the image on top is "Welcome Home Sweet Sugar" by Kelsey Brooks

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Etched by a Diamond

"I myself shall continue living in my glass house where you can always see who comes to call; where everything hanging from the ceiling and on the walls stays there as if by magic, where I sleep nights in a glass bed, under glass sheets, where who I am will sooner or later appear etched by a diamond"- Andre Breton, Nanja

Sometimes I think I'm waiting for someone to come along and tell me who I am.

A perfect reflection of the caprice and wisdom of my being.

In the complete acceptance and understanding of this creature, I will be complete.

I will also be complete with a PhD, a million dollars, and a sound & therapy center in every major city and a few off-the-beaten path locales.

For travel, and variety, you know.

As I'm walking through Berkeley, I sink as I pass over a soft plywood that's covering construction.

A few steps pass, and I turn around, because there is the chance that it could be the portal to a secret world. I blame every children's book ever written for thoughts like these.

I walk back over it, and I note that the hole under it (partially visible crack) is rather deep. Instead of a portal, it could be a rather long and painful fall, and a waiting to be rescued. I'm really not in a position to be breaking any bones right now.

I walk a few steps forward, and I realize that this though would be the perfect decoy for a hidden world.

So I go back over it. And pause for three breaths. I close my eyes. I put all my weight on it, but it doesn't sink through. In retrospect, I could have jumped.

Here is my desperate belief in hidden worlds in need of discovery.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Kishan Shah

There's nothing like a rockin vinyasa class in the evening...unless you're in Venice, and that class has dubstep, and an instructor with the best adjustments I've seen on the west coast.

Kishan's Shah's class is a beautiful combination of depth and bass, a solid sequence mixed with sweet spirituality, and an opportunity to sweat it all out.

As much as I appreciate challenge in my classes, I really much prefer it when there's an element in the class that ignites a fire within me, instead of pushing me.

Kishan is quite at home in Exhale's golden Sun room, and he splits his passion between standing meditation and yogic squats. The first time I went, I was so moved by the music, I felt I was stretching far into the sky in my standing poses, particularly the heart-opening lunges. I was so happy I decided to arrive at the studio that evening. I had heard of Kishan a few times, and had the intention of trying out his class for a while. So one unproductive day (I should wisely abandon accomplishment until after 7, really), I came in and let go of a whole bunch of stress: it was fantastic!

The next time I took class, I arrived after spending a weekend hiking 12 miles back and forth to a place called 'The Bridge To Nowhere'. My legs hurt, to say the least. Kishan's concern was apparent as he came over to me in my third or fourth time in child's pose, and asked me if I was. Just sore, I assured him, thankful for the attention. A little while later, he brought me into the deepest twist I had ever experienced, with my chest straight up into the sky in a twisted lunge. Impressive, and challenging : )

An afternoon with Kate Duyn Cariati

When I walked into Kate's class, I joined several other women who were undoubtedly in the same space as me: craving an afternoon break of movement and meditation.

Kate's creative sequencing was truly spectacular, especially her fearlessness with arm balances. It was a Level 2/3 class, so there was certainly an element of challenge to the practice.

I had come in, admittedly, a slightly unbalanced state, and I was grateful for Kate's patience as I shed a silent tear or two, and fell out of more than a few poses. I really appreciate it when a teacher places me in situations that I'm usually a bit to lazy to enter into during my morning practices, like eka pada koundiyanasana (yeah, I had to look that up...). Kate led us into these spaces with a graceful, sweet and friendly air. Several times, she came over to whisper a friendly word of encouragement in my ear- much appreciated!

Overall, I left Kate's class with a sense of peace and accomplishment, and undoubtedly a stronger core as well : )

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Collaboration, Love and Economics

A friend of mine went on a date with a woman. They vibed particularly well, and seemed in joy of each other's company. He asked her, "If I were more financially stable, could you see yourself being with me more?".

"And a normal girl, he says, a normal girl would say 'Oh, of course, no'. But she needed to think about it for a moment....and say, hmm...I don't think so?"

I thought it was a bit unforgiving. It's a harsh reality for women. I've heard that women earn 77 cents on the dollar. In my experience, the women in my world earn less than half the income of the men I owe, and although this is skewed because many of the women I know are independent artists- a difficult profession in any gender- it's still the current state of affairs. In my world, I can tell you that the guys I know can get a plane flight or a boat or a new apartment or whatever the heck, and the women I know are having trouble paying for meals. I know that's not a demonstrative demographic. I am only trying to share my experience.

In our society, we usually share our income and possessions, our lifestyle, with those closest with us. For most, but not all people, that usually means that one shares more comfortably with one's spouse or one's girlfriend than with anyone else. And when you get to the level of structuring a world....

It could mean living in a world where you take a weekend vacation to Fiji, India, Morocco, and visit the symphony orchestra. Watch plays and enjoy nice meals, donate to charities and appreciate design. Organize benefits and choose every aspect of the home you live in. Or you could be trying to make ends meet in a dinky little place and have to worry about roof leaks and healthcare.

And I, with all my ideals and radical notions on equality and independence- have I ever thought about the opportunities that may be available to me in this respect? Has this idea presented itself in temptation?


And the nausea that accompanies this tiny prick of desire as well.

When you realize that you are seeing your companionship as a grander opportunity than your talents and passions....yes, this is sick, truly sick. When I think that love, yes my love, is subject to material appeals and my mind seems unable to escape this. Well, I feel sick, I do.

The feeling fades and passes I explore other perspectives on the link between partnerships and economics. In Russia, people frequently don't move out of their parents homes until they are married because the cost of housing is just so absurdly high, it frequently takes two. And I think my generation is thinking like this- the power of teaming up- from a space of equality- but seeing collaboration as a route to abundance.

"You shouldn't marry someone rich" said Yohei, "You should find someone who is going to become rich, and marry them".

At the time, he had no clue that this was actually the message my mother has sent to me since perhaps birth, and how creepy it was that he mentioned it out loud. But that was always her thought- connect for love, and then you both together seek to grow.

Anyways, this has been on mind a lot recently and I just wanted to take an opportunity to let it go.

Saturday, September 15, 2012


I am nervous.

Seriously nervous. Harry Potter about to play quidditch nervous.

I actually have not been this jacked with anticipation since I was a mock trial debater almost 8 years ago in high school. To those who have never found themselves as mock trial debaters, this is a horrible allusion to the profound nature of this nervousness. I think the absurdity adds a nice touch.

That was the last time I fasted for an event, although at the time all the spiritual meaning of fasting was lost on me. It just seemed, for whatever reason, to be a good idea, the way it feels today.

In the early part of the week, I was all "yang" energy- running around, connecting post-Bhakti, getting out all our info, connecting with studios- up from early morning to late at night in a buzz of creation. Suddenly, mid-week, the energy shifted. I became more aware of my emotions and more sensitive than comfortable for sure, and I realized that I was entering a phase of "yin" energy.

It took me a long time to come to terms with this when it happens. For a few days, I'm not up in my running shoes listening to NIN, but rather down on the floor in a gentle yoga practice, or curled up with my journal. In the past I would repress this state, try to figure out what was 'wrong' and try to pump myself with energy. Time has taught me to honor my reflective state, to give myself permission to be a bit more sleepy, a bit more sensitive, to explore my dreams and express the myriad of strange human feelings I get filled up with. It's an intuitive space, a way of being that perhaps offers or forces insight and understanding into my existence. During this time I find being alive altogether weird and bewildering, and a bit overwhelming, even.

And I know that tonight, though I have little expectation about what is actually going to take place, I have a strange inclination that it's going to be a very strong experience. I feel like I'm about to lose my identity slightly, and that I, like the people in savasanah, may journey away a little bit as I ring the gongs, and find myself different upon my arrival.

