It's a word that describes a body part. Yet, a state legislator in Michigan was reprimanded for saying the word vagina in a debate on the House floor. Why are we so triggered by the name of a body part? A woman's body part? No body part name strikes a reaction in both men AND women as the word VAGINA. It's not lewd or crude. It's not slang. It's a word that is perfectly normal to say. Does saying "penis" have the same reaction? No, I don't think so. No anatomical body part has more connotations of being "dirty", "bad", "improper" than vagina. As little girls we get the message that we must not give it too much attention, lest we be labeled or looked down upon. Vaginas apparently need to be controlled, supressed, legislated and forgotten. They are also used, abused and treated inhumanely, as evidenced by the rampant sexual abuse of women and the popularity of sex trafficking worldwide. 
    A vagina happens to be the one body part that designates you as a woman. It performs reproductive functions to deliver a baby into the world. It also is a sexual organ and therefore is part of the pleasure of intimate contact. Is it so bad to talk about vaginas? Eve Ensler thought we should talk more, and more openly, about women's vagina's and female experience that she wrote the Vagina Monologues, still popular 16 years later (if you haven't seen it--go!). Take the stigma off of this word and women will be more empowered. It's not up to men to do this. We as women can do it just by our attitudes towards ourselves. Honor yourself. Speak highly of yourself and other women. Don't be afraid to speak up when you feel that you are being degraded, downgraded or buying into anything less than the expression of the Divine Feminine Within.
    Go ahead you can say it! To read more about this story and about Lisa Brown performing the "Vagina Monologues" on the steps of the Michigan State House go to   http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/06/18/lisa-brown-vagina-monologues_n_1607632.html
May All Beings Be Happy and Know Freedom.
With Great Respect.  
 
 
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A desperate mother who traveled from Nepal to Mumbai, India to find her teenage daughter who was trafficked into an Indian brothel.She says, "Until I find my daughter or die, I am not leaving here without her."
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A self-portrait by a 15 year old trafficking victim sold into a brothel and subjected to unspeakable cruelty.Her dream is to become a social worker an to help "those trapped in evil."
We are steadily making progress with our current fundraising total at $6780. It would be wonderful to make it to $7000 by the end of the month-meaning just $220 to stay on track. Because of your generosity and caring spirit, so many mothers like the one above will have a better chance to find their daughters through Off the Mat Into the World's partner programs and make it back home alive. And so many little girls like the one "kara" who's drawing is above, will have a chance at life- to heal and fulfill their dreams through shelters and rehabilitation treatment that your donation will fund. No donation is ever too small! Will you help?
 
 
    Ok, so I am fresh from the hospital and raring to go! One of our cats, Boo Boo, bit me a little harder than I think she meant to, and put me in the hospital with a bacterial infection. Apparently, cat bites are notoriously way worse than dog bites and often lead to hospital stays of IV antibiotic treatments. So I was sprung from the new Capital Health Hospital in Hopewell, which by the way is like staying at an updated hotel of sorts, pumped full of medicine, and catching up on my work. I happen to be so excited to work (after laying in bed for 3 days!).
    I will be updating the new totals of my fundraising efforts this weekend sometime, so check back soon...
    In the meantime, I wanted to tell you about the event coming up at Four Winds Yoga, on Sat, June 23, 9:45- Noon: Seva Solstice Celebration Practice! I have specially designed this program for us, that will celebrate the summer solstice and make the connection between the Sun and Earth and our own body/mind-complex rhythms and cycles. It is not your typical sun salutation thing, but a comprehensive yogic practice that highlights the aspects of Four Winds Yoga that are: breathe, awaken, transform and share. As we bring our bodies in sync with the Universal Life Force, we experience a growing easefulness in living and a greater ability to share that energy with the Universe. It is a sacred circle, and as I've said in earlier posts, the more we become a straw and less of a container, the more Prana or Universal Life Force can flow through us for the benefit of all. So it this excites you, intrigues you, delights you or makes you want more, please join me on Sat, June 23.
    You can sign up here at Seva Solstice Celebration Practice. Get Bright! Shine like the Beautiful Light that You Are! Shine On! See you there!
 
