Category: Self-care Page 1 of 5

“Aren’t You A Yoga Teacher?”

Recently I was diagnosed with a degenerative disk disorder which was to large extent hastened by congenital physiology. This was preceded by a somewhat alarming loss (for a yoga teacher!) of mobility and strength. It required my yoga practice to completely change, for the 3rd time in my life. It might surprise you to learn that each time that has happened, my practice has deepened and matured… it has never been a loss. That’s because if we actually practice yoga in its truest form, it meets us as we are.

Many people, far too many, think of yoga as a workout.Aren't You A Yoga Teacher? That is to limit yoga to a fraction of its potentials to serve not just the body, but the breath, mind, and spirit. In addition, many people, again, far too many, have a perspective of yoga as requiring certain postures including those that are inaccessible to them, that must be done in particular ways.

If they know that they cannot meet some preconceived expectation, they don’t even try. Or, they go to the wrong teacher (wrong for them) whose style simple doesn’t fit their needs and then conclude that all yoga is not for them. It is unfortunate.

An Interesting Question

Yesterday, I has an encounter with an acquaintance, and when I mentioned that I probably shouldn’t be lifting things because of my back, she looked at me and asked, “Aren’t you a yoga teacher?” as if 1) yoga teachers should never be injured and 2) yoga teachers who are don’t know what they are doing.

There is unfortunately at least a grain of truth to each of those assumptions, at least in regards to a yoga practice. Of course, injury of many kinds can happen to anyone at any time that have nothing to do with one’s yoga practice. But it is assumed that a yoga teacher who knows anatomy and asana well enough shouldn’t be injured by their practice. And yoga teachers who do get injured are often injured because they don’t know their own bodies enough to listen and/or are driven more by accomplishment than by embodiment.


For a long time now, since before 2000, I’ve been dealing with back problems. I only had a vague sense of my congenital condition. And though it had been pointed out to me by doctors in the past, it never presented as a problem, so I wasn’t really doing anything to prevent future problems other than just trying to remain fit and strong.

Unfortunately, I did some really stupid stuff when I was younger, felt invincible, and didn’t know how to recognize harmful activity. I also had a ridiculously strong work ethic that made it impossible for me to walk away, take a break, or give up entirely on tasks that I knew were compromising my body. They are lessons learned.

But time does take it’s toll on all of us. Change is inevitable. And no body is immune from the ravages of aging.

What I Wish I’d Said

What I wish I had said to this acquaintance was, “Thank God I am! I hate to think of what condition I’d be in if I didn’t have my yoga practice.” I truly believe that. Despite everything, I remain more flexible and mobile than a lot of people in my age category. And more importantly, I know how to rest and restore my body. I know what can relieve pain, and I know how to listen to my body when I try things that may very well be recommended for my condition but that don’t actually work for my body. Yoga has given me both an embodiment and wisdom that serves my evolution (aka aging) on this planet.

Of course, inherent in this woman’s question was also the misunderstanding of what it means to be a yoga teacher and that there’s some highly athletic aspect that assumes Olympic invincibility. I’m not a fitness teacher. I’m not a sports coach. I’m not even, in many regards, a yoga teacher. I’m a yogi who shares from her direct experience, and my wheelhouse is selfcare and restorative forms of movement. It’s yoga, but not in the Instagram sense.

Injury, fortunately, does not preclude me from either practicing nor sharing my yoga. In fact, it enriches both.



Words with Selfcare Implications

“Cept” is a root word meaning to take or receive.

I love words and enjoy playing with them (even though I nearly failed Linguistics in college!)  Looking at them from different angles sparks my creativity and helps me understand myself. Let’s look at a set of words that all contain the  root “cept” and have important implications for selfcare. We’ll start with the most obvious ones dealing with the physical body, as selfcare is very often equated to care of the physical body or care of the person via the body.

These words all have a place in the realm of yoga, which of course, is one of the main ways I help clients develop their selfcare. How many of them are familiar to you?


Exteroception – awareness of external stimuli, be it temperature or birdsong

Neuroception – ability to feel safe and/or sense threat

Proprioception – awareness of the muscles, joints, and bones and their relationship to each other and to external space

Perception – cognitive/mental sensing

Interoception – internal states and sensory processing

Pranaception – breath awareness


Not all words that include the root of “cept” are related to the body, but the following 4 words still have an important connection to selfcare, but tend not to have a positive or negative charge in and of themselves. When you look at them, what comes to mind in terms of how these words might be impacting your selfcare?


Inception – the beginning or start

Conception – the act of conceiving or creating something; the birth process

Interception – preventing or stopping something in progress

Reception – a welcome, greeting or acceptance

Exception – objection (or criticism which perhaps would take ‘exception’ into our  next category)


Now I share with you a short list of “cept” words which symbolize the energies which we must guard against in our selfcare. As you consider each one, what comes to mind in terms of your own selfcare, perhaps more so on the mental/emotional than physical level:


Deception – acts of falsehood, hiding or distorting the truth

Misconception – a misunderstanding or mistaken notion

Misperception – a false or inaccurate idea or belief

Preconception – an idea or belief made without all the necessary information

Susceptibility  – to be easily affected or swayed by one’s emotions or to succumb without critical thinking


Now consider the following 2 types of ‘ception’ that describe spiritual acuity. Do they have a place in your current selfcare?


Pneumaception and Brahmaception – sense of the spiritual or subtle

Numaception – knowing of the unseen


Words are just words. And yet they are incredibly powerful and can give us tremendous insight into ourselves and our entire belief system. Words are often used to manipulate and control us (think advertising and propaganda). But they can also give us insight into how we operate and areas of our lives that are closed off to our true potentials.

Is Your Physical Selfcare Short-Circuiting?

You may have the best of intentions when it comes to selfcare. Yet you may find that your methods aren’t improving your quality of life. If your physical selfcare is short-circuiting, I have some questions for you.

Have you ever:

–worn clothing that felt uncomfortable but instead of getting rid of it, continued to wear it?

–chose the stylish instead of sensible shoes and walked until you got blisters?

–were so busy that you forgot to eat?

–just wanted to get to your destination, so didn’t take car breaks on a long journey?

–sat in an uncomfortable position so as not to disturb others?

–got to the end of a long day only to realize you hardly drank any water?

–practiced a yoga pose even though something didn’t feel right?

–sit with your legs crossed so long they go numb?

These may seem like fairly insignificant discomforts, but each of these is a sign that somewhere along the line, you lost touch with your physical body, what I often refer to as your avatar, and failed to selfcare. Maybe it comes down to our conditioning around no pain, no gain. Maybe it is a belief that we have to try harder, do more, go bigger. Maybe we’ve learned all to well to invalidate our own experience. Or maybe it just boils down to a lifelong disconnect between mind and body (ironically the antithesis of yoga which is meant to unify mind and body).

So here’s how these kinds of habits can short-circuit any attempts at selfcare. I’ll use yoga as an example.

Someone might think, “I’ll take a weekly yoga class so that I’m doing some selfcare every week.” But here’s the thing; it isn’t enough to show up in a yoga class once or even three or four times a week. It’s more about how we show up. Are we present and aware or just going through the motions? As a yoga teacher (or yoga student!), I am sometimes astounded to see students (or teachers!) who are quite obviously uncomfortable push through some position or pose. Even when given a cue to check in, often they still don’t realize that they are doing something totally unnatural for their bodies.

