Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Just in Time for Thanksgiving: A Yogic Feast!

  Wild Turkey

Wild Turkey Yoga Pose

Fancy Thanksgiving Gravy Boat

 Fancy Thanksgiving Gravy Boat Pose*
*Do not attempt directly after Thanksgiving dinner.

Festive Pumpkin Pie

Festive Pumpkin Pie Pose
Flickr User:
I hope you all have a great holiday! I'm thankful for each and every one of you!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Top Dogs and Their Yoga Humans: A Collective Lesson in Living in the Now

I love my furry friends. They teach me SO much about life and yoga. How to be content, how to love unconditionally, how to be present ... I could go on.. The point is, my animals make my life better.

As you might already know one of my hobbies is stalking--I mean, reading about--other yoga students and teachers on the web to glean as much inspiration as possible. It's obvious that I'm not the only yogi who gets schooled by her pets. So I thought I'd pull some of the best yoga + dog writings I could find online and share them with you in time for Thanksgiving. Maybe it will make you want to give a few extra table scraps to the pup you love!

Image: Gwen Bell
1. Dog: Redford
Human: Founder Waylon Lewis
Breed: Rescue Mutt

Waylon is thankful for: "My puppy, because he’s cute and listens to me most of the time, and because he teaches me more about patience and myself than anyone except my guru, Trungpa Rinpoche, or my guru, Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche, or whatever girlfriend happens to be putting up with me, or not, at any given time."

Read more here.

2. Dog: Scarlet
Human: Meredith LeBlanc
Breed: Rescue Pug

"Scarlet, our Pug, has been a huge catalyst for change in our home. Her enthusiasm and joie de vivre is contagious. Every moment to her is worth savoring and she is totally right. We'd kind of forgotten that until she moved in with us."

Read more here.

3. Dog: Ashi
Human: Kathryn Budig
Breed: Puggle

"She knows what is important in life: good food, and lots of it. Getting excited about the smallest things like the phone ringing. It means someone interesting is on the other line. Most importantly, good love and the ability to give and recieve it all day long."

Read more here.

Image: cyndisphere
4. Dog: Leroy
Human: Cyndi Lee
Breed: Chocolate Poodle

"Leroy and I went to the park yesterday but when I started turning right to leave, he pulled hard to go left.  He is a stubborn poodle so I said, “Okay, we can walk around the fountain that way today,” and to the left we went. Where there was a huge crowd gathered around and lot of buzzing conversations.  Then I saw what was going on — there were literally hundreds of boxes sitting on the ground under the big famous arch at the end of Fifth Avenue.  Every box was wrapped in a coral colored cloth with a bow on top — a Japanese kind of wrapping thing.  It looked amazing and beautiful.  People were all excited and taking the boxes.  I looked around to see if it was a giveaway from some big company like Revlon or something but, no. No big promotional thing happening.  So I thought, I’ll take a box, too.  I picked one up and then I thought, “No. I don’t want this. I don’t want more stuff.”  So I put it down and started to walk away and then I saw a tiny sign that said:


Read more

5. Dog: Schmutzie
Human: Dave Romanelli
Breed: Rescue Toy Poodle

"Schmutzie's training doubled as a personal growth seminar. And Schmutzie was no less than a furry sort of spiritual companion. In order to get to a point where I could walk Schmutzie without a leash, I learned that I needed to practice pulling my mind out of downward spirals of negative thinking; to prevent my mind's foolish foolish scampers into dark, foggy reals; to quell my mind's ADD-driven spastic leaps from thought to thought. Only when my mind stabilized and relaxed would Schmutzie truly respect me."

Excerpted from Yeah Dave's Guide to Living' in the Moment. Click here to read more.

And, of course, I am most inspired by my sweet rescue mutt Penny and cute, deaf kitty Gracey.

5 Things My Dog Taught Me about Yoga

5 Things My Cat Taught Me about Yoga
What lessons have you learned from your furry friends?

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Spoiled Yogi's Holiday Gift Guide

What do you get for the yoga student who has everything? It might seem impossible to get your loved one something you know he'll love if you know he already has the mat and all the fixin's (that means props, clothes, etc.). Here are a few fabulous presents for the yoga student who only seeks presence. (Get it!? I know, I'm hilarious, right?)

