Tag Archives: yoga

More Golden Loops













I finally finished my golden loop scarf! It was a project that I started and restarted many times. Not because it was difficult but because I was having so much fun knitting the yarn and I kept changing the pattern. What I found was I kept on trying to make the pattern unique and complicated when really the yarn just needed a simple stockinette stitch to look beautiful as a loop scarf.

Even though I was enjoying the process of knitting the scarf I did find that each time I picked up the yarn I got all excited and I wanted to know what I would knit next. At times I would put the knitting down to look online at ravelry.com and purlsoho.com for future project ideas. Most knitters have a stash of yarn ready and waiting for them to knit, and I admit I have my own small one, but I am I’m trying to be disciplined this time and just knit this project and wait until its done before I start anything else. I began to focus on each stitch and my breathing in order to stop the distractions of what would come next.

It is human nature to want more, and it is the wanting that can cause unhappiness. When I first started my yoga practice I recall wanting to transition from bakasana (crow pose) to adho mukha vrksasana (handstand) as soon as possible. I wanted to within only a few weeks do something extremely advanced. Just as I was knitting this last project I wanted to create my own pattern and spin my own yarn. Really what I needed was santosa, not wanting or desiring more, and to accept the stage of knitting that I was at.

Santosa is the attitude we have towards our current state and activities. It is the acceptance and peace in the current moment. Santosa, is not wanting or desiring more, but being in the present. The more we make it our everyday practice to be content the easier it will be to be at peace in the center of all the chaos of life. No matter if it is through a knitting project or being with your asana (postures) or meditation practice. It is learning to accept where you are at each moment that can allow us to live in a balanced way.

Live Light Practice:

For three days in a row before bed write in your journal. Keep in mind santosa (contentment) and what it means for you. How can you feel santosa, not wanting or desiring more? Note what you are grateful for in your life at this very moment. Be present with what is happening for you at this stage in time.


Go with the flow

Going with the flow is easier said than done sometimes. Being able to shift and adapt can be an art. In coaching we call it dancing in the moment, in yoga it’s being present, in phoenix rising yoga therapy there is no plan it’s just what’s happening now, and some may even think of it as flying by the seat of your pants. It’s something some people are born with, but you can learn it as well.

By nature I am a planner and I personally love being that way; it works for me. Before each class, retreat, and workshop, I make a plan. If I’m teaching an asana class, I like to know my theme and have a basic structure of some key poses to cover. The plan I make isn’t super detailed but rather a basic outline for me to keep in mind. Depending on who shows up in my classes that day, the plan I have made may go out the window. But since I have an understanding of the basic idea that I want to get across in class, I can dance in the moment and go with the flow.

Planning gives me the confidence to go with the flow depending on who I am that day and what types of students arrive in my classes, workshops, and coaching. Having a loose structure or theme or understanding allows me to flow naturally. The key I have found is not attaching to my plans. If I wrote down a full sequence and I forgot a pose or added a new one then I’m fine with that – I have to be because it often happens that I forget the sequence the moment I start teaching! I allow the classes to form themselves organically. In a restorative class the flow is slower, but no matter what the type or level of class, there is a structure to how the body, mind and breath are introduced to a theme.  The body is heated, the breath connects, and the mind calms as poses and concepts build on each other, stitching themselves together like a well-written story.

The same is true in life. We all plan our lives – each day, week, month and year has a plan and somehow we like to be able to tell a story about how it all fits together. But as we often encounter, sometimes life just happens independent of whatever idea we have in store for it, and our plans go out the window! The Guest House by Rumi illustrates this point quite nicely:

The Guest House

This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.

A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.

Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they’re a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still, treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.

The dark thought, the shame, the malice,
meet them at the door laughing,
and invite them in.

Be grateful for whoever comes,
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.

~ Rumi ~

(The Essential Rumi, versions by Coleman Barks)

I am a planner in classes and in life. Plans help us find comfort and security in our tasks – plans make the future seem less daunting and actually give us a starting point that makes it easier to go with the flow, just as long as we don’t get too caught up in the plan itself! So I often find that having a plan makes it is easier for me to let go and flow in the classroom. Resisting the changes that pop up only creates issues. Each day there is a new arrival and it is how we react to those arrivals that color our world. Welcome and entertain them all, because not everything can be planned.

