Thursday, December 24, 2009

A Few Thoughts

If you have time, watch this Rod Stryker video about yoga.   I also enjoyed listening to his Pragnya video.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Who Made the Stars?

The other day, my daughter & I stopped by a favorite store in Neptune Beach called A World Away.   One of the items we purchased was a palm leaf star valance made in Bangladesh.   The artisan listed for the valance was Prokritee.

When I got home, I couldn't stop from wondering about the spelling of Prokritee & it's similarity to the Sanskrit word Prakriti.   I looked at my notes from a 2007 Rod Stryker lecture and re-affirmed Prakriti's definition.   Rod told us that Prakriti is the ephemeral, everlasting presence - the force that brings everything into being.   As the source of origin, Prakriti manifests through the 3 Gunas:   Tamas, Rajas, & Sattwa.  Rod stated that before something can come into being one of the 3 Gunas has to become slightly more activated.

Before I looked up Prokritee on the internet & found out it was an agency involved in fair trade, I had a whole wonderful story made up in my mind.   I imagined the buyer of the container full of star valances realizing that he needed a specific name of the artist who hand made these stars.   So, the buyer asks the vendor, "Who made the stars?"    The vendor replies, Prakriti.

This time of the year, it's hard to be certain our hands are clean.   I think that's why I initially became intrigued by exactly who made the star valance.   I am like a majority of Americans.   I love a sale and often wait until after the Christmas rush to go shopping for my children's clothes.   While I enjoy the discounts for my pocket book, I regularly think about a song my long time buddy, Kim Kranich, shared with me nearly 20 years ago.   Are My Hands Clean by Sweet Honey in the Rock is a powerful commentary on our connection to the goods created by the world & purchased by us here in the States.

I just let out a big & long sigh.   I'm not sure how we can make a difference in this chain - other than continue to be more mindful of who, what, where, why, & how.   And for me, I'll keep giving my thanks at the feet of the One who made the stars.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

It Doesn't Get Any Better Than This!

Today, I walked to Castaway Island Preserve on Jacksonville's intra-coastal.   No kids.  No husband.  Just me & Molly the dog.   You need to know, I was a reluctant dog owner who went through a plethora of emotions for several years prior to accepting the role of care taking for another living being.   I have often felt that I've had my fill of being care giver to many generations of my family.  And it was a big step for my heart to open again to another creature.  My personal practice was a large part of my ability to step out of my comfort zone.

With Molly beside me, I sat on a bench in Castaway & stared at the Florida water & sky thinking - "it doesn't get any better than this."  All the while, I breathed these words sent by Jenny Otto yesterday -

Inhale, and God approaches you. Hold the inhalation, and God remains with you. Exhale, and you approach God. Hold the exhalation, and surrender to God. 
Krishnamacharya is recognized & honored for bringing yoga to the west.   He is the father of T.K.V. Desikachar who wrote one the first books I read about classical yoga & often return to it to re-read.   In addition to teaching his son, Krishnamacharya also taught B.K.S. Iyengar as well as Patthabi Jois who developed Ashtanga Yoga.

Jenny shared Krishnamacharya's words while she sat inside her home staring at a winter wonderland - the blizzard of 2009 that has touched Maryland and other states.   One of the great things about a blizzard is it gives you time to "just be."   Everyone settles down & allows nature to be the excuse for a reprieve & much needed rest.

Here in FL, we don't get too many weather excuses to be quiet, light a fire, and rest.   So we have to give ourselves permission.   That's what my walk to Castaway Island Preserve was for me - a brief retreat from the world.   Time to "just be."   Inhales and exhales.  Seeing the beauty.

As Molly & I walked out of Castaway, the world came rushing back in.   The race of car engines & loud stereos on San Pablo Road, dogs barking hidden behind fences - all of this jolted me back.

During our times of repose, we often discover peace, ease, and a lightness of being.   Our work is how to hang on to this connection as we re-join the rest of society.  It's our practice.  And realizing even with the distractions, obligations & commitments, we can keep placing one foot in front of the other and continue the journey.   If we are fortunate, we have a faithful companion beside us.

Walking Molly home, I recalled the words on a stained & tattered piece of paper that now hangs in my garage.  I received this paper nearly 40 years ago - as a gift at a childhood friend's birthday party.  Did the mother who gave these rolled up scrolls with wise sayings even dream that any of us would carry these papers with us through a lifetime?   Did she have any inkling of the long term effect of her decision? I'd like to think that she did - that she saw great potential.   Here are the words...

