yoga + healing

Hello Sweet, Amazing Friends,
 
Thank you for being out in the world.  I love you.
 
Since my last newsletter, there’s been a whole lot going on.  You may have learned via other means…still, I’ll give a brief update here.On March 8th, just 5 days after running my first marathon, a doctor of radiology uttered these words in my direction while pointing to a screen, “I’d be lying to you if I didn’t tell you what I’m seeing right here appears to be cancer.” 
 
A biopsy AND four days later, it was confirmed. 
 
I received a breast cancer diagnosis.  “Stage 2” and “invasive carcinoma” were among the words used.  She also said it was “dumb cancer.”  Meaning it was growing slowly.  But the invasive nature had allowed the cancer to spread and there were multiple tumors on the right side. 
 
It’s been 49 days since this wild diagnosis.  I am doing really well, physically.  I’ve been using years of training + practice on the mat — while also getting into all kinds of different movement modalities — to keep me connected to a knowing that I am living in a STRONG and HEALING body.  I’ve been doing TRX, Pilates, Orange Theory, hiking, cycling, wandering in the forest with Michael, of course, lots of yoga…just doing all the many things that bring joy, peace, a little SWEAT and a lot of fortification! I’ve been using movement as a sweet way to spend time alone and also with my friends + community. 
 
For the most part, I’m doing well emotionally.  I ride the wave and that is exactly as it should be.  I’m eternally thankful for tremendous support from my phenomenal husband, my mom and step-momma, the rest of my family, and again, our incredible community…oh plus, our furry, living hug of a dog, Addie. 
 
OK.  So, what’s next? The next aspect of my treatment is surgery, which happens tomorrow, April 30th at 1:30pm.  It’s about a 4+ hour procedure and soon after I move out of surgery into recovery some incredibly beautiful human beings are offering a class in my honor at Yoga Pearl 6:45pm – 8:15pm.  I’m thrilled to know that loved ones will be gathering to practice together.  It fills MY HEART TO THE ABSOLUTE BRIM.  One of my very besties, Tracey Coleman, is teaching a yin class.  Two other dear loves, Emily Taylor and Tami Apland, are offering hands-on assists…all while the incredibly talented, Emily Dalsfoist, shares her magical voice paired with her brilliant skillz on the cello.  I wish I could be there.  If you go, please take pictures, make videos and celebrate together.  I can’t wait to experience it through your lens.  Send any pics and vids my way as soon as you can.  It will make my heart explode.
 
Ok.  I don’t have much more to say right in this moment.  I will have plenty to say LATER as I tease out all the learning and growth to come from these extra-ordinary experiences.  I’ve been on medical leave for a while but I hope to be back in June/July depending on the overall healing process and treatment determinations.  I CANNOT WAIT to be back.  I’m already scheming up a “come back” class in collaboration with some amazing musicians at The Redd on Salmon.  So, please stay-tuned.  That’s giving me something wonderful to look forward to…
 
Here is info on the Meal Train that the amazing Heather Jones graciously created on behalf of my family.  She will continue to update it with any needs our family may have while I’m healing.
 
In closing, below I’ll share some wise words that I recently received from one of my early, beloved yoga teachers.  Jeanette is the sweet soul who encouraged me to pursue teaching in 2006.  Anyway, I believe her words are ones we can all benefit from hearing.  “Tuesday is kind of like the culmination of your doctorate. Everything you have been studying, practicing and teaching is now laid out before you.  Can you embody the words you have repeated so often to others?  This experience will change you in profound ways.  It will be humbling, jarring, infuriating and frightening and at times exhilarating just by the mere thought that you get to live this life…you get another chance.There are no promises…we don’t know how long we have…and yet we waste this beautiful human condition experience on the stupid shit. That is becoming more real for you each day.You have so many angels watching over you.  Thank them.  Sit in front your altar and celebrate this journey you have been gifted.  Honor any fear as it will temper you and focus you. 

You got this, warrior woman.   Be gentle with yourself…love the process. Whenever the fear starts to overwhelm you, place your hand on your heart and repeat, “I am Love, I am love”…that is what we all came here for…to love and you have been so successful so far.  And as they slowly put you into your deep sleep, say those words.  Affirm your purpose.” 
– Jeanette D’Antonio
 

Lots of love going out to you today and always.

Thank you for all the love and well wishes. 

I will be BACK ON THE MAT WITH YOU SOON. 
 

milestones, new moons and marley

HELLO! 
 
So, last time I wrote to you I shared a few things that I had shifted in my life during 2018.

This time I want to shout it from the rooftops.

 
 
Because, we just don’t know till we know. Specifically, we don’t know how strong we are until we are forced to dig deep.  I will write more on this in my next newsletter.  I hope you’ll stay-tuned…
For now…
One year ago, I felt a call to get even stronger than I already felt in mind, in body, in SOUL.  Very likely connected to the milestone of turning 50 which came and went on Feb 19th.  I felt the loud call to fortify myself. 
And, for some reason, I listened.
 
I added fun new workouts, even more yoga, a strict regimen of supplements.  I was already eating mindfully but I even took that up a notch or two or ten.  I started running consistently again.  Incrementally increasing my miles till suddenly I was hitting miles I’d never even considered running before…16, 18 and 20.  Then, after a public outreach in my newsletter, my beautiful friend, Lori Melançon, told me about the Napa Valley Marathon which her hubs had run several times.  It’s the perfect location, climate, and race course for a first time marathon runner.

It was happening in March and that felt like ideal timing for me to keep pounding the pavement and run it! So, my running transformed into training.  Even while on my yoga retreat to Tulum, Mexico, I locked in some running buddies like MaryBeth, Shelly, Krista, Devin and others and I ran every morning before yoga.  Not long or far, but I kept up the training and ran at least 26 miles in total.  It was beautiful, warm, we ran barefoot along the ocean’s edge.  It was downright dreamy. 

Here’s a yoga + sunrise pause during our morning run.
Aaaah, Tulum.

After returning home from Mex, I laced up my Brooks and headed out for my first run in PDX.  In 34 degree weather (wtf?) and returning from soft white sand to unforgiving asphalt. I only ran 7 miles to get my Portland legs back. By the end of that run, an old injury in my calf was rearing its angry head.  Mind you, it’s now February 3rd.  My race is March 3rd.  Only 4 weeks till race day.  For my mental game, I knew I needed one more LONG run to feel confident that I could climb this freakin’ mountain.  
 
I hit the pause button.  I still worked out but nothing that used that angry push-off muscle of my left calf.  Instead I opted for the bike or strider.  I had two incredible massages, plus acupuncture. I soaked for 90 minutes in 1,000 pounds of magnesium-based epsom salt at Enso Float.  I rested.  At this point, now I’m sitting just two short weeks from race day, still unsure if I will be able to do this thang!  Once I was feeling no pain in that calf – after 14 days of no running – I headed up to Forest Park.  Decided I would test out my tender calf with a run on softer ground.  I’d take my time.  If I felt pain, I’d stop.  This is the day that would determine if the race was even in the cards. 
I ran…and ran…and ran…and there was no pain. 
 
18 miles later, I knew I was headed for Napa Valley.
 
Then, I did THIS thing.  Twenty six point two.  
We truly do not know what we’re capable of until we try. 
 
I never thought I could DO life after losing my dad.  Or, my fur-babe of 14.5 years, Maggie Mae.  
 
I never thought I could live without WINE.  HA!  March 25th is officially one year!
 
I never thought I could train for and run a full marathon. 
 
There are so many things I didn’t know I was capable of until I tried…or until I HAD no choice but to endure.  As Bob Marley said,“You don’t know how strong you are until being strong is your only choice.”  
 
Then, you sit on the other side of impossible, recognizing the truth of your strength and recognizing the shear, utter possibility in every moment.  Even more importantly, you recognize your resilience. 
 
I hope you’ll do something today that reminds you of your strength and resilience. 
 
Even if that is simply asking someone who knows and loves you to REMIND you of a time they witnessed you demonstrating your strength.  Sometimes we can’t see the tree through the damn forest!  Especially when it comes to the brilliant aspects of ourSELVES.
 
You are so f*cking strong.  How do I know this?  Because I know myself.  I know what I have thought.  I know the beliefs that are dramatically shape-shifting in me right now.  I know how I have dramatically underestimated myself.  I know how lost we can get.  How we can forget. I also know what is possible when we tap in, when we believe. 
When we remember who we are. 
 
You are so incredible.  

consciousness, awareness, acceptance, change…GROWTH!

 

Has the thought of sharing the beautiful practice of yoga with others ever crossed your mind, tickled your fancy, stirred your soul? A change in your life trajectory could be on the horizon. Perhaps you’re feeling the call to dive into a deeper understanding of asana (the physical postures of yoga), the history, the philosophy…and you NEVER actually intend to teach a day in your life.

Whatever it is that lands YOU on your yoga mat day-after-day, Elevate Yoga 200-Hour Teacher Training will fully support that, while also being a brick on the accelerator in the process of heightening awareness, directing a distracted mind, learning to live in the moment, learning more about what makes you tick, and ultimately cultivating greater harmony by using the powerful TOOLS of yoga. You’ll also learn to share these tools authentically and effectively, should you decide that teaching IS part of your dharma!

