Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Hoop-Yoga Fusion!

Hoop-Yoga Fusion morning warm-up with Nicole Benisch (Music by Beats Antique)

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Abandon Hope! Let's Dance!

Life is a crazy roller coaster ride sometimes. As my teacher says, obstacles will ALWAYS come. Sometimes they’re just a tiny speed bump and sometimes you find yourself broken, defeated, and lost in the middle of an eight car pile-up. Regardless of how severe an obstacle may be, if you don't pause to contemplate the lessons to be learned from these (oftentimes) extremely unpleasant experiences; you are missing out on a massive opportunity.

When the going gets tough, it’s natural to reach for something outside you to numb the pain, or to avoid it altogether. Hope is one way of reaching. I am in an 8 car pile-up situation at the moment, and have come to despise the phrase: “All you can do is hope for the best.” So, I’ve replaced it with “All you can do is abandon hope.” *

Hoping for the best has served to make me more confused, stressed and frightened. Hoping for a situation to be any other way than how it is, is just another trick of the mind to steal your attention away from the present, thereby increasing fear of the unknown. I realized this once I decided to take some time with my fear, to confront it head on by just sitting with it for a while. Fear began to lose its power. I stopped hoping and starting being. By abandoning hope in times of duress we can be present with what IS, and as scary as that may be, it’s infinitely more productive than losing the moment to hope. Consider this quote from Chapter 13 of the Tao Te Ching:

"Hope and fear are both phantoms
that arise from thinking of the self.
When we don't see the self as self,
what do we have to fear?

See the world as your self.
Have faith in the way things are.
Love the world as your self;
then you can care for all things."

Hope is just something that keeps us running from the present moment, from what is. Let's let it go and be present here, right now, together. It may be scary, but we are warriors.

This is what I’ve learned so far from the recent hiccup in my path:

It really IS not where but WHO you're with that really matters. I
flourish when surrounded by gentle, genuine, generous souls who
delight in the joyful experience of living this life heart wide open.
Living it to share joy, plain and simple. My people dance in their
underwear with hula hoops in a sea of bubbles, covered in glitter and sweat,
glowing with pure-sattvic luminosity. They don't mask it, they bask in it.
My people laugh with you, not at you. My people hug strangers with
the same love and compassion as they do their own child or

Are you my people???? If so,abandon hope and let's dance!!!

Forever Dance
I am happy even before I have a reason.
I am full of Light even before the sky
Can greet the sun or the moon.
Dear companions,
We have been in love with God
For so very, very long.
What can Hafiz now do but Forever

*the phrase “Abandon Hope” is from the book “When Things fall Apart” by Pema Chodron

Monday, August 23, 2010

Be Healthy Y'all! Quin(wh)oatmeal

1/3 cup Quinoa, rinsed
1/2 cup water
/2 cup unsweetened Soy/Almond milk
(this is my latest obsession, I buy the West Soy brand, but you can use any milk that your little heart desires!)


Honey, Cinnamon & Ginger to taste

Combine quinoa, water, and soy milk in a pot and bring to a boil over VERY low heat. Low heat helps maintain the integrity of the soy milk which has a habit of make a frothy, sticky mess when exposed to high heat. As soon as the liquid starts to boil reduce heat, cover and simmer over very low heat for 10 minutes. Turn off heat, stir, then replace cover and let the quinoa sit for another 3-5 minutes (depending on if you want your quin(wh)oatmeal more or less liquid-y).

Add honey to sweeten, then sprinkle with cinnamon and ginger.

Why quinoa instead of regular oats, you ask? As advised by my Ayurvedic practitioner, Pratima; I am avoiding sugar and gluten as much as possible. Quinoa, amaranth, millet, and buckwheat are non-glutinous grains. I don't know much about cooking with the others, but I LOVE quinoa because of its texture and quirky look. Plus, it's super filling.

The possibilities for this dish are endless! You can add nuts, fresh fruit, dry fruit, agave nectar instead of honey. For a savory dish you might add some chopped veggies, herbs, and maybe some cumin and turmeric powder.

Smile and enjoy the creative and soulful act of cooking yourself (and friends perhaps?) a nourishing, healthy meal!


