Saturday, March 17, 2018


Since my last post.  Here is a brief list of happenings in my life and teaching:

1.  I've enrolled and been participating in the Yoga Therapy Program at Loyola Marymount / Los Angeles.

2.  My classes, for a reason unknown to me, have grown to double the size of last year (and, are remaining stable).

3.  I am guiding the 5th 200-Hour Teacher Training at Sage Yoga Studios in Fallbrook.

4.  We got a new puppy (well, he's almost 16 months old now). Because he is a barker - in particular at one neighbor; we believe that neighbor shot him in the eye with a BB gun.

5.  Grandsons are growing UP -- one will graduate from high school this Spring and is off to college in the Fall.

To expand on the above:

1.  In October, when we returned from our month in Driggs, I was 'hungry' -- not for food, but for more knowledge. I had looked at the Yoga Therapist program last year (2016), decided it was too complicated to get in and looked away. In October 2017, I looked at it again. Applied. And was accepted into the second level of a four-level program.  My rationale for level 2, was that level 1 involved muscles and skeleton and I've had lots of study there; level 2 involves respiratory, endocrine, ayurveda, etc. -- elements I find lacking in my knowledge base. The level 2 program is one year in length -- averaging to one weekend per month. I drive to LA on Saturday morning, spend the afternoon in lecture, then spend the night, more lecture on Sunday morning/afternoon, and finish up on Sunday about 5pm, and home.  Except for the drive, it has been good for me to expand my horizon.

At this point, I don't see myself as a one-on-one yoga therapist, but I do see myself being better able to work with the students who walk into my classes with an injury, chronic condition or complaint.

2.  An added bonus to #1 is that my classes have grown since returning to Fallbrook in October 2017. I almost hate to write that, might jinx it.  Anyway, the four classes I teach in mornings are doing well, and I have hopes the one 5:30 class I started last month will grow with awareness.

Am I teaching differently? I think, yes. I am not afraid (afraid of losing people) to delve into the energetics of the body - bhandas, kleshas, koshas, chakras, etc. I also am emphasizing that there is much more to yoga than asana. This is a result of #1 (above); as I hear very experienced and knowledgeable teachers/therapists talk about yoga's affect on individuals.

And, I must admit, it is wonderful to be in a room of people who stick with me week after week.

3.  The 5th Teacher Training is well underway. These are small trainings. Since Reyna (studio owner) and I are main teachers for the program, 4-6 people is about the max for their benefit. This training is a bit different from previous ones, in that I started them teaching in week 2 of the 16-week course. We still do anatomy, philosophy, teaching methodology, but the actual teaching (I feel) will serve them as they move on after this course.

4.  Yes, the puppy - Beau. He is a great dog -- energetic, smart -- but not what we've been used to in past dogs. How? Well, he doesn't enjoy people other than myself and Howard. He'll tolerate them, but it's best to let him do the approaching rather than try to reach out to him. We got Beau to keep our younger 'old' dog company, in the event the old 'old' dog passes (he has a liver tumor). At this point all three are going strong - which is a good thing.  Beau is an English Shepherd - his breed's job is to protect the 'farm'. And he has had an ongoing feud with one neighbor. Began playfully, but has gotten a bit more assertive with age. Last month, I came home to find his eye full of blood, the result of a BB lodged between eyeball and lid. Since the feuding neighbor is the only neighbor bordering the area of our yard fenced for dogs, we asked him if he did it. He admitted he didn't think the gun was loaded. Then denied it to sheriff's. (It's a crime, you know, to harm an animal.) So, we are in the midst of trying to save eyesight in the affected eye, and deal with the neighbor. Enough.

5.  And, the grandsons -- growing!!! Jake will graduate high school, then go to college; Nick plays basketball and is trying his hand at some thespian work.  The So. Cal. Grandsons are now 7, 9 and 11 years of age -- all playing soccer, football and lacrosse! Not sure how parents do it, but they are all at their games on time and ready.  We'll go to the HS graduation in Kansas in May; in the meantime, we have lots of games to choose from for the younger 3.

After months of neglecting this blog; it seems I've written a novel. I hope I'll be able to shorten my diatribes in the future and with more regularity.