As you know, ‘practicing’ isn’t simply something we DO on the mat in a studio. Rather, it is WHO we are and HOW we are in relationship with ourselves, with our environment and with the rest of the world. What you’ll discover during Elevate will go far beyond anatomy and asana. We will expand ourselves physically, mentally, and emotionally.

Take yourself on a personal journey that will inspire, challenge, and empower you.

You can listen – by clicking below – to what our December 2018 graduates had to say about their recent experiences!

Here are five signs YOU just might be PRIMED for Elevate Yoga 200-Hour Teacher Training!

You’re hungry to go deeper…
You’ve been devouring yoga classes for some time now. You really want to have a better understanding of the concepts in your teacher’s drop-in classes! You want to learn about the power of the energetic body, including the chakras. You want to understand the various techniques of pranayama or breath control. You definitely want to dive more deeply into the eight limbs, including the yamas and the niyamas. You’re curious about the bandhas, hindu deities, mantra, meditation, anatomy and physiology…there are so many topics you want to learn more about!

Elevate is wildly comprehensive, and is so much more than simply advancing your physical practice or nailing a handstand. You have already experienced the profound impact a regular yoga practice has had on your body, your mind, your nervous system, your life, your relationships and
you want to better understand the how’s and the why’s!

You can hardly hold back from sharing your passion with others…
Yoga has changed how you see the world, how you move through the world. You’re a die-hard believer in the countless benefits of this practice and you want to shout them ALL from the rooftops. Trust me, I feel you. This is exactly what led me to leave my corporate job in financial services and pursue “work” that felt more aligned with the LIFE I wanted to be LIVING. This is what led me to MY first teacher training thirteen years ago.

You’re ready to learn WAY more about yourself…
By immersing yourself in the study of yoga, you will learn more about how your mind and your body work together to create your reality. You’ll discover a greater understanding of who you are as an individual. You’ll learn how to deeply attune to your body, how to regulate your breath, and how to soften the fluctuations of the mind.

yoga chitta vritti nirodhah tada drashtuh svarupe vasthanam — sutra 1.2-1.3, yoga sutras of patanjali

Translation: Yoga seeks to still the fluctuations of the mind so that the true self can be revealed.

As we learn to be witness to our experiences, a paradigm seems to unfold: consciousness to awareness, awareness to acceptance, acceptance to change, change to growth.
Consciousness underlies all that is; awareness implies the “witness” or the observer; acceptance embraces non-judgment; change connotes conscious choice; and growth is a result of all of the preceding steps.

Growth is inevitable as we observe and awaken.

You’re ready to up-level your life…
Teacher training is a big commitment of your energy, time and finances. AND, as BIG commitments tend to go – this one will completely up-level your life. The things you will learn about yourself and how you interact with the world around you, will change the way you see just about everything. The things you learn will alter the way you DO just about everything.

You don’t know, till you know.
And, once you know, you can’t un-know. You know? 😉

You want to connect with a powerful, like-minded community? Done, and done!
One of the most wonderful parts of Elevate Yoga 200-Hour Teacher Training (beyond our awesome crew of instructors!) is the incredible group of people who will be learning right alongside YOU.
We’ve seen it.
Every.
Single.
Time.
The relationships forged last long beyond our final savasana together…long beyond graduation.

from wounds to wisdom and messes to messages

 

Happy New Year

 

I hope this finds you doing so well.  

2018 has officially come to a close and while that’s somewhat arbitrary, I do like to use the end of each year as an opportunity to reflect.  To see where I’ve been, to recognize how far I’ve come or receded, to sit with where I am, to wonder about where I want to go next with my relationships, my sense of self, how I show up in the world, my work, all the things.  And, we all have this human tendency — that ol’ negativity bias — where the BAD stuff, the unpleasant moments, thoughts, feelings, and social interactions stand out more and have a greater effect on our psychological state than neutral or positive ones.  Somehow, I think my brain is actually on steroids when it comes to this.  So, I have to put into practice ways of reliving the positive, the successes, the wonderful things that I’ve experienced to bring them back into mind and BODY.  I’m practicing really recognizing the positive experiences of 2018, the choices that have turned out well, letting them sweetly marinate and ultimately become etched in my psyche!  Not saying, ignore the bad, but don’t let the negative be the only thing taking up the center stage!
 
This year, I had a LOT of relationship breakthroughs, lots of memorable connections and experiences in travel, in work, right here at home, on the mat, off the mat and just in general…I celebrated 8 years with the love of my life and two years with our fur baby, I had three sold-out yoga retreats, we graduated another awesome group of teachers from Elevate Yoga 200-Hour Teacher Training, I got to collaborate with so many amazing musicians and local businesses for Pop-Up Yoga throughout the year, I had a lot of beautiful – albeit HOT – summer days filled with time at the river with my hubs and pup, oh so many river swims with AddieBelle, good memories with friends…just a lot of goodness all around. 
 
I also made significant positive life choices + changes related to how I treat my physical body that have greatly improved my quality of LIFE.  I’m gonna share them below cuz if you’ve ever experienced PAIN, you know first-hand that it’s hard to focus on much else when you’re IN IT.  
 

Choices that led to some SERIOUS positive changes…body and spirit.

 
 

I have been dealing with quite a bit of pain in my body for years:  joints (like ALL of them), my low back, my neck.  I started believing it was full-blown arthritis.  I’ve seen acupuncturists, massage therapists, so many chiropractors, medical doctors including a doc of osteopathy.  I still don’t know what I’m dealing with…I’m sure some of it is emotional.  Fear, shame, grief…the issues that live in our tissues, as they say.  Whatever it is/was, I was setting out on a mission to reduce or eradicate the pain! 

You might be surprised at some of the things I’ve tried.  I was going for the kitchen sink.  Throw it all in there.  Here are a few things I did and they have, in fact, slowly, incrementally and DRAMATICALLY reduced the pain in my bod.

Starting small and working to BIG.
 
FIRST, I ADDED SUPPLEMENTS

I added a regimen of daily supplements. 
Thank you, Devin Manning, for being my acupuncturist AND supplement dealer. 
In addition to a mindful diet, I now take collagen, turmeric, vitamin D, some herbs and other vitamins on the daily.  
I know that supplements are controversial.  That we shouldn’t need them if we are eating a balanced diet.  How balanced is my diet?  Pretty.  But, as I said, KITCHEN SINK for reduced pain.  Even if it’s a placebo.  And, since I’m feeling damn good, I’m sticking with it for NOW.  Onward.
 
 
 
THEN, I SWITCHED UP MY MOVEMENT PRACTICES

For the last fifteen years, there’s been a whole heck of a lotta yoga. Vinyasa yoga, hatha yoga, yin yoga, restorative yoga, hot yoga, yoga nidra, yoga yoga yoga.  And, you know how I LOVE it.  I also talk about balance a lot in my classes.  I needed to find some BALANCE in my movement practices.

More and more, I’ve been reading that strength training can help reduce joint pain.  I was game-on for trying.  So, I started working with my friend and personal trainer, Lyndsay Price. We added lifting weights and other functional strength training into my weekly movement practices.  Oh, and thanks to Wendy for turning me on to Orange Theory.  I’ve added that one or two times a week. LASTLY, I began running again.  A little at first over the summer and at this point I’m basically trained up for a marathon.  I ran the longest I’ve EVER run just recently.  

I’m looking for a marathon to run in February or March 2019 if you have any suggestions.  Will travel for just the right race.  It’s kind of a bucket list item for me in THIS my 50th year on earth!  

Now I gotta add…I still practice yoga on-the-regular.
I have a home practice and I get to studios whenever I can. 
I can also report that in addition to yoga I’m now officially a weight lifter (haha), a long-distance runner and I do all kinds of other functional exercises regularly.  Cause they make me feel BETTER.

And, I’ll dance to that.

ONE MORE THING, I REDUCED INFLAMMATORY FOODS & BEVERAGES

I reduced my intake of inflammatory foods like sugar and refined carbohydrates. 
 
And, as another way to reduce my sugar intake…

THIS IS A BIG ONE…
 

I quit drinking alcohol. 

 

I’ve abstained from drinking any kind of booze for nearly an entire year now.    

If you know me, you know THAT IS A BIG DEAL. 

I have been a lover of wine since it first hit my lips so many, many years ago.  OMG. 
And, since my 30’s, I’ve probably enjoyed at least one glass of wine, more often TWO, every single night — unless we were on a cleanse or something. 

I gave it up to explore its potential positive impact on my physical pain.  I was thinking of the sugar content.
I also wanted to be mindful about drinking during a devastating time in my life — I wanted to be sure I didn’t try to numb, prolong grief or anything like that.  Soooooo, I stopped.  And I stayed “stopped” because I realized it was helping more than I could have ever imagined. I felt physically better, I slept WAY better, I had tons more energy and clarity.
 In addition, I was learning SO MUCH about myself in the process of abstaining.  It was like a huge veil was lifted.  It’s interesting to get a clearer understanding of one’s relationship with alcohol. 
I got a lot of information about myself out of it.

Things that surprised me…
It was easy to quit. 
I didn’t think it would be. 
I’m much happier without it. 

And….as long as I feel that way, I guess I’m a teetotaler. 
 

Bye bye booze.
 
