Wednesday, November 26, 2014

What is Gratitude?

Gratitude cannot be forced, because it is a form of love that already exists, ready to be accessed anytime, any place, any circumstance.  It is not something to find, or go and get. But, I've worked hard to uncover it.  Sometimes it arises as a surprise, in a moment when all else is peeled away. And in that moment it brings me to my knees, embracing all that is, and I say, "thank you universe, for this moment right now." Sometimes it comes easy. When my heart speaks and is heard by someone. It comes easy when I give all that I can. It pours when I give even more.

Gratitude is not separate. Not this or that. It is the could be of the should be. Gratitude is personal yet universal in origin. Gratitude is for all. It is a choice. It can be felt in a moment of pause, in acknowledgment of the ordinary, and in reverence to the extraordinary. It is a salutation to wishes fulfilled. Hindsight of the hard times that shape the good times. It is letting the good times roll...

Tuesday, November 18, 2014


Once only a seed with a plan,
Beautifully designed to dance to every beat.
Refined and confined
until some perfect spark.
Splitting, dividing from one to a million.
Some body.
A cauldron of love.
Announced by some voice, a cry.
A blanket wrapped tight, shrouds.
Forgetting, forgetting, forgetting.
and so it goes,
life begins.

Wandering and wondering,
becoming somebody.
Falling and tripping into the same hole,
with passion, with determination.
A mystifying encounter,
A glimpse of that spark,
A taste of sweetness,
Heart pulses with ecstasy.
Oh yes, now I remember,

Thursday, June 26, 2014

How Yoga Changed My Life Part II

Prana Flow Teacher Trainees on Venice Beach 2007
When I first said to Guy, my husband, "I want to go do a yoga teacher training". Confused, he responded, "um... you don't like talking in front of people." At first, I was a little disappointed with his unsupportive response. But, I could hear my soul saying, "Yes that's exactly why I need to go."

Public speaking is a common fear. In fact, the number one fear for about 75% of adults. A real fear. And it dictated my life for a good 20 years. It wasn't just speaking, I didn't even want people looking at me including my family, friends and sure as heck strangers. As a young child, I cried when people started singing "Happy Birthday" to me.

I went to my first yoga teacher training immersion in February of 2007 to Venice Beach CA with Shiva Rea. I questioned my physical capabilities; I was nervous. I had already experienced some transformation through yoga, and now immersing myself in a strange place, with strangers, a new teacher and a lot of yoga I could taste the potential of a much greater transformation. The anticipation of this was thick because deep down I really wanted change.

Fear can be a great motivator for change. I didn't want to be scared anymore.

At the time, my yoga practice had progressed quickly and my awareness of Self was awakening, something kept telling me to keep going to class and to go do the training. There was a pull, a desire for more purpose in my life. At times, I would be in so much distress, to the point of depression, because this bound energy wanted out and I didn't understand or know how. I knew I had to do this training and it wasn't for the certification.

I entered the huge Exhale studio for the first time with about 70 other yogis. Most of us unsettled, fidgety, nervous about the next two weeks. It was then that I spotted a familiar face, my dear teacher from Boise, Jeffry (How Yoga First Changed My Life) . I felt relieved, comforted and surprised to see him. Right than, I knew I was in the right place. I spotted another familiar face. Micheline Berry, who I took my first yoga workshop from six months prior, which had a profound affect on me. Another sigh of relief. I immediately felt safe. Although at the time I really didn't know what that meant. But now, I can see that it was all aligned so perfectly because I needed the sense of security in order to truly transform in the experience I was about to have.

Even a small sense of safety while embarking into the unknown can be a catalyst for great transformation. 

We broke out into small groups for practice teaching sessions with Micheline. There were six teacher trainees and Micheline. It was my turn to go. My heart could have exploded out of my chest it was beating so hard and fast. I was directed to teach my fellow yogini the Cat/Cow vinyasa. She took here place on the floor in the middle of us all. Already shaking, I got up and stood next to Micheline as she was there to assist in the practice session. I don't think I was breathing at that time. She took one look at me. Everything stopped. She placed one hand on my heart, her other arm around me and said only this, "Oh my." She kept her gentle, compassionate gaze on me, while I stood there frozen and exposed while everyone stared at me, for what seemed like hours. I felt so contracted and tight everywhere in my body, especially my jaw and throat. Micheline still said nothing more, and just looked at me and held me in such a way that gave me permission to be vulnerable and finally, to let go. I stood there and cried at least to a point where I could speak. She guided me to begin. Somehow words made their way out of my shaking mouth to instruct my friend through the exercise. We finished and I took a seat and tried my best to be a witness to my friends while I still cried inside. This was only the beginning. The iron gates that held so much for so long opened up. Our session ended and I took my one and only "free pass" and skipped the next class, and headed to the beach. I laid myself out on the sand and sobbed for about an hour straight. If someone was to ask me why I was crying, I didn't have an answer. It just wouldn't stop. It came from deep within my throat. It finally subsided and I slowly carried myself back to my apartment feeling disoriented and tired, yet a lot lighter.

