Adios Mexico 🇲🇽 I was supposed to teach in Mexico City last year. But, as I got to the airport, the news arrived that my father was gone. It’s been over a year now. I was told that many students were disappointed that I didn’t make it last year. I hope you all know just how I sorry I am that I didn’t make it. _ The last year has been an exercise in grief. After over a year, I am finally starting to feel like myself again. I have many thoughts about grief, but if I can give everyone one small piece of unsolicited advice it’s this—give yourself one full year after the passing of a loved one before you do anything drastic, public or potentially life-altering. You may think you’re fine, but you’re not. Your life changed forever the moment the person you loved died. _ I have reflected much on the meaning of life, pain, love and suffering. There were moments all I could see was that I am no-thing. I am in fact not “I”. The notion of the self is a falsehood created from temporal experience. Neither the body, mind, possessions, accomplishments, failure, no-thing is truly who “I” am. Wisdom tells the freeing truth that there is no I nor mine. To live in a cage is to be defined by the sentence “I am”. As soon as you identify with an image of self, it defined you. Freedom lies in the vast open emptiness of selflessness. _ And yet, love is real, and love whispers of a deep interconnectedness between all beings, all things. Love embraces all things in its infinite oneness. Love in its pure presence unfolds like a mystery, a place in time that sees without the baggage of the past or the pressure of the future, innocence itself, with all the promise of redemption and all the glory of hope. Love, yes, love is so very real. And permanent. _ In the dance between wisdom and love, selflessness and individuality, here, in the in-between space, lies the mystery known as life. Universal and personal at once. Infinitely expansive and humblingly fleeting. About one thing there is no doubt, that is, that each moment is a gift to be treasured and cherished. I have found great solace in the simple beauty and profound kindness that surrounds me in every single moment.
The heart remains a child. I feel like I’m at my best when I’m at play, when I’m having fun. I’m at my worst when I’ve got tunnel vision and I’m stressing about potential outcomes. In the heart space I’m filled with wonder, often surprised by the effortlessness of things. In the struggle space I’m obsessed with details and will try anything to manipulate the way things unfold. _ Maybe just maybe, all our magic is with us the moment we are born. We spend years of our life learning the rules of the world. But then, to tap into our magic sometimes I think you have to be willing to trade in the rules for fun. If life is a game, I don’t want to win, but I might want to change the game entirety. _ Imagine if everything was really exactly as it should be, all your struggles and all your loss, all your joy and all your peace. Imagine if every single thing in your life was laid out in absolute perfection, a divine orchestration for you, for your learning, for your joy and for your magic. Imagine if.... _ I couldn’t have planned this picture. After a day of teaching I walked down to see the sunset and got inspired. I set up my tripod and popped up in a quick handstand. There was no one around, just me on the beach having fun. The universe is working in your favor, even or rather especially when you think it’s not. There are periods of struggle and resistance, times when nothing makes sense. One day it will clear. Sometime in the not-to-distant future you’ll look back at the hard times with a heart full of love, forgiveness and wisdom. There are lessons so deep that our minds cannot comprehend them until we live them. I’ve gone through so many phases of heartbreak and loss only to have those very same obstacles bring me to new levels of love and wisdom. It wasn’t easy, it took time and not everyone in my life accepted or understood what was going on. But, through it all, the place in my heart that kept me going was a childlike sense of wonder and awe at all the big and small things in life. _ We are each on a mission of immense value and meaning. Even if you don’t think you matter let me tell you that you do, so much so that your value is beyond measure. 🙏
Buenos Dias Puerto Vallarta. Me gusta mucho 💗 _ In between classes I’ve been on this beautiful beach, playing in the sun. I almost feel like I myself am on retreat myself. It’s been such a pleasure to teach Mysore Style again. I’ve missed it and I’m so looking forward to teaching more in the traditional method next year. _ Do you want to join me March 18-23 in Miami next year for one week of Mysore Style Ashtanga? Sign up soon @miamilifecenter 🙏 MLC and @omstarsofficial members get a discount, scholarship and financial aid available. _ #practiceyogachangeyourworld #onebreathatatime Photo by me (I can hardly believe I managed to take this myself) 😊
