protecting yourself

One time when I first started teaching yoga, I taught a beginner’s class. It was the first class of the session. I asked the students to introduce themselves and let me know if there was any physical issues they were having that they’d like to let me know about. In this particular class, a usually high number of students said they had been experiencing lower back pain. The class proceeded well, but at the end of the class I found that I had intense pain in my lower back, which was highly unusual for me. Coincidence? Nope. I simply unwittingly absorbed some unwanted energy from my students.

We are all affected by others’ energy. A good example of this is the negative energy that you can pick up while driving from someone behind you who has road rage. Or the palpable strong energy of someone who is angry and walks into the room. We also pick up strong positive energy. When a stranger smiles and looks us in the eye, most of us naturally feel better.

Here is how I’ve learned to protect myself from unwanted negative energy while still allowing myself to be vulnerable and connected. Before I start a yoga class, I take a moment to set the intention to only receive light and love from my students. Then I set the intention to only transfer light and love. Yoga teachers are only human. We have personal gunk, prejudices and limiting beliefs that shouldn’t be put upon our students.

Of course, this same practice works perfectly in any setting. For instance, if you work with someone who is hostile, you can set the intention to be protected from this person’s negativity. Or if your significant other is spinning out with worry, you can set the intention to be open to helping without being pulled down.

When I suggest an intention of only transferring light and love, it doesn’t mean being a doormat or enabling poor behavior. As a parent, teacher, boss or co-worker, we can take right action allowing that right action to come from a dispassionate, calm point of view.

It’s Day 13 of our 21 Day Yoga Challenge. Today, my suggestion for your meditation practice is to set an intention for an area of your life (or a person in your life) that challenges your equilibrium.



Yoga for Addictions

music by Massive Attack, Paradise Circus

The truth is that we all have addictions. It might be to food, alcohol, sex, work, negative thoughts, sugar, judgment of others, controlling others, gambling, shopping…the list goes on. Yoga can be a salve for the body, mind and spirit and an additional tool for those working in 12-step programs and with physicians. This series of six poses are meant to be nourishing, internal. I’ve designed this sequence to specifically help when cravings arise. The trick is to practice this sequence before you spin out. Hold each pose for one to five minutes.

Day 12 of my 21 Day Yoga Challenge



yoga pose of the day – diamond pose

diamond poseWelcome to Day 11 of my 21 Day Yoga Challenge. During your yoga practice today, try easy diamond pose.

To practice diamond pose:

From a seated position take the soles of your feet together, but away from the pelvis making a diamond shape with the legs. Inhale the spine long and exhale fold forward over the legs – just a little bit, or if you are flexible then you can come deeper into the pose. This pose is not about how close you can bring your head to your feet. The back is rounded in this variation and the pose is meant to be internal and soothing. This pose isn’t about working hard, although you may feel a stretch in the outsides of your hips and legs. Feel the quietness of the pose. You can spend some time here, up to five minutes if you like.

When teaching a class, I’ll often suggest diamond pose at the end of the class. The forward fold is calming to the central nervous system, without the intensity of having the legs straight in front.

It’s one of my favorite poses. If you use this variation with a rounded back, it’s creates a nice openness in the spine.



for overachievers in recovery

This blog post is for overachievers in recovery. If there were a 12-step group for overachievers, I would attend those meetings. This is definitely something that I struggle with.

This morning I woke up with a painful migraine headache. My greatest dismay was not the pain that I was experiencing in my body (which was terrible), but my resistance to the fact that I just wasn’t going to accomplish what I thought I was going to today.

Born into a family of overachievers, this characteristic is ingrained and often doesn’t serve me well. In my family – and I’m only slightly exaggerating – happiness equals how much you get done.

At times like these where all plans are thrown out the door, it’s helpful to me to remember the key tenet of yoga: being gentle with oneself. I can become so attached to the list of things to do that accomplishing the list becomes more important than enjoying the activity. If I can become aware of this, than I can remind myself to slow down. What I do is not intrinsic to who I am. (Okay, maybe I have to repeat this to myself several many times to talk myself off the ledge)

Yoga has changed my life in so many ways and has managed to soften my self-judgment. However, I am aware that this is a process for me. This was not something that was brought to my attention and then bam! problem solved.

