Monday, August 27, 2012

Lion's Breath

In my yoga classes at Sanctuary Power Yoga,  I've started teaching something called "lion's breath".  You take a big breath in then open your mouth wide, stick out your tongue & breath out - loudly.

It's a great release - it's fun & funny.  Try it.  Go for it.

People who've been practicing yoga for a while really get into it.  Newer students are reluctant.  I teach it when everyone is on their back with their eyes closed, so you can't see what anyone else is doing.  Even so, many people don't stick out their tongue, don't make any noise.  I can sense the uncertainty in people, the nervousness, the "this is weird, what will people think" feeling.

I asked my students the other day "remember when you were a kid & loved to stick out your tongue?"... Do you?

When we're kids, we don't care how we look.  If our hair stands up, our socks don't match.  We don't care what other people think about how we look.  We're not embarrassed to try something new & fun & we're not embarrassed when we fall.  We just get up & try again.

Then something happens & all that shifts (for most of us).  We're told how we should look & act & we gradually become more & more self-conscious about our appearance & our actions & we become concerned with fitting in.

I remind students when they're in class that they don't have to worry about how they look.  They don't have to worry if "they're doing it right".  Their practice doesn't have to look like anyone else's.  If they want to try something new that looks fun (or even a little scarey) - go for it.  I ask them to think less about other people & feel more.  Feel what they want to do & don't stop to overthink it.

With time, this creates another shift.  Back to that place where you become unconcerned with what other people think about you.  You don't care what they think about your yoga practice, the way you dress, the house you live in, the car you drive, the way you live your life.  You practice feeling what you want & you go for it. 

When I opened Sanctuary Power Yoga a year ago, it felt right.  It didn't necessarily make any sense - the country was/is in a recession, I didn't do any market research, we didn't really even have the money for it.  But it just felt right.  And with support of everyone who loves me - I decided to go for it.  I'm glad I did.

What would you do if you weren't concerned about what other people think?  What fun, scarey thing would you try?  What makes you happy?  What do you love doing?

Don't overthink...just go for it.

You can now find my blog at the Register Citizen: http:

Monday, August 20, 2012


When my husband & I got our own place, we wanted a dog.  We decided to adopt.  I had never been to an animal shelter before.  When we left the first one, I cried.  I wanted to take all the dogs home with us.

We went to lots of shelters & met lots of dogs.  Our agreement was that if we met a dog we liked, we'd go home, sleep on it & then go back the next day & adopt him or her.

After trips to a bunch of shelters, we met Ace (that was the name we gave him).  When we met him, they were calling him Highway, because he had been found alongside the highway.

He was a total mutt.  He was big & goofy & beautiful.  He had been adopted a couple times & returned to the shelter a couple times.  We didn't care.  He had deep brown eyes & velvety smooth ears.  It was love at first sight.  As agreed, we left & saying we'd sleep on it & come back the next day.  Except as we were leaving my husband, who had to go to work shortly, said to me "You have to go back & get him today.  No one else can have him.  He's ours".

So I did.  We went home, I got the paperwork we needed & I went back that afternoon to bring Ace home.

When first got him, he would bark at us when we were eating - clearly he was trying to say something, but we didn't know what.  He was big - I guess he could appear scarey, but we were never afraid of him.  We finally figured out he didn't like his dog food & that's why he was barking - our food looked much better! (we got him better food).

We agreed Ace wouldn't sleep in our bed.  But then I went away for business in the first month we had him & when I came home, Ace & my husband were sharing the bed.

Ace talked a lot.  He grumbled.  He was kind of lazy, but when he ran, he ran fast.  He didn't like motorcycles or delivery trucks.  He was a big dog.  His tail would knock things off the coffee table.  But he was gentle.

My husband had wanted a dog since he was a child.  He & Ace were the perfect picture of a boy (albeit a big one) & his dog.  Ace was good with kids & he seemed especially fond of boys when we would meet them.  We speculated that maybe he had been in a home with boy(s) as a puppy.  After our son was born, Ace let our son climb on him, look in his mouth, snuggle with him.  We loved Ace & he loved us.  We adopted another dog after Ace & he tolerated her puppy nonsense.  We were a pack.  We were all very attached to Ace.

The last day of Ace's life here was a good one.  He hadn't been feeling well, but on that last day he did feel good.  He ran fast, he rolled on the grass.  He got alot of love.  

The practice of non-attachent (vairagya) is one of the basic teachings of yoga.  And on your mat, it's relatively simple.  You really, really want to be able to "do" a pose - you're attached to what you think is the end result of your practice - that "perfect" pose.  Or you're injured & your practice isn't what you'd like it to be.  Or you look around the room & want to be able to do what someone else is doing.  What you want & what exists are two different things.  So you practice being more in the moment.  Paying less attention to where you'd like to be & more attention to where you are.  You practice non-attachment & you find contentment in your present state, with what is.

