This Sunday, I’m excited to be leading a special donation class for Nepal at Google SF. The class will orient around a Bryan Kest teaching called the Meditation of Gratitude.
For those unfamiliar with Bryan Kest, he’s known for coining Power Yoga and operates a successful donation-based studio in Santa Monica. The first time I attended his class, I wept.
For this Sunday’s class, no membership and no prior yoga experience is required. Snag a free ticket via the Eventbrite link below and consider paying it forward with a donation of any amount via UNICEF for Nepal. If you’ve been scared to try yoga, this is a great opportunity to give it a whirl in an all levels class with no commitment and for a good cause!
Spread the word and remember to register to guarantee your space.
Click here to register.
Click here to donate.
See you on the mat!
Photo credit: Kreate Photography
I’m currently on an airplane flying back to San Francisco from New York City. I have an airplane ritual where I flow through my Sun Salutation A – sometimes Sun B – in my head during takeoff and landing. Despite being confined by a seat belt in a tight space, I still rely on yoga as my mediation tactic. I find so much peace in yoga as a moving meditation that its movements are grounding, even if I’m simply imagining them versus experiencing them in my physical body. Flowing through the movements – even in my mind – liberates my thoughts of anxiety, boredom and other internal chatter.
The last time I taught at I AM Yoga in Half Moon Bay, I picked up a copy of “Truth Journal” which says, “that space or gap between the streams of thoughts that ordinarily flow is an opportunity to be free from dependence on them.”
This offers the promise of liberation through meditation. Particularly significant in this equation, is the liberation from toxic or self depreciating thought. As a wise man named Drake once said: “Being humble don’t work as well as being aware.”
(Special tributes to Drake’s new album on this week’s playlist.)
Yoga is a time to cultivate such an awareness by liberating yourself of thoughts you’re dependent on. Become an observer. Because through observation, we gain awareness. And through awareness, we regain an honest self perception, and ultimately, control over our own head.
I’ve been away from teaching for three weeks. Sick for one weekend, and traveling the rest of the time. Most of that travel was in Montana. In many ways it’s the polar opposite of San Francisco. Big cars instead of energy efficient hybrids. Seasons. And seemingly infinite, pristine, rejuvinating space.
Prior to this travel, I reintegrating into a 9-to-5 schedule, reacquainted with how much energy it demands. I’m reminded that this is the type of day most of my students are coming from when they come to my class. Stress as an epidemic is not news. The need for space from demands is dire.
This week, I’m thanking my students for their attendance, for creating 60 minutes of space for themselves. In that hour, we’ll explore dedicating the time to exactly what they need… An hour of internal focus, a safe haven, a place to escape from life’s other demands. Maybe just a damn workout. All motivations I’ve had in my own practice.
In your next yoga class – perhaps mine – take a moment to appreciate the space you created and the reason why. Then, revel in your reason for being there.
Listen to this week’s playlist, complementing this theme.
Throughout a yoga class, an instructor may offer highly precise cues that address pose alignment, muscle behavior, anatomical terms and physical benefits. While such details are intended to guide you safely in an out of poses, arguably more importantly, those precision cues cultivate a heightened mind body awareness.
The details your instructor calls your attention to prohibits your mind from wandering anywhere else.
In this way, yoga demands that we are fully present in our current physical experience. It becomes a meditation in motion. The more we become acquainted with ourselves, how we hold each pose and the feelings that stir up as a result, the easier it is to feel comfortable in our own skin.
It’s early. I woke up at 5am (2am according to my internal clock) to drive to Boston to teach. While I was ready to take a break from my busy teaching schedule for the Holidays, I’m inspired by this unexpected opportunity to teach in the state I called home for my first 16 years. In this familiar context, I’m already seeing teaching with new eyes.
Every time I come home, I immediately feel a sense of grounding. I attribute it to the unconditional love of my family and lifelong friends. Home offers us steadiness despite imminent change. It’s like I have a higher tolerance for anything that might go wrong because I feel secure in that foundation.
After relocating four times in the last eight years, home is a cherished concept for me. I’ve found a home in yoga and CorePower’s community that has been my constant through those life changes. And gratefulness for my body and spirit for carrying to each new landmark.
The third limb of The Eight Limbs of Yoga found in the Yoga Sutras is Asana, or posture. It’s the physical practice of yoga that promotes health as well as physical and mental steadiness. Iyengar elaborates: “The yogi realizes that his life and all its activities are part of the divine action in nature, manifesting and operating the form of man. In the beating of his pulse and the rhythm of his respiration he recognizes the flow of the seasons and the throbbing of universal life. His body is the temple which houses the Divine Spark.”
One of the beautiful things about yoga is that it brings awareness to the home of our soul and this Divine Spark. In our practice we come into our home. We pay attention to how we’re breathing. We perform maintenance. We also come into a higher level of awareness that’s key to leading a fuller life.
Having not been home to visit my family for a while, I noticed some things. Like I no longer knew where my favorite foods were kept. Or which light switch to switch on. This morning, I even set off my family’s security alarm and woke the whole house up at 6am.
Today, my class will bring awareness to those light switches and alarms, with gratitude and honor for the home of our Divine Spark.
It’s been a rainy two weeks here in the Bay. Spoiled by sunshine and temperate winters, California doesn’t handle weather gracefully. My colleague was 80 minutes late to work due to flooding. The city’s water levels grew so high the toilets at our studio stopped working. In San Jose, the power went out mid-class (twice). Someone in the parking lot even stopped to lecture me on how this was a sign of the apocalypse. (Oh, California.)
