Monday, August 31, 2009

Morning Prayer

Sharing this from the Mantra column in this month's Yoga Journal:

Karagre vasate Lakshmi
Kara-madhye Saraswati
Kara-mule sthita Gauri
Prabhate kara-darshanam

On the tip of my fingers is prosperity and abundance (goddess Lakshmi); in the middle of my hand is eloquence and learning (goddess Saraswati); at the base of my hand is divine power (goddess Parvati).  In the morning, a vision of energy in my hands.

Upon awakening, gaze into your hands and repeat this mantra until you feel it move through you and 'stick' in the mind.

Sunday, August 30, 2009


I have been indulgent but I make no apologies.

I created a practice play list that sparked a little life into my mat-bound practice this weekend~~oh, la, la.

I share below:

This Love by Bliss
A Hundred Thousand Angels (also Bliss)
These are beautiful songs for my opening/grounding/breath check...

In Deep by Ikon Massive
Snow on the Sahara by Sarah Brightman
All for Believing by Missy Higgins
Where I Stood (also Missy Higgins)
Now we get funky for the Sun Salutations...

Bien Sudao by Tony Dize
Time of Your Song by Matisyahu
Fuck Was I by Jenny Owen Youngs
Le Disko by Shiny Toy Guns
Imagination by Jes
Magic Tree by Kirsten Price
Breathe You In by Samantha James
Phenomena by Yeah Yeah Yeahs
Smile by Lily Allen
And now we make a slow way down...

Honeythief by Halou
Silence by Delerium
If You Want Me by Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova
Colorblind by Natalie Walker
Break of Day by Tina Dico
Shanti (Peace Out) by MC Yogi
The meditation takes over...

I have to say, this play list made a big difference for me~~I'm a BIG music head, have always been inspired by just the 'right' song and will emotionally ebb and flow with music that speaks to me.

More than that--it was fun...'nuff said.


Street Yoga


Friday, August 28, 2009

Finding your reservoir...

It goes without saying that I am back to reading my blogs~~okay, so I didn't make it a week but my little step back was invigorating in the sense that I garnered a little perspective.

I am easily (fortunately) inspired by life and by the lives of inspiring people, by their words and their examples, so from time to time, I get caught in a swirl of lovely, chaotic, I-want-to-drink-the-nectar-of-life-but-oh-god-can-I-handle-all-that-beauty state of mind. Maybe it's my ADD [All Divinity is Delicious~~I wanna taste it all!]

Nevertheless, my moon cycle is ending and I am entering the blissful, insightful calm that follows and have spent my morning with coffee and blogs.

From Now, This is Yoga, I clipped this from the author's post about Rusty Wells. Though I'm not familiar with him or his teaching, I was inspired by what she shared about him:

Rusty asks us at the hot sweaty exhausted end of the journey to conjure up the person we would do anything for- the one who when they are tired, you work harder for them. The person who you hold it together for. The person you do it all for.

Ah~~for me, persons. My children and myself (and certainly others at periods of my life).

For us, I rise before dawn for my practice, whatever shape it takes for that day, so that I ground myself for the day ahead and have plenty of it left to share with them, to teach them, to listen to them.

For us, I pull myself from fatigue even as it seeps into the marrow of my bones, so that we might walk together along the river in the evenings, talking together, just when they need me the now.

For us, I pull from the reservoir daily, to give to them, to share with them, to learn from them, to show to them how much they mean to me and this world, to show them their words are important and I hear them, learn from them, am inspired by them.

I pull from the reservoir because I am in love with them and because they brought illumination to living when they were gifted to me, this 'sacred trust' of raising children~~sacred because, who if not you?

This past week, I have been ever mindful of the ways in which I am able to 'mother-up' [a loose variation of 'soldier-up'], to basically pull from the reservoir, that place inside that reveals itself to me at the precise moment I think I have nothing left and just as my knees come to hit the ground and my body folds forward in surrender, they charge me and I become more, more than I thought I had alone.

