old faithfuls. on the road and in my activity bag…

this one’s coming at ya from vacation…
a road trip through park city, yellowstone, bozeman.
where the deer and the antelope play.

antelope yellowstone
literally. just look outside.
where the sky does seem bigger,
in the most awesome way.

old faithful.

as i left yellowstone, the land of Old Faithful, i pulled out an old faithful of my own from my over-packed book bag (the one affectionately known as my “activity bag,” like i’m five or something… )

anyway, the old faithful that was calling to me was, “Yoga Mala,” by Pattahbi Jois, the teacher responsible for bringing Ashtanga yoga to the US in the 70’s. now, i believe all yoga is good yoga, but i will say that the one style or system of yoga that is my old faithful is a traditional Ashtanga practice. i find the familiar sequence, connected by vinyasa (moving with breath, like we do at Session) soothing, comforting, grounding, energizing… life-changing.

here are a few things that Jois and my Ashtanga teachers have drilled into my head over the years…the underlying reminders that keep me coming back to yoga over and over:

practice and all is coming.

no matter the question, this is the answer. can’t get your foot behind your head? practice. can’t decide whether to change jobs? practice. kids driving you mad? practice. craving sugar? practice. every day. in some way. the way to all of the off-the-mat-goodness that DOES come with yoga, whether you’re striving for that or not, is the physical practice. reading about it, wearing the garb and taking pictures of it don’t cut it. ya gotta do it. a lot. with heart.

Yoga Mala says it a lot more eloquently here:

“there are many types of malas… Jois’s mala is a garland of yoga, in which each vinyasa is like a sacred bead to be counted and focused on, and each asana is like a fragrant flower strung on the thread of the breath. just as japamala adorns the neck and a pushpamala (garland of flowers) adorns the gods, so too does this garland of yoga, when diligently practiced, adorn our entire being with peace, health, radiance, and ultimately, self-knowledge.”

sun salutations save lives.

Jois says, when one practices Surya Namaskara (aka sun salutes.. demonstrated here, absolutely beautifully by Seane Corn) with intention, mindful of gaze, breath and bandhas, before asanas, they will receive whatever they desire.

hhhmm… they will receive whatever they desire.

he says a lot more than this, but that one stuck  😉 if all you do is get on your mat and do sun salutes, with even, steady breath and focus, life will shift. illness will be cured. even the mental kind.

(that is how they used yoga back then. in fact, when asked if he received a teaching certificate of any kind after training for 25 years with this teacher, he said, “yes and his test was very difficult: Krishnamacharya gave me one sick man and said, Fix him!”)

there is no end to this.

as one pose is mastered, another is given. the purpose of each one is to prepare you for the next, so you lose attachment to getting anywhere specific real fast. or i did, anyway. i’m not that bendy.

this “practice” has made me a lot more patient and accepting of long, complicated journeys and learning processes… like divorce, moving, leaving jobs, learning piano, navigating relationship, finding my voice, following curiosity, trying new ways, finding my own.

it takes lifetimes to be drawn to yoga.

now, there’s no way of knowing this for sure, of course. i just like the idea of it. it explains why some of us feel so pulled toward it…and some aren’t. it doesn’t make us special, it’s just that maybe we’re being led. maybe our body needs it. maybe our life depends on it.

i think this is why it’s so hard to get friends and family to jump on the yoga wagon when we know it is exactly what they need to cure whatever ails them… it’s just not their thing.  yet.

even Pattahbi Jois, born and raised in India, yoga’s motherland mind you, felt compelled to hide his desire to do yoga from his family. at 12 years old, he left the house early in the morning to study yoga with his teacher, before school.

once officially dubbed a young man in Brahmin terms, he left home, with only two rupees in his pocket, without telling his family where he was going. he was off to study sanskrit and yoga in Mysore, India and  was afraid his family would not let him go. he knew this was his life’s work. he had to go. (btw, he wrote his father after three years to tell him where he was… all turned out well.)

so, even he had to fight resistance to do yoga!

thankfully, he did keep practicing and all did come to him.
he now rests peacefully, proud of his life’s work,
watching all yogis from above,
gently nudging us whenever we’re pulled away,
gently whispering, “practice and all is coming.”

which is exactly what i did this morning,
after a few days away, i got on my mat.
in my pajamas. and practiced.
and boy, do i feel better.
i hope this inspires you to find your old faithful.
whatever makes you feel your best.
fingers crossed it’s yoga 🙂

my morning prayer

morning on the mat in montana

one of the things i love about Ashtanga yoga is that every practice begins with a prayer.
actually, a chant, in sanskrit.
one that, if you walked in without knowing what was going on, might make you wonder what this is all about…
it’s about gratitude. that’s it.

