A student asked me recently, “why do you say ‘play yoga’?” At the end of every class, I end by saying, “thank yourself for showing up, for playing yoga, and for giving yourself this gift of time on your mat.” Why play? Why not say do yoga? Why saying anything? For me, play is very important. Playfulness and lightheartedness are qualities that resonate strongly with me, that are sacred to me, and are qualities that I see severely lacking. I think there is a lot of emphasis on being serious, taking things seriously basically from the age of 8 onwards. A lot of stress, anxiety, pressure revolves around seriousness. And I think it’s true that a lot of adults forget that sense of play and could benefit greatly from more playfulness and a lightness in their lives. In this day and age, in this political climate, with all we see and hear in the news, it takes strength to find the playful and to find the lightness and it’s even more necessary. As one of my role models, Princess Poppy, says in the movie Trolls, “I know it's not all cupcakes and rainbows but I'd rather go through life thinking that it is.” It’s not from a place of having my head in the sand, it’s from a place of rising above the darkness, wanting to shift the world into a place of beauty, appreciation, smiles, silliness, childlike wonder. When things get tough, when life feels very heavy and daunting, can you still find a lightness? Can you find the play? Can you find ease?
In the yoga world, as anywhere else, there can be this mega seriousness. It is a practice with deep ancient roots and I mean absolutely no disrespect when I say that personally I think people are taking things way too seriously and need more chances to let go, to be silly, to play! Even if yoga is a serious practice, which for some it is and I don’t mean to take that away from them, can there also be a lightness and playfulness? I don’t see that these have to be at odds with each other. I don’t see play taking away from the practice, I see it enhancing it. That’s my belief and it doesn’t have to be for everyone. In a world that has a lot of practice in being serious, being critical, analytical, intense, I find a necessity to find the space for the practice of lightheartedness and laughter. That personally is what I think many of us need a lot more time practicing.
This is what feels authentically me. Part of what I loved about my Kripalu teacher training was the permission for each teacher to bring their own flavor to their teaching. There was a freedom I felt when introduced to Kripalu yoga to make the practice my own, make the practice work for the person I was on the mat in that moment rather than make myself fit the mold of the practice and poses, a freedom to teach and share this practice in a way that’s uniquely my own. I talk about playing yoga with deep reverence and respect because I do find the element of play sacred and precious. Play yoga for the sake of lighting up the world! And there are always consequences to being the person you are. There are consequences to me being myself. My personality, my approach is not going to be for everyone. One of my favorite definitions of yoga is credited to the former CEO of Kripalu, Dinabandhu Patton Sarley. He defines yoga as a practice of tolerating the consequences of being ourselves. Not every flavor is for every body and there are consequences to being ourselves. On and off the mat, being playful, wearing flower crowns and glitter, sledding in my mid-30s (and beyond hopefully!), being sarcastic, cursing, thinking pink patent leather Doc Martens are appropriate footwear 99% of the time, sending emails in purple, isn’t for everyone. We each have our own approach to life, our own flavor and that’s the good news. That’s what brings wonderful diversity to this life because there are different flavors for different people! Embrace that! Disney movies and Harry Potter are not be for everyone and that’s a-ok!
But ask yourself, get curious, what does light you up? What is your relationship with play? Where are you playful and where might you be missing it? Do you remember the last time you felt lighthearted? Felt joy? What were you doing when you felt that? And do more of that. The world needs more joy, more passion, more play, more light!
Hello Be You Yoga Followers!
Happy February! Happy post Valentine’s Day! Valentine’s Day actually marks four years since opening my home studio for classes and I want to thank every single one of you who have been there along the way and have been part of this yoga adventure. Thank you thank you! I am delighted and grateful to have this community.
It seems fitting to be sitting here as it flurries outside as we approach the coming super full moon which is aptly named the Snow Full Moon! This coming full moon is closer to the earth, making it a super moon, which makes it appear bigger, brighter, and fuller. This super moon is actually going to be the brightest full moon of the year AND supposedly the brightest we’ll have until 2026! (Or so the internet informs me.) It seems if you’re going to look at any full moon, look at this one! May the skies to clear tonight please!
