Tuesday, August 30, 2011

The 5th season

Late summer is known as the fifth season in Chinese medicine. The fifth season begins the third week of August and ends with the Autumn Equinox. During this period the body is transitioning from warmer to cooler climates. This considered a still period of the year and all living things are encouraged to enjoy the abundance of food and mild climate, brought on by summer. This is an excellent time of the year to practice poses which address the lung and large intestine meridian. This meridian is associated with taking in and letting go. Emotions associates with this area are reactions to major life changes, holding on to negative or charged feeling states, or and uncontrollable release of emotion.

On a lighter side, its hard for a lot of us to let go of the sweetness of summer for coming colder months and increased workload and obligation. According to Chinese medicine the pranayama should be practiced between 3 am and 5 am and yoga for the large intestine between 5 am and 7 am. I'm thinking this isn't really going to happen for just about everybody. If you have a home practice and you can do pranayama and a few poses in the morning that would be best. If you take class at a studio, ask your yoga teacher to include a few breath exercises and incorporate the yogasana into the sequence. Practice with intention for maximum results.

Asana for the lung and large Intestine

  • Pranayama with chest, arm and shoulder openers

Be well, be happy and know that you are perfect always,
Jai Bhagwan!

Saturday, August 27, 2011

International Karma Yoga Day

When I was in the ashram in India we were required to participate in Karma yoga. For those of you who may be unsure, Karma yoga is based on the teachings of the Bhagavad Gita. There are four paths to realization and enlightenment, karma yoga requires doing something for others. "Krishna explains that work done without selfish expectations purifies one's mind and gradually makes an individual fit to see the value of reason. " To put it another way, a little mitzvah now and again (a good deed) is good for the soul.

Karma yoga was hands down my favorite yoga. You signed up for a task in the morning and completed it later in the afternoon. A lot of the activities in the Ashram were done in silence, but karma yoga was a highly social time with lots of chit chat and kibitzing. It always left me feeling very satisfied and happy. My favorite job was clipping the hedges around Shiva (see above). I would clip, clip, clip and Shiva and I would chat it up. We had never been formally introduced before and we got to know each other a little. By the end of my stay I really think we both grew rather fond of one other. Before I left the ashram a bird flew in my hut and dropped an amulet of Shiva by my bedside, then flew away. Very powerful moment in my life.

September 11, 2012 is International Karma Yoga Day. This is an initiative designed to bring together all yoga schools and practitioners around the world for one day of service a year. This year’s motto for International Karma Yoga Day is “Keeping Yoga Real!”.

Here's what you can expect:

One day of inclusive, totally free yoga all around the world.

• A gathering of the entire yoga community to learn, share and truly make friends with each other.

• An enriching of modern Yoga through the recognition of Karma Yoga.

• Participants are asked to think of and commit to positive action in their communities and the greater global village. Each participant makes a pledge for at least one volunteer act in the following year.

Yoga communities across the globe are participating. For example; my community is providing a day long yoga festival with classes, music and healing sessions from 9am to 8pm on the waterfront. This is a free event open to all.

Please join us in a day of celebration, compassion, and commitment to community! Feel free to check out the facebook page for information in your area.

Wishing everyone much shanti and love.

Thursday, August 25, 2011


(Crystal Waters)
Wigstock has been on my movie cue for ages. As labor day in the U.S. approaches I thought this might be a ideal time take to in this fun documentary. Wigstock was an annual outdoor festival that took place each year on labor day in New York City. Adjust your wig, don some high healed stilettos and head on down to the East Village for a day of fabulous fun, karmic love, and universal peace, plus a lot of music thrown in for smashing good time! This annual drag event was a celebration of life and individuality for a generation that truly took the free to be you and me statement to heart. But then again I'm biased, I love men that love women and this event is certainly an omage to all women! Sadly the event ended around 2005 after a good decade and half stint. I really don't know why it's no longer here, but as the event grew larger and larger each year I think the organizers may have had a hard time finding venues.The above video is Crystal Waters preforming 100%. It completely rocks and makes you want to get up and shake your booty. Just a little heads up, this is defiantly for adults only.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Let's all have a seat for a moment.

(Rina Yoga)

Dandasana (staff pose) is an important foundation posture which is commonly over looked and rarely considered in most yoga classes. Staff pose is a basic seated pose from which all the others originate, it assists in strengthening all major core muscles, improves posture, and increases stamina. This is an excellent asana to practice if you have sciatica.

