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Alas, as I progressed with my meditation practice, the distressed breathing remained right there to greet me. Coming face-to-face with my breathing did not bring me into the coveted present moment; it dredged up memories of coughing during soccer practice and waking up in the middle of the night gasping for air.
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But as our minds tend to do, I quickly followed that loving thought with a negative one. I began to feel the physical pain. I looked at my hands. Both of my palms were scraped and bleeding. There was a hole in my pants and my knee was bleeding and throbbing. I immediately began berating myself for not fighting harder to stay upright.
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I recently came across a quote by Daniell Koepke about only doing and being around what makes you happy. I really felt a connection and understanding to the quote with different situations in my life, some past and some present.
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Listen
to what you need to say
then lie down and die for a while.
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Sometimes it feels like we are all running a really long, fast, and hard race. Zipping around, trying to get “a million things done.” Never completing our endless to-do lists. And then feeling guilty about it.
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I heard someone say once – “everyone should have a little bit of cancer.” What? The idea threw me because I try as best as I can to stay away from the dreaded C disease by having my mammogram, watching my diet, red wine, blah, blah, blah.
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Overwhelm

Overwhelm is a sign that there are big things happening in your life, and that you are being called to create more space, to pay more attention, to grow. What is important is how we respond to overwhelm. Do we get lost in it, or dance with it?
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And there’s the super fit woman who comes in right under the wire, doesn’t make too much eye contact, and slips out of class right at the end. She wants to soften too. I feel this when I assist her in a reclined spinal twist. The gradual sigh. Giving it up for a few breaths.
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Wardrobe Malfunction blog

I took a hot yoga class last night for the first time in years. We do some breathing. The teacher announces it’s time to focus for the next 90 minutes and “stop fidgeting”. Then one of the straps on my top snaps in proper wardrobe malfunction style.
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2015 has already been about the most spectacular year on record for sunsets. The SUNSETS we’ve seen! When I lived in Hawai’i, every evening people would stop and gather for “Sunset Hour” instead of Happy Hour.
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The-Theory-of-Everything for blog

In yoga, I work with the concepts of yama and niyama, overall disciplines and observances that I undertake to prepare for the deeper stages of ashtanga or eight-limbed yoga. The yama are universal concepts of engaging in the world. They make everything less wavy and smooth like the gravitational field spelled out in general relativity. The niyama are attributes of practice I bring to my individual life. Kind of like quantum mechanics…how I connect and bond with my practice.
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Truth be told, most yoga teacher bios really don’t tell us anything about who a teacher actually is or what to expect in her class.
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Working with these gates resembles the process of discovering how the same asana can either heal or hurt. It involves a lot of trial and error. Sometimes it feels like the “better” I get, the trickier the practice.
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Recently, I took a yoga class after which the thought occurred to me that I had no business teaching whatsoever. It wasn’t because the poses were particularly fancy or that we were doing something I hadn’t done thousands of times before.
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This thought. Now that one… that thought—Yum! Now this one—

Like a party spilling out from the living room,

chit-chattering peels off and mushrooms in dim corners—

So I chit vrit along Jersey Avenue, imagining Bobby McFerrin singing it:
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Yup, it’s true, I just don’t sing enough any more. I used to sing all of time. I always felt so alive whenever I was on stage.
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Psychologists say there are three major stressors in person’s life: death, divorce and moving. During this intense time of change and anxiety, I’ve learned just how important my practice is. It grounds me. It produces a sense of timelessness, spaciousness and balance while everything around me spins around like a Sufi dancer.
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People ask me all sorts of questions as I roll out my yoga mat, eat at their restaurants, and crank my music as I pass through town.
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I told them that when I was in my early twenties I’d gone out to live at the San Francisco Zen Center started by Suzuki Roshi who wrote Zen Mind, Beginners Mind. It was a strict place. Up at 4:45 to sit on zafus for an hour and a half. If you nodded out a monk would strike you with a stick. But that wasn’t it – that wasn’t what Buddha was talking about under the Bodhi tree.
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This morning was just like most mornings — I came into Seated Forward Bend feeling a tug in my hamstrings before my muscles released.
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We are more than our days
We are more than our years
More than our victories
Less than our lacks
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Two surgeries and then radiation for breast cancer left me with large areas of numbness on my left side, in my arm, armpit and shoulder – nerve damage from cutting and zapping.
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eye for blog

These people must have special powers, I thought, as I witnessed a man take a headstand with no hands. Later, as one woman casually braided her hair while in a front split, I hyperventilated in child’s pose and convinced myself that some people are just born without hamstrings. These thoughts did not feel so good inside. To avoid them, I closed my eyes as often as possible.
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My neighbors thought I was a strange child. I would rise with the sun. Mother would eventually let me outside. I’d walk along the rocks in the yard. I am told often with umbrella open on a sunny day, singing.
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hands for blog

If we cast light on our hands, we can learn more about ourselves and the many special powers we have, including time travel. When I hook my thumbs, my hands become wings and take me right back into the shadow puppet saga.
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The Practice that I am recommending to everyone this year is prayer. I know, in the New Age/Yoga/Neo-Eastern spirituality scene, prayer is not well known. God or anything having to do with God is not popular among the Yogaboomer generation.
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ammas feet for blog

As strongly as they support us, our feet—sensitive and receptive—are often the first parts of the body to experience this profound connection. I think of the times I’ve stood barefoot in the park and felt the cool grass rise between my toes. This sensation results not only in a deeper appreciation of the grass, but of the park—of all parks—and of nature and my ability to connect directly with it in practical and profound ways.
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I’ve started doing my daily mantra meditation again and it feels good. Having experimented with different mantras over the years, I seem to be pulled back to the one that my guru Christine (beautiful yogi and friend) gave me years ago.
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So that’s what happened to me recently. Life was humming along both on the mat and off. My teaching and practicing are deeply gratifying on many days, but…
I was… I am. Stuck.
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Powerful godess

