Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Figuring this stuff out...

I have stumbled upon several awesome new-to-me blog additions lately (all added to the list on the left) and have found conversation among them regarding what to teach, how to teach, why to teach, etc.

I find it all very interesting and it is my hope that we are all moved to teach in a way that authentically represents our personal path--no personas.  What you see is what you get.

I can only speak for me.

This is where you'll find me.

I have no front, no game.

See this comes easy for me--I never have.  What you see is REALLY what you get.

I can't even flirt good--I'll giggle.  Except maybe after wine...I digress.

I teach with my heart and I usually incorporate Dharma talks from lessons I've learned--earlier in the day or week--or from something I have read.  Sometimes, I have no talk on my tongue and class is rather quiet except for the calling of poses and the necessary alignment language.  

But then, isn't that just as good?

Do we really have to create the experience for the students?  Can't we just sometimes offer it up and allow it to blossom in their care and awareness, through their movement and within their breath?

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Let's do a sequence, shall we?

I've been heavy on the talk lately and think it high time I offer a sequence to this space...and so, without further ado, from beginning to end, a little flow.

Begin with sitting

I like to offer this period as the 'transition' from our outbound practice to our inbound practice, from the outside to the inside.

Seated twist

Staying in the the twist with the shoulders down and turning the head to the opposite side stretching the neck.


Yin style baddha-konasana, long hold, 1-3 minutes.

Seated backbend

Transition to table for Cat Flow

Rounding the spine, scooping it out--move with breath.

Gate Pose

Pad the knees if necessary and allow for personal expression of the foot on the extended leg.

Downward Facing Dog

To invigorate...


Child's Pose

To restore...

Surya Namaskar (Sun Salutation A) x3

Utkatasana (Chair Pose)

Uttanasana (Forward Fold)

Inhale, lengthen spine and look up if possible, exhale and step the right foot back for...

Easy Lunge

Right knee to the mat, top of the right foot resting. Let upper body hang heavy over the lunging leg, neck relaxes and head hangs heavy.

From easy lunge, with inhale, brings hands to the knee and lengthen the spine.

Twist by taking the right elbow to the outside of the left knee, palms pressing together and the shoulders pull back.

Release twist and with inhale step to the front.

Repeat on the other side.

Warrior Flow

Just like Sun A but from DD, step right foot forward and rise to Warrior I, open to Triangle Prep (so turn to face the left, arms reaching out shoulder height) and ride the reaching out of the right arm as the hand makes its way to ground (somewhere along the leg or the inside/outside of the foot). The top hand comes down on a exhale, so hands are framing front foot, step back to DD.

Repeat on the other side.

Tree Pose

I like to offer eyes closed as an option for those who want to explore their inner balance, their ability to rely on personal trust and equilibrium.

Flow to DD

One legged DD

Knee to chest plank pose, holding for strength for several breaths then rest knee down for...


Holding upright for about a minute, then folding forward.

Press back upright and move into DD allowing the blood flow to return to the hip.

Repeat on the other side.

Come down to seated.

Forward Fold

Dandasana Twist

Upward Facing Plank

Navasana (Boat) x3

Roll to back



I suggest that students practice the inversion they are working on or feeling for that night.

Supine Twist--Any variation

Savasana Meditation

We usually stay for 10-15 minutes.


I LOVE this...

I found this picture and interview snippet at another blog this morning, "The Devil Wears Prana" and I had to share here.

I've seen this story in a few places over the last couple of days and I really wanted to share. For me, there is something about men practicing yoga that softens me a little--we need more men in my home studio for sure.
There is also something for me in the personal expression of yoga, how one describes the effect of the practice on the body, mind, spirit complex--without the lingo, without quoting from others or texts on what we're supposed to feel, without pretension--just genuine love expressed through words and revealed in actions...radiating.

I hope you too are inspired by this...


Yoga is the best thing for your sex life! It keeps you limber in all kinds of ways. It teaches you to love your body and your partner’s body. But more than anything, it keeps your mind liquid, and nothing’s sexier than that. Mind and body open to possibilities.

