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, Travel, Yoga

Traveling Cross-Country

Traveling Cross-Country to Yoga Teacher Training  (#1- TriYoga)


I vow to be open to the spontaneity of life. I vow to let what happens happen. I vow to keep my heart and mind open on this trip.

I wish I’d thought about these vows eight hours ago, before my seven hour trip turned into a 9 hour trip, before my Airbnb accommodations for the night canceled on me, and no one respond to my Couchsurfing requests. I wish I had thought of these before I got frustrated by not being able to check for accommodations due to traveling through heavy traffic and construction.  That would’ve been a great time to start this practice. Regardless, I’m starting it now; on the small curvy Pennsylvania roads, leading to a very small town, with a very old-school, and a yoga teacher training which I have been looking forward to attending for several months.

When I signed up, it sounded like a great idea. As the time is gotten closer, I’ve doubted that initial enthusiasm. My mind argues: What the hell am I doing signing up for a yoga teacher training anyway?!  Whose bright idea was that? Plus, there’s just too much to do at home. I have a big trip coming up. I have a business to start. I just need some time to myself.

My response: I’m going anyway

I’m going to try to be present. To be here and now. To breathe. No matter how slow the practices. I hope it slow. I hope it’s boring. I hope I’m forced to let go of my crazy mind, with all it’s plan making and all the ways that I try to control my life, because my life is a full catastrophe on wheels.

This is what I wanted – after all. Isn’t it?

I’m rather nervous – but not really. I’ve done enough new and exciting bold and weird off-the-wall things, that I know how to do it. Inside I feel a small seed an ember of excitement. I’m going to found that ember. I’m going to keep it safe I’m going to blow on it and feed it and see what it grows into.


by Tama Cathers, DVM, MS, BA Biology and Sociology, 2nd Degree in ToShinDo, Elemental Self Defense,  Threshold Choir Director, TriYoga Teacher Training Student, Sex Coach Trainee, Mixed Media Artist – Ceramics, Fused Glass, & Wire Wrapping, 2000 miler Appalachian Trail hiker, Gardener, and Herbalist.



Yoga – A Beginning….or Two Beginnings

Yoga – A Beginning….or Two Beginnings

Up next is a series of articles from yoga teacher training. This needs a little explaining. I enrolled in two yoga teacher training courses. I enrolled in “TriYoga”, the yoga I have practiced and loved the best for the last 10 years. It is a 100 hour teacher training course meant to lead to TriYoga certification, but does not meet all the Yoga Alliance requirements. Due to this fact, and that training is over 8 hours away, I then signed up for a local yoga teacher training, “ParaYoga.”

I start this series with my first teacher training in TriYoga. After my first set of articles, from this first TriYoga training, I will post some more recipes. After that will come articles on my “first” local teacher training, in ParaYoga. Then more Recipes. More on life. Some on Herbs, etc…

I think these blogs are important to include.  I want a story which can be followed, which includes real struggle, and hopefully growth.

Having been through the first TriYoga teacher training, the first ParaYoga teacher training and now the second TriYoga teacher training, I can now say divine intervention lead me to both. I could not have chosen two more complimentary practices. They are so different, yet so alike. In their philosophy, they are like to brothers which essentially different constitutions, but that look so alike that are barely not twins. Their values are the same, though not their pacing. They are delightful, and I am divinely blessed.

Don’t fret about which is which. Don’t worry. I am driving. Just enjoy the ride.

Personal Wisdom, Yoga




As my life falls apart and reforms itself, I am breathing. I know – it sounds so….

Innocuous. Ineffective. Inactive. Stupid. New-Age-y. Hippy Dippy – like who in the hell is that going to help?


Well – I think it will help me.

Remember started this whole blogging gig because I needed to change my life. Now my life is changing, and it’s really scary. And – really boring. Nothing is happening! Plus – everything is going too quickly. All at the same time.

So first, let’s talk about boredom. I must have a pathological fear of boredom. I hate the idea of just sitting, say waiting for my daughter to get out of school, just….sitting Sitting! Waiting…. for minutes at a time! Not getting some task accomplished! Ugh! I can hardly stand it. This paranoia of having nothing to do is what causes me to bring 3 times more work with me than I would ever think to get to. It also causes me to always be late, as I squeeze one more thing in. Yes, I CAN do a full weeks grocery shopping in 15 minutes – as long as things go perfectly well!