Exactly when you want to give up, that’s the moment when you have find the strength to push through. We all feel defeated sometimes, like we’ve lost the game of life, been beaten down by big bad powerful foes who have the upper hand. Nobody wins forever, every single time. The spiritual teaching is less about how to make a winner, then it is about how to give you the strength to get through the inevitable lows. What you do when you face insurmountable odds, when you’ve given all your heart and all your soul, but still came up short, that’s the magic of the practice. You learn what true strength means when everyone else has quit on you and all you have left is your faith. When you pick up the prices of a shattered dream and begin again, one more time, with no bitterness in your heart, only quiet perseverance and more wisdom. _ I loved learning how to handstand because I was the weakest person in the room. I was never a gymnast or a dancer or anything athletic before yoga. I wanted to quit so many times. I got mad, frustrated, sad, anxious and jealous along the way. What I experienced on the mat was a mirror for what I experienced in my life. It still is, actually. Over years of practice, I stumbled and fell. I picked myself back up again each time and tried again. I collected faith, like grains of sand being deposited on the shore. After all the years, yes I’m finally able to hold a handstand. But what is the real miracle is that my world is a more peaceful, more kind and more loving space. _ #practiceyogachangeyourworld #onebreathatatime _ Practice handstand with me on @omstarsofficial 🙏
Sometimes life is pure joy 🌹 Here’s a little piece of my joy today. Tag someone you want to share your joy with 💗 I’m tagging @timfeldmannyoga because there’s nothing I don’t want to share with him (inside joke about a towel, ask me and I’ll tell you sometime). 😊
What lesson do you think life is trying to teach you now? I believe there’s a lesson in everything. The one I feel like I’m learning right now is that working more don’t always make for better results. I tend to overwork and push myself to did more, with the assumption that I’ve got give 110% to achieve anything in life. But I discovered that the overachiever method is the most efficient in practice. I think that might be the case in life too. _ I remember when I was younger and I played this one video game where I had shoot things. My method was clear—just shoot as much as possible! Lol. That says a lot about my natural tendencies. Instead of aiming and thinking things through I am a jump in with little-to-no thought, full faith, give everything you got because something has to work kind of person. Well, I used to be. There’s a shift happening. I can feel it in the way my mind works. I feel curious, excited about this new way of being. And at the same time I also feel present to the inertia of the past, my past, my ambition like a freight train, that’s taken me so far, and yet I know where I want to truly go I’ll have to be lifted. The thing I feel like I need to practice the most is surrender. _ And this feels like a worthy reflection for the last day of the #omstarsashtangachallenge Thank you to everyone who joined! It’s been amazing to share the journey into Second Series with you on @on starsofficial You give me life. Comment below if you joined every day. 🙏
I almost didn’t practice today. Did you? It was one of those days when it seemed like anything else other than practice was more interesting. Laundry, cleaning, plucking unwanted facial hair, checking in for my flight to Mexico, emails, watching the new releases on @omstarsofficial (Have you checked it out?! It’s Edwin Bryant’s Yoga Sutras), online shopping (by far my favorite procrastination), watching animal videos (maybe close second for time sucks), watching other funny videos (these are usually shown to me by Tim who is also often wasting time before practice. Did you see the new one by @benandjerrys ), reading the news, planning an imagined run for public office (would anyone vote for a yogi who wears small shorts?), all in that order. And it all seemed dramatically more interesting than practice and almost ate my practice in a grand mess of distraction. But I did it. I got on the mat and did both my meditation and yoga practice and I’m so glad I did. It wasn’t anything spectacular. I didn’t accomplish any milestones. I just got on my mat and took a step forward on the path. There is just a bit more peace, a bit more love and a lot more forgiveness in my day after practice. We all have days where we’d rather not practice, whether anything and everything from pancakes to pressure cleaning the driveway seems more appealing than practice. But practice is a daily discipline and those small days when you win the battle of distraction are so meaningful. And the others when you don’t, well, those are great opportunities for you to practice forgiveness and motivate yourself to get back on the mat again the next chance you get. This is how we do it, this is how we change the world. We get on the mat and learn our lessons, over many years of practice. Slowly the lessons of the practice deep into our lives and change happens. Sometimes we have to fight for it, and sometimes it just unfolds like a flower when the time is right. Either way, you have to keep practicing. _ Day 14 #ashtangachallenge is Baddha Hasta Sirsasana B. Watch today’s tutorial with my all new Second Series practice course here— https://omstars.com/ashtanga-challenge
