Retreat. Unplug. Step out of the busyness.
Its hard to remember now what life was like before my iPhone. I don’t know when my free spirit became dictated by connection, but it happened.
Constantly being an arms distance from my phone not only means that I am always connected, it means that I am always working since most of what I do somehow relates back to teaching. It gives me the sense that I am being pulled in different directions, that I always have more to do or something better to do than be where I actually am.
My phone triggers me. I’m constantly getting messages, emails and texts from people who want something from me. I seem to never be getting messages from the people I want to hear from and I look anxiously at my phone to see if I somehow missed a text. I check my social media stats and compare posts. When that thing is within arms reach I can’t get any peace.
My meditation teacher, John Churchill, says peripheral vision is physically becoming more...
Fall brings to us a season of transition as we prepare for the colder months. Any time we are in transition is a good opportunity to stay grounded and balanced. Keep reading for my tips to make the most of your fall practice.
Slow down your yoga practice. Make sure that your yoga practice is nourishing instead of depleting. You want to reduce stress and boost immunity. Slowing down asana practice gives you a chance to focus on details that can easily be overlooked when your energy is frenetic. The seasonal transition of fall is an awesome opportunity to be more introspective and reflective. Be more deliberate with your practice – and notice the opportunities that arise when you do so. I suggest using this time of transition to go deeper inside. You can do this by saving time for seated meditation or enjoying a longer savasana.
Fall is a great time of year to let go. In autumn, we watch the leaves change color and begin to fall. So follow nature’s lead....
Several students have recently pointed out to me that waking up in the morning is easy if they can get to bed on time – it’s going to sleep at night that is the hard part.
I can’t argue with that.
Most of you are very aware of the benefits of getting enough rest at night, and the benefits of deep sleep. You’ve also probably heard of the benefits of synchronizing the day/night or light/dark rhythms called the circadian rhythm.
But do you know why going to bed early is beneficial to the body? My friend Annette, an Ayurvedic health coach, explains that the dominant energy between 10pm – 2am is reigned by the subtle energy of Pitta. Before 10pm is the slow, heavy, replenishing energy of Kapha. When you fall asleep before 10pm, you get replenished and nourished. The energy at this time of night is more sluggish, so you may find it easier to fall asleep. When you tune into the Kapha time of day, you’ll notice that your sleep is sweeter, deeper, and...
The two hours I spend on my yoga mat every day have taught me more about myself than most of my other lessons and experiences combined. I regularly run head first into my limits. The practice is actually set up that way – you don’t get to stop until you can’t do a posture – until, in a sense anyhow, you fail. And in a Mysore room, that means “failing” in front of others. While I know there are many advantages to practicing in a group, it also means that nothing happens behind closed doors. It’s all right there.
The practice of yoga fosters connection. It leads us to connect with the community and with the teacher. The connections that we build with our co-practitioners in a Mysore room or consistent practice setting lead us to trust our community and feel safe and supported. The trust that we build in our relationships with our teachers and even with fellow students makes vulnerability truly possible. And, of course, the ultimate...
I love summer. It’s my favorite time of the year. I love the long days, the warm nights, and the unstructured time of it all.
All this said, summer can be a tough time to maintain a yoga practice. Between heat, humidity, travel, more outdoor activities than usual, happy hours and barbecues its easy to get distracted and not want to practice, or to feel less than optimal while practicing. Oh, and did I mention it smells particularly stinky?
Here are my tips of the trade to prepare for and recover from those steamy practices when your mat feels like a slip-n-slide.
Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate – it’s hard to replenish the amount of fluids we lose during a sweaty practice. Sweating is our bodies way of regulating our body temperature. The nervous system works to stimulate our glands to release sweat. When we sweat we release more than just fluids – our bodies lose electrolytes like chloride, potassium, and sodium. To better replenish yourself after practice try...
“In the Beginner’s Mind there are many possibilities. In the expert’s mind there are few.”
With each week, month, year of practice I find it more difficult to remember what it felt like to be a beginner. I try to remember those first months of practice. Back to when my body was full of new sensations and my mind was so focused on what I was trying to do that I couldn’t possibly be anywhere else except for in that moment. I didn’t worry about alignment or wardrobe malfunctions, if I smelled or how the pose three poses from now is going to go because I didn’t know what was coming next and I was too uncomfortable to care.
New students in my Mysore room are the best reminder for me of what it was like to be new to this practice. The students usually seem a little confused, because they don’t know how to do a sun salutation or what is coming next. They look around the room with curiosity and wonder because it is all brand new. They may be...
Starting an Ashtanga practice is hard – keeping it? Well that’s damn near impossible. Here are my tips for staying with it.
Get excited! The yoga sutras teach us to practice for a long time with devotion and enthusiasm. Think of all the benefit that comes out of your yoga practice – a clearer mind, stronger body, community, friends, transformation – and get on your mat excited about what the practice holds for you.
Lets also address the long time part of this sutra. A long time: let go of the idea of accomplishment, cling to the idea of consistent practice. Yoga is the state where you work hard without caring about the result.
Find out what motivates you and keep that in your mind every single day. Maybe its that post yoga high, maybe it’s the latte you treat yourself to after practice, maybe its better arms, better sex, better sleep. It could be that you are more compassionate to your partner, coworkers, children – or yourself. Maybe you are...
t’s that time of year again. I’ve noticed sniffles in the Mysore room, week long absences, and occasionally people doing their full practice in the closing room because they are sick. And this past week some bug hit me too.
I went to the doctor on Monday with a high fever and described my symptoms. “Have you been in contact with anyone who is sick?” she asked me. Most likely — since I am in close contact with about 35 different bodies a morning. Her follow up question, “Are you sore?” My response — pretty much all the time.
I might be a little hard to diagnose and over the years of practice I have developed a high tolerance for discomfort. Frequently as Ashtangis we are told to work through it. And sometimes that is the case — but as always it is wise to use discernment.
You are sore from doing a lot of yoga or other physical activity, sleeping funny etc.
Practice! Scale it back if you need to, but...
I’m often asked why I do what I do, but I never question it. I know that yoga has always been my path. And even though I don’t know where it will lead, I’m sure I’ll find out.
Yoga is all about making connections. It starts in our very first class when we connect our breath and our movement, and it develops as we try to connect our bodies and minds, our muscles and bones, our front sides to our backs. We connect our postures with vinyasas, and we connect advanced postures to foundational ones. We connect to our environment, the universe, and maybe, the divine.
What’s more, we eventually start to connect what we learn on the mat to the rest of our lives. Our fears and aversions in practice are mirrors of our fears and aversions away from the mat. The practice becomes a metaphor for life and an important way to know ourselves more intimately. The journey is the destination – this is more than just some meaningless bit of motivation. When we’re...
It’s been an exciting week in the Mysore room – so many of you have had major breakthroughs in your practices. It’s such an inspiration to see all of your months and years of practice pay off, and I’m so happy to be your cheerleader on the sidelines.
Without a doubt, breakthroughs in the practice are exhilarating. The process of the impossible becoming possible and then the possible becoming easy, keeps us coming back to our mats. The countless practices, the near misses, the falls, the frustration from finger tips that are always just out of reach – it all pays off when the landing, the catch, the drop back, the standing, the whatever becomes a reality.
As much as I hate to admit it, it’s been a couple of years since I’ve had a big breakthrough in my own practice. And, of course, this can be frustrating and humbling, but I don’t take the easy way out. I keep getting on the mat, and I constantly remind myself that there is no such...