Monday, April 26, 2010

Be Healthy Y'all! Chick pea, Carrot and Cucumber Salad

1 Can Chick peas, drained and rinsed, boiled until soft
1 cup chopped carrots, boiled until tender
1 cup chopped cucumber (i like the seedless kind)
tsp whole cumin seeds
tsp whole corriander seeds
tsp whole black mustard seeds
3 tbsp olive oil
salt & pepper to taste

Place chopped cucumber in a mixing bowl.

In a medium pot bring 4 cups (or so) of water to a boil. Add the chick peas & carrots. I like to add the peeled carrots whole and then cut them after when they are tender. :) Drain, then add the chick peas & chopped carrots to the mixing bowl and set aside.

In a small frying pan warm 3 tbsp of olive on medium-high heat, then add the spices, they should "snap" and begin to brown. When they start to brown remove from heat and add to the mixing bowl. Salt & pepper to taste and then give a light toss.

Et voila!

You have a quick, easy, delicious and healthy salad.

Combine with rice for a heartier meal, or just eat right away for a light healthy snack! I think some fresh herbs would be a nice addition as well.

As always, be creative and SMILE!!!


Ps - careful not to burn your seeds like I just did!!!!

Monday, March 8, 2010

Art & Spirituality…Musings on Theatre and Yoga

Art & Spirituality…Musings on Theatre and Yoga

Jerzy Grotowski, was a luminary of experimental theatre. His views and work, cultivated in his “Theatre Laboratory” are truly extraordinary and inspiring:

“There is only one element of which film and television cannot rob the theatre: the closeness of the living organism. Because of this, each challenge from the actor, each of his magical acts (which the audience is incapable of producing) becomes something great, something extraordinary, something close to ecstasy.”

Indeed good theatre is cathartic, magical, even! The actors make mirrors and expressions of themselves in order that they (audience AND actor) may share this elevated experience. And, there is something special about the shared experience between the performers and the audience which I believe is incomparable in art. Grotowski , on the actor:

“The actor makes a total gift of himself. This is a technique of the “trance” and the integration of all the actor’s psychic and bodily powers which emerge from the most intimate layers of his being and instinct, springing forth in a sort of ‘translumination’.”

Grotowski believed that training an actor should involve a clearing away of negative habits, thought patterns, blockages. In doing so, through various physical, vocal and mental exercises, a state of “passive readiness” is cultivated.

I cannot help but think of Yoga here. And, incidentally, Grotowski drew heavily from the Yoga tradition in creating the exercises he experimented with, in his laboratory of theatre.

In Yoga, you must first create a firm foundation, space in your body, and from that effort toward stability and spaciousness the pose will naturally expand. I always think of a flower blossoming. Never forcing the pose happen, but essentially allowing the pose “do you”. It’s the same with a good performance. Once an actor has cultivated that state of “passive readiness”, the performance can then blossom forth from a place of intuitive wisdom, and spontaneity! The same can be said of other performance arts: music, dance, opera. If you’ve ever seen any live show and afterward felt like you just had a mystical, spiritual experience, then you know what I am talking about!!!

It’s an interesting symbiosis to reflect on: the place where art & spirituality cross paths. Without acting I would not have found Yoga, and it turned out to be acting & the theatre of all things that helped reinvigorate and inspire my yoga practice.


Monday, February 22, 2010

DIY Restorative: Supta Baddha Konasana (Reclined Bound Angle Pose)

Also known as "Reclined Goddess Pose"

I love this pose for SO many reasons. I will get into more detail about the posture and it's benefits in a moment. First let's discuss what you will need.

1) Padding/Support for under your knees: The goal here is to have your knees resting on something so there will be no strain in this restorative posture. If you have yoga blocks/bricks (I have one under my head in the photos, for reference) great! If not, any number of items you can find around your house will do just fine. You can see in the photo I've used two stacks of books. You could also use pillows, folded blankets or towels. Be creative!!!

2) Padding/Support for your back, shoulders, neck and head: In the photo you will see I used two blankets and a foam yoga block. Basically you want a little lift; 4-6 inches or so, to make this a bit of a gentle back bend. Again, be creative and don't be afraid to experiment. It may take you a few tries to find the right combination.

