On a plane home

Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?
When it is over, I want to say: All my life I was a bride married to amazement. I was the bridegroom, taking the world in my arms.
Instructions for living a life. Pay attention. Be amazed. Tell about it.
Mary Oliver

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Grief is a Sneaky Thing

The practice, my work right now is to stay present while life goes on, staying grateful for the thousand little miracles every single day rather than slopping in the trenches of the mundane or holding onto what could have been.

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A Letter from Martha Graham

     A Letter to Agnes DeMille : Martha Graham

There is a vitality, a life force, a quickening
that is translated through you into action,
and because there is only one of you in all time,
this expression is unique.

If you block it,
it will never exist through any other medium
and be lost.
The world will not have it.
It is not your business to determine how good it is;
nor how valuable it is;
nor how it compares with other expressions.
It is your business to keep it yours, clearly and directly,
to keep the channel open.

You do not even have to believe in yourself or your work.
You have to keep open and aware directly
of the urges that motivate you.

Keep the channel open.
No artist is pleased.
There is no satisfaction whatever at any time.
There is only a queer, divine dissatisfaction;
a blessed unrest that keeps us marching
and makes us more alive than the others.

Behind the Glorious Veil of Traveling and Teaching

Ten years ago, when I stepped towards teaching yoga, my father gave me career advice by recommending I look around and check out who was doing what I wanted to do. I was at a loss, as many of my most inspiring mentors had many ingredients I was looking for, but something was always missing. One mentor was traveling, attaining accolades and success, but not rooted in a home. Another had a home, amazing wisdom, but was struggling with marketing and reaching new students. When I open up most yoga magazines, there is often a photo or article by yogalebrities like Seane Corne, Shiva Rhea or Kathryn Budig. These ladies have their pick of teaching engagements, a seemingly satisfying home life (as per social media) and are incredibly prolific, and very influential in this field. They have achieved a level of success by modern standards, but there seems to be space at the top of the proverbial yoga pyramid for only a few.

How does a yoga teacher qualify success? It is not an easy answer and is certainly not addressed by most 200 hour teacher trainings.

I spent five years teaching 15-20 classes a week all over New York City tucking more trainings under my belt as I went. I was making "it", but I got burnt out. Then, I took a part time administrative job to balance having a stable income with the fluctuating yoga-career one. After two years, my soul felt stifled while my bank account was healthy. Last year, I committed to traveling, teaching and writing full time. At times, I was on the road for 10 out of 12 weeks. For the most part it was inspiring and exhilarating. I had the honor to work with an incredibly talented group of performers for the Wanderlust Spectacular, teach AcroYoga to hundreds of people and enjoy the delight of more "first time" flights than I can count. I am beyond grateful for each and every community I have encountered.

There were so many incredible connections, transformative moments and then I would have to say," I hope our paths cross again one day. Good bye." This was the one, seemingly tiny aspect that was intrinsically unsatisfying, especially when the heart connections were strong. I can say I gave the "traveling yoga teacher" paradigm a 100%, and I am really excited to get back to my roots this week and return to teaching regular weekly classes.

I thought that I could achieve success by traveling. And from the outside, it seems there may be a lot of glory, and there is a lot of excitement. My friends and colleagues don't seem to ask each other with an air of enthusiasm, "how was your Wednesday class?", the way we inquire about a festival class, but I think we should. Whatever path you choose, it is really difficult to forge a career as a yoga teacher. I celebrate everyone who is making a go of it, every single one of you. Good job on following your hearts desire and showing up every week. Thank you to every student who commits to regular classes.

There are also a lot of work, energy and resources that go into planning workshops in other locales: traveling to get there, plane ticket costs and so much more effort into promoting. Being a home-owner yogi and traveling teacher can be a little stressful. I now have the opportunity my focus back to my personal practice, writing more and who knows-- I may even have time for some hobbies. I will travel again, but my priority, at this moment is in rooting down and digging deep at home.


Our Collective Dreaming

I have been told that if you chant to Shiva, the destroyer, be ready to have something in your life shatter. Two weeks ago I gave it my all for Mahā Shivarātri, the great night of Shiva. I chanted over and over and over again. I played chants while I worked, I meditated. And then I let it go. Peace seemed to reign.

In the meantime, I have been re-reading and engaging in the creative workbook "The Artists' Way" by Julia Cameron after having explored it ten years ago. Some chapters and exercises resonate, some are un-necessary for me now. I got to the section that asks, what are your self-limiting beliefs? And here too, I felt content and grateful for the life that I lead, for the work I get to call a career and couldn't identify self-limiting beliefs.

