November 2020: Yoga International:
Quick-Bake Vegetables for the Holidays (Or Anytime)
I love no-fuss roasting and baking, especially in the fall and winter, when I want a hot, satisfying, healthy dish that doesn’t take too long in the oven. This one fits the bill, clocking in at 20 to 25 minutes of bake time, and with the zesty cumin-turmeric aroma quickly filling…
April 2020: YogaUOnline & Accessible Yoga Blog:
Navigating Uncertain Times: 6 Offerings of Gratitude
How do we take time out to feel grateful amidst the global tumult resulting from COVID-19? It has touched every aspect of our lives. We are in a state of collective shock. It’s hard not to be consumed by what is or is not going to happen in the near or distant future…
April 2020: Yoga International:
Finding Comfort in a Home Practice During Social Isolation
As I write this the reality of the coronavirus has invaded nearly every aspect of our lives, with many of us spending most or all of our time at home right now. It is challenging to have our normal routines upended, and even more…
January 2020: Yoga International
A Yoga Teacher Shares How Practice Became His Resource in Prison
–Learn how he gives back through the Transformation Prison Yoga Project–
Mike Huggins and Matthew Engler are bringing yoga to incarcerated people in Pennsylvania, a state that has struggled with prison overpopulation, and in recent years, an increase in the number of inmate suicides…
November 2019: Yoga International
Community Wellness that Goes Beyond Yoga
It began in 2011 with an unplanned kids’ yoga class in an empty lot. Yoga teacher and founder/president of I Grow Chicago (IGC), Robbin Carroll, has since then made it her mission to combat the traumatic effects of violence and poverty in…
October 2019: Yoga International
A Short Yoga Nidra for Fall
This article includes a yoga nidra script for teachers and recorded an audio for students.
Fall. What is it about this season that resonates so deeply? For me, it has to do with the dance between light and dark, pleasant and unpleasant, that comes with the end of summer…
September 2019: Yoga International
Richard Miller on Yoga Nidra as a Way of Life
Walking the path paved by the revolutionary thinkers quoted above, Richard Miller, PhD, has made his non-dualistic way of living his mission. Combining traditional yogic practice with Western psychology and neuroscience…
June 2019: Yoga International
Yoga Alliance’s Updated RYS 200 Standards Explained
On June 25, 2019, Yoga Alliance (YA) revamped its requirements for its 200-hour credential, the first major update to its standards since its formation in 1999. This initial outcome of YA’s community-led Standards Review Project (SRP)…
May 2019: Yoga International
9 Grounding Yet Ephemeral Poems to Include in Yoga Class
Poetry, like yoga, can be a great source of joy revealed over time. In fact, poetry and yoga have more than their ability to elicit joy in common. If you think of a poem as a pose or even a series of poses, what happens inside them is a current of subtle shifts…
A UK Studio Gives Back Through A Unique Business Model
What if yoga studios used part of their income to fund classes for underserved populations? What would the “face of yoga” look like then? Founded by Anne Mundy in Oxford, England, in 2014, Yoga Quota is one of a small but growing number of studios paving the way for a new kind of seva (selfless service)…
January 2019: Yoga International
The Yoga Of Mary Oliver: A Personal Tribute
The prolific poet Mary Oliver died on January 17th at her home in Hobe Sound, Florida, at the age of 83. Following her death, I slowly read, and savored, the numerous obituaries and tributes to her, many of which highlighted samplings of poems…
August 2018: Yoga International
The Buddhist Yogi: An Interview with Cyndi Lee
Cyndi Lee is not afraid to reinvent herself. Recently ordained as a Buddhist chaplain at the Upaya Zen Center in Santa Fe, New Mexico, this influential and soulful yoga teacher embraces transformation and encourages her students to reflect…
May 2018: Yoga International
The Accessible Yoga Conference in Toronto: What You Need to Know
“I remember when I first started doing this work, I felt so isolated and alone, and now I feel like I’m part of something much bigger,” Heyman says. “The conference has been the support for this worldwide network to grow and expand…”
March to the present: Accessible Yoga Voices on accessibleyoga.org
March 2018: Yoga International
Moving Through Mantra and Poetry: How I Created a Home Practice
Last spring, I was searching for a way to bring clarity into my new life as housemate and default caregiver to my partner’s elderly mother, who has Alzheimer’s disease. My new family’s road seemed paved with rocks…
July 2017: Yoga International
Digging Into the Darkness and the Light: Interview with Matthew Sanford
Gifted in his ability to communicate the subtle aspects of pain and existence, Matthew Sanford, author of Waking: A Memoir of Trauma and Transcendence, has been investigating the mind-body relationship since becoming paralyzed at age 13…