Those that say things say that this February’s full moon is about opening up to potential and opportunities. Can we look beyond fears, doubts, limiting thoughts and see the potential and opportunity out there! Each full moon, as many of you know, I lead moon salutations in class to celebrate the full moon, to remember the cycles of nature that we are part of, the bigger picture we are part of. I like to celebrate wherever we’ve been in the passing month, in the passing moon’s cycle, and look ahead to where we want to go. Each month and each moon can hold a different potential and opportunity for us if we believe and choose to be open to it. Each day can hold a different potential and opportunity as well. Even if we have our daily To Dos, chores, work, boundaries, can there be space within those boundaries to explore the potential and the opportunities. We can choose to see the every day as mundane or monotonous, or we can see the limitless potential that each day, month, moon can hold for us. (I for one like the latter approach to seeing life.)
As you may have heard me say, the cycles of the moon can also remind us and teach us that there are times when we shine bright, when we are out there, when we are present and shining outwardly and there are also times when we turn inward, recharge our light and energy, take a pause. It can be in that pause, those moments of quiet that we have the space to see the opportunities and potential that is present for us to tap into.
May you tap into the energies of this full moon, may you shine bright! May you be open to limitless potential! And if you’re in need of a little break, time to be quiet, to turn in… I have you covered :) Check out the Oh So Yummy Restorative class February 24th 5-6:15pm to rest and recharge. Head on over to the class schedule for more details!
Thank you again for being part of this. Happy February! Hope you have a cozy and warm rest of your day!
All the best,
Hello Wonderful Winter Be You Yoga People!
Here we go! Sliding into the very shortest day of the year! Sliding into true winter! Sliding into the end of the year! What a time of year it is! I love this time of year. I love driving around and seeing twinkling lights everywhere which feel like little bits of magic. (Much needed as the days get shorter and shorter… As of this weekend though, we are on the sunny up and up with days getting incrementally longer and longer - something to remember come February!) I love that quietness that the winter can have - a briskness in the air, brighter stars in the clear cold sky, the world seemingly fast asleep for the season. I love the idea of a fire in the wood stove and being enveloped in blankets and winteriness and a warm mug of tea/hot chocolate/coffee depending on the mood.
And the end of the year gives us time to pause and reflect. Sometimes at this time of year we have to create our own pause button amid some holiday craziness but pause we can! And reflect on 2018 - the stories, the laughter, the memories, the glorious moments, the challenges we overcame, the points of utter bravery. We have time to pause and think what the year ahead might hold and the feelings and qualities we would like 2019 to have in store.
I give you an invitation at this point in the year, to write down the memories and highlights of 2018. To read them. To throw them into a fire (it can be a candle) and let them transform! Then think about all you’d like the coming year to bring - The feelings, the adventures, the qualities you’re looking forward to for 2019. Write them all down. Read them over. Throw them into a fire and watch them transform and hopefully all come your way in the new year!
Wishing you all the very very best as we all finish things off big and small in 2018! May your new year be filled with light! With magic! With laughter! With play! With fun! With love! With celebration! With beloved community! And all sorts of goodness and yumminess!
Big cheers to you!
Hello Be You Yoga people!
Can you believe it!? Coming up on the end of November! And the Northeast saw its first snow fall of the season! That was a quick taste of winter!! I know again I am sounding like a broken record but I can’t believe we are sliding into December!!! What!? When did THAT happen??
I am back after a packed week of learning at Kripalu with the oh so talented and remarkable Lee Albert. My head is filled to the point of overflow with knowledge about Integrative Positional Therapy (IPT) and how to use it in my practice, my classes, as well as beyond. More to come on all that! It was all very exciting.
