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.



attention and intention

Welcome to Day 3 of our 21 Day Yoga Challenge. Today’s suggestion for your asana (pose) practice is to reflect on your intentions with yoga and to focus your practice with attention.


  • Consider your overall intentions for practicing yoga. Sometimes yoga students are drawn to a type of practice that feeds their current energies, instead of cultivating what they may need the most. For instance, highly driven, go-go-go people can be drawn to practicing yoga the same way – always wanting to achieve, constantly measuring their “success”. That’s why it’s good for highly ambitious students to slow down. Students that need a soft kick in the bum to get motivated can benefit from a more fiery practice. Consider what you might need the most compared to what you like the best.
  • Pause and take a moment at the beginning of your practice to notice how you feel today and what you need. Set an intention for how you’d like to feel. Then follow that intention throughout your practice today.


  • When we have a single intent for the body, mind and spirit, we can cultivate greater concentration – both during practice and in our everyday lives. Our busy minds need an anchor. See if you can more fully surrender to your practice. Don’t stop to check your cell phone or give attention to other distractions. Set a timer if you need to and keep practicing until the timer goes off.
  • Once you come into a pose, find one point of focus and let your mind rest. For instance, if you are practicing triangle pose, try looking down at your big toe like it’s the most fascinating thing you’ve seen all day. Stay gazing at your toe for a minute or two. It’s hard to do, because we are always so distracted. As the eyes look away, the mind searches for something new.

Above all, enjoy your practice. Let your practice be something that you look forward to, not just another thing that you need to do today.

I wish you peace and joy!



Day 11 – the power of intention

thailand waterfall Many of us carry around a big, fat, ugly weight called the belief that life is hard. We expect certain things to be hard. Making money is hard. That project that we have to get done today – wow, that’s gonna be hard and it’s going to take a LOT of time. Finding good friends or a love relationship – now that is hard. It’s going to be really hard, if not impossible, to get through everything that you have to get done today.…That’s your deep-seated beliefs talking anyway.

Do yourself a favor: Today set an intention, for whatever your goal is, that accomplishing it is going to be easy. It’s not going to take very much time. You don’t even need to work to have money appear. Friendships and love are in abundance and are easy to have and maintain. Get the point?

If for no other reason, setting positive intentions help us rewrite the negative scripts for which we are usually unconscious.

Try listening for the subtle beliefs that play in the background of your mind. If they help, let them play. If they hurt, change the channel.