Even though I know the experience is usually quite pleasant, the very presence of the unknown alerts me,

Well, let's finish getting ready then. 

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Venice Movement Arts Center: with Alexandria Barrett

Ever had a day where, by 6 o'clock, you've rescheduled your evening meeting for noon tomorrow, then dropped the world and headed yoga-wards? I won't judge you. That was my night.

Alexandria Barrett opened up Venice Arts Movement Center, a community sanctuary right across from Whole Foods (think yoga + smoothie, yoga + groceries, yoga + pretending-to-be-healthy pizza). Her 7pm class featured live music and candles, a soft soothing voice and a welcoming presence.

Earlier today, I learned about the 3P's, Perseverance (moving through the difficult), Persistence (re-awakening your goal) and Patience (letting go and waiting in confidence). That's a pretty accurate summary of Alexandria's class.

Alexandria holds the space with ease as she guides through a simple, hacyon sequence. It's slow flow, which in my opinion is much more difficult than a more rajastic- or fiery- vinyasa. Slow flow invites one to spend more time with the self, to explore the exhausted mind and body, full of hesitation, as it embarks on the movement's path. Usually, I don't get a quick escape from my thoughts, I must work for it through awareness and focus upon the breath.

We move mindfully from one pose to another, a strong set up in Warrior I, each transition coordinated. It was a blessing challenge, knocking my out of my day's 'coast' mentality. Alexandria caught me rushing from one pose to the incorrect other a few times, I'll admit. After a while, I realized I'm going to be holding these poses longer than I may expect ; ).

Our pigeon pose was particularly detailed: Alexandria talked about the structure and nature of the piriformis, after adjusting almost everyone in the class during the lengthy hold.

Half way through the class, however, I remember why slow flow is as powerful as it is. Instead of a quick yoga high, I set my inner metronome from presto to lento. I've played out the entirety of my mental tape, stretched each part of my body, and sank deep into savasanah with lavender pillows.

As I walked out of class, awake and radiant, my mind pushed creativity into the silence; composing stories and ideas. It's 8:45, and I just woke up, I think to myself. Thanks Alexandria!

Monday, August 13, 2012

Isabelle Du Soleil

If you've ever imagined what is it like to do yoga in the french countryside, Isabelle Du Soleil has you covered.

Isabelle was subbing Annie's SMARTflow level 2/3, a class that's always challenging and requires a bit of mental pep talk to get to in the morning. About half way through the class today, I realized that just because Annie wasn't teaching, didn't mean we were taking it easy. That was okay, because half way through the class, I was in the flow and not wanting to back down either.

Isabelle has a charming french accent and an allure of grace and familiarity. Imagine receiving an invite from your sweet cousin in Alsace, inviting you over for yoga kriyas amongst the lavender.

I picked up on a lot of Shiva Rea inspired movement, as well as very Annie Carpenter like precision and attention to the student bodies. My favorite part of the sequence, however, was the hip opening ending. I always seem to forget about hanumanasana (splits) in my own practice, so it's nice to have the focus go there in class. Isabelle shared that hip openers brought her closer into herself, into a deeper truth and connection with the earth. I appreciate that.

Friday, August 10, 2012

glitter flashback

Ruby and I took adderall and polished an entire appartment last night. I would build a temple with Ruby. Or anything else.

Through these past few weeks, she continues to amaze me. So airy, so dreamy; surely so out of this world. There is no way, one thinks, a real human being can so exist. She is like a fairy, and one wonders- how deep can it go?

In three weeks, in such close proximity both penniless, you learn. Her depth, her intelligence, her intentionality. Learned perhaps isn't the right word: I think the right word is something like proved, or discovered supporting evidence for. Ruby under pressure, in decision making and creation, and I, impressed by what I saw. To see someone rock unicorns and reason, air and ground...

May people say the same of me.

As an aside, I am a big fan of all of my friends. And I enjoy expressing this affection.

Well, as I'm attempting sleep, gathering exhaustion yet still restless: my heart pounding in a combination of addy and caffeine I haven't touched since college. And an interesting thing happens.

I remember. So much, years, of my experiences in Manhattan took place with this fluttering, appreciative awed heart. I remember how my life was pure magic, a surreal creation, the physical completeness of fantasy. We lived by a mix of Secret and Absurdity, dream and creation. We discovered the strangest things we could: and I dare say I was the best at it.

In the past three years, I remembered the challenged, the mistakes, the tiny frays and knots in the tapestry of knowledge. But I had forgotten the fabric's glean.   

I remembered what it felt to glitter.

How it feels to have your insides shake with meaning: to be so fully in awe of the beauty of this particular configuration of events. I recalled magical experience after experience, walks and talks and late night musings and early morning grocery runs and the streets, cafes and cuban clubs, ocean and mystery. Everything, everywhere, altogether and all at once.

With so much vata energy, my mind (which rests in the center of my heart) wants so badly to cling onto someone, something, to keep me grounded, tethered to my experinece, oh how it quickly slips away! "Come back!" I beg, "Let me keep you!". And the moment dissolves. Slips away as I inscribe it in my memory, as I take the very first rich sip of individuality.

Coming of age, heart racing in an anxious appeal for each moment to stay.

Lying awake, for the first true time in years, I miss Manhattan. I miss 1st avenue and 2nd street. I miss Lauren and Kate, and the costume box, within and without. 

Thank you for the momento.

It is not a sustainable state. But it's beauty beckons every now and then.

the fleeting texture of experience is yours to keep; yours alone. the weight and lightness is your burden, or brace. no one will ever know what it is to be you...not fully.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Slow Flow

Jolly how discussion brings awareness to core beliefs I didn't even know I held.

Did you know I'm all slow flow? Gentle transition, a downright centrist perhaps.

A recent conversation turned to agriculture, recent government legislature to its annoyance, and the format for moving forward.

"I really think," he said, "that everyone should buy a big supply of rice and beans, and lots of vitamin C, and not go to work for twenty days. That would shut the whole system down."

I shuddered. "I don't. Then you would have a turmoil and chaos, and a bunch of people trying to make gigantic, collaborative decisions, running on rice and beans."

Think about what would happen: hospitals shut down, everyone home with their kids (and their fears) all day, funeral homes closed, medical needs ignored, the elderly abandoned, anyone who defies this proposal wouldn't be able to get gas for their cars, prisoners forgotten,

And a whole lot of nothing dramatic. A whole lot of not too much may happen (for example, fewer car crashes and construction accidents). It may be a rad trip, too, an artistic dedication akin to a 20-day renaissance. But the gamble towards chaos runs high.

So it may be both fun and tragic, but here's the thing:

What happens after 20 days? There's no alternative structure to move into, at least not one that can support a whole population. After 20 days, you'll have a scramble for power as rice and bean people* try to figure out a way to move forward.

And in almost.every.single.time where chaos has come across a civilization, there is a predictable pattern of outcome: a tighter grab on power. Usually a military- or militia based governance. A violent shift to order. A cruel farce against the principles that started a movement.

I respect pattern. Only by observing a pattern can you begin to change the course, shift the next phase. And when playing with powerful patterns: act with care.

When I see such a clear and distinct pattern of events throughout human history; I choose not to go there. I choose to forge a different route. 

Particularly because revolution is a reactive action. It is an opposition to, and often principles for, yes, but mostly an "against" move. It is destruction. It is not growth.

Philosophically they are two sides to the same coin; in action they are not. 

I value growth, moves made in courageous faith of creation. I value small farmers that nourish their land, even in the threat of eviction. I value b-corps and sustainable energy companies, alternative healthcare practitioners that trade their services outside of insurance, every inventor and engineer out there, every psychologist and yogi discovering the pathways that make us brighter beings.