My body still has a few aches and pains but I have felt significant improvement and it continues to get BETTER and BETTER.  So, I’ll continue these practices.  I’ll continue to keep coming back and looking again, asking again, wondering again, trying again cause this is life.  We are always moving, changing, growing, shifting, finding our own greater harmony. 

We always have to power to look, see what we see and CHOOSE what’s next.

SO, RIDE ON, FRIENDS
 
There is always good with the bad and bad with the good.  
Pain with healing. Healing with pain.

This year was tough.  The toughest. 
It was also beautiful.  The beautiful-est. 

I’m still totally processing the loss of my dad.  It has not fully sunk in.  It does a little each day. 
And, there’s so far to go. 
Something I learned this year though is that I am very strong. 
Stronger than I ever imagined. 
I’ve started believing in myself more than ever. 

Pardon the profanity….but, how the f*ck has it taken till I’m nearly 50?

That’s ok. 
I’ll take IT. 
Now is better than never.
 

NOW is just the perfect time to start believing. 

Now, what about YOU??

I’d love to hear about YOUR year….
 
What were some of your greatest memories from 2018? 
 Do you have proud moments that stand out for you?  Breakthroughs?  Can you remember the details?  How did they make you feel?
 
Did you make personal choices that had a positive impact on your life big or small?  Even if they were short-lived!  What were they and how did you benefit from them?
 
Tell me please about a positive experience of yours (or many!) from 2018…if you’d be willing to share. 
I’d love to celebrate your success WITH you. 
Give me all the gory details on what transpired and how it made you feel. 
 
Let’s make this an incredible year of discovery, of forward movement but also of recognizing the beauty of each breath in the present moment. We’ve got this life thing. All of its ups and downs. We are so much stronger than we give ourselves credit for. 

Oh and remember to relive (over and over) your most positive experiences
cuz we tend to roll right over those and only linger on the crappy ones. 
That’s just how we’re wired. 
Let’s outsmart that dumb tendency.
Let’s practice something different.

All the very BEST to you in 2019 and beyond.

I love you.  

road rage and rose-colored glasses

Do I live in rose-colored glasses? 
 
I don’t think so.  Perhaps some of the time?

I do, however, believe that we humans are inherently good. 

I believe we aspire to do our best with what we know at a given point in time.
 
I mean, I don’t do ‘it’ right all the time…that’s for damn sure. 
I want to, and then things get messy…‘cause fear…‘cause hurt…‘cause past experiences…‘cause triggers…and rather than reacting the way I hope my forty-nine year old self would, the nine year old child in there rears her head and takes over my body to snatch back what is mine, or sock someone in the arm, or break the toy so NO ONE can play with it!  Yeah, despite all the work, all the observance of self, all the perceived growth, all the yoga in the world, the kid takes over and as a result I react in “old-me” ways that do NOT represent “new-me” understandings. 
 
But the triggers…right? 

The struggle is REAL, as they say.
 
And, it is relative for each of us.  Perhaps our responses, our reactions to LIFE are relative to the amount of pain we’ve experienced.  Perhaps they’re relative to the amount of hurt we’ve felt.  Perhaps we just lack the processing skills, the tools necessary to pause, to breathe, to rationalize our reactions and instead we just lose our shit
 
Case in point…

A couple weeks ago, a guy came barreling up on me on NE Broadway.  I wasn’t movin’ down the road quickly enough and he was going at just the right speed for HIM. Fast AF. Not enjoying him riding on my bumper, I got over into the left lane.  He then came up beside me in his big ol’ truck yelling and shaking a fist through the panes of glass while blasting his horn. 
 
I thought honking was not permitted in Portland or you’d get escorted OUT!
Oh the times they are a’changin’.
 
I started to turn left onto 16th Street and peel off from this guy’s rant.  From the middle lane, he decided to turn left too and cut me off.  Freaked out a bit and trying to get out of the intersection, I pulled a little further up and started over to the right.  Now coming up fast on my left, he “helped me” drive right off the road and nearly into Kitchen Kaboodle.  I was stunned like a deer in the headlights. I rolled my window down and said, “WHAT IS going on?”  That’s all I was able to get out of my mouth before his red-faced self, spewing and spitting expletives in mine and Addie’s direction, could find absolutely nothing to soothe himself from this exploding rage, except violence.  It was then that he cocked back the only thing he had access to (thank God), he launched his giant and hot cup of coffee right at us.  In the car, on the car, in my face, in my lap, all over Addie and me.  Then, the tires squealed and he was OUT.
 
I looked around in complete shock for anyone’s support, help, commiseration. Everyone in the vicinity had their heads in their phones and noticed nothing out of the ordinary.  No one got his license plate.  And, after a few minutes of emotional recovery…I simply drove home with my feathers ruffled up AND soaked through.
 
This experience has been hard to shake. 
 
Call me crazy but ever since this happened, I’ve been thinking of ways to share more kindness, to perpetuate more love, to offer more understanding, and hopefully provide – in some way – more opportunities for healing. 
 
Rose-colored glasses? 

Maybe. 
 
In a world that feels quick to rage, highly divisive, deafeningly noisy, irritably fast-paced and very crowded,
KINDNESS FEELS LIKE THE ANSWER.
 
Two nights ago my husband Michael and I accidentally stumbled on a documentary (not the one everyone’s watching right now but another one about Mister Rogers, called Mister Rogers & Me, A Deep and Simple Documentary Film, 2010).
 
I loved everything about it.  
 
This documentary highlights the profound impact one person can have on the world by showing unconditional love and simple kindnesses, allowing people to feel seen, heard, loved and accepted. 
 
 “You know, I think everybody longs to be loved,
and longs to know that he or she is lovable.
And consequently, the greatest thing we can do is to help somebody
know they’re loved and capable of loving.”

– Mister Fred Rogers
 
I may never reconcile the road rage encounter in my mind or my heart.  But, I seek the tools that might help me understand our humanness with all the goodness, all the pain, all the joy, all the anger. 
As you might expect, I often turn to the philosophies of yoga for direction, for answers, for insight. 

In this case, Ahimsa, non-violence or non-harming comes right to the forefront. 

“Ahimsa, rightly understood, is the ultimate weapon; it turns one’s enemy into a friend, thereby banishing the possibility of further conflict. In the practice of yoga, it is important to understand that the same life flows in the veins of all creatures.”   – Swami Kriyananda

And, one of my very favorite of Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras: 
Sutra 1.33
Maitri karuna mudita upeksanam sukha duhka punya apunya vasayanam bhavanatah cittaprasdanam.
 
Here are a few translations of the sutra:
 
“The mind becomes tranquil through the practice of friendliness toward the happy, compassion toward the miserable, joy toward the virtuous, and equanimity toward the non-virtuous.”  – translation Gary Kissiah
 
“Calmness arises from friendship, empathy, delight, and equality towards others.“
– translation Matthew Remski

“Through cultivation of friendliness, compassion, joy and indifference to pleasure and pain, virtue and vice respectively, the consciousness becomes favorably disposed, serene and benevolent.” – translation BKS Iyengar

That guy in the big truck got away from me.  Not that there’s anything I could have done for him.  I wish.  And, I wish he had tools in his tool belt for dealing with that kind of anger.  May yoga find him! 

For now, what I can do is slow down, be kind, loving, present and do my best to SEE YOU, HEAR YOU, LOVE YOU.

 

Well, until my nine year old self is triggered again. 😉

Then, LOOK OUT!

   

We are like tuning forks and how we touch each other ripples out into the world…be it good or not so good.
We leave a sort of residue with each other at each encounter.
 
What will your residue be?

 

“There is something of yourself that you leave at every meeting with another person.” 
– Fred Rogers

teaching yoga is easy

“Once you have the formula down, teaching yoga is easy.” – not my quote

A friend and yoga teacher (whom I love and respect) said this to me once.

Huh.  Teaching yoga is easy.

Honestly, I felt minimized.  And, that’s my problem, for sure.  Especially since I didn’t choose to get clarification or discuss exactly what she meant…rather I just banked that comment to revisit it whenever I was spending hours creating a class or workshop and thinking,

This is NOT easy. Why isn’t this easy?

This was not personal but it triggered me.   

Here are a couple questions I asked myself:

Why did that statement make me feel small?

What did it bring up? Why?

Some of my ranting thoughts…my own monkey mind at work! 


You should understand, Jill, this ‘easy’ task of creating a yoga experience for your students has a simple formula.  

Why don’t you just follow it? 

Do you really have to spend so much of your precious time folding in heart and caring and concern, in an effort to remain interesting, fresh, innovative, timely, pertinent…somehow believing, deep down inside, that you can hold space for some inner exploration to happen–for you AND your students?

Teaching, for me, feels like equal parts giving and equal parts receiving. I learn so much about myself every single time. It’s all a part of the practice.

Somehow, I deeply hope that I might be able to create a movement + mindfulness practice that allows students–wait, not only allows, but invites students–to explore simple truths:

What is present now?

What’s in my thoughts, in my heart, in my muscles and my bones, in my subtler body, NOW? 

Vulnerability? Joy? Fear? Self-love, self-hatred? Calm or anxiousness? Stiff or fluid?
Tightness? An old injury? Ease or effort? Anger? Sadness? Curiosity?  Centered or off-kilter?

What do I/we hear when we drop into the body, get quieter, and listen? 

