If we are to expand and evolve our vision of ourselves and of our society, let us start first with our vision of our own cells; our own physical vehicle, right down to the tiniest building blocks. When we allow our cells to experience movement of all kinds, loads and inputs from all directions, our cells respond by upping their capacity. They evolve. Cell by cell, our body transforms. When we allow ourselves to release our stories about who we are and what we do as categories, our mind evolves. It transforms.Read More
I wanted to share the how and why for this sequence... I hope it inspires and contributes to your own process!
As I said on Instagram, suryanamaskara A is so ubiquitous. I have loved practicing it in my years but I also found teaching it leaves me feeling unsatisfied and not up to my own standards. So often as I look around a class, I see people approaching self-aggression, checking out, and either not paying attention or not knowing exactly where to place their attention. In many ways, the sequence allows for one to move into a flow state of sorts, but it also has some problem areas; the most prominent being the jump back to chaturanga and the step or jump forward. I readily admit I love both of those transitions, but so often in my own practice they have been like a little point of added inner competition that didn't feel necessary anymore. I have wanted to change the script and have been working on several namaskars that do just that.
So one of those I came up with is Reverse Namaskar.Read More
Yoga is not a practice of navigating the light. It is a practice of life, which means that it cocoons us in as much presence as we can handle, whether we are soaring in the skies or are so wrought with sorrow that we cannot move off of the floor. It gives us tools, should we choose to use them, to look directly at our joy and suffering, and to attempt to make choices that give us the opportunity to let go and let in whatever it is we are experiencing. Yoga and movement and breath and meditation have, throughout these last years, given me the space to see myself clearly, even when that vision was painful to witness. And in the depths of the dark waters in which I often found myself, that space and insight ultimately gave me permission to keep moving forward and to do what was necessary to take care of my self, my spirit, and therefore my family and all that I love.Read More
New Year's has come and gone... and while I (and some others I have spoken to) have some pretty exciting things in store for 2018, it is no secret that 2017 was a really tough year on a lot of levels. Like many of you who have Instagram, I saw all the "top nines" rolling through as the year closed. At one point, I ventured over to make my own, but I never ended up sharing, as it didn't necessarily speak to anything "top" in my own world... but then I caught the blog post of an IDP sangha friend, Robin Anderson, with the same title, and it woke me up to reflect on the amazing things I did get to experience last year. Robin was inspired by the post of a writer she follows, and I am similarly inspired by her. Maybe someone else will follow suit in their own way from this post.
Flecked like stars in the night, here are nine life-changing, soul-touching experiences that shaped me in 2017.Read More
For a period of my life, the yoga postures served me well. I grew through them and they offered healing to my wrecked dancer's body for a time. But then, as many of us do, I allowed the postures to guide my physicality and I ultimately suffered because of that. You could see photos of me in postures or practice next to me in class and think, "wow she is strong and flexible". The problem was that I unwittingly pushed myself to be strong and flexible only in the places the poses required and in the end this was not balanced or wholesome, no matter how much alignment and breath and safe sequencing I applied.
When I was in my final months of pregnancy and just afterward, my body was pulled apart where it was weak and disconnected. I am not alone in this experience and it definitely doesn't just happen to pregnant yoga practitioners, although the elevated levels of relaxin in the body along with the increased abdominal pressure certainly enabled this to worsen quickly. Through the process of reconstructing myself in the last two years and working with many other students who I believe have been harmed by yoga, I have realized how insufficient the posturing, and more specifically how insufficient so much of the instruction in this work is.
