An Artist’s Vision of Yoga

Having spent decades in the New York art world, moving my tent to Bridgehampton ten years ago was a lengthy transition. I decided to investigate yoga as an exercise and a way of evolving and changing my life.  Yoga Shanti felt like home as soon as I reached the reception desk. The quality of the classes caught my attention. I found the teachers to be extremely skilled and quite diverse, presenting precise and exacting anatomical sequencing, appropriate balance and timing, along with restorative yoga even with a touch of shamanic innuendo tossed into the mix. These very different visionary and personal approaches have a connective thread with their own feel and gravity connecting with their individual experience and history.

My abstract paintings are about pure color overlaid with forms that are pulled from my own made-up alphabet incorporating a sense of play. There is no reference to the human figure, nature or landscape.  More about emotion and looking than anything else. The art and beauty manifested in the asanas subtly pushes the yamas and niyamas (speaking truthfully, experiencing spiritual exploration, espousing pure details, being generous…) forward into the practice and sets a tone of well-being.

A special form of comradery surfaced through new-found friendships and acquaintances with writers, real estate brokers, models, chefs and other artists and local business owners. A sense of being together becomes part of the equation along with a combustible sense of humor and, for me, the expectation of surprise on this small piece of land surrounded by water. The whole experience is an overdose of beauty. To completely close out the outside world with savasana and collect one’s thoughts of the day is to me one of life’s greatest luxuries. This exquisite calm at the end of class is unmatched in feeling and a long-lasting gift to oneself. Our role is piecing this masterpiece together as it continues to form and reinvent itself over the length and shape of one’s practice.

Grateful to Rodney and Colleen for their more than brilliant leadership, tireless dedication to yoga and their own brand of special magic.

May the New Year shine through the universe as your best and brightest one yet.


Over coffee, a friend recently put it to me quite clearly:  “Holidays are all about family!”

So it has always been in my house. The Holiday Season was a magical time of year of which I have so many fond memories…watching Rudolph and the Grinch on TV, sneaking around with my cousins to find the hidden Christmas presents, lying beneath the Christmas tree gazing at the nativity, the ornaments, the twinkling lights and listening to Dad’s record of Perry Como’s Christmas carols. My Mom made sure the house was cleaned spic and span, all cozy for winter, ready for company and smelling of bay candle, sugar, spice and everything nice.

Sometimes my Dad would regale us with tales of his childhood Christmases. A child of the Depression, he received oranges and walnuts in his Christmas stocking. (My brother, sister and I were horrified at the thought.)  There was no money for Christmas decorations, so my grandmother put a statue of a pizzaman under the Christmas tree. You know the classic “pizzaman” found in the windows of old-school pizzerias, dressed in his white apron and chef hat, big mustache, holding a pizza high in the air. Because of this, my father, as a boy, believed that the pizzaman was Santa Claus.

Christmas Eve Dinner was the height of the festivities when all the family would gather together. Preparations were made in advance as my Mom and aunts congregated to cook for the “Feast of the Seven Fishes.”  It was as much a social gathering as a time to get work done. All the while, they would banter, laugh, and argue about things… how long to soak the baccala, who was going to kill the crabs, how spicy to make the scungilli sauce.

When Christmas Eve arrived, you could just feel the excitement. All the folding tables and chairs were set up, the good tablecloths and napkins brought out. No matter how many people came, everyone had a spot at the table. You knew you had to settle in for the long haul because you’d be at the table for hours as course after course was presented. And even when the last course was served, everyone would still linger for more talk, more laughter, sometimes even a spontaneous burst into song. We’d join in singing an old Italian Christmas carol – an homage to the old country – for those who still spoke the language or, at the very least, could remember the words.

As I got older, I began to see that what made the Holidays special was not any gift under the Christmas tree. It was all of us being together – sharing good times. It was family. And, I speak of this not just in terms of my own experience. I know you can all relate – you all have special family memories this time of year – no matter what holiday you celebrate, what beliefs you hold, what your family traditions are. Family is the most important thing. It gives our lives meaning and it is the glue that binds us together.