In the meantime, take care!

Tuesday, January 23, 2018


Just a few minutes to write about some of the comments I heard on my teaching after one of my Thursday classes:

First, from a 17-year-old:
I feel so good in your class, everyone was friendly and welcoming, and I look forward to making the studio my home.

Second, from a 70-year-old: 
You offer so much.

Third, from a 50-year-old:  
You are different from any instructor I've experienced.

Let me just say that if you read my blog regularly, you know that different (in my book) is a good thing.

Different moves us out of our comfort zone.

Don't get me wrong -- these are the good things said. I know there are people who come to my class once (ONE TIME) and never return. I am not everyone's 'cup of tea' and I don't hope to be. Each of us will find the teacher who speaks to them.

Enough -- have a great day!

Saturday, February 18, 2017


It's been a while since the last post and I thought (the other day) -- I have a lot of stuff to write about. So, here goes:

First, I am coming to the end of the third 200-hr Teacher Training I have been guide to here in Fallbrook. It's been a great ride (and, one that will continue). As I look over graduates, I see several teaching at Sage Yoga in Fallbrook; I hear that some are teaching in other venues (Connected Warriors or to friends or to co-workers). One or two are actively seeking me out as a mentor - a great compliment.  All-in-all this has been a rewarding growth and learning experience.

Growth and learning? Aren't I supposed to be teaching them to teach? Of course, but teaching can only be accomplished with a large supply of knowledge. I am re-reading the books I read for my own Certification process (AND, understanding more!?!?!?). I've also explored and found some great books to supplement the training. And, the students who populate the trainings have been wonderful teachers, as well.

Students as teachers? Just like in the public classes I teach, each person brings a unique perspective to our Teacher Training program. One may have a background in massage therapy or personal training, giving them another view of anatomy; another may be in the service industry, offering us a valuable glimpse at the importance of customer service and boundaries; I could go on - through each of the 11 graduates and 5 almost-graduates - but that would create a LONG post, so I won't.

To enhance MY teaching skills:

1.  I'm enrolled in another webinar with Christina Sell -- this one titled "Finding Depth in the Basics". I am always impressed with the quantity and quality of material presented by Christina - she doesn't disappoint.

2.  I've also travelled to Idaho for two 5-day sessions with Sundari in the last 8 months - one on the Chakras, the second on sequencing. The community Sundari has created is amazing and each time I study with her I come away with new skills and greater sensitivity. I have another one planned, just not sure of dates yet.

3.  In March, I will check Darren Rhodes off my 'to do' list when I attend a workshop in Tucson conducted by him and Sam Rice (FYI, I have long hoped to study with Darren.) Looking forward to a new experience.

4.  And, in August, I have registered for my 4th 'Raising Your Vibration' intensive (5 days) with Desiree Rumbaugh and Andrew Rivin. Yes!

On teaching, I had a personal light-bulb moment this week. A student in one of my classes mentioned that she always thought her elbows were straight UNTIL she saw her reflection in the mirror during class. Then, as I was doing my practice at home one day, I looked at my elbows and noticed they were not as straight as I'd like, either. So, what to do? For me, I stood on my mat, raised my arms, and took my 'mind's eye' (as I call it) to my elbows. From the elbows, I extended through fingertips - without getting too rigid in the fingers. (Remember, I'm working the elbows.) And, it worked. I took it into class with me that day and tried it out; saying something like: "with your arms overhead, draw your attention to your elbows and, from the elbows, reach out through the fingertips to the ceiling".  Note that we had already done some shoulder work, which meant most had their arms alongside ears. Elbows were noticeably straighter.

And, at home, we have a new puppy. His name is 'Beau' - we call him 'Beau-dy', and he came to us from Utah. He's an English Shepherd, about 12 weeks old, and already 22+ pounds. So far, things are going well; a bit of an adjustment for us, not to mention the older 2 dogs, but we are doing o.k. and he's definitely a 'keeper'.

Off to a Saturday of Teacher Training. I hope you have a great day!

Saturday, December 3, 2016


Each Saturday morning, I review the schedule of the current Teacher Training for content -- what do I need to review or read or write for the group on any given day. One of today's topics is 'Listening Skills'.

