Winter Solstice yoga JAMM

if you're anything like me, the holidays present an overwhelming and exciting couple of weeks in which social calendars are booked to capacity. we take this time to rejoin and reconnect with each other in ways to simply express our joy at having these contacts, these people who may not be a part of everyday life, but who are no doubt impactful in our movements. 

this idea speaks volumes to what the entirety of our yoga practice is meant to be. yoga, as translated from Sanskrit root word yuj, has a variety of meanings - "to add", "to join", "to unite", "to attach".  in the very literal sense of the word, it deals with the yoking of a harness to oxen or horses to create ease in the moving of objects too large to be moved by man alone. and from these very literal definitions, we develop a more ethereal, philosophical sense of the word - yoga is connection. and whether it's the simple connection of breath to body as found in the asana practice in our studios, or whether it's the deeper connections of finding our truest self through combining the mental and spiritual in meditation, there is no doubt that what yoga achieves is a deep rejoining of our self to the world around our self, in an effort to find an easier way to travel through life. 

as such, our yoga practice becomes a fascinating exploration of how we deal with everyday situations. every time we come to the mat, we lay out our individual rectangles of rubber and take our bodies, minds, and spirits through a practice that serves to reunite that trifecta of our "self". but I think one of the most interesting things that happens with our time in the room is we tend to forget we're not the only ones going through the motions. we see ourselves as these individualized entities preparing for this communion with the depths of our truths, and we fail to recognize there are however many other people in the room going through these same motions. and while our practice is, in many ways, a wholly unique experience, the results we find are vastly similar to those "others" we've just shared our hour with. we all leave feeling more connected not only to what we've just gone through, but to each other for having gone through it together.

only when we start to remember that our practice isn't solely about me, but about the shared experience we have - individually but together - we can start to see how the practice isn't about simply uniting us back to ourselves; it's about how the shared energy of the group provides us an opportunity to reconnect to the spark of divinity that lives within us all. and we can carry that with us out of the room, so as we come into contact with more "others", as our lives pull us back into the mix of the world, we treat each other with a greater empathy and understanding. and from this place, we create an opportunity to continue growing our compassion to the entirety of the human experience. and I think we can all agree, at this specific juncture in the unfolding of humanity, what we really need is tenderness, and love, and a reconnection back to each other, an understanding that our experiences aren't defined simply by us - they're defined by how we share them with each other.

in closing, some lyrics from "No One Is Alone", a song from Stephen Sondheim's Into the Woods. they speak perfectly to the remembrance that no matter what happens as we pass through, no matter how life comes along and affects our individual experience, someone understands. someone knows the joys and pains you're experiencing, and someone will relish your happiness with you, someone will support you through the heartaches and tribulations.

just remember...

someone is on your side

someone else is not

while we're seeing our side

maybe we forgot

they are not alone

no one is alone

hard to see the light now

just don't let it go 

things will come out right now

we can make it so

someone is on your side

no one is alone

keep reaching out. keep being good to yourselves and to each other. know that you are loved, and you are love.

November yoga JAMM

between the events of November 8th and the subsequent deluge of emotions and information stemming from them, I find myself frequently lost on how to express the things I want to express. writing has become difficult because there are so many things I want to say and do and be a part of with this extreme turn of events in our country, and every time I attempt to gather my thoughts, some distraction or new source of grief pops up and I find it a challenge to move forward.

as I'm working to move from my shell-shock and attempt a return to normalcy, I've been working with my classes this month on the latter 4 limbs of the 8-limb path of yoga: pratyahara, dharana, dhyana, samadhi. and what each of these limbs independently and conjunctively teach us is how to turn inward to find stability, ease, and eventually peace within ourselves.

at the end of October, I was invited to attend an event at the United Nations on how yoga can assist and help with the UN Culture of Peace. I invite you to read up on the UN Culture of Peace here:

after agreeing to attend, I was given an even bigger and pretty mind-blowing opportunity - the organizer of the event, Dr. Valdemar Prado, reached out to me and asked me to prepare a speech. having no idea what this meant except for an opportunity to speak at the UN, I naturally jumped at the chance. and what I spoke on is, I think, very much a reflection of how to utilize the latter 4 limbs of the 8-limb path of yoga. below is a link to that speech: jump to 1:17:25 for my intro, but please watch the entire video if you have the time - it's a pretty spectacular gathering.

with these thoughts in mind, I invite all of you to take some time this season, and with the changes ahead in the landscape, to do some soul-searching and find out how you can bring peace to your life, and in turn, to others.

