Monday, December 9, 2013

Meditation is so Scary

I don't blame you for not trying.  I mean, really.... Sitting down in a comfortable spot to try and clear your mind from a stressful and noisy day just to gain a little peace and quiet - terrifying, I know.

People need noise. Rather, people seem to need outside noise to distract them.  To distract them from what, you ask?  The noise in their own head.

Why do you turn your TV on?  For entertainment, sure. To relax? To numb out the rest of the world and do something "mindless?"

Believe it or not, you are filling your mind with just as much "noise" as when you were thinking about work on your afternoon commute home.

Sit still just for a minute. I don't care where you are.  If you are at work, close your eyes and breathe in. Just notice how long your inhale is - but don't change it. Breathe out and just recognize that you are breathing.  Now take an intentional inhale in, and make it a bit more audible by slightly closing off the back of your throat to make it sound like a wave.  Same for the exhale.  Now feel your belly expand on your next inhale and pause for a second at the top of your breath. Exhale, making it audible, feeling your core tighten as you push all the air out.  Pause at the end of the out-breath.  Open your eyes.  You were just consciously aware of your breath for a few moments in time.  In this moment.  Wasn't that scary?!?!!?

This simple tool is something you can do ANY time of day, ANY day of the week, ANYtime, ANYwhere.

Are you ever home alone and find yourself getting fidgety?  If you don't turn the TV on, you grab your phone and if you're sick of playing with apps or checking in on social media, you just have to call someone - just to find out what they're doing - or - to hear yourself talk.  Sound familiar?

We find it so boring to be by ourselves sometimes, and even more than that - scary.  Not so much that something is going to happen to us or that someone will do something to us but what the mind is actually capable of thinking or leading us to believe.

I have a friend who spends much of his time thinking about how he wants a different job opportunity to pop up so he can feel happy.  I have another friend who is always trying to fill up every minute of her calendar so she doesn't have to stay home alone.  I see people who worry about what might happen in a job situation or who are looking outside of themselves for some kind of fulfillment - and they look for distraction, a hobby, someone to hang out with to try and get their mind off of the stresses in their lives and on to something else - ANYthing - other than being by themselves.

I crave solitude.  I love when I have that rare opportunity when all is quiet around me when I wake up, or moments before I lay my head on my pillow.  Not that I don't love being around people - it's one of my favorite things.  I also don't mind watching TV once in a while if I think I will learn something from it or be entertained.  But to get an opportunity in the busyness of life to sit and be aware of your breath - which allows you to cultivate awareness - is something to value and to take advantage of.  Even if you are watching TV - try to be aware of why you are watching it.  Are you watching it to be entertained or to run from something in your mind?  If you're running, it's going to be right there again when the show or movie ends.

I was recently in a meditation class and the teacher invited us to talk about our experience with meditation at home.  I commented at how lucky I feel when I stop at a red light!  I invite you to try the above exercise on breathing the next time you are stopped at a red light or in a traffic jam...except...uhhh...don't close your eyes.  You will realize that you can use and come back to this tool at every moment during the day when your mind starts wandering and creating stories.

Meditation is a scary word.  But you can change the word if you want.  Just call it "Being aware of why you are doing something in this moment." Just call it "Being."

Jon Kabat-Zinn points it out clearly: "We tend to be particularly unaware that we are thinking virtually all the time."  Now liken this to an athlete or, if you are one, think about running for 3 days without stopping.  Think about swimming for a week without a break.  Your body needs rest.  In order for muscles to grow and be healthy, they need rest and nutrition.  Your mind needs rest.  Some people might think, "Well, yea, that's what sleeping is for!" But have you ever gone to bed thinking about something that is stressing you out, and then woken up thinking about that same thing?  Your mind didn't rest.

Kabat-Zinn likens this "mindstream" that is constantly flowing to a river.  Imagine you are caught up in this fast-flowing river that takes you places (in your mind) that are scary, fast-moving, dangerous. "Meditation means learning how to get out of this current, sit by its bank and listen to it, and then use its energies to guide us rather than to tyrannize us." Jon Kabat-Zinn

Next time you are not in traffic, try the above exercise again and if you notice a thought come up, just be aware of it - notice that it is a thought flowing in this noisy river - and just let it float by.  Tomorrow, try it again.  You'll notice that you'll start to be aware of the present moment in the strangest places - in traffic when someone cuts you off, at work when you're feeling stressed, when the kids are crying and you can't seem to get anything done.  Or, you might want to try a little of the Bad Boys Woosah technique - whatever works.  Just start to be aware of when you've disappeared to your own mind (Hello in there!) and that your breath is always there to bring you into the now.

Om Namah

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Gee - you, are You.

Remember when you were little and your mom or dad or caretaker said you have to brush your teeth?  At first you probably stuck the toothbrush in your mouth, moved it around a little, and yelled, "I brushed!"  There's nothing really exotic or entertaining about brushing your teeth, but then when you were forced to go to the dentist every year, and someone started poking at your mouth and telling you that "you have to brush your teeth" and "you will get cavities if you don't brush your teeth," at some point you started to listen.  You started to feel your teeth were cleaner.  You started to notice that your breath actually smells better when you consistently brush.  Believe it or not your immune system is healthier when you brush your teeth daily.

This metaphor is just one of the ways that David Ji explained how a daily routine of...let's call as beneficial to your body and mind, and as important, as brushing your teeth.

We could all use a daily dose of clarity, don't you think? You know that feeling you get sometimes when you wake up in the morning - that you never really got to relax after work - that you never really left work, at least in your head?  It would be so nice to feel a sense of ease and serenity in the morning as we open our eyes, and in the evening right before putting our heads on the pillow again.

David Ji taught me how to find 16 seconds of clarity. Think of something that's bothering you right now.  What is causing your tension? A project? A person?  Picture that thing or person in your mind.  Now close your eyes. Breathe in for four seconds.  Notice the empty space when you breathe in for four, just before you exhale for four seconds.  Now fill up your belly on an inhale for four seconds and pay attention to this breath. Again, notice the space at the top of your inhale. And now exhale for a final four.  For that 16 seconds, did you forget about that thing or person that was causing you tension? Exactly. (If you didn't, try that practice again.)

I had the opportunity to attend a Lululemon event where David Ji was the feature teacher.  He had a very simple way of telling us that you can find this clarity whenever you want, throughout each day, in every situation - as long as you include it in your daily routine, just like brushing your teeth.  Another exercise you can do, if you get bored with the above 16-second exercise in clarity, is to breathe in and fill your heart with love.  Fill it until it's brimming over with the energy of love.  Now exhale and send it to everyone in your family.  Fill it up again on an inhale and then exhale, sending it to all your friends.  Now breathe in, fill your heart up again and on the exhale, send it out to all your teachers - past, present, future, traditional teachers and everyone you've ever learned from.  Again, inhale, fill your heart, and send it to those with whom you have a grievance. Now fill it up again and send your exhale of love to every sentient being on this planet. Open your eyes.

