Sunday, April 26, 2009

An offering...

I wrote this love letter a few months ago to a kindred spirit, but I was bewildered to discover not long after writing it that I could have easily been writing to myself. And I re-read it from that perspective and was moved to soft tears. I decided to share it with all of you in hopes that you will compose your own letters of love to yourselves....what a beautiful gift...

Dear Love,
You spend a lot of time encouraging, congratulating, and writing love letters to others, and it's now time for someone else to honor you. The first thing that resonated with me is that your personal mantras are so positive and upbeat. You look for the simple things in life to bring you pleasure. You have an adventurous spirit, appreciating the discovery of new places and new cultures. You connect with others so effortlessly, always focusing on the inner beauty first, while suspending judgment. It's so refreshing to see that your family ties are so incredibly strong. You are selfless, always giving and rarely expecting anything in return. You are passionate about nature and remain respectful, knowing that there is much to learn from the wilderness. You practice yoga, which is just plain sexy. You are athletic and physically strong, and you take care of your body by eating organic foods as much as possible and supporting local farmers. You relish flavors and colors as you eat, not letting the art of good cooking escape your taste buds and tummy. The water is one of your best friends, and you soak, splash, float, plunge, and sink until your heart is content. You obviously adore snow because it's just another form of water: snow, snowstorms, flurries, ice, et al. You can't imagine living anywhere without a rainbow of seasons. You are musically talented, and you are kind enough to share this gift with the rest of us. You often find yourself in situations that give you the opportunity to laugh at yourself, and this goofy sense of humor reflects your confidence and charisma. You create work that brings you incredible freedom, self-expression and beauty. You are a healer in your core, making people whole again with a simple smile. You are grateful, always in tune with all the bountiful blessings in your life. But most importantly, you are real: you allow your inner light to shine for the entire world to see, and I find that to be the most attractive quality from this entire list. I would love to spend time with you and get to know you: push you high on a swing until your toes touch the sky, burn marshmallows at a campfire, water ski in a lake with happy alligators, grill corn muffins, road trip with no destination in mind, pick strawberries and stain our hands bright red, sing you a Grace original, explore the Children's Room at the library, take a walk and pick up pennies off the ground, dance outside in a thunderstorm, laugh hysterically until our bellies hurt…and just share in this thing called life. And even if this is the only moment we have: a moment where I am writing and thinking about you, and you are reading and thinking about me; then I am blessed. And I thank you from my heart center for the beautiful reflection.

Love and hugs,

Monday, April 20, 2009


I love being upside down. I've been known to randomly kick up into a handstand in the middle of the sidewalk on Main Street. When I'm upside down, the world looks different. One of my best friends and I used to tell each other "go stand on your head" when we were in a foul mood. When your head is below your heart, you allow oxygenated blood to cleanse and refresh your brain. Serotonin levels, which are your feel-good chemicals, also increase. And there's just something really thrilling about finding the exact spot of balance where you are floating in the air, stable and strong, toes reaching for the clouds.

But lots of beginners have a lot of fear of inversions, which is perfectly normal. The biggest fear is that you'll fall over and hurt yourself. I remember getting so frustrated each time I would topple to the ground. If I was lucky, I could roll out gracefully. But most of the time, I would just crash to the floor in an awkward sideways thud. I know that I'm not making inversions sound very appetizing here, but the reality is that you probably will fall the first few times you try them, and that's ok. I have some suggestions to help get past those awkward beginning moments...

Build your foundation. Get stronger. I recently learned that the key to a good handstand is not necessarily in your shoulders, but in your ABS (engaging uddiyana bandha, or navel lock) and lifting up OUT of your arms. So I have been working to strengthen my tummy, and I'm starting to feel much lighter when I kick up there. We always warm up for forearm balance (Pincha Mayurasana) with a couple dolphins first, to help strengthen our arms and shoulders.

Practice with a wall. Balancing against a wall is an extremely useful tool to help you build up the strength in the appropriate muscle groups to be able to balance comfortably in inversions. It also helps you eliminate some of the fear because you have something there supporting you. It's kind of like using training wheels when you first learned how to ride a bike. You used them initially to get the feeling and build your confidence, and then you eventually took them off and rode solo!

