Monday, December 15, 2008

Selfless Service

I've been quoted! Elyce Neuhauser, a beautiful soul in the Long Island yoga community, interviewed me for her article on selfless service for Canvas Magazine. I hope it will stimulate you to become more conscious of all the ways you can help others, both big and small.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Returning to the Motherland

It is time for me to announce to my dear students and friends that I am returning to India this winter. I am thrilled for so many reasons. First, I will be staying for 3 months! Something I have wanted to do for so long and has finally fallen into place. I know this will help me to deepen my relationship with Guruji and Sharath, at last. Second, my husband, Ben is coming with me! This is his first India trip and I have no doubt it will blow his a good way. We leave New York together and arrive in India on December 27th. We will spend one week in Goa, absorbing the sun, ocean, and celebrating the arrival of 2009. On January 3rd we move on to Mysore and will happily be yoga students! Ben returns home after one month (thank goodness for skype) and I return to teaching on April 1, 2009.

I am so grateful for the support I have received from everyone regarding this journey. I know it will be life altering, as India tends to be. Please do stay tuned in via my blog and website, to keep abreast of my trip and the exciting events upon my return. 

In the meantime I wish all of you an amazing holiday season with your loved ones. Peace, love, and light to all. Namaste.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008


Yoga Sutra II.46 states "Sthirasukhamasanam", meaning an asana must have dual qualities of alertness and relaxation to be considered an asana at all, let alone an effective one.

This is a principle to be practiced in any tradition of Hatha Yoga. In order to engage in poses and receive their complete benefit we must be alert but not tense, and relaxed without being dull or heavy. In my practice and teaching of Ashtanga Yoga I find this to be crucial. Unfortunately, it seems this unforgettable part of all asana practices is being forgotten in Ashtanga's beloved lineage, by both practitioners and teachers alike.

I live in Long Island, New York, and recently many students and colleagues of mine have given up Ashtanga Yoga for more "gentle" traditions. When I ask what has brought about the change the response is often, "Ashtanga is too hard on my body" or "I don't have the energy". While I don't deny that Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga can be a challenge, isn't it our own responsibility to find a peaceful place within that challenge? Sure, our teachers can lead us and guide us with their own knowledge but they do not inhabit our bodies and minds. It is OUR duty to be conscious during practice and know when to respect our limitations. If you aren't ok setting limits for yourself it is high time for an ego check! If we are experiencing physical pain from our practice then what is most likely the case: The practice is to blame for hurting our bodies......or WE are approaching our practice with a forceful, all or nothing mindset? 

If we abandon Ashtanga Yoga (or any method for that matter) because it isn't giving us what we want is it really fair to blame the yoga? Isn't yoga just a mirror to show us what is deep within us anyway? Furthermore, how can we learn Sthirasukhamasanam slowly and patiently if we just stop doing the things we need to make peace with? One of the most beautiful pieces of the Ashtanga method is that it encourages self study. Practicing with sthira and sukham requires us to constantly see ourselves objectively and to adapt to what is needed in the present moment. If we are truly present without ego we can make any asana a place of steadiness and peace.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008


Yesterday a student confided in me that she is having challenges with her teenage sons, which often leave her incensed. "That's bad, right?" She asked. "I do yoga so I shouldn't feel angry, right?"

I knew what she was facing. For years now whenever I mention to someone that I feel drained, overwhelmed, or angry the typical response is, "But you're a YOGA teacher". As if teaching yoga is equivalent to being high on happy pills 24 hours per day. Make no mistake, I estimate that I do feel content, happy, peaceful, and joyful probably 90% of the time. That doesn't make me immune to feeling grief when a loved one is ill or dying, nor does it prevent me from feeling overwhelmed when I have a zillion things on my to-do list. What it does do is make me more aware of what I am actually feeling in that moment. I no longer feel the need to put on the faux smile and tell others I am "great" when I'm not. I have become more accepting of the present moment in whatever it brings. I encouraged my student to acknowledge her anger the next time it comes up and to take as much time alone as she needs to process it. Pretending it doesn't exist and scolding ourselves for not being the picture of calm will only push those feelings down. The further down they go the more they become the poison that is resentment. As Dr. Wayne Dyer says, "resentment is like drinking the poison you intend for someone else". Enough said.

Our yoga practice becomes our dress rehearsal for these situations. A classic overachiever for most of my life, I was quickly humbled when I began practicing Ashtanga yoga. Headstand was rough for me. Scary, difficult, intimidating, frustrating, etc. I spent weeks if not months pretending to not feel those things. Eventually it became impossible for me to wear the facade of "no big deal" on the outside while the fire of all those nasty feelings burned brighter inside. On the brink of giving up, I finally admitted to myself that I was scared and frustrated. Upon acknowledging those things I was able to see deeper into the root of WHY I felt that way. Headstand was just the catalyst for old, dingy fears and judgements to bubble to the surface. I made peace with how I felt. The pose was no longer the end of the line for me. I realized that even if I never achieved the pose itself it had been cause for exploration into my higher self. And that was certainly worth it. In hindsight I came to see that if I could overcome an obstacle such as this maybe I could face challenges off the mat as well.

Only when we accept what IS can we find peace. Not what we want it to be, not what it had been yesterday, but what is here, now, in the present. If acceptance is challenging remember the golden rule: When in doubt, remind yourself that this too is impermanent. It will pass. Knowing that it will not last forever makes the pill of acceptance easier to swallow.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Adjustment Clinic

When: Saturday 11/8/08 12:30-6:30pm
Cost: $100 (includes workshop and hand outs)

The ability to adjust others and to adjust yourself comes from a two-fold understanding. While knowledge and technique are important, so is the ability to read the physical and energetic signals of the individual you are teaching. Great adjustments used incorrectly for someone's ability, body type, or even mental and emotional state become worthless or even detrimental. On the contrary, a small but perfectly applied adjustment can allow the practitioner to transcend boundaries they didn't even know existed. In this workshop we will:

  • Learn adjustments for several important asana, including standing and floor poses
  • How to apply these adjustments for your own practice in addition to students of all abilities
  • Learn to "read" yourself and your students' bodies and energies, in order to determine the best way to adjust
  • Deepen your understanding of human anatomy and how it is affected by yoga, emotions, and touch
This workshop is open to both practitioners and teachers, as the learning takes place from both angles.

Please contact me directly to register: or 516-521-7545

Save the Date

It is with much joy (and a little intimidation) that I invite all of my beloved readers to a holiday chanting celebration. My chanting teacher has decided that myself and the rest of my chanting group are ready for our first concert. The theme of the show will be healing chants and mantra, something that all of us need during the chaos between Thanksgiving and the New Year. We will be chanting from the Vedas and Yoga Sutras, which will be inspiring for all. It is a complimentary show and your presence is welcome. I could certainly use your support to quell my nerves!!! Here's the scoop:

What: Concert of Healing Chants
When: Saturday, 12/20 6-8pm
Cost: Nada!
Why: In addition to the gorgeous sounds of ancient sanskrit chants we will end the evening with a vegan dessert buffet. Yum!

Contact me with any questions. Kids of all ages are welcome.

I'm Back!!!

My dear readers, I am so sorry to have neglected you. I've had a wild few weeks, but all was well worth it. The fall retreat in Jamesport was fantastic on all accounts. Probably my favorite retreat that I have led thus far. Stay tuned for the spring date!

Now that I am back on the blogosphere I will have all kinds of juicy scoop to post. Events, reflections, tips for practice and life. Feels good to be home!

