Tuesday, September 25, 2012

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

Hey kids — I'll be away this weekend. Hopping on a plane tomorrow, back Sunday. So make sure you get one last practice in today: noon, 5:15, or 7:45. 

Promise to leave you good and sore!

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

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

Om gam ganapataye namaha!
Om gam ganapataye namaha!
Om gam ganapataye namaha!

Today we celebrate Ganesh Chaturthi, the birthday of Ganesha. Rad. So move on out and up and over all those obstacles and holler out to the dessert-loving change-maker within.

Jai Ganesha!

(Your handy-dandy Ganesha guide is at right.)

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

Life is not orderly. No matter how we try to make it so, right in the middle of it we die, lose a leg, fall in love, or drop a jar of applesauce.

— Natalie Goldberg

Monday, September 17, 2012

Raw, adjective: 6. ignorant, inexperienced, or untrained: a raw recruit.

Super stoked that this is happening.

Next month at Flying Yoga, I'm devoting two whole afternoons to the study of bhakti philosophy and spirit. In other words, we get to hang out and talk about nerdy yoga stuff.

Check it:

Have you ever wondered what the heck "Bhakti Flow" is? And what makes it different from your usual Power Flow class, anyway? 
Join Rachel for this lighthearted 2-week immersion exploring the Basics of Bhakti. Together, we'll dive into the intertwining elements of sweat, breath, and song that combine to create a Bhakti Flow class. You can count on: an introduction to the basics of yoga philosophy, a down-to-earth overview of the Sutras and the Bhagavad Gita, a story- and art-infused guide to the major Hindu deities (like Hanuman, Ganesha, Shiva, Krishna, and more), and lots of great music, including rad tunes from bhakti-rich singers like Jai Uttal and MC Yogi. Naturally, we'll do a little of our own good strong chanting, too.
Whether you're new to yoga or a long-time practitioner, this workshop is an excellent opportunity to learn a little more about the spirit behind the Bhakti yogic tradition, which is steeped in love and devotion. Bring your questions and your fears (if chanting makes you nervous, I'm talking to you!), your passions and your curiosities. This is an ideal offering for folks who might be flirting with the idea of a teacher training or just want to know a little more about the music, spirit, and philosophy that embody the heart of Bhakti Flow. Jai!!

Two Saturday afternoons, 
Oct 20th and 27th

Early Bird rate: $50 for both
After Oct. 15th: $60 for both

Bringing the bhakti to Oak-town, baby!  Sign up ahead of time here
(Click on the "Workshops" tab and scroll down.)

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

"We will always know a feeling of loneliness, a feeling of loss, a fear of the unknown. These feelings define the human condition, and if I want to be more human, more real, more at peace with my world, then I have to move towards this void, not try to escape from the discomfort."

This is a fantastic (and brief) little blog from

Friday, September 14, 2012

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

“My chanting isn’t some new-age kind of thing,” he said. “This is an ancient practice that I absorbed when I lived in India. It has become my meditation practice, it has helped me overcome depression, self-loathing, even a cocaine addiction.” 
— Krishna Das in the NYT

Great article on chanting and Jeff Kagel's route from 
ex-rocker to kirtan master. Check it out.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

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

Tomorrow is my last Wednesday class at Urban Flow before the most-amazing Stephanie Snyder starts rocking your mornings next week.

Join me for a 90-minute sweat fest.  Jai!!

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

Autumn 2012 Teaching Schedule

Urban Flow
1543 Mission St. (at S. Van Ness)
Mon 9-1030am
Tues 12-1pm
Thurs 12-1pm

Flying Yoga
4308 Telegraph Ave, Temescal, Oakland
Sun 1045a-1215pm
Mon 745-9pm
Thurs 745-9pm

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

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

“To live in a way that our own life would enhance the lives of others is a radical concept, as it gets to the very root of how happiness comes about. If we want to be happy, we do what we can to bring others happiness, not suffering. Yogis by nature are radical; not content to live superficial lives, but instead they enjoy diving into root causes.” 
Sharon Gannon, November 2007

Every year on this date I struggle with some of the nationalist lingo that emerges. I want to honor the sober calls for reverence and peace and freedom from suffering, and yet, as so often happens when anything becomes "us" versus "them," I want to do so only in a way that acknowledges the suffering of all beings, not just the ones who were born under a certain flag or speak the language I speak or look a little like me.

[Always a little afraid I'll get tarred and feathered for saying that.]

