I don’t know about you, and maybe I shouldn’t admit this, but bed is my favorite place in the world.  I seek it for physical and emotional comfort, nurturing, warmth, and refuge.

When it gets cold out I find myself especially incapable of managing to get out of it (although once I do I am good to go).  But I can’t lie and say that there isn’t a day here or there when I pretty much don’t get out of bed.  I find this to be ok, life is all about balance, right?

However, when I find myself falling a bit too far out of that balance, as is the case lately with New York turning to Winter, I find it really helpful to keep my mat splayed out at all times(I overheard a dear friend mentioning this idea).  It calls me to it as I find myself saying, “Hey, it’s right there” and sooner than later I find myself moving through (at least) a few poses.

This helps to warm me back up and reset my fitness and health track if I haven’t practiced in a few days (plus, the calming benefits of course!).  Not to mention, giving yourself the space to do just a few poses here and there will cure any headache, that awful feeling of a sleep or laying around too long hangover, the fear of heading outside for the chill it will bring, or the inability to maintain exercising/good eating habits.  Plus,  you’ll perk up faster than if you drank 2 espressos (with none of the anxiety or dependence that caffeine can sometimes bring).

And, because of the energy just a few well-sequenced asana can produce, those few moments spent warming up my body usually call forth want for more movement; if I don’t end up doing a full sadhana or heading to class, I will usually end up dancing, taking a long walk (50-70 blocks),  or going to the gym.  From a sloth wrapped in my “pillow blanket” (as I call it) to hitting the gym and cleaning my apartment before I leave; all thanks to leaving out my mat and giving myself a chance to just move my body without expectation, for however long I may feel like it.

Below I’ve written a nice mini sequence (about 20 minutes) to get the body moving, any unbalanced tamas in check, and your mind and body ready to have a productive and enjoyable day.

** I sometimes jump right into my down dog but that might not be best for everyone.  And as always if it’s not in your practice or you are new to yoga, a teacher is highly recommended.

Namaste!

***flow=high plank->chaturanga->up dog/(low) cobra->down dog***

  • child’s pose
  • cat cow
  • extended table top
  • down dog
  • held high plank and/or plank crunches and/or lift one foot a few inches off the floor, then the other
  • flow
  • step/hop/walk to top of mat; forward fold; flat back
  • high plank
  • side plank (with various modifications)
  • flow
  • s/h/w to top of mat
  • high lunge with heart opener and/or tadasana with heart opener
  • wide leg forward fold twist
  • slowly roll up
  • warrior 2; peaceful warrior
  • come to top of mat
  • forward fold
  • flow
  • come gently to the knees
  • child’s pose

I am lucky I got a photo of these babies before they were gobbled up by the boyfriend and myself. It was hard to restrain myself for those few moments, not gonna lie. 

They are as fabulous as they look. Salty, savory, crispy on the outside and soft on the inside, just like a great fry should be. They were unbelievably delicious, and took only 30 minutes to make.  The secret to a crispy on the outside, soft on the inside fry? Soak the raw, cut potato in cold water! It was my first time trying that, and it does the trick beautifully. Just have a large bowl or small pot of cold water, and as you cut, drop the potato in the water. It de-starchifies the potato. Sweet potato is an amazing root vegetable, in season at the moment, and it packs some incredible nutritional punches. Super high in vitamin C (one cup of sweet potato is over half the recommended daily amount), general low on the glycemic index, so no blood sugar spikes, and rich in Vitamin A, so your skin will thank you for every bite.

  Get thee to your farmer’s market or to your health food store and bake away!  

Baked Sweet Potato Fries 

recipe adapted from Cookie and Kate What you will need: 

3 large Sweet Potatoes (don’t peel the skin!)

Sea Salt, Cayenne pepper, Old Bay, Pepper, Garlic Powder, Onion Powder, Pinch of Cinnamon (skip the pepper if you don’t like a little kick to your fries! The rest are totally essential)

1/4 TB of Olive Oil

2 TBs of Balsamic Vinegar

Pot of cold water 

Preheat your oven to 450.  

Clean and scrub your potatoes; cut into fry pieces. Try to make them all as uniform as possible. As you cut them, drop them into the cold water. 