But that’s why we call it practicing yoga and meditation. We do it again and again, not to get it right but to allow the peace to seep into our lives.

Today, I wish for you and me freedom from self-judgment.



meditating with the eyes open

meditatingWelcome to Day 8 of my 21 Day Yoga Challenge. In this challenge, we commit to practicing at least 10 minutes of meditation a day and at least 10 minutes of yoga a day.

Today’s suggested practice is to meditate with the eyes open. I learned this technique while taking a weekend workshop at the Omega Institute with renowned Tibetan Buddhist Pema Chodron. We spent most of our time in group meditation and all of the meditation was done with eyes opened.

The benefit of meditating with the eyes open is that you engage with the world while learning to be still and relaxed. Try finding one point of focus and letting the eyes be soft. Allow yourself to stay in the present moment by allowing everything in – what you see, feel and hear. Notice any judgments that arise. You could also rest your gaze upon an object, such as a candle.

I’ve had a few students tell me that this is the one technique for meditation that works for them. Try it more than once and see if it speaks to you.



How to Sit for Meditation

It’s Day 7 of our 21 Day Yoga Challenge. Today’s video is a reminder of how to position the body so that you can fully benefit from your meditation practice.

I hope you are enjoying the Challenge. If you’ve missed some days, be gentle with yourself. If you only do yoga and meditate one day more than what you normally would, that’s a success.

Feel free to send me requests for your yoga needs. I’d love to learn more about you and your practice.

I wish you peace, joy and prosperity.



yoga for hip bursitis – 15 minute hip sequence for strengthening and flexibility

This 15 minute yoga video offers five therapeutic yoga poses for hip bursitis. If you are a yoga teacher, this is a great video to learn more about the therapeutic applications of yoga. I have several teaching tips in this video. This is also a great practice for everyone, as most people have tight hips, IT band issues, piriformis problems, etc.

A bursa is a sac at the joint that allows smooth movement and connects with the bone and tendons. Bursitis is when the bursa becomes inflamed and is painful, for some people – very painful. Bursitis affects the surrounding muscles. These surrounding muscles need to be gently strengthened and stretched.

This video goes slow and easy. If you’d like a more active or challenging practice today, you can check out my three other hip sequence videos. I’ll post each below.

I hope you find this helpful.



Short Yoga Flow for the Hips

Yoga for the IT band and outer hips

Yoga Hip Opener Sequence

restorative yoga – legs up the wall

Making time to renew your energy is essential to a balanced, happy life. Most of us do way too much, myself included. Viparita karani, legs up the wall pose, is a great restorative yoga pose that calms the mind and renews the body.

Therapeutic benefits include:

  • reduces anxiety and mild depression
  • eases headaches/migraines
  • reduces insomnia
  • reduces digestive issues
  • reduces menstrual cramps and is soothing for menopausal issues
  • relieves tired legs/feet
  • gently stretches the backs of the legs

Plus this is my go-to pose for relieving jet lag. I’ve flown from the U.S. to Asia and back many times and have had virtually no jet lag. I simply do legs up the wall as soon as I can once I’ve gotten off the plane – and each morning for 5-15 minutes.

You can hold this pose as long as you’d like. Five to fifteen minutes is a good length of time, but you’ll know when you need more or when you’ve had enough. If the backs of your legs are tight, walk your sit bones further away from the wall. If you have more flexibility, your tailbone can touch the wall.

Enjoy this healing pose.



audio meditation to anchor the mind

Welcome to Day 4 of my free 21 Day Yoga Challenge. I’ve included a 9 minute audio meditation that you can use in your practice to settle and anchor the mind. This meditation uses a pranayama (breathing practice) with a kumbhaka (a pause in breathing).