The First Noble Truth reminds us that life is suffering. We who are people in bodies that ache and break and breathe and heal know this, by virtue of being alive long enough to gain a few physical or emotional scars. This universality applies to everyone, no matter which nation you call home or to whom you pray.

[That's one big part that's often forgotten. This upsets me.]

This having-suffered becomes the root of our ability to feel empathy, to find compassion for one another, and to reckon with our own choices and the implications of those choices in the lives of others. Because, you know, since we are all interconnected, your suffering is mine, and mine is yours, just as your joy is mine, and mine is yours. Right?

[That said, please read this. For realz. The whole thing.]

Why not make this anniversary an annual opportunity to check in with the way we walk and talk and eat and speak and breathe and move through the world, to find ways to inject more kindness and tenderness and mindfulness and gratitude into every step, every word, every meal, every day?

In other words: let it breed compassion.

("True compassion is a profound skill, one that has much more in common with fierceness than softness. Compassion arises when you allow someone else’s pain into your own heart without a personal agenda. This is what so many of us are terrified of doing, and understandably so. To view our 'enemy' as part of the human family rather than a scourge to be obliterated means we have to take on their pain as our own and most of us are already full up on that score. Nonetheless, we must do it anyway. It requires fearlessness and a sense of genuine power, and is not, as a few characterized it, some kind of lefty do-good politically correct emasculating bullshit." — Susan Piver)

I can only offer that simple prayer:

lokah samastah sukhino bhavantu

May all beings everywhere be happy and free 
and may the thoughts, words and actions of my own life 
contribute in some way to that happiness 
and to that freedom for all.

This is the mantra of Jivamukti Yoga, chanted in almost every class. By giving voice to it, we set the intention to create a world that is harmonious and peaceful. We dedicate our yoga practice to seeing this reality manifest. This mantra inspires us to perform actions that benefit all beings, human and non-human alike.
When we practice yoga asana, we practice taking the seat of others. We practice being the moon, the warrior, the dog, the cow, the cobra, and the trees. We take their form and connect with their essence. With time and practice, we begin to develop empathy for all beings and realize that we are not different from each other after all. We learn that all beings share the desire for happiness and freedom.

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

New playlist!  This one's a personal fave.
Gayatri Mantra, Deva Premal
In The Sun (Desert Dwellers Remix), Donna De Lory
Le Booty Cinematique, J Boogie's Dubtronic Science
Knock, Dirtwire
Karama, Go-Ray & Duke
Lotus Heart (Kalya Scintilla Remix), Desert Dwellers
Kaounding Cissoko, Toumani Diabaté
Hari Om, Ben Leinbach and Prajna Vieira
Kali Durge, Girish
Lake Yarina, Josh Garrels
Kitchen Door, Wolf Larsen
I Like the Sunrise, Amel Larrieux
Les Eaux Verts, Jens Gad Presents

Friday, September 7, 2012

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

I seriously just cannot get over how cute this family is.

Crushing on the Obamas. For real.

I've felt this way (like many of us, I imagine) since Day One, when the kids emerged on the scene and I realized with head-shaking compassion that they, like Chelsea Clinton, would have to muddle through their awkward middle-school years in the public spotlight. But look at those kids! No awkwardness to be found. Four years in, they're still adorable, and self-possessed, and laughing, and unself-conscious, and at ease.

And look at the way their parents move. Same sense of quiet self-possessed confidence. And some serious prana. I just see picture after picture and think to myself, "Goddamn, these folks did something right." (Not to mention how cute it is, and special, and rare, that Grandma is still very much in the picture, sitting next to Michelle, holding court in the front row.) Most people I know don't even appear this confident and "together" in their own humble not-in-the-spotlight lives, let alone the kind of politician's life lived out on a national canvas. And I know these guys do it for a living, but still — there is an unscripted embodiment, a comfort level, that strikes me, over and over, as remarkable and extraordinary.

Ease. I think it's their ease, and laughter, and sense of camaraderie, that has always impressed me. There aren't enough people who are at ease in their skins the way this family is, together. More, please.


Thursday, September 6, 2012

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


Stressed out and overcommitted and underslept and falling apart at the seams? Guess what — you're not alone. 

Join me and a few other cool chicks next Weds. night Sept. 12th at OMpower Cycling and Yoga for a Ladies Night of sorts. Cocktails, chocolate, a little yoga, and a few hints on how to keep it together. 

Details here.

Saturday, September 1, 2012