Visit us on Facebook!

Saturday, February 21, 2015

CSA - Community Support Agriculture

It’s time!  Even with the cold and snow outside, it’s time to sign up for your local farm share; for a bag of delicious, local and (in some cases) organic produce from a farmer near you.  They need your commitment; cause it’s almost planting time.

Have you ever planted a garden?  Maybe a couple tomatoes in a pot? Or even a full-on-dug-out garden? It’s hard. Real hard. Spring tricks you with her gorgeous weather; her warm, breezy days; you WANT to be outside; you want to crumble black dirt against your skin; you plot and plan; purchase, plant and water. Food, flowers, herbs -- Yeah!
But then life goes on; you go away for the weekend; no rain; no one waters the plants; things die.  Or things grow like crazy; weeds take over.  Some years, you have a thousand cucumbers that you don’t know what to do with; the next year you have three; three crappy little cucumbers. You remember the song where they sing “to everything there is a season; turn, turn, turn.”
But for your local farmer; the smaller operations; we’re not talking agribusiness here; they take the same gamble; but if they lose, they can’t make the mortgage; pay the insurance; take care of the kids. This is their livelihood.
Why is it that this society, this culture, ranks low the most important people? The people who grow our food?  Those who educate the children?  Our elders who have lived most life and seen so much?  In this culture, our priorities are broken; and our world reflects this broken-ness.
I’ve talked many a friend into signing up for Seven Springs Farm CSA (Community Supported Agriculture); I have been sharing with them for at least 12 years.  My friends, they all love the beautiful, fresh food. Knowing it’s organic; being able to work at the farm and contribute to the good in the world. But several times when it comes to the next year, they don’t sign up again. They don’t like being given certain things each week; they don’t understand the harvest and the risk; they feel it’s expensive paying for it all in chunks instead of just buying what they want once a week. They worry about waste and prefer to go to the farmer’s market.
I understand; I do!  And I’m not down on the farmer’s markets; they are amazing places which create community and connections. Hopefully there will be more and more direct connections between farmers and consumers.  But there is also waste, just like with a CSA; sometimes we buy things we don't use; we let some fabulousness compost in the back of our fridge.
Remember though -- at the farmer's market; those luscious vegetables laid out before you in the sun on the table; what do you think happens to what you do not buy? Compost -- which is a better fate than the grocery store produce.  So be thankful that those vegetables just become fresh new dirt for your local farmer; because the organic vegetables at the grocery store that have been flown thousands of miles for your dining pleasure go into the landfill when you do not purchase them.  Keep in mind when you purchase a farm share, there is not necessarily more waste; there is just waste that you feel responsible for; that you can see.
Food is everything; control the food, you control the people; so who controls your world? Take responsibility; make a commitment; decide that there are things more important that convenience and cost.  Make a commitment to someone whose hand you can shake; someone who is saving the world in their small-but-large way. I can personally recommend both Seven Springs Farm and Good Food Good People locally; do some research; ask some friends. And become part of the solution.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Safe Journey, Beloved Mary

Just received word that a beautiful guiding light has transitioned from the Earth; my friend, Mary Whitney; brilliant astrologer and all-around gorgeous human; it is hard for me to understand; she seemed to have so much more to do here.  But that is the thing about karma; it is not for us to understand another soul’s journey; only to be grateful that we crossed paths.

My first-ever astrology reading was with Mary; I met her on retreat; along with her darling husband, Gary. Just honest-to-goodness-great-kind-earthy-real people.  Had no idea what to expect from an astrology reading; I was just beginning attempt to grasp even the tiniest bits of the vast science. My entire sense of self and perspective on what had happened in my life transformed as we discussed my natal chart.  I remember so clearly, she said to me “Oh my God . . . what happened to you between the ages of 18 and 25?” 

“Seriously!” was the first reaction of my mind; and it the first time that began to understand that the dark years; the terrible, terrible hardness of it; it had been decided; foretold; I had chosen these lessons, and they were not easy.

As I thanked her for that observation she commented, “Well; if you didn’t die, and you didn’t kill anyone else, you managed the karma well; the transits are astonishing to see.” 

It changed my perspective completely; from the outside to the inside and then back out. I wasn’t a failure for what had happened; for the choices I had made; I had managed the karma.  All those years spent beating myself up for what had happened; this knowledge gifted me with the ability to set that burden down.