So, now you have all your props ready to go, and you are ready to settle into this delicious restorative posture!

Sit about an inch in front of your back/neck support with knees bent and feet on the floor. (have your knee support nearby)

Bring the soles of your feet to touch and allow your knees to fall open to either side, and come to rest on their support.

Now, gently lower your back, shoulders, neck and head to rest on the support you have created for yourself.

Lift your hips slightly, then lightly place them back onto the floor. This should alleviate lower back pain (if any) by combing your buttocks flesh toward your heels.

You may place your hands in any of the positions shown, close your eyes. Settle in, breathe, and let gravity do it's job. Surrender your body to the support and breathe into your blossoming rib cage.

If you find it hard to relax, you may try this breathing exercise:

Inhale for 3 counts, and then exhale on 6 counts, noticing the pause between breaths at the bottom of your exhale.

Stay for at least 3-5 minutes. To come out gently roll off your props, to your right side, and press your self up to sit.

This pose is especially beneficial for relieving menstrual pain in women. But, not to worry boys, there are a myriad more benefits for both men and women! It's great for digestion, and as I mentioned this version is also a gentle back bend; so don't be surprised if you feel a jolt of energy when you come out of the posture! Supta Baddha Konasana relieves sciatic pain and open up the inner groins. Practicing this restorative posture will help you immensely in your asana practice with postures like Padmasana (Lotus Pose) and Vrksasana (Tree Pose). Also, as always, your restorative practice stimulates the "relaxation" response of the nervous system. This allows the body to slow down and just "BE". Even if it's just for a few minutes a day, this practice will have an enormous impact on your regular asana practice and in life.

Namaste (The divine in me bows to the divine in you)

More New Pics :)

Natarajasana with Hoop (Lord of the Dance Pose with Hoop):

Vrksasana with Hoop (Tree Pose With Hoop):

Saturday, February 20, 2010


Please check out my DIY Restorative posts, I've added photos which I think will be MUCHO helpful in executing the poses in the sweetest way possible for you!

Namaste darlings!

Friday, February 19, 2010

A (very) Random Act of Kindness

One of the most beautiful random acts of kindness I've ever received was not from a human being, but from a kindly old black lab.

I was at the Sivananda Yoga Ranch, an ashram in upstate NY, and it was my last day there. I had some free time after brunch and I wanted to hike the trails behind the property, which sits on 100 acres of beautiful forest in the foothills of the Catskills. The only problem was, there wasn't an organized hike and the head of the ashram had warned us not to hike the trails alone because they were not marked very well.

Nevertheless, I stood at the head of the trail weighing my options. It just seemed like the perfect thing to do to mark the end of my time there. I had just had a magical asana practice, and I wanted to take a walk in nature to reflect upon it.

As I was standing there contemplating, I hear a rustling behind me; of the four legged variety. The black lab (one of the animals who lives at the ashram) came padding up next to me, paused, and then trotted about 30 feet ahead of me. Then he looked back, went another 10 feet, and looked back again. Was this dog telling me to follow him??!! Either way, I did.

We walked together like this along the trails. He would run ahead, never more than 50 yards or so, look back, wait until I caught up a bit and then he would run ahead again. Astounding! He guided me toward the big field next to the entrance of the property, where the cows live. I perched on the gate while he galloped in circles around the sacred creatures. This seemed to be a favorite activity of his. I smiled and giggled to myself, to see his joy and the cows' indifference. After a few minutes like this he came out and resumed guiding me along the trail.

While I walked I reflected on his kindness and how touching it was that he chose to help me. How did he know I needed his help? What energy did he feel? I didn't want to leave!

As soon as we reached the end of the trail, and the main building of the ashram was in view, he took off running.

