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New Year's Love Letter

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New Year's Love Letter

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I'm writing this from 9800 feet during a gusty blizzard, contemplating the numerological significance of the year 2012. (I'm a nerd!) When you add 2 + 0 + 1 + 2 you get 5, known as the "wild card" number. This means anything can happen!

It turns out the number 12 itself represents tribes, and the need for people to come together to look after and help one another.

Twelve divides down to 3, and the number 3 symbolizes nurturing, creativity, and solution-oriented thinking.

Lord knows we need a "can do" spirit to respond consciously to the intense circumstances in the world, and these numbers suggest that we must do this through our collective intelligence. Truly we can solve any issue if we band together!

Part of this revolution involves including our youth in this conversation. As we enter the Aquarian Age, listening to their words and insights will be a vital. This year I learned so much from teachers younger than me!

2011 was the year to pump up our own volume. 2012? We take on the WORLD. It is more than time to give a damn. In 2012, we will come together, through the wild uncertainty before us, and...be the light that gives others permission to shine.

And that's the new name of my 2012 Tour: Be the Light

There is so much to look forward to, so much good we can do together. More than ever I can't wait to do these things with you.

THANK YOU, my amazing readers. You have made 2011 beyond tremendous and you have made such leaps and bounds on your journey. Here's to more!

As always, please leave a comment below and tell me what you plan to do in 2012 to shine your light with others.

Big love and gratitude,

Amy

(Picture above taken in Gubbio, Italy with Taro!)

 

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Learn These 4 Steps To Leading Like a Bad-Ass

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Learn These 4 Steps To Leading Like a Bad-Ass

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I recently watched the movie "Bobby" and was sobered to be reminded of how the same issues we are dealing with today were alive and well in 1968. (Think deteriorating ozone layer, climate change, violence, and species extinction to name just a few.) While we have made a ton of progress, in some ways we still have barely made a dent, 40 years later.  And of course many of these issues have quadrupled in impact.

What gives? It is so time to step up the progress on this badly needed revolution of consciousness, and it starts with our selves and how we relate to each other.

Those who are stepping up to become who they know they can be will be the ones to bring about transformation on the planet.

This is the difference between ordinary leadership and "transformational leadership".

4 Evolutionary Relationship Strategies To Bring On the Revolution

Step 1. Take Responsibility For How You Are Showing Up (Physically, Mentally and Emotionally) I heard someone say that they had a sign up in their office that reads: “Please take ownership for the energy you bring to this space.” and how about this Oprah quote:

"Nobody is responsible for your life but you. You are responsible for the energy you bring to yourself and to others."

Owning your state of being is critical because you actually participate in how you show up, versus allowing un-examined energy to run-a-muck.

For example, if you get enough sleep, eat nourishing organic meals through out the day, and exercise regularly, chances are you’ll feel and perform at your highest physically.  On the other hand, when you get out of physical balance, you show up sub-par.

If you regularly examine the way you talk to yourself and you are a disciplined “gatekeeper” of your own mind and speech, chances are your mental state will be more positive and focused.

Are you letting yourself drown in one negative thought after the next or do you consciously choose your thoughts and speech?

More importantly, do you examine the beliefs that you have behind those thoughts, such as, “I’ve always had an issue with my shoulder”, “The problem is that my XYZ keeps me from being able to do this or that,” or “No one wants to date me since I am divorced with two kids”?

Or do you reframe your speech and say instead, “Up until now I’ve had shoulder issues,” “I am confident that I’ll be able to do this or that”, or “There are plenty of people who want to share life with me and my kids.”

When you feel things, do you tend to overly identify with the feeling saying something like “I am angry” instead of “I feel angry”?

Can you articulate how emotions feel in your body so it is easier to verbalize and then let those feelings move on?  Or do you suppress, stifle or ignore them?  After all, emotions should move (thus the word “motion” in emotion!).

Step 2: Bring More of Your Self to Others

Everyone rocks at something, yourself included.  Are you truly offering your best to the people around you?  Are your God-given gifts getting the full expression they deserve so that you can benefit others?

When you are in relationship do you focus on what you could get vs. what you could give?

Ask anyone in a relationship how it’s going, and they will tend to talk all about what their partner does or does not do for them.  How many would answer that question with an account of everything they do or don’t do for their partner?  Of course we want both give and take, but where is the emphasis?

We live in community. There is value in looking at the big picture first - that what is best for the whole can also be best for the individual.

When you think of how your choices or actions might benefit the community versus thinking of just your own needs, you are often rewarded 10 fold in the long run.