She was a direct disciple and devout student of Goswami Kriyananda; one of his original students of astrology; and an ordained Swami who loved to perform weddings and other ceremonies.  When we last spoke she told stories of listening to Kriyananda lecture; the same lectures I now listen to many years later on CDs; I love to imagine her sitting in the room with him; taking note; smiling and laughing at his sweet jokes. 

The last time I hugged her was at my dear sister Gracia’s ordination as a Swami in the Kriya order; since that time she suffered from a major health crisis; fought back hard to regain her regular life and practice as an astrologer; my last reading with her was in the Fall.

She had to work a little harder to do the reading; to think things through; to speak clearly; but she demonstrated over and over her great memory of not only what she learned through the years but even small details of the very few times we had been together.

“Are you still dating that lovely young man we met at the ordination?” she inquired, referring to my 55-year old boyfriend.  I was so happy to be able to say yes; especially because of her magical relationship with her husband; Mary fully understood the power of love.

She related the plans for their 50th wedding anniversary celebration, even though it would be a couple years away. My heart goes out to her husband; theirs is a love story that makes one be assured that there can be soulmates.

So go hug your children; send an “i love u” text to your mamma; or stop and take a moment to count your many blessings.  This life, it’s very short in the context of things. Try to take no one or no-thing for granted. 

In classes lately I have been playing a spoken-word version of the poem “Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night.” It’s from the Interstellar soundtrack; and it’s lovely. 

Oh Mary, I shall miss your light. Though I know it will shine brightly for us in our dreams and meditations.  Om Shanti, Shanti, Shanti-h.

Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night

Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Though wise men at their end know dark is right,
Because their words had forked no lightning they
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright
Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight,
And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way,
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight
Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

And you, my father, there on the sad height,
Curse, bless, me now with your fierce tears, I pray.
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

From The Poems of Dylan Thomas

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Walk Unafraid

If you’ve read this blog over the years you will recall my son is quite the sage; his nickname from friends is Buddha Boy; incredible wisdom flows from his young heart.

Often my children introduce me to new music; and often, I introduce it to them. Recently the song “Walk Unafraid” has been rotating heavily through my playlist; lovely cover of the original 1998 REM song by the group First Aid Kit; it’s on the “Wild” movie soundtrack.

My son and I often connect with music; having the same favorites and style. And he’s been listening to this song as well; I’ve found him in his room on his recently acquired iPod, listening to it over and over.

Last night snuggling on the couch he inquired about the lyrics; I didn’t know some of them – a job for Google! So he looked them up and printed them off. Brought them over to me on the couch. “You want to sing it together?” he asked.

He just turned 12; sweet boy on the cusp of changing from a boy to man; so bittersweet and I know he’ll have to break himself free from me on some levels very soon. This is a moment I will cherish.

“Sure,” I responded, and so we settled in together; not quite hitting the notes perfectly; not quite ready for prime-time; but so beautiful; I never want to forget us singing together; reminding each other to walk unafraid.

So here are the lyrics.  Me and my son; probably some of you too; are walking into an a new and unknown phase of life filled with incredible changes.  I don’t know anyone who isn’t right now.  But perhaps these words from the song will help guide you on your way. Just like they are guiding us.

As the sun comes up
As the moon goes down
These heavy notions creep around
It makes me think, long ago

I was brought into this life
A little lamb, a little lamb
Courageous, stumbling
Fearless was my middle name

But somewhere there I lost my way
Everyone walks the same
Expecting me to step
The narrow path they've laid

They claim to
Walk unafraid
I'll be clumsy instead
Hold me, love me or leave me high

Say "keep within the boundaries if you want to play”
Say “contradiction only makes it harder”
How can I be
What I want to be?

When all I want to do is strip away
These stilled constraints
And crush this charade
Shred this sad masquerade

I don't need no persuading
I'll trip, fall, pick myself up and

Walk unafraid
I'll be clumsy instead
Hold me, love me or leave me high

If I have a bag of rocks to carry as I go
I just want to hold my head up high
I don't care what I have to step over
I'm prepared to look you in the eye

Look me in the eye
And if you see familiarity
Then celebrate the contradiction
Help me when I fall to

Walk unafraid
I'll be clumsy instead
Hold me, love me or leave me high

I will walk unafraid
I'll be clumsy instead
Hold me, love me or leave me high



Thursday, August 21, 2014

Uttara Yoga Teacher Training

You can always look back upon your life and reflect upon where you leaned in; where you took risks; where a challenge was laid down; and you stood up, and met it.  And also where you didn’t; where you waffled; waited.  Choosing to do nothing is still a choice.

