"But I have no upper body strength!" is a line I hear DAILY in my yoga classes. It amazes me how many people keep talking to themselves like this! Have you said something like this to yourself before? I know I have! My dialogue usually goes something like this...
"I'm not flexible so why the hell am I going to even ATTEMPT this crazy ass posture?"
"I'm SO tired there is no way I can possibly must another low lunge twist..."
"My Dad just died...OF COURSE I can't focus on my breath-I can't possibly slow my mind down."
I teach many classes a day and I see various bodies of all shapes, sizes, abilities, disabilities, etc. One common thing I see is students giving over to their self imposed limitations. As soon as I START a crow practice there are many students who just plop down seated in defeat. Now of course if you have an injury or a legitimate medical reason not to do something then by all means DON'T DO IT. I'm talking about seeing students who I KNOW could try STEP 1. STEP 1. That's all we need to start is to start at STEP 1. You don't have to get into the full asana....but maybe try step one! And WHY do we not try step 1? It's two fold....
OUR NEGATIVE SELF TALK and OUR EGO'S DESIRE TO PROTECT ITSELF FROM "FAILURE"
So the negative self talk slows us down...we think we can't for one reason or another. I can't meditate because my mind is so busy and I deserve to keep that busy mind because my Dad died. And the ego goes crazy saying "you're never going to be able to take 30 minutes to meditate without a single thought about your dad...don't let yourself fail...so just don't do it."
HA! I'm encouraging us all to give up the idea that failure is BAD! It's not! We are programmed to think it is...but it's HEALTHY. FAILURE is NORMAL. FAILURE is NECESSARY. If we FALL from crow then we fall...we come back and we try again. One day we won't fall. But if we don't allow ourselves to fail then we will move out of the flow of life. Right now as we move into a new season it's more important than ever to keep moving forward, to take those risks. We tend to drop off from our goals as we near the end of the year. We think perhaps we'll just start anew on January 1st. Let's join together and just allow ourselves the space to fail. Our practice is that place where we can do that, we can learn from it.
So stop saying you don't have enough upper body strength....your holding yourself up and using your entire body in downward facing dog...you have body strength. It is enough. It is sufficient. And so are you!
Join me this week on the mat as we continue to move out the old stuff and get the body moving through a soulful vinyasa. Our yin this week we'll focus on the SHOULDERS and LEGS which are REALLLLLLLLY vulnerable right now as we hit this new season.
Namaste yogis! Be willing to fail, it's ok!
I recently learned of a Danish philosophy that is beautiful....it's called Hygge (Pronounced HOO-GAH). It's the art of embracing the little simple luxuries of life. I read a list of the things cherished in this philosophy and many stuck out to me: taking a long bath, sharing a meal with family/friends, coming home and getting into comfy pajamas after a long day, having a warm beverage, etc. In some ways I realized I embrace and try to live this way already...now there's a name for it! Hooray! GIVE me the Hygge!!!
As we emerge into fall (here in NYC mother nature still thinks it's summer) we naturally gravitate towards the practice of Hygge...we crave warmer foods, quiet time, a snuggle on the couch, and time in our pjs or comfy clothes. This shift happens naturally as the season changes and often there can be a hesitation to move towards the fall and towards the change. There's a hesitation to slow down in a world moving so quickly. A hesitation to go inward. How can we move forward and embrace this kind of philosophy in our life while the world moves quickly around us? We have to open our heart. I find this time of the year to be challenging...the heart chakra often gets congested as we move towards the end of the year realizing we haven't met our year end goals, maybe finances are tight, or maybe we're just burning the candle at both ends and longing for some rest. This is often the time when we need to let go of something in order to move forward. When we begin to take inventory of our lives we can release whatever we need to let go of and work towards an open heart to move forward embracing this slower more inward and simple pace. It's good to slow down and go inward...it's good to embrace life's simple luxuries.
What can you let go of? On the mat we have an opportunity to open our hearts this week. We'll explore Padma (Lotus) mudra and move through a purifying and vigorous flow to open ourselves up to what's next in the season of our lives. As we move the heat through the body in the asana practice, can we still find a sense of Hygee inside of ourselves? Can we listen to that still voice keeping us calm as we move? And can we trust in the practice to do it's subtle work opening and clearing those energetic blockages in the body as Prana flows through our being?
