Monthly Archives: July 2008

Meditation. Here’s the deal…

If you are anything like me, the thought of sitting down and being still and 'meditating' is a daunting idea. What is meditating, exactly and what will it do for me? Well, you have to try it to see. I know, it's like your mom telling you to eat brussel sprouts 'cause its good for you. Actually, that's a bad analogy, 'cause I like brussel sprouts and maybe you do to. Ok, think about something that makes you go bleckkkk and that's what meditating was for me when I first started. You should have seen me try. I'd wiggle and wriggle, open my eyes, close my eyes, look around, dust off my shirt, anything to get myself to focus. But I did it. And I did it every day for YEARS until I got it.
Meditating is simply taking your focus away from distractions and bringing it inwards. It's a great way to scan the physical body and emotional state to see where you need work and perhaps answer any longing, nagging questions and issues you have in your life. Taking the focus and bringing it into yourself will create more energy within and allow you to accomplish more and give more to your daily goals and loved ones as well as your long term goals. Big deal!! And it's free!!

There are a tremendous amount of meditation techniques to get you into yourself; clear the mind, move the clutter out, soothe the nervous system and relax you.
Some of the best techniques simply use control of the breath to slow and calm the mind. That kind of technique is called Pranayama and I would suggest if you wanna try it, you hire a well educated teacher or go to a class where the teacher uses some of these techniques as a part of their instruction. Trying it alone is a little weird and you might be consumed with more thoughts like, am I doing this right, if you are taking your cues from a book.

The art of yoga is a meditation in itself. For the type A's its great 'cause you move your way into stillness. The final and complete reward is Sivasana or resting pose. If you are taking a class and are lucky enough to make it to Sivasana, probably the most challenging pose of them all, let this be your opportunity to savor the good work you've put into your practice, exercising your body, mind and soul.
I like to bring my attention to the space right between the eyebrows. 'Cause even if those eyes are closed, don't mean they aren't amuck. This is said by many to be the space where those three, body, mind and soul are unified. It's where the seat of your intellect and intuition resides and a space that if you inner gaze at long enough is actually known to make your inner light, or aura if you wanna get technical, shine brighter. Keeping your inner gaze steady will keep the mind steady, the breath and nervous system will follow allowing the entire body to relax. It's possible, I promise.

Let's try some other options that may or may not be considered 'meditation' by the masters, but will sure as heck get you relaxed and focussed.

If you do practice yoga, just pick a pose. Let it be a relatively easy one, a warm up one. Child pose or down dog are good ones. Standing forward fold is another good one. Or, if you don't have a practice or are a little tight in the bod, take a desk or dining chair. Put hands on the back edge of the tallest part of the chair shoulder distance and walk your feet back as far as you can, then lean your body forward till you make a table top with your back.

You can also fold your torso over the edge of a bed, ironing board, dining table, with the edge of the surface hitting right at the hip crease. Knees can be straight or slightly bent. Just make sure the surface is cushioned. Throw a blanket or pillow over the surface you are laying on.

From here you can spend a few breaths on one cheek, then turn the cheek and spend another few breaths. Just watch your breath in your mind. Keep your eyes open if closing them freaks you out or makes you sleepy.

Another good one is, sit in a chair, feet open wide, knees bent and fold forward hyperventilation style. Take a big juicy breath in through the nose as you roll up one vertebrae at a time till you are seated upright, then as you exhale, make the sound of ssssss and roll all the way down till you are folding forward. Keep your ssssss even the whole time with just as much energy at the beginning till the end. Do for about a minute. You'll notice the exhales get a little longer and your mind is so focussed on the sound that you forget you are meditating and you are not thinking of anything else.

Take deep breaths and focus inwards. For a few minutes, this might be simply enough for you to get started and feel relaxed. After you try the above, you can graduate to a seated cross legged position in a clear space once you feel you are ready.

Ha ha!!