The Benefits of Staff Pose:

  • Helps improve posture
  • Strengthens back muscles
  • Lengthens and stretches the spine
  • May help to relieve complications related to the reproductive organs
  • Stretches shoulders and chest
  • Nourishes your body’s resistance to back and hip injuries
  • Helps to calm brain cells
  • May improve functionality of the digestive organs
  • Creates body awareness
  • Helps improve alignment of body
  • Provides a mild stretch for hamstrings
How to assume to posture:
  • Sit with your legs together and stretched out in front of you. Use a folded blanket under the sits bones if needed. Place your hands next to the hips on the floor.
  • Feet are flexed. Press your sits bones into the floor and a little to the back, to help you sit straight, your spine lengthens, the lower back arches a little forward towards your belly.
  • Open your chest
  • Check that your shoulders are over the hips and your ears in line with the shoulders.
  • Stay in this position between the 5-15 breaths,

Monday, August 22, 2011

Memories from the Past

Trees I Love.

This tree holds a very special memory for me. One sunny and pleasant August day five years ago I sat under that tree with my YTT batch while Devarshi Steven Hartman taught us about the Bhagavad- Gita. An amazing memory, which I hold dear to my heart. This weekend while visiting a friend in the area I decided to stop in on the way home. I hadn't been back since I graduated. Just as I remember, Kripalu was bustling with activity. Yoga, mediation, art, song, chant, people coming and going and deeply involved or not at all. It's a wonderful place to get lost and find yourself.

The energy and consciousness of the divine
saturate the entire field of mind and matter.
Don't cling to limited forms and beliefs ….
Learn to investigate the truth directly.
See for yourself the nature of the world.
by Dadaji (Swami Kripalu's teacher)

Monday, August 15, 2011

Dharma Mittra

Dharma Mittra

I regularly enjoy Chicago writer Cara Jepsen's blog, No Sleep Till Mysore. Cara writes about her life as a yoga teacher, writer and dedicated student of Dharma Mittra. Sri Dharma Mittra is a yoga teacher, and a student of Sri Swami Kailashanda. He is best known for creating the Master Yoga Chart of 908 Postures. He has been teaching since 1967, and is director of the Dharma Yoga Center in New York City. He teaches Ashtanga Vinyasa and Karma yoga.

I often sees photos of him in headstand on rocks, pavement and other hard surfaces. He looks serine and quite enjoying himself. Although I have no interest in taking a headstand on a rock, he does seem a fascinating and dynamic teacher. When I discovered he'll be teaching a Hatha class in my neck of the woods I decided now is the opportunity to see for myself why so many are dedicated to his teaching. If your around In September come join me, I'll be here.

Jai bhagwan, peace and happy headstands everyone!

Saturday, August 13, 2011

The Barnacle

Going up North means going back not only physically, but emotionally to a place I used to dwell long, long ago. Usually this is pleasant and I am able to tap into the good things and express these feelings and notions of past life in my present day. This is why I was so surprised to find I had tapped a wellspring of unresolved anger and pain I thought I had resolved lifetimes ago.

On a rather overcast day without much going on we decided to walk the dogs in a lovely area along the rocky coast. As we were walking I pointed toward a road, "Lets walk this way, I spent a summer working for some people down this road. It's quite nice, I'll show you." We shouldn't have done it, there were signs everywhere stating it was private and no trespassing. There had always been signs, although I hadn't remembered quite so many. I had meandered down this path before, its pleasant with quiet fields, an ocean and a lovely view. I had worked for people on this road, I have always been respectful, I didn't think anything of it when we turned down the road with dogs bounding ahead of us.

Mercury is retrograde in Virgo and I have my moon in Virgo. I should have known. When Mercury is retrograde "circumstances are thrust upon us, rather than matters we have consciously decided to implement or resolve. In particular, unresolved issues from the past tend to rear their heads and demand to be dealt with."(http://www.astrologycom.com/mercret.html) I was walking headlong into my unresolved emotional past. As I reflect, I realize I must have been ready to remove a barnacle from my emotional psyche I previously avoided or was unable to confront and release. The first house we passed had a dog with a severe bark. Some people came to the porch and asked who I was and why I was there. Slightly unfriendly, but I was cheeful with an open heart and explained my travels. I was allowed to pass. Shortly after a much older woman, crone like, burst out to present herself in a noxious contemptuous tone. The message was loud and clear, "you down there, we are not pleased with your presence, you don't belong!" On the exterior I was friendly, slightly confused and well mannered. On the inside I felt small and demoralized. There I was feeling like an idiot in front of a woman who looked like an elderly model for Lacoste clothing photo from the 80's.

