The starting point is ALWAYS, EXACTLY where you are.
Many of the people who are joining my new online program are seasoned yogis with years of experience and a long-term dedication to yoga practice. They're telling me that this program is coming along at the perfect time for them because their personal practice has declined. They want a kick-start, a way to rekindle it and find the juice again.
I get it.
As someone who’s maintained a personal practice for over 25 years, in various forms, with varying levels of frequency and intensity, believe me when I say “I get it.”
I know it’s hard (and only getting harder), to be alone on your mat without anyone telling you what you do and actually stay interested, focused, and engaged. It’s so easy (and only getting easier) to feel bored and distracted. It’s easy to let personal practice slip away.
Yet, for those of us who love yoga and are not only committed...
The smell of the earth this morning brought me right back to the Catskills, to the ashram where I lived in the early 2000’s.
It brought me back to the many, many mornings I walked from my dorm room to the early-morning chant at 4:30 am in the dark, wrapped in a shawl.
It brought me back to the feelings of devotion, one-pointedness, and community. But most palpably, it brought me back to the LONGING I experienced during those years.
It was there, in the darkness of the early mornings, first in India and then Upstate New York over the course of 7 years, that my longing took root. What began as a desire to be happy with myself and content with my life blossomed into a yearning to dive deep into my inner being, I longed to uncover the truth, the wisdom and the magnificence of that place within me that lies independently from the ups and downs of outer life.
This longing is and has been at the root of everything I do, everything I create, everything I offer as a...
TO EVOLVE: to gradually become clearer or more detailed, to develop, elaborate, unfold, advance, progress, blossom, grow, mature, ripen, emerge
I first fell in love with this word as an Anthropology major in college. Tracing the emergence and adaptation of the human race over time was fascinating to me. But, honestly, the concept of evolving, adapting, and UNFOLDING has become even more thrilling and juicy as I’ve begun to see my yoga practice in this light, as not just as something I “do” but as something I grow and ripen, something that continually EMERGES.
It’s an ever-unfolding process that’s POWERED and INSPIRED by the very nature of life ITSELF to elaborate, clarify, grow, shift and progress.
Do you sense the amazing possibilities that could be revealed in approaching your practice this way?
THERE ARE A FEW THINGS THAT FRUSTRATE, AND FRANKLY BAFFLE ME ABOUT MAINSTREAM WESTERN YOGA CULTURE
You know, little things like how teachers who repeatedly mistreat students and cross ethical boundaries continue to be welcomed to teach places, even when their transgressions are well known. And, how little actual recourse there is for students who have been targets of these transgressions.
Oh, and also the hypocrisy of an industry that continues to perpetuate unrealistic, and even unhealthy physical ideals for a practice that is essentially about self-honoring and self-acceptance.
I must say, there are days when all this really gets to me.
But here’s what keeps me loving what I do and feeling truly grateful for the privilege of sharing the wisdom and practices of our yoga:
- The dozens, maybe even hundreds of dedicated, longtime teachers I know (and countless others I don’t know) who continue to quietly do their thing and offer the gems from...
I got stuck this morning. My 10-year old, bless her heart, missed her bus and I had to drive her to school. Granted, this was the first time this year that this has happened. And, driving her to school is not really a big deal because my schedule today is pretty flexible and the school is only about a 10-minute drive. Yet, I found myself critical, annoyed, frustrated. I could see that holding onto this episode was neither necessary nor useful. Stuckness.
After I dropped her off, I took the opportunity of being out earlier than usual to take a walk. After all, we are at balmy 15 Celsius and its a beautiful sunny day here. The snow is melting and the rivers are rushing. My lesson was right there in the flowing water: soften, release, and move on.
I’m always very clear with my yoga students that I am decidedly NOT a flow teacher. Sure, I can teach a good Vinyasa class, I’ve done it many times, but it's not my true love.
Yet, the IDEA of FLOW is very important to me, and,...
