Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Raw, adjective: 9. disagreeably damp and chilly, as the weather or air: a raw, foggy day at the beach.

Struck by the cross-religious continuity of the power of enoughness here on this cool grey Tuesday morning in San Francisco.

I hopped off the cable car and walked past Huntington Park this morning and it was chilly and wintery and there were Chinese grandmothers doing tai chi in the park and my coffee was strong and the soy milk hot and my hat kept me warm as my gloves did my fingers, and I felt a certain double chaturanga soreness and a softness in my hamstrings and I looked forward to the long day of teaching ahead and reminisced about a warm dinner outside at Gracias Madre last night with two of the fiercer Kali-women in my life and I thought to myself: It is enough.

This is one of my favorite mantras of all time. I remember dark years, years spent in shadow, when I would sit down and, in the midst of great sorrow and struggle and loss, feel my heart beat in my chest and watch my breath rise and fall and think to myself: It is enough. In spite of all the suffering that comes with being alive in a body, with having a heart that beats, and lungs that breathe: It is enough.

And it remains so. We speak this in different words: santosha (Sanskrit for "contentment"), dayenu (Hebrew for "It would have been enough"), and in so doing, we embrace that radical project of resisting the cultural mandate to operate from a persistent place of Lack. This countercultural idea that in spite of all shadow, in spite of all struggle, we can sit in the midst of uncertainty and tumult and say: hey, it's enough. In this brief moment, this breath, this morning: it's enough.

Have to close with Lao Tzu's perfect variation on the theme:
“Be content with what you have; rejoice in the way things are.
When you realize there is nothing lacking, the whole world belongs to you.”
Amen, bro. Amen.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Friday, January 27, 2012

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

Pretty stoked to let you know that rachelmeyeryoga.com is officially live. That would mean, I suppose, that this wee blog now has a big sister.

My girl Joy and I have been at it for some time cranking this little puppy out, and I'm blessed to call this design guru, yogi, and general rockstar a good friend, too. Hit up Swash Design for more.

In the meantime? I'll see you on the Interwebs.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

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

One day, some people came to the master and asked: "How can you be so happy in a world of such impermanence, where you cannot protect your loved ones from harm, illness, and death?" The master held up a glass and said: "Someone gave me this glass, and I really like this glass. It holds my water admirably and it glistens in the sunlight. One day the wind may blow it off the shelf, or my elbow may knock it from the table. I know this glass is already broken, so I enjoy it incredibly."

— Achaan Chat Subato, Theravadan meditation master

(A favorite story of mine for years now, first found in Steve Ross's book, Happy Yoga)

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

Hey, y'all.

We're gonna get our Valentine's Day on together this year. What are you up to on Sunday, Feb. 12th?

"The heart that breaks open can contain the whole universe. Your heart is that large: trust it. Keep breathing."

— Buddhist scholar Joanna Macy

Crack your heart open with Rachel in this special Valentine's Day weekend workshop. Whether your heart feels rich with love or raw with regret, bring yourself — your whole self, your broken-hearted self, your questioning self, your most-hopeful self — to the mat for an afternoon of sweet heart openers, rich bhakti philosophy, heart-swelling melodies, and a whole lotta love. Rachel will guide you through a strong flow designed to breathe space and light into all the parts of your heart that might have shut down, tightened up, or closed off a bit over the years. Come for the sweat and the song; stay for the homemade heart-shaped bundt cake to follow.

Because it's never too late to fall in love: with yourself, with one another, and with the world.
Join us for this cozy Sunday afternoon at Glow Yoga & Wellness in San Francisco's iconic North Beach. Details and registration here. Official Facebook invitation here.

(And yes — there will be cake.)

Monday, January 23, 2012

Raw, adjective: 9. disagreeably damp and chilly, as the weather or air: a raw, foggy day at the beach.

Home and grateful for a wet drippy morning meant for looking ahead.

February's around the corner, and with it, a few changes. I'm stunned to see the calendar already filling up. It's going to be a good, big, moving-and-shaking kind of month.

In the meantime, we huddle inside and fight to stay warm, and try to avoid that Blue Monday sense of midwinter malaise.

After a cold and sleepless night at the Denver airport, around 4 o'clock this morning I brushed my teeth, slapped a little more eye makeup on top of yesterday's, and marched purposefully to Gate B32 to stare down the United Airlines ticket agent as, um, kindly and yogically as possible. Intent upon getting a seat on the 6am flight to San Francisco, I telepathically communicated to the exhausted ticket agent how imperative it was that I get home before things got ugly, and thanks be to Yahweh, found myself hustled onto the flight five minutes before it was due to depart.

I was ready to be home. The weekend in Nebraska brought with it sweet reunions and some much-needed time at the piano, but Real Life was waiting here on Lower Nob Hill, and so on landing in blessed Northern California, I hauled out of SFO and flagged a cab right away to steer myself hurtlingly home through what would surely be rainy, bluesy Monday morning post-49ers-loss rush hour traffic.

Ricky picked me up.

I didn't know his name was Ricky until he shook my hand just as I was about to step out of his cab twenty minutes later. But it was one of those rides, one of those moments, that I can't help but know was quite meant to be.

I needed him. And I think he needed me.

Ricky and I, right off the bat, well, we talked football and disappointing fumbles and kids and love and growing up in the Bay Area and whether marriage was really a smart thing for relationships and what it's like to be 64 and raising a 14-year-old in the age of Internet and texting and we talked boxing lessons and drum lessons and trips to Seattle and he took off his hat about halfway through and I felt like that was a big step, you know, a letting-me-in, an intimacy of sorts, and I saw there a man who was wise and grounded and earthy and real and sharp and possibly, yes, most certainly had a lived a few years on the edge here and there before settling down.

And we bonded, Ricky and I, over what it means to choose to live outside the box, to operate according to your own standards, to refuse to play by the rules. And I told him I'd been a bartender, and I knew then that he got it; one service industry vet always respects the other, knows there's a good strong tip on the flipside, and so things softened even more and we chatted and meandered and I found myself lost in the kind of conversation that rarely comes up when there's not a fair amount of vino or tequila involved to lubricate things.

Maybe it came from the freedom to be real that I have sensed so often over the years from folks on the other side of the bar. That ability to open up to a stranger, the knowing your Shit isn't gonna go anywhere, the knowing it's safe, the knowing there's no one to protect or fear. Or maybe it came from the years on the mat spent practicing being open, being real, being anahata, unstruck. Or maybe it was just a byproduct of my not having slept and, quite punch-drunk from exhaustion, having thrown all caution to the wind.