May 2017: YogaCityNYC
Master Teacher: Jared McCann
Founder of Lighthouse Yoga School, Jared McCann’s emphasis has been a complete yoga practice, focused on connecting people deeply to their inner worlds. His challenging asana classes are balanced with Kriya, psychic development exercises…
Accessible Yoga Conference at Integral Yoga
Who is yoga for? Who really needs to the teachings of yoga? How do we share them? Most importantly, how do we make them safe for everyone? These are the questions Jivana Heyman, creator of Accessible Yoga and the Accessible YogaConference (AYC)…
Master Teacher: Yoshio Hama
A serious place for learning, Yoshio Hama’s class is not without levity. Recently while teaching a complicated sequence of arm balances, he said, “You have to get a little mean if you want to come into this pose… I do it instead of getting mad at…
April 2017: YogaCityNYC and Yoga International
Turning Up the Consciousness in Hot Yoga: An Interview with Jessica Robertson and Ted Grand of Moksha Modo International
Having set up their hot yoga chain, Moksha Modo, at 74 locations in Canada, the United States, Switzerland, and Australia (with another opening soon in Paris), co-owners Ted Grand and Jess Robertson have been paving an alternative hot room…
Master Teacher: Annie Piper
Piper, who has been teaching yoga for 22 years, is a former actor. She teaches at Kula Yoga in Tribeca, The Shala andPrema Yoga in Brooklyn, and is on the movement faculty at NYU’s Tisch School of Graduate Acting and The Yale School of Drama.
Heal Thyself: Interview on Back Pain with Dr. Vijay Vad
As the Unites States struggles with an epidemic of opioid addiction that can often start with a prescription for back pain, the treatment of it is being reconsidered by doctors. Turns out that only 5% of people with back conditions actually need…
Master Teacher: Edward Jones
Co-founder of Now Yoga, Jones’ interest in anxiety and depression as well as psychoanalysis has been a continuous thread in his numerous trainings (with Leslie Kaminoff and Judith Lasater, among others) and his teaching. His interest in Buddhist…
March 2017: YogaCityNYC
Master Teacher: Brooke Myers
Informed by a deep sense of duty and a strong social conscience, Iyengar teacher Brooke Myers’ outreach efforts have included teaching in a psychiatric hospital and a drug rehabilitation center. She co-taught the HIV/AIDS class at the Iyengar Institute…
Master Teacher: Kristin Leigh
At a time when people need a safe space to do inner work or to take a step back from the intensity of the current climate, Kristin Leigh offers a tonic of a class. It is thoroughly steady in pacing, tone and generously meditative. Co-owner of the Shala…
February 2017: YogaCityNYC
Master Teacher: Omri Kleinberger
Students of Omri Kleinberger praise his rare ability to communicate anatomical and technical information in an accessible way while guiding his classes with inspiration and humor. Kleinberger began practicing yoga 10 years ago to reduce stress…
Master Teacher: David Nichtern
In a 2013 YouTube video on taming self-aggression, David Nichtern describes a New York moment in which he was driving “like an asshole.” This type of admission is typical of his ability to present the depth of the Buddhist tradition with a light touch…
January 2017: Yoga International
Getting to Know: Matthew Remski
Part philosopher and part critic, Matthew Remski is a provocative, public, and trenchant voice in modern yoga. Exhibiting a poet’s proclivity for nuance and discovery, his What Are We Actually Doing In Asana (WAWADIA) project is a deep dive…
January 2017: YogaCityNYC
Master Teacher: Lois Nesbitt
Known worldwide, Lois Nesbitt’s prowess for inquiry began long before she dedicated herself to yoga. In earlier careers, she was a professional writer, editor, and artist. With a B.A., Magna cum laude, from Harvard University and her Ph.D. from…
December 2016: YogaCityNYC
Master Teacher: David Michael Hollander
An accomplished visual artist as well as a yoga teacher, David Michael Hollander’s drawings reveal his keen observation of the human body in movement, expression and stillness. For many years he taught art and exhibited his work…
Master Teacher: Ellen Saltonstall
Students of Ellen Saltonstall say her enthusiasm for anatomy and yoga therapeutics is contagious, and that no matter what she is teaching they feel simultaneously challenged and enlightened under her guidance. A practitioner of yoga and meditation…
Master Teacher: Barbara Verrochi
Devoted student Melanie Parker said, “When I am in Barbara’s presence, I see what it means to translate yoga theory into the fabric of the everyday. She is devoted to practice in all its forms, and this comes through in her teaching, her chanting…
Strong and Not So Silent: Bryan Kest
Known for his upfront, street-smart teaching style, sprinkling his explanations with four-letter words, and teaching in cargo shorts, Bryan Kest is one of the original spiritual gangsters, and yet he comes from an elite lineage.