One of my teachers often said, we incur much more difficult karma from what we leave undone in life, as opposed to what we actually do.

me and Katieji
When Katie Silcox came to me about creating the Uttara Yoga Teacher Training program two years ago, let me tell you, I was honored.  Katie is a rockstar in the yoga world, which is frankly irrelevant.  What matters was that I had taken her workshops, sat at her feet and learned a LOT from an ardent student of Tantra.  Katie has done THE WORK.  It shows up in every layer of her being.  So when she wanted to work with me, she helped me to honor myself; my journey; yoga teacher training in Roanoke?  Yes; let’s do it.  Our similarities and our differences make us a unique and very complete teaching team.
I had wanted to offer teacher training in Roanoke for many reasons.  First, Uttara has many students who are looking to grow.  Especially my Life Transformation Course graduates; these are people who are hungry for the deeper teachings; people who don’t want to scratch the surface of life; they are really to drill and dig into the why, what and how of Life.  Seekers.  Many people take the trainings to learn about the deeper teachings to grow their own personal practice, and not because they plan to teach. 

Second, we need more yoga in Roanoke.  More studios; more teachers; more people bringing yoga to schools, offices and hospitals.  More people who are passionate about spreading the word about this vital science that helps with human problems.  Yoga teachers who can teach a class, not just lead a class; yoga teachers who keep students safe.  Joy-filled, generous, kind, knowledgeable yoga teachers who walk the walk and talk the talk.

My training at the Temple of Kriya Yoga was intense and very complete; one solid year of home student with four long intensive weekends; my initiation into Kriya; more study with Kriology and Mystical Sciences Courses; many discipleship weekends and alumni trainings.  Continuing education and additional certifications and apprenticeships with many teachers outside of the lineage to broaden my view.  At this point I have taught literally more than 3,000 yoga classes and I want to keep spreading the yoga love.  
first graduating class!  2013-14

Why should you take our training?  Well, I know less every day -- but I know this:  my yoga is about love; it is about kindness, acceptance and non-judgment.  And that doesn’t mean you get to be lazy or sloppy.  Yoga to me is the highest service to humanity.  When you become a yoga teacher your very task is to change the World.  To help every human that you encounter to become their highest and best self.
And not just them; but you.  True yoga begins with the self; those of us that teach always remain students.  Our students become our teachers if you can simply open your heart to the lessons.

Would you like to shift your life?  Would you like to become an even greater blessing and force for goodness in the world?

Okay then; we have a few spaces left in our teacher training; maybe one of them belongs to you.  Email me,


Monday, July 21, 2014

Finding Beauty

We have a dear student at Uttara who began last Summer bringing an arrangement of flowers to class on Saturday mornings  Such a simple but appreciated kindness; fresh flowers; grown, selected and arranged with kindness and love.

And as the weeks passed by and we moved towards Fall, we had an interesting exchange as he brought in his weekly bounty.  "It's getting harder" he explained "now that the Summer flowers are gone."  "What is beautiful is less obvious; and I have made it a weekly spiritual practice -- on Saturday mornings, I go out and I find something beautiful."

And oh, yes, they still were beautiful; arrangements of leaves and greenery; of grasses and seedpods; colors shifting to the subtle but beautiful Fall hues.

It has been a joy to watch the return of the joyous colors of Spring and Summer.  One week he dug up a few little mounds of violets and arranged them in a clay saucer; gorgeous!

Remembering to look for the beauty and the bounty in life is indeed a deep spiritual practice and also a biological imperative.  There is real brain science behind the thinking that positivity and gratitude create a healthier, happier body and mind.

During a recent trip to Asheville to study with Michael and Stephanie Johnson we were studying the Hatha Yoga Pradipika and they were weaving the ancient text into the modern science of brain research.  Check out the book Buddha's Brain for more info. 

My simple take-aways from the weekend of teaching were two-fold:  one, that for every negative thought you need a minimum of 3 positive thoughts to counter that negative thought and neutralize it.  Wow, that's a lot of positive thinking!  Studies had shown that a 1 to 1 ratio of positive to negative thoughts meant you were in the depression zone. 

The second one was for you to spend four days in a row spending 20 minutes writing about the best possible outcome for your life.

We truly are permitted the choice; glass half full; glass half empty; who-took-my-damn-glass-anyway? 

Tomorrow; and the day after; and the day after that; I give you your mission; find the beauty; find the joy.  I promise you; they exist.



Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Hell Yes! or No

A recent conversation brought up a new resolution of a friend of a friend of a friend.  My friend told me that this woman was planning her Summer and had decided that she would choose how she spent her time based on whether her internal response was "Hell Yes!" 

Anything that wasn't a "Hell Yes!" would be a No."

That conversation has permeated my life and my teachings.  In very good and profound ways.  Cause I don't know about you, but my life can end up being a whole series of maybe, sorta and I guess so.

How often when you choose to do something, is it a "Hell Yes" -- ?  The activities you choose, the meals you eat, the media you absorb.  The people you spend time on; the things you spend money on.  How much is perfunctory, obligatory, not-what-you-really-wanted. 

When you think about an average day in your life, are you enthused, inspired, excited; or just waiting for a future that never seems to arrive?

How much of your response to daily life is "okay," "probably," or "well, alright?"

Of course, there are responsibilities; of course, there are things we have to do; no one says Hell Yes to taxes or toilet scrubbing, but what if we approached even the tedious parts of our life with that attitude of getting it DONE and moving ON to the good stuff -- and knowing that we have created and accepted multiple experiences and opportunities for the good stuff?

I read a beautiful quote recently in Rob Brezney's Free Will Astrology (; I highly recommend his website.  It was proffered as a weekly horoscope for Libras; but I hope we will all take it to heart:
"There is always an enormous temptation in all of life," writes Annie Dillard, "to diddle around making itsy-bitsy friends and meals and journeys for itsy-bitsy years on end . . . I won't have it. The world is wider than that in all directions, more dangerous and bitter, more extravagant and bright."  -- Your assignment in the coming weeks, Libra, is to transcend whatever is itsy-bitsy about your life. The alternative? Head toward the frontier and drum up experiences that will thrill your heart and blow your mind.
So, my friends; here is your assignment, and mine, too -- I charge you with creating a life of beauty and service; of doing what thrills you and scares you and what you cosmically came to do.  LIVE YOUR LIFE. 

No more itsy-bitsy; no more maybe or just okay.  HELL YES! or NO.



Monday, May 26, 2014


Wilderness Adventures -- gorgeous Craig County, VA
I love yoga retreats.  I love even "retreating" to another town just to practice yoga; at least a couple times a year my beloved and I slip away to another town for a few days of yoga classes, good eating and time alone together.  We always return a little more ready to tackle our reality and responsibilities.

I've also attended amazing yoga retreats where you can just totally immerse in yoga and meditation with like-minded people.  Incredible expereiences; an amazing sound healing retreat with my Kriya Yoga sister Camella Nair! and also a great detox retreat with my darling Katie Silcox  Even made it to India this year with the awesome Lisa Bergley and Uschi Gibson

So whether it's 48 hours or longer if you can swing it, it is really important to get out of your own little patterns for even a couple days; to not just ignore the laundry, the dishes, the chores -- because even if you decide to defer those mundane duties they always seem to mock you just a little.  But to truly set aside time for yourself; to eat well, get rest, read, journal, whatever.  Add in yoga, meditation, nature and sangha, retreat can nourish the spirit in ways a regular vacation just cannot.

It takes effort to make space; to shut down the computer and walk away from the tv; to let go of driving the same streets to the same places and all the familiarities.  By definition a "retreat" is a movement back; a retracing of steps in order to regroup

Our Cabin!
You have to choose to treat yourself to "retreat."

Kimberly Vest and I are leading a yoga retreat next month at Wilderness Adventures in Craig County, Virginia.  A gorgeous little spot that is about an hour from Roanoke, even less if you're out Salem/Botetourt way.  Would you like to join us? 

We're keeping it pretty simple; we've got an entire building all to ourselves; it's rustic, in that it's a wooden cabin and rooms are shared -- but it's very modern and very sweet.  There's outdoor space for practicing yoga in the grass, as well as a large covered pavilion with ceiling fans if it's too hot or if it rains.  There's also indoor space for yoga if the weather requires us to be indoors, and loads of outdoor activities and places to wander.  There's beautiful pond, a rushing river and hiking trails.  Check out the website if you want more pictures and info.

Dining Hall
We're planning lots of yoga and meditation options; but remember, these are OPTIONS.  I have many times attended a yoga retreat and decided that what I really needed to do was sit in a rocking chair and write in my journal instead of attend the scheduled class.  Or that I needed to dig a little deeper into conversation with a new and interesting person I have met instead of doing another scheduled activity.  The meal times are pretty set, but otherwise everything is optional; following your heart and your head and create your own retreat.

