Tag Archives: yoga

Baggage Check

Carrying around extra baggage with you can really rob you of precious energy.  I don’t think you can get rid of all of it but at least you can upgrade from a giant suitcase to a mini backpack.  So much of this baggage has come from past experiences that hurt us or left their mark.

These marks are known in yoga context as Samskaras.  Think of a Samskara like a deep groove carved out in your mind.  We can also think of it like a major highway, the 401.  When we have an experience the mind finds the path of least resistance or the 401! Why not?  It’s fast, convenient, you may have been 50 times or more, it’s familiar.

Same trip, same ride (your body) but add 5 extra heavy suitcases!  This is your baggage.  The mind is a storehouse and what it’s storing is every single life experience you’ve ever had.  It can also weight you down, make you feel depressed, effect how you eat, sleep, love, and interact with yourselves, other people, and the world.

So if you were to make a pit stop on the side of the highway and you had the chance to leave those 5 extra heavy bags at the side of the road would you?  It’s not that simple, for many of us we believe that our life experiences are very important, they make us who we are.  I agree, they do, but do you really need the bags to show for it?

Maybe our fears of who we could be override our ability to let go of the past or some parts at least.  When I suffered from depression it was such a huge part of my life.  I would honestly meet new people and within the first 5 minutes they would know that I suffered from depression.  How could they not?  I was standing there with a 10 piece matching luggage set!

My first yoga teachers introduced me to many things but one of them was meditation.  I really wasn’t interested to be honest.  I even went so far as to kindly request that they took it out for me, luckily they downright refused and I am forever grateful they did!

Meditation is the key to putting our minds through the baggage check, filtering out what is no longer serving us so we can be more amazing than we already are.  When you meditate you get into these deep mental grooves and more so you pave over them so when you mind is triggered by an experience you don’t automatically go to these samskaras, you don’t immediately make decisions from them, it’s extremely liberating.

Have you ever noticed when something shitty happens to you, you get in a fight with your partner, a co-worker, a friend you spend a good chunk of that day playing it over and over in your head?  That only makes the samakara deeper!  Meditation is an interruption of what can become obsessive thinking.  It’s like the entire 401 is blocked in both directions and now you must find a new route through your mental landscape.

You don’t need anything fancy to meditate, you don’t need a special cushion, or to sit in lotus pose you can just simply take a few minutes out of everyday, the key is everyday, to put your mind through the baggage check.  You will notice each thought rise and fall without any judgement of yourself.  This is a great opportunity for an ego check too!  Over time your mind becomes more tranquil and you can downsize from your 10 piece matching luggage set to maybe 3 or better yet 1!!!


You are more than the sum of your experiences, because you are infinite source energy!



Yoga for Healing

It’s complicated to explain how yoga works and how it heals.  Yoga operates primarily in the realm of energy, meaning we can’t really see it and if we are attuned we can hopefully feel it.  Many emotions move through your body and heart and these emotions impact your energy.  Shame, will clearly have a negative effect on your body, it’s a real nasty one, especially if you are constantly going there emotionally speaking.

I truly believe that part of the healing that we get from yoga comes from allowing emotions to have there time in the spot light and then to move them out.  Each emotion simply put either feels good or bad.  It’s impossible to only feel good emotions but we hope to live there most of the time.

Bad emotions can move through the body with a similar feeling to what a forest fire does to a forest.  It burns through everything and anything.  Some emotions even leave a burning feeling in the body like anger, rage, and  insecurity and they can even cause you to physically sweat.

In India, these emotions are often described as the rasas, or tastes.  Each emotion has it’s own face and personality.  Each emotion has a purpose.  Yoga can give us the space to process, move, and shift from bad to good, in one breath.  I can be that simple but it takes practice.

Step on your mat and honour whatever emotional state you find yourself in, then set your intention to shift out of it if it feels bad to something that feels good.  Take a long, slow, deep breath and try turn anger into love as you move through you poses, I think you will feel a shift at the end of your practice.

Raudra rasa of the destructive fury of goddess Durga

Shanti dear friends,


Hello Inner Arjuna

A little while back something very empowering shifted in my consciousness and it’s been difficult to turn it off.  I am officially calling it my “Inner Arjuna.”  Arjuna is a character in the Bhagavad Gita, a highly skilled archer who is on a battlefield lamenting over having to fight.  He’s having a personal convo with Krishna, who is telling him not to be a wimp and do what needs to be done.  Krishna is your higher Self.  This conversation happens within us every day!

“Stop being such a pansy Arjuna, get up and fight!“

Not speaking up hurts me.  In the past when I have chosen to swallow my words and feebly attempt to bury them deep inside where they begin to fester and burn.  Confronting the world is part of my Dharma.  This started for me when I was a very young 15 years old and joined PETA!  I would be right up in your face about what animal you were killing and eating.  Turns out that approach really doesn’t inspire people to wake up and take a good long hard look at their behaviour.  It does the opposite, walls go up, egos flare, nobody wants to be wrong, it goes nowhere!