Today, the pause on the inhale will represent what you’d like to bring more of into your life, what brings you joy. During your meditation, you can set an intention around this idea. In more general terms, a pause during the inhale helps bring more prana or energy to the body. So if you are sleepy, you can use the pause on the inhale to wake you up.

By contrast, the association that we’ll use today for the pause on the exhale is the ability to surrender or let go. Set an intention for something that you are ready to let go of, such as a relationship that no longer works, a pain in the body, etc. In more general terms, a pause on the exhale is calming for the body and mind, so that’s a perfect practice to do to help you get to sleep or to relieve anxiety.

Let me know how you like this and how it works for you.



living an authentic life

namasteWhy, when we know that there’s no such thing as perfect, do most of us spend an incredible amount of time and energy trying to be everything to everyone? Is it that we really admire perfection? No – the truth is that we are actually drawn to people who are real and down-to-earth. We love authenticity and we know that life is messy and imperfect. – Brene Brown

Welcome to Day 3 of my 21 Day Yoga Challenge. For those of you who are new to my 21 Day Yoga Challenge, to participate in this free challenge, you simply commit to practicing at least 10 minutes of yoga a day and 10 minutes of meditation a day. My vlog (video blog) has over a hundred meditations and asana videos. Search key words on the side bar if you need ideas for your practice.

Today’s Suggested Meditation/Reflection

Spend some quiet time today in meditation. Reflect on how you can live a more authentic life. Set an intention to be true to your own personality, spirit and character. Consider the following questions on how you can live more fully in your truth. If you’d like, have a pen and paper handy to record your insights.

  • How am I not being true to myself?
  • How can I align my thoughts, speech, heart and actions?
  • How can I speak my truth in a non-harming way?
  • How do I envision how I’d like to be, yet sabotage or fail to live the way I intend?
  • How can I be more gentle and loving with myself?



Goddess Yoga Pose: for strength, flexibility and authenticity

Welcome to Day 2 of my free 21 Day Yoga Challenge. Today, we’ll focus on variations of Goddess Pose. Before practicing this pose, be sure to do some warm-up poses. If you’d like, you can try my Yoga Flow Warm-up Sequence here.

Goddess Pose is a brilliant pose for the body, mind and spirit. It opens the hips, builds strength in the legs, strengthens the core and increases respiratory ability. It’s a great pose if you have constipation or are on your Moon Cycle. Most importantly, it helps us stand confidently in our authenticity.



Reflection: closing out the old & opening to the possibilities

large butterflyWelcome yoga friends to Day 1 of our 21 Day Yoga Challenge and Happy New Year! This free challenge delivers 21 days of my yoga videos, audio meditations, reflections, healthy recipes and tips for healthy living. By joining me, you make a commitment to practice at least 10 minutes of yoga and 10 minutes of meditation per day. You practice on your own at a time that’s convenient for you. I offer guidance and suggestions. You can think of me as your super-friendly accountability partner.

What happens if you miss a day, a week or 20 days? You forgive yourself, are gentle, let go of the past and start anew. No judgment. No worries.

For those who have been following my video blog (called a vlog) for a while, you know that I offer this 21 Day Yoga Challenge almost every month. But there is a special beauty to starting on January 1.  Winter is the perfect time for reflection and slowing down. And January 1 is the perfect time to recommit to your health and happiness.

Today’s practice is a reflection on letting go of what you no longer need and setting intentions for what you’d like to bring into your life. Get a pen and paper and find some quiet time to reflect on these questions:

New Year’s Day Reflections:

Part 1: Reflecting on 2013

  1. What are you most proud of doing in 2013?
  2. What is the smartest decision you made?
  3. What is the most loving service you performed in 2013?
  4. What is the biggest risk you took?

Part 2: Getting Rid of What You No Longer Need

  1. What would be wise to let go of from 2013? (Unhealthy habits, a relationship that no longer works, worry, an addiction, etc.)
  2. What can I eliminate from my life? Where can I do less? What can I say no to?
  3. What can I surrender to? What can’t I change?
  4. What things have I done to harm myself in 2013?
  5. What is the greatest lesson I learned in 2013?
  6. What is the biggest piece of unfinished business from 2013? What else do I need to do or say to be complete with 2013?
  7. What words sum up and describe my experiences during 2013?

