Monday, December 31, 2012

Design Your Year

I love a good year-in-review wrap up. In fact, I encourage you to take some time to look back on the past year and assess your progress, reflect on learnings, and take inventory on the lessons that are still incomplete. Ask yourself a few questions:

What are you willing to scrap?
Sometimes we just have to say 'good enough'. Certain relationships, projects and attempts that are not falling into place effortlessly may have had enough attention. It is sometimes hard to know when to work through a difficulty, and when we really have exhausted every option. Take a look at some of the areas of your life where you have been trying to force a solution. Maybe it's time to say 'good enough'. I remember when I was 20, and I finally decided to stop reconciling my bank account manually and matching it up to my statements. I keep great records, so this had been a tedious and maddening triple check. When I chose to stop, I felt instant liberation. Now, 25 years later: Quickbooks! Easy!

What is completed and needs to be filed away?
There may be a few accomplishments that you made in 2012. I love to look back at my travels, jobs, projects, personal work, family life, my moves (I lived in three different homes in 2012!), hobbies, and business. It's neat to reflect on, acknowledge and complete things. Even my happiest moment and greatest accomplishment must be released to make room for something new.

Where did you start to do it differently?
There is always room for improvement, places where I still need some work. Seeing how I have made progress, without having to be perfect, is a wonderful way to acknowledge my growth. If I improved even a little bit, I give myself credit. After all, it's the small adjustments, done consistently over time, that accumulate to change my life in a big way.

What are you bringing into the new year?
This is where I lay out a map of my year. I already know several of the projects. My speaking panel at the Fertility Planit Show on Jan 13th. The launch of my new book, YOGALOSOPHY: 28-Days to the Ultimate Mind-Body Makeoveron April 23rd. The book tour and workshops in Summer 2013. And my personal intention for 2013: Receive.

When I look back at my intention from last year, which was to follow my instincts, I see how magical that was, and how it enabled me to flow fluidly through my many travels, jobs, projects, moves, and emotional shifts. I look forward to the gifts of receptivity.

What is your intention?

May we all be abundant in grace this coming year!

Monday, December 24, 2012

Wounded Healer: Re-alignment

Here we are: Christmas time! Giving. Loving. Receiving. Finding peace. Sharing. Raising the Christ-consciousness, which is compassion in the face of hate; love in the face of fear. The myth of the Wounded Healer holds a message about the alignment of the mind, body, heart and spirit. When all of these aspects of yourself are aligned, you become whole. This healing and realignment comes after having been misaligned. It is recovering from a deep wound, wherein only you can take responsibility for the journey of realigning, and you uncover the healer within.

Ways to realign the mind:

  • Journal. Look for your core beliefs. State what is bothering you. Then ask yourself: What if it were true? Would it be so bad? What is the worst thing that could happen? Keep on going until you distill your core belief.
  • Meditation. While sitting, watch your mind drift to different thoughts and simply label the thought: "thinking". Each time you do this, remember to come back to the present moment and your breath.
  • Write a gratitude list. Simply writing 5 things you are grateful for and saying "thank you" will direct your mind to a better place.

Ways to realign the body:

  • Walk. Walking balances out both hemispheres of the brain. It is also a good way to realign your spine.
  • Iyengar Yoga. This type of yoga is focused on alignment. It uses props, and reminds the body to allow the skeleton to realign. Patience is required, and I highly recommend this type of yoga for anyone who wants to learn about proper form.
  • Legs Up the Wall pose. Any posture where you are supported by the floor will allow your spine to realign naturally. This is a nice restorative way to allow your structure to fall back into place.

Ways to realign your heart:

  • Place your hands on your heart and breathe. (You can even tap your chest in the center where your heart is. Just by intending to feel, you will be amazed how easily you can.)
  • Give and receive hugs. Remember that hugging is about being heart-to-heart. Embrace your friend, and place your hand on his or her back, right behind the heart. Feel the energy exchanged.
  • Smile. Even the act of smiling brings joy and openness to the heart. Smile at a stranger and feel the joy you give and receive.

Ways to realign the spirit:

  • Be in nature. Nature is spirit. Use your senses to connect to this true beauty. It is good for your spirit because you too are nature. Have you ever seen an imperfect flower? Of course not!
  • Be still. Take time throughout your day to get still and take a deep breath. Imagine Spirit working through you in the moment.
  • Be creative. Spirit is creative. When you create (or recreate) you are honoring that your are both created by spirit and are a creative spirit. Paint, dance, make an art project, plant a tree.

As we realign with the spirit of compassion and healing, may we all find peace.

Merry. Happy.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Staying Positive in the Face of Fear

In the reverberation of last week's tragedies, and in looking for what we can do, what came to mind is the notion that what you focus on expands. As I have read on Facebook: when we focus on the murderer, we empower his story. Whether we are demonizing him, or whether we blame the religious sects or the government to quell the pain of powerlessness, perhaps we are missing the antidote in the poison. Sitting with the uncomfortable feelings of hatred, pain, fear and helplessness is the last thing that most of us want to do. I have personally endured a violent crime first hand, and what I found was that I did not want to focus my hatred and anger to the assailants. I requested that those around me leave their anger outside the door. The only feeling that I was open to was the love and compassion that was pouring into me from my friends and strangers. Acquaintances that sent me love, condolences, flowers, phone calls. For the "bad" that came my way, there was "good" one hundred fold. That was the salve I needed to soothe my internal wounds. It reminds me of this quote from Martin Luther King Jr.

"Returning hate for hate multiplies hate, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that."

What you focus on expands. There will always be the dark and the light. They are, in fact, one. You have the choice in each moment to choose to see the hate or the love. To choose to act from love or hate. That is one thing you have control over. Where you put your attention and focus. That is what will expand.