Once you are finished cutting, drop the potatoes into a colinder, and give them a rinse. Pat dry with a paper towel. 

 Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, and spread your fry potatoes onto it, spacing them as uniformly as possible. Brush with your olive oil and with your balsamic vinegar. Once lubricated, generously apply spices and seasonings. Seriously, do not be shy. This totally took the fries to the next level last night.  

Pop the fries in the oven for 15 minutes. Take out after 15 minutes, and flip the fries. Bake for another 7-10 minutes — definitely no longer than 10 minutes!  Enjoy! 

How often have you, or someone you know uttered the words (or something similar to): “I hate my birthday!”, “eugh birthdays are the worst, they make me depressed!”, “I have nothing to celebrate this year!”, “I’m getting old! I don’t want to celebrate!”, “No no party no nothing! We’re not celebrating my birthday!” etc etc etc.

I know I have been there.

But over the past few years I have been holding my birthday and all the inherent joy with in it sacred.

Think of the word: birthday.  The day you were given LIFE. The day you BECOME life.

To celebrate a birthday is to celebrate the self, and love for the self.  It is a chance to look at the past year of your life, and celebrate accomplishments, reflect on relationships, your growth (or lack thereof) and what needs to change.  Our birthday is our true new year, and it deserves honor.

When we shirk our birthday we are ungracious to the universe.  When we shirk our birthday we are ungracious to life.

In the face of great tragedy, something we are all too familiar with in the wake of Hurricane Sandy (blessed be and divine light to all survivors and victims; may Ganesha remove your obstacles and may Lakshmi bring you fresh and greater abundance), it is extra important to reflect on the beauty, vibrancy, mystery, and joy that is LIFE.

YOUR LIFE. YOU’RE LIFE.

No matter what circumstance you find yourself in on your most sacred day it is vital to always celebrate it, and to decide what it is you want from your next year. It is a juicy, ripe  moment for dhyana.

I do not suggest you have to dance wildly on a bar or have a party to validate your life, and the joy it brings others and the joy it should bring yourself.  Have a quiet dinner, have a bubble bath, buy yourself a special gift—perhaps of mala beads, set with the intention of a new and mindful year full of joy and self empowerment. CELEBRATE LIFE. CELEBRATE YOUR LIFE!  Whatever ritual feels appropriate for you, find it and treat it mindfully and with respect.  This is the day you were BORN.

Do not take your life for granted, your rights, your freedom,your personal power, your ability to manifest and create whatever it is you want for yourself!

Celebrating your birthday is the greatest act of self love and recognition.  It is not something to shrink away from, or undermine.  It is the marking of the day you were brought into the world, this plane of consciousness, into the lives of your family and friends.  It’s the day your destiny was written, your fate was laid before you, and your dharma was decided.  It is a day for great celebration, thanks, and appreciation.

Because of a ridiculous media we are afraid to age, running for creams and feeling ourselves saddened by an ever increasing number.  Instead inhale all the beauty that surrounds you! Do not worry about lines on your face or marital status, bank account or “criteria” of “success”.  Each year is a new year for change, transformation, growth, compassion and peace.  The deepness of your laugh lines, the crinkles that form around our eyes, these reflect the story of your life! The experiences that have brought us the life we are living, the people we are.  High school, college, making friends  and perhaps growing apart from each other, or becoming closer with each passing moment; love and broken hearts, parties, loneliness, depression, jubilation, births and deaths.  LIFE.

Please always and today respect the life you have, the joy you bring and the joy you can create.  You have been blessed with a miracle; you are a miracle.

No matter where you may find yourself as another birthday comes your life, your heart, and your journey is always something to be celebrated.

Happy Birthday! Namaste!

inspired by sunshine burst, Tarynne Mingione’s, beautiful birthday yoga class in the jungle

About a year or two into my yoga path, I woke up one morning and realized I had lost about 40 to 50 pounds. Not only that, but I have maintained that weight loss (95%) effortlessly and (100%) naturally.

I didn’t lose weight because I felt unattractive, or that I had a problem.  In fact, I didn’t start yoga to lose weight.  I started yoga because my mind was a mess, and I needed something to bring relief.