True revolutions in human history are not traced in blood. Transformation thrives off mastery, melioration and prosperity. Cultures that tempt with opulence, the simplicity of enough, the creation of opportunity and open society.

When our 'alternative' lifestyles start to look a lush green in comparison to fossil-fuel-consuming poverty, then you will see the shift.

But these paths are by glamorous world leaders and synchronized collective and mechanical action. There won't be the victory of warfare or the eulogy to the general.

These paths will be forged by small business and tillers of land, by every individual that pushes for their organization to take a different trek, by every individual dedicated to sustainability.

We do not need orchestrated action: we have the power of synchronicity. We have trust and faith in each other, and imperfection of the divine.

It is no longer a question of would I die for the cause, but rather a soft understanding I will die in the cause. I will die, someday, hopefully not soon, without infamy, while the world will still shift and change and hopefully into a more integrated format. I may not live to see solution, ecotopia or revolution. Maybe I will, or everyone won't, but this outcome matters not. I'll live each day in the creation of the sustainability and consciousness. By choice.


*Actually, rice and beans and vitamin C is much more nutritious than many, many, many peoples current diets. If during these twenty days everyone went through a holistic program of juice cleanses, yoga and meditation, psychotherapy and counseling, and if they could just get gonged, too....

Just kidding.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Trust, Lunch and Ghandi

Im in a space where I'm doing a lot of trusting the universe to sustain me.

And its a little bit scary/beautiful/longing/gratitude/insecurity/faith/worry. And so forth.

Being a broke foodie and health nut is very mildly torturous.

There are these dreams, I have, see. But I really want some kale. And parsley. I wonder where I can get some kale. And mango. Thank goodness for these grapes. And chia. I really want some pizza. I don't even eat pizza. I'm probably just wanting a hearty meal. I want a real meal. And a green smoothie. From Rawvolution. Dude, when I get money, I am going to eat a slice of Spirulina pie- and cry.

I am a little bit ashamed of my thought process. I know people who are perfectly happy with one meal a day- people who can live off rice (I want some rice. I want some mango sticky rice and some forbidden rice... and some raw cauliflower rice...). I feel like many of these everyday thoughts are pretty self-centered and trite... and kind of lame. Whew, there, I said it. I think my preoccupation with keeping myself fed and nourished is kind of lame.

There's a wise core that recognizes this sort of thinking as pretty judgmental. Also, I am aware of how HUGE an effect nutrition has. I'm not saying its the only thing, but I will go so far as to say, for the normal person, nutrition and exercise will create the strongest positive shift in their life. What you eat actually forms your cells. And your body. And your mind- you know, that thing that interprets and structures your reality? And when you're undernourished, you suffer emotionally and mentally much more so than physically.

Well, I ask two lovely beings who have also gone so far as to trust the universe.

Ruby starts talking about Ghandi: "See, babe, he knew what he had to bring to the world. He knew what he was here to do- and because he was coming from that place, he shone so bright-"

"Yeah," I interrupt, "and I bet Ghandi never worried about lunch....or dinner".

"Yeah," agrees Ruby.

"And I do. So, I'm clearly not Ghandi. I wish there was something I could do to disconnect and not care so much about food".

Ruby pauses. "Honestly, I think if you did that you would just be a bum".

"Oh, I'm not now?"

"No. Because you're giving back, by bringing forth your truth. And as long as you are doing that, the universe will support you. Besides, babe- and this is important- your understanding of health and nutrition and fitness and stuff- that's your truth. And it's your message. When people see you, they are inspired and you spread the message of Eco-consciousness. And the gong flow is important-"

"-of course it is," I interrupt, "it can help war vets, and-"

"that's how I should hear you talking".


Later in the day, I ask Gretta, who replies,

"Well, people like Ghandi, or Amma.... they are just on a whole other level. They are still in their physical bodies, but they are conscious on another level, I don't think they think about food."

"Yeah, but I do. And I think that holds me back".

"Sweetie, austerity was the theme of their time. And it was necessary then, but they've already done that work- so we don't have to now. Your generation has another mission. Shiva, Saul and Erich, they took yoga from what it was and brought it here now. You"ll have to take it to the next level- and I don't think austerity is the next level-"

And at that point, my attention shifted somewhere to:

Wow, samosas are delicious, I haven't had one in ages. And I love this chocolate superfood- oh my god, it gives me so much energy...

And so forth.

Friday, July 27, 2012


I live in a world of my imagination.

I have always lived in a world of my imagination. I suspect that I will continue to do this whether I know it or not.

When I was a little kid, I drew out maps of entire worlds, Mililac, a land of beauty and prosperity, Krall, a dictatorship of cruelty and misery (as a Russian emigrant, I think I know where I sourced this narrative...), Tiger's Isle.

I had a one-on-one chat with compassionate author Edward Mannix today. In which, I connected and emphasized with my inner child. Really, I had to pretend that my 8 year old self was in front of me, and to talk to her. The rule was, when talking to children: you never deny their feelings. Even if you think its silly. Express empathy and understand.

For example: if a child says, "I think my brother doesn't love me".

Instead of responding "Your brother loves you" (e.g. denying their reality), say, "I'm sorry you feel like a loser".

(On a side note, I remember getting fed up one day in elementary school, and going to visit the guidance counselor. I told her, "I don't have any friends". 
-She says, "hold out your hands, and count off the names of your friends". 
-I lift up my fingers and go, "Jenny, Mike, Gerard, Kathy....". 
-She goes, "See, you do have friends. Now go along now". 
Guidance counselor fail.)

Anyway, while having a conversation with my 8 year old self, I realized, "Wow, when I was 8 years old, I felt totally out of place. I thought the school system was a competitive bore, I made it through middle school without any effort, and read books underneath my desk. I did not understand getting points deducted for not having my books covered. I lived in a land of imagination. I believed I could make things happen with my mind. I wanted love and approval from everyone, and I cared an awful lot."

And then I realized, "...and I'm still that person".

Sure I've gotten older and more mature and a master of intense emotion and deliberate reaction, but, the point remains, I'm still that kid. I could choose to deny, or repress, or ignore all of my imaginative elements: but regardless,  I entered the world as that being, and I am the continuity of that consciousness and being.  

So when I'm in savasanah, and having a truly marvelous conversation with Apollo....

That's my experience/perception/reality. That's how I be.

Friday, July 20, 2012


I am so. so. so. glad that is over.

Just finished the master cleanse. Ten challenging days. Ten depths-of your soul, fear blazing inspirational instensy. Amusingly enough, it reminded me of the process of the koshas.

Pre-cleanse, days 1-3, the physical exhaustion and strain sets in, the physical longing for comfort, for food.

Days 3-5, energy shut down. Too tired to run or hit the beach, no intense vinyasa. I walk pretty much everywhere I go now. Normally a privilege, suddenly a horror and a burden.  Every detour, every missed bus, every extra half hour of walking turned tricky.

Amusingly enough, for the first time in my life, I could spend hours sitting, at a computer even. Can't say I got much done, but my concentration was truly impeccable. Now that orange-peach nectar is coursing through my body like wild, all I want to do is dance again ; )

Days 6, drunken monkey brain. mental bonanza. searching aimlessly for answers amongst things I already know, re-exploring closed option after after option. drunken, anxious monkey.

Days 7, emotional deprivation: crazy longing for emotional comfort. Hunger is everything. It really is. At that point of being so, so hungry, you start to feel so, so, terribly empty. And people feel like this. All over the world. No human was placed on this earth to feel this longing.