Wednesday, October 8, 2008


This is a poem found on the wall in Mother Teresa's orphanage in Calcutta. Its' source is unknown. I hope it inspires you as much as it does me.

People are often unreasonable, irrational, and self-centered. Forgive them anyway.

If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives. Be kind anway.

If you are successful, you will win some unfaithful friends and some genuine enemies. Succeed anyway.

If you are honest and sincere people may deceive you. Be honest and sincere anyway.

What you spend years creating, others could destroy overnight. Create anyway.

If you find serenity and happiness, some may be jealous. Be happy anyway.

The good you do today will often be forgotten. Do good anyway.

Give the best you have and it may never be enough. Give your best anyway.

In the final analysis it is between you and God. It was never between you and them anyway.


This morning's practice was "interesting". Translation: mentally challenging. I am grateful to be blessed with a physical body that is rarely sick or injured. My mind, on the other hand, has its weak moments. Today was one of them.

My friend, April, is known to say that "a flexible spine is a flexible mind". This morning during Kapotasana (a deep 2nd series backbend) neither one wanted to cooperate. It was almost like watching a movie screen; I saw myself doing the asana, saw myself judge my progress as "not good enough", and proceeded to feel like a kapotasana failure. The only good news was that I was totally AWARE of this as it was happening, which I know is the first step to change. 

I finished my practice and enjoyed the rest thoroughly, yet I was still hung up on this one pose. Not feeling okay with the fact that I couldn't let it go, I decided to take a deep, hard look and ask myself why this was still coming up? Most yoga practitioners know that this is not an easy thing, as the poses typically stir up those parts of us that need examining. For me Kapotasana brought up my deep seeded fear of failure. Failure of not being good enough, whether in my back bends, in my teaching, in my marriage, in my family interactions, etc. I spent much time probing deep into my mind and asking myself a string of "why" questions until I found the root cause of this fear. After meditating to find stillness and practicing acceptance throughout the day I finally feel I have come to peace with it. Here is the kicker though:

Being a dedicated Ashtangi I try my hardest to pass on the teachings of Guruji and the lineage to all my students, as most teachers of this tradition do. Somewhere though, the western translation has been muddled. The poses are a means to strengthen the mind. Yes, they will strengthen the body as well, but that is simply a by-product of the practice. Yet, for many of us this is where we get hung up (Kapotasana anyone?). We understand that we need to be adaptable and accepting and find a balance between our practice and daily responsibilities. Yet, we STILL judge ourselves when we don't bind or feel guilty if we cut our practice short once in a while. The deeper I dig the more I realize that this is not what Guruji is trying to pass on.

Sharath tells us that doing advanced asana does not create enlightenment. It is the mental absorption that brings transformation. Sun salutes, if done with the right state of mind, can trigger self realization. Advanced asana, if done for egoic purposes, will not. Saraswati, Guruji's daughter, recently gave an interview discussing how to mesh one's practice with having a job, a home, and a family. Frankly, she doesn't emphasize the asana as being super important. Rather, strength of MIND is what makes the difference. This can be practiced with or without a yoga mat. Guruji himself is known to say that Ashtanga Yoga is a "breathing practice and the rest is just bending". So if these are the roots of the Ashtanga method, then who the heck put so much emphasis on doing the poses perfectly? Drumroll please......US!!!!!!!!!

Many feel that Ashtanga Yoga is only for the physically strong, young, fit, and healthy population. To this I pass on the answer that Sharath gave to me when I spoke to him in person about this very issue just a few months ago. "Teach to your audience. Advanced poses do not equal enlightenment. Who says that one cannot become self-realized doing sun salutes and standing poses only? It is a state of mind that dictates the outcome of practice."

My conclusions are these: Ashtanga Yoga did not inject me with my fear of failure. Rather, it brought to the surface something it might have taken much longer to work through had I not been doing this practice. The next time I am struggling with attachment to our asana practice I vow to recognize it for what it is: weakness of mind. Ashtanga Yoga, just like anything else, is what you make of it. If it is about having a great asana practice you will face those issues. If it is about strengthening your mind you will be able to practice it for a lifetime.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

All or Nothin'

The all or nothing mentality is easy to spot, because we all become enraptured in it at some point.  So often a student of mine will say something resembling, "I couldn't come to class last night because I was tired", or "I didn't practice at all yesterday because I would've had to cut it short". My personal favorite "All or Nothing" quote comes from my own father, whom often says, "I can't go to yoga class yet because I am not flexible enough". 

The beauty of Yoga is that it is not black or white. Rather, it is a tool that helps us to find the gray area, that unique place where we are in this moment, and to determine what we need NOW. When we are tired, stiff, or pressed for time it is not our physical body preventing us from practice. It is our own mind. We figure that if we can't do our full practice then it isn't worth doing anything. We don't realize that "progress" in Yoga is not measured in time spent on the mat, nor is it dependent upon having a practice worthy of the Yoga Journal's photo spreads. It is to give us the strength and clarity to still our crazy minds. Five minutes of yoga for that purpose alone is more powerful than hours of asana (poses) without intention. 

There have been times where I've had to cut a practice short due to responsibilities. There have also been times where I was aching, sick, tired, and unfocused but practiced anyway. I might not have had practices that looked stunning on those days, but I know this: I emerged from my mat a thousand times more centered and emotionally stable then before I started. I have NEVER regretted a practice. One of the most amazing practices I've ever had was during a brutal ribcage injury (thanks to surfing). The pain forced me into mindfulness. My mind wasn't concerned about grabbing my legs in back-bending, it just wanted some peace.The result was feeling lighter than ever before. That day cemented for me the importance and the purpose of practice. Our practice, just like life, will rarely be perfect. As soon as it is we will find new challenges to conquer. Whether 15 minutes of breathing or a full 2 hour asana practice, the result is always the same.......and always crucial to living a better life.

Yoga Sutra I:II Yogas Citta Vritti Nirodhah; Yoga is the control of the fluctuations of the mind.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Passing on the love.....

The last few days have been a huge reminder that times are tough for everyone. Because many of us are more stressed financially than normal there is not as much to donate to those in need. I have pondered this endlessly over the last few days and have been racking my brain as to how I can make a difference. Finally, I have come to a decision.

Tonight I was fumbling through the mail while discussing the Fall Retreat with Ben. I couldn't put my finger on it but I felt that some aspect of the retreat was incomplete. When I opened a letter from the Disabled Veterans of America, thanking us for our recent donation, it hit me: THE RETREAT NEEDS KARMA YOGA!

As a result, I am happy to say that 10% of the profits from the retreat will be donated to St. Judes Childrens' Hospital for youngsters fighting cancer. If you are just hearing about St. Judes for the first time, you will be impressed. They never turn away anyone who cannot afford treatment.....ever! They also have some of the finest therapies to help children and their families heal from the challenges that cancer brings to their lives. Anyone is welcome to donate, even if they cannot attend the retreat. I will personally ensure that your donation is sent to those in need.

This decision has inspired me to make the Autumn Retreat the best one to date. If you would like to join us on October 18th, or add to the donation for St. Jude's Research Hospital, please email me at

Peace, Love, and Light

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Staying Focused

Each Tuesday I meet with an intimate group of colleagues to chant the Yoga Sutras. Today our Sutra analysis turned into an animated discussion of the economy, politics, astrology (we are in mercury retrograde right now, which presents communication obstacles), and the challenges our world is facing today. Add the media into the mix and the drama escalates even more. Of course most of us are affected in some way by all of this, the most basic level being our earth and environment.