Step 3. Be Reliable, Accountable and Consistent

Consistency creates grooves.  Grooves create focus.  Focus creates transformation.  When you are reliable, people can count on you to keep your promises, and when you are steadfast, you build trust and belief.

And I’ve learned that when people believe…wow, anything is possible.

Moreover, when you are reliable, accountable and consistent for YOU, you’ll believe in yourself more, your self-esteem will skyrocket, and you will move mountains.

I’ve found that the best way to stay accountable for the promises I make to myself is to keep track of the times I do, and to celebrate them.

There’s nothing like positive reinforcement to shake up samsaric (repetitive, habitual) behavior.

Step 4. Design and Craft your Relationships Consciously

It is vital to design the kind of relationships you want to be in.

One summer, I made a vow that I would say yes to hanging out with a certain group of people that I admired.

I admired them for their positive attitudes, their creativity, their evolution thus far in life, and their successes.  When I was with them, I felt inspired; I felt on track with my goals, and supported in being as badass as I could be, in all areas of my life.

I consciously sought their good company and then made choices to be around them, even taking more time off of my teaching schedule. As a result, I think I have helped more people this year than any other, thanks in large part to the great company I’ve kept.

Make a list of new connections you can invite into your circle and raise the bar on the quality of your life and your own evolution!

You Can Do This

Show up as the powerful being that you know you are.  Keep on shifting and waking up, because every single one of you is here to love people, lift them up and serve the planet.

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Love and Lessons from Umbria, Italy

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Love and Lessons from Umbria, Italy

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Every time I'm on our retreat in Italy, I receive continuous reminders about how gorgeous nature and the world can be. Astonishing really. We've had a perfect recipe for inspiration and greatness this year with Douglas Brooks sharing on the "ferocity of love" and the wonderful company we've shared.

Someone at the retreat turned to me the other day and said, "Thank you for reminding me why I am here."

Douglas said it best when he shared:

"Because life is such a strange, wonderful gift, there is really nothing wrong with us. Treasure that Gift."

Gratitude is pouring.

Here I am pondering beauty and abundance after picking pomegranates, pears, figs and more from the gardens in the Umbrian countryside. Treasuring every moment...

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THE SEQUEL: Discover These Remedies For Uncomfortable Meditation

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THE SEQUEL: Discover These Remedies For Uncomfortable Meditation

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Back in June I posted a blog called: "If You're in Pain After Only 5-10 Minutes of Meditation, You're Probably Making these Common Alignment Mistakes." We received such an overwhelming response from meditators and yogis commenting and asking more questions about how to enhance their seated posture, that I decided to film......the sequel!

If you have not yet watched the original, you can find it over at my blog.

Here are some of the most common questions we got, which I address in the video:

1. What do I do if my legs are still falling asleep?  What do I do if my legs are tingling? 2. What do I do if I still have knee pain? 3. What do I do if I still have ankle pain?

Ultimately it is not necessarily all about getting completely free in your body during meditation.  I prefer to focus on what a total victory it is if you can last even 2 minutes longer with out discomfort!

Your body will get stronger the more you meditate in good alignment and you can keep adding those minutes on over time.

And as you know, the more people who meditate for longer periods of time, the more world peace we're gonna get!

As always, please leave a comment at the bottom of the blog. I would love, love, love to hear how much more mileage you get on your cushion after watching this!

Want to read more on the topic of meditation and yoga? See my article written for Elephant Journal at the Press Page.

Meditate on!

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What I Did With A Baseball Bat Zucchini

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What I Did With A Baseball Bat Zucchini

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Raw Low Carb Late-Summer Pasta

Are you looking for something, anything to do with those zucchinis in the garden that turn into baseball bats?

And how about the bushels of tomatoes and basil?

Even if you don't have a garden, you will want to go out and buy the ingredients for this recipe, or take the edge off a friend’s overflowing garden by inviting yourself over to harvest!

My student, Therese, brought me one of those mega zucchinis to Tigress practice and I have to admit, I saw the size and all I could think of was loaves and loaves of zucchini bread taking over my kitchen.

Until I remembered my Spiral Slicer that was gathering dust in the kitchen. And then the wild Italian in me began to come alive...

Equipment Needed: Spiral Slicer Garnishing Machine - by Joyce Chen  (run, don’t walk to go order one of these online – best gadget ever!). Some food processors may also have an attachment that can make zucchini into spaghetti.