Without a television set, I am not assaulted with the story. When I see the internet headlines, I know what is going on. I hear it from my clients and friends, and see posts on Facebook. One post, in particular, that struck me was the bravery of a young teacher who saved her students. But what strikes me even more is the level of human compassion that I see as I walk through my days. A deep sadness, that we could somehow live in a culture where this tragedy can and did occur. Solution? I don't know. I really don't know that we can eradicate all human suffering and darkness. Yet without it, how would we know the unlimited level of compassion in our own human hearts? How would we overcome pain and learn how to wrap our arms around another who is suffering even more? How would we learn to grieve together? To feel less alone?

Here are several things you can do this week to be helpful to the victims of this tragedy by being kind in your own day-to-day life:

1. Slow down. Begin your day with 5 to 15 minutes of quiet. Place one hand on your solar plexus and one hand on your heart. Breathe into the sensation in your physical body and allow your feelings to rise. Sit and breathe. Be with your feelings, whatever they are. This slowing down will allow you to honor yourself and will help to remind you to stay present throughout your day.

2. Be kind. Just for this week, allow the person trying to get into your lane to go first when driving. Be patient when standing in lines. Look your barista in the eye and say hello to him/her when ordering your morning java.

3. Give hugs. When you greet your friends, do so with a hearty hug. Connect hearts and place your hand in the center of their back. Take in their energy.

4. Say yes. Things are happening as they should. Reframe your week simply by knowing that all is well in the world. So when you encounter a seemingly difficult situation, accept it as correct. Whatever comes your way, be in acceptance, shift gears, and assume that the Universe is guiding you to where you need to be.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

12/10/12 Journal Entry: The Journey of You

As we encroach upon 12-21-12 (at last!), I realize how much I love looking at the pattern of the numbers. It was pointed out to me that this week we will experience 12-12-12. It will be the last time we will ever see a date that repeats itself three times. I am delighted by the repetitive and circular nature of this journey. The synching up of dates and events consistently entertains me. Energies that repeat at higher octaves (in spirals, like DNA). Things teachers try to teach in school, that become flattened in a science class, when imagined, take on a creative and artistic galactic expression of my intrinsic nature. 

I have been following an energetic spiral that flows through the center of my body in my meditations. I follow that spiral as far down into my center as I can. I travel as far out into space along that spiral as I can imagine. I sit in the center of this spiral strand that extends in both directions for what seems like (and probably is, scientifically) eternity. There are certain points along the way that I call my past and my future. Yet here I sit in this human body: heaven on earth.

As I look back at the patterns, and the points that were breakthrough experiences in my life, I am so deeply happy for my incredible, life-changing moments. The journey that has brought me right here and beyond! In truth, it is all happening simultaneously, which I experience as I travel up and down the spiral. In my imagination, there are no limitations or constraints of time and space. So far, there are no rules in that nation. I am free to discover and explore. Forwards and backwards. I can turn the events inside out, until they  morph into similar patterns at other times in my life. In fact, my life repeats that way, just like 12/12/12. Something happens just like what happened 30 years ago. A brand new understanding opens up!!

I was considering these life-changing events. The ones that expanded me forever. There have been a few. Moving to a large house with a pool: "We're rich!" Leaving public school: "The system is a sham! We have the power!" Becoming macrobiotic and yogic: "Food is medicine." Acting in a Broadway show. "Dream come true. I DID IT. I BELIEVE IN ME!" My parents' divorce: "There is no stability. I have to take care of myself." My first crush "Uh oh." Being assaulted: "I want to live." Teaching spinning: "I have a purpose." My first love/broken heart: "Pain is God's hand in my heart." 9/11: "What was I thinking?" My father's death: "There are no words." And now: "I accept."

The above video is a moment captured in time, from thirty years ago, when my life did a complete 180. In that year, I became an actress on Broadway—my dream! (Little known fact...I had creatively visualized and imagined getting the role. I even had a dream with Neil Simon where I got the part.) My amazing school closed due to lack of funds while I was in New York and my parents split. So my foundation vanished while I was away from home. (Sidebar: a couple of years before I got my first role in this show, my mother was threatening to leave my father after yet another volatile argument, and I said, "Just wait until I become an actress." It was a total coincidence that my father fell in love with another woman as I was fulfilling my actress dream.)

In the end, all of this story, every incident, is just another point of reference. Another moment in time. I cannot tell you how much I enjoy my journey. Every moment of it. Up and down this spiral, like a strand of my own hair...or my DNA. I sit here, and I smile. And I try to imagine...what is next?!

Do you know? I bet you do....

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Philosophers. Poets. Teachers.

I thought I would compile a little reading list for you readers out there. My world has been shaped by the books I have read. When I was younger, I developed a voracious appetite for authors, philosophers and masters. Just as I would try to understand my parents by mimicking their expressions, physicality, and taste in reading and entertainment, so did I understand masters by reading their words and assuming their stance.

This is a short list of 19 life changing books and authors.

Big Sur and the Oranges of Hieronymous Bosch by Henry Miller
Diary of Anais Nin by Anais Nin
Walden by Henry David Thoreau
The Fourth Way by P.D. Ouspensky
Astrology for the Soul by Jan Spiller
Yoga: The Spirit and Practice of Moving into Stillness by Erich Schiffman
Hafiz anything by this poet.
Rumi all so beautiful.
The Poems of Dylan Thomas  
The Power of Myth by Joseph Campbell
The Mastery of Love by Don Miguel Ruiz
Way of the Peaceful Warrior by Dan Millman
Grace and Grit by Ken Wilbur
Illusions by Richard Bach
Meeting the Shadow compilation by Zweig and Abrams
Awakening the Heros Within by Susan Pearson
The Seth Material by Jane Roberts
Light On Yoga by B.K.S. Iyengar
Strangers Among Us by Ruth Montgomery

I remember when I was 20, I got rid of my television, and opted solely for reading. During my Henry Miller binge, I remember reading that real life was not about writing or reading. That at some point we would be true artists by simply living our lives. I had aspired to be a true liver of life, and my dream came true when I was about 28 years old. I got a case of pneumonia, and was in bed reading one to two books a day. This had been a basic habit since the fourth grade. However, I finally had my fill. At that point I understood what he meant.