So I held this question "what are my self-limiting beliefs?"I continued to chant, meditate and write daily and asked the question over and over and over again.

Then an unexpected disappointment sent me spiraling into a nasty funk. I was angry, disappointed and frustrated. I was quite unpleasant to be around. For three days, I continued to get wound up and taught. During this time, I forgot about the chanting and the question I was holding. 

My disappointment was rooted in the belief that the more money I make, the more professional and successful I am. I spent close to a decade living the starving artist dream and learning how to hustle, so I could "prove" to the universe that I am good at what I do. And it is now time to let it go that the money I make defines my success or failure.

Today I was introduced to the work of Lynne Twist, author of "The Soul of Money" and invited to her workshop this weekend. The synchronicity feels nothing less than divine.

What are your dreams? And are you the only one standing in your own way?


Relaxing Yoga in 12 minutes

Give your self the gift of 12 minutes today and enjoy massive benefits of soothing your nervous system; quieting the mind; relaxing the body; savouring each breath.

Find a spot on a carpet in front of a nice fire and take a little time for yourself with this relaxing yoga sequence (pictured above). Take one minute per pose while focusing on the breath.

YogiSilhouette.com

 

Plank Pose: Stack shoulder over hands, push into fingers for more support.

Locust Pose: Lift the hands and feet while breathing deeply.

Childs Pose: Sink hips to heels (place a blanket under knees, ankles or hips for added comfort)

Down Dog --> Twisted Needle (30 seconds each side)

Gate Pose (30 seconds each side) A deep side bend.

Tree Pose: Place lifted leg above or below your knee. Focus on an unmoving point in the room to help find stability. Hold onto a chair for extra support.

Twisted Wide Legged Stretch: Stay here longer if it feels good.

Bridge Pose: Squeeze glutes to lift higher and protect weak areas. Press the shoulders and head down, but avoid turning the head to protect the spine.

Forward Bend: Bend the knees to go deeper!

Pigeon Pose: Place that blanket under your hips again for added support. Stay upright or fold forward. Lie on your back, if there are any knee problems.

Legs Up the Wall Pose:  Left hand over the heart, right hand over the belly and listen to your own unique rhythms. If you stay longer than one minute, that's ok.

Sneaky Spiral of Doom

Free Stock Photo: Tornado and lightning

I quit one of my two jobs a month ago, the one with stable income. It feels like the single largest leap of faith I have ever taken in my life. I left that job to develop my own business—a choice that is exciting, exhilarating, freeing and… terrifying. I didn’t wait until the next new position solidified itself, but left my old one to make up the new one. Every day is a little up or a little down. The other night, when I was feeling more than a little “down” I caught myself feeling frustrated and tense about income prospects, around how my partner and I are shaping our newlywedded future together while I navigate these unstable waters. I had a meltdown. Life was feeling heavier and heavier with every passing moment. He astutely asked me what was wrong.

"What if I am not successful? What if I don’t make enough money?" And this was the hardest part for me to say out loud as anxiety gripped my chest and a few tears sputtered out, "I don’t want to be a burden on you."

He held me close. "What is the worst case scenario?”

“I-I-I-I don’t know,” the emotions and tears were fully flowing.  He held me close and laid out our worst case scenario game plan, and it really isn’t that bad. Not shabby at all and definitely nothing near  the emotional armegeddon that I feared.

Then he asked if I had gotten caught in a sneaky spiral of doom? I sniffled, “Yes, I think I did.” There is no bottom to the infinite spiral downwards when things are bad. In this moment, I realized I had been in this sneaky spiral like Alice falling down the rabbit hole for many month -- fear and anxiety had trapped me in a job that wasn’t working and kept me from pursuing my dreams.

My mom coined this phrase, sneaky spiral of doom, when my sister was in elementary scool. She was driven, focused, confident at a very young age. Many years her senior, I was always inspired and surprised at her level of perfectionism and how well she did in school. The flipside, would be an emotionally fraught breakdown triggered by the smallest glitch: “My pencil just broke and I can’t find another one and I lost my sharpener; so I won’t be able to finish my homework; I am going to flunk this class; I’ll fail high school; Ill never get into college; Ill never find a job. I am going to die ALL alone.”  It was completely honest, completely overwhelming and encompassing and simultaneously sad and funny to observe. You could give her a well-sharpened pencil and her emotional state would switch on a dime.Free Stock Photo: Illustration of a pencil

Why is it when one thing, big or little goes wrong the whole world can feel like it is spinning down the tubes?