But I opened up there with Ricky, about living and loving and children and whether any of it was worth it, and about how little you really need to be happy, and about how those big inflated salaries and those long unbearable workweeks that we've seen folks close to us get sucked into are really, at the end of the day, so very unnecessary.

And, climbing Leavenworth toward home, my flat just a few blocks away, I almost didn't want the ride to end. Our conversation felt so real, so unedited, so authentically natural. Ricky told me he was a San Francisco kid raising his son on baseball and drum lessons in the 'burbs. His father had been a big-wig in the film industry back in the day, and had made a lot of money doing it. He said that, driving a cab, he was comfortable, had enough, could live easily enough beneath his means and take his kid to a Warriors game now and then, that sort of thing.

And I felt so close to him.

In the way you do when you realize you're very much the same person with the same resigned understanding of how short this life really is and how very little the material trappings matter and how easy it really is to be quite content with warmth and sustenance and a job that you don't hate.

Ricky and me, we were brothers, somewhere in there, back in the day.

And then, hauling uphill through the Tenderloin, he looked over his shoulder at me and said,

"You know, my Pops always told me, in spite of his money —

You only need three things in life: A solid roof over your head,
some good warm clothing, and a pair of arms to wrap around you.

The rest is bullshit."

I loved him for that.


It was grounding to be back on the prairie for a few days, to be reminded where I come from, of what I'm made. And it was sobering, quietly so, to sit in the midst of what has grown to be unfamiliar barrenness: the quiet of the rural setting, the emptiness of the big sky, the whipping of the winter wind. Everything felt more still, more simple, and most definitely more slow. I found my fiery, impatient, fast-paced urban pitta self grounding, calming, rooting, and it felt right.

In conversation with an old friend during the long weekend in Nebraska, our words happened to stir memories of a passing piece of wisdom thrown out some 15 years ago now, a quick bit of advice that my own Pops gave me on my very first cross-country move to the East Coast at age 18, as he turned to leave me in the strange city that would become my new home. He paused, looked over at me in his unsentimental, Nebraska farm kid kind of way, and said, simply, humbly, with that very same tone Ricky used in speaking to me this morning:

"You know, Rach, there's just one thing:
Never forget who you are, or whose you are, or where you come from."

There's great power, great truth, in that remembering.

And the rest? Bullshit.


I threw Ana Forrest's new book, Fierce Medicine, in my carry-on as I ran out the door to the airport Friday afternoon. I'd been looking forward all week to having six whole hours of no Internet, no phone, no nothing, to be left alone to get lost in a book for the first time in awhile, and somehow I knew that was the one that needed to come along with me.

Sure enough, a few minutes after lifting off from San Francisco, I cracked that puppy open and the entire tome was this fierce, fearless exploration of what it means to dive into all our shit: to plumb the depths of where we come from, the beautiful, the grotesque, the painful, the poignant, and the power of staying with all that comes up when we do that, and the liberation that comes in knowing it will pass, in knowing that if we're wild enough and strong enough and soft enough, we'll ride it out.

Forrest's book is the real deal. No joke, nothing spared. The messy stuff of life, writ large on the body, on the soul, on the spirit, that refuses to be beaten down. It's worth your time. It'll kick your butt and encourage you to dive into the sites of all your own traumas, and to see in them opportunities for moving through shadow into light.

Nebraska has been for me, in many ways and for various reasons over the years, that site of shadow in my own life. And so, in barreling breathlessly through Forrest's story in that plane speeding toward Omaha Friday night, I found in myself a new ability to say, hey, it's cool; sit with it; ride it out; watch it; love that guru for teaching you how to stay and be ok.

And the weekend ended up rich with those very gurus, thick with moments, perfect in ways I'd not even expected. As all things do. As even the sleepy-eyed cab ride home this morning did. Ricky and his 14-year-old kid and the wife he laughs with still and his lack of a need to get married before the son came along.

Sometimes out there in the world, just when you're thinking you've got it all laid out, comes along a creature in the form of a cab driver or a fellow airline passenger or even a gas station clerk who reminds you of the truth that all people are simply, radiantly, unquestioningly reflections of the divine. I am grateful for a very early morning that brought Krishna to me in the guise of a gruff, no-bullshit, beanie-wearing cab driver.

The sacred is everywhere we turn.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Raw, adjective: 9. disagreeably damp and chilly, as the weather or air: a raw, foggy day at the beach.

A beautiful weekend on the prairie.

Re-connecting and re-fueling and re-creating and re-newing.

We did some good strong sweaty asana Saturday afternoon at Yoga Body & Balance in Lincoln (thank you, radiant Thomas and Tataya!) and again today at One Tree Yoga (Jamie and crew, you rock!). In between times it was all prairie winds whipping and old friends re-visiting and easy catching-up with the most real, most rad Meyer cousins over dinner and a few blessed moments of silence and stillness intermingled with some precious stolen time at the baby grand piano before heading out for the airport this evening.

Worn out, well lived-in, I gladly settled into a seat at the bar in Omaha to watch the second half of the Giants-49ers playoff game. My flight was delayed, which felt like an unexpected gift; I savored the sport and the solitude and yes, the Sauza Hornitos, sitting there watching football and running over pleasant memories of the weekend in my mind.

And then they announced that our flight was delayed again, and so we sat on the runway for an hour, wondering who was winning in overtime, only to land here in Denver and discover that the blue carpeted floor would be my bed for the night.

Synopsis: Stranded in the Denver airport overnight. 49ers lose in overtime.

So? You choose how to react. In every breath, you choose how to react.

Patanjali wrote in Sutra 1.1, Atha yoga anusasanam: "Now is the time for yoga to begin." The yoga starts here, in moments like this one, sprawled on the dirty airport floor, eating Reese's Peanut Butter Cups, in the choosing not to freak out. In calmly and reasonably and patiently saying, "Ok, cool, so it's out of my control, and the weather was what it was, and this is my teacher, so thank you, guru inadvertent airport sleepover, for giving me a chance to practice being patient and chill and flexible."