I stopped reading. I started living. Before I knew it, I was living a brand new life in the present moment and was experiencing real relationships and experiencing my connection to life. I had a community, a boyfriend, my relationships were much more present, and my emotions more accessible and fuller than ever before. 

That was many years ago. Once I realized that I do own a television, a MacBook Air, and I am now exposed to the "news", I am once again absorbing information. I am reading again. I am relaxing into it.

I even authored a book myself.

What was surprising, in terms of my literary archive, was that I was able to download and live the information very well. Choose your words wisely. Choose your teachers. Choose your world.

Get ready for November 28th's upcoming eclipse by understanding where you are truly living your spirituality and your wisdom in your real life. Replace outdated thoughts with wisdoms of the masters.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Thank You

Thank you 2012.
Thank you for bringing me to my own edge, and for holding me in a womb of nature for six months while I held a rose quartz crystal in my left palm and cried.
Thank you for giving me a place to focus my analyzing mind. A book. With no ghost writer.
Thank you for the love that I felt and that I gave and received in earnest... And for it still not being enough.
Thank you for the pain that grabs me in a way that forces me to my knees and has me facing my biggest fear—that I am alone and unlovable. Thank you for the indescribable, undeniable presence that you send to sit with and support me.
Thank you for lifting me out of my tears and placing me in the presence of people who are open and want to hear and read my words.
Thank you for New Orleans beignets and for Ibiza all-nighters, for engagements, babies that were born into difficult circumstances, book signings, superficial friends, green tea with too much honey and tiny dogs that resemble exploding foxes.
Thank you for memories of lovers who I still love, and of lovers who I don't.
Thank you for sweatpants, heaters, and ice cream.
Thank you for Inside the Actors Studio and for Hot Yoga.
Thank you for my mother and grandmother (still alive), for the Hollywood Bowl, where I did not go this year, and for the outdoor ice skating rink in Santa Monica in 90-degree weather.
Thank you for delivering my lessons in gentle ways. For the UNFRIEND button on Facebook and for the UNSUBSCRIBE button on newsletters.
Thank you for deep breaths, anemia and electricity.
Thank you for Occupy Wall Street, Barack Obama, and Marlon Brando movies.
Thank you for car detailing, razor cartridges and chocolate, and Dr. Altchuler who forgot to call me back.
Thank you for old friends, new clients, and consistent habits.
Thank you for living up to the Nostrodamus predictions, for the Mayan calendar legend and for the speediness of time.
Thank you for delivering no less than a magical and exciting year.
Thank you for not giving away the ending.
Thank you for that moon. The stars. The sky.
Thank you for the Pacific Ocean, and my own ability to see the distortions my mind wants to make.
Thank you for the ever-increasing faithfulness growing inside my heart.
Thank you for showing me where I still have more to resolve and learn.
Thank you 2012. I like your style.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Wicked Witch

The following story depicts my conditioning as to how to view and handle conflict. My childhood grew me into a rebellious adult with an arsenal of misguided anger. You see, I was a 'good' child. I colored in the lines; in fact I was known for being an advanced artist, in kindergarten through third grade. I was at the top of the good old academic bell curve (a system my progressive school would have me dismantle at age 9), and I was well-behaved. I was quiet, a good listener, I was able to be around adults. (I actually preferred adults to some of the kids my own age, in particular my 6-year-old neighborhood peer. When invited to her house to play with Barbies, she greeted me begrudgingly with a hammer in hand. I think she intended to use it on me. I was in disbelief when the adults, my mother included, agreed to leave us alone together after this. The girl and I are probably Facebook friends today.)

I spent a great deal of my early 20's attempting to decode my upbringing. It wasn't so much that I didn't remember, but that I forgot some interesting information. Looking back at my childhood story books, I found a significant clue to my mother's skills for coping with darkness...or evil. There comes a point in my fairy tale books in the story where there are large holes literally cut out from the actual books. Upon further examination, I realized that it was where the Wicked Witch enters the story. This was no doubt a genius idea to my 22-year-old mother, since the scary parts had caused great anguish. She did the logical thing—got rid of it. Poof. No more Wicked Witch.

I couldn't help but ruminate about this after the election. Some of my Facebook friends, most of whom fall on the side of liberal and progressive, were posting pictures of Barack Obama riding a unicorn beneath double rainbows. Simultaneously, I noticed headlines on my computer homepage citing hostile shootings at American drones, possibly due to our provocation by flying in airspace too close for comfort. It occurred to me that we still have this idyllic view of our world. That somehow we will be taken care of. That if the 'good' guys win, the 'bad' guys disappear. That one side is good and must prevail, while the other is bad and must be eradicated.

Because my family life was such a paradox: a juxtaposition of humor, spirituality,and  kindness, alongside  cruelty, immaturity, and even deception, I found myself extremely plugged into the significance of the Wicked Witch. Of course, as a child I could not articulate to my mother that it wasn't that I wanted the witch gone, it was that I wanted to know more. I wanted to understand her. Could I find relationship somehow to this lurking energy? Was she the other woman? Was she in me?

Perhaps more so than eradicating what we recognize as frightening, we want to understand this seeming ugliness. Perhaps it lives, archetypally, in each one of us. Could it be that each energy is contingent upon the eco-system of our own mystical fairy tale? This story that we are weaving must include the dark and light. In fact, maybe we cannot rise and overcome this energy unless we dive in deep and find the antidote from the inside.

I found the below description in Wikipedia. Having remembered reading about the Wicked Witch or Baba Jaga in Clarissa Pinkola Estes' Women Who Run With the Wolves :

Baba Yaga is sometimes shown as an antagonist, and sometimes as a source of guidance; there are stories in which she helps people with their quests, and stories in which she kidnaps children and threatens to eat them. Seeking out her aid is usually portrayed as a dangerous act. An emphasis is placed on the need for proper preparation and purity of spirit, as well as basic politeness. It is said she ages one year every time she is asked a question, which may explain her reluctance to help. This effect, however, can be reversed with a special blend of tea made with blue roses.

