Why I Love Teaching Yoga

Let me start by saying here that some days I truly feel like I have hit the jackpot when it comes to the work I do!  Imagine being able to spend your time and energy on something that fills your heart and fills your soul and you get paid for it.  I could just pinch myself some days – especially those days when I am “on the scene” taking photos of families and corporate folks, brides and grooms full of love.  Then I get to add in the hours I spend sharing and teaching yoga at The Zoo and Golds Gym, Bliss and Holy Cow.  Of course there are also those amazing, kind and so wonderful ladies at SeaIsland Preschool.

The road was a twisty and turning one getting to this place in my life.  I love holding the camera.  Meeting new people and seeing old familiar faces that trust me year after year.  I love getting people to smile and relax enough to show their light.  I love putting on yoga pants (they are SO comfortable) and sharing this practice far and wide.  I love how every day is never the same.

I wanted to take a minute to share some of the reasons why I feel that my yoga training and teaching is so much more than a job and more of a blessing in my life.

Everyone has the most beautiful light shining in them.  The more we come to the mat, the practice of yoga facilitates an experience of the self and opens us up to our personal power and potential.  We being to see our light shine brighter and our minds open to the infinite possibilities of life! As a teacher I get to be witness to that and it so rewarding.  As a student, I know how it feels and the power it has to heal and transform.

Then I get beyond jazzed by the idea that I am being of service and always prayerful that I am making a difference for someone.  I love the fact that I can offer something to someone that can be helpful, inspirational and of service.  I wholeheartedly believe in the uplifting power of yoga and I feel myself, and can some times see in others, yoga’s transformative, rejuvenating, restorative and healing power that keep us coming back.

This November I am offering my first retreat out of the country to my dear friends, Marc and Dayna’s resort in Nicaragua called Verdad!

Perhaps there is someone reading this that will feel the spirit moving inside them to come along!  That YES this is perfect timing for me and I am ready and open to this adventure kind of feeling.  I hope you will reach out to me and come along.  I have so much I want to share with you.

My Yoga and Self-Renewal Retreat will be a way for you to unplug for a week.  There will be opportunities to practice, to be still, to be pampered, to play, and to be in community with some amazing people.




The Key to Wonder


What is the key to wonder? Have you ever asked yourself that question? Honestly I had not until recently when I came across a verse in Proverbs that said, ” On the heels of humility comes the wonder of God.” (Proverbs 22:4)

As I sat with this statement in mediation it became clear that only through humility can we truly experience wonder. Humility is not a feeling per se.  Humility is a trait of character more than it can be considered a state of mind.  I believe humility grows and flourishes within one’s self only after you discover the interconnectedness of all things.  Can you allow yourself to feel a part of every living thing on the planet? Every blade of grass, every bumblebee and worm, every animal and tree.  Humility comes when we bring to light the transient nature of our being.

I believe that as humility grows, wonder deepens.  We can see ourselves as temporary expressions of God’s timeless and infinite unfolding. We all die. We all have a common fate and through that realization a compassion to embrace all beings grows.  So as we awaken to the unity of all in ALL, we discover that our will is now one with the Divine Will.  There will be a sense, a desire, to go out and heal the world through lovingkindness and you will want to choose what is right over what is wrong.  As your actions display genuine humility – when you stand in solidarity with all and in wonder of God, when you stand empty of self and mistakes in which “the self” is prone – then the Divine is revealed with and around you.  Then you are alive to the glory of creation and live the life of the world to come NOW!

In opening your mind and heart to the manifestation of the world to come being in the present – here and now, we not only create and manifest heaven on earth but we grow humble in the process allowing our pride to melt away as wonder embraces you.  Pride deludes you into separateness and you come to believe you are alone in the world and that you do only for yourself in the world.  Your success, your wealth is yours and yours alone.  These are lies because there really is no “alone.” You are a part of the other, and all are a part of the ONE.

Did you become wealthy alone? No!  At every step, others helped you.  Whether you have recognized this or not, your success was on the backs of others aiding you.  Even the clothes we wear and the food we eat, the homes we live in and our knowledge came to us from the minds and hands of others.  How can we not recognize and appreciate this while accepting this is a debt we can never repay.

From this debt humility grows and owing the world leads to respecting the world.  Knowing that you are who you are and have what you have by the grace and sweat and toil of others, you cannot help but embrace the world and all who dwell on this earth with compassion and generosity.