A studio owner once told me that she wanted her space to be like a bubble, a place where students could temporarily escape their worries and be surrounded by an atmosphere of love, acceptance, and good vibes.
I really like and respect this person, and actually, I love what she’s created. Yet, something didn’t fully resonate with the bubble idea. It got me thinking about how I approach practice and teaching.
I completely agree that we all need healthy ways to escape, regularly. Time alone, self-care appointments, things that give us relief from the stresses of daily life are rejuvenating and VERY necessary. I love those “Calgon – Take me away!” moments of my day (for those of you who remember those old commercials). Yoga practice can certainly fill this important need to just get away from it all for a while. ESPECIALLY on a day like today, when the weight of the world weighs so heavily on us. You can bet...
When I teach at conferences and festivals, I always find that the exact right people show up for my session. This weekend at Expo Yoga in Montreal was no different. As usual, I was delighted to be with a group of curious, engaged students interested in taking their yoga a little bit deeper, getting some input on refining their practice and exploring how to integrate the lessons of the postural practice into their lives.
And, as usual, I’m the teacher without the awesome playlist, without the elaborate ritual, without the bells and whistles.
Don’t get me wrong; I have nothing against a great playlist. I LOVE to groove out in my practice from time to time. And, I LOVE ritual, sacred circles, ALL OF THAT. It’s just that for me, the bells and whistles often sound loudest when I get to go deeper INSIDE my experience. Awakening a new awareness, discovering a new connection, inhabiting my own strength or softening into a deeper release – these are the...
May you awaken like the sun at daybreak,
Ready to make your sacred offering.
Set forth with delight, like a pilgrim on his journey.
O heroic one, move forward with resolve
To make this sacred offering of yourself to life.
May you plan the banner of victory
In the service of humankind.
When I returned from living in India for 4 years, one of the things I dearly wanted to hold onto was the awareness that everything I do can be approached as an offering. I wanted to remember, no matter what, that my highest goal in life is to be of service to others.
To remind myself of this intention, I put a small candle on my desk and lit the flame each day when I began my work.
With time, I stopped lighting the candle on my desk, but I found other ways to remember and uphold the spirit of offering in my daily life. It continues to be a treasured and guiding force. It elevates work and family life to the realm of dharma, and allows me to see that even my most...
I almost skipped (or at least postponed) my morning meditation today in favor of being “productive.”
As my coffee was brewing, I glanced at my Facebook feed and saw:
- an account from someone in Montecito, CA about the devastation happening there.
- a crowd-funding campaign for a friend who was recently diagnosed with stage 4 cancer
- A tribute to an old friend who recently passed away.
- A blog post from a colleague about her experience of grieving a recent miscarriage.
- Many, many messages of support and good wishes from friends all around the world for what all these people are going through
Struck by the intensity of all this (especially at 6:30 am, and especially before I’d had my coffee), I felt a sudden sense of urgency. Immediately, I sat for meditation.
I sat because all this news was a stark reminder that, for me, there is NOTHING more important than taking time DAILY to get perspective on what really matters, to remember the preciousness of life, and to...
How was your practice over the holidays? Interrupted? Sporadic? Non-existent?
I can relate.
Over the past 25 years, I’ve experienced the full range of what I think of as ‘seasons’ in my yoga practice. There have been long stretches when I could practice uninterruptedly for (sigh) 2 hours a day. And, there have been times where yoga couldn’t, or didn’t, happen regularly. Whether due to travel, family or work responsibilities, injury, illness, or just plain-ol’ laziness, I have slacked on many occasions.
And I know I’m not alone. For anyone who embraces yoga as a path of practice over the long haul, this is how it goes. Life, or oneself, sometimes get in the way.
But here’s the thing:
It’s okay with me. It's okay because I know I will start again. I always do. I’ve learned that I can trust myself to get back to a scheduled, regular practice time and begin, yet again. That’s what I’m doing this week.
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.