Friday, March 30, 2012

Raw, adjective: 2. not having undergone processes of preparing, dressing, finishing, refining, or manufacture: raw cotton.

My heart feels heavy this morning. Wishing yoga these days was more about the yoga and less about the selling stuff.

Increasingly disenchanted as I watch the continuing commercial onslaught from fellow teachers and media players alike. I don't want to buy your DVD or your trademarked yoga socks or your hot new juicer. I don't care whose pants you're wearing or whose mala beads you're fondling. This is not a fashion show. This is not a shopping mall. This is not an industry.

It's a practice. It's a way of being in the world. It's not your f*$#ing meal ticket.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Raw, adjective: 7. brutally or grossly frank: a raw portrayal of human passions.

Lost a hero today. RIP Adrienne Rich. Deep bow to this feisty literary badass — she who refused to live quietly under anyone's terms but her own. I am who I am today so much because of her words. Grateful.

“Responsibility to yourself means refusing to let others do your thinking, talking, and naming for means that you do not treat your body as a commodity with which to purchase superficial intimacy or economic security; for our bodies to be treated as objects, our minds are in mortal danger. It means insisting that those to whom you give your friendship and love are able to respect your mind. It means being able to say, with Charlotte Bronte's Jane Eyre: 'I have an inward treasure born with me, which can keep me alive if all the extraneous delights should be withheld or offered only at a price I cannot afford to give.'

Responsibility to yourself means that you don't fall for shallow and easy solutions — predigested books and ideas...marrying early as an escape from real decisions, getting pregnant as an evasion of already existing problems. It means that you refuse to sell your talents and aspirations short...and this, in turn, means resisting the forces in society which say that women should be nice, play safe, have low professional expectations, drown in love and forget about work, live through others, and stay in the places assigned to us. It means that we insist on a life of meaningful work, insist that work be as meaningful as love and friendship in our lives. It means, therefore, the courage to be "different"...The difference between a life lived actively, and a life of passive drifting and dispersal of energies, is an immense difference. Once we begin to feel committed to our lives, responsible to ourselves, we can never again be satisfied with the old, passive way.”

— excerpt from Rich's essay, "On Claiming an Education,"
a transformative gift of words and ideas
for this 15-year-old prairie kid

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Raw, adjective: 7. brutally or grossly frank: a raw portrayal of human passions.

Some years ago I read a piece by Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche in which he described the spiritual warrior as someone who is not afraid of space — not afraid to experience oneself, and one's world, fully. If we're afraid of who we are, we continually feel frantic about filling that space, anything to avoid that persistent unease beneath the surface of our lives. The fearlessness of the warrior comes from stepping again and again into open space, with body, breath, and heart exposed. It is the fearlessness that is willing to be intimate with fear.

— Aura Glaser, from "Into the Demon's Mouth"
Tricycle: The Buddhist Review
Spring 2012

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Raw, idiom: 14. in the raw, a. in the natural, uncultivated, or unrefined state: nature in the raw.


1. the solid surface of the earth; firm or dry land: to fall to the ground.
2. earth or soil: stony ground.
3. land having an indicated character: rising ground.
4. Often, grounds. a tract of land appropriated to a special use: picnic grounds; a hunting ground.
5. Often, grounds. the foundation or basis on which a belief or action rests; reason or cause: grounds for dismissal.

22. to lay or set on the ground.
23. to place on a foundation; fix firmly; settle or establish; found.
24. to instruct in elements or first principles: to ground students in science.
25. to furnish with a ground or background, as on decorative work.
26. to cover (wallpaper) with colors or other materials before printing.

36. break ground,
a. to plow.
b. to begin excavation for a construction project.
c. to begin upon or take preparatory measures for any undertaking.
37. cover ground,
a. to pass or travel over a certain area.
b. to make a certain amount of progress in dealing with a piece of work, subject, treatise, or the like: He talked for two hours without covering much ground.
38. cut the ground from under, to render (an argument, position, person, etc.) ineffective or invalid; refute: It didn't require much effort to cut the ground from under that case.
39. from the ground up,
a. gradually from the most elementary level to the highest level: She learned the business from the ground up.
b. extensively; thoroughly: The professor knew his subject from the ground up.
40. gain ground,
a. to make progress; advance.
b. to gain approval or acceptance: The case for air-pollution control is gaining ground throughout the country.

