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Ashtanga – The Eight Limbs of Yoga

Tuesday, January 28th, 2014

Ashtanga Yoga is the Eight Limbs of Yoga, a 5,000 year old practice – one of the few yoga methods that has maintained its roots in the West. It’s progressive and productive. It’s physically vigorous. It’s mentally challenging.  Spiritually speaking, it will wake you up.


Ashtanga is one of the original styles of yoga from India. It was brought to the West by Sri K. Pattabi Jois and his first Western students like David Swenson, David Williams, Nancy Gilgoff and others who traveled to India in the 1960’s.


Ashtanga means “Eight Limbs” and is based on an evolving process of practices to heal, cleanse, and align the body, mind and spirit. Learning Ashtanga begins with the 3rd limb of Asana, or posture. Asana is a vehicle to access a deeper internal awareness and personal insight and leads you to the development of the other limbs.


A meditative quality in practice comes from coordinating breath, movement and gaze in postures and vinyasa (flow). There are 6 series of sequences, all beginning with Surya Namaskar (sun salutations) and standing postures. Each posture, and each sequence is designed to prepare you for the next, align, strengthen and lengthen the physical boy and nourish the nervous system.

You’re Welcome. And I’m Sorry.

Wednesday, June 19th, 2013


You’re Welcome. And I’m Sorry.


I finished teaching one of my yoga class sessions last week. As my small but dedicated group of students hugged and bestowed me with their appreciations upon leaving, i was, as usual, attempting to find some closing bit of motivational insight to share, some profoundly wise – or at least something adorably memorable to say in response. But, as the moments and smiles drifted by, i heard only two phrases echo in my head (neither or those wise or profound and definitely not adorable):


“You’re welcome. And i’m sorry.”


For days now, i’m trying to decipher this rather familiar, albeit internal, refrain. i realize quickly i am nothing if not a contradiction in terms. i simultaneously feel confident and filled with doubt. deeply happy and deeply disturbed. filled with hard-earned wisdom and equal amounts of blinding ignorance.


This is, really, no big surprise. Paradox IS the human condition. and i’m nothing if not infuriatingly human. Still, after being a teacher for over 2 decades, i wanted to know where this knee-jerk response was coming from.


So, i made a list (James Alchuter has taught me to love lists)


You’re welcome for:


my time

my commitment

my knowledge

my teaching experience

my authentic appreciation of your uniqueness

my sincere attempts at providing equal amounts of gravity and levity


I’m sorry for:


the rest of me.


New York I Love You But You’re Bringing Me Down

Tuesday, June 18th, 2013

Locked Out in Brooklyn

New York I Love You But You’re Bringing Me Down

Day 6 Brooklyn NYC –
i’m feeling rather schizophrenic since arriving in Green Point last week. enthused enough at moments to prompt a friend to query on facebook, “are you having a love affair with NYC?” and despairing enough at times for me to wonder, “wtf?”

NYC seems to exist in two realms and i have yet to understand how they fit together. more disturbing, my lack of understanding changes nothing. NYC is what it is. you can take it or leave it. not much middling available.

unless of course, you are one of the celebrated high-risers who have their cake and well, have more cake later.

by day 2, i stopped assuming i would get a glimpse of these people as i walked the gritty streets but knew that somehow they are part of the reason i’m here. and part of the reason i can’t stay.

amidst populated and seemingly endless yoga classes, ymca workouts, co-ed yet intense basketball games on asphalt courts, street joggers, leashed dogs who look completely accepting of their concrete jungle, a shocking number of new-borns in the arms of mothers with that blissed-out but slightly disheveled look, not as many bicycles as i imagined but a number of hipsters diligently giving it a go…yeah, amidst this and a lot more is a pervasive loneliness that dug deep into me by day 4.

A friend – with genuine NYC creds – calls it, “good ‘ol alienating urban environs”. but i think there’s more to it than that.

NY, i love you but you’re blowing my mind.

Music in a New Age

Monday, May 30th, 2011

It would be impossible to name all of the bands that move me right now – we are seemingly within the influence of a madly musical Aquarian time.

The Age of Aquarius, though scientifically thought to be centuries away – popular theory maintains that we are currently within a transitory time carrying the influence of a new age experience which will usher in a group higher consciousness. Other ideas associated with Aquarius are a decline of religious influence (peace??) non-conformity, philanthropy and perseverance, which all sounds eerily and hopefully resonant.