Don't you feel better?

We tend to try and find happiness outside of ourselves.  The truth is - we have all the clarity and happiness we need, right there inside of us.  We just felt it, concentrating on our breath! The guru (our spiritual teacher, mentor) is already inside of us.  "After all," David Ji explains, "how do you spell guru? Gee - you are You!"

Try to schedule in 16 seconds of clarity into your routine - maybe in the seconds before you brush your teeth in the morning.  Try to schedule another 16 seconds before bed - and continue this while you lay in bed until you fall asleep.  Maybe these seconds will extend into minutes and you'll be amazed at the physical (and mental, and all-over) benefits you'll feel from adding this healthy practice to your day. 


Tuesday, August 20, 2013

A Yogini in Miami

My main squeeze, "El," and I have been talking about going on a "real" vacation.  A couple weeks ago we finally made that happen by taking a trip to Miami.  We mixed it in with a little bit of work, because we're both too ancy to just sit around for a whole week on the beach!
Palm Trees on South Beach.

After a VERY eventful morning at the airport (that's a whole other blog post) we finally made it to his friend's house where we met he and his wife and their lovely little girl, Victoria.

I could tell right away that Victoria was set in her ways.  She was also someone whose trust you had to win over first before she'd be your friend.  Victoria is 2 years old.

I quickly gained that trust when I very enthusiastically began reading some of her books to her, played "tea party" with her dolls and stuffed animals and kicked the soccer ball around.  She always wanted to play.  At one point, she jumped up on the ball for some reason, and before I could reach her, crashed to the ground.  She looked at me, my eyes wide, and just got up and brushed off.  I would have cried my eyes out.

One parent is very calm and quiet while the other is more animated.  However, during our entire stay, I never heard a voice raised once.  Victoria seemed to listen very intently and knew how to use her manners - and, spoke very eloquently - for a 2-year-old.

Later in the evening Victoria's mom (who was 4 months pregnant) and I wanted to escape the Miami heat while the boys caught up outside by the grill.  Victoria, naturally, came with us, and we began playing "ball" again, but this time, as it was late, I was trying to give mom a rest and encouraged Victoria to just sit and roll the ball with me, back and forth.  All of a sudden, she seemed to do this stretchy yoga pose, so of course I took the opportunity to show her a few more.

We stretched our legs out wide, straightened our hips, and leaned forward with our elbows on the ground: Upavistha Konasana.  We crossed our legs for a little Lotus pose.  We went on our bellies and stretched like a bow: Dhanurasana. We even did a twisted bow pose that I think we made up!  She wanted more.  I've tried to teach kids yoga before and a 10-minute attention span was all I got.  When I stopped for just a second, she was creating her own poses right before my eyes!

For the standing sequence we started with Vrksasana, the King of all standing poses, but quickly moved into lunges, revolved triangle and I think we even through in a Wild Thing!  I was thrilled.  Her momma was, too and we even practiced long enough for her proud Papa to see.

I didn't get to practice too much on this trip, but teaching a 2-year old who was psyched to learn some poses? That made it all worth it!  I'm sure she went right back to playing tea party with her Muppet, Bear and Ariel (yes, I believe those were the names) but just the thought of her retaining one little pose to practice when she's rolling around on the ground left me smiling the whole week.

It would've been too weird to ask to take a picture of a little girl I had just met doing yoga poses so you'll have to settle for this instead:

Our morning hotel view.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Love What You Do

I am never bored. I don't remember the last time I was bored, but I'm sure it was probably sometime in high school...and back then it probably wasn't really boredom whatsoever, but more so my mental chatter telling me that whatever I was doing at the moment (homework, chores, being home instead of out getting in trouble) was useless and I should be out discovering the world.

I'm a curious kid.  I remember hearing someone say in my youth, "You can't learn everything there is to know in this world - there's just too much!" and being determined to prove them wrong.  Of course that notion is ridiculous and we all "know what we know and don't know what we don't know".  Learning is endless.

Some of my biggest curiosities (this month) are about the kitchen. Cuisine. What we put in our bodies.  I'm hosting a vegan party in a few weeks and the reason is threefold: 1) my friend found out she is allergic to milk 2) my dad is a heart attack patient and teaching him how to eat healthy is important to me 3) I'm obsessed with learning new recipes.  Okay, and I'm a social butterfly who loves to have parties AND my garden is growing by the second - gotta do something with these veggies.

I like to use the vegetables that I know will come from the garden, and then search on awesome websites like and to see what others have come up with.  (Let me know your favorite summer recipes in the comments below!)

The other night I made squash-and-zucchini patties (omit the butter and make it healthier!) and stuffed mushrooms.  This morning I made a home-grown kale, avocado, date, banana, blueberry, coconut water, turmeric, cinnamon smoothie for breakfast and tonight I finished the day off with homemade tabbouleh and hummus. So yum!
All packed and ready to go!

Why is this post called "Love What You Do?"

For the past few weeks and months I have been working the day job, editing my CD, doing photo shoots, creating a wedding video (all coming soon to a computer near you), teaching yoga, and when I come home I read about doing all these things better and try to get my meditation and yoga practice on.  Oh yea....and visit my man, an hour away, once in a while...(sorry hunnie - I'll see you soon!).

But tonight I was so tired of the routine.  I didn't want to get on the computer again.  I didn't want to research or play my songs or edit videos or work on my taxes.  I just felt like creating in the kitchen.  So I chopped, I minced, I blended, I tasted, I blended some more, I added pinches and teaspoons...and in the end....S-A-T-I-S-F-A-C-T-I-O-N.  If you haven't noticed, or haven't tried yet, food tastes so much better when you pick fresh organic ingredients from your own garden and prepare everything yourself. Truth.

My meditation practice has also taught me to love doing dishes.  Why?  It's one of the only times throughout the day that I actually get a moment to practice.  In fact, everything you do or have to do should be an opportunity for you to practice.  The ancient yogis say that red lights can be a blessing! Okay, sure sometimes you have to get that text in (but PLEASE PLEASE reconsider and wait til you get home!) but it can be a great time for becoming self-aware.

I am honestly baffled when I hear people say, "I'm bored." I guess I understand....I mean, once, many moons ago, I remember having that sentiment.  But now you can plant a garden...or just one plant!  You can learn how to cook one new meal.  You can learn how to cook your first meal! Read that book you've been meaning to read. Or just the first chapter.  Go visit someone who might need your smile today.
This month it's all about the curiosity of healthy eating and sharing that learned knowledge with those I love and who need it.   What's your curiosity?