I completed the first of many training intensives feeling more than I ever felt before.  Opening to vulnerability allowed me to receive the yoga practice, on so many levels. I was full, overwhelmed, sore and certainly transformed.

This fear of speaking, of being seen, of being judged, criticized, of being honored, and yes sometimes admired that had choked out my potential for so long loosened its grip around my neck and my passage to self-empowerment had begun.

Friday, June 6, 2014

What Sustains Me?

My yoga practice. The results of yoga keep me connected to my body, to a root source of energy that clears, renews and aligns with truth. Dedication to the practice, bhakti, helps me to hold myself up again and again; I don't collapse with fear, because I remember who I am. These roots deepen and strengthen, supporting expansive expression. The clarity of my form seals cracks in the foundation, heals leaks of negligence. The more clear I get, the more strength I gain, the more I expand, the more I can hold. And my heart loves this; it seeks connection and expression through opening. This sustains. Because truth is sustainable. 

Tending my garden. I dig, I plant, I weed and repeat. I look forward to the ripening tomato that seems like a lifetime of waiting; I'm reminded that the anticipation is more exhausting than moments of patience. I underestimate the space the pumpkins will stretch. Wild vivacious vines. I uproot the undesirables; this is my meditation. The tending nourishes me more than the fruit itself.

Dancing. So many reasons why dancing nourishes, sustains, supports all else. Freedom of expression and loosening of lifes' grip. Freeing my pelvis renews my connection to a universal primal force.

Relations. Reflections, inspiration, validation. To serve. To be heard, to be seen, to give, to recieve. Without You, who am I?

And it all leads to Love. Love for each other, love for this place, this body, love for the Divine. 

Love sustains.

Monday, February 24, 2014

How Yoga First Changed My Life

Yoga started working on me in a basement about 10 years ago. I was looking for something more in yoga, and I found it. Jeffry Clark, an amazing yoga teacher, started leading yoga classes in his beautifully renovated basement room. My yoga experience up until than consisted of Iyengar, Ashtanga, and classes at the YMCA. Jeffry's classes were something I had never experienced before. The movements were connected, organic, graceful and choreographed with music and inspiring words. I went every Friday morning. After a few months, I started to notice how strange I felt after class. First of all, noticing how I felt was something new. Second, the feeling I was having was confusing. It was not the post yoga bliss that we often feel from yoga (at this point I didn't know the difference). It was like something was opening inside me, something was stirring and I didn't know what it was. When I would practice on my own at home, tears would come. Real tears of release. It was confusing. It was amazing! I felt lighter after every practice. I was beginning to feel. The icebergs around my heart were melting. My muscles, asleep from years of disintegration, were waking up. For a long time, sadness dominated my emotional body. There was a very deep well of tears that took several years to run dry.

Yoga gave me permission to be vulnerable, to be seen and heard. No masks, no pretension, no shields, no walls. Raw and real. A ripple effect of tears, repressed anger, love, and compassion.

Yoga brought attention to a neglected, undernourished body; yoga ignited a collapsing core; yoga opened me up in big expressive ways. 

The dictionary says vulnerability is "to be open to attack, to be easily hurt". To me, there is so much more behind this simple definition. To be vulnerable, at first, indeed feels risky and scary because of the high potential for being hurt physically, emotionally, or mentally; especially if there is a memory of being hurt. If we are living in perceived unsafe circumstances, we are in fear; and our primal brain defaults to fight or flight, and we do what we need to in order to survive. If we operate purely from this reptilian brain, whether safe or not, we remain in our conditioned ways of learning to just survive.
Yoga gave me a safe place. 

At first, I experienced some discomfort and pain in my body. But, yoga was not the cause of pain, I believe it was the awakening process of dormant emotions stored in my body that were now asking to be recognized and released. Stepping into this fire of vulnerability, in a safe way, has led to many big moments of transformation and over time has re-wired neuro pathways. These experiences have taught me how to engage, whether it is my thigh muscles or with the person in front of me. Yes, I risk being judged, criticized, falling on my face, or maybe even loved. But, I know when I am truly safe and I must trust that to engage with life, inner and outer, is to live a life that is more rich, more full, more connected, more vibrant and a lot less lonely.

(If you are not one of the 14 million who has already heard this….this is a great TEDtalk on vulnerability by Brene Brown.)

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

"Fierce Medicine"

Just finished reading Fierce Medicine, by Ana Forest, creator of Forest Yoga and teacher for 35+ years. Each chapter begins with a intriguing story from her life and includes specific yoga practices related to her experience and huge life lessons she learned during that time in her life. This book is for anyone who is curious about spirituality, the human experience and the incredible healing power of yoga.

What I found so amazing about her life story was her capacity to endure so much pain on all levels. Yet, her spirit kept calling her back to something more, something greater than each painful experience.  She learned to stand up against physical abuse as a child. She stood up against the ridicule and bullying at school. She got kicked in the face a lot by horses, yet learned to tame them. Also at a very young age, she was able to recognize and follow a small crack of beauty in a life full of darkness and despair. She lived through her own attempt at suicide; subsequently started to believe that her life had a purpose.