These days, the Holidays are not the same as they used to be. Don’t get me wrong, I still have wonderful holidays with my family but it’s different.   The family has gotten smaller. There aren’t 25 people around the table. Some relatives have moved away or some are “on-the-outs”. Sadly, others have passed away. No one cares as much to keep with traditions. And, although, I am the preserver of Christmas traditions past, when I prepare the “Feast of the Seven Fishes”, it is not quite the same cooking for the carb-counters and cholesterol-watchers.

According to the Merriam Webster dictionary, “family” is defined as a group descending from a common ancestor. As the Holidays have changed, so must our definition of family. It has expanded to encompass more than just a blood-relation. A family consists of people who love, support and guide each other. They’re the people you can trust, depend on and can call on anytime anywhere knowing they will be there for you. They are your confidantes and your critics in the best sense of the word. They are the people with whom you share a common interest that unites you.

And so, although my “blood” family has gotten smaller, my family has gotten bigger. There is a family here at Yoga Shanti. And it’s not just because we see each other day-in and day-out and share our yoga practice.  It’s so much more than that. Sitting here at the reception desk, I am a voyeur who gets to really see the yoga family in action. I watch the exchange of laughter and even tears. I see the hug given to buoy up someone going through a rough time, hear the advice given to someone faced with a dilemma, the congratulations wished to a new grandmother, the concerned inquiry about someone who is ill, the consoling words of sorrow at someone’s loss. There’s the ride offered to someone wishing to attend class but has no car or the invitation for everyone to meet after class for coffee. This is more than just community. Yes, it feels like family, is family, and although it can be dysfunctional at times as every family is, it is really quite wonderful to experience. What’s even better is that I get to partake and be a family member, too!. For this, I feel lucky and I thank you for including me!

And so, this Holiday season, I propose a toast:  “Alla Famiglia!” (To Family!)

Together may we have the Happiest, Healthiest and Most Joyous Holiday Season ever!

Life After Deaths

Remember those kids’ bounce-back inflatable toys—the ones you hit, they go down, then magically pop back up again, unscathed and poised for the next round?  In one, Bozo the Clown’s inane smile remains unflappable and unflinching, in spite of blow-after-blow.

Not so, me.

The first hit came when my father died unexpectedly. He’d been my champion, best buddy and teacher of all things:  how to throw overhand, how to play gin rummy, how to solve for X and most importantly, how to be gracious and generous— to vote for the other guy even if you and she were the only two running.

The second hit came eight months later when my husband died after a noble and epic fight with cancer. Having fled Iraq in his twenties, Sass lived in Iran for several years, then finally made his way to the US, where he saw an ocean and tasted cereal for the first time—both of which became lifelong loves. That’s why we came to the East End some thirty years ago and why, when he was asked what one food he would bring if stranded on a deserted island, it was a no-brainer. Corn Flakes.

The third came some four months later when my mother died. Here we have a more complex and labyrinthian story, the details of which I’m still trying to work out, but it was a devastating blow nevertheless.

The fourth hit? That was the knock-out punch. I was down for the count… and then some.

My daughter, Jess, and I found my only sister and best friend, Andy, dead in her bed. Although the autopsy said it was an overdose, we knew it wasn’t. She’d just chosen a golden retriever puppy from a litter of seven to be her very own. Cooper was the one with the green bow—the playful, goofy one—and we couldn’t wait to pick her up the following Tuesday.

The following Tuesday, however, never came for Andy.

After each hit, I had managed to stand back up, albeit slower and less steadily, but upright nonetheless—though definitely without the idiotic grin. I was strong!  Tough!  Resilient!  I could handle it. And I did—until I couldn’t.

Dark days descended, make that dark years, and I was smothered under heavy clouds of doom. I had no interest in going anywhere or doing anything. I stayed alone, took uppers, prescribed, went back to talk therapy and started EMDR, therapy for PTSD, my diagnosis. Everything helped. A little.