Om namah

Monday, July 22, 2013

Light, Energy, Heat

I love summer. I adore summer.  You will never hear me complaining of the heat. I love to have that sweaty glow. I love the excuse to walk out the door and eat fresh veggies from the garden. I love waking up and deciding right then and there to pack up and go to the beach. I love summer thunderstorms.

The other night, it was finally the end of a six-day heatwave.  There was a quick thunderstorm that came through in the early evening and the weather-folk predicted there would be more all night long.  I have a constant, unwavering energy inside that disallows me from resting very often after work so I decided to give myself the day off and I watched three movies in a row!

With the lights off and perched right next to our large picture window, a spark of light caught my eye.  It was the largest cloud of heat lightning I had ever seen. I turned off the TV and watched it for the next half hour until it disappeared over the treeline.

I watched the light energy bounce like a ping-pong ball in the upper right corner of this cloud mass. Then, like it was having a conversation and its partner took a minute to think it over before giving a thoughtful response, the bottom left corner responded with an equally charged answer.  The next a was bigger, more enthusiastic proclamation, followed yet again by a just-as-bright bright reaction.

I was impassioned.  That's what it felt like.  I was an ardent being, just filled with a feeling of awe, much like what I'm sure it feels like when you're five years old and see fireworks for the first time.

When something like this passes before your eyes, when you feel this sensation, your mind goes clear.  Your lips curl up.  Your face becomes serene and you feel complete happiness.  In this moment it's hard not to realize that you are part of something magnificent....that this world is something magnificent....that with the right mindset, you can do magnificent things.

I hope you reached for the stars on this magical Monday.  I had an amazing meditation this morning, started working on my wedding singing blog, helped my mom (with my bro) start her pen and ink drawing blog, and was inspired to do yoga in the garden.

Om namah.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Clavicle Love

I was doing yoga in a large white room facing a fireplace.  Above the mantle was a mirror, placed so that I could see my head, and down to a little below my clavicle.  I noticed my collarbone and it reminded me of a time when I was with a couple - friends of mine - and he was so taken by his fiance's clavicle.  "Doesn't she just have the most beautiful collarbone?"  I had never even noticed anyone's collarbone in my whole life - but I thought it was really sweet that he enjoyed this uniqueness in her.

At that moment, the love of my life walked in the room to see if I wanted breakfast.  "Do you think I have a flat collarbone?" I asked as I swan-dove into a forward fold.

"Your collarbone is perfect and you're perfect." He left to make us some eggs, spinach and toast.

We are all perfect - just the way we are.  Scars, broken bones, flat clavicles, protruding clavicles, skinny asses, muffin tops, freckles, exposed gums, funny voices.  Because you are supposed to be exactly who you are.  And there is always someone who is perfect for you.

Photo by Ashley Daige Photography - Wanderlust VT 2012

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Five Things I Discovered Today

1.You can always find nice people on a bike path.

2.Dandelions are gorgeous. They're like freckles on a face: they pop out at the first sign of sunlight and the owner might find them annoying.  But they're a beautiful sign of spring and makes whoever/whatever's wearing them unique.
3.There is beauty everywhere - as long as you let beauty in.
4.Spending time with people you love is awesome.  Spending time alone is necessary...and well :)
And finally: 5.Sometimes all a girl needs is a double-stuffed Milano cookie.  Or - the whole bag. And it's okay.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Hiking Away Fear

Spring is slowly emerging here in New England and my body and mind feel like they're finally ready to  shake off the winter blues.  I'll admit, I'm definitely one of those gals that goes into a sort of hibernation in the colder months.  I don't go out very often, I despise the cold weather, I dream of being salty on a hot beach.  So when the sun finally peeks out and the clear blue skies are upon us, it's very hard to keep me inside.

Today I came home from a beautiful weekend with friends and found myself pretty tired, and I lay down to take a nap at about 1pm.  Not tired enough to sleep, I lay there feeling the cool April breeze through my window and looking at the perfect blue sky.  I immediately reached for my laptop and looked up hiking trails.

I moved back to this area about 8 months ago, just in time for fall.  I ran a lot but didn't do much hiking.  I printed out some information and a small map but none of the directions had GPS coordinates on it - just state street names and since I'm kind of a fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants type of gal, and didn't feel like looking anything up any further I just went for it.  Twenty minutes later, finding myself completely in the opposite direction of where I had wanted to go, I told myself I would just keep my eyes peeled for any interesting trails that might pop up along the way.  All of a sudden, to my left, just inside the woods I saw a car that appeared to be parked in some sort of dirt lot and 3 people talking. I wouldn't have noticed this spot otherwise.

It was a really narrow driveway so I parked on the street and walked in.  (I know what you're thinking - I could be walking into - a-n-y-t-h-i-n-g.)  A couple was talking to a woman of about 60.  I interrupted what seemed to be a lively, friendly conversation. "Excuse me - sorry  - is this a trail?" Beyond them, I really saw nothing that seemed to be a delineated path so I thought I would ask to see what their reaction was.  The man answered, "Oh yea - we just went Geocaching!" A few other mumblings on how great it was, and I went back to my car and drove on in.

After the crazy week Boston has had, people have been talking a lot about fear.  For an entire 5 days, the people of Boston were left with unanswered questions, anger, fear that someone or many were out to harm the people of their beautiful city, a whole 24 hours in lock-down - unable to leave their own homes.  But on the other hand, I heard a lot about resilience, overcoming fear, and love.  "That's exactly what terrorists would want - to lock us down with fear."  And with so many people still to help, how can you just sit idle?

As I said, I have spent the last eight months reconnecting with friends and family and - hibernating.  Today I wanted to get back to my adventurous self but also now have the voice of people who care about me in my head saying, "Be careful - don't go anywhere by yourself." I decided to listen to my heart.

As I got out of my car and walked toward that "trail" I - uh - didn't notice a trail at all.  The trio was still chatting behind me and although there was one of those big signs that outlines the trail, I was still skeptical.  All of a sudden, a beautiful lab-mix came running out of the woods.  Hmm.  Perhaps he knew where the trail was.  The nice woman finished her convo and came running down with her pup.  I asked again, "So does this trail open up a little bit once you get a little further in?"

"Oh yea, yea.  I don't know if you saw the three Chinese boys run by earlier.  Those are my exchange students."  She kept walking and talking.  I assumed she didn't mind if I follow.  She went on to tell me that she just got back yesterday from a mission with 2 of the boys in the Dominican Republic, building hospitals.  Some people would have sighed relief right there but I've watched too many foreign films to believe that she was this nice, just freely offering information to a complete stranger, without trying to drag me deep into the woods to - I dunno - do...something.  I kept listening.

