Monday, December 15, 2014

Power of the Pause

Photo credit: Porsupah
When I sit with my dogs and they stare into my eyes, seeming to will me to understand their needs, I sometimes wonder what they think of us humans, and what they would tell us if they could give us advice. My guess is that they would ask, "Why are you so stressed? Humans are at the top of the food chain, with no natural predators, enough food and plenty of shelter. Why are you so worried all the time?"

Anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the U.S., according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA)affecting 18% of the adult population. The problem is that our minds have evolved to the point that they can identify threats that are there, have been there and might be there at some point, but our nervous system responds to all these threats as real, no matter which verbe tense they belong to: present, past or possible future.

I see this most often when my students who have been diagnosed with cancer finish their treatment and are deemed "in remission." Some of them tell me that they suddenly feel unsure, like cancer is stalking them and that any moment their bodies will betray them and cancer will begin to grow again. They walk around with a cloud hovering over them, darkening any moments of happiness with the thought, "how long?"

In reality, it is the mind that is doing the stalking, not cancer.

Catastrophic thoughts beget more catastrophic thoughts. Our minds react like a hamster on an exercise wheel: repeating variations of the same worrisome ideas over and over and never resolving any of the threats. We humans may be on the top of the food chain, but our minds have become our natural predators.

Whenever anyone asks me about mental health treatments, I make my personal opinion clear: I believe in normalizing brain chemistry. For some, that can be accompllished without the presence of medications, but for others, medication is required to bring the brain back into balance, or else the hamster will never even know about the wheel, let alone have the awareness to step off of it.

Once the brain chemistry is normalized, skillful awareness practices must begin for real change to happen.

In yoga philosophy, we learn about the three gunas, or fundamental operating principles. These gunas are called rajas, tamas and sattva. In very simplified terms, rajas is associated with promoting action, change, excitment and passion; tamas is associated with resistance, darkness and idifference; and sattva is associated with promoting harmony, intelligence and balance.

The problem is that we live in a culture that glorifies rajasic lifestyles: work hard, play hard, do more, be more are the messages that innundate our society. We even have the popular quote, "I'll rest when I'm dead." This lifestyle keeps the hamster on the wheel, rather than helping it change the pattern.

So is more rest the answer? For someone with anxiety, the nervous system is said to be in a state of hyperarousal (on the hamster wheel, looking for threats), so rest will not come easy. Finding that balancing practice - the sattvic lifestyle - is vital. Observing and balancing all the sensory inputs can be helpful: food, entertainment, sound, smells, etc., to help balance the nervous system. Yoga offers us many tools to find harmony in our body chemistry, but the simplest tool is the breath.

Photo credit: Driton Avdyli
As a student of my breath, I have found many different states of mind are reflected in my breathing, like the ripples on the surface of a lake. They give me clues to what is going on below. If I stir up the surface, I also stir up the lake. But if I can be patient and let the ripples settle, there is a better chance that what is below will settle. My primary tool to overcoming the predatory pattern of anxious thoughts is breath awareness. No matter how rapidly I breathe, there is always a pause at the top and bottom of my breath; it may be split-second, but it's there.

In my most fearful moments, I tell myself, "You're not dying... You're breathing... Feel that? There is a pause - find it... There... Find it again... There."
When I'm reaching for that next sweet thing to compensate for discomfort, I ask myself, "Is "Have you paused and checked in? Is this really what you want? Wait for the answer... there."
During the dark stories that my mind tells myself, I question, "Is this true? Wait... Does it still feel true after that pause?"

The pause offers me the ability to tap into a more balanced, sattvic state, where I can be less prey to my thoughts. That pause has power.

Monday, December 8, 2014

The Light

Here in December, our winter season is fairly mild. We enjoy rain and cooler temperatures, and I might even break out the flannel sheets for our bed soon, but we typically miss the quiet of snow or drama of hail. My memory of past winters is a tableau of rain and dark nights, interrupted politely with colored lights.

A few years ago, while attending a silent meditation retreat at Spirit Rock, I decided to change how I saw this time of year. Instead of grieving the light, I decided to view the darkness as a time of creativity and growth, to feel heavy with anticipation and excitement, like when I was awaiting the birth of my children.

Sunset at Limekiln Beach near Big Sur photo by Lorien
What will this new year be like? 
What challenges and adventures will I meet? 
What actions can I take now, like planting seeds, that will grow and blossom and create the changes I wish to see in the world?

During the dark mornings and evenings, I sit and let my mind form these questions as I prepare for the coming year. I've taken some actions already, and I'm listening intently for more guidance. My yoga practice during this time reflects my need for this listening. In addition to my asanas for strength and mobility, I've added time to sit and breathe. Because time is always a factor, I allow my asana practice to be more about supporting longer sitting practices.

Our winter solstice, which includes the longest night, will be on Sunday, December 21 (for inhabitants of the Northern Hemisphere).

As a celebration of the solstice, a way to let go of 2014 and move into the next chapter, I'll be teaching part of a Donation-Based Yoga Mala on Saturday, December 20 at 5:30pm at Breathe Los Gatos.

The celebration will be held on Saturday rather than Sunday so as not to disrupt the regular classes on Sunday. A mala is a set of 108 beads used for prayer or recital of mantra. A yoga mala is a practice of 108 rounds of Sun Salutations; the 108 will be broken into groups and we'll rest in between the groups.
We are asking for $20 donation to participate, which will go to the Family Giving Tree organization.

More information on Breathe's website...

Monday, November 3, 2014

Supporting Your Health Habit

He reminded me of Rumplestiltskin, the antagonist from one of the Brothers Grimm tales. This was not the typical image of a healer, even if my teacher had prefaced our introduction by calling him a true “Santa Fe character”, and something of a shamanic cowboy. Underneath all the gruffness, I was honored to catch a glimpse of the real character of this ageless man, on a very special afternoon in New Mexico.

Don Smith entered the yoga studio wearing a cowboy hat that he claimed was 110 years old and began laying out pictures and books on the massage table. He spoke passionately about the history of osteopathy, and when he stomped around the table to emphasize his distaste for the board of osteopathic examiners, the image of grumpy little man came to mind. What he said and did after that is what will stay with me.

Tree sap: another divine fluid
photo by Janitors
“Your body has a health habit,” he told us all, and explained that it was our responsibility to align the body so that it can do what it naturally does: heal.