Very auspiciously the actual Summer Solstice is that Saturday -- so of course there will be a fire ritual and intention setting -- oh, and s'mores!  Also keep in mind that you'll pass Carvins Cove, McAfee's Knob and Dragon's Tooth on the way to and from the retreat -- so maybe tke Friday off and go hike on your way; or Sunday as you depart you can add on a little outdoor adventure.
One of the Rooms
The food will be vegetarian and all freshly prepared and served in the main lodge -- though the cabin we are renting has a full kitchen that you have access to if you have dietary restrictions or any concerns about properly feeding yourself.

Here are the details and a rough outline of our schedule; space is limited and there is a discount if you pre-register/pre-pay by June 1.

Let's go!!

Friday, June 20, 2014, 5:30 pm check-in
Sunday, June 22, 2014, 12 Noon check-out

Summer Solstice Yoga Retreat with Jill Loftis & Kimberly Vest
The solstice is an essential point in the year where we can honor the flow of life on earth. It is a time for us to come back into balance and harmony. As the Earth moves through its cycles of darkness into light and back again, we also share a parallel journey. With the Sun at its highest point in the sky, we can be reminded our own light.

Now is the time to reconnect to the light within ourselves, the light of our highest self. Immersed in nature, you will experience yoga asana, pranayama, meditation, kirtan and satsang as well as home cooked meals prepared with fresh ingredients.

Immerse yourself in nature and practice asana, pranayama, meditation, deep relaxation and chanting. This retreat is appropriate for all levels, including beginners.

Accommodations are rustic yet modern, with separate double/twin beds, bunk bed style in each room of the lodge. The lodge has its own kitchen if you have specific dietary needs. All linens: sheets, pillows, pillow cases, blankets, towels, etc. is provided.

Free outdoor activities: canoeing & swimming on pond, hiking the 500 mile property, horseshoes, sand volleyball, Frisbee gold course, field game equipment for soccer, football, Frisbee, etc.

Note: Please bring appropriate shoes, clothing, rain gear, yoga mat, water bottle and insect repellent.

Retreat Schedule

3:00 - 5:30 pm: Arrival and settling in
5:15 pm: Friday night unwind – gentle yoga/yoga nidra
6:00 pm: Gather at Sly Lodge to meet the group.
6:30 pm: Dinner at Main Lodge
8:00 pm: [talk/gathering/informal tarot readings with Jill]
10:00 pm: lights out

7:00 am: optional meditation
8:00 am: optional yoga
9:00 am: breakfast
10:00 am: Free time
Noon: Lunch
1:00 pm: [lecture]
2:00 pm: Free time
5:00 pm: optional yoga
6:30 pm: Dinner
7:30 pm: Ritual/Fire/Chanting Social time bring smores bring instruments

7:00 am: optional meditation
8:00 am: optional yoga
9:00 am: breakfast
10:00 am: walking meditation
10:30 am: optional yoga
Noon Closing Ritual; goodbye!

Founded Uttara Yoga Studio in Roanoke, Virginia in 2008. Her ecletic style weaves together the knowledge of Kriya Yoga with her studies under many gifted teachers She leades classes and workshops regionally on a variety of topics including astrology, stress reduction, and group breathwork.

Kimberly has been teaching and practicing yoga for over 20 years. Her foundational training was in the Integral yoga tradtion and trained and studied in the Viniyoga and Anusara traditions. Kimberly is skillful at adaptng classes to the needs of her students.

$250.00 before June 1 / $275.00 after June 1
To register, please contact Uttara Yoga Studio at (540) 309-0071 or via email:


Friday, May 2, 2014

Ummmmm . . . . aaaHHHAAaaaa . . .

April was quite a month, eh?

Make time to meditate.
Oh – you didn’t notice?  Everything easy-peasy-breezy?  Oh good!  Such excellent karma for you; go celebrate; the rest of us are gonna chat for a moment.

Holy crap, two super-strong eclipses sandwiching the Uranus-Pluto square; if your life was stress-free and awesome, that’s great; but did you read the news?  See the weather?  Have you been extra tired?  Lots of crazy dreams?  Big choices to make?  Endings?  (Which are actually beginnings . . . )
We are all connected and the fabric of our existence is under siege.  Many of us are at a crossroads of existence; what/who do we keep?  What/who do we let go of?

Rishikesh, sacred space.
If you figure it all out-got-the-answers-sure-no-worries-mate . . . then please text me at 540-309-0071 and let me know what to do. 