Several years ago (more than 5), I wrote a blog on this topic. I thought, mistakenly -- 'I'll go to my blog and pull up that post, and use it'.  Wrong -- My blog used to have a different title and the blog program cannot (or will not) access that 'old' title content. So, I will write it again (everything bears repeating, doesn't it?).

In my previous post, I wrote that, over the years, I've come to look at listening with the attitude encompassed by the three A's of Anusara Yoga - Attitude, Alignment and Action.

FYI, my original post was written not just because I know that listening is a valuable skill for yoga teachers, but because I had experienced once too often being asked "How are you?", only to have the person inquiring look away to his/her next target of inquiry BEFORE hearing my response. That is just rude, in my book!

I considered the skills involved in truly listening and have tried to apply them to my encounters with people. So hear (here) goes:

ATTITUDE - When I have decided to engage with a person or people, I step into the 'listening' space. I make a conscious and concerted effort to think about this person's interests and the value of having someone 'listen' to what you (or I) have to say.

This came acutely to my attention in August of this year, when I was attending Desiree Rumbaugh and Andrew Rivins' "Raising Your Vibration" Intensive. Andrew had us gather into small groups of 3-4 people, and answer a specific list of 3-4 questions. We were instructed to listen, not offer commentary to another person's offering. When we finished, we re-gathered as one large group and he asked how that felt. Overwhelmingly, the comment was made "I felt heard". INTERESTING - and, this from a group of very social yoga teachers and students!

ALIGNMENT - Once the decision has been made to step into the 'listening' space, I 'align'. To me that means - I look the person in the eye and I open my ears to only their voice.

When you read my brief diatribe about 'how are you', you got the gist of 'alignment'. People who ask 'how are you?' perhaps have good intentions, want to be friendly and outgoing, etc., etc., BUT what happened when the question was out there? Eyes begin darting around the room, voices (other than the target's) are in their ears, they allow interruptions, and they may even get a bit 'fidgety' - as though trapped.

A good example is my second encounter with John Friend - my first was a retreat at Inner Harmony, which I had to leave early as a result of a family emergency. I next attended a weekend workshop in Tucson. After the workshop, I went to John to thank him - not just for the workshop, but also for the work he had done to establish a community of caring people (I had received many notes and communications after leaving Inner Harmony from fellow students). During our brief conversation, his eyes stayed on me. Another student came up to talk, interrupting us. He gracefully turned to her and asked her to wait for a few moments as he finished our conversation. John then turned back to me, I finished my words of appreciation - that was alignment, in my book; not to mention attitude.

ACTION - So, we've set our attitude, we are aligned, now for the work of 'listening', the action. I connect through the eyes, I open my ears to only their words, and I close my mouth.

How many times have you begun speaking to have someone say "Oh, that's happened to me and . . .".  You haven't finished your statement, you haven't been heard, you've been spoken over by your supposed listener's experience.

SUMMARY - Briefly, to summarize all this, when I decide to 'listen', I:
    1)   Decide that, no matter what, this person deserves (and wants) to be heard
    2)   Set my stance and make eye contact (for the duration)
    3)   I open my ears and I keep my mouth shut

This is not easy - we are living in a fast-paced world. I have places to go, things to do, and - sometimes - it takes some of that time to be kind. I have never regretted taking the time to listen to a student, a friend, and/or a family member.

Have a great day!

Friday, July 1, 2016


I recently (within the past 6-9 months) began assisting and conducting Teacher Trainings -- I assist with one in Temecula and lead a similar program in Fallbrook.  These are 200-hour RYT trainings. At some point I'd like to teach Immersions and TT in the Anusara style, but first I must assist an Anusara TT. That hasn't happened yet.

So, what have I learned? That teaching people to be teachers is a learning process in itself. I find myself back in the classroom, reading required texts (again), creating lesson plans, planning schedules in order to get in the required hours.

I've also learned that, for me, I enjoy the process (and the learning).

It's especially rewarding to take a class from one of the graduates (who has been teaching for just one month), and find that the class is well-crafted, appropriate for the audience, and taught with confidence.  Even the music was nice (this from someone who doesn't 'do' music).  Hard to keep from smiling the entire class.

