09/15/2014 § Leave a comment
Tonight I’m taking a break from my social media fast to share with you a program that will be starting at Samyama Yoga Center in Midtown, Palo Alto on Tuesday 7 October.
If you feel the calling to become a yoga teacher or if you want to immerse yourself in pure and true yoga study then you’ll want to join us for The Dharma Path. The Dharma Path is an 8-week, 200-hour Yoga Alliance sanctioned course. With the core curriculum being written and taught by John Berg with support from Natalie D’Onofrio, Hillary Easom, Lindsey Armien, Devin Begley, Louis Jackson, Anirudh Shastri, this comprehensive and intensive course will strengthen the relationship you have with your practice whether yours is a teaching path or not. I’ll be there, too, humbled and honored to be assisting John with asana and methodology.
Honestly? The Dharma Path is not for the faint hearted. John has created a teacher-training program filled with compassion, light and humor but one, too, that will challenge and call us to make a clear commitment to ourselves and to our practice.
I’m ready to make that commitment. Are you?
You can find out more by clicking here or by emailing our Program Director at firstname.lastname@example.org.
07/18/2014 § Leave a comment
I love grey sky mornings. I love blue sky mornings, too, but there’s something about grey mornings – at least during the Bay Area summer – that are especially nice. Wrapping my hands around a mug of coffee feels different on a grey sky morning. It feels comforting and somehow warms me more than it might on those days when the world is shimmering with clear light.
The pace of a grey sky morning is different, too. Life – the same frenetic full life that was bright and busy yesterday – rests easy through dawn and then breathes itself awake. Muted, soft and lazy yet full of hope and holding the promise of a blue sky afternoon.
On some mornings the shift from grey to blue goes by almost unnoticed. On other mornings the sun burns through the thick cloud fast and hot like a torch.
But that’s what change is like, isn’t it? Sometimes it hangs gently around us until we’re ready to notice. And at other times it’s unexpected. It’s speed and ferocity with which it hits is blinding.
The way things change has been on my mind this week. Especially today. We have traveled more than halfway through our journey around the sun and it seems that the first half of this year has been, for me, a constant teaching aboutaccepting change. Not the small moment-by-moment changes that each breath of life brings but the big rock em’ sock em’ changes.
I want to write that some of the changes in my life were exquisite and others filled with grief. But that’s what we do, isn’t it? We love to assign qualities to change: good, bad, sudden, unexpected. But with our need to name change we forget that names offer our mutable circumstances a potency that can direct our emotional state and determine how we look at what simply is and always will be the movement of our lives.
One of my instructors at Niroga Institute, where I’m enrolled in the yoga therapy teacher-training course, spoke of the simplicity of being neutral. Her words have stayed with me.
Change is here. Always. If we don’t notice change in this breath we might in the next or in the breath after that. Change is our one constant. And as it is we may as well sit in the middle of it free of judgment, fear and craving. Neutral. Only in that basic state will we see the purity of change. Only in that basic state will our instincts know if we’re waking a grey sky morning, a blue sky morning or a brand new morning.
06/21/2014 § Leave a comment
I arrived in the Bay Area a few days after Mount St. Helens erupted, in May of 1980. That first summer was a rough one and there were times I thought about returning to Nebraska, where I’d just graduated from Doane College with a degree in art and education. I thought about running back home to Pennsylvania, too, even though I knew there was nothing there for me.
But I didn’t.
Instead, I worked my way from a hostess at The Good Earth in Santa Clara to a teacher’s assistant at Lakewood Elementary School in Sunnyvale. For a time I directed an after-school extended day care program but I left that job when I began work as an artists’ model. That odd job – sitting still while a room full of painters or drawers or sculptors fashioned my likeness with paint or charcoal or clay – introduced me to a new way of being in the world. Until then I’d felt a bit lost and unsure of who I was and who I was meant to be. But my new friends, most of whom were fellow artists and models, had a way of shaking off any expectations the world held. They walked less certain paths in life. Paths littered with stumbling uncertainty and bold adventure.
One new friend, a fellow model, invited me to join her for a Friday morning yoga class at the only yoga studio in town, a little Iyengar studio on Cowper Avenue. That was sometime around 1985. I didn’t know it then but two decades later I would be the one teaching that very same Friday morning class.