The practice of non-attachment off the mat is another story.  Ok, so it's easier to practice non-attachment with things, but with people & animals that you love...well, it's just hard.  We loved Ace.  We were all very attached to him & it was hard to see him leave us.  Life is still good, but it's not the same.  It's not the way we wish it were.  We still miss Ace.  We wish he were still here with us.

Our 3 year old son sometimes sighs & says "I miss Ace.  He was a good dog." Yes, he was.

I guess that's why it's a practice.

You can now find my blog at the Register Citizen: http:

Monday, August 13, 2012

How do I look?

A while ago, I'm not sure when, I became unconcerned with my appearance.

Let me be more specific...I became unconcerned with what others think of my appearance.

I like to be comfortable.  I gave up a "traditional" office job years ago.  Before yoga, I was a nanny.  My uniform for years has been comfortable clothes.  I never worried about how I looked when I went to the gym (that was a long time ago!).  And as a yoga student, I never bothered with my appearance.  I was going to practice yoga, not host a TV show.  All I needed was clothes I could move in. 

As a business owner, it feels tricky sometimes.  I am the face of Sanctuary Power Yoga.  I do care about how I look - I want people to see the healthy, happy person that I am.  My clothes don't always reflect this.  I have spots on alot of things from my dogs & my son.  It's ok - I like not being concerned when things gets stained.  It's not important.  What I wear shouldn't matter.  It's what's on the inside that counts.  But I care about myself - my health & well being & I want people to see this. 

First impressions do matter & many people, unfortunately, judge a book by it's cover.  I have sometimes have conversations with myself (or my husband) as I'm leaving the house..."can I wear this?  do I look messy?  do I look silly?  do I care?"

You see how it gets tricky...

People come into the studio in all kinds of clothes.  Some spend alot of money on expensive yoga clothes.  Some come in their gym clothes.  Some come in pajamas.  Does it matter?  Do fancy clothes equal a better yoga practice?  All that matters is that you show up on your mat.  And what you & your practice look like - well, as long as you feel good about it, that's all that matters.

And this is usually where I find myself as I am leaving the house.  If I feel good about myself...if I am going out to have fun with my family - well, that's all that matters.  And hopefully the strangers that I meet will see my happy, healthy self shining through from behind the stains.

You can now find my blog at the Register Citizen: http:

Monday, August 6, 2012

Living Your Best Life

The style of yoga I teach, power yoga, is vinyasa - its a flow.

Especially in the beginning of class, when I guide students through Sun Salutations.  It can be pretty vigorous - they're meant to warm up your body, get your heart rate up & get you sweating.

Sometimes students will chuckle when I remind them, during this challenging series, to take their time & move at their own pace.  Students have even commented "how can you say that when you're telling us what to do?"

Some styles of yoga, and some teachers, demand that students do exactly as their told.  That the whole class move & breathe together & that everyone look the same in each pose.

That's not me.  It's not what I've learned & it's not what I teach.

Sure, it may seem contradictory that I'm telling you when to breathe & how to move....and then telling you to do your own thing.  Here's how it works for me...

When I teach, I'm a guide.  I'll teach a challenging class - you'll move, you'll sweat, you'll get a workout.  That's what I'm teaching.  But your practice isn't about me - it's about you.  So if you want to slow down...slow down.  If you want to take it up a notch...take it up a notch.  Its your practice - its about you.

As you move & breathe, you find your own flow.  You don't have to keep up with anyone.

The biggest thing about this, for me, is that it's a metaphor for life. 

You get on your mat & you rush & you push to keep up & you struggle & it's not your best practice & you don't feel good.

You move through your life & everyone around you is moving fast - you gotta keep up...get that job, buy that house, buy that gotta keep up.  You keep up & you push & you struggle & it's not your best life & you don't feel good.

It's simple. 

Your mat is a mirror for your life.

If you can slow down or stop when it feels right, no matter what's going on in class around you, no matter what I'm saying.  I respect that.  You're listening.  You're listening to your body & your heart & spirit & those are your best guides.  Yes, even better than me (or any teacher).

If you feel like you need to keep up in class.  If you feel like you need to keep up in life...ask yourself why.

If you can slow down & move through your life, listening to your heart & doing what feels right for you,  others will respect that.  Your life may look very different from the lives of those around you.  People may look at you a little funny when you tell them about it.  But when you talk about it with enthusiasm & exuberance, they'll feel that & respect it & you'll feel you're living your best life.

You can now find my blog at the Register Citizen: http: