Monday, August 30, 2010


Already been a good morning. Got up early (seems like all my good days start with getting up early... hmmm) and took my littlest one into the vet to get her teeth cleaned (little nervous about it because they have to put her under for that)... then came home and registered for this Judith Lasater workshop that's weekend after next in Charlottesville. It's a two-day workshop on managing the mood with restorative yoga. Day one is on depression and moodiness and Day two is on anxiety and insomnia. I am finding that more and more people I encounter are on one end of this spectrum, whether extremely or slightly so. I think that our lifestyles and diet are to blame... and yoga seems a perfect way to manage things better. It is for me, anyway!

I also have an opportunity to study with John Friend (of Anusara fame) in November in Philadelphia. Still figuring out if I can work out the details on this one.

Anyway, off to a good start. One private session this morning and two group classes this evening. Mondays and Tuesdays are my busy days. Wednesdays are getting busier, and Thursday mornings. I love having Friday as a flex day for privates, and the weekends mostly "off." (That's when I work on my own practice and get my planning done.)

BUT... I have an incredible amount of tasks ahead to finish to make Richmond Yoga Project a reality. I met on Friday with Michelle and Wendy, a web designer and lawyer respectively (and also amazing yoginis) who are helping Jay and I set this up. I need to work on our articles of incorporation and LLC status, contact all the local studios and instructors to solicit participation, set up our first organizational meeting, send Michelle my class schedule on Google calendar, and organize our first event. Somewhere in there there's a logo and stickers and cards to design. Wow!

I obviously don't have time to blog right now. :)

Have a good week...

Thursday, August 26, 2010


Today has been fantastic so far. I got up early again and got some reading done... I'm reading the Chip Hartranft translation of The Yoga Sutras... the Sutras always bring me back to a simpler place in my practice. Lately I have been feeling so cloudy and muddled with my teaching... the last few classes I've taught have felt a little stiff and stale (totally NOT what you usually aim for when teaching OR practicing!) and I've been hard pressed to figure out why.

I think in a way all the info around "how to teach" can have the opposite effect it's intended to. In any given class there are hundreds of things you can choose to emphasize. I have caught myself leaving out whole portions of practice (like crescent lunge and its variations, for example) during a class and getting way too hung up in the minutiae of other parts. I have no idea if students clue into this but at the time it happens, I am sure that my confusion is noticeable which of course adds to the problem!

What this is, in effect, is making the teaching about me, not about the student. Don't we all fall victim to this from time to time? Have you ever caught yourself in a moment of complete and utter egoism? You hear the words coming out of your mouth but it's almost like it's another person speaking them. It's so annoying!

Anyway, I had the absolute joy of practicing at home today with my friend Candy... our meetups always recharge my batteries so to speak, but today we actually practiced together and told stories and gave suggestions for things to do, making the practice very organic and alive... just the way I love my classes to feel. Sometimes we get so stuck in ruts with our routines, the same warmup, the same standing poses, the same balance poses, the same floor poses, the same cues in savasana... but today was fun. So fun that I'm going to use some of what we did in my class tonight. :)

This afternoon I went and ran some errands and then came home and worked on a craft project I'm doing... I'll post pictures when I get a chance and the project is done...

Tomorrow J and Michelle and Wendy and I are meeting at different times to discuss Project Yoga Richmond and the direction we want it to go and the ways we want it to get there. It's a busy time, but one I welcome!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Surfers Healing

I recently learned about an organization called Surfers Healing... they have groups all around the country that take kids with autism tandem surfing. It's amazing to watch... and so inspiring. I cannot even yet stand up on my board, yet these kids with so many obstacles are doing it!

This makes me even more determined to make Project Yoga Richmond a reality. Here's a clip:

Friday, August 20, 2010

Updated Schedule

Here's my updated teaching schedule with all the classes that are in some way shape or form open to the public:

Mondays, 5-6 pm, Gentle Yoga (sometimes yin, sometimes hatha blend), Om On Yoga, 320 Libbie Ave,

Tuesdays, 10:45-11:45 am, Gentle Flow Yoga (usually a beginner's level vinyasa); 12:00-1:00 pm, Power Hour (higher energy, often heated vinyasa with some emphasis on arm balances and inversions)... both at Om On Yoga

Tuesdays, 5-5:50 pm, Express Vinyasa (a short burst of energy, matter and breath with emphasis on strength, balance, and hip opening), Richmond Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Academy (

Wednesdays, 7-8 am, Sunrise Yoga (slower vinyasa with emphasis on breath and centering), Tailor Made Health and Wellness ( (this class starts 9/1/10)

Here are classes I share with other instructors, so I am not there every week:

Wednesdays 9:15-10:15 am, Flow Yoga, Jewish Community Center (
Thursdays 6:30-7:30 pm, Flow Yoga, Richmond Athletic Club (

Om On and Tailor Made are $17 for one class as a drop-in though they have class packages that bring the cost down significantly. RBJJ is $10 as a drop-in. JCC I am not sure of, so please call before coming. RAC as far as I know is $11 as a drop-in, but free for first timers.

Hope to see you on the mat!

Thursday and Friday

What an awesome Thursday and Friday this is turning out to be. I got up early, which is often painful for me for about 10 minutes (painful in the sense that I don't want to get up) but once up, I'm always glad I got up. I don't understand it when people sleep all day or really late (like 11 or noon). Unless they work late or something, it just seems like a potentially bad habit to get into. I'm not judging their value as people by sleeping in late, just failing to understand it fully.

I got up early yesterday too and got a lot of tasky things done that needed attention. Then, I met at Ellwood's with Jay Miles. He and I are heading a new group called Project Yoga Richmond which will bring free, discounted, or donation based yoga to people who need it who don't currently get it for a variety of reasons. I cannot tell you how excited I am about the possibilities here. After last weekend's training (see "Pulling Up, Pulling Down") I am full of creative energy. Another eventual goal is to establish a teacher training scholarship fund for people we meet along the way who we think show promise as yoga teachers. Yoga teacher training is expensive if you go all the way with it... with travel and everything, going from your first training to 500 RYT can cost up to $10,000. So the fund would help defray some of those costs to help people become certified at a suitable level to teach and build business opportunities for themselves, as well as share the gift of yoga with other people.

Today I went and met an old friend who is having some hard times and is selling some old items. I have been wanting a surfboard for a long time. He sold me his 3 year old eight foot locally hand shaped board for only $275! It only needs a leash and it's good to go. I am so psyched about it! Ben and I are going to go in a couple of weeks and try it out. He's never surfed, I've been twice and watch, he'll get up in the first 15 minutes. I remember when we were dating we went in Target and he put on a pair of rollerblades for the first time and just started spinning around and going back and forth in them. I put them on and can barely stand up. That was, of course, before yoga (1998) really had the hold on me it does now, and my balance and core stability are so much better now. But still! He just has better physical ability to learn new things than I do. Of course, my saying that probably only makes it more so!

Also, I think I am ready to talk a little about this now...

I had a bit of a down period on the way back from our training. I had learned so much, and the training itself had been so challenging for me on every level, but somehow I was still leaving feeling a great sense of purpose and clarity and peace... then I received a message with hurtful words from a friend I happen to look up to. It was awful. I felt so bad because the entire way back from the beach my other friend (who was also driving!) was trying to console me and all I could do was cry. I am not sure where to go from here with this person. I felt we had clicked, had a lot of similar things going on and really supported each other, but now I am not so sure. I think the worst thing is feeling like someone else thought they knew what was going on in my own heart and mind. Heck, half the time I don't even know what's going on in there... yet without speaking to me, decisions were made, things were relayed that I am having a hard time processing, reconciling, and seeing the way through to light. It's not even about forgiveness, I told someone, it's about trust... feeling I can't be myself again around this person. I really felt like I had a soft place to fall in that relationship and now that's gone. I also am trying to figure out what I can do for people in the future who need my support and don't think they have it. I don't know how else to be than the way I am.

Anyway, I'm navigating all of this with as much peace and steadiness as I can. I wish you the same, dear reader~!