I read this quote from Bruce Lee, one of the greatest quotes ever. He said, “Be water.” We can become so rigid in our beliefs, in our thinking, and I think yoga is a great way to force you outside of your mental and physical rigidity. My mind was rigid growing up, as I’ve explained, but so was my body.

Super tight.

Yoga started curing the chronic pain I had, but it also released my mind along with it. In many ways I feel I’m battling to stay liquid, to be like water. I don’t want to be a superficial guy, you know? I want to get out from under all the superficiality of our culture and live free of the strictures our society places on us.

I want to be a sensory person but not be controlled by the senses.

I want to live a spiritual life but not be controlled by religion.

I want to live free but also devote myself to family and the love of the great woman I share my life with.

What’s great is that for the first time I’m finding that balance. I still have a long way to go in some areas, but that’s part of what keeps things interesting—figuring it all out. But in general, man, I wake up every morning asking, “What the fuck did I do in my last life to deserve the amazing fucking life I got in this one?”

(If you're interested, you can read the full interview here.)

Monday, October 19, 2009


Dear Ego:

I have a few things to get off my chest and really need you to read carefully.

You are an ugly little devil.

You are a perpetual thorn in my side.

You are an embezzler of my greatness and on most days, I'm tempted to kick your ass. No one likes a bully.

However, if I may speak frankly, I learn some of my greatest lessons from you but damn you for not teaching from the blackboard. Why must ALL my lessons be so freakin' public and real world?

Eagerly awaiting your reply.


Sunday, October 18, 2009

Love all around...

Wishing you love, wishing you peace, wishing you joy.

Saturday, October 17, 2009


For as long as I can remember, I have admired tattoos on the bodies of others...been quite mesmerized by them, drawn to them in a hard to explain sort of way.

I also admired how you could possibly choose something that would be on your body FOREVER. I questioned whether I had that sort of commitment being that change is my constant.

So I began to plan for a tattoo, still of the mindset that 'one day' I'd take the plunge, 'one day' that'd be me, 'one day'...

I wavered back and forth between ideas, between areas of the body that I would ink first (that's right, first because I already knew there would be more than one, there would have to be).  Perhaps I'd tattoo the Om symbol, or a Sanskrit mantra, or...???

Some things I knew for sure.  I would NOT be tattooing any name on my body--not even those of my children.  They have me in their life, they have my love, my attention, affection, commitment, adoration...they may not have my body.  They resided within me for nearly 10 months each--their claim is over.

I know some people feel drawn to have names...to each their own, really.  It just simply does not speak to me...kind of makes my chest heavy a little.  I thrive under my own autonomy--I can't explain it but this I know.  I belong to me so that I may give to others...not belong to others.

I digress.

Then I realized that I do WAY TOO MUCH TALKING in my life.  I needed to commit.  I set a date.  This was happening.

I am turning 35 in November (November 5th) and this birthday is a big deal for me because I want to celebrate my life--I have survived against many odds and not just the 'making it' sort of survival--I thrive in my life and I love every minute, even the ones that don't come with sunshine and daisies.

And lately, within the last two years especially, I have lived with such an intensity, with purpose in my choices, my abstentions and my path.  Sure I wish this would have happened sooner but it's here now and I'm on fire for my life--initiating big changes and not fearing the effects.

So there--I would have my tattoo on or before my birthday to mark this period of my life.  And somehow, with that, I knew.  A lotus flower.

The lotus is a symbol of beauty or light in the darkness--a flower that is rooted in the mud with a stem that travels up through the water to bloom on its surface.  This is my life.

The darkness of my life has given birth to the beauty.

Having the face of the Buddha in the center of my lotus is my reminder and commitment to walk the middle way, to cultivate a heart of peace, to move past suffering and attachment.

I have two reactions when I catch sight of my tattoo--half of me softens to the meaning and the other half of me puffs out her chest for the edge of me, the yang of me is there *BAM*, bold and emblazoned on my arm.  Almost suggesting, "I'm not quite who or what you think".  I may be little and I may talk softly but there is a fire in me that will not stand to be underestimated...nor will she be silenced.

So there.

(Pictures of my tattoo can be found in this post).


Thursday, October 15, 2009

Pictures of my Tattoo

I have a lot to say on the experience of this tattoo--it was freakin' phenomenal! But until I do, I let the pictures speak for themselves.