November 2016: YogaCityNYC
Master Meditation Teacher: Amy Gross
Amy Gross was at the top of her field as editor in chief of “O, The Oprah Magazine,” when she dropped out completely to practice meditation full-time. She had brought a kind of precision and thoughtfulness to the magazine…
Master Teacher: James Murphy
Director of the Iyengar Yoga Association of Greater New York, James Murphy has been practicing yoga in 1988 and teaching since 1990. He has made ten extended trips to India to study with the Iyengar family. He began his study of Iyengar with Mary Dunn…
October 2016: YogaCityNYC
Master Teacher: Glenn Black
This week, we have the rare opportunity to learn about master teacher Glenn Black, who was known as the Anonymous Yogi until he was interviewed by William Broad in his controversial book, The Science of Yoga…
Master Teacher: Abbie Galvin
Abbie Galvin, who has been teaching yoga for 22 years, is informed by her artistic process and extensive training at The Center for Modern Psychoanalytic Institute. She has made commercials, short films for children and young adults…
Master Teacher: Joe Loizzo
Joseph Loizzo, M.D., Ph.D., is a Harvard-trained psychiatrist and Columbia-trained Buddhist scholar with over thirty years’ experience studying the beneficial effects of meditation on healing and learning. He is Assistant Professor of Clinical Psychiatry…
The Thousand Petals of Integral Yoga – Their 50th Anniversary
On October 7th, Integral Yoga Institute of New York City (IYINY) will kick off its 50th anniversary with a kirtan, free classes, a weekend of donation-based programs, and a dance party. This act of generosity and faith in the name of sangha is representative…
September 2016: YogaCityNYC
Master Teacher: Rima Rabbath
Known for her skill at making everyone in a packed room feel loved, her adventurous playlists, and a fun, natural wit, Rima Rani Rabbath has been entrusted with carrying on the method’s lineage by facilitating the Jivamukti Teacher Trainings…
Master Teacher: Nevine Michaan
This week we get to know Egyptian-born Nevine Michaan whose combination of yoga, Taoism and unconventional yet wise insights have made her a widely respected and popular teacher…
August 2016: YogaCityNYC
Master Teacher: Lodro Rinzler
Rinzler is a teacher in the Shambhala Buddhist lineage and the author of five books on meditation including the best-selling The Buddha Walks into a Bar… as well as Walk Like a Buddha and The Buddha Walks into the Office…
Early Morning Song on 13th St
Considered by many to be one of the world’s greatest spiritual scriptures, the Bhagavad Gita or “Song of God” has been translated many times. Now Swami Asokananda, president of the Integral Yoga Institute and a monk since 1973…
July 2016: YogaCityNYC
Master Teacher: Leslie Kaminoff
This week I talked to Leslie Kaminoff who has nearly four decades of experience as a specialist in the fields of yoga and breath anatomy. Kaminoff is a yoga educator inspired by the tradition of T.K.V. Desikachar. He leads anatomy and yoga…
Master Teacher: Dana Trixie Flynn
Dana Flynn is celebrated for her raw and generous spirit and her uplifting, innovative and soulful style of yoga. An internationally celebrated yoga figure, social activist and creator of Lotus Flow…
June 2016: YogaCityNYC
Master Teacher: Alan Finger
A student needs to be an empty vessel to receive the teachings from the teacher. For example, if you have two glasses to fill with water, and one is empty and the other is full of milk, the empty glass you can fill with one glass of water, the glass with milk will take many glasses before it is full of pure, clean water.