When I teach yoga for cancer survivorship, I cringe anytime someone suggests that yoga “cures” cancer. I believe that yoga supports our body’s innate ability to address cancer, which is why hearing Don's view struck a chord with me; yoga practices for cancer survivorship move bones, blood and lymph, and help retrain strain patterns to reduce barriers and improve circulation.

I asked Don his impressions of cancer. The picture he painted for me has haunted me ever since.

“You know that island of plastic pollution that’s floating in the ocean? That’s a tumor on a global scale.”

He went on to say that the fluids are the key to treating humans on a systemic level, and that even the nerves are supported by fluids.

I had often been told that one of the lymphatic system's main functions was to act as a sewer system, to remove the interstitial fluid that cannot be reabsorbed and carry it back towards the heart. At the mention of this, Don passionately disagrees with this view. He believes that the lymph that moves through the lymphatic system is a divine fluid... You find a way to move it, working with the trauma of the body, not against it, and that's how you support your body's habit to heal.

Upcoming Workshop

This Saturday, November 8, I'll be leading a workshop that shares how to support your body's habit to heal after a cancer diagnosis. This 2-hour event will include 30 minutes of lecture, followed by 90 minutes of simple daily practices, and is open to cancer patients, survivors, caregivers and professionals working with people with cancer. Here are the details - feel free to share, and I hope to see some of you there!

Yoga for Cancer Survivorship Workshop
Sat, Nov 8 1:30-3:30pm, $35

2995 Middlefield Road, Palo Alto, 650-320-YOGA (9262)

Monday, September 29, 2014

Autumn and the Art of Letting Go

Here in California, our change of seasons are subtler than in other parts of the world, but they still impact us.

Photo: strogoscope
Last Friday, I sat outside the DMV as my daughter applied for her driver's permit. There were oak leaves on the ground - beautiful splashes of yellow with orange and brown singing the edges. I picked one up and crumpled it, feeling the rubbery texture of the innermost part of the leaf, the part closest to the stem. Maybe this leaf wasn't quite ready to be released, yet here it was.

Are we ever ready to let go?

As my "baby" begins her rite of passage towards independence, I keep thinking of the rubber part inside, and I wonder if the leaf protests, or just accepts the truth of the season: Fall is for letting go.

The change of the seasons varies year to year and place to place; our ability to accept change varies, too. As a teacher who works primarily with populations that are dealing with change, I see variety in how people let go and accept their new reality. Everyone has a different timeline - some leaves hold out until the very end of the season, after all - and I see my role as helping my students understand what is available to them, no matter the circumstances.

I'm leading two different workshops to round out this very full year. One is geared towards yoga teachers, but is open to practitioners, too; the other is geared towards yoga students, but is open to teachers, too. Both are offering tools to let go of what can't be done, sowing seeds of what can be done, instead.

Break it Down: Adapting Classical Yoga Postures For All Abilities with Talya and Lorien
Saturday, Oct 4, 1:00-4:00pm at MindBody Zone in Fremont, $45
Pre-register HERE

Yoga for Cancer Survivorship Workshop with Lorien
Saturday, Nov 8, 1:30-3:30pm at Samyama Yoga Center in Palo Alto, $35
Pre-register HERE

Whether you are a teacher or a practitioner, you will gain insight on how to use yoga as a tool to let go of what was and work with what is. I hope to see you there. Until then, enjoy the leaves!

Monday, September 8, 2014

Goals, Not Dreams

I recently watched a video of Australian artist Tim Minchin giving an address at Western Australia University, and I really resonated with what he calls his "nine life lessons". In this address he states,

"I advocate passionate dedication to the pursuit of short-term goals. Be micro-ambitious. Put your head down and work with pride on whatever is in front of you… you never know where you might end up. Just be aware that the next worthy pursuit will probably appear in your periphery. Which is why you should be careful of long-term dreams. If you focus too far in front of you, you won’t see the shiny thing out the corner of your eye."
You can watch the full video, below, and it's well worth the time. It's funny and insightful, and it came to me at exactly the right time.

Even as a child my dreams always had backup plans. Adults asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up and I replied, "Prima Ballerina." They they asked me what I would do if that didn't work out. I shrugged and responded, "I'll be a ballet teacher." I remember having those conversations as early as seven years old! I was never one to romanticize my dreams. I wasn't all that connected to them. In college, I went through four majors - all wildly different from each other. When I left engineering to teach yoga, I did so with the understanding that my path is a windy one, and to try to look around the corner will only lead me to suffering.

So, I adopted Mr. Minchin's philosophy of pouring my heart into whatever work lay in front of me, always staying open to what comes next, but never trying to force it. Which is how teaching yoga to people with cancer came about. I didn't actively seek this work, but once I devoted my heart to it, I found it really fit.

Back in December, I decided to set several goals for myself for the year 2014. I wrote about these goals as being "leaps" in the Year of the Horse. Today, I'm looking back on those goals:

In April, I led a training for yoga teachers who wish to work with people who have cancer. This 40-hour training was conducted mostly by myself, with some guest speakers. The teachers that I've studied with made it look so easy to lead, but I wasn't fooled; I knew it would be a bog task to organize, write and present the material in a way that made sense and lasting impressions. I learned some big lessons there, and will implement them when I run this program again next year.

In July, I went to Africa with my daughter and 17 other women for a yoga and service retreat. This trip across the world is still affecting me. I've written one blog about it here, but I'm sure there are more in me. I just haven't processed the experience fully yet.

This Saturday is the Pose for a Purpose Yoga Festival and Fundraiser at Vasona park in Los Gatos. Back in December, I had the idea to raise money for Cancer CAREpoint, and realized that I couldn't do it alone. I need to ask my friends for help. Asking is hard for me; it's a practice. It turns out that asking was the easiest part! People can be so generous. Not everyone, no. But 99%, which keeps me hopeful.

As of yesterday, we earned enough in festival ticket sales to cover our expenses - money that my husband and I have spent out of our pockets to make this event happen. You can imagine my relief! So now, all the ticket sales moving forward will be donated to Cancer CAREpoint, a nonprofit organization that make dealing with cancer just a little bit easier. This was the goal all along: to have money flow into Cancer CAREpoint. By passionately dedicating myself to this goal, it has become a reality.

I do have a glimpse of the next shining thing, as Minchin calls it, but I'll save that for another post...

Some people have big perspectives; they can hold their big dreams for a long time until they become reality. I prefer smaller goals, and the dogged discipline it takes to see them through.