One of the overarching biggest takeaways from the trainings I did was that less is more. You may have heard me share with you before, we are the only creatures that stretch to the point of pain. Look at a cat or dog stretch and then look at a human stretch and see who you would like to mirror - personally, any time my dog Bean stretches it just looks so good and so delicious that I want to do it too. Think of a human stretching at a gym or next to you in class and they possibly have a grimace on their face or have stopped breathing. Bean never has a grimace. Stretch like a dog not a human! In a world in which we are always doing and being told to give more than 100%, to give it all you’ve got, it can be a challenge and seem so foreign to practice the less is more technique. The thing is, when we stretch deeper we’re not getting any better of a stretch. Let me repeat that - a deeper stretch is not a better stretch. On the contrary (and this may be hard to believe) you are doing your body more harm when you stretch deeply or go to your limit because the muscle will only bounce back tighter with its stretch reflex. Gentle stretching has a gentle stretch reflex after, deep stretching has a deep stretching reflex after. Keep it gentle, keep it feeling good. This may sounds simple but it was a big lesson to learn and to continue to remember! Let go of the belief of “it hurts so good” when it comes to your stretching. Treat your body like it’s your friend! Would you slam your friend into some painful stretch? No! Your body is your friend and around for as long as you are, treat is gently and kindly! When it doubt, back off :)
Wishing you all the best,
Hello Wonderful People!
… And then there were flowers! And blossoms on the trees! And sunshine! And blue skies! Welcome to May! I hope this month has treated you well so far.
I was thinking while teaching the other day about how practicing yoga is really an adventure of self discovery. Actually, I believe any activity could be an adventure of self discovery. As my teacher Coby Kozlowski at Kripalu says, “how you do anything is how you do everything.” I definitely learned a lot about my approach to life while learning how to paint a door this winter… Sometimes these adventures of self discovery are exciting and other times they may reveal things you may not love. So my thought was that yoga is a lot like Alice falling into Wonderland; some of it is wonderful and amazing and some of it is uncomfortable, scary, and frankly not so wonderful. The whole adventure is all these new discoveries. When we dive into a yoga practice, it can be very much the same as falling into Wonderland in that some of what is discovered on the mat is awesome and wonderful and feels so good - shows you parts of yourself you were unaware of and are thrilled to discover. Sometimes the practice can bring up challenges, frustrations, things perhaps you are not looking to find and not looking to experience. Yoga is the skill and art of getting comfortable with the uncomfortable. When all these various findings pop up, can you take a moment to be with the different sensations, thoughts, emotions and spend some time with these discoveries in your own Wonderland? It becomes a practice in being with all the parts of the self that reveal themselves. And I personally like the idea of falling into and being in my own Wonderland :)
Here is to your path of self discovery in all the ways you travel it! May you learn to be with all the different pieces that are revealed as you dive into your own Wonderland.
To the adventure ahead!
All the best,
Spoiler Alert: If you're attending the class I am teaching for the Reunite America Challenge this Friday a lot of these ideas will come up again. Think of this as the extended preview ;)
Earlier this month I had the privilege and opportunity to again assist the amazing Coby Kozlowski, my friend and teacher, for her program Quarter Life Calling: Creating an Extraordinary Life In Your 20s. A week later was the inauguration. Since the election I have been thinking, worrying, fuming, figuring out for myself, what happens now? What can I do now in such a tumultuous political time that honors my beliefs and who I am? A lot of what I've come up with thus far stems from what I've picked up and integrated into my life from the teachings of the wonderful Coby in her Quarter Life Calling program and beyond. So thank you, Coby, for being an inspiration and helping me find my own way.
Being completely upfront, there is a lot that changes on a day to day, moment to moment basis regarding these issues. Like my yoga practice, my thoughts and feelings are in a state of flux, the river always moving, the conclusions I came to yesterday shifting ever so slightly (or somethings more drastically) today. These are things I have spent a good amount of time pondering since November and still I'm figuring it out as information changes, emotions change, etc. So here we go. I have stopped reading a lot of the news because honestly it's just too upsetting and it's a sense of self preservation to have that distance. Looking at the small amount of news I do see, I find myself depleted, at a loss, and all out upset. How do we move forward? What can I do to be the change I wish to see in the world? How can I continue to make a difference?