Just yesterday, I came home after working with several hours before I was scheduled to teach and I was hoping that the threat of rain in the darkened sky would encourage them to ask for an afternoon in with mom [read: me napping blissfully on the sofa while we watched a "family movie"] instead of the walk on the river we had planned. They had their own 'in case of rain' plan--SHOPPING!

They recently received money from their abuelita (little grandmother) and wanted to shop~~they already knew what they wanted to buy, just needed the 'ride' to get them there.

Pull from the reservoir.

My darling daughter bought a new hamster cage (with a little help from brother's $$$), some hamster treats, yellow nail polish and make-up. My precious little man bought games for his DS (handheld game device for others out there, like myself, who don't understand :-)

They were so full of 'thank yous' and smiles and hugs for me~~I was nourished, lifted and refueled.

I took them home and they began unpacking and setting up their wares. I settled on my back in bed to just close my eyes, setting the alarm for 10 minutes, just in case the pull of sleep overpowered me.

Then, off to teach.

Following class, that also refueled me because I felt so authentic in my presence and guidance, I called the kiddos on my way home to declare PIZZA NIGHT~~be ready when I get home.

The hits just kept on rolling in for our little family and when I laid myself down to sleep, the peace cradled me and as I slept, the reservoir replenished itself for another round.

If only...

This video was posted on another blog I frequent--I was so moved by its simplicity:

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Just in time...

If you see to it each day that your conduct is impeccable, the following day will be completely clear, and you will be free to carry out your plans, always vigilant that you leave no loose ends. In this way, each new day will find you free and well disposed~~Omraam Mikhael Aivanhov

This morning, just when I almost became reactive to a person from another agency that our agency works closely with in the community, my friend/co-worker put her sweet little hand on my shoulder and asked if I had read the quote of the day~~the quote that I had just deleted in a haste because it was too long (ouch).

So we went into the trash folder and extracted the little nugget you read above.

Reaction defused.

Thank you my little angel.


Monkey Mind

So just this past Monday, I was chiding myself after teaching my 'All-Levels' Hatha evening class~~the usual: I talked way too much...was I inspiring? Did it seem purely physical? Were my instructions clear? My instructions weren't clear...I moved too fast...the mood was flat...

The next morning I was complimented on the class by one of the students and more than the standard, "class was great..."~~she has taken my classes before but said there was 'something about that class'.

[Feedback loop: She's just being nice...]

Then before last night's class, I had a student walk out into the lobby just as I was locking the studio door to teach and she said, "I just wanted to thank you for Monday's class, it was great." She went on to say how she had a headache before class that worked its way out somewhere along our way.

[Feedback loop: Hmmm...perhaps I'm too hard on myself after all...]

The haze and daze of the monkey mind.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Tina Vaughn is...


I had a moment of clarity this morning, an epiphany.

Wait for it...

I tend to inundate myself with information and while I have convinced myself that this tendency stems from an innocent enough love of learning, this morning, I saw it another way.

As I was moving through my typical morning routine at the office~~start the coffee, log-in to email, open the planner to today's date, pull client files, open Facebook and my blog. From my blog, I click through, one-by-one, at a pace that continues throughout the day, the list of my favorite blogs of others and begin to read the latest posts.

The last part, the reading of blogs, was the trigger for my epiphany and even as I write this, I realize how innocuous it seems~~as simple as a handshake, a greeting across the land and maybe sea, a connection with someone I have never met as I receive their offering of the day or week depending on their posting frequency.

Even as I sit here composing this post, I am SO tempted to click back-and-forth between the blogs and Facebook, dividing the attention of my brain into tiny little compartments hardly capable of any meaningful depth of thought because of the sheer multitude of tasks competing for space.

But here is the 'it' of it all.

When I read those blogs, while so very useful and inspiring to me, there are times when, inside, something surfaces~~my chorus of desire born of inadequacy fueled by attachment to some fuzzy, self-constructed ideal.

