Ingredients {Thoughts on Morning Practice}

January 26, 2012 § 1 Comment

Ask questions. “what if?” “why?” “what do i need?”

Apply effort. Imperfectly. Repeatedly. Until there are worn spots on your mat, your heart, the soles of your boots, the letters on the keys beneath your fingertips.


Try something you’d given up on months ago (see, “what if?”) and find that your imperfect effort, over time, has prepared you well. Give yourself the space to unfold into this moment. With stability, grace, and joy.


Let this fill you with new possibilities, new questions. Let it shatter your old images of who and what you were. Go ahead, take it further and fall flat. Fail. Awkwardly, spectacularly.

Laugh (loudly, as your face meets the floor. it’s nicer and funnier if you aren’t that far away to start*).

Resolve to remember this the next time you feel inadequate (or over-confident). The feeling is not so important as asking the question, as trying; the unfolding or awkwardness not so important as the laughter, the release.

Breathe. Rest. Write.


*Disclaimer. safety, safety, safety. Do not be reckless. Listen to your body.


January 6, 2012 § 8 Comments

It is Wednesday, and by now the soreness in my hamstrings should be subtle, a gentle reminder of the fire-y work of Sunday’s sun salutes (108. What a way to begin.) When I’m seated, that’s true. It’s the type of pleasant soreness that says I’ve worked hard, leaving me feeling humbled (because it was difficult) and grateful (Because I am blessed simply to be healthy – sun salutes are a gift). When I stand up however, my tender muscles protest loudly and I stoop for a step or two. They creak and groan as I take a moment to slowly, gently straighten, and they remind me that it’s not always the things I think that need the strengthening (shouldn’t it be my shoulders?) Sometimes I’m certain it’s will I am lacking, when actually it’s my ability to let go that’s in need of exercise.

I could just sit all day. I could not move and I wouldn’t have to feel the pain. But if I choose to avoid this discomfort, I will get stuck. Another reminder, of course. It is so easy to allow even minor discomfort to keep me static, fearful, resistant. Paying attention, and gently probing those tender spots, massaging those muscles, is the only way out.

This is why I love asana. The body is such an amazing teacher when we pay it some attention.

Teaching/Learning/Letting go

July 6, 2011 § 1 Comment

I subbed for one of my favorite teachers last week. I was terrified. I forgot or skipped over half of my (admittedly ambitious) opening topic – possibly rendering it confusing or maybe even meaningless. I couldn’t tell my left from my right. I paced. I needed help getting the music to work. I had trouble gauging how hard they were working and when to give them a breather. I told them how beautiful they were, which might have sounded trite, but I meant it with my whole heart – their effort, their receptivity…

The only real measure of how it went would be how the students felt about it. And I would love to know. And also, I’d rather not. Because deep down? I thought it went well. I have a voice and I used it. I embraced the fact that I would be imperfect and I threw my whole self into it. I clarified. I walked around the class while instructing, I used my body to understand and to help me explain clearly when needed. I made a joke. I took a student’s question and used it to show the whole class a sometimes challenging alignment technique, diverting from my plan and really teaching. It went well, at least in my head. And I’m not sure I could stand to have that shattered at this moment. I loved it. I was terrified. AND I loved it.

6 months ago, I didn’t plan to teach at all. Couldn’t even conceive of it. So I’m embracing this, holding it in. Everything that I have to work on, everything that needs practice (both the technical aspects and the ones that involve my own internal work). Writing it to process, writing to remember. And writing to get it out of my head and let it go. I don’t know if I will have an opportunity again, but when I do, it will be a whole new moment, a whole new situation. And I will go at it again with all I’ve been taught, all that I’ve learned, and all that I am. I see how the teaching is a practice. And I see how this applies to everything, my work, my life, my relationships. I see how it ALL is practice and I will throw my whole self into it.

I will be inevitably imperfect. Beautifully so.


June 30, 2011 § Leave a comment

Music is a big part of my life, and clearly yoga is too.  It’s logical that these loves would complement one another, breath & movement flowing with the rhythm and mood of the music – it seems unusual to attend a yoga class without hearing music in the background, whether it be kirtan, contemporary pop, or even hard rock! But unlike many of my other loves (yoga+nature, writing+yoga, knitting+meditation, making food+music) yoga and music don’t often intersect for me. At home, in the early hours of the day, stillness supports my practice as I work through asanas, breathwork and meditation*.

Unless I’m feeling like my practice needs some PLAY. Like now!

For a little change of pace here – Just because it’s a little silly, just because it’s Thursday, I present the BanjOGA playlist for your listening or practicing pleasure (Combining my passions for banjo & yoga should place me in a pretty particular population, no?) :

BanjOGA! {Click here for the itunes playlist widget}

The Tourist: Sara Jarosz

Without You: Eddie Vedder

Quiet Little Place: K’s Choice

Welcome Home, Son: Radical Face

Sala: Abigail Washburn

Come Talk to Me: Bon Iver

Generator (Second Floor): The Freelance Whales

Go do: Jonsi

Tambourine Man (2006): Cloud Cult

  • This band is completely independent so the song is not in the itunes list – but I don’t think the list is complete without it. Buy it directly from the band here – it’s from the EP Lost Songs From the Lost Years (I encourage you to seek out this option in general!) The depth of my love for this band and their music and their responsibility and their heart deserves a whole post.