Ingredienti (best if organic):

2-3 cups of spiralized raw zucchini 1/2 small avocado, diced Organic extra virgin olive oil Phlavor salt spray (my favorite new salt water seasoning available at www.phmiracleliving.com), Real Salt or sea salt to taste 5 yellow and/or red cherry tomatoes, sliced Handful pine nuts 3 leaves of fresh basil from garden Squeeze of Lemon juice

Cut 1/4th of a mega zucchini or a whole normal sized zucchini and process in the Spiral Slicer until you have about 2-3 cups of “pasta” and place in a bowl.

Add the avocado, cherry tomatoes and pine nuts to the zucchini.

Use a scissor to cut up the basil into the pasta, drizzle a good amount of olive oil over the mixture and squeeze on a small amount of lemon juice to taste. 

Spray 6 or 7 times with Phlavor or use sea salt, preferably “Real Salt” to taste.

Serves one.

Toss well, and enjoy!

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Love, Pasta, and the Seemingly Impossible

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Love, Pasta, and the Seemingly Impossible

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On the evening of September 10th, 2001, two birds hit the sliding glass doors of a studio where I was attending an afternoon class on retreat in Southern Utah. My friend Sianna and I silently left the room to go outside.

One bird was down, the other, its mate, was circling nervously. We gave the bird our love and reiki, to no avail.

Later that evening we performed a burial ceremony in the woods for the bird who passed. We wept unexplainably.

The next morning I woke up to a phone call in my yurt - the Twin Towers had been struck by two planes.

After the shock, the tears, the group collective prayers and meditations, the reality of our new world began to sink in via emails and phone calls of concern.

One such call was from Jane Fryer, founder of Inward Bound, a retreat and travel company that was hosting our retreat at Locanda Del Gallo, in only three weeks. "The travel industry is toast, my business is doomed, do we go to Italy?"

Half of the 28 participants had already asked for their money back.

My response? We go! I was determined not to let misaligned terrorists stop us from enjoying life, nor squelch our freedom.

I got on the plane to Rome ready to take down any bad guy. I even got my fellow passengers to agree to help if we saw anyone sketchy. The plane was empty - I had four whole seats to myself.

A courageous group of 14 yogis arrived at Locanda Del Gallo the next day, a little depressed, a bit nervous, but ready to have a transformation.

Every class was filled with a depth and paradox of feelings: Grief and despair mixed with an undying sense of hope and unity. The pain of loss blended with a sense of humor. Together we learned to hold these opposing emotions in the space of Locanda's piercing silence. Together we showed up with love. Our hearts lead the way.

We chanted, we prayed for the world, we shopped at the Prada outlet, we took silly yoga pictures with our new accessories for comic relief, we ate a lot of pasta, we cried, we loved and we danced.

That's me and Jane ten years ago, hamming it up for some much needed comic relief, decked out in Prada and Miu Miu.

On the final evening we gathered in colorful clothes at the tip of Locanda's precipice and created a mandala made of objects we found in nature, infusing each with our love and prayers for peace and harmony on the planet.

It was clear, that yoga travel would not end. This was just the beginning.

And sure enough, this was the first of 9 more closing mandala ceremonies that have since occurred on that very precipice.

Inward Bound went on to thrive and is still alive and well today. We are so grateful to Jane Fryer for gracing our lives with this magical slice of heaven on Earth, a place where dreams are born, hearts are mended, peace is found and PASTA reigns true!

We are thrilled to be going back, for our 10th year, this October 1-8th! This time joined by Douglas Brooks for a juicy topic all about love, baby. Check him out flashing the 12 Kali Mudras in this video about this year's retreat:

Watch more videos and read all about our next trip to Italy this fall!

And as always, please leave a comment below. :)

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Adorning and Making Beauty at the Hanuman Yoga Festival!

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Adorning and Making Beauty at the Hanuman Yoga Festival!

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Get a peek at the scene over at the Hanuman Yoga Festival in Boulder, CO where I've been hanging out with Kelli Davis, of Crocus Pocus Designs. Many of you know her, and if you don't you'll know her soon - Kelli was recently featured in Yoga Journal for her work helping protect and rehabilitate rescued Elephants in Thailand through her Ganesh Project necklaces.  Kelli is an artist and a healer who has made it her life passion to adorn seekers with the stones they need to help them transform their lives!

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If You're In Pain After Only 5 or 10 Minutes of Meditation, You're Probably Making These Common Alignment Mistakes...

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If You're In Pain After Only 5 or 10 Minutes of Meditation, You're Probably Making These Common Alignment Mistakes...

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This past weekend I had the great honor of co-leading a retreat with my long-time friend and meditation teacher, Sharon Salzberg. The retreat group was mixed, ranging from those with advanced yoga asana practices and minor seated practices to strictly meditators who had dabbled in yoga before but did not make it regularly to the mat.