Afterward, I sat under a tree outside the temple and wrote this poem:

the trees are talkin'
to each other
and my mind is dancing, with a butterfly on my nose;
in a field of wild
the colors of
grace, god and love.
the colors of this
moment. a divine moment.
i can talk
to black dogs
and read scottish minds.
if i could put duct
tape over my heart
to stop this feeling
from seeping
I would

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Inspiration, Wisdom from the masters

"Keeping your body healthy is an expression of gratitude to the whole cosmos - the trees, the clouds, everything"

- Tich Nhat Hahn

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Chakra Meditation

A chakra meditation, I sometimes do in the morning:

First find a comfortable seated position. If you are sitting cross legged, make sure you are elevated on some kind of support, especially if when you cross your legs, your knees are higher than your hips. You want the knees to be descending well below hip level to sit comfortably for any length of time. If you aren't able to sit with legs crossed for at least ten minutes, you may do the meditation sitting up in a chair, or laying down on your back with knees bent and the soles of the feet on the floor.

Now, wherever you are (unless you're laying down :P), sit well, place your palms face down on your thighs. Feel the sitting bones descend into their support. From that descending, allow your spine to ASCEND, growing taller, gently spread the collar bones open to blossom the chest open. Now see if, in doing that, did you stick your bottom ribs out, creating a concave curve in the mid back, and soften the front ribs. Take a few natural breaths in and out. You may repeat to yourself: "breathing i am breathing in, breathing i am breathing out", so as to bring your attention inward.

Beginning at the root chakra and working your way up to the crown chakra, take your attention to the area of your body where each chakra resides, and keep it there for 20 focused breaths. Like this: inhale 1, exhale 2, inhale 3, exhale 4, and so on. If you lose count, or the mind begins to wander start over. If you are unsure where you chakras reside there is a list at the end of the post for reference.

I think this is a nice way to say hello to and wake up the energy centers of the subtle body.

After you've breathed prana into all 7 chakras. You may choose to spend a few minutes repeating the mantra of any chakra you feel needs special attention, either out loud, or to yourself.

root/pelvic floor: lam (l-ah-m)

sacral/pelvic basin: vam (v-ah-m)

solar plexus/navel: ram (r-ah-m)

heart: yam (y-ah-m)

throat: ham (h-ah-m)

third eye/in between eyebrows: ksam (ks-ah-m)

crown/just above your the the top of your head: om

To close my meditation practice I like to bring my palms to touch in front of my heart, bow my chin to my rising chest and say a short prayer. You may just repeat the syllable "om" one to three times. Then crack open your eyes and SMILE!!!!


Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Snow Day Fun!!!!

This was soooooo fun and exhilarating!!!

I know it does not appear Yoga related, but I consider hula hooping an extension of my Yoga practice, in the same way I do cooking. It makes me feel centered, present, and ecstatically joyful!


Be Healthy Y'all!

White Bean, Rosemary, and Kale Soup

2 cans White Beans (drained and rinsed)

4 Cups vegetable stock

3 tbsp olive oil

½ cup unsalted butter

1 sprig of rosemary

2 sprigs of thyme

1 bay leaf

½ small yellow onion (chopped)

2 clove garlic (chopped)

Tbsp lemon zest

½ cup cubed parmesan cheese rinds (optional)

Bunch kale, stemmed, chopped and rinsed (you can use ANY thick leafy green! I like to use whatever is freshest at the store or market)

salt & pepper to taste

Into a medium pot on low heat, add the olive oil and butter until the butter is melted. Add the chopped onion and let sauté on low heat until the onion is translucent, 10-15 mins. Then add the garlic, rosemary, thyme, bay leaf and sauté for another 3 minutes. Stir in the white beans, then add the stock and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes, or until the beans are super tender. Remove the herbs, and bay leaf. Add salt and pepper to taste. At this point you could use a hand held blender to blend the beans into a smooth textured soup, or you could transfer to a blender (carefully, with the hot liquid), I don’t have either and I personally prefer the texture of the whole beans.

Now, add the lemon zest and cheese rinds and let simmer for another 10 minutes. Now stir in the greens until bright green and slightly wilted. *

*an option for making the soup FRESH every time if you’re not going to serve the whole pot all at once. Ladle the soup into a bowl and THEN stir in a handful of greens. Let the soup cool and then transfer to a tupperware container and refrigerate, place the rest of your rinsed greens into a big zip lock baggie with a paper towel, and then add a handful to each serving when as you reheat. Otherwise the greens get unpleasantly wilted and slimy as you continue to reheat the soup.

