Viewing entries tagged
yoga student

What does practicing while on vacation look like?


What does practicing while on vacation look like?

"I'm going to meditate and practice yoga every day while in Japan," I told myself just before heading there for a two-week vacation. I sincerely believed it at the time too -- but yeah, right.

When I actually found myself there I didn't want to sit still and "just breathe." I wanted to immediately dive into my surrounds, into the sights, into Japanese culture. And into Japanese food.

Instead of starting my mornings off with yoga, most days began with desperately trying to find breakfast in a country that doesn't really do breakfast places (but apparently still does breakfast). I'd usually end up at Mos Burger, the only eatery around open before 11am, where I'd chow down on a rice, egg and soy sauce sandwich and alternate between sipping coffee and miso soup. Then I'd waste no time in taking to the streets, rarely coming back to my hostel before sundown -- there was too much to see. And too much people-watching to do. 

The first several days (the entire time I was in Tokyo) the bliss of practicing yoga took a clear backseat to the joy of exploring a fascinating and brand-new-to-me country. But eventually, in Kyoto, I began to crave some breath-led movement and centering. I was getting cranky, sluggish and overwhelmed by mental clutter. I missed my practice. It was time to circle back to the mat.

Instead of practicing at the Airbnb apartment I stayed at, where where there wasn't much space and because I was incredibly curious, I decided to check out what public yoga in Japan was all about. Over the course of three days, I attended three yoga classes, all taught in Japanese, at a studio called Tamisa in the middle of a shopping center not far from Gion. The first class was Level 1 Vinyasa. It was very slow. Lots of low lunges. The second was a busy Level 2 Vinyasa class. It was less slow. Lots of low lunges. The final class I took was a noon class, something called Tri Yoga. It was the slowest, but also the most challenging class of the three. There was a strong focus (I inferred from the teacher's body language) on smooth ujjayi and moving with the breath. Lots of low lunges. An unreal amount of cat-cows.

Chaturanga wasn't instructed once in any of the three classes I attended (though I have to admit I snuck a couple in). And the unhurried pace felt great. It was the perfect vacation yoga.

I wonder if most yoga in Japan is in line with what I experienced: gentle, leisurely and more focused on stretching than strength. I should probably practice that way more often.

In my personal practice, I know have an excess of fire that needs to be balanced, but even though I know water'd be good for me, I only ever crave fire. I'm always thinking "vigor." I avoid restorative and yin and anything too sleepy, but in Japan it came to me. And, you know what? I didn't hate it.

In fact, in Okinawa, my last stop in Japan, I stayed at a summer cottage with plenty of floor room for yoga. I finally rekindled my home practice there, and I did it in the Japanese style. I lingered in each breath and doused each pose in breath. Three-legged down dog, which is usually a one-breath affair, I held for five. And it felt like smooth, hot sake in my body. You might guess I took several low lunges. I did indeed. And I certainly took my sweet time to wind it all down before savasana. 

Looking back on the trip, I explored a lot and practiced a little (but the little I did do taught me a thing or two about the power inherent in practicing with tenderness). I think I did alright in terms of maintaining balance...for a vacation. But next time I'll bring breakfast bars so I can at least fuel a daily morning meditation session. #vacationyoga


A cold cushion, still.


A cold cushion, still.

One of my teachers is currently writing a book about yoga philosophy. I was chatting with him about the book's content earlier this week and he said there's a memoir element to it that he's trying to approach carefully. He explained that yoga teachers tend to publicly share only experiences in which they learned, overcame and grew -- in other words, experiences in which they came out on top. Because nobody relates to perpetual triumph, my teacher said he is consciously striving to include stories of failure as well as stories of success in the personal parts of his book. 

That makes sense. Enlightenment isn't an effortless pursuit, after all, so why do we yoga teachers keep acting like it is? So let me tell you about something I'm struggling with, for once, versus something I've achieved. Wouldn't that be a nice break from all the self-congratulations that flood your social media feeds each day? Wouldn't a splash of vulnerability be refreshing?

Now this is far from the biggest struggle of my life, but it's one I'm dealing with right now and it directly affects my yoga teaching: I teach mindfulness but I'm not always mindful. I should, but I don't meditate regularly.

Why not? Well, one, it's freezing in the mornings -- the only time I ever really successfully meditate -- and, two, I don't want to give up any sleep: those are my two pathetic excuses. Seems like they'd be easier to overcome, right? Especially when you compare the list of Pros to the Cons. 