Create a good and simple meditation practice and do it. One of the easiest ways I've found is to actually carve a place in my home to sit and meditate. I have a little chair and a little table, some mala beads, a little statue, a little place that I make offerings to daily whether its putting a flower or leaf or peace of fruit as a symbol of gratitude to the higher ups that are leading me and keeping me on my path. I see that little space every day and am so happy. I look forward to going there everyday and honestly, feel a little guilty if I get to busy to neglect it. So I don't.
If you don't have a ton of space, just find something and use it as a little book mark or meditation mark so you see it every day and it will remind to practice. A small mat, place mat even, book, plant, something that reminds you somewhere, even if it's next to your bed, that you must dedicate at least a minute to your meditation practice. A minute will feel like a lifetime to some and to others it will lead to a longer more fulfilling time to contemplate. Don't feel bad if all you have is a minute.

I'm on the road a lot, so sometimes, I just park, put those sun shields on my car and sit with my eyes closed and focus on my breath. It all counts. Sometimes I even listen to a little 94.7, The Wave. I know, a distraction, but hey, just relaaax. It's LA and in a big city, anything that gets you there, gets you there.

Close your eyes if you feel more relaxed and focussed. Play with your version of meditation. Their are no real rules, just that you get to a place that relaxes, calms and evens out the mind. It may not happen on the first try or the second, but just try. Try every day. Try one minute first and work your way up to five. Try the morning or if you don't have time in the morning, try at night before you go to sleep. But don't do it till you fall asleep. That doesn't count and you get ten points off!!

Just try and if you have any questions, let me know. If you have a meditation practice already, want to take it deeper and don't know how, I can let you know some great classes, great places to go or fantastic books to reference and get you there.

Be well!

I’m bored. Be creative with your workout…

You can do yoga anywhere, you just have to start. In the same breath, pun intended, you can workout anywhere, it's just a matter of being creative. I know, I know, even I have a hard time after lying around all day watching Lifetime movies and eating 'Pirate's Booty' to get my tush in gear and walk into the other room, burn some incense, turn on the music and vinyasa. It's even harder to put on my sunscreen, strap on my heart monitor and walk five blocks to the beach and run the esplanade. Ok, that one isn't so hard. I love the beach!!
The thing is, you never regret working out. You will always feel better and more accomplished if you get up and go. It's like those five minutes that are hard before waking up. You wanna snooze, but you know you gotta motivate. Once you do you're rockin' and rollin' into your day.
So, let's get started.
Get out of your house and go.
Well, put on sunscreen first.
Invest in an ipod mini or shuffle. It's changed my life.
Lock your door.
Press play on your mini, hopefully you have something on their that's super upbeat, it sends the messages to the brain to bring up the energy.
Start with a walk.
Look around.
If you are one of those people that gets bored with your work out fast, like moi, well then turn your walk into EXPLORATION! Remember when you were a kid? Yeah, well just 'cause you are bigger and more serious doesn't mean you can't pretend you're Indiana Jones on the hunt for the holy work out. Just play. Adults can play too.
If you live on a side street or a quiet street like I do, I like to step off a curb, face the curb about 6-12 inches away and toe hop one foot followed by the other. You'll look a little like Lord of The Dance but people will look at you only out of envy for being so creative and not like, what the heck is that nut doing?
If you are feeling really strong, jump both feet up on the curb then hop down.
You can do it side to side too.
Do either for like a minute then keep walking. It'll get the heart rate up and give you energy to keep going. Think, like interval training, but don't think too much about it, just move.
If you are walking on a sidewalk, those side walk squares are pretty big. Lengthen your stride and bend the front knee once you take that big step.
Then step your back foot to the next square and bend that knee. Go for a whole block or one minute, whatever is longer.
Watch out for puppy poo. It'll keep you focussed.
Bring it up a notch and pulse the back knee down a few times or hold the lunge for a couple beats.
Hold your hands to your hips to keep you balanced.
Do your lunges to the side. Step to the right for a block, then turn around and step to the left for a block.
Get your arms involved, swinging the arms toward the lunging leg. Like a speed skater.

Are their stairs near your house?
Start at the base of the stairs on the left. Reach your right leg to the far right of the first step.
Take the left leg and reach it to the far left of the step above that one.
Take it up a notch and skip every other step or bend the knee and hold. Walk down the same way and do several times or up to a minute whichever is longer.
Or, go up the stairs side ways, walk down and go up again on the other side.

