Perfectly Imperfect

20 minutes is better than nothing

This morning I lay in bed musing about the day, knowing that the longer I stayed under the covers, the less likely I was to roll out the mat. So I got up and looked at my yoga space – filled with mail that needed to be opened, a dog leash begging to be used, and a suitcase that lay stuffed and ready for unpacking.

It was tempting. First I’ll clean off the counter, put away all this stuff so I can set my drishti on a clear, uncluttered space. I could just take care of the mail rather than let it sit. If I’m moving the suitcase, I may as well unpack and throw a load of laundry in before I start. Then the dog is up and looking my way, ready for a walk.

That’s how it goes some mornings. The mat stays rolled up in the corner while a bunch of other things on the list get done. I want to make things as close to ideal as I can in order to practice. I want to clear the space, so I can clear my mind. I want a home studio that looks like the ones in the magazine. But at what cost? It’s not helping me to skip my practice until it can look perfect.

This morning I set up my mat amidst the chaos. The room was a mess. My body ached and my waistline spoke of too much Christmas pie. My nose was stuffed up and I couldn’t pranayam my way out of a paper bag, but I did it. I got down in chaturanga with elbows as close to 90-degrees as I can get them. My trikonasana was crooked, but existent. And it was good.

day off

When I was a little girl, I hated missing school. I was a pretty high strung kid and I was afraid I’d never catch up on what I’d missed. Even when I was feeling sick, I didn’t want to skip. My mom would bring me with her on errands and it was the strangest feeling to be out and about during the day. I felt like everyone could tell I was somewhere I wasn’t supposed to be.

These days, I really have none of that anxiety. Okay, maybe a little. But I can handle it. And I love being out and about when I’m normally at the office. I look at people and wonder what they do, where their day is taking them.

I took a day off this week to… well, to just take a day off. I went to the gym, I spent time down by the water, I took the dog out for miles and miles.

And even though it was gorgeous outside, I even watched some tv and took a nap on the couch. I really needed it. And maybe I should? But I don’t feel guilty at all.

Mat Goes Here: Galleries

art gallery yoga

I’ve talked about the craving to do yoga in art galleries before. I’m not sure where the fascination comes from. I’m either inspired by all the open space and creativity, or I see asana as a celebration of it. Either way, here are some spaces I would throw down my mat and get creative. [Image from Le Parvenue blog.]


The spirals of the Guggenheim in New York are like the spirals of our body. I could imagine doing amazing twists in this space. Reaching up with the breath, making the spine long, and twisting on the exhale. Dizzying. [Image of the Guggenheim from NPR.]

MoMA Rothko

I love the MoMA here in New York. Especially the huge open spaces (like where Marina Abramović did her seated installation) surrounded by art.

[This third image is straight from and this is thier official attribution: Installation view of Abstract Expressionist New York: The Big Picture. Photo: Jason Mandella.

Also, “Mat Goes Here” is inspired by this column by The Jealous Curator.]

Refilling Your Well, Holiday Edition

Kripalu is a heart home for me. I can’t pinpoint what it is, exactly, since the place is always changing. But it’s like the summer camp where I had my first kiss, except it’s a yoga retreat and I never kissed anyone there. I don’t know. Whether I’m able to articulate it or not, I love the place.

I first volunteered there over a decade ago, and lately I’ve been attending programs as an assistant with my teacher and friend. I’m incredibly excited to go this December. In the last ten years, I’ve somehow managed to miss winter there. I can only hope for snow.

And, you guys, it’s one of my favorite programs: Refilling Your Well. You can read more about the details of the program at the Kripalu site, but I can tell you it is an immersive nurturing experience with a mix of science and self-indulgence. Sounds good, right?

I really encourage people to do something like this at least once in their lives: a weekend dedicated to you and your personal health that is more than just pampering. It’s a learning opportunity with lasting lessons for self-care.

Are you interested? Because you’re invited.

Image from The Dual Life.


I don’t have a “This & That” post planned today, though I thought of trying to cobble one together from my phone. What I do have today is just life. My computer is in the shop and I’m in the midst of a move. I’m only going two blocks away, but it still feels big. Sometimes when one thing shifts, everything moves. My normal routine is thrown completely out of whack.