So maybe the next time you find yourself in prayer or mediation, try and empty your mind of thoughts.  Empty yourself with the desire to be filled with God. We can do this by emptying thoughts, focusing on breathing, allowing the breath to quiet the mind and still the body, and then releasing our self or soul from the falseness of separateness.  As you come into prayer or contemplation, let your hearts desire move you toward gentleness, humility and peace.




Sermon on the Mat #6: Tonglen

Tonglen is a Tibetan Buddhist practice.

It takes the typically egoic way of wanting to avoid pain and gravitate towards pleasure, and turns it on its head. Instead, we learn to breathe in what’s uncomfortable and painful in the world, and breathe out blessings, comfort and happiness.

Tonglen meditation is truly transformative, putting into perspective the pains and pleasures of all living beings, while taking the attention off of our small egoic selves. It’s also an effective way to work with difficult emotions.

Pema Chodron, a Buddhist nun, teacher and author, in her book The Wisdom of No Escape, is a true expert in tonglen and I encourage you to pick up her writings if you want to delve more deeply into this practice.  So what exactly do you do in this practice?

Tonglen is a meditation practice.  A Tibetan word, tonglen means “giving and receiving.” As such, the concept of this meditation technique involves giving and receiving, which refers to taking in the suffering of the self and others and giving compassion and support to those in need. In this way, Tonglen meditation increases compassion toward others and develops the ability to aid in addressing another’s distress.

The Psalmist speaking to God in Psalm 104 writes, “You set forth your breath and renew the surface of the earth.” This is what tonglen does; uses the breath to transform the suffering of others.  Tonglen is this art of transformation.  This practice reveals that “spacious mind” has room for infinite suffering.  Just like the sky is never filled with clouds but is always greater than them, so the spacious mind is never filled with suffering but holds it within a greater love.  It is like the crucifixion of Christ.  It is a way to take upon oneself the pain of the world and transform it into love.  Christ came to earth to die for our sins.  He took on the sins of the world so that we could be saved. With this practice, we can learn to hold the suffering but not be diminished by it.

What if when we encountered suffering we “breath it in” and in turn breath out “infinite peace”  The suffering does not stay but transformed and returned to the world as love.  So too am I: love.  We begin to feel love for both ourselves and others; we begin to take care of ourselves and others. Tonglen awakens our compassion and introduces us to a far bigger view of reality. It introduces us to the unlimited spaciousness of shunyata. By doing the practice, we begin to connect with the open dimension of our being. At first this allows us to experience things as not such a big deal and not so solid as they seemed before.


When you do tonglen as a formal meditation practice, it has four stages:

1.First, rest your mind briefly, for a second or two, in a state of openness or stillness. This stage is traditionally called flashing on absolute bodhichitta, or suddenly opening to basic spaciousness and clarity.

2.Second, work with texture. Breathe in a feeling of hot, dark, and heavy-a sense of claustrophobia-and breathe out a feeling of cool, bright, and light-a sense of freshness. Breathe in completely, through all the pores of your body, and breathe out, radiate out, completely, through all the pores of your body. Do this until it feels synchronized with your in-and out-breaths.

3.Third, work with a personal situation-any painful situation that’s real to you. Traditionally you begin by doing tonglen for someone you care about and wish to help. However, as I described, if you are stuck, you can do the practice for the pain you are feeling and simultaneously for all those just like you who feel that kind of suffering. For instance, if you are feeling inadequate, you breathe that in for yourself and all the others in the same boat, and you send out confidence and adequacy or relief in any form you wish.

4.Finally, make the taking in and sending out bigger. If you are doing tonglen for someone you love, extend it out to those who are in the same situation as your friend. If you are doing tonglen for someone you see on television or on the street, do it for all the others in the same boat. Make it bigger than just that one person. If you are doing tonglen for all those who are feeling the anger or fear or whatever that you are trapped in, maybe that’s big enough. But you could go further in all these cases. You could do tonglen for people you consider to be your enemies-those who hurt you or hurt others. Do tonglen for them, thinking of them as having the same confusion and stuckness as your friend or yourself. Breathe in their pain and send them relief. Tonglen can extend infinitely. As you do the practice, gradually over time your compassion naturally expands, and so does your realization that things are not as solid as you thought. As you do this practice, gradually at your own pace, you will be surprised to find yourself more and more able to be there for others even in what used to seem like impossible situations.


