Thursday, November 19, 2009


Dear One,

The fullness and richness of gratitude is perhaps what we should aspire to in each passing moment of our lives. Anthony De Mello is quoted as having said, "You sanctify whatever you are grateful for." Renata has shared that Swami Satchidananda often said, "You want to be great? Be grateful." Paul Grilley has shared that his spiritual teacher, Dr. Hiroshi Motoyama, has insisted that by being grateful for every single situation and event in your life you can reach enlightenment in this lifetime. And Julio Kuperman, long time yoga student and very dear friend, often reminds me of the origins of words used to offer gratitude. Merci in French indicates Mercy; Gracias in Spanish and Grazie in Italian hint at the Grace required for gratitude. Danke from German comes from the root "to think." Perhaps we can think with mercy and grace to arrive at gratitude.

Being grateful for what is good and special in your life is easy. When you catch a 'lucky break' or receive a special honor, for example, gratitude easily flows from the pores like sweet scent from a honeysuckle. Finding sincere gratitude when things are challening, frustrating or painful, however, is a true practice. To remember that life's difficulties often lead to the greatest rewards, and that we discover our true mettle through adversities, is to remain peaceful and grateful no matter what the arising moment brings.

Remembering to be grateful for the many gifts and treasures already present in your life is the antidote for taking anything for granted. Running water, heat, electricity, ample access to food, people to love and love you, sunlight sparkling on the water, the smell of chocolate cookies baking, the soft fur of a kitten, the gurgles of a baby ... these are some of the greatest gifts of life, and yet we often brush past these obvious luxuries to complain about the many things we perceive to be lacking. It's occurred to me that taking something for granted is the opposite of gratitude. If we make something sacred through gratitude, then perhaps we desecrate anything we take for granted.

As we look around at all the gifts we enjoy in life, I firmly believe it's important to be grateful for the gift that YOU are to the world. To see and celebrate your own goodness and talents and uniqueness; to not only see your 'shortcomings, failings, or inadequacies.' Toward the end of my Grandmother's life, as she looked through photo albums of her life, she quietly remarked, "I never knew how beautiful I was." This is probably true of all of us; revel in your own splendor!

As we head toward the holiday season and end-of-year festivities, hopefully we can all remind ourselves of the richness and fullness of our lives, exactly as they are. I'm confident that everyone receiving this email is blessed with tremendous abundance, relative to the rest of the world, even if it doesn't always seem that way. All of us have the choice to spend energy focusing on what is wrong and who to blame, or we can invest our most precious resource bowing down in reverence before each situation, regarding each moment as a blessing.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009


To celebrate All Hallows Eve this year, come to a workshop at the Wake Up Yoga Fairmount Studio! It's happening from 1-4 pm, entitled: Unmask Your True Self, and Face the Poses That Scare You! It's currently pretty small, but the event is ON, so come join us!

With "Unmask" the student is invited to drop the many layers of ego identification that each one of us hides behind. Through Yoga practice, you come to realize that you are not really a gender or race, not truly a profession or relationship role, not a success or failure, not a vegetarian or carnivore. As we loosen our grip on these roles that define us, we discover there's not so much at stake, not an image to protect, nothing to defend. We realize how much effort is often expended simply to prove to ourselves and others that we are these things.

Unmasking yourself has the potential to unleash tremendous stores of energy that you can now put to good use exploring yoga poses that scare you. We will break the postures down to their most basic element: combinations of joint movement, and then explore finding those movements in different relationships to gravity. We will demystify some of the more glamorous poses (like eka pada kundiniasana) and also unpack some of the basics, like Salamba Sarvangasana (Shoulderstand) and Sirsasana (Headstand). The sequencing of the workshop will also shine light on how to unlock the body to prepare you on many levels to explore these asana.

Wake Up Yoga Fairmount is at 2329 Parrish Street in Philadelphia, and the event costs $50. If you enroll by 4 pm on Thursday, save $10! Enroll by calling the studio at 215.235.1228, or email:

Looking forward to seeing you there! And in any event ... Boo!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

The Pulse of the Universe

Inhaling and Exhaling; Expanding and Contracting; Giving and Receiving; Unfolding and Recoiling; Effort and Surrender; Ebbing and Flowing; Moving out into the world to manifest your dreams and drawing within to nourish, nurture and discover yourSelf. This is the pulse of the universe expressing itself in every moment of our lives.

We see and relate with these poles of opposites all the time. We say that something is 'more Yin' if it is deeper, more mysterious, cooling, and lunar. We say something is 'more Yang' when it is closer to the surface, more obvious, heating, expansive and solar.

In Yoga terms, we have the Ida Nadi, which is revered for its cooling, introspective qualities, and we have the Pingala Nadi which is celebrated for its heating, energizing qualities.

Regarding the Gunas (properties of nature) we have Raja Guna which is the principle of activity, motion, and passion, and we have Tama Guna, the principle of inertia, heaviness, and grounding.

In every single asana we have the side of the body that is being stretched, tugged-on, expanded, and at the same moment, the opposite side of the body is being compressed, drawn in or squooshed.

We even see this cycle embedded in the four seasons and any single day, in the arc of a yoga class, and in the expression of every single breath.

For me, witnessing this pattern over and over again makes it easier to understand the nature of impermanence, and to recognize that we are all participating in this Cosmic Dance. I see that the heat of an argument will eventually give way to the coolness required for a resolution; that an impulse to hibernate, meditate and write today will likely give rise to an urge to travel, explore and socialize in some future moment; and that the idea of a permanent resolution regarding relationships or circumstances is an impossible ideal as even our responses to situations continue to expand and contract.

We come to realize that there is a state of being that is supporting the pairs of opposites, or duality. That there is an eternal, changeless reality of which we are composed. In terms of Yin & Yang, this supporting state is called the Tao; realtive to Ida & Pingala Nadis we have Sushumna Nadi; and regarding Rajas & Tamas we have Satva. We begin to establish ourselves in this witness and from that vantage point, begin to genuinely enjoy the experience of being alive.

Here's wishing you awe, wonder and peace as you feel the vibrations of this Universal Pulse reverberate throughout your life!