What are the Pros, you ask? Why do I want to cultivate a daily meditation practice, anyway? To become more mindful, certainly. But also to no longer ever feel like I need a drink or a vacation or any kind of bigger retreat from what is. How crazy would that be? To have every day truly count, and not just the weekend days or those days spent "away from it all." And, of course, to more deeply embody what I already preach: presence. Yoga asana alone isn't enough to grant any of these benefits fully.

So here I am, still working towards warming up my sitting cushion, one day at a time. All it takes is a choice and I've been working on making the cold and sleepy choice for a while, with several previous blog posts about my intention to cultivate a meditation practice as proof. There are many weeks my butt never touches the cushion once. I'm not perfect yo. But I always set it out for myself with plans to return. 

Much like the practice of meditation itself, it's about recommitting over and over again. Recommitting to the cushion each time I observe my focus has strayed, my mindfulness has slipped -- perhaps when I catch myself checking out of conversations or reacting quickly and angrily at work or on public transportation -- just as while meditating we recommit to concentrating on the breath each time we observe the mind wandering somewhere else. 

So at least I'm being mindful about the need to be mindful. (See how I snuck that pat-on-the-back in there? After all, yoga teachers have egos too, if you haven't noticed yet.) But intention, sankalpa, isn't enough here. I know this. My work when it comes to meditation practice continues to be discipline. It's time for tapas, and I'm not talking small plates of delicious food. I'm talking sitting still and breathing and being bored and dealing with whatever shit comes up that I've been avoiding facing. That's my work right now. What's yours?



Mount Shasta Part 2

Wispy clouds crown the blazing cap shading the collective eye of Lumaria. We drink huckleberry honeywine on the train tracks underneath the stars. Between handstands and backbends, we run barefoot through the dark corridors of the old, Western hotel to pee. The light is perfect for writing in the White Mountain Cafe, where Grease Lightning plays while a young teenage boy with slicked dark hair and pristine eyebrows stands behind the "U" of the counter eating a piece of toast with both hands. This is Mount Shasta, where two years ago I began my yoga journey with a simple intention in a ballroom. This weekend I went back for some more magic. 

Highlights include talking dreams with Nick, playing countless singing bowls at The Crystal Room, getting smoothies from Berryvale Groceries, hiking from Castle Lake up to Heart Lake, befriending a pilot and a Polish Buddhist, finding my serratus muscles like never before, and sleeping in a haunted room with doors that lead to nowhere and too many corners. Here are some of my favorite photos from the weekend:



City Stew: The Next Chapter

Over the past eight years I've been struggling with a sense of spiritual dearth. Eight years ago, I left behind a blissful state of self-actualization (along with my soulmate, the one person who could fuel my spiritual flame to its fullest), and moved across the country against my will. I traded in my beloved Idaho mountains for the base beaches of Florida, and out of loneliness lost myself to new passions - the most powerful of which being competition (a force I now recognize as a symptom of forgetting the most fundamental concept of existence: that we're all one and the same). 

After I moved I had nobody to distract me with propositions of spontaneous adventure and nobody to remind me of the beauty within my soul. So I put all my energy into getting ahead. Even in the context of relationships, I developed the need to always "win" and come out on top. By the time I started college, I was consumed by this motivation. 

Yet the more "successful" I became, the more I felt something was missing in my life: specifically, spirituality. I felt incomplete for eight years. Then everything changed six months ago, when the yoga journey commenced.

Yoga teacher training helped me remember who I really am and what makes life worth living. (Hint: it isn't winning an argument or getting into Duke or landing a job at Google.) But the training is over as of a few weeks. It happened - I'm a graduate! Now the question is how to self-sustain the kind of growth that was originally sustained by a rigid study schedule, regular group therapy sessions and, most importantly, my community of like-minded teachers and classmates. Just as the goal at the conclusion of a yoga class is to bring forth - into the "real" world - the stillness attained in class, my goal is to keep focusing on pursuing a purposeful existence without somebody else constantly reminding me to. It won't be easy, but I simply can't fall into the same trap I did when I left behind the zen of Idaho and the joy of being with my soulmate. The trap of thinking I need something or someone outside myself for fulfillment.

