I’ve always been a person who needs to feel free. I grew up in the country where I could roam all over the place and I remember the feeling when I bought my first 10-speed. It was red and it was glorious and it was my ticket to more freedom.
When I was in 8th grade, I started to sneak out at night. I wasn’t rebelling against the rules; I was seeking something I couldn’t find in my room nor in the presence of anyone else. I wanted to feel independent. I wanted to feel empowered. I wanted to bathe in the palpable energy of a country night.
The nights were never quiet, but consumed with the sounds of nature and the vision of the nighttime sky. Longing to taste freedom, I would borrow my brother’s car and drive through the country roads with the windows down, breathing the scent of possibility.
His car had a standard transmission and that caused me to focus on the process of driving. I loved the level of control that gave me as I tuned-in to the sound of the engine giving me the signal to change gears. The finesse it took to shift from 1st to 2nd to 3rd without jerking the car was an exercise in mind-body connection and I could easily lose myself being immersed in the small moments.
This is still what I practice today and I am still seeking the ultimate freedom: oneness.
The tools we have to experience this connection are all around us and, to me, the key seems to be presence. Take a moment to stare a the center of your left palm. I mean, really stare at it. Go ahead, do it. Do it for about two minutes. I’ll wait…
Now, do the same to your right palm. Take your time – really observe the lines in your hand, the shapes the lines make, the way the light changes as you shift your palm, and feel the energy change as you focus your attention more acutely.
Now close your eyes and feel the connection between your hands. Do you feel the tingling? You’ve just tapped in to your energy. You just connected to the pulse of all things.
We only know how to talk about an experience of transcendence in dualistic terms and pointing to that experience is what artists do. What I am here to do is guide my students to a place within themselves where they can experience losing themselves.. where they can drop the boundaries and feel beyond the labels of experience and become immersed in the experience itself.
The deeper the connection to the moment, the more likely we are to experience oneness and the more we will feel free.
A moment is the expression of the movement of time. The more we can become fully embodied in experiencing any moment, the more we can weather the storms of life.
I used to think after I started on my spiritual quest, there would come a day when I arrived to a state of peace. That state would mean I no longer felt depressed, anxious, sad, angry, hurt, nor afraid; I would have touched bliss and it would enrapture me from that moment on. However, once I experienced that part of my being that was pure and conscious, I realized there was more work to do… more layers of armor to peel away… more deep wounding that needed to be healed… more gathering of new life experiences.
I thought for a while that I could use my mind to rationalize away my emotions. I thought for a while my consciousness could elevate me beyond emotions, but what I’m experimenting with these days is more like a deeper witnessing of my reactions to experiences. In witnessing the moment to moment experience, I can more easily deal with life when it throws me a ball of shit and when life is seemingly benign, I can seek the beauty in the smallest of moments. The smaller I make the moment (the more present I am, the more distilled my awareness), the easier it becomes to digest.
The beautiful thing about humanity is its many facets and in order to be fully involved in what the essence of my life is, I have to welcome the experience of it all.
I want to know myself and since I’m constantly changing, this is a full time job! Quarantine helped me discovered a new tool for meditation: puzzles.
It may sound odd but I believe anything can be turned into a meditative experience if we cultivate it.
Next time you work on a puzzle, take a moment to watch your process. What steps do you take to complete it? Do you sort or do you hunt for pieces? Do you look at it close or from far away? How do you talk to yourself when things aren’t moving as quickly as you’d like? Do you ever find yourself trying to force a piece to fit? Do you ever look at it upside down? How do you feel when you fit two pieces together?
Everything in life is symbolic and the way we do one thing on a micro level can inform us in a more macro way of how we function in other areas of our lives. If we have more information about ourselves, we can become more compassionate and even make better decisions.
While the body is busy with tactile sensations, the mind is quite active and we can begin to notice the quality of our thoughts. Are we worrying about the future? Are we replaying moments from our past? If we dial in and focus intently on the present moment, we can uncover our attachments. Attachments cause us suffering and we can follow the suffering we experience back in time to a seed thought. After we know the seed thought, we can dig up its roots and use mindfulness to re-train the mind to a state of peace and calm.
Literally a puzzle can give us peace of mind. Who knew?!?
Have you ever met someone and immediately felt their spirit and known they were being guided by something higher? Many people call these kinds of people enlightened. It can seem like enlightenment is unattainable but it’s actually available to all of us if we lighten up.
The divine is that which we do not understand. It’s the magic of life. It’s being in the presence of awe. It’s the true beauty of being alive and IN LIFE. The divine is an energy. The divine is a feeling.
What is creation? Is creation the opposite of destruction? I’d say creation is the presence of faith and the absence of fear.
The best way I’ve found to encounter creative energy is to notice when fear arises. Then train the mind to substitute faith for fear. Trust for doubt.
The more we align with this aspect of ourselves, the easier it is to access when we feel lost. The more we create, the more divine energy flows through us. Then we have alchemically changed our homeostasis, our baseline. Our baseline isn’t a state of anxiety. Our baseline is a state of calm. It no longer resists; It allows.
Think of all the energy we use holding on to ideas that don’t serve the greater good and our highest selves. Think of all the energy we waste trying to avoid being hurt again. What if we could let go of fear and practice faith?
Letting go is not easy. Sometimes it comes with a lot of emotional pain – every moment we had the thought or idea we need to release has to be released. It is a dying of sorts. It’s a process of mourning. It’s no different in many ways than mourning the death of a loved one. That idea or thought was intimately close to us. In fact, we may have formed it as part of our identity. But in order to transform, it has to travel through the heart and lots of times, that can leave us feeling quite low. But after the initial process of letting go, it simply becomes a practice.
The practice is to witness when we are slightly off-center then tap into our witness consciousness while we feel what’s happening (without labeling) and watch the disturbance dissipate. It can still hurt but the depth of pain in the present moment is far less than the depth of pain we feel when we accumulate energies in our system.
It’s really quite beautiful to feel the essence of any moment and if we feel it when it arises, it is less taxing on our system. Because to hold on to an energy simply because we don’t want to feel it does create a energetic cost – we use a great deal of energy avoiding feeling hurt when we could use that energy to be a force for love and peace in the world.
We will practice today to become embodied and to feel the essence of the moment. We will feel our power and our strength. We will then let go and watch what arises. We will feel the magic and move forward knowing/feeling/believing we are part of it… we are connected to it… we are the magic.
I have a unique relationship with country music. It ebbs and flows in and out of my life in a beautiful way. My grandpa (my hero) played the fiddle in a country music band. My mother loathed country music. My father was indifferent and it was only later in life that I discovered he loved Janis Joplin and saw Stevie Ray Vaughan perform live in a tiny club in Dallas before he was a name …. we can definitely blame my adoration of blues and live music on my poppa.
Isn’t it interesting how our musical appetites shift based on who we spend time with? Boyfriends in middle and high school listened to country but in college and beyond, most didn’t. The man in my most significant relationship did not want to listen to country music so country became an ellipses in my musical life.
One lonely pandemic morning, I woke up thinking of the song “The Dance” by John Michael Montgomery and ditched my whole yoga class plan and made a class around country music.
It’s so interesting to have been raised in Texas but not raised on country music. I had to discover a country music education by way of my friends and boyfriends and I’m a little bit stuck in the 80s, 90s, and 2000s – but I don’t mind… some of the songs I listen to today are my very own time machine— they transport me to a feeling – a feeling of hope… a feeling of appreciating the simple things… of believing in love. I do believe strongly in love. Fiercely.
Family is a note that strums the strings in my heart when I listen to certain country songs. I grew up with a big, strong family – seeing cousins constantly, sharing meals and every holiday together – we’ve dissipated now and it’s one of my deepest heartaches.
We have Native American, English, and Irish in our ancestral family tree but our Texas roots are deep. As descendants of the founders of Dallas, my family could have been disapproving of me moving away – ‘we’ve been here since it began!’ or ‘you can’t leave – we are all here!’ but I have strong women in my family who support me digging up my roots to fly out here in New York City.
Country music is my roots. I love it.
Don’t color your roots… this is what our next Coronayoga class is about. Can’t wait to share it with you. Here’s the working playlist:
Meditation is a very simple process but the feedback I hear from most people is either:
1. “I’m not good at it.” Let us talk about why we say something like that. What makes one believe they aren’t good at something? It can either be that they are legitimately not cut out for whatever activity to which they are referring or it could be that their expectation is too high. When we set the bar too high – or in many cases, when we are chasing the wrong goal, we can quickly get discouraged and make up our minds that we aren’t good at it. Many people think the goal of meditation is to have a clear and calm mind – that is the result of a consistent, long-term meditation practice and I would encourage you to shift your goal into something attainable. When someone wants to run a marathon, they can’t do it on day one… they have to TRAIN – consistently. This is the same with meditation.
2. “I don’t have time to sit and do nothing.” From the outside it looks like a meditator is doing nothing, but the reality is they are training for the marathon of the mind. People who meditate are able to focus for longer periods of time, are able to perceive more, and can cultivate a sense of calm from life’s chaos.
Everyone experiences stress, loss, hardship, frustration, heartbreak, and anger – what intrigues me is how we individually handle these kinds of experiences. Meditation increases the space between having an experience and having an emotional reaction to the experience. It allows us to use our consciousness to make decisions from a place of awareness instead of responding from the emotion.
We’ve all lashed out at people because of heightened emotional states. Then later, felt horrible about it. We’ve also all made decisions while in a heightened emotional state that we later regretted. Meditation will legitimately create a space within the mind where you can make better decisions, even when a heightened emotional state. That’s just one, practical aspect of the mind we create from a meditation practice.
Everyone is good at meditating. It doesn’t take much to do. Yet, it’s so easy not to do it. I’ve been trying to develop a way to teach meditation that uses the tools I’ve accumulated over the years and last Sunday, I got an email from one of my students who’s taken almost every Coronayoga class I’ve offered: “Hey there, Can you help me establish a meditation practice? In 2020, I was serious about reestablishing my home yoga and getting in good enough shape that my body could live the life it yearned to. I totally did it! How awesome does that feel to say in 2020? I am practicing yoga daily, I work out regularly, I lost 30 lbs, and climbed a fucking mountain. Best of all, I run around with **** daily and it’s no big deal. I’ve wanted to have a meditation practice for years and have never done it. I’m finding myself of screens and social media soooo much, that I feel like my body truly needs this but it’s so foreign in my life right now. Can you help a girl out???”
So it lit a fire under me and later that day, I finally launched Lettuce Meditate. When I launch the website, I will tell the story behind the name.
In Lettuce Meditate, I’ve removed common obstacles – everyone has 5 minutes per day they can dedicate – and I’ve defined simple, achievable goals for each practice. We are training the mind and we are reinforcing success in the process of meditating by starting out with 5-minute sessions, every day for the first week. Then we sit for 10 minutes daily, and end the process with 15-minute sessions.
This is created for the beginner meditator in mind. I’m so excited about this offering and I can’t wait to see what it will do to enhance the lives of my students.
We begin a 21-day commitment to a gentle daily meditation practice: Let Us Meditate.
Join me for 5min meditations all week, then 10min meditations next week, and 15min meditations in the final week. 21 days for $21. You do not need to be present for every session to participate – come to as many as you can.
Watch how your concentration and awareness improve as you cultivate a peaceful mind.
We are all artists, sculpting our lives. Within every moment, there is a choice about what to create.
Many have fallen into creating their lives from dull inertia – just continuing to do the same things the same way. There’s a resignation that life is just the way it is and the spirit of the person has fallen quiet. Resignation is different from acceptance. Resignation is hopelessness. Acceptance is, “Okay, I see now.”
When one is consciously sculpting their life, there are two approaches: Carving Assembling
Carving is shedding. Carving is letting go of what no longer works. Carving is saying goodbye to a relationship. Carving is moving to another job. Carving is releasing false narratives.
Assembling is creating good habits. Assembling is forming healthy relationships. Assembling is creating a beautiful mind. Assembling is following your bliss.
In this Coronayoga Slowdown practice, I will invite you to move into a specific shape, then ask yourself if, within this shape, you need to carve or assemble.