If Artistic energy is any indication – and it always is – we are certainly rushing into a group consciousness. As the Elite Rock Star declines as a musical model, we’re moving towards a time of thousands of collaborative, real-life rock stars, indie and otherwise. Brothers, brothers and sisters, couples and bffs are playing together and not just seeking fame and fortune but moving through real lives that we can all relate to.

So, yes, I can’t help but spread my love around when it comes to the world of music. No longer looking to be star-struck, I feel more embedded within the energy of what’s not simply coming at me, but coming through me. It’s about the music. And also about a life that belongs to all of us.

“I AM LOVE” – the driving force in all of us.

Thursday, May 5th, 2011

This movie floored me. I don’t know that I’ll be the same after watching “I Am Love” last night. Or, maybe it’s that I’ve never felt more myself. Computer on our laps in the bedroom, I sat in a kind of electrified stupor as the credits rolled. We both did, Jerry and I, looking at each other without speaking.

The story is in some ways a classic melodrama, yet weaves in – with subtle mastery – a deeply emotional look at the lives of a wealthy Italian family, intelligent and functional, yet entrapped in tradition and pretense. But that’s not the point. Tilda Swinton both produced and took a starring role, and naturally and expertly serves as the driving force behind the message of the head and heart’s need for truth and identity.

Indeed, messages that we are ready for – waiting for – can often get stuck inside us, blocked by the usual stress-ridden events, thoughts and feelings. That inner knowing that directs us and charts not just a path to follow, but the passion that fuels us on our way – NO MATTER WHAT. It’s the, “no matter what” that makes us take a long look at just what the point of this movie is. If we “are love”, than there are really not so many choices to make, but only a life to be lived.

Love stories are usually irresistible to me, but this was so much more than that. This story isn’t as much about “true love” as it is about an acknowledgment of the “true self” and a commitment to whatever that means and brings.

Uniquely filmed, and scored with an unusual boldness, you will not just see or hear this film. You will feel it. And it will feel familiar. And it could change your life.

As the World Rocks, the Music Leads the Way. Shakori Festival, 2011

Tuesday, April 26th, 2011

Spring Shakori, 2011

It just keeps getting better. Music. Music Festivals. What This year’s Silk Hope, NC event at Shakori, screamed SPRING, as the rains have been coming, the grounds are more beautiful than ever. I didn’t hear any complaints about the muddy paths and many surrendered to bare feet and squished their way around all weekend. Yep. Shakori is a barefoot friendly festival – with composting, recycling and reusables encouraged in the most organized, accessible ways, it’s a clean gig.

Although there is no lack of appreciation for the diversity in style and genre, I’m noticing that the bands keep getting bigger, better – both in members and sound. The sound is hyper-skilled creative explosion of celebration, movement from the inside out. And it seems to be contagious.

A personal favorite is Penny Prophets, an electric supergroup from NC bringing back rock’s “rhythmic tightness combined with psychedelic freak-outs” who did a Thursday show (and then worked the parking lot on the off days – after all, We Are One…)

Holy Ghost Tent Revival mixes brass with banjo, guitar, bass, drums and keys (and the occasional saxaphone) and from my hiding spot behind the speakers with an up-close stage view, I was mesmerized. This 7 member group – with more than 10 instruments between them, are also locals, from Greensboro, NC. They defy all genre as they move from instrument to instrument, creating a celebration of talent, passion and life itself.

Scythian stole my heart and perhaps the entire 4 days of shows in my world. They played a Saturday evening show and I swear the ground moved under my muddy feet. Described as Celtic New World style, I found a bit of everything in a  thrashing gypsy punk sound that destroyed all logic but created something else much more magical. I found out later that 3 of 4 members are classically trained musicians, and a drummer with a masters in Jazz Study. That explains a lot because you couldn’t keep these guys  from jumping and bouncing all over the stage Irish jig-like, yet never missing a note or a beat, with bows flying at hyper-speed – all while wearing infectious smiles.  Lead fiddler, Alexander had one so big, beautiful and real, that it broke me in a million pieces, while I remembered that this is really truly why we are here on Earth.

Music. Celebration. Salvation. Redemption? I’m ready.

The Artist’s Way

Tuesday, April 12th, 2011

Here’s a prediction with good news and bad news: In the next few years, more people will lose their employment. The potential good news: More people will be finding meaningful, fulfilling work in self-employed or freelance work. Accordingly, lifestyles may change to accommodate the changes, but many people will find more fulfillment, more creativity and more meaning in those changes as well.