The day after the election, a great day of mourning for many, a friend reached out to me saying she couldn't look at her three year old daughter without crying, worrying about what the immediate future would hold for her. My advice to her is what I keep telling myself daily: Think local. Think small. Think about the little shifts you can make in your world to make that a better place. Work to create the perfect little beautiful world around you first - take care of yourself, take care of your girls, love them and teach them, love your son and raise him to be an amazing man, be good to your animals, grow your organic garden. Start there. We can each start building our own perfect little worlds and begin to make the change there that we want to see in the rest of the world. We will then start to create little polkadots of perfect worlds - each with their own flavor and uniqueness - and then we can start to stitch those together. Baby steps.
One of the billion dollar questions for me is What does it mean/How does it look to be united, to be in this together, in such a tumultuous time when people are so divided, polarized, marginalized, when there is such disconnect? How do we come together or how can we begin to work together when there is so much anger, confusion, fear, and when people just don't seem to be listening to one another?
In yoga we learn and practice finding our own balance and center. We can begin with a tiny shift in our own body, thereby effecting our life, rippling out to those near and dear, and out communities. We start with finding and igniting love of self, connection to that witness within, the guidance within that is compassionate and nonjudgemental and from there the ripple effect begins. We can face and heal anger, confusion, fear, disconnect with love and connection - connecting with our own center first so that we can then more skillfully be with those around us.
From connecting to our inner wisdom and the highest version of ourselves, we can get clear on the ways we are being called forth. We are in this together. What is the world we want to build together? Working separately and on such extremes doesn't seem to be working so how can we do it differently?
Can we move past blame? Go bigger. This is not a time to point fingers at whoever you think is the cause of the problem. Blaming others will not change the dynamic splitting us apart. Can you have the courage to look inside and ask yourself, "What do I want to do about it? What's the change I want to make in the world?" And can you be committed to the change you wish to be and make? It doesn't mean it's going to be easy. Coming together, bridging what seem like huge divides with very different agendas is not necessarily easy but can you think of the bigger picture of taking the steps to create your perfect little world, polkadots of little perfect worlds. Is it possible to look beyond what has led to the division and polarization - in no way am I saying it doesn't matter, or that it's not important - but can we look further to build something together? Because we're in this together.
None of this is a step by step or really brings a conclusion because it is in its own state of flux. It's part of my starting point. Part of my polkadot of building my perfect little world.
Love, Courage, and Cupcakes,
Every month around the full moon, I teach a full moon sequence in my classes. I have loved teaching this class because it kind of is the only set sequence I teach and therefor acts like an anchor, a point to come back to and see what remains the same since the last full moon, what has changed, and what is showing up now. I also love that, especially with this sequence, there is definitely is a connection to something greater than me, to the moon and lunar energy and all it affects in the world around and within me. Perhaps being born under the sign of Cancer and being a moon child there is that extra affinity I feel for the moon - I have two moons tattooed on my body. Interesting.
This month is the second super moon in a set of three - October, November, and December. It is also the brightest and closest appearing moon since 1948 and won’t look this bright or close again until 2034. So this moon is feeling extra special. After the events of the election is seems, for me, to come at a perfect time. The moon is traditionally associated with the feminine energy. With it being an extra super moon I like to think that it is EXTRA feminine energy and that seems fitting for it to be happening now after the election went the way it did - almost a call for all to tap into the feminine more and fight against misogyny.
The feminine lunar energy is typically linked with energies traditionally thought to be the more feminine - passive, creative, receptive. The sequence I teach itself is generally more traditionally feminine -gentle and fluid.
