Saturday, January 31, 2009

31st post...


I didn't blog everyday this month, but I am managing to post 31 blogs for 31 days. It feels good. I think it made the month fly by with such quickness, and the cold seem somehow less cold.

I don't have very many words right now. I taught this morning at 10am, and then gave the first part of a Foundational Workshop at Yoga Square to 29 students.

I am like Ekam, one, what...oh! yeah! inhale.

I like giving these workshops it makes me feel like I am calling some of my beloved teachers energies into the room with me. Tomorrow is the 1st day of a whole new month, February. I think I might change the blog title...28 days of love, or Costa Rica coming, or maybe No Sleep 'til April (this is when I find out what's next.)

What is immediately next, walk the dogs, sleep, practice, and teach.

Love. Practice. Breathe.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Refresh Button

I have been trying to hit the refresh button all month long. It feels like my whole system just crashed. Practice was going great this month until this Moon day which was also a Monday, I took rest and have been resting ever since. I feel that there is this underlying sickness that is keeping me away from yoga practice, well at least yoga practice on the mat.

I was going to write about my yoga date last night, but other than spending time with Doug there was nothing positive about the experience, so I am going stay silent...except teachers should not chew gum while teaching, nor should they be rude to you at the front desk. Ok that's enough about that.

I am really excited about the Foundations workshop tomorrow, and the Shiva workshop in Jersey at the end of the month. I went walking with Linn, and some dogs yesterday in the snowy, icy Wissahickon. She reminded me that as we walked the Taj together I did put it out there that I wanted to move my yoga teaching in a certain direction, and now it is totally there. I also slipped on some ice, and felt free to be me.

I am going to hibernate the rest of the day, and be silent, and find some space to feel where I want to turn next.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Common People

It seems that this has become a hiccup for some when it comes understanding that recent post quoting from the Hatha Yoga Pradipika about success in yoga.

Here is the commentary on the phrase "common people."

"During the period of sadhana you may find it useless to mix with people who have lower aspirations. At that stage, the less you involve yourself with others the more your inner knowledge can grow. Of course, a sadhaka should not consider the others to be inferior, but until his physical, mental, emotional, and psychic resistance are developed, it is better to stay away from social interactions and negative influences."

I just spoke about this in class the other day, about surrounding yourself with little Ganesha's everywhere...people in your life who open doors, inspire change, and lead by example. So, maybe instead of saying avoiding the company of common people one could say surround yourself with extraordinary or uncommon people.

It IS a small world

Yoga student, chai wallah, and all around blog lover directed me to this blog. It is super cute, and I started browsing the blog I found this very catchy number about Y-O-G-A, and also found this video that my husbands best friend, Chris did for Slate V this past spring.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009


Enthusiasm, perseverance, discrimination, unshakeable faith, courage, avoiding the company of common people, are the (6 causes) which bring success in yoga.

Hatha Yoga Pradipika

Get Vertical

There are some days it all seems so easy, and light, and sublime. Then there are days like today. I can't even believe I am vertical enough to be typing this. If I could describe my life right now, I might call it swirling into the unknown. So much change is in the air, so many I don't knows, so much unsaid.

Yesterday was the moon day, and I think I should have squeezed in some kind of practice. An alphabet, a bajan, something. The Foundations Workshop this weekend has only four spots remaining (as of Sunday.) If you are interested you should sign up ASAP.

Mike is heading back out of town for his first ever solo show in Minnesota. He is also having a solo show in Philly in February check it out!

Sunday, January 25, 2009


I love yoga, and I love to practice, but sometimes it does feel like this thing that I HAVE to do. As I was getting ready for bed last night, I left it up in the air if I would set my alarm, and get up to practice. I took the pressure off the whole situation, and softened around the whole thing. I did get up, and I did make it to practice. I actually remembered how much fun practice can be, and that some days I just take myself way to seriously.

Tomorrow is the new moon, and so I can sleep in and maybe I'll get to a vinyasa class, maybe I'll rest.

While I was intensely practicing in India, my husband was working on his own intense project. His photo's from his trip can be found in the latest issue of Mother Jones magazine, and they are featured online. Check it out!

