Exploit the season.

Each time fall starts to peek around the corner I have a real sensitivity to it - do you?  Even out here in "no seasons" Cali! But I can feel the subtle shift to a drier, breezy, somewhat cooler feel in the air. Then darkness falls ever earlier. And if you're still with me, there's a natural turning inward. For years, that shift away from summer and into fall brought anxiety and even bouts of sadness, a depression. I had a pointed fondness for fall, but the change was at once romantic and full of melancholy. (God help me if I threw in some 2004 Sia - eye roll emoji).

But that was Before Yoga.

Enter: After Yogaaaaaaahhhhh
[Of course, what also comes with After Yoga is a few stints in therapy, the end of my 20's (praise the Lord), a career change, new relationships, better eating habits, proper self-care,  etc. etc..... :)]

Now, when the air makes that slight, sharp, dry change as it blows across my cheek, through my hair, causing me to turn my face towards the sky and acknowledge that summer is suddenly behind us... I have a more mindful response. I know what is needed - and it is attention.  I'm not afraid of turning in and really seeing what's happening NOW instead of feeling what happened when I was 10, 20, or 30 years old. I know what to do to ground down in a radical act of self-love instead of self-flagellation. Only after I see clearly and choose to love myself anyways - because that's what I would do for anyone I loved - can I finally lighten up.  And in that lightness there is the boon of clarity, calm, and connection. 

There's the shift of the seasons and there's the simultaneous reaction to that shift in my physiology. I've taken pains to understand why my younger self felt pain and sadness at this innocuous occurrence of nature. To be clear, there was actual pain to acknowledge and heal from and that work had to be done with another person (a therapist or professional healer).

"We don't heal in isolation, but in community." S. Kelley Harrell

 It's quite a revelation to see how much of the discomfort I had experienced during this time of the year was simply old habits of thought and feelings replaying themselves on an unconscious loop cued by the shift from summer to fall. That's how our habits work. They are cued in (maybe your habitual thinking and feeling is cued by a person, place, or preceding habit - if you're curious read The Power of Habit) and our yoga is to see the cue and extrapolate the habit. Deciding if it's one that evolves us or binds us to our former, younger self. 

She is always there. That younger version of us. But she is no longer driving the ship (unless, of course, she is). What she does need is to be heard and shown compassion. She needs to be mentored. If you've never done this work - try it. It's such a tricky practice to learn your lessons and stay open to the present. It's the epitome of the yoga of relationships. We want "beginner's mind" and to be able to see people and situations with fresh eyes. But without forgetting the wisdom of our experience. How can we hold that polarity in actual practice?

Here, the words start to fail me. I can grasp the truth just beyond the eloquence of writing but it is almost ineffable. When I start to layer a story of the sensation it gets degraded. The body just knows things. Deeply. At a visceral level. But it can get stuck in repetitive loops just like your mind - like a repetitive injury. 

The practices I mention to honor the changes of seasons are real actions and rituals. It's not enough to say it. Exactly how do you go about seeing yourself clearly? Loving yourself deeply? Lightening up your physical experience? To start, you can create a sacred space in your home for a morning routine that involves meditation, grounding yourself with self-inquiry practices that hone the skill of loving compassion, take baths, rub warm oil on your skin, de-clutter your space.

Let's do this together soon.

The seasons are changing. You are changing. Create space for that change..png

It occurs to me that all of this can be done with an attitude of artistry. I hope you find the beauty in exploiting the season of change that is upon us. 

The Yogidetox is coming again in October. Yes please - can't come soon enough! Make sure you get my newsletter where I am offering a free pass.

You Can Come With Me (from my June 9 newsletter)

It's time for a change already!

