April 10, 2011

Ugh. Why Do I Do This?

So, I've just returned to town after a week long retreat where I got to be the student and simply listen and absorb the wisdom of the path based on someone else's experience. What a relief! What a pleasure! What a joy! Being guided through the process of self-examination, instead of guiding myself through provides a depth of clarity and observation unachievable by my lonesome.

One of the many observations I made while on retreat was the fact that I'm feeling tired of, as in done, or I-need-a-break from, the Yoga Sutra exploration that has been my focus for the last 3 years. This isn't new for me. I knew it was there, just below the surface, but I didn't want to deal with it. First off, it's listed on my weekly class schedule. Secondly, my students have come to expect it from me and, thirdly, it deeply informs the subject of all of my workshops and retreats this year. To make matters even more difficult, I had just announced in my latest newsletter that I had begun blogging about the Sutras and you could join me for an online exploration.

The only question worth asking at this point is why, oh why, did I up the ante on myself (publicly) right when I was feeling most uncertain about what I was doing? Aside from the fact that it might have something to do with a Chinese fortune cookie I received in a Japanese restaurant telling me to take a risk, I suspect it was my way of flushing out a little something that I had been doing my best to hide from, which is this: It is really hard to write about those damn Sutras without sounding like I'm preaching the moral high road, which I can't stand and I'm not quite certain how to get around, but which feels really good to finally say!

What feels infinitely better is what came after I admitted what I truly felt: My job and my teachings have never been about having the answers. What is much more vital and relevant to me is creating the appropriate space for exploring and investigating whatever comes up. This is what I teach, this is what I'm interested in and this is what the verses in the Yoga Sutras guide me back to time and time again.

So here is the deal, I'm not giving in, I'm not giving up, but as I take a step back to find a way of writing that feels honest, earnest and congruent with my worldview I will be slowing down. I will continue to blog about the Sutras, but I have a sneaking suspicion that it will be more about my process of navigating the Sutras rather then the actual Sutras themselves. For the truth about my spirit and the teachings rendered through it is that they both move organically and much more deeply when left to their own accord.

So, it comes to this: If you are interested in learning more about the path of Yoga laid out by the ancients, come to class. If you are interested in how one modern woman moves through the multitude of "stuff" that get stirred up by the Sutras, tune in here! Either way I hope to see you soon!

March 30, 2011

Yoga & Mindfulness Workshop

If you are at all curious how you can target or develop your home practice to balance your energy and remain steady through the whirl of life experiences and emotions, check out my Yoga & Mindfulness Workshop at Capitol Hill on Saturday morning, April 9th. We’ll be examining the 5 root causing of suffering according the Yoga Sutras, developing the Buddhist technique of Mindful Awareness to view our sufferings with neutrality and compassion and looking at the system of Ayurveda to assess which asana, pranayama and meditation techniques help us keep our cool when things get heated, which ones help us spark the fires of inspiration and energy when feeling low and how to prevent bouncing back and forth between the two.

More info at www.8limbsyoga.com

Capitol Hill
Saturday, April 9, 2011
10:00 – 12:30pm

March 21, 2011


Sutra II.43

“ The perfection of the body and sense organs is due to tapas, the intensity of spiritual practice which eliminates impurities and leads to transformation.”

The yogic path is one of maintaining a clear and true connection to one’s spirit and inner potential. This process begins by perfecting both body and sense organs, which serve as the temple and gateways for the spirit to exist and interact in this world. The body is first and foremost a demarcation between internal and external environments. When it is weak, compromised or clouded with impurities it is unable to protect itself from mild, moderate or extreme threats. When it is clear and strong it becomes a firm boundary, or refuge, that strives to cultivate the potential within.

The sense organs: eyes, ears, nose, mouth and skin are the gateways that link the inner and outer worlds together. When they are impure or clogged with memories of the past or expectations of the future we end up with a distorted perception of reality. This distortion alters how we envision the future, behave in the moment and contribute to the re-creation of the world. When the sense organs are purified, we can see, hear, speak, touch and smell clearly. Rather then getting caught in our opinion of these experiences, we give ourselves pure experience.

