Saturday, July 9, 2016

One Ocean

Here’s my dad and me as we exit the Panama Canal’s last lock to enter Gatun Lake. At 72, my dad can balance in Tree Pose with ease. The most amazing thing is he started practicing Yoga at age 70! My nephew always jokes that you can spot my dad in crowd of gray heads -- because he’s the one standing fully upright!

For 7 decades, my dad has kept his body moving - mostly through his work as a Civil Engineer - walking job sites & climbing ladders. And for over 20 years, he’s been the only man in a twice weekly aerobics class held at my hometown’s middle school.

His latest journey into the mind/body connection through Yoga, has been significant.  Not only has his body become more flexible and less rigid, but also his mind  -- which has allowed him to feel his heart.  This softening of the heart has helped my “tuff & gruff” dad better support my mother who lives with Parkinson’s.

On the eve of 2009, my family embarked on a journey to the Panama Canal - a place that connects oceans & people.

As we begin our transition into another decade, may each of us unlock what binds us & holds us back from connecting.  Like water, may we allow ourselves to flow freely, rising or lowering to the next level of our experience.

And may we recognize, that on Earth, there is only one ocean. We have just labeled the parts. And from this profound understanding, may we see ourselves as whole.

Peace on Earth.  And Peace be with you.

first published online in 2009 at

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Composing Body, Mind, and Breath

Yep, that’s me! Looking like I’m going to fall into the icy water of Glacier Bay in Alaska! All of us seek balance in our lives! In yoga, we spend time balancing in our physical bodies -- finding ways to create evenness -- muscles doing exactly what they are supposed to do, with the right amount of energy, at the right time.

We practice a lot of poses where we balance on one foot or on our arms. Finding the middle ground is a balance of two opposites. In my classes, we often explore the seemingly contradictory concepts of hugging in while at the same time extending out. Between these two extremes, we find the balance -- the equanimity in a pose. In Anusara, we call it "balanced action." We are always balancing!!!

I learn a lot about words through my yoga studies. Sometimes it’s tracing common English words back to their roots in Sanskrit.  Other times, it’s stumbling upon a word that keeps popping up in my training.  Equanimity is one of those words that keeps showing up in my readings and in workshops.  Equanimity means evenness of mind; composure.

I know for me, I often come to practice with my mind out of balance. And when I finish my physical practice - there’s a renewed evenness to my breath and mind. I am composed.

During practice, we are composing a symphony of body, mind and breath.
The instrument we play is our physical body - the most amazing machine ever built by the Creator.

Striving for balanced action allows us to stay out of the icy waters and soar into the heavens.

May each of us find equanimity.

first published online at  copyright  2007 Lisa A. Long

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Setting the Foundation

Yes, that is my right foot that you are looking at! You need to know that my right foot is well known!

Twenty years ago, when I graduated from college, I worked for a small TV station in Pennsylvania. I was a young soul transplanted 5 hours away from my hometown near Washington, D.C.

There were not a lot of dating opportunities in the city where I lived and worked. We called it a place of “newlyweds and nearly deads!” To entertain ourselves, a gaggle of girlfriends would venture to nearby lakes to windsurf and water ski.

One perfect summer evening, when stepping on my friend’s ski boat, a young man on-board, who I did not know, called me by name. I was shocked!

“How do you know my name?” I queried.

He replied, “I paid your brothers a quarter to see your webbed toes at a swim team meet in Maryland.”

Yes, my older brothers did make a profit off of me! And now, despite my ego and with grace, I am carefully placing this same foot into cyberspace!

To walk with Grace, to be in Grace requires some strength and balance. In our physical bodies, strength and balance originates in our feet. Our ability to create a firm foundation with the Earth is what allows us to walk upright. From our foundation, we rise tall!

To help us connect to our feet, I love to share these simple exercises. Students have raved about the difference in their feet in just a few weeks! If some of this is challenging for you, just stay with it.  Know that you are building new pathways in your body.

If you’ve been in class, you know these exercises.
Feel welcome to share them with a friend or loved one.

Roll foot on some type of ball preferably one of our awesome Peanuts that we use for neuromyofascial tissue release work.

Put fingers between each toe.  Massage foot.  Remove fingers.

Lightly wiggle and jiggle each toe - kind of like “this little piggy....”

Use your hand to manually point and flex your foot.

With the 4 corners of your foot rooted, lift and spread all toes.

With toes lifted and spread, put big toe only down (inner arch).

With toes lifted and spread, put baby toe only down (outer arch).

With toes lifted and spread, put big toe and baby toe down (transverse arch).  Other toes in middle lifted and spread.

Notice alignment of your feet throughout your day (frontal hipbone, knee cap, 2nd toe).

Throughout your day, notice equal pressure on all 4 corners of your feet.

When we pay attention to our feet, we walk with sensitivity and we tread more carefully both physically and mentally.

So, go ahead, step forward - boldly and with Grace.

first published online at copyright 2006 Lisa A. Long

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Breath of Life

Lately, the body and mind’s need for rest has been a recurring theme for me! If you’ve been in class, you’ve heard me talk about the importance of connecting with your breath of life. It’s an on-going assignment! I’d like to offer  three gentle reminders for  developing a personal practice focused on breath work.

  • As you exhale, focus on giving the ribcage permission to rest.  Remembering that the ribcage releases towards the pelvis on your exhales.  Inhale on the word “Let,”  exhale on the word, “Go.”
  • After observing your breath for a few cycles, see if you can create evenness between the exhales & inhales.  For example, if you inhale on a 4 count, exhale on a 4 count.
  •  Choose a number, say 25, and count backwards on your exhales.  If you become distracted and lose count, just pick up counting where you last recall.

This summer, my daughter snapped the above photo of me resting and focusing on breath work after touring a historic home in New York’s Hudson Valley. Since then I have enjoyed countless conversations with fellow teachers and students - about our ability (or lack of ability) to rest. What we all seem to need is permission - knowing that it’s okay to sit down and just breathe, just be.

May we all be. Permission granted.

first published online at in 2008