I think summer has finally arrived. Like... today... just now. :) SoCal is usually awash in sunshine but we've been soaking in some serious grayness for awhile. I'm a pretty big fan of the introspection and moodiness that lingers in days like that but I also know that too much weightiness leaves me feeling stuck.  How the seasons naturally turn us from the wet, lush, fragrance of spring to the bright, sharp, dryness of summer is a welcome shift for everything from my skin to my mind to my general sense of happiness. You feelin' me? 
I'm knee-deep in a long-term habit change adventure and I've been slipping back into my old ways lately. It's ok with me, though. Adding an emotional drama over this experience is totally optional and only exacerbates the problem. I'm keenly aware of how those habits don't serve me anymore and revisiting them with the nurturing eye of mindfulness has been an unparalleled teacher.  Here's the thing about really understanding how your daily habits of eating, sleeping, waking, moving, loving, stilling... all coalesce to create this general feeling of "good" or "bad" -  It's never just one thing that requires your attention. What makes for a person who is thriving is an all-systems alignment with nature and it's vast intelligence - it's gonna take more than just eating right and exercising (and that's hard enough as it is!).  But it down't have to be complicated.  I'll be guiding a group of us through a simple and profound program of personal evolution this summer/fall so start to think about what your life would look like if you could just change that "one" thing... 

I'm pretty stoked to be changing things up and getting out of town in a couple of weeks. You should come with me. As I'm choosing my flights (last week roundtrip for under $700!) and hotels (so cheap) I'm thinking of which habits I want to leave behind and which I will cultivate while in THAILAND. Habits are notoriously hard to break and some might say you never get rid of a habit - you simply change it into a new one. There are hundreds of subtle cues that are triggers for you to do hundreds of different routines followed by just as many rewards throughout your day. These routines quickly become habituated. Most of this you don't even notice. Some habits are helpful in that they get you to work without having to think about the directions and so free up your mind to contemplate other things. Some are not helpful like when you find yourself compulsively eating something you didn't want or staying up late watching tv when you know you are exhausted. Changing your environment gives you a clean slate to create the habits you actually want - I plan to redesign my best self in a tropical island setting - 'cause.... why not make habit change an awesome, once-in-a-lifetime experience!?

In a few weeks I'll be asking you about how your life is going in relationship to health, mental sharpness, creativity, and just a general sense of feeling good. Start thinking about it now. What do you want more of in your life? What would you like to let go of? Don't hold back. I know I won't :)

Seeking the Feminine

I sat down here to write a newsletter… but instead I opened this long-neglected blog. Writing is one of my favorite creative expressions – I have several dozen journals that I’ve written in almost daily since I was ten years old. I love everything about those books – when I buy one I pour over the covers with my eyes and run my fingers over the fabric to appreciate the textures. I only buy ones whose cover art inspires me to try to create something even more beautiful.  The ones from my late teens/ early twenties were the BEST. So angsty. Ha… Nothing begets great art like great suffering. And I had plenty to suffer over then.  Following my parents’ divorce, I dropped out of high school my senior year because of a drug addiction and even though I picked myself back up it set off a spiral of choosing terrible men to love. When I was younger I wrote with a penchant for poetry. The drama was so high you could taste the pain that I felt and I loved every word so much that I began to see the art in it, repeating the phrases until I fell in love with the pain itself.


And there you have a difficult life to turn around. One addicted to it's own demise.


The loop of loss, emptiness, and rage was incessantly repeated. I felt like a victim of my own heart. Desperate to get off the ride, I reluctantly took the advice of a friend and went to a therapist who changed my life. She also introduced me to a philosophy-heavy and anatomically sound yoga practice that grounded me all while letting the ugliness of heartache completely unravel me instead of acting it out in intimate relationships. Self-awareness is a MOTHER. It nurtures and heals just by being.  I have faltered since then but have never reverted back to the young woman who allowed her own ignorance to drown her in what she thought was love but was really just patterns repeating, played out daddy issues, masochistic tendencies ad nauseam.


In yoga, it’s taught that it’s important to take responsibility for everything you say and do. What you do now matters. Every desire, no matter how misguided, is an attempt to connect to something greater than yourself. The desire itself is not the problem – we’re in trouble when we become victimized by our desires. So now the desire – the Iccha Shakti – is pulling me to be more creative. Write more. Dance more. Dance again. Dance in partnership.


A couple of years ago, I was being pulled to try social dancing – salsa, swing, whatever. But I was so terrified that I would drive to the dance studio and I would just drive through the parking lot and try to peek in without actually going in. I memorized the schedule and thought about it all the time. I bought Groupons and let them expire. Over and over again. I couldn’t summon the courage to act. It made NO sense why a trained, professional dancer would be afraid to take a beginning salsa class.  I mean, I danced cumbia at the Latin Grammy’s with Marco Antonio Soliz!  What was going on?! I still can’t quite figure it out. But I know that desire, mixed with fear, means I am moving in the direction of the truth per Pema Chodron’s wise words.


