A Few Thoughts About Recent Events

    I’ve been carefully observing how my teachers, mentors and colleagues are responding to the current political situation. A few have chosen to remain silent but most have spoken out in outrage and despair about the events of the past week. The ones that I feel most aligned with are asking themselves about how they can contribute in their role as an expert in body-centered practices to work towards positive change beyond the important work of helping individuals. I align myself with those teachers and below you will find some of their thoughts and suggestions. I personally always return to the words of Rabbi Hillel, a contemporary of Jesus who is highly revered in Jewish traditions and…

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I like to believe…

I like to believe that the more we connect with our bodies, the more compassionate we become.¹ And yet, I don’t know if that’s actually true—maybe we just become more of who we already are. ² I also like to believe the words of a Jewish daily morning prayer—Elohai Neshama—whose first line translates as, “God, the soul that you have placed within me is pure. ”³ And yet, I don’t know if that is actually true – maybe a few of us are born with a skin of evil  (Star Trek reference). ⁴ ⁵ While I can’t know that what I like to believe is absolute truth, I can attempt to embody these precepts and live as if they are.…

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Don’t Always Listen: You May Save Your Hips

or

Sometimes It’s Better to Observe a Pigeon Sitting on a Coconut than to Practice Pigeon Pose

A spontaneous purchase at the airport has gotten me all riled up. I bought a paperback that made a big claim; it purported to guide one to live an awesome life.* Of course I took this with a grain of salt but a quick glance showed me that it was filled with anecdotal stories that included the author’s experience with yoga. I thought it would be fun to read on the plane. The first part of the book was enjoyable. I found myself nodding my head often as many of the author’s stories and suggestions resonated with me. As I got further into the book, I realized that it was based on a concept that seems very popular…

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Morning Terrors and Morning Blessings

Prior to my recent trip to Minnesota, I discovered that yoga was being offered at one of my favorite places in the world—Lake Harriet. Not only were there going to be classes every day of the summer but they were looking for volunteer teachers. The thought of teaching at a place I have loved since childhood felt like an amazing opportunity that filled me with joy and excitement. There was only one downside; class started at 6:30 am and ever since I stopped teaching early morning classes at Ironworks, I have found it extremely challenging to get up before dawn. The pull of yoga at the lake was strong so I decided to set aside my fear of…

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Enliven Your Hips

I just finished filming a class for my weekly Patreon service. I was about to title it, “Open Your Hips and Flow into Vashistasana” but then I caught myself. I chose the term “open” out of a longstanding habit that I picked up during my travels in modern postural yoga. ‘Open’ is often used as a synonym for ‘flexible.’ Although our ability to move our hip joints is crucial to so many movements in life: walking, sitting, dancing, I don’t think that everyone needs to develop more flexibility in their hips. In fact, I think the emphasis on ‘being open’ has caused physical, emotional and psychological damage, so I am exploring new terminology that more clearly reflects this…

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Krispy Kremes and The Elusive Obvious*: Lessons from a Health Fair

My background as both an anthropologist and a movement educator have trained my mind to see beyond the surface—to look at cultural behaviors and physical movement to explicate and understand underlying patterns. Ultimately, I see myself as someone who exposes this elusive obvious and then supports people to make choices about what to do with this knowledge. A recent experience highlighted these skills and led me to create a new term for what I see as the elusive obvious. This spring I volunteered as a Blue Zones Project Ambassador at a local health fair sponsored by a large HMO. As an ambassador, I shared information about the Power 9: nine lifestyle habits shared by the 5 communities in…

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The Smell of Purple: My Spine and the Subtle Body

When I was a young girl, I loved to wander and search for adventure at a nearby swamp. Sometimes I dared to walk tall down the neighboring trail that was rumored to be haunted by a headless turtle. Some days I ventured a climb up the magnificent oak trees whose wide horizontal limbs spread out over the water and told me that if I stood up and allowed myself to be held by an ancient outstretched arm, I could feel the expansiveness and rhythm of the earth. Every summer there were some incredible purple flowers that popped up among the tall grasses on the marshy shore. I remember rustling through the waving green towers to get close to…

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Prana, The Brain, and M&M’s

I invite you to picture in your mind a classic late 20th century office complex; a big room with fluorescent lights, rows of square cubicles and stale air; the smell of weak coffee in styrofoam cups and the soft buzzing whirl of hard drives and printers; offgasing gray-blue carpets and upholstered chairs on plastic wheels. Mixed in with all this sensory input—the ubiquitous jar of M&Ms. This M&M jar would just sit there, hour upon hour, calling on people to have one; daring them not to overindulge. A few workers would proudly resist, but for most, the pull was too strong and the jar would be empty by the end of the day. Why were those M&M’s so…

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Eyes Up To Freedom

Once upon a time two guys were standing on the muddy shore of a huge sea. This was the first time that they had seen such an immense body of water and they didn’t know what to do. They were at the front of a group of escaped slaves who were running for their lives. The world's most advanced army, equipped with swords and chariots, was chasing them. Their people had been enslaved for 400 years and this was their first chance at freedom but now their feet were in the mud. One of these men, looked down and said, “Yuck. My feet are all muddy. This mud looks exactly like the mud I’ve been using for 30…

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She said, “Cut My Spine Off”

A yoga student of mine shared with me her concerns about a loved one. She asks: So what can I do about my sister-in-law? Every time we call and ask, "How are you?" she replies, "I'm in pain." Here’s how the conversation usually goes: I ask, What are you doing about it? “There's nothing that can be done except drugs.” Have you tried everything? “I saw a chiropractor a long time ago but it ended up hurting my neck.” What else could you do? "There's a surgical procedure developed in Germany, but it isn't approved here.” Could you go to Germany to get it? "I'd have to learn German first and I'm not good at languages." Is there…

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