Monthly Archives: March 2012

Yogaspeak: A Foreign Language

I just had a chat with someone who recently started using a yoga DVD. Knowing I am a yoga teacher and because a DVD doesn’t talk back, he asked me a few questions about some yoga basics. We talked about hamstrings (they’re usually tight), headstands (I don’t recommend them) and frequency of practice (I like to say, “One hour of yoga is better than zero hours of yoga”). Everything was going along nicely and then it happened. I turned on the Yogaspeak.

May the Long Time Sun shine upon youI started to explain the benefits of a pose using terms like “energy,” “chakras” and “third eye point.” What I was saying made perfect sense to me. To him, not so much. How do I know?

He got that look. It’s a look that elegantly blends fear of and concern for me into one marvelous facial expression. It’s a look that says, “Please stop talking. I don’t want to have this conversation.”

First, I would like to say publicly: I apologize. I did not mean to freak you out.

Second, I will take this opportunity to remind myself to only engage in Yogaspeak with my teachers and colleagues. It doesn’t frighten them. They talk the same way.

But “civilians” don’t necessarily want to hear me wax eloquent on the ten bodies, the blue ethers or the unstructured data field. It seems to leave them with the feeling that they thought I was normal (I’m not) and that they thought they knew me (they do).

During my first Kundalini yoga teacher training at Yoga West Los Angeles, Guru Singh cautioned us about this phenomenon. He looked out at our eager, shining faces and said, “You’re here because…you’re weird.”  We laughed (at least I did) because it’s true. He then suggested we be selective when sharing about the magical transformation we would experience and the esoteric teachings we would learn. Good advice.

 It’s not a bad thing to be weird — we’re all unique in some way —  but as a teacher, I’m only as good as my ability to communicate the teachings. Since most people try yoga because they simply want to feel better, I’m always working to find language that is accessible to anyone. I want to allow people to feel more comfortable, not less, with yoga.

So next time your eyes glaze over while I’m talking about all this wacky stuff, don’t worry. I won’t be offended. In fact, you’re doing me a favor. You’re making me a better teacher.

Sat Nam


Yoga Bits — Perfectionism: Not a Virtue

Trapped by perfectionismTrapped in your perfectionism? This week’s Yoga Bits might bring you a little wiggle room.

Sheli the Snail Whisperer

My friend Mechelle is a professional pet sitter. She cares for dogs, cats, birds, and all manner of animals. The truth is, she loves creatures — ALL creatures. Not just the cute and furry ones. In fact, the only living thing I know of that grosses her out are spiders and that’s just because she has some kind of weird phobia about them.

By spending time with Mechelle and watching her delight over the least significant amongst us, she has raised my consciousness to a degree that I doubt any yoga practice could accomplish. Case in point: this morning I noticed a small snail in the walkway outside my front door. I picked up this snail (shelled variety) and deposited it into the nearby plant bed.

Bill the SnailWhy is this noteworthy? Because I find snails to be COMPLETELY DISGUSTING. But thanks to Mechelle (a.k.a. Sheli the Pet Nanny), I couldn’t just leave the little guy there to get smushed. I definitely winced while I did it, but I saved a snail’s life today. I feel good about that for the simple reason that it’s something I would have never done a year ago. I would have seen that snail and, at best, shuddered as I hurried into the apartment. Instead, I stopped and I thought about how simple it would be to grab it by the shell.  I thought about how I’d appreciate a little help and protection if I was that snail. And I tossed it into the dirt.

And we have Mechelle to thank for this act of humanity.

(Although it may also be linked to my love of Marcel the Shell with Shoes On.)


Learn to Choose


Powerful words from Viktor E. Frankl, author and Holocaust survivor:

“Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.”

The Spiritual Warrior

Orange blooms“There is nothing you can get without giving. You have to make a sacrifice to achieve something. Every victory has a price. Every defeat has a pain. Therefore, don’t let your ego play an unnecessary role. The best way is to accept the Will of God. And the Will of God is what is the best for all, not what is best for you alone…If you sacrifice your will for Divine Will, then you wish good for all and you shall be the best. That is the way to cross the crisis.” — Yogi Bhajan

Yoga Bits — Life As a Merit-Based Event

Michael Phelps

“Reputation is an idle and most false imposition; oft got without merit, and lost without deserving.” — William Shakespeare

Have you been taking life personally? Read this week’s Yoga Bits to consider a different approach.

Meet Me At the Armory

Armory Center for the Arts, PasadenaSunday morning is your monthly opportunity to practice Kundalini yoga surrounded by original works of art. I really love teaching at the Armory Center for the Arts in Pasadena. Hope to see you there March 18 from 10 to 11:30 a.m. Click here for more information.

Happy Birthday, Guru Singh!

Guru Singh

Guru Singh at the 2009 3HO Summer Solstice Celebration in Espanola, NM.

Today is the 67th birthday of my teacher, Guru Singh. In class last night at Yoga West, he made the following declaration: “67 is the new 30.” I can certainly believe it witnessing his amazing vitality!

Yoga Bits — Celebrate Yourself

Bite into this week’s Yoga Bits.

“Don’t try to fit in. You fit perfectly in you.” — Yogi Bhajan