New class- Eco Yoga

Eco Yoga is a heart-felt asana class dedicated to serving our miraculous home, the only planet with life, in this crucial tipping point of climate change. Rainforests are massive carbon sinks, yet continuously they are burnt down to grow palm oil or raise cattle, returning the carbon back into the atmosphere. By stepping onto your mat, you fulfill your dharma to prevent another rainforest from burning; proceeds from each ten-class package are donated to prevent one metric ton from polluting our atmosphere and furthering our commitment to climate chaos. Eco Yoga is about connecting within and to Oneness, and realizing that Earth’s wellbeing translates to the wellbeing of one’s self. Dedicating your yoga to something higher than you empowers you as a channel for that higher energy. Eco Yoga transforms consciousness and karma as we start to see and treat the universe as an expansion of ourselves. The asana is creatively sequenced to challenge, with pranayama and options to play with arm balances and inversions. (Level 2-3)

This class is offered each Sunday at 10AM – 11:15 at the Pink House Studio on the intersection of Booth and Wright in Riverwest, Milwaukee, beginning April 30!

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Three Practices to End Suffering

Humans are conditioned to suffer; suffering seems normal and we just accept it as part of life. We continue destructive behaviors even after we’ve been shown the harm we are inflicting on ourselves and others. Once we see the harm we cause, we feel guilty and the cycle is complete, we’re suffering again.
Often the ego tricks us into believing we are the victim, when we’re perceiving from the center, it seems things are happening to us- watch out for this voice!  In an early part of our journeys, victimhood holds some truth. We can fall victim to unconscious thinking and acting.  Once we recognize that we are free to choose what we think and do, we free ourselves from suffering. Pain is there and will arise- how do we react?  Do we complain, or with awareness realize it as a passing moment.  It’s not immediate, but it’s a challenging process of recognizing thoughts and impulses as they arise and choosing – do I go with the impulse? Where does the impulse come from – my True Eternal Blissful Self or the false self? (Hint: the false self usually wants to keep us suffering – stuck in the illusion of self as center; the True Self wants to serve the center.)  
 There are three ingredients in the recipe for success for relieving suffering, according to Sri Prem Baba: svadhyaya, or self-study and the study of sacred texts, humility, and sadhana, or spiritual practice.
Svadhyaya allows us to discover ourselves – what is ego, or the false self, and what is our True Self?  Notice your thoughts, daily patterns and choices this is your starting point.  Sacred texts are helpful in describing the true self. Sat chit ananda, your true self is eternal, unchanging, blissful. My suggestions for useful texts: Light on Life by BKS Iyengar, Sri Swami Satchidanda’s commentary on the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, and Swami Vivekenanda’s Jnana Yoga.  As you read these helpful texts, now observe yourself in light of the texts- what would Iyengar, Vivekenanda, or Satchidananda say?
Humility attracts wisdom, and pride or arrogance chases wisdom and divinity away. Humility also keeps us on our toes. When we’ve think we’ve gotten control of our senses and emotions, they can more easily sneak up on us. Pride also makes us feel like we know, so in a way it makes our cup full; humility is like an empty cup in which lessons from the divine can flow in and further fill us up.  
Sadhana keeps stripping away the false self and brings us back to the present moment to check in with ourselves. Sadhana is like an internal cleanse, all day long we are collecting impressions, like a house gathering dust. Sadhana is our way of directing the impressions for a set amount of time in order to keep a cleaner house.  Sadhana is making a conscious choice about what we’re doing and what we’re focusing on.

If you feel like you’re being used, it’s because you are.

If you feel like you’re being used, it’s because you are.  You are an instrument of the divine.  Your voice, your actions, your deeds are all in service of the highest.  What the highest is, or what is divine, that is up to your beliefs, only you know for yourself.  All I can say is that you are powerful, especially if you recognize yourself as a channel or pathway of divinity.

In our time of feeling politically disenfranchised, in our time of feeling so small as individuals in face of climate disaster, in our time when we feel pitted against one another, as a yogi, as an instrument of divinity myself, as a teacher, a friend, a lover of you, I must say that you have the power of the universe, of nature, of God, of the divine on your side.  We all do, it’s just that many forget.  Even I can forget as I wallow in self pity over conflict.

What does the divine want?  How can you serve this higher purpose?  Well, you are divine.  So what do you want?  What are your goals?  And then, what is your starting point?  How can you connect where you are in this moment with where you want to be?  What’s your first step?  And then the second?  Don’t worry about filling them all in, one step at a time.