But on Friday, June 27th I will teach my last Friday class at California Yoga Center. My class ends at 10:00 AM.
When the news first broke four months ago I held my own grief as well as the grief of my students. Change is difficult. Order in a chaotic life – knowing that at Friday’s from 9 to 10 AM I was teaching at CYC – was easy. But now what were we going to do?
I have three more classes to teach at CYC – this next week, a final Yin class on Monday evening at 7:30 and then my last two hatha classes on Tuesday and Friday at 9:00 in the morning. I will miss the studio very much. It is where I began my practice and where I began to consider teaching.
But change is inevitable and the truth is that we will move on. Some students will find new teachers and new studios. Others will find my new classes.
Beginning the week of June 30th I’ll be teaching all of my community classes at Samyama Yoga Center at 2995 Middlefield Road (next to the Winter Palace) in Midtown, Palo Alto. Here’s my new schedule:
Monday 8:15-9:15 AM – Shakti Reset: Slow Flow in the main studio
Tuesday 7:00-8:15 PM – Pure Yin in the main studio
Wednesday 8:15-9:15 AM – Shakti Reset: Slow Flow in the main studio
Friday 1:30-3:15 PM – Pure Yin in the main studio
Saturday 4:00-5:30 PM – Slow Flow in the main studio
One of my yin students left a note for me in my sign in notebook. He wrote,
06/02/2014 § 1 Comment
I’m inclined to play it all humble. To hide my light under a bushel, blushing and mumbling “What? Little ol’ me?” But why? How often am I going to win an award for writing? Yeah. You read that right. I won an award. For writing!
My essay, Memories are Made of This, was one among several essays presented First Place Awards from the San Francisco Peninsula Press Club.
You can read the essay here.
04/19/2014 § 1 Comment
It the middle of March it rained for two days. In fact, both days were gully washers. But even with four feet of new snow in the mountains, it won’t be enough. We need another good few weeks of wet weather to make a difference in the drought conditions in Northern California. And so, despite this being our third dry winter, last month’s temporary need for umbrellas and galoshes will convince many to relax. That water conservation isn’t urgent. It rained, didn’t it? There is no need for worry.
Unfortunately, their complacency is misplaced.
Do you have any idea how many gallons of water per day your household uses? When my utility bill arrives I never look beyond the amount of money I owe. If I did I might learn a bit about my water habits.
I have a friend whose family of four uses ninety-nine gallons of water per day. This seemed an astronomical amount until I saw a copy of his water bill and read that his neighbors use, on average, one hundred and seventy-four gallons of water per day. But even that number is impressive. The Environmental Protection Agency estimates that the average family of four can use up to FOUR HUNDRED gallons of water per day. And most of that water is used indoors.
Where does all that water go?
Conventional shower heads flow at five gallons per minute. That’s fifty gallons down the drain in one ten-minute shower. Install a low-flow shower head and cut your shower time in half and you’ll save twenty-five gallons of water.
Do you leave the water running while you brush your teeth? While you shave? Say goodbye to another two gallons. Turn the tap water off while you brush and install an aerator to save even more.
In the 1980’s we were fond of saying, “If it’s yellow, it’s mellow.” Toilet flushing was taboo – and for good reason. Each flush washes, on average, another five gallons down the drain.
Committing to a mindfulness practice of water conservation shouldn’t be limited to periods of drought. We should always be aware of how we use natural resources. The water we drink, the air we breathe, the lands we plow and cultivate are gifts. I think that we forget how precious these gifts are.
Even thinking of them as gifts is wrong. They are a part of us. When we abuse and misuse our resources, we are abusing and misusing our selves.
I asked friends if they had a favorite way of conserving water. The suggestions I received varied from the humorous (drink more beer) to the extreme (become a vegan). And then there were the suggestions that we all know. Some are simple. Others require more work. Some are practical. Others require us to create new habits and new ways of being in the world:
- Replace lawn with drought resistant plants
- Wait for full loads before doing laundry
- Fill the dish washer instead of washing by hand
- Collect grey water (from showers and dishwashing) to flush the toilet
- Use a broom instead of a hose to clean your sidewalk
According to the Santa Clara County Water District, if we each saved twenty gallons of water per day we would save over thirteen billion gallons of water per year. Do we have it in us to be that mindful? To remain that aware?
I think we do.
If you want more water saving tips go to the SCWD website save20gallons.org.