This picture barely does justice to the incredibly gorgeous sky on Wednesday evening as I rode my bike home along the ocean. But I had to snap it to have some record of the hue of orange that I saw cuddling with the Santa Monica Mountains. I'm so blessed right now to have the opportunity to commute along a 10 mile path from my home to Manhattan Beach where I'm teaching at the incredible Yoga Loft. My ride is invigorating and all 10 miles are along the Pacific Ocean. The views are stunning to say the least.
I came back home to LA from a beautiful and fruitful teaching trip to NYC and could feel the shifts of energy in myself and in others as we moved into the full moon. I felt a sense of inspiration overcome me when I returned, and yet only a few days later a familiar heaviness returned. This heaviness was the same kind of weight I had felt earlier this summer and I noticed my students were having a more difficult time moving. It felt like I was a motivational coach of some type trying to get them to move. While the summer can be a wonderful time for expansion it can also be oppressive. Humidity drags the body through the mud and we tend to over extend ourselves and do our best to push through even when we're tired. Deep nurturing self care, like hot baths, restorative yoga, movie nights, etc, takes a step to the side during the summer. Regardless I was feeling this heaviness in particular on Wednesday. I had just taught a class full of amazing students who really got the work and I was joyful riding back seeing the sun set on the ocean. Suddenly my father came to mind....
Ever since my Dad passed away unexpectedly in his sleep in September I have wanted nothing more than a big huge fat sign from him letting me know he was still with me. Being a spiritual person I was hoping for lights to turn on and off, for the tv to randomly change channels, or for him to show up in person during a deep meditation. I realized some of the weight upon me was this disconnect I have felt from his presence over the past months. As I rode my bike earlier in the day I remembered thinking how sad it was that he would never be able to ride this exact trail, something I would have definitely done with him because he would have loved it. On my way home I rounded the corner and suddenly "Dream Weaver" came onto my random shuffle on my spotify...I was quiet and realized my Dad was speaking to me.
I felt a peace overcome my entire being in a way I had never felt before. I looked out at the ocean, the sky, the sail boats, the palm trees beginning to look like shadows and felt my Dad's presence...I felt his spirit say "I have helped paint this sky for you...I'm here...I'm in these trees, I'm in the water, I'm the orange hue in the sky as the sun is setting, I'm giving you this breeze.......now how are you painting your sky?" I laughed and then I cried...realizing "Dream Weaver" was a song I used to hear in the car with him when he would drive me to piano lessons as a kid. I laughed as I realized he was free....he was happy...he was bigger than I could even comprehend...and he finally in a subtle way got through to me.
I stopped my bike and stared out at the water. Realizing that yes of course my Dad had helped give me this gift. I felt him with me. But he also reminded me that we all paint the sky together. He lifted my eyes out of a heaviness that evening to see what was around me...to suddenly see the sky open up in majestic colors....to feel the wind as I rounded the corner...I was able to receive this and fill in the colors from the palette he laid out for me. It was really a humbling moment for me. In my inspiration...
I'm asking us to make the inquiry....
How am I painting my sky?
How am I coloring in the details of my life? Can we together begin to co create a better place? How can we begin to change the painting of our lives?
I hear people say that they do yoga to clear the mind. I actually think clearing the mind is an impossible task--and I'd love for you to consider letting go of this idea of clearing the mind as something to attain. I also don't understand why we would choose to be in this human experience and want to totally clear our minds! We are here to experience, live, breathe....and that experience means ALL the stuff...good and "bad."
I'm thinking of my practice lately as a place to ORGANIZE the mind, rather than clear. I've finally given myself the space to sit back and look at everything and make sense of it. It's like sitting down once a week and going through your finances and checking in and moving things around and getting a clear picture of where you are. This is how I'm finding my practice to be useful to me these days. Sometimes I figure big things out. If I honor my practice and give myself the space I am actually able to SEE the way in which I color my world...the way I create everything around me. It's not always pretty. I see how I'm in my way...I see how I doubt myself...I see how I judge myself and others...I see how I resist the unknown...I see...I see...I see...and what a gift to see. Seeing and knowing are CLARITY. With clarity we get to take in this amazing information about ourselves and then put ourselves through the fire of change.