What do we hear when we can let go and trust that we will be guided in a way that moves us out of our monkey-minds into this multi-layered SELF of ours?

What do we hear when we listen to our whole selves–mind, body, soul? 

All the layers.

Observation is such a powerful tool to recognize where we are at any given point.

Then we have a choice.  With the truth we have the opportunity to decide whether that’s where we want to BE, letting the truth be our guide. Stay or shift or maybe move somewhere else.


Sharing anything we are passionate about, like yoga for me, feels like an artistic expression of heart and soul and all my beings.  It is its own language for me to use to communicate with others, where sometimes words would fail me. 

And we can be communicating on every level or layer of the onion of our Selves: physical, energetic, mental, intellectual and our highest self. 

I suppose it could be formulaic, but if feels more like a living, breathing exchange of the most powerful sources of vital energy, alive and changing moment to moment.  And, like each of our very own absolute human potentials are communicating with each other!

Where are you NOW?  Is it where you want to be?

What is your life trying to do through you?

What are you creating or desiring to create?

What are you hiding from or avoiding?  (I ask myself this ALL. The. Time!)

What are you excitedly grabbing hold of and running with?

What are you willing to see?  Or, not see?

What elates the cells of your being?  What triggers you and why?

How can we still the mind and marinate in the many questions?

What can we learn from the varied answers that populate the mind when we get quiet enough to hear?

I’m just talkin’. Sharin’ some meandering thoughts.

Just sitting in my own inquiries–as I like to do–and sharing some things that are present.  

I will continue to engage in my path.  I will continue to bring attention here.

I will do my best to let go of what I think that should look like or to concern myself with what it looks like for others.  And I’ll just keep figuring out how to do ME fully in a way that makes sense to…well…me. 

I’ve included some inspirations below – including a speech of ODub’s;) – where she talks about how you are here to, 

“Fulfill the highest, most truthful expression of yourself as a human being…You are here to max out your humanity.”

There’s some good stuff in there if you wanna check it out below. And, other fun things to ponder.

You totally rock.

THIS WEEK’S INSPIRATION!

Oprah: Do I Matter? 28 min

The Oprah speech at Harvard U is 30 min, but you can skip right to 20:20 for a powerful few minutes.  And, our number one goal as human beings at about 24:12. 😉  But, there’s a whole lot of goodness throughout including some bits about how our perceived failures (“no such thing as failure”) are making us move in a new direction.  I just love Oprah.

Kid President: Pep Talk to Teachers and Students! 4 min

Look for the AWESOME! I love this kid and I got to meet him at WDS a couple years ago.  THE BEST.

Thanks for tuning in and for being awesome. 

I love you.

 

what is your life trying to do through you?

 
 

Yoga teacher training calls to each of us for such beautifully varied reasons. 

When Lucy committed to Elevate Yoga Trainings she expressed that she didn’t necessarily want to teach yoga but she craved more knowledge and understanding around the practice she loved so much! Lucy graduated in December and has already registered with the Yoga Alliance so she can begin to share all that she’s learned with others!
 
Julie was entering a new phase in her life after raising a family. She felt ready to dive into her own passions and pursuits while at the same time she longed to discover HER unique way of serving others through the healing practices of yoga. 
 
Pablo entered yoga teacher training believing he wanted to teach in public studios around Portland. During our months of learning and self-exploration, he discovered that he was passionate about bringing yoga to those who might otherwise never get to experience the practice. A path was illuminated for “Pabs” that would lead to sharing yoga and meditation with minorities, low-income families, people in prisons and/or recovery facilities. He has now founded Ahimsa Movement.
 
As a student at Oregon College of Oriental Medicine, Julia knew yoga would be a beautiful and complementary component when treating her patients.  She continues her studies at OCOM and also teaches at Yoga NW.
 
Michael P is on a path that integrates yoga, Ayurvedic wellness and other therapies.  He has established his offerings as YogaDoshic!
 

 
The pull to teach was strong and so clear for Tracey so she wasted no time at all.  Since the day she graduated, she’s been out in the community sharing the healing practices of Yin Yoga with local corporations and yoga studios.  You can find her public classes on the weekly schedule at Exhale Yoga Sanctuary.
 
Courtney was already successfully teaching fitness classes.  She’s had a long-time, dedicated personal yoga practice that helps support all of the other physical activities she is engaged in. But, she really resonates with how yoga has helped calm and focus her mind while settling her soul. This is the most powerful piece and a primary driver to why she is so devoted to her practice and why she now shares these benefits with others. Find Courtney on the weekly schedule at LA Fitness in the Pearl District!
 
Kimy was already teaching yoga around town when she enrolled in Elevate trainings but she was compelled to explore the depth of our comprehensive curriculum, the varied presenters, plus the overall collaborative community that is created here.  Teresa, Stephanie, Rikki and Michael Rwere also already graduates of other teacher training programs but wanted to reconnect with themselves as teachers, deepen specific skills and knowledge, connect with other like-minded individuals, fill the gaps, delve into their purpose and rediscover forgotten layers of themselves. 
 
Christina, Tim, Amy, Melanie, Erin, Meegan, Patty, Christopher…they all felt called to this path of self-discovery, of service, of wholeheartedness.  And, they are all living the practice of yoga by being in a space of observation, healing the body, the mind, the soul and seeking ways of offering that healing back to the world. 
 
It’s really awesome. They are really awesome.

(click below to hear from Elevate graduates)


 
Elevate Yoga 200 Hour Teacher Training has proven to support aspiring teachers on their journey to sharing these practices in unique and powerful ways…in YOUR unique and powerful ways.  It has proven to help clarify the trajectory of our lives and illuminate paths we didn’t even know were there.  It has proven time and time again to be a safe place where we might explore ourselves more deeply, a home to learn and to grow in, and an accepting community to accomplish that all WITH. 

It happens by being in the questions.
 
It happens because we are seeking and remaining open to hearing the answers of the heart.

What is your life attempting to do through you?
  
If profoundly deepening your personal practice calls to you…join us.  

If powerfully sharing the healing benefits of yoga with others, is tuggin’ on your heart strings…join us.

If significantly expanding your community is what your soul is craving…COME ON! 
We got you.

 
If connecting with others in a safe place of inquiry – while cultivating a greater sense of purpose –  intrigues you AT ALL…then what are you waiting for?  

I welcome you to sign up for a time to chat with me directly about all that
Elevate Yoga 200 Hour Teacher Training IS, as well as, all that it is NOT.  
We truly look to align our offering with just the right seekers!

Use THIS LINK to schedule time with me. 

Sign-ups for Fall 2017 have begun. Space is limited to maintain intimacy.

All the details are on OUR SITE.  We ROLL September 13th through December 3rd!

Will you be rollin’ with us? 

 
 
Elevate was born straight from my heart and soul.  

It has become a living, breathing home for all of us.  
It’s been built on a safe and steady foundation, with walls that listen and hear, mirrors that reflect beauty, light and truth, a beating heart that trusts and can be trusted, plus a roof that blankets with radical acceptance.
  

Elevate is connection.  
It is love.  
It is education.  
It is spirituality.  
It is transformation.  
It is acceptance.  
It is encouraging.  
It is challenging.  
It is coaching.  

It is collaboration.  

It takes a VILLAGE.  

And, we are grateful to be in community together.  

Elevate also strives to unite the local yoga community of studios and teachers. 

During our training, in order to broaden your exposure (to various traditions, styles, teachers and studios), as well as, encourage YOU to step out of your comfort zone and further gain clarity on who you are as a person AND as a teacher, you will receive deeply discounted rates at many of the very best studios in Portland including:

Yoga Pearl
Namaste on Williams
Unfold
Grinning Yogi
Sellwood Yoga
Yoga Bhoga
YoYoYogi
Love Hive
Near East Yoga
Yoga Refuge
Yoga on Yamhill (well – it’s donation only!)
 

10 Signs YOU are Ready for Yoga Teacher Training:

10.  You love serving and empowering others.
9.  You love being a part of the healing process.
8.  You practice daily.  Sometimes even daily-doubles!
7.  You’re a yogavangelist.  
6.  You’re pretty damn certain that yoga is the answer to all of the world’s problems.  
5.  You love to learn and geek out on anything yoga-related.
4.  You eat, breathe and sleep all things yoga.
3.  You want more friends.  🙂  
2.  You are being CALLED. You feel the PULL!
1.  You have the desire to do work that truly MATTERS to you.

Oh and number ELEVEN…you are committed to this life-long process of self-discovery.
 

 
 
 
 

living from the neck up…

My trip to India in December was a profound experience on pretty much EVERY level.  To this day, the degree to which I was touched and changed continues to land deep within me.  In other words, it’s marinating and the lessons are still revealing themselves.

I’ve traveled quite a bit in my life and I’ve even lived abroad for periods of time.  But, this trip felt very different.  It was emotionally charged and came at an interesting time in my life…when things have never felt quite so settled, happy and fortified.  I’ve lived in my home for nearly twelve years.  I married the love of my life and every day with that guy gets better and better.  I’m engaged in work that lights me up, challenges me daily and I’m surrounded by a community of people who inspire the hell out of me.

I feel safe and at home in my life.

Now doesn’t that seem like the PERFECT time to give things a little shake up!?!