We are not here to fall into the inertia of external validation. What I mean by this is if you decide you need more, ask yourself why. And ask yourself what will happen once you have more.
If you are using the tool of “more” to gain attention from others, you’ve fallen into the inertia of external validation – which when we distill what that truly is – it is stealing energy. Your ego is effectively manipulating others for energy. Your ego doesn’t feel complete – and it never will. The ego isn’t the soul.
If you use the tool of “more” to develop self-awareness (svadyaya), then you are using your yoga as a tool for peace. You are tapping into your true self, the conversation of your soul.
It’s all about the reference point and the center from which we make choices. We can choose to come from a place of reverence and honor to investigate why we are the way we are and who we really are. From that place, we create the lives we truly deserve.
I set an intention before every yoga practice. An intention is a seed and an embodied yoga practice is fertile ground in which to plant it. Sometimes I’m searching for answers. Sometimes I’m wanting to practice love. Sometimes I’m looking for help. Sometimes I’m looking for clarity.
The systematic process of calming the mind by-way of the body waters the seed and usually gives me the fruit of insight. I uncover little nuggets of wisdom and understand myself a little better.
We are constantly changing and I want to know myself so I have to spend the time connecting with who I am. Throughout my life, I’ve been a roamer. Growing up in the country, I entertained myself by walking around, looking at things. I have elevated roaming around the city to an art form.
When the pandemic hit, I practiced distillation and simplification. I made my life very small. I’ve always wanted to live my life as if I’m writing a story. We all approach our lives as artists… whether we are conscious of it or not. We create our reality.
When one is sculpting their life, there are two approaches we can take: carving or assembling. Different times call for different techniques and processes. After I got real truthful with myself about what really matters to me, I was able to see what is extra and unnecessary – carving.
For over seven months, I lived a pretty austere life and that allowed me to become more clear about what I wanted – assembling. I wanted to live on my own in a great neighborhood in an apartment with a lot of natural light where I could film my yoga and cycling classes. I wanted to be closer to nature, a good grocery store, a Citibike station, and a subway stop.
While roaming outside of my apartment one day, I meandered to a great city hiking spot and on the way back home, I stopped to take a selfie in front of a bridge. Exactly one month later, I was moving into the apartment building I stopped in front of to take that photo. That detail of specifically where I happened to stop seems pretty incredible now that I look back because when I took that selfie, I wasn’t planning on moving.
My old corner apartment had the greatest views… I could lay in my room in the middle of the day and get some sun and watch the sunset every night from every window in the apartment. Now I can watch the ships sail along The Hudson every morning, watch the birds soar over the river everyday, and watch the sunset through the bridge – I even have privacy – something I learned I value during my distillation process and thought I could never achieve in New York City. I even live close to the best Tex-Mex place I’ve found in the city. I finally feel at home.
When I ask my students to set their intentions at the beginning of practice, I’m not just saying that. I am asking them to call on the wisdom and guidance of their ancestors. I’m asking them to say a prayer. I’m asking them to open themselves to their highest potential. I’m asking them to believe.
How much longer are you going to beat yourself up for not being perfect? Perfection is a concept that isn’t even real, much less attainable. We waste a lot of energy, and thereby our precious time, comparing ourselves to some pedestal/idealized version of ourselves (it’s even worse if we are comparing ourselves to someone else but that’s for another blog).
Today’s practice is about shedding the idea of earning our own love. We will practice loving ourselves AS WE ARE… fully, and freely – with no bounds and no judgements.
Here’s the playlist:
We ended up in class also discussing how our perspective changes our experience.
We sure have had to navigate some choppy waters recently, haven’t we? How have you handled it? I have to admit, I was really afraid at first and I am still lonely. It’s weird admitting that because I crave my time alone and love being in the space of only my own thoughts and energy most of the time.
Life can be hard and our brains are wired to look for what’s wrong – legitimately – that’s what it is designed to do. The good news is that the neurons that wire together fire together, so we can change the neurological pathways in our brains by consciously focussing on what is right.
I’ve been venturing out of my apartment to go on bike rides and walks and it’s the best form of therapy I can give myself right now. I am still lonely but being around other people gives me hope. Every time I leave my building, I see people just going about living their lives and trying to be as “normal” as possible. There’s so much beauty around us if we open our eyes and I seek out life-affirming moments.
We have been in the dog days of summer and while out walking, I got caught in a cool summer rain. It was one of the most romantic things that’s happened to me in a while.
Earlier this week in Central Park, I saw an older couple shuffling along, holding hands. How beautiful is it that these two people who I assume have been married for over 50 years are still walking together, hand-in-hand? What have they learned about being in a partnership? They must have so much wisdom to share. I seriously wanted to stop and ask them alllllll the questions but I probably would have frightened them with my enthusiasm and I’m super not into giving people heart attacks.
Earlier that day in the park, I saw a group of women going all out, doing a tribal dance while some men played the bongos and congas. I sat under a tree a watched in awe while my head couldn’t stop boppin and shoulders couldn’t stop rockin. I wanted to be the dancer and the drummer. I feel like I would slay at both.
On Saturday, I was walking home and happened upon a live jazz band in Riverside Park and then I saw lightening bugs! It seems silly to get excited about things like that but the amount of joy I feel these days from the little things can’t be emphasized enough.
Today, I climbed hill after hill on my bike to ride to Fort Tryon Park, then walked among huge trees and meandered through the paths while listening to music. I felt lucky to have such a solitary experience, yet feel so connected to the moment.
Walking home, I saw a young man pick up a woman’s cane and hand it to her with a smile. There are so many instances of kindness and compassion and beauty everywhere – we just have to look for it. Change the structure of your brain to look for what’s right.
What are your life-affirming moments right now? How do you seek the beauty around you?
Right now, I have my windows open and a cool breeze is drifting in from the river as the sun is setting and I feel like everything is just as it should be.
Addendum: this morning, I woke to a rainbow so I would say today is going to be a good day.
For this class, I ask that you bring to mind moments that you’ve noticed that brought your heart a bit of joy and wonder. This will be a morning quickie practice – 30 minutes – so hopefully you can re-take it when you need to remind yourself of the beauty in the world.
Joseph Campbell teaches us that we have to let go of the life we had planned to live the life that’s waiting for us. Mary Oliver asks what you are going to do your one wild and precious life. My great teachers have always asked me to examine what I’m doing with my life and how I’m choosing to live it.
I haven’t always made the best decisions to live into my life with courage. I spent a lot of time just enjoying pleasure… feeling into the belly of what I desire. I could spend my life my life ignoring the call of my great, wild life but I know deep in my soul that I deserve more.
It takes courage to live in the world we are in now. It takes even more courage to shed what isn’t working. It takes courage to let go of comfort to live INTO our lives. We must be brave. The alternative is to live a life of doubt and regret. No thank you. I choose a life of adventure.
I drew this symbol sometime in 2001 and got it tattooed on my lower back in 2003. I named it “Almost Infinity” and it means the joining of masculine and feminine energies. It’s this idea that movement and balance come together with the feminine and masculine.
It’s time for us to bring together all parts of ourselves. It is time for us to fight for what we want. This is your call to be brave. Let’s DO THIS!
Pain. It is something so sublimely human to experience pain. Pain is a baptism of sorts, if you will – it transforms us. Think back to the times you’ve experienced the most pain… it is likely because of how much you loved and it likely brought you the biggest lessons/gifts. The mind likes to seek pleasure and run away from pain but there’s a way of being beyond that construct that elevates us from the rollercoaster.
Years ago, I was having drinks at a chill cocktail bar with some colleagues after a big campaign photoshoot with locations all over San Francisco. The shoots that week were INTENSE and I was working long hours. I had been getting maybe 3 hours of sleep each night and was at an emotional wall where my sensitivity wasn’t cooperating with my mind. I was going through some stuff personally and trying to make sense of it all. The executive producer ordered us Pappy Van Winkle bourbons and I sat down in a barrel chair in a snug little corner in front of a round table. Being curious, I opened the drawer in front of me and found this note: “Everything was beautiful and nothing hurt.”
It woke me up. Everything was beautiful. The “nothing hurt” piece is what took me years to understand because at the time I was hurting. Pain is an experience. Hurt is physical. We can heal from physical hurt but pain HEALS us.
When your heart is in pain, say thank you. Thank you… thank you.
Pain always teaches us. Accept the pain. No, welcome the pain. Feel the pain. It’s a reminder that we are here, we are real, and we are alive and growing.
When you feel your heart bleeding from the inside… when it extends and radiates out all the way to your fingertips, feel it. Feel it fully. This feeling is a gift. It isn’t to be denied nor ran from… it is to be leaned into and bathed in. The pain is a lather for your soul to rise into your tender heart and stretch it bigger.
Don’t be afraid of a bigger heart – it’s your biggest gift. It allows you to open your love. The world needs more love right now.
The clouds have descended upon New York City and covered my mind. The sadness that has enveloped me started with one thought about how someone hurt my feelings and now it’s building a little montage of all the ways my heart has been broken recently. It’s like death by paper cut.
Sometimes I wish moments like this didn’t overcome me. Sure, it would be easier if my mind didn’t work this way, but I love the way I think. Sure, I wouldn’t get hurt if I didn’t live openly and vulnerable but I love showing my heart. She sure is tender, though.
I am accepting this moment for what it is – it’s fear manifest. So I experience this feeling of rejection or pain or something we shall just label “negative” for ease of explaining (though there is something to be said for not labeling in a category but that’s for another blog!) and instead of allowing the energy of the emotion to temporarily inhabit me and become me (like the Buddhists have advised), my mind starts to play with the idea of the feeling and build a case against the offender as if it were an attorney. The mind just tries to keep us safe and if we have interpreted something someone else has done as causing us pain, the mind will help you separate from that person just to protect you. The more the mind fucks with it, the more complicated the case becomes and the more walls we build around our heart.
I wear my heart on my sleeve, which means people have access to stab it, whether with pin cushion or a machete and sometimes it doesn’t matter the weapon of choice, it still feels like a little death.
There’s this choice we can make – hide our hearts away or keep shining the light. I choose to shine but I’m not going to hide this hard fucking work that it takes to keep doing that despite how I feel in this moment.
When we get in our feelings, we first have to see what is going on: Awareness. After awareness, we have to accept it for what it is. After acceptance of the moment, we have to process the energy out of our system. Then after we’ve processed it out, we are closer to authenticity (instead of what the mind has dictated to us) and then there is the choice. I caution you – don’t make the choice before you process – allow the lake of the mind to become clear and calm instead of murky and muddy.
I have my toolbox that I go to when moments like this occur. Today, I read some of “The Prophet”, listened to some music, and wrote this blog. Now I need to get in my body to process all this sadness and fear out… this too shall pass, just like everything in this world but I didn’t want this moment to pass without sharing it because life is not all hearts, stars, and smiley faces. The clouds will drift away and I will see a rainbow again and it’s really up to me to part the clouds. That’s where our power lives.
There’s a very bad example of my public speaking skills out there from the time I gave a talk at a TEDxSMU event about using the senses to access the present moment. I wanted to convey this theory I have about Einstein’s Theory of Relativity and how it relates to consciousness… but I became so nervous because all these eyeballs were looking AT me. I could feel their expectation. I could feel their judgement. I could FEEL all these energies coming into my system and I didn’t know what to do. I wanted to run. I guess the “flee” part of my stress response was fully on board. My mind was confused. My brain felt like it shut down and I went into auto-pilot and fully off-script. It makes me cringe when I think about it. I didn’t consciously know yet how to use my body to ground me.
Because that moment for me was pregnant with such high expectations, the fall could have been devastating. I really didn’t adequately prepare for giving a talk like that and I could have beat myself up for it. The great thing about fully taking responsibility for your grown-ass adult self is that you can own your shit. You can own it while learning from it. It’s just a choice in how you view things – I think of everything as a blessing and I don’t believe in curses.
You guys hear me talk all the time about how your life can change in any moment. It boils down to the fact that in every small moment, we have a simple choice. Even if you are faced with something big, the choice in the moment is super small.