For example, not everyone is comfortable sitting in easy pose with the legs crossed. I give options for comfort and yet, it is sometimes like pulling teeth to get a student to take the initiative to grab a blanket to place under the hips or to move against a wall so that they have back support and don’t have to try so hard.

Or I witness a student finally start to unwind in savasana, and so invite more time, but as class is coming to an end, I still have to get others up and ready to close. What inevitably happens more often than not is that the student will spring to attention with the others. Unfortunately, practicing bad habits reinforces them. They become so automatic we don’t even know we’re doing them and therefore can’t question them. We think we’re engaged in selfcare when we’re really, in essence, just pretending.

Mastery of awareness is the road to transformation.

So here’s my challenge for you. Over the next week or two, commit to discover all the ways you covertly deny your body whether in a yoga class or out. Are you: stifling a yawn, holding in a fart, overeating, holding your pee, indulging in an addiction that makes you feel ill, whatever it may be. Take a few notes and every time you catch yourself, no need to judge yourself. Just affirm to yourself, “I am committed to authentic selfcare.”



There’s a hashtag out there called #selfcaresunday.

#selfcaresunday. It’s a great idea, right? Give overworked, overstressed, overextended people a reminder to take some time out for themselves. It’s definitely a step in the right direction, but in my opinion, it doesn’t go nearly far enough. The problem with our Western way of life, which frankly has infiltrated globally, is the idea that selfcare is something like church that we attend once a week to relieve our sense of guilt over mistreating others, only in the case of selfcare, it assuages the guilt we have over mistreating ourselves: “I’ve worked myself to exhaustion all week. Now I deserve to read my book for an hour,” one justifies only to dive headlong into repeating what wasn’t working in the first place…working one’s self to the point of exhaustion every week.

Selfcare, as in taking care of one’s self, shouldn’t even be a thing, if you ask me.

How about #selfcareeveryday! Selfcare shouldn’t be something we have to be reminded about or have to carve out special time for. It should be as natural as the rising and setting of the sun. It shouldn’t be a once-a-week treat. It should be ongoing, daily activities that one attends to whenever and as often as one can. Selfcare is a devotion to the self, this little God-given avatar with which we live our lives. It’s not meant to be a part-time hobby or something we really have to think about, plan for, and fight for.

Trouble is, for so many people, it is exactly that. It’s a battle. We have to fight our pressing responsibilities. We have to resist the expectations and needs of others. We have to wrestle with time and limited hours in a day. We have to plan ahead instead of just designing our lives for selfcare in the first place.

I’m telling you, selfcare doesn’t have to be so hard.

Nor does it have to be something so disconnected from who you are. Selfcare is first and foremost an attitude, not some switch to turn on when you remember it. Self-care is a vital aspect of overall health and wellness. It involves taking time to nurture yourself, physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually.

Easy Steps to Selfcare as a Way of Life

  1. One of the simplest but also most effective ways to incorporate self-care into your routine is to start your day, every day, with a few moments of quiet reflection. This may be prayer, a few words in a journal, or a few deep breaths to set an intention for the day ahead.
  2. Another important aspect of self-care is physical activity. Whether it’s a gentle yoga practice or a brisk walk in nature, moving your body is essential for both physical and mental health. Make it a priority to engage in some form of physical activity every day, even if it’s just for a few minutes.
  3. Daily mental and emotional selfcare can be as simple as practicing mindfulness or meditation or as involved as seeking out the support of a mental health professional or group if needed. It’s about feeding your mind with wisdom and learning to understand yourself and the ways you suffer. Youtube offers a wealth of short to long videos on wellbeing.
  4. Self-care also means setting boundaries and saying no to things that don’t serve you. This can be challenging, especially if you’re used to putting others’ needs before your own. But self-care is not selfish; it’s an act of self-love and compassion that enables you to show up as your best self in all areas of your life.
  5. Finally, don’t forget to indulge in some simple pleasures. Many are under the impression that this alone is selfcare, but it is really just one facet of it, and not nearly as important as the other four. Still, whether it’s a bubble bath, a cup of tea, a good book, or a special chocolate, taking time to enjoy the little things in life can do wonders for your mood and overall well-being.

Prioritize YOU

It’s true that by prioritizing your well-being and making self-care a natural, integrated part of your daily routine, you’ll be better equipped to handle life’s challenges with grace and ease. But that is just a great side-effect to selfcare. Selfcare is something to do for the sake of itself, out of the love that you are. Be kind to you!

Need help prioritizing your selfcare? Why not schedule a session with me? I’m here to help.


About the Author:

Beth Ciesco is your Selfcare Coach, a certified yoga teacher and meditation facilitator. Check out the rest of the website to learn more about Restorative Healing YogaMirror MeditationE-Motion Alchemy, and Voicework as capital S Selfcare tools. You can also follow her on these sites:

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The Deep State

The True Deep State

Sorry to disappoint, but this post isn’t about that psychopathic underbelly of world governments and twisted corruption of unelected elites and their attempts to control the world and all of its resources, including you. But it is about the metaphor of what has become known as “The Deep State”. It’s a meaningful phrase, indeed.

While the deluded controllers do, in fact, exist, they are no more powerful and no less illusionary than any other aspect of the dream we are collectively dreaming; they are a phony deep state. The only real deep state, the only one worthy of our attention, is the one within. And the way we defeat not only “The Deep State” but our suffering is by getting to know this true deep state.

I propose to you three essentials for the age in which we find ourselves:

Overcoming Fear

Stop obsessing over the latest preposterous and onerous plans devised and supposedly incoming for the future of humanity and stop giving your precious attention to mental patients with platforms. Take care of the mental patient in your own head (we’ve ALL got one). When you feel your fear-button pushed, notice it, laugh it off, and turn your attention back to your real life. Keep your focus on what you want, not what “they” want. It’s time to unify to protect the real, not our opinions. Don’t let them confuse you, throw you off, or reshape the building blocks of reality. But how you ask?

Turn It Off!

Well, if you haven’t figured it out yet, stop watching and listening to the bloody media. Those talking heads are a mirror of our distorted, corrupted limited mental capacities. We are in an age where discernment is critical. The mind, with all of its biases and confusions and missing knowledge isn’t going to get you there, period. And not one single media source, professor, astrologer, or guru will get you there either. You have to learn to get quiet. And you have to spend time there. It’s absolutely essential to tune out the noise so you can finally begin to hear the truth again. It is something that will arise from inside. It’s a completely solitary inside job. So prepare yourself for a little battle with loneliness; it’ll have to be faced.


Okay, yes, I know. You hear this suggested as the answer to every illness, stressor, crisis, trauma, and problem. It can feel completely invalidating and condescending to our personal problems. Meditation itself, as a concept, is not the answer to anything. Meditation as a state of being, however…that’s a practice worth finding your way towards. No, the rewards aren’t immediate. Yes, there are all kinds of resistances and progress plateaus to overcome. But somehow, someway, each of us must find what works to get us out of our fragmented heads and into our integrating heart. It’s not about “just sitting there”. It’s about being open and empty. And you have to want to know your Self, the truth of you, more than anything else in the world. 

We are in a new era. It’s time for the deep state to run the world. The question for you is, which deep state will run yours?


