Monday, April 4, 2016

Find Your Center

Here I am. About to launch my new book. About to embark upon my eight city book tour. Usually by now, only one month before my publishing date, I like to have a plan. I like to have all my ducks in a row, my loose ends tied and my $h!t together. What is occurring is very different. I feel unhinged, messy, untethered, lost and overwhelmed.

I know. I know. "I'm a YOGA instructor." I'm supposed to have unlimited resources of zen calm and access to balance in the face of chaos. Even my book is a workbook of tools and tricks, exercise and routines to help ground you,the reader, into a state of well-being and inner strength during times of transition and grief.

I'd like to tell you that all is figured out. I'd like to be untouchable and super human like the yoga masters that I see in the magazines and in the videos on my Facebook page. The 95 year old who looks 55 and can still do the splits in every direction and has achieved mastery over life's little problems, only I'm the yoga instructor who is split wide open. I'm the one who comes to you uncensored and imperfect. My heart in a sling. That's me.

They say you teach what you need to learn. I am a living, breathing example of that. This weekend has had me bursting into tears, without warning, feeling a lack of identity and lost as to how to perform the simplest of tasks, like making my travel plans. It's true, folks. This deep rooted insecurity is coming up for review at the exact most inconvenient moment possible!

What to do? Well, in my book (I wrote a book????) the first step in all of this is to accept where I am. To land squarely, right here, right now. I sit. I take a deep breath. I feel. I cry. I write this blog. I breathe. I stop. I sit. I allow. I allow the feeling of fear to rise up in me, from my gut and upward streaking my spine like a flash of yellow and I let the tears flow and spill out through my words to you. I allow myself to feel this fear and to witness it, and to share with you anyway. I let the weakness permeate my entire being and I lay myself before my closest friends. Then I choose to reveal myself to you in this moment. I know that it's okay to be here and to be human.

The spiritual path has been romanticized. It is seen as a place of serenity and pleasant energy. I find the exact opposite to be true. The path of the yogi is the yes/and path. The word guru itself means darkness/light. That is the path of the teacher. I am able to sit here and witness the dark. Bring it to light. Feel it all. I feel it all.

Today I offer this to you: if you feel lost or confused you are not alone. Even those who you see living a serene life and having external successes don't always feel like they know the way. Today I land where I sit. I breathe. I cry. I express. I expose. I hold space for myself. I give up. I start fresh. This is how I find my center.
Malibu. Photo credit Javiera Estrada

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Renewal

Spring time is for starting fresh. Nature tells us so. The moment of balance when light and dark get equal air time is fleeting and potent. I come alive in that moment. That moment of integration, when I have just let go, and am embarking on a new journey. I feel ripe and empty. I am aware and falling. My gaze is fixed upon my new aim. The warrior embraces the dark and light. The warrior is well-rehearsed and knows nothing, but feels what is correct in the moment. The warrior is relaxed and at ease, yet is a stalker.

Today is new for me. I have never been here before. Never. Yet, I have journeyed and have experienced my cycles. Death, rebirth, death, rebirth. It keeps happening. I keep waking up. I keep waking up in the dream again. Once again, refreshed. Forgetful of the impending finality of the new conquest. Of course, each beginning carries within it the potential for its inevitable ending. But I am a quick forgetter. Thank goodness.

My emptiness feels freeing. A new chapter. Spring.

I open up. I stand firmly planted. I stretch and reach. I am wide open spaces. My moments of stillness eternal, my senses active, my mind present, my gaze fixed, my body firm and active. When I stand, erect and empty, grace fills me up and moves through me energetically. What looks effortless has been well rehearsed in the dreams I don't remember. It is time.

The real new year begins now. In the first moment of Spring. The Winter resolutions that you grapple with have been turned over in your mind, flushed through your nervous system. They have been consumed, digested and released. What remains? Look around. What you see is what wants to be birthed.