Days 8, tricky during the day but really fun at night. I was having a conversation at Yohei's with a few friends, and suddenly I realize that everything is teaching me something about myself, and my family, and where I'm from, and where everyone else is from, and the evolution of our society...
"Guys...." I say, hesitantly, "this may sound a bit odd, but I think I'm tripping."
"Yeah, so if I don't sound super present.....it's cos I'm not".

Day 9, day 9 was so beautiful it deserves its own little pocket in my internet life, so I'll write about it afterways. Bliss body. Total wisdom.

Day 10, wow that was wild. proud of surviving that. can't wait to eat : )

Post-cleanse, Day 1: Up at 7AM. Suddenly, I have become a morning person. I've learned the power of orange juice : )

Dude, I am so jittery. Fruit feels so good.

Monday, June 25, 2012

That was a singularly strange experience in its platitude.

I am on East Coast until July 11th, visiting my more conservative jewish parents, who are actually doing a commendable job coming to terms with my more mystical existence.

It's near 1AM, and my mother and I are sitting on the embroidered and practical couch in the living room of this beautiful colonial house in mid-massachusetts, and we are watching Cruel Intentions. Here's the strange thing; there have been at least two other times where we've sat on this couch and watched Cruel Intentions.

Now, I do practice some repetition. Every morning, I wake up and go through a series of more or less similar postures and meditations (that I swear is different every day, but may appear reiterative to the outside glance). More meals than not, I'll throw some celery and spirulina in a blender. I repetitively dip my hand in the chocolate jar, or the honey jar, and I still have a nasty habit of checking my cell phone.

But I think I've named the majority of my habits. This winter, I lived in a house for 6 months- the longest I maintained a residence since 2009. Since 2009, I've 'lived' in 13 locations. These days, it's an odd coincidence if I wake up in the same place twice, and that place isn't around a campfire with CC White saying, "Darling, we are all scared your hair is going to light on fire!".

Watching this movie was so strange. At one point, I got up to go to the bathroom, and my own life seemed foreign to me. I could not believe that I was headed back to California to teach Gong Flow Yoga and travel the festival circuit. It's real enough when I've got a bunch of singing bowls around someone's head and I'm handing them some lavender, but when I'm in a suburban house in mid-massachusetts, to say my life seems odd is nothing.

Especially when I'm flash-backed to my 15 year old self, or my 18 year old self. Cruel Intention's images of New York in particular are striking... they must have made quite an impression on my mind to manifest to reality, because I've been there, in love, not on the upper east side but on the upper west, in a similar egoic reality.

My mother asked me if I wanted to go back to being 19 and going to NYU*, and....I can't say there was no truth to that- there's certainly the shadow of reminiscence, but honestly, no, not reality. The greatest excitement I felt in New York pales in comparison to the joy I am capable of feeling now. I think I took in only about 29% when I lived there (statistic falsified). I have no idea what percentage of experience I take in now, if there is such a thing (metaphor is technically flawed), but I can bet you its higher. I remember my first tastes of ecstasy in my heart center; now I feel it with my whole being. I feel much more alive, more awake, in a way more innocent than I did at 17.

For the most part ; )

I think, sitting there and watching this movie, I missed my current life more than I missed my New York one. The thing with New York, is that it will still be there, in some form. I have friends in New York that appear to struggle with the same conflict, inhabit the same worlds. Perhaps it so appears to my outside perspective, in fact, probably, but the change of my being happens now in lands unknown. And I am lucky enough to live in a world with continuance, to be near to or aware of the beloved brothers and sisters I shared New York with.

I feel more intensity of experience, novelty and growth with each passing year, and I have no urge to return to a previous time. I intend to continue that pattern. I have always looked forward to my life at 50 and if trend takes it course, I'm sure it will be pretty epic.

But sitting there, past midnight, watching the same movie: inexplicably odd.

*she is shocked I left cosmopolitan new york to live in 'provincial' Venice
I haven't written about a class I taught in over a year. Isn't that weird?

It's mostly because yoga classes are  about students and it's kind of weird to blog about them.

Occasionally I'll write out a sequence, but also it's like "yeah...yoga happened..."

As I write this, I'm watching a reiki practitioner heal a woman with some pretty active breathwork. It's powerful, and also funny.

Gong flow started as a seed on the beach in santa Monica- I ran up to him and yelled "gong me gong me".

"you can't just do that, Mona," says Brendon, incredulously.

I get in the gong chair: and I don't know what happened in there honestly. It's like the first time I did yoga: "oh...that was weird".

As I hear the rainstick, I fall back into my body. I sit up and Guy says, "you know, I've been looking for a yoga teacher...."

This is right around the second time in my life where I nearly surrendered teaching yoga. The classes I was teaching before just didn't gather momentum....

It's one of the ironies of an actor moving to NYC- a yoga teacher moving to Santa Monica has the joy of learning in a soul-and-wisdom saturated atmosphere. You get to learn and transform in the brilliant Mecca of mind-body consciousness.

But there's so much yoga all around, there didn't seem to be a need for more.

But the bowls and the gongs have such tremendous power, that they are crucial to share. Seriously, they are amazing. It's a yoga high like never experienced before, and the effects are long-lasting. I truly believe that each gong flow yoga class is a rebirth. I have never before encountered anything so nourishing. 

I hold a yoga class in honor of my birthday- it's the style I like, laid back, with an emphasis on writing and individual experience- introspective yoga ; ). 

Just kidding, it's all introspective. 

Anyway, Guy comes over and gongs the group. Kara, a friend of mine, began to sing in these aerie ethereal tones. It's strange to say what happens during a sound bath, especially if its your first or second time. You enter into a realm without language, and since language is pretty much all I'm used to describing things (I haven't yet ascended to music), it's pretty tricky. One gets up and says, "Wow. Something happened. I'm not sure what it is though". And as with all mystery, I seek to understand. 

Guy had a class with a teacher up in the valley; to which I came. I re-experienced my childhood. I walked through the rooms of our New Jersey upstairs appartment. I pretended I was sailor moon and danced around late at night. I sat up on the drawer eating a rasberry-cheesecake muffin. I could feel the texture in my mouth. I walked outside the cafeteria and into the playground. I felt the fuzz of textured dots in arts and crafts. I remembered my humiliation of letting Mike know that I liked him, and the pride of standing up on a bench and announcing the importance of staying calm.

Four to fourteen. In 14 minutes.

About a minute into the gong flow, the worries I had been ignoring came up. The thoughts floated in and out, the music threatened them. I listened to the bowls; I imagined what it would be like to think in music. It seemed to be a very simple good idea. Let's try it.

We asked to hold a gong and yoga class at Zoe's, to which she generously and beautifully agreed!

Our first class, which we taught at Zoe's Love Dome, had 5 people in it. 

The next one, had 15. And Zoe's is a very small space! We were mat to mat, and there was no question; something significant was happening. 

Afterwards, we had to take reservations and then it got tricky- we need a big space- we can't do this by donation. But we want to have it open, so we set a suggested donation- but that confuses people as well. Setting up extremely heavy musical instruments, asking sound healing musicians to work for 2 hours, then taking it all down is a lot of work. And we are openly trying to get by. This sounds like a bunch of mind marble, doesn't it? Sure feels like it. But it's a nice mind marble to have, because the real question is, 

How can we share this experience to the highest degree? 

Afterwards, came Lucidity Festival, where I began to comprehend the power of the gongs. And where I faced my internal demons of misogyny and vowed to become and self-actualize. 