About the Author:

Beth Ciesco is your Selfcare Specialist, a certified yoga teacher and meditation facilitator. Check out the rest of the website to learn more about Restorative Healing YogaMirror MeditationE-Motion Alchemy, and Voicework as capital S Selfcare tools. You can also follow her on these sites:

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The Self-Improvement Juggernaut

The Self-Improvement Juggernaut

There was a time in my life, as there is in many lives who grow up submersed in the Western cultural values of striving and “being better”, that I was obsessed with self-improvement. I read all the books about “how to be a better this” and “how to be better at that”. I went on retreats and took on practices to make myself happier, more productive, more creative, less neurotic, less angry, more abundant and on and on and on all in an effort to prove myself worthy of existence.

When I reached one self-inflicted goal, I immediately set another and another all in the name of becoming a better person and ensuring that I was living up to my potential. It was not only exhausting, it was expensive. And while I may have had some truly valuable experiences and come away with knowledge that indeed made my life a little better, none of it ever satisfied the unquenchable thirst at the root of what was driving me…a sense of not being good enough.

Out from Under the Self-worth Steamroller

It was grace, or quite frankly what felt like hell at the time, that woke me on this hamster wheel. Who exactly was I trying to improve? Why did she need improvement? And would she ever be good enough? From the perspective of “self-improvement”, of course she wouldn’t! I went through a period of realizing it was all useless. I’d never be that perfect self I had to be to accept myself. Somehow, I had to stop resetting the bar and quit the self-improvement race. And I knew I had better find another way to accept myself, “as is”. Slowly, selfcare began to replace self-improvement.

I wanted to heal this bottomless pit of worthlessness, but not with anything external to myself. I let an identity that I had built up go (or to be more accurate, it was ripped out from under me). I even gave this ‘false self’ a little ceremonial burial. I started to focus more on doing things that made me happy…not things that made me look good to others. I began to learn to self-nurture. Just like a plant cannot possibly be expected to thrive if conditions aren’t right, I had to realize that my ability to live up to any potential was not dependent on constant self-improvement, but rather on how well I took really excellent care of me. It was a start.

From Self-Improvement to Selfcare

It’s been many years since and now my focus is quite a bit different. It turns out that even a material sense of worth wasn’t enough for me. I needed something far more wonderous and powerful. This came as not just selfcare, but capital S Selfcare. I am still just beginning to understand that any growth I may experience is not the result of tireless egoic efforts of striving to control or improve some faulty version of myself, nor even the rather the result of receiving proper light, nutrients, and other environmental factors (of both my inner and outer environments) that this being needs to flourish. More than anything, it is a direct consequence of being connected to the truth of Self, my God-given beingness.

Self-acceptance is an ongoing affair, but I do realize that my personality is itself. I can let it be what it is, with all its silly flaws. I belong to something much greater, a force that brought me into this world and a force that will see me through it and then see me out. I decided to the best of my ability, to trust in that nameless love and in that life that courses through my veins. I just have to take tender care of this vessel in which I reside. Everything else just happens. I can let come what comes and let go what goes. At least, that’s my daily practice.

What’s Driving You?

I’m not saying that self-improvement is wrong. Obviously, if you didn’t graduate from high school and return to get a GED, that’s entirely admirable. If you are overweight and you don’t like how it feels and decide to do something about it, that’s great. If you want to learn to be a better communicator, why not? But with any self-improvement endeavour, the question is what’s driving you? Self-hatred? Feeling not good enough? Winning the validation of others? A bottomless pit in your core?

Are you on a never-ending quest of self-improvement? Is it working? Do you love yourself more? Are you kinder towards yourself and others? Or are you always resetting the bar…never quite reaching some idealised version of yourself? When will enough be enough? Maybe it’s time to find a new motivation for doing what you do and let the Light that you are take care of it all.


The Meditation Solution


     You name it.



The Meditation Solution to Every Problem

The other day, my husband asked me the common question, “How are you today?” I noticed my mind start to parse through my experience in order to answer that question. In an instant, my mind went to the challenges I was facing, the news headlines I’d seen, and the frustrations of daily life. I caught myself and instead stopped the thoughts and answered, “I’m great if I don’t think.”

Some may think that not thinking is actually an avoidance of life, and it certainly can be. When we fill our lives with external voices, activities, and entertainments, we are definitely avoiding what’s inside. That’s not the kind of “not thinking” I’m referring to. I’m talking about the practice of becoming quiet, frequently referred to as meditation.

This solution to the overwhelming problems the world faces may seem overly simplistic and ineffective against the evils we face. Many may read and dismiss them with a snort, “Yeah, I’ll just meditate the political filth away while the rich get richer and future generations are enslaved.” But that kind of (fear-based) response is because many people are still entirely focused upon and entrenched in externals., disconnected from who they really are. If we only understand life according to the world we see around us, then meditation is an ineffective ritual equivalent to shutting one’s eyes and hiding under the covers.

Meditation Solutions

A Deeper Reality

But there is another world inside. And while it may be subtle and difficult to feel (at least at first) and express due to the limitations of language, that doesn’t make it any less valid. In fact, the more one spends time there, the more one generates grace and the more one realizes that stillness, silence and spaciousness offer a truer reality, allowing us to access the deeper drives creating the world we see around us.

For example, we can often be in a mental state of alarm over something ‘out there’. There certainly is no shortage of threats these days. Our minds may toil to understand according to past experience or find routes of escape or resolution in the future. But if we close our eyes (or even leave them open) and come into the present moment, chances are you’re not being chased by a lion in the immediate. You likely are breathing, heart-beating, clothed, sheltered and possibly even well-fed. There is stillness underneath the rise and fall of your breath. There is silence under that throbbing heart and anxious mind. There is space in which one can float, free from the grip of thought. That’s your reality. And solutions can only arise…well, good solutions…can only arise from that place. Otherwise, decisions are either snap and arising from fight or flight or are overthought, leading to second guessing and paralysis. The habit of doing anything to avoid the fear can even mean trusting people you absolutely shouldn’t. This perpetuates the cycle of suffering.

The Challenges

The challenges to meditation are twofold. One) we have to be willing to sit and be fully present with the fear that is generated by our thoughts. And that is miserably uncomfortable. We may feel the urge to bolt, to get up and get busy, or be led by our minds right back into thought. And two) we have to be willing to go beyond the mind that tells us if we don’t think, if we don’t solve the problems here and now that we’re being irresponsible or bypassing our reality. Going beyond the mind with which we’ve come to greatly identify over our entire lives is no easy task and exchanging what seemed like tangible reality for a less comprehensible one can at times seem like an exercise in futility. But, if we just STAY, we can incrementally or even all at once discover that NOTHING WE THINK IS REAL. It’s simply a narrative of what is real.

Granted, it is exceedingly difficult (if not completely impossible) to meditate when under real threats unless you are some kind of enlightened master already. That’s why you have to start now. Practice, practice, practice. It’s not a quick fix; I’ll give you that. But it is a fix. It’s really the only true and lasting fix.


About the Author:

Beth Ciesco is your Selfcare Specialist, a certified yoga teacher and meditation facilitator. Check out the rest of the website to learn more about Restorative Healing YogaMirror MeditationE-Motion Alchemy, and Voicework as capital S Selfcare tools. You can also follow her on these sites:

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Is Icecream Selfcare?

What Makes Selfcare Selfcare?

What Makes Selfcare Selfcare?

Is Icecream Selfcare?Selfcare is a buzzword and often a marketing ploy to get you to buy some product or service (even mine!). But selfcare isn’t something that comes from outside of you by its very definition. Selfcare, real selfcare, is an inside job.

So it’s not about what you might buy, or where you might travel, or what activity you might engage in. All of that might be part of it, but it actually isn’t the important part!