And, if you believe in it, in yourself, and do the work, something – anything – can happen.

An example of this just came my way….I once knew a clown named Bounce. Seriously. I met him in Key West. He had an act called, Locomotion, and his talent as a gymnast and juggling, unicycle-riding provided his living through street performances then. He was committed to this work and way of life in a way then foreign to my 21yo self, who was just taking a year off from college to fool around.

He lived in a busy household on the street where I shared an efficiency apartment with two friends. We connected in some unlikely way and I’m grateful, for it was Bounce who kept me out on the straight and narrow by modeling a lifestyle far more intoxicating than the partying being done by my peers at that time.

It was a life filled with many creative, artistic people moving through it – beyond my current imagination. It also involved exercise, whole food, peacefulness, and yes, hard work. We ran to the beach every morning. He worked on his juggling routines by day and performed at the pier in the evenings while I went to my restaurant job. It was a magical time that ended too quickly but I believe it permanently influenced me in more ways than I knew.

I eventually went back to school in the Midwest, thinking once again about a career in journalism and put the seemingly wild island days behind me. Time to get serious, I told myself.

Well, I didn’t end up too serious, but I did end up sincerely pursuing work that moved me. I did remember the passion and happiness that moved through the people I knew on the island…I knew I wasn’t going to settle for less than that.

And Bounce? I looked him up just the other day — 20+ years later — he still lives in Key West and is still juggling. He has a wife, OooLaLa, who performs with him. They have a son who still tours with them during the Summer break from school. They teach juggling throughout the year. They never, even for a moment, gave up on their artist’s Way. Namaste to both of them. Thanks for the inspiration and confirmation.

Some of us will be forced into it kicking and screaming, but we do have a path emerging through these chaotic times. It’s not one without bumps and bruises but it is one that can set us free.

Big Love. Big Complications.

Friday, April 1st, 2011

As Winter weather drags on around here, we’ve taken to another HBO (itunes) binge at our little compound:) We’ve become absorbed in Big Love, the series about the Mormon experience, both fundamental and otherwise.

I know, I know. It’s TV. But as popular films and even many art-house movies (think Certified Copy) disappoint, I’m getting a cultural education, albeit an indulgently dramatized one. Big Love ranks up there with Mad Men, as a look into a time, place, and psychology of a time, place, and culture that I know little about. And I’m enjoying every cyber minute of it.

True to many dramatic series, by the time they reach a 3rd or 4th season, story lines tend to take a turn towards the ludicrous (think Weeds) and they same is true for Big Love. Mormon Gangsters? Mormon-owned casinos (or “gaming”, as they prefer to call it), blood atonement? Actually, I started to laugh at this, but it didn’t take much research to discover the threads of truth to these portrayals. Well. Okay then. Did I mention I am learning a lot?

The show does an excellent job at putting an everyday, very human – and in some cases – an appealing face to the idea of group marriage – at least in the household of these main characters, hiding their polygamist lives in 3 connected houses in a Utah suburb. The love, the process, and even the “schedule” seems real and plausible.

But the story weaves in and out of these seemingly blissful moments and reveals the unavoidable and perhaps insurmountable issues below the surface of shared housework, shared childcare, shared incomes and a shared husband. The sister-wives seem to have a genuine love and respect for each other, despite – or perhaps because of -  their different personalities and ages. Emotional jealousy seems to be negated by an unwavering belief in The Principle of the importance of family – and a lot of it.

The first thing that popped my bubble was the pure, unadulterated sexism going on in the house – portrayed with accurate subtly. The “sisters” are expected to be immune to any feelings of competition or jealousy, yet Bill, the family patriarch, can’t contain his rage when a woman he is newly “dating” as a prospective 4th wife is discovered to be dating another man. The sister wife who escaped from the fundamentalist compound to join Bill and his first wife says it all when she reminds the other wives that “Our husband’s dating life is none of our business.”

Still, this family is living in the real world, not on a compound and one by one, in unique and sometimes covert ways, the women begin to grow and express their own sort of independence and it is both entertaining and moving.

This show accurately and continuously reminds us of the extreme conflicts between what is considered a fundamentalist sect and your average LDS Mormonism – a religion which stopped practicing polygamy in the 1890’s. Both churches, however, denounce homosexuality and the story line that pulls us through this kind of ignorance is both heart-breaking and real.

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