Don't walk in front of me, I may not follow.
Don't walk behind me, I may not lead.
Walk beside me and just be my friend.
                                           - Camus

It doesn't get any better than this!  Inhale.  Exhale.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Breeding Ground

This past weekend, I formally completed my Pilates Equipment training (although we never are really "done"). I know. I know. This is a blog about Advanced Yoga Studies. Please let me explain further. : ) At the end of the training, I thanked Vicki Sullivan who has been locally hosting & teaching the advanced Pilates studies. One of the things I joked about was that she was "breeding her competition" by offering teacher training here in Jacksonville. I love Vicki for many reasons - and specifically because we have a similar passion for knowledge & to share knowledge. Individuals who offer teacher training have a unique point of view. They often don't see sharing knowledge as a threat. Quite clearly, these individuals see abundance - and are really excited when people "get it." So, today, I was on the phone with a phenomenal yoga teacher from the northeast, Linda Howard. She expressed how excited she was for our community here in the southeast - and our willingness to grow. She told me, "You know, Lisa, you are bringing one of the top teachers in the country to Jacksonville." She was talking about Jenny Otto. I have goose bumps. I am truly tickled to share the deeper journey with you & am honored to facilitate the offerings here in Jacksonville.

Monday, December 7, 2009

A Blessing & Prayer

Please evoke a feeling of gratitude. Grateful that all of life’s experiences have led you to this moment. That this is exactly where you are meant to be.

Each of us honor different paths & lineages and our attraction to the practice of yoga is diverse – may we continue to support one another on our path. In our words & actions, may we continue to respect our diversity.

Each day, may we find time to take good care of ourselves – receiving well so that we may continue to serve. As teachers, may we continue to share our great love & respect of this amazing journey with our students.

With a profound & humble honoring, let’s remember our teachers. Those who have paved the way for us. Remembering our yoga teachers and also our life teachers (school teacher, family member, neighborhood elder). Where ever they may be, sending heart felt gratitude.

Let’s offer a prayer of intent to use the teachings wisely, never taking them for granted.

May we regularly reflect on our personal practice – asking ourselves “Who am I becoming through this practice?” “Am I becoming the world in which I wish to live?”

May we be the light that we seek so that others may see the way. May our thoughts, words, and hearts resonate.

Please take a moment now and express what you are grateful for specifically in your life.

May we continue to be grateful for all of life that comes our way. May we see both our blessings & obstacles as our teachers.

May we continue to serve well. May we know peace.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009


My teaching & personal practice theme this week seemed to center around offering gratitude. Quite appropriate since Thanksgiving is tomorrow! For me, it is easy to offer daily thanks for the blessings in my life. Over the years, I have also discovered deep peace from offering gratitude for the obstacles in my life. My obstacles are people, places, things or in truth - a state of my mind. Whether an attachment, a disappointment, a frustration, a nuisance, or a heart ache - each obstacle has been a teacher and a light on my path over the decades so that I can focus & see myself more clearly.

Being fully involved in family life raising 2 children, I often long for pockets of time away - so I can "tap in" & "tune in" with out distraction -- and see myself more clearly. And I think because of this strong desire, lately, I have been fascinated by individuals who lived in caves over 1,000+ years ago. These cave dwellers from various religious beliefs were on a spiritual journey & deeply seeking. They were basically hermits. The other night, I watched a documentary on discoveries of ancient scrolls and cave art in Tibetan caves. And, I am currently reading Thomas Merton's Wisdom of the Desert - a compilation of thoughts from the 4th Century cave dwellers of the Middle East.

Merton writes about a story of a monk named John who claimed to be "beyond all temptation." He was "advised by shrewd elder to pray to God for few good solid battles in order that his life might continue to be worth something."

Wisdom of the Desert is compiled from an ancient scroll called Verba Seniorum. I particularly loved this translation...

"Abbot Lot came to Abbot Joseph and said: Father, according as I am able, I keep my little rule, and my little fast, my prayer, meditation and contemplative silence; and according as I am able I strive to cleanse my heart of thoughts: now what more should I do? The elder rose up in reply and stretched out his hands to heaven, and his fingertips became like ten lamps of fire. He said: Why not be totally changed into fire?"

May our fires burn bright. May we be luminous so others may see the way.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Your Attention, Please

Last Spring, I spent a weekend shifting with Glenn Hartelius. I recall him stating that many of us have "sensory motor amnesia." We have lost contact with parts of our body. Through his training, Attention Dynamics, he taught us how to regain access to our insides and what we are able to perceive. Glenn gave us easy techniques to locate "deep center." He first asked us to find our attention; focus our attention; and then shift our attention. During the weekend, he also enlightened us on what he called "energy ethics." He said that energy is not like flower petals that you bestow everywhere. Energy impacts other people. If we do something energetically, then we must be responsible. From what I understood from Glenn, he firmly believes that energy does work. Energy has impact. Energy is intimate. He clearly said that just sending someone "positive thoughts" or "good energy" is not ethical. We must exchange energy with consent. I distinctly recall him stating, "Covert energy work is not cool." In the 6 months, since studying with Glenn, I have grown to more fully appreciate my weekend training with him.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Wisdom & Fearlessness

Last night, I witnessed my Yoga Two class use their ever-present deep wisdom while fearlessly balancing on their hands! It's a wonderful class theme that enlivens & empowers students. In our early years, we are often fearless - even reckless. As we move through the decades, we tend to become fearful. We hesitate (and sometimes for very good reasons) to back flip off the high dive, bungee jump, or pull out into on-coming traffic. The benefit of having quite a few decades of life behind us is that we are not just smart - we are wise. And if we balance it just right, our wisdom enables us to be fearless.