Serves 4-6

Inspiration, wisdom from the masters

Success is as dangerous as failure.
Hope is as hollow as fear.

What does it mean that success is as dangerous as failure?
Whether you go up a ladder or down it,
your position is shaky.
When you stand with your two feet on the ground,
You will always keep your balance.

What does it mean that hope is as hollow as fear?
Hope and fear are both phantoms
that arise from thinking of the self.
When we don't see the self as self,
what do we have to fear?

See the world as yourself.
Have faith in the way things are.
Love the world as your self;
then you can care for all things.

- Tao Te Ching, Chapter 13 (translation by Stephen Mitchell)

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Be Healthy Y'all!

Once upon a time in a dorm room on Roosevelt Island (a little island in the East River nestled between the boroughs of Queens and Manhattan), there lived a girl who subsisted on boxed mac n' cheese, ramen noodles, pop tarts and McDonald's. This girl brazenly bragged about not being able to cook, and blabbed ad nauseum to anyone who'd listen, about how she would NEVER ever ever ever become domesticated. Life went by just like this for many years until her body revolted, and one day a little voice inside finally got the girls attention, and it said "Put DOWN that coca cola, and pick up this vegetable!!!!!!!", and she listened.

And that, my darlings, is more or less how I became a food enthusiast, and a pretty decent cook if I may say so myself. :-P

Food has become an extension of my philosophy and a important part of my lifestyle. Cooking is Yoga for me, because it stills and quiets my mind. And, as we learned last week in Sutra Study, Yoga IS the stilling of the fluctuations of the mind. Lately my cooking has become a creative and playful adventure, and I wish to share with you some of my favorite healthy and DELICIOUS dishes here.

I want to note that I follow an Ayurvedic diet for my overactive Pitta dosha. So, I avoid hot spices and spicy food in general. Always feel free to be creative and add a little somethin' somethin' if spicy food is your trip.

Be Healthy Y'all!!!!

Chick Pea Burgers

1 Can Chick Peas (drained and rinsed)
1/2 a cup H2O
2 tbsp whole wheat flour
1 tbsp plain oats
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp paprika
salt & pepper to taste

Put your chick peas in a pot with about half a cup of water (just enough to not quite cover them), and boil until very soft. The pour the whole pot, including the water into a mixing bowl and mash the chick peas well. Add the flour, oats, spices and mix together. You may have to add more water along the way to get the mixture to a "hamburger" type consistency. Remember to taste your mixture as you go along to make sure you've added enough spices, salt, and pepper.

Makes 2-4 patties (depending on how big you make 'em) that you can fry up in a pan with a little bit of olive oil.


* notes: you can make your mixture in a blender or food processor if you have one. I don't so I do it by hand. Also, feel free to add ANY spices your little heart desires!!!

Thursday, February 4, 2010

BEING MY OWN POWER, an essay on potential by: Anonymous

I had a true breakthrough today. I realized something. It felt like I was blowing dust off an old relic, like I was an archaeologist who had discovered something long-buried and could finally start to detect a familiar shape. It was like I was removing a layer of grime from something shiny hidden in my attic from decades ago. It was like removing rust from a piece of long-forgotten machinery.

I realized that I AM MY OWN POWER.

As soon as I realized this, I had a SUPERCHARGE.

It was building up all day, as I started to FEEL MY POTENTIAL, truly feel it. It finally hit today. I am a self-enclosed entity. I am my own power. I am my own god. I AM GOD.

A few days ago, I began to monitor all my interactions with other people. I realized that no matter who it was I was conversing with, it was like I was constantly scrambling after ENERGETIC CRUMBS, desperate for other people to give me some type of shallow validation that I am worthy of attention, deserving of love. I wanted the crumbs of other people's affection, I wanted to have some type of reassurance of my existence, I wanted other people to acknowledge me, to make me feel valued, to make me feel special by responding to me, by communicating with me to help me prove to myself that I exist, that I am worthy, and for too long I have relied on these paltry energy returns to build up my self-confidence and self-image. Well guess what folks: You cannot thrive on crumbs.