Since going with the flow isn’t something that comes naturally to me I have adapted it to work for my personality. I plan, and then I am able to go with the flow. Eventually I believe I will truly go with the flow, but for now I work my flow this way. Some ways I invite this idea into my life are in my home asana practice, I give it the freedom to become whatever form it requires at the moment. I also try to plan nothing at least one day a week – no classes, no plans with friends, no tasks to complete. I find that this one-day of following what may come relaxes me.

Live Light Practice:

Take one day a week to do nothing. Make no plans. Don’t set an alarm, just wake up and let the day take you.
May we all live light, because everything is already okay.


Tapas: Winter Detox










This past weekend I was in NJ teaching a Winter Yoga Detox at Fair Haven Yoga. The first few weeks after New Years are when we are getting into our new habits of healthy living and in order to make that change we need a certain level of self-discipline. I know that when I try to make a change in my life it is the first few weeks that are the most challenging.

In the workshop we explored the Sanskrit term tapas, practices of self-discipline. Tapas in Sanskrit translates to ‘heat’ or ‘to burn’, and it is a term in yoga which describes the process of inner cleansing. Cleansing of not only the physical but mental impurities that no longer serve us. It is the purification is not only of what you put into your body, but what you see, what you read, the people you surround yourself with. You can control what you eat, read, and most of what you see. When you begin to eliminate things that deplete you, you create space for those that you love, things that ignite you, your inner strength, and strong self-confidence.

Tapas is about burning away impurities or attachments that cause us suffering. It is about having the ability to accept and adapt to any situation. For example being equally content with living in a shack or a mansion. Things change everyday and it is our ability to adjust to those changes that keep us from suffering. Tapas are the self discipline that make us physically and mentally stronger.

The nature of the mind and body is to run after pleasures and basically the tapas or self-discipline practices are teaching us to stop giving into every guilty pleasure. One practice that helps to purify the mind is the practice of silence. Taking a few hours a day without words can purify your mind, help to purge it of old impressions that no longer serve you. As my mentor Ashley Turner says “in stillness we amplify”. There is a great power that comes from being still and silent. We so often busy ourselves with menial tasks or television in order to distract from the emotions or experience we are having. Don’t run from the emotion because it will just keep popping up. Be with the discomfort and eventually you will come out with some clarity, understanding and purification.

Over the weekend as I was planning my classes and exploring what tapas means to me I took 3 hours of silence. I found that the first 20 minutes were the most challenging, when I wanted to pick up my phone to text, and my email was calling my name. Once I got past those first painful twenty minutes I began to appreciate the power of the silence. From my experience and other tapas practices I have made videos for the Online Studio. You will find videos on silence, receiving insults with serenity, movements, and breath of fire. Explore and bring yourself to an edge, notice what bubbles up for you as you challenge yourself.




Now what?









The New Year has started and the first week of the year is a good time to check in with your intentions for 2012. It is a way to come back to your goals before they get away from you!

Part of my intention for the New Year is to stay focused and be more mono-tasked rather than always multi-tasking. As I write this newsletter I notice the distractions popping up – texting with my sister, posting to facebook – but like in meditation I come back to my breath and stay on task. Rather than ridiculing myself for attempting to multi-task I kindly coax my attention back to the newsletter.

What intention for the year did you set? How have you been living with that intention so far? What can you do to support yourself?

Taking time for yourself is a great way to stay on track with your intentions. Planning ahead can keep the dark days at bay and fend off the urge to give up or succumb to the winter blues. Personally, I know that February and March are months that test my light mood with the dark and cold days of winter. This year I am fending off seasonal blues with the bright reminder that in less than two months we’re off to Bali for this years international yoga retreat!

What plans can you make to practice your intention and self-care? Maybe a massage, mani-pedi, yoga class, dance class, time alone at home?

May we all live light, because everything is already okay.