For example, you might be feel that selfcare is an indulgence in your favorite gourmet ice cream from time to time. Maybe it is and maybe it isn’t. It really depends on you. When you reach for the ice cream, it it an act of self-love and kindness or is it an act of escapism and apathy? Just like yoga can either be nurturing selfcare that’s gentle on the joints and tissues, or it can be a practice in pushing your limits and pulling your ligaments. Again, it depends on you. Anything that we may approach or do in the name of selfcare doesn’t make it selfcare. So what does?

Selfcare is About Two Things

Selfcare is really about one) our attitude and two) our approach.

In regards to attitude, it’s about coming from a position of caring about yourself, valuing yourself, as much as you care about anyone or anything else. It’s an awareness and acceptance of both our strengths and shortcomings with a maturity that helps us own up to both. And more importantly, it is a commitment to our own personal evolution…not the ever-moving benchmark to “become a better person”, but to organically grow like a flower or a tree does. We change. We grow up. We leave childish notions and toxic behaviors behind when we’re ready.

In regards to approach, it’s about whether or not we are mindful of what it is we’re doing while we’re doing it. Mindfulness is a tricky thing. Just like selfcare, it is a popular buzzword that means different things to different people. And worse, it sounds exactly like what it is not…a mind full. Careful attention might be a better name for it. But it’s not really about focus or concentration per se. It’s more about being free of narrative as you do something, so that you can fully and completely experience it as it is. When you eat that gourmet ice cream, is it always like the first time? Are you thinking about other things or fully immersed in the indescribable experience?

Selfcare isn’t something one masters either. It is itself an evolutionary process that must meet us where we are as we grow. So yeah, indulge in the ice cream if it makes you feel better now. But remember that maybe, just maybe, there are even better choices out there for you. Maybe selfcare is about discovering them for yourself.


About the Author:

Beth Ciesco is your Selfcare Specialist, a certified yoga teacher and meditation facilitator. Check out the rest of the website to learn more about Restorative Healing Yoga, Mirror Meditation, E-Motion Alchemy, and Voicework as capital S Selfcare tools. You can also follow her on these sites:

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The Shadow-Side Qualities

The Shadow-Side Qualities

Last post, I spent time defining the qualities of Divine Self Care. I mentioned that these symbols can be corrupted by the ego into shadow-side qualities and keep us trapped in our fearful, restrictive, egoic identity. We could say that each quality has a shadow, in other words, a very low frequency expression of itself. But it’s important to remember that inherent in the shadow is the light-filled, highest expression of each quality, especially helpful when we are facing these lower frequency expressions in ourselves and others. It is our ego that keeps us locked in these low frequencies, and recognizing we’ve fallen into them can help us start to change the frequency.

I’d like to spend some time in this post explaining those lower frequency aspects of each of the qualities of Capital S Self-care.

Compassion Can Become Pity

You might know of someone who seems to enjoy their suffering (it might even be you!). They love telling their story about how they were wronged or about how cruel life has been to them. They might even engage in a sort of competition of misery with others. Or they might twist compassion so tightly that they themselves become the totally unaware perpetrator by either reliving their painful past again and again or by focusing on righteous revenge.

Or perhaps you know someone (it might even be you!) who hears about the misery of another and uses that suffering to make themselves feel superior. This unfortunately happens a lot in spiritual circles. Those who fancy themselves enlightened manifestors who have mastered all negative states might blame the victim for “choosing” their situation. It’s quite ridiculous. But this can also simply be denying the light in another, keeping them down.

Trust Can Become Willful Ignorance

When we are too trusting or all of our trust is directed outwardly instead of inwardly, we might fall into a form of willful ignorance and an unwillingness to question authority or status quo. Such a low-frequency expression of trust has caused devastating harm throughout history.

Rather than trusting our own experiences from the space of the heart, we enter a state of either doubt or fear, or even both. Instead, we choose a false certainty in order to feel safe and comfortable and begin to deny all other possibilities and perspectives. It doesn’t take much of either for our eyes to slowly close which leads us to our next quality.

Faith Can Become Blind

Remember that faith is pure power. It doesn’t care what you believe in; it will empower that belief. So if we don’t question our beliefs, we may very well be putting our faith in things that simply do not and cannot ever serve us. Often we are taught or misunderstand that faith must exist without doubt, without question. But this can result in either a ‘savior complex’ by which we wait for someone else to come to our rescue, taking no responsibility for ourselves and our thoughts and actions in the meantime or it can become the faulty drive behind those thoughts and actions.

We have to understand the objects of our faith completely, not blindly. We have to bring those objects into the light so that they can be fully seen and selected consciously.

Surrender Can Become Helplessness

I’ve already written about the trouble with the word surrender. Now we can understand that it is a matter of the frequency of expression, for surrender can indeed mean giving up instead of giving back. When we don’t understand it is the ego that must be surrendered, it can turn into a sense of helplessness for that very ego, making it even stronger than before. You might hear thoughts of “I can’t…” or “I’ll never…” and while that may or may not be true, you will accept such thoughts without the question that would reveal your liberty from them.

Or in another expression, you might be filled with too much pride to let go. You might dig your heels in, cut of your nose to spite your face, or sabotage yourself. Resistance is the shadow aspect of surrender, and it is one of the major roots of suffering, along with ignorance. Ironically, the prideful resister to what is might feel strong and even noble in their resistance, but it is false strength and nobility. It is actually helplessness, for such a one will never realize the Self.

Patience Can Become Procrastination

We all know of something we ought to or must do that we keep putting off. This is a bastardization of patience. It is an unwillingness to take responsibility and step into our power. We tolerate things and waste precious energy rather than summon that same energy to change them and be free.

Procrastination leaves us wanting. We want what we don’t have and remain in a state of wanting rather than taking the steps necessary to either fullfil that desire or to cultivate the wisdom to realize that it won’t make us happy, thereby letting it go. Impatience is desire for what we want when we want it…now! Desire is also a major cause of our suffering along with ignorance and resistance.

Devotion Can Become Fanaticism

Just as devotion is the fuel behind the highest expressions of the qualities, fanaticism is the fuel behind their shadow expressions. This may look like the more familiar religious or ideological rigidity we see in the world, but more importantly and in a broader sense, it is the tiny box of pure ego expression. Instead of living from a recognition that we are all the one connected organism of life, we go about our lives as if we were separate. And instead of living in alignment with universal principles of wisdom and love, we fall into the hells of foolish ignorance, prideful resistance, and self-serving desire.

Qualities of Divine Self-Care

There are qualities of Divine Self-care that help us live that way of life. I’ve written about the differences between little s and capital s selfcare in previous posts which included touched upon those qualities. Though capital S Self-care is not something we ourselves do but, rather, a mysterious process to which we submit, the following terms point us into a space that allows us to soften to the process without egoic anxiety or confusion. Think of one’s self as a tea bag and these qualities as the hot water in which one steeps for the sake of healing and wholeness.

A Closer Look at the Qualities of Divine Self-care

Now let’s spend a little bit of time covering each of these qualities in more detail. Although, as symbols, they remain in essence quite beyond the definitions used to describe them, it is still helpful to have a common understanding of them, and we can get a little closer and clearer to the energy they transmit and the potentials they offer us by defining them.


