The Battlefield

March 25, 2013

This world is a battlefield.  Anyone who is born has to be a warrior.  Whether man or woman, old or young, king or beggar, brave or cowardly, literate or illiterate, saint or sinner, he has to fight the battle.  Battles begin with birth and continue up to the last breath of life.  It could be said that our major duty in this world is to fight.

But this is not a hateful battle with an enemy; it is a loving battle with a friend, a form of exercise that brings fresh energy.  The yogi faces harassment every day but is not ready to accept defeat.  When at last he wins te great struggle, he looks and sees Almighty God standing beside him.  Embracing God, the yogi remembers something.  With tears in his eyes, he turns and bows again and again to the defeated struggle left behind.  He prays to struggle with a pure heart: “Oh great well-wisher, creator of my destiny, I have discarded you often.  Although I have committed numerous offenses against you, you have ignored my villainy and brought me to the holy feet of the Lord.  Without you, true humanity and divinity are indeed difficult to obtain.  Oh angel of struggle, let your victory be everywhere.”  ~Swami Kripalu

This world is a battlefield; anyone who is born has to be a warrior – doesn’t sound much like the yoga we talk about most days, does it?  Where is the peace?  Where is the, “may all beings everywhere be happy and free”?  It can be very easy to gloss over many of the struggles in our lives and our practices.  We use the rosy words of yoga to convince others and ourselves that it is all going to be ok.  “I’m witnessing,” “I’m breathing,” “I’m meditating,” but sometimes aren’t you just angry?  I am.

The struggle I’ve been aware of in these last few weeks is seemingly insignificant – the changing nature of a long-standing friendship.  And, while I agree that perhaps this isn’t on the same magnitude as Discovery of the True Self, it is a struggle all the same.  The fight to hold onto to something that is moving away from you; to accept a new reality is a great battle.

As I planned a visit to my friend over the weekend I felt as though I was preparing for battle – “what am I going to say,” “what will she do”…  and then I found these words: But this is not a hateful battle with an enemy; it is a loving battle with a friend, a form of exercise that brings fresh energy.

This quote from Swami Kripalu reminds us that indeed the struggle is part of our yoga and that all emotions, not just those of happiness, pave the path of our journey.  The act of rising up, drawing our sword and cutting of the heads of our demons to bring fresh energy and insight into the self is a powerful lesson.  It is a lesson of love and acceptance; it is a lesson of releasing reactivity and embracing openness.  It is the lesson of the Warrior.


Several weeks ago, I agreed to sub a class for a friend who couldn’t teach on Sunday at 9:30 a.m.  On Friday at some point, I realized that I had agreed to sub a morning class that was taking place right in the middle of Georgia’s marathon, literally.  The studio I was teaching at was in the center of the race course.  Being the over-planner that I am, naturally I printed out the course map, the road closure list, and sat down with my dear friend Google Maps to figure out how the heck I was going to get to the studio.

Publix Georgia Marathon

Sunday morning, plan in hand, I left my house two hours before class time just to be safe and headed out to take quite possibly the most convoluted journey to the studio that has ever been concocted.  Feeling crafty and oh-so-pleased with myself, I cruised along enjoying the sunrise and looking forward to getting my practice in at the empty studio before class started.  And, then my clever glee came crashing into the dashboard as I saw the sea of runners completely blocking the ONE ROAD I needed to cross to get to the studio.  Hmmmm.  No panic.  I’ll just try another route.  And another.  Another.  One hour later, I am intimately familiar with many Intown neighborhoods but no closer to the studio.  Time to throw all that yoga out the window and panic.

I call the friend that I’m supposed to be subbing for; I call the studio owner.  “Cancel class.  I can’t get there.  I tried everything.”  Defeated, I start to head back home going over what I could have done differently.  Then, I realized that I hadn’t actually tried “everything”; I hadn’t tried the route I normally take to the studio.  I had just ruled that route out as an obvious disaster.  Cutting right through Midtown? Across Ponce?  Please, that route can be a disaster at 10 a.m. on a Tuesday not to mention in the middle of a race with thousands of people.  But, not wanting to leave any stones unturned, I turned the car towards Midtown and headed down the roads of my auto-pilot route.  Did I make it to the studio? Um, yeah.  In all of about 15 minutes.  “ARE YOU FRICKIN’ KIDDING ME?!” I shouted silently in my head.  Calmly I dialed the studio owner, “hi, this is your very calm, zen yoga teacher calling to say that I did indeed make it to the studio.  No need to cancel class.”  Tail properly between the legs now.