Tapas is the heat, the fire, the intensity of spiritual practice that we apply to our body and sense organs to spark the process of purification, healing and transformation. Tapas occurs by concentrating our attention within the experience of each moment and delaying our reactive impulses long enough to experience reality rather then experiencing our concept of reality. One way we can practice this is by labeling each of our experiences according to it's most elemental nature. For example, rather then yelling at the guy who just cut us off in the car, we simply recognize the experience of "anger" or "fear" and let the impulse to react in a flurry of words pass on by. Likewise, rather then letting ourselves get irritated at a loud, inappropriate conversation happening near us, we simply recognize it as "sound" and move on. This doesn't mean that we stop taking action and become passive participants in our life, it simply means that we give ourselves the space to experience discomfort without becoming that discomfort. Then we can take action from a stable place based in the reality of the moment.

This is the crux of transformation. This is where we begin to choose the quality of our existence, regardless of the quality of our conditions. This is how we purify our body and sense organs, transform ourselves out of habitual patterns and past behaviors and realize a true and deep expression of our inner most self.

March 12, 2011


Sutra II.42

"Owing to the development of contentment there comes an unexcelled attainment of happiness."

This particular sutra is part of a string of verses that explain the niyamas or the personal disciplines, which we undertake to maintain a clear, true connection to our spirit. This verse itself is pretty straightforward: where there is contentment, there is unexcelled happiness, which is fairly obvious since the definition of contentment is 'a state of happiness'. It does, however, raise a question of how we can create/discover/make space for santosha when it doesn't already exist within us.

If we have a pattern of dissatisfaction in some area of our life we cannot change that pattern by pretending to be satisfied, but we can begin to change the pattern in the way that we regard our experience of dissatisfaction. A very simple approach is to

1) First recognize that dissatisfaction, like everything else, is impermanent. Knowing that it is momentary and will not last forever allows us to

2) Give it room to exist. When we allow ourselves to experience life as it is, we stop fighting, suppressing and denying reality. This cuts out a large part of our struggle and lessens a significant portion of our dissatisfaction.

Over time, these two actions give us permission to relax, to allow ourselves to have an uncomfortable experience (which is a large part of life!) and to learn to trust that everything is and will be ok. We are ok - even when things aren't how we wish they were. If we practice this enough, we even start to feel contentment with discontentment and that, I believe, is the attainment of unexcelled happiness!

March 10, 2011

Coming Soon...

As many of you know, I have spent my last 3 years as a Yoga Instructor who incorporates the ancient philosophy of the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali into our opening meditation and asana practices. The idea originally started as a way for me to keep up with my own exploration of the Sutras at a time when I could no longer make it to my teacher's class for weekly study. At the start of this endeavor, I felt a little bit under-qualified and totally uncertain about where it would go and how it would manage to get there, but after 3 years of simply showing up each week and trying to make another esoteric verse relevant and palatable to our modern, urban lives, I feel like I've found a rhythm of clarity, healthy and well-being that carries over from week to week.

I know that many of you have discovered a greater depth through this exploration and that the meaning of your practice has also changed as we've progressed along this path together. I also know that as the weather gets nicer and nicer, it becomes more and more difficult to make it to class each week. So I've decided to start blogging about the weekly Sutra Lesson so that you can stay in touch and in tune even when you can't get to class.

I will pick things up right where there are with a discussion on Santosha, or contentment, beginning with Sutra II.42 and then move forward from there. I encourage you to post your thoughts, questions or responses to these blogs, so that we can start an open dialogue and further expand our practices. Even if you don't consider yourself a yogi, I know you all have an opinion, so please share it with the rest of us!

February 15, 2011

Yoga for the People - All People

Check out this YouTube documentary about Yoga Behind Bars, a local non-profit I work for that brings yoga and meditation to incarcerated youth and adults in Washington State.

February 10, 2011

Yin & Yoga Sutras

The next installment of the Yin & Yoga Sutras Series is this Saturday in Capitol Hill. Please join me!

During the first half of class, we'll ground ourselves in the physical body with a unique sequence of deeply held, seated postures that focus on the 5 elements (earth, water, fire, air, ether). While pausing passively in each seat we'll explore the qualities of these elements: stability, fluidity, transformation, movement and space to experience what it means to be fully alive.

In the second half of class we'll focus our attention on the philosophy of the Patanjali's Yoga Sutras and learn how regular meditation practice can change the structure of the mind and leads toward transformation.

Expand your practice this Saturday!

February 12, 2011
8 Limbs Yoga Centers
Capitol Hill
10:00 - 12:00