Yet – facing its worst drought in recent history – California needed this incessant rain desperately and much more according to an LA Times article explaining: “Recent rainfall in Northern California improved stream flows, raised some river levels and spurred the growth of small plants and grasses. But overall, it barely made a dent.”
It’s easy to complain about the rain. Its discomfort. Its inconveniences. But this scenario inspired me to consider: How often do we resist something that could save us due to discomfort, inconvenience or fear?
My classes this week will explore rain as a metaphor. Because often, our bleakest times are actually our biggest opportunities for healing and growth. And often, what we resist is actually what we need the most.
Check out my teaching schedule to find a class near you.
Listen to this week’s playlist: Yoga is for rainy days.
I don’t know about you, but every yoga class I’ve taken lately has been themed on gratitude. I’m a bit of a nonconformist, so I’m shaking up my holidays this year. Instead of reminding you to be thankful, we’re going to celebrate LOVE. Specifically by identifying one person in your life that you’re crazy about – perhaps your best friend, your sibling or your better half – and sending posi yogic vibes their way. (You can stay tuned for my gratitude spiel on Valentine’s Day…)
Listen to my “Yoga is for lovers” playlist here.
Pictured: My teachers, Alex Artymiak and Alexandria Geringer
Photo by @penaphotography
Last week, my friends and I had an indulgent Saturday evening (as dear friends who like each other and wine occasionally do). Needless to say, I didn’t feel up for yoga the next morning. Once there, I agreed to go easy on myself, which made me realize I’m always pushing, pushing, pushing to demand the most out of my practice. It felt nice to know what I preferred that morning and give that gift to myself. With the Holidays around the corner, you may begin to feel a lot of demands on your time, from your boss… from your colleagues… from your family.
Don’t let your yoga fall into that list of demands. This week, I’m going to offer a lot of modifications and variations in my classes. And perhaps instead of pushing yourself to the limit, find ways to nourish your soul by doing only exactly what you need.
Last week, I spent time promoting the new CorePower Fremont studio among the fine employees of Charles Schwab, most entirely new to yoga. I found it interesting how many times I explained that I practice yoga for its mental versus physical benefits.
Flexibility doesn’t cross my mind. Composure, gratitude, awareness and mental stillness keep me coming back. Because yoga makes me a better person, there’s something spiritual about it for me. While intentionally non-dogmatic, CorePower nods to this spirituality at the end of every class with its closing “namaste,” meaning, “I bow to the Divine in you.”
The Divine in you. This week, my classes will encourage you to be aware of it, and be in awe of it.
Photo by Kreate Photography
Fourth of July weekend Rachel McIntosh texted me that she and Katie Struble were looking for a roommate in their lovely San Francisco home. I rented out my apartment, quit my job, and moved north with no real plan beyond achieving my 5 year strong goal to live in San Francisco. My intuition told me this was it, and I had the courage to listen. I felt it in my bones.
I couldn’t have planned the details more perfectly than they happened…I live in a happy home, CorePower welcomed me into their teaching community, my boyfriend moved here and I feel more fulfilled than I could have imagined.
My classes this week are about trusting your intuition – the One who Knows within you – which can guide you to heights and happiness you’d never have imagined for yourself.
When I teach Tripod Headstand, I can sense students’ apprehension. Those who haven’t done it before give me a deer-caught-in-headlights look. Some take Child’s Pose right away. A new yogi looks at the friend who invited them like, “Seriously?” You can feel the skepticism. A student took my Level 2 class three times in a row last week. She came up to me after the third class… “I told my husband I couldn’t do a headstand, but did you see?!” I saw her. She nailed it. Something clicked. She doesn’t know it, but I skipped to my car after class. This is why I teach yoga. Because my students’ victories make me feel like I’m on top of the world.
Saturday’s Master Class with Bryan Kest at Urban Flow was a great reminder that yoga is not about the poses, but the mindset we bring to them. There are over 7 billion ways to do a pose because that’s how many people there are, each with different bodies, ailments and energy levels from day to day. Honoring this lesson, this week I’ll be celebrating individuality in my classes. Pictured is Dancer’s Pose, because what’s a better expression of individuality than dancing!?
In honor of tomorrow’s full moon and lunar eclipse, this is Ardha Chandrasana, Half Moon pose. Astrologers consider the days surrounding a full moon a time of heightened emotions, and eclipses are considered dramatic “wild cards,” delivering unexpected news that shakes us up so we can move from one level a maturity to another. This week, come explore finding your grace, stability and composure despite this cosmic activity… despite unexpected challenges… despite your world turning upside down.
Ustrasana is my least favorite pose. It’s an extreme heart opener that exposes your most vital organs, leaving you vulnerable and often triggering survival instincts of dizziness and nausea.
Vulnerability and I don’t get along. To me, it means a loss of control. Emotions stir up that you didn’t necessarily expect. Things don’t go as planned. It’s here that I practice Santosha, the yogic principle that advocates embracing everything in your life – the uncomfortable, the unfavorable, the unexpected – as if you’d chosen it.
Where would we be without the ones who paved the way for us?
A big, forever indebted thanks to my teachers Kari Fitzgerald, Danny Benoit, Abby Goldstein, Alexandria Z Geringer and Alex Artymiak, for equipping me with the knowledge and practice to become yoga teacher.
I bow to the Divine in each of you.