Hello and Happy Monday,
It's our last Monday in 2019 and this morning I taught my last yoga class of 2019. It seems fitting to end the year and decade with a Monday morning class, as my first teaching gig was a Monday morning class.
Ok, good news and bad news. I'll start with the good... there are a few.
- We are ready to dive into the last limb of the eight limb path, and I'll start that next week.
- I am excited to be offering more classes in the spring. Stayed tuned as I add classes to my schedule, and be ready as I will be crowdsourcing for when you want classes here.
- April starts a new round of 200 hour Yoga Teacher Training. I listened, and this time, it's a weekend/weeknight offering, and like my intensive program, it's only three months. I am fortunate enough to offer something unique, as a boutique studio, to a select small group of dedicated practitioners. I am limiting participation to 6. Dates, times and more details are HERE.
- I'll be offering another intensive 3-week 200-hour Yoga Teacher Training Program again in the Fall. (one week per month)
- I'll be offering a 300-hour Teacher Training Program in January 2021!!!
- There are still some spots in my New Year's Day Workshop and I would love to see you there.
Now for the bad news...
There isn't any!!!
Wishing you and yours a very happy and healthy New Year!
With So Much Love,
Hello and Happy Monday,
Happy Holidays! There has been a lot to celebrate. On Saturday I wrapped up week 2 of my 200-hour Yoga Teacher Training - we have one week left and then I get to release the amazing women that have entrusted me over the past few months. Saturday was also the winter solstice, the shortest day of the year and the first day of winter. Sunday was the first day of Hanukkah, so very timely as the days become longer and we celebrate the festival of lights. And tomorrow is Christmas Eve. I'm excited to celebrate with Michael, Melissa, Joe and our extended family and friends over the next week.
As this year winds down, I am extremely grateful for all that I have. I have been working on my decade of accomplishments and truly when I look back, it seems as though everything I had been working on came to fruition this year.
It was in 2010 that I became a yoga teacher and since then the ball never stopped rolling. I've accomplished becoming a Pilates teacher and creating Pilates for Yogis. I created and lead 5 yoga teacher trainings, 3 pilates teacher trainings, and was faculty for 2 others. I created a yoga in the park community event that was a huge success and was recognized for my leadership in the community with a Lululemon Ambassadorship. I took a leap and co-lead local yoga & pilates retreats and then decided to trust my gut and on my own, lead 2 international retreats and 1 local. I took countless yoga trainings and have almost completed the 300-hour training program I am currently enrolled in.
I am proud. Mostly I am proud of finding my voice as a yoga teacher and as a woman. I am still learning to stand up for myself and finding the strength to become happy. Part of finding that happiness was finalizing my divorce, which allowed me to once again fall in love with myself and ultimately meet Joe, the ultimate love of my life and life partner.
And my biggest accomplishments are Michael and Melissa. Without them, I might still be behind a desk at Prudential Financial, crunching numbers and doing yoga and pilates on lunch breaks and weekends.
As we close this year, I invite you to reflect on your decade. What are you most proud of? What have you done? Are you happy?
With So Much Love,
To quote Ram Dass, who sadly passed away yesterday, December 22, "Start from where you are. Not from where you wish you were. The work you're doing becomes your path.
Hello and Happy Monday,
It's so wonderful to be home. We had a fun-filled hectic week and I'm back leading Yoga Teacher Training this week.
We are still on the 7th limb (of 8), dhyana (meditation). There are so many types of meditation. When I googled types of meditation, lots of pages came up - "the four types of meditation", "the 16 kinds of meditation", Buddhist Meditation, then different forms of meditation. There is a lot of information out there and it's great. Science is proving how beneficial meditation can be to our overall health and meditation apps are gaining popularity. The ones I know of are Headspace, Calm and Insight Timer. Insight Timer is my favorite. The free option has over 30,000 meditations, for beginners to meditation, anxiety, stress, sleep, relationships and more and range from 5 min to over an hour. I've used Insight Timer for 2 years and love not just their guided meditations, but also the timer, where you can set the duration, sound or no sound and a starting and/or ending bell.
One of my favorite meditations is Metta meditation. Metta is a concentrated practice of loving-kindness. It helps remind me to be compassionate to myself and to others. It's my go-to meditation whenever I am feeling at a loss or whenever I feel like sitting to meditate. I don't ever worry that I'll get it wrong or I'll mess up, instead I just do what I can.
As things get more hectic, the end of the year, school parties, office parties, winter break, kids home, traveling, holidayness, meditation can help ease the stress of all of that. A long time ago I read it wasn't what meditation did, it was what it took away, anger, sadness, stress, fatigue that was even more beneficial.