I just spent a week in New York City, the city that utterly embodies the everyone-out-for-herself attitude that I held close as my personal mantra for so many years. Even as I recognized the city getting to me last week, I couldn't resist its effect. Compounded my the discomfort of the heat and the rain, and, if we're being honest, probably also by the booze, I felt myself reverting to the unstable mindset I inhabited when I lived in New York the summer after freshman year when I was in the peak of my competitive grip. Last week as I conversed with strangers as well as friends, old fear-induced thoughts kept creeping to the surface. I couldn't understand where they were coming from. And I couldn't stop them. The stewing set in on my first night in the city as I dined with a friend, even as I shared with her the yogi view that approaching life through a lens of "me versus them" will not ultimately lead to happiness. And when she left to catch a train home, I took my stewing to the streets. The night hot, the air thick, the rain steady: conditions were perfect for a good stew, one that would lead me to walk alone for two hours from Chelsea to Washington Square Park and back to my hotel. In the dark and the rain, I walked and stewed, soaking my work shoes and rubbing deep into a few choice blisters. 

My goal wasn't to stew. As I embarked to my old stomping ground, my goal was to calm myself down. To recharge. But all the sat-nams in the world couldn't do the trick. I was in too much of a negative New York rut. Instead of counting my blessings as the night wore on, instead I kept thinking about more and more things that piss me off. 

But all the while, as I was brooding over my resentments and my intolerances, I was really trying to get to what they say about me. Because, thanks to yoga, even as I stewed I knew my frustration was revealing more about myself than the objects of my frustration. 

And that's exactly what saved me from stewing myself into a New York sewer: the awareness that's a by-product of yoga. It's easy to maintain chi in the middle of nowhere, Idaho or when on the mat, surrounded by people "om"-ing with breath slowed down 5x, but true zen is being able to maintain that chi anywhere (including the city that never sleeps) at anytime. And Step #1 is awareness. Awareness that we create our own chi. Awareness that all thoughts stem from either fear or love. Awareness of self. With awareness comes the opportunity for conscious change.

So that's where I'll start my "life after teacher training" chapter: with focusing on becoming more aware. (Heaven knows one can never be aware enough.) And, as much as I love avoiding it, that means meditating regularly. Starting yesterday. The saga continues!

Oh, and that soulmate I mentioned? The universe is reuniting us this weekend. Stories to come.



Almost a yoga teacher!

I started my yoga journey via a 200-hour yoga teacher training program five months ago, on Valentines Day. Every weekend since then (with the exception of Memorial Day weekend and Easter weekend) I've been devoting each Friday night and three solid hours smack dab in the middle of each Saturday and Sunday to the study of yoga - specifically to the study of yoga history, alignment, pranayama, anatomy, yoga and pregnancy, assisting, meditation and philosophy. There are just a few weeks left, during which we'll cover sequencing. Then - come end of June, it's all over! Wait, what?

The last few months of training have reinforced for me that attachment is the root of all suffering. Despite all teachings though, I've acquired many attachments - okay, addictions - as a direct result of training. And I'm too addicted to say goodbye.

First off, I don't know just how I'm supposed to quit my fellow yogis and teacher trainees. It's hard to pay attention to our lecturers sometimes when all I want to do is turn around and gaze lovingly at the 30-or-so wonderful souls I've been traveling this strange road with and think about just how much I love each and every one of them. There's Abby. She's quiet but her crazy headstand variations and countless colorful tattoos speak volumes. There's theatre-star Kathryn with her half-shaved head and animal sounds. Every week I look forward to our Friday nights - starting with "happy hour" heated yoga class at Valencia (where the teacher thinks we're dating) followed by teacher training philosophy lecture and drives home during which we geek out together about silent retreats, self rediscovery and the simple beauty of life. Then there's dancer Andrew, a sassy, mystical, irreverent vinyasa master. We take class together often and we have similar teaching styles. I would love to co-teach a class with him someday. There's also Alissa, a fellow blogger. She's been through some major shit over the past few years and her healing process is visible. She's so strong and so smart and so beautiful - she's pure power. And of course there's Remington Bain - only his full name would do him justice - an ex-Marine turned acupuncturist, always sitting in full lotus, always interjecting with nuggets of wisdom about the human anatomy and the subtle body and life itself. These are some of the souls on which I've gotten hooked. I'm addicted to my classmates.