Cause it’s hard for me; really hard.

But I will tell you what has helped me; no, SAVED me during the past few weeks.  I have been meditating every day. 

Well, of COURSE Jill meditates everyday  – you say – she’s a yoga teacher, spiritual healer, all that stuff . . . yeah, but that doesn’t mean I have always made the time to do what I know works.  We usually all know in our heart what is right, what works.  It’s choosing it – that’s the sticky bit. 

For me this past month, it has been SO easy to meditate; to make time, to understand how important it is; my soul knows I am keeping myself sane.  I am literally sucked onto the cushion; and even then I usually have a little routine;  invocation, pranayama, mantra, etc.  But that has dropped away these past few weeks into just sitting; just BEING, sitting, shifting, listening, breathing, living, dying, birthing, receiving, giving, nothing.  It’s been awesome; and so hard not to be attached to that experience.
There is a window of opportunity open for us all right now; it is a time of making hard choices; of reaching for light and removing darkness; of letting go to make space for opportunity and also receiving great gifts of Earthly and Heavenly joys.  Of finding other spiritual seekers on the path; of finding great love or letting go to create space FOR great love to unfold.

My dear ones; be brave; be strong; hold to the light.



Wednesday, April 9, 2014


The healing waters of  Ma Ganga.

So you ask me to tell of India, but one doesn't "tell" of India . . . India wraps itself around the core of the Soul, and as it slowly unwinds, perspective, speech and habit subtly change. The transformation is the tale. -- Layne Neville

How about that beautiful quote from my new friend Layne?  She is one of the many reasons I had an amazing trip to India.  Not just a trip really, but a spiritual pilgrimage.  With a healthy dose of tourist-type experiences and shopping for beautiful things.

Me, Lisa and Uschi in an auto rickshaw
I have the enormous blessing of spiritual sisters all over the place, and one of those sisters is Lisa Bergley the founder and primary teacher at Spirit of the Lake Yoga in Excelsior, Minnesota.  I tagged along with her group of yogis and non-yogis, meeting up with the fearless and fabulous Uschi Gibson who runs LuckyUschi.  Be sure to check out her website,
which encompasses her women's empowerment work in creating a line of fair-trade clothing and also offers her incredible knowledge of the country and culture in coordinating journeys in India.  (AND be sure to check back with me at Uttara because I'm going to have some of these gorgeous creations for sale at the Studio soon!)

While I was in India, I realized people would ask me about my trip and let me tell you -- there are no sound bites or quick, snappy sentences that can even hint around at what it is to experience India.  Places like Varanasi, Bodh Gaya, Rishikesh and Hardiwar -- places with enormous spiritual power.

Meeting the women; Charrie and I said we liked to dance so they asked us to dance for them!
Any time you travel, you are changed in small and large ways; and sometimes the changes reveal themselves slowly.  I came home with a deep appreciation for what I take for granted; feeding my children so well (even if they complain and they do!); my house still seems enormous.  I came back with a strong sense of wanting to spend my time wisely; to make more time to meditate, to pray -- to take my troubles to the Goddess instead of talking them to death.  And to spend more time with the people that I love. 

I feel more responsibility as a privileged woman with a large amount of freedom to make wise choices for my sisters in other places; I never really thought that much about the bargain yoga pants I bought at TJ Maxx; now I wonder; who is sitting where and in what conditions making my ultra-cheap clothing?  That beautiful silk scarf -- someone sat a loom and made that fabric; like the beautiful mittens my friend Pat made me for Christmas one year that I cherish and make sure to never lose -- could I be more wise with what I purchase and value the time and the person who made it?

There was also so much joy there -- children flying simple kites of newspaper, life spilling out everywhere, dogs nursing puppies, markets and mess and life and death and everything in between; nothing is hidden in Mother India.

So as I integrate my experiences, there will be more writing, more thinking; and hopefully many more trips to that complex and beautiful country.



Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Shakti Wants Shiva

My mind has been quite occupied lately with the subject of love; the idea of love; the structure of love relationships, of all the various aspects and ins and outs and ups and downs of love and loving. 
I have also been digging into tantra yoga as introduced and taught to me by an amazing tantric ParaYoga teacher, Katie Silcox.  One of the fascinating and appealing aspects of tantra to me is the worship and connection to the Goddess; the Divine Mother. 
If you haven’t noticed, yoga philosophy as taught today tends to be a little dude-centered.  The asana classes are packed with women, but the leaders, the lineages, the authors – mostly men.