I think we can! So please join me in opening the heart this week. In the open level classes we'll be exploring a soulful vigorous flow with lots of arm balance. In our level 1 classes we'll be doing the same with a slower pace. In "Basics" this week we'll focus on moving energy through the body by connecting our breath with our movement as we work on heart opening and gentle backbends. Our Yin practice this week will be a soothing sequence that will aid in sleep, something we all desperately need more of as the days grow short.
Join me this week!
Love and Light-
I've been thrust into a new practice...it's called grieving. It sucks.
My Dad passed away unexpectedly on Thursday September 21st. I had been fighting an awful stomach virus and had subbed out my early morning class that morning to rest (thank GOD). I had just awakened and felt led to go to my altar and meditate. The urge was so strong that I felt something big must be coming up for me. Shortly after I received the dreaded call that my father passed away in his sleep. He was 66, too young. My life suddenly completely changed. My body began to shake violently. I didn't know what to do. I'll never forget this feeling. I was in disbelief. How could my dad, who I had just texted and spoken to the day before, suddenly and forever be gone from my life?
Suddenly I was thrust onto the road of a real hard grief. I'm a beginner in the grief department. This practice is hard...it hurts..it stings...it's unpredictable. It demands 100% honesty and commitment. My dad had requested I sing at his funeral...something I knew one day I would have to do. It was the hardest thing I've ever had to do...but was also the greatest honor. You see this new grief thing is full of this contrast. You do something and it feels great but at the same time it feels like gut wrenching. I catch myself days later immersed in a movie and feeling so happy to have my mind distracted-but then GUILTY for enjoying the movie and not thinking about my Dad. I'll enjoy one of my Dad's favorite meals and suddenly realize in the middle of nowhere that when I get to be the age he was when he passed away that I will have over THIRTY YEARS without my father. That is gut wrenching to me. At times it takes my breath away. And then there are moments of complete numbness where I'm not feeling anything and I worry that I'm too calm.
After almost a week I re-emerged into my physical asana practice today because my body needed the movement. I was craving to see where my mind, spirit, and body connection was. It was the most challenging time on my mat. Childs pose, fish pose, and down dog were my go to asana. Suddenly my tight hamstrings felt open, it was weird. I have reached a new phase in my life where things are looking completely different. Things feel different. New choices have to be made, and suddenly the "meaning" of my life is something I am constantly thinking about,
Life is different. I don't know what that means yet. I'm a beginner....riding this journey. I do know I'm grateful for my connection to my Dad, which now feels stronger and more eternal than ever. My relationship to my life and to my Dad are now forever changed.
My Dad was a wonderful, talented, and amazing man...he was not perfect...but his deep longing for intimacy with everything in his life is something I am holding myself accountable to achieving in my lifetime. The days ahead will be challenging in new ways...entering this new practice of living will be a life long journey-with my Dad as my guide.
Thank you to you all for your kind support....your words...your love...your prayers...thoughts....energy....food....consideration...it is remembered and appreciated more than you know!
I'll be returning home to NYC later this weekend and will be resuming teaching starting with my Sunday evening 6:30 PM Hot Vinyasa class. I hope to see you all on the mat.
When someone says "do your best" do you feel overwhelming pressure? Or is it just me? When someone says "do the best you can do" I automatically turn into a ball of anxiety. What does that statement even really mean? I've been thinking about this a lot lately...
I just came back from a week in Los Angeles, my favorite place to be. It's a tremendous city that has an unfortunate (and inaccurate) reputation for being a strange and superficial city. I actually find myself more at home and at peace in Los Angeles more than I do anywhere else. I jive with that energy. I was able to practice the entire week at an amazing studio called Light on Lotus. I rarely get the chance to practice these days in an actual studio with other yogis. A lot of my time is spent bopping around teaching, so my own practice is often spent in the privacy of my home at either ungodly early hours or in the middle of a hectic teaching day. I love my home practice, it serves me and I've grown from it. But there's nothing like standing in the middle of a crowded studio and moving through Asana. I observed myself all week as I was challenged through some strong classes. The words "do you best" kept coming into my head for some reason. At one point I was so challenged by a posture that I tuned out. I was in my mind chatter so much that I wasn't even listening to the teacher who was next to me trying to guide me into the posture. Wow what a moment for me.