In my desire to learn more, I am attending several of the modules being offered by Sundari in her 300-hr training. I also signed up (already) to go to Tucson in March for a weekend with Darren Rhodes and Sam Rice. I have always wanted to do a class or workshop with Darren, so -- here I go! Time to get the "A" game on (which means 'beefing' up my stamina - since the Tucson group, as I remember, is VERY strong).

Besides the TT's, I am happily teaching 7 classes each week. I've decided to let go of the 5pm class mentioned in earlier posts and that has lifted a great burden. I find that when I let some things go, there is an associated relief that wasn't expected. Not worrying about a drive in traffic with little reward (in terms of class attendance) is - for me - a good thing.

Enjoy the 4th of July !!!

Tuesday, March 22, 2016


In my last post, I mentioned class size; in the sister class last night (5pm), there were 5 (five) students. That's BIG for this time-slot/style/teacher at this studio.

The student I mentioned last week was one of the five.  She arrived, set up her mat, and - I just happened to notice - was quickly massaging her feet, calves and hamstrings. Why? Well, if you read the last post, I promised to mention something about hamstrings 'later'. I guess today will be 'later'.

But, first, her down dogs looked amazing! I could tell she focused on the IS/OS of the arms, setting the shoulder blades strongly on her back, as she moved into her down dog. This set her shoulders up and then, with bent knees, she could warm up the backs of her legs, before we moved into a fuller down dog. What I witnessed was exactly what I hoped would happen -- strong shoulders, melted heart. She commented after class that she still needs time to set everything up - so, in a flow class where instructions happen quickly, she gets a bit frustrated not having 'time'. I reassured her these actions will happen more fluidly and rapidly as her body incorporates them. It's all a practice, right?

To continue on the hamstrings and forward folding: Hamstrings seem to be at the center of my attention these days. I have several students working with tight hamstrings. So, have been paying a lot of attention to webinars and other video clips, as well as my memory bank, to offer me some tips.

What have I learned and/or been reminded of?

  1. Several years ago, I asked Adam Ballenger to work with me on kicking to handstand. He first identified my tight shoulders, then worked with me on hamstring tightness (both needed loosening before kicking up). For the hamstrings, he talked about and asked me to do movement to lengthen those muscles - in particular, the fascia of the hamstrings AND the fascia above and below.  
  2. In recent study, I continue to hear about the fascia and its role in inhibiting flexibility. Doug Keller reminded me that there is a fascial line running from the sole of the feet to the crown of the head, and that line of fascia will affect hamstring flexibility (I remember hearing this from Adam, also). Doug suggested the following:
    • Example: Do your first forward fold of the day and notice the hamstrings in both legs. Now, take a seat and massage the sole of one foot; really get into the thick tissue with your thumbs and massage the entire foot. Now stand back up and do another forward fold. Compare legs. What do you feel? 
Now, fast forward to last week's encounter -- I considered both of these teachers' thoughts, and - after doing the "example" with the student from last week, I asked her to sit back down and massage both legs (the foot, the calf muscle - moving from knee to ankle, and hamstrings - moving from hip to knee. I remember that the energy line of the fascia moves directionally and - in the lower half of the body - the direction is towards the earth, so massaging in that direction is beneficial.

After massaging both legs, student comes back to standing.  My favorite way to get an effective forward fold is as follows:

  1. Massage legs and feet (you will just need to do this on the first fold of each practice)
  2. Stand in mountain pose, energetically hug shins towards each other, now move thighs in, back & apart (shins in, thigh out) 
  3. Engage core and glutes (don't clench, tho)
  4. Place thumbs in hip creases
  5. Create length in torso
  6. Fold over thumbs, maintaining length (#4)
  7. With core still engaged, release hands to floor at about the halfway point into your fold
  8. Continue into your uttanasana (forward fold)
  9. Now, re-extend into ardha uttanasana (half forward fold) and re-engage core, glutes and lumbar curve, as best you can
  10. Fold again
  11. Deeper?
It was for the student last week - significantly. After a couple of these, she was able to fold, bend her knees and place her hands on back of heels, forearms resting on the back of her calf muscles, and belly resting on thighs. This position of hands and forearms created resistance as she moved to lift her hips, which straightened her knees - all while keeping her belly on her thighs.  