Before 900; (noun) Middle English grownd, grund, Old English grund; cognate with Dutch grond, German Grund; (v.) Middle English grundien, grownden to set on a foundation, establish, derivative of the noun

Raw, adjective: 11. unprocessed or unevaluated: raw data.

New permanent class!! Starting today, I'll be teaching at OMpower Cycling and Yoga every Saturday at 4:30. So sleep off your hangover and meet me down by the ballpark, mmmkay?

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Raw, adjective: 11. unprocessed or unevaluated: raw data.

In the event you're in the 'hood...

I'm subbing for Rusty tomorrow morning at Urban Flow. If you haven't yet practiced in this charmed space, or if you've been saying for two+ years now that you really need to get to one of my classes, well, now's your time.

9am. Come. We're gonna jam.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Raw, adjective: 4. painfully open, as a sore or wound.

Hey, Patanjali? Meet Tyler Durden.

“You're not your job. You're not how much money you have in the bank. You're not the car you drive. You're not the contents of your wallet. You're not your fucking khakis. You're the all-singing, all-dancing crap of the world.”

The Yoga of Fight Club

Raw, adjective: 11. unprocessed or unevaluated: raw data.

The new season calls for a few new tunes. Here's your playlist from last night's classes at OMpower and Flying Yoga. This guy's a little more mellow than usual: fewer house beats, and more melodies, including one of my favorite melancholy jazz charts ever — covered exquisitely by lady Jane. Cheers.

Spring Can Really Hang You Up
Lake Yarina, Josh Garrels
Les Eaux Verts, Jens Gad Presents
Blessed Is He, Josh Garrels
Om Asatoma (feat. Deva Premal & Miten), Ben Leinbach
Rosada Flor, J Boogie's Dubtronic Science
Prana Groove, Stevin McNamara
Odin's Hill, Achillea
Let Go, Frou Frou
Special, Sara Devine
Jacaranda Tree, Josh Garrels
Moods of Kirtan (Siksastakam), Gaura Vani & As Kindred Spirits
Spring Can Really Hang You Up The Most, Jane Monheit
Bangles, Niraj Chag
Oh Yeah By The Way, Over The Rhine
Embarkation, Josh Garrels

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Raw, adjective: 7. brutally or grossly frank: a raw portrayal of human passions.

I have learned silence from the talkative, tolerance from the intolerant, and kindness from the unkind; yet, strange, I am ungrateful to these teachers.

— Kahlil Gibran

Raw, adjective: 2. not having undergone processes of preparing, dressing, finishing, refining, or manufacture: raw cotton.

Back in the Bay! The last remnants of sand have been shaken out of my luggage, my sunburn's settled into a nice brown tan, and I'm so happy to be back in the studio with you again today. OMpower's raw brick walls and industrial beams overhead remind me that we're always works in progress. And what better time than the first day of spring to make a fresh start?

So, 4:30 this afternoon: my first class back. And if you can't make that, meet me at 7:45 at Flying Yoga instead. Love to see you.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Raw, idiom: 14. in the raw, a. in the natural, uncultivated, or unrefined state: nature in the raw.

A sweet good morning to you from the beach here in Costa Rica.

It's early — 6:45ish in this time zone, which may be a few hours ahead or behind yours — and the sun is just rising. The ocean has long ago woken up.

I can hear the waves crashing from my balcony here. They're lulling, and rhythmic, and they make me feel safe, and comfortable, and alien.

I'll just be short this morning. It's been six days now since I arrived here at Playa Santa Teresa — a sweaty, dusty Sunday afternoon after a long day's travel — and the moments have flown, and lingered, all at once. I have felt quiet, eager to just listen; hence the lack of blog posts (well, that and an internet connection that has graced us with a blessed opportunity to truly unplug via its rare and wobbly ability to actually connect).

Two and a half big broad days left here yet before we fly out Sunday evening, and they feel yet pregnant with possibilities for rest and silence and stillness and learning and ease. My body is brown and strong and well-lived-in. It's well-slept and well-fed, thriving on some of the most nourishing, green, lush foods that I've had in some time. I feel the buzz of great prana from that alone.