I am a Christian who practices Yoga

I am a Christian who practices yoga daily. There is a belief that you can’t be a faithful Christian and practice yoga. This saddens me greatly.  As with anything, it is a matter of intentionality.  I have done a lot of reading on this topic over the last two years and have contemplated on the writings and feelings of people on both sides of this sometimes controversial issue.  For me, I see no problem.  When I step on the mat I have the intention to honor God by bringing my whole self – body, mind and spirit into communion and worship.  “Whatever you do, do from the heart, as for the Lord and not for others.” (Col 3:23) and “whatever you do, do it all to the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10:31) say’s the Lord.

I certainly realize not everyone who practices yoga is Christian.  Not everyone who walks into a church is one either!  And, how many Christians only hang out with Jesus on Sunday in church and go about their lives the rest of the week?  Not everyone you may encounter at work or school, the store or the gym is a Christian.  Just as Jesus walked among sinners and ate at their tables, we too are both sinners and believers who should reflect the love of Christ daily.  We all fall short!  Not one of us is the perfect manifestation of Christ but we are to put our best foot forward moment by moment.  This is a very “yogic” idea and one that a person will get better at as they step onto the mat more and more.

Acts 17:28 states, “In Him we move and breathe and have our being.” The ancient vedic (ancient Hindu writings) texts parallel many biblical principles as well.

Think about it.  Do you have to be Brazilian to do Zumba?  Do you have to be Argentinian to dance the Tango? Do you have to Buddhist to practice martial arts and do you  not have to be Hindu to practice yoga? Hearsay and opinions about Christians practicing yoga should not come from a preachers mouth, especially one who has not practiced, or even from the author of an article or from a friend.  Rather, I encourage you to go directly to the Source, the Word of God, our TRUE NORTH!  Dive in and read for yourself.  Sit with scripture, maybe even add in your Lectio Divina practice of reading!  Mark 12:30 “Love the Lord with all of your heart, all of your mind, all of your soul and all of your strength.” 

I believe God leads and guides seekers to the truth.  Yoga can truly be worship in action, your faith and prayers in motion. Yoga also teaches us to be still so we can hear Him, hear that still small voice.  Did you know that yoga predates religion and that religious people have and do practice yoga?  As a Christian, no matter what we choose to do to “honor our temples” that the Lord has given us, we take our everyday comings and goings to glorify Him.  When we take care of ourselves we are honoring and glorifying Christ.

If someone were to ask me to honestly share what I have experienced in my practice, I think there would be a book in it!  But here, in a nutshell, I can share a few major ah-ha moments with you.

  1. My walk with the Lord has strengthened.  I can sit in meditation or contemplative prayer, and truly listen in silence and stillness.  I can mediate on a word or scripture verse, I can sit and visualize myself walking with Him and having a conversation. I can come before Him with questions and concerns, prayers and intercessions.  By learning the tools to come into stillness, this has strengthened my prayer life and enriched my connection to His divine presence in my life.  There are times I can now sit for long stretches of time and not lose focus.
  2. When I slow down my mind and focus on my breathing (pranayama), another tenant of yoga, I can not only bring myself to a place of calm and peace, but I can also visualize healing in my body.  Being an asthmatic all my life, my practice has allowed me to increase my lung capacity and to get myself to a place of peace and ease when I am in dis-ease!  Having an asthma attack or getting sick when you have an already compromised immune system, can cause mental and physical stress.  My practice has taught me to remain calm.  The pranayama exercises offer a variety of options to help relax and strengthen my lungs. Our faith encourages us to not only ask Christ for healing but to visualize, and believe we are already healed.  I love the idea of “INHALE HIM and EXHALE ME”
  3. We store emotion and the experiences of daily life in our bodies without even noticing.  By moving through asanas, I can be fully present in the moment and begin to uncover what these are, where they came from and even how to change my “stinking thinking” so that I can become more like Christ.  I can be less judgemental, more loving and forgiving.  Become less ego-driven and more service oriented.  This list can go on but I think you get my drift! When we can learn to stop labeling ourselves as this or that we can allow ourselves to get in touch with who we really are and what we are to give of ourselves during our life.

These are just a few things that are at the top of my list.