And then I tried yoga.

My first ever yoga class was at Yoga Shanti. Someone I barely knew suggested I might like it. Fat chance, I thought, since I had just told my therapist, “There’s not one thing in the entire world that I want to do: NOT garden, swim, socialize, bike, bake, shop, kayak, run, hike, sing, dance….”  You get the idea.

That first day, I took a beginner class. Of course, I didn’t know a Warrior One from a Down Dog, but there I was, giving it a go. The instructor was soft-spoken, kind and encouraging. I found myself inhaling and exhaling along with everyone else. I stuck my tongue out and sighed Haaaaaah—along with everyone else. I bowed my head in gratitude and dedicated my practice—along with everyone else. I felt a glint of possibility, a glimmer of hope. I figured I could do this again, which I did.

Then again. And again. And again.

For the first year, I sobbed during every savasana.

During the second year, several yogis asked if I’d like to go for coffee.

At the end of the third year, I braved a retreat.

During the next three years, I traveled to India and Montana (two equally exotic places) for yoga immersion, took yoga teacher training and fell in love.

With yoga.

Of course, the hits keep coming—not even love can keep them away. But now, when I find myself face down on the floor, I’m able to pick myself right back up—stronger, wiser and grateful. Yes, grateful. Grateful that I have the opportunity to do it again and again.

Yoga, that is.

And here are just a few things I’ve learned along the way:

Everyone has taken a spill in Tree Pose, and it’s okay. In fact, if we believe what we’ve been told, it shows progress. Thank you, Rodney. Make that tree pose a metaphor for life.

From time to time, everyone breathes in when it’s suggested they breathe out and vice versa.

Not everyone folds the blankets and puts them in the cubby the “right” way. And that’s not okay.

Knees, chest, chin was designed for inch worms.

Natarajasana—Dancer Pose—offers a glimpse into the sublime.

Everyone has a show-stopping yoga party trick—landing on your nose in Crow Pose counts. Regardless of what it is, it will be wildly applauded. Guaranteed.

And most importantly, we are all good enough. Thank you, Colleen.

Into The Light

When I was in the tenth grade, my best friend and I went to the New England Tennis Camp in Groton, Massachusetts. After lessons, we were instructed to select an evening activity:  Pottery, Dance, Creative Writing, Painting or Yoga. YOGA – What was this thing called yoga?  The unknown and mysterious, ever exciting, lured us into its web and we chose Yoga. Outfitted in our Danskin leotards, we giggled continually throughout each class. Why was this lady with the VERY long hair and flowy, flowered dresses telling us to put our bodies in these strange, weird shapes?  (Surya Namaskar A & B). And yet, I went home at the end of camp and persuaded my mom to buy me the paperback, Integral Yoga Hatha, by Sri Swami Satchidananda. This funny little book with black and white photos of people in baggy clothes posing in these odd architectural shapes remained in my library, well-used, long into adulthood. That summer, my long and deep relationship with yoga was born.

Fast forward – October 2014.

I went for my routine gynecologic exam wearing my favorite skinny jeans, my suede and sparkly flats, my most delicious black cashmere crewneck with my breezy blue blazer. Great haircut, highlights holding strong, quintessential me. The start of a very good day. I was happy and calm.

By the end of that day, I was rearranging my schedule for a CAT scan. Nine days later, I was in surgery. I woke up from being debunked:  a hysterectomy, bi-lateral pelvic dissection, insertion of a metal abdominal port, 9” vertical abdominal scar, an appendectomy and my surgeon telling me, “You have Stage 2 Ovarian Cancer. You will be fine. It’s all gone. Next up, prophylactic chemotherapy protocol.”  In my post-op delirium, I asked if I would lose my hair and whether I would still be able to practice my headstand (yes and yes). But the “cantaloupes” (as we renamed cancer) were gone. I was elated.