In fact, good luck even surviving on them for long. You can't nourish yourself on crumbs because you're just constantly looking for more. More attention, more validation, more pieces of fragmented love from people who are just doing the same thing you are, desperate for those tiny slices of validation, of being noticed and appreciated. IT'S A FLAWED SYSTEM. Destined to fail, destined to bring discontentment, frustration and bitterness to those who utilize it.

Realizing this over the past few days, I hit an apex today. What to do? I'M TIRED OF LIVING THAT WAY. I'm tired of feeling desperate, disappointed and let down in my interactions with others. I'm tired of always pining for more: more love, more attention, more validation. It's bullshit. For one thing, you will NEVER be satisfied. NEVER. NOBODY ELSE CAN EVER SATISFY YOUR LONGING HEART. Nobody else can ever give you enough validation for you to feel worthy of YOURSELF. Nobody else can ever give you enough love to feel complete. It's impossible.

So I've been thinking about this. Pondering and pondering. Today, in my pondering, I hit something new. It felt like I was dusting off a piece of myself I haven't used in awhile. I felt a thrill of excitement when I realized how FAMILIAR it seemed. It was something I remembered...vaguely...something I had known, intuitively, instinctively...long ago...something that I thought had disappeared.

Without even realizing that it had.

It was POWER.




In finding it, a rush of epiphany.

I realized I could do anything. I realized that I could do Anything. I realized I could do ANYTHING. No more fear. I could do anything I wanted. Say anything I wanted. Nothing in my way. And if there was? HA! I'm the martyr. I'm the heretic. I CANNOT be repressed!!! It goes against my design to be coerced. I am the black sheep. I am DESIGNED to go against the grain. I am MADE to rebel, to resist. I always have. My entire life. I am designed to adapt, to find out what works. And when I find what works, there is CONVICTION:

Conviction I will fearlessly take to the grave.

The strength in my position in life, the strength in my design, overwhelmed me.

I began to realize my role as a black sheep. I began to FEEL IT. I began to TAKE DELIGHT in it. I felt mischievous and playful and fierce and determined and VERY CONTENT in my role in life. But that was only the beginning of realizing my power.

In realizing all this, a feeling swept over me, a sensation of throwing back my head and laughing hysterically, manically, even though I was deathly composed and joyously still. I felt something budding, something big, something fierce, something STRONG. It was confidence.

I am not afraid anymore. Not now. In understanding my Human Design, I have come to feel who I really am. And it blows my mind.

I am not afraid to be who I Really Am anymore.

Today, I realized I am my own Power. Worshiping God? Looking up to a Higher Power? I AM my Higher Power. I AM GOD. I AM love. I AM validation. I AM attention. I AM


To realize this...is FREEDOM.

And there is more. Something even more deliciously blasphemous.

I REFUSE TO FEEL ASHAMED TO BE WHO I AM. I AM WHO I AM. Among our society, there are those guilt-stricken unhappy souls who would like everyone to feel as embittered and distraught and helpless and beholden to the OTHER as they are. I know this, because I have been one of them. To cling to the idea of the OTHER as something to NEED, something to CRAVE endlessly, something to WORSHIP as HIGHER then the SELF. These are the same people who want everyone to be disempowered. These are the people who NEED to be NEEDED to feel like they are worth something. By saying, "I AM GOD" and "I AM MY OWN POWER" they are threatened.

I know. I have been one of them.


I FEEL MY POWER. I acknowledge that I AM GOD. And I am focusing on that. I'm going to experience this, for ALL ITS WORTH.

I'm not giving my power away anymore. I'm not going to "give it up" to GOD. GOD IS EVERYTHING. I AM GOD. And I'm focused on the I AM. And I am self-confident and self-satisfied in my new understanding..of my SELF.



You know what else?

In realizing I AM: EVERYTHING IS.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010


Hey darlings! I just wanted to let you know that I have a photo/video shoot in a couple of weeks, so DIY Restorative will be back and better than ever shortly after!

stay tuned!

