Yoga Bimbi


Oh, baby. I just signed on for a kids’ yoga teacher training class at Karma Kids Yoga here in the city. I’ve had wonderful teachers and inspiration giving me great advice, but I’m even more excited to dig in and put some serious attention into training.

I have fantasies of perfect little bambinos, but I know better. They’ll rock and roll and run around, of course, and I can’t wait.

Image from Radiance Power Yoga.

Yogic Powers

In yoga school, we learned about the yogic powers. It was maybe the one afternoon lecture where no one fell asleep, and we all sat attention rapt in a circle around our teacher as he told us stories of yogis who could slow their heart rate to almost nothing, who could live without food or water and simply be nourished by prana, who could levitate.

True? Maybe. I’ve been a little cynical.

But I’m even more cynical of the trick shown in this video. I somehow doubt this is how it’s been done for hundreds of years. But even if it is, I don’t know that I mind. If that’s what it takes to ensure the survival of an ancient tradition with real physiological and spiritual benefits, I’ll accept a little slight of hand.

[via boingboing]

Gurus and Right Alignment

I’m sore.

Sore. Tired and energized.

Yesterday I worked as an assistant with my former teacher training program. And in the afternoon, we did a little downdog workshop. I still haven’t quite figured out why, but I always go deeper when I’m in a room with our teacher. My breath is deeper, my focus deeper. My body just opens up.

After working with him for a couple of years, I’m finally convinced he has the thing. You know, that guru gaze thing. That POW energy. I didn’t really believe in it. But even though it was my body in the posture, it was beyond my energy. For whatever reason, his presence helps me key in to my own energy and whooosh.

I’m not saying the guy is magic. I’ve read about yogic powers – regulating internal organ function, levitation, transferring enlightenment through a touch or even a look – and I’m not buying it. Despite my West Coast hippy tendencies, I’m a cynical New Yorker at heart.

That said, there’s no denying I felt it. The channels opening up. The right-alignment rush. It was me, the posture, the energy. Whatever it was, boy, it was good.

And, now, I’m exhausted and uplifted at the same time. I have that fevered soreness and the wealth of benefits from practice. And I want more.

The Things We Say

During my training, we were taught to become aware of our language. We were encouraged to be direct, avoid surrounding the guidance in cushions of ‘want’ or ‘need’ – like saying, “I want you to rotate your upper thighs back” or stating things in the future, “And then we’re going to push up into cobra.” It is simpler to hear “Rotate your thigh muscles,” “Push up into cobra.”

As you teach you become aware of new ways to describe a moment, new angles, new metaphors. And sometimes, you try one that doesn’t work for everyone. I’ve definitely tried some pose descriptions that seem natural to me, but have my students craning their necks to look up at me wondering what the heck I’m talking about. A shaft of light from where? Rotate my what, now?

I haven’t been in front of a class for a little while now, but I read a blog today that reminded me of teaching, of being a person, of loving the whole concept behind being a human being in front of other human beings in yoga. And, it made me laugh.

I’m starting to find my own language in teaching… the phrases that come naturally. The pauses. The intentions. But there’s one thing I get a little hung up on: What to call the tushie/bum/buttocks/rumpside/tu-tu during class. I’ve been experimenting with different words and when I’m already talking about various muscles I, of course, say “gluteus”. But that’s that’s just so… ew. Can’t like it. So last night as I was teaching bow pose, I heard the word “butt cheeks” slip out of my mouth. And some students started giggling. And then I started giggling. It was bad. (Laughing in bow pose is really challenging!)

[via Penelope Illustration]

As a teacher, and a student, I think a little laughing in yoga is a good thing. And I love being able to see my teacher as a real person, not just a lithe body and demonstrative voice.

My dad often makes jokes during long pose-holds to help people let go. And I’ve always thought a little levity was welcome. Though, full-on giggle fits have been rare

What do you think about a prana-induced giggle attack? Is levity a distraction?

The illustration in this post is also by Penelope Dullaghan, and if you like it, you should visit her shop.