September yoga JAMM

I'm having a birthday this weekend. I used to be the type who got really hyped about the turning of age, celebrating what I've long-referred to as my "personal new year", but I've found with the passing of time I'm enjoying slowing the moment and taking some time to really reflect. what have I accomplished in the past year? what do I foresee as plans for the next year? what am I comfortable separating from, and if I feel there's something I need to cling to, why? all of these larger questions have put me in a place where I'm thinking a lot about how I perceive the world.

perception is defined as 'the organization, identification, and interpretation of sensory information in order to represent and understand'. what I find most intriguing in that definition are two words - interpretation and represent - because they both point to the fact that what we perceive really only exists within our head, within our individual frame of reference. and while this can be an extremely helpful tool in helping us shape our individual world, when we spend too much time in our head, then we disconnect from what is real and true and happening around us. which then begs the bigger question, if the world around us is simply a reorganization of the synapses of our individual brains to help us better understand how we fit into place, then what is actually real? what is actually true? and when there are 4 billion individual lines of thinking on the planet, how can we ever come to a concordance where we can have a reality that serves everyone? when we can find a truth that is universal?

in order to answer this question, I have to get on my mat. I have to get into a place where I can release all of these perceptions - these pre-conceived notions, these ideas that exist only in my headspace - and get into my body. because within our bodies are universal, shared, real truths that we all can understand. we all can understand what it's like to feel good in our physical shape and what we can do to bring ourselves that good feeling. we can universally come together and breathe a collective sigh of relief when we can allow ourselves to escape fully into our breath, into our body, and find that ease in being held, supported, strong and firm in the physical space our brains exist in. and when we start to tap into that energy, we find this gorgeous symbiosis - the more we provide ease in our body and connect to grace in physical movement, the more the body teaches the brain to find ease. to release its sense of control, its need to be the leader. to let go of these ideas that we need to be a certain way, that these expectations we place on ourselves are necessary. and when the body and the brain are in alignment with each other, in that space of ease, then we soften to the truth within each of us - that we are connected. that we are divine. that we are love.

the intelligence that exists in our bodies I believe can rival the intelligence of our brains. our bodies have accumulated tens of thousands of years of evolutionary knowledge, and there is instinct and truth built into us at the cellular level. there is a spark of divination within each of us that, when tapped into, reminds us of all of the great feats of strength and power and love that we can share and express. the next time you're on your mat, do your best to get out of your head. let these perceptions, these ideas of what you think should be, fall away. and you'll find that as you release the 'shoulds', you arrive in what really is.

August yoga JAMM

while it's hard to believe we're mostly through August, the calendar doesn't lie - September and the autumnal equinox are well on their way to us. and if you're anything like me, this summer has breezed by without having much of an opportunity to really get in and play. this is one of the harder aspects of being a responsible adult - we have to be so serious about life and making sure that all of our needs and desires are taken care of that we forget to take the time to enjoy the experience. I see this reflected constantly in class. students show up on their mats and are immediately developing their pranayam, or going right into giant extensions, thinking there's a should of their yoga practice. we turn into these serious yogis, we arrive rigid and hardened with this expectation of what we think our practice should be, and we miss the lightness and joy and excitement and play.

I've been working to rebuild this sense of buoyancy in my own practice by thinking on the cosmic balance that created it all. there's a sanskrit word, leela, and it loosely translates to "play". more specifically, it refers to the description of reality as the outcome of creative play as manifested by the divine absolute. and when we start to recognize our lives as these chance interactions in which the outcome is directly affected by our relationship to the experience, it seems that the easier answer is to lighten the mood, lighten the tone. the more joy we put into the world the more joy we beget from our experience. and with this ability to lighten our loads, to remember the fun and joy that is an intrinsic part of our journey through life, the more we find that even in the most serious of circumstances, when we grant an easiness to the situation, the solution becomes easier to attain.

off the mat, allow yourself the time to see the turns of your life as an opportunity to discover what the experience has to teach you. when we fully revert to that childlike state of wonder and amazement at what the everyday has to offer, we find the lightness that lets us continue to express fascination at what we find. keeping ourselves open to the possibility that anything is possible presents us the ability to find possibility in any experience.

