Yoga has become part of our pop culture. Yoga is cool. Yoga is everywhere and has many names attached to it: Yoga core, yoga challenge, yoga blast, yoga burn, yoga slim, yoga butt, yoga brain, etc. ——- names that can draw in a variety of people. Yoga has become a big industry. Yoga studios have marketing departments and teachers have managers and publicists. Some yoga teachers are like rockstars with a whole entourage around them. Yoga Journal has become more flashy and more colorful. The cover always features a pretty girl in a colorful outfit, doing a beautiful and somewhat difficult pose. Yoga is used in commercials to advertise and sell products. However, what is being advertised is the surface, it is the flashy box. The body has become the object of attention, the thing to draw people in. Facebook and Instagram are full of yogis doing selfies and showing off fancy poses. On the plus side, the photos might inspire people to start practicing or attempt poses they never thought they could do. I do think there is a lot of self indulgence in social media….rarely do I see moderate backbends that actually are more effective and beneficial for the average person.

Yes, it is a bit much. The yoga scene has changed a lot since I started practicing 27 years ago. I risk sounding like my father reminiscing about how everything was better when he was young, but it is not all bad and I am thankful that yoga is popular and has become more mainstream. We just need to make sure that we are not in the process of diluting such an amazing tradition. As teachers we can choose how we share one of the oldest spiritual traditions. As students we can carefully choose the best path so that we can reap the many benefits of yoga.

As we mature in our practice, we know that the deeper work goes beyond the body and has to do with self study and how to live in the world. The world is not going to be a better place by yogis practicing more advanced poses and wearing the right yoga pants. Notice if you ever become so obsessed and attached to your physical practice that it brings you grief the day you no longer are able to do  certain pose or a particular type of practice. Observe your attachment. As you start to understand the attachment, you might become aware of the space that opens up when you let go of the tight grip.

Yoga can profoundly change your life. It is a gradual change. Yoga is ultimately about going beyond the body, calming the mind and connecting with the deepest part of our Self. It is about getting to know who we are and thereby living more authentically in the world. It is about being kind, compassionate, wisely choosing each step, and seeing the interconnectedness of all. I am reminded to stay humble on this path, and when I bow my head and whisper namaste, I am in awe. I am grateful. Yoga is big and it is sacred. It is here to stay. It is beyond cool. Namaste.

IMG_0280Sometimes I am asked how yoga changed my life. If I have to keep it short, I just simply say, “I am so much more mindful”. Since I might have your attention a little longer, allow me to elaborate.
Yoga is very much about gradual change. Your life is not going to change drastically; it is a slow and mindful process (Vinyasa). Many students understand Vinyasa as a sweaty flow class, but if you look at the correct translation, Vi= in a special way, and Nyasa= to place. So, it is to place in a special way; it is truly about being mindful.
I was 22 when I took my first class in Santa Monica with Paul Grilley, who is now known for Yin Yoga. For years I had been suffering from OCD which kind of morphed into an eating disorder, that left me depressed and powerless. As I started doing yoga, I experienced how it felt to be calm, how it felt to be in my body instead of fighting, hating, and controlling it. I realized that the underlying cause of OCD and eating disorders, was anxiety. In Savasana, for the first time, I felt peaceful and became absorbed in the stillness of my body. I felt embraced in the arms of my Self. It was that feeling that made me return again and again and again.
It is awful to be in the claws of Bulimia. Your life is full of shame, secrets, and hatred towards your body. I felt hopeless and alone; you feel too ashamed to share it with anyone. In some dark moments I considered taking my life. I was the image of perfection and self-control, but in truth I was so so lost and felt out of control. Yoga lovingly showed me the way back inside, and slowly but surely I healed. Yoga comes from the sanskrit word: Yuj, which means to connect, to unite. I gradually felt more connected to my body and became aware of a place of stillness inside. I had a Sanctuary. Yoga saved me or I saved myself through the healing practice of yoga. I felt empowered.
In the early years of my practice, I found teachers who were very compassionate. I could not ‘stomach’ teachers who were hard and strict; i was plenty hard on myself! I studied mostly with Erich Schiffman, Lisa Walford, and John Friend. Gradually, I became interested in self-study, Svadhyaya. Sva= Self, and Adhyaya= Inquiry. I wanted to get to know myself, understand myself, and discover the origin of my self-destructive patterns. After having studied yoga for 25 years, this part of the journey is fascinating, humbling, and sometimes surprising. When you do a lot of self-reflection, it is important to practice self-compassion and also to have a good sense of humor.