I have just a few guided meditations on my webpage - and if you have 9 minutes, please give this one a listen: MEDITATE
Hello and Happy Monday,
Today, Joe and I are returning home from our European vacation. We spent 4 days in Paris, a day in Brussels, and three days in Amsterdam. Technically, this is our honeymoon but we have chosen to not call it that. Joe has his reasons and I have mine. mine are related to the hype around the word and its meaning. For me, it’s related to the hype around the word and it’s meaning along with a certain expectation that is involved with a honeymoon. Honeymoons are described as being romantic, the kind of romance that fairytales are made of and I know it would leave me feeling disappointed if I allow what society deems as a “perfect honeymoon” to take over what Joe and I have. I’m not saying what we have isn’t romantic. I’m saying it’s me. It’s what I have conjured up in my mind since I was a kid. All the tv shows and movies portraying this perfectness. So, this European vacation without expectation of a perfect honeymoon was absolutely perfectly romantic. Joe and I experienced great weather and got to walk the cities and see the sites we wanted to see. We ate delicious food and laughed really hard at silly things and both missed Michael and Melissa.
We even meditated together. Meditation, the 7th limb that we are focusing this month. During my meditation I had a thought about growth.
We all know that growth occurs outside our comfort zone. I even posted a quote about it this week on social media. But can we also grow when we are comfortable? About a month ago I was complaining to Joe about some hump I had just hurdled and how going forward I wanted everything to be easy. No more difficulties, no more hiccups, annoyances, I wanted things to be smooth for me. He replied with, “so you’re done growing?”, and I groaned. The truth is I never want to stop growing.
I find joy in creating and sharing. Each lunch note I draw for my children’s lunch box isn’t difficult or out of my comfort zone and my drawing gets better each year. Teaching yoga, used to be really out of my comfort zone, brings me so much happiness, I have a comfort that runs through me when I teach a class and still, I am learning and I am growing.
I don’t think we always have to be uncomfortable to grow. I think that when we are uncomfortable we have a clear choice, stay uncomfortable or not. And when we are comfortable the choices are still there but they don’t appear the same. The reality is there are plenty of people who are happy and comfortable and still growing and also plenty of people who are unhappy and uncomfortable and not growing. (Among with many other variations of that) The choice is always ours.
This is one of the many things that can happen when you meditate. I’d love to hear what you have been meditating about.
P.S. I’m back on the mat this week. See below for my schedule.
Hello and Happy Monday,
Here we are in the last month of the last year in this decade!! What a perfect opportunity to look back on the past ten years and reflect on all our accomplishments and growth and not to forget those that have passed on without us. I'm putting together something very special for my New Years Day workshop this year as it's not just the first day of the year, but the first of a brand new decade. So much possibility!
This month the focus is on the 7th limb of yoga, which is Dhyana, or Meditation. Meditation has been a part of my life for a long time. I recall looking through my parent's record collection and found a guided meditation that I listened to often in my room, I don't remember how it ended, because I always fell asleep, but I remember those naps were always the most restful.
I didn't start meditating on my own then, instead I meditated many different ways. And, when I learned about the 8 limbs of yoga, it made sense that there were actions to be done before meditation. I've meditated by focusing on a single word or set of words (mantra), allowing my mind to follow all my thoughts, listening to a recording for a guided meditation and have counted my breaths. The counting is the one I go to a lot. Lately, meditation for me looks like walking. I have my earbuds in with nothing playing (mostly so I don't get interrupted) and I walk and breathe. I allow myself to follow my mind for a bit and then I start counting my steps. Every time I hit 100 I start over, if I miscount, I start over. After a few rounds, my mind gets quiet and then I enjoy the peace and calm that resides within me. I've been trying to do this as often as I can and the results always ripple into all my other activities.
The other night Joe and I were having a conversation about the difference between reacting and responding. There has been a big effort, at least in my world, to create space in order to have a response to others instead of a reaction. Meaning, when we can breathe and create space we can respond with compassion and perhaps empathy instead of a quick reaction which sometimes can be filled with our own hurt and judgment. Let me pause for a moment to write - THIS IS NOT EASY!
What my stream of consciousness came up with was that for every action there is a reaction so that we cannot just switch that off and replace it with for every action there is a response. We have to create the space within us for the response. There are many ways to interpret this, this is how I am defining action/reaction vs action/response. Let me set the scene: One day you are driving in your car, you are slightly annoyed because you are running late and you have also received an email from the person in your life that can never seem to do life without your help and this time is one of those times that you read the email and roll your eyes. Out of nowhere someone cuts you off and gives you the finger. The finger is the action from the other driver, your reaction might be to give that finger right back, or yell in your car calling that person a name. Your response might be to take a breath and reassess it all and not be impacted negatively by what happened. Here is the thing and why I set the stage - our reactions and responses are never in the moment, we may think they are, or feel like they are, but it's all the things that are happening or have happened that influence the way in which we choose to reply. The only way to create space between the two, is to consciously, voluntarily breathe. What I heard someone say recently and I love it, is something like, "I'm learning to use more words" and then he asked what he was looking for. I'm going to try and remember to say when I need space, "I'm learning to create space in my mind for a response".
