Sunday, January 25, 2015

A NEW ADVENTURE AWAITS: FIND YOUR SACRED SPACE
Happy 2015! I don't know if you are feeling it, but I can sense the new adventure that is before me this year. There have been many twists and turns over the last couple of years, but this new energy feels different. I have landed squarely in my new “asana” and am claiming it. Simplicity is the key to my clarity. First and foremost: a call to healthy habits, and paring down whatever is not necessary. Certain friends, habits, foods and tasks have been pruned from my daily life. I am finding solace in the solitude. Once I mellowed from the missing, I was left with what is essential. And so I sit to write the next chapter. Join me, if you like. I have several events that are open to all. The first will be online. On March 25th,we will take a 28-day journey together on Diet Bets. This four week challenge, although result oriented, is actually an opportunity to come together as I support you through your short term diet goals. Suggested food plan, would be one of the three options in your Yogalosophy book, but you can choose to commit to any food plan suits you. I will provide daily coaching and inspiration, along with exercises, journal questions and healthy tips like the ones below. In August, you may join me in person for a weekend workshop at the Omega Institute. Vision Boards, Yogalosophy and more in the oasis of the prestigious Omega retreat center.

Healthy habits are the cornerstone of all that you are looking to create in the world. Create your daily check-list and make your routine a no brainer. 

Some ideas:
  Begin the day with warm water and half a lemon to cleanse and get your system going.
  Incorporate probiotics to aid digestion.
  Meditate in the morning for 15 minutes.
  Write your thoughts, or gratitude list before you begin your day.
  Move your body 5 days a week: walk, yoga, hike, or a brand new class.
  Finish your day with 2 ounces apple cider vinegar, 2 ounces of Aloe juice diluted in water.
  Dry brush your body before bed.

   Make a loving connection with a living being each day.

Monday, January 5, 2015

One Small Step For A Great Lifestyle Change


When asked what small, simple step a woman could take to make lifestyle changes, I envisioned a woman who pleases herself. As women, we are in an ongoing dance of pleasing others through our multitude of relationships and roles we play. In some sense, equality has amounted to women over-doing. Not only are we now raised to support ourselves, but are expected to juggle family, beauty, health, whilst maintaining a serene attitude conquering the world and the work place, with just the right sense of humor, surrounded by our tribe of equally fabulous women. All this, plus, oh yeah, finding ways to be in some version of an evolved relationship.



As I move through my life, I find myself more frequently asking, am I doing this for me? Who is this for? Is this a desire coming from within, or an expectation I am living up to? The answer to this question is so faint, that the place where I find it is in the quiet stillness of my heart. The absolute best way for me to hear that truth is through meditation. Meditation can sound daunting, but let me make this accessible to you. Sitting in stillness and observing the present moment, which does include the nature of the “monkey mind”, is just another muscle. As going to the gym and engaging new muscles is, at first, a challenge, when the magic of repetition forms a new daily habit, like brushing your teeth, sitting and becoming present as you focus on your breath is simply a trip to the inner gym. Your meditation muscles will strengthen and you will soon go from 5 minutes being a struggle, to sitting for 20 minutes, or even an hour.



Following the call of your inner truth allows you to be an activist for all women. Taking time to connect with your inner compass is a lifestyle change I recommend, and I plan on following in 2015. That, and drinking more water.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Yoga Tricks and Other (Re)Treats

Happy Halloween! October has been a month of intensity. With the piercing darkness of last week's eclipse–our initiation into the dark side of the moon–we have been thrust into a time of transformation. Yoga can push you past the comfort zone of your form, but so can pulling inward and being still, or retreating. I have the tendency to keep myself light and spin my tale in the direction of the positive. However, this a the time where there is more value for me to go toward the unknown, the mystical, the depth and what is taboo and dark. Where there is darkness, there is the most opportunity for illumination. Even the flicker of a candle can light an entire room. You may find there is no boogey man at all. The fear was just a trick!
I still cannot figure out if Teen Witch is the ultimate trick or treat. The funny thing is, when I made this movie, back in 1988 there was no internet and I was positive that nobody would ever see it. Boy was I wrong. This movie became a cult classic, and thank goodness that my willingness to transcend my beliefs allows me to happily share this treat with you, rather then retreat! The trick is, to never take yourself too seriously. Or, as Ram Dass says: remember that everyone you encounter is just God in drag. And with that I leave you! My top three yoga tricks:
               To approach CROW pose, try perching upon a yoga brick to get your knees high upon the triceps.
               Challenge your FOREARM PLANK pose by maintaining the forearms in a parallel position, but flip your palms upward to engage the core deeply.
               HALF HANDSTAND starts in downward dog, with your heels facing the baseboard where it meets the wall. Walk your legs up the wall in an L shape.
My top three healthy treats:
               Kevita Probiotic drink is what I go for instead of a soda.
               Raw Chocolate is tasty and guilt free. Made without dairy or sugar, there are no apologies!
               Freeze dried Mango is tart and tasty. 

Lastly: Retreat. This is how I do. In honor of Day of the Dead.