We can't force the stock market back up, nor can we force people to vote for our own presidential preference (ahem, Obama). Freedom comes when we realize that being a control freak is a waste of time, because the universe is not ours to micromanage. HOWEVER, there are a few things we can control.

  • We can choose to take this one breath in this moment. 
  • We can choose to be peaceful in our interactions with the earth and all beings.
  • We can choose to think of the global impact of our decisions instead of solely our own benefit.
  • We can choose to lead by example instead of judging others' choices.
  • We can choose to have faith in our path, even if it isn't mainstream.
  • We can choose to do the least harm possible in this moment.
  • We can choose to send love, compassion, and peace to all beings, especially to those we find cruel and hurtful. They need it most.
  • We can choose to trust that THE UNIVERSE IS NEVER WRONG! Have faith, all these challenges will pass in time.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

A yoga student in Miami!

Buenos Dias from the land of South Beach, Florida. I am happy to announce that I am here as nothing more than a yoga student. No teaching, no planning, just learning. Kino MacGregor and Tim Feldmann have been my teachers since Sunday.....and all I can say is WOW! 

It is so humbling to be in the presence of such wise, knowledgeable, and compassionate teachers. Not to mention relatable. Practicing 2nd series in a room with strong energy and super strong teachers has encouraged me to face my demons head on. Without a doubt, Kino and Tim can sense when my demons are approaching. At the precise moment when I want to retreat from the challenge one of them appears on my mat and supports me when I don't think my mind can carry me through. With their encouragement I somehow come out the other side, proud of myself for digging up the courage to even try. If we were able to do this ourselves all the time we would not need teachers. I am grateful to have found 2 amazing ones this week. 

Of course the hot, sunny weather and swimming in the salt water don't hurt either! I am truly grateful to have the time to process all that I am learning before running off to the next thing on my to-do list.

Above are photos of Kino and Tim adjusting at their studio, Miami Life Center, which they own with Greg Nardi, an amazing Ashtanga teacher in his own right. All levels are welcome, as they view their center as a spiritual home for all people. 

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Come and Visit!

I am excited to announce that on Friday, September 12th, I will be doing a Yoga demonstration at the Grand Opening of the new Lululemon Store in Manhasset, NY. Lululemon is by far my favorite brand of yoga clothing and I am honored to be a part of the inauguration of the Manhasset location. 

I will be getting my Yoga on from 2-3pm. Come on down, bring the family, meet great people, shop, and have fun!

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Karma Yoga

The Bhagavad Gita discusses Karma Yoga, the yoga of action. In order to elevate our own consciousness we must ACT on behalf of others. Without this crucial aspect of yoga our efforts would be self-centered. Karma Yoga is what enables us to take the beauty that yoga and life give us and pass them on. Below is what I feel to be a very touching case of Karma Yoga.

My sister, Natalie, is an advocate for the Jimmy Fund, a Boston based non-profit organization that helps people of all ages in the fight against cancer, not to mention their contributions to cancer research. This year Natalie is preparing for her 3rd annual Jimmy Fund Walk which takes the same route as the 26.2 mile Boston Marathon. Walking that far sounds pretty grueling, so I was not surprised when Nat mentioned that during last year's walk she became "cranky" around the 18 mile mark. Just as she started to unravel she walked past the mile marker's water station. A female cancer survivor, still without hair due to chemotherapy, handed her water, shook her hand, and personally thanked Natalie for walking to help those fighting cancer. It was the most humbling moment of Natalie's life. Suddenly the walk didn't seem so difficult, and she went on to finish while befriending other cancer survivors (including children) who had been directly helped by the Jimmy Fund.

Sometimes the only way we can work through our own "junk" is by helping another bear their own burden. Only then do we realize how small our own burden really is.

Above are pictures of Nancy and Natalie (R) with Jesse, their team's inspiration. Jesse has since lost her battle with cancer, but there are countless others who are still in need of healing energy. To join Natalie's Team for the fight against cancer please click here

If you have a cause close to your own heart and would like to inspire others to action, please email

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Being in the NOW!

It seems as the last post really struck a chord with many readers. The question of balancing so many things at once and still managing to enjoy ourselves is undoubtedly a challenging one to answer. Yet, Yoga and other countless spiritual traditions answer this question in a downright straightforward way: Be Present. Absorb this moment and thus find contentment in its uniqueness and beauty.

Straightforward, yes. Easy to achieve? Yes and no. 

Yes in that all we need to do is allow ourselves to truly BE in the moment. Of course the yoga mat is the perfect place to practice this. So is a quiet spot by an atlar, out in nature, etc. When "conditions are perfect" it actually isn't hard to truly be present with all that is. But how much of the day is actually spent on the mat, by the altar, or alone in the woods? we can see why being in the moment is harder than it looks.

If we run through a typical day in our mind we will probably find a few of those peaceful moments scattered amongst the day's errands, child care, career duties, and household responsibilities. The key is to remind ourselves that conditions do NOT have to be perfect in order to find peace in the now. In other words, when we are doing the dishes let's try to be doing them with our mind and body, rather than going through the motions while our mind is at Starbucks or on a shopping spree. There is serenity in feeling the warmth of the water, the smell of the soap, the meditation of being completely involved in one single thing instead of thousands. The same can be done with any activity that pops up in our day, and if we embrace it while it is happening instead of wishing we were someplace else the situation will be much less drab. Not to mention, we will probably be much more productive as all our energy and intention will be committed to the NOW. Think about it.....have you ever missed your exit on the highway or burned yourself in the kitchen when you were totally present? I usually do those things when I am daydreaming about India, my future beach house, or surfing, but NEVER when I am fully conscious of the now. Practicing presence has helped me to enjoy my "fun time" more because I am more deeply in it, instead of my mind being at work, updating my website, and the like.

Yes, this is easier in theory than it is in practice. The good news is that the mind is like a muscle. It must be trained to be stronger and more controlled. Practice it, just like you would practice your yoga poses. When you need some motivation juice, here is what I recommend:
-The Power of Now, by Eckhart Tolle
-Living with Joy, by Sanaya Roman
-Meditate, meditate meditate!!!!!!!!!!
-I would LOVE to start a meditation group. Please contact me if you are interested and we will find a mutually agreeable date and time. 
-Just get on your mat and do some YOGA. Even a little bit will go a long way, mentally speaking.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008


Has it really been almost a month since I have blogged? Shame on me!

Actually, it was quasi-intentional. After returning from India June 1st I was feeling the "post vacation guilt". I proceeded to work myself into a frenzy. This is not difficult to do when you LOVE your job, LOVE your clients, and get excited about going to work every day. However, after the fun and fabulous Summer Retreat in July I realized that the summer was quickly passing me by. What's the point of becoming successful in your career if you start missing out on everything else?

Action had to be taken. I declared August "have fun month" and I am proud to say that I took it very seriously. I worked, but not quite as much. I slowed the pace of my days considerably. I visited family and friends at the beach. Any work or personal chores that were not urgent were filed into my "post labor day to do list". I am happy to say they have remained there until today, and I have begun checking them off without returning to frenzy mode. I found joy in saying no to appointments that I didn't feel like making. If I client cancelled I took it as a blessing and went out to play, rather than spend my time counting the money I didn't make. Have Fun Month transformed into a month of reclaiming control over my schedule and life. I am reminded that there is power in having boundaries, saying no and keeping time for yourself. Money, success, and career are important......I feel they should even be enjoyable. But not at the expense of mental health or quality time. 