This is why we practice. Not so we can put our feet behind our heads, or so we have really stretchy hamstrings, or a hot yoga ass. We practice so that when life behaves differently than we would like for it to, we already know how to be flexible with it, to let go of control, to soften our faces and relax our shoulders and breathe space into the minutes and know we'll be just fine.

So, thanks, barefoot airport slumber party, for reminding me what it means to do yoga.

Atha yoga anusasanam. Now is the time for yoga to begin.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

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

The love of our neighbor in all its fullness
simply means being able to say,
"What are you going through?"

— French philosopher
Simone Weil

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Raw, adjective: 9. disagreeably damp and chilly, as the weather or air: a raw, foggy day at the beach.

See you this weekend in
Lincoln and Omaha
for a little Bhakti-Flow,

You might wanna start
hydrating, um, now.

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

Last night's playlist veered dangerously toward the hippie flute music genre, but in actuality it ended up being pretty rad. Details below. Crazy about Ben Leinbach's Sangha album, if you couldn't figure that out by looking at this list. Enjoy.


Toura Toura: The Medina Remix, Cheb I
Aureole, Jens Gad Presents
O Rama, Susheela Raman
Peaceful Steps, J Boogie's Dubtronic Science
Swan, Althea W.
On Namo Guru Dev, Fabian Alsultany
Rama Bolo (feat. Jai Uttal), Ben Leinbach
Prana Groove, Stevin McNamara
The Orbiting Suns, Jens Gad Presents
By Your Side/Jaya Gurudev, Ben Leinbach
Staraja Ladoga, Achillea
Nataraj (feat. Mukti), Ben Leinbach
Sharade, Girish
One Hundred Names, The Nields
Almost Blue, Diana Krall

Monday, January 16, 2012

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

Magnolia shared this today, and I love, love, love it:

Is teaching yoga your dharma — can you honestly say yes? Read this quote and ask yourself:
Dharma (your life's work) is not what you do, not what you should do, not even what you want to do, but you were born to do. If you are not clear about your dharma, keep exploring, try different things, look deeper into yourself. You cannot expect your dharma to magically descend upon you one blessed day. Exploring your dharma is your dharma. It is rare process of exploration. It is usually the effort — the attempt, the strife, the very act of looking — that allows a person to make this vital discovery. In searching for a home, we may visit a hundred houses, yet this extravagant effort is not futile, for we often have to see many houses before we can realize that only one of them is our home. Similarly, during the process of discovering your dharma, you may have to explore many options until you eventually develop the strong, unshakeable feeling, “This is what I was born to do”.

(Source unknown)
What were you born to do? Do you know? Have you ever had that "strong, unshakeable feeling"?

If so, my friend: grab that dharma by the balls and go with it. You are lucky, indeed. So many people spend their whole lives searching and never quite find it. Embrace that knowing. It's big.

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

Hey, yoga nerds!

How do y'all feel about a little Book Club action?

Last night at our OMpower gathering with Off The Mat, I got to chatting with my old philosopher friend Gary about how much fun it'd be to launch a wee yoga book club. I've been flirting with this concept for awhile now, and you know, it's past time to make that happen.

Many of us — teachers, students, asana practitioners, and just folks with a particular curiosity for philosophy or religion — have participated in extensive teacher trainings, highly-structured academic programs, and whatnot over the years, but there's something to be said for building a monthly supported, informal practice of ongoing study into our lives, for creating the kind of intellectual sangha that reminds us to stay curious, to stay interested, to come at this yoga thing always and ever as beginners.

So let's do it, eh?

We can read flimsy, pop culture-style fiction that has ostensibly little to do with yoga; we can dig into thick philosophy texts; we can drool over beautiful illustrated works like Sanjay Patel's hip cartoon version of the Ramayana, pictured above; we can plumb the Sutras or the Upanishads themselves; we can dive into rabid anti-yoga treatises to better understand the practice we love with sharp, critical eyes. We can hit the vino hard or we can make it a chai/dessert kind of gig. It's pretty wide-open, kids.

I've got a few good ideas already taking root, but we'll really build it together, so if you've got favorite books, dishy topics or just general rad suggestions, please leave them in the comments below. And if you'd be interested in participating in a monthly salon-style gathering (whether in person or online), either leave your name, email address and any book titles you'd like to share in the comments below, or shoot me a private email with that same info at rachelmeyeryoga@gmail.com.

Let's do this already.

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

Artistic growth is, more than it is anything else, a refining of the sense of truthfulness. The stupid believe that to be truthful is easy; only the artist, the great artist, knows how difficult it is.

— Willa Cather, The Song of the Lark

That is part of the beauty of all literature. You discover that your longings are universal longings, that you're not lonely and isolated from anyone. You belong.

― F. Scott Fitzgerald

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

There has been just so very much buzz about the potentially injurious nature of yoga in the wake of the NY Times's recent magazine feature, "How Yoga Can Wreck Your Body."

Big drama in yogi land! Everybody's taking a stand.

It seems pretty obvious that, if one responds to the whole thing with a fair amount of reason and sensibility, it's quite clear that any athletic endeavor done to excess for the sake of the ego or competition can be seriously harmful. And the whole hubbub has raised a number of great discussions about what the "true" purpose of yoga really is — which has meant a lovely cultural reminder that "real" yoga (whatever that means) is about so much more than just gymnastics.

Dr. Timothy McCall, who's been the Medical Editor of Yoga Journal for years now, was interviewed for the NYT piece in regard to the safety of inversions like Headstand. In the wake of the controversy, he has written an extensive response to the article in his latest newsletter, and it's worth your time. Read McCall's point-by-point explanation of "How Not To Wreck Your Body Doing Yoga" on his website here:
The Times article correctly mentions that I developed (in late 2001) a case of thoracic outlet syndrome (TOS), in which I believe headstand, plow pose and shoulderstand played a role. But part of it could also be blamed on my own stubbornness (I’ve got a bit of pitta myself). Just before I developed intermittent numbness and tingling in my right arm, I’d been increasing my headstands up to 10 minutes a day, even though that was more than I could comfortably do. I was allowing an external goal suggested by someone else — not my own body’s feedback — to dictate when I came down. I now believe that at the moment (or just before) you lose that balance of effort and ease in the pose, if your breath is rough, or if it just doesn’t feel good, you need to come out.
Amen, buddy!