So I repeat, yoga is not a religion.  Aspects of yoga have been incorporated into some groups and religions, however yoga itself is not a religion and you don’t have to be religious to practice yoga. At my wonderful studio here in Charleston, Holy Cow, I have met and made life long friends with so many wonderful people.  They are teachers, scientists, writers, owners of local stores, creators of non-profits that offer outreach to the community, and so much more. Yogic principles of exercise, breathing, relaxation, diet and self study are offered to anyone and everyone who wishes to come on to the mat and learn.  The good news is that this is not a cult or club that forces you into a set of beliefs or makes you conform to some set of rules.  Stepping on the mat is personal through and through.  Stepping into my studio is an opportunity to be with a diverse and above all accepting group of men and women who desire, as I do, to love all and serve all.

Doesn’t that sound like something Jesus would want us to do?

After Who Moved My Cheese – What Hem Learned

Picked up this very short little book while I was in Tucson called “Out of the Maze” – An A-Mazing Way to Get Unstuck by Spencer Johnson.  This little sequel cones on the heels of “Who Moved My Cheese?”

I read it in less than an hour and came away with some solid information.  Nothing earth-shattering or mind blowing, but things I know and you know and we sometimes forget that we know that we know!   LOL.

So we all get “in the maze” sometimes. The maze represents our life and patterns that we got stuck in and hold on to and continue to fight for even when it’s not working for us any longer and we need to change.  Change is can be hard.  Change can be scary and unpredictable.  But change is a reality and we need to find the tools to help us.  This cool little gem gives the reader a pathway for adapting to change that can be used in your personal life and career.

I have had so much change in my 55 years of life.  If I didn’t adapt and move on and let go I shutter to think of where I would be right now.  Has every decision been a good one?  Probably not.  Do I regret the changes I have made?  I have done lots of therapy on this one and my answer is that I did the best I could, or made the best decision I could, with the information I had at the time.  So I can’t ask for more than that.

Do you want to change your destiny? Do you need tools to adapt to change?

Here is your pathway in a nutshell.

Notice Your Beliefs.  A belief is a thought that you trust is true.

Don’ Believe Everything You Think.  Sometimes “facts” are just how you see things.

Let Go of What Isn’t Working.  You can’t launch a new quest with old baggage.  I love this one!!!

Look Outside the Maze.  Consider the unlikely and explore the impossible.

Choose a New Belief.  Changing what you think does not change who you are.

There Are No Limits to What You Can Believe.  You can do, experience, and enjoy a lot more than you think you can.

Beliefs are a powerful thing.  So fake it til you make it as they say.

Mark Twain said, “It ain’t what you don’t know that gets you in trouble.  It’s what you know for sure that just ain’t so.” Remember the Titanic?

Make it a great day.

Joy and Peace Always



Sermon On The Mat #5: Living Grace Through Sabbath Keeping

Why are we so rarely in the state of grace? 

I believe the reason is that we rarely have the courage to expand ourselves fully in the moment.  Living with grace is knowing what time it is, and then acting in sync with it.  If we draw from Ecclesiastes Chapter 3: “there is a time for every matter under heaven: a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to reap; a time to kill, and a time to heal…” In the Hindu belief, the idea of karma yoga, or the way of detached action also shares the same idea.  If it is time to plant, plant.  If it’s time to harvest, harvest.  But if your mind is on harvesting when it is time to plant, you will most likely plant poorly and your harvest will be small.  The Bhagavad-Gita states, “No one exists for even an instant without performing action: however unwilling, every being is forced to act by the qualities of nature.  Always perform with detachment any action you must do; performing action with detachment, one achieves supreme good.”

If somehow we can live every moment to the fullest then nothing will be left over.  You must use up each moment and become empty again in order to live the next one, and the next, and so on.  So this is where we come to knowing what time it is and putting down the burden of time.  There should be nothing left a the end of your day or the end of your life!

So how then do we do this?

By making Shabbos.  We can drop all that we carry and do for one day each week and live as if we trust God’s grace. In this way the narrow mind learns the power of trust and grace.  It stops worrying so much and can function more efficiently without having to carry the past or future around as a heavy cloak.  Shabbos is surrendering to the greater reality of God as the place you are here and now. It is more than a rest day; it is a day of grace.  A day to celebrate what is and not creating what might be. It is a day for turning off distractions, releasing obligations and allowing yourself to hear your SELF, that still small voice of holiness that can get so easily drowned out.