Co meaning together and passion meaning a powerful emotion, compassion is defined as a deep awareness and understanding of the suffering of others or the ability to feel with them. Indeed, understanding our collective suffering, as well as individual suffering, is what softens the heart center. Compassion allows us to forgive ourselves and each other. Lacking compassion, we become hard and unyielding. We become fixated and fearful, though often in denial of both. More importantly, we remain ignorant of the one understanding that can begin to ease our suffering–the recognition that we are all connected and that the suffering of one becomes the suffering of all.


Trust is defined as confidence in the truth and is associated with fidelity and loyalty. Divine Me Time upholds that we are not just connected with all beings, but that we are also one with God. Therefore, our thoughts and actions reflect our confidence, or trust, in that even if we don’t fully grock the power of its full meaning. We remain loyal to that truth even when the illusions of life (the maya) test that trust, even if we cannot wholly define that truth with mere words. The simple fact is, our egoic intelligence will never be great enough to comprehend the mysteries of existence, no matter how hard we may try and no matter how much effort we put into convincing ourselves otherwise. We have no choice but to trust that a greater intelligence is at play.

Qualities of Divine Me Time Self CareFaith

Usually associated with religion, faith is quite simply belief, usually in the absence of concrete proof. So really, the word can be applied to any aspect of our thinking. If we believe the thoughts we think, we have faith in them, quite often to our detriment. Faith is a powerful thing. Think of the placebo effect and how people are actually cured of ailments with a sugar pill. That’s the power of the mind that we must harness but in a way that serves our highest self.

Unfortunately, so much of our faith is trapped within our conditioned mind. We believe in the stories our parents fed us, that we were naughty children, or failures. We believe things that others tell us and doubt our own senses and experience.

In the Bible, Jesus is quoted as having said, “Your faith has healed you” to a woman who touched his cloak in an effort to be cured of her illness. This is a very pure teaching regardless of your religious beliefs. Faith alone does indeed have that power. What we believe, free from doubt, can move mountains. There is another aspect to faith in regards to duty. In practicing Self-care, we have promised to be faithful to that Self.


Ah, this word. It gets such a bad rap. The Western mind especially abhors the idea of ‘giving up the fight’. But the original meaning of surrender is “to give one’s self up” and that is exactly what is required for Self-care. We must give up the little s self and deliver it into the hands of the capital S Self. We “grant back” to God what is God’s. We “abandonner” or release our need to control, to be right, to understand, and to be important, and we let a higher power orchestrate our lives. Surrender is release, a letting go of the struggle, and a melting into acceptance.


When we bear the uncomfortable without complaint, we are exercising patience. The path of healing can be a long and challenging one that tests our patience. Sometimes, it feels like we are getting nowhere. Months and even years can go by without much to show for our efforts. Patience is needed to remain steadfast. Patience can also be defined as calmly awaiting an outcome.

But with Self-care it is important to release our hopes for outcomes and instead focus on attention on learning to clearly see and accept what is. We must be prepared to wait an eternity for change to come. Fortunately and paradoxically, it doesn’t usually take that long once we are willing. But in the meantime, our next quality comes to the rescue.


Though it is usually used in regard to religious feeling, relationships, or even man’s best friend, my preferred meaning is “awe and reverence”. While it helps to have an object of that devotion…some God figure or guru…one can also simply be devoted to Truth or Beauty (and even, quite unfortunately Money or Power). And in so being, that devotion drives all efforts in life towards that energy. There is a sense of doing anything and everything for the object of our devotion.

In fact, devotion is the fuel of every other quality above. It makes compassion, trust, faith, surrender and patience possible. We devote without ever expecting anything in return. The gaping lack of and misdirected devotion in this world will be our downfall if humanity cannot return to a state of awe and reverence for the mystical because a life without it is unthinkably dry and devoid of meaning.

Neither Good Nor Bad

It is important to note that despite the positive associations we usually have with each of these words, it is our thoughts and actions around them that make them helpful or detrimental to Self-care. Every single quality can be adulterated and twisted by the ego into something quite different than what is represented by the symbols in their purest form. For example, compassion can turn into pity. Trust can turn into willful ignorance. Faith can become blind. Surrender can become helplessness. Patience can become procrastination. And devotion can lead to a fanaticism.

Can you see how these qualities are able to help us release the things that keep us trapped in our fearful, restrictive, egoic identity? If it isn’t clear yet, I’ll write about that another time.

Capital S Self-Care Defined

In my last post, I wrote about redefining self-care in the most common use of the term. I touched upon the distinction between little s and capital S self-care. Today’s post is about that capital S Self-care.

Our True Nature

The Self (capital S) is our highest, truest nature (whereas the little s self is our ego identity). There is a percentage of those who understand instantly what I mean and of that percent, a number who even already recognize the truth of which I write. But for most people, if I told them outright what that nature was in words, they’d likely either:

a) not know what on earth I was talking about or take interest in it

b) misunderstand what I’m talking about

c) shrink away from it believing it some kind of heresy or thinking, “Oh, that can’t be me!”

But in our deepest heart, we all know this truth: we are Divine. It’s our denial of this that keeps us in suffering, in the separate self or ego. Our sense of separation from Love, from the archetypal Heavenly Father and Mother, from Oneness with all is is without a doubt, our source of suffering.

Divine Me Time Is Self-Care

Divine Me Time is about reconnecting to that Self. In fact, the entire main purpose of life on this earth is reconnecting to and then living in alignment with that Self. We could talk about how we ever got so disconnected in the first place, but I won’t address that here. Rather, I want to look at how capital S Self-care can works.

There are some things we can control…like how we choose to look at things. But there are so many things that we cannot control…like the things that either happen to us or don’t. So the first aspect of Self-care is to know the difference and accept it. The irony is that we have to do something but that whatever we do will never be enough on its own. It is simply not in our hands.

“Wait a second…are you telling us that we have to reconnect, that there are things we can do, but that those things will never work?”

Don’t you just love a good paradox? What I’m actually saying is that all of our efforts must be put towards the things we can control, or to be more accurate, the one thing we can progress in controlling: our attention. But this task can be approached via the many different practices of little s self-care. For the things we cannot control, that’s where Divine Me Time comes in.

The Capital S Self-Care Regimen

The practice of Capital S Self-care has a miraculous result but requires a much different regimen. One of:

  • Compassion
  • Trust
  • Faith
  • Surrender
  • Patience
  • Devotion

I’ll address each of these qualities in future posts. If they sound utterly frightening, unrealistic or even impossible, then your work starts with understanding why you feel that way and freeing yourself from such detrimental limitations and resistances that will forever keep you from ever knowing who you are. But of course, you have to want to know.

Since you’re here reading this, chances are, you already know that it is not only possible but essential to spend time cultivating these qualities. However, knowing what these qualities are, even being able to speak eloquently about them, is a far cry from activating and living them in every single moment, especially in the face of our daily tests and challenges.

You’ve probably heard the saying, “Where you place your attention is what expands.” So if you focus on all the things that are unpleasant, wrong, or painful in your life, that’s what life reflects back. Likewise, if we practice things like gratitude and are careful about the memes and energies to which we are exposed, other seeds will take root. And if we consistently water and nourish those roots through Divine Me Time, more and more of what is possible will open up for us in ways we could not have ever imagined.

We’re not doing the caring. The Self  is. We are merely doing our best to live in abidance with the qualities required to be open to receiving the love and healing Self always has in store for us.

So I hope it is clearer now, the difference between little s self-care and capital S Self-care. We must be in charge of the former. Self is in charge of the latter.

That’s Self-care with a capital S!