The weight fell off because I was not concentrating on how much I disliked my thighs or having to fit into a dress.  Instead I was concentrating on cultivating love and peace for myself, and inadvertently ended up learning how to communicate deeply with my body.  I eat for pleasure and for nourishment, I eat what my body asks me to.

Below are 10 ideas that I always keep in mind to maintain my healthy relationship with food.

  • Learn body communication.  This can come from yoga practice, but it doesn’t have to.  Just start to talk to your stomach.  Acknowledge when you are full, acknowledge when you are hungry.  When you are hungry, eat; when you are full, stop.  I know this sounds easier said than done but like everything, it takes practice.  Soon, when your belly is full you’ll be so acutely aware your stomach’s status, have no qualms about not having dessert.
  • The foods we crave are always available. Remember that whatever you may be craving will always be available to you!  If you are full, why have something that you won’t even taste or enjoy?  You can always have cake, it is not necessary to have it when you know you’ve had enough. When you are actually hungry, junk food, all food tastes 1000 times better.
  • Eat for the right reasons. When we eat out of boredom or emotionally, we are looking for satisfaction that cannot be achieved with food.  So one, we give into the craving and want of the mind, only to (after we’ve finished our treat) realize we haven’t found what we were seeking.  We are not satisfied, we just want more, and then if we do choose to indulge many of us beat ourselves up.  Instead try to drink something healthy, like water or tea, and find a distracting activity.  You may be surprised how quickly you forget about the kitchen.
  • Do not use food as comfort or reward.  When we correlate unhealthy food with a bad day or a reason to celebrate we are doing ourselves a huge disservice.  If you had a bad day meditate, go to yoga, ask a friend to drinks, take a bubble bath. Ice cream has nothing to do with sadness or experiencing said sadness.  If you had a great day or have something to celebrate, celebrate properly!  Plan a dinner with friends, drink champagne- because then it’s about socializing, the enjoyment of food and the community it builds, not saying “I can have this because I did something good”.
  •  PAUSE!! The concept of the pause is impactful in all areas of our lives; as far as food is concerned it is very powerful.

1. The other day I was not hungry and at my friend’s house, she ordered probably the most delicious pizza I have ever seen.  I sat next to her as she opened it, the kitchen full of others ready to attack, and my first thought was GET A PLATE! My second thought was take a pause , so I did.  My body asked for hot water with lemon, and that’s what I had.

2. The second aspect of the pause comes into play is when there is deep hunger. Finally, the food is on the table and we jump into it like we haven’t eaten…ohhh ever.  When we do this, we don’t even taste what we’re eating.  When it’s time to eat take the time arrange your plate (very important step!), make sure you’re comfortable and take just one deep breath. You’ll enjoy your food more, and you’ll feel like you’ve actually eaten. This is especially true of junk food.

  • Do not deprive.  Sometimes I will think about something unhealthy for weeks before I actually eat it. Not because I’m trying to deny myself, but because it’s not what my body wants. I never eat unhealthy until my body is ready; because that’s the only time it tastes good.  This is another reason opening body communication is so vital (and I believe one of the main reasons to begin a yoga practice) when you want a cheeseburger, you know you want it. When you want kale, you know you want it. I eat what my body tells me too, and I eat everything. I never feel deprived.
  • Get back on track. If you gain weight, just get back on track.  When I got home from New Orleans I had gained weight.  When I realized this I didn’t panic, I didn’t place myself on a diet, I didn’t restrict my food intake, and I didn’t say I need to lose 10 pounds.  I simply allowed myself to get back on track.  That means eating what my body was asking for (which was greens and lean protein, in an effort to come back into balance) and providing the exercise I, my body, craved.
  • Find balance.  You have control, not the food.  I’ve noticed when people have a night of nachos and beer,  they often wake up the next morning to bacon, egg, and cheese.  Don’t tell yourself the narrative of “I’ve been so bad, might as well continue!” instead realize there’s no such thing as being  “bad” when it comes to food, just unbalanced, and  instead take the moment to make a healthy choice.  Have an apple, have a delicious smoothie, move on.  When we stop thinking, and start doing without regarding how we look or a number on scale our relationship with food and weight becomes much easier because we learn how to be balanced.
  • Start cooking!!  Ordering out, no matter how healthy the restaurant, just does not grant the same opportunities.  One of my greatest discoveries was the idea that I can cook things that taste like junk food (this is very important when you are changing your eating habits) but are actually very healthy.  Make quinoa with turkey sausage or roast beef, onions, garlic and melty cheese (whatever kind you like) and you’ll forget about the cheese steak.
  • Exercise! I never thought I’d crave going to the gym, I almost failed high school because of a class by the same name.  But once you start conversing with your body, it almost becomes impossible NOT to exercise.  Experiment and find something that works for you.  When we provide our body with physical activity it is much easier to make the proper eating choices.  Health habits produce more healthy habits!

