Spring Ahead


“A single gentle rain makes the grass many shades greener. So our prospects brighten on the influx of better thoughts. We should be blessed if we lived in the present always, and took advantage of every accident that befell us, like the grass which confesses the influence of the slightest dew that falls on it; and did not spend our time in atoning for the neglect of past opportunities, which we call doing our duty. We loiter in winter while it is already spring. “
“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”

The first quote, excerpted from Walden, Henry David Thoreau’s inspiring account of the year he spent living on Walden Pond in 1845, still resonates over 165 years later. The second is attributed to George Santayana (1863-1952), a Spanish philosopher, essayist, poet, and novelist born Jorge Agustín Nicolás Ruiz de Santayana y Borrás. While it may seem to be in direct contrast to Thoreau’s, we find them to be like peanut butter and chocolate – highly complementary.

Thoreau advises us to live in the present always. Santayana reminds us to remember our past to avoid repeating it. We can only surmise that living in the past would be equally upsetting for both of them – Thoreau because of the missed opportunity to move forward from our past and to Santayana because the only fate that may be worse than repeating our past is to relive it day after day after day.

Spring is in the air, dear yogis, it’s time to spring ahead.


Where would intention be without inspiration? If intention is the fire then inspiration is the spark. Simply put, inspiration is the people, places and things that trigger a response in the form of ideas, actions or feelings. Inspiration can come in as many varied forms as what it inspires you to do, or not do. Strange that in a practice where we are told from our very first class that yoga is an inner journey, we draw so much of our inspiration from the external world. Of course those of us caught up in the external world and all its trappings can take heart in the irony of this!

Svadhyaya is one of the niyamas (non-restraints or obervances) in Patanjali’s yoga sutras. The sutras can be thought of as a “how to” of the practice of yoga. Classically defined as study of the sacred texts, svadhyaya is also taken to mean self-inquiry or self-study. When we take a step outside of ourselves to simply observe, we can get great insight into our emotions, thoughts and actions. This insight is critical to our inner journey— when we cast a discerning and non-judgemental eye on ourselves we find out what makes us tick, what inspires us to do and be more, even what “un-inspires” us to do and be “less.”

According to the yogic texts, at some point we can transcend the distractions of the outside world, even the “good” distractions. Maybe we’ll get there some day but for now, give us that inspiring song, that person that overcomes the odds, that something that leads us to do better things, be better people, to lead an inspired life.

Here are some of the things inspiring us these days:
Sarah Kay: If I should have a daughter…Poem Only

Sarah Kay: If I should have a daughter…Poem and Full Talk
J Mac – A Hoop Dream
Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros – Home live @ KCRW

Nick Vujicic: Life without Limbs
Matt Cutts – Try Something New for 30 days
Amma Hugging the World
Sigur Ros’ Festival – one video version
Sigur Ros’ Festival – second video version

Watch James Franco in 127 Hours. This song alone is worth it!

What inspires you?



Image adapted from Mitch Ditkoff’s blog called the Heart of the Matter.
He excerpted the image from Innerlink.

Intention is a course of action that one intends to follow, an aim that guides action, an objective. It brings meaning and power to our actions and leads us toward our goals. We mostly do this on autopilot—we eat to satisfy our hunger, we sleep to satisfy our need for rest, we work to earn a living, and life goes on. And nothing is wrong with this. And everything is wrong with this.

Why am I here? What is my purpose? The Dalai Lama would tell you, “To be happy and to make others happy.” A biologist would tell you to sleep, excrete and reproduce. In this life we are afforded the opportunity to explore these very questions. Intention is a powerful vehicle that enables you to find answers through your thoughts, words and actions. Your intention is your purpose, in this moment, in your life. Understand your intention and you understand your purpose. Set your intention and you set your purpose. Change your intention and you change your purpose.

Intention without the “I” is Karma Yoga, the yoga of action and selfless service. When our actions are guided from a place that is self-less, we start to find contentment with our Self-more.

In medicine, primary intention is the healing together of the edges of clean, closely opposed wound edges. Acting passionately from a place of right, true and pure intention brings about profound healing. The intention that guides our actions is our own spiritual suture, sealing, uniting and ultimately, making us whole.
May your actions align with your intentions. May your intentions align with your heart.


