February 3, 2017
Long before I became a movement teacher, I wanted to be a professor. So, in a life that seems long ago I studied the history of developing countries and their revolutionary struggles at The London School of Economics and Political Science. My interest was in Post Colonial Nation building and National Identity creation through the framework of Revolution…Algeria was most interesting to me as it really put the ideals of humanism, colonialism and revolution to the test. While becoming a Master of Political Science by learning all sorts of history, economics, politics and theory I learned that I was not, in fact, a very good sitter-downer. And, one must be able to sit still and read and read and read and write and write and write in long stretches. It that I am not skilled.
But, I still read lots and think lots and write some in between the long stretches of movement. As I look out at the world these days there is a huge part of me that wonders if perhaps I could now sit still better…and thoughts of that PhD lurk hard. (At present I am just letting them lurk, at even this paragraph I am ready to jump up and dance around.)
Listening to the all the Alternative Facts bandied around by the Trump Administration, the Alt Right and the fanciful scientists of climate-change and evolution denial has brought me back again and again to the importance a free press and academia play in maintaining a free and democratic society. A controlled press and stifled academia lead to Alternative Facts becoming entrenched as the reality paradigm. That does not bode well for the real reality of people.
I have been hearing in my head the words of Frantz Fanon from his work “Black Skin, White Masks”:
“Sometimes people hold a core belief that is very strong. When they are
presented with evidence that works against that belief, the new
evidence cannot be accepted. It would create a feeling that is
extremely uncomfortable, called cognitive dissonance. And because it
is so important to protect the core belief, they will rationalize,
ignore and even deny anything that doesn’t fit in with the core belief.”
Seems a rather true in this time of Alternative Facts.
Everyday in many ways we are all faced with the threat of cognitive dissonance. It can show up in our personal lives in relation to our bodies, relationships, jobs and health as well as in the broader political and economic landscape. How do we guard against being limited by it? How do we stay open to the uncomfortable?
I’d say by being brave enough to look at the world through your own eyes, by educating oneself, listening to a variety of voices and thinking critically.
One way I practice being comfortable with discomfort is with a mindful movement practice. It gives me a chance to learn how I show up and hold space, how I talk to myself, how comfortable I am learning new things and letting go of old habits or patterns. The golden nugget is being kind and discerning, and being available to the information even if it means you have been wrong or poorly informed in your previous approach. Practicing that in our bodies is very concrete, which makes it both scary as all get up and readily available. The payoff to the moments of uncomfortable free floating in a void of unknown is that we become more comfortable with seeing things as they are and grow aware of our own ability to make choices. We are then less likely to sheepishly follow the facts spelled out to us, but to explore them instead. Also, as we practice this way we become more comfortable in our own skin and with who we are, leaving us more open to the discomfort of learning that we might hold views that are at odds with reality as well with the well being of all. And, then we have the opportunity to change and grow.
Go be quiet and move your body and listen.
Come to class.
I’ve got a Return to Center Workshop Sunday February 22nd @bernalyoga. 1:30-3:30 we will not be talking politics, but quietly, restfully building core strength and flexibility so we can be present and of service to our lives without wearing ourselves out.
November 7, 2016
It is the night before the election 2016. I will cast my vote tomorrow because I like voting at a polling station on election day. The guarantee of free and fair elections is one central to a democracy and participating in that process is how we secure that. It is one way to have a voice and to be a civic participant. It is important, who ever you chose to vote for to treat voting with respect. People in this nation have laid down their lives and risked their safety to secure a chance to vote.
The first time I got to vote I was in college in Wisconsin. It was the 1988 Bush v Dukakis election. I was so excited to vote. My dad had run for mayor of the town I grew up in and then for congress. He didn’t win either, but it instilled in me the importance of voting and also how awful politicians can be to each other, but that is a story for another time. In this election I marched down to the polling place trough the November slush in my big winter boots bundled in a huge 80’s style men’s over coat, mittens, scarf and hat. The floor was wet with little puddles from voter’s boots and as I walked towards to booth I tripped on my shoe lace slipped in a puddle and fell into the voting booth. I put my arms out to brake my fall and fell right into the voting booth, my hand hit the big lever and I inadvertently voted for the whole Republican Slate straight across the board. I cried. I had studied and chosen my candidates, all democratic across the board. That was my vote. Heartbreak…I called my dad who was voting for Bush to ask him to please vote for Dukakis. I do not know if he did. But, I do know that he voted for Bernie in the primaries and will vote for Hillary now. Go dad!