To find out more about the festival, go to
To  find out more about Cancer CAREpoint, go to

Monday, August 25, 2014

What Is Inspiration?

Are you looking for me?
I am in the next seat.
My shoulder is against yours.
you will not find me in the stupas,
not in Indian shrine rooms,
nor in synagogues,
nor in cathedrals:
not in masses,
nor kirtans,
not in legs winding around your own neck,
nor in eating nothing but vegetables.
When you really look for me,
you will see me instantly —
you will find me in the tiniest house of time.
Kabir says: Student, tell me, what is God?
He is the breath inside the breath.
― Kabir
I've always loved this poem by Kabir. Inspire means both to breathe in, but also to fill (someone) with the urge or ability to do or feel something, especially to do something creative.

Inspire: the breath inside the breath.

We all have our motivations, our inspirations. As part of the media coverage for my upcoming yoga festival and fundraiser, I've been asked several times what inspired me to create this event, or to begin to work with people who have a cancer diagnosis in the first place.

Over 20 years ago I lost someone very important to me. My grandmother was a big influence on me as I grew up. Petite in stature, but larger than life, Katherine ("Kay") Souza taught me many things about life: never back down from a fight for justice, always deadhead vegetables - they do better when pruned, actions speak louder than words (but her words were always pretty loud), and there is always a solution to any problem. These are just some of what she taught me over the years. In my early twenties, she was diagnosed with cancer. She attacked it as she did any problem, but it eventually proved too great for her. We, her family, were not always the best caregivers for her. She was a complicated woman and her children rallied as best they could, but I still saw places where we could have supported her more. I remember thinking, there has to be a better way to go through this. Her death shook me, and it splintered our family.

I know she would have appreciated some of the tools that are available now to people going through cancer: support groups, nutrition guidance, exercise groups, massage, guided imagery and mindfulness, etc. I know that we, her caregivers, could have used some help, too.

I'm so happy to know that now there are tools available. I think of her each time I step into Cancer CAREpoint's resource center to teach my weekly yoga for cancer survivorship classes.

She is my inspiration. She is my breath within my breath.

Everyone has a story about cancer. We have all been touched in some way - some of us filter the experience through our loved ones, some of us have had a diagnosis ourselves. It's good to know that we have resources now that can help all of us.

On Saturday, September 13, I'll be producing the event Pose 4 a Purpose Yoga Festival and Fundraiser. This all-day yoga festival will be held at Vasona, a facility of Santa Clara County Parks, and will raise funds for Cancer CAREpoint.

It would be wonderful to see all of us touched by cancer come out and support each other. If you are a lover of yoga, then buy a ticket and practice with us on the lawn, trail or lake. If you are someone who would rather be in service, then sign up for one of our volunteer spots. (It really does take a village to put a festival on!)

I'd love to hear about what inspires you, what is your "breath within the breath" that motivates you to practice yoga or be in service.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Peeling Back the Layers

Is it dawn?

The light is that soft, seeping glow that makes you wonder if it truly is going to be a new day, or if there is just some bright lamp outside.

I open the tent and see, yes, it is dawn, and on cue, the birds all around me start their morning chants.

I make my way to the lookout, a wooden structure with two levels and lots of patio furniture. As I climb the steps, I am so excited that I almost trip.

The sun is up now, and I can see all around me. I decide that it's here that I want to practice yoga.

I move the furniture with the help of my two cohorts, and we unroll our mats. I pause in the first pose and find my breath, whispering the chant that always reminds me that the practice is dedicated to something bigger than me. I extend my awareness all around me and feel a sense of connection to the ground far below.

As I reach my hands up, I follow my fingers and gaze at the sky - the African sky, and I feel a sense of dislocation. I am here, in my body, in my breath, practicing the movements and poses with the same issues of strength and concentration as I have for years, but it's all different. I am in Africa, I think, as I sweep my arms out and dive my chest towards my legs, being careful not to overexert on this first big stretch. As I flow through the poses and into Downward Facing Dog, I sneak a peek to my left.

Liwonde National Park, July 2014
In the tall grass only 20 feet away, there is a family of elephants grazing. I only see the top half of the two adults and a dark outline of the baby's back, except when it reaches its trunk up, tentatively, for taller grass. Nearby are two other adults who are busy stripping bark from the trees that grow on the other side of the river. All five elephants converse with each other using low bass tones, high trills and all sorts of snorts. What I never hear are their footsteps. I decide to be as light-footed as them as I step and jump between the poses.

My practice vacillates between my inward work - bandhas, muscular contraction, breath awareness - and my outer world - birds, animals, sun, wind. I pause several times during this practice to feel gratitude, to marvel at the world around me and to simply feel the moment sliding past, like the currents in a stream.

This is one of the highlights of my trip here in Malawi.

Peeling Back the Fear Layer

Ten months ago, my friend Joanne looked me straight in the eye and said, "I think we should do this Africa yoga service retreat together and bring our teenage daughters along. What do you think?" The truth was, I had been thinking of this trip, but I hadn't thought about bringing my daughter. I knew she wanted to start traveling as soon as possible, but it just hadn't occurred to me. I didn't know where Malawi was. I wasn't sure about the service work. I was, in short, afraid. I didn't want to get to the other side of the planet and be with a miserable child, having a miserable time. I did what I have always done when I'm afraid: I researched.

I called my friend, Mel, who I knew had lived in Africa and asked her about Malawi. It turns out, that's where she lived! She allayed so many of my fears about food, safety and culture. My very supportive husband was also encouraging me to go, and my daughter was excited.

I wish I could say that I had no doubts during the ten months leading up to the trip, but I was actually more distracted by so many other projects that I didn't really have time to worry until the last minute. As my daughter started asking more and more questions, I realized I didn't have any answers. I like having all the answers, which made my fear layer solidify a little.

The weekend prior to leaving, I was at one of the coordinator's house, sorting the donations into manageable piles to distribute into everyone's bags. She mentioned that many of us were traveling on the same flights, and my fear softened a little.

Underneath that fear was the unknown. As I was asked over and over, are you excited? I realized that I was, indeed, thrilled to be stepping into that unknown.

Peeling Back the Ego Layer

Our first few days in Malawi were mainly focused on acclimatization: different language, culture, time zones, etc. We were eager to begin the service work, we had a plan and the expectations began to build. The first day that we spent near the village was more of a tour of the areas than work. We soon realized that "Africa time" meant that our expectations had to refresh often, like a slow internet browser. Along the tours of various clinics, schools and farms, we met the villagers. The politician who was with us would scold the young girls who were obviously not in school; most girls do not get the privilege of going to secondary (high) school, because they are needed at home to make bricks, fetch wood, water, work in the fields, cook, clean or tend to the children (who are sometimes their own).

