Sunday, February 7, 2016

Monkey Business

Gung Hay Fat Choy! Happy Chinese New Year, Dear Monkey.

As we ring in the Chinese New Year, we say hello to the Monkey and its business. The monkey brings the energy of fun and play, unpredictability and action. The monkey loves children, mischief and family. It has a tendency to over indulge, so keep an eye on your habits. This high-activity year is an optimal time to take a risk, make a change or go with the changes that come your way. Look forward and make the impossible possible.

The Chinese New Year begins at the astrological New Moon in Aquarius, at 630am Pacific. Aquarius is a detached sign that is connected to the higher mind, brilliant new ideas, inventions and the strange.  We are shifting mentally and there is an innovative energy supporting our ideas that sets the tone for the entire year. On some level, we begin the new year today.

When the winds of change are blowing this wildly, it is essential to maintain a sense of grounding and stability. Walks (and low risk physical activities) are optimal. Deep breathing, deep sleeping and meditation are key. Calm the monkey mind by sitting, preferably in a natural setting, to off set the excitement that will likely come your way.

Both Monkey and Aquarius love people. Lots of people. Make time to be social. Enlarge your circle. This is a great opportunity to expand and engage in group activities. One of my all-time favorite aspects of teaching in my local community was creating and connecting people to one another for the common good. Do more of that.

Play. Laugh. Make business deals. Try to be honest and upfront. (Monkey can be a keep an open mind and take promises with a grain of salt.) Overall, this should be a positive and energetic year~may your thrive and feel alive!

Saturday, January 30, 2016


One of the most gratifying aspects of my work has been the ability to bring together a group of people who are completely unique, yet are gathered for a common goal of self care. Many have found the support they were looking for within the four walls of my classes. Break-ups, chemotherapy, losing jobs, getting married, having a first baby, rehabilitation from a physical ailment; these are some of the circumstances I would hold space for in the exercise rooms of Santa Monica and Venice. Time and again, I would gaze upon a room filled with the beauty of humanity, knowing the details of the individuals, while feeling the palpable healing powers of the collective.

I am no stranger to this energy. I, myself, have benefitted from group classes from the early age of 16. I became a gym rat and found so much solace in losing myself to the unifying energy of a group of people working rhythmically, collectively and in unison. The power of the others who show up and give their energy can uplift my spirit, allow space for the emotional release as my tears roll, and satisfy my need for connection without invasion. Without saying a word, I feel a release of the tensions that were blocking my heart. I feel deeply intimate with not one, but with the whole.

The power of community is certainly a key to the popularity of yoga, spinning, cross fit...whatever mode floats your boat. When you find the place where you belong, there is a feeling of support. This is why we keep returning. It becomes necessary. There is a neutrality that we feel when we drop our roles at the door. When you walk in to my class, I no longer know what your profession is, who you are related to, your last name... status and bank accounts are gone. There is a purity in the fitness rooms we inhabit when we are stripped down to our sweat pants.

When I became the leader, I found yet another key to my own healing. Finding my place in the circle, as the guide, transformed my ability to connect, to share my vulnerability, and most importantly to be responsible to others. Participation gave me a sense of happiness and of purpose. In giving my self over to this service role, I found a power that I had never experienced in any other area of my life. The power of giving to the community. Not everyone can be the leader, yet anyone can participate.

Find ways this week to participate in your community. Find the place where you can give of yourself. Here's a clue: just showing up to class is a form of giving. You never know who you may be inspiring. We gather, we sweat together, breathe the same air. We give and take simply by taking care of ourselves. Do not under estimate the power of your presence in the community. We need you. We need your exact perspective, energy and participation.

Now get to a class!
My 40th birthday spin

Maria Menounos in Malibu class

Pop Sugar Yogalosophy class

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Awakening to the Self

Awakening is spoken about, yet rarely felt. Many of us seek this feeling, sensing that it will alter us for the better. What is it to awaken? To see things as they truly are in the now. Lights on and no secrets. Sometimes harsh. Too bright. Too much information. An instant download of things exactly as they are. No filter.

 I heard a quote that said "Awakening is the ultimate blow to the ego." ...Until now, I did not know. "What was I thinking...?"Mind blown. I have experienced it in this way: Like I've been punched right in the gut or slapped in the face. Made to laugh. Had my hand slammed in a door. Time and time again, I find myself waking up.

  • When the planes crashed into the towers.
  • When my father died while I was out of the room making a call. 
  • Watching my siblings wake up slowly on a Sunday morning and witnessing my brother tell them their father is dead. "Is this really happening?" I could feel myself think as the moment unfurled. 
  • The blows I have taken, literally in the face by some men I never knew except in that intimate moment which forever branded my soul that June night. 
  • The sound of lightning so loud that I stopped to take note, and later that day encountered a woman who had seen the surfer who had been struck in that moment. 
  • The stark naked feeling of a two thousand person audience that was palpable to me as a 14 year old performing on stage for the first time. Me, gasping silently. 
  • The light of the sun shining in my eyes. 
  • My father's rage cutting me through the pain in his eyes. 
  • My first fluffy cat, getting stuck under an oak wood chair, and the herculean surge running through my adrenaline laden 3 year old body coming to the rescue. 


After a particular heightened experience I had with a shaman,  a simple profound thought arose within me: the gift it EXACTLY WHO YOU ARE. Nothing added to that. To not be afraid to see the self. Naked. No decoration. It happens in a flash.