I found out that every year, she bikes with a group of about 200 from NH to Maine to Vermont to Quebec and back. "Where do you sleep?" "Tents," she nonchalantly uttered.  I found out that the trail we were walking was the site of an old educational children's camp.  It was also the site of many girl scout excursions, the home of mountain laurel flowers, blueberry and raspberry bushes.  She also has a daughter and two sons, one of which went to my alma mater, UNH.  We passed one pile of moose poop.  Then another pile of moose poop.  Then another.
"Do you, uh, ever see the moose on your walks here?"
She laughed. I wasn't sure whether or not to laugh too.

I hadn't seen my folks in a while and pops happened to call in the middle of my hike.
"Where are you?"
"Oh I just got back from CT and decided to go for a hike."
"No I'm here with this lovely lady Laurie and her dog, Jack." I said within earshot of my new friend.  All of a sudden Laurie stops and points: "Look!" She points to a large garden snake in our pathway.  "Oh! Laurie just found a snake!" (sh*tting my pants)
"Are you on a trail or, like, in a park somewhere?"
"Oh we're on a trail by some reservoir."
"She's safe!" Laurie exclaims.  Then all of a sudden, once again, I wasn't so sure.  You know how parents are - always putting the fear in you like that to be safe!!!

I hung up and continued to enjoy my workout up rocky hills and my conversation with a new friendly face.

By the end of the walk, not only was I relieved that I was still alive - I was totally energized from time spent in the woods, psyched that I found not only a safe place to walk, but one riddled with blueberry bushes, a new acquaintance and the hope to travel on a mission trip some day, and thankful that I followed my heart.

Just like Jozie says, all you need is love.  By feeding into fear, you're not only paralyzing yourself but you're paralyzing your community and a society that needs your loving energy.  So on the next sunny day, or even on a rainy one - get off your butt and hike away your fear.  You'll be happy you did.


Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Spread the Love

April 15th 2013. Patriots Day in Massachusetts - a day to commemorate battles of the Revolutionary War.  Something once tragic from which we've moved on, honoring those who fought for us long ago. Traditionally, a family day for those kids and parents and loved ones who have the day off in the Bay state.

There are so many wonderful things that are planned on this day and so many other days in Massachusetts and all over the world.  So many events and reasons to celebrate family, friends.  Spring time.  Sunny weather. 

My grandmother has been in a nursing home for a few years now and when I go to visit her, I can't help but think, I wish there were more activity for them.  I wish there were things that brought them back to their youth, or reminded them about their gardens or music that was such a big part of their lives.  I asked the Activities Director about music and she said that, actually, they provide the residents with music all the time and are always looking for musicians.  I told her to sign me up.

I thought of all the nursing homes and assisted living homes in the area and began calling around.  I told them about my career in singing and what songs I would plan to sing.  Yesterday I happened to be booked at a lovely facility in Central MA and began my set at 3pm.

After the little concert was completed, I had a line of residents waiting to talk to me.  Some had tears in their eyes.  Some thanked me over and over for offering my gift. One woman in particular would not let go of my hand.  The last person to come by was the Executive Director of the facility.  She told us about the horrible news that had just occurred - double bombings at the finish line of the Boston Marathon.  My heart sank. My eyes got big. I couldn't breathe.  I thought of everyone I know who has run that race; all my friends in Boston and from all over the place who love going to watch; the crowds of tourists who travel just to see the amazing event.  The woman looked at me and said, "Right when I found out, I couldn't work anymore. I heard you singing Amazing Grace and I had to just come in and be with everyone and start singing."

Jennie sings Amazing Grace with residents

There are so many beautiful things in this world and big-hearted people who do positive things to spread light and love.  There have been horrible, devastating things that have happened over the past months and years - they're big - and they're terrible.  Just like the battles in Massachusetts were so long ago.  But they're few compared to all the wonderful acts of kindness that I witness every day from everyday people.  I encourage you to continue to spread the love and fill others' eyes with tears of joy.  I encourage you to allow people to hold your hand.  I encourage you to share your universe-given gift.

"Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that."  Martin Luther King, Jr.


Friday, April 5, 2013

A Gift for You

A light may have come onto this earth and attached itself to a terrestrial body who my parents named "Jennie" thirty-one years ago but today is really a day for you.

Today I was blessed to wake up to texts and calls from people I love.  And it's for them - to everyone in my life, to everyone reading this blog and to everyone I meet - that I am grateful.

As my 31st day on Planet Earth approached, I sincerely felt the need to give.  I'm getting together with a few girlfriends this weekend and I am, like, giddy to cook for them....and maybe give them a few treats. :)

I received a gift of yoga today in the form of a gift certificate from a family member. I was so ecstatic but it wasn't a feeling of success as if to say, "Yes - I got what I wanted."  I literally had zero expectations coming into this day and have been so busy I almost forgot what day it was. My reaction was instead a warm feeling in my heart - literally as if it melted a little bit - thanks to an unexpected good deed somone had done for me. Grateful. 

I was almost late for work (again) this morning because my boss is going to Italy for the next two weeks (jealous!) and I wouldn't let myself leave the house before finding my audio italian CD for her. I'm so happy for her! She's popping her Italy cherry! I couldn't wait to share every italian book I own and try to teach her daily phrases before her trip. She's been a blessing in my life and I'm grateful for her and glad I can help and contribute to her trip.

Today I'm going to go visit my Grammie at the home where she's living.  I'll stop and get her some flowers and even have a card for her.  She deserves it. 

My Gram and her birthday monkey.
 But it's a new feeling on this 31st day.  It's more and more the little things in life that make me tear up with happiness - the little acts of kindness - the random smiling face that walks by - cut-out cardboard figures of Elvis:

I am so grateful for Elvis.

So THANK YOU for reading this; for those who have crossed my path; for being in my life; for conflicts that have taught me and made me stronger; for being my gift.

I didn't have the foresight or creativity to do what Lucas did in Australia, but maybe I'll save that for my 32nd.


Friday, March 29, 2013

Being Flexible, Adaptable, and Optimistic

Flexibility, adaptability and optimism.  
Sounds so nice, doesn't it? What's the first thing you think of? Your friends? Colleagues? Your mind? Pet? 

Since this is a yoga blog, I'll first liken the phrase to a yoga class.  

You have to be flexible in a yoga class. No - I don't mean the physical kind.  In fact, it's much easier to teach people who are less flexible physically because they actually feel the correct alignment a little easier.  I'm talking about the being-able-to-change kind of flexible.  You have to come willing to be flexible in mind, and open in spirit. New sensations may arise in your body.  Be okay with this.  Someone's mat might be too close to yours because the class is too big. Be okay with this.  You might hear a lawn mower outside. Be okay with this. 