while it sounds kinda crazy, the meaning of the chant is to acknowledge all of the teachers, (people, gifts, lessons) who have shared practices, perspectives, and ways to help us navigate our way around the obstacles that prevent us from living our truest, best, healthiest, most radiant self.

not a bad way to start every. single. day.

when i practice yoga, i say this chant to myself…

when i start my day, i say a prayer, inspired by that chant, in my own words, with a little help from The Four Agreements and Marianne Williamson 😉

thank you for all of the gifts, lessons and love in my life.

help me stay grounded in gratitude and open to grace.

help me not take things personally or make assumptions.
help me be impeccable with my word and always do my best.

help me know what to do, what to say and how to be
to deliver the gifts you’ve given me…
and just one more thing,
may all beings (especially my friends, family and Bisbee – and whomever/whatever else happens to be on my mind – sometimes this part takes awhile 🙂 be free and happy.

 

 

 

 

it’s the pretty blonde woman’s turn

Screen shot 2015-06-08 at 4.27.05 PM

i took a rodney yee workshop at a Yoga Journal conference about 10 years ago. a pretty blonde woman sat next to him on stage. his wife. she was so pretty. i wanted to know more about her. i don’t think she said a word. understandably, i guess, this was his world. she let him shine.

now it’s her turn.

this interview with her placed a lump in my throat, a time or two. her stories are real, intentional, humble…

including the one about what she told her yoga teacher in the middle of yoga teacher training about “just doing this to deepen her practice… she had no intention of actually teaching yoga.”

(sounds very, very, very familiar….)
ya gotta watch the video for that one.

but she shares one thought in particular that’s really got me thinking…

“if one woman would stand up and tell her story,
the whole universe would break open…
tear the armor, show the world who you are,
and give others the confidence to do the same.”

even though i’ve heard this before in many different ways, seeing her actually do it, feeling how moved i was by her story, has me pondering how i can share more of my own. i hope it inspires you to do the same.

no matter what, i’m looking forward to reading more of Colleen Saidman Yee’s story in her book, Yoga for Life.

pardon me while i get all yoga on you…

pardon me while i get all yoga on you…

sometimes sanskrit is the only way of capturing certain sensations.

one of which, i felt after having a movie and plant-powered pizza party for friends made during our last 40 Days (of yoga, meditation and mindful eating) workshop.

what i felt was sangha,

a sanskrit term for a group of spiritually inclined people that gather and support each other’s unique way of navigating their way toward their best life.

civilians say it takes a village.
yogis say it takes a sangha.

a sacred space to check in and fill up,

with others who simply get it.

without judgment.

sanghas remind us we are not alone.

in them, we see our sameness, our struggles, our desire to shine within each other.

sanghas are sacred because they are rare.

they don’t only happen in yoga studios…

in fact, yoga does not make or guarantee sangha.

the people within the studios do.

sangha takes effort, off the mat.

getting together, listening, encouraging, sharing is what makes sangha.

studios certainly don’t have to organize sangha for you.

you can do that yourself.

with friends who do or don’t do yoga,

just ones who share a desire to create their best life.

sangha is essential because we can not do it alone.

our mind will get in the way every. single. time.

telling us we’re crazy for trying, we will never change, we are not capable.

we need sangha to step in and stop the madness.

a gentle reminder that others struggle too.

that this madness is normal.  it’s part of the process.

a gentle nudge to simply acknowledge it and keep going.

however, sangha is not enough.
svadhyaya is kinda key too.

think of svadhyaya as self-imposed-for-the-rest-of-your-life-for-the-sake-of-becoming-your-best-self school.

it is a regular practice of consistently making an effort to observe and learn from others struggling and shining through life.

it comes in the form of books. podcasts. blog posts. workshops. and movies.

like Yogawoman.

the movie of choice for our movie night.

i love that movie.

it makes me feel like i’m part of something big.

because yoga IS big.

it is powerful, useful and available to each and every one of us.

throughout every part of our life.

young. old. sick. limber. stuck. successful. injured. in jail.