1. Infinity Scarf. Perhaps your yoga-obsessed friend already has two dresser drawers so full of yoga clothes that she can barely shut them. (Not that I know anyone like that...) She could probably still use a few things to help her stay warm and stylish to and from class. My favorite accessory of the season? The infinity scarf! It gives you the look of a trendy cowl neck sweater but with a lot more diversity! They're warm. They're cozy. And they can double as an eye covering during Savasana! I like this one.

2. Namaspray. Most yoga students have their own yoga mat for sanitation reasons--communal mats have been known to spread unpleasant things like Athlete's Foot and plantar warts. Personally, I'm not that excited about smushing my Third Eye into my own funk either, which is why I love the mat cleaner Namaspray. It disinfects, smells great, and it's the perfect size for a stocking stuffer.

3. Meditation Mala. This is my newest obsession. A mala is stylish as well as functional. I love my Tiny Devotions mala because you can pick your stone based on a virtue you want to cultivate (ie. balance, communication, love)

4.  Local Yoga Studio Gift Card. This might be the best gift you could possibly give a yoga student. And it's SO easy. Just find out where she practices, give them a call, and you're done! A month of unlimited yoga is pretty much the holy grail of yoga gifts if you really want to impress. Otherwise, just pay for a couple of classes and you'll be golden.

5. Online Subscription. What if your yogi is so remote there are no studios close to them? There are a ton of online yoga video instruction subscriptions that will give him the feeling of being in a class from the comfort of his own home! I like YogaGlo, Yoga Vibes, and iHanuman.

What's on your wish list this year?

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

What Does Your Favorite Pose Say About You?

Standing Poses 
You love to stand tall, with your feet grounding into the earth and the crown of your head reaching up toward infinity. This might mean you're naturally a grounded person. You are firm in your beliefs and convictions, but open to the limitless possibilities in life, too.

You're a lover, not a fighter. Your friends might describe you as vulnerable, real, open, loving, compassionate, and maybe a little emotional, too. You let your heart lead the way--even though sometimes the path is not comfortable. Your personality is energetic, bubbly, and warm.

If your favorite pose is a twisting pose, it might mean you that your body needs more fiber (just kidding!). But twists are great for digestion! They are also cleansing and healing. Not to mention, they make your back feel great. If you love twists you might be fun-loving and adventurous, too.

Forward Bends
Forward Bends are soothing--and they're also great stress-relievers. If your favorite pose is a forward bend (this includes Child's Pose and Downward Dog), you are likely a well-rounded yoga student. You take your practice seriously, and use it as a tool to find your center. You might be even-tempered, studious, and smart.

Arm Balances
Arm balance lovers tend to be playful and a little bit sassy. If you're one of them, you like testing the limits and feeling strong, but you aren't scared to fall on your face every now and then, too. You're also confident, stubborn, and you don't back down from a challenge.

Balance Poses
When it comes to Tree Pose, Eagle Pose, and Half Moon Pose -- people either love them or hate them! If you love them, it could mean that you're either a naturally balanced person or a person who has improved their balance through yoga. Either way, you enjoy teetering on the edge, testing your equilibrium, and you feel triumphant on days that you feel solidly rooted into the ground. There's also a good chance that you have a great sense of humor (because it's hilarious when you fall out of a balance pose).

Inversions are the king and queen of yoga poses. If you love inversions, you might be of noble blood yourself! But you rule with understanding, compassion, and vitality. Inversion lovers are also (so I'm told) very crabby if they aren't in a place that allows them to go upside down--but other than that, they're pretty nice. You might be a little quirky, unusual, and fun.

Aaaahh.. Savasana. Perhaps the most relaxing pose of all. If Corpse Pose is your favorite, it might mean you need more rest, relaxation, and quiet time in your busy life! Or it could just mean that you love the gratifying feeling of knowing you did your yoga practice and love lingering in the after-effects.

Of course, it's important to note that most of us have more than one favorite pose, or our pose combines two or more categories (i.e. Downward Dog is kind of a forward bend and kind of a standing pose)... It's also important to note that I just pretty much pulled the above generalizations out of my ass (just for fun!). Was I right? What's your favorite pose, and what do you think it says about your personality?