And there it was.... no more swimming politely around this barnacle. I stumbled on back to our car and hobbled in, shattered. Fuck! I thought I dealt with this shit long ago. Evidently not, If I had I wouldn't have traveled down that path. Today in class I felt strong enough to cry a bit, release some toxins and spend some time in Camel. Open my heart to the universe and let go of the shadow.

It's not about me, it's not about my life and it's not about how I choose to live, love and accept people, thank God, the universe and the Great Mother!

Friday, August 5, 2011


I'll be a away for a while. Heading up North to meet family and friends. Were going to give my father a proper send off. His birthday is Monday, so Monday it will be. A deep love of the planet and an ardent environmentalist, this is a most fitting send off for an extraordinary man.

To see a World in a Grain of Sand
And a Heaven in a Wild Flower,
Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand,
And Eternity in an hour.

William Blake

Thursday, August 4, 2011

I am a Yoga Teacher, uh... I guess.

I did my first yoga teacher training five years ago at Kripalu. We were a large group and did our training on site at their beautiful campus. I had a bit of yoga under my belt and was ready to go deeper. The day I graduated one of my teachers gave personal words of wisdom to each of us. She told me "just go out there and teach." That seemed like a good idea. I taught my friends, my mum, and anyone who wanted a class. I got reviewed, critiqued and given suggestions by people I loved and trusted, then we had wine and cheese and kibitzed. I was ready to go deeper into teaching, but not in a studio. I didn't feel ready, and it didn't feel right. My evolution into teaching has been slow, unique and and it's not what pops into the mind when most people think of teaching yoga. Linda's Yoga Journey has a fantastic post on the subject of yoga teachers, yoga training programs and the influx of new teachers pouring out into the universe daily.

There are so many programs and it does seem every studio is now offering a teacher training program. It feels like there's some pressure out there these days to get into a teacher training program. So many students are entering these programs with unrealistic goals and expectations. I do become concerned when I run across someone who has lost their job and decided their next career will be teaching. It's really hard to sustain a living teaching yoga full time, work can be sporadic and the money is no good.

I do have a teaching practice. My practice is private and specific. I teach, give in-services on specific areas of yoga which relate to my profession and do some lecturing and research. I found a place to contribute, its my dharma and I embrace it. I would be frustrated, sad, and probably had the house foreclosed had I attempted to abandon what I have for full time teaching. Intention with clarity is essential. I'm not saying it doesn't happen, or can't happen, it's just a lot harder than it looks, and it will evolve quite differently for everyone.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

A lot of people attack the sea, I make love to it.

(Celine Cousteau)

Late one summer when I was a little girl I went to a store that would have been something like a CVS today. We were buying supplies for the school year. I was told to select folders and left in the aisle to peruse cartoon characters and depictions of action figures. I was always a slow, methodical child and as I carefully examined each pink princess and the like, shaking my head no and placing it back, my eye flickered on something wonderful. I picked up a folder with a photograph of fish swimming in a very blue ocean. Written somewhere was the name Jacques Cousteau, I immediately knew this was exactly what I wanted. I ended up keeping those school folders and using them over and over again until they were finally tatters. Years later I was in Paris when he died. I was rushing through the Metro when I saw a newspaper posting his death. 'No! Please don't go, No." Perhaps because I have always lived by the ocean, perhaps because I am a water child, or perhaps there is no explanation, but there is something about this man and his work which have always resonated with me. His work lives on in his children, grandchildren and countless others. What a marvelous man.

When one man, for whatever reason,
has the opportunity to lead an extraordinary life,
he has no right to keep it to himself.

Jacques Cousteau

Monday, August 1, 2011

Sweet August

Fairest of the months!
Ripe summer's queen
The hey-day of the year
With robes that gleam with sunny sheen
Sweet August doth appear.
R. Combe Miller