New beginnings

“Watch your thoughts, for they become words.
Watch your words, for they become actions.
Watch your actions, for they become habits.
Watch your habits, for they become character.
Watch your character, for it becomes your destiny.”

2010 has arrived and the new year brings with it a fresh start, a time to make new commitments and personal resolutions. We make these commitments with the best of intentions, but once the train gets derailed we are back to our old patterns. Inertia is hard to overcome in such a large chunk. What if we were to consider every day as a new opportunity to create a positive change in ourselves and the world? Remember the freedom of choice that we all possess when choosing the words we speak and the actions we exercise. How will I choose to define myself by my choices in this moment?

My personal resolution for 2010 is to remind myself of a mantra every morning that I will repeat in order to consciously plant a seed of clarity:

“This is the perfect moment to begin living my life more in accordance with my values.
Today is the perfect day to embody the change I wish to see in the world.
Now is the perfect time to be the person I wish to be.”

For me, it will be a daily reminder to keep moving in the direction I see as “forward.”  One thing that we can always count on in life is change. While we are powerless to stop things from changing, we can determine the direction of the change. Positive thoughts breed more positive thoughts. Correct actions lead to more correct actions. As I make my daily commitment to simply be a little more honest, a little more compassionate, a little more peaceful, I slowly but surely embody my Truth ever more each day. I encourage you to take a moment to reflect on what is important to you and perhaps to establish a mantra that speaks to you and your Truth.

Create a beautiful 2010.

 Playlist: 1 hour Yoga Flow

 Pranafestation - Desert Dwellers 

 The Eastoner - General Midi 

 Ocean of Joy - Ikarus 

 Meu Destino - Thievery Corporation 

 Oscar Tosca and Anna Clementi 

 Gute LauneTosca and Tweed 

 Jai MaWah! 

 Jai HanumanShaman's Dream 

 Durga ShaktiShaman's Dream 

 SamadhiShaman's Dream

Feeling Connected

Being connected is not a rational thought or just a pleasant feeling.  It is a “knowing,” a deep and utter awareness of being part of a vast and grand scheme.  We seem to only stop and take notice when we have these moments of feeling connected because for most of us, most of the time, we feel completely dis-connected.  Disconnected seems to be our default state, the condition we are used to. 


The nature of the modern age is such that the majority of our lives do not require us to be aligned with the cycles and rhythms of nature.  Our society has evolved to the point that the seasons, the tides, and the weather hardly affect most of our daily comings and goings.  We are fortunate enough to live in a place where just about any crop is available to buy at any time of year.  We have heating in our homes and cars and offices for when is it cold and air conditioners for when it is hot.  Most of us spend the majority of our lives indoors, inside of little protected boxes.  We get into our car “box” to drive to work.  We step into our office “box” from 9-5.  We drive over to our gym “box” to exercise.  We get back into our car “box” to drive to our home “box” to spend our evening.  If it is too dark out, our boxes even light up.  If it is too bright out, we close the shades.  We go to great lengths to keep the “outside” (insects, animals, wind, rain, even other people) out there, away from our own personal little bubble.  We do not want the outside getting inside.  While there is nothing inherently wrong with these comforts, if we don’t make the effort to notice the natural world then we will resign ourselves to feel disconnected from it. 

Ancient cultures paid close attention to the seasons, to the weather, to the moon cycles.  Farmers still do.  They know the importance of planting and harvesting at the right times of the day and year.  As diverse as they may be, surfers and physicists alike know that everything in life has rhythm and is made up of waves.  Like the Earth, humans are composed mainly of water.  We are fluid beings.  And like the Earth, our bodies are affected by the cycles of the moon and the movement of the stars. 

So how do we get re-connected?  A teacher told me “No matter how disconnected you may feel, you never really are.  It’s always all right here.”  Getting outside of the “boxes” helps.  Just step outside: taking a walk or jog (without earphones!), watch the sunrise or sunset, watching the waves on the ocean, sitting in your yard to eat breakfast, stargaze at night.  Do any of these things and pay particular attention to the sky, the earth, the temperature of the air, what the plants are doing this time of year, the smells, and the sounds. 

Our yoga practice is a beautiful place to find connection.  When we enter the room, we remove our shoes. Our bare feet touch the earth. Our hands touch the earth. Our entire bodies ground down and connect us to Earth. We listen to our breath and the rhythmic beating of our hearts.  Like waves on the ocean, life pulses through our bodies.  The natural world has rhythm and cycles:  the seasons, the days, the tides.  By watching yourself, you notice the natural rhythm of YOU: breathing, pulsing, living.        

