Monthly Archives: June 2011

You like me. You really, REALLY like me!

I’m having a Sally Fields moment.

At 7am on Tuesday morning most people are asleep. Or half asleep, or wishing they were asleep.  I’ve been up for hours, miraculously showered and dressed and packed for the workday. I’ve already seen a client and am fully in teaching mode, handling blocks and straps with ease, speaking in a full authoritative voice, with a little nasally giggle every now and then. At 7am I’m at the mid-point of my workday. I’m in flow.

And still, I was happily surprised yesterday morning when 17 yoga students buzzed up to the studio to practice at that hour.  There was chatting before class. Regulars, who are accustomed to individualized attention, looked around at the scene, bewildered.  Something strange was happening but I didn’t know what.

5 of the 17 people were Lululemon employees. Some are students of mine, who have taken my classes in many studios. They tend come alone, or make it a yoga date with just one of their colleagues. But a whole staff outing? Ridiculous fun!

After class, as I was gathering my ipod and putting props away, they descended. All five ladies appeared in a semi-circle, one holding a bouquet of sunflowers, and another bearing an adorable greeting card with polka dots. In it: “Daniella, Will you be our AMBASSADOR? We love you! *heart* lululemon athletica Brooklyn *heart*”

YESYESYES! I felt like I entered a sweepstakes. And surprise…I won!

You heard it here first. Stay tuned for lotsa Lululemon cuteness, photo shoots, events, and other sweat-wicking goodness. For now, just keep in mind that those Lulu ladies really know how to steal a girl’s heart, and make her day!

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Why So Serious?

Summertime…..and the yoga is silly.  Summer yoga is a mix of sweat, snot and tears. And at some point all three mix into one slip-‘n-slidy yogic mess. In a good way.

Yoga tends to be serious. We focus on the subtle feelings of our body when we’re doing challenging things. We can talk for hours about the alignment of the bones of the inner ankle in warrior 2. Sure, yoga is intense, focused, and refined. But does that mean it has to be so serious? Absolutely not!

I believe it’s possible to have a very internal, die-hard focused, and truly calming practice because of the intensity of the physical postures AND the levity of the mood. Being happy, warm, supported, and loved isn’t a distraction. Laughter doesn’t have to take you out of your yoga practice. It brings you deeper IN.

It’s summer and it’s sweaty and ridiculous. It’s a fabulous time to plan on becoming a hot mess without shame. Just remember to bring a towel.

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Shit Happens

Shit happens, and it just sucks. What else can you say? More importantly, how do you deal?

I spent the afternoon with a dear friend who delivered some sad news. She’s in shock, and she’s strong. With the support of friends and family, she’s healing while attending to the daily activities and obligations of her life.

Sometimes things happen that you truly don’t understand. It could be an unexpected death or illness. Or perhaps something less severe, but that feels just as intense. How do you honor a period of mourning while continuing with the normal pace of life?

In my own experiences of death and loss, I’ve observed that most of the time I’m fine, I’m keeping it together. Work is a relief, as I’m able to focus on something else. Without distraction, however, I’m overwhelmed. I’m not quite in control of unpredictable emotions. Emotional triggers seem to be hidden in the strangest places: for my friend it was a song playing at the grocery store, and a familiar scent of moisturizer.

It’s like working double duty. We exist in our daily lives, supporting the joys and triumphs of our loved ones, while soothing ourselves.

Time heals. That’s all I know. If you’re in the thick of healing, mourning, there is no other place to be. Be in it, even if moving your life along at its normal pace feels more challenging than ever. Keep moving, stay honest, and please indulge in the freedom to experience what comes even when you least expect it.

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Ladies’ Labyrinth

I’m a ladies’ lady. I work with ladies, I spend much of my free time with ladies, and most of my best friends are ladies. My life is built so that I bounce from appointment, to coffee date, to yoga date, to dinner date with the ladies that I adore. The more I teach yoga, create my own wacky schedule and spend odd hours riding the train, I realize there’s an underground web of women that rock the house. Rock. The. House. I’ve discovered the Ladies’ Labyrinth!

I’m in many places during the workday.  I meet people when they’re off duty, during the stolen hours between client meetings and dinner engagements. When they get to me, they’re ready to be real.

We’ve shared stories of the distant past, long family histories, as well as up-to-the-morning news. We imagine next weeks and next years, when we’re wiser and stronger than we are now. We get  right down to the heart of the matter, even with matters of the heart.

On days like today, I can feel the interconnected ladies in this town. Gratitude for the Ladies’ Labyrinth!

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FREE Yoga in Prospect Park THIS Thursday @ 7PM!

I’m teaching in Prospect Park THIS THURSDAY, June 23rd from 7:00-8:00pm.  Oh, and did I mention FREE? It’s free!

You’ll be breathing, sweating, and re-applying sunscreen with a pumping crowd of ourdoorsy yoga types. The evening is brought to you by lululemon and Bend and Bloom Yoga.  And it’s gonna be ALL BROOKLYN CUTENESS.

Come! Bring a mat, and a friend. See you there!

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The Path is Paved with Good Habits

Ever feel like all of your hard work and focus on the mat can waver from one day to the next? Like you can be blown off the path in just one weekend of eating and drinking? Imagine this: you’ve had a week of consistent yoga practice, you’re feeling great in your body and mind, and proud of yourself for being noble, wise, and good. And then one day pops up where you have a social engagement, a potluck, an extra glass of wine and dessert, or a temporary hiatus from portion control.

Do you feel motivated to work harder? Or are you less motivated, succumbing to the slippery slope of inactivity, the feeling of “blah” in the body, and the cut-off sensation from the neck down?