Three months ago, I finally walked through the doors and I was hooked. What I love about salsa and bachata is of course the movement – it feels so good to move like this again. But more than that, after a decade of yoga practice, what I am more interested in is the play of energy between the masculine and the feminine. Please don’t get caught up in a discussion of gender – call it whatever you want – one person leads and another follows. In life, we need both abilities. Some leads are women, some follows are men. As a totally independent woman – both personally and professionally, I rarely follow anyone and I know that my underdeveloped sense of “follow” is giving me an experience of one-sidedness. Especially in relationship. Plus, I long for someone strong enough to follow so I can RELAX - that’s the truth. I’m a feminist so don’t mistake that sentiment for meaning that I can’t or shouldn’t or are less able to lead.  And I’m not talking about submission – I’m talking about deference (as my philosophy teacher says).


 So I’ve had to marry the vastly different experiences of being a solo dancer on a stage in front of thousands with the subtle nuance of moving through yogic practices – both on the gross anatomy and subtle energetic levels – with no audience whatsoever. Now, in social dancing, there is an audience of just one. While I’m aware that someone besides my partner might be watching, or I occasionally catch a glimpse of myself in a mirror – both of which decidedly diminish the experience, my best efforts rely on my ability to rest full awareness and responsiveness on my partner. I may never have seen him or her before, not know their name, and have zero confidence in their ability to lead. But my intention is still to follow – with few exceptions.  To defer to them each and every next step. The clutch of vulnerability and surrender is humbling. And each time I manage to do it, I am keenly aware of the connection to the flow of Grace. The opportunity to experience connection and oneness without expectation is omnipresent in every moment. I still get in the way, anticipate the next step, apologize and make excuses. But I’m learning to rest in the process of unbecoming the Doer. Tring to bind myself to cooperation in the biggest sense of the word.


In an advanced yoga intensive years ago, I remember learning about Kali Shakti and how she is in the lead. Kali is known for being beautiful and destructive, wearing the severed heads of her past lovers around her waist. Our job is to dance with her, right up to her, so that we neither miss her teachings nor get devoured by her.  So tricky… 

Grounding the Sky: Managing Certainty & Possibility

I often find it interesting to notice the limitations we put on ourselves. The certainties that we pass off as facts when really they are just limiting ideas, many times eroding all the way to detrimental judgments that sever the influx of mystery and magic that comes with NOT knowing things “for sure”.

 “In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities, but in the expert’s there are few.” – Shunryu Suzuki

As we age we get access to what seems like wisdom, something we’ve earned through the dramas and hard-won battles of simply surviving to live another year after year after year. While I do believe that this is true to some degree, what makes us wise isn’t just that we “learned our lesson” but that we can see that lesson in relief against a wide expanse of possibility. That while this realization may be valuable, so might many other varying outcomes. Which inevitably leads me to feel defeated… or at the very least, like I’ve won nothing.

There was a sharp turn in the road for me. I learned some lessons.  For sure, that was hard.

Now, to bring those lessons to bear in a way that can flesh out a wiser, more compassionate self? This is proving to be problematic. As if the defeat that preempted the lesson-learning weren’t humbling enough, I now have to fully see my heart’s re-education rise up amidst a sea of vulnerability. Vowing to stay open and UNcertain in order to be available to the whims of divine intervention. This feels risky. To admit that you don’t know feels almost... un-American! ;) Indeed, it risks everything. Fear is exhilaration without breath. (Pema Chodron?? Probably – she’s the best. ) Exhilaration without breath is also ANXIETY. Maybe you know it?

So, the time for yoga is now.

I work so consistently hard in my yoga practice to slow things down and get into the minutiae of breath, body mechanics, mental awareness, and emotional intention that the fierce pranic motion of exhilaration feels like a deadly quake in my heart. Mostly because it wreaks of power and an ongoing evolution of myself where the next incarnation is someone I do not know and cannot foresee.

Your personal evolution is not predictable.

We do not know what we will look like as we become our best selves. But the alternative is stagnation, small-mindedness, isolation, and certainty. I used to take great solace in being “sure” about things. That attitude is absolutely (ha! The irony...) the folly of youth and it is my hope to shake that perspective off, a little more each day.  