In my opinion, the more you practice, the less scary inversions will be! It's kind of like my philosophy about being a new yoga teacher...the more I teach, the more comfortable I will get! So pick an empty wall in your house, and every time you walk by that wall, lift yourself up into an inversion and breathe...

One last thing: Be sure to rest in child's pose after practicing inversions to help balance out the blood in your head. I don't want anyone passing out from standing up too quickly!

How do you turn your frown upside down when you're in a funk?

Choose love,

Monday, April 13, 2009


Last week I taught my first "real" class at Yoga Ah. I say "real" because I had already taught one class there during my training, but at that time I was being observed by my teacher and hadn't received my certification yet. This time it felt official.

Just me and the students.

I was terrified.

Sweaty palms. Heart racing. Fight or flight response definitely kicking in.

Rather than focusing on my silly blunders here (I said reach for your big FEET instead of big toe and got some chuckles), I am choosing to share with you some important lessons from this first class experience. My very wise friends have steered the all-too-convincing negativity of the gremlin on my shoulder to a healthier and more self-compassionate direction. Here are their simple--but powerful-- suggestions:

*Be yourself!
*Teach what you know (and you know more than you think you know): it doesn't have to be complicated. Less is more. Creativity will come with time.
*It will become less robotic-feeling and more natural with time.
*Have FUN and enjoy yourself.
*Be kind to yourself.

What lessons have you learned from your "firsts"?

Choose to love yourself, even when it's hard...
...especially when it's hard.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Watch Me Grow

Watch Me Grow
by Mima (Guest Services Dept, Omega 2005)
There's something to be said about
Finding the natural in the uncomfortable
With interactions sparking revelations
In and around monotony
Of the everday
It can be said, life is painful
But here the reality painful or not
Breathtaking. Soul-inspiring. Watch me grow.
If I could give in to my feelings of anger,
Jealousy, lust, love, repulsion. If that is
At all possible--it's here my home, my heart,
My mirror.
I can watch the fire die while in me
It burns alive, and smile, and say,
Watch me grow.
I can break a heart or two and have mine
Broken though find a friend in an
Enemy and hate them with only
Sacred intention. Watch me grow, watch me grow,
Watch me grow.
There's something to be said--in this
World of chaos, dead, or dying, amongst
All the unknowns.
There's something to be said
about finding the natural,
finding the whole.
Standing in
It, living through it, and watching ourselves

Wednesday, April 1, 2009


"The only zen you find on the tops of mountains is the zen you bring up there."
~Robert Pirsig

My Mum, sister Karen, and baby niece Melody flew from NH to OH to visit me this past weekend. It was a delightful whirlwind of baby baths in the kitchen sink, diaper changes, feedings with many, many spoons, and lots and lots of Graeter's ice cream for the grown-ups! It was my niece's first plane ride, and she's only six months old. My first flight was when I was 18, and I chose Paris, France as my destination (daring, yes?). I have loved everything about flying since that first jaunt to Paris: meeting random inspirational people in airports, trying to squeeze into a bathroom stall with a rolling suitcase, take-offs and landings, cocktail napkins with cheesy airline slogans, etc. But my absolute favorite thing is the window of time right after I breeze through security and arrive at my gate and right before my flight starts to board. Those are true moments of zen for me (please note: I always arrive 2 hours early, so this gives me plenty of time to just hang out). The only place I have to be is right where I am. I don't have any responsibilities to distract me like laundry or cleaning. I can just sit back and relax. I often people-watch, and I do a good deal of writing in these moments of presence. The announcements over the loud speaker serve as a lullaby to calm my nervous system. I am usually so jazzed up about flying to wherever I am going that it helps for me to have some down time to pause and reflect on the here and now. We have all experienced these moments at one time or another, and this peace that we discover can be tapped into at any time. The trick is knowing how to access it. I would recommend thinking back to a time when you felt centered and totally in the moment. Connect with your 5 senses to re-create the location, smells, colors, and energy of this moment in your mind. Any time you feel like you need a mini-vacation, you can tap into your inner zen moment without even having to get on a plane!

What are some of your favorite zen moments?

Choose love,