Nicholas (you might know him as MC Yogi) and Amanda, his uber-talented wife, have been leading us through daily morning asana practices and afternoon storytelling/asana/mythology/chant sessions. It's been a graceful balance of strength and softness, engagement and ease, activity and receptivity. Amanda has a natural talent for the gentle, undoing, opening nuances of restorative asana, and by the time the sun climbs high in the sky around 3pm and we've all been hoofing it in the saltwater and the forests and the trails all day, we are eager to get lost in her sweet directions.

Ever the pitta, ever the achiever, ever the Type A driven competitive one, I have long resisted restorative yoga as a modality that my impatient breath can't quite settle into. And here, maybe it's the heat, maybe it's the good strong rest, but I'm loving it, and Nick and Amanda do a magical job of weaving Hindu mythology into everything they do.

We've had a quiet afternoon of all Bhagavad Gita and Krishna and silence; we've had ocean sunsets while chanting Om Namah Shivaya. We've had rhythmic asana and sweet jam sessions and a surprise story from Sianna Sherman and a beach barbecue topped off with fire dance from stellar hula hooper Shakti Sunfire.

(I keep using the word "sweet." It's an entire week of "sweet." Have to resist falling back on it in every sentence.)

I am basking in the opportunity to be quiet, to listen, to just hang back and sit still and pay attention. Spend most of my days in my usual life in SF talking a lot, producing a lot of content, whether that's in teaching a few classes a day and spewing words in the process, or in writing daily. And there is a grace and yes, a sweetness, in just shutting my mouth and opening my ears and receiving.

I've been reading, early mornings, on the beach. Carry my big mug o' coffee and leche de soy out onto the playa and dig into my collection of unread Tricycle: The Buddhist Reviews and soak up the salt and the stillness and the meditation in it all. I am re-reading Matthew Crawford's Shop Class as Soulcraft and loving every word; loving his reminder of the ways in which our meditation practices, our yoga-asana practices, our life-giving sensuous labors, can be found in the most unexpected of places; in Crawford's case, in the work-of-the-hands found in repairing motorcycles, and in mine, the memories of bartending into the wee hours, in the work I do in my body as an asana teacher, in the washing dishes and the planting window-boxes and the scrubbing the toilet, the awareness even now that every move we make can be a chosen meditation.

Yesterday morning, 7ish, reading on the beach, I noticed a lone figure meandering his way up and down the high-tide surf, carrying a big black trash bag. He was skinny, young, maybe 14 at best, and over and over, he mindfully bent down, picked up a single piece of trash, placed it in his bag, crouched down again, picked up another, placed it in his bag, and on and on.

Watching him, I could think only of the overwhelming vastness of the ocean and the length of that Pacific shoreline that stretches all the way up to San Francisco and beyond. The cynical "rational" one in me felt sorry for him, that his labor might make such little difference in the grand scheme of things.

And then I realized that his labor was in fact sacred: sacred to me as an inadvertent witness, inspired by his devotion, his bhakti sense of service; sacred to the ocean itself, dirty and polluted enough as it is, and ever-churning, ever-rhythmic, ever-offering itself up to us even as we fail to see or love it well; sacred to the tiny hermit crabs scuttling around who would no longer have to maneuver around battered pieces of garbage and faded plastic; and sacred to him, his asana practice therein being the bending and the placing and the crouching and the offering.

I am grateful for that offering, and the devotion, and the stories, and the rhythm, and the sun.

Today is Durga day. (Each day here has had its own theme, corresponding with the days of the week and the gods). Amanda said we'll have a good strong asana practice. I'm glad. I need to fill up my green coffee cup and hit the sand with my crumpled magazine before we start at 8.

Have a beautiful Friday.

Much sunny, sweaty love from Costa Rica.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Raw, adjective: 7. brutally or grossly frank: a raw portrayal of human passions.

Today we celebrate Holi, the Hindu festival of colors. Holi marks the triumph of springtime and new life over the darkness of winter. It's a perfect excuse to bust out your brightest yoga duds. I'll see you on the mat tonight, in playfulness and light, and maybe a little face paint, too.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Raw, adjective: 11. unprocessed or unevaluated: raw data.