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Sit with that

Teacher Training felt pretty amazing last night. We have arrived at the point where I can see the dots connecting, and even while some share their thoughts you can see the thought change internally, they pause, and think about what they really think. As I was falling asleep I remembered how at conference Sharath knew when to answer the question, and he knew when to let a students question hang in the Shala's atmosphere, and then go on to another question. I threaded this experience back to my struggle with Pasasana, and how I was so desperately wanting Sharath's help, and how I was doubting that he was even paying attention to me. As I began to bind (on my own) regularly he then moved me forward. He gave me the gift of me struggling to answer my own questions.

After the dropbacks workshop last week, I began to wonder if I stressed enough the process, struggle, the inability to do, the inner strength that is cultivated when working through something that is very difficult, frighting, and intense. The bonds of yoga are formed by this shared acknowledgment of, "boy, that stuff is tough!" When I meet someone who can read Sanskrit quickly I feel bonded to them, when I meet someone who has sat for an hour waiting to practice at the Shala, I am bonded to them. It is like we waded into the water not really knowing how deep, or if we could swim to the other side, but there we are on the other side together with another vast body of water before us. We continue to wade, at the point there is no turning back.

Friday, January 23, 2009


This is the first time in a long time that I am going to make my goal of 6 practices in one week. The week started out really strong with that amazing trip to NYC to practice. That practice, and lecture reminded me of all that is important about the study and practice of yoga.

Yesterday I went up to study again this time sound, and sound harmony, sutra, and mantra. I began the process of seeing how Sanskrit sounds merge together and how with practice the skilled student can break apart those sounds and meaning pours out. A once obscure idea, become powerfully clear. It was a very hard lesson, and a hard commute. It is so strange how I choose to spend my "day off."

Such change is all around, and on so many levels. I feel different, I feel everything I know changing. A friend wrote me an email this week so inspiring about how she is taking back her practice. As I sat with those thoughts, and I still sit with them I keep hearing fragments of this poem:

Paul Valery
"The very sequence of your act is to take back,
To flow back so as not to break
The integrity of the water's body!"

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Seeing the Rama in the Drama

I really dislike drama. Sometimes even while I am teaching, I'll say let's try that again, this time without the drama. I say this because I speak the same way to myself about the practice of asana, especially Kapotasana. Sometimes holding what you believe to be true really creates ripples of drama all around. Like an energetic boomerang, the ripples find their way right back to you. My dad always said growing up, quoting I believe Shakespeare, "the truth will set you free."

I do feel free. If only I shake of the drama.

Going to see a playful and charming lady about all things yoga tomorrow, hopefully some will rub off onto me.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

"Mr. President, you set the bar!"

Notes from Sunday

These are just little threads that I am pulling from my notes at this moment. I took a lot of notes and wrote quite a bit around the notes. I don't want to expand to much on this material because as the first note suggests, this IS a living tradition. First practice to the point of understanding, and then the teaching. The human element is key.

Yoga is a living tradition.

Vidya is also translated as science, Manas also means measure.

Energy needs to flow.
First untie the knots.

Frame by Frame. (this is super important for properly understanding the method of "vinyasa")

When memory becomes strong--we remember what is important.

It was one of the best yoga events that I have been to in a while. Simple, cheap, authentic, and amazing. I was remembering the time I signed up for a very famous, yoga "diva's" very expensive day long offering, leaving feeling completely hoodwinked, cheated, the concept of yoga dumbed down for the highly-incomed, smashed in crowd.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Abhyasa, Abhyasa, Abhyasa

"We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence then, is not a single act, but a habit."


Inspiration comes in many forms. I didn't get a change to blog yesterday, and even if I could have I don't know if I could have articulated the magic, and the love that I was feeling.

After a full teaching day Saturday, the plan was to get up on Sunday at 4am to practice. What stood between me and practice....200 miles and some seriously dubious driving weather.

No sleep 'til until I was standing in a room full of Ashtangi's some who I traveled with, some I recognized from Mysore, dear reunions from Philly (the city of brotherly love), dear reunions from Mysore (the city inside my heart.)

I am still digesting the experience, the practice, the chai, the lecture. It made for a perfect ending to a very full weekend exploring the living tradition of yoga.