Several in the room had long abandoned their meditation cushions in favor of sitting in a chair to avoid the pain that flared up after only 5 minutes of sitting. 

Worse yet, some reported that they had either sat through the pain or cut their practices short to get out of the discomfort in the past.

Has meditation become an occupational hazard of your spiritual practice much like sitting at a desk or commuting long hours?

Watch the video below to find out if you have been making any of the 5 most common alignment mistakes in your meditation posture!  Then learn (through yoga alignment) how to sit in ways that make your seated practice more comfortable and last longer.

As always, please leave a comment at the bottom of the blog. I would love, love, love to hear how much more mileage you get on your cushion after watching this!

Want to read more on the topic of meditation and yoga? See my article written for Elephant Journal at the Press Page.

And join us for the month of June over at the 30 Day Yoga Challenge on Facebook, where we will be meditating for 10 minutes minimum a day with a group of 2000 other yogis!

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Why Taking Responsibility Will Set You Free

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Why Taking Responsibility Will Set You Free

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My morning note from the Universe after teaching on same topic:

"The more responsible one becomes, the farther their wings reach. ~ Fly, The Universe"

There is a teaching in the Tantra that says we are born innately free. Rather than seeking freedom as a spiritual goal (i.e. as if you never had it to begin with), freedom is actually an inherent asset, lying there waiting to be accessed all along.

As we respect our own innate freedom, we come to a teaching in the Tantra called "Radical Affirmation" or in Sanskrit, "Shri".  Radical Affirmation has many meanings, one of which is that we must also be receptive to others’ freedom.

Tantric scholar Douglas Brooks recently shared with me that "Radical Affirmation is how we get real about what the world is offering us." It is kind of like welcoming everything that comes your way with open arms and a big YES.  And if you have not noticed, being alive in the 21st century, the world (out of its crazy freedom!) offers up some pretty weird sh*t!

In the toughest times of my life, I have held myself back from my innate freedom (and from everyone and everything else) when, rather than receive what the world was offering, I blamed someone or something else for what was going wrong.  I was either going to say YES and figure out my part in the matter (Radical Affirmation) then move on, or I was going to cry "victim".

Being a victim is, let's just say it, not attractive.

Being a victim keeps us in a holding pattern that in yoga we call "Samsara", or as Douglas says, "a dis-empowering process where we say, "I know better but..."

When things go wrong, we are so afraid to be vulnerable, we often put the onus anywhere but on ourselves.  We might feel better or righteous for a second or two, but we rarely expand or grow.  Instead we stay stuck in the same ruts (Samskaras).

In almost all cases, the events of our lives and the results we are getting can be traced back to guess who? Ourselves.

  • Sure, the traffic was heinous, but I was the one who cut it too close.
  • Sure, he lied to me and promised the world, but I'm the one who trusted him.
  • Sure, I never watched that crappy exercise video collecting dust on the shelf, but I'm the one who bought it.
  • Sure, I took on too much in one day, but I'm the one who said YES and did not say NO.
  • Sure, they stood me up and flaked, but I was the one who expected they could be accountable.
  • Sure, they gave me the wrong directions, but it was me who did not listen to my intuition.
  • Sure, I felt terrible and had no energy, but I was the one who ate poorly and did not get enough sleep.

Getting the picture?

"If you don't like your outcomes, change your responses." ~Jack Canfield

Jack Canfield, author of Chicken Soup for the Soul, has a principle of success that he teaches to thousands of students all over the world and that is to take 100% responsibility for your life in order to be truly empowered, fully free, and to succeed in creating a life of meaning.

In order to do this, he says, you have to completely give up:

  • Blaming
  • Complaining
  • Justifying
  • Making Excuses

So what do you do when you have a victim blaming you or giving you unsolicited negative feedback?

A victim typically wants vengeance.  "Vengeance," Douglas Brooks says, "is a bit like watching the death penalty".  The person getting the so-called vengeance is left in their same samsaric state as before the death, and any dysfunction on their part is enabled to continue on.

The best approach is to choose to be irenical (ie. aim toward peace), and let your opponent be right, give them "their little pound of flesh" as Douglas says.  Then you can walk away empowered, having owned your part.

In addition you will have placed proper boundaries on any expectations of them to "get it" or take some of the responsibility them selves.  Because when someone really wants to be the victim, they usually won't budge, so why should we expect otherwise?  Just throw them the bone.