Adaptable.  You might not think your body is capable of becoming more physically flexible.  You may enter yoga class with the mental blockage: "I know I can't do this pose - I'm just going to stay in downward dog for a while," or "This teacher's style is not what I'm used to - I probably won't like it." 
If you know a pose will be too hard for you, adapt.  Grab a block or a prop of some sort and try it anyway.  Who cares if you don't go as deep as everyone else.  Adapt to your surroundings - surrender - and allow yourself to learn something new.  

Optimism. You know how you have those bad days once in a while and even though that smiley person on the subway annoys you sometimes because they talk too much, they always, at some point, make you laugh? Be that person that makes other people laugh.  I'm not talking about bouncing into the office and saying "Good Morning!" really loudly to everyone you see first thing in the morning - but take any inner turmoil that you may wake up with in the morning and meditate on this: Everyone you meet today is going through something worse than you.  Since you have the awareness that all it takes is a conscious decision to be happy, you need to be the one to turn their frown upside down.  

I heard these three words from a friend who was a fire fighter for many years, later became fire chief, and who himself heard these words from the chief of the London Fire Brigade.  When describing how the LFB tries to maintain an organization that is dedicated to effective public service the Commissioner said that "the organization tries to hire people who are flexible, adaptable and optimistic."

I looked up the London Fire Brigade website just to confirm that it was true.  On their application for employment the following was a qualification for hiring a Deputy Head:

Demonstrable influencing skills, able to be flexible and adaptable to different people and situations, using empathy and perception to instil confidence in others
- London Fire Brigade 

I got to thinking what it would be like if every place of employment hired employees in this way - instilled these principles in their teams and fostered these sentiments in team meetings.  If every school instilled them in their classrooms.  If every parent reminded their children....  

I decided to break each point down and really study each word - Influencing: The capacity to have an effect on the character, development, or behavior of someone or something.  Flexible: Able to be easily modified to respond to altered circumstances or condition.  Adaptable: Able to adjust to new conditions or to be modified for a new use or purpose. Different: Unlike in nature; novel and unusual. Empathy: The ability to understand and share the feelings of another. Perception: The ability to see, hear, or become aware of something through the senses. Instill: Gradually but firmly establish (an idea or attitude, esp. a desirable one) in a person's mind. Confidence: The state of feeling certain about the truth of something.
If you really took each of these definitions to heart and truly demonstrated what the LFB looks for in their employees...

Do you know what would happen?
Your confidence would flourish (something the universe desperately needs); your ego would disappear; your heart would open fully; you would serve others selflessly; collaboration would create beautiful things; you would understand that there are others - humans and non-humans on this planet - that are made up of the same stuff you are - that they essentially are you; that your positive influence can have a major impact on someone; that it's not so hard to modify slightly in order to create positive change; that you are unique; that the world needs you to share and speak your truth; that this can all be accomplished by Love. 

Gabrielle Bernstein does a great job of speaking the truth in this video

Now think of those words again: 
Flexibility, adaptability, optimism.  What do you think of now? Do you embody these at work? With your friends? With strangers? Your partner?

If not, it might be time to start opening your heart and speaking your truth.  

Be flexible - with yourself and others. Adapt.  Be optimistic.  It's hard not to be when truth is all you know. 


Monday, March 18, 2013

10 Things a Yogi-in-Training Should Start Today

Being a dedicated yogi means creating healthy habits every day.  In fact just by practicing yoga every day, you will find that some of your old habits will change and new ones will easily replace them.  Here are a few habits that have allowed my practice to soar to new heights.

1. Get up before you normally do. 
This might mean going to bed early, too.  I know, I know...I'm a late-night type of gal myself but *expletive* is the early morning sweeeeet!  According to Ayurvedic Science, the time just before the sun is starting to rise is the Vata time of day and is when we dream, then wake, eliminate, meditate, and exercise.  If you're like me, and most of your life have been working or playing late until the wee hours- checking email, reading news, drawing, creating - you go to bed feeling energized and sometimes your mind can be too filled with thougths to really get a well-rested sleep. 
Try going to bed early.  Your body will naturally wake closer to the rise of the sun - and you will feel like a million bucks.

2. Meditate every day.
Five minutes at first. That's all you need to start cultivating this beautiful little life force called Prana.  When you meditate, you literally call upon all that wicked positive energy of the universe and you add to this gigantic pool of beauty.  Not sure how to meditate?  Sit in a quiet spot (if possible) with your butt not too high and not too low.  I like to sit on a rolled-up yoga mat with a blanket on top so my hips are higher than my knees, and my folded legs/knees are touching the earth.  You can also sit comfortably in a chair.  Your back should be straight, and your spine in line with your head for optimal pranic flow. At first do whatever you can to clear your mind: Take a few deep breaths; if your "to-do" list keeps popping up, write it down and be done with it for the next 5 - 10 minutes.  Try repeating silently any of these mantras:
  • Om mani padme hum - a universal mantra known to contain the essence of buddha teaching
  • Om Namah Shivaya - "I honor the Spirit within"
  • Soham or Hamsa - "I am that"
  • Om Tat Sat - a purification mantra
  • Or you can create your own mantra such as "I am love," or "Breathing in, I smile to my breath, breathing out, I shine love all around me," or just as simple as, "In-breath, out-breath." (See Thich Nhat Hanh's site for more insight on breathing mantras)
Many thoughts will arrise. When I tried this for the first time as a teenager, I thought I would never be able to quiet my mind.  Finally, however, you begin to "train" your mind to be calm and you will start to feel the physical effects.
When you meditate, you tune into this crazy universal energy and your body naturally begins to choose positive lifestyle habits and foods that better support your life!

3. Practice poses you don't necessariliy like.
Parsva Tadasana with feet together, Utkatasana and Urdhva Dhanurasana were some of my most dreaded poses when I started! I avoided them at all costs.  Now they are all regular, simple poses in my practice.  I have now begun practicing variations on the full backbend, do inversions freely (which I also always hated, because of years of back trauma) and love bending myself into a pretzel!
When you just try poses you're not fond of, it's amazing what opens up in your heart, in your practice, and in your daily life.