This all takes patience,  practice and honoring that it is not about how you look.  As soon as you start putting food and exercise in the context of looks, it will become difficult.  This is about how you feel, taking care of yourself, and loving your body as the self.  This is not a list of tips to get ready for a bikini (there is no such thing, any body is ready for a bikini—all bodies should feel the warmth of the sun on every inch of skin possible) this is about being healthy, finding balance, and being kind to yourself.  This is about your happiness and health, nothing more-nothing less.

Namaste!

Something very, very beautiful and divine led me to this recipe.I’ve never roasted mushrooms before, I haven’t even had mushrooms in my fridge for as long as I can remember, but a little miracle in the back of my mind knew this would be a great idea, and that it was exactly what I had been craving that evening. Don’t you love it when that happens?

I cannot even begin to tell you how succulent, savory, and electrifyingly mouth-watering these mushrooms are. I couldn’t even believe what was going on when I was eating them. The entire process took 20 minutes, and couldn’t have been easier. I had these with sauteed kale, and lemon quinoa with kidney beans. Delish!

These roasted mushrooms are also the veggie equivalent of steak, so if you are craving some red meat but want to stay vegan, this is is a fantastic substitute. Juicy and melt in your mouth.Also, lets not discount the health magic of mushrooms — super high in potassium (about as much as one medium banana!), anti viral, good for your skin, gut, and even may be beneficial with HIV (oyster mushrooms) and cancer patients (reishi, among others). There’s no good reason to keep these babies off your plate!

roasted mushrooms with carmelized onions 

recipe adapted from Smitten Kitchen

1 pound of whole mushrooms (bella, crimini, or white)

1/2 white onion, finely chopped

2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped

2 TBs of Olive Oil

3 TBs of Balsamic Vinegar

Salt and white Pepper

Juice of half a lemon

Fresh parsley, about 1TB, finely chopped

Preheat oven to 450 degrees with the rack in the middle.

Wash mushrooms thoroughly, pat dry. Lay in a baking sheet. Chop onion and garlic, spread over the mushrooms. Brush the olive oil and balsamic vinegar over the mushrooms and give the pan a good shake to ensure that everything has a nice coating. Salt and pepper your mushrooms really well.

Pop them in the oven and bake for 15-20 minutes, giving them an occasional stir along the way.Once mushrooms are out of the oven, squeeze the juice of half a lemon onto the mushrooms and sprinkle with the fresh parley. Serve immediately with brown rice, quinoa, some sauteed kale — or with steak! Whatever your heart desires.

The other morning, I woke up feeling very depressed and low. Laying in bed, I contemplated how I was going to pull myself through the day ahead. I felt my familiar patterning rise up, and the thoughts started to flood in. Panic about why I was depressed, how long it would last, and what I should do for it. I felt scared to move, as though I would irrevocably shift something in myself for the worst. My mind flashed through scenarios of calling out of work, laying in bed all day, just to make myself feel better. The feeling was a true emptiness, with a hollow feeling in my chest. And then I felt a shift in my perception that happened so quickly it felt like light speed.

Once I noticed and named the feeling of a hole in my chest, it took me out of my head and into my body. My depression was living in that hollow, in that place in my body. I started scanning, breathing deeply, and acting as my own private investigator without locking into my thoughts (which are never necessarily the truth), and without locking into story (“there’s something wrong with me”).

Is any of this a familiar scenario for you?