It's important to move forward like you are walking but its always good to throw in a move to the side or add a pivot or turn and work in other planes of motion. It helps make you become more agile and quick. Working in different planes of motion helps you control your body under quick and unpredictable circumstances. It'll build focus so that you can keep the body in more control if gosh forbid, you ever lose your balance and fall. If you have kids, this is great training cause if you're like my mommies (clients), you have your Blackberry in one hand, toddler in the stroller. You guys are other worldy as far as agility so train yourself to get better so that after the toddler gets a little bigger, you don't have those creaks and cranes in your bod because you are better prepared.

Moving on...

Bring a jump rope with you and jump for a minute. Don't have a jump rope? Pretend you do and phantom jump.
Do your minute jumps in between every other song.
Ideally between Brittany Spears and Nina Simone.
If their is a bus stop or tree on your walk, take your hands and place them on the tree or bench, shoulder width apart. Take the feet hip distance apart and do push ups. One whole minute or until you just can't stand it anymore.
Take it up a notch and add a clap between push ups.
If you live in an area with trees and grass, it's a great place to walk, because the surface is unstable. The more unstable the environment that you are working out in and around, the better you will be in the gym or your work outs at home.
Is their a large tree nearby with a bulging root?
Balance one foot on the root, let's say the left one, then hop the right one to the root and send your left leg to the left. Keep hopping one foot then the other onto the root. This will help strengthen the ankle and work the core. Yes, the core, so far away from the foot, but it's what helps you stay balanced and strong and we all want a strong core (pretty much your entire torso sans arms and legs 'case you were wondering.

Get yourself a heart monitor to help keep track of your progress. It's fun to see how many calories you burn on a short walk of twenty to thirty minutes with all this fun stuff added in. It'll make you feel accomplished.
If you don't have a heart monitor. Monitor your breathing. Make sure whilst you are doing these little cardio bursts on the stairs or roots or curbs that you can say fa la la la la without feeling dizzy. If you are panting like a pooch, for goodness sake, slow down a little and that's a good pace.
If you wanna get technical, and we will later, you can take your pulse at resting and at your maximum to make sure you are not pushing yourself too hard. But that can be intimidation so just get out there and play and see what happens.

Just don't grab a donut afterwards.

Come home. Lay out your mat and do a couple down dogs and forward folds to stretch out, lower the heart rate and calm down. Take some deep breaths.

Try that and let me know what you think.

Some yoga later.

Be well!

I have four blogs…

Like I have three phones, two televisions, two ipods, cause after you buy one the other one becomes obsolete. Now it's just clutter. We always want more. I'm speaking for everyone, I know, but really, we are rarely just content where we are. A lot of times we fill our space with stuff we don't need or do nonsensical things, checking our email fifteen times a day, web-surfing, googling our ex-boyfriends or ourselves or the recent physical ailments that are bothering us, organizing our underwear drawer.

We fill the space 'cause space is intimidating. It's quiet and expansive and terrifying. You ever go into an art gallery and look at the space between the art. Its fascinating. Try it. Or don't. But I like to explore that space. The space between things. That's where I can find strength and answers to my questions. That's where the yoga comes in.

I'm not one of those girls that preaches yoga in the way you need to do a down dog and sit still in meditation for twenty minutes a day to get closer to enlightenment. No, my mom taught me that. She gets just as much out of drinking a cup of tea, watching Oprah and petting the dog as I do sweating it out in a yoga class just to get me to calm myself into a space of clarity and contemplation. I'm not a preacher or guru or better than anyone. I'm just a guide.
I've had a ton of experience in life, good and bad and I only teach from that experience in order to support you on a path of wellness, balance and feeling strong on the inside as well as the outside.

I still can't do a handstand away from the wall. I can probably teach you how to but I'm not attached to doing one myself and I'm ok with that. Really, I am. No, seriously, I could give an Om Shanti.

I'm gonna publish a lot of tips and stuff here that can help you start you on your way to yogic/fitness bliss. Maybe it'll motivate you to take a class or join a gym, consider the option of practicing privately with me or my amazing team of teachers and trainers. Maybe it'll get you to think about taking a class or just think, period. Thinking is good. It's a start.