You tell 'em, Des:

4. Remove processed food from your diet.
I'm not Catholic but for the first time in my life, I decided to give up something for Lent.  Processed Sugar.
I've never been one of those "junk-food junkies" and am not fond of any of that chewy candy anyway like gummy worms or starbursts or swedish fish.  But I do love that tasty hazelnut spread (sugar, artificial flavor) any kind of dark chocolate bar (sugar, sugar) and of course that "Chocolate bar that satisfies" (sugar, corn syrup, milkfat, more sugar) and although all of these things do satisfy in the moment, I find more and more that it takes my body extra time to feel "normal" again.
I put this little sugar tale to the test.  On day 13 of Lent, it was my mom's birthday and we had a little celebration.  A friend showed up with Ice Cream Cake - you know - with that extra gooey gel frosting stuff? (MMMMMMmmmmmmmmmmmmm my weakness!) Well everyone around me was wolfing the stuff down and, usually one with impeccable self-control, I ask, "Should I have a little?" In unison, my very supportive family and friends exclaimed, "YES."
No further questions. I dove in. I'm not Catholic anyway - a little bit won't hurt me and I won't even have the guilt to follow!
Was I wrong.
Not to get too graphic and detailed, but I don't remember the last time my food followed me to say hello again the next day. If my memory serves me correctly, it was when I was about 8 years old, choking on a cheese stick.  That next morning, after ridding my body of sugar for the past 2 weeks, my big piece of ice cream cake came back to say hello. I felt awful.
After that, Lent is proving to be much easier and not only do I now avoid processed sugar quite easily, I have also had to be very creative in the kitchen, finding sweets that don't contain sugar, finding much healthier alternatives and eating much more fruit.

5. Start reading the dharma.
How do you feel after watching reality TV shows? After hours of celebrity gossip? After scanning social media sites all day?
When I tell people that in my spare time, I enjoy reading the "Indian Bible" I definitely tend to get a few eye rolls.  I'm not saying that everyone has to drop their "chillax" time in front of the tube and get down to studying spiritual philosophy.  But a few Rumi poems now and again won't hurt.  In fact, it is said that just by reading this type of enlightened work, pranic vibrations start to enter your energy field.
Other books that'll make you go Hmmmm:
Light on Yoga - B.K.S Iyengar
The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali
The Heart of Yoga: Developing a Personal Practice
The Poetry of Yoga

6. Smile. Every day. A lot.
To yourself in the morning, to whoever the first person or creature is that you set your eyes upon today, even during that yoga pose that makes your thighs burn.  Smiling is contagious.  Smiling makes others "get out of their head" and pull them into the present moment.  Smiling makes you realize that this difficult pose can actually be a lot of fun! 
You'll be more attractive to everyone around you, too.  You'll have that special glow and people will think, "I wonder what she/he is so happy about." 
And to know all they have to do is turn up the corners of their mouth.... :)

7. Set an Intention.
We do this before every yoga practice.  There's a reason you show up on your mat every day (or however often you do).  It could be to become stronger.  It could be to feel more energetic.  It could be to quiet your mind or to find 60 - 90 minutes of peace.  Ultimately, we come to our mats to feel good or to cultivate more awareness.  We might practice to cultivate love and to be able to make someone else feel good.  Lately, I've been dedicating each practice to a friend of mine who is going through a hard time and since I know he doesn't have a yoga practice of his own, I try to build up the strength and send it to him.
It could be something very specific too: "I am practicing these poses to cultivate kindness to my colleagues today," or "I dedicate this practice to eating healthy food all day."
Whatever your intention is, setting one will make your practice that much stronger and valuable.  You will also be more apt to carry that intention with you all throughout the day.

8. Do What it is you were put on this earth to do.
When I was 11 or 12 I remember my mom listening to me sing along to the radio. "How can you hit those high notes?"  "I dunno," as I shrugged my shoulders.  She saw a talent and a desire in me and signed me up for voice lessons almost immediately.  I remember being ecstatic after my first lesson.  Singing, and now writing, playing music and performing has given me that same happy adrenaline rush since elementary school and I try to practice a little every day to cultivate one of those things I was put on this earth to do. 
I played sports my whole life but when we started practices for field hockey in high school, we ran around the gigantic field for miles.  We would always stretch a little before we ran, but I really got into it.  Then after practice, I would sit on the field, stretching deeply into the pain and tightness in my legs while the sun was setting and everyone else trekked up the big hill to their cars.  The next day in school while everyone was limping and barely able to make it up the stairs, I would bounce along like gumby. For anyone who would listen, I loved explaining the benefits of stretching and showing them what I had learned.  
Later, I realized I could stretch right along with a passionate group of people who just loved to stretch all day!!!! And you could make a career out of it! 
Yoga became a huge part of my life and, again, I cultivate this practice on a daily basis, teaching others and learning more about it every day. 

9. Listen.
People love to talk.  About their kids, their dog, their accomplishments, their problems.  Sometimes they want to hear about your stuff to, but mostly, they just want you to listen.  So do that.  And in your silence, they will find a true friend, a true mentor, and they might learn that sometimes it's okay for them to be silent, too.

10. Be Grateful.
I've mentioned before: the Buddhists say, "If you wake up and you don't have a toothache - be happy!"
True dat.
It's true that "gratitude is the healthiest of all human emotions." (Thanks, Zig) it actually feels good to be grateful! It makes you give back more, which also feels good and actually makes you smile more (see point #6). 

Now let's see - I rose out of bed while the sun was just peeking over the horizon, meditated with a new mantra, "Om Tat Sat," practiced some poses even with burning muscles from this weekend's workshop,  had some lemon water and oatmeal with bananas blueberries, read some beautiful articles which inspired this post, smiled (I always do during meditation), and set the intention to focus on my blog and websites today.  I have a plan to practice my music in a little bit for a gig coming up and I am so grateful that you made it to the end of my blog post!

Now if I see anyone on my day off or if you have any comments for me, I will be sure to take my own advice and listen with open ears.

Om Namah.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Making Good Face

In yoga it's important to be pure, or at least to lean towards living a pure life. This includes what we put in and on our bodies.  It's amazing how great your body feels, too, when you start living this way and how you start to curb cravings - whether it's food related or product-related. 

After lots of trial and error, lots of listening to my body, and meeting two curly-haired Europeans who are very important to me, I've come up with a routine that works for me. Everyone is different but hopefully this will act as a guide for those seeking.

We've all seen those face wash commercials where the beautiful girl is suds-ing up her face and feels all silky smooth after she pats her skin dry, then applies brand-name moisturizer, all of which is supposed to help prevent acne - help dry out or clear up those dreaded little bumps and wipe away all the oil.  But I learned a long time ago not to trust everything that comes on TV.

Sure, acne surfaces due to skin glands producing too much oil but why do they do this? The more you wash your face and strip your skin of it's natural oils, the more these glands will produce even more oil, clogging your pores.  It's important to allow your natural oils to rule - not brand-name products. 

First of all - if it's not organic or natural - meaning the ingredients in the product are free from added dyes, fragrances and synthetic materials - why on earth would you want to put that on your body?!?!!? You know your skin is porous and that anything you put on it will seep into your body, and therefore your muscles and every cell in your body, right? (remember all that "the hip bone's connected to the - thigh-bone" stuff?) Now I say this, but unfortunately the beauty industry is not regulated so what you think might be "natural" might not be at all.  Ingredient-reading is the best solution.  You probably also don't want to buy products that have been tested on animals - if it's NATURAL you shouldn't need to test it on innocent creatures! This link can provide some good resources for toxin-less information.