I have spent a much of my life skimming the surface and I have covered a lot of territory. Maybe my initiation to the story will repeat. Or maybe I will resolve. Instead of viewing it as bottomless pit, perhaps the emptiness is a black hole that I may enter with curiosity until I ride out the other side, eaten, assimilated, digested...reborn. Perhaps I will make friends with the Wicked Witch, knowing she is my helper. After reading the Wikipedia definition, perhaps my mother could have enlightened me that I must prepare to encounter the Witch. Or that due to my purity of spirit I may be spared, the one thing we may need to work on was my politeness. On another note, we could have made some blue rose tea. Ironically, I have always loved rose tea, but have never treated myself to it until my friend gifted me with some last week. And so it goes....Into the dark. Happily Ever After.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Darkness Into Light

What a week. Nature is a terrorist! I say that jokingly, yet what we have seen is a destruction that we cannot pin on a group or a sect. We cannot blame anyone in particular, and yet the rage that the devastation causes still seethes inside. What an opportunity to become empowered.

When I wrote back and forth with a friend who lives in New Jersey with two little children to protect, and she described the flooding of the first floor of her place, her grandmother's home being washed away, her parents' beach house ruined, and her brother's two cars gone, I expressed my sorrow for her loss.

I was hesitant to say this but just days before, on her birthday, I had said, "Oh, this is your year of transformation." She wrote, "If this is what you mean by transformation, I don't like it." My heart went out to her, and I wished I could make it better. Something came to me. I knew she was a workout queen, and though I didn't want to sound trite, I did frame it this way: "You know when you are at the gym and you are doing a really intense workout that you want to give up and quit, but you dig in and get stronger, and day by day, your body literally transforms?... This is like a spiritual workout."

And so it goes. I myself have been through the mill. I was in NYC during the 9-11 attacks, while simultaneously my father was going through chemo therapy and dying. This was timed perfectly with my first big break up, getting fired, my finances plummeting and my back going out. This had me flat on my back for weeks on end. It seemed that everything I considered my foundation and stability was rocked. I was flattened. At the time, I called it a clean sweep. What else could it be? With all of these areas of my life targeted at once, it could only be a force of nature at play.

Thank goodness I had all those years of fitness under my belt. The strength and habits that I had developed by consistent effort translated directly to my emotional, spiritual and physical pain. I realized at that time, the workouts I had been doing were not merely for the toned tush I was sporting, but modeled for me my personal process when faced with difficulties.

I learned myself very well during that dark time. I learned not to be afraid of my own darkness. I went inward to face myself. (One night I was literally dragging myself to the bathroom, sweating in excruciating pain with nobody to help me, and a rat ran across the floor.)

As the nights get longer and we have more nocturnal moments in the literal darkness, take a deep breath. Take a few. Here you are. You are not alone. At the very least, a rat is crawling right beside you. This life is indeed a mystery, and you never know when you will be able to bear the fruits of your labors and utilize your skills.

Monday, October 29, 2012

The Power Stance: Sitting

Sometimes I sit. I sit through the storm and I shake and I wonder if the winds will blow me away. I wonder if I can endure the violence, the rage, the anger. I forget what it was like to feel safe and be at peace, to live in contentment and know in my heart that I am okay. I shiver in my boots and the tears stream down my cheeks and I am reminded of my mortality and I feel small. I turn inward and I wait, trying hard to disappear or make this feeling go away. I feel like a child and I don't know how to care for myself.

I need help, but no one is around. No person can do it for me. I stand, stunned at the vastness of this emptiness and I look outside and wonder will I ever feel okay again? This is how I feel at first. When something unexplainable happens. It can be in any form. One time an argument my parents had, one time I didn't get picked for a game, one time my friend was killed, one time I was beaten, one time my pet disappeared, one time I lost my job, one time I had a fight with my best friends, one time my father died, one time a sick baby was born, one time my brother lost his mind, one time I was all alone.

I sit and I take a deep breath. The rise and fall of my belly and chest, the vehicle of prana, my life force energy flooding every cell in my body, infusing me with aliveness, awareness and acceptance. I cannot and would not want to control my circumstances or the outcome. I don't know what lessons it brings, or what strength it builds. I lose the desire to be in charge or change a thing. I surrender and allow the vastness of my human emotion to tumble and unravel and untangle me from these binding thoughts, expectation and fears.

I release myself into the fear and the fear becomes a ride I am on. And I keep breathing and allowing and giving myself to the emptiness and soon, I feel completely enveloped and enfolded, embedded in the safety of this emptiness I feared. I allow the pain, I give in to the feeling of my heart opening: God's hand in my heart.

It hurts. This love I am feeling hurts, but in a good way. In a healing way, it aches within me and the clarity of my true self rises from within. From somewhere deep within me wells up a feeling. It's small. It's very small, I can barely hear the faint, high pitched sound that streams from within my own head. From the center of my mind. I feel somehow that all will be well. I feel that this hurt will somehow be healed and that I will be stronger than I was before. That the hurt and the fear and the free fall into the abyss will be followed by something than can only come from a return. A recapturing, a recovery. Somehow I know that I will recover from all of this. Somehow.

I open my eyes. Only 10 minutes of meditation have gone by. I have visited the inner workings of the mind once again, and have made it out alive. Meditation is for the brave at heart. If I can learn to face my fears, my fears triggered by my past: an angry father, a heartbreak, a baby with a feeding tube, my sick grandfather, or my struggling sibling, the career I lost, my back injury, the dreams I had of true love now vanished. The list rattles off, almost constantly in the back of my mind, but for 10 minutes of sitting in stillness, I may never know the terrorists that live in there. But that is also where I feel my heart. The resilience of that muscle, like no other. In acceptance, I have everything. Nothing to fix or change. Everything as is. That is when I know my heart, and feel the rise of the hope: the salve that I have been blessed with. It ignites within me a luminosity and a purity that remains untouched and untainted by the stories and the play that lingers long past the performance.