Self-care Redefined

Self-care. It’s a word that, like everything else, means different things to different people.

Since Divine Me Time is about capital s Self-care as a way of life, I thought I would share with you how I define it. Perhaps the best way to go about this is to first define what Self-care isn’t, which will automatically reveal what it is.

An Important Distinction

First, notice that I’m spelling it Self-care with a capital S, not self-care. This is an important distinction, though really, the two are inseparable and rely one upon the other. The capital S Self-care is a means of tapping into the higher aspects of who we are. It is allowing our divine selves to reach towards and care for our material selves. It’s a mysterious but ever-present force. It’s our nature, our body’s ability to heal itself, and the grace that is always available to us, whether or not we are either aware of it or open to it.

The little s self-care, however, are all the things we do…our thoughts and actions…the reaching back toward the Self. It’s the practical things and the choices we make. So the essential difference for me is that an understanding of Self-care is as, if not more, important to our healing than anything we do on the self-care level.

But capital S Self-care is a bit outside our realm of complete understanding.  But we can take a closer look another time.

Now then, let’s look at little s self-care through common misperceptions:

  • It is not simply the 10-minute meditation you make time for everyday or once a week massage or yoga class, though that’s definitely a start. It is very much a way we live our lives, not just in carving out time for ourselves, but keeping our self-care attitude in mind throughout the day.
  • It is not selfishness or negligently forsaking responsibilities. Rather, it is seeking alternatives, accommodations, and freshness in managing responsibilities. It is placing the oxygen mask on ourselves first so that we can serve others.
  • It is not indulgence in addictions we know are bad for us just because they make us temporarily feel better. It is, however, perfectly okay to indulge now and again in things that are non-addicting and/or do not have lasting harmful effects to self. (And here, it is important to understand that the capital s Self is never harmed and cannot be.)
  • It is not in forcing ourselves into some self-improvement program, or endlessly trying to make ourselves into ‘better’ people by constantly moving the goal posts. It is, however, fulfilling our innate potentials and accepting the highest truth of who we are.
  • It is not necessarily about spending large amounts of money on retreats, treatments, therapies, or any other material thing. If you have the money, lucky you! If you don’t, you can still make Self-care and self-care a way of life. It doesn’t cost a dime to change the way we think. But it does take a certain amount of willingness, relearning, and effort…actually, a lot!

Ultimately, all self-care is rooted in kindness and authenticity toward the self. It is the turning of your attentions away from thoughts and things that pull you down and refocusing your attention and energies on things that elevate your Spirit. Your self-care will be entirely unique to you based on what feeds your soul: the music, the landscapes, the artwork, the poetry, the wisdom paths, the colors, the foods, the activities…  Of course, it is always helpful to find like-minded souls with whom you share such things in common.

That’s self-care, with a little s.

Now read about Self-care.


The Mirror Meditation Project

The Mirror Meditation Project
Level 1 Foundational Training is Here. And it’s free!

“I love mirrors. They let one pass through the surface of things.” ~Claude Chabrol

Mirror meditation makes use of the mirror as a meditation aid to increase one’s concentration, open one’s perception, and deepen one’s meditative state. The first and only training of its kind, this introduction to Mirror Meditation is about genuine self-transformation and realization. You’ll learn foundational theory and important concepts to developing a successful practice and have access to written and guided video meditations to acquaint and deepen your experience with this amazing path and prepare you for more advanced trainings.

Learn more about Mirror Meditation.

Register on DivineMeTime Learning.

Ray Man Shabad in English

The Ray Man Shabad is a beautiful prayer that made it’s way into my life unexpectedly. I fell upon the following video accidentally on Youtube on the New Year. Upon giving it a shot, I was hooked and decided to do the 40 days. Without understanding why, I was so filled with smiles and joy every time I practiced (and still am). I became so enthralled, I had to study the meaning of the prayer.

I was able to find two different translations which assisted me in creating a combined translation which I expanded with more modern symoblism, in a sense, personalizing the meaning for myself. I offer it here as inspiration. Give the practice a try and see what you feel.

Oh my mind practice daily in this method…

Let Truth be your horn, sincerity your necklace, and meditation a reminder that you are “ashes to ashes, dust to dust”. Practice self-restraint. Cease the burning of lower desires and let the soul (self) be the alms bowl in which you collect the sweet Naam, the Name of God, the only support you ever need.

Waves upon wave of melodies, passions, and emotions arise and flow through you. Listen to the reality from this highest place of awareness. Bind with and disappear yourself in the song of God, that sweetest ecstasy infused with Divine Knowledge.

The demons and demi-gods of realms beyond will be amazed, and the sages intoxicated with delight. The sage listens without being caught in duality; the sage drinks in the nectar of the heavens and is carried to the Ultimate Heaven in a divine chariot.

Be instructed by your soul, practice with discipline, and chant the Name of the Lord, even while silent. Meditate daily unto infinity until you are meditating without meditating.

If you would like to enjoy the Kriya that inspired my contemplations of this prayer, you will find it here:

Yoga Teacher Responsibility: Cultivating Sovereignty

There was a powerful and somewhat heated discussion recently on one of the yoga forums about the responsibility of yoga teachers to their students in terms of politics, cults, media narratives and social issues. What is a yoga teacher’s ethical role when it comes to helping our students make meaning in today’s confusing world and what oversteps that role?

I proposed that it isn’t a yoga teachers place to tell anybody else what to think. But it is our responsiblity to learn how to think and having learned the art, pass it on, and second, to maintain a certain level of neutrality or at least awareness of our own biases.

In any case, it definitely isn’t our responsiblity to decide what’s right or that someone else is wrong. In fact, maybe our greatest duty to one another as humans in this cancel culture is to grow aware of how we think and pass on that information to those who are open to it. Perhaps it is our responsibility to foster communications that welcome dialogue or at the very least, demonstrate respect for varying viewpoints.

I sadly don’t always encounter that. In fact, it’s rather clear that many think it is absolutely their duty to tell others what is right and wrong. I struggle to how this aligns with principles of yoga outside very obvious natural laws.

I came across this quote from Daniel Schmachtenberger, founding member of The Consilience Project, aimed at improving public sensemaking and dialogue, in defining what the word ‘sovereignty’ means to him:

“If we actually want to empower people, I don’t want them to defer their sense-making to me. But I also don’t want them to do lazy shitty sense-making, or defer it to anyone else. Which means I want them to grow the quality of their own sense making, which means to grow the depth of their care, their anti-nihilism, to grow the depth of their earnestness and their own self-reflexiveness. To pay better attention to their biases and their sloppiness in thinking, their own skills and capacity. I want them to grow their attention span and both the clarity of their logic and the clarity of their intuition, and notice when something’s coming from intuition or logic and how to relate all of those things. That’s actually what increasing sovereignty means.”

Some Basic Yoga Terms

Some Basic Yoga Terms

If you are new to yoga, you might not be familiar with some of the commonly used words that describe practice. Here are a few important concepts to help make your practice more meaningful:


When most people think of yoga, they think of the poses. Asana is the practice of yoga poses, but it isn’t even a fraction of true yoga. When one uses the word ‘yoga’ to describe a physical practice, what they are really describing is asana. Yoga actually has eight limbs, only one of which is asana or posture. Explaining each of the limbs is beyond the scope of this course, but they include things like concentration and meditaiton.

