Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Hip Openers

Photo by Justin Kral of Kral Studios.

Last night I worked on hip openers: frog, pigeon, low lunge, Hanumanasana.

I hold so much tension in my hips. A lot of the time I avoid going to these places of tension… it’s been so long, I think. It’s going to hurt.

Photo by Cait Loper of Cait Loper Photography.

Instead, I turn toward what’s comfortable, what’s easy. Sometimes it is easier to grip than to release—to draw the muscle toward the bone in Crescent Warrior, rather than place a block under the hip and settle in for Half Pigeon.

But when I go the easy route, there is some part lingering beneath the surface that says, You’re cheating yourself.

Photo by Cait Loper of Cait Loper Photography.

 Beneath the fear and hesitation and uncertainty lies your inner knowing.

I was proud of myself for being willing to move toward sensation in the poses last night.

A big part of yoga is allowing—allowing what is. Letting whatever comes up to come up. Not running from it.

Photo by Justin Kral of Kral Studios. 

Be willing to go there.

Monday, October 20, 2014


Photo via Pinterest.

Perfect stillness, where the inhale gently becomes the exhale.

The relaxing of the palm in Triangle pose.

Photo via Pinterest.

Softness in the forehead, the jaw, the back of the neck.

Engaging mula bandha without strain, simply as an act of inviting prana to stay.

Witnessing as the body lights up, a graceful dance of breath swirling inside.

Photo via Pinterest. 
Photo by Michael Chichi.

Yoga does not require struggle. 

Yoga is an invitation to remember our natural state, one of effortlessness.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Have a Peaceful Weekend

Photos by Rebecca Hawkes.

Happy Friday, my loves! What are you up to this weekend?

Some lovely links for you...

Give yourself a slow, luxurious, romantic morning.

Rewilding the yoga body... is about much more than donning leather underwear and doing acrobatic poses in the great outdoors -because our bodies are more than’ images’, they are the source of our deepest nature.”

Mischievous night gardening sounds like fun.

If you are feeling discouraged: try, try again. It's not too late to change bad habits.

Vegetarian three bean chili, a perfect recipe for the start to fall.

The English nerd in me loves this post on words people often misuse.

Stylish yoga wear. I love that a lot of these pieces can be used for outfits off the mat, too.

Dreamy yoga mats.

Adorably awkward greeting cards.

Musings from a lovely yogini hooper: Trust what you came here to do.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Finding Joy...Everywhere

Find joy in the everyday moments.

Because, well, that's where we spend a lot of our time.


This is my friend Jamie. She teaches at the same yoga studio where I do, and lately we've been trading classes. Recently she's been sharing photos of her practice in the everyday moments ... no mat required :)

I feel really grateful for that reminder -- that yoga is sacred all the time, whether we're at a fancy, quiet studio or in the middle of the grocery store.

We always have the opportunity to be present. There is no fancy training required.

I think often in our yoga communities we get caught up in the rituals, and our need to control everything and have it be perfect all the time.

I need to set up my mat in the same corner of the room whenever I take class, because that's where I'm most comfortable... I don't like when the yogis next to me are breathing heavily or struggling; they're stealing away my precious 'me' time... 

I hope that the teacher will cue the poses I've 'mastered,' so I can show them off... maybe if I had some cute yoga pants like those, I'd have the confidence to do better in class...

The beauty of it is that this is the yoga. When we are face-to-face with struggle, or lack of control, and we sit back and say, I surrender! I let it go. And we allow ourselves to be with whatever IS, in that moment.

Not engaging the Monkey Mind chatter-- instead, witnessing it, and letting it pass like an ocean wave being called back out to sea.

We don't get attached, and we ask to be humbled.

That's when we are really practicing yoga.

Jamie is a wonderful, vibrant example of this practice. Of the power in simply being present.

She shows up authentically, no matter what she is doing... whether she's teaching, practicing on her own mat, singing Bob Marley songs at the end of class... hanging out with her kiddos, getting tattooed, laughing with friends...