Have you ever wanted something so much that it truly frightened you? Yesterday, I realized I am deeply afraid of wanting what I want both personally and globally. What if I don’t get it? I would truly have to accept that I can’t always get what I want and that kinda pisses me off.
Some people may think that it’s lofty to want to change the world. I think we deserve a better world than what we are living in and I think it is up to us to change it. I’m not asking you to get out there and Jane Goodall or Gloria Steinem or MLK, Jr., it – I’m talking just right now in this moment, what can YOU do to become a better version of yourself?
“…soft dreams under hard conditions are no good… in tough times we must have tough dreams, real dreams, those that if we work diligently… will come true.” -Clarissa Pinkola Estes
When I got sick after college, I learned the power of the creative process to heal. A couple years later, after my mentor suddenly passed away, I became even more clear about how life can end too quickly and I decided I wasn’t going to waste any time. My grandpa taught me to keep adding tools to my toolbox and I thought an efficient use of my time was to get paid to learn new things.
I wanted to be a photographer so I got a job at a commercial photography studio where I paid my dues sweeping floors, rolling cords, and setting up lighting. Then I got a chance to work at The Dallas Museum of Art in the photography department where I photographed and color-correct their works on paper from the permanent collection. Then I wanted to learn how to be a better painter so I got a job at an artist-owned art gallery – he promised to give me painting lessons if I worked there. I kept asking when I could get into the studio but it was never a good time.
When you are willing to do any job at any level, you get to learn a lot about how people treat other people who work in “lower” stations in life. The way people treated me with dignity and respect vs punitive classism, as if I was disposable and sub-human, had everything to do with them and nothing to do with me. I knew my value and identity. I never had an ego about my “place” because I was using all those jobs more than they were using me and I love working hard.
I found yoga while I was working at the art gallery and went ALL IN… I gathered as many tools as I could through classes, workshops, and trainings and structured my time wisely, dedicating my life to yoga.
After about 4,000 classes into my teaching career, I was asked in a staff meeting by my favorite yoga studio owner to create a 200-hour yoga teacher training program. I agreed and wrote a curriculum that would involve all the things I love most about yoga and philosophy. I LOVE lectures and philosophy talks and could totally see myself in front of a white board. I crafted 8 lectures per weekend around a philosophical idea that pulled from many disciplines.
One problem: I had no idea how to give a lecture. An opportunity fell into my lap to teach yoga at a local college so I found myself getting paid to figure out how to lecture. Then a prep school wanted to hire me, then another college wanted to hire me, then another, so I got even more practice on honing in the essence of each lecture to learn what was working and what wasn’t. By the time I gave my lectures to my students in teacher training, I was comfortable with what and how I was teaching.
The kill two birds with one stone method always seemed to work well for me and I still do that today. Recently, I found myself riding my little fold-up exercise bike while reading a book.
Though efficiently using our time is effective, I have found there’s something powerful in doing one thing at a time. It’s like the story of the man who needed to dig a hole for a well… he would dig for a while and think, “Oh there’s no water here, I must be in the wrong place. Let me go over there and dig.” Then he’d move and start digging again. No water. So he’d start digging a new hole… and so on. He never found water. But we learn that if he had dug just a little bit deeper in each hole, he would have tapped the well.
The more we fully involve ourselves in the doing of one thing, the deeper we can go and the closer we come to our real dreams. In yoga, this is called dharna – one-pointed concentration. The body is a tool to get us closer to our dreams and the deeper we go inside to the experience of being in our bodies, the more likely a spontaneous insight will occur that guides us closer to the next step on our path.
Time and energy are our most valuable resources and while we are breathing, how we spend them is up to us. Some days we need to use the two birds method and some days we need to dig deeper to find the well. The art is in knowing which tool to pull from your toolbox and when to use it. And that, my friend, is the essence of the creative process.
I woke up just before 5 and the nearly full moon was radiant in its pregnant display. How many of us have sat in awe, looking at the moon? The moon is so powerful – it moves the tides and controls the menstrual cycle, yet the only way we see it is because it is reflecting the light of the sun. The moon is just there, present. It doesn’t have to do anything to be seen except just be exactly who she is.
In today’s practice, we are going to explore presence as acceptance. In order to do that, we will look at our judgements. In preparation for the practice, I’d like for us to think of when we’ve judged someone else and when we’ve judged ourselves.
Judgement is the ego’s way of creating separation. If you’ve ever been loved unconditionally, you know what it feels like to be loved without judgement. That is one of the best feelings in the world, in my humble opinion.
Presence is a gift… we all love presents! When we give ourselves the gift of our attention and awareness, we create an energy. When we pay attention without judgement, we create love. The generating of the energy of love happens when we join the essence of our hearts with the essence of our witness consciousness together. In order to create any action, we need a thing/idea to move at a speed and in a particular a direction. Love is the velocity of infinity. Acceptance is a form of love in action.
The whole idea here is to DO less and BE more. Be more like the moon.
I’m so excited for this class – we have yogis from coast-to-coast practicing live together… this is going to be a special one, you guys! You are officially a part of our new community: The Love Warrior Collective.
This hour-long practice is called Beauty & Play – Activating the Purusha. There is a part of each of us called the purusha, or the witness. This is the part of us that watches. It’s not a creepy, stalker kind of watching. It’s also not the Gladys Kravitz (if you don’t know who that is, you have been deprived of the beauty of the classic television series called “Bewitched”) kind of watching to keep up with The Joneses. It’s also not the kind of watching that is keeping score of what you do or whether you belong in the win/lose or good/bad categories.
If it isn’t those things, what is it? It’s the part of us that gracefully witnesses without judgement. It is just beyond the union of opposites (the heart) into non-dualistic thinking (the third eye). It’s the part of us that isn’t REMOTELY effected/affected by outside opinions. This part doesn’t even involve itself with what other people think, need, nor expect from us. This is the part of ourselves that holds space.
Now that we are practicing yoga at home, you have so much more freedom to embody your practice and express yourself in ANY way you see fit. You can also completely ignore what I’m cueing and do exactly what you want – just don’t give up – commit to stay on your mat for the duration of class. I encourage you to find your beauty. I encourage you to play. I encourage you to give yourself the gift of witnessing your expression and embodiment without judgement.
This morning, I woke up wanting to tell you the story of Ganesh – he’s the Hindu god with the head of an elephant and he’s responsible for removing obstacles on our paths – but in order to tell you about Ganesh, I have to tell you about his parents.
Shiva is the original yogi and the God of Destruction, the Lord of the Dance. He represents what has to be done in order to create – the burning away of impurities in our bodies and minds. You can think of him as a volcano – when a volcano erupts, lava flows and destroys everything in its path and this brings about Primary Succession where new earth is formed and begins to grow new life.
Shiva is the divine masculine and after his first wife, Sati, the divine feminine, died, he retreated to the mountains to mourn and meditate – for thousands of years. His first wife reincarnated as Parvati and she recognized Shiva as her divine other but he was too involved in his inward experience to notice her. She prepared herself through tapas (burning away of impurities) for their divinely planned union and it was through this elevation of her consciousness that he finally heard her, awakened from his meditation, and sought her out.
So they married and Shiva taught Parvati yoga. In these 84 asanas, or poses, Parvati learned Raja Yoga – or the royal path – which is the way to identify yourself with who you truly are, instead of misidentifications with the ego and such. It is the way to relieve suffering. This is where the Yoga Sutras come from – Raja Yoga – and this is the 8-limbed path. It is through the practicing of the eight limbs that the practitioner relieves their own suffering. The third limb is the physical postures that we practice today – asanas. The release of suffering is called Samadhi and the practitioner realizes who they really are.
Shiva was eternally devoted to his love and yoga was his offering to her. Parvati saw how could benefit the world and wanted to share it with as many people as possible. Shiva, initially reluctant, finally agreed and the teaching lineage of yoga began.
Fast forward – Shiva was off meditating for years on some mountaintop, as he tends to do. Parvati decided she wanted a son so she created one from clay. As the son grew older and more responsible, she started training how to be a man. One day, Parvati asked her son to guard the entrance to her bathing chamber and not allow anyone in. Shiva came back from his meditations and demanded entry into his wife’s chamber. When the boy refused, Shiva chopped his head off – I guess you could say he had a bit of a temper, huh? As you can imagine, Parvati was not having that and she began to churn with her power to destroy the universe. The gods begged her to slow her roll and she agreed if two conditions were met: her son was brought back to life and accepted as a god. They agreed and the gods brought him back to life and replaced his head with the first living being they saw so now we have the elephant-headed god, Ganesh.
The symbolism of Ganesh is beautiful – his ears are large, thus representing our need to listen. His trunk is so strong that it can hold the weight of many tree trunks but so delicate and sensitive that it can hold a single blade of grass – we need to be sensitive within our strength. He is usually seen with one of his tusks removed because he is said to have broken it off to use it as a pen to transcribe the great Indian epic The Mahabharata (one piece of this is is the Bhagavad Gita, which you may have heard of – it tells the story of Arjuna and Krishna). What would that single tusk mean to you, symbolically? To me, it means we need to look at how we document, how we store our memories, and how we communicate what we’ve learned to benefit the world.
You do realize that YOU are the ONLY person who has your unique gifts, right? You do understand that you’re important and we need you to give us the wisdom you’ve learned, right? It’s not pressure to be something you’re not – this is a call to be exactly who you are.
We act as Ganesh in our own lives by listening, becoming sensitive within our strength, and communicating. Ganesh usually sits in an entry way to honor as a guard of your home and he removes obstacles on your path.
It is said that before worshipping any god, one must pray to Ganesh first – this is why he is the remover of obstacles.
Side note: I bought a big, HEAVY murti of Ganesh in the typical Shiva Lord of the Dance position, with the ring of fire around him, at a workshop I attended on the symbolism of Hindu deities. When I moved to NYC, I gifted it to one of my teachers who is now moving to Seattle. I found out the day after I taught this class that I get to go to Dallas to retrieve him. Road Trip!
Hi y’all! What a fun class this Happy Half Hour Yoga Dance Party was! It’s a Phun class so you need to have an existing practice in order to do this one. I had been taking myself soooooo seriously recently and I needed to let some stuff go and give myself a little attitude adjustment. Does a yoga dance party cure all the world’s problems? No, but it can make you smile and sometimes that’s all you need.
Take a moment to think of all the thoughts you’ve had today. Wow, that’s a lot, huh? I think it’s important to take time from time to time to really examine the contents of our own minds. I call this a mental real estate inventory.
What thoughts are occupying your time? If you could make a pie chart of your thoughts into categories, what kinds of thoughts are occupying the most space? What thoughts are no longer serving you? Do you procrastinate? Procrastination takes mental energy. You still hold space for the things you are avoiding doing. Think of procrastinating as your present self stealing from your future self. Do you obsess? Do you worry? These are ways of using your mental energy to live in the past or project into the future. In order to do this inventory, you have to be real honest with yourself. Your present self is creating your future self.
We have limited time, energy, and mental real estate space so knowing that these are our most precious resources, it is important to take note of how we are spending them. Is there anything in your pie chart that needs to shift into a smaller piece of the pie or something that you need to let go of?
How do you know when you need to do a real estate inventory? You could always schedule it as maintenance on the regular, like an oil change. You can do this when you feel pressured for time or stress building up. You can do this when you want to create something new. You can do this when you’re tired of your own BS. You can do this when you are ready to grow.
It’s important to mention that when you look at yourself through this lens, you may need to spend some time going deeper into why you think the way you do. It’s also important not to beat yourself up for the things you realize about yourself. I almost fell into that trap today.
The results of my inventory revealed that there is one area of my pie chart that could go. Letting that part go would free up mental real estate. It creates space for what’s next. This practice of mental inventory and letting go is a simple (but sometimes challenging) practice of vairagya, or non-attachment.
This evening, I made a playlist, pulled out my hand weights, and had a dance party/workout sesh/shadowboxing/yoga practice. One of my friends recently asked me to make a yoga class that will help channel his testosterone-fueled rage because he doesn’t really want all the love and peace and calm… sometimes he just wants to hit stuff. I didn’t really feel like hitting anything but I needed to shed some energy.