Amanda wrote about it at her blog check it out.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Post Kirtan, Pre Workshop Ruminations

You'll have to see me today either at practice:
Wake Up Yoga (Fairmont) 10am
Blue Banyan Yoga (Mt. Airy) 2-5pm

Friday, January 16, 2009

Following Up, Following Through

January is half way over, and I am tailoring and re tailoring my ideas, goals, and my aim. Practice this week hasn't been so inspiring. It is Friday and I only managed to practice 4 times this week. Weak, week. My right knees hurts (outside), my left elbow aches, and my lower back pains all over. Taking a page from my sister's blog I am publicly publishing my yoga practice goals for next week.

Sunday: Led Class with Eddie Stern, Amanda, Doug, and 147 other people.
Monday: Mysore at Yoga Squared
Tuesday: 1pm Self Practice at Wake Up
Wednesday: Mysore at Yoga Squared
Thursday: Trip to NYC to see Ma so we'll see how it goes
Friday: Could be a toss up...I'll keep you posted.
Saturday: Teach and Rest

I am really excited about the workshop tomorrow. I am sure there will be much to blog about.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Workshop this Saturday!!!

Looking Forward While Dropping Back
Saturday January 17, 2009 2pm-5pm

Blue Banyon7153 Sprague St. in East Mt. Airy Philadelphia, PA

$45, pre-registration is required

If you can't make it here are some tips that I feel resonate from Sri Brahmananda Sarasvati:

"First remember your mind, and your mental powers.
Salute all divine seers, teachers, and yogi's.
Be ready to accept what is truth, and beneficial, and renounce what is untruth, and injurious."

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

What's a yoga teacher do?

Tuesday's are epic teaching days for me, and most times I make the self practice at 1pm over at Wake Up Yoga. Yesterday after teaching my first class instead of running to practice I needed to eat something, and that was the end of that. No practice yesterday. Which even as I am writing this could be the #1 reason I was overcome with frustration, and couldn't really find my rhythm for the remainder of the day.

I think that in all areas of my life I hold the bar really high. So, after teaching last night's usually very inspiring class I felt like I let the whole lot of students down. I couldn't say what I wanted to say, I was stumbling and fumbling around searching for the way to weave the whole class together. I missed the mark precisely because I wasn't sure what I was aiming at.

I dream of other jobs. Jobs that are just that jobs. A place to go to work, and when your are not at work, your not at work. I fantasize about health care, steady paychecks, paid vacation, Saturday and Sunday. My husband swears I couldn't do it. He reassures me that this is what I not only love, but in a way what I was designed to do. Is this my dharma?

Today will be clearer because there will be practice. Practice = clarity.

My drop backs workshop is filling up! If you are interested you should come because who knows when I'll change it all up, and relinquish my teacher role, and get my self a real job.....a job that requires shoes.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

A Little Help from a Friend

Goes a long way.

Some time ago I remember having these total moments of despair. At the time the closest friends in my life were either immovable and in need constant cheer leading/motivation, or so flighty, with actions careless so that brought me to the point of utter humiliation (more times to count.)

This year in Mysore I made the decision that I was going to put my self out there both personally and professionally. To no longer apologize, or play down my smarts, experience, or in some cases my sass.

After 108 Surya's on Sunday my hamstrings felt like Poly-O String Cheese, and from the long TT weekend my brain wasn't doing my better. I had full intentions of practicing in the a.m. on Monday, but I did it...I just turned the alarm off. Missing practice in the a.m. my chances for getting back on that track grow slimmer which each passing hour. Around 3:45pm I got the call. Just as I told my friend that I didn't have it in me, she responded quickly and truthfully with a well needed "Jill, get off your ass!"

So, I did, and practiced.

Thank You.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

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One Surya Namaskara at a Time

In honor of the Full Moon day today Karen of Yoga Squared held a Yoga Mala celebration. She asked me to bring a bit of texture (that is not what she said but how I am making that connection) to the practice by chanting with the Harmonium. So, on this typical day of rest I woke early and gathered my things to practice and sing.

According to Karen a Yoga Mala is the practice of 108 Surya Namaskara's. The groupings went 8 Surya A's, and 1 Surya B. I found it to be an very interesting study in repetition, rhythm, and the ruminations of the mind.