My two very special, intelligent, curly-haired European friends - who have never met, by the way - both exclaimed when they saw me washing my face with soap or soapy-type facial cleanser many moons ago, "Why do you wash your face with soap?! That's so bad for your skin!" Noticing their milky soft skin and being frightened to death by their reactions, I vowed to take all of their beauty tips from then on.  They obviously were equipped with a wisdom much greater than I.

I'll start with the night-time routine first.  You should wash the daily grime off your face by choosing a cleansing milk or cleansing lotion of some sort.  Sudsy-type products or any kind of soap typically dry our your skin and you have to put on twice the amount of moisturizer to make up for it.  The more you use dehydrating products, the more your skin searches to find oil to moisturize it (see intro paragraph). I use Aubrey's Vegecol with Aloe Facial Cleansing Lotion for sensitive skin. More about this on make-up removal, below.

You could finish it off with a toner to restore your pH level. There are two types of toners - one with astringent and one without.  Astringents (of which witch hazel is a natural one) has drying properties so in the winter, I tend not to subject my face to such harshness but astringent-based toners are better for those with oily skin.  When I do use them, my go-to is Ragged Robin Herbal Farm - either the Lavender Facial Toner with witchhazel for oily skin or just their Rosewater Toner for normal skin.

In the morning you should only splash warm water on your face.  It's also not a bad idea to end with a splash of cold to close off the pores - which is also a great way to shock yourself awake in the morning.  No soap.  This took a while for me to get used to at first, because I was addicted to that tight crispy clean feeling.  But now that I've been soap-free for over 10 years, I would NEVER go back, as I realize I was completely dehydrating my skin. 

Mascara.  I'm not going to spend much time in this post about makeup - I'm really no expert and since I don't wear it that often, I haven't tested out the ones that might be the healthiest on my skin but I do want to talk about the removal of eye-makeup.  Out of anything that I put on, I tend to use Mascara the most.  If I'm performing in a show, I want my eyes to pop a little more, so on goes the gooey black stuff.  I use Dr. Hauschka Black Volume masacara.  This retails for about $30.  Why do I pay so much for Mascara, you ask? Have you ever gone to bed without removing the stuff and woke up in the morning to find it literally coming out of your sinuses?  Back up to my previous point about not putting toxic products on or in your body.  When you close your eyes at night with makeup on your eyes, you are just inviting those toxins to go directly into your bloodstream.  Have fun hawking up a black phlegm ball in the morning.  Hauschka products are unique in that you can't find 2 stores that sell Hauschka products within like 20 miles of each other.  The store I buy it from also gives a $10 reward if you buy something during the month of your birth.  Since I wear mascara so seldom, I literally go once a year on my birthday, buy the stuff and I'm good to go!

Make-up remover. The above-mentioned face-cleansing lotion is the only stuff I've found, that when applying with a cotton ball to closed eyes, does not irritate or sting my eyes.  Every other product I've used, even if it says, "make-up remover" burns not only my eyes and makes me tear up, but my skin as well, leaving it raw and red.  Find the product that works best for your skin, doesn't make you cry and leaves you feeling soft.

Facial moisturizer. Even when I "wash" with only water in the morning, I still apply a nice moisturizer.  My winter go-to is Indian Meadow Herbals - Love your Face Cream - Made in Maine. This has lots of thick oils including coconut oil and I find that I really need it to keep hydrated in the cold months. 
In the summer, I might use Aubrey's Vegecol with Aloe Moisturizer for sensitive skin.  However, when going outside at all, whether it be for a run or even doing errands, you'll always want some kind of sun-protectant.  For that I use a product by Badger: Damascus Rose with Lavender and Chamomile - Antioxidant Face Sunscreen - Broad spectrum spf 16.

Mask. Once a week or so if you feel like you need a deep moisturizer or if you simply want a deep clean, a mask might be necessary.  Now I'm not talking those typical green or thick white masks you may have seen on commercials either - some of my "masks" literally fade right into your skin and you can't even tell anything is on your face! In fact, one "mask" I have you can actually wear all day, and cover it up with makeup and it just acts as a super-duper moisturizer, but you have to remove it before bed, or else it could clog your pores.  Go to your local Health Food store and ask about masks and talk about your specific skin type.

Body. Again, for the entire body, if you use a product with too many drying chemicals, you'll be scratching your @$$ all day.  My go-to is Nature's Gate Scent-free Moisturizing Lotion, or any Kiss My Face moisturizer will do.  If you want to go Ayurvedic on us, try oil.  Ayurvedic science recommends lightly scrubbing your skin with a loofah, massaging your entire body with some kind of natural oil (coconut or jojoba oils work fine - I always have almond oil on hand since the scent is so mild) and then taking a warm shower.  Massaging with oil before allows the hot steamy water to beat into your skin more and prevents the oil from getting on any clothes or furniture afterwards.

Body Soap. Dr. Brommers Almond or Peppermint Soap.  Sometimes you really do need soap to get rid of dirty bodies.  However, unless you've been rolling around in the mud or as an athlete, sweat constantly every day, you really only need to clean the bits! If my arms and legs aren't dirty, and especially if I just scrubbed with my loofah, there's no need to strip your entire body of its natural oils every time either.  Be careful where you put that Peppermint soap about a wake-up call!

Shampoo & Conditioner. I change up my shampoo and conditioner often so can't recommend anything that I've used consistently.  Again, I tend to go towards natural products with few ingredients.  The less ingredients in my products and food, the better.

There are just a few other tips I'd like to share for great-looking skin.  Meditate. Light will pour out of you and others will wonder why you're glowing all the time.  Cut out smoking - and drinking (too much).  I have observed smokers and drinkers 10 - 20 - 30 years older than me and it's amazing how much their skin has deteriorated compared to non-smokers and drinkers of the same age. Eat plant-based foods, cutting out fat and excessive amounts of sugar.  Why have your body work so hard to get rid of all the toxins in your body when it can just relax if you're eating healthy food?  Finally, for more great tips, you might just want to check out all the advice that Kris Carr wrote in her recent post on Thriving with Cancer. Congrats, Kris!

Healthy washing!

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Give Love

Love. Think about it. When you're young, you're jealous if your best friend scores a "first kiss" because you want someone to like you that much.
In high school or college you're upset when your friend "finds someone" because now you have to be alone while they've abandoned you for a partner.
When the first in your "group" gets a ring or gets married or becomes pregnant, you're wondering if you'll soon find "the one."
You know that feeling when you finally get the one - when you finally get the kiss? when you finally get the ring?