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Inspiration, wisdom from the masters

A force of nature; B.K.S. Iyengar is one of the greatest living yoga masters and a profound inspiration in my practice and teaching. I want to share a quote of his with you, dear yogi's and yogini's. It's from an interview with him that Yoga Journal ran a little over a year ago, and I just came across it in an old journal. When asked what his practice is like now (He just turned 91 this past December), this is how Mr. Iyengar responded:

"Even now the maximum my body can do, I do. I am 90, and still I practice. I stay in sirsasana (headstand) for half an hour, even without shaking. I'm improving still, progressing still. That is why I am still practising with such energy. The mortal body has its limitations. Therefore I will still practice 'til the last breath of my life that that I do not become a servant of the mind, but rather the master of the mind. Old age makes a strong man say goodbye. I am breaking the fear complex and living with confidence."

If that is not inspiring, then I don't know what is.


Friday, January 22, 2010

Sutra Study

The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali. Sutra, meaning thread, or suture in sanskrit, the Yoga Sutras are a series of threaded together phrases, or aphorisms explaining the 8 limbed practice of Yoga. These sutras were classically passed down through one on one oral teachings, directly from teacher to student. Yoga as we know it today, in all its forms, began to take shape as these magical ideas and practices were systematized and compiled by Patanjali.

It is not really known EXACTLY when Patanjali lived, or if perhaps he was even several people using the same title (hmmmmm sounds similar to someone else I know and love: Lao Tzu). Estimates range from 5,000 B.C. to 300 A.D. but, in any case, he is known as the "Father of Yoga" and the teachings contained within the four books ("Padas") are so valuable to the evolution of your Yoga practice, or ANY spiritual practice for that matter. Void of dogma that is present in so many other paths and religions, in the Sutras invite each individual to embark on a spiritual journey all his or her own. The ideas and suggestions put forth here are universal and open to interpretation. This is why I am adding Sutra Study to my blog. Each week I will present a new Sutra for contemplation. I will be taking the Sutras directly from the tanslation by Sri Swami Satchitananda, founder of Integral Yoga Institute and the famous Yogaville Ashram. You may also know him as the Yogi who gave the opening invocation at Woodstock in 1969. An extremely inspiring, funny and enlightened being; you will enjoy his take on this sacred text.

1.2: Samadhi Pada (Portion on Contemplation). Second Sutra

sanskrit: Yogas Citta Vritti Nirodhah

english: The restraint of the modifications of the mind-stuff is Yoga.

Swami says, "For a keen student this one Sutra would be enough because the rest of them only explain this one. If the restraint of the mental modifications is achieved one has reached the goal of Yoga."

Sounds pretty easy, right?

Wrong. And that is why there are three more Padas: The Portion on Practice, on Accomplishments, and on Absoluteness. The mind is powerful, and as you will discover in the next series of Sutras, it is encouraged by strong forces to identify and obsess over the vrittis, "modifications of the mind-stuff" (thoughts, basically). We obsess constantly about what happened before, what might happen now, or in the future etc etc etc. This obsessing takes us out of the present and generally makes us uneasy, unhappy, paranoid. When you have control over these thoughts, you are not ruled by outside phenomena, and you have the presence and capability to make a reality that is joyful, luminous, content.

Swami says, "That is why the entire Yoga is based on chitta vritti nirodhah. If you control your mind, you have controlled everything. Then there is nothing in this world to bind you."

Om Shanti, Shanti, Shanti.

Om Peace, Peace, Peace.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Inspiration, wisdom from the masters

So, this may be an unlikely master for a Yoga blog, but bear with me :) This quote is from one of my favorite, if not my all time favorite novels. Jitterbug Perfume, by Tom Robbins. If you haven't read it, DO! It's really wonderful and the themes draw heavily from Yogic philosophy, Tantra especially.

"Our individuality is all, all, that we have. There are those who barter it for security, those who repress it for what they believe is the betterment of the whole society, but blessed in the twinkle of the morning star is the one who nurtures and rides it, in grace and love and wit, from peculiar station to peculiar station along life's bittersweet route."