So I’m going to keep on putting tiny thing in little boxes and pack those boxes into bigger boxes until tonight. Then I’ll take a deep breath, look around my new place, and surely collapse into a heap.

I have a couple of posts brewing and will be back here to share them with you soon. What about you? Can one shift throw you off your game?

Do you wanna go out?

So much of my life is routine, even my practice. And I tend to be a homebody, which sometimes means spending a LOT of time in my studio apartment. One of the things I love about practicing outdoors is simply the shake up of it. It’s like crossing my feet in the non-habitual way. It just FEELS different.

I can’t help but connect with the air around me and the ground under my feet and get out of my own head. There’s just something about a real live breeze and the actual sunshine – GAH! – I just adore it. (Daily Downward Dog agrees.)

You can bring your mat outside anytime. If you’re like me, and appreciate a little structure to keep you going, here are some FREE outdoor classes in and around New York City.

These three are on my list.

Bryant Park
Classes are on the Upper Terrace on Tuesdays at 10 a.m. and on the lawn on Thursdays at 6 p.m. May-September

Gantry Plaza State Park
On Pier 1 August 12 at 10 a.m., September 9 at 5 p.m.

Socrates Sculpture Park
Kripalu yoga on Saturdays at 9:30 and 11 a.m. May
12–September 30

I haven’t tried these yet. Have you?

Chelsea 14th Street Park
Laughing Lotus yoga classes on Saturdays
at 9 a.m. June–August

Target East Harlem Community Garden
Saturdays at 11 a.m. May–September

Prospect Park
Thursday nights at 7 p.m. (near the
Grand Army Plaza entrance). May
24–September 6

Meditation Everywhere

Is anyone else doing Yoga Journal’s Meditation Revolution? I started strong, but petered out a bit. I have, however, kept up with the pranayama introduced in week two. I’m working the balance between doing things because I feel like I should (meditating), and doing things that I actually like to do (pranayama). In my head, I get muddled with thoughts of discipline and mental rewards. But maybe it’s just okay to do the practices that work for me without a force fit.

I saw this image today as I browsed Ikea for a new platform bed. I don’t think this frame is my style, but hello meditation everywhere!

Image from Ikea.


I had my yoga bag packed and had every intention of going back to sweat myself nauseous at a Bikram class. I was hydrated. I even bought the little shorts. But you know what? I didn’t like it.

Oh, I had these Eat, Pray, Love visions of how this practice was going to transform me, body and mind. That in 30 days I’d sweat out everything that was ever wrong with me and I’d be THAT girl, the Bikram girl.

I don’t think I’m that girl, you guys. I was dreading class. And then I remembered that there’s free yoga in Bryant Park just a couple of blocks from my office. Regular temperatures? An hour long? Outside? Much more my style. The relief I felt was palpable.

So, to outdoor yoga I went. And it wasn’t perfect, and it didn’t transform my life. But I really liked it.

Image from the Bryant Park Blog.

Boy You Turn Me

As soon as I saw this image, I starting singing this song. And, yes, I’m playing it as I type this.

Inside out. And round and round.

Doesn’t life do this? I’m feeling it for sure. This morning I needed a little shift of perspective. Sometimes I sit and try to feel my feelings, some times I try to shake it off and put them away for later. This time, I just wanted to turn it all upside down, and breathe. Handstands were the thing.

Also, I hear they’re good for a hangover. Really!

This image from Tumblr on F*&kyeahyoga.

Dancing in the Streets

Sadly, I think this photo is actually of an Australian actor at a charity fundraiser in Sydney, and NOT the real Gandhi (at least according to this site). Real Gandhi or actor’s portrayal, it still made me smile and reminded me that I love to dance.

When I dance, it’s not modern, jazz or club dancing. It’s just – dancing. It’s me in my living room looking like Elaine and scaring the dog. But I love it.

Need a little more inspiration? Here’s an image that has been making the rounds lately. I saw it first on Cup of Jo along with the quote: “No one looks stupid when they’re having fun.” – Amy Poehler

What do you think – Do you only dance where no one can see? Or do you take to the streets?


