The last day I spent in Bali, I returned to one of the temple’s we had visited and toured earlier in the week, on my recent yoga retreat. I was so grateful to be able to take some extra time and soak up this beautiful place. Sometimes you have to sit in a place for a while to experience it, take a few deep breaths, do a little yoga practice. Whenever I am shooting yoga pictures I always think of my teacher, Dharma Mittra, shooting the pics for the 908 Asanas poster. Dharma shot so many pics for the poster and he only used the ones where he felt like he wasn’t attached to the results. That’s hard to do when you know you are being photographed. Forget the photographer. Forget about the pose. Settle into stillness. Find peace. Breathe into it. Try to find that perfect balance, where the light is moving through you. I offer my practice. No me and no you. No expectations. I breathe into this moment. I surrender to this moment, right here and right now.Read More
Get out of your comfort zone! No one in the history of the world ever said... I never challenged myself, always stayed in my comfort zone, and when things got intense, I avoided them and often ran away and hid under the bed, and I’ve lived a very fulfilling life, and I think I achieved my full potential...
You know all the good stuff happens when you are vulnerable, when it’s intense, when you are out of your comfort zone. So, you’ve got to override that voice that keeps telling you to get back in your comfort zone. The yogis know that if you feel vulnerable, you’re in the right place. If you are afraid and there’s some resistance, you’re in the right place. You’re job is to dance with the fear, push through the resistance, and go there. Show up for yourself. Courage in yoga isn’t about doing some fancy pose. It’s about sitting in the fire and letting it burn. The hotter the fire, the sharper the knife. The stronger you are, the more intensity you will be able to handle, the more vulnerable you will be able to be. Are you ready to feel vulnerable? Are you ready for the temperature to rise? Are you ready to get on your mat and get to know your Self?
Get off the roller coaster! Peace of mind doesn’t come from looking out. Happiness in the world is fleeting. Satisfaction is short lived. The yogis know that lasting peace comes from looking within. When you experience your Self in the stillness, when the mind is quiet, then you don’t want to go anywhere or do anything else. You are content, happy, right here, right now. You feel love and compassion for others and a connection to everything and everyone. Get off the roller coaster. Take the journey inward. Find peace.Read More
Hanuman is the symbol of perfect balance and also represents the bridge to the Ultimate Reality, the experience of the true Nature of your Self, and through that experience, your connection to the Universe.
This picture was shot in one of the Temples in the jungle in Bali. It’s hard to see it in the picture but I’m doing the pose on this small grass walkway that is separating two rice fields. The walkway is pretty narrow. The field on this side is just a short drop into the mud, but still, into the mud. The field on the other side is about ten feet lower. A long drop into the mud! I managed to find balance and not drop into the mud, but there was a pretty high probability that was going to be the end result of getting these shots. Lol 😂. See you on your mat!Read More
Practicing in a Hindu temple, deep in the jungle, in Bali!
What has your yoga practice helped you learn about yourself? What has been revealed? What dark part of you did yoga help you shine some light on? What part of you has been disconnected?
You are the doctor and the patient!
One of the things I talked about a lot on our retreat to Bali was the difference between practicing yoga and just doing yoga exercise.
A new student in class yesterday, in Woodland Hills, said to me after class that she finally understood yoga for the first time. She used to think it was boring but after being encouraged to practice yoga and focus on quieting the mind, she said to me, “It’s really not boring at all is it? It’s just not about getting all sweaty and raising your heart rate. There’s a lot more going on here. I wish I could record your voice.” You know you need to get to the intensity. You know you need to get to the discomfort. How quickly can you get past the fear and resistance and go into the fire? The mind and the ego tell you to run away, avoid it, distract yourself, whatever you do, don’t go into the fire! It’s uncomfortable. It’s going to be hard. It’s not going to feel good.