International Yoga Day yoga JAMM

a couple weeks ago, I was walking through Manhattan when I passed a chunk of sidewalk that was being re-constructed. outside of the construction zone was a panel blocking people from walking into the construction zone (it's necessary in a city where pedestrians are often hard-pressed to look up from their phones), and on the panel was this message:

'We have so much to unlearn here.' De La Vega

as I arrived home that same evening, I opened my book of daily yoga devotionals, and on the page I opened to was a Gloria Steinem quote that read "The first problem for all of us, men and women, is not to learn, but to unlearn." twice in the same day, the universe was pointing out to me that there's something to be learned in the act of unlearning. but what does that even mean? what is the definition of unlearning? I'm not saying that I've come up with any correct answer, or really any answer at all, but what did strike me was the idea of how much time we spend in our self-prescribed patterns and routines. 

there's a sanskrit word - samskara - a conjugation of sam (complete or joined together) and kara (action, cause, or doing). in Indian philosophy, it's reflective of the imprints and impressions left on the mind by experience. I kept coming back to this concept and what it meant in as far as what I've learned in my life, and how these learnings have shaped and affected how I move through the world. I started to really question whether or not these patterns were providing me a service or a disservice. like all things yogic, there's two sides to the idea. patterns and routines can be very good things - they provide us stability, comfort, a safety net in how we move through the world. we all learn at a very young age not to put our hand on an active stove because we get burned. but the flip side of this is that patterns and routines, when they provide us too much stability, comfort, and safety, leave us unwilling to step out of that realm of comfort. if we'd never put our hand on the active stove, we'd never have learned about heat and fire, and how to respect and utilize these forces.

it made me think on how we are far too caught up in the idea of what it means to be learned, to have all of this accrued knowledge under our belt to shape our perceptions of experience. when we come into experiences with expectation, with an idea of what we think the outcome should be, we leave ourselves no room to discover what the outcome will be. we cut out all ability to learn about an opportunity or experience because we've already told ourselves we know everything we need to, and in the end, any lessons of what we could learn have already been ruled out.

take some time to look at the routines and patterns in your life and simply ask yourself, are these things I do serving me? are they leaving me open to finding out more about myself and the world I move through? or have they led me down the same path, winding up in the same place? is there any growth as a result of my repeated experience? 12-Step programs are famous for coining the phrase Insanity is doing the same thing over and over while expecting different results. I would offer an addendum to that idea - expecting any results is insanity, because when you're only focused on what happens at the end, you miss the entirety of what's to be learned in the process.


as I'm constantly reminding and reminded, "life is what happens when we're making plans." which, at times, can present itself to be a rather harrowing, terrifying, and overwhelming experience. there are many mornings when the alarm goes off so, so much earlier than I want it to, and I ask myself, how am I going to do this? how am I going to get through an admin shift at the studio, 3 group classes, a private client, while still finding time to eat and enjoy at least part of the day?! it's exhilarating and exhausting to be doing what I'm doing, and yet I can't and won't stop. this is my best life, and I'm going to keep doing what I can to continue living it.

I've been getting through by calling on shakti. shakti, translated from Sanskrit, means 'divine power', and it refers to the inherent powers within each of us that support us and help to guide and get us through our days. there are a number of different shakti that we can call upon, but there are 3 in particular that create a kind of holy trinity of how we can face everyday situations. Iccha Shakti is translated as determination or willpower; it reflects our ability to stand steady and strong. Jnana Shakti is translated as wisdom or intuition; it reflects our ability to trust our instinct and know that the path we're walking is the one we're meant to be following. Kriya Shakti is translated as manifested intention or effort; it reflects our ability to, in any given situation, remember that all we have to do is our best.

when written out this way, it reads like the simplest thing on earth. and yet when we're face to face with a situation like a manically packed schedule, or an overdue task, or any sort of daunting, time-consuming necessity of the moment, we tend to overlook the simplicity of simply doing what needs to be done and start making excuses as to why we're not accomplishing the task. in these moments, call on your power - look inside and remember those three easy steps, that holy trinity of your own divinity: 