How many of us take the time to process large and small traumatic incidents? It seems more likely that we put up a facade of strength and pretend to be ok when in fact we are not ok. Or, worse yet, we begin to take action from a place of trauma before the trauma has been processed within ourselves. On an average day there are so many things that could illicit a trauma response. Micro-aggressions expressed in casual racist or sexist comments, mean-spirited sarcasm from friends or family, or the negative self-talk that perpetuates cycles of abuse. And, there is the real abuse that many people unfortunately face daily. As a yogi I now have tools to guide me through the inner work of my own process. But I didn’t always have those tools. It’s more often the case that we are ill-equipped to handle and process the hurt that we experience. It’s less the case that we find the support needed to heal. That is, unless we engage in devoted spiritual practice and have access to therapists and other healers that can help lead the way. But you have to take the time to do your work. _ Sometimes yogis try and share “love and light” with others who are in the midst of healing. But, your work is your work. When you show up and offer unsolicited advice to someone who is traumatized or currently suffering, while it may be well-intended, it is actually quite often rooted in control and judgement. When you tell a person who is angry about injustice to “spread love” you police their tone and judge them from your perch of privilege and and invalidate their anger. Anger doesn’t go away by being suppressed. Anger heals when justice is present. If you’re a light-worker and truly want to spread love, my advice to you is to be loving yourself, and love is total unconditional acceptance. Of course, it starts with yourself. If you feel compelled to share with someone in pain, make sure that your advice is solicited and accepting. If your advice is trying to get someone to stop being so angry or worked up, the real reason you feel compelled to speak up may have more to do with your own discomfort with anger than anything else. We all have work to do and it almost always begins with ourselves.
You have a choice every day take a stand for the kind of world you want to live in, or to dig your head into the sand and pretend that nothing matters. Don’t think that choosing not be involved or engaged is actually a non-choice. Your silence perpetuates the status quo. Your action has the power to change the world. _ Yoga is a path of awakening. It begins as a personal journey. You feel better when you start practicing because your heart opens. First that shows up as self-love, but it doesn’t stop there. Enlightenment is often described as an action taken for the benefit of all beings. The premise is that spiritual awakening is equal parts wisdom and compassion. Wisdom wakes you up, compassion compels you to share the light with others. There are so many ways you can show up as a yogi and take a stand for a more peaceful, more kind and more loving world. But, you have do the work of dedicated, devotional spiritual practice, sadhana. You must commit yourself to the sometimes painful and rude process of waking yourself up out of the slumber of conditioned existence. You have to be willing to see all your darkness, all the places you have been complicit in injustice, all the ways you have intentionally or unintentionally caused harm to yourself and others. And you must work tirelessly to evolve beyond that. When your light grows brighter you make the world a better place. But it doesn’t stop there. Whatever awakening, whatever shift has happened in your heart becomes real when you take action to be in alignment with your new-found realizations. Without concrete action built around consequence, all the lofty ideas are just that, ideas. There is no spiritual bypass for bringing home the lessons of the yogi life. You have to be willing to work equally as hard in your life as you work in your practice. _ Some people question me when I get fiery or take a stance on issues in the world. Well, I can’t help it. I’m taking the lessons of my practice off my mat and into my life. That to me, is what this practice is about. If you truly want to make the world a peaceful place, then do the work to make it so. #practiceyogachangeyourworld
There is no point in stressing over things you can’t control. The more you obsess about things that are outside of the realm of your power, you the more anxious and out of control you feel. It can be hard in the midst of struggle to have faith in the bigger picture and trust that the universe really is working for the greater good and your good too. But that’s exactly when all your training as a yogi matters most. _ When things feel hopeless, when no path laid out before you leads to peace, when it all just feels difficult and exhausting, don’t give up, but don’t force it either. If you have done everything within your power and it’s still not done the only thing left is to let it go. I can’t tell you how hard this is for me. When I was first practicing Pinchamayurasana I had to learn the hard way. Once I tried this pose nearly 20 times in a row. It got worse and worse and was both belligerent, punitive and aggressive towards myself. It took me nearly two years of practice to find the balance. One thing I learned along the way is that every pose has its time, just like every flower has its time. No amount of stressing, forcing or pushing will change it. The key to a good practice is learning how to be at peace with yourself and your body right now, with whatever strength or lack thereof, whatever size or shape you are, and also to keep practicing with a heart full of love. _ A good way to measure whether you’re operating from love or fear is to see how you feel about yourself in the moment. If there’s a hint of shame and blame, it’s probably a good indication that you’re trying to force it. If you’re feeling hopeful, joyful, expectant, energized or peaceful, you are probably operating from love. What can do you if you notice you’re off track? Well, I recommend letting it go. Stop the activity or conversation your engaged in. Trust that it will eventually work out. Then, go do something that brings you pure joy. You might go play on the beach 😊 _ Day 11 #ashtangachallenge is Pinchamayurasana. Did you watch my tutorial on @omstarsofficial ? What did you think?