CORPSE POSE


Lay flat on your back, push your shoulders down away from your ears, and flip your palms skyward. Allow your feet to flop open to the side. Take a deep breath in and on the exhale release your breath, and let gravity sink you down into the mat, as if your body could make an imprint in the floor. Die to the world for 5 or 10 minutes before you return, refreshed.

The day of the dead is a celebration and an honoring of the spirits that came before us, as well as a release of what is no longer alive within us. Release and let go. Transform the depths of your sorrow into a revelation. Use your excess energy to try high intensity cardio vascular workouts like spinning, or push your limits to finally master crow pose, king pigeon, or handstand.

Whatever you do, do not fear the candy. Top That! 






Monday, October 20, 2014

The Buddy System

I consider myself a "yoga buddy". After all, there is nothing particularly earth shattering or groundbreaking that I am doing with Kate Beckinsale, other than showing up, being a listening ear, and lending a helping hand. You can be that for someone too, as well as ask a buddy to be that for you. Life is all about relationships. Relationships with humans, with our bodies, with ideas, and so forth. In a way, the word "yoga" means "relationship". Yoga is the union and relatedness of  two opposing forces. Light and dark, masculine and feminine, strength and vulnerability. It is a constant dance of opposites emoted in the physical form.What better way to explore this dance than finding your body in relationship to another being's experience of the body?

I employed the help of my friend, and sometimes assistant, Lauren. In reality, we needed a third entity to capture the following photos. Let's call the third entity: neutral. Positive, negative, and neutral. (Luckily, good old Apple Mac Air was there to capture our posturing. Big brother lending a helping hand and a watchful eye – one of technology's most useful aspects.) Big Brother and I have an interesting relationship in my own mind...but that's another blog post for another time... Bottom line: getting into these postures within a 5 second timer was by far, the most challenging aspect of these shots. If you are trying this at home, all you need is a buddy, the willingness to explore, and a sense of humor. 

1. Seated Twist
  • Begin in a seated cross legged position, facing one another. Smile at your partner  for a moment. 
  • Take a deep breath and extend your breast bone away from the sacrum, as each buddy twists to the right while reaching the right arm behind your back to hold your partners left hand. 
  • Just as you would in a regular twist, take an inhale to lengthen your spine, and exhale twist and wring out your spine. After 3-5 breaths, unwind and repeat on side 2. Twists are intense and detoxify the body, so this should be done after a warm up. Rest in savasana beside each other afterwards. 

 2. Two Chairs

  •  Stand back to back and link elbows.
  • Press against your partner's back and walk your feet forward, while keeping the sacrum and spine touching each other until you are in a 90 degree seated position.
  • Hold for 5 breaths and feel the dynamic energy when you are pressing against the other and breathing. 

3. Assisted Butterfly or Cobbler Pose

  • One person sits with a straight spine and soles of the feet together, while the knees fan open.
  • Inhale, and while gripping the feet, lengthen the spine and fold forward.
  • After several breaths, the assistant may gently press on the inner thighs.
  • Maintain communication to make sure the assisted feels in control of the pressure. 
  • Release and switch partners. Give and receive.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Living In the "I Don't Know"....

When I was a girl, I had to be savvy. My parents were young (mom was 20, dad 23), and I was the first born. Sometimes I'd call myself "the experiment". Since mom and dad were children themselves,  I felt that I needed to have it together and know all the answers. Soon, my precocious maturity was praised by, and even entertained the adults. I was now expected to "know". At least that's how I felt.

I will never forget this one bus ride I took with my friend Melinda Morgan. We may have been in the first or second grade. The cut off shorts, which were long enough to be a skirt...were, I thought, called culottes. That's what my mother told me. On the day I wore this apparel, I heard Melinda use an alternate word: gauchos. After hearing this word several times, and finally from a pretty close friend, whom I thought I could trust, I had to find out the answer. I remember working up the courage to blurt out, under my breath, "what are gauchos?" Only Melinda didn't hear me. That was as far as it went, but even speaking it aloud was progress for me. I do not like to not know.

Imagine my frustration when confronted with open ended questions, or something called: process. The idea that I don't know the answer to the question of my own future can cause me to feel anxious. How will I approach writing my next book? Will I ever fall in love with someone I can settle into? How does my story end? Being in a state of staying open and teachable requires presence in the moment, and delight in the discovery. How do I get curious about and live my own process, without the anxiety?