The next year in Chicago there was an election I think it was for mayor and some state and local offices, I was a 19 years old and living in Chicago’s Bucktown neighborhood. I decided to be a poll worker – I forget the name of the organization I went through, but they trained poll workers to watch for and report election fraud in Chicago’s notoriously corrupt election process. There were neighborhood party bosses linked into the party machines that intimidated residents through strong handing them and doing things like getting their garbage not picked up and singling them out in other small ways. There was also voter intimidation and names wiped from rolls, double voting, poll workers got paid and received favors by the parties and …so poll workers trained by this organization, which was a state organization, were sent into problem districts to regulate and report.
I got assigned a polling station on the Gold Coast that served a set of high rises filled with older Chicagoians who voted Democrat across the board always, so there was some thought that perhaps there was some voter intimidation going on. I figured it would be an easier gig than my comrades were handed. They were off to polling stations where there had been fights, intimidation with weapons or where there was incredible racial tension. I was going to be with middle class to moneyed old white people. Everyone else was sent in pairs, I was sent alone.
I got to the polling station early election day morning. I was younger by decades than everyone there. I had a long blonde pony tail and was wearing a long skirt a few sweaters and boots. The other workers were kind but very wary of me and pretty much all had walkers or canes. As I started to set up the room the way I had learned in the poll worker workshops I had done. I figured they were not helping me because I was young and they were old and not too mobile. But, then I found out they were waiting for “the boss” to come.
The boss. He was a faded red haired man in his 50s I would guess. He wore a suit and a flashy gold watch and too much cologne for that hour in the morning, or any time really. If I had not been from New Jersey I would have laughed at his mobbish showmanship, but I grew up with that, so I watched him to see if it was show or if he had those eyes that have the hint of flipping from “kind” to “I’m gonna kill you”, and he did. But, he wasn’t all that smart, just a bully who had never been challenged. Which is someone to be wary of. But, being idealistic, young and imbued with the importance of the democratic process I challenged him. Quietly.
He took one look at me and sized me up like he was going to eat me. I swear he licked his thin lips. He walked right past me and rearranged the room “back to normal” so all the voting booths faced out. This he said was so that the voters could fit walkers and wheelchairs into the booths and get help. Really it was just so their votes could be seen. I turned them back around showing him the regulations. He said no standing very close and using his height to intimidate me and turned them back.
I let him win that one figuring that I was in for a long day and that the people who voted here were used to using the polls that way. This was in the time before cell phones. The polling station was in a laundry room in the basement of a high rise apartment building. It was cold and there were no windows and no phone in the room. There was a payphone outside the door of the room, but to use it you had to close the door of the room. The bathroom was also out of the room, down a long hallway.
To make a long story short, throughout the day this man broke every rule there was in voting and decency. He handed out voter information in the polling room, he helped people vote – actually filling out the ballot and putting it in the box for them. He brought lunch for everyone but me, gave the other workers boxes of chocolates and heaters.
I succeeded in getting him to leave the room by calling the election police, but they never came because they were busy in other places. When I was out of the room away from the other people on the phone he stood close to me and whispered in my ear very explicit comments about my body and what he knew I longed for happening from an experienced real man like him. He followed me down the hallway to the bathroom continuing to harass me. I ignored him and kept trying to keep the voting as fair as I could without freaking out the older folks who were so used to this. They were old and this had been their normal for years and they didn’t want to be singled out by the party machine.
After he followed me to the bathroom a second time getting bolder in his comments I turned to face him and said something like, “You keep telling me you are man. You are not a man, you are a 50 year old toddler bully picking on someone smaller than you saying things I would assume your wife would be very upset by hearing. I do not find you attractive in any way. I do not long for your manly lessons, fuck off.” while I was saying this he stuck he tongue out at me with his thumbs in his ears and and said “Blah blah blah I can’t hear you.” For reals.
They day continued. The election police never came even though I called many times. In the end I could not keep him out of the room. I stood at the door and kept him out but he would jump in and say ha ha ha I am in the room if I moved from the door. For reals, 5o year old man. He came in at the end and sent the poll workers away and said, I put this room and the votes away. I said no. He said, Ok. then you do it. So I did. I put that whole polling station away. Waited for the pick up and he waited outside for me. I saw him in his car and he followed me to the train telling me he would follow me home, he knew my name and where I lived.
I ignored him and got home. Called the election police again and filled a full story. They sent a full election team to that district the next time around. But, I do not know what happened to that horrible man.
I do know that I am with her. And all the hers out there. Every time I see Donald Trump I see that man. And, that is no way to be a man. Or a leader. I will be proud to vote for Hillary Rodham Clinton on Tuesday because I believe we are stronger together, stronger when we build each other up instead of tearing each other down and stronger when women are treated with the innate respect we deserve. Period. I am with her. And for that matter with Jane Kim.