My yoga for the day is done. I unburden myself. Rise and open my heart to the possibility of another glorious day.

Hope lives within me.

Monday, October 22, 2012


The Underworld: the place to find your buried treasures. The unknown feels so uncomfortable, especially when the journey is a descent into the underworld. Deep sea diving for the key to transformation sounds glamourous, but my experience of it is murky, dark, cold, silent and isolated. How will I rise from the depths? How will I be reborn and alchemize my former ways? What must I release (everything?) and what can I salvage? It feels I've gone too far to turn back, yet I cannot see where I am headed.

These times are heightened for all and I feel myself up against a wall. Emotions run high when you have nowhere else to go. I look within and make a commitment to plunge the depths of my soul. Nobody on this journey but me. I sense something hidden that needs to rise, to be expressed. It wants a voice. It wants to be named, yet it is mystery. How to embrace this mystery? Without naming it. Without trying to pin it on some external circumstance.

I turn towards my yoga, the tool I use for transformation. When have I faced a similar feeling? What has felt insurmountable, yet has changed me completely once I surrendered to the painful burn of alchemy? My physical body. Yes! I remember that when I have hit my limit and reached my threshold physically, it was a mental flip: "all in!" that allowed me to find the jewel of power that lies in the center of challenge and wanting to give up.

What better way to strengthen my sense of staying power than to challenge myself in a fitness class. When I was teaching Spinning daily, I would say that the point of breakdown comes the moment before you are about to have a  breakthrough. It is actually the key and the indicator that you have the opportunity to transcend. If you are feeling highly pressured in your daily life, it would be a good time to challenge yourself physically. Hot Yoga, postures that are difficult and require sitting in discomfort, deep late-night meditations, and high-intensity aerobic classes like Spinning are my favorite (and most familiar) tools that teach me that before I transcend, I must go under.

Meanwhile, remember you are not alone. Each person you encounter today is working to transcend a seemingly painful life lesson today. Soften up and dive into the underworld. Focus on yourself, laser-like, and let that burn alchemize you. I will do the same.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

New Moon Power

Today is a new moon in Libra, which highlights relationships. New Moon is the time to plant the seeds for what we wish to grow. Since we are all now graduates of relationship issues, and are reaping the rewards of our recently completed lessons, we are being given a parting gift.

The energies that flank us now encourage dreaming, visualizing and being an artist. The picture I created below was a beckoning to a future that had not yet come. This image was the creation in the making, and has since come and gone.

My new vision is still under water, and I am conjuring the relationship that is to come. I can't wait to watch it unfold. Let's keep this fairy tale going! Here are some tips for allowing your dream to come true.

Declare what you want. Name it. "I call forth my cosmic dance partner."

Feel the emotion and feeling this evokes in you and live from your heart. "Yes."

Create a symbol of your desired outcome. It need not make sense or be linear.

Know that it is yours.

Be the love you wish to bring.

Sound simple? It is. Get out of your own way.

Meet you back here next week for a check in on how it's going.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Relationship Lessons: Class is Dismissed

If the past two-and-a-half years have challenged you with relationship lessons, you are not alone. The old paradigm of relating has changed, and the lessons have already come by now, for better or worse (for richer or poorer). As we step into the next level of intimacy, which exposes our depth and our darker side, you can go confidently in that direction knowing that whatever you have  learned will be the foundation you can now build upon. The old types of thinking you may leave behind are the fairytale versions of relationships or the 'you complete me' paradigm. However, what also falls by the wayside is non-committal and indecisive ways of relating. Always looking to make sure nothing better is coming along is a good way to miss what's right in front of you. It's time to step up to the plate in all relationships and dive in deeply and fully. Be unafraid to expose and exploit what lies deep beneath the surface, no matter how terrifying it may seem.

Are you ready for this type of relationship? It begins with the Self. Look in the mirror. Be in love with that person. That spirit. That soul. That human being staring right back at you. That's the one. Go wholeheartedly into your secrets and your power. Only the fully committed will survive the underbelly of this ancient aching. There it is. Can you handle it? Can you handle her or him?

The beautiful translation of the word yoga is the UNION. The fusion of the dark and the light. Now that we have learned our relationship-light lessons, we are ready. The symbol that I was raised with in my family was the symbol of yin and yang. The feminine and masculine. It is circular, so in fact the yin becomes the yang and the yang becomes the yin. This is not a linear journey, but a dance. A balancing act that is a dance. When there is too much light, the dark will over take. (Imagine having a delicious piece of cake and when you over eat it becomes a stomach ache!) When there is darkness, light will eventually emerge. I remember visiting Hawaii, and although the lava had covered the Earth, up popped some greenery. Or sometimes through the pavement a clover or blade of grass pushes through.

Commit to your self. Your journey. Your heart-opening. Include the other. It is an expression of the relationship you make to you.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

The Beauty Standard

I have been exploring the idea of the beauty standard. What that is, and how it is changing. I was recently shot for Vogue Germany. As I have been saying, there are many reasons that never should have happened to a 5'4" Jewish American chick that looks like me. In fact, had I announced to my mother that I had a dream of modeling for a beauty magazine, she would have been correct to point me in a different direction. Fortunately, I never had that dream. At least I thought not.

Underneath it all, I am a girl. I have dormant fantasies about marriage, fairy tale romances, being a ballerina and yes, a model. Girls are raised to aspire to these dreams. Having not ever fit into society in the first place, I turned off the part of my brain that's like the other little girls. Or so I thought. As I approached my shoot date, and the call sheet arrived...just seeing the word Vogue plastered all over the place and my name right on that list, I felt that I was experiencing a dream come true....only I never even knew I had the dream!