I will say this about the symbolism: the lotus is a symbol of beauty and light in the darkness because it is a flower that grows in the mud. This is my life. The Buddha impression in the leaf of the lotus is my center...my path of the middle way.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

For those of little dust...

This is my last installment from "Eat, Pray, Love" for a while as I have finished reading the book and though I plan to read it again, I am beginning a new journey...a hero's journey, with "The Hero Within". More on that book in later posts, for sure.

For now, I am sharing an excerpt from "Eat, Pray, Love" that really inspired to me look at myself, to look at my teaching and even to the people in my life...looking for dust and for opportunities to dislodge the dust.

'Dust', as it's used here, can best be defined as deception, that which prevents us from seeing clearly, as illusion or distortion. Dust keeps us stuck in place, prevents us from progressing, stunts our growth.

Buddhist lore has a story about the moment that followed Buddha's transcendence into enlightenment. When--after 39 days of meditation--the veil of illusion finally fell away and the true workings of the universe were revealed to the great master, he was reported to have opened his eyes and said immediately, "This cannot be taught."

But then he changed his mind, decided that he would go out into the world, after all, and attempt to teach the practice of meditation to a small handful of students. He knew there would only be a meager percentage of people who would be served by (or interested in) his teachings.

Most of humanity, he said, have eyes that are so caked shut with the dust of deception they will never see the truth, no matter who tries to help them. A few others are so naturally clear-eyed and calm already that they need no instruction or assistance whatsoever.

But then there are those whose eyes are just slightly caked with dust, and who might, with the help of the right master, be taught to see more clearly someday. The Buddha decided he would become a teacher for the benefit of that minority--"For those of little dust..."

I can say with relative certainty that I am one of little dust--I certainly don't have eyes caked shut but am no where close to 'seeing clearly'...as if. In fact, I am prone to frequent dust storms and often have to blink several times to see clearly through the debris before I realize that I am viewing the world through a dirty lens.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Hold on...

So this morning at 4:00 AM, after I snoozed my alarm for the first of three rounds that I allow, the alarm clock fell off the nightstand and, I guess, in retrieving it, I inadvertently turned it off.



Cut to 7:15 AM when I'm startled awake, first by the glow of daylight--NO!

Then comes the realization that my dog is barking because my mom has been knocking on the door to be driven to the airport AND my poor daughter is (understandably) freaking out because she woke up on a sodden pillow of cat piss.



No yoga for me--I have to get to work so I can be home in time to take the children to the park before I leave to teach in the evening...blah, blah, gasp, moan, whine.

So I wrestle my now irritated ass out of bed, open the door for my mom, collect the piss-soaked items from my daughter's bed--comforter, sheets, BRAND*NEW*WORLD*MARKET*PILLOW and Memory Foam mattress cover--instruct her on the proper use of Lysol and literally pole-vault myself into the shower WITH the pillow.

As I begin to soak it under the flow of water from the shower head (and breathe in the ammonia of cat piss as it fills the hot, steamy shower) I see that it is a zip-off cover...but of course.

So, I unzip the damn thing...throw the pillow to my daughter for Lysol intervention and soap up the cover.

Because it is a BRAND*NEW*WORLD*MARKET*PILLOW, the coloring is fresh from the factory and I realize as the turquoise bleeds from the fabric that I am slowly turning blue.

After my excruciating lower body transformation into a reject Smurf, I finish washing the case and pass it to my daughter--we're a regular mom and daughter tag team with cat piss being the glue that binds us.

I hop out of the shower and blaze through the rest of my 'process'...my chest is gripped in stress.



On the drive in to work I alternate between a mind laden with expletives and tiny, almost imperceptible shards of clarity that I can perhaps *be* my yoga...this is what I practice for EVERYDAY, yes?


Here's to holding on for the ride...to holding on for the crazy, unpredictable, often comical and bumpy ride...come what may.

Bring it on...I got this.


Thursday, October 8, 2009

Training Wheels

I highly recommend this reading of 'Training Wheels' from Buddha of Hollywood...check it out!

