Yoga–ya gotta begin to win


I’ve been meeting many people who really want to develop a yoga practice.  Their first couple of experiences, though, have been challenging.

When I hear this, I always ask them, “how bad do you want to practice yoga, what are you willing to go through, are you up for being annoyed, how about feeling frustrated?”

  In yoga, like many things in life, you have to be willing to be  “not so good” for awhile before you can be good.

I was assuring a potential new student today that the journey to having her very own yoga practice would not be easy.  She was describing one of her first classes–feeling tight,  awkward, annoyed and not doing the poses correctly.  “Get used to feeling that way for at least a little while”, I said.

Yoga, if you really want it, will be a journey.  The journey will be worth the gold but you will pay with many different emotions and many of them are not pleasant.

For me, I can still vividly recall the first class I went to–it was an Ashtanga Mysore class.  The class was advertised as “all levels welcome” (beginners/intermediate/advanced).

It was one of those rare 90 degree days in Santa Monica and I was sweating profusely.

I didn’t know any of the postures, it was literally my first class.  There wasn’t a teacher in front of the room leading the class because in that style of Ashtanga, the teacher walks around assisting each person in “their own” individual practices.  I had no practice so my eyes were wandering around looking to see what to do next.

What I saw was so intimidating…standing splits, legs around their heads, arms and legs wrapping around like pretzels, etc.  It was amazing.  I was definitely not in the right place!

It was one of the most frustrating experiences to look around the room at advanced practitioners and be so elementary as to not know any of the poses.  I made it through the 2 hour class and had a big decision to make.

Would I quit or would I start at the level 1 classes and learn everything I could?

I am so thankful that I chose to start from the beginning and progress.  I took my time, I learned the poses and I am still learning new poses 17 years later.

I can remember those beginning days of yoga, just getting to the class was a big deal.

I would get into the room before the class even started and feel thrilled that I was there.  At least I was there, now I just needed to endure all the growing pains it took to learn and develop as a practitioner.

Some of my male friends joke about wanting to take yoga simply to be in a class full of women– I always laugh silently to myself because I know it will take so much more than that to keep on getting themselves in that classroom.

Yoga is a path that will look different to each and every person, but one thing is identical for all–yoga is an inside job.  There will be a bit of a struggle inside while your body struggles with the outside poses.

You will feel so many different emotions–anxiety, frustration, and humiliation are a few of them. 

Then, your ego will find ways to celebrate how great you are.  Those don’t feel as bad, but still, that’s not part of the yogi’s path.  Your ego will be struggling every step of the way, whether it is chatter that makes you feel good or chatter that makes you feel bad.

Yoga, the best of it, is about letting your ego go and just being present with your breath.

Practicing yoga is all yours.  There will be times that you feel proud and accomplished and there will be times you feel deflated and disillusioned.  You will seriously consider quitting, but if you are committed, you will endure.

When you get to the other side of the uneasiness, you will have something so worthy and tangible.  You can depend on it like when you first learned how to ride a bike.  You can always hop on the bike and ride–the same is true with yoga.

You can take your yoga practice with you anywhere you go and it will always serve you.

I urge and encourage you–if you are wanting to develop a physical practice that will serve your mind and body year after year, practice yoga and keep practicing.  Don’t let your ego convince you to quit.

Yoga has been a miracle for many people and helped them heal physical ailments that seemed otherwise incurable.

I don’t have any miraculous stories, but it did make my knees stronger and I became a runner.  Yoga took me further and further away from the sometimes obsessive/compulsive chatter in my head and into the present moment.  I learned to let go and go with the flow.

I learned to just breath and know that I could get through anything.  Come to think of it, those are miraculous!

Oh what I have overcome.  As Michael Beckwith said this morning, “hear what my words cannot convey”.

The words I choose cannot convey the prize that awaits you.

Only you can find it within yourself to step into the unknown and cultivate a practice that will continue to unfold.  Take the first step and you just may find your prize!

Synchronicity Swirling Around Me


The day started like any other day at The Malibu Gym.