“What did you love about Maleficent?,” I asked my daughter after our very happy Father’s Day at the movies without the men. “She’s very pretty!” she smiled.
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In practicing dharana, I hold the space for the splendor of dhyana. One can be scrutinized and mulled over. It is singular. The result of this attention is to get to a destination that is diffuse and all encompassing. But, I am not sure how long that will take, what it will feel like or whether it will even happen in this lifetime.
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So I did my first cacao ceremony yesterday. Dude- it totally made me sick. Or rather, it showed me how I have slowly been making myself sick. Allow me to explain.
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When I practice pratyahara I am trying to not remove my senses but stop them from being influenced by people and objects outside my own shell, my own container. It makes me stronger and wiser. It stops me from nipping and peeing on others.
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When people think of cancer patients, they imagine skinny, fragile bodies. And yes, this is often the case during active treatment, prolonged treatment, or late stages of cancer. But for many people, weight gain is a common side effect of cancer treatment.
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yogablog

My relationship with the breath is so profound and yet so simple. I came into this life on an inhale; wailing away as a nurse wiped snot from my nose and, hopefully, I’ll go out on a peaceful exhale.

Between that big roar and that quiet dissolution, I’ve realized that my life is a sort of retention. I’ve retained a particular life-form as I’ve shed cells, grown hair and gained wrinkles.

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Small Town 2 resized

I’ve only been out of New York for three years, but I’ve gotten used to the way things are here. In a small town like Taos, if you don’t want to…
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Overflowing for blog

“Flood drill” someone yelled as 20 middle schoolers stood on their classroom chairs pulling up their pant legs; mocking a worried-looking substitute science teacher. Mrs. Meltzer was trying to teach us about surface tension and displacement.

In class we had taken beakers, filled them to the rim with water and dropped plums in them to measure the overflow. One of the students had the brilliant idea, we thought, to call the experiment a flood drill. Hysteria ensued.

I had my own personal “flood drill” recently.
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happy abs

I started taking a new exercise class lately to add some variety to my routine. I want to start by saying that I have loved how strong these classes make me feel. It has come to my attention however that these classes focus a great deal on the physical “end result” – or the way that your body will look upon completion of an exercise. Do you get my drift?
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I play George Winston or Mozart in the background. One of the men told me the other day he likes the Mozart I play because it’s the same as the music in Bugs Bunny show. We punch the air. We breathe. And we end with savasana. I find that the more I get to know them, the more I am comfortable abandoning the plan and just going with what I feel they really need… Mostly heart-openers.
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harmonium

I find it so appropriate that the harmonium is a central instrument in the practice of yoga. In many ways, playing the harmonium is a lot like breathing with someone.
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“New York won’t let you fail,” I wrote on the bottom of my left running shoe. On the right, I scribbled “Listen.” In Central Park, I picked up my pace and was able to finish with some dignity, my feet crossing the red and blue rubber line. Plunk. As I accepted my medal and my heat wrap, I heard myself say a new mantra. “Oh, my God. Oh, my God. I did it. Oh, my God. Oh, my God.”

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durga w tiger

Last weekend, I attended workshop with my former teacher, Shiva Rea. During the workshop we focused on integrating Vinyasa flow with Kalari, a traditional Indian form of martial arts. I found it so satisfying to stray away from traditional asana and rigid alignment and move into a feeling or bhavana state in the practice.
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Pashi for blog

The Hidden Language invites us to ask ourselves What is holding me back? What do I need to surrender or renounce? in the pose. Profound questions. Ones that need not be finalized in 10 or 15 breaths, but ones you can acknowledge as you feel yourself stretch.
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I remember a yoga class I took years ago in NYC at around this time, just before the clocks turned back. The teacher asked the class to name what we didn’t like about the darkness, which flew out of our mouths easily. She then asked us to name what we loved about the darkness.
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fish for blog

We move through these poses without thinking about their power, but the shapes resonate for each of us differently and it is this “embodied breathing” that makes us strong practitioners as well as present, sentient beings. With the crown of the head down in Matsyasana, your thoughts release and you can give up…
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We brought Miss Liberty Belle home on Saturday. Only 7 weeks old, she’s already reminding me of the ancient wisdom inherent in all living things. People, animal, plants all need much of the same basic things: food, water, sunshine, rest, companionship, space to spread out our wings and fly, but also time to withdraw and recover.
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More than anything, it’s about using the breath to move the agni around, not letting it settle in the quadriceps or the lower back. And if you read my piece last week on half moon, there’s a circle to explore around this shape as well, a container for the heat you’ve created. Without it, your Goddess begins to melt here and there…
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When I teach yoga or practice reiki, I use the term “energy” a lot. But, I have a confession to make: I don’t like calling it that. I learned throughout school, like we all did, that energy means watts, amps, volts, joules, etc. Look it up in the dictionary and you get that definition or this: physical and mental vitality.
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Ardha Chandrasana (Half Moon) was the first pose that showed me how to be a spiritual practitioner. Similar to how the warriors allow us to feel prepared and ready, Half Moon opened me up to my potential in a new way.
I remember the initial feeling of finding a shape that spoke to me, embodied me, and so I embodied and embraced it back. And it gave me what a good partner does: support and an abiding faith.
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Walking home from the studio recently, I experienced one of Albuquerque’s early signs of autumn’s approach–green chilies roasting. I LOVE that unmistakably sweet and pungent, slightly burnt aroma that wafts through the air on most fall days.
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