I generally don't teach inversions in big, busy classes. They're a little too dangerous and require too much hands-on instruction to really be able to appropriately and safely serve a class full of 40 people at the same time. I find, too, that it's more important to me as a teacher — and as someone who's trying to maintain the kind of rhythmic, meditative vinyasa pace that allows the inhales and the exhales to begin to calm the chattering mind — to focus on establishing a consistent flow, which stopping the class and spending five minutes breaking down a complicated inversion in partner-work can really interrupt.

There are certainly appropriate times to study inversions and similar extra-challenging asanas with the right highly-qualified teacher. Workshops, for instance, are ideal for perfecting the kinds of poses you've been wanting to try, but have been a bit afraid to dive into without personalized assistance. But in the wake of this industry conversation, I find myself recommitting to continuing to largely save inversions for private moments or post-class instruction.

It's not rocket science. Just listen to your body. Back off when it gets to be too much. Honor ahimsa. It's so easy to say that, yes, and yet, for many of us, so very hard to do. So we practice. And, day by day, the yoga, the asana, becomes less about the performance, less about the ninja moves, and more about the meditation, the refuge, the release.

We'll keep at it. And this hubbub, this controversy, this buzz? It's a very good teacher, too.

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

I promised you a few playlists. Here are the tunes from yesterday morning, Saturday afternoon and last Thursday night's classes. Yeah, baby. Happy listening.

Hari Krishna, Masood Ali Khan
Gate Gate, Deva Premal
Ganesha, Wah!
Arboleda de Manzanitas, Eighty Mile Beach
Leave It All Behind, J Boogie's Dubtronic Science
Om Triambakam, Deva Premal
Broken Ambers, Gil Tamazyan
Alright (3pm Mix), Soulstice
Samba Pa Ti Feat. Roy Hargrove, Angelique Kidjo
Rosada Flor, J Boogie's Dubtronic Science,
Salvation, Goapele
Chaap Tilak, Go-Ray & Duke
Hurt, Johnny Cash
Hari Om (feat. Prajna Vieria), Ben Leinbach
Anyone and Everyone, Lhasa de Sela
Breathe, Alexi Murdoch

Holiday Afterglow
Aureole, Jens Gad Presents
The Blissed Place, Hideo Kobayashi
Amber Sky, Samantha James
Pling!, Shuggie Otis
Really?, Bluemind
Realistic, Soulstice
Silver Sans, Jens Gad Presents
Fools Work, Inara George
Les Eaux Verts, Jens Gad Presents
Guaranteed, Eddie Vedder
Staraja Ladoga, Achillea
What Kind of Heart, Lhasa de Sela
Chanson Pour Une Femme, Althea W
Farewell, Dario Marianelli
Fool's Gold, Lhasa de Sela
Over the Rhine, Over the Rhine
Morning, Stolen Identity
Since I Fell For You, Gladys Knight
Love Letters, Dario Marianelli

I'll Be Ok
Gayatri Mantra, Deva Premal
In The Sun (Desert Dwellers Remix), Donna De Lory
Magpie to the Morning, Neko Case
In For the Night (Buddha Edit), The Moontrane Conductors
Black Thought, Michael Tello
El Bosque Eterno de los Niños, Amounsulu
Planktens Cover, Gil Tamazyan
Wings of Forgiveness, India.Arie
Crossing Beyond, Desert Dwellers
Love Cliché, Soulstice
One, Aimee Mann
I'll Be Ok, Sondre Lerche
Sira, Ablaye Cissoko & Volker Goetze
The Orbiting Suns, Jens Gad Presents
The Hours, Philip Glass
Let It Go, Matt Morris

Sunday, January 15, 2012

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

It's an exciting day.

Spending a twinkly evening with the remarkable OMpower team and the radiant yogis of Off the Mat, Into the World™ as we welcome them to their new San Francisco headquarters and toast to a beautiful year of activism and awareness to come. Jai!!

May the spirit of service and open-heartedness infuse all that we are and all that we do in 2012.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Raw, adjective: 1. uncooked, as articles of food: a raw carrot.

Exhibit A in the Life:
Lunchbox of an Urban Yogi

Some of yous whom I see on a fairly daily basis will recognize the little briefcase at left.

It's been called a suitcase (and I guess it is, though you can hardly fit a suit in it). It's been called a harmonium (I hang with yogis, what can you do?). It's been called, by various Walgreens clerks with whom I've exchanged brief pleasantries, "adorable" and "twee" and "vaguely vintage Hepburn." (I'll take that last adjective; you can have the others.)

I call it, well, my yogi lunch box.

You see, this urban yoga teacher life, well, it's pretty successfully engineered sit-down dinners out of my routine. Don't get me wrong; I am SO not complaining about getting to spend nearly every night of the week jumping around a studio hollering at people barefoot. I mean, life is good.

But a girl's gotta eat. And she can't eat a ton, because she's spending 4 hours a night in a room heated to 90 degrees plus humidity wearing heavy leggings, and she's likely demonstrating a little Parsvottanasana and a little Kurmasana here and there, too, which makes it tough to walk in with a full belly. And she usually starts teaching circa 4:30 and ends around 10, which effectively bypasses all reasonable dinner hours, well, anywhere except for Spain.

So she gets flexible.

I've been living sans car now for over eight years, and 95% of the time, that is such a rad way to be. Footloose and fancy-free, insurance and gas prices and tire repairs be damned. But living car-free also means living sans having-a-place-to-stash-yer-stuff-when-you're-busy, so when you're hauling from class to class, across the bustling city, and sometimes across the Bay, three or four times a day, with no time to stop off at home, you've gotta get creative, too.

I used to carry an old lululemon bag that was just the right size for a salad, with strong sturdy handles that resisted sticky Kombucha spills. But after that whole John Galt thing, I, well, just couldn't. Felt like I was endorsing them or something, waltzing in with my little black-printed bag. Regular plastic bags are bad news, and fabric bags are a tough bet, since usually a little balsamic vinaigrette or Bragg's Amino Acids or somesuch will seep into it and make everything I own smell like fermented probiotics or weird salty soy sauce. No es bueno.

Enter the mini-suitcase.

I've had this little guy for years now, so a few weeks ago, I pulled him out of retirement there on my dining room table where he'd found a home storing faded handwritten letters and dog-eared old journals and adhesive mailing labels and the other sorts of stationer's detritus that you really don't know where to keep. And he's proven to be, well, the best thing since sliced (gluten-free) cinnamon raisin bread.