"Hanging onto resentment is letting someone you despise live rent-free in your head." ~ Esther Lederer

The key to “letting go”, that process so many yogi’s long to be able to do, is to take ownership first through radical affirmation of all that could possibly be true, take responsibility for your contribution, and then truly, the wings of your inherent freedom will soar.

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Why Getting on Your Yoga Mat More Often Will Make You Teach (and Live) Like A Winner

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Why Getting on Your Yoga Mat More Often Will Make You Teach (and Live) Like A Winner

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Have you ever taken a yoga class and you could just tell that the teacher was not into it?  Or were you that teacher standing in front of the class, looking out at the mats, passionless? Fortunately, there is a remedy...

And that is to...

Get down and get funky on your trusty yoga mat!

...And I don't mean go to a workshop or a retreat and come back inspired every now and then. I am talking about continual, non-stop re-fueling.  Whether you teach yoga or not, this means getting on your yoga mat consistently, at your home, in a class, or at a practice for teachers and advanced students.

In 2001, I started teaching classes at Laughing Lotus Yoga Center in New York City, founded by NY yogini legend, Dana Trixie Flynn and star partner, Jasmine Tarkeshi.

What I loved about Dana's class was that even after so many years of teaching yoga, I never caught her standing in front of the room teaching un-inventively or leading a run of the mill sequence with a humdrum theme.  Why?

Well, as I learned, Dana was on her mat every day, dancing, experimenting and creating magic.  The juice around the practice was so compelling, it seeped into her teaching in ways that made her classes "events" you did not want to miss.

Dana and I started practicing together at Laughing Lotus weekly, inviting other teachers to join us.

I look back at those days fondly. It was a laboratory for yoga craziness...learning about our bodies and where we needed strength, where we needed opening, experimenting with zany postures, making up new ones, how to best get into advanced poses and more.  We did timings, repetitions, played ridiculous music and laughed.

In that spirit of creativity and togetherness, I had some of the biggest breakthroughs in my yoga practice yet.

It was this memory that came with me to Colorado when I moved in 2004. So when I found a teacher's practice going on called "The Tigress", I knew I was home again.

With out touching regularly into your practice, the only thing to fuel your teaching is the stale memory of when you did have a regular practice.

Boring!

Like my days at Laughing Lotus, a tremendous way to advance your practice and get excited to get on the mat is to organize an informal practice in your area for teachers and advanced practioners.

"Those always fizzle out after a while" you say.  Or, "No one ends up coming."

And that can be true. So...

Here is how to Organize a Practice Successfully:

  1. Pick a time based on the availability of the teachers in your area, either by creating a survey in Survey Monkey or doing some online research on teacher's schedules.
  2. Find a yoga studio that would be honored to host the practice during off hours, preferably as a community service to the local teachers.
  3. When you have established the above, send an email and FB invite to all the teachers!
  4. Start a group or create an event page in Facebook to advertise it where pictures and even videos can be posted to get people inspired.
  5. Be consistent and show up yourself. Repeat: Be consistent and show up yourself.
  6. Send out a reminder email the day before every practice and let them know what cool things might be occurring at the practice (holiday or b-day celebration, specific pose you will apex to, etc...). With out the reminders, that is when it can fizzle!
  7. Celebrate birthdays, holidays, milestones, and dedicate your practices often to students in the community and anyone in need.
  8. Either lead the practice yourself if you are the most experienced, take turns each week leading, or have all the teachers lead "round-robin" style.

This is a sure shot way to get fired up and if you teach, to set your yoga teaching on fire!

If this has worked for you, please leave a comment below - we'd love to hear it.

In my latest project, (an online teacher training called 90 Minutes to Change the World), part of the very first module addresses even more ideas like this one on cultivating your practice, plus exactly what needs to fall into place in order to get yourself on the mat so that you can teach from a place of deep inspiration.

To find out more about 90 Minutes to Change The World 101, starting this Tuesday April 5th, have fun browsing these links:

The 90 Minutes Vimeo Channel: http://vimeo.com/user4337915

Podcast Interview by Meredith Sasseen: http://bit.ly/fxAUBc

District Kula Blog: http://bit.ly/gEVHLW

 

 

 

 

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How to be a "Yoga Magnet"

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How to be a "Yoga Magnet"

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She is a mom, a newlywed, she has the most amazing curls (one of her many signature features), and travels the world as a yogini superstar, inspiring yoga students everywhere with her sparkling zest for life. For the last 13 years, Desiree Rumbaugh and I have been part of this wild, expanding journey called yoga.  She continues to be such a bright ball of love and enthusiasm, laughter and down-to-earth goodness, I just love the woman!

Desiree has a knack for seriously magnetizing people to yoga. As far as I'm concerned, the more peeps who do yoga, the more love there will be in the world!