1) be steady 

2) know your path 

3) do your best

February yoga JAMM

the yoga has certainly been working with me in some very interesting and unique ways the past couple of weeks. I've had some experiences that seem to be solidifying I am in the right place, at the right time, doing the right thing. 

recently, a woman came into the studio to attend class while I was working the desk. right before heading in, she read a message that just popped up on her phone, and proceeded to have an hysterical, emotional breakdown. it turns out she's been hustling through a world of change the past couple months, complete with big job moves and multiple international relocations. her sense of place has been completely thrown off, and as a result, she had no grounding - nothing to hold onto, nothing in which she felt solid about anything she was doing or where she was going, every detail of her life completely up in the air. this all came to a head when she received news that a significant part of her life in her home country had been taken without her consent or knowledge. so here she is, more than 7000 miles away from this event without any ability to help or take charge of her life back home - I'd reckon that's enough to throw any of us into a state of overwhelming panic. having no training in psychology or therapy, I made a choice on how to best handle the situation - I listened. I sat her down, gave her water, and let her tell her story, interjecting some philosophy and yogic concepts when it felt necessary, and doing the best I could to simply be a place of solidity for her to work her way through. 90 minutes later, she felt much better about her choices and where she was headed, and was able to leave the studio with a sense of how to move forward in a way that felt supported and strengthened.

my neighbors had a room for rent in their home last October. by chance, I mentioned this to a girl attending a class I was subbing who was telling me of how she was looking for an apartment. I made the connection between the two parties, and now we have a new neighbor. I ran into her recently and she let me know that my introduction to her life had profoundly changed her course. by connecting her with my neighbor and assisting her in finding a home, she was able to settle in, start a new job and set a course that has her succeeding in all aspects of her life.

at mang'Oh, we feature a pose and theme of the month. this month, we're focusing on sirsasana (headstand) and our theme is facing fear. in a class I taught last week, 6 of the 8 students in attendance managed to achieve the pose, based on the approach and suggestions I provided.

I'm not saying that I'm in any way responsible for any of these things happening, but I am very much aware that by allowing myself to be a conduit for a larger purpose, things are taking shape around me that give me my own sense of purpose.

this reminds me of a concept we use in our practice called 'root to rise'. it refers to the idea that the more strength we have built in our foundation, the more ability we have to expand our lives in ways that serve us. this concept is not strictly yogic, either - it appears everywhere in the world constantly and consistently. think of the redwoods/sequoias out in California. these massive, monstrous trees are only able to reach the heights they reach because their roots dig as far into the ground, if not further than, their branches extend into the sky. think of the skyline of New York City - the tallest buildings are located downtown, in midtown, and in uptown. this is not simply because it looks nice - the city planners knew that in order to create tall skyscrapers, they had to build where the foundation, the bedrock of the island, was the deepest. they have to dig deep into the earth to make the supports that allow these marvels to rise and reach upward. think of any relationship you have - your parents, your siblings, your friends, your partners - these relationships only get better when we take the time to solidify our belief in them, when we take the time to work on them and make them strong, so they continue to grow and prosper. when we root ourselves in what we want to see in our lives, our lives rise up to bring us what we're seeking.

January yoga JAMM

something we've come to expect about the turn of the year is the idea of reset, and resolution, and the mentality that we've all got this fresh start - this new way to approach the new year and a new world. I'm not afraid to admit, I spent the first several days of 2016 wandering around feeling revitalized, rejuvenated, refreshed, like I was seeing my regular surroundings with someone else's eyes, and it brought me all of this joy and excitement. I could feel my heart beat faster every time I stepped out the door at the possibilities the world had to offer! not only was there this electric buzz around me for new discoveries, but I was feeling exceedingly content and at ease with my station. everything felt good, and right, and well settled.

then the second Monday of the month came, went, and something shifted, and it all started to feel like routine. again.

