If you can control your breath, you can control your mind.

If you can control your breath, you can control your mind.

One of the things I love about teaching with a translator is how it slows everything down.
Slowly moving with the breath is really where it’s at in a flowing practice. If you can control your breath, you can control your mind.
Let the breath lead the movement and let the breath wrap around the movement. The breath starts and then the movement starts. The movement finishes and then the breath finishes. This way there’s always going to be pauses. There’s always going to be control. Who’s driving your car? You are. Enjoy the dance between the movement and the stillness. Holding these opposites at the same time is the paradox that allows us to have a deeper, transformational experience. Concentrate but also surrender.
Practicing a slow flow that is connected to the breath will help you stay calm and keep you out of the default network of your brain - where it will be hard for you to not react and get caught up in everything that is coming up for you and just trying to process. Think of the four parts of the breath. There’s a little moment of stillness where the inhale meets the exhale, and another little moment of stillness where the exhale meets the inhale.
I love flowing with my students! I always practice a little bit with my students in every class. I find it helps me to connect with the group energy. I also think it reminds the students that I’m just walking the path with them. I’m not on a pedestal. I don’t want to be on a pedestal. We are all just walking home together.

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Zip-lining Dubai!

Zip-lining Dubai!

Here’s an after pic from our zip lining adventure in Dubai! Janet Stone and I decided to go zip lining on our last day in Dubai, after the XYoga Dubai Festival was over. Thank you XDubai for this really fun experience. Thank you Sara Fakhouri for setting this up. It was a blast. I’ve never zip lined lying face down like Superman before. It was pretty exhilarating. And really cool to zip line off a building and fly through the middle of the city.

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Something in the water...

Something in the water...

There’s something in this Dubai water. Feels like I’m just floating and light as a feather! Thanks for the fun play session! Lol.

I posted this picture on social media and some people wondered if it was real. We had so much fun playing and creating this and other pics. The XYoga Dubai Festival had this booth set up with everything rotated 90 degrees, so you could do these really crazy and wild looking asana variations. You were lying down but when you take a picture and rotate the pic 90 degrees it looks like you are defying gravity. Pretty cool!

Either that, or maybe I have more siddhi powers than I often share. Lol.

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Powerful Shiva Meditation - Teaching Us to Replace the Old Patterns

Powerful Shiva Meditation - Teaching Us to Replace the Old Patterns

This was such a powerful Shiva Meditation class on Thursday. Wow! It was the last one I taught this week and several of the students came before. It just gets deeper the more you practice. Consistency is everything.

Whether you want to open your hips, balance in a handstand in the middle of the room, or train your mind to concentrate — what you practice and focus on gets stronger the more you practice. Whatever you feed grows. The opposite is also true. Whatever you starve dies. Focus on the solution. Replace the old patterns that aren’t serving you with new patterns that will lead you in a more positive direction. This is our practice. Over and over and over again.

Thank you to everyone who has come out to practice this week and to the workshops this weekend. It’s been so much fun practicing with you. 

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Deepening Backbends.

Deepening Backbends.

Lots of twisting in our warm up last night led us into some deep backbends.

My teacher, Dharma, always says, “3 is the bare minimum, 7 is better, and 10 is the best.” I usually shoot for 10 rounds of backbending in my own practice, and somewhere between 7-10 rounds of backbends in my classes.

The backbends are energizing! They lift us up! They help us to concentrate! And they also teach us to surrender. All of the intensity in the backbends brings your stuff to the surface — and then you get to practice letting it go.

We held a backbend pose recently with Dharma — when I was practicing with him in New York, for almost 40 breaths. At first, I kept fighting and pushing and resisting — but, finally, I just let go. I was still breathing, still in the pose, but not resisting — and something opened up for me. It took that really long hold for me to work through all that stuff that was coming up, all the fear and resistance and fighting. Sometimes you just have to hold the poses longer than you want to.