Rather than packing up at Christmastime to head to Phoenix with Michael like we do every year, we parted ways at PDX…he was off to AZ and I would land – in 38 hours – in Goa, India.

The moment I touched down in Delhi, I felt a sense of vulnerability.  Not from the perspective of being unsafe in a foreign country but it just felt like I was MORE exposed to the raw elements of life and the world.  I felt uncovered, like it was the sunniest day EVER and I had newborn skin.  Plus, I was directly in the path of the rays of the sun and wearing no sunscreen.  I felt temporarily unprotected with the potential for a burn.  Again, it had nothing to do with the country or the element of distant travel.  I came to realize quickly, that It had everything to do with leaving the many comforts of home that I’d carefully surrounded myself with for last dozen years.

After years of creating the safe, sweet, somewhat insulated and rooted existence in Portland, I flew to the other side of the world, extracted myself from all the things that make me feel secure and established.  I was separated from my constant companions, my touch-stones and my reality meters!  I was without my community, my familiarities, my roles and all the many things that identify me.  There was a shift in all of my personal routines, habits, and rituals.  Also, I was flyin’ totally solo; I knew no one there and no one there knew me.

All of my comforts were gone.

All of those things that falsely allow me to feel as though I am in some way controlling my experiences.

 

On my first couple days in India, things were frenetic.  I was disconnected from myself and not at all grounded into the realities that surrounded me.  This might have been sprinkled with some jet-lag, but it was as though I never fully touched down and my feet were still floating slightly above the earth. I felt airy and fragmented.  My thoughts and emotions were all over the place.  Anxiety was high.

I was completely up in my head.

Have you ever caught yourself in moments like this?

Where you are so in your head that it’s as if you don’t even have a body?!

 

When feeling uprooted, I immediately craved the reestablishment of roots through connecting with people and through the surrounding spaces.  I had this sense of wanting things to feel comfortable again and safe like at home.  I wanted to find gentle places to land, to root in and stave off this feeling of groundlessness.

I was scared.  And, I wanted control.

 

But, rather than seeking strength and grounding from within, I was looking for fortification from outside sources.

It’s crucial for all of us to find a practice that will help us have a direct relationship with groundlessness, with impermanence and death—a practice that will enable us to touch in with the transitoriness of our thoughts, our emotions, our car, our shoes, the paint job on our house.

We can get used to the fleeting quality of life in a natural, gentle, even joyful way, by watching the seasons change, watching day turning to night, watching children grow up, watching sand castles dissolve back into the sea. But if we don’t find some way to make friends with groundlessness and the ever-changing energy of life, then we’ll always be struggling to find stability in a shifting world.  -Pema Chödrön

In those anxiety-ridden moments in India, I was not connected to my body.

What does that even MEAN?  

It means being present in your physical form, being connected with the earth, with what’s real, allowing yourself to feel centered and balanced no matter what’s swirling around you.

It means actually inhabiting your body.

In every moment the body is speaking to us.  But if you’re anything like me, you also have deafeningly loud thoughts that drown out the voice of the body.  If we do not listen to and feel the body’s messages then we’re missing a huge part of life.

A couple days in, I began to reconnect with ritual and daily practices.  Then, I remembered who I was underneath the swirling of the world, of my circumstances, of the new people, places, experiences…

Here are some of the powerful tools that brought me

BACK HOME TO MY BODY! 

Dinacharya: The Art of a Daily Routine

Doing all of these rituals was so, so powerful but they took quite some TIME!  Consider picking 2 or 3 that resonate?

During my time in India, my daily routine included:

– Upon awakening, sit up in bed, put bare feet to the floor.  Before grabbing for the smartphone, turning on the light, etc…stay with eyes closed and simply breathe there for a period of time.  * Sometimes just following this morning pause, I would take a moment to journal any thoughts I was having or any remembered dreams.

– Splash cold water on my face.

– Do Abhyanga or self-massage with oil. I used tri-doshic balancing oil.  A daily Abhyanga practice restores the balance of the doshas and enhances well-being and longevity.  It’s pretty simple. 🙂

– Put about ¼-½ cup oil in an 8 oz. squeeze bottle. …

– Place the bottle of oil in a pan of hot water until the oil is pleasantly warm.

– Sit or stand comfortably in a warm room, on a towel that you don’t mind ruining with oil accumulation. …

Apply oil generously to your entire body!  AAAAAAHHHH. 🙂

Oil pulling with coconut oil.

Tongue scraping.

– I am sorry, but I loathe the neti pot.  I have tried and tried to embrace it but I have a thing with feeling like I’m drowning (since I almost did as a child!)…someday perhaps, for now, I SKIP THE NETI POT.

Then on to:

Ginger lemon tea.  YUM.  Boosts immune, aids in digestion, and tastes delicious.

By now it’s 6am and time for:

Meditation (30-45min) – as one of my teachers points out, meditation is simply what happens while sitting with the intention to meditate.  Phew.  Pressures off.

Pranayama, Asana, a little chantin’!

Honestly, I should know after all these years that just a few Sun Salutes would have helped ground me.  But, in all the craziness, travel, new places and people, scooters and cows, I was overwhelmed, had some social anxieties percolating and I was in full reaction mode.

 So…on Day Two and the days to follow, I went ALL IN for FULL fortification and grounding!

How do you find grounding when the roots are pulled out from the earth beneath you?

How do you reconnect with what is real?

What are the practices you utilize to remain present and in your body?

Don’t have time for all of the above?  Most of us don’t.  

What about 9 sun salutes with prostration?  Ok, even 3 helps!  Here’s a grainy little youtube vid for reference!  Do as many as you need!  Find what works for you.  Make it manageable.  But, you will not regret it.

One of the most important lessons I’ve been reminded of through this process is that “pain is inevitable, but suffering is optional.”  I was suffering when I looked outside of myself for solutions to fear, doubt and anxiety.  I created suffering by attaching to external comforts rather than finding fortification from within.  I was trying to control the uncontrollable.  I was labeling my sensations as good ones and bad ones.  I was attaching to the good ones and wanting to resist or push away those that felt uncomfortable.

To paraphrase Tara Brach, when you see and feel the sensations you are experiencing simply as sensations you may notice that these thoughts about the sensations are not really useful to you in that moment and that they can actually make things a lot worse than they need to be!

Pause.  Notice.  Accept.  Surrender.  It’s gonna be ok.

Once I was able to ground in, I could then truly experience things from a new lens…that powerful lens of mindfulness and compassion.  I connected with the most amazing people.  I connected more fully with myself.  I began to truly embrace each moment as it unfolded.

If you haven’t done something like this lately, something that rattles your cage a bit, start plannin’!  You don’t have to go all the way to India but get out of your norms.  Step outside of your comfort zone.  Do things differently. Do something that scares you.

It will awaken sleeping parts of yourself and remind you to

INHABIT YOUR BODY.


(From Pages 123-127, Radical Acceptance by Tara Brach)

Guided Meditation:  Developing an Embodied Presence

A mindful body scan is a valuable pathway to embodied presence.


Sitting comfortably, close your eyes and take several long, deep breaths.  Then rest in the natural flow of your breath and allow your body and mind to begin to settle.

With a relaxed, open awareness, now begin a gradual and thorough scan of your entire body.  Place your attention at the top of your head and without looking for anything in particular, feel the sensations there.  Then letting your attention move down, feel the sensations on the back of your head, on either side of your head, through your ears.  Notice the sensations through your forehead, eyes, nose, cheeks, jaw and mouth.  Be as slow and thorough as you like.

As you continue the scan, be careful not to use your eyes to direct your attention.  (This will only create tension.)  Rather, connect directly with sensations by feeling the body from within the body.  In certain parts of the body it is common to feel numbness or for there to be no noticeable sensations.  Let your attention remain in those areas for a few moments in a relaxed and easeful way.  You may find that as your attention deepens, when you revisit these places, you become increasingly aware of sensations.

Images or thoughts will naturally arise.  Notice them passing through and gently return your attention to the sensations.  Let your intention be to release all ideas and experience your physical aliveness exactly as it is.

Place your attention on the area of your neck and throat, noticing without judgment whatever sensations you feel.  Be aware of each of your shoulders from the inside.  Then let your attention move slowly down your arms, feeling the sensations and aliveness there.  Bring awareness to your hands making sure they are resting in an easy and effortless way.  Feel each finger from the inside, the palms, the back of the hands – noticing tingling, pulsing, pressure, warmth or cold.  Arrive in the life of your body.

Now place your awareness on your chest, exploring the sensations in that whole area.  Slowly allow your awareness to sink down into your stomach.  With a soft, receptive awareness, take some moments to feel the sensations in your abdomen.

Place your attention on your upper back, feeling the sensations in the area around your shoulder blades.  Moving down, be aware of the mid- and lower back, and then the entire spinal column.  Continuing to let awareness sweep down the body, feel the sensations that arise through the hips, buttocks, genitals. What are the actual sensations that are arising?  Move slowly down through the legs, feeling them from within.  Explore the sensations in your feet and toes.  At the places where your body touches the chair, cushion or floor, feel the sensations of contact, pressure and temperature.

Now open your attention to include your body in a comprehensive way.  Be aware of the body as a field of changing sensations.  Can you sense the subtle energy field that vitalizes and gives life to every cell, every organ in your body?  Is there anything in your experience that is solid, unmoving?  Is there any center or boundary to the field of sensation?  Is there any solid self you can locate that possesses these sensations?  What or who is aware of experience?