The challenge for me now is to find balance as the busy season approaches. Slow down when needed, speed up when wanted, and continue to be present. I'm sure many of you can relate, so don't be afraid to comment!

This picture is of me, Ben, and a beach bonfire in Montauk over labor day weekend. The culmination of Have Fun Month!

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Is It That Time Already???!!!!!

It's official: fall retreat registration has officially begun and the first few spots are already taken. I know, I am in denial that fall is around the corner. Heck, I have forgotten that winter even exists! Please, don't try to remind me......I'm enjoying the bliss brought by ignorance in this department. Sorry, I digress.

This is the 3rd retreat I will be holding at the Jedediah Hawkins Inn in Jamesport, NY. It has proven to be a setting of unparalleled natural beauty and tranquility. Perfect for a rejuvenating day of yoga. The food is amazing, as many of you know. One of my beloved students has nick-named it "the retreat of stuffing your face". With all local, healthy, and organic food, of course! Live music, 3 yoga sessions during the day, 2 amazing meals, gorgeous surroundings, and the company of kind, like minded people. I hope you can take the time for yourself to enjoy this wonderful gathering.

For those of you whom have attended before, know that the 3rd retreat will be even more relaxing and enjoyable. There are MANY surprises in store for the day!

When: Saturday, October 18, 2008
Where: The Jedediah Hawkins Inn, Jamesport, NY 

For all the details please click here. Contact me with any inquiries. Previous retreats have sold out, so it is never too early to reserve your space. See you there!

Wednesday, July 30, 2008


Today while in  a meeting I expressed what I think many of us are feeling. When the teaching portion of my day is over I often wonder which of the zillion other projects I am working on should occupy the remainder of my time. Work on recipes for my cookbook? Prepare for my next retreat? Add to my blog? Ditch the work and go out surfing? :)

While my friends and I were discussing the challenge of time management one of them wisely said, "I would recommend the surfing over the other things". I was pleasantly surprised. She added, "Think about when your A-HA moments occur. Not when you are operating in frantic mode, but when you are out on the ocean, taking a walk, or sipping tea". The observation hit me like a ton of bricks, ironically producing my own A-HA moment. It reminded me that most powerful moments in our lives happen during non-doing. 

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Gratitude Day

I am still floating after an amazing Summer Retreat in Southampton yesterday. I officially have the best students in the universe. We had a beautiful, intimate day with strong yet peaceful energy. I have already begun receiving "thank you" emails from participants but it is I who am the most grateful.

I am blessed to be able to do what I love each day. The fact that I can now do it in some of the most gorgeous settings available and provide peace, beauty, relaxation and help people to just BE for a while is the icing on an already amazing cake. Thank you to all who attended yesterday, of course, but also to participants of past retreats and regular classes. I am overwhelmed with joy. 

The fall rejuvenation retreat will take place on October 18th at the Jedediah Hawkins Inn in Jamesport. Let's continue the journey together!

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

How To Eat Like A Yogi Part Six

People, namely nutritionists and western medicine "experts", are always yapping about counting calories and the percentage of which should be from fat, carbs, proteins, etc. What they do not talk about are the REAL sources of those calories. They fixate so much on the numbers that they forget to investigate what is in their food. It is so simple yet often ignored. Would 500 calories of freshly juiced veggies have the same affect on your body as 500 calories of white bread? I don't think so.

I must admit, I do not have FDA approved studies to support this. But I do have my own body, one which I NEVER thought would change. I would show you before and after photos but I have intentionally disposed of most "before" shots ;) After almost 5 years of being a vegetarian, 7 years of yoga, and countless hours of consciously observing how various foods (not to mention sleep habits, daily scheduling, and stress) impact my entire being I feel that I am at my optimal health, strength, endurance, and energy levels. Did I mention I am down 25+ pounds (from 4 years ago)??? 

Bottom line: we need to eat clean. There is a reason for all these various food movements that are returning us to local, organic, grass fed, vegetarian, and even raw foods. They have so much prana, as we mentioned in the last nutrition post, that our body uses them quickly and efficiently. The result is becoming a well oiled Yoga machine. Or surfing machine, or Super Mom machine. When we eat foods that weigh our digestive system down, like dairy, preservatives, and white products, it is no wonder we feel heavy and sluggish. There is no energy in them, so how can we expect to feel energized? 

The problem is that so many diets focus on the numbers. Did the Atkins diet (which I admit to trying when I was a carnivore many years ago) promote organics, local and live produce, and natural eating? Not if I remember correctly. While trying to lose weight I remember drinking diet soda every day. No wonder I felt bloated. My body had no idea where to put those chemicals, so it held onto them. To remedy this calorie counting ruse we must become accountable eaters. Know where every piece of food you eat comes from, whether it is strawberries from the next county, young coconuts from Thailand, or factory farms in California. If you can't trace it back to the earth, don't even bother eating it. Unless you want to feel sluggish again. You will become less focused on calories and more tuned in to what your body actually craves for its peak functionality. I guarantee that if you need to lose weight, you will. 

One way to start? Read ingredients rather than "nutrition facts". If you can't identify its source, return it to the shelf.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

The Cook Book is on its way!!!!!!!

My dream of writing my own cook book is coming true as we speak! I am in the process of writing and editing. While my passion for Yoga will always be in the top spot my passion for food is a close second. I practically get high when a meal I've created receives rave reviews, and over the years my recipes (which usually start as experiments) have gotten many. It is time to share them with the world! It is exciting knowing that I will be able to help others' change their lives in a different way. 

As I prepare for this new venture I am magnetizing all forms of assistance from the universe. If you work in publishing, know someone who does, are an editor, or know any way in which you can encourage momentum on this project then please email or call anytime. Food is a crucial part of our lives as Yoga practitioners and this book is going to provide a much needed link between these two vital elements. I thank you in advance for your support and energy. You will see the final product of all those good vibes very soon!

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Private Lesson Summer Special!

I am very pleased that I can extend this offer to my students. Private yoga lessons with me (normally $100 per hour), are currently being offered at $85 per hour effective now through July 31st! This offer applies to students whom have not yet done private lessons with me, even if they normally take my group classes. Further discounts are offered when lessons occur 3+ times per week. You can use the hour for yourself or with a group of friends. The hourly rate applies regardless of how many people you choose to participate. Be sure to take advantage!

If you are working through an injury, looking to enhance your alignment and focus, or simply ready to commit further to Yoga as a lifestyle, then private lessons are your answer. The intimate atmosphere gives you the attention required to take your practice to the next level and bring you the unity of body, mind, and spirit which you are seeking. 

Private lessons also make a wonderful and unique gift for special people in your life. Give the gift of fulfillment, joy, and awareness that can only come from inside ourselves.

Email or call Sara at 516-521-7545 for details.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

How To Eat Like A Yogi Part Five

At last, we are back to nutrition. In part four of this series we discussed some of the reasons for vegetarianism. However, not all vegetarians are created equal. For example, my college boyfriend was a self proclaimed "vegetarian whom didn't like vegetables"!!! His diet consisted mostly of pizza, cheese, eggs, and taco bell. I cringe looking back on it! Although all of those foods are meat free they aren't necessarily healthy. There is a difference and many people are wondering what, in fact, should we look for when examining our food?

The sad fact is, most people don't examine it at all. Journalist Michael Pollan, author of The Omnivore's Dilemma (which you should read immediately), states that while researching for his book he discovered that most people put more investigation into buying a new TV than they do into their food choices. If this sounds familiar, don't fret. Through the many years I have spent as a yoga teacher, vegetarian, food lover, and cook, I have discovered something crucial. What we want in our food is the same thing we want to build in our bodies and minds: PRANA aka Chi aka Vital Energy.