We can reverse what seems like a tidal wave of emotion by taking a sacred pause, and removing ourselves from our spiraling thought patterns and the “story” of whatever we are going through in the present moment. Regardless of whether it is anger, fear, depression, or any other unpleasant feeling, we can begin to respond wisely and most effectively with this shift from our thoughts to our bodies.

Emotions are alive; they live in our cells, take root in our physical bodies, and the information to decode our shifts in mood can be found there, not in our thoughts.

As soon as I made this shift the other morning and began to intuitively investigate what I was feeling, it became clear to me that this depression was not stemming from any glaring primary life issue. In other words, there were no secret skeletons lurking in my closet that were subconsciously causing me to have this dull feeling. Once that had been established, I remembered that I had been eating pretty irresponsibly over the last few days, on top of not having done any physical movement recently, or having spent time outside. As I am sensitive to these things, especially because I have hypoglycemia, I felt very relieved to have come to some sort of active conclusion! I could do something about this!

This is the gorgeous price of taking the effort to bounce out of our thoughts, and into our gut — we get wise, useful answers at a much quicker rate than we would if we allowed ourselves to hop on the wild brain express train.

My wise investigator wrote a prescription for fresh fruits and veg, tons of water, a hefty dose of Vitamin D, and moving my body around — and I filled it post hast. Two hours later, I had a total 180 in my mood that was so extreme it was surprising. I was teeming with energy and joy. I had made a beautiful smoothie, took 5000 ius of Vitamin D, did some yoga, and got outside in the unseasonably warm sunshine for a long time.

The slump I was feeling truly was all nutritionally activated. And I don’t know if I ever would have assumed that had I not dug deep and gotten present with myself that morning. I believe that I would have spiraled down with my thoughts and assumed that my depression was here to stay.

Of course, sometimes unlocking our negative emotions requires more than just some fresh produce and sunshine. Sometimes we learn what we need to do in pieces, rather than in one big burst, and there may be thorny patches along the way. And things can change rapidly. I woke up this morning with a similar feeling to the other day, albeit much milder, and upon intuitively investigating, found that I was feeling very fearful about two areas in my life, which I handled with a totally different approach today — filled a totally new prescription.

When you wake up with a negative thought, or feeling in your body — pause. Take a sacred pause, breathe deeply, and become objective and compassionate with yourself.

“I recognize that I am feeling some real fear here,” or “I see that I am suffering”. Really be there for yourself, name what is true.

Go into your body. Try to breathe and melt into your care, and then do your best Sherlock Holmes: Where is the fear, or sadness, or anger? Does it live in the bones around your eyebrows and eyes? Does it live in your belly? In your chest? Go into the hollow ache, or the pain, or the tension, and continue to name what is true. Continue to investigate. What does it feel like to see the world through that ache?

What lives there? Are you unhappy with an aspect of your life? A relationship? Your job? Lack thereof?

How have you been eating? Have these feelings been coming up recently on repeat for you? Are you hydrated? Well fed? Research emotional responses to dietary allergies — perhaps you have a food intolerance and you don’t even realize it. (It is quite common for people with gluten intolerances to have depression as a result of consuming gluten, for instance.)

What can you do for yourself at this moment? Can you send love and compassion to yourself? Can you begin to fill your prescription? Will it take time, or is it something that can bring relief within hours, or even minutes.

There are powerful messages in what seem like our darkest corners, and our most fearful places can hold the most light. We can begin to feel empowered, and such a wonderful sense of pride when we show up for ourselves in this way —  anxiety and depression can be so disempowering, and by doing this, we are taking back our power. Doing this kind of checking in with ourselves promotes calm, peace, self care, self care, and self confidence, and best of all, it usually means that this icky feelings dont stick around as often as they might have before. I was so proud of myself both of those mornings, because I did not choose to assume that the mental unpleasantness I was feeling was permanent or random. It doesn’t have to be! Begin to develop a gentle practice of intuitively, curiously, and objectively diving under the waves, and feel your life begin to change.

I have a great affinity for crystals.

The first time I went to a Reiki Master, she placed some on my body and in each hand. At the end of our session she told me the beautiful piece of clear quartz I was holding wanted to stay with me, and that I should keep it. It was then that I first truly felt the intense power, energy, and healing qualities crystals boast. Beautiful, magnificent raw pieces of the EARTH, crystals possess the energy of our great planet and mother.

