Have You Taken Your Yoga Vitamins?


1. Faith (Shraddha)
2. Vigor (Virya)
3. Mindfulness (Smriti)
4. Meditative Consciousness (Samadhi)
5. Discernment (Prajna)
We all need a little pick-me-up from time to time. The same can be said for our yoga practice. While we know that, “to compare is to despair” it does seem at times that yoga and meditation come more easily to some than others. We can fall into the trap of looking around the room in handstand, or Warrior III and comparing someone else’s outsides to our insides.

The Yoga Sutras Of Patanjali, a classical text on the practice of yoga, tells us not to fret. Perhaps others seem born blissful, but the rest of us simply need a booster shot of yogic vitamins to assist us on our path.

Yoga Sutra 1.20: To some, liberation comes from the practice of faith, vigor, mindfulness, consciousness and discernment.

“Sraddha Virya Smrti Samadhi Prajna-Purvaka Itaresam”

When we put the yoga vitamins into practice, we have the faith to know we are evolving, growing and learning. With vigor, we direct our energy wisely and learn to practice self-care. With mindfulness, we can pause when uncertain and acertain the right action. With consiousness we can connect to The Divine, and with discernment we begin to “instinctively know how to handle situations which used to baffle us.”

My aim is to offer classes that are infused with these life-affirming vitamins. Click here for my full schedule and join me in class again soon <3



Asatoma Invocation

Asatoma Invocation

Chanting is a great way to connect to Self. I have been chanting the beautiful Asatoma Invocation in class this month. CLICK HERE for an audio file of some of my students (Thanks Ali and Kristin) and I chanting it call and response style.

Asatomaa sad gamaya
Tamaso maa jyotir gamaya
Mrityormaa amritaam gamayaOm shanti shanti shantihiLead me from the unreal to the real
Lead me from darkness to light
Lead me from death to immortality

Om peace, peace, peace


pidgeon rock

In March, we “spring forward” into all of spring’s budding possibilities and “Kiss me I’m Irish” shenanigans. We see St. Patrick’s Day decorations and flowering plants begin to sprout up, decorating our world with green.

Green is one of my favorite colors. To me it inspires a sense of grounding and feels clean and crisp. But culturally, we have much conflicting symbolism connected with the color green. Green is as eco-friendly as it is envious, vile as it is lucky, ill as it is fresh.

The fact that the color green symbolizes luck and simultaneously characterizes envy is actually a contradiction that I wrestle with in my own spiritual life. How is it that at one moment I can feel as lucky as a four-leaf clover and the next minute I forget all my blessings and become green with envy over the blessings of another?

The entire first chapter of the Yoga Sutras help us to identify mental pitfalls such as greed (aparigraha) and give us practices to help us transcend. As for eliminating envy, the yoga sutras suggest cultivating happiness for others with grace for ourselves even if it is not our initial response.

Sutra 1.33 In relationships, the mind becomes purified by cultivating feelings of friendliness towards those who are happy, compassion for those who are suffering, goodwill towards those who are virtuous, and indifference or neutrality towards those we perceive as wicked or evil. (maitri karuna mudita upekshanam sukha duhka punya apunya vishayanam bhavanatah chitta prasadanam)

If we still can’t clear up our misperceptions, the more tangible practices of physical yoga, breath work and meditation can help us untangle many of these knots and create a sense of equanimity in our hearts and minds.

Sutra 1.34: The mind is also calmed by regulating the breath, particularly attending to exhalation and the natural stilling of breath that comes from such practice. (prachchhardana vidharanabhyam va pranayama)

If all else fails and you simply can not get out of a green envy funk, the Yoga Sutras suggest practicing contrary action, or ACTING AS IF YOU WERE GRATEFUL:

Sutra 2.33 When these codes of self-regulation or restraint (yamas) and observances or practices of self-training (niyamas) are inhibited from being practiced due to perverse, unwholesome, troublesome, or deviant thoughts, principles in the opposite direction, or contrary thought should be cultivated. (vitarka badhane pratipaksha bhavanam)

Contrary action and contrary thought are some of my MOST useful spiritual tools. Nothing cures inaction like action. Can’t get your mind off of jealousy? Write a gratitude list. Stuck in a self-centered pity party? Go volunteer to help someone in need or simply call to check on someone and ask how THEY are doing instead of getting stuck in yourself.

We all fall into less-than-fresh thinking from time to time. The key is to keep growing, keep practicing and springing forth. As we continue to cultivate clear perception and still the fluctuations of our mind, we will be able to recognize our own truths and see that in our own individual way we are more than lucky, we are complete.