And then you remember that it’s not all out there.  It’s all in here, inside of you!  Humans are a microcosm of the Universe.  Everything that is without is also within.  As the Vedas say, “You are That.”  The feeling of connection stems from that realization: You are all of this!  You are not the small, stressed out, stuck-in-your-head, dis-connected person that you believe yourself to be.  You are all THIS, as far as your eye can see, as deep as your mind can fathom. 

So this month, I invite you to get outside, drink in the air, smile and make eye contact with the other people who are part of this beautiful journey, and rejoice! 

“The small man builds cages for everyone he knows. While the sage, who has to duck his head when the moon is low, keeps dropping keys all night long for the beautiful, rowdy prisoners.”    ~ Hafiz

Playlist: 1 hour Yoga Flow
(I am on a bit of a Cantoma and Thievery Corporation kick this month!)

 Offshore - Chicane 

 5th & Avenida - Afterlife 

 Marisi - Cantoma 

 A Gentle Dissolve - Thievery Corporation 

 Air Batucada - Thievery Corporation 

 So Com Voce - Thievery Corporation 

 Samba Tranquille - Thievery Corporation 

 Shadows of Ourselves - Thievery Corporation 

 Maja - Cantoma 

 Only People - Cantoma 

 Down Slow - Moby 

 Everloving - Moby 

 The Time We Lost Our Way - Thievery Corporation 

 All That I Am - Shimshai

Root down to rise up

"Carry your body, but please do not let your body carry you!  Walking in the streets, one can see people heavily following their bodies.  Their heads lean forwards, pulled by their necks, on their insecure legs, their feet scarcely touching the ground.  It is evident that they are slaves to their bodies, following the whispering of their minds." – Vanda Scaravelli

Students often tell me that they are puzzled by their difficulty with balancing poses. While I realize they are speaking of poses like Vrksasana (Tree), Garudasana (Eagle), and Ardha Chandrasana (Half Moon), we need to remember that EVERY yoga posture is a balancing asana. We should always be challenging ourselves to create an equal distribution of weight among the parts of the body that are contacting the earth.

The most basic of yoga postures, Tadasana (Mountain) is often referred to by the command to attention: Samasthiti; Sama = equal, Sthiti = balance. It is sometimes said that in all yoga poses, one searches for the balance of Tadasana – hence the reason this pose is taught at the beginning of nearly every yoga class. While small children have to make a determined effort to learn to balance their weight between their two feet, we all assume to have mastered the art of standing at this point in our lives. However, if we look down at our feet while standing we may notice some interesting things. Are our feet parallel? Are all 10 toes facing directly forward? Is the weight equally distributed between the ball and heel of each foot and between the right and left foot?  While this may seem trivial, imbalances at the base will weaken the entire structure over time. A beautiful, soaring building, no matter how elegantly built up above, will collapse on itself without a solid foundation.

Let us consider Virabhadrasana I (Warrior I). The focus should not be just on the front knee bending.  The pose is just as much about the back leg lengthening and both feet bearing equal weight in the posture.  I often see students wobbly and unstable in this pose, not because they lack sufficient muscular strength, but because they are too focused in what I call “the drama of the pose.” “I’m really going to embody this pose by bending REALLY deeply into my front knee and reaching REALLY high with my arms! I am even going to drop my head back and look up today!” And then, uh-oh, we lose our balance. In our quest to strive higher, we forget the importance of the base and lose our grounding. We should reach to find that “edge” in our poses, but never at the sacrifice of weakening our foundation.

I often remind students in class to stay focused on the Earth by noticing the parts of their bodies that are contacting the ground. That is the anchor and the foundation of that pose and their body weight should be equally distributed among those contact points. If we can be diligent about these principles in the basic poses (Sukhasana, Tadasana, Virabhadrasna), then balancing in other poses will become much easier. We must root down to rise up: the grounding is primary and the exciting “drama of the pose” is secondary.

The legs and feet are governed by Muladhara (First chakra), the chakra of security and stability, thus moving our awareness down into our legs and feet provides us with a remarkably comforting feeling. Bringing awareness down into our base is like coming home. Beyond the mat, it is not so different. It is said that we develop First chakra deficiencies when we have to deal with big life changes such as relocating, changing jobs, relationship struggles, or incurring serious physical injuries. When these events occur, it feels as though the rug has been pulled out from under our feet. Feeling uprooted and unstable, our reaction is usually to try to rationalize events in our minds.  However, we would probably find it more helpful in these situations to get out of heads (the top of the structure) and instead come home inside of our bodies to get grounded again.