Opening to the Possibilities

  1. What can I do in 2014 to make my life the best it can be?
  2. What do I want from my life in 2014?
  3. What do I want to offer my family, community, work and/or world?
  4. What brings me the most joy? How can I do more of that in 2014?
  5. Who or what am I most committed to serving in 2014?
  6. What advice will I give myself now to help me design a great life in 2014?
  7. What am I looking forward to?
  8. What one word would I like to intend as the theme of 2014?
  9. How can I love myself more?

If you want a fuller practice today, I stole an audio meditation and yoga video from my previous challenges to share with you. The audio meditation is about 8 minutes long. There are no words, just the simple beautiful sound of my chimes. The yoga asana (pose) video is about 14 minutes long and focuses on twists to detox the body. I will offer you a new video on twists later this week, since twists are so important for detox and renewal.

chime audio meditation

detox with twists yoga video

I’ve got some great things lined up for our challenge, so stay tuned.

I wish you an abundance of peace, light and love in 2014.



P.S. Invite your friends to join the FREE 21 Day Yoga Challenge. Ask them to join my blog, here:

nadi shodhana – breath to balance the brain & body

Welcome to Day 21 of our 21 Day Yoga Challenge! Today I suggest that you practice a wonderful pranayama (breathing practice) called Nadi Shodhana (sounds like nad-dee show-DAH-nah). Nadi Shodhana balances the right and left hemispheres of the brain, reducing anxiety and relieving stress. It encourages a sense of calm for the body, mind and spirit.

As with any pranayama, if you start to lose your breath or feel any tension, simply release it and come back to your natural breath. Then you can decide to try it again or leave it for another day.

If you have congestion, you can clear your nostrils with a neti pot, try nadi shodhana with just the nostril that is open, or leave it for another day.

To practice – try this for just a few minutes or up to 15 minutes. Again, resting if you feel any tension. Let the breaths be shorter, nice and easy.

  • Sit in a comfortable position with spine upright.
  • Gently close your left nostril with your ring finger. Inhale through your right nostril. Then close off your right nostril (closing that off with the thumb if you are right-handed) and exhale out through the left nostril. Inhale in through the left and close off the left nostril, exhale out through the right. Over and over. Side to side.

While today is the last day of our challenge, I hope that you have learned some techniques to carry on your practice over the next two months. Our next challenge starts January 1, 2014. Mark your calendar! In the meantime, I’ll still send you plenty of asana videos, audio meditations, recipes and tips for healthy living – probably one every three or four days.

I’ll be busy over the next two months creating:

  • a cookbook with healthy recipes
  • a course on 21 days of meditation
  • a 21 day asana video course

If you are local to me, in the Washington, DC area, I’ve just added eight new yoga and Pilates classes in my new home yoga studio. Check that out here. Classes start next week. I’ll also be teaching private yoga classes. Please call for special pricing and more information: 703-626-8349.

Be well my yoga friends.



P.S. I love your questions and suggestions. Keep it coming!

how the shape of your bones informs your yoga practice

Welcome to Day 20 of our 21 Day Yoga Challenge! I really like this video I created this morning. While it’s not the best shot video, it illustrates why it’s so important to be able to feel your yoga asanas from the inside and make subtle adjustments based on the shape of your own wondrous body.

This is a must-see for yoga teachers and yoga students alike. I’d love to hear your comments.



soothing chime audio meditation

Welcome to Day 17 of our 21 Day Yoga Meditation! I hope that you are making time in your schedule for at least 5 minutes of yoga and at least 5 minutes of meditation a day.

Here’s an audio meditation that I created this morning using my chimes. There are no words – just the sound of the chimes. It’s so relaxing. If you enjoy this, please let me know by “liking” this post or sending me a comment.

I’ve got some great things lined up for the next four days of our challenge, so stay tuned.