PYT(T) #best09

December 9 Challenge. Something that really made you grow this year. That made you go to your edge and then some. What made it the best challenge of the year for you?

Almost a year ago, I went to an introductory night for yoga teacher training at the Open Center – just to see. I sat there for a couple of hours letting the joy and wisdom of the program leaders wash over me. Before the evening was over, I knew I’d be jumping on board – for better or worse.

Even though the decision was made, I found myself up at the front of the room approaching Priti, one of our beautiful teachers. Before I knew it, I just blurted out: I’m scared! And without a moment’s hesitation, she embraced me. I was so overwhelmed at that moment, and so, so nurtured. I still get choked up thinking about it.

The journey to becoming a teacher has surprised me (and still surprises me!) in its simplicity, and in its challenges. I mean, frankly, there are times where I am a complete mess – as a yoga teacher and as a functioning adult. But this challenge has touched me to the core and changed the way I approach life for the better, even with the fear and the mess.

Full Heart, Achey Back

My heart and creative mind are full today with possibilities. Last night, I met up with a group of my yoga peers from teacher training, and after a chanting event at the Open Center, we talked and talked for hours. And laughed, and contemplated conspiracy theories, and debated living in eco-huts and biospheres and bathed in each other’s energy.

I know, I’m not always so effusive and gooey about my praise and feelings for others, but it felt absolutely energizing to be with these people again.

Talking to my yoga peeps – both my partner in M&M and my friends from teacher training – has opened my eyes to all the possibilities around me. I came home last night feeling that there was no option closed to me, as long as I put my energy towards it.

Creating a support network and community of like-minded people – an item on my own Mondo Beyondo list* – is a priority whose fulfillment will lead to so many other possibilities. I am sure of it.

Speaking of, I’m on Day 3 of the 30-Day-Challenge at the Yoga Room. I am starting to feel the vinyasa in my body. I’m breathing deeper, and also beginning to notice tightness. I’m also thinking that Day 3 is the very beginning.

*I was introduced to the whole idea of the Mondo Beyondo list several years ago on Andrea Sher’s blog Superhero Journal. This year, she, along with Jen Lemen, has turned the idea into an e-course, linked above. Though I haven’t signed up for the online class, I still feel that making a list of your utterly fantastical fantasies is well worth-while.

Big, bigger, biggest

Big things are afoot at M&M. In a serious of congratulatory events, I’ve graduated my teacher training program, taught my first class and attended the wedding of my M&M partner in crime.

All of these things seem to big to skim over, especially the wedding.

In what was one of the most enjoyable moments of my life, and one of the most humbling, M&Mchi asked me to teach a yoga class to her and her guests on the morning of her wedding. It was exhilarating and calming, unfamiliar and comfortable all at the same time. I had the honor and opportunity to meet her own yoga-Mamma who led our relaxation during the class and also officiated the wedding.

I couldn’t be more happy for the lovely bride and groom, who made their wedding celebration a true reflection of their love of nature, each other, and the community around them.


This past weekend was my final practice teach – and my first real full-hour teach. When we were done, our facilitator Paula (who is awesome, btw. Hi, Paula!) asked me how I felt the teach went. I thought about it, but, in truth, I had no idea.

I had no solid recollection of the previous hour. I remember moments, an assist here, a transition there. But certainly not an hour’s worth of teaching. I was either incredibly present or horribly distracted.

But I’m betting against distracted. I came out of the teach as if I had just had a deep practice of my own. To go into a meditative state during practice is bliss, during teaching is just bliss plus!

As we sat in a large circle at the end of the day and shared our experiences, I felt so supported, so happy and so very excited. I wanted to start my teaching career that very minute!

But is that practical? I wondered. The fact is, I’ve been wondering that for a long, long time. And I’m coming to the conclusion that I may not care.

I’m not saying I’m going to leave my paying job tomorrow to enter a new field with no business plan and no support system. But what I am thinking, and FEELING, is that I can make this happen if I want to. And I do want to.