I love working with students on the full bow pose with the mama Kuka straps. Great work last night and this morning everyone! Thank you for your practice. Hard to make the transition to the full bow — but if you use the different length straps it’s not such a big jump. Over time you can get there. Slowly, one step at a time — and all is coming.

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It's all unfolding perfectly.

It's all unfolding perfectly.

Our last day of practice together at Kula Yoga this past weekend! Shiva Yoga® Maha Sadhana — honoring our teachers and celebrating our practice. Lots of partner yoga! What a fun afternoon and way to end a long weekend of practice together. Everybody was tired and sore and still brought such a positive attitude and still practiced really hard. So grateful to this group! I find I rarely am feeling “perfect” when I get on my mat. Something is always sore and I’m often tired. Yoga has taught me to show up anyway and do my best. You can move from darkness to light. It’s just a choice. The conditions will never be perfect. Just show up anyway and do your best and don’t worry about the results. Just breathe into whatever comes your way. And have faith that it’s all unfolding perfectly.

 

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Experiencing suffering in order to grow.

Experiencing suffering in order to grow.

This girl had such a big weekend in my intensive at Kula Yoga this past weekend! Look at your King Pigeon — Samantha! Beautiful.  We did so many backbends in my Backbend Workshop on Saturday afternoon. My teacher — Dharma, would be proud of us. Backbends are such great teachers. They are energizing, uplifting, stimulating, and intense — taking us out of our comfort zone and deep into the fire. They teach us about surrendering in the middle of the fire. They teach us about breathing into the discomfort. They teach us to open our heart and to let go of the ego. How quickly can you get past your fear and resistance? It’s not easy being vulnerable. Let go. Let it go. Open up and let go. All of our growth lies out of our comfort zone. One of my favorite definitions of Tapas is — “experiencing suffering in order to grow.” Are you ready to let go of your ego? Are you ready to grow? A lot of people don’t like Backbends because they challenge the ego so much. We develop complicated patterns and ways to avoid being vulnerable. The ego says — I don’t like this, I’m uncomfortable. Be uncomfortable. Be vulnerable. Be authentic. Feel your feelings. Yoga is real and authentic and sometimes painful. Go towards the pain. Don’t avoid it. That pain is a part of you that is disconnected and is trying to reconnect. Pain is how we heal. And the way we sharpen our intellect is by learning the difference between pain that is leading to growth and pain that is leading to injury. So proud of where we went in this Backbend Workshop on Saturday!

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Keep the breath slow and controlled.

Keep the breath slow and controlled.

Krishnamacharya said, “the breath is the Guru and the body is the disciple.” Keep the breath slow and controlled. The yogis would say — if you can control your breath you can control your mind. Think of the breath as leading the movement and wrapping around the movement. If you start the breath and then begin moving and you finish moving and then finish the breath you will never get ahead of yourself. Think of your practice like a dance between movement and stillness. Ujjayi breath is the only pranayama that is safe to practice in any asana. Use the Ujjayi breathing technique to slow your breath down. If the asana and the intensity of the asana helps train the mind to concentrate, the breath can help you to stay calm, surrender, and let go. Breathe into the discomfort you feel in challenging poses and deep stretches. The breath will help you release the tension and let it go. 

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What is yoga practice?

What is yoga practice?

We started our Shiva Yoga 200hr Teacher Training this week at Baja Soul Yoga in Cabo San Lucas! We are off to a great start. This is a really nice group of trainees and future teachers. Here’s some highlights from our first day together. Our first class on Wednesday morning was a big hip opening Shiva Power class. It’s hot here in Cabo and this was a hot and sweaty morning. I had fun practicing with this group and taking them into the fire. Lots of fun variations and peak poses. I gave a Dharma talk about yoga practice to begin our class. What is yoga practice? There’s a big difference between practicing yoga and doing yoga as an exercise. You can practice yoga on and off your mat and you can not practice yoga on and off your mat too. If you want to make use of this technology? If you want to practice yoga? — concentrate, let things get uncomfortable, hold your focus, and don’t distract yourself; stay present, look at the mind, look at your distractions, look at your habits, study yourself, what is being revealed; and let go, surrender, whatever comes up for you, let it go. This is yoga practice. Over and over. Every pose. Every moment. Use the technology. Concentrate, stay present, and surrender. Quiet your mind, and in stillness experience a deeper connection to your Self. This is yoga! We are off to a great start, Yogis! Excited to spend this month with you. Namaste.