Prana is what we create during yoga practice using the alchemy of breath, poses, mind control, etc. But it is also present in our bodies and in nature in varying degrees. For example, you might see two women of the same height, weight, and shape. While one looks vibrant, has bright skin and eyes, silky hair the other has dry skin and hair, dull and saggy eyes, and lacks that certain vitality. While a doctor might say they are both in fine health, the naked eye can see that the former is full of prana while the other is much less so.

How does this relate to what you eat? Prana occurs in nature. Freshly picked produce from the local farm is full of it, as it doesn't waste away in trucks and shelves before it gets to your plate. The sooner food is consumed from the earth the more nutrients and prana the eater receives. As a result you will probably need to eat less to feel satisfied because the food is much more nutrient rich. This is the reason for the Raw Food Movement, which will be a posting in and of itself very soon.

Not surprising, food produced in factories by machines and kept on shelves thanks to man-made preservatives is very low on the prana scale. It may be low in calories too, which is unfortunately why many people eat it and presume they are being healthy by doing so. This is likely to be that person who looks dried out and lacks vibrancy in their appearance. I went down this road many years ago and in hindsight I always felt hungry, probably because I was never truly satisfied by what I was eating.

When there are thousands of food options within reach how can we be wise and choosy shoppers and eaters? Below is a list of ways to eat as clean as possible. Do whatever is within your desire and convenience levels for now. The more you get into it the easier it becomes.
  • Grow your own organic produce in the garden (I have not done this yet but I have resolved to once we actually buy a house).
  • Find a local farm stand for seasonal produce. It may not be listed as USDA organic but that may not matter since smaller farms often avoid expensive pesticides anyway. The best thing to do is call around and ask. Makinajian Farm in Huntington is my FAVORITE! I buy my eggs there too. Golden Earthworm Farm in Jamesport makes a great pit stop after a trip out east. 
  • Whole Foods often lists the origin of the fruit and veggies they sell. Choose the ones closest to you as they have spent less time in a truck and contain more prana. Less traveling also reduces petroleum usage and fuel emissions into our environment.
  • Cook at home! Unless you are the chef in the restaurant you visit you may never know where your food is coming from, how fresh it is, and the hidden preservatives that might be inside. Lots of butter, oil, and salt can mask signs of decomposition. People are always saying that eating out contributes to weight gain but they never specifically say why aside from calorie counting. This is because the food has such little prana that they give you bigger portions to feel satisfied. Sound familiar?
  • Have a raw component to each of your meals. Salad is most common, of course. Even super tasty items like pesto can be made raw. Freshly juiced beverages are raw too. Luckily summer is upon us so making delicious greens with dressing or tomato salads can spice things up a bit.
Have fun and don't become a Food Nazi! In other words, start with small changes and increase your awareness as you go. Eating should be enjoyable, not just something on the to do list.

Coming up in How To Eat Like A Yogi Part Six: Why measuring calories is useless.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Summer Shopping

This is going to be great! My favorite designer and friend, Stephanie Hammitt, is holding a trunk show for family and friends next week! 

Date: Wednesday, June 25, 2008
Time: 10am-1pm
Location: The Baschnagel Residence
  118 Locust Street, Garden City, NY 11530
Phone: 718-490-6609

Let the fun begin as Hammitt Bags releases their new summer collection! Stephanie is an innovative and practical designer of gorgeous handbags and accessories. She is environmentally conscious and doesn't use any endangered leathers. She also has synthetic, animal friendly bags to choose from and they are just just as stylish as the rest! I carry her bags often and get compliments almost daily. Join us at the Trunk Show and receive the special discount for the day. Katie Costello jewelry, another L.A. based company, is also showcasing their hot new items. Cash, credit cards, and personal checks are accepted.

Come play :) You know you want to!

Summer Retreat Is On!!!!!!!!

I am extra pleased to announce that after many requests I have been able to put together a fabulous Summer Yoga Retreat! Space is limited to 15 participants, so if you are interested please contact me asap via the channels posted at Sara Yoga.

Here is the important info:
Date:Saturday, July 19, 2008
Time: 9am-6pm
Location: Private Residence in Southampton, NY 
(I will email address and directions upon registration)
Cost: $200

The amazing day will include the following:
  • A 2 hour morning Vinyasa Yoga class with Sara and assistant.
  • A healthy and delicious vegetarian breakfast.
  • A discussion on Meditation and its important role in a daily Yoga practice. We will decipher the differences between various methods of meditation and practice them together. The small group setting will allow for all of your challenges and questions to be addressed. This will take your practice to the next level both on and off the mat.
  • A 1.5 hour "Meditation in Motion" class where we will use all we have learned about meditation to deepen our asana practice and release the blockages of our Prana (vital energy).
  • A gourmet buffet lunch with vegetarian, vegan, seafood, and gluten free options! 
  • A 1.5 hour Restorative Yoga class and meditation to end our beautiful day together.
I have no doubt this event will sell out quickly. I hope you can join us for this intimate gathering of learning, awareness, and empowerment.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Honey, I'm Home!

I'm back in Long Island, folks. I have adjusted my body clock and I am back to teaching. There will be some schedule tweaking in the next few weeks, so please check my website here and there for the rest of June.

India was a huge transformation. Beyond. It completely blew my mind, even more than my previous trips. I have become a human sponge apparently, as I absorbed and integrated more than I thought possible. I hope I have returned a better teacher, student, and person. 

As far as life at home, I must admit it took a few days to adjust. Luckily I have so much love in my life. Not to mention a very patient husband who didn't panic when the jet lag made me mentally ill. Aside from that, I am easing into work this week and getting my schedule back to snuff. I got my organic co-op veggies yesterday and supplemented with a trip to Makinajian's Farm (these people know and love food), which made me happy....I am a chef at heart. My next venture just might be a cook book! For healthy, organic eaters, of course. Anyhow, I am reconnecting with my favorite people and my fantastic students. I feel light and open and I know the universe has a great plan for me now that I am putting down my roots at home. 

The nutrition blogs will begin again now that I am back in action! 

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Time to Party!!!!!

No, not that kind of party! I am being a good yoga student in India :)

On May 23rd the Ashtanga Yoga community in Mysore is doing some Karma Yoga and throwing a fund raising bash for Operation Shanti, an organization which provides relief of all kinds to poverty stricken children and families in the city. This particular event is to gather funding for the children's' education, one of the most powerful tools to catapult them from the streets into healthier environments. All of the items for the auction, as well as the food and entertainment have been donated. All proceeds go directly to the kids.

Each ticket (only $10) aids one child directly. On the "our people" page on Operation Shanti's site you can see the adorable faces of those who are receiving our assistance. I chose Sumitra (Chummi), whom I'm told is quite feisty ;) I hope I get to meet her tomorrow night!

You can donate through the website, so please do if you are moved to contribute. Also, if you know someone coming to Mysore to study Yoga please send along children's' clothing (hand me downs are fine) or school supplies. Giving a child an outfit or magic marker will absolutely make their day.