I couldn't believe this overall wash of general well-being and, daresay, peace, was so fleeting. I can remember back to last week - yes, LAST WEEK - and see the person who was experiencing all of this ease and I want to shout at him "GET BACK HERE! you, with the enthusiasm and the contentment and the oneness with everything around you, I NEED YOU HERE, NOW!!!" 

it's fully reflective of the state of the world that we live in. we're in a time where every soundbite, every piece of advice and marketing is designed to tell us that we can do better. we can improve. we can be something more than we are. and when we begin to feel like we have to live in this way, this pattern and mindset towards having more, being better, doing that thing that you couldn't previously do, we start to get bogged down when the results don't match our expectation. and then we lose drive and hope and the idea that things can be different slips because the immediate results aren't.

so I, for one, am working on moving away from the thought process of needing to be something other than what I am, and teaching myself that I'm ok as I am. more than ok, I'm perfect as I am. the things I put into the world are the things that only I can put into the world, and my offerings abound with contentment and ease and yes, peace. I can rely and trust that the person who steps out my door every day is the best, shiningest example of moving through the world with grace because that is the action that I choose. peace cannot be taught or earned - it can only be realized when we let go of the struggles we oftentimes place in our own path. move past the idea that you need to be something else, and you'll discover the amazingness you already are.

'when we let go of our own suffering, we participate in the salvation of all living beings'

Rolf Gates

Winter Solstice yoga JAMM


as the sun sets on the shortest day of the year, one has to wonder whether or not it actually really took the time to ascend at all. here in NYC, it's overcast and raining, so the day is further filtered - it's hard to tell whether the light provided is legitimately from the sun or if Law & Order is filming up the block. 

as humans, because we rely so heavily on our sense of sight to define our world, we tend to want to 'drive out the darkness'. I think this sensation is derived from the mystery and the scariness of the dark, and our need to have definitive lines helping guide our experience. but I think when we realize this, we remember how the things that scare us or remain unknown serve as great catalysts for change. when we don't know what's going to happen, when we can't see the path laid out in front of us, we're forced to take a leap of faith and see where we land. that thrill, that rush, that exhilaration - that is what makes foraging our way through the dark such a rewarding experience. we have to remember to rely on our own strength, our own light, to take us through the moments when we have no idea what's waiting on the other side.

and let us not forget how much fun we have in the dark. as children, we'd tell ghost stories that would keep us on edge and enhance our other senses so we wouldn't get gobbled up by the monsters. as we grow, passions mature and the sense of excitement builds when expectation meets fulfillment under the cover of darkness. the dark provides us the ability to play in ways where there is no judgment, where anything and everything is possible because we make the choice to light our own path. the dark is comforting and unnerving all at the same time - it leads and follows and envelops and gives us the opportunity to grow because we have to learn to trust ourselves.

there is a road, no simple highway, between the dawn and the dark of night. and if you go, no one may follow. that path is for your steps alone. ~ Robert Hunter

October yoga JAMM

the fall is such a magical time. there's transition in the world that you can literally see and feel - the color is changing in the trees, the light is lessening and heightening our reliability on our other senses, the outside temperature is descending, our portion of the world is beginning to hunker down for what's to come. in all of this movement it's very easy to get caught up in where we're off to next - prepping for the upcoming holiday season, making plans on when we'll be seeing friends and family - all projects that pull us from the moment we're in, distracting us from living fully in the now. in these times, I like to meditate, reflect, and pause.

personally, October is a wonderful time for reflection. this month, I celebrated my 10th anniversary of arriving in New York City. I celebrated the 1st anniversary of being hired to teach my first recurring yoga class. next week, I'll celebrate one of the greatest choices I've ever had the honor to make - marrying my best friend, my partner, my love, combining two lives to build something greater for each other.

in taking the time to pause, we can look back and be reminded of the strength we've had to make the hard choices, simultaneously seeing the choices that lie ahead. we can review the steps we've taken to further our lives while gazing further down the road. we can pull strength from knowing that an action well done is concreted in our selves, and that should we face a similar choice, we've got the information on how to proceed in a way that serves us well. the pause is so integral because it allows us to be in this exact place, seeing both our future and our past, drawing on our ability to stand strong in our now. the pause is so important because it's the balance between after and before - it's the present, the here.


the pause - that moment when you've filled with breath, light and buoyant, before the breath recedes

the pause - that moment when you've reached the end of an asana, but it feels like it's just beginning

the pause - that moment when your mindspace is clear and you can view the world right in front of you, as is

'The right word may be effective, but no word was ever as effective as a rightly timed pause.'

