Saturday, December 27, 2008

Start your New Year off with a FREE week of Ashtanga!

That's right - the second full week of Ashtanga classes at A2 Yoga in 2009 is FREE to everyone! That is:

Monday, Jan. 12th @ 7:30pm
Wednesday, Jan. 14th @ 5:30pm
and Saturday, Jan. 17th @4:00pm (you can always view the schedule at

Come to all 3 to really get a feel for what Ashtanga can do for you! Rapidly build your strength, improve flexibility using specially structured sequences, and enhance your concentration and mental yogic practice! Knowledge of Ashtanga will allow you to take your practice further - in any direction you choose. 

Also: I will be teaching on New Year's Eve (Wed. Dec. 31st @ 5:30pm), and I will be at the New Year's Day 108 Sun Salutation event (along with Jo & others - Thurs. Jan 1st @ 11am), so come celebrate the end of 2008 and the dawning of 2009 with us!!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Happy Holidays!

A2 Yoga is closed today & tomorrow. Happy holidays & bright blessings to you all!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Quotes of the Day

A consistent thinker is a thoughtless person, because he conforms to a pattern; he repeats phrases and thinks in a groove.

If we can really understand the problem, the answer will come out of it, because the answer is not separate from the problem.

There is no end to education. It is not that you read a book, pass an examination, and finish with education. The whole of life, from the moment you are born to the moment you die, is a process of learning.

---Jiddu Krishnamurti

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Steep yourself in enlightenment

Enlightenment does not usually come as a blinding flash, all at once. Instead, if you allow it, it will slowly infuse itself into every aspect of your life, over the course of months and years.
-John Tarrrant

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

You are not your thoughts: Reshaping your inner world

Yoga is a physical practice, but as I stress in my classes, it has a powerful effect on the mind, as a form of meditation. And what is meditation, exactly? It does not mean "having no thoughts" or anything of the kind. It means observing, non-judgementally, everything that is going on internally. Sometimes the mind will be very loud. Sometimes it will calm down. Observe these fluctuations, and their impermanence. Sometimes you will have the realization that your mind feels very free and expansive! And then you will realize that thinking about this expansiveness has made it disappear, because to think about it, you come out of that state. But this is nothing to worry about. Observe all these fluctuations.

You will start to notice that there are certain voices in your mind that are much louder and more prominent than others. Now, I do not mean this in any "hearing voices = illness" way. We all have constant voices in our heads - our self-talk. And it is our self-talk, NOT our external world, that largely determines how we feel and how well we can deal with things.

At first, as you notice and observe these voices, they may seem to get louder. This is just because you are paying more attention to them. Continue to observe, even if your mind makes a racket! Watch how even the most difficult thoughts and emotions pass away after they arise, to be replaced with other thoughts and emotions, equally impermanent.

As you begin to identify the prominent voices, you will notice how much they affect you. Many of us have prominent negative voices, thanks to both our culture and our upbringing. These negative voices can make us sad, anxious, depressed, angry... they can make life seem almost unbearable. But here's the good part: you can work with these voices, re-shaping your inner world into a wonderful place to be! And when your internal world is peaceful, relaxed, and happy, your external world will be as well, regardless of what's going on.

Now, I am not claiming that just by talking positively to yourself, you will be happy all the time. First of all, this is a process, not a quick fix. It can take months, or years, but it does have the power to completely transform your life. I will back up my statement by sharing my own personal experience.

When I was 4 years old, my baby brother, only 6 months old at the time, died of a heart defect. This was obviously a terrible blow to my family, and we all sank into a deep depression. Now, some people may say that 4 years old is too young to be depressed, or to even really understand the event. But my experience was that I was very aware of what had happened, and I felt a tremendous loss. I missed my brother. I wanted him back. I wanted my parents to be happy again. I wanted things to be different.

The loss of my brother created all sorts of damaging self-talk for my 4-year-old self. I thought that if I were a better kid, this wouldn't have happened. I thought maybe it should have been me instead of him. I thought that God or the universe or someone was punishing our family. Why else would this happen? What was the point of my brother's life? It seemed like it had brought us nothing but agony.

As I grew up, the depression stayed with me. I often thought of myself as "no good" at things, or just "no good" in general. I thought I was damaged in some way. Being diagnosed with epilepsy only added to this idea that I was "damaged". I would think to myself, if only I could be someone else. I don't even want to be me. Life is too hard. I can't do this. That was my motto for years: I can't do this. I can't "do life". It's not for me. I am out of place in this world, and I should not be here.

My depression, complicated by seizures due to epilepsy, became so severe that I ended up dropping out of high school with only a few months to go. I had hit bottom. I literally could do nothing other than lay on the floor and cry. Nothing helped. Not my parents, not my therapist, not my doctors. I didn't see how anything would ever get better. So in my mind, I resigned myself to this life of misery and pain.

But then..... then I found yoga. And as the physical practice began to bring me back to life, the mental aspect began to help me feel better - something I thought could never happen! I was astounded. I began practicing more and also studying yogic and Buddhist philosophy. I began to meditate on my negative thoughts, and to deconstruct them. I would watch as the negative thoughts proved to be untrue, again and again. I was not out of place, or worthless, or bad. I was simply human. And I began to function again. I finished high school, and went to college.

As I felt better, I began to work with my pain more directly. I would meditate on my thoughts and feelings about my brother's death. Then I would consciously challenge and debate them. For instance: "why was his life cut so short?" was challenged with: "you don't know how long everyone's life is supposed to be. Maybe his was the perfect length, like all of our lives." My thoughts of "why was he born, just to die so soon? To make our family suffer?" were gradually replaced with: "well, he came into our family and left us with a gift of tremendous compassion and understanding for all those who experience loss - and that is everyone." The idea that "my life should have been different" gave way to: "everything is as it should be".

Over the course of a few years, with many many hours of practice, my inner world became a peaceful, even happy place. It allowed me to stop focusing on my problems and to turn my energy toward helping others. It actually allowed me to turn my problems into strengths.

Now, I cannot say that I never feel sad about my brother any more. There are definitely times when I am sad, when I miss him, when I wonder what he would have been like. But that's just one voice, almost whispering now. And it is both comforted and overpowered by the new way of understanding that I have built for myself. I could choose to continue to believe that life is unfair, and that it dealt me a harsh blow. But I don't want to live in that world. Instead, I choose to live a life that was blessed by a very special person; a person who taught me compassion for all living beings, without ever saying one word. I thought I would never get over grieving his loss. But I have, by honoring him as my teacher.

So that is a piece of my experience with transformation, for whatever it's worth. We all have our own challenges, our own harsh blows to deal with. But what I want to convey is that we CAN CHOOSE a happier, more peaceful, more integrated way of living. It may not be easy. But it can shape your world into a wonderous place to be. So don't believe your negative thoughts. I assure you, they're inaccurate. And they aren't you. You are a being of compassionate energy, so much bigger than any thoughts.