What else lays dormant within me, that I have shut down for lack of confidence? The relationship that feeds me? Riding off into the sunset? I'm sure there is so much more that the old beauty standard had robbed me of. But it appears that I may have limited myself unnecessarily.

They say that life is a reflection of what we believe. If this is the case, I dare to say that I am accepting my beauty. Somehow, I am making choices that facilitate me in feeling more deserving and powerful. I cannot say this has been conscious, yet I know that all of my choices today are based on taking good care of myself, and selecting my company wisely. Again, I am not even sure how conscious this has been. It just sort of happened.

It came to mind that I am grateful I never knew I had this dream. Had I known, I would have had to build a support system, or fought against the doubters. My life today is large because I am not asking permission. I can feel my power and my beauty emanating from within. Shining like that light that I am, shining in your eyes. And you are the light shining in mine. The future looks bright.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Respectful Relationships

Happy Fall. The Equinox is the perfect balance of light and dark. The sun and moon holding court equally, representing the masculine and feminine polarity.  There is a joy in the harvest of all the seeds we planted in Spring. (Think back to your intentions and see how they have played out. Notice the fruits of your labor.) There is also an inventory to take. Did I succeed? What could I have done more gracefully and where was I thrown off-balance? How might I shift things today, to avoid harsh conditions? If the past two years have not been all fun and games, they have certainly held some major lessons in responsibility and respect. Both for ourselves and others. Relationships, like balance poses, are in constant flux. A balance pose is anything but rested and peaceful. It is dynamic. The stillness is the holding point that contains the energy of opposites.  

In balance poses we can learn how to set our gaze on a point that does not move, so as not to be distracted by the external bright and shiny objects that may derail us and take us on circuitous paths. When the gaze is still, the mind is still, teaching us not to be swayed by what we see. Particularly when we compare ourselves, or second guess our decisions and listen to our thinking minds, we face unnecessary self-doubt. You will notice that if you follow your thoughts when in a balancing pose, you will literally fall. Focus on something constant. Your internal rhythm. Your breath.

To maintain balance, we must also commit fully. Equal grounding and extension. When I look at trees, I remember I heard once, that the roots extend as deep into the earth as the tree is tall. That reminds me, in order to grow, I must ground. Ground into my self, my life and my home. This way, when the opportunity arises to get out into the world, I am ready for the growth spurt and outward expression. Meanwhile, I stretch myself and extend as far as I possibly can towards my goals. The extension being the masculine, and the the grounding is the earthy feminine.

Balance is never static. Relationships are a dance. What I am able to do is to show up. Stretch myself. Keep my gaze steady. Focus on my breath. Remember myself in the face of the other. Face my dark and my light. Give and receive. Be responsible to myself and respect the other. Be open to change, yet stay steady. And eventually...I will Fall. Just as we do this cycle again and again. Just as I try the pose again and again.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Cleaning House

It's always a good day to start anew. It's the changing of the guards this week. Today marks the Jewish New Year: time to review, reveal and release this past year. We review our actions, both positive and imperfect, and cleanse those old ideas, beliefs and behaviors that no longer serve. Just in time! With September 21st rolling around, we officially get the change of seasons from Summer to Autumn. I love the season change. I am actually a big fan of change, so I like to travel light. Minimizing the excess allows you to move easily. On Saturday we move into the sign Libra, which rules our relationships. We have come through a two-and-a-half year cycle regarding relationship lessons. What we can learn is how to take responsibility and mature. I have personally had groundbreaking lessons in this area over the past several years. It doesn't always go the way I would like, and so I am faced with many old ideas and habits to let go of. As we wind up 2012, it is time to release what no longer serves the most important relationship to spirit and our service to the world-at-large. My focus at this time of year is to modify my diet, to cleanse myself of the bad habits that creep up and recommit to my purity. Since I have moved (again) I have recommitted to releasing what is outdated and am in tune-up mode.

Ways to detoxify:

  • Gratitude List: Focus on what you DO have, instead of the lack.
  • Healthy Habits: Your body is your true home. It's time to clean house and rid your body of excess.
  • Refine your diet & move your body: Move energy out.
  • Breathing and Meditation: Sit with yourself and see what comes up. The thoughts and feelings that arise, when observed, will move through you. They are the old thoughts. It's like when you detox from sugar—at first you crave sugar, then it moves through your system.
  • Service: Be happy. Spreading your joy and giving your time to someone is more of a gift that any charity or amount of money. Cultivate your own joy and share it with other.
  • Intention Setting: Reconnect with the intention you set at the beginning of 2012. Where are you with it? Recommit. You have 3 months to fulfill it.

As I trot off to an exciting new adventure, speaking at a Women's Leadership Conference, I am struck by the opportunities that have opened up to me in the last months. Dreams and fantasies I never knew I had are coming true. Little girl wishes have been made real. I sit with myself, in my own presence and love. With no one and nothing to rely on or give me permission, I say "yes" once again. The way I bravely do. I throw everything away to see what returns. And say "yes" to the new that is washing in with the tides. This adventure is built on the daily tasks we follow through with and the dreams we never even knew we had.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Letting Go of Perfection

"If a thing is worth doing, it is worth doing badly." - Gilbert Chesterton

I love this quote, because it completely challenges the perfectionist in me. Perfectionism breeds procrastination. If I continually wait until I am prepared enough, I may be waiting a long time. Perfectionism is elusive, and a moving target. Since I am constantly growing and evolving, I have come to the habit of putting it out there, whether I am ready or not. You guys have been a great help to me. So thank you!

When I was a child, my mother was a wonderful artist, yet it seemed that she never finished a painting. I remember an unfinished portrait of my father and brother on an easel in my parents' bedroom that remained there until finally the divorce of my parents spawned the sale of our family home. It was curious to me that my mother had such talent, and yet could not continue to grow because she was stuck on finishing the painting perfectly. The fact that I was raised to color inside the lines has often been the bane of my existence, for I was good at it, and yet my natural artistic style is much more childlike than lifelike.