I once asked a guy where he lived and he replied, “Mother Earth is my home.” What a great perspective to have! Everything around us is always changing, but instead of getting swept up in the “drama of the pose,” can we learn to feel at home and grounded wherever we go? When we move to a new place, as our relationships change, or even as our bodies change, can we find one constant, one anchor, the foundation of our lives? Call it Energy, call it God, call it Allah, call it Soul, call it Love. The belief in that One underlying power is my foundation. What is yours?

 Playlist: 1 hour Uplifting Yoga Flow

 Que Bonito - Jose Padilla 

 Times Like These - Jack Johnson 

 Here Comes the Sun - The Beatles 

 Dreams Be Dreams - Jack Johnson 

 Turn Your Lows Down Low - Bob Marley & Lauryn Hill 

 Michelle - Ben Harper and the Innocent Criminals 

 Ghostwriter - RJD2 

 Mangalam - Prem Joshua 

 Hard Sun - Eddie Vedder 

 Everything Will Flow - London Suede 

 Wild World - Cat Stevens 

 Lying in the Hands of God - Dave Matthews Band 

 Alone in Kyoto - Air


I woke up this morning feeling an overwhelming sense of gratitude. Of course I am grateful for the usual things: the beautiful place that I live in, my warm bed, the food in my kitchen, my healthy body, my loved ones … But I also had a new realization. I am actually grateful for the painful events that occurred in my life last month. 

In last month’s Inspirations I wrote about “Change.” As fate would have it, the topic turned out to be a very fitting one for me when I was unexpectedly terminated from the yoga studio that I had taught at for 6 years, a place that had felt like my second home. Compounding my initial feelings of shock, betrayal, and deep hurt was the challenge of facing the major adjustments that this would present in my life and career. Change can be scary and oftentimes it is very unwelcome, arriving when we least expect it and shaking up our secure world. An anonymous quote states: “God comforts the disturbed and disturbs the comfortable.”  

This “disaster” has forced me to step out of my comfort zone, to exert myself in new ways, and ultimately to recognize my vast potential. If this event had not occurred, I probably would have remained in my secure space, never reaching higher. Because we only see the world from our limited vantage point, it can be very disappointing when things don’t work out the way that we wanted or planned. But perhaps what seems like a hardship now is really just preparation for the next step in our personal growth.  Perhaps what seems like a loss is really just clearing space for the next big thing to arrive in our lives. This realization transformed my attitude from one of dismay to one of acceptance.

Feeling the tremendous outpouring of love and support from my students this past month and finding new doors opening for me at every turn has really caused me to remember: 

The Universe does not always give us what we want, but it always gives us what we need. 

Instead of holding on tightly to the shattering “self” that I thought myself to be, I just let go, trusting that whatever happens will be for my own highest good and learning. As I have practiced relaxing into life instead of trying to fix it, my outlook has shifted from mere acceptance into deep gratitude. I am grateful for everything, even the challenges, for through them I have come to know myself and my Dharma (life purpose) in a more profound way.

With Thanksgiving coming up at the end of the month, I think that November is an apt time to practice gratitude. Gratitude involves a subtle shift in perspective. Instead of focusing on what you wish was different, you turn your attention to your many blessings. It is not about changing what is, but rather about having a willingness to trust that everything is as it should be. Give thanks for both the blessings currently in your life, as well as those yet to come. 

Happy Thanksgiving. 

From my great Soul to your great Soul,


The Guest House

This being human is a guest house. 
Every morning a new arrival. 

A joy, a depression, a meanness, 
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor. 

Welcome and entertain them all! 
Even if they're a crowd of sorrows, 
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture, 
still, treat each guest honorably. 
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight. 

The dark thought, the shame, the malice, 
meet them at the door laughing, 
and invite them in. 

Be grateful for whoever comes, 
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.
~ Rumi

Playlist: 1 Hour Yoga Flow

 Crazy Heart - Bahramji & Maneesh de Moor 

 Cosmopole - Cantoma 

 Elixir for Sunsets - Phobos 

 Africa - Cirque du Soleil 

 Porcelain - Moby 

 Om Narayana - Wade Imre Morissette 

 Jai's Dub Shack - Jai Uttal 

 Miracle - Afterlife 

 The Nomad - Niraj Chag 

 Imagine - Jack Johnson 

 Pure Essence - Maneesh De Moor