May I be at one

With the various parts of myself.
So that mind and heart work together.
So that the conversations in my head
Form a choir in perfect harmony.
So that what I do is supported by my
Heart’s desire
Like a shadow dancing behind a child
At play.
To be connected to the world,
Inspired by the sun and the wind.
To realize that every breath is a gift
And every blizzard has its place.
To be embraced by love for the people in my life.
So there is no fear, no suspicion, no separation
There is only love.
– Excerpted from God Whispers by Karyn D Kedar


Indian Corn 2 by Alessandra Cimatti. You can use this link to see this and her other work.

This is the time of year where no one should go hungry. Though the large majority of us have the means to keep ourselves well fed, we hunger for something more. Whether it’s familial, material, spiritual or just a sense that something’s missing, this “lack of” manifests itself as anything from mild hunger pangs in the form of dissatisfaction or “not feeling right” to an insatiable growling of envy, depression or needless striving. Some of us stuff ourselves with material items believing they can fill that void, others move briskly from quick fix to quick fix never realizing that all this movement is like eating sugar – it may seem sweet going in, but it leaves us over stimulated and ultimately unsatisfied. Paradoxically, through our continued consumption we end up bloated and undernourished.

Through this whole process, this never ending meal called life, we forget how much we already have, how little we truly need and most of all, to be thankful. Gratitude is comfort food; it sticks to our ribs and satiates us. Gratitude certainly won’t solve all of our problems and it does not mean “bad” things won’t happen to us, but it does help us to appreciate what we do have, and it’s usually much more than we thought. When thankfulness enters our consciousness, contentedness can follow. It’s with this in mind that we encourage you to give thanks for the abundance in your life. Pull up to the table for some down-OM cookin’ and dig in!

Love After Love
by Derek Walcott

The time will come
when, with elation
you will greet yourself arriving
at your own door, in your own mirror
and each will smile at the other’s welcome,
and say, sit here. Eat.
You will love again the stranger who was your self.
Give wine. Give bread. Give back your heart
to itself, to the stranger who has loved you
all your life, whom you ignored
for another, who knows you by heart.
Take down the love letters from the bookshelf,
the photographs, the desperate notes,
peel your own image from the mirror.
Sit. Feast on your life.

Fall Back

It was with a mix of dread and gratitude that we prepared to set our clocks back one hour this past Sunday morning–gratitude for the extra hour of sleep and dread at the prospect of losing an hour of daylight each evening. There is something profound and fascinating about setting our clocks back– we are in essence traveling through time, taking a trip one hour into the past and re-living the hour between 1 and 2 AM. Many of us pass the time in sleep, but even so, you are making the trip back in time. In this manner most of us view our time travel as relegated to two trips per year – we spring ahead and fall back. In actuality, we are all veteran time travelers – consistently reliving our past or playing out the future.

Mental time travel can be a healthy exercise. It may provide us with life lessons and help us to make better choices in our current circumstances. At the same time, we sometimes set the dial to past or future events and get ourselves stuck– attached to the past or the future and as a result we are unable to fully experience the present. Whether it’s regret, anticipation or pain, pain being the absence of something pleasurable previously or yet to be experienced, every moment spent there is time away from here, and here is the only place to Be.

So what to do? We can’t buy being present in a bottle, though someone will certainly try to sell that to you. Being present starts with you and your practice, whatever that practice is- asana, meditation or living your yoga off the mat. Each of these practices offers you a means to move more fully into the moment, to focus and at the same time “go with the flow.” Be mindful, pay attention and be vigilant. It’s never too late to get started, in fact, there’s no time like the present.

Don’t let your soul get lonely child
It’s only time, it will go by
Don’t look for love in faces, places
It’s in you, that’s where you’ll find kindness
Be here now
– Ray LaMontagne

Trick or Treat

October is a month that culminates in trick or treating but it certainly has its share of tricks and treats along the way. One day we’re blessed with warm weather and the prospect of a return to summer while the next morning we’re met by our own breath, visible right there in front of us. Our first reaction may be to shout “TRICK!” as if Mother Nature were teasing us, but upon further reflection, what a TREAT to be greeted by our breath– to have this nutrient and energy filled force that keeps us alive take on a life of its own.

In our practice on the yoga mat we use ujjayi pranayama, translated as victorious breath, to bring warmth to our bodies, grace to our postures and focus to our minds. In our practice off the mat our breathing can have an equally powerful and profound impact on how we handle the tricks and treats we are met with each day– a few full breaths can be a cure-all for anxiety, stress, anger or a wandering mind.