If you measure success by how enthusiastic people seem you might end up in a destructive loop. Chasing public approval or a particular response places your happiness in someone else’s hands. And yet, to exist in the material world requires a certain amount of people to support you. It seems like a paradox, but there’s a solution. _ Think about this—you run a falafel shop (maybe I’m thinking about this bc I’m standing next to a restaurant called Hummus Factory). Let’s say you have an old family recipe for a unique falafel that no one else knows about. But when you propose to put it on the menu, everyone protests and people don’t order it because they haven’t heard of it. Even though you know it’s amazing, people just keep ordering the traditional recipe and you can’t convince them otherwise. What do you do? Do you bend to public interest and remove your prized menu item? Or, do you stick out in full faith that sooner or later enough people will try your secret recipe and fall in love? _ I say stick out. But in order to walk that path you need a lot of faith in yourself and in the universe to support you. If you wager in your belief and bend to what appears to be public enthusiasm for the known and lack of enthusiasm for the unknown, you may end up losing your soul, especially if what makes your heart sing gets canceled or voted down. _ We each have a place that doubts if what we desire is meant to be and wonders if we are worthy of the success we seek. Whether it’s a five-star rated falafel, a happy marriage, or financial security, doubt seeps in and sabotages our plans. It happens to me all the time. I doubt whether I’m making an impact, whether I’m relevant, whether I will break through to my big picture dreams. When that voice comes up, I listen, because I believe there’s a wound there that needs to be healed. What I usually find if I tune in deeply enough is a little girl whose beauty and power scares people and triggers them to the point where they want to shut her down. It happened to me as a kid when I wanted to be on stage and the directors of the acting camp told me to be “less of a star”. Today, to them I say, watch me shine. 🌟
Some times I fall into the trap of equating thinned with beauty. Do you? Well if you do, you’re not alone. No matter how many times you hear that myth debunked, it’s hard not to fall right back in the trap. All you have to do is look at conventional images presented by media and brands and you can end up in a tailspin of negative body image. _ I can’t tell you how many times as a teacher I’ve worked with students who appear to have that “standard” yoga body only to find that they are not flexible or healthy. Then, so many other times I’ve worked with the student whose body didn’t fit the “standard “image only to find that they had more flexibility, strength and overall health than I might have assumed. The lesson—the perfect body for the practice is the one you have. Size and shape don’t make you worthy and certainly don’t qualify you as a yogi. Neither does depth of asana for that matter. It’s not like just because you can put your legs behind your head you are a master yogi. You might just be born flexible. The deepest truest yoga that I know is internal and can’t ever be judged from the outside. _ When you look at a pose like Yoganidrasana, it can be tempting to think you will never do it. You might feel like your thighs are too big or your hips are too stiff. Believe me, I feel you. Look closely and you’ll see that my hands don’t bind fully around my back like the full expression of this pose should. We ALL have our limitations and our obstacles. The journey is about how we face those struggles and what love we cultivate in our hearts along the way. _ Day 9 #ashtangachallenge is Yoganidrasana, Yogi Sleep Pose. No, I don’t sleep in this pose. Watch today’s tutorial with my all new Second Series practice course on @omstarsofficial here— https://omstars.com/ashtanga-challenge _ Photo @eyecbeauty4yoga Outfit @liquidoactive #omstarsashtangachallenge #practiceyogachangeyourworld #onebreathatatime 🙏