The word "Yoga" means to yoke or unite. What better way than to give thanks to the community that so graciously welcomes us into its arms than to unite our hearts to theirs? Giving back in this small way is the least we can do when India gives us so much.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Sharath's Conference

In Mysore at the AYRI Guruji held conference every Sunday afternoon as a form of lecture and discussion for all his students. Now that he has passed the torch to his grandson, Sharath, the next generation of Ashtanga Yoga has fulfilled the role of Guru-to-be amazingly well. He did his first conference yesterday and his wisdom, energy, and light were shining for all to see. I was hugely impressed with what he had to say.

He began by addressing the rumor that Ashtanga Yoga is not spiritual and based on asana (poses) only. Anyone who is drawn to this practice knows that nothing could be further from the truth. He made clear that if you are using your breath and your drishti (focus) you are not only practicing poses and pranayama (breath control), but you will attain a deep state of concentration and ultimately, meditation. Sharath also reminded us that having jobs and families is a huge responsibility, which is all the more reason to enter that state of concentration on a daily basis. This way whether you are doing your Yoga practice, changing diapers, or cleaning the house you will ALWAYS be in that state of presence and peace. Ashtanga Yoga uses asana to purify the body and mind first, because once that occurs it makes the other 7 limbs of yoga easier to understand and practice. In my own life I find this to be true. If you had preached the Yamas and Niyamas to me when my body and mind were impure and ruled by ego I would not have understood the goal. Granted, I am still a work in progress (aren't we all), but asana was certainly my gateway into Yoga as a whole.

Sharath also emphasized the importance of studying the Hatha Yoga Pradipika, The Yoga Sutra, The Bhagavad Gita, and other spiritual text so we can better understand the GOALS of Yoga and therefore make our efforts on the path more fruitful. In his own words, "Spend less time at coconut stand and more time reading"!

Needless to say, the lineage of Ashtanga Yoga is alive and well and possibly stronger than ever. The longer I follow this path the more faith I have in it as a complete practice. Most importantly, it has taught me to take the initiative and teach myself.

Saturday, May 17, 2008


Hi blog readers. Sorry I haven't posted in a while. For those of you whom have been to India you know that it is an all encompassing experience. I am trying to make the most of my time here and learn as much as possible in my last couple weeks. Between practice, chanting, reading, meditating, and applying what I am absorbing every day time seems to fly by. I will be in New York again before I even blink my eyes. I have thought about extending my stay for another month and I am tempted....when Ben is able to come to India with me I definitely will. To be away from my love for 8 weeks might be too much. I think I would ache from missing him :(

I will do another nutrition blog in a few days so stay tuned. I am sending you lots of love and peace.

Monday, May 12, 2008

How To Eat Like A Yogi Part Four

Now that we have discussed WHEN to eat it is time to venture into WHAT to eat. I anticipate this topic will be covered in several posts. I figured I would begin with a popular question:

Why are so many yoga practitioners vegetarians?

This is a multi-tiered answer. Actually, in the Yoga Sutras, vegetarianism is not discussed. This is a shock to most people. Why then, do the two seem to go hand in hand?

Well for starters, Yoga's roots began in India where the primary religion is Hinduism. Hindus believe cows are sacred animals since they are plant eating creatures whom also produce a non flesh food, milk. Most Hindus are vegetarians and since India is the birthplace of Yoga, most early Yogis were also Hindus. Thus, going vegetarian became linked with the science of Yoga very early on in history. Additionally, India's ancient system of medicine, Ayurveda, recommends a vegetarian diet to balance the elements in the body and to keep it in tune with nature.

Another, more well known reason for going veg has to do with Ahimsa, the principle of non violence and non harming. This is derived from the first limb of Yoga, the Yamas or moral observances. Ahimsa has many levels ranging from "don't kill another human being" to don't harm the environment (hence the Yoga community's desire to be green). It is silly to think that you can eat anything on this planet, especially an animal, without first harming it. Yogis also believe that you absorb the energy of what you ingest....not just from food but from your surroundings, your relationships, etc. Many sources have publicized the horrifying way animals are treated in slaughterhouses and how even non organic plant based foods are farmed with chemicals and antibiotics. The idea is not just to avoid eating the pesticides but to also avoid taking on the bad energy of irresponsible farmers and producers.

You might be wondering, "how can I integrate this into my life when I was brought up eating meat"? The beauty of Yoga is that it teaches us to be in the moment. Don't worry about radically changing your life. Instead, what can you focus on doing TODAY to change? Maybe you have eggs with bacon and toast for breakfast on Sundays. If you wake up one Sunday and don't feel like eating bacon, don't eat it! Habits do not equal awareness. Part of Ahimsa is to act in a way that produces the LEAST amount of harm possible. If you consciously need bacon on a Sunday morning, buy organic and research a farmer who allows his animals to live with respect before they become part of the food chain.

When Wholefoods stopped selling lobsters the CEO gave the reason that they didn't feel they could provide a good quality of life for the lobsters prior to selling them (I have summarized this interview but google it to read in depth). In an interview a reporter asked him, "What does it matter if they are going to die and be eaten anyway"? His response was, "You are going to die anyway at some point. Does that mean you shouldn't have the best possible life while you are here"?

If you are moved to become a vegetarian I encourage you to do it as a slow process rather than jump in at warp speed. Slow change tends to be more permanent. Here are some suggestions to help you give it a go.

  • Read books like The Omnivore's Dilemma and The Three Season Diet to educate yourself first
  • Start by filling your plate with veggies, grains, etc. and leaving meat as your side dish
  • Start with a detox or cleanse to help get the old junk out of your system. This will prevent cravings as well.
  • If you aren't in the mood for meat, don't just eat it because it is there. Be choosy!
  • Eat fish and eggs more frequently as a substitute for protein when you are starting the process.
  • Get a few great cookbooks like Vegan Fusion, my favorite. Vegetarian food is only boring when you don't know how to prepare it....and it isn't hard! It is just different.
  • Before meals, ask yourself what you FEEL like your body needs and eat that instead of what you "planned" to eat that day.
  • Google the environmental reasons for being a vegetarian. It is the greenest thing you can do. Prepare to be shocked by the facts.
  • Ask a vegetarian friend plenty of questions. They will be thrilled to help.
  • Give thanks before meals and bless your food. By bringing good energy to it you can alter the energy that you ingest. If you are eating a piece of salmon consciously send gratitude to that fish that gave itself up to nourish you. You will feel the difference.
  • Invite your children to do all these things with you.
When I return I am going to plan some Yoga and cooking classes to make it fun for everybody. Please email me if you are interested.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Tummy Trouble

Well folks, in the midst of my nutrition blogs I seem to have developed a stomach issue. Don't fret, I am not sick. I think between it being 90-100 degrees here everyday my tummy was just more sensitive than usual to the different oils, spices, and produce. At the peak of it I was exhausted (2 hour savasanas were being taken), bloated, and a tad "overactive" in the digestive department. Not fun. Luckily, Madhu, the best Ayurvedic doc, said to just have fruit only for a few days and all will be fine. I took his advice, along with this icky herbal potion he gave me to drink, and voila! I was cured within 12 hours. I have my energy back and feel like myself again. I am still sticking to mostly fruit, rice, and some very plain (aka boring) vegetables with no seasoning. But I feel great and my yoga practice is top notch again. More than anything else it taught me to be patient as nothing is permanent.

So I had to take a brief break from the nutrition blogs....wasn't really in the mood to write about food during the boring fruit only days. But the fun stuff will resume tomorrow. I honestly can't complain. Many people here get major food related sickness and mine could just be considered an annoyance. I keep hearing my Mom, Anne The Nurse, in the back of my mind saying, "Wash your hands, take your vitamins, and drink lots of fluids". She's right, of course.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

How To Eat Like A Yogi....Part Three

I wasn't planning on blogging today but a random monsoon hit so I am stuck at the internet cafe until further notice. ANYHOW.....if you have read the two previous blogs you might be wondering, "if it isn't good to eat in the morning and it isn't good to eat at night, when IS it good to eat for goodness sake"?????

