acceptance

Mindful Monday: Here For It

Flashback to the good ole days at the studio

Happy Monday, dearest souls!

“The pessimist complains about the wind; the optimist expects things to get better; the realist adjusts the sails.” – William Arthur Ward

It is so critical to cultivate your mind during this time. Let’s stop looking for happiness in “the way things were” or “when things go back to normal.”

Change is never easy, but it’s certainly inevitable. And it will always draw out the best in humanity!

The stories of birthday drive-bys, of how certain parts of the world are seeing blue skies for the first time in decades, of the acts of love and care and compassion from all of the “helpers” out there.

What are you noticing about your relationships during this time? About yourself? What are three blessings you’ve experienced during this situation? What are some newfound habits and rituals you will continue?

I’m enjoying a slower more deliberate pace of life. I’m so grateful that my days are filled with taking care of my family. Daily walks with my 86 year old father. Remembering how much I love teaching yoga. Knowing I’m contributing to a smaller carbon footprint.

Knowing that we are so deeply reminded of our deep interconnectedness with one another and with humanity.

Seeing how people adapt and can even thrive in our newfound awareness of one another. Acknowledging that we all contribute to the collective. We all have a role in serving humanity. We all matter. We are all important. We are all enough!

Like you, my dearsweet yogi, I often need a reminder of all of this!

That’s why I’m eternally grateful for all of your generosity in supporting us at Yoga By Degrees so that we can stay connected and keep teaching!


Click HERE from your computer or open your YBD or Mindbody App for our Virtual Class Schedule

See you on your mat!

Mindful Monday: More Perspective

Good morning beautiful mindful socially distanced ones!

We are starting week five of our transition to online practicing! It just illustrates that time and life continue to move forward. That’s happening. But we get to control how we think and process all that is happening around us and for us. Yes for us, not to us.

Many of us observe Easter as a religious holiday; others may approach it as more of a cultural experience for our kids. Either way, it was certainly an entire shift. Much like almost everything that’s unfolded over the past several weeks.

Through our yoga practice we learn to observe the inner dialogue and the inner self in relation to external circumstances.

Never before in history have we as an entire species had this opportunity for introspection and healing.

However we have experienced these new circumstances tell us so much about what’s going on internally. The quarantine and social distancing are the stimuli to surface our inner mechanisms of coping and to show us where we have been ‘stuck.’

Remember, dear soul, that it is not circumstances that cause stress, anxiety, fear, resistance, compassion, love, acceptance and gratitude. These qualities exist within each of us. It is how we choose to think about a situation that creates an emotional reaction.

One exactly identical situation will be processed differently by people based on their vibrational level.

Say you are driving in traffic and someone cuts you off. Your reaction to that situation will vary based on your current mood or vibrational energy.

One vibrating from fear or shame may immediately blame himself or herself for driving too slowly and being in the way. Someone in an angry or egoic space will flash with anger and self-righteousness. Someone in a stable space of courage and acceptance will acknowledge that this is a good example of the need for driving defensively. One in an elevated state of love, gratitude and hope will think this person needs to be somewhere important; I’ll create space for him and pray he gets where he needs to be safely.

And this is how it is with life. Like the rude driver, we cannot control much of external circumstances. The work and effort is internal: how do I want to feel? Do I want to feel happy and safe? Then let me seek out those thoughts and circumstances that allow me to feel this way.

Let me look around at all of the beauty: every positive social media post; every Zoom yoga class; every face mask donated. And look within yourself: how strong you are; how authentic you are; how kind and compassionate to yourself and to others you are learning to be.

And remember, your Yoga By Degrees teachers and community are HERE for you every day with classes, giggles, nuggets of wisdom and an overwhelming realization that we are all in this together. We are ONE!!!

Click HERE from your computer or open your YBD or Mindbody App for our Virtual Class Schedule!

We are so grateful for this community! And overwhelmed with your generosity that allows us to continue to teach on this new platform!

Mindful Monday: Power of Mind Cultivation

Good morning, dearest yogis!

First of all, I want to express to you how grateful all of us are for your continued support and participation in our online community classes! It certainly gives all of us something to look forward to. And it provides a sense of continuity and stability during this interesting time.

I’ve been reconnecting with the lovely yoga sutras during this time, which lends a larger and broader perspective and also provides a play book on how we might navigate life’s challenges.