In our asana practice (yoga postures) there will be times when we flow, aligning our movements with our breath and ultimately, letting the breath move us. At other times we hold postures, using our inhales and our exhales to explore the forms more fully, to keep energy circulating, allow ourselves to open and to more deeply experience each asana. There’s no reason that this can’t translate to our life experiences, whether it’s to go with the flow or to work with or through a particular event, experience or situation with complete attention.

It would be an oversimplification to say that life is filled with tricks and treats – the truth is, life’s tricks often turn out to be treats and the opposite holds just as true. Perhaps that’s where breath plays its most vital role– in a world we have little control over, we hold great sway and control over how we breathe– we have the ability to breathe more fully or to soften our breathing.

As unpredictable as life may be, breath is our constant–we inhale, we exhale, we inhale, we exhale…we keep on breathing…and we keep on living.

“When you were born, your whole body breathed. Every cell quivered with the vitality of breath. Every bone, muscle, and organ moved with every breath. Every nerve was energized by it, every blood cell carried it, and every moment took as its meter the phrasing of your breath. Today, most of us have forgotten what it feels like to breath fully and wholly with the vitality of the newborn infant. We have forgotten this but we have not lost it. In reclaiming the fullness of our breathing we also reclaim many other dimensions of our lives.”
– Donna Farhi, excerpted from The Breathing Book

Enough. These few words are enough.
If not these words, this breath.
If not this breath, this sitting here.
This opening to the life
we have refused
again and again
until now.
Until now.

David Whyte, Where Many Rivers Meet

Hope, Ten Years Later

September 11, 2011

May I be at one
With the various parts of myself.
So that mind and heart work together.
So that the conversations in my head
Form a choir in perfect harmony.
So that what I do is supported by my
Heart’s desire
Like a shadow dancing behind a child
At play.
To be connected to the world,
Inspired by the sun and the wind.
To realize that every breath is a gift
And every blizzard has its place.
To be embraced by love for the people in my life.
So there is no fear, no suspicion, no separation
There is only love.

– From God Whispers, by Karyn D. Kedar

I read this piece to start the first class I taught after September 11, 2001. Four days had passed and sorrow, despair, anger, confusion, hatred and emptiness were still having their way with me. Everything about that day was still fresh and so surreal– getting the news in my office, just blocks away from the UN; walking across town to Penn Station as black and gray fumes billowed into the sky. More so than hysteria, there was heaviness in everyone and everything on the street. Even waiting outside of an evacuated Penn Station with my sister-in-law, there was a feeling of disbelief and not knowing what to do next, as if a total stranger walked up and stabbed you in the arm. We were just three weeks away from the birth of our first child and this was the world we were bringing her into?!?

Having turned my own practice up a notch to try to burn out what was going on in my head and heart, I was looking forward to teaching that morning. But how would I start? What would or could I say? There was no logical, rational or yogic way to explain the events of that fateful Tuesday. Even if I could, that would be an explanation for me, everyone had been affected differently. The last thing I wanted to do was appear preachy, superior or detached—or as if I had it all under control—especially since I simply didn’t.

In the liner notes of his album, Mantrica, Anant Jesse writes “Words can only point towards the truth. In silence, truth reigns!” A moment of silence to give each person the opportunity to discover his or her own truth would be perfect. Yet I’d been sitting silently each day and not only hadn’t the truth come, but sitting had been anything but silent. A moment of silent reflection would certainly be part of how I started, but was there anything more that could be said?

It would make for a great story if an inner voice had called out, telling me to turn to page 92 of Karyn Kedar’s book that morning or if it had magically been placed on the table, opened to that passage. To be honest, I can’t remember if it was the first or the thirty-first book I had looked through, but I immediately knew it was right. After a week in which everything had been turned upside down, it spoke to the one thing in my life I could still control—myself. And even then, the voice was more endearing than commanding—May I be at one with the various parts of myself…
I shared the piece that morning, with my voice breaking at the end. We practiced that morning in a swirl of emotion, energy, reflection and spirit. I continue to start my class each September 11th with that same reading.

The four days turned into four years and the four years into ten. Next month our daughter, Caitlin, will turn ten. Our second daughter, Ella, just turned five. As any parent will tell you about their own kids, they are simply extraordinary.

Ten years removed from 9/11, the world is a different place. We’ve got alerts all the colors of the rainbow, heightened airport security and certainly don’t look at that unattended bag or car quite the same way we used to. We have more people involved in practices such as yoga and volunteerism than ever before. Just as we came together in the days that followed 9/11, that sense of community continues even now. For better and worse, we’re starting to open our eyes and wake up.

