A surprise reversal of our nightly ritual

“Put on your pajamas, brush your teeth, pick your favorite stuffed animal, and get ready for bed,” Harper said.

I played along, though I needed to work on a story. I found some pajamas and honey bear, who recently escaped the box he has been hiding in for years.

“You guys have been so stressed out about work. We’re tucking you in tonight.”

Elliott and Harper argued a bit about who would put lavender oil on whose feet, but they worked it out that Elliott would give me a foot massage, while Harper massaged Tyler’s feet.

They arranged the covers and tucked us in. Harper was holding Percy the dream peacock. “Time for a puppet show,” she said. To get in the spirit of things, Elliott put on the penguin. (The penguin’s name is now Snowcone.) #thatssopenguin

They took turns telling stories, imitating Tyler’s Percy voice. Harper went downstairs to get Tyler a drink of water, and Elliott told a story of a golden egg and a sunset wish.

In a lavender sleepy haze, I decided to give in and relax and put off work writing until tomorrow.

Santacon and Jivamukti—Lessons in Sangha

We were late to getting to class, again. On a Saturday morning in December, instead of hopping off the subway at Union Square for the quick walk to YogaWorks for Chrissy Carter’s class, my boyfriend and I stayed on the subway a little longer and headed to Jivamukti.

Just after 10:30 a.m., we saw our first of many Santas. There was definitely a side of me rooting for Santacon pub crawling over yoga. People dress up as Santas (and elves and reindeer), and progress through neighborhoods, drinking yes, but also donating canned food and raising money to feed the hungry. We decided we could always meet up with the Santas later.

Image When in New York City, I’m like a kid in a candy store trying to decide which class to take, wanting them all. I was disappointed that we missed Chrissy’s class, because she’s such an awesome teacher—plus that YogaWorks location used to be called Be Yoga, and it’s where I did my first teacher training. But Jivamukti is a spiritual haven in New York City, and I knew they had classes starting all the time.

Class had already begun, but the sweet woman at the front desk urged us to go ahead and enter. We didn’t know anything about the class—who the teacher was, or even what level it was. I don’t think we could have planned it better if we had known what was going to happen.

Full class? No problem. We crouched in the back against the wall as the teacher talked about sangha. Don’t worry, we’ll find space for you, he said. He led us through chant number 16 in the Jivamukti book:

sat-sangatve nissangatvam nissangatve nirmohatvamnirmohatve nishchala-tattvam nishchala-tattve jivanmuktih

bhaja govindam bhaja govindam bhaja govindam mudha-mate

The book translates it: “Good and virtuous company gives rise to non-attachment. From non-attachment comes freedom from delusion. With freedom from delusion, one feels the changeless reality. Experiencing that changeless reality, one attains liberation in this life. I-AM is the ocean of awareness. Realizing this, one feels, “I am not the body and mind, although I have a body and mind.” Realize Govinda, realize Govinda, realize Govinda in your heart, O wise one! (Interpretation by Shri Brahmananda Sarasvati)

The teacher played harmonium and led us through the chant. In a crowded room, it can be challenging to let go of annoyance at the lack of space.  Or, quite possibly, I thought later, of annoyance at latecomers disrupting the class.

But this was a class about sangha—community, when people associate, or come together. Matthew Thomas Lombardo, the teacher (who goes by the name Satyavira) talked about what happens when people with good intentions come together. When we are yearning for light, or enlightenment, and we practice together, we may feel our energy shift. That’s the main reason I like to practice with a group, especially with a community of like-minded people in the heart of NYC.

But not all yogis are enlightened (some might even want to join the Santacon community!) Not all yogis are even positive. Satyavira’s monologue turned into a tongue in cheek performance art piece, as he made fun of yoga novels. Not all yogis have to like the same things; they don’t have to like every kirtan artist, or be vegan (though Jivamukti is a staunch proponent of veganism, and operates a wonderful vegan cafe in the studio). He encouraged people to be friendly and talk to each other. Just maybe others we meet in the studio might be looking for the same thing–a sense of community.

Three things about the class Satyavira led us through stood out. Early on, he invited us to take five minutes and do poses we needed to do to warm up. There was another five minutes dedicated to headstand, and again, he invited us to use the time the way we wanted. Several students went straight into headstand and stayed there for five minutes straight. Toward the end, he gave us five luxurious minutes for shoulder stand.

I can’t remember his playlist, except that the last song was extremely loud, heavy metal, and when it ended abruptly, the silence was jarring. No more snarky commentary from Satyavira. We lay in a silent savasana, left with our own thoughts, the sounds of very loud instruction from the class next door, which was led at an extremely fast pace; the traffic sounds from outside, and the delicious pungent smells from the vegan cafe.

This Jivamukti class was stirring, moving, challenging, and full of bhakti. I loved it.


Working toward Natarajasana, dancer's pose

Working toward Natarajasana, dancer’s pose

I started practicing yoga in 1999 and it literally changed my life. Teaching began by chance in 2003 when the resident yoga teacher at the Ann Wigmore Institute in Puerto Rico, where I lived and worked back then, stayed on vacation for an extra couple of months. Some things you seek out; others find you.

I taught in Puerto Rico for five years, helped organize a retreat/teacher training with Twee Merrigan at the Secret Garden in Rincon, and then opened Natural High, a vegetarian restaurant with a partner. Since moving to Utah, I have taught classes at Shiva Centre and Yoga Path and at corporations.

One of my interests is social media, in part because we are all connected, so it’s a manifestation of yoga. At work (a technology company in Salt Lake City), I established our presence on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+ and Youtube, and nurtured and managed the community for more than three years. I also started the blog and now focus on managing that. I’ve had the privilege of helping out some yoga businesses with their social media. I’ve tweeted and blogged for Hugger Mugger Yoga Products since 2010. I helped Prana Yoga Trolley Square establish their Twitter presence and tweeted for them for their first 18 months, and also tweeted for Shiva Centre.

And now, in 2013, I have been asked to teach classes at work. Exciting and daunting. Teaching is the most humbling part of my practice. So many people know more than I do, and can do poses I may never do. But it would be selfish to not share what I’ve learned.

From the Archives—Articles I wrote for Yoga Journal, 2005-2009:

The Yoga Wellness Connection

Teaching Yoga in the Workplace

Facing Uncertain Economic Times

How to Set the Right Tone with Music

Learn as a Group

Pocket Full of Poses

Green Yoga Studios

Yoga Retail 101

Beyond the Studio: Retreats, Part I

Yoga Retreats, Part II

Yoga Retreats, Part III

Yoga in Schools

A Feminine Critique

I was quoted in this Yoga Journal article about the 10 best towns to practice yoga in! Where America Practices


1.6.2013 Survival


Muladhara, the root chakra, is the foundation of your whole energy system. It’s associated with the earth element, and earthy things, such as your body, your health, your survival.

“Your Root Chakra is primarily associated with your survival and your instincts—in other words, it represents your will to survive.”

(Planet of the Apes figure courtesy of Tyler Smith)