Some yogis practice hand gestures, or mudras. It’s said that if you arrange your fingers in a particular way, it will being about a certain energy. I am very into this form of yoga today. It is my hope that by practicing this mudra, I released some of the stuff that isn’t serving my highest good. Namaste Motherf*ckers! 🙂
It has taken me almost two months to edit this video of the special edition Coronayoga for Grief because seeing and hearing even parts of this class makes my heart cry. I made this class for you guys (though no one was practicing live with me on this day) as an offering – a live record of part of the process I used to grieve my own loss of one of my best friends.
I was afraid share this publicly because I do break down several times in the class and I feel part of my responsibility as a yoga teacher is to hold space for whatever you’re going through – not to share what I’m going through WHILE I’m in it. When teachers do that, they are unconsciously forcing their students hold space for their energy. I share all this with you in full transparency.
It took a lot of strength that day to gather myself together to continue teaching and I share the video with you now because I feel this is what we all do when we are grieving – we break down and then we gather.
This is the cycle of life. It reminds me of that Frou Frou song “Let Go” – there’s beauty in the breakdown. Sometimes it is only when things fall apart that we can gather and build again. The beauty is life is always falling apart so there are always opportunities to build.
I am “in” something that I have such a hard time articulating. It’s a feeling that lives within my body so I can only truly identify it through the experiencing of it. The interesting thing is my mind likes to poke around there and try to explain it… and then explain it away. Yesterday, I was in the middle of my practice and my mind had taken over – like a bad dance partner who can’t respond to the signals you’re sending out – and it had rationalized the feeling into a practical explanation. My mind likes to do that – it likes to make a declarative statement and fold into itself over and over as if it was making a thought croissant. It was making up its mind and turning from a fluffy pastry to a stone wall. Then the teacher’s words entered my mind and that hard edge of decision dissipated. My heart was activated again.
I tend to look at moments like that as divine. The beauty of the teacher saying exactly what I needed to hear at the moment I needed to hear it brought me out of my mind and back into my body – into the feeling.
Yesterday, I took a long bike ride along the river and had the opportunity to witness the fleeting moments of grace and divine inspiration. The sacred is all around us. The sacred is huge but it is mostly something I witness in the smallness of things. The sacred is a silent whisper. Are you listening for it?
I’m starting to understand that love isn’t a verb like one of my first mentors taught me. Love isn’t an action – love is spirit. Love is energy. We have to let love in. Richard Rohr is teaching me about this in his book “The Divine Dance”. He talks about love being a fire of purification that we all fall into. He says:
– A great being stays with what she loves – she is patient, she forgives – she allows what she loves to develop, to grow – she suffers for and WITH reality – Love is passion – Passion means to suffer, to undergo reality as opposed to controlling it
For me, engaging in the divine dance means I need to invite the sacred so went DEEP in this Stretchy McStretcherton practice and created an invitation. We practiced receptivity, the essence of the feminine. We engaged in the divine dance.
This morning’s practice will focus on fine tuning our poses. The deeper we go inside the body, the more we learn to direct our consciousness. This releases the ego’s hold on the mind and gets us closer to identify with who we truly are.
When I moved to New York City, I came with only faith. As luck would have it, I found a job shortly after moving, working for the producer for a well-known photographer who created ad photography. I found myself producing large photoshoots for big brands and having such a fun time traveling around the country, working with each new crew we put together. These were 18-hour days and one night when I got back to the hotel in Nashville, I happened upon a movie called “The New Basement Tapes” – it was a documentary showing the recording process of some of Bob Dylan’s old songs being re-imagined in creative collaboration by Elvis Costello, Rhiannon Giddens, Taylor Goldsmith of Dawes, Marcus Mumford of Mumford & Sons, and Jim James of My Morning Jacket. I found this to be a stroke of luck because I was taking my friends to New Orleans to see Jim James for my birthday later that year. I was captivated by the creative process and some of my favorite songs from The New Basement Tapes album are featured on this playlist.
In the optional 10 minute extended Savasana, we talked about the four stages of Savasana. You can learn about that in The Chat.
Today’s practice was a 60-minute Hatha n Flow for intermediate practitioners. We opened the inner thighs, worked on binding, and talked about the senses. The senses are the way the human body receives information from the external world and evolutionary-wise, the senses sent information to the brain to help us perceive danger.
As you practice more yoga, you are fine-tuning your instrument and as you begin to deepen your practice, your senses become more acute. The sixth sense is the sense that allows us to perceive energy. The more yoga you do, the more sensitive you become to energy. Think of the scene in Star Wars (I refuse to call go by the later naming of the Star Wars films – as far as I’m concerned, there are only 3 Star Wars movies – Star Wars, The Empire Strikes Back, and Return of the Jedi.. I know, I’m a weirdo.) when Obi-Wan is teaching Luke to use his lightsaber… only when Luke turned off the visual sense was he able to perceive the energy, “the force”.
This practice will systematically guide you deeper into your instrument to fine-tune your sensitivity to energy.
We all want a calm mind and there are lots of ways to achieve this state. In yoga, there is a concept called “citta vrittis” these are the fluctuations of the mind… the way the mind moves from one thing to another. Some days you need to rock TF out and run out all your excess energy and some days you need stillness.
We explored expansion and contraction… stillness and movement. This practice helped us explore what we need TODAY to create stillness in the mind.
This practice was a 30 minute beginner Hatha n Flow with an optional additional 10 minute guided savasana and pranayama (those are just fancy terms for relaxation and breathing). We explored Warrior I, II, and III and focused on mindful alignment.
This morning, I woke up with a VERY clear sentence in my head, “The pure potential of all things is in the seed.” Then I started to edit the Hatha n Flow class and post-class chat from 7-15-20 and saw that’s exactly what I was talking about that day. I guess this is up for me right now.
This class is the first of a very special series featuring music from artists I’ve seen live – music that’s changed my life and moments that have shaped who I am.
Every moment in life contains the potential to change your life. Try not to think of life-changing moments as these BIG things that take a lot of energy… they are actually very, very small moments. Sometimes all it boils down to is a choice… a small, simple choice.
Yoga allows us to slow down these moments enough to recognize there is ALWAYS a choice. Now it’s up to you. Here’s the link to the class, the playlist and The Chat.
I’ve been waking up with the sun. The stillness as we transition from darkness to light is something I now crave to feel as much as possible. I used to be a night owl. I used to love staying up late, drinking wine and bourbon, closing down the jazz club at 4am or dancing to music in my apartment til the wee hours of the morning. Something shifted in me in early February and I no longer wanted to drink my wine and cocktails. Then the pandemic.. now I REALLY didn’t want to drink – I wanted ALL my wits about me and didn’t want to escape into fun, I wanted to deal fully with the reality of what we were experiencing. I needed my full consciousness on board and it was time to fully let go and simultaneously engage – I could feel it with every cell of my being.
How do you wake up? I enjoy waking up softly, naturally, with no alarm. I like to spend my mornings in contemplation. Some mornings, I will remember a dream and analyze its symbolism. Some mornings, I will have a song in my head. Some mornings, I go straight into thinking about stuff I want to do before I teach.
This morning, I woke with a phrase that came through so clearly, “The pure potential of all things is in the seed.” I wrote down the phrase in my journal and opened my curtains to take a time-lapse video of the clouds over the river changing colors with the rising sun. Then I looked out the other set of windows in my bedroom and saw a rainbow.
Rainbows feel magical and divine but they are simply science parading around, disguised as magic. It’s just a collection of little drops of water that are like tiny mirrors reflecting the rays of the sun back to us. Sunlight usually looks white to us but it contains the entire spectrum of color and disperses the color on the way in and out of the tiny water droplet.
Sunlight is the pure potential of color just like the acorn is the pure potential of the oak. What I want us to think about today is what seeds are you planting? What seeds are you watering? What roots are rotted and need to be excavated from your life? Making space for what you want is one thing but we choose what and who gets our energy.
Just remember time may be infinite but YOUR time on this planet is limited. We are not guaranteed tomorrow. What are you waiting for? Don’t miss out on your rainbow.
The class from 7-8-20 is now available on-demand! This practice is appropriate for beginners and focussed on two concepts: Ahimsa and Parenting Oneself.
Ahimsa is one of the ethical concepts from Classical Yoga and it means non-violence. It’s easy to understand how not to be violent toward another person, but something I think we could all use a little awareness around is how we can speak violently to ourselves. Part of what we do in yoga is try to become aware enough of our own tendencies and witness how we speak to ourselves.
We spoke about the idea that the part of us that will beat us up for doing something “wrong” is also the part of ourselves that can act as our own parent. The idea is that we parent ourselves and we get to choose what kind of parent to be.
I want to be a loving and wise parent to myself. What kind of parent do you want to be?
This practice was centered on 2 principles: letting go and breath control. In Classical Yoga, one of the ways we get closer to our true selves is through a practice called Pranayama. We analyze every Sanskrit word by breaking down its meaning – Prana means energy/life-force/spirit and yama means restraint/control. In Sanskrit, if we add an “a” before any word, it turns the word to its opposite. So, ayama means expansion.
Essentially, when we practice Pranayama, we are working with our energy. There are practices we can do that will make us feel like we had a shot of espresso (stay tuned, a Coronayoga SNS – Short n Sweet – is coming on the espresso shot of breathing practices) and practices that can make us feel like we are floating on a cloud.
Today, we worked on expanding the capacity for more breath while we practiced letting go. This practice was 30 minutes – 3 poses, with an additional 10 min savasana. It’s meant to be done multiple times over time to test yourself and where you are mentally and how much you’ve been able to expand your lung capacity.
When I experienced the power yoga had to bring people together and to bring out the best in them, I knew I had to dedicate my life to it. I made it my mission to share it with as many people as possible. The only problem with my approach is I started to develop an idea that yoga was THE answer… not a tool to seek the answers. I became yoga’s self-appointed ambassador (more like self-appointed missionary I would have to say) and learned about as many styles as possible so I could easily counsel anyone I met about the kind of yoga that would work for them.
My heart was pure in its intention but I learned the hard way (sometimes that’s the only way I learn) that I had become a fundamentalist. I created an idea that my way was the best way. Then one evening, I woke up.
It was a spring night in Dallas and I was supposed meet a friend an an event in downtown but her phone died mid-call and I didn’t know where to meet her. This was before good cell phone batteries. I was already eating dinner at my favorite place in Deep Ellum so I decided I should look up some live music. I looked up the usual venues and found this band Dawes was playing nearby. This venue had an outdoor area and it was really beautiful at night to stand outside among the trees and listen to live music.
The crowd loved this band and took ownership of it the way you claim your best friend – there was so much respect and love floating in the air – it was palpable to feel how much this music meant to all these people. Then they played their last song (pre-encore) “When My Time Comes” and the crowd lost their MINDS! They were singing in unison at the top of their lungs. It was like the most wild version of a church service I had ever seen. Then they played their encore song “A Little Bit of Everything” and I could feel the impact this music was having on everyone – everyone was FULLY present. There was a range of emotions people were expressing but you could FEEL this crowd believed this band was speaking FOR them. These artists had tapped in to something greater and they were making an impact that mattered. This was EXACTLY the same feeling I felt when I saw what yoga was doing for people. It was in that moment that my myopic life’s mission expanded.
I’ve collected a huge amount of live music experiences since then and I know the power music has. I’ve been prepping a class to feature some of my life-changing live music moments. The goal of this class will be to teach us how to think of every moment as containing the pure potential to change our lives. I’m crafting playlists for several class styles and levels. This will be something you won’t want to miss.
I like to bring my life-changing moments with me on my yoga mat. Objects hold energy and I have two beside my mat that mean a lot to me. The parrot was my mentor’s and the shell was my grandpa’s. They both profoundly changed my life and they are with me every time I step on my mat.
This morning, I went to get my mail and found a package from my dear friend, Madeline. She was responsible for cleaning out some of Jeffrey’s things after he passed and she asked me if I wanted a book from his bookshelf. She sent a copy of “The Prophet”. The timing of this book’s arrival couldn’t be more divinely crafted. Jeffrey will now take his place by my mat.