Mark Twain

Autumnal Equinox Yoga JAMM

the sun has set on our first official day of fall. or is it the last day of summer? given that it's the official transition point, it's always hard to say - are we saying goodbye to a friend we all really really love and know we won't see for (what feels like) entirely too long? or are we welcoming back a friend who's been out of our periphery for an eternity? are we sulking in putting away the shorts and swimsuits, or ecstatic for hoodies and sweatpants? at what point do we say to ourselves, this isn't so much about goodbye and hello, but about balancing an equal commitment between the joys that both offer? when does a good thing become too much?

those are a lot of questions, and certainly not any that I expect an answer for, but it brings me to my point, and my current focus - finding balance. it's such an interesting concept, and one that I've personally been struggling with in light of recent life changes. it felt so so great to give up a job where the time spent wasn't my own, and I ended up having a ton of time that I didn't have to commit to filling with 'work'. so I took that time, and I laid in the sun, and I took yoga class and taught yoga class and my tan and my practice were never better. but I've reached a point where the lack of routine, where not having something to focus on daily, has made me feel lethargic and unaccomplished. and now I'm struggling to fill my uncommitted time because I don't have as much sun and practice, and 'work' seems like a friend I haven't called in too long. my life was very very easy. now it's taking more effort to bring me to a place where I enjoy work because of the sense of ease I receive when I'm not doing the work.

when we become unbalanced, it's easy to let ourselves slip into the mindset that we'll figure it out later. and we begin to slide down the rabbit hole of tomorrow and tomorrow and procrastination becomes the perpetuator of more dis-ease. balance is such a necessity because it keeps us mentally in check with what is serving us and what isn't. and at times, so so tricky to accomplish, because what feels right is the farthest thing from what is right.

the sage refers to these two aspects as sukham (comfort/ease) and sthira (stability/effort). it is in the practicing of both, with equal, shared responsibility, we bring ourselves closer to the ability to move with grace through the world - efforting when necessary, and taking our ease when earned.

Patanjali Yoga Sutra 2.46

sthira sukhamasanam

asana is achieved when you find ease in the effort

August yoga JAMM

as the days pass and continue to carry light well into the evening hours, we're already experiencing the sense that they're shortening, preparing us for the inevitable transition into  the next season. and while we grasp at strands and do everything in our power to hang on to the delight and joy of the summer months, we all know that change is just beyond the horizon.

I've recently made a major change in my life - I've left the comfort of my steady corporate job to manage mang'Oh Yoga studio and expand my teaching repertoire, in an effort to fully learn and grow in this life-changing practice. and while I'm ecstatic beyond belief at steering the direction of my life, the change does not come without its questions and doubts. on a number of occasions, I've been scared sh*tless. how is this going to affect me financially? what sort of lifestyle will I be leading, with the odd hours and manically running from place to place? am I a good enough leader to make this my career path? what's likely the scariest aspect of all this is that I don't have the answers to these questions. but I trust my mindset to know that what I'm doing is the right choice for me. 

yoga teaches us is to handle the changes in our lives with grace. transitions, if treated correctly, can not only be smooth and neat, but can bring us to something bigger and better on the other side. and what we truly end up discovering is that we've always had the power to make the change we need - we've just needed the courage to commit, even in the face of sometimes extreme adversity. through this, we truly come to know our full strength. and when we do, the world is presented as a new place, full of infinite potential and possibility.

"The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes." Marcel Proust

April Yoga JAMM

the winter was extended and very cold, and at the time, hibernation was the most suitable course of action. 

but we've made it through, and life is literally on the ups again. waking up in the mornings the sun is already full and bright, the birds have returned and are regaling us with their music, the shoots are breaking free from the thawed ground, and we're slowly emerging from the many layers to soak up all the abundance of spring. 

that's what I'm reminded of every time this part of the year rolls around - the abundance of life. we even had some great timely reminders to start April - a full moon on the first weekend, which was also Easter weekend - the celebration, in many traditions, of recognizing rebirth, a return to the time of light and fullness. 