In honor of my upcoming protocol, I vowed to make a Post-It Wall for each day of my treatment (126 post-its) with a positive affirmation for each day. (You are so much more than your hair. You did it. You are a Princess Warrior. Breathe. You are amazing.)  At the end of each day, I would remove a post-it and see my health be reborn. I am an optimist. I had GOALS!  At the end of week one, I stared at that wall and wondered how on earth a person could be expected to get through the next 119 days and why did I have GOALS.

But I did have my yoga mat.

Over the course of those next four months, I practiced a lot of yoga (most of it in my head) and made more GOALS. (Get to restorative yoga once a week.)  Those days are a blur of physical pain and avoiding mirrors so as not to see myself without “Gigi,” my beloved wig. Medicine through an abdominal port is uncomfortable and punishing. Often, I laid on my heated bathroom floor in a delirium of extraordinary discomfort. Steroids had me crushing the 3 am bedtime. As instructed, I took a drugstore of pain medication and was still delirious with extreme physical pain. Get to Restorative Yoga once a week. And so I did.

Often upon arrival, I was dizzy, other days, nausea sunk me and, on bonus days, I was both dizzy and nauseous. Yet, my mat, my beloved 24” x 68” yoga mat, was always there for me, always available, ever restorative, never judgmental, no matter my mood or condition, always re-energizing some part of me that was in hibernation during treatment. There was not one day that dragging myself from that bathroom floor was a mistake. I always felt reunited to a part of myself that I felt had been kidnapped. The joy of being on my mat reminded me during those months, despite so much that had been taken from me (flat stomach, beautiful long hair, my time…), I was still intact. For 60 minutes and beyond, I was returned to myself, fully back and reconnected to the person I had been for the past 51 years. I distinctly remember getting back on my mat post-surgery at Yoga Shanti in Sag Harbor. My place. My spot. My “temple;” filled with my people, so many of whom are now my most beloved and cherished friends. Each day on my mat, a part of me was resurrected, I was in flow and back into the light.

After I finished those 126 days of brutality (“No sign of disease present.”), yup, I had more GOALS. 30 days of yoga. I was bald and now fighting a severely damaged lymphatic system where my leg was extremely swollen. I woke up each day wondering/screaming, “Who took my leg?”  Those 30 days re-booted my reason for being and set me on a quest to find my purpose.

Fast forward one and a half years – 2016.

The BEAST is back. More chemotherapy (no hair loss!), more chemotherapy, a clinical trial and more chemotherapy (hair loss again, ugh) plus four unforgettable hospital stays. Five years in and I’m still on this path. Life is so very different now:  roller coasters of fear (6-week blood tests), elation (good CAT scans) and every other emotion possible, seeking precious time that often feels stolen from me. I still think about my hair and how phenomenal it is to have it. And yet, my mat, is always my re-entry back into living, not just surviving the brutality of an ongoing Ovarian Cancer protocol. Yoga is my medicine; it awakens the best of me, even as I often observe my abilities/practice diminished from the steroids and massive doses of Napalm-like drugs I have been administered. On my mat, it’s an imperfect/perfect and complex place; world wars against my personal demons have been fought in my head, rooms of my house redesigned, dinner parties planned and arguments resolved. It is a place of great comfort and safety.

The teacher may be within ourselves but I am grateful to my 10th grade yoga teacher for opening my eyes to a world of joy and possibility beyond my imagination, transporting me into the light each time I step on my mat.


Outside to Inside

When I first started my yoga practice with Yoga Shanti in October 2005, I was completely driven by the outside world. I gave you authority over my life. I adjusted what I did or said based on what I thought you wanted. If you needed me or wanted me for some role I acted according to your wishes. I had little sense of myself or my needs.

In fact, the first time I ever heard the words “I need” was when I was 29 up at the University of New Hampshire finishing an aborted college career. I never knew I could say those words. My sense of self and my sense of self-worth were dictated by how your needing me could fill the hole inside me. Being bulimic for 20 years, my mind and body were divorced from each other. My various addictions to people, places and things were also an attempt to fill up what was a cavernous space inside me.