Centering (aka Going INward)

We spend lots of time during the day with our energy turned outwards, our five senses constantly processing colors, sounds, tastes, smells and external experience. Centering is about turning that attention back towards our…well…center. We feel ourselves again, in the moment, by quieting the mind, slowing the breath, and sensing our own inner experience of sensation.


Grounding, also known as “earthing”, is becoming aware of your connection to the earth, usually through the feet though it can be accomplished in many ways. When we ground, we feel the surface beneath us rising up to meet our feet and offering us its support.

We also feel the weight of our body in relationship to that ground as well as a rebound through the length of the body. A tree is a great example to understand rebound. A tree’s roots grow deep into the earth, spreading wide. But above ground, the trees limbs reach ever upward toward the sky. When we ground and because of the ground, we feel both postural support throughout the body and space between each vertebra.


Prana is a Sanskrit term meaning “life force” or “breath”. Yama can be translated as “control”. Therefore, pranayama is often described as the practice of breath control. However, one can look at this from another perspective as Ayama is the opposite of control. Yoga anatomy author and educator, Leslie Kaminoff, refers to pranayama as the ‘unobstruction of the breath’.

I prefer this definition to the more traditional ‘breath control’ one because rather than thinking of the breath as something we need to control, breath is something we need to free and allow to flow (and grow) organically. Even if we are imposing some structure on the breath with retention or counting, we only do so from a relaxed, easy place. If we observe oursevles tightening or efforting around a practice, we return to a normal breath and relax before preceding. In this way, we don’t develop the bad habit of struggle. Rather, we give ourselves space and time to develop our relationship with breath.

Why I Left the Yoga Alliance

After completing my 200-hour yoga teacher training, I did what any new professional would do. I headed over to one of several organizations that sets standards for and certifies yoga teachers. For some perfectly legit — and some ridiculous reasons — this world is obsessed with little pieces of paper that often prove very little. As for me, I felt it added some credibility to my “new” profession. I put that in quotes because I have a Masters degree in teaching and have been practicing yoga since the 1990’s. Let’s face it. A doctor can have his degree from a fine institution and still be a completely close-minded bedside moron relying on stimulants to make it through his day. Likewise, someone with zero experience can obtain a piece of paper in weeks online and go out and kick ass in their chosen field (or worse, be completely incompetent…but hey, they have the paper!) Then there’s me…someone with tons of applicable experience that is ignored or discounted because it is too unique to fit an organization’s paradigm.

With my Yoga Alliance renewal pending, I had to stop and think about why I was continuing to give money to an organization that offered little in return where benchmarks failed to account for true experience and trainings seemed to be more about making money. Did they help me find employment? No. Did they help me find practice insurance for my studio? No. Did they have interactive ongoing training that I didn’t have to shell out additional money for? Not exactly. Did they have a list of certified trainers from whom I wanted to shell out additional money for to continue my education? No. Most of the additional training I wanted to take was with independent teachers r/evolutionizing yoga and not part of the Yoga Alliance.

So, I am now calling myself a Sovereign Certified Yoga Teacher. In regards to my yoga training, which excludes extensive experience in other areas including energy work and wisdom traditions. I received my 1st certification through Still Flowing Yoga, who is with the Yoga Alliance. I’ve since received other certifications for trainings that counted for little with Yoga Alliance;  I count them because they make me a more informed, wiser teacher. I keep track of all my trainings along with the number of hours I have been teaching and that information is freely available upon request to any of my prospective students.

I’d like to take a moment to define the word sovereign and how I am using it here. One who is sovereign is not under the authority of another. It is also a word that implies excellence, and I hold myself accountable to my own standard of ethics (not at all divergent from those upheld by the Yoga Alliance). Sovereign also implies self-rule, and this is a quality that I not only value for myself but that I consistently empower my students to embrace. We are, each of us, both guru (meaning teacher or wayshower) and student, all throughout our lives. We progress along our chosen path of wisdom best when we can move fluidly betwixt both without over-identification with one or the other.  Finally, the word sovereign implies responsibility. I alone am responsible for my experience of the world; yoga provides me with the practices to rule my body, mind and heart with wisdom, humility, and grace.

I do have my eye on a new movement called YogaUnify. I will have to see how things progress there to determine whether or not they can avoid all the traps that organizations lead to. My hope is that they can. It would be nice to be part of something greater that aligns with my values and vision of yoga. Time will tell…

A quick word about the logo…

The number you see represents the hours of yoga teacher training I have had to date. I exclude training from other subject areas. I haven’t included every hour but rather will update the logo to reflect 500, 800, and then 1000 hours of training. I’m currently working toward the 500 mark.

The bottom portion of the inner symbol is the Tibetan letter “A”.  A is said to be the original mother, giving birth to all.  In that respect, it is itself the uncreated. It is the symbol of Great Perfection in the nondual practices of Dzogchen in which all phenomena  arise dependent on conditions , fading away when those conditions end. Nothing that arises absolutely exists. What was before and alone remains is the unchanging and eternal.

The syllable is crowned by a lotus, a somewhat typical symbol in esoteric traditions for good reason, depicting rebirth, divinity and enlightenment. It is the very seat of the soul. A lotus rises up from the mud to bloom untouched, a thing of purity and beauty. The chakras, or energetic centers of the body, are often depicted with a lotus and statues of Buddha often set him upon a lotus cushion.

And finally, the lotus itself is crowned with a single pearl. I have always been drawn to the pearl as a symbol of purity, luminescence, and peace. In fact, my mala (prayer beads) is a string of mother-of-pearl chosen for these very qualities. There is also a reference to “pearls of wisdom”, and while an oyster hides the pearl within itself, many of our highest spiritual qualities are often hidden away beneath unprocessed trauma and the various “pressions”: depression, repression, oppression, suppression. One has to look deep within to discover our Divine Nature…and to be able to see it in others.

This logo is meant to remind me of Truth and the ultimate goal in all that is created and offered through me. I hope it communicates that energetically to others as well.



The Wounded Yogini Part III: Having Healed

This summer was a real challenge for me. I had a pinched nerve in my neck which created a constant radiating pain into my left finger. For over a month, I couldn’t even sit at my computer; I had to stand. And I couldn’t type with that finger at all. Sometimes, I would get an electro-shock down my arm as well. It was almost impossible to sleep at night. I soon learned that I have cervical arthritis and stenosis. I was told I needed surgery (though I had no intention of having any, and for awhile, I wondered if my yoga practice would ever be the same.

The good news is that is will never be the same. Why is that good news? Because what I learned about my body and myself during this “test” has taught me invaluable lessons I was unlikely to learn any other way. It’s now five months from the date of my initial injury, and while I still technically have arthritis and stenosis, I have zero pain and am able to do everything I could do before the inury. (There are, however, some things I choose not to do.)

But what I wanted to write about here is how I healed from what could have been a career-stopping injury. I’ll start by saying that I believe in the body’s capacity to heal itself. Given the right conditions, we mend. There was no way I was going to consider something as drastic as surgery when I’d only been in pain for such a tiny span of my life. Besides, I was well aware that spinal surgeries often do more harm than good. Let the doctors say what they will; I turned inside to know what was best for me, and I knew that was waiting things out.

If we drive ourselves crazy with fear, we perpetuate the problem. If we believe oursevles to be broken or even fragile, we scare oursevles into hypervigiliance. If we remain unwilling to look at what caused the problem or unwilling to change that, again, we only make the duration of the problem longer. Yes, I had to look at some things…some habits of mind and soreness of heart…unresolved pain that was simply expressing itself through my neck.