I walked into the studio, lit some incense, opened the curtains to let the light flow in, and sat down to breath for a few minutes before folks started to arrive for class.  I wanted to practice but Irony was taking up too much room on my mat.  I mean if Alanis had been in my car that song would have way different lyrics.  If I had just let go of my need to be over-planned, over-prepared I would have gotten into my car 30 minutes before class, driven my normal route and arrived in plenty of time to teach.  Instead, because of my great expectations I had created a disaster out of nothing.

And this wasn’t the first time I had done this.  In fact, I did this a lot.  I fretted and expected and stressed over things that turned out to be nothing.  Mountains out of molehills, right?

So, Sunday I shared with my little class of yogis this idea of letting go of expectation.  The idea of just letting the situation be whatever it needs to be without labels.  Without words or story around it, most of what we experience is just that – experience.  Not good; not bad; not a mountain; not a molehill.  Just the path we travel.

I’m sending my lyrics to Alanis.

Pranayama: A Workshop

March 14, 2013

Pranayama: The Expansion of Aliveness

Wanna learn how to breath? I’m not talking about the shallow breaths that we take all day, every day. I’m talking full, deep 3-part breaths, bandhas, kumbhakas… The list goes on.

Join me at Sacred Thread Yoga on Saturday, April 6 from 2 – 4 p.m. for a workshop on Pranayama (yogic breathing techniques). We will learn how to use our breath to raise, calm and balance our energies; how to use our breath to support us in deeper postures; and how to use our breath to support us in rush hour traffic! This workshop includes a yoga practice along with discussion of specific breathing techniques.

$15 advanced registration (at the studio or email
$20 at the door

This recipe comes from Whole Foods (one of my favorite resources for great, healthy recipes) and is one of my go-to staples for a quick lunch.  I’ll make this on Sunday and then have it ready to go for several weekday lunches.

Recipe & photo from


  • 1/2 cup almond butter
  • 1 1/2 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons chopped pitted dates
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh ginger
  • 2 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt or 1 tablespoon reduced-sodium tamari
  • 1/2 small serrano pepper (optional), finely chopped
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 2 heads broccoli, cut into florets and lightly steamed
  • 1/3 cup chopped cilantro, plus more for garnish
  • 1 1/2 cup mung bean sprouts


In a blender or food processor, purée almond butter, lemon juice, dates, ginger, garlic, salt, pepper and water until smooth. Transfer dressing to a large bowl, add broccoli and cilantro and toss well. Cover and marinate for up to 1 hour, if you like. Arrange bean sprouts on a large platter, top with broccoli, garnish with cilantro and serve.

*I usually serve this over brown rice or I add some roasted baby potatoes to make it more substantial.  Easy and delicious!

Yoga Book Club!

March 11, 2013

I am so excited to share this news with you: This month I am starting a Yoga Book club at the newly opened Sacred Thread Ashram in the Old Fourth Ward (more details on the Ashram coming soon)!  You are cordially invited to join me the last Tuesday of every month, starting March 26, from 8 – 9 p.m. in the Telephone Factory Lofts.


We’ll get started on March 26 by meeting other participants, sharing some chai and choosing our first book.  Then, each month we’ll meet up to share our thoughts on the book, discuss how yogic concepts play out in our everyday lives and have a little fun in the process.

This book club is FREE for Ashram members and only $5/meeting for non-members.  Hope to see you on Tuesday, March 26!

Be sure to sign-up for my newsletter to get more details about the Ashram and Book Club!

Broken Windows

March 11, 2013

One of my favorite blogs, The Happiness Project, recently posted about the theory of broken windows.  Loosely, this theory tells us that if a neighborhood allows petty crimes like broken windows, graffiti, etc. to go unpunished, then more serious crimes are likely to be committed.  These small signs of disinterest or lack of awareness show others that we aren’t being mindful.  That we don’t care.

In the original post, the author translates this theory to the idea of our own personal broken windows – those small things that make us feel disorganized and out-of-control.  Things like letting the mail pile up, not washing the dishes or staying in PJs all day…

If we look at this idea through the lens of yoga, can you see how the idea of conscious mindfulness comes into play?  When we are feeling out of control, instead of letting these little windows break, can we take a breath, a pause, and make the bed before tackling the next project?  One step at a time – even a step as small as throwing away the junk mail- shows our body, mind and spirit that we are home, that we care, and that we won’t check out when the going gets tough.  These small steps can help us to stay present in both calm times and chaotic times.

This weekend as my husband and I frantically shopped for a new car (our old one died last week) that we weren’t planning on purchasing, I could feel the stress of the situation pulling me away from mindfulness.  I left dirty clothes on the floor; I ate foods I normally try to avoid – all because we were “busy”.  We “HAD” to buy a new car THIS WEEKEND.  And, then I remembered the original blog post about Broken Windows.  I took a breath.  I meditated for 10 minutes.  I threw the dirty clothes in the hamper.  And, then we found a car to buy.


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