We started our practice with lots of pranayama today! And before that we even did some simple breath work. This was our last class together on the retreat. This class was in honor of my teacher, Dharma Mittra, and modeled after his Maha Sadhana practice. These classes offer what Dharma calls the "best of the best", with a sampling of different yoga practices. Breaking down how you are breathing can bring into focus areas where you are creating tension and magnify things you are doing that are making it harder for you to breath. These patterns of tension and things you are doing that are inhibiting the breath need to be undone and let go of before you can make progress in your yoga practice.Read More
Fire ceremony and cleansing ritual on our retreat to Bali. We always do a variation of this ceremony on my yoga retreats. First, we do some journal writing exercises, and then boil things down to one thing we are ready to let go of once the retreat is over. And then we condense that down to just one word. This word gets written down on a piece of paper and gets burned in the fire as part of the ceremony and cleansing ritual. These ceremonies aren't always fun. They aren't always the "feel good" moments on the retreat. Yoga isn't always about feel good moments. You've gotta go through your stuff to get to the other side. The fire ceremony and cleansing ritual offers another opportunity to dig deep and take a look at old patterns, to shine the light on some darker areas, and then to set an intention to let go of this old pattern that isn't serving you. Often times, these ceremonies are uncomfortable. They make you feel vulnerable. They can be confrontational. They make you look at something about yourself or about how you're living your life that you may not want to look at yet. That's the point. This is yoga. Getting out of your comfort zone is your yoga practice. Being vulnerable is your yoga practice. Yoga isn't all about rainbows and unicorns, and neither is going on yoga retreat. Your yoga practice at times will be confrontational. It will challenge you. It should challenge you. Yoga is intimate. It's vulnerable. It's profound work. It's not always about being happy and smiling, or, checking out, listening to music, and distracting yourself. What are you ready to let go of? What are you ready to burn off in the fire? What pattern are you done with that isn't serving you anymore?Read More
Journal writing after class!
1. What are your favorite parts of your yoga practice? What parts of the practice are the easiest for you? What poses do you like? What poses are you good at doing?
2. What are the most challenging parts of your yoga practice? What are the hardest poses? What parts of the practice do you dislike the most?
3. Your teachers are the challenging parts of the practice. Your teachers are the poses you don't like. Your teachers are the poses that are hard for you to do.
4. What are these challenging parts of the practice teaching you about your practice?
5. What are your favorite things to do? What parts of your life are going really well? Who are the people in your life who you really like? What parts of your life are easy?
6. What parts of your life do you not like? What parts of your life are not going well? Who are the confrontational people in your life?
7. What are these confrontational people in your life teaching you about yourself? What are the challenging things in your life teaching you about yourself?
The challenging parts of your yoga practice will teach you the most about how you are out of balance. The confrontational people in your life will teach you the most about yourself. Look closely at the things that are hard for you to do. Look closely at the people who challenge you. What are you learning about yourself?
Yoga is a contradiction. It is two opposites coming together. It is movement and stillness. It is concentration and surrender, at the same time. Yoga is a journey from darkness to light. The journey leads you back to right here and right now. Yoga is stillness and movement, coming together. Yoga is the journey to the center of your Self, over and over again. Yoga says make an effort, to surrender and let go. It is the space between the breath, between this and that, where there is no inhale or exhale, no up or down, no left or right. Yoga is the journey towards the light, and the realization that you are the light. It is the realization that you are the wave in the ocean, and you are the ocean. Yoga is a contradiction.Read More
We started the morning with just sun salutations, a long savasana, and then meditation. Sometimes that's enough. My teacher's would say if you don't have time for a full practice, do some sun salutations. The sun salutation practice is a gratitude practice. Thank you to the sun. Thank you for this day. Thank you for this moment. Thank you for this life. You can choose what to focus on today. You can choose what to give your energy to. You can choose who to be around. Focus on the positive. Focus on the things you are grateful for in your life. Build on them. Shift your perspective.Read More
It's 5:00am. I'm practicing on the roof at Soulshine. The sun starts coming up and I have this spectacular view overlooking the rice fields. I stop my practice for a minute to catch a picture. It's beautiful. I want to soak it up and hold onto this moment. I'm so grateful to be here. I'm so grateful for this morning and this day ahead. Without my yoga practice I would miss these moments. I would literally miss some of them because I'd be in bed sleeping. I'd miss others because I'd be moving too fast. I'd miss others because I'd be caught up in the noise in my head. Yoga helps you slow down. If you slow down enough you will find stillness. In the stillness you experience your inner light. In the stillness you change your relationship to your Self. This changes your relationship to everyone and everything around you. I'm so grateful to be right here, right now.Read More
I talked a lot about cleansing on our yoga retreat this past week. This is such a big part of our yoga practice. Bringing our stuff to the surface, looking at it, and letting it go.
