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...
These Lac St-Jean wild blueberries, as any good Quebecer will tell you, are simply the best in the world. Sweet, flavorful, juicy, available only for a few short weeks a year, they are the textbook definition of a PERFECT blueberry IMHO.
I’ve been snacking often on them as I’ve been planning for my 5-day women’s retreat next week. The other day, it hit me: this is the first ever Evolving Your Yoga retreat.
As many of you know, I’ve been working on a book about deepening yoga practice for the past several years. It’s soon coming to fruition, so it made total sense when I realized (duh! of course) that this will be the first in-depth event where I’ll be guiding teachers into exploring the content of my book in their practice and teaching, on the mat and beyond the mat.
It’s like that moment where you’re in a workshop and through skilled sequencing and instruction the teacher leads you, almost...
What if I KNEW, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that EVERYTHING in my life was unfolding exactly how it was meant to be?
What if I had FIRM CONVICTION in the perfection of my life, right here, right now?
Now, I’m not saying there are not things that need to change, or areas that must evolve and shift. Not that there aren’t actions I need to take to encourage that change, evolution, and shift.
But, how would beginning from that place of unconditional acceptance change how I felt and acted? How I approached unease, difficulty, and pain?
I journalled here yesterday about some of those questions. Like many of us, I’m feeling the intensity of these times.
Maybe it’s the complex planetary movements, maybe it’s grieving for losses in my own life own life, and those of people around me, maybe it’s all that and more.
For so many reasons, there are times when the inner waters get muddied, when we are left with hurt, disappointment, unresolved situations,...
Yesterday was the ninth anniversary of my oldest sister’s passing. She would have been 60 years old and a grandmother of two, soon to be three.
It’s on days like this when I realize, yet again, that I will never be able to understand WHY certain things happen.
As anyone who has lost a close loved one knows, we’ll never be able to answer the question why? Why what should have been, could have been, is never to be?
Yet, while senseless tragedies will remain just that, I choose to believe that there is something else, something greater, something more all-encompassing than the pain and suffering (as well as the happiness and joy) in our lives.
Something fundamental, unshakeable, and essentially good.
I don’t want to say much more about that right now. But what I do want to say is that believing in goodness, believing in something beyond our suffering is a something I choose. It’s a decision I make over and over. ...
Earlier this week my family and I spent the day on a canoe. As we made our way down the idyllic, meandering Missisquoi river I got to thinking about how THIS was once the ONLY feasible way of getting from point A to point B.
There were no shortcuts, no highways, just a river with its twists and turns, sometime placid and peaceful, sometimes unpredictable, feisty and turbulent. There was no option but to go with it. We couldn’t take another faster or more efficient route.
In yoga, I’ve never been all that interested in shortcuts or promises of quick and easy transformation. For one thing, when we’re talking about delving into our inner landscape, I don’t think there ARE any actual shortcuts. I think there’s much greater wisdom, and delight really, in taking our time to nagivate all the twists and turns in the terrain of our own consciousness, whether it be physically, emotionally or mystically.
I know we LIVE in a culture obsessed with...
I BET IT'S SOMETHING LIKE THIS...
As yoga teachers, we’re experts in offering the best of ourselves to our students. As mothers, daughters, sisters and wives, we know how to be there for our families.
Most of us are really, really good at taking care of others, supporting those we love and serve with our positive energy and the wisdom gained from our study and learning.
How do you respond when you see this attitude in your students?
When you observe your students running themselves ragged, or getting “too busy” for yoga, when they tell you they just have too much...
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.