And, while the lyrics vary~~"I want to experience that...", "She's so much more realized than me...", "When is my throat chakra going to open...", "Why didn't I think of that...I really should have thought of that...", "Why can't I break down the pose that way...I really should break down the pose that way...", "I bet her/his students love her/him...", "I bet he's a natural teacher, unlike me...", "I should do more of that...", "I should do less of this..."~~the theme is the same. I tend to get caught in a mind loop of comparing myself to others and my knowledge to theirs.

And my ranking?

Last. (According to me...)

I recognize that I should be able to read and/or hear something and appreciate its intrinsic value ~~it is what it is, yes?

Quite correct. Quite correct, indeed.

However, I feel compelled to stake a bit of claim in and for myself~~to see what I feel, what I think, to feel my own feedback as it filters through me moment to moment. But more than that, I need discipline to pace myself, to be fully present in each moment without dividing my mind between the blog that I am reading and checking the new messages in my inbox, with my hand on the mouse set to click on the Facebook tab only to read that so-and-so has just had lunch and is planning a trip to the farmer's market in pursuit of fresh, local and organic *fill-in-the-blank*.

God~~it's just as exhausting to write.

What's more, I need a bit of perspective, to cultivate a mindset that appreciates and processes new information without judgement, without an immediate assessment of self.

In that spirit, I am taking the day off for sure, though I am aiming for the week~~just a week of absorbing my own experience, writing from that place, appreciating that place and letting it be so that whatever comes to me is received as a 'gift'.

I have been working on this post all day, off and on due to other responsibilities but already, I am calmer inside without the incessant Facebook updates and the chatter, albeit positive chatter, of the blog-o-sphere (read here: my attachment and processing of the blog-o-sphere).

I feel uncomfortable being this honest and open but because I am a sloughing-off-the-shit sort of junkie, I am equally refreshed, wonderfully curious and intoxicatingly optimistic.

Tina Vaughn feels pulled to evaluate and cultivate a new manner of intake~~1:10 PM

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Variation of Thread the Needle

Sometimes, well, most times, in our yoga practice, we are constructing poses that have been practiced for centuries and, while the finished product might vary across time and body, for the most part, the essence is intact.

Other times, if we are really tuned in, the body moves on its mine did this morning.

Following a gentle back bending series performed belly down, I needed more than child's pose to stabilize my shoulders needed something for all of that pulling back in 'Superman' or 'Airplane' pose. So I propped myself onto my left elbow and slid my right arm underneath, bringing my right shoulder to the mat and rested my head.


Then the other side.


Be open, let it go and let it flow.

Now let's see how my students feel about it...


This morning, following a gentle yet invigorating moon cycle practice, I laid back over a couple of pillows, elevating my upper body and opening my chest and rested my legs over a bolster. I felt like I was being held and I melted into the surrender.

The music on Pandora provided a meditative background for the first few minutes and then a song more suited for another day's vinyasa flow came on and the meditation became a struggle...appropriate.

Breathe through it...

Lesson? As much as you are craving that sweet peace of stillness that manifests in the final meditation, roll off your butt Tina and turn off the music (especially Pandora!) to eliminate the risk that an ill-suited song or commercial will rattle the mood.

Then again, Pandora just might be the ultimate meditation tool.

Monday, August 24, 2009

My Weekend Highlights

  1. A Friday night with NOTHING to do but fall in and out of sleep on the sofa to the soft glow and sound of the television, with honey vanilla ice cream and fresh raspberries on top...yum.
  2. An early Saturday morning personal practice followed by grocery shopping and clothes shopping--both packed with bargains!
  3. A Saturday afternoon massage at the center with Lavender and Peppermint body butter.
  4. Another late afternoon/evening of falling in and out of sleep on the sofa waiting for the kiddos to return home.
  5. Sunday afternoon gardening--re-potting various herbs and flowers, pruning and clearing weeds...ahhh. The yard looks so pretty.