Interview with Jason Morris: Gutsy Communication from the Core
“If you don’t like my class, that’s okay—you don’t have to come back, but be open while you’re here.” Straightforward and eloquent, Jason Morris commands your attention right away with his provocative tone, core-based cues and unusual sequencing.
Master Teacher: Hari Kaur Khalsa
I feel the flow of forgiveness and meditative energy throughout the day. I have been fortunate to build my life around my practice since the 1980’s. As a result, my life is an amazing adventure! Each day I seek wisdom and I find…
May 2016: YogaCityNYC
Master Teacher: Eddie Stern
A long-time student of Sri K. Pattabhi Jois in Mysore, Stern co-wrote Guruji, a book about Jois’ life and work. Considered one of the best teachers of Ashtanga in America, behind the scenes Stern works diligently to bring yoga to underserved communities…
Master Teacher: J.Brown
In 2007, after more than a decade as a popular teacher at various schools in Manhattan and Brooklyn, J. Brown founded Abhyasa Yoga Center in Brooklyn, in order to provide a home for a yoga practice that adapts to the needs of the individual…
April 2016: YogaCityNYC
Master Teacher: Prem Sadasivananda
Sadasivananda began his path at the Sivananda Organization, where he served for over 24 years as a sannyasi, and served as the Director of the Sivananda Center in New York City from 2003 to 2014. Known for his skill at making Vedantic philosophy applicable to everyday life…
Opinion: Yoga Pant(s): On Skimping the Spiritual
It was Annie Piper who started it. Standing in front of the room at Kula in loose overalls, she said to the class, “I’m just tired of yoga clothes.” And it got me thinking: I’m sick of them, too. Then as I was taking out the garbage in my yoga clothes…
Master Teacher: Carrie Owerko
A Senior Intermediate Iyengar teacher, Owerko has performed in and co-choreographed many yoga demonstrations, including Live: Light on Life, performed at NYC’s City Center during BKS Iyengar’s national book tour in 2005. Before studying yoga, Carrie worked as a Movement Analyst…
Yin to the Rescue: Confessions of a Sometimes-Squirrelly Meditator
Because sometimes seated meditation is boring. Yeah, I know, that’s part of the deal with meditation. And “boredom” (What is it, really?) certainly offers a window to the interior landscape, but there are those days when my heart’s just not in it, or my heart just needs a prop…
Master Teacher: Sri Dharma Mittra of Dharma Yoga
Dharma Mittra first encountered yoga as a teenager. The founder of one of the early schools of yoga in NYC in 1975, he has taught hundreds of thousands all over the world. He is the model and creator of the Master Yoga Chart of 908 Postures…
March 2016: Reflections of Master Teachers on YogaCityNYC
Amy Matthews of The Breathing Project
Co-leader of The Breathing Project with Leslie Kaminoff, a Laban Movement Analyst, a Body-Mind Centering teacher, and an Infant Developmental Movement Educator, Matthews’s name is synonymous with movement teaching in New York City…
February 2016: Reflections of Master Teachers on YogaCity NYC
(This is a new bi-weekly feature that I created for YogaCity.)
Swami Asokananda of Integral Yoga Institute
A monk since 1973, Swami Asokananda’s teaching comes out of his own practice and experience as a…
January 2016 – on YogaCityNYC
Interview with Susanna Harwood Rubin – Modern Day Saraswati
Blending her life as a yoga teacher with her background as a visual artist and writer, Susanna Harwood Rubin…
Interview with Cat McCarthy- Transforming Conflict into Connection
As an Emmy-nominated filmmaker and Fulbright Scholar, Cat McCarthy found herself overworked and wrung out…
December 2015 – on YogaCityNYC
Interview with Matt Giordano – Aligned and Flying
Handstands. Inversions. Arm Balances. Acroyoga. At 32, Matt Giordano has established a career teaching the hard stuff…
September 2015 – on YogaCityNYC
Interview with Lara Land – Breaking Down Barriers in Harlem
With free classes for law enforcement officers in the 28th Precinct and for LGBT minority youth in Harlem, Lara Land is on a mission to dissolve biases…
Interview with Brad Roberts, Lead Singer of Iconic Crash Test Dummies
It was the rich bass-baritone voice of Brad Roberts that put Crash Test Dummies on the map in the early 90s. His eventual discovery of yoga and spiritual inquiry…
August 2015 in OM Yoga & Lifestyle (http://www.ommagazine.com/):
print interview with Bibi McGill in UK magazine
July 2015 – on YogaCityNYC
Well-known for his meditation work with the Chicago Bulls and L.A. Lakers during their championship seasons in the late 90s and early 2000s…
Interview with Rasta Yoga Songstress Jah9
Jamaican Reggae artist and yoga teacher Jah9 has been creating new meaning in her life since she decided to keep the name that her clever uncle coined for her from “Janine.”