Love Yourself

“Be yourself; everyone else is already taken.”
― Oscar Wilde



A few days ago I was asked by a friend what the topic of my upcoming newsletter would be. “Self-Love!” I replied excitedly. My friend paused, and asked, “Shouldn’t we be focusing on loving and serving others instead of loving ourselves? Isn’t there enough self obsession in the world?”

This might be true if we were to confuse Self-love with self-obsession.

One need not be consumed with love for themselves to be self-obsessed. In fact, most people who are self-obsessed are gravely insecure. We live in a very judgmental culture. I would venture to guess that way more of us struggle with self-criticism than with self-congratulation. The truth is, we are constantly bombarded by an achievement based and materialistic culture that suggests we need to do more, buy more, and be better. This can consume our minds and obscure our true Divine Nature.

So, what I am speaking to here is not self-obsession. Nor am I suggesting you can gain healthy Self-love through pampering the physical body, or taking self-seeking actions that would harm another. Instead, I urge you to explore the practices of self-care as discussed in the Eight Limbs of the Yoga Sutras.

The Yoga Sutras define the Self as your Soul or your Divinity, your Self with a capital S! Call it Energy, call it Spirit, God, or Universal Consciousness, but when I talk about you loving yourself I am recognizing that you are a Divine Creation. If you have even the vaguest sense of a Spirit/Energy/God within you, then why wouldn’t you treat yourself with the love you would extend to That which you honored and appreciated?

The very first verses of Patanjali’s yoga sutras help illuminate this concept. We have an authentic Self with in us, but often we cannot see it. We mis-identify ourselves with our egos. We compare ourselves with others, and try to figure out if we are “good enough” based on how we measure up to some arbitrary cultural expectations.

Yoga Sutra 1.2 states that, Yoga is the practice of controlling the modifications (gross and subtle thought patterns) of the mind. (yogash chitta vritti nirodhah) and that once we clear out the clamor of the mind – all the mental junk – then, like a dirty mirror wiped clean, we can begin to see our True Self.

1.3 Then the Seer abides in Itself, resting in its own True Nature, which is called Self-realization.
(tada drashtuh svarupe avasthanam)

When we take actions toward Self-love and self-care, through the practices of meditation, asana, and the rest of the eight limbs, we are not so caught up in the mental pitfalls of competition, comparison, and self-doubt. When you love yourself, you can see that you were created perfectly imperfect just as you are. So go ahead, give yourself some love. Accept yourself as you really are and use the tools of Yoga to explore a deeper personal understanding of the Spirit within you.

Top 8 Reasons To Practice Yoga

#1 – Connect with others.  Yoga builds a sense of community, co-opportunity and collaboration as you meet and share your journey with others.

#2 – Connect with yourself. A yoga practice allows you to set aside some “you time”. Practice provides an opportunity to regulate your energy, emotions, intuition, and overall state of mind/soul/spirit.

#3 – Maintain a healthy happy state of physical well being.  Hatha yoga builds strength, flexibility, balance and prepares the body for the demands of everyday life. We all know physical exercise is good for us, and a spoon full of Asana makes the medicine go down in the most delightful way!

#4 – Breathe deeply.  Breath practices help to build present moment awareness of the life force within you and the spirit that surrounds you. Plus, breath work helps to strengthen the respiratory system, and regulate the nervous system.

#5 – Practice detachment. Modern life can be so full of unwanted stimuli, it can be difficult to sort out which elements are actually worthy of AshtangaButterflyour attention. Our yoga practice demands present moment attention, and as we practice this attentiveness we learn to let go of the past, weed out distraction, and detach from the future (which doesn’t even exist ;) ).

#6 – Learn to concentrate. Once we become well versed at detachment, it becomes easier to focus on the aspects of life that do matter to us. As we learn to concentrate, our mind sills and we find we have more time for study of self and study of Forces outside ourselves.

#7 – Meditation. The benefits of meditation are well documented. There are many techniques and paths towards meditation. Experiment and find a meditation practice that works for you and reap the benefits in your body, mind, and Spirit.

# 8 – Open to Bliss. Allow yourself to investigate what Pantanjali’s Yoga Sutras describe as freedom through surrender to God. Surrender yourself to a belief, a hope, and investigate the power of faith: faith in the effects of your yoga practice and faith in a Power greater than yourself.

Handstands in Paradise AKA: God is Good.