I suppose I’ll never fully reconcile those events, nor can I deny that fear, hate and anger will overshadow love at times in my life. That’s part of being human.

Striving to be at one with the various parts of myself, to connect to the world, to realize every breath is a gift and that every blizzard, or hurricane, or the next disaster of manmade or Divine creation has its place—that’s part of being whole. And in that place, there is only Love.
It is my sincerest hope that we may find this place together.


Breaking Through

Walls can serve varied and opposing functions in our lives– protecting us from the outside world, providing us something to lean on and at times, obstructing us and keeping us from getting where we need to go. When travelling the road toward liberation, fortify the walls that provide support and structure; tear down those that act as obstructions and obstacles. You may find you need to go over, under or around the wall today, only for it to block your path again tomorrow. Keep at it, unwavering, and you just may find yourself breaking through…

The Wall
I built a wall around my house
to keep out strangers and protect my things.
I built a wall around my eyes
to shield myself from images of destruction and suffering.
But then I couldn’t see the sun,
or birds, or babies or anything, really.

So I put in a window.
I built a wall around my ears
to keep out the harsh words of criticism,
the sounds of traffic and shouting,
The wails of pain all around me.
But then I couldn’t hear the birds,
or laughter,
or the wind rustling the trees.

So I opened my window.
I built a wall around my heart
so I couldn’t be hurt,
to repel the arrows of rejection.
But then I couldn’t love.
So I poked my head out the window,
and called out to a stranger.
We talked for hours.

I built a wall around my life,
to protect myself from failure,
to prevent anything bad from ever happening to me.
And I never failed and nothing bad ever happened to me.
In fact, nothing ever happened to me at all.

I became imprisoned by what was there to protect,
Shut in by what was supposed to keep out,
So I tore down the wall,
Stepped outside.
And started living.

The End of the World as We Know It

With everything made of the Mayan calendar and the end of the world on May 21, 2011, we are very pleased to say that with the exception of some Armageddon-like rain just before the clock was to run out, the evening passed without incident. The world did not come to an end, but still it begs the question—what are you going to do with all this time?
Knowing that our world can change in the blink of an eye—whether it’s a sudden event or the sudden realization that we’ve been on cruise control for the last five, ten, fifteen or fifty years- it’s time to recommit ourselves to living—experiencing the world with open eyes and a beginner’s mind. Replacing been there, done that with be here and do this and doing so with unbridled enthusiasm. Exchanging sleepwalking and settling for the status quo with forging forward and setting the bar high. Conquering our fear of failure with the confidence to know that if we do fail, we will have done so brilliantly.

That all sounds great, but let’s face it, at the end of the day (or the world) words are simply words and whether spoken, written or thought, actions make the strongest statement. So all we can say to that is ACT—no matter how big or seemingly small that action may be. Whether it’s getting to your mat each morning, saying a prayer for the world, buying local, donating your time, journaling, taking up a cause, connecting with family and friends, forging a new friendship, enjoying a guilty pleasure, meditating or taking that first step toward something you’ve been putting off for way too long, take that action as if your life depended on it. Because quite frankly, it does.

Mother’s Day

The very word “mother” conjures up images of nurturing, caring and providing for our loved ones. Mother represents strong and powerful feminine energy (shakti) that isn’t measured by how much it can get, but rather by how much it can give (and often, give up).

“We cannot do great things on this Earth, only small things with great love.”
– Mother Teresa

Motherhood is the ultimate practice of karma yoga, literally the “yoga of action.” The karma yogi acts selflessly, with no strings attached and is rewarded by breaking free of the chains of expectation, ego and waiting around for something in return. Of course, this isn’t always easy. We have all had our “after all I’ve done for you…” or “a thank you would be nice” moments. These moments don’t prevent us from being karma yogis or good mothers, they remind us that we’re human. And aren’t these the perfect opportunities to play the role of mother to ourselves?

Mother’s love? Love itself is Mother.
– Jillellamudi Mother

As nurturers and karma yogis, there is a mother in each and every one of you, female and male, adult and child, regardless of whether you have children of your own or not. We welcome you to make this day a celebration of ALL the mothers in your life and the mother in your Self.

The Inner Mother, whose true nature is infinitude and silence,
manifests visibly through this [external] body so that her children
have a glimpse of the Mother who is deep within.
– Ammachi