Greg, one of the trainers,  was wearing a “Drill” shirt.  Arnold made a comment that his shirt should say “sargeant” after the Drill logo.  Greg said, “well, I’ll see what Craig can do about that”.

Craig is the owner of Drill.  I haven’t seen Craig since the beginning days of working at the gym…probably 18 years ago.  I have had many Drill shirts but I thought Drill went out of business and I haven’t seen Craig in a very long time.

I went on with my day and was at the local Starbucks when a good looking man caught my eye.  He had his dog sit at the edge of the parking space while he walked away, then he called the dog to come.

As he got close, I commented, “that is one well-trained dog”.  He agreed and I couldn’t help but notice his amazing blue eyes AND the fact that he was wearing a Drill shirt.

I had owned a shirt just like the one he was wearing.  Then, I went to my car and sat with my door open while I talked to a girlfriend on the phone.  I watched the blue-eyed guy go inside the store next to the Starbucks.

I knew that it was a skate board/surf type shop but then noticed it was “Drill”.  Then, as I sat there longer, the owner,  Craig (who Greg had mentioned earlier)  came out of the store.

There was something about that beautiful blue eyed guy.  Not only was he wearing a Drill shirt, but on the very same day, I saw the owner who was mentioned earlier when Arnold and I commented on Greg’s Drill shirt.  Synchronicity swirling around me is all I can say…

I found it interesting that all those events took place in one day.  The next couple of Wednesday’s I went into that Starbucks hoping to see the blue-eyed guy, but not to be seen.

Two Weeks Later…30 miles South.

I was in Santa Monica at the local farmers market.  As I sat waiting for my friend I noticed a man that looked like the man I noticed 2 weeks earlier.

Sure enough, I could see his blue eyes from 15 feet away,  I looked to see where he went and there was his dog that verified it was him.

I couldn’t resist so I approached him and asked if he lived in Malibu…that I remembered him and his well-trained dog.  It turns out, he works in Malibu and lives out my way as well.  He trains horses.

I shared with him the first place I lived in Malibu was on a private horse ranch.

My landlord had taken me to a few great clinics to learn riding techniques.  He wondered which ones?

I could only remember one of the techniques that really stood out for me and shared that.  He said, “when and where was this clinic”.  I knew it was sometime in 1992 since that’s when I lived there.

He said, “wow, you took a clinic with Buck Brannaman”.  “Yes, that was the name”, I said, “I remember it felt like I was in the presence of a real master”.

He went onto tell me that Buck Brannaman was the consultant to the movie The Horse Whisperer.  He said that he’s never known anyone who had such a freakish way with horses…amazing man.

Turns out, he was going to a clinic the very next day to see Buck Brannaman in Montana.  I shared with him the synchronistic events that ocurred 2 weeks prior and now it felt like even more synchronistic events were happening.

I find it so very interesting that he could be someone who caught my eye in Malibu and I was hoping to see him on the days I go into Malibu when in fact, he lives close by me and I got to see him and talk to him again.

Then, if that’s not enough, as I was hiking with a friend and telling her about all these events, she said, “wait a minute, I know who you’re talking about”.  She assists a teacher in a yoga class and he has been to her class and she has had enough conversations with him to know that he is a horse trainer.  Of course, the blue eyes and the dog confirmed that we are talking about the same guy!!!

This is a small world and we vibrate strongly enough to pull in the people we want to pull into our vortex!  If you pay attention and find some awareness in your own lives, I promise,   you will see the same crazy synchronistic events.  Enjoy them, that’s what they’re for!!!

Just a post note:  I wrote this a few months ago.  Recently, I sat down at a different Starbucks in Malibu to edit it.

I had my head buried in my computer when a man walked up and asked if I was reading the newspaper on my table…I looked up and it was this same man that I am writing about!!!

Another note:  there have been a few other times I’ve seen him, he is clearly not the least bit interested in me.  However, there is something that keeps pulling his presence into my space.  I’m just going to wait and see what happens next.