One sutra is particularly resonating with me.

Sutra 2.33: vitarka-bādhane pratipakṣa-bhāvanam

It simply means:
When disturbed by negative thoughts, opposite -positive- ones should be thought of.

Super simple but extremely challenging, am I right?

Basically, this ancient text is reminding us that happiness is a choice that we have to power to make in every moment.

And with pratipaksa bhavanam, we are learning to stop negative thoughts in the moment and immediately balance the fearfulness with positive thoughts based in love and abundance.

We see how this is merely an extension of our eight limbed practice of yoga, which have been covered in depth in previous posts! I encourage you to go back and re-read from the beginning!

The practice is not a basic: “I want a donut” “I do not want a donut”

It is watching the craving (or other negative thought cycle of fear, anger, greed, jealousy, depression, etc) without judgement and then replacing with thoughts of higher level positivity.

In the donut example, the oppositional thought may be focused on how good your body will feel if you eat something more nourishing and satisfying over the long term.

This oppositional thought process is prevalent in all aspects of the practice. From the do’s and don’ts of yamas and niyamas to the juxtaposition of our bodies in inversions!

Our practice is designed to be vigilant of our minds at all times and train the mind like we train the body.

Please share your thoughts and questions with me! See you on your mat in a virtual class soon!

Mindful Monday: Vijnanamaya Kosha

Good morning and happy Monday dearest mindful ones.

We are definitely in a situation right now. Remember that calm minds will always prevail! And the universe is always working directly on our behalf, but we may not always see the bigger picture immediately.

How interesting that the next kosha in our study is about the intellect and discernment part of our mind!

The fourth of the koshas is Vijnanamaya kosha. Vijnana means knowing. It is the sheath of wisdom that is underneath the processing, thinking, reactionary aspects of the mind or the Manomaya kosha, our third kosha.

Vijnanamaya is pure awareness. It encompasses intuition and intellect. It is that aspect of our consciousness that is not entangled in what we are doing or thinking, but rather, acutely aware of what we are doing and thinking. It serves as an impartial witness.

Have you ever experienced a moment in your yoga practice where you are much less distracted by random thoughts or occurrences and much less caught up in the anticipation of the next posture?

From this deeper practice, you find that you are more able to feel the pose. You know what is happening deeply within your body and your mind as you settle into the posture, noticing the subtle nuances. This awareness is achieved when vijnanamaya kosha is properly developed and activated.

As we discussed last week, the manomaya kosha can be either useful or detrimental, depending on how we train the mind. We use our yoga practice to become more aware of the auto pilot responses and knee-jerk reactions and judgments.

Vijnanamaya builds on the foundation of the previous, outer sheath—manomaya kosha. Manomaya lays the groundwork for reaching vijnanamaya. We must first navigate the seas of our turbulent and busy minds before we are able to rise above the waves of thoughts that pull us away from our center. With this practice, we develop a steady mind and are able to view ourselves from a distance. Vijnanamaya allows us to step back from our current situation and view it from a better perspective. This is where insight comes from.

The lessons on our mats can always be applied off of our mats! In fact that is truly the point of practice. We can apply this lesson to our current situation. How easy it is to react to all of the fear and uncertainty around us!

Vijnanamaya navigates through those thoughts and finds an island of stillness where we sit in our hearts and observe. From this vantage point, we clearly see how temporary the waves are.

So over the uncertainty of the next couple of weeks, observe your mind and notice when you let it take over with fear

Yogis: have a great week! Use this involuntary vacation as a time to study the deeper limbs of your yoga practice. To allow yourself to rest, relax and reset. What a gift of extra time we have to work on all of our organization and cleaning and purging projects that we’ve been putting off!

Make it a great week of self-love and self-care, yogis!

Mindful Monday: Manomaya Kosha

Good morning and happy Monday, Mindful ones!

Today we are studying our third kosha: manomaya kosha.

To quickly review, the first kosha -Annamaya – is the outermost sheath, literally the physical body comprised of muscles and bones. The second kosha -Pranamaya -is the energetic layer.

The next of the koshas is Manamaya kosha. This sheath can be described as the mental layer. It is the connection point of the first two and last two koshas.