Monday, October 26, 2009


As we venture deeper into our studies, we examine the Chakras more fully & relate them to our personal stories. When studying the Chakras, we learn that there are counter forces that oppose the natural activity of a Chakra. When we recognize this, we can actually become stronger due to awareness. If we acknowledge the opposing force, we gain a deeper understanding of ourselves. As an example, to acknowledge that we have fear - allows us to face the fear & understand its origins -which eventually leads to us being more confident. Another example is to recognize our grief which facilitates healing and permits our heart to be lighter. Here's a list of the Chakras and their corresponding counter forces.

1. Muladhara - fear
2. Svadhisthana - guilt
3. Manipura - shame
4. Anahata - grief
5. Vissudha - lies
6. Ajna - illusion
7. Sahasrara - attachment

Sunday, October 25, 2009


We are lots of layers. In addition to skin, fascia, muscle, & bone, we also have sheaths that in yoga are called koshas. Here's a simple summary.

Physical Body - Annamaya Kosha
our physical systems & aryuvedic dosha

Energy Body - Pranamaya Kosha
our subtle breath, pranavayus, nadhis & chakras

Emotional Body - Manomaya Kosha
our emotions, thought patterns & gunas

Wisdom Body - Vijnyanamaya Kosha
our witness, intuition, & unveiling beliefs

Bliss Body - Anandamaya Kosha
our natural mind, peace, knowing, & rapture

Friday, October 23, 2009


One of the most amazing gifts for me is to witness someone's change process. Each private session with a student, I am honored to receive this spectacular gift. My students are open to taking photos before & after a session as well as many months later. We marvel at the details & subtle shifts. Being able to see & see clearly -- and to help others see themselves clearly is something I've learned & continue to learn from my teachers. In fact, each teacher training I attend - I myself am in a process of change & discovery. Each time I come to my mat for personal practice, each time I ask my friends to help me see myself more clearly - I evolve my understanding. May each of us continue to witness on all levels.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Finding Your Teacher

Today I had a wonderful conversation with Yoga Ananda's owner, Melissa Johnson. One of the things we discussed was "finding your teacher." What I love about the program we are offering here in Jacksonville - connects with "finding your teacher." Our intention is to expose you to many different facets, faces, & fantastic points of view. Through this offering you may discover a calling to study deeper with a particular teacher. It's an amazing gift to find someone who resonates with you & has the ability to see you clearly as well as provide insight.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Mary Bond!

I am really tickled! Mary Bond, who trained with Ida Rolf & is a movement instructor at the Rolf Institute, is coming to Jacksonville October 2010! One of her books, The New Rules of Posture, has been a tremendous resource for me. Mary considers this book "an owner's manual for your body." I think she sums it up well in the book's Preface. Mary writes, "The rules are new because they differ from the old rules, which teach posture as body alignment that is unrelated to what we feel. These new rules apply to our whole experience of living in our bodies as we move in relationship to the world around us." We are in for a real treat this time next year!

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Back It Up

One of the things I have loved about studying with Jenny Otto is that she's really clear. This week, I have worked with several students who are living with back pain. In Yoga Therapy, it's elementary -- we must teach people with back pain to be in their legs more. It's one thing to say this... another thing to teach it to someone. How do you teach someone to be in their legs? Most individual's first reaction is -- "I am standing on my legs. Aren't I using them?" Over the years, Jenny has taught me so many fantastic ways to reach people & get them to feel their legs -- and not just their upper legs - but also their lower legs & feet. What I've learned too is that often tissue needs to open first before engagement. Come learn more with us in 2010!