Then, was Symbiosis, where Guy and I learned about each other through challenge, and I fell in love with the singing bowls. Symbiosis was my first encounter with the phrase "brutaful". Brutal, and beautiful. I always imagined that my most activated state would be a busy, talkative way of being. I'm a fairly busy, talkative person, and I suspected when I was being at my fullest, it was when I felt drained of energy, forcing myself to say the next word. I learned that my most activated state is often when I'm listening. Even as I type that I feel a twinge of insecurity- doesn't this run in the way of my feminism? Am I simply too weak to take an active role? Chill out, fears, this is an empowered move, I assure you. Much 2nd wave feminism took for granted that "strong and active" was clearly superior, and it's a way for all people to be. Not so, says the 3rd (and possibly 4th?) wave, "receptive and calm" are markers of a strength so powerful it was repressed and feared. Own it. Bring it back.

Then came LIB, where I learned patience? (maybe) And decided that festival culture and the meaning behind it was as pretty close to the purpose of life as I can imagine. Please pardon me, productivity, but celebrating our short time together on earth through artistic creation is critical. 

Since then, it's been a whirlwind of website creation (Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU Yohei), finding photography, seeking space, contacts and conflicts: all for the beautiful birth of transformative experience. 


Saturday, June 16, 2012

Urban Home Gardens (part 2!)

Oh my gosh, it's all grown up! Check this out,

Top left hand corner, that's the arugula, with the lovely spring blossoms at the top.  It's about two and a half feet now, and it took me by surprise because I realized I didn't actually know what arugula looked like outside of a bunch at the market. I guess that's a step up from not knowing what arugula is at all, but is just one more showcase of my paltry agricultural skills. Or, rather, my fledgling agricultural skills.

I must say, once this garden was planted, it was quite the independent offspring. I watered it a few times, and Kimi planted an additional Shisho leaf, but for the most part; Matt planted it, it flourished. 

 Kimi chopped up in a salad the other day. To the right of the arugula are some fiesty bits of kale. Traveling downward one encounters the Shisho leaf, an absolutely magical edible her that is as ubiquitous in Japan as basil. It's that little leaf underneath your sushi. 

We also have a wide array of lettuces in the middle. From this adventure, I've discovered that lettuce is very hard to keep clean. I marvel at how relatively dirt free the stuff at the market is.  

See the thyme at the front? That thyme took so long to grow in. It thus became the butt of many jokes, "Stop taking your time, thyme!"

In the foodie world, there's always thyme for puns. 

Once again, a billion times thank you to Matt from Urban Home Gardens in Mar Vista. Thank you for making us such a beautiful garden, and being a pioneer for love, ecology and agriculture. 

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Ethics, Mugwort and Dreams

Let's talk tricky ethics.

Do you go off to war for your country or stay at home and help your mom?

What's the right choice?

It depends who you ask, doesn't it? It depends on their worldview. Now, I am fairly confident of the choice I would make in that situation, but what if I was a doctor choosing to give a heart to a 10 year old girl or an 8 year old boy. Any tricky, moral problem.  One where there are mutually exclusive integral ways of beings. Ethics then becomes a living, breathing vibrant inquiry.

From another perspective, then ethics becomes pesky spin-cycle mind torture. Especially as, although I may not really have the opportunity for any course of action, or the whole situation could be turned on its head in an instant, it's still interesting (and here's a bit of self-mockery) that I want to explore the ethical realm of my choices at the moment regardless. Intensely.

I feel like I'm caught in a moral crossroads; whatever action/way of being I take now will follow me for a while. It will feed into my perception of all beings, it will characterize the state of peace (or not) that I will have in the future.

I love how life shakes me up. Most choices are like "Oh, I'll just take the loving ethical goddess perspective".  And this time around its like, yeah, uh, good luck finding that one.

It really boils down to 'what do I want to be the right thing to do?'. 'What paradigm do I want to live with?'

And then I stop and really don't know. It sounds like some pretty authentic conflict. Actual split-between-two-worlds part. I can sense my past experiences nudging their way in, too, and it's like ah-what-are-you-doing-here?

I guess I could.....go to sleep and wait for more information (which sounds miserable), or..... explore the global dream consciousness for clues (which sounds like way more fun). Mugwort, sage and the intention to have a full experience. Good night.

Monday, April 30, 2012

We are all unaware of most of what affects us, and in this mysterium we don't know how to be.

Because I think you can be healed. It is not that they you are not strong enough, or smart enough or logical enough to act better.

We have all patterned some painful ways to cope. We sometimes feed the things that hurt us, because they loudly beg for attention.

It is not because you are weak, needy or insecure.
We all have sick, potholed pathways in our minds, these negative trenches in our bodies. It takes a lot of help to build new roads.

It is not because people don't care enough or don't love enough.
These words forget that we are growing, painfully stretching into our form, learning to walk and stepping on each others toes.

It is not because you are hopelessly anxious or paranoid.
We live in a complicated world where so many have been hurt in the harshest of ways. Memory can be hard to step away from.

It is not because all options point to abyss.
When we hit the base of our heartstrings, it is hard to see a way out. A world with meaning seems far away, but much closer than we can imagine.

It is not because you are an addict.
It takes time and work and a healing village to build light. The change is slippery at first and comes in waves- sometimes you fall, need more support

When I was younger, I wanted to go into defense law. I was very good at defending people, I believed in this core innocence and I wanted to prove it. And it's still a noble pursuit, but I've found myself more specific. The majority of people do not need defending from a court. They need defending from themselves, from their greatest fears and doubts and self-loathing. From these elements that make up all humans, our dark sides that we run away from.

We live in with world of abuse, trauma and disorder. Our shadows plague us with pain and addiction, stress and worry.

When the greatest threat is the angry voice inside one's own head, teaching someone to accept and befriend themselves is the most formidable task of all.

But it is not because we are flawed. Yes, we have unworkable structures in our minds, yes, energy blockages in our bodies. Yet at our core is awareness and choice, and it is stronger than any paradigm.

We have opened the pandora's box of consciousness. Got hit with the responsibility of creating our own lives, and the difficulty there in. There's work to be done. 

Monday, April 16, 2012

Flat out Feminist

Today I learned, I see women as marginalized beings.

To the extent that I am a rotating sphere mirror of all around me, scampering for consciousness and control of what circulates. And I've been orbiting in misogyny a while.

I disrespect them. I classify them into categories; the thick maternal figure (with no adventures of her own), the angelic waif (with no earthly concerns), the aggressive business woman (poor in compassion), the old knitting grandmother (snoozing on a pillow) or the frigid housewife (projecting her pain).

These people are not full and complete. They are part and portioned. Simply put, being a women seemed like more pain, responsibility, and trouble. Didn't seem like much fun.

I do not appreciate being female. I take issue with it. In my youth, the people I identified with most were mostly male. I rarely saw women that I wanted to be.

It was as if, in order to come into a full expression of my being, I need to become a person who happened to be female. I could not become a women, in my mind, because women were lacking in options.

Lucidity changed that. It may have started with Ruby, and others, calling me goddess. Goddess is a pretty empowering term. Goddesses can be anything, really.

I saw an acrobats I could not stop staring out for her splendor. She had curly hair, I think she was a size 6. I saw tiny caring women who wanted to feed the world, and businessmen that dressed up like wonderwoman. I saw yoga teachers who were scientists with navel rings, mothers who took their kids to music festivals. Brilliant women of all ages and walks of life, consciously embodying their true self.

...and to see about 1500 of that was pretty intense. People were treating each other as equals. It was pretty damn cool.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Studio U Pilates

I walked out with a tight coil in my belly, feeling fully alive and radiant.

This is my core. This is what I feel like when I'm power.

Debbie's class is like no other Pilates class I've experienced. Rooted in intelligence and specificity, it brings about profound, lasting change from within. This is no hour-long pump go-go routine. This is a brilliant change that Debbie creates within you. As she teaches, she is aware of every body part of each student. It's as if she has a barometer of muscular activation: she can tell exactly when you're fully present, and when you're not feeling the pull of an activity.

