanced from others. The contact might make us feel. Or think. Why is that so uncomfortable? What happens in the stillness / what arises? What is so scary?

See I am doing it now. Here I am blogging on vacation.

In doing so, I am also experiencing, revisiting, some things that were lost and I miss. I am seeing some things that pinch and noting that I would like to change. Inside, I am changing. This is all what I wanted: to change my life, to slow down, to BE more.

It is uncomfortable. I think, however, I am on the right track. I will continue on.

Soon, I will write about food and herbs and yoga adventures. Who knows what else might happen before then! It’s so exciting!



by Tama Cathers

Note below:

img_5706.jpgThis is my favorite art detail.  I can feel the warm slow lick of the comforting dog on the foot of this child, I can hear the thoughts of the dog, and feel the sun, tongue and breeze on the foot.  It makes me laugh and feel warm all at the same time!Details of a Statue

Burnout and Stress, Parenting, Personal Wisdom, Travel




After 3 to 5 hours of hiking, baskets full of silence fill to space between us. Silence filles the sweeping landscape, as well.  I love this time in the hike.   We walk, breathe, appreciate, are together – in silence.  The silences that come before are of different quality. Sometimes they are angry at the hills going up and down.  Sometimes they are filled with daydreams.  Admittedly, sometimes they are filled with panting. However, this time of silence comes with contentment and togetherness.  No just together with each other, but together with everything, the wind, the hills, the grass… All of it.


I am fortunate to have a child that I weaned on grassy silences and miles under her feet.  She will hike 6 hours for the price of a couple of shared scones and a package of blueberries.  Even better, whenever I ask if she wants to go to the road, she asks if that is how the trail goes, and if it doesn’t go to the road, neither does she want to.  I am lucky that way, as sometimes I would definitely go to the road myself, missing some of the beautiful sites!  She amazes me, tolerating hours of rain, hours away from Percy Jackson books. I don’t know why, sometimes. However, I am always grateful.


As we hopped down the rocks of Hadrian’s Wall Trail, I realized that I have an opportunity. Like my daughter, I have the opportunity to create who I am in my next tomorrow.  I was thinking about my foot, the plantar fasciitis I acquired the last year. Stress related. Standing long hours on a hard floor. The running, I believe, was just ancillary.  Today, it is bothering me a bit, but yoga, physical therapy, and destressing have changed it substantially.  Today, I am hopping down rocks, flying towards my next future, just as she is flying towards her first future.  I can choose something thoughtfully, something that allows me health, that is lower in stress.  What a wonderful gift!


Before we set out on this trip, I told my fiance that I was happier, that I could finally feel the lessening of stress.  That is wonderful.  As it this.  This is different.  It’s like the idea is really viscerally dawning on me. I have a new start!


We both have the opportunity to choose a future. I am hopeful for both of us.


Today’s Favorite Food: Sticky Toffee Pudding




Personal Wisdom

Being Brave – Telling our Stories – A Prelude

Being Brave – Telling our Stories – A Prelude

I believe our stories have the ability to connect us, to make us feel that we are not alone, and to heal us. There is healing in our stories.  Knowing that you are not the only one who has felt the way you do, or has gone through the things you are going through – that is the medicine we all need.

Storytelling and story hearing are important tools. When we tell our stories over and over again, we become attached to the story, in a sense we become one with the story. However, when we hear our own stories, or something like our own story, from outside ourselves, then we break that cycle. The stories become just that. A story. Outside yourself. No longer breaking your insides. This is why when we hear others stories, and hear our own stories within them, we sit up and take notice. We nod our heads, and often have a huge sense of relief. This is why I will tell my story.

I believe what I have to say will be important -for someone out there.  Actually, I know it is important.  I have done the research and read the statistics: I know I will strike a chord. It may even save a real life, and living body that goes with it. (My opinion: No one can save their changing metaphorical life – I though I made that clear in a previous blog. Your life is going to die again and again – and you are going to have to recreate it again and again.) Maybe it will just ease some pain, either way – that is what I am after.

We all need connection and normalization. It has saved my life, well…at least my sanity! When I hear someone else’s stories, I feel better. I think: “Oh! I feel that way,” “I felt that way,” “I thought I was the only one in this situation,” “I thought I was crazy!” Whenever this happens for me, I also have a healing that comes with knowing I am not alone. If you made it through, I can.

I want to be brave and tell you what is falling apart. But to be honest, I am still scared. Almost too, scared. Almost.

To actually say what I am going through – out loud – is terrifying. This from the woman who will jump on crocodiles in the dark of the night in foreign continents, capture wild red wolves with a net, hike the Appalachian Trail alone, drink almost any strange beverage, and jump into almost frozen lakes on every continent!

But, but…. What if I change my mind. What if people who I still want to like and respect me, decide that they don’t like or respect my choices? What if I let slip the secret that life is not perfect? That jobs or careers are not perfect? That other people are not perfect?

Not only am I not perfect, but now the whole world is subject to inspection. That is a terrible, terrible thing to do to everyone else, with their perfectly built facades of lives, relationships, careers, health, etc. I dread the feed back. What if I crush your dreams? What if you will no longer love/respect/hire/talk to me, because I told you that it is an imperfect world and I am not happy right now?

I know, those fears seem stupid. I know we all have imperfect lives. I know we all need to be fed stories of others losses, failures, stumbles, and humanity. I know it’s medicine to give and medicine to hear.

As I gear up to be honest with my transitions and struggles, I allow myself the space to prevaricate. (I love that word! It is so uncommon that I get to use it! Definition included below.)

With that as a prelude, I will talk about Sweet Potatoes next week. Then there may be some Jackfruit. Then I will talk to you. Then I will tell you some Stories. I hope you will be better for them.


Prevaricate – pri-var-i-keyt – verb. To speak or act in an elusive way. Synonyms: Equivocate, to be evasive, beat around the bush, to shilly-shally, (now isn’t that a nice term!), to dodge the issue,  to sidestep the issue, to waffle. Example “She seemed to prevaricate when asked pointed questions about what she is talking about.”

by Tama Cathers