Monday, November 15, 2010

5 Reasons to Pamper Yourself

'Tis the season... But before it gets into full swing and you find yourself braving lines at the mall, shaking your head at your credit card bills, and worrying about you'll wear to the obligatory office holiday party give yourself a little love. Need an excuse? I'll help you out! Here are 5 Reasons to Pamper Yourself!

1. You work hard. You give so much to other people in your life. Take care of yourself. Re-fuel so you'll have more to give and you can continue to make the world a better place.

2. Just think of all the amazing things you're missing while you're zooming around from Point A to Point B! Slow down. Look around. This is your life! Are you enjoying it? Do something that makes you feel vibrant!

3. If you don't take care of yourself, who will? As an adult, you're the only one who can set priorities and make sure you're healthy, strong, and happy. Your mom would approve!

4. It's easy! It doesn't have to be expensive or even time-consuming. Take a breath. Ask yourself, "What do I need in this moment to be inspired, motivated, and feel good about life?" Maybe it's a few minutes on the yoga mat or meditation cushion, to curl up with a book in the bathtub, or a night out with the girls. Don't be too busy to take care of yourself.

5. Set an example for your loved ones. You want them to pamper themselves every now and then, right? Show them how it's done!

When was the last time you pampered yourself?

Friday, November 12, 2010

Meditation Tools

This is what I look like when I'm trying to meditate. Do I look calm? Serene? Focused?

Yeah, right!

On the inside, it's a different story. Anyone who has attempted to meditate knows how hard it can be to sit there and calm your mind. I've always tried to focus on my breath, and occasionally a simple mantra. But it doesn't take long for my mind to start spinning into stories... I re-live conversations I've had in the past, thinking of what I should have said. I think about what I'm going to say next time. I think about my grocery list or my overdue library books. You know, all kinds of really annoying stuff that could easily drive a person bananas.

But lately, I've been experimenting with meditating with a mala. I have a gorgeous meditation mala by Tiny Devotions with a turquoise bead meant to enhance communication, healing, and balance. (All things I can use more of in my life right now!) I've been wearing it as a necklace to remind me of my meditation practice during the day as I run errands and do chores. But it's also been a useful guide to help me focus on a mantra (I've been using So Hum) as I sit to meditate. Instead of sitting there restlessly until my kitchen timer beeps at me, I just keep going until I've been around the mala once, twice, or three times (more if I have the time!). And it keeps my mind (and my fingers) just busy enough to allow me to begin to settle by the end of my practice.

Do you use a mala for meditating? What's your mantra? Do you have any other meditation advice?

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Don't Fail Miserably, Fail Joyfully!

When I first started practicing yoga, I'd look around to see if anyone in class noticed when I lost my balance in Tree Pose or brought the wrong foot forward in Warrior 1. I was embarrassed when my teacher corrected a mistake or even offered an informative adjustment. Great!, I'd think to myself. Now everyone knows I suck at this! 

But somewhere along the line, I realized that it's the failures that teach me the most and shape who I am as a yogini and as a person. No one comes out of the womb able to do a Funky Pincha Mayurasana. Advanced postures take thousands of failed attempts (millions for some of us) before you get the hang of it. And guess what? My philosophy on my yoga mat is to fall on my face as often as possible, and I laugh when it happens because I know it's just a matter of time before I nail it! Maybe after I've failed to meditate for the 4,559th time, I'll finally be able to quiet my mind. Maybe after I make a fool of myself in front of yoga class for the 1,598th time I'll actually start to look like a real teacher up there. Maybe after I pitch story idea to an editor for the 552nd time, someone will take a chance on me.

One thing's for certain, you never know until you try -- and when you fail you really haven't lost anything at all.

This is the most valuable lesson I've learned from my yoga practice. Failing is not just OK, but it's awesome. And even though it's hard sometimes, when it happens, you should delight in it because it's just a necessary step to get you where you're headed.

BTW, the following video is my favorite yoga failure on Youtube! This woman is committed, and she knows how to laugh at herself. (We've all been there--and that's why it's so funny!)

Monday, November 8, 2010

Yoga Book Club

I was inspired by Bob Weisenberg's interview with author Lucy Edge over on Elephant Journal. I tweeted about it and--no surprises here--I found out that I wasn't the only one.