Yoga can be elevated to a profound experience EVERY TIME you practice, but you have to invite the sacred. Here’s how I did it: I started every practice in an extended Savasana, taking inventory of where I was and what I was working through in my life. I would set an intention for what I hoped to cultivate from that practice. When I transitioned from standing poses to the floor, I would bow to myself with gratitude. It used to be a joke but I would thank the yoga gods after every class. Make your yoga space sacred. Even if you don’t have a dedicated yoga room, you can make setting up your space before every practice a ritual. Magic happens when you infuse awareness with intention.
It’s important to start your practice with intention and end with gratitude – so just find your own way to arrive at that and see what happens. If you are more of a 2 on the woo-woo scale, fake it. Just try it, even if it seems silly and pointless. You’ve got nothing to lose and the potential to experience something profound.
“Just what I needed after an afternoon of slaving in the kitchen. The gentle yet supportive poses were a soothing balm to my achy back. It also teaches a lesson that you need to listen to your body – just because you started a pose doesn’t mean you have to commit to it, if it not right for you.”
When we are impatient, we are basically arguing with time. Time is one of the biggest/greatest forces that exists and we can waste a lot of energy engaging with it to try to make it bend to our will. Time gives zero fucks about when you want something. Time is the boss of I got this/don’t worry your pretty little head about it.
Sometimes, our only practice is to surrender to time… to divine timing. Think of how many things had to fall in line perfectly for your parents to meet, fall in love, and make you. If one little detail of the chain of events was different, would you be here? I don’t know how fate works or if it’s something we made up for comfort and the world is just a bunch of randomness but I choose to believe in the magic. I choose to believe in the wonder. I choose to be in awe of it all.
Patience can seem like a big, daunting thing because we can think of it as something delivered through grace. But patience is simply a choice and it’s not a “light switch choice” – where you turn it on and it stays on, but it’s a practice to engage in when we notice anxiety about the timing of things. It’s a mind practice.
Traffic is the best example I have of this. People hate traffic because of the time it seemingly takes away from them. What if you just changed your mind about traffic’s default setting? Just decide that there is always going to be traffic. Make plans for this. Leave earlier. Think that every time you get on the road, there is going to be congestion, then when there isn’t traffic, you get a jolt of happiness because you just created more time. Changing the default setting in your mind about traffic works. It’s just in the mind. And we have the power to change our minds – but we don’t have the power to change traffic. I mean, we might as well focus on the things we do have control over, right?
I am a bit of a control freak with some things and I recently noticed I’m trying to control the timing of when things unfold in my life. I’m being subtly impatient. I’m basically saying to the universe that I want to be in charge of time and the universe sits back and laughs because of all the things happening in the background that I am not aware of. Bish, please!
My mom used to try to teach us about patience when we were little. Patience is something I’ve been working on for a long time and this morning, I realized I need it now more than ever. I wake up every morning with this feeling I don’t understand. It’s such a big feeling that it scares me yet it inhabits my being and soothes me so deeply and fully at the same time. What is happening to me? I want to know… and I want to know now, damn it.
Sometimes divine timing can save you. Have you ever had a moment when you realized if you had left your house 1 minute earlier, you would have likely been involved in the accident you just witnessed? We can hear and feel guidance from divine timing – it’s called intuition. It’s your gut feeling. Sometimes we have to tune in to hear it because of all the static energy around us and sometimes in us.
You really don’t know what’s at work right now, preparing things for your life’s path. What are you being impatient about right now? Where in your life are you arguing with time? Do you want to free up your energy to focus on the things you can control?
This practice is a Stretchy McStretcherton so we can seek out the things we are trying to control and find ways to surrender. It is 50 minutes long with an additional guided 10 minute chakra meditation.
I woke up this morning feeling like I wanted a quick yoga fix with fun old school hip hop music. When there is something I want but I can’t find it, that means it’s time to make it.
Welcome to your first Morning Quickie – it’s a 30-minute fast-paced advanced PHUN practice with lots of dancing and playing. This one is meant to wake you up and keep you on your toes – you have to tune in. We do a lot of unique transitions so pay particular attention and do not hurt yourself by pushing yourself or being careless.
You must have an existing practice and a great deal of experience to do this class – we move quickly and I give very little cues so you need to know your Sanskrit and English pose names. You need to know how to take care of your body and how to modify poses. As always, LISTEN TO YOUR BODY and if you are experiencing any pain, do not do the pose.
This edition of your post-class chat is from 5-24-20, after a private handstand lesson I gave to a student who went through my yoga teacher training, Tom Hall. Fun fact: we share the same last name AND the same birthday. Obviously, we were destined to be friends.
What Tom addresses here is how he woke up to yoga as a practice of awareness and the need to be gentle with oneself.
The story behind the flower: we were doing a lab on side plank and Tom was the student I was working on to show the other teacher trainees ways of communicating with their students on how to get in to the pose and how to refine the pose once you are in it.
Tom was the kind of student who gave his ALL to every single pose and he left every class with a literal pool of sweat surrounding his mat. His strength was enviable but his determination was unmatched. However, he was working too hard and was basically struggling AGAINST himself as he held the pose. He couldn’t hear me when I cued him to be gentle or do less. He only knew one way of being – giving it your all 100% of the time, regardless of the circumstance.
I needed to find a way to show him HOW to be gentle so I grabbed a delicate, hand-made paper flower from the desk in the studio lobby and placed it in his hand and told him his only goal is to do the pose without crushing the flower. He changed in that moment and became a peaceful warrior. It was profound and beautiful to witness.
When I typed the subject for this blog, I had a flashback to days at the public pool and Slurpees from 7-11. Oh man! But that’s not the purpose of this blog… I’m writing to tell you what today’s class is about: Life is a Dance.
At the beginning of the pandemic, I noticed I had no energy to watch television or movies. I was trying to make my life as simple as possible and the more you do that, the more you realize the effect and affect what you consume has on you. I remember telling my friends how TV (which I was previously obsessed with, by the way.. I spent years trying to write television shows.) was just too much. This isn’t me trying to tell you how much better your life will be if you only do what I did… this is me telling you what I did and why. Your path is going to be unique to you.
I did have energy for audiobooks. My mind could settle if I was listening to a lecture or audiobook and doing something else like a puzzle or laying down in the sun on my bedroom floor. The early morning hours became the most sacred for me. My roommate was still asleep, the sun was gently announcing its arrival, and the city was still while the city birds had their morning chats. I felt like the outside world was performing a play just for me – the city was so quiet that it seemed like I was the only one awake. I could have my coffee and look out at the way the light changed as I went through my sorting and moving meditation (the puzzle). Sometimes I would listen to an audiobook then but mostly, I wanted to absorb the silence. Silence is such a rare thing to experience in the city. I grew up in the country and those mornings transported me back to feeling safe.
These feelings I generated by experiencing life moment to moment brought me closer to the truth. Alan Watts taught me one day that the purpose of life is the dancing of it. Hindu mythology says that we are all divine incarnation just playing to experience something new.
When was the last time you played? I mean, like really played? What does it mean to play? Let’s think about kids and how they play. In the summers, I would play all day long. I had no purpose, no end-goal and I had freedom to roam all over the place. I explored. I would walk down to the pond at the end of our street and just check shit out. I would re-arrange my bedroom. I would make a play and perform it for my family. I would play with Barbies. I would dance. Oh my, I would dance. Then I became a competitive gymnast and my play time was different. Even when I had free time, I was training. My dad made me my own balance beam so I could practice at home. My play time had a purpose. I think yoga provides me all the benefits of playtime with a purpose and playing as just roaming around, checking shit out.
Let’s try to consider that maybe the purpose of yoga is just the doing of it. It’s not something to get better at, really. You don’t get more benefits by doing more advanced poses. Most of the time, it’s your ego that gets filled that way instead of your spirit. The more you focus on treating yoga like a cost-benefit analysis, the less its magic will be revealed.
Look, we all experience stress and sometimes stress can cause us to think we do not have time to deal with it. It’s interesting, though, the more we are stressed, the more we need to be doing our practices. Stress is a response. It’s the body reacting as if you are being chased by a tiger. This reaction is activating the sympathetic nervous system and causing all kinds of harm to you physically, mentally, and emotionally.
This episode of Coronayoga SNS is Legs Up the Wall pose – it is the single most beneficial yoga pose you can do to counter the stress response. It will put you into the parasympathetic nervous system, which causes the relaxation response.
When you were little and played hide and seek, did you like hiding or seeking more? I always loved hiding. The excitement of finding a place to quietly snuggle into while my cousins would try to find me was thrilling. I remember always breathing quietly while I was hiding because I always thought they could hear me breathe.
Remember playing hide and seek with a child much younger than you? I think all of us have done this: pretend that we can’t find the little one hiding, “Where did they go?” It’s this sweet tenderness knowing that the younger child doesn’t have the skills that you do to competently hide – they are usually hiding in plain sight – but you still play the game with them so they know the experience of being found.
We all want to be found. But my questions to you: What are you hiding? Who are you hiding from?
We all want to be heard. We all want to be seen. We all want to be loved.
Sometimes we hide who we fully are but when we put ourselves out there to be heard, seen, or loved, it can break our hearts if someone just does not see us. Other people are mirrors. That means they reflect to us things we either have in ourselves or things we need to learn about ourselves.
Just remember the myth of Narcissus: he was taken with his own beauty in his own reflection. I bet Narcissus wouldn’t have the time of day to play hide and seek with a little one and he certainly wouldn’t be able to see you.
If someone can’t see you, it is not about you or what you lack. Perhaps it’s time to consider their mirror is teaching you something about yourself. You can waste a lot of energy standing in front of someone waiting for them to see you, so let’s just not do that, okay? These people are simply teaching you to keep seeking.
Focus, instead, on internal validation. Follow your own internal compass to discover why you are on this planet at this moment. The world needs you and your unique gifts and the more you refine your own internal witnessing, the more the right people will show up.
You will find your people. Yoga helps us refine our awareness and tunes us in to the energy field that is all around us and all through us. You’ll know when you find your people. You’ll feel it. It’s a vibe and it doesn’t come with words. It can be really confusing sometimes when you feel something and don’t understand what it is. It can be even more confusing when you start to maybe understand what the feeling is and you really have to spend some time sorting through the difference between what you’re feeling and what your mind is telling you about the feelings. New feelings we’ve never felt before can be super scary.
Tell people the answers to the questions that if they knew to ask, they would. These people who understand what you are saying will show up for you. No more hiding, okay? Seek. Be.
What a fun class this was! It’s 60 minutes of Hatha n Flow where we do some arm balances. If you like to shift your perspective and turn your world upside down to get a new view, check it out!
The playlist was created by turning on my “Now” playlist, which is all the recent songs I’ve fallen in love with, and adding the songs that came up, then putting them in order. It was kinda magical the way it all fell into place because each song was exactly what I wanted to hear at that time.
I love to shift my perspective and go upside down. I call it flipping my shit. This is an athletic class and even though it says it’s an advanced practice, don’t be afraid of it. I guide you through everything you need to know BUT you do need to know how to listen to your body AND be gentle with yourself if you find you can’t do something. No need to get frustrated.
With repetition, we get better so I encourage you to try and try again if an arm balance practice is something you want to play with.
I’m from Texas and we raise strong women who don’t cry. As a result of me not allowing those “weak” emotions into my realm, I stored a lot of sadness and pain in my energetic body.
According to yogic philosophy, energy travels through the system in a network of intersecting paths called nadis. If you don’t experience whatever emotion you’re going through at the time, you repress it – it travels and stores itself with other similar styles of energy in the system. Then one day while you’re minding your own fucking business on your yoga mat, the emotion is like, “Oh, hey, she’s calm, it’s time she dealt with this.” So the little clumps of energy rally together and come forward into your conscious awareness to have a party and you’re suddenly overwhelmed with an emotion. If you allow yourself to feel the emotion, it can come with a flashback of the moment you stored that particular emotion. If you sit with the experience and allow it to be felt, it will dissipate and leave your energetic system to move on. You’ve then created space and pure consciousness replaces that energy in the nadis.