Living as a Monument

We create words to define our experience and those words bring attendant emotions that jerk us around like dogs on a leash. We get seduced by our own mantras (I'm a failure...I'm lonely...I'm a failure...I'm lonely...) and we become monuments to them. To stop talking for a while, then, is to attempt to strip away the power of words, to stop choking ourselves with words, to liberate ourselves from our suffocating mantras--Eat, Pray, Love

Seduction is an apt description of what happens when we commit the mind to a particular state--it can be as strong as the pull of a body against which you want to press yourself, the warmth in which you want to lose yourself, as the senses dissolve all reason compromising the ability to think clearly.

The post before this one is from another blog I follow, Buddha of Hollywood--it's called Training Wheels and the author is writing about her daughter's accomplishment of riding her bike without training wheels and how adults slip into a comfort zone somewhere along the way when we run out of things that we must learn to do 'on our own'. I imagine this to be an imperceptible shift that fortifies its hold over us over time.

Ergo, with the help of my practice of yoga, meditation and overall mindfulness, I have been stepping up to, and in to, that which scares and overwhelms me.

I don't want to wear training wheels on my bike anymore--I don't want to be 'comfortable' at the expense of experiencing this ride.

I will no longer live as a monument to my fear, to the voice inside that attempts to minimize me. I am writing a new story about a warrior--a heroine of her own life who cools herself in her shadow now instead of cowering.

Sit with yourself.

Close your eyes.

Find your breath.

As you travel deeper within, dare to ask yourself...what?

What now?

What more?

What for?

Why not?

Then begin...take off the training wheels.

When we enter this world, we have no fear.

We learn to crawl because of sheer will and inspiration to move toward our object of interest. We learn to walk because we have no fear of falling and we learn to talk because we have no concept of proper pronunciation...we take chances because we don't yet know how NOT to.



Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Wild Thing, I think I love you...

I attribute the goodness of this week to my discovery and practice of Wild Thing.

I have always known this pose as 'Flipping the Dog' but learned it from a John Friend presentation as 'Wild Thing' in the Anusara tradition...but of course, it IS an intense heart opener.

I'm sure my chakras are spinning like mad, crazy little machines in this pose because when I come out--it's on!

We protect the heart--physiologically, psychically and emotionally. Naturally, we are comforted by folding in and around our heart--we can breathe here because we feel safe and the heart is secure. When we open the heart and kick it up to the universe, come what may, we heighten our senses, enliven our prana (life force)--we become hyper-aware and alert.

Sure, it's comfortable and safe to stay folded in, to guard the heart but I don't want comfortable and safe anymore.

Give me the risk, give me the chance, give me room to dare...I trust that I will catch myself if ever I fall.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Finding my voice...

Tonight I attended UNF's "Take Back the Night" event--I was there as an advocate and a survivor of sexual assault from my childhood.

The event was awesome! We started with a march, all wearing our purple glow bracelets and walking behind a drum line--I didn't even bother to resist the urge to dance...my walls were down and it felt phenomenal.

We made our way to a podium where survivors would gather to share their stories. There was a candle lighting ceremony, a choir and a moment of silence.

Three survivors spoke their truth and I ADMIRED their courage...so much. I've never told my story in that sort of forum...sure, I've trusted individuals along the way but never that many at one time.

After they spoke, the mic was open for anyone who wanted to share--people trickled up and off again. I knew I wanted to speak but I wasn't quite sure I knew what to say...exactly.

I was frozen in place but I REALLY wanted to move toward the stage...that was my goal because then, I knew there was no going back. I play games with myself and sometimes have to move that line I draw in the sand for myself, daring to go forward.


I took the step and another...more still and walked up the stairs of the podium.

The crowd was a little daunting and I still had no idea what I would say.

I pulled the microphone out of the stand, relieved that it was low enough for me to reach...I'm pretty short, not sure if it shows in my pics.

Gave it a quick test... and spoke.

My name is Tina Vaughn--I'm a rape victim advocate and survivor...

I don't really remember what I said after that but I didn't tell my story. I tried to tell the story of the survivors I meet and work with. How they are often told by detectives and the state that they don't have enough evidence to hold their rapist accountable--he will walk.

I tried to tell how the system is failing our victims--of the nearly 500 rapes that are reported in our fair city of Jacksonville, maybe 10 get their day in court.