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Making a peaceful transition to the next life.

Making a peaceful transition to the next life.

I was talking in class this past week about yoga and the journey of life...

I remember in my training with my teacher, Srivatsa Ramaswami, during a discussion one day, we were talking about yoga not just helping us to find more peace and balance in the present but helping to make the transition easier at the end of this life.

Some of my teacher's are getting older now and they are moving into their old age stage of life and the end of this life is approaching.  My teacher, Mr. Ramaswami, wrote a book called 'The Three Stages of Yoga'.  In the book, he talks a lot about this third stage of yoga as a preparation for the end of this life.

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I surrender to this moment, right here, and right now.

I surrender to this moment, right here, and right now.

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.

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The yogi knows to get passed the fear and resistance as quickly as possible.

The yogi knows to get passed the fear and resistance as quickly as possible.

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. 

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Yoga is a contradiction!

Yoga is a contradiction!

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.

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Are You Practicing Yoga On Your Mat Or Just Doing Yoga Exercise?

Are You Practicing Yoga On Your Mat Or Just Doing Yoga Exercise?

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?

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Let Go of Your Expectations! Just Chop Wood and Carry Water.

Let Go of Your Expectations!  Just Chop Wood and Carry Water.

I suggested to two of my students this morning that I thought they might be ready for a more advanced variation of the pose they were doing. These two students both come to class regularly and are always working hard in their practice. And they are both making a lot of progress too. They just keep showing up and doing the work.  Neither one is that concerned about the results of their practice.  They are living examples of that old saying:  Just chop wood and carry water.

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The Technology of Yoga!

The Technology of Yoga!

The technology of yoga is simple! It doesn't have anything to do with asana. You can be on your mat practicing yoga or off your mat practicing yoga. You can also be on your mat not practicing yoga or off your mat not practicing yoga. It's up to you to use the technology or not.

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What is meditation?

What is meditation?

What is meditation?

This was the first question that I asked in my meditation workshop this past weekend. 

Most of us have heard the word meditation.  You might have a vague understanding of what meditation involves.  I think most people know that meditation is something to do with sitting in stillness for a long period of time.   In order to develop a deeper understanding of this ancient technology it's important that we understand specifics of the practice.  What is the goal of meditation?  Where are we headed in our practice?  What are the tools that use in our practice? 

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Lose Yourself In the Moment

Lose Yourself In the Moment

Lose Yourself in the Moment!

One of the greatest things that yoga can give us is the ability to be more present in our lives. Ram Dass said it so clearly and so simply -- Be Here Now. Everything else is in your mind. All there is is this moment, right here, right now.

One of my teachers used to speak about breathing into every moment of your life because if you don't then you won't really be ready to let it go at the end.
That's the trick! That's what we are doing on our mat. That's what we are doing in meditation. How do we let go and get to the stillness? It's by fully engaging and concentrating on one object with such intensity that our concentration turns into meditation and we lose ourselves in the moment. Boom! Samadhi.

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You know who you are.

You know who you are.

You know who you are.  Who forgot?  The mind.  You know you are pure consciousness.  Who forgot?  The mind.  It is in the stillness where we experience the reflection of who we are.   There’s no distractions.  There’s nothing else there.  No ego.  No mind.  No thoughts.  No body.  There’s just you.  The witness.  Pure consciousness.   The thousand petalled lotus.   You are the thousand petalled lotus.  

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