Manomaya encompasses the processing of thoughts and emotions. It involves the functions of the mind that relate to everyday living and our individual interpretation of life, our physical senses. The manomaya kosha can be either useful or detrimental, depending on how we train the mind. We use our yoga practice to become more aware of the auto pilot responses and knee-jerk reactions and judgments.


During your practice, your mind will come up with all sorts of thoughts about your practice—your ability, your strength, your balance, what your pose looks like. It will also judge the postures of other people. It will comment on the teacher or the teaching. You will make assumptions, you will judge, and at times you may be overcome with emotion. Getting caught up the mind’s constant commentary is a sure way to end up frustrated or unhappy!

But it is all part of the process. This is how the mind works.
Now we can see how important the concentration we place on the breath, postures, and gazing point during yoga all help to train the mind to stay present. Instead of being pulled into the stories we tell ourselves about our experiences, by keeping the attention on the breath, the asana, and the gaze, we become more able to simply notice the commentary as it arises, and to let it fall away as we remain steady.

The next time you find yourself getting caught up in the stories you tell yourself, notice that you’ve done so, and bring your attention back to the breath. This constant return of focus to the breath takes work, but eventually it will become an inherent practice that allows us to be more of a witness to our mind rather than held in the grips of our crazy, irrational thoughts.


If you have ever used your breath to help you calm your mind from an overwhelming experience or difficult emotion (on or off the mat), you have felt the two aspects of manomaya kosha.

The ability to rise out of thought patterns that do not serve us is perhaps the most valuable aspect of this practice we call yoga. The mind is a powerful force, and we have the ability to train the mind as a way to find ease in life. This is the potential of manomaya kosha.

Have a great week, yogis! See you on your mats!

Mindful Monday: Annamaya Kosha

Greetings, mindful ones! Happy Monday.

We are moving into our more deeper and subtler practice of yoga. It’s such an interesting and exciting journey, isn’t it?

The more we start to learn and discover, our realization is that we have just scratched the surface of this deep and ancient practice.

Today we go into more depth of the outermost kosha: the Annamaya. Kosha translates to sheaths or different bodies that cover our true nature/Self. In our ancient texts, “Maya” means illusion. So these sheaths or covers are illusions, skewing our awareness of ultimate self.

An example of maya is if you are looking in the darkness and can just make out the shape of a man standing outside. You are convinced there is a person there because you can see it. Actually, it was the just post of the old fence.

This outer sheath is the literally the body layer—muscles, bones, skin, organs. Anna means food, which is what sustains this level. Asana keeps this kosha healthy and can be used to treat problems that arise in the body.

We exercise this outermost aspect of ourselves, take care of it, nurture it, so that we can both enjoy our external lives and go inward without it being an obstacle during meditation time. In meditation, we become aware of Annamaya kosha, explore it, and then go inward, to and through the other koshas.

When life is out of balance, we must identify the kosha that is troubled and take on practices to help it come back into harmony with the others. Exploring and integrating each layer brings us closer to a state of bliss.

The Koshas can be imagined as nesting dolls. Each sheath or doll covers the innermost doll which is Atman or Self.

Mindful Monday: Koshas

Good morning dearest mindful ones!

We have covered the eight limbed path of yoga in depth over the past several months. We learned how a complete yoga practice encompasses mind, body and spirit.

We then went on to the chakras, our energy wheels, to make the energetic connection of mind, body and spirit.

With this foundation of knowledge, we move onto the koshas and see where the chakras fit in to a higher perspective of this human experience.

The koshas give us a complete roadmap for the expression of consciousness in physical form. Developed thousands of years ago by the master swamis, rishis and sages of ancient Hindu culture and high thought, the koshas help us to understand the varied and unique aspects of consciousness that give rise to the human experience. The koshas encompass the mind, the body and the spiritual aspects of consciousness manifested in physical form.

Through our yoga practice, we are developing an understanding of health and the chakras. Learning to work with the koshas is the next logical step on the path of greater integration and operation of the mind, body and spirit triad on a practical and metaphysical level.

Koshas are literally translated to sheaths or layers of the body. Often these sheaths are understood as separate bodies. There are five koshas, which we will delve into a bit more deeply over the next five weeks.

Have a great week, mindful ones!

Mindful Monday: Meditation

Happy Monday, dearest mindful ones!

This week’s topic is one near and dear to my heart: meditation.