I was reminded of my music teacher in India. When I couldn't execute an exercise so confidently he would in all seriousness ask me if I had practiced the exercise 100 times. I hadn't. As I approached the 100th Surya A I felt a real kinship with the material, a closeness that I had never experienced before and at the same time a freshness a newness, and a deep appreciation of its simplicity and design.

Dropbacks workshop this Saturday (check my website) must preregister as to not be left out!!!!

The Beauty of Brevity

In the Station of the Metro--Ezra Pound

The apparition of these faces in the crowd;
Petals on a wet, black bough

The Great Figure--William Carlos Williams
Among the rain
and lights
I saw a figure 5
in gold
on a red
fire truck
to gong clangs
siren howls
and wheels rumbling
through the dark city.

Friday, January 09, 2009

Philly Field Trip (part 3) Coming Home

I don't know why I have selected this week to break from the Ashtanga Yoga Method, and be a yoga tourist. Maybe it is because I am tired of always keeping the count in my head, maybe it is because the AYCP (ashtanga yoga community Philly) feels at times so broken, and so out of sync with the tradition that is so alive in Mysore, and many students with strong, and devoted practices often stay home, and experience the solo journey of mind, and mat that I know so well. I was thrilled this morning to lead a primary series at Yoga Squared Guruji style with 10! (at 6:30am) amazing students, in my heart I can feel it growing.

As promised I dined on the offerings of yoga teacher, studio director, colleague, and friend Corina Benner. She has such a unique style and specific relationship to the practice of asana, that the only way to understand to spend some time with her in practice. "The experience is the transformation."

Saturday I take rest from practice. In total I made it to practice 5 times, and each time I gave myself to the practice tick-tocks and all. See you tomorrow on the mat 10 am sharp at Wake Up Yoga.

Hari OM

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Philly Field Trip (part 2)

AHH, how I love yoga. Today is my one day off during the week, and I like to plan a special yoga outing. Sometimes I go to NY to see Manorama, and taste the flavors of the New York yoga community. As part of my '09 plan, I am making an effort to on Thursdays especially to get out there and swim in the different yoga pools. Today my very good friend and fellow yogini Corina trekked into Center City to practice at Dhyana Yoga. We went to the lovely Alex Holmes' 12pm Vinyasa class. I am always looking for the threads of connection. What was this class offering going to reveal to me about Ashtanga, devotion, ways in which myself can dissolve into mySelf. There is always something there that may leave me reeling for days, months even.

"electric jellyfish"

I thought sea grass was the perfect description.

Tomorrow to round out the trimurti of vinyasa offerings, I am headed to Corina Benner's 1pm "advanced" yoga class at Wake Up Yoga. Maybe I'll see you there! After that I am ready to head back to the church of Ashtanga, and get back to the soundtrack of breath, the movement of energy, and the focus on the point (whatever that means.)

In celebration of the full moon this Sunday, January 11th 9-11:30am I am at Yoga Sqaured to lead some chanting with my sqeezebox followed with Sri Karen leading a Yoga Mala (108 surya namaskara's.) 10% of the proceeds are going to the PSPCA.
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Philly Field Trip in Three (part 1)

When I began practicing Ashtanga Yoga three years ago, first off I didn't know that I would be practicing Ashtanga Yoga, and I didn't understand the intensity of the commitment. One of the hardest parts about leaving Mysore is leaving the community. Showing up every morning to that full room, and practicing with some much energy flying it is beyond description. In the winter here is it really hard to work up a decent sweat. In Mysore, this year I worried that the sweat flooding into my ears was going to give me an ear infection.

Most days I practice in very small groups, some a bit larger. I never practice in the kind of class that I teach jam packed, energized, and focused. This week as part of the New Year I am trying to get out and enjoy the vast samplings in the yoga community here in Philadelphia. Yesterday I made the rainy pilgrimage to Queens Village to Practice Yoga. This yoga shala has been instrumental in building the Philadelphia community. I believe it opened in the spring of 2002. It was a very sweet class, with a very sweet teacher. It was a small group, and a very basic but deep exploration of asana and breath, and for me a contemplation about yoga as an offering.