Debbie also identified exactly what muscular "crutches" I'm using that are keeping me away from an activated core. She showed me how to tuck my hips (I was always putting them in the wrong direction) and curl up my lower belly muscles. She showed me how to link together my upper abs like "zipping up a corset".

Studio U requires the focus and attention of a strong yoga practice, and it's making me think about fitness in a new way. I think that when I am "feeling the burn" of an ab exercise, that it's actually translating to flatter abs. But when I feel core activation, it's an aliveness like stored power in the belly. It's deeper than a "oh feel the burn" and more real and lasting. This place has actually changed the way I view my (flatter!) abs and how I engage them.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Layna Dakin: Hot 8 Yoga

I've been training to teach the Hot 8 Power Fusion classes, and I could not be more lucky. Southern California's warmth and lushness doesn't mandate heated yoga studios in the same way that the East Coast does. I remember winters when I spent the whole day just longing for that moment I stepped into the blessed heat.

How can I forget about the power of the heat? The heat detoxifies, increases our flexibility and brings us deeper into our practice. I remember Shiva's devotion that that sacred fire, heating practices. Many times we lose our fire, she said, through life changes or experiences...sometimes people's fires go out. But it's a precious thing to cherish and nourish.

The first few times I took Power Fusion, I experienced tremendous relief. Firstly, it's not Bikram. Although Hot 8 Yoga does hold traditional hot classes, the power fusion is a shoulder-friendly practice that combines the intensity and long holds of a hot class, with the flow of a vinyasa. It's the best of both worlds: intensity and fluidity. It's powerful, heating, difficult and detoxifying, but in my opinion, to a point of virtue not exhaustion. For this reason, I enjoyed the power fusion sequence in the morning.

I also particularly enjoyed Layna Dakin's style of teaching the class, smart, active and dedicated. Every motion a student makes in a Hot Power Fusion class is guided by Layna's gentle and inspirational suggestions. Knowledge comes in through every line. Watching her teach is an interesting experience itself. Her entire body leans in and participates with such intensity that you know she is one thousand percent present. This complete activation of the body is the concept present in the class, Layna always has a bit of advice of how to welcome in collarbones or fingertips into a movement. It's amazing how, in a fairly set structure, the individuality of a teacher's expression comes out fully through subtle cues.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Jamie Elmer

Jamie Elmer is a master teacher that travels the country and lives on a boat.

She's a real person; and this her life. I did not make her up.

She's developing a program called "Yoga for Cruisers", intended to ease the life of someone on a sailboat. I hope I'll have the opportunity to need these techniques very soon.

When I announced my intention, a few months ago, to teach yoga and therapy on a boat, David Rodwin put me in contact with Jamie Elmer via Facebook. She was incredibly sweet and open and shared her experience me.

Conveniently enough, she was visiting Los Angeles the very next week to teach at Exhale, so I went over to check out the magic.

Jamie carries her experience weightlessly, with an delightfully youthful air. It's much like someone waking up after a particularly inspiring and restful night, assuming she or he is a morning person to begin with. That's Jamie's vibe.

I took her class twice, and she has a creative, unique smart sequencing. I love a class I can come to and feel like I walked away with a handful of new techniques and tools.

Here's a list

-Hip openers on the back, gentle side to side rocking of the hip to awaken the joint. Wonderful way to inspire awakening without force. Love it.
-A reminder of the right way to adjust someone in a reclined twist. Instead of pushing the hip down, pull the hip that is draped across towards you to create more space in the practitioner's side body.
-Cat cow on the finger tips
-Simple movements like bringing the arms up and down in crescent lunge can be invigorating.
-I haven't come over to a wall in so long (okay, maybe a couple months). But it seems like something we did more at Down Under and in New York than in Los Angeles. Anyway, I learned if a group of people do anjaneyasana, everyone will make quite the pained face. Also, a bolster under the elbows can be a lifesaver. Also, it may be wise to practice this pose (like hanumanasana) with considerable more frequency than I do now. Since my current frequency is "rarely if ever", improvement seems inevitable.
-In horse pose, wrap the arms into eagle and twist side to side. Marvelous release.

But a few of the lovely lessons of the two days I got to take Jamie's class. Thank you, Jamie!

Garden! Part 1

I've wanted to plant a garden since November. It was my New Years Resolution. I set intentions, I hyped up my roommates, I set "gardening dates". January comes around, and no stone's been turned.

Here's the thing: I don't know anything about gardening. And that really bothers me. Knowledge is power, and freedom. My ignorance keeps me from being self-sustaining, and feeds my underlying anxiety of dependence to industrial food production, and even on external, albeit organic, food production. Since last year, I've made some improvements. I've cut some of my whole foods shopping sprees by subscribing to a CSA and bike down to the farmers markets after class on Sundays.

But I remember how powerful and independent I felt when I learned to cook. Learning to grow is the next step! Gardening seemed like such a new world, however, that with all my desire, I got overwhelmed.

Clearly, it was time to call in some professional help. So we called up Matt Van Diepen, owner of Urban Home Gardens in Mar Vista. Matt agreed to take up the task of taking out scraggly dirt lot into a thing of organic beauty.

Here are some "Pre" pictures of our backyard, that, despite the artistic glare, really aren't pretty. We've got an old chicken coop in our backyard. Lots of boards, stones, dirt but not the healthy kind, an old monitor....really. This actually isn't the real before picture- that would just be too much to look at. This shows how Matt segregated a section of our backyard essentially plowed it.

Here's stage 1. Matt comes over to our house.

Kimi and him plan out the backyard (I'm away at the moment). Kimi is attempting to plan out aesthetics, while Matt is calculating exactly where our backyard gets optimal sun. He segregates the area, tills the soil and gives us instructions on how to water it. The next days, he's over with shovels, pick axes, and a whole bunch of mulch on a rubber carpet.

Kimi, Kimi's brother Tommy, and I gather around and attempt to help, waiting for Matt's instructions on how to best approach the topic.

Matt throws the leaves into the central garden plot and shows us how to combine them with the existing soil. He divides up the ground using the boards and rocks in the area, and show us how, already, our soil is becoming more fertile. We have good land here, he says. We just have to dig it up.

Check out our escapades below;

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Luna Love and Yoga Nidra

When I read Luna's writing, it was like a lifeline from a kindred spirit. She describes her experience with such vivid detail and intent reflection- it shows how she is a being of such great depth.

I told her that her writing was like that of war stories. Incredibly visceral and crucially contemplative in a way that recalls stories of WWII or Vietnam. Luna's is a very intense peace, and it is one I resonate with.

She held a yoga nidra workshop at Bhakti Yoga Shala. Yoga nidra is difficult to comment on- although I'll try- because one falls into a dreamlike state that isn't really accessible through language. Luna started us with a meditation, but quickly we found ourselves on our backs. At that point, she brought our awareness to each and every part of our bodies, one very slow step at a time. It's that practice of no escape- of having to focus on the left pinky toe relaxing, and then the next one, and so on....the idea being that there is nothing left behind.

And then you drift. For me, I travel into this ethereal zone where I occasionally visit a past or present experience, but mostly I drift off into what I'm very sorry to say is an indescribable state. Perhaps "wavering, black noise travel".

Luna, at this moment, perfectly embodied the yin aspect of selves, that desire to dive deep into our psyche, which a tremendously joyous and mysterious part of our existence. She led her workshop with grace, preparation and reverence for the process. Overall, much love.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Biography for Dashama's Book

Dashama is a florida-based fairy whose enthusiasm is powerful and healing. She is writing a book and asking her yoga community to contribute. Here's my take.


Maitri is a sanscrit word meaning unconditional friendliness, and compassion.