Yoga provides me with an analogous space. I make progress on my mat when I approach my process with an open mind. This is why I love to take class from a variety of teachers. Each person has a slightly different take or experience, and when shared, it might strike a new revelation in my perception. Recently, I had the opportunity to take class with one of my old teachers from the mid-eighties. Baron Baptiste was a teacher I found in my teens. Although yoga had been a household activity, I found Baron when I was a gym rat, on my own terms. His approach resonated with me, and he was not much older than I. I was taken with his lazy LA accent, and his investigative approach. Little did I know that one day, he and I would be peers. His success as an instructor was foundational for many, and I had no designs on becoming a household name myself. Had I "known" the end to the story, perhaps I would have been far less teachable. Last year when I attended his class, I was tempted to explore something I have not tried in a long while: inversions. Due to several herniations in my spine, I choose not to go upside down because I know that it creates compression in the spine. This class, which I took in Hawaii, felt safe to me. Why not start from scratch and play like a child? I hadn't had any back issues for years! So I did. I played with going upside down, and finding my balance as I had in my youth. I did not know that my body would be able to deeply explore in the positions. It was not planned, or an aspiration, but became possible solely by curiosity. I felt such joy playing in the arena of the unknown, that this joy outweighed any wisdom I thought I'd have from the experience. I am so glad I did. Perhaps the key to living in the "I don't know," is to stay curious like a child. To live with a sense of wonderment.

Each day is new. We cannot say what will arrive in the next hour, moment, or breath. The only truth for me is " I don't know". In an effort to control or plan for the future, I may pretend that I have it all figured out, or that I am the one making the plans. One thing is for sure, no matter which decisions I make, God or the unifying force that connects us all, is running the show. The best I can do is breathe, play, be open, and teachable. This is living!


Sunday, October 5, 2014

Relationship with the Body

Imagine your most intimate partnership. What does it take to cultivate that relationship? Attention, listening, spending time, giving encouragement, working with special circumstances, commitment and of course love. Perhaps you are able to provide some, but not all of these qualities with varying degrees of finesse. Perhaps you have other requirements or special gifts that you add to the mix. Regardless, healthy relationships require a variety of actions in order to work and acquire trust in the other.

Now consider your relationship to your body, after all, this is the only "one" that you have for this entire lifetime. That is a guarantee. Your body has been with you, ever evolving throughout the years, and will be with you until the very end. This relationship should be a priority and may require an upgrade, if you are not already treating it with the same sacred energy you wold treat the love of your life.

I, myself, have been on a lifelong journey with regards to my own relationship to my body. In my childhood, I became prone to perfectionism, comparison and worry, which translated into a sense of being a slave driver or even a non-participant in the pleasures of being an earthly human. In my early twenties, I decided to "let myself go", and allow perceived imperfection and even absence of care to take the drivers' seat. What if I became the very thing I feared? Soon I decided to become "the thing" and love myself as is. I spent some time simply being imperfect and loving it. In my thirties, I started to speak lovingly about my body aloud, and lead others to do the same. Without effort, and much to my surprise, my body fell into place organically. In my forties, I became known for a level of aspirational health and that emanated from a balanced relationship with my body. I embodied freedom and discipline, two sides of the same coin... Give and receive, open and close... As I head towards my fifties (okay, I have a few years to adjust), there is a sense of surrender and letting go of all that I know. This body will not last forever, as no relationship really does. Everything is ebb and flow, and all that lives and grows must pass. So what will be the next lesson in my journey?

For now, I allow it to unfold. This year has been so humbling: my eyesight not quite the same. I had to buy those 1.5 magnifying glasses at the drug store! A few spots of skin that alarmed my dermatologist enough to get them tested. Perhaps less sun worshipping? Who knows where my choices will take me.
Yet, the pattern is indicative of change. Ever-evolving and dynamic as all relationships are. Today is not yesterday, said a wise man to me.

Commitment to my body. To caring for and loving my body. Through thick and thin. All in.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Yoga Month: Mind Your Mid-line

Mind your mid-line. Balance brings with it the illusion of steadiness. The constant energy of extension in both directions, brings awareness to the mid-line of your body. When balancing, the key is core strength. Consider the core of an apple that runs through the middle of the fruit. Your core is actually the mid-line that runs through the entire center of your body. When you are balancing, notice the differences on each side, and where is your center. For the last blog of yoga month,  I have chosen to highlight the balance postures from the Bikram series of poses here: 

1. Bikram Chair Pose is extra challenging, for it requires the yogi(ni) to elevate onto the toes,  lowering the hips, while maintaining a straight spine. The key is squeezing the knees together at the midline. 

 
 2. Eagle Pose is amazing for the lymphatic system, and the key here is to squeeze everything at the center as much as you can. This targets all of the major joints in the body. You will notice that the more you squeeze, and involve yourself in the pose, the easier it is to do.
 3. Extended Leg, Head to Knee pose. This requires immense focus and flexibility. Notice if one side is different than the other. We all have imbalances in our bodies, and it's important to find out where they are. You may not ever be fully balanced, yet you can work with what you've got. Imagine straight lines of energy reaching out through and energizing your legs.

 4. Dancer's Pose. This Pose looks effortless, yet the key is to press the top of the foot into the back hand as hard as you are reaching forward. It's the opposition that will create the relationship of balance.
 5. Warrior 3. The gazing point and breath are key here. Again, reaching equally forward and back will create a dynamic, energetic pose. The stillness of the gaze will calm and focus the mind, while the breath gives you the connection to steadiness. The mind is not reliable, your breath is.
 6. Tree Pose. What better way to explore and become conscious of the midline, than palms pressing together in prayer. This is vital to the pose and to your stability.