Here it is. I want to be seen. Here it is. I want to share. Here is is.
Death Valley. Photo credit David Korman.
I want to give and receive love. Here is it. I want to lead. Here it is. I want to play. Here it is. I want to create more so that I may feel my impact on the world in order to know myself more deeply. I want a new experience of myself.

What do you want? Don't wait any longer. Act.

Saturday, March 5, 2016

Let Go Into the Unkown

It seems my entire life is a series of lessons in letting go. No matter how attached I become or how permanent something feels, there comes that completion part of the cycle where I have to release my grip either by choice or force. It is a natural part of the process, yet each time I arrive again it tears me apart, breaks me open and leaves me in a puddle that is soon dissolved.

What choice do I have? The end is inevitable. It is contained and planted in the seed of the beginning. No matter how tightly I hold or try to establish my foundation into solid ground, in the end I must say good-bye again. Learning to release is what I came here to do. All of these dress rehearsals for the big let-go, but with training wheels.

As I linger in the last moments of the inward pull of the barren Winter and assess what no longer serves, I look towards the Spring with its hope of renewal.

It is in these moments where my tools of yoga and meditation, detachment and the boundless moments of blissed-out emptiness are tested. I have come to relish the feeling of missing; of saying good-bye; of completion. I am learning to embrace the dissolution of things that have been important to me, yet whose usefulness has been outgrown.

In the ongoing ebb and flow, I look to the past with reverence and let myself wash up on this brand new shore. Knowing that the emptiness will be filled once more. Dissolve and let go.

I look forward to sharing with you in Spring all of the new projects upcoming:
The onlineYoga Is conference
My new book, Yogalosophy for Inner Strength: 12 Weeks to Heal Your Heart and Embrace Joy
The book tour that will have me coming to a city near you, for a book signing and class event.
And a facelift to my website.

Joy Joy!

 Yoga Is

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Full Moon on Monday

Monday at 10am Pacific, we welcome our monthly Full Moon. Full Moons bring our intentions to fruition and reveal what has been hidden. The Pisces/Virgo polarity is the meditation/yoga axis. There is a balance and an opposition between faith and action. It is common to rely upon one or the other. Without practice and daily healthy habits, there is no container for the essence of universal love and spirit to move through us with grace. Without surrender and release, our efforts towards living a healthy life become dry and critical. It is essential to find the balance in this dance.

I need both consistency and the feeling of letting go into the unknown. I need discernment. I need free flow. Yoga is the practice of both/and. The sign of Pisces is representative of universal love, spirit, compassion, surrender and merging. Virgo symbolizes healing, the physical body, specificity, analysis and service. Each of these signs have a shadow side as well. Pisces can devolve into addiction, Virgo into being critical. When we bring consciousness and awareness to these energies, we are more able to utilize them towards a positive end.

Practical ways to express compassion are:

  • Helping those who are in need
  • Meditating on feeling the more subtle energies at work within your physical body. 
  • Writing a poem. 
  • Dance
One of the tools I use to bring people into gratitude for being in a body is to speak the sensation as we work out together. For instance, when you are on a spinning bike, you can close your eyes and feel your palms on the handle bars as you pedal your legs. As you breathe and ride, notice the vibration coming back through the handle bars. This is your vibration coming back to you. A closed circuitry. Then feel the pleasure of your breath moving through your body; into your lungs. Feel the expansion and contraction of the lungs as you breathe and how good that feels to have a basic need met. Feel the aliveness in your body as your heart pumps your blood to all your extremities. Enjoy the experience of gravity planting you down into your saddle seat as your sternum lifts up, engaging your core and your center. The place that is the original cell in your body. You are at the center of inspiration growing you; lifting you up and the weight of gravity, grounding you and planting you. This is the feeling of heaven on earth. 

Throughout your day, find ways to soften the space around your heart and to maintain a sense of service. Remember to give the benefit of the doubt to others today. Each of us on his or her own journey. Honoring one another all along the path. Give. Receive. Give. Receive. 

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 trickster...so 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

Community

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. 



Awaken.

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