Just a thought for you, on this regular Saturday.

Before enlightenment: chop wood, carry water.
After enlightenment: chop wood, carry water.

Praying by Alex Grey

Monday, January 4, 2016

Transformation: One Step at a Time

New beginnings. New Year, New You.

These are the things we hear as we enter a new year. As if at the stroke of midnight on December 31st, the slate is wiped clean and we are immediately stripped of our past patterns and habits. We can begin again, refreshed, renewed and ready for another chance at perfection by striving for our loftiest goals and setting grand intentions.

Perhaps it's a simple step. A series of choices and decisions in the present moment make the future. Each moment is an opportunity to open up the places that are hiding love. The subconscious places where we choose not to look are what truly drive us toward our apparent destiny. What if, instead of moving and climbing toward the goal...and away from the very thing that motivates us...we chose to look beneath the surface at what is really there.

What if I could look at my selfishness squarely, head on and see for myself it's not that bad. What if beneath the selfishness is a sense of lack? What if I could admit my need to be right at all costs? What if I could announce my desire for love and my fear of unlovability? I wonder if sitting with these motivators could disable their power. I wonder if inviting them into the room, with the lights on would make them interesting company. I wonder if the act of "sitting with" and ownership could change the nature of the beast, the same way that the observer alters the science experiment.

Transformation happens one step at a time. The metamorphosis appears to happen in an instance, yet the tedious and daily preparation are required. Each day of sitting and waiting contains a great feat of inner strength. I feel this for myself prior to any peak moment in my journey.

Just before a giant leap, there are psychic steps I take. Primarily, letting go and releasing the need to control what comes next. As the new year begins, my opportunity for transformation is supported by the need to return to the inner workings of my heart. Finding where the fear lives, and loving it into submission. These are the actions I take. Not running, but slowing down. Feeling the burn.

Find ways to be present to what is hidden. Allow the alchemy to occur. Be still. It's January. Time to go within. This stillness is where it all begins. Every single goal you have starts now. Begin it now by being with yourself. That is the one most important first step to your transformation.

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Hibernating for Winter

With all of the holiday celebration surrounding us, hibernation seems counter intuitive. Yet the rhythm of nature tells us, with it's cooler weather and shortened days, that this is the time to turn inward. Rather than moving into action, take the time for internal self-care and self-examination. It is fitting that work and school schedules pause and that we take a short break from the momentum that has built since last Summer. Gather energy and data so that when Spring arrives in March, you are able to intelligently plant your seeds in fertile soil.

Nature has a wisdom, and different times are for different actions. Winter is for heartier foods in smaller portions. Winter is for indoor sports or for enduring the challenging elements of the outdoors. It is time to slow down and take stock of where you are on your path, for it is essential in order to map out your course. Holiday time is a marker for what it was like last year. I always like to do an end of the year wrap up, creating a list of my accomplishments, my trials, changes, trips, and anything notable that occurred in this year.

Here are some ideas for slowing down and going inward:

  • Cook something hearty, like butternut squash soup, or a stew with all the vegetables in your fridge. Take the time to try out a new Winter recipe to share with family or friends.
  • Read a novel. I enjoy going back to the classics. Henry Miller, D.H. Lawrence or Dostoevsky. Choose something rich with description. Perhaps an author you missed along the way.
  • Practice yoga at home. There is nothing harder than leaving your home when it's dark or chilly out. Commit to creating an exercise regiment or yoga practice that you can do in your home at least twice a week.
  • Get outside. Bundle up and take a walk. Being connected to the elements is another way to get in sync with nature.
  • Up level your meditation practice. In the stillness of Winter meditations become deeper. 
  • Hot water bottle. Nothing like a warm body, or bottle in your bed. 
  • Green Tea. Stimulating and a great anti-oxidant, green tea is my go-to. Try Jasmine Green.
  • Catch up on your binge watching! I admit that I am not the best at this. I usually let someone else take the lead, and jump in on their binge watching. Nothing like a little entertainment to help you relax your busy mind.
  • Podcasts. Yup. That App on your iPhone has a lot to tell you. I love The Moth and This American Life.
Join me in slowing down, and enjoying it! All will get done. Nothing to accomplish. Nowhere to go, except inward. 

Monday, December 7, 2015

New Moon Musings

The new moon falls in Sagittarius on Friday December 11th. The energy of Sagittarius is normally expansive and abundant. It is ruled by the planet Jupiter which is larger than life. That explains why this time of year is naturally filled with celebration and even excess. This season, the typically exuberant energy of Sadge is tempered by the planet Saturn ( in the sign of Sagittarius for the next two years.) Saturn is restrictive and brings lessons. It insists upon a thorough job and will not settle for the broad strokes and vision alone. It wants to make things tangible and real. The dreams and visions of the Sadge journey can be concretized this year, however we may need to slow down and map the journey out for now. Jupiter (the ruling planet of Sadge) is in Virgo, humbling the energy even further. It’s time to mind the details. While this may not be the most jovial holiday season of late, it could be a time for growing in true humility and for stabilizing and making real your loftiest dreams. The energy of Sagittarius likes to journey, so a long distance run or taking a bike tour through a distant land are good outlets for the energy. Expansion can mean expansion around the waistline, so be careful not to overindulge….Prayer and any religious ritual of any religion is interesting and favored at this time. Select the God of your understanding and dance under the moonlight in thanks!