The good news is that between 10am and 5pm it is in your benefit to chow down! Your digestive fires are burning and your body is craving nourishment. Typically I have one of two eating strategies depending on my schedule that day. First, I have a large meal around 11am and a smaller one between 3-4pm. Second, I have a monster meal around 2pm and that is it for the day. I usually do fresh juicing at home in the morning and drink herbal tea at night.

Since doing yoga and changing my lifestyle I have become aware that I am not hungry for 3 meals per day and was just eating them because American guidelines say you should have the 3 squares (and we know how the American diet has turned out). If we go back to the breakfast issues in part one of these posts it reminds us that 2 meals per day is sufficient.

Worried about not feeling full enough? Try these tips:
-Drink 2 glasses of water before you start eating
-Don't rush while eating or eat while doing other things.
-Do whatever you need to do to feel satisfied, whether it be ending your meal with a piece of dark chocolate or an extra helping of rice. At the end of a meal you shouldn't WANT to continue eating.
-Don't eat with the intention of "saving room for later". You won't feel satisfied and will end up grazing all day (this will be addressed in the next post).
-Siesta was invented for a reason! If you lay on your left side for 10 minutes after your meal and close your eyes you will work wonders! Laying this way promotes digestion due to the nature of the stomach. After 10 minutes your energy will rise because you took the time to assimilate your nutrients.
-Have a small coffee, chai, or espresso (SMALL being the keyword). The little bit of caffeine will help digest.

Enjoy your food. It isn't just meant for fuel but to be a sensory experience as well.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

How To Eat Like a Yogi....Part Two

I get the feeling there will be many installments to this nutrition series! Keep in mind these posts are in no particular order, so apply them all as they work for you.

So yesterday we covered guidelines for the morning. Now we are going to tackle the evening. My yoga Guru, Sri K. Pattabhi Jois, recommends a 12 hour fast prior to your morning Yoga practice. Doing yoga or any activity on an empty stomach will give you a boost of energy since none of your prana (chi, vital energy) is being used for digestion at that time. This means if you are on your mat at 6am you are finished eating for the day at 6pm the night before.

You will wake up easier even if you aren't exercising in the morning. Your body will feel light and rested. Much of this is due to the cleansing processes that occur between 10pm and 4am. If you are eating late in the evening your digestion and cleansing cycles don't start on time, thus you wake up feeling groggy and heavy because your body wasn't refreshed. FYI: If you miss your cleansing cycles your body will just skip them altogether until the next day rather than postpone them (read The 3 Season Diet for details).....kinda like the garbage man going on strike while the trash keeps piling up.

This is the reason all those dumb, trendy diets claim you will lose weight by not eating at night. It isn't rocket science, just plain old biology. When your body has digested early in the evening you sleep more soundly, cleansing occurs, and you feel great the next day. Not to mention it prevents those unhealthy late night snacks. Thus, you lose weight. You eat earlier, burn off all your food, wake up more energized the next day and your physical activity of choice is more effective. If you aren't a morning yoga practitioner shoot for 12 hours from when your alarm clock rings. Drink some herbal tea and hydrate to start your day (see previous post). If your 12 hour mark begins and you are still hungry try to stick to liquids before bed.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

How To Eat Like a Yogi...Part One

Due to an enormous amount of requests this will be the first of many nutrition blogs. Please note that I am not a nutritionist, just someone whom has learned a lot in my own experience.

The whole "breakfast is the most important meal of the day" concept is a farce. Have you ever noticed that most cultures outside the U.S. have a very light breakfast, if anything? This is not an accident. During the hours from 2am until 10am your body is still in cleansing mode. In other words, why load up your body with food when your digestive system is not yet finished cleansing from the day prior? Our digestive fires do not kick in until after 10 or 11am, so until that time allow your body to clean itself out. This will prevent sluggishness, lack of energy, bloating, and constipation. You can aid the process by drinking herbal teas (ginger gets the system moving), drinking plenty of water, coconut water, fresh fruit or vegetable juice straight from the juicer (avoid bottled if possible), and even a small cup of organic coffee. In other words, only liquids during this time of day, but have them in unlimited amounts. By the time lunch arrives you will actually be hungry for it instead of just eating because you are "supposed to". Not to mention you will have more energy before and after your meal because digestion is heightened.

If the idea of waiting until 10am to eat solid food is frightening to you then have some water rich fruit like watermelon (hence the name), papaya, or canteloupe. You can do this to ease your way in. Try it for 7 days and see how you feel. I bet you will have more energy and stamina throughout the day. If you are by chance up before 4am and exercising vigorously in the morning as I am in India then see if you can hold off until 9am or 9:30am. Again, a 7 day experiment will help you find the ins and outs that work for your life.

I attribute the breakfast craze in America to consumerism. Cereal vendors need to make a living too I suppose, right?

Friday, May 2, 2008

Getting a massage.....

Whenever I am in India I always visit the same massage therapists, Madhu and Muralee. They are 14th generation bone setters and Ayurvedic practitioners from Kerala. I've never found anyone better, ever. Plus, they are sweet as pie. Today when they picked me up for my massage I was relieved to see they arrived in a car instead of on a motorcycle (helmets cease to exist in India). When I remarked that they usually drive a bike Muralee said, "No is VERY safety". It was so cute I smiled the rest of the ride.

The massage here is no joke. You get smothered in more oil than you can even imagine. To the point where you'd better hope you wore black, otherwise your clothes are ruined. Beyond that you are practically naked and should just get used to it....they don't care. At first they massage your scalp and head and you think to yourself, "this feels nice and relaxing" and then BOOM! They kick it up a thousand notches and you actually feel your self being restructured physically, mentally, and beyond. Your knots don't stand a chance. You do lay down but are also contorted into all kinds of positions in which they massage you even more. By the end you have no choice but to feel great. Everything is open and relaxed. But just in case you have too many toxins floating around in your body they throw you into a steam box for 10-15 minutes so you sweat your brains out like never before. I do mean an actual box of steam, by the way. Only your head is sticking out. Meanwhile, Madhu and I have this very deep conversation while I am steaming, discussing spirituality and the roots of the Ayurveda he practices, etc. All I keep thinking is, "I must look insane with my greasy hair and face sticking out of this sweat box".

After that he says blessings and I pay him. Before I leave his family members from Kerala, whom I suspect have never seen a blonde before, insist on taking their picture with me. Then they drive me home in the "very safety car", take a couple more pictures with their phones, and send me on my way.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

A Day in the Life of an Ashtangi

Many of you have asked me what life is like here in India. I can't speak for everyone, but here is what my life is like from day to day:

3:30am: Wake up, have ginger tea, slather myself with coconut oil, meditate, shower, and get ready for Yoga practice.

4:30am: Walk down the street to the Yoga Shala to begin my practice. I love this time of day, it is so quiet and peaceful. My practice lasts about 1.5-2 hours. When I finish I drink a couple of coconuts from the vendor outside, walk home and take rest aka savasana.

8:30am: After doing laundry in a bucket and hanging it outside I venture out of the house. Either to the internet spot or to breakfast (home cooked at Tina's, of course), depending on the hunger level.