At right: the contents of one urban yogi's lunch(dinner)box, also known as the art installation that is the

Lunchbox of an Urban Yogi

One Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip LaraBar

Six Lydia's raw Italian crackers

One almost-empty container of Greek hummus

Tupperware of cold sauteéd cabbage

Tupperware of cold oven-roasted root vegetables

Small sandwich bag full of cashews, almonds and cranberries*

Two bags Bedtime Tea (Chamomile and Valerian blend)

Hippie green drink (flash-pasteurized) of essential greens: spinach, celery, kale, wheatgrass, sprouts and chard

One very large, scary fork for 1) the eating of the above and 2) brandishing at wayward potential muggers on my shadowy late-night walk back to Macarthur Bart after teaching in Oakland.*

* I think I may have a cashew problem. There are bags of unloved, leftover almonds sitting all over my kitchen. I pick the cashews out first, slam the cranberries, and leave the almonds to rot. So weird. What's up with the lack of almond love, Rach?

* That top pic would be said suitcase waiting patiently for the SFO/Millbrae train at Macarthur Bart. Sweet, isn't he?

Lesson learned?

Buy a damn wee suitcase. It's ever-so-worth it.
And very cute.
In spite of the polka dots.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

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

syn·cre·tism (sngkr-tzm, sn-)
1. Reconciliation or fusion of differing systems of belief, as in philosophy or religion, especially when success is partial or the result is heterogeneous.
2. Linguistics: The merging of two or more originally different inflectional forms.

[Greek sunkrtismos, union, from sunkrtizein, to unite (in the manner of the Cretan cities) : sun-, syn- + Krs, Krt-, Cretan.]
syn·cretic (-krtk), syncre·tistic (-kr-tstk) adj.
syncre·tist n.
Pretty crazy about the notion of syncretism these days. Do you know that word? It's kind of big and scary and pompous-sounding, for sure. But definitely worth knowing.

Syncretism was a concept we tossed around a lot back in the day when graduate school meant spending a helluva lot of heady hours trying (often failingly) to meld Christian theology and Buddhism and Hinduism and Judaism and queer theory and post-modernity and post-colonialism and ecofeminist theology and French cultural theory and blah di blah, you get the picture. A lot of esoteric, complicated traditions, with roots that go way back, which often haven't budged much, and have been assumed to be contradictory, historically, that is.

But these days, the more and more that I come to the mat, and the more I think about the ways in which all of those ancient traditions unknowingly overlap, I realize that what we do in the yoga practice, this seeking to feel a fleeting sense of union, this down-to-earth holistic approach to being alive in a body, this desire to live well in the world that transcends dogma or spiritual boundaries? Yep. That's syncretism. And it's an ok — no, it's a good, a very good — thing.


Raw, adjective: 8. brutally harsh or unfair: a raw deal

We practice yoga not so that our life is perfect but so that we can cope when it isn't. Jai!

Judith Hanson Lasater

(Damn, she's wise.)

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

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

The master of the art of living makes little distinction between his work and his play, his labor and his leisure, his mind and his body, his education and his recreation, his love and his religion. He hardly knows which is which; he simply pursues his vision of excellence in whatever he does, leaving others to decide whether he is working or playing. To him he is always doing both.

— Buddha

(This makes me think lovingly of Karl Marx's old notion of sensuous labor: that idea that the work we do can be at once fulfilling, artistic, creative, interesting, life-giving and — gasp! — not soul-deadening. It's possible. Really, it is.)

Raw, adjective: 9. disagreeably damp and chilly, as the weather or air: a raw, foggy day at the beach.

Here's all the latest January news
from your girl Rach.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Raw, adjective: 8. brutally harsh or unfair: a raw deal

Must say how much I love this Smithsonian Magazine piece from Meghan Daum.

Daum, quite famously, was a New York City-bred writer kid who picked up in her late twenties and, out of nowhere, moved to Lincoln, Nebraska for a few years. Not exactly what you do, right? I mean, most of us, especially those of us with a hankering for a wee more cosmopolitan way of being, well, we flee to the coasts, not the other way around.

Daum ended up writing a novel based on her fish-out-of-water experience in Nebraska, and though she's moved West in the years since, her work (and her mindset) are both clearly still influenced by her time living just outside Lincoln.

Not gonna lie. Daum pretty much nails it:
You can’t live through a rural Nebraska winter without succumbing to at least a little of the “prairie madness” the early homesteaders battled when the wind blew mercilessly for weeks and months at a time. 
Still, that landscape is the place my mind summons when I’m asked (usually in some yogic or meditative context, now that I live in Los Angeles) to close my eyes and “imagine a scene of total peace and serenity.” In those moments, I picture the Rothko-like blocks of earth and sky, the psychedelic sunsets, the sublime loneliness of a single cottonwood punctuating acres of flat prairie. I remember the sound of golf ball-size hail hitting the roof and denting the car. I remember sitting on the front porch and watching a lightning storm that was miles away but cracked the whole night open nonetheless. It was there, under that sky and at the mercy of all that weather, that I began to understand the concept of a wrathful God. In Nebraska, storms are a violence from which no amount of caution or privilege can protect you. Their warnings crawl across television screens in every season. They’ll blow you or freeze you or blind you into submission. They’ll force you into some kind of faith. 
[and yet]....to this day, every time I fly in, even when the wind is tossing the little plane around like a rag doll, I always have the feeling that nothing can possibly go wrong. The space is so vast, the margin for error so wide, that getting thrown off course is just a minor hiccup, an eminently correctable misfire. Lincoln’s air space, like its ground space, is inherently forgiving. 
After those acid trip sunsets, that’s the thing about Lincoln that rocked my world. That you can’t really mess up too badly. You can marry too young, get a terrible tattoo or earn $12,000 a year, and the sky will not necessarily fall. The housing is too cheap and the folks are too kind for it to be otherwise. Moreover, when you live underneath a sky that big, it’s hard to take yourself too seriously. Its storms have a way of sweeping into town and jolting your life into perspective. That jolt was Lincoln’s gift to me. It comes in handy every day.

Those "Rothko-like blocks of earth and sky," yes! The "sublime loneliness of a single cottonwood punctuating acres of flat prairie," yes! And the fact that, "in Nebraska, storms are a violence from which no amount of caution or privilege can protect you," yes!

The girl gets it. For realz.

(Says one who knows.)