Pain is a messenger. Pain can manifest as traumas stuck in the body.  Ana asks her students to hold specific poses for minutes until they come face to face with their deeply rooted fears and traumas. As a result they are able to work through them and release their grip. Its not about forcing the body to do things beyond its limits. This practice can be very effective for those of us who tend to shut down and numb out; its about awakening the muscles and stored emotions.

Reading her book has asked me, personally, to look at the pain I experience, in a new way. This pain occurs in a couple places in my back and is sometimes heightened following a physically challenging yoga practice. Still, I am not convinced that I need to give up certain yoga practices because of it. So the question I now ask myself is, "can I be with the pain, listen to it, work with it and persevere to see if I can move it through?" But, being mindful not to just endure the pain or push beyond limits. Maybe it requires that I hold full wheel pose for five more conscious breaths. I don't know for sure. But I am willing to experiment. 

Sunday, January 19, 2014


What are you waiting for?
Seeking, grasping for a magic cure,
To be whole.
How long will you put off feeling good?
A perfect circumstance, the right person.

A slave to doubt, to jealousy, to others.
Expecting, wanting, never getting.
A victim to your minds’ shadow.
When will you rise up from your own brutality?

The time will never be perfect.
But today is a fine place to start.
The sunrise does not hesitate to fill darkness.
The soul's fire wants this too.

Invite it to breathe through every pore.
Metamorphose barnacles of fear
To light you up, to carry you
Forth as wholeness, always.

The world will not change for you,

and the world can wait no longer for you.
We need who you are now!

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Opportunity: A Favorable Juncture of Circumstance.

To fearlessly behold all opportunity to live the most radiant, integrate and truthful life possible.

This I want for the rest of my life, not just 2014.

How often do we wake up thinking of the all the opportunities that we will encounter today; opportunities for growth, for alignment of truth, for increasing our vitality? The opportunities abound! Every moment, every choice, every conflict, every thought, every spoken word, every move, every single breath is an opportunity to live within truth, integrity, and to live our fullest life possible. 

This dedication surfaced during some reflection on the past year and many years prior; and looking at some pivotal points in my life. It became clear to me that during serious transformational experiences or choice points, conscious or not, I would become paralyzed with fear. So much that it removed me from the experience, unable to be present in the situation and therefore unable to take in the experience, and connect with the people present. Resulting in more disconnection and isolation, leaving me only able to reflect on it, trying to re-live it through my mind.

When I traveled to India about five years ago there were many missed opportunities. I was so laced with fear in many ways, that I found myself lost and confused. After about three intense weeks at an ashram I finally gained enough courage to leave earlier than planned and headed down the mountain to the city of Madurai. I stayed there for two days to adjust to flow of India before I setting off on a more adventurous journey through South India. I spent the majority of my time in Madurai at the Meenakshi Amman temple. I was so drawn to this temple. All I wanted to do was go there, and be in the womb of its beauty, protection and serenity. I knew in my heart this temple is very significant for devout Hindus and Shiva worshippers. But I didn't understand anything. The paintings, the detailed carvings on pillars and walls, the chanting, the long lines of Hindus. So I would just go in and sit and gaze (at one point I decided to see what the long line was about. So I waited, and waited for about two hours. Only to be turned away from entering the heart of the temple, the shrine, because I wasn't Hindu). Now, years later, I'm browsing through my teachers newly published book, Tending the Heart Fire.  Beautiful photos of the Shiva temple (not the same temple I was at) in Tamil Nadu stirs something inside me. I immediately reflect on my experience at the Meenakshi Temple. How much time I spent there, how I longed to be there, how I longed for connection to it. And how little I know or understand it. 

The point is not to know all the facts about this temple. But that my heart wanted to be there. And that yes, it was good enough that I would sit, enjoy it and it remained a mystery. The point is, fear prevented me from simply hiring a guide, asking questions and thus held me back from being able to experience its depth, and its spiritual significance and making a connection to my hearts pull.

There is legitimate fear, and illegitimate fear. I recognize both in situations that are changeable and transformative (life basically) in relation to being vulnerable. The question is, am I safe? If the answer is yes, than its time to face the fear and open to vulnerability and a little discomfort. For than the opportunity for transformation can be welcomed and assimilated. Vulnerability, I believe, comes from the heart and not the mind. And anytime we can live in the heart, connections to others, places, circumstances are made.

If opportunity, is a favorable juncture of circumstance (according to Merriam-Webster dictionary), than it must be a perfect aligning of time, space, the heart and soul that is potent and ripe for insight, inspiration, transformation, and connection with Divine Truth. Where the universal soul and the individual soul perfectly align, and Divine Light shines and radiates at its highest frequency.

I am less fearful now of many things. Most of all, myself. So this year I am fully welcoming all favorable junctures of circumstance for being and celebrating my divine Self, and I will cultivate a keen awareness for these circumstances. 

Welcome 2014!