Saturday, June 18, 2011

New Website

Please check out my new website,, for future blog entries!  Thank you so much for the support!

Summertime Balance Sequence

Well yogis and yoginis, it’s summertime!  Here in New York, it took us by storm.  A week ago it felt quite lovely, cool and sunny.  Now, it feels as if someone took Manhattan, poured gasoline over the streets, and lit a match.  The entire city is locked in a humid, hazy, and all together overheated state. For me, I feel entirely out of balance, which translates to cranky, judgmental and snappy.  Being a Pitta, (one of the three personality types of Ayurveda, pitta is a mixture of fire and water) summertime is particularly vulnerable for me and my potentially overbearing, controlling personality.  I have to be particularly careful in the summer to slow down, take time to rest, meditate, wear cooling colors, and eat cooling foods.  Not that I always do this, of course, but when I do, I feel my strung-out pitta unwind a bit.

Because I’ve been feeling so unbalanced, I’ve been working on a slower, more balance and grounding practice.  I’ve creating this all levels sequence to help us all reground, and I’d like to share it with you. Please let me know your thoughts.  This sequence is particularly fun and restorative to do outside, ideally on grass without a mat.

Summertime Balance Sequence

- Start in Suhkasana.  Feel your feet and sitbones ground into the mat as your spine gets long.  Circle your arms around and up, reaching for the sky, then release them down,  on your breath, about 3 times.
- Cat/Cow
- Extended Childs pose
- Downward Facing Dog (AMS)–-> Three Legged Dog à Cheetah -  lift R leg back and up, forward into plank, knee into nose, back to three-legged AMS back to AMS.  Repeat 3 times on each side.
- Walk or jump forward, uttanasana (forward bend) – take an extra long time here, allowing hamstrings to release
- Surya A 4x – focus on the legs in every pose; rolling the inner, upper thighs up in plank/chattarunga and cobra/up-dog, firming thighs back and hips in in AMS.  Play with lifting one foot at a time up in plank.
- In last AMS, step right foot forward, come to Vira II – emphasize front buttock rolling towards the back heel, and the back leg straight.
- Vira II à Trikonasana and back, 5x, end in Trikonasana
- Trikonasana à Ardha Chandrasana – play with not stepping back foot in and going straight from Trik to Ardha Chandrasana à step back with control to Trikoanasana, and then back à Vira II
- Prasarita Padotanasana A (PPA – wide legged forward bend, hands on floor in front of you)à walk fingers around to right foot, point right foot forward, step back to AMS
Repeat above starred sequence on left side, except replace PPA with PPC (fingers interlaced behind you.
Sunbreath with utkatasana 3x
Surya B – 2x – focus on firming buttocks under (it is bikini season, afterall!) – play with adding a standing split after vira I.
Vira I – get grounded
Vira III – float
Vira I – reground – do the above on both sides
Lie down
Supta bada konasana (lying down, knees bent, soles of feet pressed together.
Happy baby pose.
Supine twist.
Savasana in the grass.

I hope you enjoy!

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Earth Prayer - Mark Nepo

I know it's been a while, and know that I am planning a number of blog posts, but I felt compelled to share this poem, which was shared with me and my class by the extraordinary Dana Flynn of Laughing Lotus.


Earth Prayer by Mark Nepo - 

O Endless Creator, Force of Life, Seat of the Unconscious,
Dharma, Atman, Ra, Qalb, Dear Center of our Love,
Christlight, Yaweh, Allah, Mawu,
Mother of the Universe...
Let us, when swimming with the stream,
become the stream...
Let us, when moving with the music,
become the music...
Let us, when rocking the wounded,
become the suffering...
Let us live deep enough
till there is only one direction...
and slow enough till there is only
the beginning of time...
and loud enough in our hearts
till there is no need to speak...
Let us live for the grace beneath all we want,
let us see it in everything and everyone,
till we admit to the mystery
that when I look deep enough into you,
I find me, and when you dare to hear my fear
in the recess of your heart, you recognize it
as your secret which you thought
no one else knew...
O let us embrace
that unexpected moment of unity
as the atom of God...
Let us have the courage
to hold each other when we break
and worship what unfolds...
O nameless spirit that is not done with us,
let us love without a net
beyond the fear of death
until the speck of peace
we guard so well
becomes the world...

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Yoga and Stuff.

Some days, I feel like I might be a step closer to living a truly yogic, sutra aligned life.  And other days, like today, I just want an iPad.