I'm headed to Costa Rica this weekend on retreat with MC Yogi and won't be teaching again until March 20th. Please join me for my last few classes before I skip town:

Tonight, Weds. 6:30pm @ OMpower
Tomorrow, Thurs. 4:30pm @ OMpower
Tomorrow, Thurs. 7:45pm @ Flying Yoga

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Raw, adjective: 2. not having undergone processes of preparing, dressing, finishing, refining, or manufacture


the quintessential ancient Japanese aesthetic;
the beauty of things imperfect, impermanent, and incomplete.

that we might be.

Raw, adjective: 2. not having undergone processes of preparing, dressing, finishing, refining, or manufacture: raw cotton.

TODAY is my first regular class
at the brand spankin' shiny new
OMpower Cycling and Yoga.
Whoo baby!

Meet me in South Beach at 4:30. We'll catch
some late-afternoon sun streaming in those
blessed floor-to-ceiling windows.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Raw, adjective: 4. painfully open, as a sore or wound.

I'm so excited to invite you to The Yoga of Fight Club.

Yep, you heard that right. You, me, Tyler Durden, and Marla Singer, baby. We're gonna get our yoga on.

For over a decade now, I've been smitten with the complicated, smart, countercultural spirit of Chuck Palahniuk's debut novel. His 1996 Fight Club made a splash onscreen in David Fincher's 1999 film of the same name, and though it garnered controversy, the movie starring Brad Pitt, Edward Norton and Helena Bonham Carter has gone on to enjoy a certain cult popularity in the years since.

I love this book (and Fincher's stylish film) for its complexity, its sexiness, its embodiment, its grit, its willingness to dive into tough questions, and its fundamental theological richness. You can come at Palahniuk's stuff from any angle: yogic, Christian, Buddhist, Taoist, Hindu, capitalist, culture-jamming, gendered, queer, anti-consumerist, postmodern, sexualized — and find in it a screed, an inspiration, a challenge.

(Here's an example. Hot stuff.)

So join me for for a chill evening at Flying Yoga. We'll screen a few clips, and read a few blurbs. Tyler, Marla and I will knock out a few rounds of philosophy with you. We'll dig into the hows and the whys of yoga philosophy, embodiment theology, and Adbusters-style culture-jamming, and consider what the hell those things might have to do with this ostensibly violent, angry, sexist film — and in so doing, argue that perhaps, in fact, that violence, that anger, that sexism, might in fact have deeper roots that might be kind of life-giving and progressive and radical (and yogic!) after all.

Saturday, April 28th.
We break it down.

Flying Yoga Shala
4308 Telegraph Ave

Recommended donation: $15

But, seriously? Just pay what you can. I'd rather you be there than worry about cost. It's not about the money. It's about the conversation, and the company, and the bodies, and the breath. Oh, and the sexy, and the smart, too.

Page 149:
The mechanic starts talking and it's pure Tyler Durden.

"I see the strongest and the smartest men who have ever lived, " he says, his face outlined against the stars in the driver's window, "and these men are pumping gas and waiting tables."

The drop of his forehead, his brow, the slope of his nose, his eyelashes and the curve of his eyes, the plastic profile of his mouth, talking, these are all outlined in black against the stars. ....

"You have a class of young strong men and women, and they want to give their lives to something. Advertising has these people chasing cars and clothes they don't need. Generations have been working in jobs they hate, just so they can buy what they don't really need.

We don't have a great war in our generation, or a great depression, but we do, we have a great war of the spirit. We have a great revolution against the culture. The great depression is our lives. We have a spiritual depression."

Raw, adjective: 11. unprocessed or unevaluated: raw data.