As my yoga practice slowly grew, that mind-set gradually altered. I began to shrink from extending myself outwardly and started to recognize that my anchor lay inside. When I first started my practice, I used my neck and my lower back but had not an ounce of awareness in between. My core was likewise asleep and naturally, as a consequence of over working one or two parts and not utilizing my whole body, I hurt myself.

I cannot say which came first, the shifting of my mental attention and authority from being outwardly directed to being more inwardly driven, or my body becoming stronger and more whole; and maybe it does not matter. The body-mind connection is visceral for me. I certainly feel the consequences of a sustained yoga practice, where I can almost feel my bones and can operate from a sense of self that is new to me. I have taken back authority from outside myself to inside myself.

This is most keenly felt in my pranayama practice where through the breath, it is as though the outer world and my inner world merge. I feel my body disappear, and I am not doing the breathing but am “being breathed” as Richard Rosen would say.

Feeling that wonderful sense of peace that comes from really living in the ‘Now”, as Eckert Tolle would say, I no longer fear anything that might be coming towards me out of the future. There is an ability to be direct and speak my truth, without anxiety about a reaction from others. I am learning to be more compassionate towards myself and others and less judgmental. I might be direct, but I am trying not to be harsh. I have begun to solve the mystery of self and yet conclude that what “the self” actually is, is also a mystery.

Desert Island

A couple of years ago, one of my favorite and most generous yoga teachers, Heidi Fokine, randomly asked which three poses we would take with us if we were stranded on a desert island. I often think about that very question when I can’t fall asleep at night and create simple rhymes, and it sure beats that antiquated counting sheep exercise. There are plenty of poses I love, and even more that I don’t, but these are the three that I eventually decided to choose.

If I was alone on a small desert isle, surrounded by shells and sand,
I’d relieve my depression and loneliness by practicing a long headstand.
If I was alone on a small desert isle, wondering if life was worthwhile,
I’d practice tarasana for hours on end, just to make my frightened self smile.
If I was alone on a small desert isle, so full of worry and woes,
In the water I’d dip my tired limbs, while practicing uplifting triangle pose.

These are mine, what would yours be? Ask yourself this when you’re up during the night, unable to fall back to sleep. In the meantime, happiness and sweet dreams to the yoga community who has changed my life forever.

On Being Asked to Write the Focus of the Month

As of this month, Yoga Shanti has opened up the writing of the focus of the month our students as well as our teachers. Margie Bono is one of our regulars at the Sag Harbor studio.

Thoughts of anxiety and trepidation, reminiscent of school day assignments, began filtering into my periphery. You know, the psycho-babble that takes over at the slightest hesitation. The moment you think you’re safe, calm, tucked into the dreamiest shavasana ever—boom, one tiny seemingly insignificant thought sets the overthinking mess of my mind in motion. And then I thought, I can do this! Sure, I’ll try to put some comprehensive thoughts down on paper—I do love to share…

I take every day on the mat as if it were my first. There’s no other way to look at it! No expectations, no disappointments. I am trying to weave this mantra into a basic approach on life… needless to say, some days are better than others!

Yoga Shanti offers so much more than a yoga practice. I truly believe there is a special presence in the studio, elements that go beyond the boundaries of the mat. The people—teachers and students—seem to mesh in an unusual dialogue of mind, body and spirit. I have begun to understand the art of patience, that transitions are so very important, that breath alone can change everything, that we are all connected…

Maybe I’m making this up, but there seems to be an understanding that it’s ok to be who you are when you walk into the studio—whatever that might be, on any given day. As long as you practice within the designated lines, almost all can be forgiven!

The morning mat chat is not to be missed… wars have been stopped (and started), world peace resolved but, most importantly, friendships forged. What happens when you put a group of people from varying backgrounds (philosophical, emotional, physical) in a room on any given weekend, practicing mat to mat with 70 of your nearest and dearest fellow yogis? Magic!!