As you rest in awareness of your whole body, if particular sensations call your attention, bring a soft and allowing attention to them.  Don’t manage or manipulate your experience, don’t grasp or push anything away.  Simply open to the changing dance of sensations, feeling your life from the inside out.  If no particular sensations call your attention, remain open to feeling energy simultaneously in all parts of the body.

If thoughts carry your attention away, gently note, “Thinking, thinking,” and then reconnect with the energetic field of aliveness.  Rest in this awareness of your living being, letting life live through you.

The body scan from head to feet or feet to head can be repeated over and over during a single meditation sitting.  You might do a full scan, rest in attention of the whole body for a few minutes, and then scan again.  You might do an initial scan slowly and then subsequent scans more quickly.  You might choose to scan once, and then continue to practice by attending to predominant sensations and, whenever possible, the whole field of bodily sensations.  Experiment and find out what most helps you in sustaining a relaxed and wakeful presence in your body.

In daily life, return to the experience of your body as often as possible.  You can readily arrive in your body by relaxing and softening through your shoulders, hands and belly.  As you move through the various circumstances of your day, notice what sensations arise in your body.  What happens when you feel angry?  When you are stressed and racing against time?  When you feel criticized or insulted by someone?  When you feel excited or happy?  Pay particular attention to the difference between being inside thoughts and awakening again to the immediate experience of sensations.

__________________________

Guided Meditation:  Radical Acceptance of Pain

We cultivate Radical Acceptance of pain by relaxing our resistance to unpleasant sensations and meeting them with non-reactive awareness.  This exercise is especially useful if you are presently distressed by physical pain.

____________

Find a comfortable position, sitting or lying down.  Take a few moments to become still, relaxing with the natural rhythm of the breath.  Gently scan through your body, relaxing your brow and jaw, dropping your shoulders and softening through your hands.  Try not to create any unnecessary tension in the body.

Where is the area of strong discomfort or pain that calls your attention?  Bring a receptive attention directly to the unpleasant sensations in that part of your body.  Notice what happens as you begin to be present with this pain.  Is there an attempt, however subtle, to push the pain away?  To cut it off, block it off, pull away?  Is there fear? You might notice how the body and mind clench like a fist in an attempt to resist pain.  Let your intention be to remain present, allowing the unpleasant sensations to be as they are.

Soften any reaction against the pain, allowing the fist of resistance to unclench and open.  The more you can connect with open and spacious awareness, the more you will be able to be present with sensations and allow them to unfold naturally.  Experience your awareness as the soft space that surrounds the pain and allow the unpleasant sensations to float in this awareness.

Resting in this openness, now bring a more precise attention to the changing sensations in the area of pain.  What is the experience actually like?   Do you feel burning, aching, twisting, throbbing, tearing, stabbing?  Does the pain feel like a knot, a constricting band?  Does the area feel as if it is being pressed down or crushed by a great weight?  Are the unpleasant sensations diffuse or focused in their intensity?  How do they change as you observe them?  Investigate with a nonreactive, soft attention.  Allow the sensations you may feel as a solid block of pain to unfold and move in their natural dance of change.

 When resistance arises, relax again, reestablishing a sense of openness.  Be aware of your entire body, including the areas that aren’t painful.  Let the body become like open space, with plenty of room for unpleasant sensations to arise and dissolve, fade and intensify, move and change.  No holding, no tension.  Inhabit the sea of awareness, and let any painful sensations float in an accepting openness.

  Try not to judge yourself for reacting when pain feels like “just too much.”  Take care of yourself in whatever way provides ease and comfort.  Over time if you practice mindful presence of pain for even a few moments at a time, equanimity will increase.  You will be able to more readily let go of resistance and open to unpleasant sensations.

____________

Thank you for continuing this journey of Radical Acceptance.

I truly hope it is having a positive impact on your life.

* lokah samastah sukhino bhavantu *


Elevate Yoga 200-Hour Teacher Training Program 
is accepting applications for the Fall 2016 session.
Space is limited to 18.
We begin October 5th!  Join us!

“There’s nothing else like Elevate Yoga Trainings in the country and I was so privileged to share the afternoon with Jill and the Elevate participants!  Sometimes we forget that teaching yoga is a powerful journey that gives us the opportunity to reach people really, really deeply.  Each class, each student, each moment counts.  Of course that is easily forgotten when we are teaching the 3rd class of the day and the 18th class of the week.  Thus the power of Jill Knouse, Elevate, and staying connected.”
David Romanelli – Yeah Dave!

Have you considered immersing yourself more deeply in the beautiful practices of yoga?

Have you thought about the impact you would have on the lives of others through teaching?

QUESTIONS?
I’m scheduling one-on-one calls to discuss details of the program and make sure it’s just the RIGHT FIT for you.
CLICK HERE NOW to schedule!

Hear from the graduates below…

what makes a great yoga teacher?

Click HERE for more information.


“Elevate has been one of the most powerful things I’ve done for myself. It has cracked me open on so many important levels, while providing the structure and support to lovingly support me along the way. Jill’s journal assignments have been masterfully crafted and sequenced – you will find your edges, and that’s where the good stuff happens!

I had the pleasure of experiencing a one-on-one session with Jill. I haven’t met anyone as giving of themselves, their time, and their knowledge – an amazing opportunity to access all of her experience in a focused, personalized setting with that special Jill-style-love. Having found a like-minded group of travelers on this Elevate journey has been a wonderful addition to my world.”

-Danika Sandoz

happiness is an inside job

Um…well THAT was completely phenomenal! 

Now, before we dive into blog post #4 on the awesomeness + transformation that is Radical Acceptance, here are just a few updates!

Happy Camp was da bomb digitty.  

I’m still buzzing from it all!  You know, life gets busy and we can forget how necessary it is TO GO OUT AND PLAY.  What an awesome reminder of the power of dancing, singing, playing, getting dirty!, laughing, sweating, eating yummy food, drinkin’ pink wine, disconnecting from our norms and connecting with truly badass people.  It also totally reinforced the idea of ‘what we intend, becomes.’  Jessi Duley and I have dreamed of a Burncycle + Yoga collaboration for years.  And, with the buy-in of 30+ of the most incredible women, it became a RAD REALITY.

Yep, SO RAD!  And, rest assured, there will be more Happy Camps…

Just one more big ol’ thank you to everyone who made the weekend what it was…truly EPIC.

_____________________________________

IMPORTANT UPDATES

– NEW WEEKLY CLASS @ Yoga Pearl

Tuesday Vinyasa 6:30-7:30pm

– WDS is baaaaack…that unconventional convention of remarkable people from around the globe is gathering in Portland next month. The main stage tix are sold out but you can still join WDS Connect and it will be AWESOME.  When you DO grab a WDS Connect ticket be sure to sign up for YOGA on Aug 10 + 11.  I will be teaching for the sixth year in a row and THIS TIME…
It’s Sunrise Yoga atop the Hotel deLuxe with the LIVE music of Luke Williams.
Join US!

 Tennessee, we’re comin’ for you!

Hyfi and me are hittin’ the ROAD!  If you’re in TN or you know peeps who ARE,
please send them to Chattanooga for the Southern Bend Yoga Festival on August 27th!!

Festival Benefits the Children’s Organ Transplant Association.

_______________________________________

And now on to…RADICAL ACCEPTANCE.
It’s the goods, y’all.

If you missed blogs 1-3, no BIGGIE,
they are short and sweet and
it’s never too late to start the process of GETTING HAPPIER!

_______________________________________


happiness is an inside job…
and it starts with acceptance

What if, like in improvisational comedy, we always said – “Yes, and…” to LIFE?
One of the basic tenets of improv is this protocol that no matter what your fellow actors present you with, you never say no, negate, belittle or disagree.  Your job is to say, “Yes, and…”  Then, you accept the situation offered to you, regardless of where you originally wanted it to go, and you begin to add to the scenario.  When you say “yes, and…” it allows for anything to happen.  Everything becomes an opportunity, nothing is ever wrong and every situation is a place to grow from.

 

In our yoga practice, our bodies tell the truth of the present moment as we bring awareness to physical, emotional and subtle body sensations.  We begin to pay attention to energy levels, our emotional state, the breath, where we feel a stretch, and maybe even where we feel pain or discomfort.  We attune to what is real.  Like with improv, we can say, yes, and…  Yes, “my left shoulder feels achy today” and “I’m going to honor what I feel by forgoing my usual 95 chaturangas!”  We move forward with exactly what is showing up right here in the moment.

It is what it IS…today.

Our presence with what is is a powerful teaching.

Chapter 4 of Radical Acceptance reveals the need to accept all that is happening inside of us with the unconditionality we’d receive from one of our besties.  It asks us to say, “yes, and…”   So, rather than pushing away our experience we simply notice what is true and do our best to hold what we find with compassion.  As Pema Chodron says, “We are learning to make friends with ourselves, our life, at the most profound level possible.”  We’re looking to become friends with ourselves, acknowledge what’s real and accept it ALL.

As Tara points out, there’s something incredibly liberating about saying YES to the whole of our lives, as imperfect and messy as they may be.