So, if we are in a conversation and I pause and don't use those words, know that I'm not being rude, I'm just finding the best response that comes from a place of compassion and love. After all, that's the kind of person I want to be all the time, not just some of the time. In the meantime, I'll keep on meditating and hope more rememberings happen for me.
Hello and Happy Monday,
Where the attention goes, energy flows. I heard that years ago in class and while it is crystal clear what it means now, it didn't so much then.
This past week I spent 70 hours with 3 wonderful women. They are my yoga teacher trainees and I couldn't be more proud of what we accomplished in 7 days together. We still have 2 full weeks together and so much more to cover, however in the past week they filled their minds with all things yoga. Our attention was on yoga from first thing in the morning until the end of the day. Even our lunch breaks were spent comparing all things through a yogic lens.
While I have led some incredible groups through yoga teacher training, I have to admit that having 3 to focus all my attention on is pretty special. In just about every yoga studio getting a big number for classes, workshops and especially teacher training matters greatly and is boasted about, and if there aren't enough people they will cancel the offerings. I am reminded of this and remembering how less really is more especially for teacher training. I believe we all have a need of being seen and heard with value, when the ratio is smaller - teacher to student - all questions get answered and there is more time to explore the rabbit holes, everyone gets to be seen and heard.
Our focus this month is on Dharana - attention, focus. My attention was on yoga all day, so when my day with training was over, my attitude carried on. I stayed in this wonderful peaceful state that wasn't easily shaken. Normally I am easily distracted and not in the peaceful state that I'd like to be. Having that focus be all day long helped me arrive where I wanted to be and stay there. The reality is I am not immersed in yoga all day long - I have responsibilities I have to fulfill that most of the time take me away from a peaceful state. So what I took away from my week was this:
1. Having a schedule helps me tremendously. Aside from the classes I teach, working from home can lead to so many distractions and unless I have a deadline I am all over the place.
2. Having my meals planned for made eating so much easier. I didn't leave my home last week, aside from the few walks we took as a group and one errand I ran after training. I had to have all my meals ready or I wasn't going to eat. (or my family)
3. I love practicing yoga (asana) every single day.
4. I prioritized what was important outside of training and only did that after my workday.
Honestly, last week felt very much like the yoga retreats I've led. Everything was planned out and I was prepared, everything is taken care of, only important things outside of the retreat get addressed. These not only help me stay focused, but they help me stay calm and peaceful.
So of course now I would love to bring this into every day/week of my life. Because who wouldn't want to feel like they were on retreat all the time?! (raises hand aggressively)
Wishing you a smooth, calm, and peaceful week.
Hello and Happy Monday,
I first want to thank all the veterans and their families for your service. The sacrifice for our freedom does not go unnoticed.
Today is day 3 of the first week of Yoga Teacher Training. Yesterday we covered most of the History and Philosophy portion of the training. We spoke about Dharana, concentration or focus, and what that meant to us.
Dharana is the step before meditation, what we need to do in order to meditate. Yesterday in YTT, we spoke about Dharana becoming a ritual, lighting a candle and gazing into the flame, lighting incense and watching the smoke or smelling it, or playing music or a singing bowl and listing to the vibration of sound. Do you do any of these things before you meditate? All of these are helpful ways to start the process of concentration, but over time this is a practice that we can let go of. If we are practicing yoga then we are always trying to practice non-attachment (aparigraha) which means that it's wonderful to use tools (candle, incense) to focus, and after time, the habit of concentration will become easier and maybe we won't need those things to get us there.
Please share with me - what helps you concentrate? What helps you to keep focus? Is there a mantra? A photo, a quote? What tool do you use?
Hello and Happy Monday,
I want to thank you all! Last week's email wasn't an easy one to write and I heard from so many of you and I am so very grateful. This past week felt like a month. I climbed out of wherever I was in - for the most part - and got on with my week. After I sent my email, I was typing up my Poly Vagal Ladder notes to share in my Yoga Training Program. My notes include how to recognize when you are down the ladder and how to climb back up. If that wasn't serendipity, I don't know what is. It truly helped a lot.
