Upcoming Meditation Workshops

SAVE THE DATES!

Meditation Workshops at The Yogi Tree
Saturdays April 16, May 21, and June 4 from 2 to 5 pm

4/16: Meditation for Absolute Beginners (and Yogeeks)
5/21: Love Yourself Body & Soul
6/4: Meditation and G.O.D. (Generating/Organizing/Delivering)

$30 advance or $35 at the door OR sign up for all three for ONLY $75

Register at
http://www.theyogitree.com/
4475 Vineland Ave, #31
Studio City, California 91602
(818) 760-0112

We did it!

Who is the only person MORE excited than me that yesterday’s first-ever YFRS training was so successful? My mom, the original Real Senior who inspired this program! 

Students learn about teaching people with severe limitations at the inaugural Yoga for Real Seniors teacher training held in Los Angeles on Jan. 16, 2016.

 

All this and it’s fun to boot!

 We still have some spaces available so let’s review what you’ll get by participating in this Saturday’s teacher training for Yoga for Real Seniors, noon to 4 pm at Indigo Lab in Los Angeles:

* Learn how to teach yoga to seniors with moderate to severe physical and cognitive limitations
* Find out how to adapt any yoga style or pose to suit elderly students
* Gain the confidence to begin your own senior classes at assisted living facilities, group homes, senior centers and the like
* Find out about The Three Ms and The Four Ss of YFRS and how to apply them
* Register for the low, low price of $150 (this course is worth $300!)
* Become eligible for the lifetime discount on any future YFRS training
* Meet and connect with others in the elder care community

Email info@indigolabla.com to register.

Join me for YFRS training! 

It’s not exactly Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee, but there’s some good info here about why you should sign up for my training workshop to learn how to teach yoga to seniors on Saturday, Jan. 16, from noon to 4 pm at Indigo Lab in West Hollywood. 
Email info@indigolabla.com to register. 

Sign up for training!

 YFRS Training information

Power vs Power

  

Just Feel It

glassFacebook and other social media have been filled with intense expressions of anguish, violence, sorrow, hate, unity, despair, hope, and higher consciousness following the flurry of pain and counter-pain that sprung into our global consciousness last week.

I’ve been on a strict “info diet” since last Friday, consuming controlled portions of all the messages floating around — and that includes the posts that are about light and love in the face of tragedy. That’s because sometimes it appears that yoga and other so-called paths to wakefulness are about escaping the cold, hard truth of the world we live in under the guise of “enlightenment.”

But that’s never been how I roll. I’ve never used my yoga practice to escape. Maybe I never had that luxury. When I landed on my first yoga mat in 2003, I was nearly dead. Whatever was happening during those classes didn’t make me feel worse and, every so often, even brought some relief. So I kept showing up in my utterly wretched state, mostly for lack of a better idea.

Since then yoga and mediation have been one of the cornerstones of how I cope with the harsh circumstances of being human in a capricious, unjust and painful world. It’s because of my Kundalini yoga practice that I’m able to see the facets of existence that uphold love and light and to choose the kind of person I’d like to be as I walk around (or crawl, depending on the day) on this third rock from the sun. So at first it was about not dying and surviving whereas now it’s about something more elegant and happy.

But I’ll tell you what my practice is NOT: it is not about platitudes or sticking our head in the sand or hopping onto soapboxes of higher consciousness. It’s also the underpinning of my approach to teaching. In my classes, we don’t stare and obsess over the rough stuff, but neither do we pretend it’s not part of life. If you want to join me for some breathing and moving and meditating in the middle of it all, please come out for class. I’ll be happy to see you and I’ll hope that it will bring a little comfort.

Ponder the Difference

Being clever is not the same as being smart. 

Being cunning is not the same as being intuitive. 

Being spiritual is not the same as being enlightened. 

Being enlightened is not the same as being self-aware. 

Winning is not the same as being victorious. 

Conversation is not the same as communication. 

Exertion is not the same as commitment.

 Discernment is not the same as judgment. 

Tolerance is not the same as acceptance. 

Perception is not the same as reality. 

  

Sadness and Being Present

flowersandbutterfliesMy friend’s dad died last month and she is sad.

His death was not a tragedy. He lived a full, long life. It was his “time.” My friend believes in an “afterlife.” She’s grateful he won’t suffer and that he was pretty sharp and good-humored almost to the very end.

And she’s sad. Because that’s how human beings feel when someone they love dies.  The details don’t much matter on that score. Young or old, estranged or close, expected or sudden, loss hurts and we need love and support to come to terms with it.

Her dad lived in another part of the state so she’s been up north, tending to him as he shuffled off this mortal coil, and then tending to the business of death, before making it back to LA last week, exhausted and essentially traumatized by the all-too-common dysfunctional family freak out that accompanies the death of a patriarch or matriarch.

When we were finally able to talk on the phone, she told me about the horrible drama that had unfolded the day of the funeral. I listened until she was done with the tale and then said, “It sounds awful. And it sounds like no one has really been taking time with you about the fact that you lost your dad and I’m really sorry because that’s what matters most. I know how much you loved him.”