Embrace each of your senses in turn
Seeing as being touched by light
Hearing as immersion in an ocean of sound
Tasting as enlightening
Smelling as knowing
Touching as electrifying
Follow the subtle pulsations
Into the spaciousness of the heart
Intimate with the unknowable
-The Radience Sutras #9
as translated by Lorin Roache


Over the past four years I have been making a concerted effort to re-define my understanding of God. Not an easy task as old ideas and sanskara run deep.

As I child I was very interested in religion and took it upon myself to walk to church and get to know Spirit. I loved Spirit! I remember reading the Psalms of David in my little pink Precious Moments Bible and mulling over “As the deer pants for the water brooks, So pants my soul for You, O God” (Psalm 42:1)

But somewhere along the way I started to develop a strange understanding of god. As I transitioned into adulthood and maturity, I somehow failed to grow in spiritual maturity. I came to know the god of my youth as a god of trials, and when I fell ill with Lupus and RA I came to believe that I must have these diseases because either, a)I did something wrong and deserved these trials, or, b) that god was using these diseases to “teach me a lesson”

These false ideas stayed with me throughout my 20′s. God was to be feared and suspected with a new “lesson” to  anticipate around each corner. Prayers became selfish bargaining sessions begging for an easy way out. I was simply incapable of seeing the Good and the Blessing in life because of this strange fear of god.

Letting go of these false beliefs has been very difficult. Basically, I had to get into enough spiritual pain to admit that my views just weren’t working.

With the help of yoga philosophy, 12-step programs, and amazing mentors, I have been SLOWLY turning over my ideas and am becoming open enough to accept the possibility that GOD IS GOOD.

Fast forward, and today the Shakti is SO BRIGHT I gotta wear shades! No longer do I believe that pain is the only touchstone of spiritual growth, No longer do I feel that God puts obstacles in my path as my only means of spiritual growth. What about love? What about selfless service, what about devotion, dance, energy, beauty, senses, joy, peace? Can I not be taught just as profound of lessons through blessing as I can through trial?

My recent vacation to The Bahamas really sealed in this new assumption. Maybe, just maybe, God is beauty. Maybe God is love,  selfless service, devotion, dance, energy, beauty, senses, joy, peace. This is God. And yes, there is a lot of MYSTERY… maybe God is all the Confusion too, that is all part of the messy Mystery, but as long as I keep my eyes off of myself, and on the blessings of creation, hopefully I can keep seeing the Good and ENJOY my life. After all, I am in remission from my R.A. I am safe, sober, sound and doing handstands in paradise.bahamashandstands


Plastic Planet

It is January, month of intention, resolution and perhaps life changing Sankalpa. As I understand Sankalpa, the purpose is to make a change that is positive and life-affirming, not one we will feel guilty about if we do not follow through, NOT AN EXERCISE IN SELF LOATHING!

With this in mind, please do not become overwhelmed when watching the movie trailer below (I become overwhelmed by these types of documentaries). Obviously, with the state of plastic in our world, we can no way avoid it all together. However, we can certainly take simple steps to cut down on our plastic usage and stop our waste of time, money, precious resources and of the planet.

Perhaps after watching this trailer you will want to join me in my resolution to cut down as best I can. Please post any ideas you have for cutting down on plastic usage, and check out the suggestions I have listed underneath the trailer<3



Plastic Planet

Ideas for cutting plastic usage:

-refill old soap dispensers/shampoo/conditioner bottles at your local health food stores (The usually have liquids such as EO or Dr. Bronners in bulk)

-choose to buy grocery items with the least packaging possible. Avoid tiny plastic bags/packaged foods within a big plastic bag, all of which could be avoided from buying from the bulk bins at your local health food store)

-choose to buy products such as flour, grains, nuts and snacks from bulk bins. Bring your own paper or cornstarch bags to use if not available.

-bring your own bags to the grocery store (duh)

-when bags are needed (trash, etc) choose to buy those made of starches, such as corn based Bio Bags for trash and Pooch Pickups for dog waste and small items.

-reuse glass jars as to-go cups

-bring to-go mugs and cups with you to work, meetings, etc

-bring reused cups/jars/sigg/kleen kanteen, type bottles/cups with you to work-out

-in the moment, think about what you are buying/using, brainstorm and see if there is a less trash based choice :)

-Have some culinary adventures and cook for your family, friends and self with local fresh ingredients (farmer’s market time).

-bake some extra delicious home made cookies to avoid the packaging

-For some hard-core inspiration check out this zero waste family I read about in Sunset Magazine

Let me know of any other ideas you have!!!!!

Water, water, everywhere, but how much do I drink?