I’d rather make good vibrations than flash animations. Asana instead of ads? Be on the mat instead of in the chair? Uhm, something like that.

Oh, goodness, good thing I’m not a writer… crap.

I Miss You – But I Haven’t Met You Yet

My YTT graduation is approaching. And every time I practice teach, I have a vision – more of a feeling, actually – of a future self. Or an alternate universe where I’m a yoga teacher, instead of a copywriter.

That’s the point, I guess. To get used to the whole idea of doing this for real and for true.

At the same time I go through this training, though, I am taking on more responsibility at work. And so I’m left with another fantasy version of myself. A self that has lots of meetings, feels strong and in command, and makes “important” decisions.

It’s easier to imagine my life going down the corporate path than taking the severe left turn into teaching. Which, I guess, is why it’s scarier.

I kind of have a crush on my future selves. The corporate-ladder climbing one, and the yogini, both. Less so the yelling, controlling, pissed off work version. But, still, there is something appealing there, too.

But when I get in that zone – the work zone – I miss my future yoga teacher self. As ALWAYS, I’m working on the balance. But not choosing is starting to feel an awful lot like a decision.

Post Cards from Yoga School: Pranayama Mamma

It always takes me a couple of days after my yoga teacher training weekend to come back to earth. And then another two days to completely immerse myself in the crazy busy corporate world again and forget everything I’ve learned.

Well, not everything. But it often feels that way.

This month we began a more instensive pranayama practice, including Bhastrika (forceful inhalation and exhalation) and Anuloma Viloma (alternate nostril breathing with holdings). So powerful to learn, so easy to put off.

I began my post-yoga training week with my pranayama practice, but in constantly choosing among sleep, breakfast, dog-walking, gym and yoga for the perfect morning combination – pranayama has fallen away.

I breathe when I remember to. I breathe deeply in meetings. I inhale the fresh blooms down by the water. The breeze off the water. I hold my breath unintentionally, and begin again when I can remember to. During these weeks of doing my best, this is my prana practice.

Post Cards from Yoga School

This weekend was another practice teach. I felt a little unprepared, and it showed. I taught Matsyendrasana (spinal twist) backwards, which would have been great had all of my students been either pregnant or recovering from abdominal surgery. But, aside from that, it went well.

Most of the yoga I’ve been practicing lately has been of the “off-the-mat” variety. Breathing, being aware, remembering compassion while the work I do and the people I do it with are spinning wildly out of control in a completely nonsensical way. It’s easy to get wrapped up in office drama and politics, and I do find myself bathing in that stream every now and again.

But in between each fake work-crisis, I try to take a deep breath and put everything into perspective. All of these emails are coming from people. And those people are panicking about something that, really, doesn’t matter that much. But they are attached, and so am I. And so, I try to stop, and take the time to figure out the best way to proceed. The best way to get the work done, and make people stress less.

I don’t always do it well, but, once again, that’s why they call it practice.

Post Cards from Yoga School

Process, process, process. This time in between intense yoga weekends are made for integration and process. Or, if you’re me, for ignoring everything you’ve learned and stuffing it underneath your shirt for some other day – because work has to be done! Copy needs writing, concepts need birthing, people need managing and the dog, for crying out loud, the dog needs walking. And I need a nap.

But this stuffed stuff still comes up – usually in dreams. This month we are focusing on the sixth chakra – Ajna Chakra – the seat of intuition in the third eye center of the forehead.

For me, this is bringing up dreams of blindness. Not complete darkness, but blurred vision. In these dreams I am desperately trying to go about daily life, trying to clear my eyes. I try to rub them clean, to wash away the film that covers them, to hold my eyelids OPEN so that I can see.

And then I wake up, having been unsuccessful in my dream state, and go about my day without giving it a second thought. So. Here is my second thought. I am stopping here, in the middle of my workday, to recognize that that dream is in there, somewhere. And that I feel it’s asking me to pay attention.