I wish you peace, light and love.



variations on bridge pose

Welcome to Day 16 of our 21 Day Yoga Challenge! Today’s video features a few variations on bridge pose including a variation that makes the neck and throat super happy.

There are a plethora of benefits to practicing bridge pose, including:

  • reduces anxiety and stress
  • opens the heart center, allowing you to more easily slip into being compassionate (to yourself or others)
  • massages the organs in the body
  • stretches the quadriceps
  • reduces insomnia
  • feeds the thyroid
  • improves digestion

As you practice today, try bringing something beautiful into your yoga space — your dog, flowers, a candle, etc. Make your space special.

I hope you are enjoying our Challenge. Next up for tomorrow, I’ll send you an audio meditation.



juicing – wellness in a glass!

Welcome everyone to Day 15 of our 21 Day Yoga Challenge! Today’s video has a great recipe for juicing. Wow, I wish you could taste this juice. It’s truly fantastic!

Juicing is like getting a shot in the arm of good health. It delivers micro-nutrients to the body and is so tasty and good for you.

To come up with a recipe, I just look in the refrigerator or on the counter to see what I’ve got in the way of fruits and vegetables. Here’s the wonderful combination that I came up with today:

  • a handful of kale
  • some mint
  • small piece of ginger root
  • 2 apples
  • 1 pear
  • 3 stalks of celery
  • 2 large carrots
  • 1/4 of a cucumber
  • pomegranate seeds

If you want a simple juice recipe, try carrots, celery and apples. That’s a juicing mainstay.



P.S. Look for a new yoga asana video from me tomorrow.

Silent Sunday

autumn in a parkWelcome to Day 13 of our 21 Day Yoga Challenge! Today’s challenge is to cultivate silence into your day. Try to spend at least an hour being silent. That means no cell phone, texting, email, TV or even music. Notice what comes up as you practice. Do you struggle with silence or is it a relief? Does it bring up feelings of sadness or joy? Try to just be with everything that comes up.

If for some reason you can’t practice silence today, put it on your schedule for next Sunday, October 20th.

Enjoy this inspirational poem by Rumi:


Inside this new love, die.
Your way begins on the other side.

Become the sky.
Take an axe to the prison wall.


Walk out like somebody suddenly born into color.

Do it now.
You’re covered with thick cloud.
Slide out the side.

and be quiet. Quietness is the surest sign
that you’ve died.

Your old life was a frantic running
from silence.

The speechless full moon
comes out now.

– Jelaluddin Rumi

I wish you peace, joy and love.



cultivating stillness

still lake

I hear many, many people say that they can’t meditate because their minds are too busy. But meditation isn’t the practice of not having thoughts so much as it is the practice of non-doing. It’s purposefully taking the time to stop physical activity and cultivating stillness – stilling the body and setting the intention to be fully present in what’s agreeable in life as well as what’s disagreeable.

Meditation isn’t something that you either “get” right away or you don’t get at all. It takes effort to cultivate a practice where we aren’t trying to control the outcome or get to a goal.

A lot of people are attached to their lists of things to do – always searching for the next activity – planning, doing, planning, doing.

What would happen to you if surrendered your plans and actions just for a little bit? In your meditation today, watch your thoughts. If and when you have thoughts about the past, simply say the word “past” to yourself and release the thought. If and when you have thoughts of the future (stories, planning, etc.), simply say “future” and gently bring yourself back to your present experience.

In addition to cultivating this stillness by staying in the present during meditation, also try it during the rest of your day.



P.S. Don’t forget tomorrow is “Silent Sunday”. Try to set aside at least one hour or perhaps six hours of silence. Resist the temptation to check Facebook, email, listen to music or the TV. Rest in the silence.

focusing on one pose for your home practice

Welcome to Day 10 of our 21 Day Yoga Challenge! One of the stumbling blocks to developing a consistent yoga home practice is trying to figure out what to do, how to practice, when you are not guided by a teacher. Instead of doing a gaggle of poses, try exploring just one pose, coming in and out of it, trying different variations or a different focus. You can use a yoga asana (pose) book to really concentrate on alignment. Or be more playful and spontaneous by just feeling how subtle changes to the positioning of the body changes the energy and breath in the body.