Can we look together at how we are painting our lives? Can we change the way we are creating our own worlds and allow that to melt together as co creation with our fellow human beings? Can we set aside our differences and begin to live our lives fully while respecting and honoring one another? How will we paint the sky together?
Let's create together and support one another in this amazing and adventure filled life. I support you and your creativity completely! I'd love to hear what you're wanting to manifest or create more of in your life...how do you want to paint your life differently? Feel free to comment below and inspire others!
I hate pictures of myself in poses (for the most part), and in general I feel like I "have" to post them from time to time from a "business" perspective. I'm working on sharing the value of a pose in pictures and video more than trying to "show off" a pose. Here's the thing...I hate this picture above. My left knee is not at a 90 degree angle (which it really should be)...I don't have all the corners of my body lined up...I'm not backbending very well from the front of my body..and there is a rounded-ness to my lower back. So why am I posting this here? I'm working on sharing all parts of myself with my students...it's important to me. This inlcludes the imperfect, the unplanned, and the truth.
Yoga Asana is so personal and changes every moment for us. What's captured through the eye of a camera isn't always real. It's taking one moment and putting it out there for others to like or ignore because they find something wrong with it. I admit I see pictures of bad alignment and I cringe. I mostly cringe at my own judgement because I know that these poses are not supposed to be perfect--so who the hell am I to judge? They never will be perfect. This is my dilemma with yoga asana photos and the whole insta yoga world. But really it's my dilemma with perfectionism, self-acceptance, and the practice of yoga where it’s at now.
Have you ever left a yoga class feeling inadequate or worse about yourself than when you walked in? I know I sure have…those feelings of inadequacy are all too familiar to me even as a teacher. “Why can’t my leg get any straighter?” “Why are my hamstrings still so tight?” “Why does compass pose STILL feel impossible to me?!” These are recurring thoughts during my own practice often. I think good teaching can and should facilitate one meeting themselves where they are. But so often the studio environment has become a place of “show”…how many handstand hops can you do? How big is your backbend? Can you really do this posture that no one else can do? How can you teach challenging asana that you can't even do? It’s disheartening at times because I think it encourages yogis to come to the mat with expectations. Expectations that they need to become super flexible, that they need to work hard to GET to a point where they can do specific asana, that their mind needs to be more quiet…and I think expectations mean that we don’t already see ourselves as whole beings. We don’t see ourselves as enough just the way we are. Is there always room for improvement? Sure. Should there be challenge so we can grow? Absolutely! So who’s responsibility is it to facilitate this experience? Ultimately it is our own. This is when we begin to melt into our authenticity and begin to listen to ourselves. We have to accept that the responsibility is ours to get to a place where we can see that everything we need already resides inside of us.
What if you were to come to the mat without any expectation, and instead just accept where you are today in this moment? How would that change your practice? Could we release the chains of expectation enough that maybe we could start to see that we are absolutely enough where we are? Could the chains releasing reveal to us the abundance of all that we have already residing inside of us? I think so. And for me this is the direction my personal practice is shifting into. It’s challenging to just show up with no expectation…to meet yourself in the good, the bad, and the ugly and then realize that you are enough. But I want to be in that place more often. I want that experience on my mat to bleed over into my everyday life so that I begin to accept myself exactly for who and what I am...and that includes the days when I may not be at my best...when I am angry, self loathing, depressed, or not at my best. Instead of putting myself through the fire of forcing change because I SHOULD be feeling a certain way, I can meet myself where I'm at. From that place of meeting myself where I'm at comes contact. From that contact comes a conversation, and from that conversation comes space to move forward rather than getting stuck. And maybe if we look inward closely enough without expectation we will see all of the abundance that is already within us.
I’m focusing this week in class on releasing expectation, and moving into abundance by seeing that we are already enough. We’ll be calling on Maha Lakshmi this week. Lakshmi is the Goddess of abundance in all things. This week I’m encouraging my students to call upon the energy of Lakshmi to see the abundance that is already flowing through our veins. When we release expectation in our practice we lighten up, every cell of our being becomes charged and fired up in a new way, our organs become more free, and we invite space into all corners of the mind and body. May you realize that you are absolutely enough just as you are, and may you begin to see all the answers that already reside inside of you and the abundance those answers bring.