When I was in my teens, I used to be a typical zoned out...well...teenager. The moment I got home from school (which, notably, I attended from 7:00am to 6:00pm, including all my rehearsals and extra groups)  I lived to zone out in front of the TV, surf the web for nothing, and claim that I was doing my homework all the while.

After that, a few years into college, I decided to start weaning myself off of my technology dependence, partly to save money, partly to save sanity.  First we (my ex-boyfriend, and now dear friend) and I quit having cable TV, which was fabulous.  No more advertising meant I wanted and "needed" to buy less, which meant I began the process of not comparing my insides to other people's outsides.  Then, we cancelled our internet.  That was hard.  That meant we had to really just be together when we were together, which is a whole other blog post.

Since then, I've fallen madly in love with my partner, who is an extraordinary man.  He also happens to be an IT professional, (the acronym really should be I.[I].T.A.T.T., professional, for "Information [Internet] Technology All The Time") which means that we most definitely require high speed internet at home. He also watches a lot of TV shows online (we both decided against having cable at home) and I have gotten back into them as well.

I admit, parts of this reconnection to the e-world I deeply enjoy, and parts of it make me feel icky.  I was doing so very well without TV shows, and eventually without internet.  I was so productive and sane. I was also quite happy without exposure to so many of the commercials and the subtle (and gross) messages that tell me I am not enough, I don't do enough, and I need more Stuff in my life.

I still try to temper my usage of these tools and treat them as just that: tools.  However, I also appreciate convenience and things that make my life easier.  As an up and coming yoga teacher in the 21st century in perhaps the most competitive market in the world, making myself a visible entity on the internet is an unfortunate but necessary part of my job. I facebook. I tweet. I blog. (I do like blogging, readers!)

Hence, my lust for an iPad.  I won't go into the reasons I want one, as Apple does an excellent job advertising it's product without any help from me.  However, there are many ways it would be useful, from it's abilities as an e-reader to it being the most lightweight form of computer for one who can't carry anything heavier than a few pounds without risking spine reinjury. Plus, oh yes, it's shiny and cool.

Sutra 1.15 says that "When the mind loses desire even for objects [...] it acquires a state of utter (vashikara) desirelessness that is called non-attachment (vairagya)."

The sutras lead you, step by step, to attaining oneness with the universe and connecting with your true self.  On days like today, I realize how utterly far away I am from that goal, and how Earthly bound I truly am.  This realization does make me realize and appreciate my vulnerability and utter humanity.

For today, I choose to both accept myself as I am today as being exactly where I am supposed to be, but also start working on releasing my attachment to objects that will not actually bring me any joy or satisfaction that I can't find in my own self and heart.

But maybe I'll work on that more after I get my iPad.

Have a peaceful week!


Tuesday, April 12, 2011

My year of self-acceptance.

So, I just turned 24 a week ago.  And I've decided to give myself the best birthday present ever.

I'm slender enough and have a beautiful body, and yet I spend so much time telling myself that I have to loose weight, that my love handles spill over my jeans, and that my abs are flabby.  Everything I eat I wonder if the skinny people in my life would eat, and I often can barely enjoy my food.

I'm incredibly happy as a yoga teacher, and yet I beat myself up constantly for not yet having a master's degree, and wonder if being a yoga teacher is "good enough." I tell myself that my own happiness is not enough, that I should in fact be earning hundreds of thousands of dollars to save for "the future."

I love practicing yoga, and yet I rarely truly allow myself to enjoy it, because of my chronic pain, and because my body is so tight. I spend so much time focusing on what I can't do in asana that I don't enjoy the things that I can do, or that I have been able to add to my practice, due to abhyasa (practice) and vairagya (non-attachment) like gomukhasana arms.  Six months ago, my fingers were miles from each other, and now they touch on both sides.  Do I enjoy that and support myself in that? Of course not. I'm too busy telling myself that I can't be a good teacher because I can't do a hand-stand. Fun times.

I absolutely adore my partner, who is brilliant and wonderful beyond measure.  Yet, I spend so much of my time beating myself up for the fact that he is smarter than me, that he contributes more to the relationship than I do (and no, I have no idea what that means) that I often feel like I don't get to enjoy the precious time we spend together, because I am so obsessed with doing, being and having enough.

So, for my birthday, I have decided that I am giving myself a gift that I, as well as everyone, absolutely deserve.  I am going to accept myself EXACTLY AS I AM, one day at a time, with love and compassion.

Yay Self-Acceptance!