A dear friend of mine just turned 39 and in wishing her a happy birthday she responded with, “ Only 364 days left til I’m 40!! Woohoo!!”



And she meant it. I have literally never heard anyone respond like that to aging. NEVER. She is so open to the possibility that life just keeps getting better that she is eager to flow with the inevitable forward motion of time. No resistance. Just beautiful, glorious, Grace. (If you're in the L.A. area I highly recommend studying yoga with this woman. Check her out.)

Since I liked her attitude so much more than my current one about aging- dredged in fear and mostly futile attempts to avoid clinging to superficial landmarks of youth (oh the drama!!) – I decided to try hers on for size. Turns out that it is possible to completely change your attitude, just by choice, and reap the benefit of a life of radical affirmation to the present moment.  Just say yes. This is what is happening. After all, we are all on our way out.

You can choose to stay open. To stay vulnerable. To get bigger and bigger as you learn your lessons. To be able to hold the vast universe of possibility in your heart even as it gets broken open, callously informed, and endlessly surprised by the miracle of the mystery of your life unfolding.

One thing I do know is that the creative types in my life, and the creative side of myself, are what continuously pull from me the ability to look sideways at the same thing and see something totally different. This works not only in situations where I may have placed limitations on myself but in my general worldview. How I see my career, my love life, money, my family and friends. We can learn our lessons and resist a myopic view of “how things are”.  This is the best yoga, yoking, binding, union of two opposite things – taking a lesson to heart without closing down around that lesson. Placing that wisdom in the divine light of your own heart and staying open to EVERYTHING. Because you can’t possibly assume to know just how good it’s going to get. 

C'mon, just taste it!

Often in my teaching lately, I’ve been noticing something. That what I’m teaching physically – the biomechanics of a pose, the key actions, the muscles to engage, the bones to move, etc – begins to run right up against bigger principles that present themselves in life outside the yoga studio. Like how to stay connected to who you are in a relationship (hugging the midline), how to do what you say and say what you mean (placing your feet in warrior 1), how to be unafraid to pause and wait for something that is coming (not pushing too hard in a twist).  I can feel that the poses are just a place holder. All of it is just a drill for the rest of your experience here on earth in this body. You could practice mindfulness and purposeful creation at any and every turn throughout your day. Doing it in warrior 2 is just where I first started learning about it.  My practice and (hopefully) my teaching attempts to go beyond that to the level of spirit and there invokes an emotional element that has a decidedly sweet taste – like Kool-Aid J The first time I got a taste of it, I was hooked. I wanted those “juicy” moments in class where I was suspended in a flicker of “non-thinking” and got all blissed out, left the studio with my hair slightly tousled, half smile on my face, eyes glossy, and slightly fearing for the other drivers on the road on my way home (but of course, I didn’t REEEEALLY care – I was high on yoga!). Those moments are pretty easily accessed now (how rad is that!?). But the taste of my practice has decidedly changed to include all of the tastes and textures that a well-developed palate can recognize. Certain poses can elicit a bitter taste, sour thoughts, heaviness in the heart that feels like pain, confusion when I don’t feel aligned (what is that flavor??). That’s the thing, yoga hooks you with the feel-good moments then switches on you when you realize, “Oh shit. Now I feel everything”.


Often, people ask me what classes I take or where I practice. The truth is that it doesn’t matter so much to me (except when it does and then I will trek up to LA and take from some of the greats) because I do what I do (within the boundaries of respect for what’s being taught so as not to be distracting). This (not really caring who’s class I was taking) happened after I spent a huge chunk of time getting deep into the physical poses with highly skilled yoga technicians so I can see how it used to matter more. But all of it is useful to me now. If I take a class that I don’t care for, it is interesting to watch my exit strategies. How I judge, how I choose not to work because it’s not the way I want to practice, would teach or sequence or cue, etc. How I let a loud playlist of music I don’t want to hear actually upset me and can I practice calming down in the middle of what is irritating. And then relate those exit strategies to the rest of my life. Am I using the same strategies when I relate to my family or friends or strangers? If I don’t like what someone says or the way they act can I just allow them to do what they are doing while I observe them, my breath, my reactions? Because THAT IS WHAT MATTERS. Not how well you flow in a vinyasa class but what kind of a person you are. And if your yoga is only on your Manduka – maybe you can do better.