So back to breathing: I am taking this yoga teacher training. It is a wonderful system my long time teacher has been following for decades. As part of the training I got videos for home practice.

About 15 minutes into first video, the earth flow, still in a seated position, I wondered just how long this video was. Geez! I was still on the floor!

Twenty five minutes into it, I was thoroughly bored. I had Things To Do! Now I’d been seated, or on my back in a fetal position for almost a half hours. I rolled my eyes, and tried to breathe. The roommate in my mind, you know the one you can’t get rid of, and who never shuts up – the inner critic Yes! That one said, “How can you breathe, when you are so BORED!!!” “I am trying to be quite, and do my yoga!” I said to my inner critic. “This isn’t how MY teacher does it!” said the room-mate.  “This is the same flow she teaches, and the same training she took,” I said back.  “But it’s too sssslloooowww!” she said and stomped her foot. “OMG. I am going to die!”  Then an all out fight exploded between myself my talkative whiny ass roomate.

Finally, we came to terms. I was the winner, not the room-mate in my mind. We looked over at the clock – twenty seven minutes down……33 minutes left to go! OMG!

I breathed and followed the video. What would it be like, I wondered, if I just DID this? What if I just let this be what I do, for an hour, or however long this video is. What if this is exactly what I need to do: breathe and stretch. I made a commitment to myself – I was going to do the whole video, they whole time.  Yes, I might die –  but I was damn sure I’d die doing this  F ’ing slow yoga video!

I am not sure how I made it through. It was more like 60 of molasses than 60 minutes of yoga.

It was just what I needed. When I got to the end, relaxing in yoga nidra….I didn’t want to stop.

Don’t think this was the end of the battle, however.


Then next time I put on the next video, we were doing a ‘water’ flow. Instead of spending an hour on my back, I spent an hour on my belly. I wanting to walk away, again. I counseled myself to stay. It was so SLOW! It was so boring! Yes, but I would just breathed my way through it. I felt crazy. I felt like crying. Yes, but I reminded myself, of a story of a woman who started meditating. She cried through her first 90 days of meditating.

That is exactly what I felt like. Okay, I might have cried a little, which is when my inner room-mate made fun of me, stuck out her tongue, then left to do something ‘interesting.’ Which obviously wasn’t me!


The third yoga flow – Air. We did endless rounds of a sun salute. 60 minutes of the same 10 moves. SIXTY MINUTES!!! I thought I might die. Instead, I kept doing them, until my talkative room-mate had been pounded senseless with the monotony, lay on the couch of my mind gasping, then blessedly silent. Even my body gave up fighting just being there.


I got out the fourth and final video of the series – Fire. Yes! Action Adventure! This was going to be great! Always save the best for last! We had a real yoga practice here.

It was ssslloooowww. Yes, boring — whatever, but wasn’t it interesting how my body felt? I felt composed of two parts; an outer part shell that moved and felt like armor, over the inner part, which felt like…..soul. It was like wearing a suit of a giant armadillo, look how it moves, so hinged and stiff, all around the soft inner part that it me. A ‘me’ that is almost like ….light. It is so…weird.

I felt like I was meditating. I felt like I was standing up, doing Tai Chi. I felt like I was some hermit monk, of ages past, doing rituals alone, in a deep honorable meditative space.

My inner critic apparently vacated. Curiosity had replaced her. Curiosity said “I know this is slow. Slowing down is what I am here for. I know this is boring….until it is not boring. Until it is fascinating.”


Slow is hard to do however. For one moment, I am doing it. I need that; the rediscovery of being fascinated by what is, not worried about what was or will be.

I know this is not going to make my world go back to rightness.


But maybe it is.

Maybe – it IS making it go back to rightness.


So next, I just repeat the series again.

And again.

And again.


by Tama Cathers, DVM, MS, BA Biology and Sociology, 2nd Degree in ToShinDo, Elemental Self Defense Instructor, Meditation Instructor, Threshold Choir Director, TriYoga Teacher Training Student, Sex Coach Trainee, Mixed Media Artist – Ceramics, Fused Glass, & Wire Wrapping, 2000 miler Appalachian Trail hiker, Gardener, and Herbalist.