Well we did it...we made it LA. We drove across this great land of ours and arrived safe and sound in our new home. Here is the last picture of us as we drove away from our apartment in cold and rainy Jersey City! What a journey we were in for!
Our week on the road went so incredibly fast, and for the most part we had to keep reminding ourselves that we were MOVING permanently, we felt like we were in a constant state of vacation. My husband is a National Park enthusiast (and I've become one) and so our route was planned with stops to see family, friends, and all the National Parks and Sites we could take in. First of all let me just say that if you ever have a chance to drive across this country...DO IT! It's absolutely brilliant! I knew there were gems in our country, but seeing them up close and personal was humbling. I'm sharing a few of my favorite photos from the trip that I took. Check out the gallery at the end of the blog.
We've been here now almost three weeks and it feels like so much life has happened. So much adjusting and change. So much is so wonderful and so good about being here! For me the biggest change has been a complete shift in schedule. When I left NY I was teaching 20 regular group classes a week, plus seeing private yoga and reiki clients. I was whooped. My schedule kept me moving at a pace that I didn't fully realize was starting to wear me down a bit. Because I love teaching so much, that love really was the gas for my engine. In reality my own yoga practice was beginning to suffer. I was finding less time to actually practice in the way I knew I needed to in order to be challenged and to get into my own body. My social life was quite non existent, and my time at home was spent doing admin or planning work. Looking back over these few short weeks I could see that I was headed to that place we call burn out. It happens to everyone, and in the yoga world it happens quite often. Teaching is hard on so many levels, but it's also rewarding.
For me the past few weeks have been a time of deep inner work. That kind of inner work that is hard, sometimes unpleasant, sometimes painful, and the kind of deep investment you make into yourself that you pray will pay off. I wish I could say I've enjoyed just sleeping in every day and laying by the pool. And yes I have done a bit of catching up on sleep and I am enjoying the fact that I have a pool and hot tub in my building. But there's a current that's running beneath me that is propelling me into action. I am ready to move forward but want to do so with more clarity. This is tricky for me because I tend to be an over achiever in some ways--or I guess I should be honest and just say I tend to be a perfectionist. In some ways it serves me but in other ways it's like a really annoying co-worker who you know is really good at their job and when you need them you can go to them and they'll give you ALL the information you need but they don't know when to shut up. So my work has simply been...
1. Get onto the mat! I've been practicing every single day that I've been here. I haven't practiced every single day in a while. And not just my own home practice but getting my ass to a studio and getting on the mat with a teacher who has something to say. I'm so blessed to be able to practice now with one of my greatest teachers, Kate Duyn. She is absolutely brilliant and has so many years of experience. You trust her, you know that she is speaking her truth, and you know that she has your back. Her classes are hard. I am always challenged...I'm always wondering if I'm going to ever be able to do certain postures she is teaching....this is good for me. This is good for my ego. I realized I got stuck in comfort...it was easy for me to stay within the confines of my home practice (home practice is AMAZING and essential btw but for me it became a comfort zone). The past few weeks on my mat I have faced my darkest shit. I've seen how I have been speaking to myself, treating my body, treating my thoughts, and how easily I squirm from discomfort. It's not pleasant to be in this space...I want to be perfect...I want to "GET" it...but for now I'm living in this place of WHERE I AM is WHERE I AM and that's OK. I'm like that scientist just gathering evidence...watching how my mind operates. Learning how we speak to ourselves is crucial...it's sometimes fucking painful...but if we face it we can move forward through the fire that we ourselves have the ability to slowly extinguish. And I'm starting to put out some fires that have been burning for many years.