Typically, I try to do more with my time, really live into the nooks and crannies so to speak and when I nap, I feel guilty. Not this weekend--I felt overdue for such indulgence and content in my sleepy haze.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Daily Truth

When you can do the common things of life, in an uncommon way, you will command the attention of the world~~George Washington Carver

Friday, August 21, 2009

The alarm...

So this morning, for the first time in a very long time, my alarm did not go off...or, at least I'm not quite sure what happened. I vaguely remember it sounding, then I flung my arm over with the intent to snooze but could have inadvertently pressed another button in my haze.

Nevertheless, I woke with a start without even looking at the clock--I knew. I knew because I NEVER wake to daylight during the week. I'm usually well into my practice when the sun makes its appearance.

8:30 AM

In order to make it to work with enough time to log my 7 hours and still have an evening for myself, I had to jump right into 'go' mode. Augh.

No like.

I felt defeated and deflated--it doesn't help that I am on the cusp of my moon cycle and everything defeats me during the onset.

In all of my drama, I did roll out my mat to give myself at least 20 minutes of conscious quiet. For about 10 minutes, I laid back over a bolster to open my chest, keeping my butt grounded to create an arch in my lower back begging the flow of my cycle down. For the last 10 minutes, I sat...with my breath.

Then I made my way to the kitchen for a cup of coffee and a quick email check--no sense in rushing now, it is what it is.

I suppose, in hindsight, I handled the befuddlement of my expectations with grace and in truth, I was relieved to not have an asana practice this morning. Because of my impending moon cycle, my body is screaming for rest and restoration...and breathable stretchy fabric so that my watery roundness can expand comfortably.

Thursday, August 20, 2009


By: Kyle Elden (

Don’t give your life away to sorrow
to watch its flames take everything into
burning light, to watch the smoke
of your dreams spell out the language
of longing and loss, to hang heavy in your clothes
and on your hair forever.

When you arrive at this place
and find yourself covered in the mud
in this thickness you walk through
get down on your knees,
prayer on your breath
dirt on your lips ~ and like the lotus flower
submerged in swamp, raise laughing
and red, bright as Jupiter pulling
her many moons in a tidal dance.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

The Middle Way

I just watched a movie chronicling the life of Buddha, or more accurately, Prince Siddharta on his way to Buddhahood. There was a scene where the prince sat under a tree meditating with others ascetics--he was scraggly at best, with mats in his hair and ash covering his emaciated body.

From the river below him, he heard a teacher instructing their pupil on the proper way to tune a stringed instrument...

"...if you pull the strings too tight, they will snap, if you leave too much slack, they will not play..."

In the moment of hearing this, the prince had realized the middle way--the space in between opposites or extremes. At one end you have starvation, at the other, overindulgence--the middle way being nourishment.

Jai Buddha!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009


I know that in embarking on non-violence I shall be running what might be termed a mad risk. But the victories of truth have never been won without risks--Mahatma Gandhi

I am in a Gandhi place right now--he's fresh in my mind because I just watched the movie with my children this past weekend. They were moved by him too, especially my little man--at least, his reaction was more visible. He was stung by how Gandhi was killed, bothered that Gandhi died thinking he had done something wrong in his quest, especially in his expression of that quest to the masses and their subsequent interpretations/actions--a general 'lost in translation' somber falls over Gandhi in the final scene.

I know bits of Gandhi's story but in my 'past life' resistance to all things male/masculine as I sought the female/feminine counterparts, I resisted knowing too much, I resisted inspiration.

This weekend, watching the movie with my children, my hard shell of resistance dissolved and I saw past his 'maleness', all the way through to his message, to his simplicity.

If only we could emulate his simplicity in our daily life--show courage, emanate love, congregate with all and by that, accept all.

In one scene, Gandhi is being questioned by a photographer about his stance on nonviolence. She asks, "Do you think you can win a war against a man like Hitler with nonviolence?", to which Gandhi replies, "Not without pain and defeats but that's just like your war with weapons and violence--it is not being waged without pain or defeat." (Loosely delivered from my memory).