The other day I did something really new and different - I had a video conversation on skype with Desiree.  But it was not just a video chat, it was recorded split screen so we could share our convo with the world!

In the video below, you can see our chat and learn how Desiree started out as a local yoga teacher and the things she did to become the great "Yoga Magnet" that she is.

Besides how cool the technology we used is, can you feel the "Desiree sparkle", or what?

In April, Desiree will be joining the faculty (uh..me!) as a guest presenter for the next run of my online course. If you are a yoga teacher and want to get involved in the course, take a stroll over to the event page for 90 Minutes to Change the World 101 and learn more.

Be sure to leave a comment here for me and Desiree, we'd love to hear what you think about these ideas!

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How to Turn a Crappy Day Into a Great Tomorrow: No Yoga Necessary

Ever had a CRAP day and feel like life is:

  • not worth living
  • is too hard, sucks
  • you can't go on like this
  • or just WTF?

But somewhere down there you know it will get better?  Maybe in one breath things could change, but it might take until tomorrow...

THAT you know it will get better is a feature of YOGA or having a yoga practice. We just know that some days are bad and some are great, just as we know some practice days are awesome and some just fall flat.

I had a day like that on Sunday.  I was full on with my cycle and had not slept well with the full moon, I was feeling heinous, and on top of it, despite uber hydration efforts here in Colorado, developed possibly the worst case of chapped lips in my entire life, (caused by natural lip balm of all things).

In that state I was unproductive and feeling anxious and....quite a bit sorry for myself.

On days like those, its almost like there is no other choice but to do something, anything to take care of myself.  There is also no other choice but to let go of productivity and get on the couch with a movie and be the vegetable I so desperately need to be.

And so I did.

I took a hot bath, climbed in bed with a movie, cranked up the humidifier, loaded up my lips with goo, and called it a day.

The result?

Monday was damn good.  I woke up on the right side of the bed, well rested, psyched for life, my lips are healed (thank you un-petroleum jelly!), I was down-right giddy, and my productivity is back!

Even though depressing days can be a drag - the revelation of my fab Monday was so much more enjoyable precisely because my day before was so lousy.  I'm kind of glad I had a crappy day.

So if you happen to find yourself depressed or bumming about your day here is a little how-to to go get yourself a better tomorrow!

How to's for Creating a Funk Free Day:

  • Stop trying to get things done
  • Take a hot bath
  • Put on comfy clothes
  • Pop in a movie and vegetate
  • Decide that tomorrow is going to be better
  • Go to bed early and get a good night's sleep

Can you relate?  Leave a comment with your ideas on the topic!  And have yourself a wonderful day!

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Watch This Before You Plan Your Yoga For the Week

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Watch This Before You Plan Your Yoga For the Week

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Here are two really important tips for new yoga students (and yoga teachers wanting to help out their students). It’s about how often you want to do your yoga, and the benefits of FREQUENCY in your practice.

After all, if you are serious about developing a yoga practice beyond just an occasional spin on the mat, or you are a teacher trying to encourage others to get on the mat more, you’ll want to have this information at your fingertips.

In this video, you’ll learn two super basic but important benefits of keeping up a consistent and frequent practice.

I don't even say this in the video, but keeping up a regular, uninterrupted frequency of practice also really helps prevent injury - take it from me!  Yoga keeps you strong and healthy, so when we stop, things tend to atrophy and become weaker, thus we become more vulnerable to injury.

So go on, grab a yoga mat and take a ride!

Please leave a comment about your experience with practice frequency in the comment box below, I'd love to hear it!

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Radical Self-Esteem and Yoga

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Radical Self-Esteem and Yoga

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Self-esteem is a topic you hear about most often in self-help books, human potential seminars, and in reference to teenage girls.  In yoga class, it arises in the context of "self-reverence", "acceptance of what is", and "self-love".  Yoga takes self-esteem to its boundary....Yoga itself is the process of recognizing that you are nothing more than a total, utter miracle, one of a kind, remarkable human being full of mystery, individual charm, and distinct attributes, no matter what kind of package you arrived in. In 2001, back in New York City, I began hosting my teacher, Dr. Douglas Brooks, a Hindu Tantric scholar who comes from a long and obscure lineage of householders in South India.  During his visits he would blow our minds, revealing the secrets of the Universe and connecting the yoga we were doing on the mats to a much large matrix of vibration and Divine play.

I wanted to entertain him during the off hours, and try to somehow match the magnitude of his teachings, so I had the brilliant idea to take him to the Hayden Planetarium.  Off we went.  Tom Hanks narrated the presentation, and as we panned away from Earth, he managed to drill home the fact that we really are just a speck in the grand scheme.