 
    I just found out yesterday that I have been chosen as a Global Mala Mentor for the 2012 Global Mala NJ in Asbury Park, Sat 23! I will be teaching a section of sun salutation practice on the boardwalk that will raise money for 6 charities, along with 9 other selected teachers. The BEST NEWS is that they have also selected MY Global Seva Challenge fundraising efforts, through Off the Mat, Into the World as ONE OF THE CHARITIES to benefit from the event! Many thanks to Bridget Riepl and Reggie Flimlin, who are organizing the event for giving me this opportunity to get the word out and raise money to help victims of sex trafficking.
    There will be over 30 studios around Nj supporting this event and it will simulcast to Newark Stadium. Cory booker and Ed Johnson, mayors of Newark and Asbury Park respectively, will officiate a Pause for Peace, throughout NJ and recognize this as the largest yoga gathering contributing to 6 charities that foster the values of LOHAS (lifestyle of health and sustainability). The event will launch at 8am and culminate around noon with vendors on the boardwalk and live music. Stay tuned for more info and how you can participante.
    Students at the studio have already been talking about taking a carpool van down to the event. I will keep you posted on this should you want to save gas and ride together!
My deepest gratitude to the Divine Mystery!
May all beings be happy and free!
 
 
    Tonight's community yoga class at Four Winds Yoga was so sweet. So many women coming out to support other women- it's wonderful! I am mindful of the deep power of yoga to transform on so many levels. We get a class for a low fee and have an opportunity practice supporting our hearts and bodies with breath. We also get a chance to feel empowered that our donation is making a positive impact on the lives of children and women in India. When we reach out in this way, we feel a little more at peace somehow, a little stronger. We are all related. In yoga it is understood as a matrix or a web. We are each strands of the web. When we vibrate positively, we also vibrate positively all the other strands that we are connected to. It may be invisible to us on some level. But I do know one thing, we can feel our own hearts soften and heal as we reach out to others who need our help. When I get to India, I promise to bring you back first-hand evidence of how our collective efforts have an incredibly positive impact on our sisters and our children in "our web". It would be my honor. Until then, feel the opening in your own heart as you reach into the hearts and lives of others.
 
 
    Our first benefit movie night last Friday, of the screening of the fantastic Yogawoman film was a huge success! Such a positive energy enveloped the studio and I personally felt the exhileration of being together to support one another. We raised $1,009 that night! Thank you so much for attending and for donating to the Global Seva India 2012 to help end sex trafficking for victims of this horrible crime. A special thank you to Kevin, Janis, Craig, Kelly, Helen and Jen for your contributions to the evening. Thank you to everyone who came out and gave from the heart. I am so filled with gratitude.
    Yogawoman highlighted the beauty and power of yoga. In my teaching, it is important to me to educate my students about the fullness and richness of yoga as a tool for self-transformation and not just an exercise or activity to check off of the "to do " list. For me, my spiritual practice is daily and my intent is to practice throughout my day. I started (officially so to speak) with meditation, visualization and prayer around age 21 and by the age of 23 had a daily practice that has seen my through depression, bulimia, anxiety, marriage, divorce, health scares, career changes and starting a new life in which I have devoted to Spirit. I know first hand that if my students can stick through the "I can'ts" and "I'm afraid's" and through the pain that an inner exploration often reveals, that they will find a true sense of healing, empowerment and life purpose. I guess that is why I am so devoted to teaching and feel so inspired to keep learning and growing and evolving. 
    For women, yoga has become a real resource to tap into. But you have to give it time. When someone drops out of yoga, it's sad but also a reminder that everyone is travelling their own path and at their own rate of evolution. It takes a special kind of strength and courage to look at ourselves and allow healing to happen. It takes trust. Everytime we get onto our yoga mats, drop the story, live the moment, we empower ourselves and the asanas help us to gain confidence, self-acceptance and trust in our true self emerging. Yoga helps us let go of who we were told we are, what we have been conditioned to believe is possible for us and drop the self-limiting beliefs. If we are not allowing our energy to flow, then we are depressing our energy, causing all kinds of issues in our bodies and minds. I say YAY! Feel gratitude for your life and that you have the blessing of yoga in your life. Not everyone is so fortunate. Yoga, although challenging,  may just be the answer to the prayers you have made.
    Join us tonight and add your breath and your postures to the collective intention to free all beings from suffering. We will have a s yoga class that will make it possible for young girls and women to be safe and live free. Donations to the Global Seva welcome- suggested $5.
    Oh, and by the way, remember a few entries back about opening to miracles? Well I had the awareness in my morning meditation on Fri before the movie of raising $1008 but I didn't want to attach too much to that. I asked the Universe for support and then left it to That. When I found out after the movie that we had raised... $1009, I was flabergasted! How's that for a miracle? Jai Ma! Jai Shri Mahalakshmiyei!
    Tonight Community Yoga to End Sex Trafficking
    7:00- 8:00pm
    Four Winds Yoga, $5 suggested donation
    Come out and join the miracles and the movements
May All Beings Be Safe and Live With Dignity!
    