My emotions ran high on this day. Girls younger than my daughter were already married with babies, repeating a cycle of life that I wasn't sure that they were free to choose. So many people were asking for help: sponsorship for school, a new farming tool, or simply holding out a hand and waiting for these 20 white women to elevate their lives in some way.

Schoolchildren from Tukombo
performing a welcome dance
It is seductive, that feeling of fixing things for another. It feeds my ego.

I could quit my job, go to school as a nurse and come here to help out the clinics, I thought to myself. It was a fleeting thought, one that vanished as soon as I caught sight of my daughter. My work is not here, I reminded myself. My work is at home, doing the mundane chores and making the hard choices that come with the life of a householder yogi.

I was so grateful the next morning when our leader pulled us together and shared the new plan: while some of us would build a brick wall, some would install lighting, others would play with the kids and others would interview people of all backgrounds, so that we could all get a better picture of what would really be helpful.

Stepping back and assessing without all the emotion was exactly what I needed: equanimity. I once heard that co-dependancy is the addiction to fixing others - with the added benefit that it means you don't have to examine yourself, because you are so busy "helping" others who might not need your help after all. When I, citizen of a first world, visited Malawi, a third world, I felt the definition of co-dependency strongly. I wanted to fix it all. I wanted to be everyone's champion, hero, savior. I wanted to eliminate all their suffering because it made me feel uncomfortable to see it. The truth, as it turns out, was that much of the suffering that I saw was my own projection.

When our leaders asked us to look through the lens of equanimity, to see others with clear eyes and as people, not needy objects, we saw better how we could be of service. Offering money was not the answer, at least, not long-term. By the end of the trip, we had some clear ideas on how to help in the short-term, and some plans for ongoing assistance. I am so grateful that we stepped back and really saw with clear eyes - or, as clear as we can get.

Peeling Back the Doubt Layer

Just as it is false to believe that I am a savior, it is also false to believe that I cannot effect any change. Both of these lies hinder my ability to be true and useful in this life.

Along the Shire River
I could have easily gotten caught up in all the need that I saw in Malawi. It felt endless, and I felt small. When I looked up at the starry sky in Liwonde National Park, I saw so many other planets and worlds, but they all glowed brighter than I ever saw before. Solar is the main source of power, so there isn't much electro-pollution at night. I felt closer to the sky, and the lights from the stars felt warmer than they ever had.

I knew that if I picked just one thing, something that I could accomplish, I knew that I could make a ripple, some small change. I wanted the young girls (and boys!) to see us women installing the solar powered LED lights and realize that they could do this, too. I felt good that we, as a team, voted to donate our funds to buy a small ambulance to save lives. And I felt sure that this is not the last time that we will see and work in Malawi.

I can make a difference. It may be small, but that's all the spark that's needed.

As we were leaving, my daughter turned to me and said, "We're coming back in three years, right?" She'll be 18 years old then. Who knows how this adventure will have changed her.

I'm curious to know how I have changed. I'm still in my body - with all its challenges, and my breath - with all its wildness, but my mind keeps drifting back to that lookout. I keep hearing the crunching of bark and tall grass, and I'll keep peeking out during Downward Facing Dog to see just who or what is quietly living nearby.

Monday, June 30, 2014

Pose for a Purpose

A few years back, I saw a poster for a yoga festival in the park in Campbell. It featured several of my favorite teachers, and some I didn't yet know. I couldn't make the festival, but I remember thinking what a great idea! There are outdoor yoga festivals in San Francisco all the time, but this was the first one I remember seeing in my area.

Several years passed, but the seed of the yoga festival continued to germinate.

I had been volunteering for Cancer CAREpoint for years when we began discussing ways to raise funds and expand our programs. We originally connected because of the yoga for cancer survivorship classes that I teach. Cancer CAREpoint offers free services to people in the Silicon Valley area who are  dealing with cancer, no matter what their heal insurance status is, where they are being treated or what type of cancer they have been diagnosed with. Since I welcome the same population into my classes, it felt like the perfect fit - and it has been!

After working with them for some time, I realized that I wanted to do more. Suddenly, the idea of the yoga festival blossomed! I thought, if I could get some of my friends to donate some classes, we could raise a few thousand dollars for this nonprofit.

"Kindness Tree" logo,
When I Was Cold community
Six months later, and the idea has flourished! We currently have over 20 teachers who have agreed to donate their time to this cause, and an additional staff of 10 volunteers who have done everything to help me - from borrowing paddle boards to connecting me with sound crew, and all of the thousands of little details in between! I am so very fortunate to have these people to work with, because I have never planned anything this large before, and I'm so invested in making it a success.

What would a success mean?

I have several goals for this event:
1. People fall in love with practicing yoga outdoors.
2. People fall in love with the concept of practicing yoga as a service to others.
3. People learn about Cancer CAREpoint and uses their programs when a cancer diagnosis changes their lives.
4. We raise lots of money so that Cancer CAREpoint can continue their great work, and more:

  • $15,000 raised will cover the expenses of the event, plus support the current programs
  • $25,000 raised will support current programs, but for more people - we can offer a larger space for educational meetings
  • $50,000 raised will expand programs and help us go to where people need us, instead of asking them to come to us

As I posted recently, I anticipate the next question is, What Can I Do? There are so many ways that you can get involved in this, but I'll only mention the top few. You are always welcome to tell me about other ways that might help.

To get involved:

  • Buy a ticket; there are half-day and full-day tickets available, and there are Early Bird prices in effect right now. Once those limited tickets are sold out, the prices go up. Buy your tickets HERE.
  • Spread the word; let all your friends and family know about the event. Vasona Lake Park is a wonderful venue, and we'll have classes on the lawn, the trails and the lake (on the stand-up paddle boards) to choose from. In addition, there will be live music, fitness demos, vendors and food trucks!
  • Donate an item to our auction; we'll be holding a silent auction to help raise funds, so let us know if you have a service or item that might raise money. Contact Heidi to coordinate.
  • Become a vendor; are you a local business looking to increase your customers and does your business fit the yoga student demographic? Contact Michelle asap to find out about becoming a vendor.
  • Sponsor us; we are looking for all kinds of sponsors in all types of ways, and can offer several levels of promotional benefits. Contact Whitney or Lorien for more information.
  • Volunteer; we need an army the day of the event to help with parking, registration, ushering classes, etc. Let Janine know if you're interested.