(let’s hope that doesn’t happen, but if it does, after seeing this movie, you know that yoga can get you through that too 😉

i also love that it reminds me of my all-time favorite yoga lesson:

that all of this showing up and stretching

is ultimately preparing for us death.

that’s right.

all this breathing is really about dying.

sivasana, aka “corpse” pose, symbolizes the deepest surrendering, acceptance and hopefully, overwhelming sense of pride and well-being.

wouldn’t it be great to lie on your death bed,

truly at peace with what just transpired,

no matter what your age?

like, wow…

what a crazy, amazing, beyond belief adventure that just was.

and i nailed it.

thank you.

on to the next one.

i’m out.

 

in every single practice (even the 5-minute ones),

we are given a chance to “practice” showing up,

being grateful for what we’ve got, where we’re at and what we’re capable of.

we have a chance to dabble, bobble, get it, not get it, then let it go.

we experience our strength, flexibility, capability and grace.

we sense we are not alone.

when it’s all over, we lie down and let the magic of all of those gifts and lessons ,

the ones that happened, right there on our mat, a moment to settle in our bones.

we feel supported. light. loved. happy. free.

 

thank you for being part of my sangha.

it doesn’t matter if you were actually at the pizza party.

sangha can simply be showing up for each other, via email, facebook,  a chat after classs, a walk in the park, a thought, a prayer. it all counts.

namaste,

(the goodness in me, sees and appreciates and learns from the goodness in you)

 

 

under construction…

Our kitchen is undergoing total transformation – the tear everything out, set up a camping stove and make-do-in-the-master-bath-for-four-months kind of renovation.  I knew there would be chaos and crack of dawn contractor schedules to be coordinated, so I purposely freed myself of commitments.

I’ve purposely been quiet.

 

kitchen empty

 

I stopped teaching yoga and set workshops aside.

bisbee & me

I rolled out my mat, practiced and meditated at home,
(with Bisbee by my side.)

Yet, quiet hasn’t meant idle…

Screen shot 2013-07-24 at 3.34.07 PM

My sister and I threw Dad a 70th birthday party,
created a storybook out of 500 family pictures,
and organized a fabulous family photo shoot

family photo screen shot

I’ve read 10 books on how to think, tap, eat, move, love, knit, die,
and forgive your way through life.
My favorite was about a dog.

I spent 21 days meditating with Oprah and Deepak
and 42 Making Miracles with Gabby.

I created monthly menus so I won’t have to worry about what to make for dinner again.
(I don’t want that frustration in my new kitchen!)

discloths

I’ve been knitting dishcloths – anticipating my new arrival,
like a mama making booties for hers.

I Started a Foolish Project (and you should too!)
One day I might share it. If I can pull it off. It’s that foolish.

Now, as the drywall dust settles,
amidst all this quiet…
I’m inspired.
I miss you.
I have ideas
(and an almost-finished, rock-star-sparkly kitchen)
to share with you.

Stay tuned for the unveiling
(of all kinds of good-ness).

kitchen covered

 

40 DAYS GROUP STARTS JANUARY 3RD!

What would happen if you practiced YOGA, MEDITATION and EATING BETTER for 40 days?

What would happen if you had a group to practice with you, one that wanted, more than anything, for you to succeed? 

 

I am honored to be guiding a group through Baron Baptiste”s program, 40 DAYS TO PERSONAL REVOLUTION at SESSION YOGA.

Starting January 3rd, we will practice and explore yoga, meditation, and food that makes you feel good. ALL LEVELS ARE WELCOME. It”s not about Women pisces horoscopes should try to be more squeamish and hear the voice of their intuition; taking into account their inclination to deep and intense sensations, the wrong choice can be dangerous indeed. your yoga ability, it”s about your commitment to exploring how great you can feel………!

Program fee includes the book, 40 days of yoga and weekly group meetings. To make it extra easy, you can choose between two weekly sessions, Thursday evenings at 7:30 or Sunday afternoons at 2:00.  More info and registration here…

Chelsea and Kristin will also be leading a Yoga Bootcamp, Saturday January 5th, from 12 – 4. Just one more way to start the year, feeling great!

Yoga, Meditation, and Nutrition are my rocks. They continue to transform, comfort and guide me through life. The more space I create for them, the better my life becomes. I can”t wait to see what unfolds for you.

practicing presence. bored with gratitude?

I get bored with daily gratitude journals. It starts to feel repetitive with versions of, “I’m thankful for my family, my friends, my health, my job, my home, my food…”

I probably need to get more creative. While I AM sincerely thankful for all of this, it doesn’t feel necessary to write it down everyday…

However, Oprah and Eckhart reminded me of the power of this simple, daily action with:

Gratitude is an energy field… it fuels abundance.

Gratitude in this sense means acceptance.