And just like that, we are in November and on a new limb. The first few limbs are spoken about and brought up in many yoga classes because they are easily accessible to most people. Once we start getting into these last few, much more dedication and discipline need to take place.
Dharana is the 6th limb and it means the concentration of the mind, focus, and attention. While there is a lot to this limb, I will start with a word that hopefully, you have heard in your yoga classes. Drishti, it means a focused gaze. You might have heard it said before going into a balancing posture. Find a spot on the floor to focus on, a drishti. There are technically 8 drishti's in yoga - where the focus is on the thumb, third eye, tip of nose, tip of fingers, left or right side, upwards, naval, and toes. But these are associated with certain postures or sequences.
Without knowing where to look, where does your focus go to in class? Is it at the other practitioner's? Is it at the teacher? Are you starting your pratyahara practice of turning inward?
Most teachers know that the point is to turn inward, a single gaze of focus can help with that. So can being asked at the beginning of class to set an intention or dedication? Or sometimes, the teacher will start with a "Dharma Talk", a topic that can she or he can bring up in the middle of class, to bring the attention back, then loop back to at the end of class to tie it all together.
The thing I love about yoga, about being human, about this life, is that we can try and try again. And we can create space to remind ourselves to look inward, to focus, and to breathe.
I ask you this, have you ever been to a class where you were focused, where the stars aligned - the teacher reminded you in the right parts, you were not distracted, everything clicked and felt just right. A Goldilocks class. Maybe you have had more than one. I would love for you to share with me if and when you have had that experience and if not too.
Wishing you all a wonderful week.
Hello and Happy Monday,
Today I want to share with you that I am in the midst of an anxiety/panic attack. It has kept me up for most of last night and despite my efforts to breathe and practice yoga it only subsides for short moments. I am very good at putting on a good face, in fact, I taught yoga this morning and I'm sure my practitioners didn't even know. So, in my practice of this discipline, I am choosing, to be completely honest with you all.
Yoga and writing about yoga is an incredible gift for me. I get to share what I have been taught and try my best to put it into daily practice. Sometimes, the practice is easy and fun. And sometimes the practice hits me hard and I realize that despite my desires for helping others, I come first. As much as I wanted to write to you all about pratyahara, I know that spending time on me is more important. And as much as I want to apologize for that sentence, I know that in order for me to grow, I cannot.
Why am I in the middle of this?:
- Life feels overwhelming
- My plate is very full
- I feel like I can't get the things done that I think "need" to be done
- Negative bias is a real thing that we get stuck in.
I know these things:
- I will be ok! More than ok - I don't get these often, but they are reminders of how wonderful my life truly is.
- I always show up - I get things done.
- I could become better at remembering how awesome I am
- We need to put ourselves first. It doesn't matter what others think, you matter the most!
- Keep being authentic and honest - admitting anxiety doesn't make me weak - it makes me stronger.
- Keep practicing the yoga - all the yoga, the philosophy, the postures, and pass it on.
- Be kind - everyone is going through something.
Hello and Happy Monday,
Today is the perfect Fall day and I will keep this one short, so you can enjoy it too!
Pratyahara, meaning withdrawal of the senses, or gaining control over external influences, is tough. I don't know about you, but I struggle day to day with this. Last night Melissa, my 8-year-old daughter, and I were discussing how no one makes you feel a certain way, that it is us that makes ourselves feel the feelings. This took me a long time to put into practice and admittedly, I still work on today. There are so many people that trigger negative emotions in me and it's a practice to remember to breathe and stay present.
The breathing helps, a lot, also looking people in the face helps - even more! I have been through two incidents in the past year where seeing the person changed the entire dynamic of the conversation. Both these interactions were through email. Both conversations were short, rude and lacking any pleasantries. Keep in mind that it's so difficult to tell tone over an email and I myself have been told that my "work" emails are "mean". But I digress, it's difficult to tell tone in an email and we read through our own lens, not just our eyes, but our experiences change the way we view things. Just when these email exchanges seem to be turning for the worse, I used my investigative skills. That's what I call "googling" someone or looking them up on FaceBook. Both times, it turned out I knew the people I was having conversations with, turns out I didn't know their names and they know mine, and it was amazing how my attitude changed. I softened. I became compassionate. I knew the person behind the name. So I suggested we meet. In both meetings the other person also softened, also became compassionate, and the outcomes were much different, SO MUCH BETTER, than I could have imagined. How incredible is that?!
Last week in class I suggested that when we learn to become an observer, we begin to see all the hurt around us. I believe part of practicing pratyahara is to remember this and treat all with softness, compassion and love, especially those we cannot see, the interactions we have online, or on the phone with all the different customer service representatives.
Keep breathing, keep loving, keep working on you so you can BE for others.