What I think is a very telling self-reflective moment in the yoga of life is when I take things personally. I have experienced this in class (as a student), as well. Many, many times. You know the feeling – when a teacher says something and you think they are talking to YOU. It’s about YOU!! As a teacher, I can safely say that this is almost never true. Even if we are talking to you, we are saying more about who we are than who you are. When I keep on you about bending your hyper-extended elbows it’s because I have hyper-extended elbows and I constantly am noticing that I need to bend my own (because my teachers harped on me!) so I easily see that you need to bend yours and that’s how I got stronger and I know it will help you, too and ... that ‘s a lot of “I”’s for a correction supposedly aimed at “you”.


 The moments when I have “taken it personally” in a yoga class are usually when the teacher was riffing about something philosophical or conversational, though. My teacher, Tony Guiliano, got all kinds of weird emotional angst out of me when I was in my twenties (sorry, T)! What makes the “taking it personally” so interesting to me is the way that it presents in my body – I feel a twinge of pain in my heart when I think a person is saying something to criticize me. It is one of the few succinctly emotional reactions I experience in yoga asana anymore. As it turns out, it is one of the few highly charged reactions I experience in my life off the mat, as well. How I deal with it in class is how I hope to deal with it in real life. I pause, I breathe, feel it physically in my body, watch, watch, watch… try not to speak (to myself silently or out loud).  That’s the meditation. Then practice alignment. If I can reframe it, I will. Is it true? Even if it is true, how does it relate to my entire consciousness? Is it only a tiny piece? If I’m in warrior 1 and I can’t get my back heel down, is that a failure in the pose? Or just a piece that is not quite there yet? Can I fully express the pose and feel the joy of asana without the perfect shape? Yes. Just like we can have weaknesses in our psychological armor without crumbling to pieces. We can even feel the weakness completely without it becoming fatal. Holding those two things - the fullness and the perceived lack - at the same time, with equanimity, is the yoga.  No matter where you happen to be practicing. That’s where yoga has its hold on me – I can better hold all of the tastes of my life. If it’s bitter, my only job is not to spit it out because I am no longer a child and it’s just life. There will be more kool aid.

Love, the hard way

I’ve been trying to write this particular blog post for about a month now. I scrapped the weeks of rambling attempts and started over. I just can’t get it to come together. Why? Because, I’m trying to write about LOVE. The words simply do not flow out of me with any semblance of ease. Sadly, this is not a new phenomenon. Even when I have been newly, madly, deeply in the throes of romantic love I would actually cringe when someone would speak about it especially, in a yoga class. I would practically want to run screaming from the room if I heard someone start to theme on it. Please, God, NO – make them stop. I just. Can’t.

How weird is that?! …Super weird.  I’m pretty sure yoga teachers are supposed to be down with love!

A little background - I have a keen ear for bullshit in the classroom. I can’t stomach “yoga speak” that is regurgitated New age clichés. If phrases come out of a teacher’s mouth that are not born of deep knowing and experience it is obvious and somehow leaves me feeling embarrassed. In my own practice, I notice when those feelings come in and practice initiating compassion for the vulnerable state of being in the seat of the teacher. I am not proud of my early teaching moments and understand that most  of us started teaching before we were ready. Which is just right. It is my intention to be honest and speak about what I know. I honestly, know little of Love. But, I do know something.

I practice and teach yoga because it has seemed to bring me closer to something that could rightly be described as Love itself. Yet, I’m utterly incapable of discussing it in any cohesive way. That, of course, is why I have been trying to write about it. This idea of Love, in a philosophical or spiritual context is not romantic love, though. Maybe this is where I get hung up. Romantic love is something I understand. Certainly, I am familiar with it’s opposite. The pain associated with the end of romantic love, or betrayal, or lack. This is probably the source of my general repulsion at hearing it referred to in class. Love, as the true nature of our hearts, is another word for God, Divine Consciousness, Ultimate Reality, etc. There is no opposite. It’s all there is. We simply forget.

The practice of breathing in and out on purpose, aligning the physical body meticulously, focusing attention over ever greater periods of time, watching your mind work in meditation, doing anything you can get lost in, remembering who you really are – all of these things can help to bring you back to the ground of being. It feels so good when a hit of your own heart (especially in backbends!) invokes blissfulness and is instantly and totally enveloping. The beauty of those brief moments is unforgettable.