I am not saying the postures do not contain insights, for they do, endlessly. I am simply saying that they are not enough by themselves. We have to keep looking beyond, beneath, inside and through them. The postures are patterns we set into bodies that already contain their own patterns, imbalances, incongruencies, imperfections and deeply individual insights. How can we not take the individual into consideration as we apply them? Alignment, as we may witness in some forms of yoga, takes us only so far on a personal level before it causes us to become rigid. Geometry certainly has its merits and beauty in certain yoga styles, but it doesn't break down or build up everything; it doesn't give space for all of the organic nuance and multitudes of asymmetry, in my experience. Flow is wonderful for moving without overthinking but it falls short in the realm of detail and precision, no matter how clear instructions may be. Breath work and opening pranic pathways means nothing if the physical structures are not addressed with integrity and after all, what ARE pranic pathways? What does that actually mean?Read More
Ultimately, as I reflect, the greatest obstacles I have faced in life have molded me in to the person I am. Injuries have made me a clearer and safer teacher, times of financial hardship have given me insight into the value of money and empathy toward others who struggle with it, experience both first and second-hand with depression has gifted me with the ability to hold space for myself and others at their lowest. Moving to a new land where I do not speak the language or understand the cultural nuances gives me a small glimpse into what it feels like to be invisible or powerless. It has also given me a greater appreciation for the ways in which I am incredibly privileged. When I offer gratitude to my challenges, when I meet my "enemies" with thankfulness and compassion, it transforms me. Even if the person or situation is not changed at all, I am. How I see and feel and taste hardship changes. And, in my limited but real experience, it makes a profound difference.Read More
I lie down on a nearly-daily basis and feel my midline with my hands. The space around my belly button seems at times possibly wider and other times narrows to nearly nothing. I have followed its ebbs and flows quietly and with a deep sense of care; perhaps more care than I have ever offered myself in this life. And while I check the width routinely, the residue of this ritual leaves my mind resting not in the space between, but in the quality of attention itself. I am not what one would call a religious person, and I often tend toward the dependabilities of mathematics and science, but through this process I have encountered what feels to be the soft slipperiness of prayer.Read More
I shared this a while back on FB but never here... I am in the process of sending a newsletter; something I haven't done in over a year since Miya was born. In order to streamline where people can check in with me - I thought I would repost. Enjoy. Much love.
It's been a long while since I wrote.
I never, in a million years, could imagine the kind of consumption of time and energy and attention that goes into being a parent. It is absolutely the best kind but it is all-consuming. I have been busy in my life before. I have been so busy that I didn't see friends for weeks and I lived and ate and breathed my work. Still, I have never felt the kind of intensity that being a mom has presented to me. I have also never loved anyone or anything this much, not even close. It has been the sweetest, deepest sense of overwhelm I have ever known. And it has required that I let go of a lot, and often.
I now see that my desire to write in this blog on a weekly basis after my daughter was born was definitely too ambitious for this time of my life. As hard as it is for me to acknowledge that I cannot do it all, I definitely can NOT. My continued aspiration is to keep this going as best I can for now. That is all I can do. One way I have tried to share my work and passions is through instagram and some documentation of the therapy work I have been traversing as of late. If it interests you, please check in with me there.
For now, I at least wanted to write to acknowledge that this time is also incredibly intense and difficult in our world. A lot of people I know are struggling to understand and navigate the huge shift that has happened most recently in the U.S. but that also reflects a larger trend around the globe. Many I know who have been around longer than me say they have never witnessed such division between ideologies and world-views. I surely have not in my lifetime.
With that acknowledgement, I also acknowledge that I have had to make space within the overwhelming barrage of news and online feeds to take a step back and let go of some of the ways that I was feeling connected to my communities, particularly my people in NYC. Facebook no longer has a place on my handheld devices. I recognized that my desire to be on the ground and in the resistance with so many people I love and care about just does not resonate with where I am in my life and how overwhelmed I already am at times with being a mama. It also underlined, for me, the dark underbelly of living too much of one's life online. I have a few close family members and friends who spend an exorbitant amount of their time and reality on their devices and in the feeds of Facebook, and it is painful to bear witness. I felt myself being tugged in those same addicting currents of information and I realized it was time to step back.
I am reconfiguring how I interact with my world, mostly because I have a beautiful daughter but also because the world is changing and I must also change with it or risk becoming willfully ignorant. I am dedicated to a path of waking up and for me right now the most important thing I can wake up to be is a present and loving mother to my babe, a present and loving wife to my man, and a present and compassionate teacher for my students and clients. From there, I feel I can continue to walk the path of awakening in the best way I know how for all the people in my life.
So in this intensity... if you are feeling overwhelmed at all, perhaps ask yourself where you can let go. Where can you make space for yourself in the whirlwinds of information? Where can there be some breathing room?
May we all have some space to breathe. May we all work toward the benefit of all.
I recently posted this on my instagram account... it's something I have incorporated a lot more since having a baby. I began to intuit that the bouncing would help me regain the integrity of my fascia after all those pregnancy hormones left me feeling SO lax. It's true! Bouncing aids in the health of our fascia/connective tissue and is said to be good for the lymphatic system and other regulatory systems as well (I read here that doctors are researching super bouncy roller coasters for passing kidney stones!)...
So incorporate some bouncing into your daily routine as a key component of the health of your fascia. Your body will thank you and it's fun too!
All any of us can do is stay true to our convictions and pair those convictions with a willingness to stay curious and open hearted. Certainly there are times when we need to shift directions or accept defeat or decide that another way is a better way, but there are many other times when we must continue to face our fears and challenges and disappointments head-on. In those moments we must remind ourselves of our highest aspirations, lest disheartenment get the best of us and the world sadly miss out on our greatest gifts.Read More
I've been talking about the five wisdoms or Buddha families in class the last two weeks. I would love to write more about them but I just don't have the time currently as I prepare for the therapy immersion I'm co-teaching next week with Stephen Thomas...