Why "for a purpose"?
Traditional yoga practices include the idea that all the postures, breathing and meditation are really tools to make us better able to serve others in the world. As I've written before, it doesn't matter if you can wrap your legs behind your head if you can't be kind to others around you. The more you practice, the clearer that becomes. We purify in order to see the truth, and the truth is,

"In the end, only kindness matters." (Jewel)

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

The Questions

Teaching yoga to people with chronic pain or people dealing with a cancer diagnosis affords me a unique opportunity to witness our universal desire to reduce suffering. The most common question asked by all populations is:

"What can I do?"

I decided to take some time to share the different circumstances that give rise to this question. You may find yourself among these, or not. Keep it in mind the next time you encounter someone suffering.

I am just out of surgery to have my cancer removed and I am so scared. I don't want to hurt myself, but I want to get back into my body and feel normal again. What can I do?

I'm in pain. Everything seems to make it worse, but sitting still makes me crazy. What can I do?

In some form or another, I get asked these questions nearly every week. Our bodies were made to move, but what if moving hurts, and what if that sensation is tied to fear? I don't pretend to know what these people are going through. So, more often than not, I say nothing right way. Instead, I breathe. I pause to connect with all my senses and then notice what I feel. I then ask them to do the same. Sometimes, that's all that is needed. They already know what to do and how to do it, and I am only a reminder.

My brain will tell me that hopelessness has an effect on immune system, and that there is always some movement or breathing practice that we can do. The act of doing something - anything - to participate in our own well-being goes a long way towards balancing the situation. I only let my brain tell me this once my heart has checked in, though, because this person may not want to hear it.

My loved one is in a really dark place. His cancer has returned and the outlook isn't good. What can I do?

Knowing when to step in and when to hold space for someone we love is a challenge that everyone in any relationship faces. When caregivers come to me, I usually address the caregiver's issues, because that is who is in front of me. Occasionally, they will ask me about their loved one. Most of the time, I advise them to do as I do: pause, breathe and notice what your heart says. Another way to look at this is to discern the difference between empathy and sympathy. Here is a great 2 minute animation that illustrates Brene Brown's lecture on understanding the difference:

What if my doctors missed something? What if it comes back? What can I do?

My pain is so mild today that I want to tackle everything that I'm not normally up for, but I'm afraid that I'll trigger a pain flare. What can I do?

After checking in with my breath, and asking that person to check in with their breath, I then reflect on what is true in this moment. When I'm working with my own pain, it's the same process: breathe, notice, discern. There are so many stories floating around in our minds and our bodies, and not all of them are true. What's important is to keep checking in, keep noticing what's true in this moment, and then this one. The only thing we can do is live every day with awareness.

Next month, my daughter and I will be taking a service trip to Malawi. ("Voluntourism" has come under fire lately, because there have been many situations that leave the area no better or worse off after the group has left; here is an article about "voluntourism".) The group that is going includes several yoga teachers and students. At our last meeting, one of our leaders asked us to reflect on the Yamas and Niyamas - behaviors listed in the Yoga Sutras, and use them as guidelines as we enter someone else's world. One of the reasons I'm so interested in being involved in this trip is that the leaders took a very service-minded approach in organizing it. At our first meeting, they spoke about how we won't know exactly what we'll be doing to help the village until closer to our departure date, because we want them to tell us what they need, rather than us assuming we know. It struck me that this is the same approach that I use in my work. I don't know what the Malawi people we meet may need. I have some thoughts, for sure, but I'm going with an open heart and the practice of pausing and breathing to see what are the answers to the question what can I do?

Monday, May 12, 2014

Love Makes the Lymph (and the World) Go 'Round

Photo credit: Paul Garland

"Lymph moves through loving touch," says yoga instructor Tias Little.

Earlier this year, I assisted him in a workshop that discussed yoga for the immune system. He spoke about the mechanics of the immune system - specifically the lymphatic system which collects and drains waste, as well as provides our blood cells the opportunity to interact with pathogens in order to break them down and build better defenses against them. He also mentioned that the lymphatic system does not have its own pump to move the lymph through the body; it moves when we move, or when we move it. As he showed a slide of the lymphatic system in the head and neck, he began to describe how to help the lymph to move, with gentle caresses.

It resonated with me, and I now use this practice to begin my yoga classes, both as a way to move the lymph, but also as a way to set our intention to be friendly, loving and kind to ourselves.

"Each one teach one"

K is a dedicated student who regularly attends several of my yoga for cancer survivorship classes. We've both been happily surprised at how much her practice has helped her. Recently, she was visiting her mother, and speaking to K's sister, who is their mother's primary caregiver. K's sister was showing signs of stress, so K reached out to help: she offered to massage her shoulders and then showed her the gentle caress that we practice in our classes together. Part of the stress K's sister was dealing with was because their mother was not feeling well. Their mother was in the room during the exchange between her daughters, but shortly after, she excused herself to go lie down. K checked on her a little while later and found her resting comfortably while gently stroking her hands down her face and neck, just as K had shown her sister.

The ripples of the practice extend out and out and find those who need it. As one of my other students quoted me recently, "each one teach one" is the way that we all make the changes that we wish to see in the world.

The Big View

Photo credit: Yahoo Inc

When I was a kid, I would look out the window during long drives and fantasize about what I saw. Often, we would be driving south and I would see cows grazing on rolling hills covered with short brown grass. I imagined that if I could fly up into the air and view the same scene, I would witness a cow grazing on the back of another cow, because the short grain looked a little like the back of a cow. I like to use this perspective tool even now. I don't pretend that I know the secrets of the universe, but I'd like to imagine I could see some of the big patterns, if I'm observant enough.

Here's another pattern I'd like to propose:

the lymphatic system is model for global compassion.

Imagine the feelings of love and friendliness are the lymph in a vast network that supports the entire human race as one big organism. The feelings don't move around unless we take action. They have no "pump" of their own. We move and act with kindness, and the organism as a whole works better, with better efficiency and less illness. It doesn't mean that pathogens don't exist, but it means that we recognize them better and faster and learn from them, rather than simply destroying them. Each time someone's kindness bumps into us, we are moved to act kindly. Each time we show love to someone, they are moved to show love.