What did her forward folds look like last night? Quite different - she was deeper from the first fold of her practice; and - better yet - I sensed an awareness of her knees (which may hyperextend if given the opportunity).  

It's moments like these that ___________fill in the blank______________.

Hope you have a great Tuesday,  

Thursday, March 17, 2016


I teach a class called 'Alignment Basics' each Monday and Wednesday at 5pm in Temecula. Three things to know about this class --

1.     5pm in Temecula is a challenge for people coming from work, due to traffic (I-15 is usually very crowded, beginning at 3-4pm);

2.      The name is a bit deceiving, since I do not believe it is a 'basic' class. That being said, including the word 'basic' in a class name will lead some people to believe it is not advanced enough for them (!?!?!?!); and

3.      I may not be the teacher to attract a crowd to a class like this.

So, I am working on several things:

1.     The time will not change,  we'll give it a couple more months to see if growth, in any form, happens.

2.     The name will change. I've suggested "Aligned Yoga", and also - within the description - eliminate the reference about 'new to yoga'.

3.     We will work on 'me'. I have asked students to tell me what they expect, what they like and what they would change.  Fortunately, I have students willing and able to share their expectations, and they have offered some good suggestions.

As with many of my classes, growth happens slowly. Last night's class had one student. As is my habit when doing a 'private', I asked that one person what she would like to work on. Her response:  down dog. Well, I was a bit surprised -- down dog? from a dedicated and proficient student? Yes -- she had heard in another class that her heart ought to 'melt' in down dog. She was a bit confused by that instruction, so asked me to look at her down dog and offer my thoughts.

Be still my heart!  This opened a couple doors for me.  Yes, we could work on down dog. We also could address her elbow hyperextension, as a 'side dish'.

As I looked at her down dog, it looked great; from hands to hips was a direct line, with a bit of deviation to that line, as she straightened her legs (hamstrings, you know).

So, what did we do?  Here's a laundry list - if you have questions or thoughts, contact me:
  1. To address the hyperextension, in table position, I asked her to place her hands strongly on the mat, bend her elbows laterally, and - pressing hands into floor - begin to straighten the elbows. The muscle activation that this creates helps to mitigate the hyperextension.
  2. Moving to vajrasana (seated on heels), we practiced inner rotation of the forearm and outer rotation of the biceps, which brings awareness to the scapulae. It's easier to do one arm at a time, then both arms. For some, it also is easier to attain if we inner spiral/rotate the forearm, then work from the scapula and shoulder to create outer spiral/rotation of the biceps. (It's a very subtle action.)
  3. Now we put the two together in table position - first we worked to prevent hyperextension and added the IS/OS of the arms.
  4. With those actions in place, it's time to move to down dog. (Let me just say that this student is so dedicated and steady in her practice that maintaining the actions - which could be problematic for some - was not an issue for her.)
  5. Now add a little "Desiree" and her 'funky' down dog. If you've ever attended one of Des' workshops, you know what I'm talking about - down dog, looking forward - knees bent - hips and shoulders lifted - shoulder blades engaged - back a bit swayed (sorry if I am missing anything). What you end up with is a down dog that looks NOTHING like the end result.
  6. From here we maintain the shoulder action, stretch hips back and up (which extends the sway to a more straight position), and begin to straighten the legs.
  7. #'s 5&6, coupled with #'s 1&2, moved this student to a down dog with heart 'melted' AND strong shoulders AND no hyperextension. Another 'be still my heart'!
  8. Keeping all this, enjoy.
I guess in modern parlance, we might call this a "heart-melted down dog" hack.  

By the time we were done doing all this, plus one or two of her 'new' down dogs, her arms were shaking and she wondered why. Why? Because she is using a lot of muscles that have previously been 'on vacation' -- the muscles helping to keep her elbows out of hyperextension PLUS the muscles up and into the shoulders and shoulder blades. New territory for this student.  

Then we moved on to uttanasana (my choice, not hers), since there is so much potential. That's a rewarding topic for another day

Would love to hear feedback and/or questions.  

Have a great Thursday,