As Carl Sagan said, “we are all star stuff”; when we fully digest and hear his words interactions with crystals become very poignant, and attuning to the abilities they possess becomes easy. They are Earth, we are Earth.

I’ve made a list of some of my favorite crystals, their properties, and the capacity for healing they offer. If you choose to go buy some for yourself, allow them to call to you–you’ll know which one to pick! The type of crystal that reverberates with you may not be on my list, but those are the ones to befriend!

It’s vital that you charge and clean your crystals of old energies. The only crystal that does not pick up or store negative energy is citrine. To re-charge your crystals place them outside, preferably a night under a full moon; the warmth of the sun is extremely cleansing as well.

clear quartz-Known as the “master healer” this crystal cleanses the soul. It will accept any unnecessary, stagnant, or negative energies you may be holding onto; because of this it is extra important to be diligent about re-charging it. If you are trying to clear the cobwebs or release long held sadness or anger, clear quartz is a wonderful choice. My clear quartz is the crystal my reiki master gifted to me, and it still brings me great comfort. I hold onto this guy when I am cloudy and feeling dark; my clear quartz always generously and graciously accepts my negative energy and it always helps me immensely. Sahasrara (crown) Chakra

rose quartz- Rose quartz is the stone of universal love; it works to replace negativity with the gentle forces of peace and harmony. Rose quartz brings about deep emotional purification, and helps release any long rooted negative energies that hinder happiness, peace, and grace. This stone encourages us to be love and is very useful when trying to cultivate compassion and rid yourself of unproductive anger. Sometimes I just have to hold onto my rose quartz or place it on my heart and I think it’s always a good idea to have a nice chunk of this rock in your home. Also a beautiful and considerate present for an expectant mother because it will protect the health of her and her baby. Anahata (heart) Chakra

moonstone-Moonstone is absolutely vital in my life. I’m not sure where I found the moonstone ring I have worn for at least 10 years, it just seems it appeared on my finger one day and never left, but I am sure that I always feel safer and more capable when I have it on. Moonstone is especially important to me because of its great sacred feminine energy; it is the stone of Diana the Moon Goddess and I highly recommend all women wear this rock as much as possible, if not everyday. This stone, each of which relfects its owner and is the most personal of those listed, brings good fortune in love and business and promotes intution and inspiration. It’s excellent for meditation because it helps us to know ourselves, aiding in discerning our wants from our needs and is a great catalyst for growth, emotional strength and empowerment. If you suffer from sleepless nights, moonstone is a comforting crystal to place under your pillow as it will grant you deep rest. Svadhisthana (water) Chakra

blue aragonite- This is absolutely one of the most healing stones I have ever encountered. Just looking at it brings a sense of cooling calm; its color vibrant and comforting all at the same time. Blue aragonite opens both the heart and throat chakras helping us to to express ourselves clearly and kindly, and to hear, interpret and communicate with our divinity and spirituality. Bringing forth compassion in thought and speech, it alleviates wounding caused by emotional abuse. Blue aragonite is also great for pranayama, because it stimulates the lungs. I’m obsessed with my blue aragonite, and hold it very dear. It is another stone I often find I want to rest on my heart. Visuddha(throat)/Anahata/Sahasrara Chakras*

black tourmaline-I have a special affinity for black tourmaline because my yogi sister created the most beautiful chakra necklace for me, and at the bottom, heavy- protecting- throbbing with magnetic Earth energy- is a chunk of beautiful black tourmaline. Before she had sent me my necklace I hadn’t come in contact with this amazing piece of what feels like pure center of the earth, upon receiving my necklace I asked her “what is this stone?!” that feels so energetically dense and pure at the same time. Black tourmaline repels negativity and dark energies, and is also a great stone for extra sensitive people to carry. Attuning with tourmaline will help you better understand others and yourself, enhance your self-confidence and energy, and diminish your fears. Black tourmaline attracts inspiration, compassion, tolerance and prosperity and releases tension while removing blockages. Carrying tourmaline yields grounding, serenity, understanding, objectivity, compassion and happiness. It is an extraordinarily powerful stone, and I highly recommend getting to know a piece and keeping some in your home. Muladhara (root) Chakra