This is my intention, and my life is a balancing act of finding the right practices, tools and thoughts to make this purpose flourish.

When I went to NYU, I studied a smorgasbord of eastern and western philosophy, social theory and criticism, linguistics, story-telling, and conceptual physics, amongst other things. I went to Gallatin, where you study at any of New York University’s seven schools, and create your own concentration. Mine is “The Relationship Between Honesty and Desire”.

I desire to empower people all over the world using yoga and therapy. I want to practice yoga activism both at home and abroad, and share the faculty of yoga with everyone.

For this I hone the skill set of awareness and integrity. Awareness is the beginning; stepping into your body and breath to notice the quality of ones sensations, emotions and thoughts. Then, the difficulty lies in expression. Which words and actions are the best descriptors of these variable and enigmatic sensations within me? Try to be as accurate as possible. This is the honesty. Then, actively seek to align your actions with your beliefs. This is the integrity.

I have been teaching yoga since 2010, and every day my commitment to the practice gets deeper and deeper. It is truly the most powerful transformational tool that I’ve ever encountered, whether for social activism, personal development or for precious health.

May you have the courage to live each breath joyously.
May you have gratitude for your heart’s presence.
May you dive deep into inner knowledge, surf your emotions, and explore subconscious shores.

With love,


Mona Asinovski

PS: Posts to come; Luna Love & Yoga Nidra, Hot 8 Yoga, and more and more marvelous insights on this fascinating and strange experience I seem to have all the time.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Heat and yoga makes me miss New York

I'm taking a "hot yoga" week to really detox.

I used to be really, really into hot yoga. The way my practice looks now is what I would have scoffed at a few years ago: simply because my mind was so wild back then that I needed to calm down before I could learn to calm down!

I doubled up on hot classes, and even though they were a billion times easier than the classes I used to take in the city, the heat floored me. I poured myself out. And something surprising came out: I miss New York. I didn't know, I didn't realize (since it's all cold and harsh and grey, in contrast to my Venetian paradise). I was walking through my experiences in savasanah, clinging on to the them- wanting and not wanting to let them go. And then, I thought, let me experience NY in the present moment: I glided through the happiest streets of memory, inserting my present self, way of being, way of living into New York. And then I realized if I was to go back, the majority of places I would inhabit had not previously existed.

I was sobbing (as par yoga class usual). As I biked home, I wrote this:


Dear New York,

You were my first love. The great unknown, hiding in little rooms. My first pilgrimage, and my first raucous freedom.

You were the thrill of success, and the bitter depression of failure. You were my first turn on: I didn't know what was happening.

You were the glitter of exhileration, and the overwhelming love of acceptance. I got so drunk and high I floated above my body in music. I don't remember the name of the band.

As I walked down your streets my mind was on fire.
You were insomnia and rapid heart-beat.

You taught me humility, and the neverending nausea of regret.

You were my loss of self control and the understanding of free will. You shattered my mirrors, broke my suitcase and ripped up my writing. And I loved you. I watched you turn into words and fall apart, and I survived.

You taught me to find myself. I stared into the center of infinity and didn't panic. You taught me the present moment and awed me with detail. You let me live the joy of the fairytale and then showed me a new dimension of grounded life.

You were shaking realizations of history and complexity, you were everything coming together.

You shoved people and experiences in my face when I wasn't ready. I forgive you for that.

You were the first orgasm I experienced with another being. I didn't know what a g-spot was either.

You sheltered me when I was homeless. You were also my first home. I miss red brick walls, the broken glass in the cement by the window, watching people below on 2nd st. I miss so many people in such small space. There was this maroon couch we piled up on.

It was cosmopolitan, and domestic.

You were the theatre of the absurd, and my first taste of madness. You were confidence and its betrayal, braggadocio and boldness. When I arrived I just wanted to talk; I learned how to see and listen.

I loved you with absolute purity and innocence. I wonder if I'll experience intensity like that ever again. I've lived like a tourist since I left you.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012


I feel that it's important to mention the Millionaire Mind Intensive, so that maybe a year from now when I'm looking this over, I'll recognize what a significant burst of energy this seminar brought me. (Note: I rarely actually bother to look things over, but ya know, just in case...)

It was incredible.

And the funny part is, I had to force myself to go.

"I'm too smart for this. I get the point. Can I leave early now?"

It was absolutely hilarious because it was, as heaven-sent, the thing I was wanting most A way to bring myself into a high-energy and hopeful attitude towards money, a seminar on wealth and abundance for good people.

And here I am thinking "do I really need to stay for the afternoon? I don't know if it's worth coming tomorrow".

It was.

One of the things that they said was that if you're not doing everything you can do share your talents, you are essentially depriving your current or future recipient of the love you have and that gift you bring. And you need to create a lifestyle that will support you doing that.

Here's one of my favorites: if your relationship to another person was filled with anger, guilt, shame or fear, would it be a very good relationship? Well, that's your relationship to money.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012


Last summer, I was playing with medicine cards in our hippie hamptons home. Each person pulls a card out of the deck, and it really is an entertaining and bonding experience to share this with others.

Well, I pulled out "The Bat", which is a symbol of death/rebirth. Lauren (my college roommate and tribal core) was particularly enthusiastic of this choice for me, pointing out that it suits me well.

I go through a fairly dramatic death/rebirth cycle.....um, once a year? twice a year? twice a month? well, with some frequency.

It's usually characterized by a period of panic in which I realize that the life that I'm leading isn't a truly authentic choice. That is, I am not acting like the mortal and timely being I am, in which each moment is precious and there is not a single one to waste.

So now I live in Venice, and I nervously type this across the attractive photographer/ motorcyclist sitting in front of me. It's a fascinating state of writing where, instead of getting caught up in the page, I feel more present in the situation as the words flow out of me. There's less mind to it. It's like Thich Nhat Han says, I am writing, but I am not suffering.

This way of self-expressing is something I've been seeking in various stages of intensity through college and in particular, the past few months. And Andres Salcedo's classes have been helping.

It's the Kirtan.

I swear it is.

I asked Shiva, what can I do for fifth chakra blockages, what asana, but to no avail: just chanting, she says. Anything else, I ask? You can kind of bring your fingers up and away from your throat as you chant, she shows me.

But basically, chant.

I had a panic attack tonight. I thought that was a new york thing. (nope). Thought it was a childhood thing (nope).

For those who haven't had a panic attack, it's a succession rapid heart beat and downright pain in your chest. A subtle, empty, sore pain.

Mind goes nuts. Mind sounds like this:

"I'm so scared to try and fail. I don't think I can do it. I don't think my best is good enough. I don't know when I made that decision, but I don't think my best is good enough anymore. Oh man....

And then...

"I want to be loved so much. When did this arise? Oh my god, I want to be loved SO much. This was never my thing, this was always someone else's thing. And now it's my thing- wtf?

And the kicker....

"What if I die, having never created anything significant or meaningful. What if I fucking die, never having created anything significant?"

So, I'm hanging out on my back in a restorative heart opener, pounding my chest- probably not as wise a choice as a forward fold, but at this point I was so fascinated by my panic, that I wanted to explore it just as much as I wanted it to go away.

The moral of the story is that it turned out just dandy all over, and quite joyous as well.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Cataclysmic Spasms of Growth

I'm into very specific hugs recently. Slow, close hugs when you can feel someone heart against yours. Hugs that take multiple breaths, and you can feel every one.

It's a more thorough expression than verbose stumbling stutter, so often taken awry.

Kimi's starting to pick up the habit. Watch me be physical, she jokes. And she gives such great hugs.