Communication comes easy to me when things are good but the moment of conflict I have an automatic shut down switch and that is exactly what I do.  Turns out that this is not an effective life skill since conflict is a normal, healthy, and natural part of life.  So I did what any good yoga nerd would do, I found a book!  This is a keeper, one that I have to read over and over again, like the Bhagavad Gita.  It’s title isNonViolent Communication ~ a Language of Lifeby Marshall B. Rosenberg, Ph. D.  In this book his discusses the 4 Components of NonViolent Communication. (Yay steps, I LOVE steps!!!)

1.  Observations

2.  Feelings

3.  Needs

4.  Requests

In reality I find it very complex, it is almost a foreign language to me but it’s one I need to learn.  Learning to truthfully, honestly and compassionately communicate is paramount.  It’s really the middle path, staying open and humble to hear what we need to express and staying open to receive what information is given to us by others.

Dr. Rosenberg, hits the nail on the head when he labels my old PETA style of communication, as “Life Alienating Communication.  Yep, it did just that!  Making judgements about others.  Guilty as charged, someone cuts me off in the car and they are the “Idiot.`

WWKD!  What would Krishna Do!  Likely turn the mirror right back on you to see yourself as the source of pain rather than the other driver.

My understanding of Dr. Rosenberg`s method is very limited, I have a hard time making it though each page of this foreign language but I have a deep desire to let the info percolate, sink in and become part of my subconscious.  My wish is not to alien others or myself but have a conversations where everyone gets to have their own unique views and they are accepted as such.

Most of my life I have stifled things down until I literally blew up, again learning that`s not a healthy adult way of living in the world.  I have found that since my Inner Arjuna has woken up, I no longer want to be silent but I also do not wish to alienate myself or others.  If communication, especially with conflict, is difficult for you I highly recommend Dr. Rosenberg`s Book.

with compassion,



Training Wheels Off

I have an older sister, she is 2 years older than me so she was also 2 years ahead of me on a bike.  I was on a tricycle, she was getting off her training wheels, I was on a bike with training wheels and she was riding a shiny red big girl bike.  I longed to ride that shiny red bike, but my feet couldn’t touch the ground at all and I still had to have the training wheels to stay upright until my Psoas muscles got the message.

Well like most kids we all manage to work through the progression of tricycles, training wheels, big kid bikes, then onto mountain bikes and road bikes.  Remembering these humble beginnings can be very helpful in yoga practice.  We have to start on the tricycle, like downward dog and standing forward bend, then we hope to learn how to do a few actions at the same time and progress to the training wheels, like crow or full wheel but at what point do we get stuck with the training wheels?  At what point to you try a pose that is “too advanced” for you, a pose where you might fall and even hurt yourself?

Timing is everything.

If you take off your yoga training wheels too early you may indeed get injured, physically and psychologically!  It took me many attempts to get off the ground in wheel pose and even after I could awkwardly and painfully get off the ground I held my breath and tried to just stay up while enduring sharp pains in my back and shoulders.  Part of me believed that this pain was simply part of yoga since I felt it in almost every pose in the beginning.  Of course there is good pain and bad pain and in the beginning I’m sure it was bad pain like taking a jump with the shiny red big girl bike and crashing, we never had helmets back then either of course.

So eventually, I took those training wheels off, learned how to get my entire body integrated and viola, I can now lift off the floor in Urdhva Dhanurasana with ease, and I even know the Sanskrit, how to assist someone else in it, how to teach someone else how to teach it to someone else!  Progress on the path if you will!  Urrrrrtttt!!!  Hold it!!!  Rewind, the training wheels have been off for a few years now and and of course the next step is a drop-back, an unassisted standing pose to a backbend.  I was plain terrified when I was first introduced to a drop-back in 2007, I felt like a skinny kid getting on the Zipper ride at the fair, scared shitless and  like I wasn’t ready for this ride.  I will keep my training wheels Sir, thank you very much.


Of course, we learned them assisted and with help you can drop back and land, albeit awkwardly, it was safe and pure awesomeness.  Hell ya, I love the Zipper!!!  Then  like most yogis their comes a time in your home practice where you think, it’s time for me to do this, no more training wheels, I’m just going to bust it out!  Similarly, like when I was a kid wearing a helmet might have been a really intelligent decision before attempting a drop back on my own in my home practice.  In mid drop, fear took over, I realized I had no training wheels on, this was it, I wanted my Mommy, and…………… BOOOOM, THUD crashed down right on the top of my head, like I didn’t even have and arms.

Let’s just say,  I went back to the training wheels for a while before ever even thinking of trying that again.  Ego bruised, neck sore, fear of death rightfully placed in my mind/body.  Time goes on and the desire to feel the rush of the Zipper returned so this time I approach with more caution, lessons learned on the mat.  I place a pillow, okay a couch cushion, behind me to soften the blow if there was going to be one.  Wouldn’t you know it, I totally missed the cushion and crashed once again on my neck but this times my arms did a little bit to help me instead of completely abandoning me.  With, every attempt, fear comes, but now I breath, go over everything I need to do in order to be safe in a drop back and go for the ride.  I can now, most of the time, land like a feather on the earth, no boom, no loud thud, no training wheels.