I think Robbins' use of individuality here refers to that unwavering, everlasting divine light within us all, and the quote harkens to the Tantrika belief that ALL moments, ALL things, ALL experiences...ALL is divine. "From peculiar station to peculiar station", what does this remind you of? It makes me think of the phrase; "vinyasa". Vinyasa means "step by step" in sanskrit and is also a style of asana quite popular in the West. Whatever style of asana you practice, vinyasa is something very important to cultivate on the mat...and off! Step by Step, try it! Maybe soon you'll find yourself riding from peculiar station to peculiar station with grace and laughter in your heart!


Thursday, January 14, 2010

DIY Restorative: "The Great Rejuvenator" Viparita Karani

Viparita Karani (Legs up the Wall) is said by many to be THE most therapeutic yoga posture of them all. Donna Farhi calls it "The Great Rejuvenator", and says "If you have time for no other practice, I recommend this one." All you really need for this puppy is your beautiful self and some wall space. If you've got rrrrrrrreally tight hamstrings, you may want to have a chair handy. If you'd like to use your mat for cushion, great, if you don't have a mat that's fine too. I prefer to practice any pose I possibly can without a mat because I feel like it gives me a deeper connection to the surface that I am practicing on, which is representative of the earth. Also, for this particular posture practicing without a mat makes coming out of the pose much, MUCH easier.

To come into the posture, sit with your right side flush against the wall, knees bent and curled into your chest, soles of the feet on the floor. Wiggle yourself as close to the wall as you can and then place your left palm in front of you and your right palm in back on the floor for stability as you come into the pose. Rotate your body toward the wall as you simultaneously extend your legs up the wall and lay your back down onto the floor. Now here is where it may be more beneficial to NOT use a sticky mat, because you want to wiggle your bum as close to the wall as is comfortable for your hamstrings and lower back. So the idea here is to comfortably have your entire spine flat on the floor. For my yogis and yoginis with tight hamstrings getting close to the wall may not be available for you at this time so you can have your bum a little bit away from the wall so your legs will be resting against the wall at a bit of an angle. If even THIS is not available to you, then you press yourself gently away from the wall, roll to your right side, press yourself up to sit and grab your chair. Drape your calves on the seat and lay back just like you did against the wall.

Ok, so now we are all comfy in whatever version of the pose that feels SUKHA, sweet, for your body. You may place your folded hands over your belly, or one on your belly and the other over your heart center, or in "cactus": arms out, palms facing up to a "T" then bent to a 90 degree angle.

Now close your eyes and hold for AT LEAST 5 minutes, 15 minutes would be ideal. It's natural for the legs to fall asleep in this pose as you're flushing out the build up of lactic acid and reversing the flow of blood. If this happens you can fold your legs in a cross legged position as if you're sitting on the wall for a moment, the extend them back up the wall after you feel the blood circulating well again. Also, remember as with all restorative postures, once you get comfortably situated, there should be NO effort, only surrender. Ahhhhhhhhh, sukha, so sweet!

To come out of the posture: Place the soles of your feet on the wall and gently press yourself away, so that you can bring the soles of your feet to rest of the floor with your knees bent. Stay here for a few moments so to allow the blood to circulate normally again. Now roll to your right side, pausing for a moment in this fetal type position, and then press yourself up to sit. You may choose to fold your palms in front of your heart, close your eyes and chant the syllable "Om" to close your practice.

The benefits of this posture are DIVINE. It's a passive inversion that relieves edema, or fluid retention in the legs and ankles. Stimulates the adrenal glands, and kidneys, as well as increasing circulation to the abdominal organs. It increases circulation to the lungs, facilitating deep breathing and relaxation response and reverses the effect of gravity on the ENTIRE body.

Namaste yogi's and yogini's!

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Inspiration, wisdom from the masters

I would like to share this poem by the Sufi mystic and poet, Hafiz. It's a new year! And I invite you to plant a seed instead of making a resolution. :-) Resolutions are too easily abandoned. Seeds, properly planted will grow strong roots and blossom beautiful flowers. "Inspiration" will be a regular addition to my blog. I hope you enjoy. Namaste!

I Got Kin


So that your own heart

Will grow.


So God will think,


I got kin in that body!

I should start inviting that soul over

For coffee and



Because this is a food

Our starving world



Because that is the purest