    
 
 
    Tonight is our first big benefit event at Four Winds Yoga for the Global Seva Challenge-India 2012 and I AM SO EXCITED, YOU HAVE NO IDEA! Tonight at 7:15pm we will be showing the most excellent, inspirational movie about yoga that I have ever come across in my almost 20 years of practice: Yogawoman: Never Underestimate the Power of Inner Peace. We are so happy to be hosting the kind of event in which EVERYONE BENEFITS. I know WHOLE-HEARTEDLY that everyone in attendance tonight will get something from watching this inspirational movie about women and yoga. I am personally inspired by this movie and it has already shaped and inspired my teaching and has contributed to the clarity I have about where I am evolving as a yoga teacher and dare I say, yoga activist (whew!). In addition, one of the best gifts that I have ALREADY recieved from signing on to the Global Seva Challenge is that I am clearer about how to put my practice into action AND more importantly to clear out some of my internal "stuff" around not feeling supported or feeling isolated in my mind from others. The Seva is saving me from the illusion of separation! Now keep in mind, I have been practicing daily for close to 18 years (time flies, yes?) so my practice has prepared me perfectly for where I am today. There is so much support everywhere for us to "download" into our systems and our hearts, when we have a inner experience of peace. It comes from connecting and honoring our heart's deepest desires. I have learned so much about being at peace with who I am and really going for what I want to manifest in this world. To hear a little more about my insights I will be talking and taking questions after the movie tonight.

    Please come tonight at 7:15pm. You will not regret it. On the contrary, I believe you will leave feeling inspired, transformed in some way, maybe see yourself in a new light. YOU WILL BE HELPING OTHER WOMEN AND GIRLS TO SEE THEMSELVES IN A NEW LIGHT AS WELL. 100% of all proceeds will go to women and girls and help them to feel love and care, to heal and have a chance to live with dignity. No one wants to be abused, enslaved or hurt. YOUR GENEROUS DONATION TONIGHT WILL GIVE SO MUCH. YET THERE IS SO MUCH MORE THAT WE RECIEVE FROM OUR ACTIONS OF COMPASSION AND GENEROSITY! Bring your best friends, daughters. Tell everyone!
                Yogawoman Movie Screening, 7:15pm
                Four Winds Yoga , Pennington NJ
                
www.fourwindsyoga.com for directions 
                Pre-register or drop-in
                Bring a cushion or pillow if you have one
                Tax deductible DONATION at the event/door
                Credit card or checks preferred
                Checks made out to "OTM/The Engage Network"
  
We also will have a small concession stand AND the exclusive pre-order of very cool yoga t-shirts available!  Reminder there is the Friday night "Slow Flow" All Levels Yoga class from 5:45- 6:45pm tonight.            
        Thank you in advance and sending you much love,
            Jill
 