As some of you know, I'm preparing to head back to Nebraska myself for just a few days later this month, and it'll be my first return in some time. Okay, years. Most of y'all who know anything about me know that I'm a big-sky prairie kid myself, having spent the greater part of my childhood first in eastern South Dakota (shout-out to Brookings, baby!) and then finishing out my early teens and high school years in Lincoln, Nebraska. As much as I immediately fled for the East Coast at 18 and then (several years and a few oceans later) very deliberately traded it for the West Coast, which I've now proudly claimed as home for some eight-plus years, and even though I work hard these days to sheath my populist, corn-fed prairie roots in fingerless gloves and all-black duds and bleak Beat literature and lots of references to vodka, I can't deny the fact that those formative years on the prairie were responsible for so much of who I am — and many of the parts of that self that I am most unapologetically fond of, particularly the most yogic, theological, Buddhist, anti-consumerist, countercultural ones — today.

I've played with this idea a little here and there in the past. The geography of prana, baby. Big sky, you know. The whole thing kind of wants to be a book. And it will be, when I get more than ten minutes to sit at my computer and knock it out.

But, that in mind, this morning I sat down with a few of Alan Ginsberg's thoughts on Jack Kerouac's casual-yet-all-permeating Buddhist ethic, and found myself loving the ways in which Kerouac's somewhat inadvertent, layman's-style Buddhist spirit evolved via his travels and his relationships and his literary adventures. And I've been thinking for awhile now — glancing down at the scribbled, sun-faded list of year-old brainstorms on "the yoga of the prairie" sitting here on my desk, waiting to be transcribed into some brilliant best-selling work of non-fiction to be bought by that huge market of erudite readers who just love to dig into some rich writing on yoga and prairies (!!!) — how very much, in spite of generally living up to their reputation as predominantly white, Christian, conservative expanses, those big rectangular flyover states in the middle of the country were actually quite responsible for turning me into a left-leaning, Buddhism-studying, existentialist-literature-loving, yoga-practicing, culture-jamming, socialist-embracing, Zen-curious, counter-cultural Beatnik wannabe.

Weird, right?

But, srsly. It's true.

Here's why.

The prairie taught me about sorrow. It taught me about silence, about struggle, about the ways in which we have so very little control over the way the storms of our lives roll in and out and over and amongst us. The big unrelenting sky will teach you that, first thing. You watch the clouds roll in long before the storms ever hit, and you feel them stay awhile, and threaten your tiny human existence there on that vast expanse of land, and then equally, once you've finally grown brave enough to exhale, realizing you've got zero damn control over whether you're blown away or not, they pass right on by, and the sky clears, and the wind settles, and you're fine.

Most of the time.

Except for when that big black cloud carries with it a tornado and it happens to rip your roof off.

Then, you hunker down, you weep a few silent German Lutheran tears and shake your fists at the unfeeling sky, and then you pick yourself up again, and make do.

That's yoga, baby.

The prairie taught me about patience. About learning to sit, and be still, and wait. About not having cable TV when the flimsy satellite gets blown off course by those screaming South Dakota prairie winds. About sucking it up and picking up a book and taking refuge in the resulting stillness. About letting go of the expectation that you've got any damn control over your life, because suddenly it's 4 a.m. and there's a howling prairie blizzard out the window, so you sure as hell better let go of those plans you'd made for the day and just sit down and watch the snow swirl outside and pray that you've got enough Cheez-its to get you through until the storm breaks.
Sounds like yoga to me.

The prairie is wild, and fierce, and unapologetically transient. It's in a perpetual state of change: sometimes ferocious, sometimes terrifyingly unrelenting, and sometimes gentle, easy, soft, blooming into new seasons with fresh blossoms on the apricot trees when you least expect them to appear.

And then sometimes the frosts come in April long after those blossoms have appeared, and they freeze the flowers right off the trees, and you can say sayonara to any apricots this season, my friend, so I hope you weren't counting on jars of canned preserves to get you through the lean winter months.

That's the simultaneous grace and cutthroat cruelty of the prairie. The weather is at once a friend and a terrible, undermining enemy. So you learn to sit back and accept it for what it is and say: Ok. Such is life. Where do we go from here?

No bullshit. That's Buddhism, dude. That's acceptance. That's learning to sit with what is, and stop resisting it, and embrace it with the kind of reasonable clear-seeing that makes of it what one will.

[You can't let these teachings go. They seep into your bones. Ask mine. They'll tell you.]

Suffering and selflessness. Oh, hell yeah, does the prairie teach you about suffering, and about anatta (soullessness). It teaches you about black ice and freak March blizzards and miserable steamy humid Augusts with the grotesque green-lit sky that hints only and ever of impending tornadoes. The weather extremes alone remind you of how small you are, of how little say you have over the stretch of things, of how little you have to do with the rhythm in which the much-greater universe unfolds.

East Coast kids, they've got shit at their fingertips. You can drive to another state in 10 minutes. You can visit DC or New York in a day. You can swing by the White House or a major league ballpark or the United Nations or the filming of a late-night comedy show in a heartbeat. 
Prairie kids? Not so much. Some of them dream of seeing the ocean for years and never once do. Others wait, and wait, and finally have that glimpse of a sunset or a sunrise that doesn't stretch long over a grass-covered horizon, but instead ripples out over a vast expanse of water that echoes eerily of the way the winds blow the wildflowers across the prairie. Prairie kids learn to make do with feeling far away from the action. They know they'll never be the heartbeat of pop culture, they know they'll never find sitcoms that feature cool hip twentysomethings hanging out in a coffee shop in Des Moines or Cheyenne. They know they'll always be seen as secondary to the parts of the country that [arrogantly? yep, gonna say it] view themselves as the creative and cultural centers of the world.

(Yipes — and, with that, the age-old prairie kid resentment still comes out, even though I've spent the last 15 years living on one coast or the other).

Nope. Prairie kids don't amuse themselves with any idea that their lives are the center of the universe. They realize how far they are from the action, how their realities are viewed as marginal, peripheral, of flyover quality at best, how their worlds spin around things like DeSmet and Laura Ingalls Wilder's family home there (heaven to this little 7-year-old book nerd!!) and Arbor Lodge (yeah baby, Nebraska City, home of Arbor Day) and the Homestead Act of 1862 having taken place in their backyard (ahem, it's true; check your history books).

You've gotta claim something, you know. We didn't have anything as cool or as celebrated as the Liberty Bell or the Washington Monument.

