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This past summer, I found myself in a social situation with another yoga teacher. Someone at our table was asking her about her classes, and she was testifying to their toughness: “Come to my classes and I’ll kick your ass,” she said.

She seems like a nice person, and so I chalked her response up to youth, enthusiasm, and misguided marketing. (I even wondered if I should write this, because if she sees it, I don’t want her to feel chastised. We simply have different viewpoints.) (more…)

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With everything that life has sailed my way the past few months (most notably new work in addition to teaching), it’s been hard to keep this blog current.

Still, the essays in the archives on YLS continue to have relevance. Rest assured I haven’t abandoned the site.

Earlier this week, while enjoying the Shakespeare Festival in Ashland, Oregon, I learned that one of my favorite “end of class” poets, Kay Ryan, has been named the next Poet Laureate of the United States. I call her an “end of class” poet because — as my students know — I like to read a poem at the beginning of savasana. Her short, tight poems, which one critic likened to mousetraps, are clever, thoughtful, and inspiring.

This is what she had to say to The San Francisco Chronicle (read the story here) in the wake of her appointment:

“Poetry should leave you feeling freer and not more burdened. I like to think of all good poetry as providing more oxygen in the atmosphere. Poems just make it easier to breathe.”

How perfect is that for yoga?

Here is an essay I wrote last year about opening the heart center. It was inspired by Ryan’s poem “Chinese Foot Chart”.

Namasté.

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visvacomic1.jpgI know I’ve said in previous posts that I’m an advocate of trying new things.

At the beginning of the year, I suggested to my students that they choose a pose and work toward it throughout the year, breaking down the components and building their skills along the way. It’s important to have a sense of humor and lightheartedness in doing this. The yoga mat is no place for grim determination (we have our desks and highways for that!). I think that in the practice of yoga, it’s important to have curiosity and a sense of exploration that reaches beyond the things we do over and over again in yoga classes. One of my favorite yoga concepts is “lela”… the happy, creative life force. So in that spirit, I bring you my adventures with Visvamitrasana.

Namasté & Blessed Be.

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pinetip1.jpgI grew up listening to the music of Kate Wolf, a North Coast singer/songwriter, who described the “golden rolling hills of California”.

It’s true: For most of the year, the hills of Northern California are shades of gold and tan, the colors of field mice, cougars, and deer. But for a brief period in the spring, after the winter rains, and before the sun begins to bake our hillsides, the landscape around my home glows with shades of green. (An artist friend once said he couldn’t paint Sonoma County without a healthy tube of chromium oxide green.) But before the hills green, there is a brief period when it seems we’re awash in yellow. (more…)

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I have to say, I’m not a fan of New Years’ resolutions because I feel they are usually based in self-deprecation.

It’s as though we’ve developed a national tradition of beginning each year by picking ourselves apart, finding a fault, and setting a goal that will focus our attention on that fault, all year long.

I ask you: What kind of a way is that to begin a new year?

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I’ve been thinking about yesterday’s post, and I feel the need to add this:

Honestly, I think there is a western preoccupation with getting our ass kicked, and I don’t mean always in the physical sense.

After writing this post, it occurred to me, that many people – and dare I say, especially women – are taught that personal gain somehow comes through feeling inadequate. (more…)

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Sometimes I think yoga practitioners are firmly divided into two camps: Those that chant, and those that don’t.

Those that don’t often feel self-conscious about chanting, are reluctant to chant something they don’t understand, or feel that chanting will conflict with their belief system. (For more about this, see my previous posts about yoga and religion). And, I recognize that many people come to the mat with a desire for a no-frills, strictly physical experience. (more…)

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