Spring 2012 Teaching Schedule

Bhakti Flow Vinyasa, Urban Flow:
1543 Mission St. (at S. Van Ness), San Francisco 
Tues 12-1pm
Thurs 12-1pm 

Bhakti Flow Vinyasa, Flying Yoga Shala:
4308 Telegraph Ave, Temescal, Oakland
Sun 1045a-1215p
Tues 745-915p
Thurs 745-915p

OMpower Flow, OMpower Cycling & Yoga:
66 Townsend Street (at 1st), South Beach
Tues 515-615p
Thurs 515-615p

Bhakti Flow Vinyasa, Glow Yoga & Wellness:
1548 Stockton St. (at Union), SF
Sun 6-715p

Non-Profit Classes at the Women's Building:
Alternate Thursdays, 2:30-3:30p, 3543 18th St. (at Valencia)
Thurs March 22nd

Master Classes, Oakwood Athletic Club:
4000 Mount Diablo Boulevard
Lafayette, CA 94549-3498
Sat Feb 25, 130-330p
Sun Apr 1, 130-330p

Assisting Rusty at Urban Flow:
Saturday mornings, 9am, Level 2/3

Raw, adjective: 2. not having undergone processes of preparing, dressing, finishing, refining, or manufacture: raw cotton.

Well, good morning, you.

It's been a whirlwind few days, with our final staff gathering at OMpower Friday evening blooming into Saturday afternoon's debut cycling/yoga classes and the Open House that followed. What a thrill to get a feel for the neighborhood buzz surrounding our new space in South Beach. The weather brought its own cheer to the launch weekend, too, swathing us in 70-degree sunshine the whole time. San Francisco in springtime: bless you.

The studio has a few final construction details to be finished yet this week, but in the meantime, we're up and rolling. Our first classes begin TODAY with Vanessa and Kerri. Check out the rest of this incredible team of folks who make up the OMpower family. I'm so blessed to share space with them.

We'll be running a shortened schedule this week as we put the last touches on the studio, so check out your class options here. I'll be there on Tuesday and Thursday afternoons at 4:30.

Fired UP. See you on the [brand spankin' new] mat.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Raw, idiom, 14a: in the natural, uncultivated, or unrefined state: nature in the raw.

And Annie Dillard reliably, simply, shatteringly, continues to rock my world, in that most mindful, elegantly cross-disciplinary of ways:
I would like to learn, or remember, how to live. I come to Hollins Pond not so much to learn how to live as, frankly, to forget about it. That is, I don't think I can learn from a wild animal how to live in particular - shall I suck warm blood, hold my tail high, walk with my footprints precisely over the prints of my hands? - but I might learn something of mindlessness, something of the purity of living in the physical sense and the dignity of living without bias or motive. The weasel lives in necessity and we live in choice, hating necessity and dying at the last ignobly in its talons. I would like to live as I should, as the weasel lives as he should. And I suspect that for me the way is like the weasel's: open to time and death painlessly, noticing everything, remembering nothing, choosing the given with a fierce and pointed will.

I missed my chance. I should have gone for the throat. I should have lunged for that streak of white under the weasel's chin and held on, held on through mud and into the wild rose, held on for a dearer life. We could live under the wild rose wild as weasels, mute and uncomprehending. I could very calmly go wild. I could live two days in the den, curled, leaning on mouse fur, sniffing bird bones, blinking, licking, breathing musk, my hair tangled in the roots of grasses. Down is a good place to go, where the mind is single. Down is out, out of your ever-loving mind and back to your careless senses. I remember muteness as a prolonged and giddy fast, where every moment is a feast of utterance received. Time and events are merely poured, unremarked, and ingested directly, like blood pulsed into my gut through a jugular vein. Could two live that way? Could two live under the wild rose, and explore by the pond, so that the smooth mind of each is as everywhere present to the other, and as received and as unchallenged, as falling snow?

We could, you know. We can live any way we want. People take vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience — even of silence — by choice. The thing is to stalk your calling in a certain skilled and supple way, to locate the most tender and live spot and plug into that pulse. This is yielding, not fighting. A weasel doesn't "attack" anything; a weasel lives as he's meant to, yielding at every moment to the perfect freedom of single necessity.

I think it would be well, and proper, and obedient, and pure, to grasp your one necessity and not let it go, to dangle from it limp wherever it takes you. Then even death, where you're going no matter how you live, cannot you part. Seize it and let it seize you up aloft even, till your eyes burn out and drop; let your musky flesh fall off in shreds, and let your very bones unhinge and scatter, loosened over fields, over fields and woods, lightly, thoughtless, from any height at all, from as high as eagles.
— excerpted from her essay, Living Like Weasels

Thursday, March 1, 2012