Empower yourself and others by believing and seeing the highest in yourself and in them too.  Finally, let yourself be used.  It’s a lesson in humility for sure, so the ego will want to fight it.  This is ishvara pranidhana, the last and most difficult of niyamas, or observances in our foundational yoga practices.  Ishvara pranidhana is the surrendering of our small self to our highest Self, the Self that is in all other beings.

200 Hour Yoga Teacher Training

200 Hour Yoga Teacher Training  changed my life.  It was within my training that I deeply examined my beliefs about myself and the world.  I had been doing this for years already, especially within my BFA studies at UWM, in which I put my relationships to myself, each other, and to Earth under the microscope lens of art and womens’ studies courses.  In yoga teacher training, a fraction of the time required of a student within the university, I had the opportunity to look through the lens of a yogi at my life and how I interact with my world.

I grew up a critical thinker, always distrusting the mainstream ways, and I would critique the mindless day to day life of consumerism that the American Dream encourages.  I thought by being a producer of thoughtful images and objects, I could begin to inspire art viewers to question their own relationship to the American Dream, to the blind consumerism, to the disconnections we have with each other and our planet.  I was frustrated with humanity.

Yoga Teacher Training showed me a new way.  The way of the yogi.  Love is power.  Frustration is not a way to inspire others, but love is.  I changed my relationship to myself and to my community.  Anger has been replaced with acceptance, understanding, and most importantly love, and from this nourished rather than frustrated source of energy, I now address the issues I always have been in a far more effective manner.

Profoundly humbling, and from my deepest source of love, I am now leading a 200 hour teacher training through the Third Ward’s Institute of Beauty and Wellness.  Who knows how Yoga Teacher Training could change your life?   Sign up here: http://ibw.edu/programs/yoga/

Photo credit: Nicole Sheldon

Use the Breath to Change How You Feel

The Yogis have been saying this for a long time, and what do you know modern science is catching up these days.  Modern scientific studies, to be found here: Breath Could Change Your Emotions, are proving that deep, slow breathing reduces the stress precedes a presentation, concert, performance, event, and mindful, deep, slow breathing reduces chronic anxiety and PTSD.  If you want to work on it, come to a yoga class or Autumnal Equinox Nidra, to breathe and relax!

Find Sanctuary During Transitions

Sigh.  It’s the body’s way of letting go.  My yoga community came out to Kirtan last night and a yoga practice titled the Evolution of Change.  
Pictured above is Ryan Hader and his fellow musician and friend Scott.  Ryan was my first public yoga teacher in Milwaukee. He brought my practice to a level where I began to feel inspired to share it with others by bringing them to class or sharing a pose I thought would help them with whatever they had going on in their bodies.

The top two photos are the ceiling of the sacred vessel that has allowed me to grow into the person I am.  This simple, elegant view from savasana has comforted me through life’s challenges that I worked through on my mat but also inspired awe at the beauty available to us if we simple know to look.

This view last night helped me remember to see the beauty in this challenging time of letting go of this sanctuary.

Ryan reminded us that everything is constantly changing, so can you be enough?  Yoga helps us access the sanctuary within, because really the room , the studio, the temple is justabsorbing all of the great energy and contains it.  Wherever you go, you can find sanctuary, for what is inside will manifest outside.

Witnessing Mantra Transformation


Just finished up a 40-day mantra challenge a week ago and began a new mantra.  Five days into this new mantra, I am already feeling the effects and shifts that this mantra is calling into my life.  This new mantra is four times longer than any other mantra that I have succeeded with chanting on a regular basis and so it took extra work to learn it, and it takes extra concentration to chant it, which is perfect for my mind which has been super busy with the transitions currently happening in my life.  

Mantra is like a prayer or the setting of an intention.  It is a chant to be done aloud or silently, usually repeated 108 times.  I have been practicing mantra for about five years and last year began to challenge myself to 40 consecutive days of practice.  40 days is an auspicious number for mantra practice.  It is said around day 30 that your karma will make it challenging to continue by throwing obstacles in your path.  That definitely happened on day 29-30 during my last 40 day challenge, with a studio merging with another and so 60% of my public classes are ending on Labor Day – catch me while you can!  So I have been coping with a lot of stress and I have been in a survival mindset.

With this big transition in life, I knew to begin a new mantra right away to align my energy with my intention.  A more complicated and longer mantra would balance the stress, chanting mantra tones the vagus nerve, so it is calling and helps practitioners still their minds for meditation.

We are powerful, if only we believe in ourselves.  Mantra helps you gather your strength, focus, and the trust you need to be great.  Are you ready to be your best?  Check out my Offerings page to get your very own mala, like the one held in the photo above.