Monday, September 28, 2009


Are you stressed out? From my studies, I've learned that stress is our response -- the difference between what is actually happening and what we believe should be happening. It is 100% dependent upon our conditioning. Stress can also be defined as a perception that our resources are being tapped or depleted. What's fascinating to me is that the ways in which we struggle in our asana practice is often related to what's going on in our life. One of the things I continue to work on is learning to stay & pay attention - having a willingness to be where I am and put down notions of what's supposed to happen. Paying attention changes the experience.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Just Be

One of the most important things I've learned in my trainings & work is to just be - just be with my students. So many of us long for someone to recognize us - whether it's a smile or a glance. With children, it's easy to see this desire to be noticed. Children will reach out & touch us first. Sometimes, it's a hug or they'll hold our hand. They will also poke, make jokes, initiate antics -- all to be noticed. As we mature & move into the adult world, we bury this need for attention. The need is still there, though - to be seen - to be recognized - to be accepted. In my therapeutic work with students, I have found that being present is tremendous. It's a great gift to give & receive.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009


In 2010, Pamela Cefaratti joins us for our advanced studies work. She will share her Aryuvedic knowledge. She studied for 4 years with well respected Dr. Vasant Lad in New Mexico at The Aryuvedic Institute becoming one of his top students.

Just today, I was thinking about the 6 tastes & how they are understood in Aryuveda. I still have a lot to learn!

Sweet -
emotions: love & attachment
location in body: mouth
increases Kapha
Sour -
emotions: envy & resentment
location in body: stomach
increases Kapha & Pitta
Salty -
emotions: greed
location in body: first stage of small intestine
increases Kapha & Pitta
Bitter -
emotions: grief, sorrow
location in body: 2nd stage small intestine
increases Vatta
decreases Kapha & Pitta
Pungent -
emotions: hatred
location in body: 3rd stage of small intestine
increases Pitta & Vatta
decreases Kapha
Astringent -
emotions: fear & anxiety
location in body: -- we will have to ask Pamela!!!
increases Vatta & Kapha

Visit and find out when Pamela's teaching! Looking forward to seeing you in 2010!

Saturday, September 19, 2009


Remember 10 years ago, when "the core" was the buzz word? Well, let me tell you the next "hot" word . You're going to be hearing it every where over the next decade or two. Fascia. (Fa - shuh). I am continuing to learn about this amazing web of connection in our bodies. It holds everything together. Not only is it a stocking that encases our body & organs -- it is all the stuff that holds the cells together to form & organize our muscles & organs - and really all of us. Studying with Jenny Otto, I had the opportunity to partake in a 3-day training with lead teachers for Tom Myer's Kinesis (Anatomy Trains - Structural Integration). Since then, Jenny has shared her revelations from fresh tissue dissections & videos on the fascial web in living tissue. Fascia is continuous in our bodies. There are no seams. View your insides in a new way - one continuous folding origami. Here are a few nuggets from studying fascia with Jenny & the collection of World Class Teachers she assembles...
- moving into yoga poses too fast can cause fascial tears;
- what you don't work on will be an anchor for change;
- where it hurts is often not where the issue is - it's just the weakest link in the chain;
- fascial system responds slowly;
- nervous & muscle system respond more quickly.
Join us in 2010, you will see the body in a whole new way - and discover a deeper connection!

Friday, September 18, 2009

Mandukya Upanishad

During my 500 hour training with Jenny, Dr. Manoj Chalam presented a lecture on the Mandukya Upanishad. Boy, did his lecture rock my world! I was just reviewing my notes from that lecture that seems like a lifetime ago. Here's some excerpts from my notes (know that there may be errors... these are my handwritten notes from years ago - based on my perception & what I thought I heard Manoj say!). The Upanishads is based on & all about OM -- really explaining OM. The Mandukya Upanishad is only 12 mantras. And while it is short, it has the juice of everything contained with in it... the essence. As he shared each of the 12 simple, short mantras - the philosophy was deep. And, I had a lot of questions. To this day, I still think about the Mandukya Upanishad and those 12 lines. There's a lot in there! OM is so much more than what popular culture displays as a symbol on jewelry, t-shirts, and wall art. And, while it is a Bija (or seed) sound that many enjoy vocalizing, it means way more to me. Thanks to Manoj, to me now, OM is a philosophical conversation starter. So, if I see you wearing an OM symbol, I'll be asking you questions to get your point of view on the full philosophy. I look forward to hearing your thoughts! Welcome to the big conversation! And, Manoj will be here in Jacksonville in 2010. Hope he rocks your world & shakes up your thoughts like he did to me. Check out to learn more.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Finding Your Center

One of the great things I've learned from Jenny Otto, E-RYT500 & Anusara Certified - is multiple ways to get in touch with my center. Initially, we think of our center as a place in our physical body where we tap into our "core strength." And, yes, this is very important in our physical practice. In Anusara, one of the ways we introduce the center to people is through a series of loops in the body. John Friend, Anusara's founder, has an amazing mind!! With Jenny, I have explored my center three dimensionally. And last spring, I was in an amazing training with her & Adam Gainsburg. We explored our center - our ability to move or shift our center - while using sound in asana. It was one of those "goose bump" moments in my life. I hope to share some goose bumps with you in 2010. Join us in Jacksonville! See our website for details