I am honored to be a part of this special space, artfully carved into the Sag Harbor community, which in and of itself reflects and respects our individuality.

Thank you for taking the time to read this… now it’s time to take another breath…


Free Will

Free Will… Is it a blessing or a curse?

It is said that inherent in being human, setting us apart from other living creatures, is a phenomenon called “free will”.

And so I question how free are we? And, if indeed we are free, is this freedom a blessing or a curse?

I‘m very curious about pairing these words ”free” and “will” together since, by definition, each word could be interpreted as the other’s opposite or the term could be considered an oxymoron.

So perhaps, when entertaining the conversation of free will being a blessing or curse, the answer lies in the question itself. Yes, it is “both/and”.

When one becomes a prisoner in their monkey mind of rumination or stuck in thought patterns; free will may not be so free. With no direction and too many options to choose from, this freedom may be considered a curse.

It may be considered a blessing when one is able to use their will to direct or focus their thoughts. One might then be able to have more freedom and perceived control of his/her life and live by the words “change your thoughts, change your life.”

How does one go about doing this?

Perhaps by honoring “being” human”/ human being.

Loving the pairing of these two words, I try to start my day by bringing the two together and living from the “both/and” perspective with a morning practice. It begins with a simple prayer of gratitude as soon as I open my eyes of “Thank You, God”.

I then get out of bed, into the bathroom, splash some cold water on my face to make sure I’m still alive and in this form called body, and I continue in prayer. Taken from a Course in Miracles, I ask :

“Where would you have me go?”

“What would you have me do?”

“What would you have me say?”

“And to whom?”

Then I listen.

I find it easier to focus on listening by writing. I understand my hands to be an extension of my heart and appreciate the joy of listening with my heart.

I use a notebook opened to both pages. On the right side of the page, I allow words and designs to flow free style. I consider it to be the “downloading” of the Spirit.

On the left page, I use two columns called “to do”/“to be,” respectively.

I try to find a word that might be the right container for the downloads; like a box of understanding. I just let it be, without editing, and then go on to the next step of my morning practice. It could be reading an inspirational poem or article, speaking to my prayer partner, or asana practice/meditation on my yoga mat.

Whatever the form takes, I start the day by “Grounding myself in Spirit”.

Sounds like another oxymoron? Perhaps.

Some of my favorite teachers are oxymorons!

From here, the rest of my day is about “doing”. (The human part.)

I’ve grown to listen to Spirit continually throughout the day by hearing the song of my soul with the rhythm of my breath. From “Inspiration to Action”, I try to walk along the day’s path with beauty and grace. I follow my breath and try to be happy for where I am at any given moment. I try to keep my thoughts in the background, being kind in the foreground. It is a day-by-day practice; moment-by-moment and breath-by-breath.

Gratitude Stacking

“We can’t choose what happens to us, but we can change how we choose to receive our experience.” This quote resonates with me because it serves as a reminder that we have the power to shift our attitude. Even from difficult situations, we can learn something powerful and maybe even find something we are grateful for. Gratitude can shift the energy of your mind and body to help cultivate feelings of balance and peace, making you more resilient to stress.

I started regularly practicing yoga as a freshman in college. My first yoga teacher was a senior who taught a free class on Wednesday nights in the dorm lounge. At the end of each class she would instruct us to send gratitude to our body, for everything it does for us each day. I would quietly thank my body, but I never put much thought into why I was grateful.

Spring semester of my sophomore year had just begun and I felt tired and thirsty. I could barely sit through the first day of class. I spent my day running back and forth between the water fountain and the bathroom. Later that night my roommate brought me to the emergency room and I was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune condition where your body attacks the insulin-producing cells in your pancreas. Without insulin, our bodies cannot use the sugar in our bloodstream as energy. People with type 1 diabetes must inject insulin into their body every day to regulate blood sugar and stay alive. It was at this moment I realized how much our bodies do for us to keep us healthy. I understood my first yoga teacher’s emphasis on gratitude and her lesson not to take for granted our body’s capacity to care for itself.