I would have never ever been able to grasp some of the asanas in yoga if I didn’t go through the cycles of support but I also had to be willing to take the risk, to hit the jump on the shiny red big girl bike.  If you aren’t willing to take the training wheels off you will inevitably get stuck in your practice, be satisfied with what you can do today and extinguish the natural desire within you to expand.  It is your nature.  Stepping on your yoga mat is one hell of a wild ride, depending on what poses you choose to do of course.  If you stay with the ones that don’t challenge you or have a risk, you might eventually get bored and stop trying.  Do something in your yoga practice today that can scare you at least a little bit, one more breath, 1 inch deeper, kick up a bit harder, be okay with falling on your face.  Just see what happens.

When you get on the Zipper buckle up and enjoy the ride!



Back off or I’ll loose my Yoga Cool

If you do yoga I’m sure someone has told you “that’s not very yogic of you” or something like that.  The truth is that being a yogi doesn’t mean your a doormat or a pushover, instead it means sometimes you need to be fierce like a mother lion protecting her cub. 

Some days it’s difficult to find anytime to hit my mat but I notice when that happens because I don’t feel as connected to my body or my heart and the way I response to all the experiences that come up during the day, whether they are good or bad, seem to be greatly influenced by my yoga/meditation practice or lack there of.

I’ve been assaulted both physically and mentally in my life and my response has changed because of yoga.  Yoga has allowed me to become stronger, like a diamond, in my very core and at the same time soften my outer body so when these assaults happen they don’t effect the core of who I am.

I’ve got a sweet story written all over my right palm, many years ago, in a rage I smashed two glasses on a table and in that process I mangled my hand.  I had to get stitches and lost a huge chuck of flesh.  That scar is always a great reminder of how much I have changed.  At the time I didn’t have a yoga cool to loose but now I wouldn’t response that way to anything.

Yesterday was a different story.  I love to walk to my class, we live really close to where I teach but the path is sometimes sprinkled with weirdos.  I’m pretty good at ignoring them but yesterday was a bit more challenging.

Two drunken Pittas (fiery folks) came up to me when I waiting at the lights and the one was trying really hard to get my attention.  A second before he was going to grab me I stepped out in front of an oncoming car and just walked  calmly across the street.  My heart was racing but I’m so glad I didn’t have to do anything else because it might have got ugly.  If he did grab me this ending would be different.

Judo Chop!

I won’t stop walking or biking to work but I will keep practicing so that I don’t loose my yoga cool.  My husband gave me some lessons in self defense on our walk home that I won’t forget!  I’m a conscious being but I’m armed with knowledge and a deeper love for our planet and the other beings we share it with.

Keep your yoga cool by practicing,



you show off

You Show Off!


Has anybody ever been called this before?

I have a few times in my life and each time I get confused about it.  What does showing off look like?  Is it someone doing what they do well in front of you and you can’t do it?  I’m sure that it comes from a place of lack of self-love and self-worth but I want to shine some light on this.

Learning how to slack line, means falling off it at least 100 times

Are the Olympic athletes out there “showing off” to the world?

Yes, I guess they are.  They are “showing off” what dedication, a high level of practice and skill looks like.  Any time you see someone with skillz or talents let me tell you they often are not naturals.  It takes years of works, thousands of hours to master anything.  I find most people give up after 5 minutes and start talking about how they can’t do it, it’s too hard.  Geesh, give yourself some credit!  Learning new things, take time, your body needs to create muscle memory, strength and endurance.

I attended a yoga class a few years ago and choose to do full Natarjasana Pose instead of the one handed version.  Why did I choose to do that?  Well, it wasn’t to show off!  I actually find the full pose easier to hold now, more tension, and well, it just just feels incredible so why not, I was a student in the class and it was my practice.  Should I hold back in case someone sees me as a “show-off.”  That is just plain unhealthy on all levels.Image

What was sad about that was the teacher, called me a show-off in the class, before she asked me to demo the full pose to the rest of the group.  Hmmmm, interesting!

In my life I have a few things, okay many things, that I LOVE to do and over the course of 20 years, I have some skill.  My Dharma is to be a teacher, to show others how to do it.  I started with snowboarding, rock climbing, hacky sack, pool, foosball,and then yoga, hooping, slacklining, I spend time doing things that make me happy and once you log some hours doing it, it shows.

I spent more time on yoga than anything else and I’ve been practicing yoga without taking any breaks for over 10 years now!  I have yoga skills, but honestly it’s not about showing them off to the world but rather inspiring something inside of others.  Yoga was not natural for me, AT ALL!  I liked fast, moving, adrenaline pumping activities but yoga touched my heart in a very deep way and I was hooked.

Twinkie 5.12d, Kentucky

So next time you think about calling someone a “show off” hold back and instead become curious about their path in life and how they got there.  Most often it was all because of countless hours of hard work and dedication.  Our talents are to be shared with the world, if you keep them secret then our communal level of skill and ability likely won’t every progress.