I know that lymph moves throughout our bodies at a really slow rate. I don't expect that adopting this model will bring about world peace overnight. I'm committed to working with what I can do: acting with love and sharing what I know, so the ripples continue to spread ever outward.

Maybe the Beatles were right all those decades ago; maybe love is all we need.

Love and action.
Photo credit: marsmettn tallahassee

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

The Heart of the Matter

Photo: Alex E. Proimos
I have never been very good at sales. I've tried several times in my life, but I'm always uncomfortable and uneasy playing the role of the person who knows exactly what someone else needs.

When I was a kid, my friend talked me into selling candy with her from door to door; the idea was that we told the people who opened the door to us that the sales from the candy went to helping keep youth off the streets, but as it turns out, that wasn't entirely true: the youth we were supporting were ourselves, and the guys driving us around in his van took most of the money. I lasted one day on that job. As a teen, I was hired at an all-women's health club, and was promoted to sales, but only for the short time it took for the management to realize I had no aptitude for it. In college, I worked as a bank teller, and management would impress upon us the importance of getting our customers to open new accounts or subscribe to different services, all under the guise that it was better for them; when the bank held contests, I usually showed up last on the list.

In each of these examples (and many more in my life that I will spare you), I wasn't invested in what I was selling. But selling is certainly a part of my self-employment now. On a daily basis, I need to be promoting my classes, workshops, trainings and videos. I've gotten a little better at it, but it's still an ill fit for me, something like high-heeled shoes; I can pull them out and wear them for an occasion from time to time, but I'm going to kick them off as soon as I can.

What makes the selling both easier and harder is that I work with people with cancer. 

It's easier because I am wholly invested in my work. I can look back at my life and see a clear path through all the twists and turns that led me to this moment. From my grandmother's death 21 years ago, to my leaving the corporate engineering world, to the people who I attracted to my classes with my avid interest in how yoga heals, and so on.

When I am asked "Have you had a cancer diagnosis?" I reply, "no, but I've studied yoga for cancer in depth." In fact, the last four years I have been learning from teachers and doctors, as well as my students. I teach evidence-based practices, which means that there are medical studies behind everything that I do. More importantly, I observe how my students respond to the practices; how it makes them feel, what language I can use that is effective, which sequences lead to reports of improvement, etc. This is an ongoing endeavor, because new evidence comes out all the time, and I am continually working with my classes to incorporate it.

If someone is unsure about coming to class, I can easily talk about the benefits and how people respond, but it's much harder for me to sell myself as their teacher.

Photo: limowreck666
One reason for that is because it is cancer. It's important. It drags us right up to the Awful Truth that we avoid in countless and sometimes cruel ways: we are mortal. We all have an expiration date, and cancer has the reputation for taking us in a slow, painful way. I can't begin to understand what someone feels when they hear those life-changing words: you have cancer. I don't know what it's like to have to weigh treatment choices, manage countless doctor's appointments, investigate research, count out all the dates and memories that came before and wonder what comes next, deal with the unskilled reactions of people I love, or be suddenly thrust out of the club of the blissfully ignorant and onto the disease battlefield.

I can empathize, but I don't know, because I've never been diagnosed with cancer. And that makes it hard for me to tell people to trust me, to let me be their ambassador as they navigate their new world. In just a few moments of introduction, I need to convey to them that this is more than just my job, that I do take it seriously (even though we may laugh a lot!), and that there is nowhere else I'd rather be. With my voice, eyes and hands, I show them that I am present with their experience, that they are in control, and that we will navigate the yoga experience using the art of adaptation together.

Photo: Dionne Wilson

I am in service to people with cancer. 

It's at the heart of everything I do.

As long as I keep doing that, I don't really need to sell anything.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Is Music Everywhere?

Image credit: Adrien Sifre
I was leaving the parking garage of one of the Kaiser buildings today, and I forgot to roll up my passenger side window. As a result, the gate arm's creak was noticeable for the first time. My immediate thought was, "who's got their radio turned on so loud?" because I associated the sound with music. I smiled as I passed through the gate and on to the next one, ready for its unique "song".

And then I wondered, did the gate arms always sing for me?
Have I been too distracted by my own silly dramas to notice the songs around me?

I thought back for a few days.

The neighbor's Pomeranian dog yapping as I practiced my sun salutes in my back yard; could that be heard as music, if I wasn't so annoyed with wanting my breath to be the only sound?

The Mockingbird who wakes up at 3:30 am and decides we all need to hear his beautiful song - no matter if we are sleeping or not.

The garbage disposal grinding something out during my meditation... might that be a form of music, too?

All of these situations have something in common: I had a goal I was trying to reach (yoga, sleep, meditation) and I viewed these sounds as obstacles for reaching the goal.

As I pulled out of the garage I thought to myself

I had totally missed the point, because the yapping, chirping and grinding were the music, and my goal to listen with more of my heart than my ears.

Photo credit: Jesus Solana
What if this was my first or last moment on earth, wouldn't I hear these sounds as music?

Since then, I've been hearing music all the time. My own body creaking, the neighbor's electric saw, the roar of an airplane... the music all around me. Not all of it is pleasant, just as I don't enjoy all forms of music, but now I'm listening.

Even to the leaf blowers!

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

We Can be Heroes...

Photo credit: San Deigo Shooter
This morning I saw something that made me smile: a truck was stalled at a stop light and several people worked together to get it across a very busy intersection and off to safety. A woman was steering and several men were pushing, while the pilot's car was following closely behind. Even as the truck made its way through, more people were running onto the scene to help push. Everyone was smiling!

As a kid, I experienced stalled cars quite a bit. I was the pilot in some situations, long before I could actually drive. I learned how to "pop the clutch" before I was 13 years old! I don't remember total strangers stepping out of their cars or off the streets to help us (maybe that's the perspective on my youthful memory), so when I see people banding together to help each other - strangers, even - it warms my heart.

We all want to be helpful. The people who worked together to move that truck this morning were smiling because they enjoyed being useful, even if it was something hard. And, sometimes it's not so very hard to help.

It certainly is easier to help when there are more of us working together to accomplish something, like pushing the car.

This Friday, I'm reaching out in the yoga community again to see if we can't push a car a little ways, metaphorically speaking.

One of my mentors, Tari Prinster, will be in town from NYC. She's bringing with her a film called "Yogawoman," which is a documentary about the changing face of yoga and the power that yoga gives us to change our world. Tari is a featured teacher in the film.