While putting these ideas into action, I DO feel that liberation.  I feel the opening and spaciousness around emotions.  I feel the release.  But, I also feel the tremendous resistance!  I’m blown away by how often my thoughts take me to “no” rather than “yes.”  It surprises me how regularly I tend toward pushing the feelings away, even when writing these blog posts.  It can take me DAYS to get one out.  I write in fits and starts, I find all the distractions in the world: a handful of hazelnuts here, another glass of water there, a chat with my husband, oh and I must go give Maggie some belly scratches, time for a run, another downward dog…my attention deficit kicks in wholeheartedly, as I tentatively tip-toe around the perimeter of my truths.

With hesitance and also curiosity, I find myself looking back into the past, wanting to notice what still lives in me NOW from THEN.  Can I truly say YES to my past “failures” and stop pushing them away as if they never happened?  Can I accept, sit with and soften emotions around the experiences by simply saying yes?

YES.

Life experiences like: “taking a break” from college at the age of 20 (my parents called it dropping out!), or getting married at the ripe young age of 23 and then subsequently divorcing before turning 30…oh, and then having dramatic financial issues as a result of my divorce.  Ugh.  These situations all felt – and still feel – like big ol’ life failures.  Touching bases with them evokes feelings of embarrassment and shame.
In using the Guided Meditation below, The Power of Yes, I began exploring these feelings of shame by connecting with where I could feel the emotions in my body.  I started by saying “no” and noticing what that felt like viscerally.  My shoulders were rounded forward and the heart space felt tight.  My throat closed up.  My body collapsed in a bit and I felt the sensation of butterflies in my belly plus warmth on my cheeks — perhaps that was the embarrassment part.  I had the sensation of being stuck or trapped.  I even felt very alone.  And, then…a few breaths, a new approach.  I started observing the sensations, and saying “yes.”  Yes, just felt like I was consoling myself.  Everything unlocked.  It was like saying, “it’s ok, you’re ok. I love you no matter what.”

It was me being there for me as a friend.  Woah.  What a concept.

I’m pretty freakin’ hard on myself.  I think most of us are.  We think an average of 60,000 thoughts a day, 95% of them are the same day after day and 80% of them tend to be negative.

What a relief to know that we have the power to change that.  

Tara Brach says that “learning to pause is the first step in Radical Acceptance.”  The pause, I believe, gives us the opportunity to observe our current state.  What are we feeling?  What are we telling ourselves?  What is the truth?  We become aware, we can choose to interrupt the habitual pattern/thought/behavior and we can CHOOSE to be more compassionate with ourselves.   How beautiful to let go of the holding on to our perceived failures…to instead say YES and recognize the beauty of their teachings in our lives.

 

Now, not to go and wrap everything up in a pretty little bow, but it’s important for me to accept the truth of my perceived failures WITH COMPASSION and also acknowledge their teachings in my life!

there are no wrong turnings

 The truth is that because of my “failures,” I traveled the world, lived abroad, immersed myself in the French language and culture…oh, I eventually DID get a college education.  Also, every past relationship served to prepare me in some profound way to be ready for the love of my life, Michael.  And, well, I might have learned a thing or two about MONEY the hard way.

Lean into what is REAL.  Feel the truth of the sensations you experience.  Do your best to say “yes, and…” while accepting all aspects of yourself.  Look into the whites of other people’s eyes and recognize the sameness that exists.

We all experience fear, grief and shame.

Let’s acknowledge and invite these feelings in for a cup of tea.
I see you, fear.
I see you, grief.
I see you, shame.

I see you, Mara.

Now, how ’bout a cup of tea?

Or better yet, a chilled glass of pink wine on this summer’s eve!

Today, there are three awesome meditations.
My personal favorite is the last one of the bunch.
If you are a at work, if you are enjoying the summer sun,
just commit to yourself to do these when you know you have time.
Just try.

Say yes, and… 
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(From Pages 87-92 Radical Acceptance by Tara Brach)
 

Guided Meditation:  The Power of Yes

Sitting quietly, close your eyes and take a few full breaths.  Bring to mind a current situation that elicits a reaction of anger, fear or grief.  It may be a rift with your partner, the loss of a loved one, a power struggle with your child, a chronic illness, a hurtful behavior that you now regret.  The more fully you get in touch with the charged essence of the story, the more readily you can access the feelings in your heart and throughout your body.  What is it about this situation that provokes the strongest feelings?  You might see a particular scene in your mind, hear worlds that were spoken, recognize a belief you hold about how this situation reflects on you or what it means for your future.  Be especially aware of the feelings in your stomach, chest and throat.

In order to see firsthand what happens when you resist experience, begin by experimenting with saying no.  As you connect with the pain you feel in the situation you have chosen, mentally direct a stream of no at the feelings.  No to the unpleasantness of fear, anger, shame or grief.  Let the word carry the energy of no – rejecting, pushing away what you are experiencing.  As you say no, notice what this resistance feels like in your body.  Do you feel tightness, pressure?  What happens to the painful feelings as you say no?  What happens to your heart?  Imagine what your life would be like if, for the next hours, weeks and months, you continued to move through the world with the thoughts and feelings of no.

Take a few deep breaths and let go by relaxing through the body opening your eyes or shifting your posture a bit.  Now take a few moments to call to mind again the painful situation you’d previously chosen, remembering the images, words, beliefs, and feelings connect with it.  This time let yourself be the Buddha under the Bodhi tree, the Buddha inviting Mara to tea.  Direct a stream of the word yes at your experience.  Agree to the experience with yes.  Let the feelings float, held in the environment of yes.  Even if there are waves of no – fear or anger that arise with the painful situation or even from doing this exercise – that’s okay.  Let these natural reactions, be received in the larger field of yes.  Yes to the pain.  Yes to the parts of us that want the pain to go away.  Yes to whatever thoughts or feelings arise.  Notice your experience as you say yes.  Is there softening, opening and movement in your body?  Is there more space and openness in your mind?  What happens to the unpleasantness as you say yes?  Does it get more intense?  Does it become more diffuse?  What happens to your heart as you say yes?  What would your experience be in the hours, weeks and months to come, if you could bring the spirit of yes to the inevitable challenges and sorrow of life?

Continue to sit now, releasing thoughts and resting in an alert, relaxed awareness.  Let your intention be to say a gentle YES to whatever sensations, emotions, sounds or images may arise in your awareness.

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Guided Meditation:  Facing Difficulty and Naming What is True

Mental noting deepens our attention so we are better able to meet painful emotions and intense sensations with a wakeful and healing presence.

Sitting comfortably, close your eyes and take a few full breaths.  Is there some situation or issue in your life that you are grappling with?  You might focus on an interpersonal conflict, financial pressure or stress at work.  Ask yourself, “How am I feeling about this?”  and bring a receptive presence to your body.  Pay particular attention to your throat, chest and stomach.  Is there tightness, pressure, heart?  Is there a word that describes your experience – sad, restless, shaky, afraid?  There is no need to strain, to run through a mental thesaurus to find the “right” word.  Just notice what word arises in awareness and mentally repeat it to yourself in as oft tone.  Sometimes there is no label that fits the mix of feelings that you are experiencing.  In this case you might name one of the more dominant elements in the mix.  The point is not to nail something down by getting it right, but to keep paying attention to the felt sense of what is real in this particular moment.

After naming your experience, gently ask yourself, while paying close attention to the sensations in your body, “Is this true? Does this word describe what I am feeling now?  If not, is there another word?”  Continue in this way – mentally noting your unfolding experience and checking your body to see what is most true in this moment.

You may get lost for a time in thoughts.  When you realize this gently note, “planning, obsessing, fantasizing,” and return your attention to your body.  Again sense and name any strong emotions or sensations that you become aware of.

Remember that labeling always remains in the background (5 percent), with the great majority of your awareness (95 percent) attending to your actual experience.  When done softly and lightly, noting can create a mood that is gentle and receptive.

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Guided Meditation:  Embracing Life with a Smile

The compassionate Buddha is often seen in statues and pictures with a slight smile as he embraces the ten thousand joys and sorrows.  When we meditate with the spirit of a smile, we awaken our natural capacity for unconditional friendliness.

Sitting comfortably, close your eyes and let the natural rhythm of the breath help you relax.  Take a few moments to let go of obvious places of tightness and tension.  Now, listening to the sounds and becoming aware of the space around you, allow the curved image of a smile to appear in your mind.  Notice how gentleness, kindness, openness and ease arise with the idea of a smile.  Sense the curved relaxed smile fill your mind and extend outward into space.

Now imagine a smile at the corner of both eyes and feel the sensations that arise there.  Allow your brow to be smooth, the flesh around your eyes to be soft and relaxed.  You might sense your eyes floating gently as if in a pool of warm water.  Continue to soften and let go through the whole area around the eyes.  Can you perceive a relaxed brightness there?

Now bring a small but real smile to your lips – half-smile of the Buddha –and allow the feeling to relax the muscles of your face.  Let the jaw be relaxed and loose, and let the tip of the tongue lightly touch the roof of the mouth.  Feel now how the eyes are smiling.  . . the mouth is smiling  . . .

Bring the image of a smile to your throat and notice what happens.  There might be a relaxing and opening.  IF there is a tightness allow it to be held in the sense of the smile.  Feel again the corners of your eyes smiling, your mouth smiling, your throat smiling.

