This is a blog post about change. In Buddhism, change is pretty much at the core of everything - grappling with change and impermanence is crucial to working toward the alleviation of one’s suffering. Well, after many years, the time has come for me to grow in new ways, and I will be making the big change of moving from DC to Encinitas, CA.
I’ve spent my entire adult life as a yoga teacher. I’ve created and built a Mysore program I am proud of. I’ve invested in studying and spent hours and days and months traveling to study in India, Boulder, and Encinitas. I’ve woken exhausted, practiced alone in the dark, and learned more from my students than I could ever have taught them. I’ve rejoiced in the breakthroughs of others more, I think, than I have in my own. I’ve strategized and deliberated on how to build community and inspire others. And most importantly, I’ve shown up. Again, and again, and again, In my teaching, in my...
If you’re trying to start a home yoga practice, you might have noticed something - practicing yoga at home is hard. Then again, just like any other disciplined practice, yoga is always hard. But I think, like with so many other of life’s challenges, the biggest strategic change you can make is to your own mindset.
Consciously decide that you are going to create an awesome yoga space for yourself, and that you are going to have a transformative home practice, and you will. But if you tell yourself that you can’t practice at home because of any of the million distractions that can keep us from practicing, then guess what? You won’t. Our thoughts create our reality - don’t limit your practice potential with limiting beliefs.
That said, I know it’s easier said than done, and I know how “out there” this all might sound, so here are my practical tips from seven years of practicing mostly by myself. I’ve had my ups and...
With all that is going on in the world right now, and specifically the ashtanga community, it’s hard for me not to feel saddened and frustrated. I suspect anyone who has practiced yoga for any length of time has probably seen on their news feeds a lot of the same things that I have. Trending incidents like the sexual abuse allegations against Guruji and the removal of dedicated teachers from the KPJAYI list are hard to ignore. But truly, these are just the most recent and high profile incidents.
I don’t have direct experience with either of these things, so I can’t address them specifically, but for me it does bring up memories of numerous other incidents in my career as a yoga practitioner and teacher when I have seen or heard things that felt ethically wrong to me. Some of them I addressed, some of them I didn’t, but I now wish I had.
Incidents like a student dropping in as a visitor in a different program and being started on a new series,...
Purvattanasana is a full body integration pose in Primary Series. It's strengthens the backside of the body and opens the front side of your body.
It opens shoulders and chest, tones hamstrings and glutes, and works our entire body.
Entering and exiting purvttansana in this way gives you the chance to work your entire body safely.
The more I teach the more I realize the importance of finding where each person's body can balance the best.
The body is divided into front and back AND left and right. The midline, or central axis runs down our body, it is commonly thought of as the spine. I believe that in our yoga practice we can feel the midline all the way from our arches to the crown of our heads. Or - we want to be able to feel it so that we can move from it!
The midline will change depending on what we are doing. If we are able to find and hug the midline in various yoga asanas we will find stability, strength, and ultimately balance.
I love the visualization of a rolling pin rolling you down from a seated position to a lying position. Give it a try at home and feel the deep core engagement as well as the spinal articulation.
Now - try to use these same principles but turned around - in ubhya padangusthasana and other poses at the end of primary.
For a lot of people the holidays can be stressful. Extra expenses, jam packed schedules, travel, holiday shopping and parties lead to over stimulation - and this throws off our balance.
During the holidays it's easy to lose track of the things that contribute to our overall happiness. It’s also easy to take on additional things that throw off routines, relationships and environment. This can leave us feeling overwhelmed and over stimulated. We finally stumble out of the holidays in January feeling like a hot mess and needing a month to recover.
When the holiday hoopla starts to feel like too much: Practice. When the days seems impossibly short and cold: Practice. When you are sure you are going to be on the naughty list: Practice. When everyone is getting on your last nerve: Practice. When you are tired, feel bloated, partied too much, spent too much money: Practice.
When things get tough, like they always will, this is what you should do: Practice.
In yoga the teacher plays an important role. The teacher not only sheds light on the subject of yoga - but the relationship itself is foundational. The specifics of the teaching such as techniques and beliefs are not as important as the love and relationship established between student and teacher. Yoga, to yoke, is about connectedness, and that begins with the connection between two beings. Connection is the driving force in transformation.
Good teachers remain heavy in their experience and not swayed. One of the definitions of Guru is heavy.
I think as students we seek to find teachers because we need someone to help us hold what is too big for us all on our own, and hopefully to provide a vision for us beyond what we can imagine for ourselves.
One of the central components of being a good teacher, is to be clear on what you’re teaching. My job as a teacher is to impart my knowledge of asana, but I’m not an asana teacher, I’m a yoga teacher. My job is also to...
The struggle ends when the gratitude begins - Neale Donald Walsh
If you want to create more good in your life, you need to start recognizing and being grateful for the good you already have. People who are grateful lead happier lives - it’s that simple. Being grateful contributes to resilience and the ability to recover quickly from difficulties.
Gratitude puts everything into perspective - you can’t be grateful and angry simultaneously.
You get to choose gratitude now. Gratitude is not just about being thankful for the good things in your lift. Rather, it is about being thankful for everything in your life. Practicing gratitude helps direct energy in a positive direction and away from ruination about what isn’t going well, and often what isn’t within your control.
So, reframe your struggles. You don’t have to wait until you make it to the other side. Look at how you are being challenged and think of how much you get to learn and be thankful.