as I look around at all the "stuff" I have (physical and other), at times it almost seems that I'm living in a world of over-abundance. when I really reflect on the things that I need, I realize that the necessities of life - a roof, food, the ability to get up every day and breathe and move - are ever present and nothing I have to fight or strive for. and in this mindset, I know that everything else, all of the "stuff" that surrounds me, is luxury and abundance. and I know that I am so blessed to be able to call these passing things "mine", and take advantage of their offerings. I am eternally grateful that my life is overflowing with abundance, and I'm really working to ensure that I remember daily, and reflect on how incredibly lucky we all are to live the lives we do.

there's a word in Sanskrit - Amitabha - and it refers to the Buddha of Infinite Light, or Unmeasured Splendor. from the texts, his most important enlightenment technique is visualizing the world we inhabit as a paradise. I've always found this optimistic approach, and specifically the two words - unmeasured and splendor - to be such a provocative and exciting conjunction. can you imagine seeing life with so much joy there's not even a way to put a metric into it? that, to me, is the most resounding explanation of recognizing abundance.

January yoga JAMM

2015 has arrived! another calendar year has passed - we've succeeded, yet again, in the countdown of the human construct of time ;)

as is common with the reset of the calendar, every article you see, every piece of marketing, every bit of advice is about how to become the new you. we've become very caught up as a culture in striving to constantly redefine ourselves, to envision what we would like to be, instead of working with and loving who we are.

in this spirit, I invite you to not get caught up in focusing on where you want to be, but where you are. we focus a lot in our practice on being in the moment because, in reality, the moment is the only place we can be - it is the only tangible plane of existence in how we experience our lives. the past contains a filter of attached emotions, and the future is glazed with idealism. it is only by existing here, in this moment, that we're truly living. once this realization is attained, once the power of now is experienced, there's this subtle shift in life that supplies a deep sense of peace. and once you've had that experience, all you want is to experience it again and again, and share it with everyone you come into contact with. 

so let's think less of new you and be content with now you, because now you is the realest expression of your self. why hold back that amazingness from anyone?!


Patanjali Yoga Sutra 1.1

atha yoganusasanam

now, yoga begins

December yoga JAMM

happy holidays! one down, lots to go ;)

one of the trickiest parts in navigating the holiday season is getting caught up in how serious it makes us. we all put forth such an effort to find the perfect gifts, and to be at all the holiday parties our friends are hosting, and to make this the most fantastic year yet!! 

but, really, the whole point of the season is to find joy. to delight in all of the celebrations and gatherings and love that's an inherent and integral part of why we're celebrating and gathering in the first place. 

there's a word in Sanskrit - lila - commonly translated as 'play', and associated with the joy derived as the outcome from 'play'. so as the season gets going and things get a little hectic and chaotic, remind yourself that the point of it all is just to have fun. when things get too real, take yourself back to the place of joy, and let it pass from you back into the world. let the lightness of the season lift your spirit into a place where you can truly enjoy every moment.

November yoga JAMM

last weekend was the first in quite a while that there was no major agenda. nothing had to be accomplished, there was nowhere we had to be. we got the opportunity to just hang with each other, hang with family and friends, practice some inspiring yoga, and just be present. I found myself moving a little slower - enjoying the walk, taking in my surroundings and simply enjoying the space I was in.

the complexities of life don't often leave us with the ability to 'stop and smell the roses' - this is one of humanity's great paradoxes. because 'human nature' has evolved to not always include the natural course of things, sometimes the best thing we can do is stop, take the moment, and consciously recognize just how great we have it. inhaling, feeling the air in our lungs, settling in the moment, seeing that the place we need to be is exactly where we are - this is such an enlightened state of being that can be itself unsettling. but grounding down and taking in your happiness as a guide to your life is a really simple act. sometimes the simplest act is what allows us to ground - taking a conscious breath brings you into the now, and recognizing being in the now provides such a sense of peace.

as we head into the self-imposed craziness brought about with the holiday season, remember: when life is hectic, you just have to breathe - the simplicity is what brings us to that place of acceptance.

Patanjali Sutra 1.12

samtosadanuttamah sukhalabhah

By contentment, supreme joy is gained

October yoga JAMM

October. The sun is setting earlier. There's a bit of a chill in the air. Our focus moves from the external to the internal - conditions aren't as ripe for us to be outdoors, so we gather what we need and begin setting up our support nests to carry us through the winter.