The quality of perfectionism was instilled in me from my paternal side as well. My father could wrap both legs around his head, and because my body structure and genetics came from the same pool, I could join in on the party tricks. However, the talents that I had often prevented me from trying the things I was not good at. If I couldn't do it perfectly, I wouldn't want to do it. Or what's worse, if I did one thing amazingly well, I would balk at the idea of following it up.

Taking a risk to do something badly is one of the most liberating experiences you may have. I remember my ex-boyfriend telling me that I was so bad at being in a relationship, that I was actually good at it. At the time he and I first came together, I had fallen apart. I had a fire in my house and was a little homeless, my car broke down for good in the parking lot, and I was an emotional wreck. I said, "So you love me even though I'm a mess?" And he said, "Baby, I love you BECAUSE you're a mess." And that was all I needed to hear.

Being human is messy. We are imperfect. We hurt each other. We mess up. We try again. In terms of the yoga, it really permeates all areas of life. Yet, in terms of the practice, what better example than to try Crow Pose, play with Dragonfly (depicted above), or attempt to bind your Side Angle Pose? If we never try the things we aren't good at, we never fail, but we also don't excel.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Green Hygiene

I am mid-holiday weekend, and I realize that most of you are probably taking this moment to unwind and not worry about counting calories, as you enjoy that margarita with your chips and guacamole. You will start fresh on Tuesday, and there is nothing wrong with that. Being in the fitness and self-care business, I enjoy a reverse schedule. Holidays and weekends are the most populated days for classes at your local studio or gyms. My work days can begin as early as 6am and end as early as 12 noon or even begin at 7pm. That said, I have decided to give my digestive system a holiday. I am taking a break and I am opting for green drinks instead.

When I post or speak about green juices or cleansing and detoxing, I get a lot of inquiries. My sense is that 'detox' and 'cleanse' have become code words for 'crash diet', but just the same, fueling your body with some highly nutritious greens can only be beneficial, as it will provide you with antioxidants, anti-inflammatory veggies will improve your skin and your digestive system, and give you energy. Since I am taking this day to do all green drinks I thought I would share a few tips.

* Avoid fruit juice.
Fruit juice is loaded with sugars. Not only is this highly caloric, but it will spike your insulin levels. Better to opt for green veggie juices. Even carrots and beets are very high in sugar, so I suggest that you veer towards the more highly nutritious and less sugary green veggies.

*Dark greens are good for your blood. 
The darker the veggie, the more nutritional value it has. For instance, iceberg lettuce has little nutritional value, as opposed to spinach which is a darker green. Greens help to alkalize your blood. They also taste really good when juiced and blended with additions like ginger or lemon. Try green peppers, spinach, kale, cucumber, romaine and parsley.

*Add some flavor.
Ginger, lemon, cayenne or turmeric, are all delicious when added to your green juice. If you need to sweeten it up, green apple or mint can be refreshing.

* Chill out.
When juice is kept very cold, it tastes much better. I have been getting my fresh pressed juice from Kreation. They keep their juices chilled and are especially delicious on these hot Summer days. It is optimal to juice during the hot Summer or Spring months, rather than the cooler Winter and Fall months, when we require warm things to balance our bodies. 

*Combinations matter.
Kale and spinach can be very bitter alone. I like a spinach, celery, kale, lemon, parsley, romaine. To be honest, I prefer to go to get a fresh pressed juice. Although it is expensive (up to $8.00 for 16 oz), the time it takes, and the equipment needed, plus clean up...well, I consider it worth the money. 

Juices will boost your immunity, build your vitality, purify you (not that you need it!). If you add cayenne, it will boost your metabolism, while ginger will improve your digestion. Other additions that could raise the nutritional value of your juice would be Vitamineral GreenSpirulina, wheatgrass shots, flax, or hemp seeds. I like to keep it simple myself. 

Since we are into September, and saying good-bye to the indulgence that Summer brings, it is natural to want to clean out. Adding a green juice daily this month would be a wonderful replacement for one of your mid-day snacks. It will give you an energy boost and help to keep your system clean. It's just good clean green hygiene.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Self-Care With A Twist

A friend recently sent me the following quote from the Dalai Lama:

"Take care of your thoughts for they become your words.
 Take care of your words for they become your actions.
 Take care of your actions for they become your habits.
 Take care of your habits for they become your character.
 Take care of your character for it becomes your destiny.
 Take care of your destiny for it becomes your life.
 There is no higher religion than the truth."

This quote came at a very timely moment for me. The bottom line is that you cannot twist the truth. The very nature of being human is maintenance. I need to check my thoughts, habits and actions on a daily basis so that I am able to truly guide my life. Yes, there are meant-to-be's in life, yet many things are within our scope of choice. Returning to a daily practice is what helps to keep my decisions aligned with what I claim.

This time of year, with the change of seasons, reminds us to begin anew. It's clean-up time. With yoga, we check our thoughts and pause before speaking. We take correct action, despite conflicting desires, and we focus on self-care with healthy habits. The foods we eat, the physical exercises and whatever emotional work we may be doing, as well as our actions of service help us to guide our lives gently towards an overarching love of humanity. One tiny action towards loving others can, in fact, be loving yourself.

Yoga incorporates twists to wring out the toxins from the internal organs, improve our ability to assimilate (truths) and digest what we know. Take the time for self-care today with a twist. Instead of twisting the truth to match your desires, try twisting your body!

Add a Reclining Twist for a gentle way to begin and end your practice.

Have a wonderful day.

Monday, August 20, 2012

The Heart Remains A Child

Me, my brother Dave, and Felix the cat
Who are you here to be? What is sitting in your heart center that is here to be expressed? It is probably not that different than something you knew and felt when you were little. There is a part of you that is exactly the same as you were when you were three years old. A subtle energy that has been running through you and sitting in your center for your entire life span. A piece of you that no matter what has happened or not happened, regardless of what you have endured or received, still stirs the hope within you. That is you. The real you.