 
     Community yoga is a great concept: people coming to yoga class and money being directed to charity. What is community? How does one decide where the line is drawn? I like the definition of community taken from biology: a community is a group of interacting living organisms sharing a populated environment.  All too often, we shrink our idea of community to our immediate surroundings, but we are also a part of a larger community that populates the entire world. Does that seem overwhelming to you? Yup, it sure can. But then again, the more we see ourselves as part of a greater whole, the more we act with consideration of how our choices, actions and lives effect the whole. If I know that my choice of taking a class will benefit not only me but a child or woman in another part of the world, won't that energy ripple into the world, create positive change and come right back to me as positive energy? That, my friends, is Karma. Karma is the universal principle that actions have consequences. We all know that when we do something from the heart, it immediately feels good. Like putting that $5 or $10 donation in the basket, or helping an elderly person reach a can from a high shelf in a supermarket, or allowing a person to go before you in line at the cash register because they seem to be more in a rush than you are. The feeling is immediate, we can exhale, we can let go of our tension. 
    Our class tonight will do so much to help others. Here are some projects you will be participating in creating by your donation:
1) Project Rehabilitation- Building a Sanlaap Shelter for 25 rescued girls from the redlight districts; provide food, shelter, medication, education and vocationsl skills training in a small rural town outside of Kolkata, India. Sustainable materials, clean running water. Physical building and one year running costs.
2) Made by Survivors Employment Center Expansion- train and employ 60 survivors of sex slavery as artisans in Kolkata and Mumbai and create a new center to empower and train women to make a living, education and job training for survivors and their children. Funding for next several years.
3) Mother Miracle School in Rishikesh which serves the slums of the poorest population and community (there's that word again!) A school to house computer training, women's empowerment program, electrician skills, English classes as well as other educational classes.
    Some idea of how your community can grow just by coming to class and/or making a donation, coming to Yogawoman Benefit Movie Screening this Fri, April 20 @ 7:15pm. Tell your friends! Tell everyone you know! Share it on Facebook! Pick up the telephone!
We are ALL ONE! Celebrate! There is much to be thankful for!
See you tonight!
 
 
 
 
    This film is so exciting to me because it celebrates the real beauty of women: our strength, our courage, our joy, our challenges in the face of a world that can be harsh and dismissive of us just because we are female. The rise of the feminine ideals of sharing, concern for others, service, living from the heart and having the natural capacity to be connected to our inner realm and stillness are what our world needs more than ever, regardless of whether we are male or female. We are mothers, mentors and grandmothers to the next generation of girls and boys and our yoga practices are helping us to see what Truth resides in our hearts, helping us to filter out the noise and busy-ness of the world (or at least that's what we're working on!) You can read more about this film at www.yogawoman.tv 
    Whatever yoga tradition you practice or whether you have never practiced yoga, this documentary film will help you see yourself in a new light! You will see average working women, moms and grandmoms, double-mastectomy survivors, large-bodied women, women of color and children in this film. You will leave feeling part of a global phenomenon of transformation. You are at the center of it! WE ARE AT THE CENTER OF IT!!!     It is my personal belief, as I wrote in past entries, that the world will only be transformed in the 21st century if women stand up and follow their hearts, their practices and be ok with who we really are! The ordinary woman in the average home will make more of a difference than the politcian in the White House (unless we get a woman there of course!). Our voices need to be heard! I'll have to write more about that later but for now...
    Please come to the first in our BENEFIT FILM SERIES that highlight the true beauty and power of spirit of WOMEN and GIRLS. Register for your spot at https://clients.mindbodyonline.com/ASP/home.asp?studioid=160and tell every girl and woman you know to come. Registration is FREE online (okay to drop-in too). A donation at the door can be made to OTM/The Engage Network or with credit card online at the studio. 100% of all proceeds to help girls and women escape the horrors of sex traffikcing through Jill Gutowski's participation in the GLOBAL SEVA CHALLENGE-INDIA 2012. 
    PLEASE JOIN US AND HELP GIRLS NOW! NO ONE WANTS TO BE A SEX SLAVE, 12-14 YEAR OLD GIRLS (ON AVERAGE) NEED YOUR HELP! YOUR ATTENDANCE AND DONATION WILL, I REPEAT WILL, MAKE A DIFFERENCE! THANK YOU IN ADVANCE FOR YOUR SUPPORT! XO
REGISTER NOW AT https://clients.mindbodyonline.com/ASP/home.asp?studioid=160
 
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    Please help end sex trafficking and make a tax deductible donation. Remember to list my name " Jill Gutowski" as the participant you are donating in the name of. Thank you so much!

    Author

    Jill Gutowski has been a practitioner of hatha yoga, meditation and holistic healing for over 18 years.  She teaches in the Princeton, NJ area.

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