Tantra brought me to study the pantheon of Hindu goddesses (highly recommend  Sally Kempton’s book Awakening Shakti).

All the various Goddesses and Gods of Hinduism represent various aspects of the energy that is the Divine Feminine and the Divine Masculine.  Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva seem to get a lot more attention; but maybe that’s because there are so very many MORE aspects of the Divine Feminine. 
Women are complicated.  You knew that, right?

This beautiful study of the Divine Feminine has allowed me to appreciate all the aspects of the Goddess within myself; to realize I can be a warrior like Durga; or terrifyingly fierce like Kali.  That I can embody the abundance of Lakshmi; the creativity of Saraswati; the anger of Chhinnamasta; the sensuality of Lalita Tripura Sundarii.  And when unsupported, as dry and withered as Dhumavahti.

It has also made me realize this:  that it is okay to desire, want and work towards finding my Shiva and uniting with him.  That I can be a complex, intelligent, strong, independent woman and want a man in my life.
And not just a man in my life; it’s not hard to find someone to hang out with.  But it is hard to find someone to love who loves you in the way you need to be loved and allows you to love them to the best of your capability.  To be your friend, companion, playmate, comforter, supporter, lover, helper.  Someone to adore who adores you right back.  Who cherishes you, nurtures you enough to call you on your stuff and doesn’t run when you call him on his stuff.

All that?  That’s hard.
So many of my friends are strong, brilliant, accomplished, amazing and beautiful women.  They confide with lowered eyes that they would like to meet someone.  Yet there is this feeling that everything should be okay if you are all those things and yet have no beloved in your life. 

But it’s true, when you don’t, you miss him (or her in some cases); you are looking for that person who brings you to balance; the Shiva to your Shakti; the Divine Masculine to unite with your Divine Feminine.  The sacred union that harmonizes you.
Vickie Iovine has these great books on child rearing, and I remember reading them voraciously when my children were little; seeking advice, help, gosh, anything to help me figure out how to raise these little creatures!  And she wrote a lot about getting children to sleep in their own beds – a struggle I had with all three children.  She writes in one chapter about putting a child to bed with their stuffed animals and the child complaining that they wanted a “live” thing to sleep with – and she proffered the idea that we all spend our lives looking for the perfect “live” thing to sleep with.  She’s got a point.
We want a helper AND to someone to help; a playmate AND co-worker; someone we can tell our successes and secrets.  Who we can laugh and cry with.  Who sees and nurtures the tender little girl that will always live within us, but who can also see the sensual, sexual adult woman and create a safe space for that passionate force to be embraced, enjoyed and explored.  
Kriyananda has said that often the closest we humans will ever get to God consciousness is at the peak of orgasm – because the mind stops.  We come together in union; there is no mind grasping, no separateness; in that split-second of vibration you become one with your beloved and everything else falls away.  Have you ever had that experience with someone?  If you’re not sure, I would suggest that you have not.  There are many of us who have spent our time being sexual receptacles and the experience of truly uniting with another never actually occurs,

Shakti craves Shiva; I’m pretty sure Shiva craves Shakti; together they become greater than the sum of their parts; or as Shellji would say “two together strongly are as four against the world.”



Monday, September 9, 2013

Dharma Talk; "Dear Human . . . by Courtney A. Walsh"

Saturday mornings for my Hatha 2 class I usually do a little dharma talk; a teaching moment; something for the students to ponder before they set their intentions for their class that morning.  Often I find myself talking about something I had never even considered speaking about; this is how things unfold sometimes as a yoga teacher.

Occasionally I read quotes or spiritual texts.  I found this little gem on Facebook one day and printed it out.  It hung on my refrigerator for a while; I kept thinking that I would take it and read it for the class.

So finally, a couple weeks ago, I remembered it; took it down; carried it to the car; placed it on top of my things.  And then I get to the Studio; it's nowhere.

I'm looking around the office; the reception area; went back, looked all through my car; nothing.

Then the following week, I'm cleaning out my car -- which if you know me you realize is a rare, rare occurrence.  Was getting ready to head out of town for the weekend.

And there it was; wedged between the seat and the console.

Apparently the people who were supposed to hear it did hear; it really resonated with them; and several students asked me to post it; here it is. 

Ponder, absorb and enjoy.



Dear Human,

You’ve got it all wrong. You didn’t come here to master unconditional love. That is where you came from and where you’ll return.

You came here to learn personal love. Universal love. Messy love. Sweaty love. Crazy love. Broken love. Whole love. Infused with divinity. Lived through the grace of stumbling. Demonstrated through the beauty of… messing up. Often.