August 31, 2016
While it is a trite-ism, it is still true…In order for new things to enter one’s life one must change, give up or rearrange what is going on in one’s life. After ten years of happily teaching prenatal yoga I am giving it up. I am both sad and happy about this. While I still love and find amazing fulfillment in sharing the journey of pregnancy with mama’s I have grown more interested in the post pregnancy journey of supporting motherhood and mama’s bodies in the “oh shit, I am gonna be a mom in a mom’s body forever now” phase.
I have been studying more Pilates, strength training, restorative yoga and self compassion meditations. And in a contained and unscientific study of myself and those I have been working with in my classes have found that this approach works wonders for mamas, papas, grandmas, grandpas and just about anyone with a body and soul wandering through this thing called life. I hope you will come by one of my classes or workshops and let me know what you think!
contact me at email@example.com for privates or small group classes
Lots of love,
April 28, 2016
A student asked me today, “When I check in with myself worry is my predominate feeling, do you have any insights in defining what it is you are worried about?”
Me, I worry about everything. I like to make mental lists about all the things it would be remotely possible to take into consideration to worry about. I like to think about it as pre preparation for preparing for something. But, really, it is just looking busy whilst doing nothing.
Worry comes from not knowing or trusting. From feeling a lack of control over our own or our loved one’s safety, physical or emotional.
Worry doesn’t solve anything, but it alerts us to stop and think and break it down. What I am really afraid of here? How do I solve that?
I am sure we each have our own acorn from which our worry oaks grow. Once we can tap into what that is, we can understand our worry for what it is and work on that. For me, the nugget of doubt that hurls worry in my path is a fear that I am not lovable or capable. I used to move like a maniac to show myself I was capable and strong and awesome. But, eventually that just made me tired and feel like I was a lawn full of leaves blowing in the relentless wind. So I figured I should figure out a better way to deal with the crux of my worries.
My practice over the years has evolved. I began Yoga with a desire to unlock my stiffness in body and mind with focused and aligned yet free movement – to get lost in and feel the vibrant force of my own body winning over the forces of stagnation. But, what I kept finding was escape into movement, a loose uncentered place where the strength of gathering in was second to the need to move. And, like I said above, for me that was not so helpful. So I started to focus more on strength, on stillness on being present in each movement. I am aware that this is what Yoga is. But, vinyasa flow practices where the pace is fast and music loud, shapes many and the main purpose to sweat and release began to overwhelm me. The alignment based Hatha classes were too rigid in their shapes. I wanted everything all mixed together, simple stretches, strength, yoga, Pilates, rest, and kindness. So I went out and learned more things with the goal of figuring out how to do all the hard stuff while resting, in the hope that when I have to do it when it is hard I would be less stressed. So when you have to ask yourself that big shitty question ‘what am I worried about?’ You can answer it and not run. Or if you do run, you can do it without running away and in very good form.
If any of that resonates and you want to come and join in me in some wonderful strength building rest, improve your posture and focus I have a whole slew of new classes and workshops and time for private or small group classes.
Return to Center @ Bernal Yoga, SF CA
sign up here
Price per worskhop: $35 pre-pay/$40 day of
Find a place of grounding and peace in a harried world
In this two-hour workshop, we will go deep into quiet, meditative relaxation, restorative core work, and stretching. We’ll find a fuller breath; ignite our core energy softly and deeply; open our hips; stretch our hamstrings; release our backs, necks, and shoulders; and relax and restore supple length to our psoas. Then, we’ll take a good long rest…drink a little tea, have a snack and leave feeling so much calmer and connected to our lives.
NEW SERIES CLASSS (On-going)
Stretch and Strengthen 101: 3-Week Series
New to the world of movement, strength training, Yoga, or Pilates? Returning to activity after injury? A new parent? Or just want a simple, effective 45 minutes of working out?
In this three-week series we will work on and perfect our squat and plank mechanics, dive deep into our cores, and practice proper alignment for stretching. You can take this series over and over again, building your strength, and/or advance into any of the classes Bernal Yoga offers with confidence.
The series is open to levels and abilities.
110 Sutter Street, Suite 100, SF, CA
Stretch and Strengthen Mondays 12:30-1:30
March 5, 2016
Balancing is a graceful blend of taking a chance and mindful movement. (Rain and moody music make that a bit more fun!)
Knowing and trusting your own center is part of that. Being strong isn’t always about working hard, often it comes from knowing just where to source your strength from and having it ready for action.
Up at Bernal Yoga I’ve got some monthly workshops called Return to Center that focus on locating, strengthening and toning your core in a deep quite way. We also stretch the hamstrings, open the hips, release the back, neck and shoulders and rest and restore the psoas in the process resulting in a sweet deep calm. And, that’s good stuff in this hectic, harried pull you everywhichway button pushing world we live in.
Return to Center workshops
Bernal Yoga (908 Cortland Ave SF,CA)!
Info and sign up here:
September 14, 2015
Simple Yoga is now going to happen twice a week at Bernal Yoga!
