This blog includes reflections, creative work and resources. It is a glimpse of one person's journey within the realm of inquiry, experience with the human body and spirit. Look for ideas rather than answers. No claims are made. Perfection is not implied. I write as inspired to do so. Take what works for you, leave the rest. If you share anything from this blog, either verbally or in writing, please do your best to give credit where credit is due. Thank you for visiting.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Gentle, Mindful Yoga Instruction in the Woods - Monday 1/9/12 at 10am

In addition to movement and breath I will go over Dharana (concentration), particularly some of the various tools used in the practice.  A foundation in concentration opens consciousness to meditative states.  The floor is open for show & tell so if you have a something you work with please share.  We will practice the candle exercise as the last part of class.  I'll bring a hurricane lamp in case it's windy.


Reiki scheduling is open again

Please let me know if you are interested in scheduling a free Reiki session as I am still looking for opportunities to practice prior to the Reiki Master training. 

Yamuna Workshop

Last night was the 2 hour Yamuna Body Rolling workshop led by Julie, Angela Phillips' sister-in-law (Tench's sister).  Julie Phillips is involved with a community of teachers and students of the modality in Athens, GA.  I look forward to continuing to explore the ball as a new tool to open skeletal and soft tissue space, most particularly acquiring the set of Yamuna balls designed for face & jaw work as I deal with TMJD. 

Monday, December 26, 2011

Wynn Paris Winter Solstice

The Winter Solstice event last Wednesday at The Space Above was beautiful.  It began as intervals of chanting with sun salutation in-between.  Eventually the sun salutation sequences became quite modified for most participants, many following their own rhythm and inspiration.  The chanting portions included dancing too. By the end the chanting joined sun salutation.  Wynn Paris is a wonderful musician and leader.  His voice is wholesome and comforting.  If you ever have the opportunity to participate in anything he leads I recommend it!

Here is the link to his website:


Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Free Reiki sessions on hold until the new year

My home is a little turned upside down with a carpentry project.  Hopefully everything will be completed by the new year so I can offer Reiki sessions again.  As for the Reiki Level III "attunement" with Sandy Bunch is not scheduled yet but surely we'll chose a date after the holidays. 

Individual Practice in the Park with Intermittent Readings from 3 Books

Something new to try...

Monday, December 26th - 10am in the Woods:  individual practice with intermittent readings from Vanda Scaravelli's book Awakening the Spine.  From her lineage:  Sandra Sabatini's words found in Breath: The Essence of Yoga and the work of Victor Van Kooten & Angela Farmer found in Victor's books. 

Like the usual mysore/individual sessions participants will enter, practice and leave independently in silence.  I will remain until the last person leaves. 

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Two upcoming events

The last 2 Wednesdays of December offer 2 interesting opportunities:  Solstice Kirtanasana at The Space Above 12/21 & Yamuna workshop at Angela Phillips Yoga Studio 12/28.  

Change Yoga In The Woods to 10am for the winter?

In order to benefit from more sunshine what do you think of switching to 10am until the month of March? 

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Gentle, Mindful Yoga in the Woods - 12/12 & 12/19 at 9am

The weather calls for sun but chilly temperatures for tomorrow so if you're coming to class wear layers!  Let's hope our little sand bowl holds the heat of the sun as it usually does.  I'll be there but understand if it is too cold for you.  We'll be moving to keep warm.  Consider bringing a blanket for savasana and seated meditation.  It's better to schlep extra stuff than to be uncomfortable. 

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Some things remain beautiful throughout all stages

Inspired by (but not even coming close to) Andy Goldsworthy

It's like writing a message in the sand.  This was made in fall of '09 in the spot where we have Gentle Yoga in the Woods.  It was an assignment for the 52-week photo group I was involved in.  Fun! 

Expressive Movement-Asana Fusion

In leading weekly yoga sessions for 2 women who both love to move and dance I discovered a delightfully feminine way to approach practice.  In the expressive movement-asana fusion sessions we usually begin in stillness to center, from there introducing the music as a warm-up then progressing through themes according to the style of music.  Incorporated with the playing of the music I provide verbal cues often based in such approaches as the 5-element theory, yin-yang theory, Gabrielle Roth's 5 Rhythms and yogic theory of energetics. The point is to lead into the body, breath and grounding whether moving slowly or faster and around the room a bit.  What transpires is an evolution, quite spontaneously, into asana.  A very feminine way in!  I watch for this in the student's body and from there cue more for asana, turning the focus away from the rhythm of the music and into the body, eventually turning the music to something only in the background or off completely.

As I have not moved everything over to iPod form yet and teach in people's homes using their equipment I rely on CD's.  I've really become familiar with the music I have on CD and formed a system of being able to pull the desired sound or essence intuition called for.  The photo above provides a glimpse into the notebook used to log CD's, tracks and the general category it falls into.  Also included in the photo is a sample of the notation inside the CD case referring to a particularly inspiring piece of music. 

Unusual music that does not provoke memories for the student or lyric-less tracks or world music in other languages is preferred.  Sometimes the student is bi-lingual and understands the lyrics.  And with the world as small as it is there is so much available in very unique-to-the-ear languages which is good for the mind!  When I attend a performance with great music or hear a new band or an inspiring movie soundtrack I make an effort to order the CD.  Again, I'm moving the direction of everything being on iPod but there are circumstances where a CD is necessary.

As for formal training in expressive movement I've had some but not much.  In my early 20's I worked in creative arts/recreation therapy and led music & movement.  I've attended some workshops.  I was part of an weekly expressive arts group for about 6 months. 

If the beginning of your practice feels like dry toast consider putting on inspiring music.  Allow it to be an opener.  Roll out your mat and allow the music's rhythm to help you warm into your body and breath.  Eventually you can allow for silence and by then you will be in your own energy.