Due to the pandemic, I only practice at home and today, I took at 45-minute slow flow through the Peloton app. I had an emotional release in pigeon today where I was suddenly sobbing after my heart cracked open. It was beautiful.
If you notice an emotion arising in your practice, honor it. It just wants to be experienced so it can leave the confines of the musty, dark basement of the corner of your energetic system. Emotions are just e-motions…. energy in motion. Let them flow! Let them go! 🙂
Look back at your life and notice when you grew the most as a person, when you learned the most about yourself, and when your life profoundly changed. These instances of growth for me always revolve around some difficult period. When I was going through these changes, they felt painful and they were fucking hard.
Now look at the last time you got pissed off at someone or something. When we get pissed, most of the time, we are simply saying we don’t like reality. Reality is the one thing you need to pick your battles with. (I’m not talking about our revolution here – the reality is there is a problem and it needs to change.) If it is something you can’t change, why use your energy to fight it?
When the pandemic hit and the reality of our situation started to sink in, I felt scared. My family is in another state and I am alone here in NYC. That never bothered me until then. I work part-time for a choreographer and all his work was put on hold for a year. What would I do if I lost my job? How would I pay rent? My job doesn’t provide health insurance. What would I do if I did catch the virus? My roommate works on Broadway and a member of her company died from Covid. How am I going to live day-to-day with someone who may have it? She wasn’t taking it seriously at first and went to a party and then to a dance club – she was increasing her exposure and I felt a little too vulnerable.
It was hilarious, you guys… there was one moment early on when she moved our trash can to a different spot in the kitchen and I was so pissed about it. Let me repeat that: I was pissed about someone moving a trash can! haha I’m generally calm and try to accept people for who they are and how they are but I let my fear of the situation come out as frustration with something she did.
I needed to put my self in time out! I am not going to fight against what is and I needed to whip my mind back into shape to accept without reaction. I started doing my cycle classes to burn off the excess energy that was accumulating inside my body and I would do yoga to see what I needed to let go of. I was working on puzzles to give myself tiny victories and I stopped watching television and movies. I organized my room and put away everything that I didn’t need access to so I could set up a little mini kitchen in my space. Everything had its place and I created space.
While in contemplation, I realized the one true thing is everything always works out in the end, no matter how hard it is – and the beautiful thing is the harder the time, the bigger the gift (lesson). So with that insight, I felt the static energy of fear just dissipate. It no longer held me in its mind-vice.
Faith is what I was describing above. Faith is the antidote for fear. We absolutely must have faith if we are to get through life with any sense of grace. I put on this bracelet that a student and friend of mine gave me and it became my anchor.
I realized if I got sick, I would be okay – if I recovered or not. I realized if I lost my job, I would be okay. But the thing I gained by practicing faith was freedom. Since my mind was no longer in a fear-fight-flight-freeze stress response, it was relaxed. When my mind relaxed, I could hear more clearly.
What’s up for me right now is trust. I can get a little forceful in my forward movement trying to make things happen and this morning in my contemplation, I remembered the timing of how things unfold is completely out of my control. This is another layer of practicing faith – trusting divine timing. Leaning in with grace.
This morning’s practice will explore how to do that.
“THANK YOU for this slowdown class – perfect for winding down at the end of the day. I also like long savasanas! Signs are all around us, sometimes right under our noses if we just cared to slow down and pay attention.”
Do you believe in signs? I believe the universe (or whatever you want to call it… source energy, God, paper clip, etc.) is constantly communicating with us and if we pay attention, we can be guided.
It’s July and I’ve left my apartment maybe 5 times since March. Since April, I’ve had my groceries delivered to my apartment door. The grocery bags arrive and they are labeled with a 4 digit alpha-numeric code so the delivery person can easily gather the bags for each delivery.
Shortly after I started offering my yoga classes live to my students online, the delivery person didn’t want to bring the bags upstairs so they left them with the door person. I was mildly inconvenienced and had to go retrieve my own groceries – I know, the horror (of what an entitled bitch I can be). The universe was laughing at me because my bags were delivered with the code YOGA on them. I took the sign to mean stop acting like a child and do some yoga. You may think this is random and I shouldn’t read anything into it but I prefer to make the choice that there is an essence of awe and wonder available to us at every moment. I think the universe has a sense of humor.
How are we to know if we have created a delusion or if we are following the signs? There’s really no way of knowing and it’s pretty healthy to have a certain amount of skepticism and a process for checking yourself (before you wriggity wreck yourself). So I was kind of starting the process to let go of this idea I had created and I wondered if I was on the right path. Then my groceries arrived and the word FATE was on the bags. I decided that was a sign.
Look, I still don’t know if I’m on to something here, following my heart this way but isn’t it worth noticing the sublime beauty in how these things are timed?
Today’s practice was a 30 minute Slowdown class with an optional additional 10 minute savasana. We move slowly and simply so you can feel what it’s like to BE you – you are the only person who can feel that way and you only get one chance to experience that one moment. Don’t let it fall away.
The Post-Class Chat Did you know that you can have spontaneous insights (what Oprah calls “The AHA Moment”) if you add on a long savasana or meditation after you practice the asanas? You can even have them while you’re doing the poses!
I find it very helpful to use yoga to process my emotions and understand the contents of my mind and a long savasana is my favorite way to calm the mind enough to hear stillness. It is in the stillness that the wisdom comes.
In this post-class chat, I talk about why I offer long savasanas. So if you like to geek out over yoga and spirituality like I do, check it out. It’s free to watch – you just have to sign in.
A friend of mine reached out and asked me for yoga poses to help stretch his hip flexors. He experiences low back pain. He said he and his trainer narrowed it down to his hip flexors.
I preach about the psoas all the time in my classes because it shortens as part of the stress response. When we are stressed, we are activating the sympathetic nervous system, which can cause of whole freaking slew of issues, one of which is low back pain.
Because of where psoas originates in the lower spine and attaches at the top of the thigh bone, the shortening of the muscle can pull the low back forward, causing a feeling of compression or pain in the low back. I see this a lot in my students.
I also see what happens to the human body when we practice conscious relaxation to activate the parasympathetic nervous system. The eyes soften, the muscles of the face relax, and you feel generally more calm and centered.
I made you all this 17-minute SNS (Short n Sweet) practice so you can see what the psoas feels like. The practice will both strengthen and lengthen the psoas and hopefully provide some relief for the low back.
I am from Texas and Dairy Queen is in my blood, y’all! When I was growing up, we spent many Sundays in summer hanging out with all my cousins at my grandparents’ house and on our way home, my parents would roll through the Dairy Queen drive-thru. We started getting soft-serve ice cream cones dipped in chocolate and it was always a race to see if you could eat it all before the ice cream started to melt – summers are FREAKING HOT and humid in Texas in case you didn’t know. Then, DQ rocked our world when they introduced The Blizzard. It’s soft serve ice cream with any kind of crushed chocolate candy folded in. Dad would get Whoppers, Mom would get Butterfinger, my brother would get Reeses Peanut Butter Cups, and I would usually just copy my dad and get mine with Whoppers. It was a perfectly delightful summer treat and I have missed them.
The quarantine activated my sweet tooth and I had a craving for a Blizzard. I decided to recreate one at home and I’m pleased to tell you – it worked perfectly! You can do it, too – all you need is Breyer’s Extra Creamy Vanilla Ice Cream (other ice creams may work, too, but when I’ve tried this in the past, it was always less-then-stellar with less substantial ice creams). This one has the consistency of a soft-serve after it’s sat at room temperature for a while. Just set the ice cream on the counter while you prep the candy.
I’ve done this twice now – the first time, I rough-chopped the peanut butter cups. This time, I pulsed it through the food processor until I got the consistency I wanted. Then, all you have to do is pour the ice cream into a bowl, fold in the chocolate goodness, and pour the treat back into the ice cream container. Voila! Magic in a freaking bowl!
Last night, I reached out to one of my most dedicated students to invite her to a private Coronayoga LIVE recording this morning and asked if she could boil her intention for this week down to one word. I was excited about including someone else in my creative process but there is no way I could have prepared myself for her reply.
You guys, this is how she responded: “Wild. (To be a wild version of my self.) I’m heading on my on my first solo backpacking trip tomorrow (well with my best friend, but not expert support), and I would love to join class before I head out. It’s been a goal and plan for a long time!!”
How incredible is that?! Being a wild version of myself is up for me as well so I was ecstatic to read her email!
What does it mean to be wild? I think of nature… A tree is fully involved in being a tree and isn’t obsessed with trying to be more like a bush. I think of animals. A dog doesn’t care what it looks like when it is scarfing up its food.
Think of a time when you felt the most wild… Did you feel free? Were you fully present? Did you feel uninhibited?
Often the barriers between us and our wild selves are created by what Erich Schiffmann calls the “little mind”. This is the part of us that has done its job keeping us safe but it’s also the part of us that makes shit up ALL the time. It’s that part of me that tells me I shouldn’t do something because of what so-and-so would think of me. It’s that part of me that keeps me “in my place”. It’s that part of me that was so afraid of love.
The big mind is universal consciousness and deep knowing/wisdom. We tap into big mind any time we are present. Some people find this sitting still and some people find this in movement. My student (who is also now my friend, btw) is going to find the big mind while out on the trail. She’s going to differentiate between real danger and imaginary fear. She is going to tune her ears to the voice deep inside her that tells her HOW to be wild. It is a silent whisper that comes as a feeling that is begging to be embodied. It is divine consciousness asking to be expressed through your being. Are you going to allow it?
Here’s the WILD playlist that we definitely danced to:
This morning, I was thinking about what freedom means to me. Freedom, to me, is being able to structure my own time. Being able to flow through time and follow the creative spark or pull is one of my greatest joys. It takes a lot of discipline to get shit done in order to carve out those blocks of time freedom but it is so worth it.
Since the pandemic hit, I have been on a mission, and recently, I’ve been refining what that mission is. There is this idea in Buddhist and Hindu philosophy called Samsara – it’s the idea that we are all traveling around and around in this cycle. The goal is to liberate ourselves from the suffering – in Buddhism, this is Moksha and the sense is to break free. In Hinduism, this is an awakening of our true nature.
We all seek freedom and in this practice, we have time to humbly bow to that inner light that lives inside and through each of us.
The practice can be 45 minutes or an hour long. The on-demand video will end at 45 minutes but the playlist is an hour long. So after I say, “Namaste,” know that you have 15 more minutes to soak up your time in savasana.
Here’s the playlist:
NOTE: the playlist begins after the intro – at 2:22 in the video, just as we begin the practice in child’s pose.
Today’s class was a Hatha n Flow for beginners that focussed on the inner thighs. Sometimes I teach a very specific philosophical idea in my classes and sometimes I let the yoga speak for itself. Hopefully this class will guide you deeper into the experience of being you.
There was a time in my life that I thought I could only garner my self-worth from how much I worked. So in order to fill the void, I worked non-stop. Then I realized it was too much and I needed to start having fun. I’m the kind of person who gives 100% to whatever she is doing so I can tell you I took fun to the extreme. Thus the pendulum. High highs and low lows. When we swing from extreme to extreme in seeking, we miss something bigger: contentment.
There’s a profound difference between happiness and contentment. Happiness is fireworks while contentment is a candle.
This class offered a more expressive sense of play and fun but I challenge you to find the calm contentment as you move through this practice.
Here’s the playlist. If this doesn’t make you want to get down and shake it all over the place, I don’t know what will!
I’d planned a super PHUN class for us today with a bomb ass hip hop playlist – the new Run the Jewels album got me all fired up but alas, I woke up feeling fully compelled for the practice to be more turned-inward than a big rawr. That’s one of the best things about teaching independently – you can follow the inspiration when it calls and create a class based on the current moment and not so much around what the moment was when you planned the class. Don’t worry, hip hop yoga will come.
Lots of ideas are swirling around in my mind about what I want us to talk about in today’s practice – expectations, judgement, forgiveness.
The ego LOVES a conflict – it gives it something to do – to obsess over. It loves to feel persecuted. It loves to be right. It can latch on to the smallest of things and start a stockpile of little irritations that build up to a great story of how you are a victim. The key here is to practice forgiveness. It’s easy to say but harder to actualize.