Mondays & Wednesdays 4:45-5:45 @ Bernal Yoga 908 Cortland Ave, SF
One hour of simple strength based yoga and movement designed to build functional strength, flexibility and range of motion and send you out the door relaxed.
Simple Yoga is perfect for beginners, those coming back to yoga or working with an injury. It’s also ideal for long time and advanced yogis who wish to focus a little deeper or refine their practice, and those who wish to build more strength into their practice. This is also a practice that is extremely beneficial and accessible to athletes – cyclists, crossfitters, tri-athletes, climbers, etc who wish to improve flexibility and rejuvenate.
August 20, 2015
Thank you all so much for your support and patience of late. I am back teaching now. Come to class. I’d love to see you.
I have been thinking a lot about grief lately. Well, honestly I have been doing a lot of grief lately. As lots of you know, in the course of last month I lost my boyfriend to his dirt bike and the woods and my home to land lord greed. Neither of which can ever be replaced, even if and when new ones emerge. In this process I have found lots of new friends and my heart has grown 3 sizes. I have been loved and gifted support in ways that are unreal, overwhelming and even embarrassing. But, I don’t really want to talk about those details. Instead all I keep thinking about is surrender and how powerful and scary it is to try to do so. You cannot control the story if you surrender, but you don’t ever have to give yourself away. It is the ultimate act of trust. And that is what we do when we practice Yoga. We offer up our hearts to the moment with kindness and love so that we may be available to what we see and feel; and the beauty is that we do that as ourselves as we are at that moment. And, if we do that with compassion for ourselves instead of judgement we have surrendered and we grow. That’s amazing. It still amazes and surprises me every time I feel my practice working.
This morning as I was drinking tea a memory of walking onto the school bus in 7th grade came to mind. My New Jersey school district had changed the bus zones that one year and we got a bus to middle school instead of walking and that bus picked us up and then traveled away from school to pick up other kids and then back towards school…made no sense…but I was grateful for the crazy times on that bus. One morning this kid Jim got on the bus and in his army fatigues and said “Srgnt. Lundi is his name, he’s so crazy he’s insane” and then he said, “This next song is the first song off our new album.” And we all knew what that meant and we started to sing Cheap Trick’s Surrender. It was a kinda magic, it has always stayed with me, that middle school moment of pure surrender to the moment.
Surrender is not about giving in, or even just letting shit be. It is about being brave enough to be present with what is going on around you and in you with open eyes and open heart so that you may walk though with only wonder at this life we have been gifted. It is not a white washing of pain or laying down of arms it is a wholehearted honest embrace of what is and who you are. In that there is joy even when there is the deepest of sorrow – often and inexplicably at the very same time. Practice. This world needs it.
ps – many of you have asked how you can help me. please consider donating to Ed’s Get Out And Learn program at Downtown High School in San Francisco. I have met many of his former students and heard about and seen in them what Ed and access to the program gave them. You can learn more and donate here.
July 3, 2015
Taking your Yoga practice home with you can seem a daunting task. But, it doesn’t have to be. Remember you practice Yoga because you enjoy it, even if it challenges you. Start with doing something simple you remember and love from class even if it is spontaneous and you are wearing shoes and street clothes and in the middle of cooking dinner. (Just remember you might not be warmed up to dive into the deepest expression of the shape you wish to make.)
This spontaneity will help you listen to your body and spirit…and that is Your Practice – to do that with kindness and compassion for yourself. From those little moments of trusting yourself to enjoy and tailor your practice to your needs and circumstances at the moment your practice will grow. Keep it simple, because it is. And honor what you love and brings you joy and your practice will open up. Promise.
October 4, 2014
September 24, 2014
Satori Yoga will open in its new space on Sutter Street in San Francisco Wednesday October 1st. Until Then I will be teaching my prenatal classes at Moksha Life Center (405 Sansome Street 3rd floor) Mondays and Wednesdays 2-3pm.
For updates on the move go to Satori Yoga
See you at Satori in October!
Simple Yoga — Mondays and Fridays 1-2pm
Simple yoga shapes, breathing techniques, and strength building exercises aimed at helping you increase your functional flexibility, strength and stamina, while bringing calm and quiet to the mind. Simple Yoga is perfect for beginners, those coming back to yoga or working with an injury. It’s also ideal for long time and advanced yogis who wish to focus a little deeper or refine their practice, and those who wish to build more strength into their practice. This is also a practice that is extremely beneficial and accessible to athletes – cyclists, crossfitters, tri-athletes, climbers, etc who wish to improve flexibility and rejuvenate.
Prenatal Yoga — Mondays, Wednesdays & Fridays 2-3pm
Yoga, strength work, a little birth prep, chatter about pregnancy and rest.