In today’s video I demonstrate playing with triangle pose, trikonasana. Notice the smile in the video – now that’s yoga. Discover something new, but most importantly have fun.



welcoming silence into your life – introducing Silent Sundays!

Welcome to Day 7 of our 21 Day Yoga Challenge! You’ve made it a third of the way into our challenge. I hope you are carving some time out for yourself and your practice. But there’s no judgement from me if you haven’t. Just try to give to yourself first, so that you have the energy and the right spirit to give to others. Allow yourself to be imperfect in your practice and your life.

Today, I’ll suggest that you spend between 20 minutes and one hour in silence. That means without checking email, Facebook, texts, etc. Please, no TV or music to distract you. Try it, then notice what comes up. Relief? Discomfort? Anxiety? Try to surrender to it all.

Silence is particularly difficult for those who talk too much. Consider how you communicate and how much of it is meaningful to you. It’s a good time to reserve your energy.

I used to make every Sunday a day of silence. I loved it! I also thought it would be great to start that practice again with some of my practice buddies…you! So let’s make Sunday, October 13 and Sunday, October 20 Silent Sundays. If you’d like to dedicate all day to silence, that’s wonderful. If that seems too daunting, try setting a goal for one to six hours.

Are you in?



meditating with great thought leaders

Welcome to Day 6 our 21 Day Yoga Challenge! I hope you love this audio meditation, Meditating With Great Thought Leaders. Consider who inspires you – perhaps great thought leaders from the past, your grandmother or a wise friend. Imagine being surrounded during your meditation today by people who share a message of hope, peace and love.

The following audio meditation is about five minutes long, but you can take as much time as you like listening for a message or surrendering a problem in your life.




short yoga flow video for the hips

Welcome to Day 5 of our 21 Day Yoga Challenge!

Today’s video is an eight minute yoga flow sequence for opening the hips. I like to teach this sequence at the beginning of a longer yoga class. You could use this sequence as your warm-up or as your entire practice today.



Yoga for Your Moon Cycle, back and hip-opening sequence

Hi, fabulous yoga friends!

I’ve designed today’s video to ease cramps and any menstrual pain, but is also a wonderful hip and back-opening practice for just about anyone. Here are the five poses that I’ve featured:

  1. diamond pose – with a forward fold and rounded back
  2. wide-legged pose – with a forward fold
  3. butterfly pose – optional rocking side to side, then opening the heart
  4. wide-legged child’s pose
  5. laying over a rolled blanket on to the belly

When you practice yoga on your “moon cycle” (menstrual cycle), keep your practice easy and short, especially during the first day or two. Some of us in the yoga world call it the moon cycle, because in yoga the sun represents masculine energy and the moon is the feminine energy. Think of feminine energy as being more receptive, less active, gentler and cooler. Of course, we all have both feminine and masculine energy. Sometimes one is more dominant than the other.

Enjoy your practice today and be well.



Yoga Flow Warm-up Sequence – Day 1 of 21 Day Yoga Challenge

Welcome to Day 1 of our 21 Day Yoga Challenge. Today’s video is an eight-minute yoga flow sequence that you can do as a short practice or as a warm-up for a longer practice. It’s great for both beginner and seasoned yogis.

Our 21 Day Yoga Challenge is a way to incorporate more wellness into our lives by practicing yoga asana, meditation and mindfulness each day. Try not to judge yourself if you miss some days of the challenge. On the other hand, try to build your practice with consistency. It’s often better to do a short yoga or meditation practice each day, then only meditate or practice yoga once a week. If you don’t have a home meditation and asana practice, then start small. That’s why I suggest committing to something manageable, such as 5 minutes of yoga and 5 minutes of meditation. Just get on the mat each day.

I take requests for my yoga videos. So if you have something you are looking for, let me know. 🙂

Be well, my friends.