What if I told you that you could tap into an unlimited reservoir of love that would make forgiveness easier?
It’s a simple process but it does require some patience and some digging. The ego doesn’t want to lose control over your mind so it does a very good job of hiding. But if you keep looking under things, you’ll eventually find what you’re looking for.
Here’s the playlist:
You’ll probably want blocks and a couple throw pillows and couch cushion for this one because we get into frog and reclined supported bound angle. Hope you enjoy/learn something/get something out of the practice!
I love it when things are simple – simple doesn’t mean easy. Sometimes in order for us to move through life with more freedom, we need things to be simplified. Isn’t it interesting that boiling down things brings us freedom?
Meister Eckhart said, “Life is a boiling up and pouring out of itself, scalding and melting and bubbling within itself, light penetrating light.” According to Richard Rohr, he was talking about the essence of spirit.
In today’s 45-minute gentle Hatha n Flow, we will simplify, simplify, simplify.
Happy Juneteenth! We are in the middle of a revolution and I’m proud of you. Have you taken a moment to congratulate yourself for your little victories this week? I’m of the opinion that we need to celebrate the little choices we make each day that lead us to the best versions of ourselves. I have a friend who says, “You’d be so proud of me…” before she shares her little victories and it is so true! I AM so proud!
There are those forks in the road every moment where we can make a choice. Congratulations on making the choice and in this practice, I applaud you. Sometimes we can get so focused on the end-result or the goal we are trying to achieve that we forget to have fun.
This practice is about just that – taking a moment while we are embodied to acknowledge something we did and smile because we know it was the right choice. It could be something seemingly small (but small decisions usually add up to the big ones, right?!) or some big life change – all that matters is that you take the time to see that you didn’t have to make that choice, but you did. You brought yourself closer to who you really are. You rock and you just have to know that.
Here’s the playlist for our Happy Half Hour:
It is on-demand so you can get on your mat for a quickie any time of day – when you just want to get in your body with something fun. This is an intermediate flow class so you’ll want to have an existing practice before you jam out to this one. As always, listen to your body and never do anything that causes pain.
Tonight we will be talking about checking in. I think of checking in as inventory. How often do you take inventory? How often do you get rid of the shit that no longer serves you?
Do you check in with yourself emotionally and spiritually enough? What do you need to work out on the yoga mat? We will be moving SLOW tonight to give you plenty of time to ask the questions and wait for the answers to arise.
When you look back on your life, how do you mark time? Some of my friends are really good at knowing what year a certain event took place or how old they were in, say 2012, because of how old their kids were at that time. I tend to think of events in the past as just a nebulous collection of nothings, as if they all are clumped into not a delineated moment in a continuum, but kind of like a trash can. One event from last year feels just as far away as something from 2004. I do not understand time at all.
I think we will all remember 2020. It feels like a great awakening. We all had no choice but to experience this collective pandemic and cultural revolution. I said on December 31, 2019, “Happy New Year! Looking forward to learning more this year. I am so excited to see what 2020 holds for us all!”
This morning’s Coronayoga practice was about checking in. We have been IN IT! Here’s the playlist:
I find it is so helpful to take a moment to just allow the body to move with music and see what arises. I hope this practice reveals something to you. The video will tell you when to start the playlist if you want to groove to the musics with me.
We are carrying forward the theme from this morning’s class: Enjoy (IN JOY) because I still have a lot to uncover on my mat about what joy feels like. This is a Slowdown class so as the name implies, we will be taking our glorious time.
I found it interesting in this morning’s class that my joy wasn’t coming out as a little dance or a feeling of celebration – it felt very calm and powerful. My joy seemed to be rising from below my heart.
I am curious if we can cultivate a sense of joy on the yoga mat, can we carry that forward to other moments in our lives when joy is a little harder to access… today, I experienced a lot of presence but I was working on my boss’ website and I kept reaching my level of understanding so I noticed my frustration. So I would step away and put my focus on something else so technology didn’t win. Wouldn’t it be great if instead I could train my mind to find joy when all I want to do is curse? I’ve got some work to do but I do wonder if that is possible.
If you want to join the moving conversation from my body to yours and back again, take the class on-demand!
It is summertime in Texas. I don’t know if you’ve ever experienced a Texas summer, but if you have, you know what I’m talking about when I say it is hot. I love the heat. I love going to a nature preserve in the middle of a hot day to run. You get the benefits of a sauna, hot yoga class, cardio workout, and meditation all in one – and you usually have the place to yourself. That’s where I would create my yoga classes – in nature and driving to and from the preserve. Man I miss that.
My creative process is still the same but the venue has changed to my the center of my entire world: my little bedroom in New York City. I find inspiration all over the place despite this being a small space.
My best friend sent me the cutest picture the other day of her adorable little niece sitting with her cousin, legs dangling in the pool, eating popsicles. Their faces were filled with joy and you could tell they were fully in the moment and enjoying the little things.
When was the last time you appreciated the little things? When was the last time you ENJOYED something? When was the last time you were IN JOY? Is it possible to cultivate that feeling on the yoga mat? That’s what we are exploring today in Coronayoga – Enjoy (IN JOY).
Here’s the playlist:
Playlist begins at :47 (if you want to practice along to music, start here and start the playlist at the same time – 47 seconds in) Class begins at 3:23 (start here if you aren’t into practicing with the music)
Where do you have the most epiphanies in your life? While cooking? Folding clothes? Working on a puzzle? Gardening? Painting? Taking a bath?
An epiphany can come as a silent whisper, a deep knowing that seemed it was with you all along. It can help you realize something that was holding you back. It can bring a new level of self-awareness. It can shine a light on a blind spot in your awareness. I miss the epiphanies that came to me in quiet moments while hiking alone in nature but my quarantine yoga practice is providing me deep insight that helps me grow.
Last night, I realized my yoga mat is a refuge. Contrary to what the media represents, a yoga practice doesn’t have to be AT ALL about what it looks like. You don’t need a mirror to practice. You don’t need to analyze what you look like. I propose yoga is about what and how you feel.
My yoga mat is where I feel no one is looking at me. We walk through life being judged based on our appearance, but on the mat, I’m the only one looking. I’m not being looked at; I am being seen… I am being witnessed. I am not judging myself – I am seeing what I do and asking why I do it. I go deeper. The more we tap into the deeper parts of ourselves, the more the practice moves beyond the physical, into the emotional and spiritual dimensions.
According to Vedantic yoga philosophy, there are 5 bodies, or sheaths, that we all have. The idea is that these sheaths, or koshas, are layers that cover the true self. I design my yoga classes to systematically uncover these layers of being so you can get in touch with your authentic self. The more that we practice this kind of mindful yoga, the more easily we can tap into that wisdom off the mat. You have everything you need right now to have an epiphany.
Everything I know about “The Godfather” I got from the Tom Hanks character in “You’ve Got Mail” – this pandemic taught me to go to the mattresses. This is war. How am I going to make it through this?
The Resistance I educated myself on how to reduce the chances of contracting the virus. I live with someone who works on Broadway and several members of their company contracted Covid-19 and sadly, one of them lost the battle. I have to fight. If someone has had close contact with a person who died from this Coronavirus, it is smart to assume that person is an asymptomatic carrier. Think of how many common surfaces there are in a household – light switches, doorknobs, drawer handles, refrigerator door handles, kitchen utensils, faucets, toilet seats, etc. I cannot control how much someone else disinfects and practices good hand hygiene but I can make sure I am fighting every moment.
Mental Health & Acceptance I knew I had to dedicate a lot of time to mindfulness practices so that I can accept my circumstances and become okay with not knowing the future. One battle I was not willing to engage with was reality. Pick your battles? Yes. I knew if I tried to fight reality, I would lose. Acceptance became key. Where do I learn and practice acceptance? On my yoga mat. Yoga has physical benefits, yes. But rarely do I practice for physical health – yoga is the key to my mental, emotional, and spiritual well-being.
Physical Health I used to get my physical health through cycling, boxing, and walking. Walking was out of the question – I live in NYC – so it was time to get endorphins in my apartment. I ordered a stationary bike for less than $200 from Amazon (Marcy Foldable Upright Exercise Bike with Adjustable Resistance) and started doing Peloton cycle classes through their app.
Simplicity I needed to simplify my life in order to cultivate mindfulness. I worked on puzzles. The activity became a moving meditation. I listened to audiobooks and lectures (“Walden”, “Learning to Walk in the Dark”, “The Golden Compass”, “The Subtle Knife”, “Learning the Human Game”, “Still the Mind”). I took baths. I lit candles. I rose before the sun and went to bed at dusk. I made my life very small. I managed to find contentment.
Community I was aching to connect but didn’t know how. Then, a former student (who was my balance beam coach when I was a competitive gymnast) reached out from 1,500 miles away and asked me if there was any way I could give her a yoga class. I taught a class and filmed it. Then it came time to edit and I knew this would be an obstacle because of how long it would take me, so I decided to send the uncut video to the her. Then another student reached out. Then another. Then another. We were all longing for connection and yoga was the profound vehicle that brought all of us together.
I decided to start offering live classes and let the word out. I figured out the platform I wanted to use, worked through a long list of production issues, and committed to offer class only when I have something to say and have the energy to give.
Mirror, Mirror I learned early in my teaching career that it was important to remember I am a mirror for my students. Yes, I do a LOT of hard work to bring them a high-quality yoga experience but it’s really the yoga itself that works. Teaching over 4,000 classes gives you a certain perspective and you know it isn’t about you. I don’t have special powers; I just spend a lot of time working on my craft. The students are the ones doing the work on their mats – I hold the space. Whether a student has a good class or a bad class isn’t up to me, so I don’t take credit for either.
After yesterday’s class, I received an email from one of my students that I’d like to share with you.
The beauty she described made me cry and it’s making me tear up now thinking about it. She carved out time during a pandemic to take care of herself. She practiced in the sun and heard her son’s giggles during her practice. She experienced joy. She was able to go deep. That is extraordinary.
This is why I teach – to create something that has the potential to help people in so many different ways. Yoga works. But it only works if we (teacher and student) both do the work. I go deep in my personal practice and learn so much about who I am, what I can let go of, and who I want to become. I am grateful to my teachers who held (and hold) the space for me to grow.
In February, I emerged from a dark night of the soul that lasted years. I felt lost. I started to reclaim my essence and looked to find my voice again. In March, I simplified my life and started deeply listening again. In April, I taught my first live class and now here we are, at war with an invisible enemy. I hope that what I’m doing in this will help you in your battle – whatever it is that you are fighting.
I am so grateful to all my students who show up to my live classes. I’m so grateful they asked me to teach again. Teaching, connecting, and sharing has given me a sense of purpose and I almost forgot what it feels like. I humbly bow to all of you.
If you haven’t already, sign up to receive invitations for classes.
I am so excited to share some virtual space with you during these interesting times in which we’ve all found ourselves. I will offer tools to help you cope with and perhaps thrive in the pandemic including yoga, breathing exercises, and meditation through Zoom live classes. If you don’t have a Zoom account, sign up here: https://zoom.us/signin.
Commandments for Coronayoga: – Thou shalt listen to the body. If your body is in pain, don’t do what I’m asking you to do. There is a difference between discomfort and pain. We lean into discomfort and back away from pain. – Thou shalt breathe – never hold your breath – even when it is challenging. – Thou shalt make time for Savasana. – Thou shalt smile in the heart. – Thou shalt witness the mind. – Thou shalt zen all the way out.
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I made a playlist for all of you with some of my favorite female voices – hope you enjoy them as much I do! Happy International Women’s Day and a special shout out to the one who gave me life and the ones who change my life by being in it. ❤
This is a piece I made for a show at The Dallas Museum of Art in, I think, 2005. I had a lot of late night sessions in my studio playing with different mediums… this one used oil paint, lipstick and menstrual blood. I wondered about beauty. I wondered about shame. I wondered why I was afraid I would be “found out” when I was on my period. When this piece hung in the show, I was afraid to list the mediums, so I hid behind “Mixed Media” but one day, one of the security guards pulled me aside and asked, “I’ve heard some rumors about what that dark color is on the painting. Are they true?” I told her that it was, in fact, menstrual blood and I wondered why we felt ashamed as women to have a period and why we felt the need to hide it. Though I was asking the questions with this piece, I was still afraid to be bold.