2. SLOW the FUCK down! Holy shit guys...I'm a yogi, yoga teacher, Reiki Master, Spiritual person...I've got all the tools...but WOW I was moving fast in my life. The constant current of anxiety flowing through me just to get somewhere on time, or to finish typing an email, or to answer a text can be insane! The pace here on the west coast is slower...and that certainly allows me to have the space to see my own dysfunctional speed. Wow...there is NO reason (unless it's life or death) to move that quickly. I thought I had shed that sense of urgency years ago when I left the corporate world, but boy was I wrong. I'm taking the time now to pause and just notice when the urge to rush arises...just noticing it I'm separating that old habit from my new patterns. It's going to take some time, but I'm beginning to shake this old habit and slow things down. This includes goals too btw, and it includes putting the phone down at dinner or when you're "off."
3. Get on my knees and cultivate UNSHAKEABLE TRUST! There's something jarring the moment you realize that the life you have built over the past 11 years has completely shifted. That you now in some ways are wiping the slate clean. It's exciting at first, but after a few days it hits and you suddenly realize that EXPANSION (Which you so desperately want) is going to take time, trust, change, and work. Part of this trust comes from knowing that you have 11 years of experience behind your back....you've been there, done that, and you know what you need to do to take care of yourself. But now you have a new set of circumstances that demand that you actually take action. You can't just sink into the realm of the familiar anymore-if you want something done you have to do it. If you need to know something you have to ask. This is for the deep stuff as well as for the basic stuff. You have to ask yourself "what does my heart want?" When you listen and you hear you have to start to TRUST in yourself, trust in that deep inner voice, trust in the heart...no rounding and slinking back into the past--the past is far away. You have to move forward from the heart. Those kinds of answers don't come overnight. Transition is a forever thing and that's something we have to accept. This is when meditation, prayer, mantra, mudra, our practice all come into play. They are our tools to allow us to soften into the space where expansion begins. Expansion begins when we begin to release control of the knowing when/how/why and we start allowing, and allowing comes from seeing where we put restraints on ourselves. So beauties I am so there with you on this one...interlace those fingers, point the thumbs up, palms to the heart and find that mudra of unshakeable trust. Build that confidence in yourself...you are stronger than you thing. You've so got this. And that's what I'm telling myself as well.
Transitions are bumpy....and life is full of transitions...hell it's just one big transition. Together we can take this bumpy ride together. Luckily we've got all of these amazing tools to keep us safe through all the bumps that we'll encounter. Let's use them and not just talk about them because they seem cool. Let's get into the good, the bad, and the ugly parts of ourselves and learn to love it all. I'm on this journey with you!!
From Sunny California to all of you I send you a big warm embrace!!
P.S. Pics below. :)
P.P.S. Check out my schedule & events tab. I have some LA teaching dates coming up, some NYC workshops and teaching in July, and sign up for my mailing list to be updated when I post about Fall 2018 retreat as well as videos where we can practice together.
Love and light,
Please consider joining myself, Angela Rauscher, and Victoria Greene for an evening of pure bliss! Our last collaborative Sound Bath experience sold out very quickly so please sign up asap! Angela plays the sound bowls, Victoria leads meditation, and I give Reiki to everyone. It's an evening that will leave your soul singing!! Register at www.houseofjai.com
In my class I'm often talking about making space in the body, freeing up the chest or the lungs and making space where space seems to not exist. I was reminded recently about how congested the mind can get during our practice, and that reflection brought me to my practice on and off the mat.
Off the mat I can easily get frustrated with my seemingly inability to eat at what I would consider to be proper intervals. Sometimes my meals come hastily in between classes or I'm eating lunch at 3:00 because I had to rush somewhere in between classes. I get frustrated because things don't look the way I would like for them to look. In my perfect mind I would like to magically flit between class to class, crowded train to another crowded train, and land home like a magical fairy unexhausted by the events of the day. I imagine myself preparing my meals for the week and carrying them with me in my bag and sitting outside eating my slow meal, arriving to class an hour early so that I have time to practice parts of the sequence that are still challenging for me to teach. I imagine coming home and waking up for my early morning classes bright eyed and bushy tailed! "YOU LOVE what you do!" is what I frequently exclaim to myself.
In reality this would be great if each day could be like this...but it's not. Truthfully I'm often pacing in my mind on the train praying I can make it to the next studio in time to not have to rush while putting my clothes on. I'm often grabbing food on the go and sometimes it's not the healthiest food, my bag (though it's great) is not ideal for holding my multiple changes of clothing and at the end of the day looks like a 90 year old hoarder's living room. I get grumpy, angry, and I often fight back the urge to push the people who are talking on their cell phones on the subway stairs as I'm racing to teach my next yoga class. Some days are better than others. Oh yeah and biking just isn't possible all year round here in NYC...it's cold, rainy, and sometimes snowy.