What I find most compelling is that Love is at once, accessible and elusive. When desperately needed in a situation it is often extremely difficult to access. Yoga is a source of transformation and personal evolution when it is possible to practice it in relationship. Whether that’s between 2 people, a group of people, your family, or in the relationship you have with yourself. Alone, on our mats or meditation cushions, it’s fairly common to find a way back to bliss. If not easy, at least after practicing for some time, I have real strategies to employ. In the day-to-day interactions of my life, it feels nearly impossible. It’s as if the moments of opportunity to move from a place of Love are exposed for mere milliseconds and lost too soon.

What is clear, is that I can more easily notice when Love is blocked or obscured. The irritation, the injury, the anger, the feeling that I am separate, whatever it is… That’s where I need to look. I’m not talking about a gut instinct that something is wrong or dangerous (although, maybe that is a definitive sign). I’m talking about the pebble in your shoe. We don’t always have time to pause and reflect in the very moment of disconnection. It might take a month (or a year or a lifetime) of regularly looking in - what is it? What is love? How can I be more connected to it? Why would I resist it? 

I don’t know much more about it right now. I know I long for it. I try to sit with the resistance to it. And I pray that I can soften enough to let it take over. If only for those brief moments in asana, in meditation, in looking at someone directly in the eye, in the slightest moment of pause.  Even at the risk, nay, the certainty that I will yet again forget. 

Without concealment, there would be no revelation. As my philosophy teacher says, “Wash, rinse, repeat.”


"I just do it for the exercise."

My life as a yoga teacher has evolved recently. I went from being an experienced practitioner to an inexperienced teacher several years ago and really struggled to understand how I was going to deliver the magic of yoga to my students.  I loved (and still do) yoga so much but had a hard time succinctly explain what yoga is. What’s it all about – the chanting, the music or absence of it, why we feel so good after class, what’s happening that I seem to actually be evolving into a better person than I was before I started, what are the hard and soft skills of teaching. And who are my students?? More importantly, where are my students?! Seriously, where were they??  Those early classes were rough! Am I supposed to reach towards being popular with the majority of students? Do I do what the other teachers in my area are doing? And if I don’t want to, do I even belong here?


I don’t know when I relaxed so much around those questions but I have. I suspect they came with 500 hours with Noah Maze. And with teaching 15 classes a week for a couple of years. And with doing the Yoga Business Retreat. And with getting tired of my own drama around something that was once a source of peace! And, and… time. At any rate, I’ve let go of almost all of that anxiety. Now, I teach less and do more work outside of the classroom. Studying, reading, practicing, sitting (another word for meditation), taking class as opposed to teaching class.  Reading what my teachers are writing. Taking webinars and working on my website, newsletter, planning workshops, trainings, etc. Reminding myself that if I teach too much, I don’t teach better. As my friend and fellow yoga teacher, Jen Mullholand reminded me with a quote from Aadil Palkhivala, “Do less poses with more attention than more poses with less attention,” I have a sneaking suspicion this applies to everything.


So, my office is the local Starbucks or Coffee Bean or if I’m lucky enough to be close to it – Portola Coffee Lab. Cuz when all else fails, a $6 cup of coffee can make you feel like a better person, too. All hail the power of caffeine! I work in public because community holds me responsible. Being in the same space where other people are flexing their creative and disciplinary muscles elevates me, personally. Also, I can’t get up and make a sandwich, turn on the tv, dance around my living room, fall asleep, or bother my pets (obvs I have cats). Between teaching gigs throughout the county, I work in coffee shops for at least 3 hours most days of the week. Today is no exception.


This is my first blog entry. While I have always enjoyed writing, it has mostly been private. So, I do what I do with any new endeavor – I research the s@#* out of it. How to do it, when to do it, what exactly to DO, who does it well, what do they say about it…. Does this process sound familiar? It’s YOGA. I’m treating this attempt at blogging the same way that I treat my attempts at yoga, both the teaching and the practice. Pay attention, study, reflect, look, look, look. Focus deeply on what it is. It reminds me of what Annie Carpenter called a “closed chain”. I press this new information into what I already know (solidly) and observe the feedback in the form of intuition, resonance, and recognition. Well, that’s all fine and lofty but now, what do I write about!?