If you're interested in having me lead this form of movement & asana let me know.

And if you would like a lengthy list of music let me know and I will create a post.  In the meantime I leave you with this delicious piece: 


Turn it up Baby or Daddy-O (whichever applies)! 

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

The Right Brain of Belief & The Left Brain of Practice (not necessarily Belief vs. Practice)

This is a little overview of left-right brain approach and possibly helpful to the beginner.  It is important to know that belief in metaphysics is not necessary in order to benefit from the physical postures of yoga, breathing, sense withdrawal, concentration and meditation.  And, one of the benefits of practice is the increasing ease of watching the mind.  It is insightful to see how the right-brain/left-brain works. 

I have moments of magical thinking, some more fleeting than others.  The right brain is the expressive side, making life sweet, fun and interesting.  Belief allows for the extension of the self into new possibilities, new realms.  The left brain is the practical aspect.  It schedules, weighs and measures results, supports the return to study and contemplation.  

The yogic approach applied to our intention, actions and decisions is often referred to as "art of living".  Using the term "artist" consider a visual artist.  A painter should know the physics and chemistry of their materials and the science of color.  Not only will the finished product stand the test of time but the process of expressing an idea will be more efficient and with the desired result.  Once again, it is about balance.  Balance is often considered an Eastern concept but if you look around it applies over and over again, no matter which Earth hemisphere you live in or religion you observe.

Don't be too quick to say you are perfectly logical.  If you notice this tendency I will refer you to the work of the behavioral economist Dan Ariely, author of Predictably Irrational (2008) and The Upside of Irrationality (2010). I may be open to a few "far-out" ideas but when it boils down to some lifestyle choices I see myself far more rational than the mainstream (which is more suitable to another post, if not a whole different blog entirely). And who is to say the perceived spirit of a deceased loved one is any less significant if it is simply a projection from our own heart and memory bank?

Regardless of which tendency you lean toward consider opening to your opposite.  Belief may bring you someplace new.  Experiencing the results of practice is just as beneficial.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Personal Reflection Questions Regarding Practice

Below is a form I created within the first few years of teaching.  I used to pass it out as a take-home or in-class inquiry exercise. Isn't it helpful to know why we are doing something and what our personal aim is?


Definition of Intention:  plan of action; design.  An aim that guides action; object.

Personal Reflection Questions:
Please review and answer the following questions.  We will follow up with discussion so if an answer does not come easily leave it blank.

What was the initial inspiration to practice yoga or what aspect or change or result keeps me coming back to yoga?

What asana within my regular range of practice do I find most challenging?

What mindfulness concept is a challenge for me?

Have I been working with a mindfulness concept recently?
Yes, I am working with a concept/ideal/kriya and it is ______________________.
No and the mindfulness concept I wish to cultivate is __________________________________________.
(Please describe what it is if you do not know the specific term.)

Clearly write your intention(s) below.  Use wording that flows for you as you may want to memorize it or write it on post-it notes as a reminder.



The Influence of a Teacher

I read the book Halfway Up The Mountain:  The Error of Premature Claims to Enlightenment soon after it was published in 1999.  At the time I was training in breathwork, bio-energy and hatha yoga.  I recommend the book for anyone who leads a form of meditation, healing or inquiry.  On the flip side, the insights contained in the book are helpful for the student as well so a misguided teaching or incompatible path can be identified before stumbling blocks enter for the student.

It is all too easy for many seekers to turn power over to a teacher as much as it is all too easy for a teacher to absorb the power.  Meditation assists in keeping things neutral so to speak but things can get tricky, especially when unresolved emotional business makes an entrance.  This can create a "blip" on the integrity scale.  Even values shine through.  As I write this post there is the awareness of my innate tendency to be independent, independence being something instilled in childhood, something I value and strive for. [Dare I say to the extent of cynical mistrust of authority?]  

Every teacher, every one I've worked with anyway, brings through a bit of their personality and a bit imprints on what is being taught.  This is a beautiful thing of course!!!  AND... remember this effect.  Even the most in-the-now leader is often presenting how the process works for him/her.  Angela Farmer comes to mind.  I appreciate how she says that's what she does, stating she no longer considers herself a yoga teach per se.

One of my favorite ways to lead the yoga and meditation experience is to schedule the mysore/individual sessions where we come together in silence and each have our own practice.  To me it is a beautiful middle ground of group support and honoring intuition.  Of course instruction has its place and I enjoy it too.  Just like tennis, golf or surfing, there's a time to take lessons from an instructor* and a time to simply play and grow. There is no substitute for personal practice.  

* In-person or through books or videos, etc.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

"Mysore"/Individual Practice in the Park - Tomorrow morning from 9am-?

The weather forecast promises a beautiful morning.

The path is at the end of my street at the north end.  If you want to join us tomorrow let me know by 8:00am.  I will provide the street name, parking details and signs can be placed for you to follow on the trail.  

We enter, practice individually and leave the woods in silence.  Each person leaves when they are ready to do so. I stay until everyone has gone so no one is left alone (except for me briefly).  Come to practice asana, relax in savasana, meditate, read & reflect on something inspiring or write in a journal.  It is a time to be out in the "sand bowls" with safety in numbers*, to turn inward, rely on your own discipline, inner guidance and to enjoy the sand, sun, birds and flora.

* the majority of time the group is made of women - men are welcome to join the group!

Friday, December 2, 2011

Healing Sanctuary Tonight - 12/2 6-8pm

Lesa Leiden and I are looking forward to creating space, sharing and serving tonight at her office at The Healing Fountain at 762 Independence Blvd.