I cleaned out my small black bag today...a small black bag that was a gift to me years ago. Since I've been teaching it has become the home of all the little things I need to get through a long NYC day: chap stick (4 tubes), face moisturizer, green tea bags, phone charger, my inhaler, breath mints, allergy pills, aspiring, toothpaste, etc. As I cleaned out this bag and reorganized it I noticed something....in the past I was frustrated with this bag. Why could I NOT keep it orderly on a day to day basis? I would literally get anxious and angry at the thought of having to clean it out. Suddenly today I was no longer angry. I realized it took me all of 2 minutes to completely reshuffle and reorganize the bag. I removed the clutter and reorganized it and it felt great. Sure it gets cluttered every day, and every day I may need to de-clutter and reorganize it but I can do that now with less weight. I have been organizing the bag now almost every day for the past month with angst-and for the first time the congestion in my mind surrounding this was gone.
It's a lot like our yoga practice or any kind of spiritual practice. We get clutter in our mind and bodies and when we move through an asana practice or through meditation we reset ourselves..we recalibrate and reorganize and remove the clutter of the mind. Every time we come back to the work it becomes a little less laborious and we remove more clutter. Ever notice when you practice every day or meditate or pray every single day without fail you become a little lighter? Sure it's not perfect, but it's this lovely way to reset ourselves. And while I don't expect my days to always be light as a feather and easy I can engage in this practice of decluttering the mind to help me to get through my shit. Removing the congestion of the mind isn't easy, but once we feel the space in the mind that is freed up it becomes this palpable bliss. What a crazy ride this is.
Let's decongest our minds together through a strong practice this week! On the mat we'll explore a couple of asana that will take us to the land of "oh my God I'll never be able to do this" which will force us to face our own congestion and move through it .
Join me on the mat this week.
I pray I can wake up each day and gracefully allow my heart to lead the way
I pray I can wake up each day grateful to be in this time/space reality
I pray that I can savor the mystery of this great time/space reality and our very existence within it
I pray that I can speak more kindly to myself
I pray that I can speak more kindly to others
I pray that I can make more time and space for myself and for those I love the most
I pray that I can find more compassion when I drive
I pray that I can make necessary changes based on my desires to be the fullest expression of myself
I pray that I can be authentic in each and every moment
I pray that I can unplug more
I pray that the right opportunities flow my way
I pray for the wisdom to say yes and the courage to say no
I pray for peace in the world
I pray for peace for my heart
I pray for healing old broken wounds that are still tender in my heart and mind
I pray for the courage to move forward even in the face of fear
I pray for more energy
I pray for more inspiration
I pray that I speak clearly
I pray that I incite change in some way
I pray that those I've hurt in my past know that I love them
I pray that I come home to myself more this year than ever
I pray for good health for myself and those I love
I pray for the devotion to my practice to continue to deepen
I pray I make better food choices in 2018
I pray I lose some excess stubborn weight that I'm holding onto
I pray for abundance
I pray to never lose hope
I pray to always feel and give love
My INTENTION for 2018 is to move forward in every aspect of my life on the breath of a prayer...
A prayer is asking....
A prayer is faith....
A prayer is expecting....
A prayer is receiving...
May you move forward into the New Year nesting in that sweet refuge of grace that resides in each and every prayer that our heart speaks.
I am grateful to you all for being in my life...truly.
"What do I want?"
This is a question I often ask myself...the answers don't come easily...sometimes it feels like they will never come.
I have problems deciding what I want for dinner sometimes...the big life questions are even harder. This time of year we're starting to wind down quite a bit. We may be eating more than normal, craving more sleep, and generally ready to be done with 2017--in some ways I'm right there with you. It's this time of year when the big questions start to arise..."what do I want for my life?" I know a lot of my students and friends express the desire for new jobs, a change of scenery, or something else in life. They often struggle with knowing exactly what it is that they want. And maybe there's a deep seeded desire for change, but an uncertainty as to what that change is that's desired.