One of the things we talked about at the retreat was prioritizing self-care. Putting the oxygen mask on yourself first, so to speak. It’s so easy to skip this step. Or to do things to wind down that don’t really nurture us. Uhm, Pinterest anyone?

This is how I do this – and it’s not always well. But I made a commitment to myself to start my day by moving. It can be yoga or hula hooping, running around with the dog or dancing – it doesn’t matter. Do I skip some mornings? Yep. And it only serves to remind me that if I start my day by choosing to move around – not just shuffle to the shower, shuffle to the closet, shuffle to work – I’m more likely to KEEP moving, and have a better day.

Here are some easy, FREE ways to keep moving:

Take a Break: Download a quick 5 minute led practice.Kripalu Yoga Break offers postures, breath work and guided meditation in short bursts for when you need a little break, but don’t have the time or inclination for something hefty.

Walk it Off: Seriously. There’s no link here. It just means go for a walk. That’s it. Get up. Walk around. Outside is better than inside. Sometimes I even take my shoes off. Shhh. Don’t tell.

Download: I’ve plugged these guys before, but Yogadownload offers such an amazing service, I have to mention them again. Download a free 20 minute podcast every week, or pay for longer classes. They have audio, and video too if you like to watch your teachers.

Dance Party: A song is usually less than five minutes long. I bet you have five minutes to shake your groove thing.

We Have the Technology: I’m usually on my phone and computer ALL day long. Are you? Use it to your advantage. Change your email password to one of the yamas and niyamas. Change your phone ring to say “Breathe.” Block off a 15 minute meeting every afternoon to get up from your desk and go outside. I don’t always do this either, but I’m glad when I do.

Meeting Maker: This applies to EVERYTHING listed above, or whatever other nurturing activities you come up with: schedule it. There are some days when if it’s not on my calendar, it’s not happening. This is the exact same point I made above – it’s about priorities. It’s about putting the oxygen mask on yourself first, before you can help others. Refilling the well, as we say.

How do you fill the well?

Kripalu: What I Pack

This is what I pack when I head up to Kripalu for the week. Of course there are the requisite yoga pants, tanks and a hoodie (even when it’s warm, it’s always good to have a layer). I’m not going to tell you that stuff because I trust that you know what you like to wear.

But there are some things I’ve learned after going on a lot of these trips that really help make things more comfortable.

A Tote Bag
For years I’d pack my duffle bag and have purse and that’s it. Then once I’m on the retreat, I’d be flip-flopping my way from session to session with a folder of info under my arm and my water bottle and my hoodie – it’s too much. Finally I remembered to pack a canvas tote or roll-up reusable bag to haul my things around. So easy.

Water Bottle
Those metal Sigg bottles are great, but when they get knocked over onto the wood floor (and they will get knocked over) they make a huge racket. So the best water bottles have tops, and are quiet. I bought mine of won’t-kill-you-plastic at Duane Reade for $5.

Toiletry Bags within Toiletry Bags
At Kripalu, I stay in the dorms. That means a big room with bunks and – hooray – a shared bath. So, it helps if you have one bag that you can bring into the shower with you. And then a different bag to keep your dry things separate. It’s good to note too that a lot places suggest you bring toiletries without added fragrances.

I know, this is a little weird. But if you’re in a lecture or workshop session early in the morning the tootsies can get a little chilly.

Swim Suit, Shower Shoes
Kripalu has a lake. And a whirlpool and sauna, which are more my speed for underwater activities. Some folks prefer to go in the nude, but I like to wear bottoms at least. Showers are shared, too, so a pair of flip flops dedicated to getting wet are a good call.

Tinted Moisturizer
I’m not a glamazon in general, but even less so on retreat. That said, au natural can make me feel a little too exposed. I’m vain. It’s a whole thing I could be working on. But for now, tinted moisturizer does the trick. Covers me up, and it’s low maintenance.

My Pajamas are Yoga Clothes
Depending on what kind of program you’re going to, your morning session could be yoga or lecture. And chances are, it starts early. Sometimes I plan my PJs strategically so I can roll out of the dorm and into the workshop without really waking up.