Unaffected profundity--how do we make life so difficult when, there is, just below the surface a bareness awaiting our discovery, pining to be sourced.

Friday, August 7, 2009


Just breathe...

...into grace...

...into love...

...peace is the space that wants for nothing.

The Teacher

So, I have just passed my year anniversary of teaching yoga--which actually began in May of last year. I was one of those eager beavers, lining up prospective studio gigs before I even took the written exam!

I just knew--I didn't even have a regular practice before I started teaching. I practiced but in a very sporadic sense. I know it's backwards, but I was inspired by yoga nevertheless because, my practice, when I practiced opened my heart and softened the tough exterior, moving me in a way that religion had never been able to touch, taking me closer to the self I had been conditioned to deprive.

So--I knew.

Looking back over the last year of my teaching is an interesting exercise. I have had cringe worthy moments when I left class thinking I was the biggest sham to walk across this ancient path. I have had highs that bolstered the resolve to make a life of this, I have had flat days and so-sos but what has never changed is my contentment to be there, my certainty that I have found one of my life's callings and my love and respect for the practice.

If anything, with every little mishap, dread or joy, my resolve deepens.

As I guided my students to their expression of Viparita Karani this evening, a place in my class where all bodies diverge and move in their own way, I observed each person and tried to discern their thoughts and regard of my class--were they inspired, were they engaged, were they bored, were they irritated?

The biggest obstacle to overcome, for me, is to show up everyday as the person I am, as the teacher I am and allow that authenticity to flow from me, effortlessly, without getting caught up in how I'm coming across and trying to be everything to everyone.

I'll get there, I know I will...there will be a day when the voice I long to use will no longer get caught in my throat because I take the last minute to judge the content and the reception of my students.

There's a teacher in me banging to get out, in full form, unabridged and on fire for how this practice has changed her and guided her, supported her and nourished her.

I have come closer to the me.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

A sobering thought...

I was just talking with a co-worker who brought in pictures of her self at age 18, standing against a drab wall in her military get-up. She was just a baby and it was interesting to see.

As she was leaving my office, she said that she's collecting these pictures of herself to divide among her children so that one day, down the generational line, someone can look at the picture and say, "that was great-granny who?".

I felt it in my gut and for a second, I lost my breath in this indescribable pit of fear.

The pieces we leave behind are the legacy of our existence, our impression upon the world and others...

This fear I felt as she reminded me that, one day my time here will be marked with only pictures and recollections of those who knew me, was palpable but I'm not sure I could state exactly what I was afraid of.

Scared that I won't be here, scared that it won't matter, scared that it will?

How can I be so threatened by an event or period that I won't even be present for?

If nothing else, this should be my inspiration to live with more zeal, to love with more passion and to kindle that fire of life while I have it.

This life, this time, is so precious--so very, very precious and this conversation bit was just the reality check I needed.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Amrit Vela

Amrit Vela, the ambrosial period just before dawn. It is believed to be an auspicious time and a period in which the guard of the ego is relaxed.

Think about it--your head has just lifted from the pillow. You have NO motives, no imperatives, no fronts or inhibitions. Your mind is open and clear, untainted. Your body a canvas and your spirit still plugged into it's greater source.

I just learned of the Amrit Vela from a newsletter I receive through email. Though I couldn't explain it, I have long preferred an early morning practice, one that begins before the sun rises and ends in the soft glow of a new day.

If I sleep past the dawning of day, I am more sluggish and less inspired than when I salute the oncoming day with my practice.

At 5:00 this morning, my male yoga friends met me at the studio and the three of us moved through our own personal practices. There were no words, just breath and presence as we individually communed with self and source.

I closed my practice with a japa mala meditation and for the first time in a long time, I felt centered, peaceful and present.

At least for me, ego was chillin' and so was I.