Then there's my addiction to the asana practice. At the beginning of class: "Come to a comfortable sitting position at the top of your mats." These words make me giddy every time I hear them, even though I hear them almost every day now. And I can't help but smile to myself when after a few namaskars the class starts to glisten and the smell of yoga begins to slice the room, specifically the piercingly tangy scent of our yoga mats and/or kombucha sweat (almost indistinguishable smells if you haven't yet noticed). It's gross but it pleases me. Conditioning. I've also become addicted to certain teachers and styles of yoga. I'm constantly checking the schedule to see who's teaching what where and when. If I can't find one of MY teachers, I generally choose to practice by myself in my room with my music at my pace. This lone-wolf practice, something rather new to me, is something I've become addicted to as well.

Finally, I must mention my addiction to the new outlook teacher training (and yoga in general) has given me. Over the past five months, I've renewed my spirituality, shifted my priorities and have begun the process of remembering who I really am. I can't help it. I'm attached - obsessed - addicted to cultivating inner Awareness.

All suffering results from the perception of loss directly correlated with attachment to that which was lost. The greater your attachment, the greater your perceived loss and, therefore, the greater your suffering. Despite knowing this, and reinforcing it regularly through my practice, I have developed the aforementioned attachments thanks to teacher training, and I'm not quite ready for the journey to be over.

But it isn't over yet. It's never over, just as the smell of kombucha will never leave the linings of my nostrils. The love will continue to live on and that comfortable seat at the top of the mat will always be there for the assuming. We can always come home, because home is within. And so is yoga.



Bring your soul and your Friday energy

Imagine it's the break of dawn and we're standing in the middle of nowhere.

Together, we connect through our breathing and the vibrations of the earth below us. Overhead, the mass of stars begins to fade as the sky gets lighter. What was black is now magenta and blue and peach and pink. We raise up our arms to salute the sun rising from behind the regal mountains which surround us, snow still frosting their tips. Blades of grass are shimmering with fresh dew at our feet. We aren't in a valley in Wyoming. We're actually within the four painted walls of my future yoga studio, Mount Yoga. And class has just begun. I look around at my students: their intentions are strong and their energy is palpable. There's nowhere I'd rather be. This is what I dream about before I drift off to sleep these days.

I thought I'd be sick to death of yoga by now but in fact it's quite the opposite. As the non-yoga hours of my life flip like the pages of a book before me, try as I might to live in the moment, some part of me is ever yearning for my next vinyasa flow or teacher training session or Bhagavad Gita chapter. But even as I'm being flattened between my corporate inbox and the clock, I'm at peace knowing I always have energetic Mondays with Kerri to look forward to, as well as strengthening Tuesdays with Jonathan, scientific Saturdays with Sean, and rejuvenating Sundays with Julie. And while I'm looking forward to these classes I can hold myself over by perfecting the playlist I'm creating for the first few classes of my own. (Looking for guinea pigs for these by the way - get at me if bored and curious!) 

Yoga continues to bring me joy on joy. And - the thing is - I never have to worry about this joy running out! That's because yoga's gifts come from a bottomless well. How can this be? 

Kerri put it into words for me this past Monday evening at the Portrero Hill Yoga Tree. Her challenge for us that night was to forget our manic Mondays and instead bring our "Friday energy" to our work on the mat. It was a sweaty, slow-paced, endurance-testing 90 minutes. But instead of forcing ourselves into every pose "Monday style," we deliberately let our Friday hearts pull us through. This made all the difference. I felt the stress and agitation float off my body layer by layer as the minutes passed and the sun set outside. And at the end of it, just before our final meditation, Kerri said, "Notice how you feel right now." I felt amazing. We sat in stillness for a few moments. Then she said, "Remember that you don't need anything to feel this way. There is nothing outside yourself, no material thing that can ever do this for you." She was right. The "yoga glow" can't be bought, but it can easily be accessed.

Through yoga we develop the ability to tap into our own awareness, and thus the power of the universe at large. This is a skill that one can continue to develop over a lifetime and the more you learn, the less you realize you know. There is always more work to be done in yoga, and, beautifully, the goal is the work itself. Yoga isn't about achievement. It's about commitment. And it's available to anyone, anywhere, at any time. Even bodies aren't necessary (remember, physical "asana" yoga is only one of eight limbs) - just bring your soul. 

I don't know about you, but I'm already packed and ready to go! But don't worry, there's enough for everyone. And it will never run out.



Who Am I?!