10:30am-2pm: This varies from day to day. Either I go to the pool and bring along my self-study books, do errands, do a class on cooking or philosophy if one is offered, or get a massage (I haven't found a massage this amazing anywhere outside of India. It is so deep and the oils are so healing).

2:30pm: Hungry again! I head to lunch, either at Tina's, Geetha's or Anu's. The local women are amazing cooks and use filtered water and healthy, fresh ingredients. This the key to avoiding illness. Know where your food comes from!

4:30pm: I venture downtown to chant with Dr. Jayashree, a sanskrit professor. Everyone loves her and she is fantastic.

6:-7:30pm. I catch up on emails, chat with Ben, read, write in my journal, shower, and wind down.

7:3opm: I am exhausted and go to bed. I need my 8 hours before I am up at 3:30am again!

Monday, April 28, 2008


I am settling into life in India well and getting a handle on what I want my stay to be like. In addition to practice at the Yoga Shala and chanting lessons with Dr. Jayashree (which I begin tomorrow) the rest will just appear at the right time. Needless to say it has already started! I brought a huge stack of books with me and for some reason I opened up Spiritual Growth: Being Your Higher Self by Sanaya Roman. In the words of my dear friend, April, "it is spiritually juicy". I am not sure what I was looking for to take me super deep into awareness but this book is definitely it and I firmly believe I am reading it now for a reason.

This is one of the reasons why I find my time in India to be so powerful. All those books, tools, and techniques that can reunite us with our higher self -the same tools and tricks we sweep under the rug at home because we are too busy- can be used, absorbed, and integrated into our daily existence. Too often I have heard people say that after their early morning practice in Mysore they don't know what to do all day (this sometimes heard firsthand, sometimes from hearsay). I can only say that if you choose to do nothing then that is what you will get. While it is important to allow others to teach us we must remember that we are our own built in Guru and, unlike other teachers, are with ourselves all the time and can use every moment as a teaching or as ignorance. Just as life at home is what we make of it, so is life in India. If we are waiting for lightning to strike to get us off our butt and change then we are going to be waiting a VERY long time. Why waste the NOW waiting for the right teacher, class, practice, etc? Why will the universe send us these perfect things if it sees we aren't appreciative for what we have already?

To quote another friend, Angelique, "Flow...but do".

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Back to the Motherland

I am in India and happy to say that I, along with all of my luggage and my sanity, have arrived in Mysore intact! The journey is long but worth it. I basically use the time in transit to sleep (a lot), take tons of vitamins, hydrate, eat light (if at all), watch a movie or two and I arrive feeling rested and ready to go. After 16 hours on an airplane I was relieved that my driver was the rare kind whom did not play Bollywood music to a defeaning level. Instead he blared Bruce Springsteen's "Born in the USA". Listening to that while driving on the opposite side of the road, dodging cattle and Mack trucks alike, smelling that sometimes good/sometimes awful India fragrance, whizzing past coconut palms I can only say that I felt enveloped in a warped but happy parallel universe.

At 6am local time I arrived at Geetha's house where she greeted me with a bear hug and "welcome home". I did my practice in my room this morning since I barely missed the shala class and it felt great to move after all that traveling. It was warm and inviting (did I mention it is 95 degrees here today and super humid). After Yoga and a shower I felt myself teeter on the brink of starvation when my self proclaimed Indian mother greeted me with a delicious breakfast of roasted semolina with vegetables and pineapple. Delish and healthy, of course. I absolutely feel like I am at my second home here. The 2.5 hour drive alone reminded me how amazing it is that I have a month here to be nothing but a student of yoga and of life. I am ready to relish every moment and learn as much as I can.

So far nothing out of the ordinary to report unless of course you count the zillions of little things that you can only see in India as part of that category. Women riding on motorcycles side-saddle in their saris, people carrying brings on their heads, the harmless chaos at the airport baggage claim, kids chasing your car with flower garlands they hope you will buy......etc. It never ends.

I am off to continue my assimilation into life in a foreign land. Peace and Love to you.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Being Sick Stinks

Ah yes, I too have fallen victim to a springtime cold. Never a fun thing. For those of you who refuse to be held captive in the house for days (like me), have no fear. After many years and many dollars spent on various holistic remedies I have finally found something that works. At the first onset of symptoms (usually a sore throat is first for me) I take Quantum Super Immune Formula. Works like a charm! Do mix it with juice or water as it tastes and smells quite nasty. It is worth it though.
Of course there are no magic tricks to make a cold go POOF and vanish into thin air. But Quantum combined with vitamin C, ginger tea, acupuncture, tons of sleep, and staying ultra hydrated make these bugs run their course much faster. I first felt symptoms around 5am on Sunday and the worst is definitely over. Hopefully by Tuesday morning I will be 100%. 
I also took most of the day off (sorry students). Louise Hay says that Colds and Flus are your "emotional self trying to slow you down when you have been going too fast". Seems true to me. So stop fighting to be your normal self when you just aren't. Surrender. One day of rest will do wonders and prevent you from having that cold for 10 days instead of the 2 or 3 it needs to go from start to finish. 

Health Food stores carry the Quantum line, as does Whole Foods and online channels. 
You will feel better soon. Hopefully I will too!

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

India Part Three!

I am making my third trip to Mysore, India in 10 days! I am thrilled to be a student at the Ashtanga Yoga Research Institute once again. To be with my amazing teachers, Guru Sri K. Pattabhi Jois (93 years old), his daughter Saraswathi, and his grandson Sharath  is a huge blessing. This experience is only a car ride, a 13 hour flight to Dubai, an airplane change, another 4 hour flight to Bangalore, and then a 2.5 hour car ride away :)

I am now in the midst of what I call "Pre-India Chaos". I seem to be drowning in a to-do list a mile long, another list of all the items I need for a month in a 3rd world country, my regular teaching jobs, and the desire for some QT with my adorable husband before I jet out of this place on our first anniversary!!!! Yes, he still loves me despite this. 

Following my arrival in Mysore comes the "India Chaos". This is actually when all the fun begins. The mixture of cows and other farm animals in the road, stares at my curiously platinum hair color, noise from the neighborhood TV's during Bollywood shows, bucket laundry, dirt roads, and the zillion other things that push your nervous system to its limits are not for the faint of heart. I wouldn't change it for anything. In the midst of the swirling I am studying daily with my Guru, learning the roots of Sanskrit, and most importantly, being taught by the life surrounding me. In the west we strive to be in the moment for a glimpse at a time, but in India they actually LIVE in the now. Time stops. After all, where else is there to be but HERE and NOW? People enjoy cooking for hours, having chai each morning, and engaging in meaningful conversations with strangers on the street. It teaches me that life is not the to do list but the amazing things that occur when you leave the list behind and allow yourself to stop doing and start existing! 


Thursday, April 10, 2008

Super Duper Astrology Scoop!

After much searching I have finally found a few Astrology sites that give accurate information. Since the astrology reports were such a HUGE success at the retreat I figured I would pass along the info. It always helps to know your exact birth time and location in addition to your birthday. Play and have fun!

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Welcome to Sara's Yoga Blog!

Welcome to Sara's Yoga Blog! I, Sara Intonato, have been teaching yoga for over five years and practicing for seven. I have learned an immense amount thus far but I know it is only the tip of the iceberg. I often get caught up in interesting discussions regarding yoga, spirituality, holistic health, nutrition, astrology, etc. with my students and even with strangers. I am happy to open this blog up as a means for those discussions to continue and grow. Please contact me at if you would like to begin yoga or if you have any other questions. Namaste.