So here are some ideas to create a Sabbath day:

Open and close your Sabbath with the lighting of candles: Even if your Sabbath is just a few hours, begin by lighting multiple candles.  Why multiple? Well, in Jewish tradition, the minimum is two to symbolize the state of duality that usually precedes Shabbos.  You come with a split mind so you light multiple candles to honor where you are. The candles offer a singular light so you are beginning with two and aiming at one!!!

Offer a blessing:  Say a small prayer or read something inspirational that you hope will embody your purpose for this time.

Prepare a simple meal and offer thanks before eating it.

Bless children, loved ones, and friends.

Take a walk and enjoy nature.

Go slow: There is no rushing on Shabbos.  Do everything with attention and care, and you will find a rhythm that is your “Shabbos speed.”

Pamper yourself: Take a bath.  Enjoy a long nap. Surround yourself with fragrances you love and books you want to read and people you want to chat with.  Make love.

Make a to do list for this day and post it:  NOTHING

Get off the grid: Turn off the computer, the tv, the phone and anything else that can be a distraction.

Close the Shabbos with candles: I learned that the Jewish people who keep Shabbos, close it with a ceremony called Havdallah. It marks the return of the week.  The candle they use to close Shabbos is different from the candles lit at the start of Shabbos.  This candle is a single braided candle made of wicks.  So beginning with multiple candles to honor your diversity as you move toward unity, you end with one candle that signifies unity blossoming into diversity.

Here is a prayer to end your time:

May this be a week of faith;

Faith in truth, faith in love, faith in friendship, and faith in you how manifests all things and their opposite.

May my labors hasten the perfection of the world, and may kindness awaken those deadened by despair.

May this week arrive with gentleness, good fortune, blessing, success, good health, prosperity, justice and peace.

May it be a week for uplifting the children and honoring the aged.

May this be a week of constructive purpose for me, for my loved ones, and for all who dwell upon this good earth.



Dolce far Niente – The Art of Doing Nothing

One of my favorite Italian sayings is “Dolce far Niente”, which means “the sweetness of doing nothing.” It does not mean being lazy, it is referring to the pleasure one gets from being idle. … Dolce far Niente is something Italians embrace and something they do very well.  Maybe this is why I LOVE Italy so much and hope to spend more time there in my retirement!  🙂

A friend posted an article from Elephant Journal recently and it reminded me of this saying.  You can check out their article here: Elephant Journal

The idea that “doing nothing,” is actually an event in and of itself. The idea that we no longer run on a treadmill of activity from getting the kids to and from activities, to staring at social media, to picking up dry cleaning, to working your job, to grocery shopping and cooking, to washing clothes and making beds, and the list goes on until we wake up and do it all over again.  The idea that our actions day to day become influenced by our intuition (listening to and honoring as best we can to that still small voice that is telling us what we need) and no longer by routines, have to’s, and musts.

This kind of relaxation exists within each of us and is ours for the taking if we’re willing to put in the effort.  The “la dolce far niente” relaxation can be cultivated. The sweetness of doing nothing and enjoying where we are in the present moment- is the greatest thanks we can give for the lives and blessing we have.

If you are a fan of Thoreau, as I am, in Walden, he said, “When I go out of the house for a walk, uncertain as yet whither I will bend my steps, and submit myself to my instinct to decide for me, I find, strange and whimsical as it may seem, that I finally and inevitably settle south-west, toward some particular wood or meadow or deserted pasture or hill in that direction.”

How different would your quality of life be if you made time throughout the day to experience la dolce far niente? Instead of using your free moments to catch up on what happened on Southern Charm or Housewives of _________________, instead of looking at your Instagram or Facebook page to count your LIKES over your latest post, instead of checking your email one last time to see if anyone else is needing you to do something, instead of using your free time to find mindless uninspiring distractions; What if you just did nothing?

For observant Jews they keep the Sabbath.  We all can take time, maybe not an entire day, but a small amount of time to carve out to honor the idea of doing nothing.  Buddha, Jesus, Mohammad, Moses, Gandhi, the Dalai Lama and many more great saints and sages have all practiced the art of doing nothing.

Let’s all take a page from their books!  May you enjoy NOTHING!


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