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

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.