All There Is: Gregory Alan Isakov

Heartbeats: Jose Gonzalez

I Feel Like Going Home: Yo La Tengo

Djorolen: Oumou Sangare & Bela Fleck

A Thousand Tiny Pieces: The Be Good Tanyas


*Occasionally punctuated by an exuberant pup who loves the sound of her voice on waking, or a tiny cat who behaves more and more like the pup.

Insecurity or Introversion?

June 24, 2011 § 5 Comments

If I haven’t already given it away, I am a classic introvert (and loved this post that @kyliewrites recently called attention to – it’s spot on for me). I can play the extrovert for a bit – But then by god if I don’t get a nap, you may never want to speak with me again! I find the term ‘introvert’ to be a helpful descriptor, even if it sometimes holds unpleasant connotations – which I’ve only recently begun to separate from the introversion in my mind. I’ve begun to notice that there are actually situations where interacting comes naturally to me, where curiosity and warmth flow easily into conversation, and where I don’t feel leave feeling so sapped. Unfortunately, there is the counter to these situations, a disconnection and awkwardness that I always associated with being introverted. Now, I see this as Insecurity – a feeling – distinguishable from this word – Introverted – that I sometimes use to describe myself. Distinguishable from this word, and from myself. Realizing this felt like an epiphany of epic proportions.

Insecurity <> Introversion.

Now it feels a bit like a forehead *smack*! Of course! But it seems useful to acknowledge and to share this, because now I see this awkwardness as a separate thing entirely. And that feels FREEING. I don’t feel doomed to social discomfort or at a loss as to how to mitigate it. I see this insecurity as introversion not well managed, not introversion itself. Introversion isn’t a barrier to human connection – Insecurity IS.

I’ve begun to notice now what insecurity feels like. Physically I mean. And the thoughts that tend to accompany it. The tightness around my face, grinding teeth, and judging thoughts are surefire signs I’m on my way down the insecurity path – by the time my chest and throat begin to tighten, I may as well go home. Noticing and making these distinctions greatly increases my odds of being able to remedy the situation before it shows up externally. Introverted me is still interested in you (maybe TOO interested for polite party talk – it doesn’t seem socially acceptable to talk about what’s lighting you up right now or what is your most favorite place on earth. It should be. I want to know). On the other hand, Insecure me is rather afraid of you. The fear equates to protective behavior – which may translate as awkward, overeager, insensitive, disinterested or even unkind. Wow. That’s plenty incentive to oust the insecurity.

I’m finding that the times when I connect easily are those when I am fully present, fully myself. No surprise, I find that although my daily practices (yoga, writing, breathing, observing) don’t guarantee easier and more enjoyable interactions, they do help set supportive conditions. I don’t want to be an extrovert. I’ve outgrown that longing – at least for now. I am working to be the most present and secure self I can be. I’m starting to think that my life (the life I’m dreaming) depends on it.

Wishing you security, calm presence, and inspiring interactions.

On Practice: Painting

June 22, 2011 § 1 Comment

My friend Peter is an artist.  I love reading about his process as much as I enjoy his art itself. There is something so familiar here:

“What’s interesting about these past few working sessions, I really didn’t feel like painting, but then I just said to myself “all you have to do is move paint around and express what you are seeing in color, have fun” this is a great place to come from and is contrary to the structured, disciplined “mental” approach that I have been using. But I wouldn’t be able to freely express without the “mental” discipline of the past months either. so.. it’s all good.”

Every so often, when my practice gets too deep – or I start to take myself too seriously – I spend a practice (or two or three, repeat as necessary) with a focus on PLAY. I love the parallels, even though I’m not a painter. It’s incredibly interesting to me how a practice that is on the surface so different from what I’m doing with asana is really so similar because of the approach.

Visit Peter’s blog and see his art here.

Making Friends (or, Obsessive Habits)

June 17, 2011 § 6 Comments

Do you ever go back and re-read the stuff you’ve written? Your journal, blog posts, twitter stream etc? I realize that this is a fundamental form of attachment (and I am working on that). But. This is what I experience, and why I do it occasionally.

I lied just now. Twice. Rephrasing: This is what I experience on occasion, when I read back through. Which I do, more frequently than I can admit without further embarrassing myself.

When I re-read my stuff, if it has been long enough, it stops being a critique and it begins to make me feel something. I don’t remember writing those words anymore, but I remember the feeling, and it resonates with me as though it were written by someone else. And I feel compassion for this soul-sister. I giggle at her jokes. I cringe when she messes up (because oh MAN, have I been there). And I can almost tell what she is thinking/feeling in the space that she leaves (I swear I know, I have felt this way too.) And I would befriend this person. She would ‘get’ me. I know she would cheer me on for everything I’ve learned (and forgive me for everything I have to re-learn repeatedly and all that’s still beyond me).

And then I realize what that really means. And I think….. That’s a huge gift.

I’m prepared for this to sound a little… odd… and probably obsessive. Whatever. I highly recommend it. Go read some of your old stuff and see if you don’t find a kindred spirit. And then come back and share please, I’d like to meet them too.

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