Interview with Adriana Rambay Fernandez: Latina Warrior in Jersey City
Adriana Rambay Fernandez is bringing new possibilities to the growing Spanish-speaking population of Jersey City with her Yoga En Español classes at Yoga in the Heights…
May 2015 – on YogaCityNYC
Interview with HIV Doctor and Yoga Teacher Lawrence Siegel
While on the road to becoming a public health physician, Larry Siegel came face-to-face with his long-standing anger problem…
Interview with Rikers Yoga Teacher Oneika Mays
I have a past with sexual abuse and yoga has been a way to feel better and work with some of the self-destructive patterns I had created…
April 2015 — on YogaCityNYC
Interview with New York Open Center President Thomas Amelio
We all have an impulse for security and safety; we all have an impulse for sensuality and comfort, for action and confidence. We have an impulse to love and be in a relationship…
Interview with Jnani Chapman, Cancer’s Peaceful Warrior
We want to stop the “stress-response” because it compromises healing. When the muscles are tight, the body cannot relax…
March 2015 — on YogaCityNYC
We All Want to Soften: On Teaching Hot… On Stretching the Heart
As a yoga teacher, I’ve learned to tap into my inner parent and guide my students toward the length and strength they need to be ready for anything…
February 2015 — on YogaCityNYC
January 2015 — on YogaCityNYC
December 2014 — on YogaCityNYC
November 21, 2014 — blog on YogaCityNYC
October 28, 2014 — asana pieces on YogaCityNYC
February 22, 2014:
Check out my new piece on Five Points Journal of Art and Literature!
Mat Play: On Writing and Yoga
September 22, 2013: Falling for Running
Fall. This time of year, September especially, is always a mix of emotions for me. A big soup of wistfulness, forward-thinking, nervous energy and reflection. Luckily, it’s also the season when I most enjoy running. After summer has burned off, the light starts to shift, and the smell of the earth rises up again… and I’m ready to run. After being an urban runner for several years, I hung up my sneakers for a good while, and now I only run in the summer when I get out of the city. The hot sidewalks and muggy air quality just don’t jive with this yogi’s need to breathe. Fall and winter are different animals though, and this evening was a perfect one for running again. Sometimes I forget the pure joy of leaving the house with only my keys and a $20 stuffed in my shorts just in case. Sometimes I forget the $20. And sometimes I leave my hair down.
It’s just good after all the “ups and downs” of yoga practice–the mat slinging, class schedules, and coconut water–to be upright and moving in a solitary space unadorned. Part of the fun of yoga is the social aspect–Whether I know people or not in a class, most yoga spaces have a pretty good vibe. But sometimes you want to just go and be in the lovely outdoors, hear just yourself breathe, smooth out your stride and not worry if your left shoulder is going to hurt afterwards. (Yeah, people who run all the time complain about their knees and back, etc., but I was lucky as a runner in that regard, whereas with yoga, my body’s nooks and crannies talk to me afterwards. And sometimes they sound a little cranky.)
So tonight I got out there, and took in my new neighborhood in new climes, and it was pretty. The basketball players were out, and so were the runners and the kids in the park. The guys in front of the deli waved, and everyone looked happy to be outdoors. My “breathing-conscious” body enjoys running more now after so many ujayyis… What can I say? I’m blessed to have running and yoga in my life–grateful for the mat, sneakers and late September evenings.
August 25, 2013: Chairfully Yours
As part of the Lakshmi Voelker Chair Yoga teacher training at the NY Open Center last week, we were asked to write our goal/ intention/vision of teaching chair yoga. This was mine:
Caring as a grateful goddess
Happy as Hanuman
Ahimsa in attitude and asana
Root down to rise up!
We’ll see where the chair takes me—I’m excited to share this wonderful practice with those who need it!