I hope I said it was shameful...but I can't recall.

I remember putting the microphone back in the stand and walking off relieved...and empowered. My throat chakra has been opening at an alarming rate lately...alarming in that, I find myself speaking up and speaking out like never before.

I find that I am putting myself out there more...taking chances with my words. When I sense fear, I ask myself what I'm afraid of...and then I sign up for it, I jump.

At first, when I was driving home, I was a little embarrassed because I felt as if I had just served a crowd of people a gigantic word-salad with enough for leftovers and left looking like a fool.

But I'm being hard on myself...too hard.

Speak the truth, speak your mind, even if your voice shakes...(author unknown)

The accomplishment, the empowerment was not in what I said...but that I spoke at all because that was my lesson...content comes natural to me; I am often complimented on my speaking skills. Most of the time, I say what I want to say with eloquence but I know who I'm talking to and the common denominator is my comfort--I speak this way when I feel safe and validated.

My lesson last night was getting over fear, speaking out of turn, standing up when I wanted to sit down, using my voice when my instinct was to remain silent.

Baby steps.

Bliss at Bliss

Tuesday and Thursday mornings at 6:00 AM are my set-aside mornings to practice at Bliss Yoga Shala and I look forward to my Ashtanga Flow w/Shri, the instructor. I don't consider my self an Ashtangi in the strictest sense because I embrace it all and am ALWAYS open to new styles and instructors. If anything, I am drawn to the teachers more than their styles--I bask in their inspirations, their love of the practice and their ability to guide. Shri is once such yogi.

This morning, because of my recent love of 'Wild Thing' and the courage to go for it, I arrived at the shala 10 minutes early so that I could warm my spine up and flow open...open-wide, heart to the sky and throat chakra spinning wildly, craving voice to birth the energy bubbling inside!

What an amazing way to start this class--I was already tingling inside, my heart was open, I was centered and at peace.

The flow began as it always does, with Surya Namaskar A, and I jumped in...heart first. Then head.

I was full of love and peace throughout the class, pampering a cranky hamstring on my right side didn't even quake my stillness, and my face reflected the serenity inside as I summoned my inner Buddha.

Then...Shri, in a successful effort to boldly distinguish between standing poses and floor poses, had us, from our last Warrior Flow, lie back in Supta Bhada Konasana (Supine Bound Angle) to...breathe and, while breathing, allow the body to open passively--simply THE BEST sort of melting open.


Then, supported bridge...ahhh, again.

Then, easy supine twist--JUST~WHAT~I~NEEDED.

During our practice of Yoga Nidra, I'm pretty sure I tip-toed into Samadhi but we all know how that works--once you stare it in the eyes, once you know it's there...it's gone.

I left there and headed into my day inspired, creative, open, charged with life, teeming with love and so very, very thankful for this time that I make for myself everyday.

It's not easy and it takes serious work and commitment on my part but what I receive in return restores me and prepares me to serve myself and others for another day.

It's all so, so good.


Monday, October 5, 2009

Wild Thing

In class tonight we warmed the spine in preparation for 'Wild Thing', an appropriate pose with "Where the Wild Things Are" opening next week...but of course.

It was great!  My students were adventurous as they moved into their own explorations of the various stages leading to their wild side.

There was laughter and all sorts of expressions as they challenged themselves beyond what they knew...certainly beyond comfort zones.

Some nailed the pose, others got closer than they probably thought they might and still others played with the prep--all smiles and warrior spirits.

It was freakin' awesome!

We found our way to the wildness by starting here:

Seated Twist and Side Stretching
Cat Flow
Modified Plank (from Table)
Prana flow of Downdog to Updog--moving with breath
Sun Salutations


We got crazy WiLd!

Friday, October 2, 2009

Where the Wild Things Are

Where the Wild Things Are is more than a child's book and more than the latest family movie--it's an insightful commentary on the havoc our minds can wreak until we dare to harness the wildness and ride on the back on what we thought could take us down.

I love books written for children, especially this one...their messages are less shouts from a podium of authority and more delicate whispers to the soul, reminding you of what you already know.

We wear the crown and we hold the staff...let the wild rumpus start.