"Yoga was brought to the west from India by a lineage of male teachers. Now there’s a generation of women who are leading the way. They’re strong, they’re inspiring and they’re radically changing peoples lives. From the busy streets of Manhattan to the dusty slums of Kenya, YOGAWOMAN uncovers a global phenomenon that has changed the face of yoga forever. Through rich personal stories, the film reveals how yoga has utterly transformed the lives of thousands of over-stimulated, overscheduled, and multi tasking modern women. It illuminates how yoga has transformed the lives of women in prison, cancer survivors, and those struggling with body image, allowing them to give back to others with full hearts and creative minds."

We're asking for $10 donation, which will go towards the Kelly Considine scholarship, a program that has already funded yoga training for two yoga teachers and four cancer warriors in its first year! We hope to fund even more scholarships next year to help more survivors live longer, healthier and happier lives. If you are unable to join us but would like to make a donation, go to:

YOGAWOMAN film screening
Friday, April 4 8:15pm
$10 suggested donation
Downtown Yoga Shala, 450 S. 1st Street, San Jose 

Note: give yourself lots of time to park, it will be San Jose's First Friday festival.

Friday, March 14, 2014

A Little About... Tari Prinster

In April, I will be sharing my passion for working with people with cancer, and training others who want to use yoga as a tool to help those on the cancer journey. When I stepped on this path, I struggled to find information to help me develop my yoga classes, so I began collecting information. Years later, I'm calling on my experts to help me explain what we've discovered along the way.

Even though she is based in New York, I have been fortunate to study with Tari Prinster on two different occasions, and was so happy to discover someone else who believes that yoga for people with cancer is specific and that it can include more movement-based yoga. I found myself nodding my head almost the entire way through the first weekend training that I did with her!

Since then, I've taken her Level 1 training, and we've discussed how we can support each other and people with cancer from coast to coast. In April, Tari will be joining my training and offering two different lectures out of her own training that really blew me away when I experienced them. Here is more about Tari:

Tari Prinster became a yoga teacher after her diagnosis of cancer. Since then she has used yoga as a powerful tool to manage the daily challenges of cancer treatments, as well as the side effects and lifelong vulnerabilities they create. She developed a unique, carefully constructed system of yoga poses and sequences based on the specific needs of cancer survivors. Tari’s book, Yoga for Cancer: A Guide to Managing Side Effects, Boosting Immunity, and Improving Recovery for Cancer Survivors, published by Healing Arts Press, will be in book stores Fall 2014.

In 2003, Tari began teaching yoga class for cancer survivors at OM Yoga Center in New York City, and offering workshops and retreats. With that grew the need and interest in a yoga teacher certification utilizing her researched methodology. She has since trained over 450 yoga teachers from all over the world to meet the physiological and psychological needs of this special population.  y4c©, Yoga 4 Cancer classes are designed to address the needs of cancer survivors and patients, provide safe healing yoga, and the important opportunity to bond with others ‘touched by cancer’.

Tari launched The Retreat Project, a non-profit, funding annual retreats for low-income and under-served populations endeavoring to encourage and cultivate access to the transformative power of yoga.

Tari is a regular presenter at industry conferences like Yoga Journal Conference, Yoga Service Council, Texas Yoga Conference, and International Alliance of Yoga Therapist Conferences.  She has had numerous articles published in MindBodyGreen, Organic Spa Magazine, YogaCity, and Yoganomymous. And in October, 2012, Yoga Journal published a feature story on Tari’s work.

Tari’s work with cancer survivors gained her a featured role in the full length movie YogaWoman along with industry celebrities like Shiva Rea and Sean Corne that has been shown across the US and many international markets. Tari has been a leader in her work:

  • Founder of yoga4cancer, LLC (y4c)
  • Founder and President of The Retreat Project (501c3) whose mission is to help underserved and low income women with yoga and other modalities.
  • Director of Women’s Cancer Survivor Program, OM Yoga, NYC (2005-2012)
  • Yoga Ambassador, Foundation for Living Beauty
  • Board Member and Yoga Program Director for The Libby Ross Foundation
  • Advisory Board Member, YogaBear
Welcome, Tari! We are so honored to have you share your knowledge. If you want to know more about this training, click HERE.

Friday, March 7, 2014

The Shadow Student

A brash regular student in my Yoga Basics class stepped off her mat, crossed the room, and loudly told another student how to align her leg properly in a pose.

A breast cancer survivor who was healing a double mastectomy came to my Gentle Yoga class and proceeded to do other, more active practices throughout my class; when I asked her what was going on, she told me, "gentle yoga is too gentle for me."

As we concluded our Wellness Yoga class, I asked the students to sit up and notice how they felt, and one student sat up and immediately hunched over her smartphone until the last echo of "om" was done.

I call these students "shadow students", a term I learned early in my yoga teaching career from my mentors. Shadow students are those people who rattle me for one reason or another. I usually teach with so much clarity and equanimity that when I get thrown off-center, I need to know why. Typically, it's because

these people embody some aspect of myself that I am not comfortable with: my shadow self.

Photo courtesy of Jennifer Prugh
In the first example, the student took it upon herself to "teach" someone else in my class. This displays a rejection of her own experience, showing that she would rather focus on someone else than on herself.

Yep, guilty of that one.

In the second example, the student explained that since she could do more, she felt she should do more - more than what the class was wiling to do and more than what I was offering. She also continued to move in final relaxation pose, until I explained to her that this was the time to be still and allow her body to integrate what she's done. In her case - as I could see by the look in her eyes, she wasn't ready to trust the process. Like a cartoon, I could see the thought bubble forming over her head: how am I going to get back to "normal" if I don't push myself? 

Ah, been there, too... Thought that, too... Rejected the process, too...

In the last example, the student who reached for her phone was really reaching for some other reality. Acceptance of her situation eluded her. She refused to be in that room, on that mat, in her body for one more moment. And why be there, when - at the tip of your fingers - you can be nearly anywhere your wifi can take you? Technology is a seductive trap that outwardly shows us what the inward thoughts are: I am uncomfortable in this moment, so I will follow my drunken monkey mind down some path that is far more pleasurable. We all have these thoughts, and some of us develop skills to bring ourselves back to the present moment, no matter how uncomfortable. In the early years of my practice, I was fortunate enough to not have seductive technology trap me, but my mind still pulled me away.

Correct that: my mind still pulls me away.