I am going to enjoy my food and continue to make nurturing choices that are not based solely on calories, but also on taste and how it makes my body feel.

I am going to let go of my need to make more money. When I don't tell the universe to give me what I want, it always (ALWAYS) give me what I need.

I am going to release the results of my yoga practice, and continue to play and grow however I can, honoring my tight and still injured body. I will do what I can to stop competing in class, and be on my own mat and love it.

I am going to let my beloved be his own beautiful self, and not try to emulate him.  Instead, I will honor him and his profoundly loving treatment of me by trying to see myself the way he sees me - as a beautiful, wonderful, smart and passionate woman who contributes enough just by being myself.

The oddest thing is, after a week of living this way, I find myself doing more cardio exercise, which I had constantly beaten myself up for not doing for months.  I find my food is cleaner, and I am having much more fun.

As my birthday "goodie bag" to all of you, I wish more than anything to give you this gift too.  Just for one day, see what it would be like to passionately and absolutely adore yourself no matter what.  Tell the constant vrittis (mind-stuff) that tell you you aren't enough to politely bugger off, and do something nice for yourself, just because.

See what happens!

Friday, March 18, 2011

My Yoga Playground

I, like…I don’t know, everyone who isn’t 5, have a mild fear of falling out of inversions. Note, this fear has been downgraded from a 9.6 to a 4.2 after a lot of practice and play, but it’s still definitely there.

After picking up “Light on Yoga,” B.K.S. Iyengar’s masterwork instructing the hows, whens and where’s to do the vast majority of asana, and reading his thoughts on headstand, (he advocates doing it in the middle of the room sooner rather than later, so as to encourage confidence in the beginner) I decided to swallow my fear and work on shirsasana in the middle of the room.

However, since I am indeed a bit of a chicken, I decided to make a landing pad, consisting of two floor pillows and a beanbag chair.

I have to admit, the hours I have spent practicing headstand have been some of the most enjoyable I have experienced since early childhood, mostly because I fall almost every time. Since I am falling into a pile of softness, however, I am able to relax, giggle, take a moment and start again. It has really helped take the fear away from falling.

Do I necessarily advocate this as a methodology of practice? No. If you are an uninjured, intermediate to advanced practitioner, I’d say that practicing in the middle of the room without props is perhaps the best way to overcome fear once and for all, because goodness knows, I’ll have to start again when the beanbag chair goes away. However, the addition of the pillows has made headstand and falling out of headstand a child-like adventure, and made me feel safe to explore and test the boundaries.

What do you do in your practice that’s unconventional but has helped you?

Friday, March 11, 2011

My deep, dark secret...

My deep, dark secret.

I have, until very recently, had a deep, dark, secret.  Well, it’s not really a secret, as everyone in yoga class (my students and teacher very much included) can see it clear as day, but it’s something that, for some reason having much to do with my ultra-powerful ego, I never wanted to admit.

Ok, here it goes.  Until about one week ago, my arms didn’t straighten.

I’d be in class, in urdvha hastasana, and would just wait for the inevitable, “straighten your arms, Kat! No, really, straighten them!”  Or in down dog.  “Press your arms down to straighten the elbows, Kat!”

And trust me, I was trying.  I wanted so badly to look just like my teachers, and like my fellow students, but due to some combination of genetics and muscle tightness, my arms hypo-extend. And no, that’s not a real word.

Le sigh.

After years of dealing with this, I finally went to my mentor, Chrissy, and asked for some help.  She gave me some fabulous instructions (bring your arms out in front of you, rotate the biceps towards the ceiling and the triceps to the floor, then raise the arms from there, stopping when they start to buckle.  Let the inner edge of the shoulder blade up towards the sky, and the outer edge descend.)

After a week of doing the correct modification for me, my arms are vastly straighter, and I can come to straight arms fairly easily from most positions.

Which caused me to ponder, if it only took a week to correct the imbalance, why did I wait so long to talk about it, to ask about it, to question it?

It’s that old ego coming into play – the one that insists that I look, act, and perform just like everyone else, or else I am inadequate. 

Once I let go of needing to be just like everyone else, and started to love my body for it's...well...quirks, I found myself able to focus on my own practice, which quickly transformed.

This apparently is a lesson I have to keep learning over and over, through injury and disappointment, but it’s a lesson that I hope will actually sink in someday soon.

Until then, I’ll just keep plugging away, for a long period of time, with passionate interest, and without attachment to result.

Thank Goodness for the Sutras, right?