I was in my head...listening to that voice that was saying "you're never going to be able to do this. Your hips are too tight. Why did you come to this advanced level class, etc, etc." I gave over to that voice and stopped doing my best. But the most amazing thing happened...once I noticed I was in my head I realized doing my best was literally listening, trying to do what I COULD do and acknowledging the limitations for what they are. Yes maybe today wasn't the day I was going to get into the fullest expression of the posture, but at least I tried it out for me. That's my best. My best is not going to look like your best. Maybe on a day when I've had a great evening with friends and have had too much wine, my best will be slightly different because I might be moving a little slower. It doesn't mean that I PUSH myself into anything. Our best at any given moment is listening to where our bodies, minds, and spirits are at that exact moment and honoring that place.
We're gonna groove through a soulful flow this week...maybe move out of our comfort zones a bit. Let's focus on listening to where the mind, body, and spirit are TODAY and honor that as we move and shake our spirits around. And can we have some fun doing it? Yes!
See you on the mat! As always if you want to come to my class and haven't tried out one of the studios where I teach please reach out to me--I'm happy to have you be my guest!
I'm at a loss for words after the recent turmoil and display of hatred in Virginia. I find it hard to believe that this mentality still exists, and yet it does. I was reminded recently while in Ohio that people still think very differently than most of the folks in my part of the world. As I drove around the back roads of my small town I saw many confederate flags. Why? Why be proud of ignorance? I don't know...I really don't fucking know. We have to move forward knowing this ignorance and pride in it exists. A friend said to me recently "wow I'm so glad I meditate and do so much yoga and can detach from what's happening." Ah well what kind of dream land are you living in my friend? That's bullshit. You can't detach truly from what's happening. It's not possible..you can PUSH stuff away and pretend that your little world in your mind is all that exists, but that's not REALITY.
In the holistic/wellness/hippie-dippie/yoga world there is a fallacy that because we are strong spiritual beings that we are able to be immune to bad things. That suddenly we are able to practice "NON-ATTACHMENT" and not really "feel" what's happening around us. I don't believe in this, I don't teach it, and I certainly do not live it. Why? Because it's not real. It doesn't work. We are on this planet to experience a variety of emotions, experiences...some good and a lot bad. The bad stuff shows us the good stuff and visa versa. To separate ourselves from it is to play ignorant, which is just as bad as the ignorant people spreading hate.
We can sit in meditation for 24 hours, chant our mantras, eat vegetarian, and preach love all we want. But until we recognize what's happening in the world around us and take action to BE the change we want to see, our work is futile. (Not saying any of that is wrong btw) How can we taken action when we don't know what to do? PAY ATTENTION TO HOW YOU'RE SPEAKING TO YOURSELF! Chances are the way you are treating yourself is the way you are treating others. Notice it...observe it...be kinder to yourself...tell yourself loving things...and then go out there and treat others the same way. "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you..." RIGHT? How do we know how to do unto others if we don't even know how we do unto ourselves?
Most of us aren't aware of the inner dialogue with ourselves. Until we change that we cannot change the world around us. Therefore let's use our practices (whatever they may be) not to DE-TACH from the world but to connect deeper with ourselves. To see ourselves more completely and to watch how we are treating ourselves. So that we may improve upon the way we treat ourselves and in turn treat out world in the same way. So yes meditate for hours, chant, practice, etc but let's do these things with the intention of having a real conversation with ourselves. It's time we all come home and treat ourselves with the RESPECT and dignity we expect others to treat ourselves.
THIS is how we can begin to change our world. Don't throw your anchor down and run away...sit still and converse with yourself. Change the dialogue and see the dialogue change with the world around you!
We'll be flying through some wacky transitions this week in class that will require balance, stillness, pause, and a kind conversation with yourself. Please join me!
This is my favorite Mary Oliver Poem..