Let the smile drift down into your chest.  Imagine the shape and feeling of a smile spreading through the area of your heart.  Whatever feelings might be there, allow them to float in the openness and kindness of a smile.  Continuing to relax, sense the smile of your heart sending ripples of ease throughout your body – through the shoulders, along the arms and down into the torso and legs.  Can you feel the openness and vibrancy of a smile at the navel, the base of the spine?

Allow yourself to rest in the spacious and kind awareness that is engendered by a smile.  When thoughts, sensations or emotions arise, can you sense how they are held with unconditional friendliness?  If your mind wanders or you find yourself tightening, you can gently reestablish the smile in your mind, eyes, mouth and heart.

With practice, you will find that the smile is a simple and powerful way to reawaken the heart at any moment of the day.  Rather than a full “smile-down” as described above, you can explore simply assuming the half-smile of the Buddha whenever you remember.


Elevate Yoga 200-Hour Teacher Training Program 
is accepting applications for the Fall 2016 session.
Space is limited to 18.
We begin October 5th!  Join us!

“There’s nothing else like Elevate Yoga Trainings in the country and I was so privileged to share the afternoon with Jill and the Elevate participants!  Sometimes we forget that teaching yoga is a powerful journey that gives us the opportunity to reach people really, really deeply.  Each class, each student, each moment counts.  Of course that is easily forgotten when we are teaching the 3rd class of the day and the 18th class of the week.  Thus the power of Jill Knouse, Elevate, and staying connected.”
David Romanelli – Yeah Dave!

Have you considered immersing yourself more deeply in the beautiful practices of yoga?

Have you thought about the impact you would have on the lives of others through teaching?

QUESTIONS?
I’m scheduling one-on-one calls to discuss details of the program and make sure it’s just the RIGHT FIT for you.
CLICK HERE NOW to schedule!

Hear from the graduates below…

what makes a great yoga teacher?

Click HERE for more information.
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“Elevate has been one of the most powerful things I’ve done for myself. It has cracked me open on so many important levels, while providing the structure and support to lovingly support me along the way. Jill’s journal assignments have been masterfully crafted and sequenced – you will find your edges, and that’s where the good stuff happens!

I had the pleasure of experiencing a one-on-one session with Jill. I haven’t met anyone as giving of themselves, their time, and their knowledge – an amazing opportunity to access all of her experience in a focused, personalized setting with that special Jill-style-love. Having found a like-minded group of travelers on this Elevate journey has been a wonderful addition to my world.”

-Danika Sandoz

…desperately seeking “querencia”!!!

First of all, thank you for being a part of this journey with me and so many others.  This is the third blog post in a powerful series focused on Radical Acceptance.  Following each post, I’ve been receiving emails, texts + Facebook messages on how this work is already having a tremendous impact.  People are reporting many “a-ha moments” and shifts in perspective as we work together to rewire some internal cords that have gotten crossed, knotted-up, stuck together and even a little frayed!  We all know that life is a twisty-turny, up and downhill road full of both times of smooth sailing, as well as, massive head winds.

What this work offers us are tools to live more harmoniously as we travel that wild road. 

In the first blog post of this series, we are introduced to ideas surrounding the Trance of Unworthiness.  We all have our own ingrained stories of what’s wrong with us.  We all have FEARS: fear of failure, fear of being perceived as stupid, as boring, as selfish or insecure, of not being fit enough or attractive enough.

Somehow in our culture, we learn that we are not valuable or worthy or acceptable.
Here, we simply take steps to become aware of our thoughts, our actions and reactions. We begin to acknowledge what we discover within ourselves with greater kindness.
Asking ourselves often…”in this moment, do I accept myself just as I am?”
Without judging, simply become aware of how you are relating to your body, emotions, thoughts and behaviors.

As the trance of unworthiness becomes conscious,
it begins to lose its power over our lives.

Oh AND…

Blog numero dos is about awakening from the trance.  We are bound by what we perceive, by our formed beliefs and as Tara Brach points out “we can pass our years trapped in the same beliefs and patterns, entangled in the trance of unworthiness.”  It isn’t until we TAKE NOTICE and ACCEPT ourselves for all that we are that shifts can begin to occur.  The very moment we become mindful, observe and love ourselves AS WE ARE, the wheels of change are set in motion.

If we do what we’ve always done, we’ll get what we’ve always gotten.

So, let’s SWITCH IT UP!!
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“Desperately Seeking Querencia”

“In bullfighting there is an interesting parallel to the pause as a place of refuge and renewal. It is believed that in the midst of a fight, a bull can find his own particular area of safety in the arena. There he can reclaim his strength and power. This place and inner state are called his querencia. As long as the bull remains enraged and reactive, the matador is in charge. Yet when he finds his querencia, he gathers his strength and loses his fear. From the matador’s perspective, at this point the bull is truly dangerous, for he has tapped into his power.”  – Tara Brach, author of Radical Acceptance.

I love this so much.
The pause is a “place of refuge and renewal.”
I’ve felt it in action.

I freak out a little when I have to get in front of people.
And, guess what?
I get in front of people every single day.  I teach yoga, I present workshops, I lead teacher trainings.  But, the bigger the group, the scarier it seems!  And, in 2014, I was asked by WDS to lead The Great Namaste.  We were going to attempt a Guinness World Record for the longest yoga chain.  Of course, I said YES.  I’d figure out the fear part LATER.

You can imagine the night of sleep I got (or rather DIDN’T get) the night before.  The sheer terror I felt in the hours leading up to stepping on the stage in front of 1000 people was enough to drop me into a fetal position!  But, as we mic’d up, as I watched everyone filter in, take their seats and turn their eyes forward…

I calmly paused.

I closed my eyes.

I took three of the biggest breaths I have ever taken in my life,
I grounded into the reality that I was not in DANGER and I believe I found my “querencia.”

The world record went off without a hitch and I actually had a blast doing it.
Check out the 30 second TIME LAPSE HERE!

There is great power in the PAUSE whether it be 3 breaths, or 3 months, or 3 years.
It gives us strength. It provides the space and time for clearing muddy waters.
The pause brings us to what is TRUE and real.

Another profound pause happened in my life when I moved to Portland.  I consciously decided to take three months and pull away from the career I’d been enveloped in for 13 years.  I had no idea where it would lead but I hoped it would invite a greater sense of well-being into my life and I figured I’d go back to financial services after a little break. Taking time to pause, to assess my path, to explore new interests was the best thing I could have EVER DONE FOR MYSELF.

I had space to get to know ME again.  I had time to gain some clarity on why I’m here.  It became so clear that the career path I was on was sucking the life out of me.  I am here to serve the world from my heart, through connection, through touch, through energy, through movement, through RADICAL ACCEPTANCE, through presence of mind, body and soul.  None of this was any where to be found for ME at Dresdner RCM Global Investors!

Next stop?

Yoga teacher training and a now a decade of the most incredible connections and experiences of my life.

We can all cultivate “querencia” within ourselves.  We can ALL find our unmoving center and drop in when things get crazy!  Cuz, life doles out a whole lotta cray, most of which we have no direct control over.  And typically, the more we sense our lack of control the more frenetically we try to manage and tighten our grip.

What if the very best thing was to do the opposite?

What if in the heat of the moment, we hit PAUSE?

What if we just let go…?

Learning to pause is the first step in practicing Radical Acceptance.   

Soften resistance and forget trying to PUSH THE RIVER.  Disrupt the fear-driven, habitual behaviors and “open to the possibility of new and creative ways of responding to our wants and fears.” – Tara Brach

Establish new parameters for what’s possible going forward.

Step into the flow…

How can you honor yourself + your circumstances and tap into the POWER of the sacred pause today?  

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EXERCISE:

Please take a moment to do this Guided Reflection…
(all reflections and meditations are pulled from the book, Radical Acceptance by Tara Brach)

The Sacred Pause

The sacred pause helps us reconnect with the present moment.  Especially when we are caught up in striving and obsessing and leaning into the future, pausing enables us to reenter the mystery and vitality only found here and now.

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Choose a time when you are involved in a goal-oriented activity – reading, working on the computer, cleaning, eating – and explore pausing for a moment or two.  Begin by discontinuing what you are doing, sitting comfortable and allowing your eyes to close.  Take a few deep breaths and with each exhale let go of any worries or thoughts about what you are going to do next; let go of any tightness in the body.
Now, notice what you are experiencing as you inhabit the pause.  What sensations are you aware of in your body?  Do you feel anxious or restless as you try to step out of your mental stories?  Do you feel pulled to resume your activity?  Can you simply allow, for this moment, whatever is happening inside you?

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You can weave the sacred pause into your daily life by pausing for a few moments each hour or as you begin and end activities.  You can pause while sitting, standing or lying down.  Even in motion – going for a walk or driving – you can pause internally, eyes open and senses awake.  Whenever you find you are stuck or disconnected, you can begin your life fresh in that moment by pausing, relaxing and paying attention to your immediate experience.

Experiment by choosing one thing you do daily and make a weeklong commitment to pause before beginning this activity.  It might be brushing your teeth, making a phone call, getting out of the car, taking a sip of tea, turning on your computer.  Each time, take a few moments to pause, relax and bring awareness to what is happening within you.  After you have completed the pause, notice if anything has changed when you return to doing.