Sometimes, "students" who are local yoga teachers will take their very own field trip to a class that I am teaching. Sometimes, these individuals will disregard the offerings of the class. I don't know what that is all about. For me it is pretty simple. If I go to a friends house for dinner and they are serving yoga, just because they know I love yoga, the ONLY choice is to eat the meal that has been crafted with love, and savor in that experience.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Drop Backs are Fun!!

Come play with me!

Looking Forward While Dropping Back
Saturday January 17, 2009 2pm-5pm
Blue Banyon7153 Sprague St. in East Mt. Airy Philadelphia, PA
$45, pre-registration is required

Are you terrified, yet intrigued by the practice of dropping back? Have you created mythology around this practice telling yourself that it is something designed for someone more flexible, younger, someone with more strength, or maybe just more chutzpa? Then this workshop has been designed for you. In this workshop we will explore the qualities of “drop backs” that are embedded into the fabric of every single vinyasa yoga class. By learning to utilize the natural curves of the spine, and exploring organic undulations throughout the entire practice we can begin to make connections so that dropping back is as simple (not easy), and familiar as learning to stand (we will explore that as well.)

Points of Exploration: Learning to Crawl, Minding Your Head, aka “Head Down Bottom Up”, All about Upward Dog, Open Your Heart, “Don’t Fear!”

After 70 or so dropbacks this year in Mysore with Sharath right there watching you, I think I've got something to say. Think of it new year, new terrain, totally remodel your practice.

I am a little behind on the 31 posts goal.

This has been what is going through my head.

I keep hearing Manorama "the experience IS the transformation." This statement threads me to Guruji saying the same thing as, "you do."

Monday, January 05, 2009


Yesterday was an incredible day. I slept really well. The best since the beginning of the "holiday"season. I was off to Yoga Squared for Sunday Mysore practice. Practice starts at 9am, and you can enter for some time after that, but I like to be there right at 9am. The Ashtanga yoga community isn't that big here in Philly, so if you want the juice from other people, you've got to be in the room at the start of the chant. At Yoga Squared the chant is done together. I prefer the call and response style of Guruji, and Sharath. There is something about the process of surrendering to the cadence and rhythm of each individual teacher that softens the student. The suggestion is so there however subtle, "I am not the teacher, I have come to learn."

After practice I got to have some coffee with Adam and Amanda. After some long chats about yoga, life, choice, and knowing when to exit but waiting just a bit longer, I went to pick up a friend for a long awaited date. We went to see Slumdog Millionaire. I had already seen the film, but I can't stop it when it comes to my beloved India. It was like seeing the Taj, better the second time. Although the experience of the day made me miss Mysore. The practice, the chatting, the community, and I felt a little lost at the end of the day.

There I was at home with two of my very own slumdogs that no doubt needed to be taken out.

Saturday, January 03, 2009

Waking Up is hard to do

Just this morning I felt like I had to pull myself out of the holiday fog. I started the New Year off with a bang! I got up early and practiced by myself which can be very lonely, but this practice was very sweet and felt just right. I even made some little movies of my favorite "sea grass" vinyasa's to help understand the seed of energy (or as MA would said energization.) If I can figure out how to post them I will. I, as in Mysore, take Saturday off. I teach every Saturday, and during the Teacher Training season that teaching continues until 6pm.

Sunday always feels like the first day of the practice week for me, and I do try to give it my all on Sunday. I try to practice like Sharath suggested in conference this year, as if Guru ji were in the room.

Some more thoughts on not only moving forward, but also UP

Drink more water

Get out and enjoy nature


Find a regular practice rhythm, and let the mind rest in the repetition

Friday, January 02, 2009

For Amanda


Lindsey, you were totally right! I didn't get a chance to blog yesterday. I missed the very first day in January, and I was sort of freaking out about it. Svaha. The beginning of '09 has already been a wild adventure. I taught at Wake Up yesterday at 11am and it was packed...crazy packed. In that little room we had 30 eager students, sometimes when it gets really full at Wake Up the energy can be strange, some are happy for the fullness while others are not, but yesterday the energy was really great, and I think it was the best "large class vinyasa" I managed.

I am sick. My husband and dogs are sleeping in the bed, and I think that I'll get back and join them, but I really needed to post something, so that I could rest. I will be posting a second blog today to make up for my mini mis-start.