Monday, August 16, 2010

Pulling Up, Pulling Down

This past weekend I spent in training with Rolf Gates and the other 40 or so awesome yogis and yoginis in the program. As has been the case in the other two weekends I have spent with them there were so many amazing moments. Here are a few:

  • We are often addicted to this notion that we are somehow having the "wrong" experience. "This shouldn't be this way, if only I had xxx, or it was this way or that way, it'd be better, I'd be happier, one day I'll be happy."
  • Habitually we think we shouldn't be learners, we should be experts, right? We need to remind ourselves that we are all learners in this lifetime. Not just us, but everyone we meet.
  • Because the mind thinks something we think we have to react to it, when often it's more likely that if we wait it out, and let it pass... we stay in a more peaceful state, and everything is okay!
  • The Chakras are the territory or the landscape itself, where the rubber meets the road so to speak, and the Yoga Sutras are the map that helps us navigate the landscape skillfully.
  • The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali represent the best of the wisdom of the teachings of both Christ and the Buddha (Rolf credits these three teachers for in essence saving his life)
  • Spiritual maturity results in the ability to love more. We must be so still in ourselves that we can truly see another being (he was referencing Avatar there... "I see you.")
  • If we have faith in the way things are, we will have something precious left to give away.
  • Before speaking, ask yourself: "Is it truthful? Is it kind? Is it necessary?" These are functions of three of the chakras... speaking is a function of the fifth chakra (throat), kindness is a function of the fourth chakra (heart), and truthfulness is a function of the sixth chakra (mind).
  • Chanting stimulates the physical body, in particular the parasympathetic nervous system which is the "rest and relax" system. So does exhaling, which stimulates the Vagus nerve which is part of the PNS... that's why yoga so readily brings us to a state of calm.
  • We live by narratives... they are based on experience... they're not static and unchanging though we may believe them to be. We can determine the narrative by which we will live. "What is the narrative I want to live by?"
  • Pulling Up and Pulling Down. This was a funny story that Rolf told about this time he was in a meditation retreat. You typically spend your time in three places: the meditation room, the dining hall, and your bedroom. Also, the bathroom. In a moment of clarity as he stood facing the wall (lol), he looked at the toilet seat cover receptacle which said, "Pull Up, Then Pull Down." (Rolf says he is in a state of being now where he is receptive to messages that are sent his way on a regular basis and that affords him the opportunity to learn the lesson. I hope I get there too!) He realized that "Pulling Up" refers to ascending the energy body and resolving the issues of the seven Chakras... achieving insight and awareness of issues of group, relationship to self and other, our emotional health, our ability to express ourselves, our ability to see the truth, and our connection with a higher power... but that's not enough, is it? If we remain in that state we have only helped ourselves. We must "Pull Down" and give back in some way... take what we have learned and make something happen that helps others. For example, an idea sprouts from the realm of Divine Consciousness (7th/Crown). We begin to think about the idea and plan in our heads (6th/Mind). We then speak about our idea and share it with others (5th/Throat). We begin to get emotionally involved with the idea, breathe life into it, so to speak (4th/Heart). We commit our will to executing the idea and bringing it to fruition (3rd/Solar Plexus). We commit resources and employ others to making the idea happen, raise money etc. (2nd/Sacral). We then see the idea happen in real life and we experience it on a collective level (1st/Root). We have manifested Divine Consciousness! We took something vague and formless, infused it with intention, and it took form. If this story was not enough to give me shivers, he then asked us, "What is the bridge between pulling up and pulling down?.......Generosity." My hair stood on end. He added that if we stay in the Pulling Up or Pulling Down mode we can experience burnout and/or stagnation.
  • Our spiritual, physical, and emotional health depends not on demolishing the conditioned self, it depends on integrating the conditioned (Consciousness) and the unconditioned (ego-self).
  • True freedom is realizing we have access to an infinite, unlimited number of responses to any given situation.
  • Avidya= not seeing our true nature clearly.
  • The wisdom of the 7th Chakra is "Live in the Present Moment" (Caroline Myss)
  • When we eat, we must make skillful choices which recognize and thus enhance our connection to Divine Consciousness. If we train and teach yoga for the benefit of self and other (one of the precepts of our training program), then it follows that we might consider eating skillfully and mindfully which contributes to the health of the planet. Consider the source of your food and how far it had to travel to reach your plate. Eat your food slowly, be grateful for every bite.
  • We need to know when to flap our wings and when to soar.
Obviously I could go on, but those are direct lines from my notes. I have had the absolute privilege of getting to know some amazing people. I am so excited to see where the next 10 months take me.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Knocking the Rust Off

Hello, folks.