The point of all that, though? Ego. Living on the prairie kicks the ass of your ego in ways that living on the coasts simply doesn't. Here in the major metropolitan centers of the country, we can pretend that we've got our fingers on the pulse, we know what's up, we're setting the cultural standard for everyone else, making Sazeracs hip before anyone else starts drinking them again, wearing rad vintage hats before other folks decide they're cool enough to pillage from thrift stores, and listening to the hot new indie bands live, in person, that kids on the prairie can only dream of seeing at the local music hall (or who just then resign themselves to driving 4 hours to Kansas City or 10 hours to Denver to catch them in person).

I could continue. The point is, ego. You learn quickly, growing up on the prairie, that baby: it's so not about you. And that's ok.

Sky. Clear blue sky. We talk about clear blue sky as a metaphor for the sunyata mind, that clarity, that emptiness, that rich, compassionate, pregnant-with-possibility consciousness. And I can think of no other metaphor that's lodged itself more deeply in my own body or that gives me more mental or emotional relief than that vision of the clear blue perfectly rolling prairie sky of my childhood.

Urban coastal kids? Mountain kids? Maybe you kind of get it, from your flirtations with the undulating ocean expanse or the endless view from the top of Mt. Rainier. But there's nothing akin to the simultaneous rolling nothingness of the flatlands, the Great Plains, bleeding directly into the parallel nothingness of that unending prairie sky.

That's sunyata. That's nothingness. And therein does that concept of the void, of emptiness, of that vast desolate expansive wasteland, become so kind, so friendly, so very much like home.

And if that's not Buddhism, I dunno what is.

I could go on, and on.

Point of all this rambling is: damn.

The roots of yogic theory, the roots of Zen, the roots of an appreciation for all that is simple and clear and populist and no-bullshit and impermanent and expansive and wide in its emptiness?

Right there on the prairie. For which I will always give thanks.

For making desolation feel normal. For making space seem fundamental. For making stillness appear friendly. And for making the constantly churning, impermanent, suffering-laden reality of life seem, well, so very natural.

Fiercely so.

SO here's an ode to the under-appreciated land of my youth. Here's a shout-out to the Willa Cathers and the Laura Ingalls Wilders and the Harvey Dunns who taught me, growing up there, how rich, how rare, how rolling-around-in-art is this spare, bleak, empty, sunyata place. Here's to the scrappy pioneer spirit that infuses my own urban reality now: this understanding that only the sitting with what is difficult, and the staying with what is terrifying, and the breathing through what is grotesque and inhumane and so vastly impossibly huge that you're reminded again and again how very tiny you are, truly a flash on the landscape of being alive, well, it all matters. And it makes us who we are.

Even when we try to sheath that self in a cover of hard liquor and low-slung hats and fast-paced strides and bleak anonymity and beloved urbanity.

All that stuff? It teaches us yoga.

Because the prairie is, itself, so.

Anyone can love the mountains, but it takes a soul to love the prairie.
— Unknown

Monday, January 2, 2012

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

"The problem is never other people."
— Charlotte Joko Beck

Man, oh man, am I crazy about this interview with Zen teacher Charlotte Joko Beck. I wanna wrap my whole yoga practice in her words. She's bursting with wisdom.

I was never good at sitting. And seated meditation still kicks my ass, every time, unless I'm coming into it from 90 minutes of intense asana. But I find, more and more, that in my yoga practice on the mat (and equally in my life practice off the mat), the 90 minutes or the 24 hours are turning into an exercise not so much in strength or flexibility, but into just watching. Watching the moment when I suddenly turn irritable out of nowhere in Vira B. Watching the breath when, out of the blue, it grows shallow and frightened as I walk down the street. Watching the thoughts as they churn from peaceful and grounded to flighty and fearful in the course of just a few seconds.

Just watching, and choosing how to react.

This reasonable act of choosing, this constant awareness of deliberate reactivity? Therein lies the power of transformation. Therein lies the palpable shift in the day-to-day, in the relationships, in the work, in the mundane.

I see it in my own life. I grew up — as I suspect many of us do — watching adults close to me instinctively respond to difficulty or challenge by either yelling or shutting down, and in that model, in that shadow, as a child, I learned to do the same thing. (Just ask my beloved co-workers and best friends, who've seen me at my irritable, crabby, reactive worst, slinging drinks behind a bar on a crazy-busy Friday night circa 2005 or so.) And in the wake of years of practice, years of learning to watch, to slip into that witness mentality, now in this adult body I know how to consciously choose not to replicate that behavior, to resist slipping into that pattern, that samskara, that groove, in every situation of my life, whether it's in falling out of Utthita Hasta Padangusthasana or in getting disappointing news and feeling my stomach drop in the hearing.

We choose. We choose whether to freak out and live in perpetual high drama, or to step back, take a breath, and think to ourselves, "Isn't that interesting? I feel angry [disappointed, afraid, resentful, sad] right now. And even though I feel that here, now, in this breath, it will pass. But I can watch it with a certain curiosity and a sense of gentle compassion, and know that I am not that anger [disappointment, fear, resentment, sadness]." And then we can radiate that same sensibility, that compassion, that non-reactivity, past ourselves and into the way we interact with the people around us, be they bus drivers or DMV clerks or whiny toddlers or longtime best friends.

And damn, that's powerful stuff!

Anyway — read the whole thing. Joko rawks.

On finding teachers everywhere you look:
With unfailing kindness, your life always presents what you need to learn. Whether you stay home or work in an office or whatever, the next teacher is going to pop right up. Let’s say you notice that you have no patience with a certain person. Well, right there, you pay attention: “What’s this impatience?” As long as you’re capable of being annoyed, you can be sure that something will annoy you. When you no longer can be annoyed by little monkeyshines, you’ll find most everything agreeable. And of course, you have to watch your own monkeyshines. It’s great fun, really. It is! It’s fascinating to begin to watch our life unroll and to see what’s really going on.
On reactivity and the power of practice:

In your books, you keep saying that “the problem is never other people.”

Never. ....

You’re saying life isn’t a problem.

Exactly, it’s you who’s a problem. It’s your reactivity. See, if you could really cease being angry with her, you would be a different person, not just with her but in hundreds of situations in which an attack seems to be coming your way. Your life would be more calm, you’d be better for yourself and other people. See, that person isn’t a monster. She’s a human being who is ignorant, or else she wouldn’t be doing what she’s doing. And if, as practitioners, our aim is to save all sentient beings — to use a goody-goody-sounding phrase — we want to benefit her in our interaction with her.