Did you know that the reason we practice our physical poses is to prepare mind and body to sit easily in meditation?

Yes! So interesting, right? Our asanas allow us to develop more awareness of reality; they discipline our mind and body for stillness; we learn not to react to sensations in the body; we learn to calm mind and body when the urge to run away is overpowering; we become mindful of how our thoughts can be mastered.

Physically, asanas prepare the body, especially hips and spine, to endure staying seated and upright without distractions from physical discomfort. Poses also identify and flush out energetic and muscular stress, tension and resistance. The physical practice paves the way for pranyama, breath awareness, which deepens the focus and slows the mind.

So the ideal opportunity to meditate is directly following asana and pranayama practice.

So what is meditation, exactly? Meditation is a habitual practice of training your mind to focus, redirect and eventually to still your thoughts altogether. Like all things worthwhile in life: it is hard work and it requires discipline and accountability.

“But I don’t have time!” This is not even an original excuse. We make time in our lives for things we prioritize. Wake up five minutes earlier. Cut into your social media time. Take just five minutes at the end of your day.

There are numerous studies and entire books, blogs and documentaries devoted to all of the benefits of a meditation practice. Here are some of the quick and dirty major benefits:

1. Stress release

2. Anxiety reduction

3. Increases focus

4. Decreases blood pressure

5. Promotes better sleep

Just like any new habit/discipline, start out slow and steady!

1. Try to get to yoga class a little early so you can sit and practice mindfulness! You’ll notice a definite shift in your vinyasa practice. This is exactly why we hold quiet space before and after classes.

2. Stay just a few minutes after class to sit quietly. If you’re on a tight timeline, forgo savasana for a seated meditation.

3. Wake up five minutes early and just sit (or lie in bed!) and notice sensations in your body and begin your day with a positive and clear mindset.

4. Take a few minutes right before bed to practice mindfulness. You can sit and observe or you can even do legs up the wall as you release your day and prepare for deep, healing sleep!

5. You can even practice mindfulness when you’re standing in line or sitting in traffic in your car! Or performing daily rituals and repetitive, habitual tasks, e.g.: vacuuming, doing dishes, cleaning bathtub.

Set yourself up for success. Have some short term goals and discipline yourself to stick to them! Not only will you get all the benefits of mindfulness practice, but you’ll get a boost to your self-esteem knowing you are supporting the development of your best and highest self.

Have a great, mindful week, dearest ones! I’d love to hear how your mindfulness practice is developing!

Mindful Monday: Ajna Chakra

The Ajna Chakra or the Third Eye chakra is associated with the LIGHT element and the color INDIGO.

Mantra: “I see” or “Aum/Om”

The Ajna is located on the forehead between the eyebrows, just above and between the eye line.

It governs your vision, intuition, illumination, psychic abilities, perception of subtle dimensions and movements of energy, connection to insight, wisdom, inspiration and creativity.

When your Ajna chakra is open and balanced, you clearly see reality without the filters of your ego, expectations, past experiences and other social programming. The gift of your Ajna chakra is the ability to be mindful and live in the present moment. Your third eye chakra is the center of your intuition and wisdom, allowing you to open your mind to deeper understandings and expand your intuition.

When it is blocked, you may feel stuck in the daily grind without being able to look beyond your problems and set a guiding vision for yourself and have a lack of clarity.

When it is overstimulated and without support from the rest of the chakra system, you may indulge in fantasies that appear more real than reality, and experience psychic fantasies and other illusions.

To balance this chakra, try forward folds, shoulder stand and balasana, childs’ pose.

See clearly, my dear yogis!

Mindful Monday: Manipura Chakra

The Manipura Chakra is associated with the Fire element and the color YELLOW.

Mantra: “I do or “Ram”

The Manipura is located between your naval and your solar plexus.

It governs your feelings of will, inner power, strength, ego, stamina and self-esteem.

When this chakra is balanced, you feel powerful, strong, confident, capable active and determined.

When it is blocked, you may experience feelings of unworthiness, lack of energy and determination, guilt and fatigue.

When it is overstimulated, you will experience control issues, stubbornness, be overly critical and tend toward perfectionism.

To balance this chakra, try Navasana (boat pose), dhanurasana (upward facing bow) or and standing twists like crescent lunge with prayer twist or revolved Trikonasana (trianglepose).

Be powerful, my dear yogis!