We each are made up of both the solar more seemingly masculine energy and the lunar more seemingly feminine energy. We each have our own unique balance of each and can tune in and feel which we may need a bit more of, which one we may need to call on a bit more. Do you have a tendency to sit back, to be more passive, in which case you may need to call on the assertive and get it done solar energies. Are you always go go go, moving quickly, and could you use a pause, a chance to collect your thoughts, your energy? Perhaps you could call on the passive, receptive qualities of the lunar energy. There are times to call on the solar energy and times to call on the lunar.
Why it feels so fitting that there is a HUGE full moon popping up now, is that there has been time for those who are disappointed, disheartened, angered, baffled, etc. by the results of the election to mourn, and now we can use the lunar energy to turn inward, to explore our inner wisdom, tap into the receptive and creative energies to start figuring out actions to take - where do we go from here? As my friend and mentor Coby Koslowski posted last week, “LOVE is desperately crying out for us to show up - to participate - it is EASY to run away, but to stay calm in the storm, to spread peace when it is needed most… we are being called - long before this morning we have been called but most of us finally heard the loud knocking.” Take the time of this full moon to listen to what is calling you. Be receptive, get quiet, and listen. With the knowledge and insight you find, tap into your own solar energy and take action - get it done! It’s time for each of us to step up and create the world we wish to live in - time to seriously be the change you want to see in the world. This has come up a lot for me this past week - we are in this together. If we each get clear about what we are being called to, tap into LOVE and act from there, be, as Hillary Clinton said in her concession speech, “ hopeful, inclusive, and big hearted” then we can and will be the change we wish to see.
Here’s to honoring the full moon in any way that feels great for you!
Happy full moon!
love, courage, and cupcakes.
What if you didn't feel stuck? What if there were no problems? What if there was no trap? No, seriously. What if there was nothing to do, nothing to work on, nothing to change, no self improvement and you realized your amazingness and pure awesomeness? What if you realized you are doing just fine? That you are exactly where you're supposed to be on your path? What if you realized you're doing an amazing job at this thing called life?
I had an epiphany today that to me is so beautifully simple and powerful: I make up the traps in my head. I make up the things that make me feel stuck. I make up the belief that I am in my own way and things need to change. I can also un-believe this. I can unmake the traps that I make up in my head!!!! Make sense? I can choose to believe that I am trapped, that I trap myself, or I can choose to believe that I'm not! Life happens and we get to decide how we want to respond to all that shows up- the facts are still the facts but I get to interpret them however I want to, I get to put my own spin on things. And BOOOOM!!! just like that I no longer feel trapped. No longer stuck. If I've been standing in my own way, I just stepped aside. Holy guacamole!!! The chatter in my head all of a sudden has stopped and everything got very quiet and peaceful. When this epiphany came to me there was this feeling of, "wait what!?!!? I can unmake up the traps I made up?" and the whole world feels like it's been put back right side up again.
So.... what if you were to believe, to trust, to know in your heart of hearts that you are awesome. You shine bright. You are doing it!!! You are being an amazing human. What if you believed in your freedom? What if your traps disappeared? What if whatever you were stuck on, whatever you were stuck with, whatever was holding you back vanished? Melt the made up imaginary traps in your mind and see what happens! You can do it! See what shifts!! When it happens, when you right your own world again, it's pretty incredible.
Seriously, you get to decide what to believe so do it!
love, courage, and cupcakes!
I have been thinking and discussing with friends lately how to define Kripalu Yoga. What I love about Kripalu Yoga which I learned in my teacher training is the inquiry based approach and openness which this brings. There is no set sequence I must follow as a teacher or practitioner, no rules of "teach this before that or else." We were encouraged to try things out, to experiment and make inquiries and see what shows up and make decisions based on what we found and felt. This was so freeing for me and I could feel myself physically relax when realizing this openness and freedom. It doesn't look one certain way. A posture doesn't look like this or that and it shows up differently in every body and isn't that wonderful! Kripalu Yoga is the yoga of compassion. It's not defined by a sequence of postures but of a way of existing and a way of feeling while practicing, however that practice shows up.