This might sound extreme, but it’s only a slightly extreme version of what I used to do, and how I used to feel. Now, even in my lower moments I can trust my body to re-calibrate to normal.

How? I’ve created easy habits to fall back into. I have yoga classes that I normally attend. It’s actually more of an effort to NOT go. How would I occupy that time? What would I tell my friends and teachers about why I couldn’t be there? I’ve created a positive arrangement so that I can’t slip so far off the path that it’s more effort than it needs to be to get back.

At some point, you’ll have to create some discipline for yourself. Do not give in to the insecurity and bloating. Please do not beat yourself up emotionally. Forget it, those emotions don’t get a say! Instead, place yourself in the position of continually arriving on the path. Create a habit so that you land on your mat on a regular basis. And when your mind is telling you self-defeating or unkind thoughts, you can rely on the simple act of habit to get back to the practice.

Try it: Put your body on the mat. Allow your heart and mind to come along on the path to feeling great.

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Filed under Inside the Yoga Studio, Inside Your Lunch Pail

Self Love vs. “New Age Bullshit”

You’re into yoga, and meditative practices.  You’ve worked on yourself, have a deep understand of how your mind works, and have become proficient in predicting your emotions. You’ve self-studied, and you’re self aware. And still, you are unhappy. Is that your fault?

When do we get to relax and NOT blame ourselves for our less-than-happiness? By assuming we have agency over own happiness, do we automatically blame ourselves when we’re feeling blue?

A dear friend recently told me, verbatim: “Be careful of that new age bullshit”. She was referring to the implication that if we have the power to make ourselves happy, it must be our faults when we are not. Already feeling sad, lonely, and doubting her ability to be loved, she was beginning to feel guilty and pathetic for not trying hard enough to be turn those feelings around. “If only I worked harder, worked smarter, I’d be happy”, she originally thought.  Turns out, she HAS worked hard and intelligently, and still she’s not happy.

Who needs this?!

Not everything is necessarily our responsibility, or in our power to choose or change. We don’t have agency over every aspect of every thing that happens in our life. We DO however, have the ability to focus on the thing that is most important to us. We can identify the most pressing, most “I can’t live like this anymore” issue and address it dead-on. For my friend, it was not feeling lovable. Therefore she’s demonstrating to the world just how well she deserves to be loved by loving on herself in a big yummy way.

We can all do a little (or a lot!) more of this. We can love ourselves passionately and indulgently, without fear or hesitation.  The first step is compassion.  Compassion for your sweet fragile heart, your internal struggles, and the confusion and doubt that sometimes clouds your spirit. Cradle your heart like you were rocking a small child to sleep. Love the whole package of you.

As for my dear friend, in the past she would have beat herself up for not “doing happiness” right. Today, she’s more interested in just being kinder to herself.

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Filed under Inside the Yoga Studio, Inside Your Friendships, Inside Your Love Life

Skills!

Has anyone ever told you to “keep on learning”?  At the time, did it seem like they meant that you should study hard, get good grades, and get a job that made you happy and wealthy?  If you’re lucky enough, someone HAS told you this, and again and again through your adulthood. Because the truth is that a happy life does indeed involve continuous learning. And I don’t just mean advanced degrees that put initials after your name. I’m talking about learning practical skills far after your formal education has finished.

Why would we want to keep on learning? Doesn’t it seem like a drag? Think of it this way–when we take the time to learn new things, we’re actually building a bigger and more relevant skill set to do the things we REALLY want to do, like make a difference in this world, connect with people, and love passionately.

It seems nuts and tragic to me that anyone would hold themselves back from doing the real heart-centered yummy stuff that they were put on the earth to do, simply because they didn’t know how to speak publicly, create an event on facebook, or even talk through a vinyasa sequence. Skills don’t just arrive at birth, or come with your high school diploma. They’re learned.

It’s not your fault if you don’t have skills. It IS your fault if you don’t get them. Go through with the process of learning and acquiring new skills no matter how long or boring or tedious. Because once you learn them, you’ve got ’em for good. And you can use them to facilitate the awesomely important human stuff that you’re meant to do.

It’s that simple. Learn the skills you need to have in order to do the things you’re meant to do. Repeat, and often.

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Does My Yoga Practice Really Matter?

A couple of days ago, a dear friend was kind enough to forward over the attached article written by Simon Jacobson who runs meaningfullife.com, on the theme of big scale politics to small scale heart.

This is something I’ve been thinking about lately, more in terms of answering the question “Does my yoga practice matter?” Jacobson would argue that it does, and not just on a small scale individual level. Jacobson imagines that the universe was built specially for us. And that every person holds a micro version of the macro universe within them.

I imagine the universe like a shared excel spread sheet, where everyone has their own password. Changes in our personal life–“butterfly changes”–are felt in this universal spreadsheet.

Thinking this way, our good intentions, thoughts and actions in life really do matter. We have an indirect affect on people by redesigning the universe that we all share. Our yoga practice matters, our LIFE practice matters.

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What Emotion Are You Selling?

Teachers: Ever have trouble describing your teaching, your philosophy, your schtick? Do you find it challenging to sum it up in a sentence or two? I know I do. When I’m teaching I’m talking, mushing on people, and engaging with bodies and energies right in front of me. I’m working with something planned but ad-libbing too. I act and I react, what a show!

So how do you synthesize that?

There’s feedback everywhere if only you’re willing to look and listen. Take a look at your students. They’re coming to you for an authentic experience. They’re connecting to what is most honest in you, your teachings, and in what you’re offering. Look closely, you’ll find a pattern. If they’re coming back, I’d bet they’re coming for an emotion. The promise of a good workout will get them in the door. But an emotional response will keep them returning week after week.

Ask yourself: What emotional component makes your yoga teaching experience complete? What essential emotion are you selling?

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