When you can accept all that “is” in your life –  the weight you can’t lose, the house you don’t have  –  energy shifts.

With acceptance, comes space.

When you are no longer occupied with what you can’t control …
Or, assumptions and patterns that keep you stuck, judging, blaming, comparing…
You’re able to recognize grace, gifts, lessons, opportunities…
You’re able to take action…
You have faith in the small steps…
The ones that come from your heart or appear out of the blue…
When you do that, you experience what can not be explained…
Abundance beyond your wildest dreams…

I think the gratitude journal might be worth another try. This time I’ll list what I’m accepting, what I’m learning from …

And if that doesn’t help me get my grateful groove gack, I’ll try Marni’s sparkly planner (above) and read this reminder from Tobi Fairley of what can happen when you give gratitude (and yoga) its due…

Happy, Happy Thanksgiving!

 

 

practicing presence. 21-day meditation challenge. @deepakchopra

If there’s one thing we’ve learned from Eckhart and Oprah, it’s the power of presence… or, acceptance, stillness, peace, awareness… Eckhart gives it a variety of names, hoping one will connect. All of them call for going within and meditation is our guide to getting there.

There are many ways to meditate. Eckhart says one deep breath can be a meditation. It doesn’t have to be complicated.

What’s most important is cultivating a practice. The more often you practice calming your mind, noticing your thoughts, not judging them, breathing into them, creating space around them, detaching your “self” from them… the more space you create in your life…the more good-ness will flow into that space… the casino spiele easier your life will become…

What’s really cool and absolutely perfect timing… is Deepak Chopra’s 21-day Meditation Challenge. It’s free, it only takes 15 minutes a day, and it’s a great way to try a meditation practice. (It started November 5th, but you can still join here.)

I know you’re crazy busy with the holidays…  but I’d like to challenge you to try it anyway.  Meditation will help you gracefully get through the holidays, feeling better than ever before. Just try it and see…

practicing presence. in the ER.

photo via EOnline

My friend’s daughter was sick last week. She started the day at the Minute Clinic, was sent to Urgent Care, then the ER, who asked why she had been sent to the ER, “they could have written a prescription for you at Urgent Care.” This, after a 6 hour wait….

The craziest thing about the day, she told me, was that her and her daughter had a great day.

She put into practice what she’s been learning in A New Earth and simply accepted “what is.” Normally, she would have resisted it, focusing on all that could go wrong from being taken out of routine, all the to-do’s that would not get done.

When she let go of the monkey wrench life threw her, one she had no control over, she felt lighter. Her daughter felt it too. They immersed themselves in the reality of the moment. They connected, talked and giggled their way through the crazy day.

What was really crazy, she said, is that all the things she would have worried about, magically took care of themselves. Things got done. Rides were found. Without drama.

She’s “experiencing” the power of being of acceptance… of presence…  that “peace that passeth all understanding,” that Eckhart (and Jesus) talk about.

Sign up here… join our chats… End the Year A New You! (Even if you haven’t read the Chapter, you’ll learn something about becoming more accepting, grounded, present.)

practice presence. replenish yourself.

My friend Rachel (of The Organic Kitchen and Body… check out this article on her here! ) taking a swimming break during a hike…something I would never have done on my own.

We’re learning that to become more present, we’re going to have to slow down a bit. But, what if we love everything we’re doing… What if we genuinely want to participate in all we’ve put on our plate.

Slowing down doesn’t necessarily mean doing less or missing out. It just means tuning in to what your body, mind and spirit need to keep you functioning at your most productive, creative, compassionate, loving state… the way you were designed to live.

I found this passage from Melody Beattie’s Journey to the Heart particularly helpful this week. I hope it helps you re-learn what you need to replenish yourself so you can continue all the goodness you’ve got planned for your world:

“Some of us don’t know how tired we are until we try to relax. Then we realize we’re exhausted.

We may have lived with exhaustion and stress for so long it’s become habitual. That doesn’t mean we’re bad or wrong, or even off track. Many of us are deeply involved in activities, work, projects and relationships we enjoy. We like our lives and the things we’re doing. But sometimes we’ve pushed too hard or too long. Sometimes we haven’t given our bodies adequate time to relax, to rest, to really let go.

It’s all right to take time out. Relax. Refresh. Regroup. It’s all right to rest even if we’re busy, rest often enough to keep ourselves replenished. Get in touch with your body, then stay in touch with yourself.”

 

Rachel looked so peaceful, I had to try it for myself. It’s amazing the happiness that can come when you least expect it and are open to jumping in, trying something new.

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