After my diagnosis, I started incorporating gratitude into my daily life. It helped me realize how lucky we are to experience life, how fragile our lives actually are and how quickly they can change. Being diagnosed as a college student was challenging because I had to learn a new way of relating to my body and caring for myself while trying to keep up with my school work and activities. Expressing gratitude helped me get over the fear of living with a pancreas that does not fully function and find forgiveness for a body that needs extra help caring for itself.

The shift that practicing gratitude creates is that it helps you find joy, pleasure, optimism and compassion in your everyday life. It encourages you to notice things that are often taken for granted. Listing a few things you are grateful for each day cultivates awareness of the things happening around you that bring value to your life. “Gratitude is affirming the goodness in one’s life and recognizing that its source is outside the self,” says Robert Emmons, the world’s leading expert on gratitude.

Recently, I’ve incorporated gratitude stacking into my yoga practice. At the beginning of my practice, I come to a comfortable seated position and close my eyes. I become aware of my breathing, noticing each inhale and exhale. Then I place one hand over my heart, the other over my stomach. Breathing in and out, being aware of my abdomen rising and falling as I breathe, I turn my attention inward and start to share with myself things I am grateful for. “I am grateful for my health, for the insulin that keeps me alive, for my boyfriend, the students in my yoga class, for the sun as it shines through the window. What do I have in my life right now for which I feel grateful?” I continue to list things for ten or so breaths. This practice of gratitude stacking grounds me in the present moment by focusing on my breath. It also allows me to take time to reflect on the things I have in my life that bring me joy and make me who I am.

#nothingisordinary: A Love Letter to Asana

#nothingisordinary: I’ve been using this hashtag a lot lately in my Instagram account. I like it because it speaks to a central experience of awareness: every living thing is absolutely unique. There is not and never can be a single exception to this rule: the sparrow that pecks at my bird feeder is as non-repeatable as the chihuahua sleeping by my feet or the tree I photographed yesterday. I would know my daughter by the shape of her left ear. Everything in nature (prakriti) is as non-replicable and non-replaceable as you are; no more and certainly no less. Nature has made a heavy investment in your uniqueness: millions of years of evolution have come together to form the nexus of miraculous wonder that is you, and your beautifully particular constellation will never grace the world again.

Yet it’s so easy to forget this in our everyday life. We become fond of our opinions and viewpoints. We get ensnared in dualistic thinking: we want to be right, so we assert our ideas, argue about them and squander our energy trying to get others to agree with us. So much human discourse is about defending our territory! We tend to forget that these territorial boundaries are all part of a self-made and illusory map, all samsara. And, ultimately, they make us small.

I love asana because it invites us into a space where dualistic boundaries fall away and we enter the paradox of the non-dual. In asana practice, we get to be both the observer and the observed, the field and the knower of the field (purusha), the hawk gliding through the sky and the sky itself, the breather and that which is being breathed. As we pin our attention with loving detail to the living form we inhabit, we learn to expand into the wider miracle of our being. That miracle resides in the movement of our muscles, the pull of apana in the bones and the rise of prana in our breath-stream, but it doesn’t end there. The concentration we bring to the body in every moment of asana flips our experience of it inside out until we can no longer say just where it/we begin and end.

For me, this is the greatest of the many gifts offered by asana practice. I get to step outside my small, constrained, self-protective self and sometimes glimpse, for the briefest of moments, the boundless Self that merges with all existence.

If we’re paying attention, we might even get to “touch life as it is arising” and see the whole of our being for the unified, fluid, co-existent miracle that it is.  (Rodney Yee: Yoga the Gift of Life.)

So each time you get on your mat, you’re knocking on the door to the miraculous. #nothingisordinary about that.

I love you, asana ❤️

Practice on.