What are you holding onto right now that isn't serving you? What are you ready to let go of? What pattern, or old habit, do you want to leave behind? One of the excursions we did this past week on the retreat took us to a temple in Ubud, where we got to participate in a cleansing ritual. At each statue in the pool, we were instructed to stop and make an offering. Then we splashed water on our face three times, over our head three times, and were encouraged to go under the water and let it run over our head and body. It was a really great experience. We often use symbols and rituals in yoga to help us draw a connection between the microcosm and the macrocosm and sometimes to help us bring together our inner and outer world. This cleansing ritual, in which we are literally cleansing the body, can help us to connect to the deeper cleansing we need to do in order to go inward and connect with the deepest part of ourselves. In Tantra, you are the individual wave, embodied consciousness, and you are simply the water in the ocean, connected to the entire Universe.
Deep hip opening practice! Digging into some of that tension, bringing it to the surface, and letting it go! How quickly can you get passed the fear and resistance and go to the pain. Sit in that intensity. Feel that sensation. Let your stuff bubble to the surface. Look at it. Stay present. Don't distract yourself! Surrender. Let it go. Take the journey inward to the center of your Self. Stop running away. Yoga is about getting into deeper relationship with your Self. This is deep and profound work. It's not easy and it's not always fun. You've got to really show up for yourself. A spiritual practice is about vulnerability and intimacy and connection. It's not fake and phony and flowery and you don't get there by avoiding things. This practice is real and often raw and confrontational. If anybody is selling you rainbows and unicorns run away as fast as you can!Read More
Powerful opening circle ceremony! I've been leading these ceremonies for a long time and I think they are always so profound. We are losing spaces in our modern world where we are really being seen and heard, and we aren't encouraged enough to hold the spaces for others and really see them and listen to them share their story. Make space for someone in your life. Sit down with them. Look at them. Listen to them. It's time for us all to get a little more vulnerable with each other and to get a little more intimate with each other.Read More
I was talking today before my event about the difference between practicing yoga and doing yoga exercise...
There's nothing wrong with a class that is simply a yoga exercise class but it's very different than a yoga class. The goal of yoga is to quiet the mind. In stillness, we have the opportunity to experience the deepest aspect of who we are. Yoga is really answering the question: Who am I?
So, if the goal is to quiet the mind? How do we do that? How do you quiet your mind?Read More
I have been talking in class this week about the need to practice regularly…
We need to practice regularly. It is like brushing your teeth. It’s like scrubbing your mind. It’s not enough to just brush your teeth once a month.
Really fun class this morning at Westlake Village Equinox! Change your relationship to your Self and your relationship to everything else changes. This is why yoga has such a profound impact on your life. Your yoga mat is the microcosm. What if instead of fighting with the pose you breathed into it? What if instead of fighting through your life you breathed into it? It was good to see you this morning, everyone! Namaste.Read More
Early morning practice this morning! Up before the sunrise. Got to watch the sun come up on my walk to the studio to teach class after I was finished. Really nice practice. It's very peaceful here. These are some of my favorite moments. On my mat, alone, quiet, moving with my breath, stretching, opening up, finding balance, finding peace. And then savoring the feeling after I'm finished. Coming back into the world, awake, alive, aware, present, right here, right now. Why do I get on my mat every morning? Because it helps me to be right here and right now. Grateful for this beautiful start to this day! Thank you, Cabo San Lucas, for the beautiful sunrise this morning. Namaste.Read More
When we are identifying with the ego we often judge others very harshly. We place expectations on people. We hold the world up to a very high standard and we punish those who don't meet that standard. The irony is that, when we are doing this, we often don't hold ourselves up to the same standard. When we identify with the ego, we want everyone else to change, and the world to change around us. We don't want to change ourselves at all, yet, often, we are the ones who need to change the most. When we are filled with judgment of others, we aren't really very far along on our path. Shine the light on yourself. Change yourself and your relationship to the world. If you find yourself judging and criticizing other people, know that this is not helping you on your journey. You're not only NOT helping the people you are judging, who would benefit far more from your compassion and kindness, but you aren't helping YOURSELF either.Read More