I'm starting to accept that it's ok to not have the exact answer to these questions all the time. It's ok to not know what you want. What's important is that we tune in and tap into that desire...that creative current that surges through our being. Most of us have our backs turned to that current. We are afraid to make change, afraid to try new things, afraid to explore the big questions because WHAT IF WE CHOOSE INCORRECTLY? What if what we really want is too difficult to "get?"
News flash...you'll never make the exact right move. You'll never know exactly what you want...and it will never be that PERFECT thing. It doesn't exist. And yes anything new requires some challenge. Our desires by nature change. Look at the great artists of all genres...their greatest works share common traits, but each piece is something new and sparks fresh ideas. Do you think it was easy for them to create a new masterpiece after having accomplished the one before?
The 2nd Chakra governs this creativity...it often gets jammed up and congested this time of year as we fatigue more easily, fight germs, spend time with family (our past gets thrown back into our faces), and start to think about a new year. If you're feeling like you don't know what you want...but you know you want "something" then chances are you're not letting that sweet watery 2nd chakra flow.
This week on our mats we'll explore this watery 2nd chakra flow to unlock and open up that vibrant current of creativity that flows through us. Creativity that empowers us to KNOW what we want to create in our lives. On our mats we get STUCK in our heads...how often are we still thinking about two poses back in class when we are five poses ahead? It happens. Being aware of this will reveal to you how we get stuck in our own way. The practice this week will encourage a watery flow that will keep you moving, keep you making choices (they're not wrong--they are choices), and will unlock and open up that 2nd chakra (and all others as well).
Join me this week yogis! I encourage you to keep strong in your practice through the end of the year. Your hard work is paying off in ways seen and unseen. You inspire me every single day in my own practice and as a teacher.
I bow to you...let's create the lives we want to live, and affirm to not get stuck--but to keep moving forward.
I recently read this AMAZING article that blew my mind. I encourage you to read it too if you aren't too busy. Basically it talks about how overly scheduled we are in this society...in fact they title it "The DISEASE of Being Busy." I love it. Dis-ease of being busy. In general we are all OVERLY scheduled...I know I certainly can be. I love breaking my schedule down and getting specific so that I can really be held accountable to doing certain tasks that would otherwise loom in the mysterious "someday" pile. I think calendaring and staying on task is absolutely important. But how do we find the balance? When is the last time someone asked you how you're doing and you're response was "I'm SO BUSY." I do it all the time. We then compare war stories about how late we're working, how many hours we've been working, how we're tired, etc, etc. It has become a sort of competition in our society to see who has stayed at work the latest or who has worked the hardest. We're so busy doing things that we rarely check in....
We rarely check in with our hearts. "HOW IS YOUR HEART?" is a question I'm asking myself and others a lot this week. I see it in my students all the time...they rush to class after or before work and are anxious, beaten down by life and their schedules, and the minute you ask "how are you really doing?" they drop the facade and start to tap into their inner life. That inner life is crying out to be heard. It's saying "SLOW DOWN! YOU'RE GOING TOO FAST....YOU'RE IGNORING ME....YOU'RE IGNORING YOUR NEEDS...." The heart is complex...it needs love...it needs care...it needs nurturing... I'm determined to listen to my heart more...and I'm even more determined to share my precious "busy" time with those who want to ask me how my heart is, not those who simply want to use me for their agenda.
When we come to our mats we give ourselves that gift of going inward. We give ourselves the gift of looking at the heart and seeing what's going on, of noticing how it's doing. This week we will work on that sweet dear heart of ours...but not just the opening of the chest...but the entire heart. What about our back heart? Can we expand the front of the heart AND the back of the heart? Can we notice what space that gives us in our physical and emotional bodies?
Join me this week for a moving and soulful flow...we are letting go of stagnancy lately which means we are moving more through the practice rather than being still.
I wish you all the warmest of Thanksgivings...I am truly thankful for you all!
P.S. Our RETREAT to Hawaii is almost full! If you're interested you better sign up ASAP! Early bird ends in January! XOOXOXO