You didn’t come here to be perfect. You already are. You came here to be gorgeously human. Flawed and fabulous. And then to rise again into remembering. But unconditional love? Stop telling that story.

Love, in truth, doesn’t need ANY other adjectives. It doesn’t require modifiers. It doesn’t require the condition of perfection. It only asks that you show up. And do your best. That you stay present and feel fully. That you shine and fly and laugh and cry and hurt and heal and fall and get back up and play and work and live and die as YOU.

It’s enough.

It’s Plenty.

-- Courtney A. Walsh

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Music is Vibration

What do you think about music in yoga class?

It's actually controversial in some circles; I know my asana teacher would only use the most simple tabla music (if anything at all!) and thought anything else was just distraction. 

So it took me a while to be okay with my own personal style; but eventually, I realized, it's okay -- I like music; usually loud, crazy music. 

At least most of the time.

I also absolutely adore a class with complete silence; just the huge, pulsing vibration of a group of like-minded people breathing.  Though usually that requires experienced yogis to create a comfortable-breathing-deeply-spiritually-connected-but-in-our-own-experience-in-a big-ole-room-of-strangers vibe.

But let me tell you -- when it happens?  That is awesome; incredible.  If you've ever been to a class where the breaths are counted (at a good deep-but-reasonable-pace) that is a singular experience that truly reminds you of that song that modifies the Biblicl quote "whenever two or more of you are gathered in my name there is love." 

But for me; and for many of my students; music helps break me out of my regular life; it sets a certain vibration, a beat; a toe tapping, head boppin' rhythm.  I know students tend to hold poses in a static way, but when I practice on my own or in a class, I MOVE, I groove, I pulse; it feels natural to me. 

Love to close my eyes, find the music in my muscles, my cells; practice like no one is looking, you know?

Steve Ross, my original guru, always played the best music in class; and my style of yoga is similar to him; my music is who I am -- intense, thoughtful; moving through some stuff.  And my playlists (if you listen carefully) can tell you a lot about where I am, who I am, what I'm processing. 

For example, here's the playlist from the day my ex-husband moved out of the house.

Yeah, I remember it; it was an intense day, for me and my children:

Xotica -- Kinetik -- Phutureprimative
Digging in the Dirt -- Us -- Peter Gabriel
Bedroom Hymns -- Ceremonials -- Florence + The Machine
I'm Not Driving Anymore (Remix) -- I'm Not Driving Anymore - Rob Dougan
Set Fire to the Rain -- 21 -- Adele
In the End -- Hybrid Theory -- Linkin Park
Where is the Edge -- The Unforgiving -- Within Temptation
Karuna -- Star of the Sea -- Stellamara
Story of Pingala -- Dasi:  Prayers by Women -- Karnamrita
Power of Forgiveness -- Beyond -- Tina Turner
Shri Vidya -- Grace is the Name of the Game -- Steve Ross

Summer of 2012?  Linkin Park; like, LOTS of Linkin Park.  This Summer, a little more dance-y music; a little slower, deeper, smoother pace. And some great retro stuff from my childhood; a favorite recent class:

Dream On -- Aerosmith -- Aerosmith
Ready, Steady, Go -- Bunkka -- Paul Oakenfold
Lights (Bassnectar Remix) -- Divergent Spectrum -- Ellie Goulding
Promises (Remixes) -- EP -- The Presets
Paradise -- Mylo Xyloto -- Coldplay
Red Rain -- Hit  -- Peter Gabriel
Revolution -- The Nu Nation Project -- Kirk Franklin
Rama Bolo -- Maha Moha: The Great Delusion -- Wade Imre Morissette
Kyrie Eleison -- The Seven Valleys -- Stellamara
Dust in the Wind -- The Best of Kansas -- Kansas
Pure Essence -- Sadhana -- Maneesh De Moor
Holy Harmony -- Holy Harmony -- Jonathan Goldman and Sarah Benson

By the way, my new savasana music, Holy Harmony, listed above, is amazing; truly magical; check it out, it's a super long track, great for relaxing and breathing and connecting.

So whatever vibration you attune to -- rock, classical, electronic; the pulse of your heartbeat; the sound of the birds outside your window; yoga is meant to bring you into the moment; to bring you joy, happiness, peace, contentment. 

Whatever facilitates that, DO it. 



Uttara Yoga Studio, LLC. Blog design by Jessica Hedrick