So here's the deal. We've formed a little Twitter yoga book club! And I'd love for you to participate! If you want to read along, just make sure you add #YSDO to your tweets. We'll check in with each other on the weekends for discussion. (And of course, if you're not on Twitter, you can still read with us, just comment your thoughts below.) Who's in?

Sunday, November 7, 2010

So Hum: Self Expression through Yoga

Yoga doesn't just happen on the yoga mat. If you're a yoga student, your practice goes with you during your commute, at the dinner table, and, yes, even when you're waiting for the train. Just close your eyes, take a deep breath, and Voila! Yoga! In fact, if you just broaden your definition of yoga a bit, there's a lot more yoga happening out on the streets than in yoga studios. I love seeing people practice in unconventional places.

As a yoga teacher, I can tell a lot about a person by watching their poses—their body's strengths and weaknesses. But I still think I can tell more about the essence of the person when I run into them on the sidewalk. People's personalities really shine through their choice of clothing, accessories, where they spend their time, and how they present themselves. Since yoga is really all about letting that essence, your authentic self, shine through into everything you do, I thought it would be fun to combine yoga, fashion, culture, and art.

Every month, we'll feature one stunning fabulous photograph of a yoga student practicing in a place and wearing clothes that she feels represents her true essence.

I can't think of a better way to kick off the project than with San Francisco yoga teacher Janet Stone. Urban chic meets feminine grace in her vinyasa classes in the legendary Castro District in San Francisco—a part of the city that's a mecca for self-expression!

Come back often to see more inspiring yogis practicing yoga their way.

Oh, and we're looking for fabulous, fashionable, yoga models who are interested in being a part of our project! All you need is an idea of how yoga helps you to express your essence and a willingness to be photographed doing your favorite pose. Email Faern at if you'd like to participate!

Faern is a yoga practitioner and photographer in San Francisco. Visit her website, follow her on Twitter, or like her on Facebook.

Friday, November 5, 2010

How to Find the Perfect Yoga Top

Pictured: Benita Tank by Devi (
A great yoga top will offer style and support in the yoga studio and in your life. When you have the right top, you can wear it for all kinds of athletic pursuits from running to dancing. Wear your top as a layering piece under a sweater, with dangly earrings and a great pair of jeans, and you're ready for a trip to the coffee shop or even a night on the town. The possibilities are endless!

But with so many yoga clothing brands and styles out there, choosing just one new yoga top can be a daunting task. Here are a few things to think about before you begin your search.

1. Know Your Body. When you're in the market for a new yoga top, you can save yourself a lot of time by knowing which parts of your body you want to emphasize and de-emphasize.
  • Big chest. Look for supportive styles with thick straps and full coverage. If you're busty, it's important to take your top for a test drive in Downward Facing Dog and Uttanasana (Standing Forward Bend). If the top holds you in and makes you feel comfortable in these poses it will probably work for you!
  • Bigger in the middle. If you feel self-conscious about your tummy area, choose a style that emphasizes your smallest part (usually the ribcage underneath your bust) and floats away from the body as it approaches your waist.
  • Small chest. If you have a small chest you've got an advantage in shopping for yoga tops. You can probably pull off light to medium supportive tops like spaghetti strap tanks or halter tops. But if you want your top and bottom half to look more balanced, try wearing a brighter colored top with a darker colored pair of pants, capris, or shorts.
No matter what your body type, look for a yoga top that will be long enough that you won't feel exposed when you're poses like Downward Facing Dog or Paschimottanasana (Seated Forward Bend). There's nothing more distracting than having to constantly tug at your top to make sure you're not mooning the person on the mat behind you!

2. Know Your Colors. Yoga tops come in many different colors from basic to bright, so it's important to find colors that match your skin tone and your personality. If you have a larger-than-life personality and love being the center of attention, you might feel comfortable in a bold color or print. However, if you want to get the most bang out of your buck, choosing a solid or neutral color might allow you wear your top more often or mix and match it in more ways.

3. Know Your Lifestyle. Are you planning to use your top just for yoga? Or do you want a piece you can use for other activities, too? If you want your top to double as a running top, you'll want to find one with wide straps and a supportive built-in bra. If you want to wear it out on the town, to the grocery store, or other day-to-day tasks the appearance of your top might be as important as the functionality.

What are your tips for finding the perfect yoga top? Comment below!