These folks bring me to a mirror, a picture of myself that I don't care for, like the snapshot that catches me in mid-grimace. I hear myself saying, "if only student X wasn't in the room, then everyone would be able to relax a little more." Really, what I'm saying is, "if only I were different..." (Please note: I'm not talking about the completely disruptive situations that need to be dealt with in the moment; if I'm really clear, those situations rarely arise, actually.)

So, how can I deal with my shadow self? In my early years, I'll admit that I didn't handle these situations with much skill. Here's what I've learned:

Empathy is key. No one steps into a yoga class wanting to be "that guy", the one who takes a phone call in the middle of restorative yoga, and yet, it happens.

Boundaries are key. If you don't know what the rules are, then education is important.

Check myself. It's really about my reaction, and if I don't love those shadow parts of myself, then I may not meet these students with what they need: patience and friendliness.

I was assisting a yoga workshop recently for my teacher. We had gathered into the middle of the room to look at slides and then were sent back to our mats. I noticed one student wasn't practicing, just sitting on the floor. When I asked her why, she pointed to her mat, which was currently being occupied by another workshop participant; this student had mistakenly stepped onto the wrong mat. Instead of making a fuss, or even mentioning it to the person, she chose to sit and wait for the right moment. It came. Someone was embarrassed, but wasn't publicly shamed, which might have been the case with another, less grounded student.

We all have shadows. It is important to learn what our shadows are, and make friends with them as best we can, so that we can all live together with more grace and skill.

I bow to all my teachers.

Monday, March 3, 2014

A Little About... Rochelle Brannan, PT

In April, I will be sharing my passion for working with people with cancer, and training others who want to use yoga as a tool to help those on the cancer journey. When I stepped on this path, I struggled to find information to help me develop my yoga classes, so I began collecting information. Years later, I'm calling on my experts to help me explain what we've discovered along the way.

One of the long-term side effects of cancer treatment is lymphedema, a swelling of the body due to scar tissue and lymph node removal. There isn't a lot known about lymphedema, other than it's inconvenient, uncomfortable, embarrassing, debilitating at times and life-threatening at other times. It's mostly associated with breast cancer, but there are risk factors that affect everyone. In the past, it was believed that we need to immobilize the affected area... now we know that isn't the right approach and that lymph needs to circulate in order to maintain health. 

A question I am often asked is, 

"If I have cancer in my lymphatic system, should I be working to move the lymph, or will that spread my cancer?" 

I posed this question to our expert, and this is her response:

My personal view on this question is that manual lymphatic drainage (MLD) does not move cancer cells. Cancer cells invade slowly (sometimes quickly too); the cancer cells devour healthy organ cells before traveling onward to continue healthy tissue destruction. Moving lymph fluid is a slow and gentle process, like breathing. To my knowledge, breathing is not linked to causing cancer metastasis. What scientific evidence concludes is that  "...increased lymphatic flow from MLD is not associated with cancer cell metastasis," (Klose 2013).

Rochelle Brannan is a physical therapist (PT) who specializes in working with lymphedema. She will be a guest lecturer in my training program, discussing the ways that we can prevent swelling and promote circulation. Here's a little more about her:
An active member of Oncology, Orthopedic and Policy specialty sections of the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA), Ms. Brannan received her Bachelor of Science from UNC-Greensboro and a Master of Physical Therapy degree from University of Kansas City Medical Center. Presently, Ms. Brannan is preparing to take the Lymphology Association of Northern American (LANA) exam this spring.

With over twelve years of full time clinical practice, primarily in outpatient orthopedics, Ms. Brannan integrates her orthopedic and lymphatic knowledge to produce successful functional outcomes for each patient. Ms. Brannan believes

"It is essential for all breast cancer survivors to receive greater education, instruction and referral resources for decreasing post-operative complications from oncology treatments."

Welcome, Rochelle! We are all looking forward to hearing how we can support our immune systems and prevent lymphedema. If you want to know more about this training, click HERE.

Monday, February 24, 2014

A Little About... Veronica Reis, PhD

In April, I will be sharing my passion for working with people with cancer, and training others who want to use yoga as a tool to help those on the cancer journey. When I stepped on this path, I struggled to find information to help me develop my yoga classes, so I began collecting information. Years later, I'm calling on my experts to help me explain what we've discovered along the way.

Veronica Reis, PhD, is a health psychologist, and a registered yoga teacher whose training emphasized yoga therapy and Kundalini yoga. She has been working with people diagnosed with cancer for 13 years, 6 of those years as a licensed clinical psychologist. Veronica will be a guest lecturer in my training program, discussing the psychological impact of cancer. Here's a little more about her:

I have been living with cancer for 20 years

I was first diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 28, with two recurrences following, and in 2003, I was diagnosed with cervical cancer. I was on my way to becoming a health psychologist because of my fascination with the mind-body connection; little did I know I would be diagnosed with cancer, with no family history at that time, less than two years after starting my education. My diagnosis only fed my curiosity even more intensely.

I have had multiple surgeries, undergone radiation, and two different types of chemo. I'm fortunate that the breast cancer I had was sensitive to hormones and I am able to take a small white pill each day that minimizes these hormones within my body and keeps the cancer at bay. On the other hand, I am still working on healing from the blow of having lost the ability to have children due to the cervical cancer.

It wasn't until a couple of years ago that I tried my first yoga class. 

It is within yoga that I finally experienced the mind-body connection that had attracted me for so long.

I came to understand that no matter how near or far from a "perfect" pose I am, as long as I go to my edge, I derive as much benefit as the person who can assume the fullest expression of the same pose. That was a huge revelation to this woman who couldn't even touch her toes! I've also learned that Bhakti yoga [yoga of devotion] and Naad yoga [yoga of chanting] are some of the fastest and surest ways to open my heart deeply and fully. I have been studying kirtan [chanting] with Prabhu Nam Kaur for over two years now and attend every kirtan concert I can.

My journey with cancer came full circle when my mother was diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer.  I lost both of my step-fathers to cancer (esophageal and colon), and my father lives with a form of leukemia, but the privilege of caring for her in the last few months of her life made a deep impact. She was fiercely independent, and being able to share her journey as her caregiver was such a lesson in Life and Death and Healing.

Practicing (even imperfectly!) the eight limbs of yoga - whatever style(s) of asana one practices, can be a wonderfully potent tool for dealing with cancer, at any place in one’s journey.”

Welcome, Veronica. I'm so honored to have her contribute to this upcoming training! If you are interested in learning more about this training, please click HERE. Thank you.