Here's the deal, I started yoga because I ran a lot as a teen and young adult. I was very tight and couldn't touch my toes. I was also a very overweight child. In addition, I've also experienced tremendous injuries that kept me from being active. With great therapies like Weight Watchers, chiropractic, acupuncture and massage, I was able to move through these limitations, lose weight, run marathons and become a yoga, pilates and fitness trainer. I am livin' the dream.
And, I simply offer this, not to vent or say, hey aren't I fabulous, but to let you know that whatever limitations YOU might feel you have, fitness and yoga and feeling good are possible if you just open your mind to it. You are here so that's a good sign.

I practiced yoga a bit in LA when I lived here ages ago but didn't really get into the whole bare feet, speak softly thing. I was a gym rat and marathon runner. I knew I liked yoga but I wasn't quiet ready for it. Or maybe it wasn't ready for me.

When I was living in NYC as a temp and struggling, I used my down time to smoke, drink, party and 'have a great time'.

Then September 11, 2001.

Shape up or ship out. I started to practice yoga consistently. I needed to heal as those around me were. The other outlets I was using to 'have a great time', I discovered, were really only ways to disconnect and escape, not feel, heal and grow. I'm not saying that the above aren't good in moderation. Anything, absolutely anything can be destructive if not used in moderation. Balance is the lesson and balance was my lesson learned. Um, and I'm still learning.

I signed up for a yoga retreat in Costa Rica and went with the head teacher from the studio where I was practicing. I love my teacher. She is beautiful and strong. Very toned and has a lot of energy. She looks more like a fitness trainer than the waify, pale, aloof, yoga teachers I was used to practicing with. A stereotype I had witnessed, yes, but it was all I saw when I started and I never felt like I could, 'live up.'

I always envied my yoga teachers with their bare thin arms, tiny boobs, thin waists, and roundish bellies. I never understood that. How could they be so thin but have these gorgeous pouches? They were the definition of beauty to me. The definition of woman and soooo not me.
Until I met Lauren Hanna. The idea of the 'yoga teacher' disintegrated as I reshaped MY idea of what yoga could be in my life. She was the new definition of yoga to me. Still is. Even though she is tiny in stature, she represented a grandness, strength and steadiness I could identify with. Her personality, too is one of fire and passion. I wanted to be that! If only I could calm the heck down.

In Costa Rica, there were two vans that took us from San Jose airport to the Samasati retreat center, bliss in the rain forest, hello!! I was in the van with Lauren and two other students. Our van broke down in the dark of the night and in the middle of nowhere. While our van was being repaired, that's when Lauren and I talked. I don't think we ever had a real conversation until right then. She knew I was an actor, temping to make money. She told me that I had a great practice and the kind of personality that would be attractive for teaching yoga. Really? No, really?

Hmmmm, I thought and thought, the whole time I was blissed out in Costa Rica and even when I returned to Manhattan and sat with a glass of wine and a, exhale, cigarette, I thought, do I think I can really do this?

And that was that. I grew out of bad habits. Not sayin' it was easy, but I did it.

7 years later and I've come a long way, baby. I traded work to afford my way through the training. I took all the pictures for the studio's website, brochures and teacher training manuals so I could pay for the Yoga Alliance Certification/training course. It was, bar none, the best experience of my life and one that's changed the course of my life dramatically.

I know its slightly trendy now. To be a yoga teacher. A very popular teacher here in LA said that today's yoga teachers are yesterdays waiters. That's a devastating blow, because I've tried to be a waiter and I suck so bad at it.

I think anyone who has the courage to change their life and follow where they are lead, gets my respect. It ain't easy and not everyone can do it, so there.

If you asked me at 16 if in 10 years I'd be a yoga teacher, I would have laughed hysterically.
And yet, I can't imagine my life without yoga.
And yet, still, yoga for me isn't always down dogs and headstands. The definition of yoga has changed for me even since whence I began, long ago and Sonic Yoga in New York City.

I think that even when I started, I wanted to be like Lauren or the waify belly girls. It took me much time after getting certified, working at a lot of gyms and studios to really decide what kind of teacher I wanted to be. I still admire the same teachers but know that if I try to emulate anyone else, I'm just doing myself and my students a disservice.

So, I teach what I like to be taught. And hopefully, you like the way I teach. And if you don't, that is totally ok, because I understand. It's hard to find that person that you want to practice with daily, weekly and beyond. Even I waiver between teachers and practices depending on where I am at in my life and the seasons, yes the weather. Not all practices are meant for you and if you have ever taken a yoga class and had a bad experience, don't blame the teacher or studio and please don't blame yourself, just see how you feel and what you need and you will find the class for you. More on that later.