I have been back for about a week. This time around the jet lag affected me quite a bit, and I suspect that I am also really fatigued after teaching a month’s intensive training. I was beyond happy to see my little boy and of course also so happy to see my husband. McCoy was glued to my side as we were driving home, and I could not take my eyes off his little face; in fact, at one point he asked me to stop starring! While I was gone he had mastered reading Green Eggs and Ham, which he proudly read aloud in the car driving from the airport back to our home. I have been feeling such gratitude and appreciation for my family and my home since I returned home. In fact, my meditations have been 10 minutes of gratitude, taking a moment to appreciate all the people in my life, my home, my health, yoga, etc. Gratitude meditation is profound. If you are interested, I have a meditation like that online at (you can try the site out for free for two weeks if you like).IMG_0213IMG_0185

When I was in Japan, my meditations were really a way for me to connect with my “Home”, my Center, Inner Light of Awareness, Spirit……so many ways to express this. When we are away from our physical home and our normal routine it is easy to feel disconnected. In addition to being away from my family, I was also in a place where I could not understand the language and where most people do not speak english. I was exposed to a very different culture and navigating through a very very big city. Many times it felt as if the earth was moving under me, and even though there was a 4.2 earth quake, most of the time, it was just me not quite feeling physically there….it was a weird feeling; a feeling of not having arrived into my body. I normally easily kick up and balance in handstand, but I hardly did it there..I just did not feel sufficiently grounded. Instead, I did more standing poses, twists, and seated poses. My meditations were deep and connecting. I was able to be at home within my Self. When we meditate, it is a way for us to “be at home” within our Self. Wherever you are, there You are.

Teaching yoga is very familiar to me and also a way for me to feel “at home”. Being with my students was the best part of the trip. Watching them grow and open up was so satisfying and made it all worth while. I realize that more than anything, it is the connection with the students that keeps me in this work. Yes, I teach them and I share with them, but I learn so much from them.

I am sitting at Starbucks in Tokyo reflecting on the training which ended Friday. I go to Starbucks quite a lot because I get good and easy wyfy and people cannot smoke here…(yes, they smoke in a lot of cafes in Tokyo)……..not because I HAVE to go to Starbucks! Starbucks is actually really great here; when you order something they place it on a tray!
It was a very emotional farewell at the training, and we all felt very connected…it was hard to say goodbye to my students, and I will miss them. They were incredible students and taught me a lot. I will treasure this teaching experience for a long long time. I am heading to the airport in a few minutes so this blog will be short. I will add to it when I am back in LA. I am so so looking forward to reuniting with1455124_610822455673439_1666834354_n my husband and sons.


This is the first time I teach a training in a different country and the first time I work with a translator. I was a little concerned how it all would work out, and how I would be able to deal with the fact that in Japan they also have a different alphabet. Translator Extraordinaire Aya to the rescue! She has been amazing. Not only has she translated many trainings for Yogaworks and Yogaplus, but she is also a yoga teacher. When I get tired and I start turning things upside down, she catches it. In addition she tells me about places to visit in Japan, where to eat healthy foods, where to get a massage, and brings me Japanese treats. I am very thankful. Thank you, thank you AYA. I am sure at this point she could teach her own training! IMG_0107 By the way, this is my sequence in Japanese! After every practice in the morning, we go over the sequence and Aya writes it on the board. What is fascinating about Japanese writing is that it can be done horizontally and vertically. I think it is beautiful writing. However, I do not understand any of it! When I go to the store to buy groceries, I could be a character in a Seinfeld episode…..I am completely at a loss when it comes to choosing what to buy since I cannot understand anything on the packages, so I am at the store for a long time, wandering around, eventually talking to myself.