He wrapped up the show with displaying the birth of a star.  The star, he said, has so much magnetism that it attracts all this power until it can't stand it anymore and it just bursts with a staggering blast, sending chunks of matter every which way.  As these chunks meet up and take form, they become the "dust" which makes up the planets, the plants, and other lifeforms.

And so he concluded, "We too are made up of star dust."

Douglas, myself and the others yogis sat there as the sky faded to blue again - heads back, eyes bugged, and jaws on the floor as people began filing out of the hall.  Mission accomplished I thought.  We blew him away.

Just then a women in front of us turned to her boyfriend and said in a classic NY accent, "Well, that's just great!  We're made up of DIRT!"

We looked at each other as though someone had taken a chainsaw to our hearts.

How typical of humans, to see only the ways in which having this body is a problem.  How typical that we see ourselves as dirt, not made up of stardust.

Enter the dance of radical self-esteem through the vision of yoga.

There is a very precious teaching in yoga called The Three Malas.  In this case mala being a "cloak" or a "veil" rather than mala like the bead.  These veils are like coverings which conceal our true nature, like a film that settles on the mirror of our hearts, obscuring clarity. Like a floor which collects dust bunnies, or tarnish on silver that dulls its shine, the malas collect on our consciousness.  Yet, the silver is still shiny underneath, the mirror at its essence is still reflective, and the floor can be "swiffered".

Yoga is the swiffer for your heart.

Dust bunnies are going to accumulate just by the very nature of you being alive. Every time we forget how miraculous we actually are, more dust bunnies arrive. Life is just that way, we forget. And shit happens. We get hurt.

We say that the Malas are God-given, for every time we forget our greatness, we get to delight in re-remembering again. You are supposed to forget.  And each time you remember, you grow, you expand, you become even more of yourself.

The three Malas are:

Anava Mala This is the cloak of uber low self-esteem, insecurity, a deep feeling of separateness, and a complete pre-occupation with self.  Too much subject.  This is the person who looks in the mirror, sees the zit on her face and assumes that everyone must be disgusted by it too.  This is the anorexic who looks in the mirror, and thinks she is fat, when she actually is emaciated.

When this mala has gone really bad we become so pre-occupied with ourselves that we rarely consider the consequences of our actions and how those might affect others. So we end up doing bad things like cheating, lying, betraying and withholding. By the time we come out of our bubble it is only because we have completely trashed our life and the lives of those closest to us and are forced to wake up.

The good news about this Mala is that when you wake up, you get to look at the root of the problem which is your insecurity and low self worth, and then....remember that you are a good person at heart. Being transparent about feeling unworthy is the ONLY way to accept our insecurities and then release them so we can grow.

Maiya Mala This is the cloak of worrying what everyone else thinks of you.  Too much object. It's how when we date someone new, for the first few months, we are really dating their "representative", and they are dating ours. To show our real self would be to reveal the one who burps, farts, has melt downs, gets stressed out, and has a dark side.

When this mala has gone bad, we see the guy with the suit and tie who everyone respects and praises in the neighborhood doing the pedophile thing undergound.  It's the cheating spouse who can't seem to make it to therapy to work out their issues but really wants you to know what a good person they actually are.

The good news about this Mala is that when you "snap out of it", you realize once again that being vulnerable, and sharing the authentic version of yourself, may repel some, but it usually will attract many more. Most people want to hang out with someone who is genuine and comfortable in their own skin - foibles and all.

Karma Mala This is the cloak of helplessness - when we feel we have no agency or power to act.  Typically I have seen this come about as a result of the other two malas operating.  It's how we go into denial as the world is falling apart around us, and do not step up to deal with the consequences or circumstances in front of us. It is the head-in-the-sand approach to life.

The good news about this mala is that when we finally lift our weary heads out of the ditch, and allow ourselves (and the mess all around us) to be seen, accepted as normal, and forgiven, we can rebuild with baby steps.

Yoga is ultimately about expanding the person we already are.  To do this, we have to look at the veils that hold us back from this expansion.  So you'll often hear me asking my closest friends and students to please tell me if they see me going down the "mala rabbit hole".  In turn, when I see a friend (one who is open to feedback) going down, I will often just make a joke of it and say, "Do we need to do a de-malafication here?"  The Malas, though usually painful, are really gifts that allow us to re-frame our experience and beliefs about ourselves, so having a sense of humor, and "normalizing" these cloaks is the best strategy.