This is the enlightenment process. One idea that really hampers us is to believe that people get “enlightened,” and then they’re that way forever and ever. We may have our moments, and if we get sick and have lots of things happening, we may fall back. But a person who practices consistently over years and years is more that way, more of the time, all the time. And that’s enough.
On unmet expectations and the gift of disappointment:
See, we usually live our lives out of the ceaseless hopes and expectations of this self-centered mind or ego. And if that works, if you’re unfortunate enough that it works — you want the ideal man, you get the ideal man; you get the ideal job; everybody loves you — then you forge ahead in your usual way until something comes along that stops you in your tracks. Usually, it’s a disappointment or disaster of some sort. What most people do then, naturally, is try harder. They want to be happy, so they look for a new formula, and that’s when they take up some sort of a practice, or go to church, or do something.

If you’re lucky, though, you continue to meet painful disappointment. “Gosh, it just doesn’t work; I don’t know what to do next — I’m baffled.” I always congratulate people who arrive at this crossroads — “Aren’t you lucky!” — because now the true path can be glimpsed. A real practice can begin. It doesn’t mean that if I get disappointed, I like it. But I know it now for what it is.

Aren't we lucky? We get to be painfully disappointed! Gurus everywhere, indeed.

Life's Not a Problem (Tricycle)

Raw, adjective: 5. crude in quality or character; not tempered or refined by art or taste: raw humor.

Y'all mentioned wanting the playlist from our little jam session benefit the other night.

Well, here you go:
Whole Lotta Love, Led Zeppelin
Realistic, Soulstice
Killing Me Softly With His Song, The Fugees
Alright (3PM Mix), Soulstice
Eye of the Tiger, Survivor
Another One Bites the Dust, Queen
No Diggity, Blackstreet
American Woman, Lenny Kravitz
I'm Too Sexy, Right Said Fred
Smooth, Santana Feat. Rob Thomas
Poison, Bell Biv DeVoe
Joy to the World, Three Dog Night
Stuck in the Middle With You, Stealers Wheel
Lose Yourself, Eminem
Like I Love You, Justin Timberlake
Bad Moon Rising, Creedence Clearwater Revival
Dream Weaver, Gary Wright
Why Does My Heart Feel So Bad, Moby
Special, Sara Devine
Can't Fight This Feeling, REO Speedwagon
Comfortably Numb, Dar Williams and Ani DiFranco
Hurt, Johnny Cash
Someone Like You, Adele
Careless Whisper, George Michael
Hari Om (feat. Prajna Vieira), Ben Leinbach, Prajna Vieira
Purnamadah, Shantala
Offering Chant, Lama Gurme and Jean-Philippe Rykiel

Raw, adjective: 9. disagreeably damp and chilly, as the weather or air: a raw, foggy day at the beach.

   [greys] graced, grac·ing.

1. elegance or beauty of form, manner, motion, or action: We watched her skate with effortless grace across the ice.
2. a pleasing or attractive quality or endowment: He lacked the manly graces.
3. favor or goodwill.
4. a manifestation of favor, especially by a superior: It was only through the dean's grace that I wasn't expelled from school.
5. mercy; clemency; pardon: He was saved by an act of grace from the governor.

1125–75; Middle English < Old French < Latin grātia favor, kindness, esteem, derivative of grātus pleasing

Feeling quite deeply the grace of this lazy morning.

Slept until 8 today. Eight!!! It's been so long since I've had a morning when I didn't need to be up at 5 or 6, crank out a few overdue email replies, hop in the shower and roll out the door en route to teach or practice or meet or fly or run or some other Very Important Action Verb.

It feels strange, and weird, and as though I'm forgetting to be somewhere.

I'm going to clean my house. I'm going to clear my mind. I'm going to sit down and read the 27 Tricycle articles I've had bookmarked for weeks.

And it will pass in a flash, and the evening will come, and the needing to be somewhere and the needing to show up and nod and talk and make eye contact and listen and be present and all of those other things we do when we participate in life beyond our own wee sanctuaries.

But, for now?

Damn. Grace.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

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

There is no shortage of good days. It is good lives that are hard to come by. A life of good days lived in the senses is not enough. The life of sensation is the life of greed; it requires more and more. The life of the spirit requires less and less; time is ample and its passage sweet. Who would call a day spent reading a good day? But a life spent reading — that is a good life.

— Annie Dillard, The Writing Life

Raw, adjective: 10. not diluted, as alcoholic spirits: raw whiskey.

Savoring the afterglow of a big, busy weekend.

Yesterday's solid morning session at Urban Flow was followed by a rockin', packed-to-capacity crowd for our Girls Rock Camp benefit class last night at Flying Yoga. We raised a good chunk of change and had a helluva good time in the process. I can't think of any other way that I'd have rather closed out the old year and welcomed the new.

Woke this morning with a scratchy voice (not so easy to holler out asana instructions over Eminem and Lenny Kravitz) and a heavy head (sparkling wine, I love you) and a full heart (filled to the brim). Chugged my coffee, threw on my leggings, and then, quite appropriately, rolled down the hill through the hungover Tenderloin (past one most-fabulous drag queen totally owning the glittery 8am post-NYE walk of shame in fuschia mini-dress, 4-inch heels and big silver wig) to usher the new year in with a sweaty, song-filled practice at Urban Flow.

Across the board, most folks I spoke with yesterday looked forward to a mellow holiday, and this morning quiet, simple celebrations seemed to be the theme. Maybe it's just me getting old and content (then again, I've always kind of been a grandma), but last night I too wanted nothing but close friends and good conversation and a little talk of what we'd like to see 2012 bring into our lives. And I got that, beautifully, and with the easy comfort that comes of longtime friendship. And I even rolled through a dose of the bumpin' urban scene on 22nd and Valencia/Mission on my way home, too. Seriously, all I could ask for, and more.

All good. All light. All ways.

Happy new year.

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

All of these glowing reviews of Glow Yoga & Wellness make me so proud to have been a part of it since we opened last March. Thanks for welcoming us into North Beach with such open arms. Please join me tonight at 6 and tomorrow at 6 and 7:30 for a strong flow to set the tone for your New Year.