Beginning today and for the next few weeks I'll be sharing snippets of what you'll find in each the chapters of my forthcoming book, "Evolving Your Yoga: Ten Principles for Enlightened Practice."
Many of us who've been practicing yoga for a while know without a doubt that yoga helps us in our lives. We feel better in our bodies, clearer in our minds, more in touch with our emotions; we’re better equipped to handle stress, and we function more capably in all areas of our lives as a result of our practice.
Yet we may not know exactly how yoga does this, or why yoga works not just physically and mentally, but on all levels of our being.
In looking at both my own experience of evolution on the path of yoga and what I’ve observed in working with thousands of students over the years, I wondered:
What are the underlying beliefs that have allowed asana to become part of our path of inner discovery and positive shift?
What recurring themes form the...
We're blanketed with the most spectacular, abundant covering of snow today. It's still, peaceful, and best of all I don't have to go out until much later.
Giving ourselves - and our possibly (maybe probably) tired bodies, ragged nervous systems, and overworked minds - the gift of STILLNESS, SILENCE, and TIME for renewal is not only necessary and precious, it's the absolute BEST way to meet the holiday season.
"I love that you opened up your home to receive us and create a safe space for us to share. I have to say that I didn't feel "less than" because I was a new teacher, I love that there was so much respect between all the different levels of experienced and less-experienced teachers. I feel like it is hard to find sometimes."
Boy, don't I know it. Sadly, a community of yoga teachers is NOT always the most welcoming place for a new teacher to be. Our Skillful Yogi Teachers' Retreat on Saturday was, for me, proof that it doesn't have to be that way. That we can reclaim the community and support we need as teachers of yoga.
Beyond the practices we shared, beyond the wisdom we dove into, it was the feeling of simply being together as dedicated students and teachers in an Intimate, small-group learning and practice environment that felt most timely and precious.
Teachers who've been at it for more than a decade sat beside those newly certified without a whiff of...
Over on a colleague’s Facebook page there’s an interesting discussion about what, besides training, makes for great teaching. Presence, empathy, humility, motivation, finding one’s own voice, these are all great answers, the question is: How do you do it?
It’s something I’ve been thinking about for a while now. In just the past few weeks, several new teachers have reached out to me with the same curious situation – hundreds and hundreds of hours of training, yet little confidence in their abilities as a teacher. They’re bloated with information but unable to effectively share it, to deliver their knowledge in a way that they feel good about and that they feel really serves their students.
It’s not very surprising, actually. I know from being a former studio owner that trainings are one of the biggest income streams for yoga studios. Let’s face it, no one is making a living from $30 unlimited classes for a month....
Still processing the intensity of the weekend, still feeling raw, still grieving the senseless tragedies, and considering this (again) today:
"In the beginning, there was only the holy darkness, the Ein Sof, the source of life. And then, in the course of history, at a moment in time, this world, the world of a thousand, thousand things, emerged from the heart of the holy darkness as a great ray of light.
And then, perhaps because this is a Jewish story, there was an accident, and the vessels containing the light of the world, the wholeness of the world, broke. And the wholeness of the world, the light of the world was scattered into a thousand, thousand fragments of light, and they fell into all events and all people, where they remain deeply hidden until this very day.
Now, according to my grandfather, the whole human race is a response to this accident. We are here because we are born with the capacity to find the hidden light in all events and all people, to lift it up and make...
As I begin my 50th year, this is the question on my mind and on a post-it note on my desk.
Thank you, Brandi Carlile, for asking it.
Holding this question and trying to live it everyday is my intention for this new year. To no longer waste time with petty differences and insecurities, and to do what I can to make my little corner of the world shine a little brighter.
My main ally in this endeavor is, of course, the teachings and practices of my path. Yoga, the practices AND the teachings: it's what allows me to tend to my body, to clear and calm my mind, and to restore my spirit again, and again, and again.
And, I know I'm in very good company.
If you, like me, know that yoga is what allows you...
that both exist in our minds.
The thinking mind. The doer. The mover and shaker.
And the watcher, the observer, the awarenesss that witnesses and remains unaffected.
It’s so basic to what we KNOW to be true in yoga, right? The idea that we are self-relational creatures.
We can know what we’re thinking. Unlike these birds, we can give words to our inner experience.
It means, of course, there’s an awareness that lives BEYOND our thinking mind. And, we can know it. Whoa. In some ways, it’s the whole point of what we’re doing isn’t it?
The Participant-Observer, as anthropologists call it.
We participate in our lives, and we can observe them, detached, as if watching it all while perched on the next branch.
In yoga, of course, we spend time getting to know this distinction. We create space, becoming just distant enough from our thoughts that we not only see them more clearly, we also create the possibility of...
Lily’s home with a little cold today. She’s resting in our bed like I used to in my parents' room. I remember days like the one she’s having today. Home. In bed. Warm. Safe. Quiet. Apart from the activity of the rest of the world.
It’s fitting too, because I’ve been thinking a lot about home since she asked me the other day, “What is home to you, Maman?”
With the Jewish holidays rolling around it’s fitting, even natural, to reflect on family and celebrations past in the beautiful home I grew up in; The place that saw celebration after celebration, ordeal after ordeal, the building (feels funny to even call it that) that held the fullness of our family’s life day in and day out.
And, later this week I’ll be going back to spend a few days in the ashram I called home for many years, and which still feels like it in the best sense of the word: the most welcoming shelter for my being, where I get to let down the...
I used to think my job was about helping people do a better Downward Dog.
Or helping them to release some of the tension of their day.
Or teaching them how to breathe more freely.
And, yes, this is all PART of my work.
Awakening awareness in the body, installing functional patterns of movement and breath,
Imprinting healthy postural alignment in asana and for the rest of life (because for me, asana has never NOT been about functional movement, but I digress.)
But really, ultimately, what I do is teach people how to use asana as a transformational practice.
As a gateway into their own personal journey of growth and self-development,
As a path of inner discovery.
As *sadhana*, if you like.
That’s what asana is and has been for me. And helping others do that? Well, nothing brings me greater satisfaction.
How does it happen?
How do we go from refining our Downward Dog to gaining insight into into ourselves into learning how to act more skillfully...
I often hear from students that they appreciate that I’m a ‘real’ person with a ‘real’ body. I’m not exactly sure who or what I’m being compared to when they say this, yet I do endeavor to be someone who teaches from my own experience of yoga and of life.
And I’ve always been very comfortable with the ‘real’ things we do in yoga, the abhyasa, the steady, dedicated effort we make, the concrete “actions” of yoga.
But a few months ago, I got a different message. I was journaling about one of the contemplations I’d offered to my Skillful Yogi members to clarify their focus for their practices this summer. Looking up at puffy pink and peach clouds in the evening sky I heard inwardly:
‘Remember, there is magic.”
Of course there is.
Yoga has always been a path where effort couples with letting go.
Where are actions are offered in the context of something larger, ultimately more...
Our free, online bonus content is designed to complement and enrich your experience of Evolving Your Yoga. Resources like video pose tutorials, downloadable journaling prompts, breathwork, guided visualizations, and more will support your exploration of each of the Ten Principles for Enlightened Practice.