Then I look up and see a student who has taken my class a couple of times. He wants me to know what someone like him  - a self-proclaimed beginner that has been practicing for 3 years – would like to know. What’s with the sitting with our hands in prayer, why do some teachers chant in Sanskrit but then say one line in English, what accounts for the different ways that teachers teach. What are we DOING in yoga?? He’s tried to explain it to his friends but … can’t.  He’s an engineer and he’s mystified. That’s after 3 years of practicing.  Is that a problem? If it is, because he says he wants to know - which makes me think it might be a problem – who’s responsible for solving it?


I know many people who take “yoga” classes but aren’t practicing yoga. They go to the gym or fitness-based studios (or traditional studios or whatever!) and exercise. Most of us in the yoga business understand this. This is not bad.  When I explain what yoga is – an often spiritual and, at least, mindfulness practice – they balk. Oh, I just do it for the exercise. Well, no offense to you or your teachers, but that ain’t yoga. You’re practicing the shapes. They will make you strong and flexible and  (with a good teacher) improve your capacity to heal and breathe.  This is good.  Still, not yoga. So, who cares!?


Anyone who has tried to have a conversation about yoga cares. That’s me and you right now. If the people who are just exercising are lumped in with the people doing the painstaking though tremendously rewarding work of yoga, then we aren’t going to be able to say anything meaningful about the practice because we are talking about two different things. And the difference can be ever so slight. We will get stuck in defining terms and at a loss about what to do with the exercisers!!  The EX – OR – CI - SORS!!!! Just kidding. A student might not even understand that they are participating in a mindfulness practice at first. To go from exercising in the poses to practicing yoga in the poses is a tiny but evolutionary shift. Facilitated by the teacher. The teacher is culpable to a great extent. Not 100%, though.  If a gym calls a class “yoga”, and the teacher knows that her students are there to work out, AND YOU ARE IN A GYM, what is she supposed to do? Keep the poses hard and sweaty, give ‘em what they want, crank up the music with plenty of lyrics, remind them of bathing suit season….  (This is a caricature but a comman occurrence, nonetheless). But didn’t they think they were coming to a yoga class? And when they first came, they didn’t know what to expect, couldn’t they have been given the real deal then? Is it too late now? Yoga has become the thing to do, so the exercisers  show up to do it, and strangely enough, they don’t get it. It’s like if I went to a “Cooking Class” and while yes, I did cook, learned some new techniques, and was able to create a beautiful dish - but never tasted anything – I’d be disillusioned about cooking to say the least. Maybe if the Exercisers continue to be interested in it, they will do some research on their own, find more classes, maybe go to a different yoga studio, take a workshop, ask their teacher questions. And they will find it on their own. When they’re ready for it.  


If you’re a yoga teacher, you know this conversation is taking a turn. Are you responsible to your students? Or are they responsible for themselves? Are you teaching yoga? Or exercise? If you are teaching yoga, are your students learning it? For me, some are and some aren’t. I’d always assumed the ones who aren’t just aren’t interested. It seems I was wrong about at least some of that.  Maybe it’s actually ok to serve up yoga-as-exercise as a gateway drug – if that is your intention. Because, after all, many of us are still unsure of just what it is we’re doing on our mat. I, for one, am endlessly interested in that mystery.



Is It Bad To Want More?

Is it bad to want more?

During this season of gratitude and Thanksgiving, it is sometimes hard to admit. But I DO want more. I've spent the last week immersed in the next level of "more" and while at first it was scary, it turned into the best kind of awesome! Literally, it was both extremely daunting and impressive to see what’s possible. That little voice inside that says, "Gimme, gimme!" isn't always selfish. Diving into what makes you unique and lights you up is how you honor your gifts. So, really, going after more is the responsible thing to do. Woohoo!
Now, I am announcing the lauch of my new website. I am so excited for all the cool things I’m planning to offer – both in person and online. So no matter where you are, I will have something for you. I hear your “gimme, gimme” and I’m gonna! If you’re local, I have two workshops comin’ at ya in January 2015. One to transform your yoga poses and one for the preggers to experience the power of pregnancy. If you’re not local, you can get one of my free videos that is coming down the pipeline. I hope you hear what your heart wants.