August 16: Heart Opening with Newark Yoga Movement
It’s been an interesting summer. I got certified as an RYT 200 in June, and since then I’ve spent most waking moments thinking about… Yoga. As a new teacher, figuring out which direction(s) to take and how to best thrive doing what I love, as well as combining it with other loves, like writing, has been an mind-expanding and slightly exhausting process!
Long story short—since that’s what blogging is all about it seems—although I’ve been happy as a movement teacher at a private elementary school students for the past several years, it wasn’t until I discovered Newark Yoga Movement as a yoga teacher that I got really excited about teaching yoga to kids. Now to back up a little bit—that isn’t completely true because as I was in teacher training I started doing more yoga with my students than I had in previous years, and that was very wonderful, especially yoga through storytelling. There’s nothing like a training to make you feel grounded, and so I was, and my students benefited. But in late spring, through my teacher training pal Nicole, I discovered NYM, a non-profit that brings yoga to under served communities and schools in Newark. The set up: A yoga teacher, like me, goes to a school and teaches 15 to 20 minutes sessions to several different classes in a morning or a day. What I found so innovative about the program is that the yoga takes place in the classroom (the students get up from their desks, push them aside and practice). It’s a good feeling for everyone, teachers and students alike, to break down that “classroom wall” for a few minutes and then put it back together again, refreshed. You have the support of the classroom teacher and the kids dig it because it’s a fun break from whatever mathness or sitting work they’ve been up to.
This summer Nicole and I also went to a few camps, including an all-girls camp at Malcolm X. Shabazz school in Newark, and taught a group of 60 or so girls, ages 6 and 16, in a huge gym. Talk about fun… and learning how to project one’s voice! Picture a bunch of girls shouting because they want to jump back and forth into downward dog not one, two or three times, but many more. Call me a yoga geek, I don’t care, that was fun. And the little girls in the front row ogled us cutely while some of the older girls in the back “did their own yoga.” It brought me right back to high school. And middle school. And elementary. In a way I had forgotten all about—seeing all the ages right there was like looking at life all over again, and I found a new respect for that passage of time…
So this fall, Nicole and I will be working in Newark together at various schools, and, well, I just can’t wait. Jump back. Jump forward.
August 9, 2013: Taking The Mighty Leap: Hanuman (Pose Dedicated to the Monkey God)
Getting into it is like working your way into a steamy rush hour station
Knowing you will miss your train
And even if you don’t, you don’t care at this point.
Well, hopefully not.
But this Yogi’s defenses go up: Hanumanasana.
The name from the tale of Hanuman
Who saved a sick man by taking a leap
From the south of India to the Himalayas
In order to get the curative herb. Maybe
this story will help me next time I attempt it.
Because the tale gets more complex:
He doesn’t know which herb to take, so he takes back the whole mountain
To the healers. Now that I like: the big effort goes awry, so grab it all,
See what you come away with later.
My teacher said the other night, quoting another teacher:
“Don’t worry, trouble’s coming.” And it did.
I never realized before that I AM “A BIT” AFRAID
Of the full split. Because there I was, not far from the floor
And I thought. I thought. I thought. What. If. I tear myself?!
But I got closer down, and it felt good. Strong.
A strong monkey. I like that.
And of course I’m going back for more…
Because that’s what leaping from my comfy perch to the mat
Is all about.
August 2, 2013: Lifting the Ground – Getting up and down with your asana
Shtira and Sukha –the Yogic concepts of being grounded and easeful. Shtira—ground, firmness, stability, core, and most importantly, an attentive, focused mind. Sukha—joyful, easy, and relaxed, and most importantly, open. In Yoga, in asana, we want both—the equilibrium of firmness and lightness and the interplay of the two. And the thing is, it’s difficult. There you are in a class, directions swirling around you, breathing instructions, and the effort you bring to the space–the desire to make the best of your time–that precious commodity.