Yoga, to me, was a new way to exercise. I didn't know that all the other benefits of yoga would sneak up on me and nip me in the butt. I wouldn't have it any other way.

It lead me to
Dharma Mittra in NYC, a very old, Brazilian guru that can do rings of poses around the youngest and most agile of practitioners. His practice is the most simple to understand and the most difficult to put into practice. I'll include his info later. But with him, purity, truth, listening to your heart, eating well (no meat, I know), reading the Bhagavad Gita (the yogic bible) for guidance and the Hatha Yoga Pradipika, meditating, simplifying your life, being good to yourself and others and not wanting more or what someone else has, those are the rules to live by. That's what I've taken from him and what I attempt to share with my students. His stellar practice is ridiculous and after 7 years, I still can't do half of his class! But I still go back because simply being in his presence is enough.

It lead me to
the Self Realization Fellowship and the teachings of Paramahansa Yogananda.
He's one of the main guys who brought yoga here, to us Americans.
There are two locations in Los Angeles alone where you can read his teachings, sit and meditate and talk to the people who work there. Or start by reading the book or get the book on CD, Autobiography of a Yogi by Paramahansa Yogananda. It's a staple for yogis. SRF is a leader in meditation and living yoga everyday.

It lead me to
teach in China. Having the chutzpah to go over to a country and a city that BARELY speaks English and share yoga with the beautiful people of Shanghai changed my life.

It lead me to
Pilates and fitness training, meditation and breathing techniques, thinking outside the down dog into the meat and potatoes or, tofu and potatoes of yoga.

It lead me to
find yoga in little moments whether it is washing dishes, talking with a friend, walking on the beach, driving in LA (a totally different blog entry). Yoga is everywhere and it doesn't always require a mat.

Most importantly, it lead me to
YOU, the client. I love all of my students and have learned my most important lessons on teaching from you. You are a daily inspiration and strength that gets me up in the morning, in my car and over to your house or studio. Our experience together is worth more than anything material and for that, I am grateful.

After we chat and find out what you want to get out of your sessions, that's when we design a program that's specifically for you. That's the way they did it over in India and that's the way it is now; whether its yoga or fitness programs.
Classes are awesome and great for the communal energy exchange and encouragement.
Private sessions help you get inside yourself, find out where you wanna go, design the path and get you there. It's important to know where you are starting from so you can figure out where you want to go.
Sometimes a session is simply allowing yourself the time for yourself, away from the job, the phone, the kids, the to-dos.
Sometimes you have your own goals and don't know how to reach them or need someone there to keep you accountable.
Sometimes you have no idea what you want but you know you want to try yoga or get in shape or mix up your fitness routine because you are tired of what you are already doing.
Maybe you've never worked out or downdogged a day in your life and want to see what all the hubbub is about.
Well, those are all valid reasons.
So let's get started.

I love what I do. The lives that have changed from the people I have worked with astound me. My students continually amaze me by what they can do. I am just a witness to their greatness.
It is my job to go out there and learn and grow and take what I can from a myriad of sources and bring it to you.
I will help you discard whatever clutter is hangin' out in your life, uncover the obstacles keeping you from your goals and help you uncover that space between that you can fill with exploration, growth, play and strength.
Surprise the hell out of yourself.
You will be able to look at yourself objectively.
You will discover what your yoga is whether you ever find your toes or not.
If their is something I don't know, I'll find the answers from the best.
If their is an answer I can't get for you, I will find the right person for you.
I work with amazing Yoga, Pilates, Fitness trainers and teachers, nutritionists, acupuncturists, Ayurvedic healers, massage therapists, psychics, housekeepers, movers et al.
Teaching is how I make my living but I will never charge you a dime if you have questions.
If I can guide you down the right road or introduce you to the right person to help you on your journey, that is my service. My contact is below and on my site. I hope to provide as much as I can on my blogs and the rest, is up to us. for books above
Visiting Shanghai?
massage in LA
acupuncture LA
Meditation in LA and beyond
Pilates in LA
Be well!
More soon...