She burst into tears. We sat with that for a bit. In between sobs she thanked me repeatedly for attending to her feelings and I was so grateful I was able to support her that way.

Because, the fact is, as a culture we really suck at handling death and grieving. Grief is messy, inconvenient and draining. We often leave those suffering to cope in isolation because we don’t know how to be present for their feelings and needs.

But all that’s really needed is to sit, breathe, listen and care. There’s nothing to fix. Death and grief are bigger than you or me. In fact, you need not say anything. But if you feel the urge to reach out with words, I’d like to recommend two sentences that in my personal experience are genuinely soothing:

(1) I’m thinking about you and sending love.

(2) If you’d like to share something about your father/mother/sibling/child/friend/loved one, I’d love to hear it.

My friend has a long, in some ways endless, road ahead in adjusting to the absence of her father. She’ll walk through it, one day at a time, and she’ll carry on.

While she does, I can hold her hand and I’m grateful for that.

My friend is sad.

“To Be or Not To Be” — Why Is That A Question?

image“Life is difficult.” —  M. Scott Peck

Simply put: it’s not easy being alive. It’s just not. Of course, no one promised it would be and, yet, somehow we assume a right to ease in this life.

If being alive is challenging, then being alive and sensitive is enough to send almost anyone over the edge. I mean, look at Hamlet. But we needn’t resort to Shakespeare for proof. The headlines lately are littered with plenty of examples of people careening over that line, which then causes profound agony to others. And those folks then have to find a way to live their difficult lives with that anguish, feeling victimized and lacking trust in the world.

Sounds fairly bleak, I’d say. Trying to manage that shit sandwich is one of the reasons, I believe, that people rationalize pain as a good thing — a blessing.

I wish I had a nickel for every time I heard someone offer up a “pain slogan.” At least Lord Byron’s version is poetic:

“Adversity is the first path to truth.”

Yeah, well, if you count the physical act of birth being our first “path” and how much adversity that involves, I’ll have to give him that one.

However, there often comes from that sentiment a false notion that pain or adversity is the ONLY way to grow. A sort of, “Well, where would I be if I hadn’t been hit by that truck/lost everything in that fire/been beaten as a child? I guess I’d be a shallow, thoughtless, unevolved imitation of all I am today.”

That logic rankles me. It always has. (P.S. If that’s your belief and it’s working for you, awesome, don’t change a thing…if not, read on.) I think my chief objection is that I suspect it arises from our culture’s pathological need to “fix” any emotion perceived to be a problem. After all, being sad, hurt or angry is an inconvenience and a buzz-kill…unless you can turn it into a phenomenal tale of victory that propelled you to achieve towering success. Whatever. God forbid we just sit with someone’s discomfort (physical or emotional) and bear witness to it while they have their experience.

That being said, yes, I acknowledge that pain most certainly provokes change — or as my teacher, Guru Singh, puts it: crisis provokes evolution — which is kind of the point. And making it to the other side of pain is, no doubt, a glorious accomplishment. But pain is not the only gateway to profound awakening.

The wisest teacher of all, I have found, is not pain but love.

The love I am speaking of is the kind that makes you unselfish and courageous. I’m talking about putting what the other person needs before what you want. Love that may include — but far surpasses — the romantic experience of falling for someone (which, by the way, is awesome in its own right so please don’t think I’m devaluing that phenomenon). This powerful love is described beautifully by one of my favorite quotations from Hafiz:

“Even after all this time, the sun never says to the earth,  ‘You owe me.’ Look what happens with a love like that. It lights the whole sky.”

This love is the sort that allows you to see and experience things about yourself that you had no idea were possible. It gives you a measure of who you really are and the lengths to which you will go to deserve the gift of loving. This love makes you strong.

But, unfortunately, many of us consider this kind of love to be unrealistic or at least unlikely. It isn’t, but thinking makes it so (also from Hamlet, for you Shakespeare fans). The bravery required to “be in love” this way is so tremendous that we often choose to retreat instead — and then wander the earth believing it doesn’t exist.

As for pain, it’s right there screaming at you the whole time, very difficult to ignore or misinterpret. I think that’s why people recognize and trust pain far more easily than they do love. I also think it’s why we have so many handy little sayings to make us feel better about pain’s offensive imposition in our lives, including my least favorite of all time:

“What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.”

Grrrrr @#&!!%! I hear that phrase and I practically convulse with the force of my irritation (but don’t worry, that’s what hours and hours of deep meditation help manage). So in this week’s Yoga Bits, I am proposing a new saying, one that I hope to make popular enough to overtake the other obnoxious piece of blather. Say hello to a new catch-phrase:

“What I truly love makes me stronger.”

Pain happens, it’s true. It’s real, necessary and, yes, even at times a blessing. But let’s bring love as a motivator into its rightful place in our collective consciousness. The choice to love courageously whenever, whomever and whatever we wish is always within our power, regardless of any other circumstance. Let’s dig deep and ask ourselves what it is to genuinely love — not to grasp or want or covet or need, but to give and receive — and then do that.

Are you with me?

Now there’s a question.

This post originally appeared in the Yoga Bits newsletter on August 26, 2012.