As the beat rocked and the candle flickered in the fading light, before my own mat a full class naturally unfolded. It probably lasted an hour, from all three Warriors to Dolphin to Hanuma to Wheel with plenty of Downward Dog pose in between. Through my free style, I learned that I like long sequences on one side before switching to the other and that I prefer to move slowly (but powerfully) through the poses as well as the flows. (Doing so helps me slow down my breath and feel everything more deeply.) I also learned that I really need to do more outer-hip openers or I'll never come close to Full Lotus (which is supposed to be the best position for meditating). But most importantly, I learned that I can trust myself. Completely.

It's my 24th birthday tomorrow. If we assume a life expectancy of 96 (just go with it), now would be an appropriate time to entertain a quarter life crisis. Thanks to yoga teacher training, it's already happening and somehow I never saw it coming.

Now I'm four weeks in and questioning everything in my life from the way I choose to I spend my time and the people I choose to spend it with to the books I read and shows I watch. 

It's exhausting, this thorough introspection and self re-evaluation. Not that I had a full grip on the affairs of my soul (let alone the universe at large) before I kicked off my 200 hours of yoga teacher training - which, by the way, I'm so happy I get to stretch over six full months. But now I have no choice but to deal with myself, my baggage, etc., because a lot of the principles we're being taught directly contradict the way I've lived my life so far.

Who knew yoga could be so therapeutical beyond the physical realm? (Not I.) But you know what they say about therapy: before it gets better it usually gets a lot worse. And that's what's going on right now with all the questioning. It ain't comfortable. And it ain't pretty.

Questions I've asked myself in the past week: Why did my parents have to raise me to be so damn competitive? Why does our need for validation so often outweigh our desire for happiness? What if I were to jump off the corporate ladder and teach yoga full-time? Why don't I have the balls to do that? Why do we have to suffocate kids' creativity? Why is my ego so out-of-control? Why can't I stop being so hard on myself? Do I have to be Vegan?? Is yoga completely bogus? Who am I, even?!

The below story will shed some light on where I've turned for answers.

Everyone ("everyone" being the YTTT program teachers as well as the authors of our required yoga books) keeps harping on the importance for teachers to have a daily practice not only of their own but on their own. Just you and your body.

"Practice what you teach" seems obvious enough, but the idea of practicing it alone has always freaked me out. I love going to class, yet there are days scheduling and logistics won't allow it. And other days I'm just too lazy to leave my house. Specifically for these days, I've adopted, a Netflix for yoga, if you will, that, for a monthly fee, allows you to watch unlimited yoga class videos with the option to filter classes by duration, teacher, level and style. It's quite addicting, actually. 

Yes, alone with a video I can definitely do. But alone, calling the shots myself as I go? That, to me, has never sounded comfortable or effective in the slightest - instead, painfully awkward and frustrating.

But I thought I should give it a shot regardless. After all, if I can't teach myself without someone telling me what to do and when to do it, how can I expect to teach a room full of people? So Friday evening before our lecture on the ancient yoga texts, I re-arranged some furniture in my room, unrolled my bubblegum pink mat in the space created, lit a candle, put on some new trance-y jams, resisted the urge to pull up yogaglo, took a deep breath, and dove into sun-salutations, not knowing what would happen next. And that's when I learned we're each equipped with all the knowledge of all the universe within our very cells. All we have to do is learn how to listen.



Beginner's Mind

Yoga Teacher Training was kicked off on Valentines Day in the original Yoga Tree location at Stanyon and Haight. That night, instead of pouring over prix fixe menus and gazing into our lovers' eyes, 33 of us chose to sit in a circle under painted clouds and opened our hearts to a new relationship that would last at least six months (and a lifetime if we are lucky). 

We didn't know each other, but I think it's safe to say most of us thought we knew what yoga was. A few of us probably even considered ourselves pretty advanced yogis. (I mean, I mastered side crow recently. Just saying.) But all it took was one weekend to clarify that none of us had a clue and even if we did, we would get the most out of our training (and our teaching) if we believed we didn't. "Knowing is the enemy of learning," they told us. "Your goal is to cultivate a Beginner's Mind." My first major Beginner's moment (in which I surfaced my own cluelessness)? When I was told that the sweaty vinyasa practice I hold so dear is merely one variation of one of eight limbs of yoga. The other seven aren't even physical!