I'm grateful that she is willing to be silly, and non-traditional, and that she challenges her students to go to a place they didn't think was possible. (I'm one of her students, and I've definitely experienced that in her classes!)

It's through this kind of surrendering -- of letting go of all the ego-based ways we come to yoga -- that really allows us to engage with the divine.

And what's most beautiful is that these opportunities are around us all the time... every day. Whether we're in line at the grocery store or sitting on the couch at home, or standing on our mat at the studio. It's all yoga. It's just a matter of tuning in.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Take Nothing for Granted

Photos by Theron Humphrey of This Wild Idea.

Everything I resist, persists.

Perhaps there is no right answer to these questions.

Perhaps what I seek is freedom, not accomplishment.

I will be persistent. I will be forgiving.

I will not take this moment for granted.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Meditation (A Guest Post)

 Photos via Pinterest.

Today I’m honored to share a guest post by Marcia Keilen about the powerful practice of meditation. I first read Marcia’s work on Elephant Journal, and I loved her words about how yoga extends beyond asana. As she said, she loved yoga most for the way the time spent on the mat alone gave her access to her inner wisdom.

Marcia explores that even further in this reflection on how meditation has allowed her to wake up to her life in ways she never imagined were possible.

Meditation: My Personal Journey
By Marcia Keilen
This is my personal story about the transformational power of meditation.

My experience meditating started out many years ago, sometime during the 1990s. I had been attending some yoga classes on and off when I first became interested in the subject of meditation. Since I lived in a small, rural community, my best resources were books. I read books on mindfulness meditation by Jon Kabat-Zinn and Sharon Salzberg. I practiced the suggested meditations and did this for a while, but was not consistent with my practice. This was a pattern that would continue on and off for a number of years as I just didn’t know how to fit a meditation practice into my life.

In 2004, I went through a 200 hour teacher training program and started my journey as a yoga teacher which continued with me finishing up the 500 hour yoga teacher training in 2007. It was during the advanced part of my teacher training that I was introduced to some more meditation techniques. I then met a Buddhist minister who taught me some guided meditations. This seemed to keep my interest a bit longer than my previous experience but still my meditation practice was rather erratic.

Then in the year 2009 I found myself at a crossroads in my life. I was really struggling and my life continued to spiral downwards. Actually, this was a continuation of a pattern that started years before, only I was not aware of just how confused and lost I had become.

The following quote pretty much sums it all up:

“In the middle of the journey of our life
I found myself within a dark woods
Where the straight way was lost.”
~ Dante Alighieri

I then began searching for some type of retreat I could go to that would not only detox me on a physical level but on an emotional level, as well. Also, something that would reconnect me with my spiritual roots and help me rediscover my authentic self. I took to the Internet and did several searches. The one place that caught my eye was the Chopra Center for Well Being in Carlsbad, CA. They had a program called Perfect Health and there was an option of doing a 10 day program. I thought, “Why not?”

I signed up for the program that started end of August and ran into September. Little did I know at the time how transformational this part of my journey would be. 

I arrived at the Chopra Center for Well Being and the very first part of the program was learning a meditation technique called Primordial Sound Meditation. My teacher was a man by the name of Davidji and everything he said about his own exploration of different types of meditation immediately resonated with me. I thought finally, a meditation technique that I can stick with and apply in my daily life. He took all the mystery and myths out of what a meditation practice is. That 10 day program released so many toxins out of me physically and emotionally. I really struggled on an emotional level, something that took me by complete surprise. The Perfect Health program is an Ayurvedic program called Panchakarma. The following information is taken from the Chopra Center for Well Being website describing this program:

“Several times each year, we offer a 10-day Perfect Health program that includes panchakarma, an elegant Ayurvedic cleansing process that releases accumulated toxins and stress from the mind-body system. You will receive daily panchakarma therapies and massage treatments tailored to your unique mind-body constitution. Your healing arts master will select specific essential oils and natural herbs to purify and nurture you at the deepest cellular level.”