BUT! If you want to read more on this beautiful and interesting take on the energy of the world around us and in us, take a peek at this article:
At that basic level, we are incredibly tender. We are completely vulnerable. And while we are not depressed at the notions of life and death, there is a deeply moving quality to reality.Read More
The "Right View" (here right is not right or wrong but means something like thorough and profound) is the one that is not conceptualized. It does not create good or bad. It does not state that only under certain circumstances can we appreciate our life. To paraphrase Thich Nhat Hanh, it is the very concept of what we think will make us happy which prevents us from actually touching happiness.Read More
I told one of my students, Annie, in NYC over a year ago that I would do podcasts for all my New York students when I moved to Zurich. A lot has happened since then - getting married, becoming pregnant, having a baby and moving overseas... but I finally did it! And on her birthday as a surprise. Happy birthday, Annie!
The end cuts off without any fanfare or clear ending, but baby was waking and I thought something is better than no thing.
I definitely need some help with simplifying the editing process, so if anyone has pointers, shoot them my way!
What are you doing right now? What is the smell in the air, the taste in your mouth, the feel of the phone or the computer on your fingertips? What is happening with your right knee or your left shoulderblade? How is your breath? What is the quality of light in the room in which you are sitting?Read More
that august morning
the bowery pressed its own brand of summer heat
like a licked stamp
spreading the news
new york, new york
me on the street
your momma on the phone
my heart dropping before i
there might be hours or days
they don’t know
i’m coming i’ll make it i’ll fly i’ll get there i’m leaving today
she held the phone to your ear
i did not cry
i love you i said
i’ll be there soon
you were quiet.
quieter even than when you once
the tumor pressing your vocal chords
i love you too.
i packed. did i pack?
i don’t remember packing
i do remember the sky
the plastic airline cup.
as the tires touched the tarmac
pressed against my phone
your momma’s weak voice
the whirr of engines
the seatbelts clicking
you had left your body
while i was in the sky
maybe we passed each other up there.
maybe we sat together for a while
looking at the clouds
i did not make it i did not get there i did not
i had wanted
to be a part of it
to be with you there
to hear your shallow breaths
i had planned
to hold your hand
had steeled myself for a final memory of you
tiny and quiet and still
but as fate would have it
the last time we shared
you in your hospital bed being wheeled toward the OR
me all knees and kicks in front of you
the tiles and white walls my stage
it was a chorus line
We certainly are reminded of the great need for mindfulness when life hands us intense shifts such as the loss of a loved one or the birth of a baby. But the teachings as well as our own experience tell us that actually our life is worth tending to in all moments.Read More
I do realize that we are in a very privileged place if we can contemplate leaving our job for any reason at all. When we contemplate right livelihood I also believe we must contemplate joblessness, unemployment, disability, poverty, famine and war.
So please feel free to consider the following, but also consider the many many people who are unable to work or provide for themselves or their families at this time. Perhaps when you contemplate your own work you can also offer compassion to those who are unable to work for any reason.
Right Livelihood pushes us to look at our work and also how we use the money we earn and what kinds of businesses we support with our earnings. Here are a few contemplations on right livelihood.
Does your job fulfill you? Does it inspire and motivate you to show up and be truly present in your work? Is there some other work that calls to your heart? Is there a possibility you could pursue something more in line with your heart's work?
Does your job create suffering in yourself or others? If so, does it have to? Is that an innate part of the work (like being a butcher or selling guns)? How do you feel about the suffering it creates? Is there another way to direct your energy in a way that enables you to provide for yourself and your family?
Is your workplace connected to or supporting other organizations that support violence, inequality, hatred or greed? Is there a way you can loosen or sever these ties?
When we look deeply at right livelihood, we can actually see that there is no way we can remove ourselves completely from violence, inequality, poverty, hatred, war, destruction and greed. Whether it is the company we work for, a stock or savings account tied to a bank, or a brand of clothing or food we buy, so much of what we invest in (with time or money) is connected to unethical practices. We are deeply woven into the fabric of greed and exploitation that encircles this planet.
In considering Right Livelihood, let us begin by making a commitment to become more aware of the ways in which our livelihood and our money support life and peace and freedom, or how they support injustice and suffering. Let us challenge ourselves to continue to push toward honoring each other and the planet with our work and the way we spend our money. Educate yourself and try to use the time and money you invest in your life to go toward that which sustains life and happiness and health for all.