The Breath of Love

Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it.

Put your own oxygen mask on first.  Take a deep, flowing, sweet breath. And, let it out.  Every inhale is an opportunity for something new to enter. Every exhale is a chance to let go of something old.  Each breath brings expansion, softening, and allows you to open wider.

Each breath is a love-note to yourself.  The key to giving or receiving love is to remove the walls and barriers that have become hard-wired into the body, like permanent body armor.  “The breath is the central key that unlocks the body and opens the realm of the heart.” [Anodea Judith]

This month we will continue our exploration of breath and movement.  In particular, we will be working with a variety of krama (step) pranayama practices, that break the breath up into steps or parts.  We will pause to witness the affect that breath and movement has on our subtle energy body.  And, finally, we will rest in the warmth and pulse of our living, breathing bodies.

See you on the mat!

It’s a new dawn, a new day, a new year!

Here in the heart of winter, bitter dry winds, cold rainy days, or a sense of heaviness and stagnation are often the hallmarks of this dark time of the year.   This is a prime time to focus on wellness for body, mind, and spirit; and, to deepen our relationship with self, spending time in meditation and self-exploration.

This month we will practice Bhastrika pranayam, stoking the fire residing in our solar plexus–the Manipura Chakra.  This fire warms us, and lends steadiness and flow to our vinyasa practice as we release stuck energy and patterns.  Ultimately, the vinyasa practice prepares us to simply sit.

In the Modern Western Yoga practice, we have come to associate the flow of poses practiced as ‘asana.’  The direct translation of ‘asana’ is to ‘take a seat.’  If we can achieve a sense of steadiness and ease in each pose, then it could be said we have achieved ‘asana.’  But…….

“By tradition, the conditioning asanas of hatha yoga were practiced in the service of the meditation postures:  they provided enough suppleness and strength for the yogin to remain in a meditative posture–usually the lotus posture–with steadiness and ease for a long time.”  [Elliot Goldberg, ‘The Path of Modern Yoga’]

Once we have released the disturbances that arise from the physical body, our contemplative practice begins.  A still body allows us to move our attention inward and witness the flow of phenomenon–thoughts, feelings, sensations, sound, breath.  As the mind begins to settle we experience the pauses and quiet spaces in between thoughts, sensations, and breath. The pauses, gaps, are where we ultimately connect with the awareness that resides behind it all. Those are the golden moments we seek!

Let’s breathe, and flow, and sit together, shall we?!

See you on the mat!

Transformational Fire


“The Manipura chakra is like the morning sun; meditating on it with the gaze fixed on the tip of the nose one can stir up the world.”
–Gorakshashatakam (tenth century)

This July, we turn up the heat by building tapas, the fire of transformation.  Into this fire, we place our will and temper our passions.   “A moving object, when it interacts with other objects, creates heat.  Heat, in turn, stimulates movement, which allows new combinations to occur.” [Anodea Judith]  Fire influences change, destroying form and releasing energy.  With this energy, we tap into our innate potential for growth and expansion.

We return again and again to the question, “Are you expanding or contracting?”  (Hint: Expansion is ideal.)  Are you resisting, turning away?  Or, are you facing forward, standing in your power, seeing what is, and then growing larger because of it?

To help us stoke the fire of transformation, we will be practicing Kapalabhati (breath of fire) pranayam.  To do Kapalabhati:

  1. Sit comfortably in an upright posture and rest your hands on your lower belly. If you’re sitting in a chair, make sure to place both feet on the ground.
  2. Take a deep, cleansing breath before you begin, in through your nose and out through your mouth.
  3. Inhale deeply through your nose, filling your belly with air about ¾ way full.
  4. In a quick motion, exhale through your nose, forcefully expelling all the air from your lungs by drawing your navel in toward your spine.
  5. Allow your lungs to fill up naturally, with no effort as your belly expands.
  6. Perform this cycle 10 times, then allow your breathing to return to normal and observe the sensations in your body.
  7. Repeat these cycles of 10 movements, 3 to 4 times.

For a video demonstration, see below:


The Lotus Heart

One of the early ancient Vedic Sanskrit texts, the Yajurveda (1200-1000 BCE), puts forth the first suggestion that the essential self dwells eternally inside the heart.  It suggests that the union or merging of opposites (male and female, active and passive, the two sides of the body–the sun/surya channel on the right and the lunar/chandra channel on the left) is celebrated as “always dwelling in the lotus heart.”  When opposites are profoundly integrated, the heart takes the form of a lotus “imbued with devotional sentiment” and leads to “a spirit of unconditional acceptance.”

A well-balanced heart is a compassionate, empathic, and tender heart.  Hardness is tempered with softness.  Softening invites connection, openness, and reception.  We move from doing to being.

This month we play with balancing muscular strength and yielding softness, moving from effort to surrender.  We will also explore the body/breath/heart connection through pranayam practice.  The breath is central to unlocking the body and opening the realm of the heart.  Each inhale brings spaciousness and expansion to the body.  Each exhale invites softening and release.  What journey will your body and breath take you this month?  Come find out!  See you on the mat!  

**I am excited to be subbing this coming Thursday, 5/11, 7:30-8:45pm, Candlelight Flow at Breathe Together Yoga, Los Gatos!!**

Varanasi, India, March 2017.

Tied on a short lead, no water or feed available, I reached over and rubbed her head, scratched around her ears. Her eyes closed, and she pressed her head against my hand, asking for more touch, more contact.  So I gave more.  Love in its most simplest of forms.  Asked for, and given.  Along my trip it was tiny moments like these that broke my heart open the most.