As I continually strive, and fail, to give up caffeine, I have made a mini-goal to at least hydrate properly. I did some quick research about exactly how much water I should be drinking and found that the general consensus is, we should be taking in about 64oz of fluids a day, water being the ideal fluid. A trick to help you drink this much water is is known to many as the 8×8 rule: Drink an 8oz glass of water eight times a day for optimal hydration.

According to the Mayo Clinic website:

“The average urine output for adults is about 1.5 liters (6.3 cups) a day. You lose close to an additional liter (about 4 cups) of water a day through breathing, sweating and bowel movements. Food usually accounts for 20 percent of your total fluid intake, so if you consume 2 liters of water or other beverages a day (a little more than 8 oz) along with your normal diet, you will typically replace your lost fluids”

In the book “The Chakra Energy Plan” by Anna Selby, the following schedule is suggested as you practice the 8×8 rule:

7:00 am

Your body loses water during the night, so drink a large glass of water as soon as you wake up. This will also help detoxify your kidneys and liver. Wait at least ½ hour to eat after drinking.

9:00 am

Drink your second glass of water. If you travel a long distance to work, bike, walk, or have a hot summer commute, carry a bottle of water with you and sip as you commute, in addition to your 9:00 am glass.

11:00 am

Drink your third glass of water, more if you are in a hot climate, or in the midst of a hot weather spell.


Have a glass a half hour before you eat lunch

2:00 pm

Drink your fifth glass of water to ensure clear afternoon thinking. At this time of day many people experience a dip in their energy and concentration levels.

4:00 pm

Instead of having your afternoon glass of coffee or tea, try a cup of hot water or herbal tea.

6:00 pm

Drink another glass of water as you leave work, or right when you get home. At least 1/2 hour before dinner

9:00 pm

Drink your last glass of water here to prevent nighttime dehydration. However, make sure you don’t drink too close to your bedtime, lest you have to wake up in the night to use the restroom!

Good Luck, and don’t forget to cut back on buying plastic by keeping some extra cups or reusable bottles in your purse or bag :)



Sarveshaam Peace Invocation

I am teaching this beautiful chant in my classes this month, and some students asked me to post with audio and translation. Please enjoy the chant.


Om sarveshaam swastir bhavatu
Sarveshaam shantir bhavatu

Sarveshaam poornam bhavatu
Sarveshaam mangalam bhavatu

Loka Samasta Sukino Bhavantu!


1. Auspiciousness (swasti) be unto all; peace (shanti) be unto all;
fullness (poornam) be unto all; prosperity (mangalam) be unto all.

May the whole world be blessed with eternal peace and goodwill (sukhinah).

2. May good befall all

May there be peace for all

May all find fulfillment

May all beings be blessed!



Marathon as Tapas?

Kaya Indriya Siddhih Ashuddhi Kshayat Tapasah

Yoga Sutra 2.43

“Through ascesis or training of the senses (tapas), there comes a destruction of mental impurities, and an ensuing mastery or perfection over the body and the mental organs of senses and actions”


I suppose I wasn’t finding enough discipline in my yoga and meditation practices, as I saw it necessary to train for and run The Los Angeles Marathon this year.

The whole time I was training people would ask me why I was doing this. Had I ever run a marathon before? – No. Was I in Cross Country in High School? – No. Did I even like running? – No, not particularly.

It was leading me though, this strange desire to run. I knew somehow that training myself to run a marathon would have untold benefits.

The first month I found myself angry. Angry all the time, angry for no reason. Was the added adrenaline making me this aggressive?

The second month saw bouts of crying replacing anger.  Tears, either of intense gratitude, or hidden sorrow, would pour out of me after each long weekend run.

The third month brought processing. I noticed that the held emotions from the first two months had been peeling off of me. I spent time on long runs uncovering, discovering, and attempting to discard old beliefs behind me on the path as I ran ahead.

As marathon time approached I notice a new sense of levelness and calm. Long runs were peaceful. I noticed a change in myself not only on runs, but in my every day life. I was also so proud of myself for following through with the discipline of getting up to run no matter what. In the cold, in the rain, when I just didn’t want to run – I got up, laced my shoes and did it anyway.

The marathon day was an amazing experience. Slowly and steadily, overcoming my emotional obstacles, I finished the task with joy and ease. I am not at all lying when I say that the marathon was FUN. I had a blast, and a  smile on my face the majority of the race.

I am blessed to have explored the destruction of mental impurities in this way, and look forward to the ensuing mastery over the body and mind, Marathon as tapas or not :)