You can have this feeling all the time

The thing is - you're made from love.  You were this ball of energy before you were conceived and this energy of love attached itself to a terrestrial body.  We humans struggle inside these bodies our entire lives! You may not even realize you struggle.  Many of us obsess about our external presentation - buying the best makeup, looking in the mirror all day, follow fashion blogs to make sure we're wearing the correct thing - and this can give us the feeling of stress, jealousy and grief.

We always want more money.  We think we'll be happy only if we can buy that shirt we saw on sale because it will make us different and unique!  We'll finally be happy when we get to buy that house. We do all this at the expense of turning inward and looking into ourselves; into our light; into our love.

I happened to quickly see, as I walked by a television the other day, a man with a physical disability.  I stopped and caught just the general feel of his message.  "The only disability in this life is a bad attitude".  As someone who was born with a physical disability he, instead of feeling sorry for himself by comparing himself to all the "normal" beings on the planet, rejoiced in his individuality and found himself happy on his own path.

We all hang on something - our looks; our car; our expensive designer clothes, our partners - why not hang onto love?

The yogis say it's important to celebrate every single moment.  Every moment is precious!  Do you have a toothache at the moment? No? Then celebrate!  Are you out on the street without a warm home? No?  Dance party!

Don't let your ego get in the way and convince you that material things are of any importance.

Because if you don't receive roses this Valentine's Day, or that raise or if you aren't able to go on that vacation or if you miss that sale, you'll always be disappointed.

What if - when your friend got that first kiss - you were happy for them? What if - when your friend receives that diamond - you congratulate them on their relationship and wish them well (and then either educate them that diamonds really have no intrinsic value or silently smile, knowing you won't go into debt over a silly little stone)?

The truth is, the more you give love, the more you become in tuned to that love that is essentially - YOU - and the less you will care about what our culture and media portray as being important. The more you give love (thanks MC!), the more you BECOME love...and the more all beings in your path will feel the love.

So this Valentine's day - don't wish you had someone in your life if you don't.  Don't be sad if you don't receive roses or cards.  And if you are in a relationship, just love your partner unconditionally, just as you (should) love yourself.  Don't wish any changes on him or her, either.  Just see the best in them. Because once you just love it's amazing how people start to feel that energy and change on their own.

<3 Give love - give your love away. <3

Love. Now don't think about it. Feel it. Give it.

[Thank you to all of my spirit leaders, authors, artists, enlightened beings of the yogic tradition who contributed to the inspiration of this blog post. :)]


Friday, February 8, 2013

A Typical Day in the Life of a Yogi in Training (winter)

7:15am My eyes open. My eyes shut. Did I get enough sleep? Eyes open. Don't look at clock yet - it's so far away.  Eyes shut.  On my stomach, I turn my head and body onto my left side. I can reach my phone. 7:15. Eyes shut. I notice, from my slight movements, that my body is sore from yesterday's practice of backbends, handstands and attempt at King Arthur's pose.

Eyes open. I notice more pain in my back. I adjust to the pain.  My eyes adjust to the light. Now on my back, eyes shut.
7:33am Rise from slumber.  I get up, immediately make the bed so it doesn't entice me any more.  I stumble to the door to start the morning bathroom routine.  Warm water is splashed on my face - no soap - never any soap (unless you're washing your face at night with a type of milk-cleansing product or cleansing-lotion - otherwise it dries our your skin). A Rosewater spray (no astringent in the winter for me) is sprayed on to wake me up a little more, then a thick oil-based face cream is applied (thicker - for me - only in winter).  Ahhhh... teeth-brushing, etc. ensues...then I saunter downstairs to get a cup of warm water with lemon to rid my body of toxins and to clean the pathways for meditation.
8:00am Pranayama, Meditation and Yoga.  I go through my 12 minutes of pranayama which includes nadi shodhana or alternate nostril breathing, breath of fire, nauli or massaging of internal organs, and Surya Bhedan.  It actually took me 15 minutes today because I admit, I was daydreaming of teaching a yoga class outside in really warm weather.
I feel clean and ready to sit in silence!  I focus my attention on my third eye and begin my mantra of "Om mani padme hum" or "Om namah shivaya".  Today I have raised my butt up on a couple folded blankets because I've been having a problem with my feet falling asleep! Today seems to be going well, but then after about 8 minutes or so, the tingling begins.  I try to think about what I've learned through my readings and teachers, trying not to move my body and just keep focus but of course, the squirmish body does what it wants sometimes and I begin to move to get the blood circulating better.  I think I've nailed it and sit for about another 8 minutes. Looks like that's all I've got today folks.  On to the asanas. I'll blame it on the cold. :)
8:30am Start my asana practice.  I begin with some pilates moves, actually, that I have picked up along the way that really seem to release my low back.  I lie on my mat, rolling another mat under my sacrum and perform a bunch of stress-relieving exercises.  I also do a few therapeutic moves to open my chest and release my shoulders.
I then typically begin with cat/cow - more release for the back - and Child's pose while reaching over to the left and right.  
I reverted back to my Ashtanga background for this practice, but with more focused attention on the cues and subtleties of my most recent Alignment-based studies.  I was in the mood for a flow - but a more safe one than I've known in the past - which is what I hope to convey to my students one day.
9:10am Receive a call from my <3 and welcome the interruption.  Not because I wanted to be interrupted, but I had an instant awareness that if someone had called me in the middle of my practice a few years ago, I would have become irritable and angry that my flow was broken.  Today I'm in a better place, knowing that everything happens for a reason, and grateful that I was able to get in a solid hour + practice of mindfulness.
9:50am Today is a cold day. I sit in my armchair with feet up, covered by a mountain of blankets, bowl of hot oatmeal with blueberries, bananas and maple syrup in hands along with a glass of warm lemon water.
10:00am Begin reading Yoganada's version of the Bhagavad Gita.
11:30am Get distracted by a music business phone call - also a welcomed interruption - and then decide to "distract" myself further by going on to facebook to see if I can gather some inspiration from all of the blogs I follow.  I read my daily inspiration from my yoga, food, spirit and news blogs and then decide to write this very blog. :)
12:30pm I get up from my chair and have lunch and make tea.
1:20pm I sit back down and continue reading, sipping my tea and watch the snow fall.

To be honest, from here, the distractions for the rest of the day were pretty endless.  It just so happens that one business call led to another, which led to another, and another, etc., etc., which resulted in about 5 unique and well-paying gigs throughout the spring.  I told myself that this "Typical Day for a yogi" became instead a typical day for a yogi, a musician, an artist, a business-gal and an all-around-multi-passionate-entrepreneur...and I was okay with that. :) Maybe one day I'll write a blog that encompasses all of that.  I'm interested in what my "Typical Day in the Life of a Yogi in Training - spring" post might bring.

Be true to yourself. Welcome interruptions. Continue smiling on your path.
Namaste :)