I've been into clarity. “Appreciating the finer aspects of sobriety”, said a dude to me many years ago, the same guy who offered my first toke. Thanks to facebook, I know is now biking through Mexico, sustaining multiple adventure-related injuries and reletivity few showers. I bet he'd crack up in hysterics if he read this now.

My mind comes back to people who embody their dreams, reminding me in the distance of my own. A gentle reminder to focus in, or at least, that's how I choose to take it in.

I've been into sweaty workouts and lingering yoga practices. When crunched on time, I'll go deeper with a half hour of cardio, flushed like embarassed, then drop down to an hour of yin. My navel seems attached to my low ribs now, and I really like it like that.

Andres said my favorite thing he's ever said today. He said that every spiritual practice, essentially distills down to a few questions. “Who am I? How do I live a meaningful life? How can I live in accordance with truth? How can I live and act out of love? And, what the fuck?”

Note; I am probably butchering all the questions but the last. They were very meaningful queries on identity and impact, but sometimes I mess stuff up.

I took his Dark Side of the Moon practice, and I wish I could write about it, but I couldn't even find my shoes after it.

I could not find my shoes. And they were in my bag. Emily found them for me.

That's a sign of a really good yoga practice, a negligent human, or both.

It was absolutely incredible. I would take it again, twice, in a heartbeat.

I've been into chanting. Between Paul's intro to landmark and speaking my shame and dreams to a hundred people, and hare ram, I'm starting to break through the throat chakra block. I'd like to express what I believe, the paradoxical fragility and strength in that belief, and my desire to help. Truly.

What else has been new?

I spent Thursday afternoon in meditation with my mentor, feeling far too much around me. One of the things I appreciate about Arthur is that he really gets my confusion, my dismay of humanity's actions as a whole.

Sometimes I feel so responsible.

As if I did it. As if I killed billions.

And in a way, sometimes I think I did.

Isn't it the same self-hate that's at work, at a larger scale? That capacity for disgust, for anger...

And when I don't over come those emotions in myself with love, is it not a reflection on humanity's greater inability to live peacefully.

I am hard on myself sometimes. Then I'm hard on myself for being so hard on myself. And so on and so forth. It's a fairly common conundrum, and I hope I'm breathing myself free of it, or it seems to be that way.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Shiva and the Nagas

"It's hard to explain this process to other people," Shiva said, "you just meditate. with snakes".

For four hours.

Giant boa constrictors giving you the best hug you've ever gotten- and they really do go to the spaces you need the most help with. Wrap around your throat, your lower back. It feels amazing.

You can feel every muscle in their body move. In unison.

You can hear them breathe.

Little baby nagas curl around your wrist, charmed.

Shai Rotem, the snake 'tamer' per say, has such benevolent, loving presence, which he must carry to each animal he comes into contact with (including humans, I think).

I was rapt with enthusiasm at the thought of snakes crawling all over me. The experience was even better.

I want a snake SO bad. They are marvelously grounding- creating such an intense calm. If I had a snake, you know I'd be a better writer. You know I'd be a better student, a better worker.

I will have a snake by September 2011.

Maybe by my birthday ; )

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Shinzen Young

My friend Erin Justensen, a fellow yogi and intuit, brought me to a place called Against The Stream. It's an underground, hidden Buddhist precious gem. Against the Stream was founded by Dharma Punx author Noah Levine, and it's got a punk-like vibe to it (especially the Buddhas with the mohawk statues ; )

But it's a seriously community minded organization- donation-based, socially-active and truly, truly open for all who want to attend.

This is my second time here, and I was lucky enough to catch a talk from Shinzen Young.

I loved Young. He was down to earth, poetic, and, as far as dharma talks go, to the point.

Young also hosts "on-site" retreats- once again, making meditation available to all those who feel that leaving for retreat isn't possible at the moment.

Here are some notes:

The Three Pleasures of Meditation


-Sensual clarity

-Inner equilibrium

What happens when you fully experience a pleasure?

Experience described only through paradox- You feel both extremely fulfilled, and at the same time vacuous.

You derive more satisfaction from being present in pleasure.

Most people think intensity, duration or variety.

What we really want is fulfillment.

Fulfillment(Aka satisfaction)= pleasure times mindfulness

Suffering= Pain divided by mindfulness

The razer's edge of bliss and void

You have an experience so complete that there's no time to fixate it to a thing.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Yoga Video

I'm doing a Yoga VIDEO! With Karma of yogaflix.com. We're shooting next week, and I tried out the sequence I created for it this morning. I was delighted, and completely blissed out, which is the first test. Exciting times 1,000.

My first "business meeting" with the DP involved me taking him through the sequence, and eventually wound up with me with my legs up the wall thinking "all meetings could be conducted from this angle". Upside down.

The DP, Emil Lin, drew these really cute yoga cartoons that I took pictures of and plan on sharing.

This was one of the many joyous, exciting things that came at me during my cleanse last week. I felt AMAZING and powerful, and now I feel sweet just hungrier than ever!

Guest Post by Brooke!

Brooke shared a great summary of yoga health benefits. There's also a plethora of benefits for say, your mind, and your life, but let's check out the doctor's view:

10 Health Benefits of Yoga

by Brooke Stafford

As has been stated many times in this blog before, there are loads of health benefits to yoga.
With thousands of people trying it every day, it might be able to help you too. To get a better
idea, we have gathered just ten health benefits of yoga.

1. Flexibility - Touching your toes may not sound important but not being able to can be
bad. Yoga is an excellent way to improve flexibility and movement.

2. Joints - While some people think yoga is only for the hip set, people of all ages can do it,
even ones with arthritis or other joint issues. The poses and movements in yoga can
help these joints get a low impact workout.

3. Posture - Did you not listen when your mother
told you to sit up straight? Then try yoga to
learn how to do it naturally instead of forcing it.

4. Strength - You don’t need to pump iron to build
muscle. Many of the poses in yoga require
upper and/or lower body strength in order to be
done properly.

5. Back pain - This can be one of the more major
causes of pain in the United States. However,
yoga can provide some relief if done correctly
and on a regular basis.

6. Insomnia - If you have trouble sleeping, yoga may be the cure. It brings about a
peaceful state of mind which can help those who toss and turn.

7. Weight loss - With New Year’s resolutions upon us, why not tackle one of the biggest
with a little yoga? It burns calories as well as discourages from eating unhealthy foods.

8. Heart rate - Yoga has been shown to help with both high blood pressure and heart rates.
It is especially helpful for hyporeactors.

9. Breathing - Because breathing is an important part of yoga, it is also a good workout for the respiratory system. Yoga can help lower the respiratory rate by utilizing controlled

Brooke Stafford is a nursing practitioner student and also writes for Family Nurse Practitioner Degrees. The site helps students find the right nurse practitioner degree to fit their needs.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Roots in the East

So I had the most magical visit to Massachusetts a girl ever could.

I stayed with fellow yogi Pat Banker, and put it this way: when I first arrived, we went straight to sun salutations in a park in Jamaica Plain. It was beautifully sunny, and I had just gotten off a red eye. Coffee in hand, we started jogging just to make sure we caught the sun rise. I don't know why, but my recently tamastic practice turned into 10 rounds of Surya A, then B, then I watched my California identity unravel as I entered pure being.

I got grounded. Grounded in the sense of understanding that certain attractions and connections are a fundamental part of my existence.

In many ways, the love of certain people (such as our most trusting family members and our most loyal friends).

A place that is familiar can be grounding.

But so is anything that brings us back to our truth, reminds us of our position in space and time
(feet gravitated towards the earth, now) is grounding.

The reiki that I received filled me with some earth and fire. 

Gyon mudra strung me to stability, as well as taking Jared Hirsch's last workshop of the year.

But most importantly, seeing my family brought me a better understanding of my life than ever before. Thank you for that.