Whatever the case may be, it’s fun to notice!

Santa Monica Serendipity


Santa Monica was once the Mecca of Bodybuilding–or wait, maybe it was Venice.  These days, Santa Monica is the Mecca of Yoga Studios.

There are literally 6 studios within 5 blocks of each other.

As I wrote in a previous post, I was once a yoga whore.

Yoga whore,  meaning I never seemed to stay with one teacher, I jumped from class to class every week with no desire to be true to one teacher.

After many years, I found a teacher I practiced with every week and shared the time with a friend.  We loved our time together until our schedules changed and we were off on another  quest to find a place to fit in.

There are a some great teachers in Santa Monica–actually some of the best teachers in the Country make Santa Monica their home.  While they may be great teachers, most of them don’t have the quality of connecting with all their students.

It’s hard with a room FULL of students I’m sure, but as a student, it feels good to be seen and touched and known.

Just the other day, I was at a special event workshop.  I was in the restroom and I saw a face I recognized but wasn’t sure who or how I knew her.  I told her she looked familiar and asked her name, she then told me her name.

She was a “famous” teacher.  

Most people when asked their name would reciprocate with, “what’s your name?”  No, not this teacher–she is more of a “celebrity” yoga instructor.

She had no desire to know my name. 

She has grown comfortable in her status of the Santa Monica yoga scene!  To me, that’s so sad.

Finding a teacher that is warm and inviting is not always an easy task here in Santa Monica.  My friend and I couldn’t make it to our regular teacher’s class because of time constraints so we went to a new studio (at the time it was new, it’s a year old now), Yogaco.

That’s when, serendipitously,  we met the second teacher that made her way into our hearts, Jennifer Pastiloff.

We wanted to give the new yoga studio our business and we arrived and waited and waited and waited.  I wanted my friend to meet Aras and experience his class but we found out later he had been in the hospital with food poisoning.    The person at the desk told us, “Jennifer’s class is starting at 9 and her class is really cool.”

We had been wanting to find our female favorite but hadn’t had much luck.  What a pleasant surprise she was.

Jennifer is the kind of teacher I would be if I were teaching in a public setting.

She is approachable, warm, inspiring, real, playful, authentic, and she cares about who YOU are and what your name is! 

I could go on but I will just say,  she is easy to be with.  Her spirit is so loving and giving and supportive.  Everyone who knows Jennifer absolutely adores her.  Her mother says, “that’s the way it has been her whole life, everybody loves her.”

When the time that she teaches works in my schedule, I’m in her class.

When I’m there, I know I can just BE.

There is no serious vibe going on…she encourages everyone to sing out if they feel the music and need to express it.  When I am there, in some bizarre way, the music she plays is perfect–just what I need that day.  Synchronicity!

There is so much about being in her class that appeals to me…I can let my inhibitions go and just BE.    Sometimes the music moves me so much,  I am teary eyed with joy and wonder.  Sometimes,  I am encouraged to go for a pose I had been too intimidated to try.  There is something so magical about getting past a block–the feeling is amazing and she is there to walk you through it.

The words she speaks are inspiring.  One of her greatest influences in life has been the teachings of Dr. Wayne Dyer.  We are like-minded in that regard,  if you haven’t heard any of Dr. Wayne Dyer’s teachings on the Public Television channel, get some of his CD’s–he is amazing!  Jennifer and I were fortunate enough to hear Dr. Dyer speak in Santa Monica last month.

Of course, we were able to manifest a photo with him!

Jennifer has hosted many workshops and retreats.  Recently I attended her Yoga and Manifestation Workshop.

It was a deeply profound experience full of epiphanies and breakthroughs. 

She lives what she teaches and is more than happy to spend as much time as needed to help you “get it”.

Jennifer is someone you want to know.  She will go out of her way to support you in whatever you’re up to.

Her heart is as gold as it gets.  Go visit her class.  Be in her space, and introduce yourself, she cares who you are!


***Check out more of her artistry at http://themanifeststation.net/2014/05/08/soul-tattoo/