Turn Me On, or, The Terror of Our Desire

It's the last day of school and the most sublimely beautiful, early summer day in New York City. My charge is at the park with a pack of his best friends, there is an endless supply of pizza and sweets, and I've just given him permission to play in the kid's water fountains in his school uniform. Because childhood. Because summer. Because get dirty. Why not? He sprints away before I can change my mind, bursting through the water with unreserved, joyful abandon. This goes on for hours. I watch with wonder at his full presence in the moment and his total commitment to the task at hand: having the most fun possible. Right here. Right now.

Later on I've moved into my evening and my own version of fun: Breathe-In, a movement and meditation event held monthly by two of my favorite teachers in New York. Before class begins, I'm laying out quietly, dissolving the day and trying to arrive fully to the moment when a question drifts up clear and strong from my deep center of…

Will Yoga For Likes, or, Growing Up Your Yoga

These photos were taken on the same day three years apart. One might expect that "progress" would look like a foot on the head in an even deeper backbend. Alas! In the interim, I've become the inhabitant of a whole new body. An as-yet-unhealed injury to my right shoulder makes Urdhva Dhanurasana extremely painful to come  into and limits my mobility in the pose significantly. Yes, this is still a deep full wheel, but I can no longer pull my chest forward with perfectly straight arms. I can no longer do the full expression of the pose and as a result, I totally suck. I'm a terrible yogi and an even worse person. Sorry.

Jk! In the age of social media overshare, it's easy to compare ourselves to others in many different contexts and feel less than. The full reality behind the perfect photo is rarely divulged. When those "30 day challenges" started rolling out on Instagram, I did ALL of them. I would spend part of every day forcing my unwarm body into pose…

Giving Up Making Good, or, The Father Wound on Father's Day

When I was young and I would tell my father "I love you," he would reply "Thank you." As human communication continued to devolve, if I wrote it in a text, his reply was the smiling emoji wearing sunglasses. Seriously.

My father would be quick to point out all the terrible things he *didn't* do, as if one should be rewarded for not doing things that you shouldn't be doing anyway. No, sir, you do not get a medal for *not* beating your wife and children. Physical assault is illegal. Your prize for avoiding it is not going to jail. Nice try, though.

349 days ago it became abundantly clear to me what an unsafe man my father is to have in my life and I cut him off. No longer would he be allowed to mishandle my tenderness, tearing my wounding open again and again. This is the beauty of adulthood. We get to thoughtfully filter who and what we let in. We get to erect firm boundaries for self love and preservation. It is our most powerful responsibility to ourselve…

Everything Alive Inside You

He bought a gorgeous aboriginal throw as a memento and as the space for our afternoon work. We took it over the railroad tracks, down the winding, sandy path to a quiet place on the dunes, removed from the beach below. I lay down and he set to his task rhythmically delivering the most profound healing work I've ever received. Honestly, no hyperbole. I reeled for days after, tremoring, laughcrying in yoga, swimming in the ocean, rolling around on the floor, writing pages on pages all in an attempt to integrate the way my mind and heart had just been blown wide. It was a glorious surprise, by far my best travel souvenir to date.

The last time I experienced such a deep inner earthquake was nine years ago when I was diving into Kundalini yoga, and, as I like to quip, Kundalini made me quit my job, my relationship, San Francisco...etc. In a word, this practice was destructive. Anything that wasn't fully in alignment with my truth and well being had to go. And this saved my life.


Greed and Gluttony: Failing at Brahmacharya and Aparigraha

As an adolescent person beginning to look more deeply into the workings of things, I viscerally remember the depression I felt upon first encountering the Four Noble Truths. The world is filled with suffering and the only path to alleviate suffering is non-attachment? It felt so harsh and lonely to me, this idea of not being attached to anything and the assumption that this meant you couldn't love anyone. In my mind, the two were one in the same; the love I felt for my family was woven together with a desire that I would never be without them.

There's an old Taoist story concerning a farmer whose horse runs away one day. His neighbors express their sympathy and the farmer says, "We'll see." When the horse returns with more horses in tow, the neighbors are overjoyed for him. Once again he replies, "We'll see." The farmer's son takes one of the horses out for a ride, is bucked and breaks his leg. The neighbors are so sorry about this misfortune, …

The Fiery, Alchemical Force of Love

"Just like our organs, our anger is part of us. When we are angry, we have to go back to ourselves and take good care of our anger. We cannot say, 'Go away, anger, I don’t want you.' When you have a stomachache, you don’t say, 'I don’t want you stomach, go away.' No, you take care of it. In the same way, we have to embrace and take good care of our anger." —Thich Nhat Hanh
When I was in yoga teacher training, I let all my hair grow. For half a year, I didn't shave or cut any of it off. It was in part a respectful nod to the Sikh tradition of not cutting any hairs on the body, and part an experiment in self-love. Having been raised in a culture which shamed the presence of hair on certain parts of my body, could I let that hair be there and still feel happy and comfortable in my skin?
Since then, I have vacillated between shaving regularly and going long periods of time without. With the ebb and flow of my body hair has grown a sense of almost militant pr…

You Are Already Rich and Blessed

If you're reading this, it's likely that you own some sort of electronic device- a computer, a smartphone. It's also likely that you have a home to live in with functional electrical outlets that allow you to charge those devices, light switches to flip to illuminate the darkness, clean water that flows endless into cups, bathtubs, tea kettles.
These things are such an easy, natural part of life in many places that we tend to think of them as a given. We know that there are places in the world, sometimes very nearby, where people do not live with such ease. They don't know where their next meal will come from, or have a safe home or clean water. For a moment we may be #grateful for what we have, conscious of the grace that holds our lives together. Following hot on the heels of gratitude, though, is the ever-creeping, gaping gnaw of awareness of What's Not. We push aside our blessings and look only at what we don't have, what we have not achieved.