I also accredit my recovery to the Energization practices of Parmahansa Yogananda. This is a set of simple but profound exercises created by Yogananda to keep the body strong and healthy, among other benefits.  While I couldn’t do every single exercise while in pain and had to modify several of them during my healing process, I know certain exercises helped to stregthen my neck and back and realign my spine.

I also behaved and stayed away from things that would have exacerbated the problem. I had to stop eating inflammatory foods. I had to adjust how I slept. And I had to alter my work-life. This took some arresting of the ego, especially as I continued to teach classes and often couldn’t demonstrate or do myself what I was asking of my students. But in that way, I think it made me far more attentive to and curious about the process of my students.

Finally, I was patient while never doubting (yes, there were moments, but then I’d remind myself) that I would be well again. Healing takes time. It requires self-care. It takes a certain amount of faith. And it takes grace. Fortunately, yoga cultivates self-care, patience, faith, and grace. Today, I’m feeling better than ever and constantly learning to improve my relationship with my own body as well as my understanding of yoga.

Yoga Beyond the Fluff: The Power of Prayer Hands

Sometimes, the most simple things in yoga never get explained or are explained incompletely by those who poorly understand them. A familiar mudra or hand pose you’ve probably done a hundred times (especially if you grew up in a religious household) in yoga classes is “prayer pose”, or anjali mudra (prana mudra in kundalini yoga). It is traditionally known worldwide as a gesture of turning inward or of expressing goodwill and peace.

But yoga is not a religion; it’s a science. Do you know the scientific significance of prayer hands? There are several facets of this special mudra worth understanding.

First let’s consider the meanings. A mudra is a “seal” and “anjali” could be translated as “an honoring”. By forming our hands this way, we assume an attitude of reverence. It’s considered a daily greeting gesture of respect in Eastern traditions. You are most likely familiar with “Namaste” which literally means, “I salute you,” but is often translated to mean, “The light in me honors the light in you.” Used in the traditional way, it is a greeting and not a parting. However, it is often seen used as a closing in yoga classes. Perhaps the intention is the most important aspect of its meaning.

Now on to the science. The hands and fingers are filled with sensitive nerve receptors. These nerves are intelligent enough to help you know when something is hot, cold, soft, prickly, etc. and they communicate that information to the brain’s cerebral cortex.

Now, as you probably know, your brain has two halves: the right brain is our creative and intuitive hemisphere while the left is our analytic and logical side. When we bring our hands together, the right being controlled by the left brain and the left by the right, we are in essence, integrating brain function, bringing balance between left and right. Dominant brain halves are thus neutralized bringing improved concentration and focus.

But wait. There’s more. The right side of the body represents the sun and masculine energy (pingala) while the left side represents the feminine and moon (ida). When we bring the hands together in prayer pose, we are balancing these polar energies as well, creating a neutral space in the body’s electromagnetic field.

To perform Anjali Mudra:

  1. Start seated in easy pose, or if uncomfortable on the floor, sit in a chair or stand in mountain pose.
  2. Bring your palms together in front of the heart, thumbs touching the sternum.
  3. Seal the outer edges of your palms and fingertips. In some traditions, leaving a small gap between the palms is recommended while in others, the entire surface of the hands and fingers touch. Experiment to find what feels right for you. (Sometimes, I let the fingers cross slightly).
  4. Release unnecessary tension through the arms. If you like, apply a gentle pressure through the hands to feel them coming together. Notice the balance of tension from left going right, and right moving left. Now relax.
  5. Close your eyes and lift your awareness upward toward the point slightly above and between the eyes. Remain aware of any sensations or phenomenon.
  6. Breath relaxed but deep breaths. Pray if you want. Remain for a minute or more.
  7. To come out, bow the head with reverence and release.

I want to briefly mention the thumbs and the significance of pressing them into the breastbone. This activates a reflex point of the vagus nerve, which is one of the longest nerves in the body traveling from the head, ears, through the neck, linking our heart, lungs and abdomen.

The vagus nerve is associated with both our ability to rest, relax and regenerate and with our often overused habits of shutting down, running away, and disconnecting when we sense a threat. The vagus nerve helps to regulate our breathing, the body’s anti-inflammatory response, and heartrate. It also affects our memory and ability to tap into our “gut” sense. Research has shown that stimulation of the ventral vagal nerve, along the front body, activates these feelings of safety and calm, so crucial to yoga practice. So, when we press into the sternum with our thumbs, we are activating the ventral vagal nerve and its positive aspects.

So maybe why we perform Anjali Mudra is beginning to make a lot more sense to you. But in addition to the linguistic meanings and science behind Anjali, there is of course, the spiritual implication best described by Krishnamacharya, well-known yoga teacher and scholar (1880-1989), who wrote:

This gesture signifies the potential for an intention to progress to the greatest spiritual awakening. When done properly the palms are not flat against each other; the knuckles at the base of the fingers are bent a little, creating space between the palms and fingers of the two hands resembling a flower yet to open, symbolizing the opening of our hearts.


In summary, Anjali mudra aligns us with the right attitude to center ourselves and pray. It inspires our posture upward, and it also brings calm to the emotional body and mind, balance to the brain, and opens the heart. Furthermore, it signifies our spiritual aspiration and prepares us to receive spiritual awakening. So next time you find yourself in yoga class placing your hands together in prayer, may you have an enriched experience by recalling some of what’s behind it.


Some Changes Coming – INtuitive Yoga Lab

In my last two posts, I wrote about how a recent injury has made me more aware of my essential approach to yoga as well as how my own practice is having to change as a wounded yogini.

In light of my ponderings, I’m going to be slowly introducing a new class style called INtuitive Yoga Lab. This is going to incorporate the 4 essentials I wrote about in my last post:

  • Slow way way down. Then slow down some more.
  • Resistance is the opportunity.
  • Consider parts to the whole.
  • Question everything.

The goal of INutitive Yoga Lab is to make it easier for people to honor these principles by:

  1. Making yoga class accessible to various abilities at once
  2. Creating lots of space and time (and props!) within class for explorations
  3. Facilitating the discovery of a personalized movement form for each individual
  4. Helping students to further develop their inner authority and body-honoring intuition.

It may take some time for me to fully develop and refine this way of doing things, and it may take some time for students to get used to this level of self-empowerment in a yoga class, but I believe this approach is well-overdue (I mean this in general and in terms of mainstream yoga; of course, there are those who do and have been taking this or a similar approach for many years) and greatly needed.

In INtuitive Yoga Lab, there will be certain foundational movements taught in conjunction with traditional yoga postures. But overarching everything, I wil encourage an individualized, intuitive, and inquisitive movement practice. Some of the elements that will be introduced and cultivated include both traditional and non-traditional yoga:

  • Pranayama
  • Mind/Body Energy Flow
  • Concentration
  • Self-healing
  • Somatic pandiculation
  • Developmental and natural movement
  • Proprio and Interoceptive Training
  • Traditional Asana
  • Meditation
  • Voicework & Sound
  • Restorative Yoga

Indeed many of these aspects are not unfamiliar to my students already, especially those who attended my Absolute Beginners workshop. However, the way I have been delivering them is in for a change. A lab is a scientific environment in which one conducts experiments. Sometimes, important discoveries are made. Other times, things flop. On ocassion, one waits and waits for something to happen. It’s all part of life in the lab. INtuitive Yoga Lab is about giving you and your body temple safety, time and space to experiment, explore and discover your body and its interconnection to mind and spirit.


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