So how do you find the shtira and sukha in your practice? Some days I find it by taking one pose at a time, slowing down, sometimes to a pace that is uniquely my own. As in: I’m going to hold plank longer because I need to be in this shape… Be in the shapes that are speaking to you, hold Warrior 2 for another breath… or one less. In that last breath, lift your arms higher and then let them descend back to Warrior 2 arms. In other words, play! That lift, a kind of “counter action,” can give you more sometimes than hanging in for the extra breath just because the teacher told you to. You’re the teacher, right? Isn’t that what Yoga gives us? The chance to teach ourselves in the midst of others, with others. The other night, my teacher said, “Let one side of the body teach the other…” We store so much without knowing it, but often in class, we want to be led, and we move through the asanas forgetting our OWN shtira and sukha, the specialness of our own practice…
So the next time you are in a challenging pose or a pose that’s very familiar, find the ground, root into it, and lift. It’s there for you in every pose, from an active pigeon to diamond to Suppta Baddha Konasana (where the joy and “lift” is in the delicious opening of the hips as the mat absorbs your back)… Rise up from the earth and ascend, be the cord between heaven and earth.
July 26, 2013: Here I am again, in my dog
Here I am again, in my dog
sort of upside down, igniting energetic sense,
understanding the children who sometimes bark in the pose.
Here I am—late-blossomed yogi, finding the body’s levers, so many rough transitions—
I lunge forward and come back, pressing up and down,
breathing in and out, rolling forward into length and strength,
planking smoothly to the ground and up again to inversion,
suspension of wants—we are held—
here I am, in the V of life, quietly barking.
July 12, 2013:
My Dawn: Returning to Yoga in Good Hands and Lovely Strings
For me, Yoga is the dawn. It’s the orange and black quiet in the back of my mind. And it’s the dawn that has opened up my life in ways I never expected. I came to Yoga after heartbreak. It had always been there for me in one form or another, but after heartbreak, it was the thing. I rolled out my rose colored mat, and let the gentle slap take me away. I returned to Yoga this time with a clearer sense of what it could offer me: strength, balance, generosity and magic. And most of all, a place just for me.
But what really happened? I met Kevin. He was my first real teacher, in the sense that he gave me what I needed without knowing it. That’s a teacher. One who gives without knowing who they’re giving to, just that deep intuition that their voice and message will transport you. And a consistent desire to guide you on that journey.
So Kevin carried me. (Well, he’d say I carried myself, but he was the good rower.) And so did his soundtrack. And by that I mean, Garth Stevenson’s “Flying.” So before I start sounding like an advertisement for a yoga teacher and a yogi musician, let me say (again) that this is my story. Being in Kevin’s space and having Garth’s “Flying” lift me, awaken me, brought me more deeply in to the way of Yoga than ever before. Yeah, I was finally old enough to appreciate it! Before, Warrior 2 (Virabhadrasana—Say it!) was just that: another Yoga pose with a long name. I didn’t hear all the vowels. Now, I was living in them. I was a strong Warrior; I’d lost a few dreams along the way, but I was there with my feet, learning to root on my rose colored mat of yester years, soaking up the strings of “Horizon.”
Now this music has melancholy moments, but somehow coupled with Kevin’s upbeat, clear voice and the spare, clean and Oh-so-spacious studio, I felt renewed. And, OK, yeah, I don’t mind melancholy.
Side note here: Why are we always trying to be happy?
Why not just be?
How about being in it on the mat? Whatever IT is. It’s a great place for curiosity. Rise into your Warrior, ground yourself in your Lizard… Utthan Pristhasana, slither (yes, wiggle in the pose!) And open up that chest, those collar bones as your rise up, lifting your arms into that gorgeous transitional state of full openness before you bring your hands to heart center.
Yoga is an ongoing poem. Find your line, find your rhyme…
Let the art of the practice show itself to you.
OK. So let’s cut to the track, “Flying”—because this is where it all comes home for this Yogi. This is where the dance begins, whether you’re a -yasa, -sara, -shtanga, or a Yada Yada practitioner, this is where we move into movement. If you’re a teacher, this track is about 30 minutes in, which is nice, if you’re class is getting its’ groove on at this point. I’m using it right after the warm up these days; I like the energy it brings to half suns or full suns. It’s the dawn thing, and we’re flying a little right here at the beginning of class. So exciting.
But, hey, you can mix and match this album anyway you please–as a listener, as a teacher, as a writer, as a human. It just hums.
One thing I remember Kevin saying early on to us was, “You have everything you need, right here.” There were so many ways to interpret that but what I knew he meant that night was: We all are perfectly imperfect, and that is all you need to begin to practice. So thank you, Kevin, Garth, and Yoga Shunya for providing the right everything for me, just when I needed you.