I hope you’ll take the time to explore crystals and all they can offer you. Although at first it may seem a bit esoteric, remember that they are made from the same materials we are. These easily accessible, breathtakingly dazzling pieces of Earth, of portable planet, can attune to your body in ways many other aspects of this world can not, acting as a catalyst for great healing and the creation of space for joy, peace, love, comfort, stability, and harmony. They are a transcendent and gorgeous phenomenon that remind us of the mystery, complexity, and swirling beauty that exists in our universe and that is of our Mother Earth. “We are all star stuff”.

namaste!

Ohhhhh, the ego.

As our spirituality deepens with our practice, yogis learn that one of the aims of the ancient tradition is to “break down” the ego. When we begin to explore this idea, we feel and see the limitless liberation that releasing the ego holds!

As I’ve mentioned before, I used to be SO angry. The slightest bump on the street, a friend not responding in the way I wanted , someone else’s joy (hard to admit but true!) could bring on anything from a frenzied and impulsive “f**k you!” to days of dark sadness that were steeped in being imprisoned by my mind.

I must always mention that asana is a vital part of a yoga practice, and for me, life practice- because it is on the mat we allow our fire to burn. Many of us contain old negative energy; when you practice the physical postures of yoga you allow this toxicity to be burned up and released with the breath, making room for prana or life force.

If you do not have an asana practice it is still very possible to work on quieting the ego’s perception of a situation so that YOU can assess the reality much more effortlessly, able to respond with clarity and kindness.

The ego is the voice inside that screams ME! ME! I! I! So of course when it is out of whack we are going to take personal offense if we’re bumped on the sidewalk or cut in line. The ego screams, “THIS IS ABOUT ME!” but the thing is, of course it isn’t! That person may have someone they love in the hospital, a headache, just gotten fired, or maybe just inconsiderate; regardless it is not up to us to judge or chastise- we are just one of the same divinity that the “other” is from. If you are at a party and someone takes the last piece of cake you wanted, it is unfair to say “that was a direct assault on ME”—they are just existing, havin’ some cake! When you guide your perception in this direction, YOU will live more calmly with much less unnecessary agitation.

The other day my ego got in the way when one of my best friends was in a bad mood. She clearly communicated she was having a hard day and that she felt off, and I kept needling her for attention and feeling rejected, angry, and sad when I was rebuffed. On the way home I started a conversation with myself, and realized that not only was I being a bad friend in not providing her comfort on a bad day, but it was unfair for me to expect her to behave the way I needed her to, because that’s what I needed. She needed some chill understanding and a little peace from other peoples’ (including my) needs and wants. I decided to apologize to her for being nasty. She wrote back kindly, again expressing she was a bummed out and that really, she hadn’t even noticed because she was dealing with her own troubles.

If I had let my ego dictate my actions, I would be punished with feelings of anxiety, anger, and resentment and our awesome friendship would have been impacted; instead I’m looking forward to seeing her and I feel great. Plus, my ego had created a problem and tension between us that to her did not exist. Because I was trapped in my ego I could not see clearly and was on the verge of starting a fight. When I made the effort to clear at least some of the ego clouds that were impeding my perception I was able to quickly remedy a situation that would have only caused me great stress in innumerable ways. I had nothing to do with her mood one way or the other. It’s vital not to become trapped in the ol’ “the world revolves around me”; when we live in this space we decide “they” must be acting that way in some reaction to “me”. I cannot stress enough how important to it is to remember this is usually not the case! If you believe that it is however, you’ll live with a lot of anxiety, regret, and self-doubt.

We have the choice to create the relationships and life that we want. We must love ourselves and not look to others for validation; we do this through asana practice and swadhyaya. We must discern ego from pride (which when balanced manifests as self-love and self-respect), and take responsibility for the role we play in our interactions with others and ourselves. We must take the “I” out of the way to release ourselves from so much unnecessary anger, drama, sadness, anxiety, fear, depression etc.

Life is a gift; do not undermine yourself or your great power! Choose to live beautifully and happily!