During the lighter moments of life I love this- the yoga of compassion. Of course! Of course I follow a path of yoga where compassion, kindness, tenderness leads the way. But then there are those darker moments, those shadow sides bubble to the surface and it seems like a joke that I could possibly follow a path of compassion because it seems so far far away when I am judging myself harshly. Julia Story- I am a shy introvert and can get so frustrated at times when I don't speak up or step away from opportunities. How hard is it to just open my mouth and speak!?!? Sometimes very painstakingly hard and this has always seemed up until this point something I had to work on and to change. It was not a part of myself that I honestly sent much love and tenderness and kindness because it can feel like this never ending barrier that will always block me and something that needs fixing. (Can you feel the kindness and hope attached to this introverted life?) And when we talk about being compassionate and loving the Self however it shows up it sometimes seems so so hard. How do I do that? How is that possible? How can I possibly accept and, ever more, love and feel kindness for this part of me that seems like such an obstacle and the wall blocking me from happiness and from personal growth? This part of me that seem like such a flow? How do I get out of my own way and make this leap to put myself out there?
Our practices on the mat can help us off the mat. That's what I love and what I believe. It's a practice and an experiment of "in this moment, in this container, can I do this so that I can call on the strength I find here, the peace I find here later when I'm not near a sticky mat?" Can you for just one breath, in one pose, accept what you are doing exactly as you're doing it? Instead of thoughts possibly going toward, "I'll work on this and then I'll be more flexible and then I'll be better" can you fully accept the pose and you in the pose exactly as it is? Even if nothing were ever to change about it? If you looked the same way and felt the same way and your flexibility never changed would it be the end of the world? If you never were able to reach your toes without bending your knees would it really really matter? Can you love how and who and what you are just for that one breath? And maybe next time it will be two breaths. Maybe three of utter acceptance. It has to start with a baby step of caring and of kindness. And then maybe just maybe it will come with you off the mat and one day you will notice that ache, that feeling of "i'm wrong and need to fix this" will no longer be there. Just one breath. One action. At a time. A practice has to start somewhere.
Love you as you for you. Regardless. And not regardless but because of EVERYTHING that you are. Relish in all the bits and pieces of stardust that make you up! Each piece makes up the unique and exquisite being that you are and no one sparkle is better than another. Let it all shine for you to enjoy!
love, courage, and cupcakes!
Historically I have found that when faced with the death of someone I know, there is this desire to not waste moments. A remembering of the sheer preciousness of life, a reminder not to sweat the small stuff, a desire to live consciously, is awakened. Who knows how many moments any of us are granted? And then time passes, normal life starts to creep in, and I forget how precious each moment is. Someone bumps into me on the train, cuts me in line, and that desire to not sweat the small stuff evaporates and I'm a little anger ball for no reason all over again. I forget that each day and interaction and second is special. As I reflect and remember a friend who recently passed away I once again wake up to the preciousness of this life and this moment. I also remember a mantra I started following more earnestly last winter: "Fuck it." I know, very deep and profound. But, fuck it. Historically speaking I can get so caught up in the what ifs and the I don't knows and I get in my own way and block paths in which I might live my life more fully. I get scared and shy away from living fully because it means taking risks, it means putting myself out there, it means stepping, perhaps leaping, into the unknown. But you know what, then I remember this mantra, I remember the preciousness of each and every moment and opportunity to live and I say, "fuck it." Usually out loud for added oomph. What's the worst that could happen? 50 years down the line I figure I'll regret the actions I didn't take and will have learned a little something from the ones I did. And if I don't make it 50 years and my life is cut short, will I be more upset that I didn't take that step into the unknown or that I did? So fuck it! Go live life! Do that which you have put off! Take action! We don't know how many moments we have so why not make them memorable and live each one fully. It's worth it and you're worth it. And when you forget your preciousness, have compassion for being human and, fuck it, begin again.
Happy Glittery New Year!