It's been almost two months since my last post. It's been a very strange summer. During my last entry I was talking about my grandmother's injury... her cracked ribs and broken spirit. Well, that was only part of it. It turned out she had invasive metastatic bone cancer. She collapsed in her home, again, and while in the hospital they discovered many many bits of cancer in her spine and hips. A week after she entered the hospital, she passed away, June 28.

I will post the eulogy my husband wrote which I read at her funeral on June 30.

We're working on cleaning up all of her things and settling her estate and things like that... it's all very overwhelming, but my cousins are helping a lot, and my husband and brother-in-law too.

Gosh, going back before that, we discovered (well, I discovered by walking onto a swarm of about a million of them) that we had a major termite infestation under our bedroom and front hallway! I walked into the bedroom barefoot and CRUNCH. It was absolutely horrific. As much as an animal lover as I am, I cannot tell you how many termites I actually killed or had my husband kill before it was all over. We did have a company come and treat our house (a nice way to spend $1000, let me tell you, at the beginning of the summer, with vacation plans and all)... so hopefully there won't be any little recurrences.

Also, just before THAT, my husband wrecked his scooter, pitching shoulder-first onto the hard asphalt on Broad Street at rush hour in the middle of traffic. He separated his entire right shoulder and has had a long but steady recovery, helped along by exercise, yoga, chiropractic, massage and soon, acupuncture.

On June 21 my sweet dog Barkley started having weakness in his limbs and a strange odor. After many tests and many, many dollars spent at the vet, nothing was conclusive. On July 21, he passed away at the vet's... he just stopped breathing. A week or so before that he had stopped eating. They suspect it may have been cancer. We will never know. All I know is that I miss my sweet boy so much... the way he used to sleep on my chest on the sofa, the way he'd run out to greet us when we came home, and just the feeling of his fluffy fur under my hands. I can't believe he's gone. It hurts just to look at my sweet Fritz, our other son, and not see Barkley right there next to him.

I also received word from my dad that my grandmother in Texas died on July 23 as well. As far as direct family goes, it's just my dad and me now. The implications of this have yet to completely hit me!

Two grandmothers, a dog, a shoulder, and a house... talk about your first and second chakra issues! My lower back pain once again reared its ugly head, no surprise there.

We went to Portland, Oregon for 10 days for a much-needed vacation... I cannot tell you how healing this trip was for me. I got to practice yoga, walk a lot, visit and laugh with my dear sweet sister Tami and her delightful new husband Keith, help people who needed some help, see the beautiful mountains and the peaceful shore, spend time with my handsome husband, and mostly, get a little perspective. It's hard to stand on the side of one of the world's largest mountains and not feel like everything is going to be okay, somehow. Standing on Mount Hood, looking out over the world, and realizing that mountain has stood longer than any person ever has, gave me such a feeling of being so small, so insignificant, and yet such a part of everything and everyone on this earth, I will never forget it. I caught myself overreacting to some things the past week or two (um... a lost makeup bag? really?) and feeling a little shameful about it. May I remember the lessons learned on Mount Hood! (I'll talk more in detail later about the trip itself.)

When we returned, I opened all our mail that had arrived during our visit, and there was a small card from our vet with a sweet poem (which I'll post later when I have the strength to read the whole thing) and a pawprint they took of our Barkley. I wasn't prepared for this, and even thinking of it now has me in tears again. We adopted Barkley two weeks after we got married, and it's hard to imagine our lives without him. My heart really feels broken. Somehow, I know I will move beyond this, but it's hard to feel it now. I keep looking at pet adoption sites for dogs that look just like Barkley... and feel so tempted to adopt one right away.

I return to teaching tomorrow after nearly two weeks off. It's a fourteen class week... I am hoping to put to use some of the wonderful things I learned in the workshop Tami and I took with Kathryn Budig.

I made white beans and arugula tonight for dinner... it was fantastic as usual, always one of my favorites... and vegan too.

Going to go relax a while and then head to bed... goodnight.