I've been thinking a lot about the harvest. Webster's dictionary defines harvest as the season when crops are gathered from the fields or the activity of gathering crops. It goes on to say that a harvest is an accumulated store or productive result. 

That second definition has been ringing exceedingly true for me this month. I'm on the verge of having a lot of hard work and commitment pay off in droves. I've been honored and blessed with my first scheduled, recurring class at mang'Oh studio, and in 11 days I will be forever blessed in love, as I seal the deal and marry my best friend. 

There doesn't seem to be a better time to soak this all up. This energy of gathering and celebrating accomplishments - it's just in the air. There's a sense of settling and contentment, a recognition of a summer well spent. To really be able to view your choices and reap the benefits of what you've sown is such an amazing feeling, even when it's not major life events. When it's waking up and recognizing you've granted yourself a good night's sleep, or when it's allowing yourself couch time because you've accomplished everything on your "to-do" list - recognizing that you, yourself, have done what you need to make your life a little easier, that is a harvest you can embrace every time it happens.

Patanjali Sutra 1.14

sa tu dirgha kala nairantarya satkarasevito drdhabumih

Practice becomes firmly grounded when well attended to for a long time, without break and in all earnestness.

Autumnal Equinox yoga JAMM

the sun has set on the official last day of summer, as it is officially the first day of fall, and my heart feels a little heavy. In the unforgettable words of Boyz II Men, "it's so hard to say goodbye to yesterday."

but, of course, we'll take with us the memories, to be our sunshine after the rain ;) and if the day serves us any purpose, to me it's a great reminder of how important balance is in our lives. too much of anything, after a time, begins to wear and grate. if we didn't have the cold darkness of winter, we'd never be able to revel in the bright heat of summer. and if all we know is the bright heat, we lose the joy attached with it. sometimes, it's to our benefit to spend time in the dark.

I saw a quote that resonated with these thoughts today. it read "ego says, 'once everything falls into place, I will find peace.' spirit says, 'find peace and everything will fall into place.' " and I can't help but think, it's both. spirit guides us to 'peace is what I want'. ego leads us to 'I can have peace'. and it's in the recognition of what you want and how to attain it that the balance of your life comes to light.

September yoga JAMM

It's amazing that we're already here again, on the verge of another season change, trouping along nature's cyclical path. I've come full circle, personally - this month is my birth month. 

A while back, a friend introduced me to the concept of viewing my birthday as my personal new year. I find this works for me in achieving goals much better than attempting calnder-year resolutions. As my clock is resetting, and I'm knowing that my life is going to be drastically different this time next year, I'm reflecting on how we, as people, love to say "[insert thing] changed my life". And the truth is that [insert thing] is only supplemental to your changes - YOU CHOOSING to pursue [insert thing] is the real reason your life is changing. [insert thing] is simply the vehicle for you to achieve your goals - YOU are making the change, and YOU are making a promise to yourself for betterment. And when you root yourself so strongly in your self, you have unlimited potential to rise to your best expression.

Patanjali Sutra 2.13

sati mule tad vipakojatyayur bhogah

With the existence of the root, there will be fruits also: namely, the births of different species of life, their life spans and experiences

*late* August yoga JAMM

sooooooo did anyone else happen to see August? I blinked and I'm pretty sure I missed it. 

I do know that in those moments where I was paying attention, this month was full. like, FULL full. I had the pleasure of attending two gorgeous wedding ceremonies, I got to help my sister-in-law get back to school, AND I witnessed the second super moon of the year in all its ginormous glory. I'd say that this month has been nothing short of abundant. 

and I guess that really reflects the point of the practice. when we realize the moment that we're in, we see that the moment contains everything that we need to be fulfilled. everything we need to get by is already inside us. we don't need to seek abundance, because we're already full to the brim. and when we really take the time to recognize this, we find a little bit ofsamadhi - bliss - knowing that we already have everything we need.


Patanjali Sutra 1.17

vitarka vicaranandasmitanugamat samprajnatah

Samprajnata Samadhi is accompanied by reasoning, reflecting, rejoicing, and pure I-am-ness