I spent a lot of my time crying and releasing deep emotional wounds, essentially I was a basket case all 10 days. I am so grateful for Dr. Valencia Porter who took time to talk to me one on one as I struggled with so many overwhelming emotions. The Ayurvedic treatments were very nurturing and I felt I was in a safe space to just allow the whole process to unfold in the most advantageous way. There was a small group of us going through this program who really bonded during this time and I will be forever grateful for their support. But essentially it was up to me to do all the necessary inner work.

What really struck me was how much the meditation became the biggest gift I took away with me from this program. I immediately signed up for Seduction of Spirit, the signature meditation program of the Chopra Center. This was going to be held in August of 2010 in Sedona, AZ. In the meantime, I continued practicing my meditation on a regular basis.

Since some of the benefits that we take out of meditation include reduced stress, making more conscious choices, being less reactive, more compassionate, less judgmental, to name a few, I was hopeful that my life would now turn around. Well, it did, just not in a way I had expected.
Looking back it seems that my pattern was to prove to everyone that I was unlovable, not good enough, didn’t deserve people in my life who treated me well, and the list goes on, but this is essentially how I felt. So, I hit rock bottom in 2010 and found myself in the underworld trying to find my way back into the light. Also, during this time I had a serious lower back injury that laid me up for about eight weeks which I felt was a culmination of my feelings of inadequacy and lack of self love. At the time it was hard for me to understand how this could happen after integrating a regular meditation practice into my life. But now I see that my meditation practice actually allowed me to be aware of what I was doing, something that had not happened before. In the midst of the chaos a light bulb went off and I finally gained insights that my behavior was completely out of sync and counter to my authentic self. This was a time of self-discovery and the life long pattern was finally broken. 

I then continued going to several more Chopra events and finally went through the Primordial Sound Meditation teacher training which makes me a certified meditation teacher. My regular meditation practice has brought many gifts into my life. Not that I am perfect now by any means but I am living a life of integrity and being true to my values. I credit my meditation practice for helping me choose the healers that have been exactly what I needed at each critical point in my life. 

As I continue on my meditation journey, I have discovered more and more synchronicities in my life and I am learning to be more self loving and self forgiving. As I heal and become more loving and compassionate towards myself, I am then able to spread more love and compassion out into the world. The healing of our world really does start with our own inner healing and connection to our authentic self.

My meditation practice also has helped me to develop a sense of gratitude and inner peace. I am truly grateful for all the many teachers who have come into my life, the ones who had my best interest at heart and even those who didn’t. In fact the latter were probably my best teachers and taught me the life lessons that I needed the most in order to become who I am today. My meditation practice is an ongoing journey and every day I approach it with no particular expectations, just allowing it to unfold and trusting the process. This is also what I take out of my practice into my everyday life.

My practice is what keeps me grounded and allows be to connect to the highest aspect of myself. In the moments of stillness between thoughts is where I find my deepest insights, my authentic self, inner wisdom and inner peace. I am forever grateful.

Marcia Keilen is a yoga teacher, meditation teacher, but mostly, she is a student of life and all the lessons that it has taught her and continues to teach her. She is finding that nothing heals more than love, that in the final analysis, all that matters is love. You can reach her at

Thanks again, Marcia, for the inspiration to make time to sit in meditation! Wishing you much peace and happiness.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Have an Adventurous Weekend!

Photos via Pinterest.

Happy Friday! How was your week? Do you have any fun plans this weekend?

I’m excited to teach my usual Saturday community class tomorrow…we’re going to work on headstand!

And then after yoga, I’m getting tattooed :) I can’t believe I’m almost done with my sleeve!

Sunday will be relaxing—maybe a yin class and a hot bath. Here are some links from around the web for you to enjoy…

Sweet and salty homemade macadamia, cashew and maple butter sounds SO delicious.

12 high-protein foods for vegetarians.

Do you fall into ‘The Busy Trap?’

Reflections on living the niyamas from Judith Lasater.

A little encouragement for when you’re being too hard on yourself.

What a beautiful sacred geometry tattoo.

I invite you to begin your day with a positive affirmation. What mantra are you singing today? Namaste.


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