I’m newly obsessed with Mark Ronson because YouTube’s algorithm showed me an interview he gave at the beginning of the summer that literally changed my life. I don’t know how but it woke me up in a profound way.
So now I follow him on social media and and he posted on IG that he came out as sapiosexual. My understanding is that means that one is attracted to someone’s mind.
We made this video back in 2015 and now that being sapiosexual is cool, I wanted to grab this moment and publish this so hopefully more eyeballs will land on it. 🙂
Starring Hannah Kessler Voice Acting Tom Hall & Bad Voice Acting by Trina Hall Original music by: Andrew Griffith – Musical Direction, Drums David Zoller – Piano Jonathan Fisher – Bass Shelley Carroll – Saxophone Recorded at Soundomatic Studio Engineered by Carlos Savetman All the other stuff done by me
Adventure calls but its voice can only be felt. It’s a feather tickling the heart and a longing in the belly. Those who follow the call arrive in their lives with masks of comedy and tragedy tucked in their back pockets, showing those behind of their past.
For those who walk the lonely path toward meaning offer the opposites to the present like a sacrifice to the gods on the altar of fear. Babylon should be so lucky to imbibe the river’s floods.
What is love but the preamble to loss?
A sacred contract extracting attachment that pierces the experience of now.
Dancing with fools was a thing of the past.
Co-creation of the unconventional, they imagined their hieros gamos.
Rules and boundaries are made, not borrowed.
She holds a heart to be opened, not broken.
Life is really simple; you live and you die.
Life’s riches come from attachment and the learning of another is the sweetness of life.
She wants to feel the richness of life’s color and know the sound of the vibration.
So many possibilities as Spring announced her arrival.
The tree is lush and she wants to be seen beyond the leaves.
What causes a sigh?
What brings the ache?
Where is the longing?
How does one wake up?
Where is the line of acceptance
and when does one keep going?
Join Trina Hall for this amazing opportunity to go to Yoga College! The Yoga College Series is like going back to school but much more cost-effective and fun! This is your chance to enrich your mind in the philosophy of yoga as you engage in lecture and discussion with like-minded yogis.
Pick the topics to choose your “degree plan”. Come to one or all of the seminars in the series to expand your knowledge on a wide variety of philosophical topics.
Trina Hall, a former college yoga professor, will be giving each of the lectures and accepts apples from the teacher’s pet.
What to bring: Bring a notebook and a pen to take notes.
“Created in response to Magmart Video Festival Director Enrico Tomaselli’s 2014 Global Video Program “The Five Senses” representing artists from five continents, this video Touchpoint explores touch as a signifier for a moment of physical and emotional connection, a moment of self and communal discovery… a moment of truth.” – Colette Copeland
Directed, filmed and edited by Colette Copeland
Filmed at The Mat Yoga Studio
Starring yogis Lisa Coyle & Trina Hall
Music by Frame “Global Communication” (Free Music Archive)
It was such a treat to work with the team of producers at “Good Morning, America”. You can read the story and see the entire piece here. http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/health/2013/09/25/confessions-of-a-temporarily-fat-yogi/
There was a time when all I needed for inspiration was a quote, horoscope, fortune cookie, or one of those refrigerator magnet poems. The days of fluffing the pillows of hope to make the world seem less random are over. I am simultaneously distraught and relieved that I no longer rely on my tea bag for a shot of wisdom.
My industry is known for injecting the public with heightened inspiration, feel-good yumminess, and the perception that one can be happy all the time. I’m a generally calm and happy person but I’m over the illusion that we can talk ourselves into seeing the half-full glass as overflowing.
Nature is my teacher. People are a part of nature and in my work, I come in contact with a diverse group of humans. A lot of people subscribe to the theory posed by a new-age book that claims to reveal the one secret law of the universe. Basically, it says one just has to specifically ask the universe for what one wants and, like a genie granting wishes, it will appear.
I’m a big believer in setting a goal and a bigger believer in working my ass off to achieve the goal. Whether or not I accomplish the goal seems to only come down to how I choose to spend my time… Not whether I put the right picture on my vision board/talked with my angel guides/chose the right spirit animal before my vision quest.
We have an immense amount of power in our brains to change the way we think about things, but because we change our thoughts does not make something manifest into this world.
I’ve found the people who talk the most about manifesting are the people who are doing the furthest thing from their ideal job. I get that we all want direction and we all want a plan, but the thing that pisses me off about “The Secret” will hopefully become clear by the end of this rant.
Driving down a busy street in Dallas in the middle of Summer, I saw a man carrying his groceries. He was blind and using a walking stick. Do you think it would help him to wish himself out of blindness? Do you think having a clear intention would spontaneously make him able to see? No. And an intention like that would be a complete waste of time and energy whose results would be futile.
He inspired me. He didn’t let his fear take hold of him.
A student of mine was struggling in a yoga class this morning. We were doing Downward Facing Dog. For many healthy people, this pose is a breeze. This man would get into the pose for about one second and need to come down to his knees again. He did this five times in the eight seconds we held the pose. This student has Cerebral Palsy and wants so badly to do the yoga poses everyone else in the class is doing. Do you think if he was very clear that he is asking the universe to heal him that he would get better? Do you think it is a good use of his mental capacities to dream of having use of all motor and mental functions?
He inspired me. He kept trying. He isn’t giving up.
People who do their best with what they have inspire me. Determination and focus inspire me. Vision and creativity inspire me. Don’t tell me the world is going to shimmer with sparkles and happiness when sometimes it is just going to suck. Teach me how to work with what I have – to shape my own clay into something I really love. Teach me how to get re-focussed when I lose sight. Teach me how to love.
Energy, or prana, flows through the body and the chakras provide a sacred roadmap to our consciousness. The subtle energy we experience can be explored through the architectural design of the chakras, their traits, qualities, and physical manifestations. In this workshop, we will investigate the chakras as an energy system as it relates to the healing practice of yoga.
The Stewpot Art Program is a community outreach serving the homeless and at-risk populations of Dallas. It is open to people looking for an environment to express and create through the medium of art.
Starting on Wednesday, we will be offering my Creative Process Yoga class to provide a format for the artists to get to know their creative process in a more intimate way through yoga, meditation and conscious breathing.
I feel a deep connection to those I will serve because there is a part of me who identifies with this feeling of not having a home. I feel honored to volunteer the wisdom yoga provides to all people – regardless of their social status, income or belief structure.
She heard a voice while searching for a sign in the woods that closed her throat in on itself like a black hole swallowing matter. It sucked her breath, her umbilical cord to source. The alchemy of longing changed to feeling. All grown up, she waved the white flag to no one among the silence in the trees, her heart open, revealing to the space her fear that he was only in the vivid hues of imagination.
All this time selecting, grading, discarding, she turned herself into a miner. Infatuation was all a matter of perspective as she snapped up, documented and filed the moments through her left eye. The view from the high rise was the same as the view from the lake. She became a key collector.
Daily, her ritual bath was self-awareness. Doing what was filtered into her imagination, she knew.
Can she change her last name to Hope? It resided in her thoughts where truth murders time and expectation dances with faith. She’s known this is the place only she can go – never looking back like Orpheus did and never wearing a watch. At least this way she could blame it on their individual mission statements and the IPO.
Is this the last time she cries for the love only held through conversations with Mr. Rogers? Relief comes in the stillness, the knowing, that he will find her.
As sculptors, they created each other. They were detectives searching for the seed planted by children force fed a diet of judgement. At the end of the day, she drew him from the mountain, home to rest his head upon her breast. Who is with you at the end of the day is what matters. Thought bubbles held songs that shaped her upbringing and he read them like a comic strip. She listened to his ideas, connections, contemplation, confessions and worries. He was only waiting to hear her voice. She talked of her gratitude, her forgiveness, her knowing, and confessed her fears.
Everyday they walked in the woods, showing each other the signs, drinking the nectar of the gods.
He awakened me in Spring. His vision standing brought feeling that needed to be penetrated to be understood. Only by going deep into the now does one understand why. Choppy and rough was my demeanor with Bacchus leading the way to ceremonies. Preparation was in my hands and the only mystery was that of timing as each guard placed around the home left.
Creativity is my life and he wore a comforting glow of familiarity. His hair and lips I want to touch with full consciousness and presence, though I know nothing of love. Desire’s trumpeting gaze took hold of me and I crave more.
The pit of longing, belonging and rapture sit in my stomach while serpents swallow each other’s tails into my thoughts, digesting.
Disservice mounted this hero’s steed and rode into the sunrise with a hint of lingering appreciation.
There is a man who pushes a cart around the neighborhood, collecting cans from recycle bins. I’m assuming he is homeless. He’s become as familiar as my next door neighbor with his routine stop in front of my house and we always wave, give the obligatory smile, and the neighborly exchange of conversational pleasantries.
At first, I felt pity for this man… how it must feel to not have a home… how he must be living in fear. My ability to project my own fears of survival on this man led me to see there is no indication from him that he is afraid. He actually seems quite happy as he delivers a nugget of wisdom in conversation, “You deserve the truth.”
Then I felt envious of his reality – time is simply measured by sunlight. He need not wear a watch as he is free to do anything with his time. The watch is my albatross. Freedom exists in the mind and reality is what we make of it.
I aim to live more like this man – wandering with the sun as my guide, wondering with my shadow behind.
How often do you think about what you are grateful for? Me? Not as much as I would like. I’m too busy moving forward, trying to accomplish something, be something, or learn something that sometimes I forget to get down into the mushy gushy love that is my life.
Today’s yoga class was about abundance. What if we aren’t glass-half-full nor glass-half-empty kind of people? What if our cup runneth over? When we spend time counting our blessings and being in the moment it sure is easier to love with a full, over-flowing heart.
You guys brought it today, rocked it out and made me feel even more love for life… thank you!
Live recording of the class I taught on 10-14-11 at The Mat Yoga Studio. This is a Vinyasa class – all levels. We talked about the heart as a light, your life as a map, following your dreams, and questioned if we REALLY believe things are as they should be.
The story you are about to read is completely true. All names have been changed to protect those with a guilt-ridden grin turning up their rosy cheeks.
Bob: When was the last time you kissed someone?
Me: Someone tried to kiss me Thursday.
Bob: What do you mean someone tried? Do you not like kissing? Kissing is good.
Me: I love kissing – it just has to feel right.
Bob: Do you think you could ever be in love with me?
Me: There is no way I can know that after 10 minutes of knowing you.
Bob: Sure there is. Maybe yes or maybe no.
Me: I haven’t a clue.
Bob: Can I impregnate you?
I spend a lot of time in silence, in the space of my Self. I incubate, I write, I create.
Last night, something shifted as I lay awake at 2am, listening to music. I questioned my beliefs. I thought about my attachments. There was a time when I wanted to learn what was important to me. I moved into my run down art studio – it didn’t have a kitchen or a shower and was probably 100 square feet or something. I became keenly aware of what I needed and was able to see and feel my attachments to things. Turns out I don’t need that love letter from my ex but I do want the book my grandpa read to me as a little girl. We get to choose what we keep from our past. There is something symbolic about letting the physical go – we shift the energy. We make space.
This afternoon, I cut about one foot off my hair. Thoughts of identity, labels, femininity, love crossed my mind as the scissors sheared through my attachments and released freedom. Liberation and I embraced.
The funny part – that I only realized afterward – is my mom called me two days ago. She and my brother were watching the Cowboys vs. Redskins football game. When I was 3 or so, I cut my hair EXTREMELY short when these two teams played each other. Every year, they call me to tell me to hide my scissors.
Earth waits for her lover to whisper a new season on her breast. The breeze is hinting at change; a softening of the air that graces Earth’s skin. Sky makes love to the horizon – the unattainable vision of unity out of division. Her body aches as she lay in silent breath.
Come to me, my lover. Breathe light inside me. All at once, devour me – enlighten me – frighten me – become me. My womb is your grave.