The result?  Radical Self-Esteem.

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Yes, your yoga class matters...

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Yes, your yoga class matters...

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As many of you know I have been immersing myself in my newest project, 90 Minutes to Change the World.  Since last year I have been searching for a way to respond to a trend I was noticing in the yoga community.  As yoga's popularity continues to expand, we have seen an increase of international yoga workshops, festivals, and conferences featuring big names in the yoga world. As this expansion is occurring, there is a subsequent contraction in the quality of public yoga classes, and an attitude among teachers that the local public teacher is somehow "less than", since the real goal is to hit the road to glory as a national teacher and leave the yoga studio behind.

No More Chopped Liver!

Since when did the public yoga class teacher become such chopped liver?  And when did the visiting international teacher become such a rock star? In my day as a yoga student in NYC, it was the local public teachers who were the rock stars.

This paradigm of becoming a traveling yoga rock star is not unique to any particular form of yoga.  Many teachers studying with the founders of various methods feel they must become the key teacher or "who's who" of their given school of yoga, in order to hit the road and reach "yoga career nirvana". Is this the path all yoga teachers are meant to take ?  And is this particular path for everyone?  I don't think it has to be.

It has been 8 years since I ran the first ever Anusara yoga Immersion in response to a paradigm I thought could serve the yoga community better.  Maybe it is the rule of the seven year cycle, but about a year ago I found myself itching again to respond to attitudes or paradigms that have come into being and now need to be shaken up once again...

I think I figured out the next move...and that is to breathe new life into the beauty and momentousness of the local public yoga class, so that it can once again return to its former glory.

This new project launches February 1st, and with it I am hoping to start a movement that will help, through a collective of powerful yoga teachers, to reinvigorate and inspire those who choose to make teaching public classes their passion!

Be sure to visit the event page for 90 Minutes to Change the World, to learn all about the virtual and live teacher trainings that will take public yoga class teaching to new heights!

Presuming this thing flies strong and I am on the right track here, you will make history by being a pioneer and joining this journey for its maiden voyage.

Please leave a comment below and I'll see you at the webinars for some world changin'!

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Cover of Yoga Journal

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Cover of Yoga Journal

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This September, I flew to San Francisco for a 24-hour trip to shoot the cover of Yoga Journal's first issue of 2011.  It is a complete honor to have been asked to model, mainly because of the opportunity to put my whole spirit into a picture that could potentially introduce someone to yoga for the very first time. For this reason, I felt really blessed and hopeful during the photo shoot. I am totally grateful to everyone at Yoga Journal for their professionalism, talent and skills in orchestrating the shoot.  Stacey Rosenburg, Laura Christensen and Yoga Journal, Editor-in-Chief, Kaitlin Quitsgaard were so sweet to hang out at the shoot and even be in some of the pictures just to make the day so much more fun.  Kaitlin also grows a mean heirloom tomato!

I hope the cover serves to inspire, uplift and help attract lots of newbies to the amazing art form of practicing yoga.  Please share it with a friend!

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Secrets of Starting Your Decade Off Right…The Powerhouse of Love Tour Comes to a Close

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Secrets of Starting Your Decade Off Right…The Powerhouse of Love Tour Comes to a Close

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2010 seemed like a powerful year to name my tour "The Powerhouse of Love Tour".  Being the first year in a new decade, it made me want to look back at how much I had shifted in the ten years prior and get stoked for how I wanted to shape the next ten year chapter. I realized, this year, I wanted to be the biggest love muffin I could be, spread more love, give more love and be more love.  Being a Powerhouse of Love means not settling for mediocrity in our relationships, physical environments, careers, or what we do with our time.

The 2011 tour is still yet un-named, but I can assure you it will be more of more of this kind of theme.

Here are some of the highlights of The Powerhouse of Love Tour:

  • Finishing the first ever Immersion cycle in Seoul, Korea
  • Partying with the Kula in Costa Rica with Douglas Brooks, Sianna Sherman, BJ Galvan, Jaye Martin and Shantala
  • Level 1 TT in Denver, CO - best ever!
  • The summertime hooping, Advanced Therapy Training in Golden, CO
  • The Yoga Grand Gathering at Estes Park, CO
  • Advanced TT in NJ with me and Ross Rayburn and a tremendous group of teachers!
  • Completing another Immersion cycle in Boulder, CO
  • Thanksgiving weekend with Shantala at Kripalu
  • The Teachings of the Courageous Warrior at DIG Yoga with Douglas, Sue and Naime, Crocus Pocus and Mykal Aubrey

Thanks to everyone who helped make this year and this tour so spectacular!

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