I am astonished and amazed at the innocence of my resilient heart. I feel that sense of faith that allows me to start over and begin anew. Again. And again. This faithful forgetting. This sacred amnesia that I have been graced with, which keeps this heart open, alive and intact. My purity is not untainted and pristine, but that I show up in the day, completely new, despite the events that may have weathered me. This involves being present to my heart's true utterings. Of course, I cannot be sure what is true for you, but I have a feeling that you have a direct line into your hearts truth that is governed in a way that works especially for you.

Today, stay very close to that being within you. That Child Self. That self knows what is right, what it wants, and what brings joy to your heart. Let that be your compass. When I am unclear as to the destination, I close my eyes, I place my hand on the center of my chest (or sometimes tap on that center) and I breathe. I let all the feelings come. Sensing the world around me, I feel the presence I am sitting in, then I connect and trust.

Here's a tip: God is not a genie in a bottle.

Although the trend towards manifesting and creating your reality is valid, guess what? Whatever you can think up in your head, the Universe is better at knowing how to deliver it than you are. You just remember, it's all there for you. It may arrive unexpectedly. If it makes your heart sing, in that 3-year-old way...enjoy it.

I love treats and surprises. I am programmed to receive. I love a gift that is wrapped up, and the not knowing what's inside. So I connect with a feeling, and I trust the Universe to decide how to wrap it up and deliver it to me. As long as I stay connected to that Child Self, I can stay open.

Take this day to be that child in your heart. Dance, play hard, laugh. Cry when you get hurt. Do something that has no purpose other than to celebrate the day.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Act As If...

I don't feel great today. I don't. I know that I will go teach today and I will find a way, an angle, and that I will feel better in the action, but I don't always wake up feeling great when I have a client or when I must teach a class. I remember one of my old students saying to me: "You are always in such a good mood", and me thinking...."Really? Have you met me???" You can not judge your insides by other people's outsides.

As we walk through the world and rub up against each others energies, we assume that people feel as amazing as they seem. Most people are out there, putting on a good face and just doing the best they can. Since I pride myself on authenticity (...and let's just say "cheerful" authenticity, to tip my hat to the 'real' me - light and deep, just the way I was wired.), I very much dislike when someone passes me in the street and tells me to "SMILE", or when I read the chronic positivity on Facebook. Each person's wall an ad for how awesome they are, how great they are doing and why you should watch their (Facebook) show. Each person posting their personal creed and advice as to how you can have a life as great as theirs: here's how.

There is that saying that I learned in acting class: "Act as if..." Essentially we can act our way into correct thinking, but it is less often that we can think our way into correct action. It can certainly take me some time, to get myself into the right head space. When I do the right behavior, it's uncanny that the inside begins to match the outside. That doesn't mean I need to plaster a phony smile on my face and be perfect, BUT I can show up, not cancel my class or postpone any part of my life until I "feel" like doing something. If I allow my feelings to run the show, I am going to be all over the place. My feelings change daily, if not hourly. Like the waves on the ocean. I get to navigate what is there, but not allow it to take me off course.

So here I am. Today. Not exactly perfect. When you walk by me today, you may tell me to "smile!" You may not understand why tears roll freely down my face while I am in line at the cleaners. Or why I am quiet in my own world on my yoga mat with a fierce focused gaze, or is that a glare? One thing I know: I will show up and take the actions of a person who is happy, joyous and free. I will help where I can. Contemplate the glory of nature, and the sounds of children, not my own. I will keep my head up, my eyes open and my heart soft. Because I know that is how I will act the day I fall in love again.

Today: BOW Pose. For those who want it wrapped up in a nice neat little bow. How about assuming the position!

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

The Father, Sun and the Story of My Heart

Mandy Ingber Up Dog
Today, August 8th, marks the 8 year anniversary of my father's passing.The story has been told, and is open for interpretation. I am reminded of the courage it takes to continue to open our hearts in faith, even when we have been pained by loss or heartbreak. There is nothing more heartbreaking than being faced with the inevitable: our mortality, and the remembrance that life is impermanent. This is a reality we deal with each day, and yet the desire to live must carry within it a gratitude of remembering and the faith of forgetting.
Though he is no longer with us, I remember what an example my father was for me. He was the person who brought yoga into my life when I was a child. I thought that he was invincible. It seemed he could do anything. He had mastered some of the most difficult yoga asanas and pranayamas. He was strong and flexible, and had a positive, yet aggressive nature.
In the end, it was my father’s yoga practice that really struck me. His ability to show up at the mat on a daily basis, even as he was dying, was completely inspiring. He would say, “Other than this cancer, this is the healthiest I’ve ever been.” He would also say that the yoga helped to alleviate the symptoms of the cancer and the chemotherapy. One of the greatest gifts he said he received in his last days was the gift of receiving. How open his heart had become to others during this vulnerable time.
What a gift, to show up as we are. Today is a new day. This is the day that I have. Exactly as I am. Right now. Today I show up, brokenhearted … and full of life. How many mornings have I woken up and taken this day for granted when life was just too much? I often feel too vulnerable with my heartbreaks (and I have many). But how to open up and offer my vulnerability to the Universe and give thanks for another day, that is the lesson yoga offers.
As the years go on, I find my shoulders creeping forward just a bit more, perhaps as protection from the inevitable, my human vulnerability. I have protected my heart, physically, by caving my shoulders and my chest in. So as a daily practice, I find a way to roll my shoulders back and down, to lift my heart to the sky and dunk my head back, opening my throat and surrendering to the heavens. Thank you. Thank you, Universe, for another day. Thank you for this heartbreak. Thank you for this cancer, and for another opportunity to have faith. Thank you for another day of forgetting. Thank you for another day of remembering those who have shown me the strength of opening.
To open your heart and celebrate vulnerability and the strength that comes from acknowledging it, try poses such as Up DogSphynxCobraCamel and Wheel. I also like connecting with the beating of the heart in Supta Bada Konasana, my father’s final pose into his last days.