In fact, Beginner's Mind goes beyond the idea of coming to the yoga mat with a humble and open mind. It's about approaching mind, body, spirit, community, the current moment, all of life, really, with a fresh outlook and a curious disposition, all expectations set aside. Our teacher gave the example of the difference between an adult and a child attempting a balance-challenging asana. Can you imagine a young child thinking, "What's wrong with me? Why can't I balance here peacefully? I hate my quivering feet. I HATE YOGA!" Who do you think gets more upset when they fall out of the pose - child or adult? Who has more fun?

But after just a few years of life, even children lose Beginner's Mind. They pick up detrimental thought patterns from their parents as well as from the wider world they know. Their teachers, their parents, the media, their friends' parents ceaselessly reinforce the false idea that we are our bodies and thus you and everything around you are separate, instead of united through spirit or universal energy. And by introducing the illusion of separateness, the world consciously or subconsciously creates Ego while narrowing children's internal exploration spaces. Thus children (who grow to become adults) learn fear and develop negative samskaras (habitual thought patterns or "imprints").

So, for me, to have a Beginner's Mind is to approach every moment not as a yoga novice or a blind person who just found sight or even as a child having fun with tree pose. I think the ideal Beginner more closely resembles a wide-eyed infant than any of these.

Babies have no ego. Babies are never looking for a means to an end. They don't know past or future, and so aren't distracted by either; they simply show up in every moment ready to observe and explore whole-heartedly. (On a slightly unrelated note, I love that there's an asana colloquially referred to as "happy baby pose." What's more beautiful than a happy baby, amused by every single feature on your face, drooling ecstatically, ready to burst out into laughter at the next peek-a-boo?) The point is: to get the most out of yoga, don't stop - START - being a baby.

"How many of you have spontaneously burst into tears during a yoga class?" Every teacher we've had so far has posed this question to the room and, to my surprise, about half of my peers admit that they have. "If you haven't yet," our teachers say, "You will." I personally have never experienced such spontaneous tears, but I know if I want to fully embrace Beginner's Mind I should be ready to. So I am. I'm ready to open up and I'm ready to be surprised by yoga. I'm ready to be a baby, baby!


All you have to do is...


All you have to do is...

Your vision will become clear only when you look into your heart. Who looks outside, dreams. Who looks inside, awakens.
— Carl Jung

It first clicked for me during a three-day "inversion immersion" retreat in Mount Shasta. (Mount Shasta, for those of you unfamiliar, is a small California town about halfway between San Francisco and Portland inhabited by a host of New Agers and believed by many to be a spiritual power center.) It was my first yoga retreat. I had never done a handstand before and wasn't sure I'd ever be able to, thanks to a lifelong fear of falling on my head and damaging my most precious resource. (My sister and I both practiced gymnastics when we were younger. When it became time to learn backflips, I gave it up in exchange for ballet where I knew my skull would be safe.) Still, I had been studying yoga with my teacher for about a year at the time and was ready to deepen my practice by attending a retreat, inversions not withstanding. Little did I know I would return to San Francisco with the intention of becoming a teacher myself.

It happened in the last few minutes of the last night of the retreat. Our teacher had finally cut the lights after an hour of sweaty flow followed by an hour of inversion-strengthening exercises, and we were in the dark but for a few candles in the middle of the hotel ballroom that served as our studio. We were already at the walls of the room where we had just been practicing supported handstands, headstands and forearm stands. He guided us to our backs and instructed us bring our legs perpendicular to the floor against the wall, sacrums pressed into the ground. "Close your eyes," he said. "Just be."

I was still worked up, heart pounding, still sweating. But then he turned on the song he always played for savasana, the one which evoked a vision of horse hooves, clouds and wet pavement for me, and, like a charm, the knuckles of self-control relaxed and my heart rate began to return to a place of calm. He let us lay in meditation for about five minutes before he spoke again.

"Bring your awareness back to your breath and to the sound of the breath of your friends to the left and right of you. Now," he said, "this next part is important so listen close. I'm going to fill you in on a little secret. All you have to do is..." He paused for several breaths. "Nothing."

"All you have to do is." He could have said anything. I loved that he said "nothing." It made all the sense in the world.

I got a taste of it then, with my legs resting against the wall of a ballroom in an old hotel in Mount Shasta. I got a taste of Self. Not the ego self with all its wants and needs and judgments and fear, but the Self with a capital "S," the higher version of who we are, collectively. The God Self within each of us, pure prana, or energy. The Self that can just Be. The Self I am now learning how to connect others to, within themselves, through yoga.