I believe I originally learned this through my teacher Jill Miller, and later Paul Grilley. It has helped me become much more stable in all my arm balancing, handstands, planks, and downward dogs. I had been told for many years to turn the hands out in Anusara but it was never made clear why. As many of us know, when we understand the why then we will often put our hearts into it-whatever it may be- in this case all postures where hands are weight bearing. Hope sharing this helps you.
2014 is approaching and I am excited for what is shaping up to be an amazing schedule. I have two retreats already scheduled, one in January to Puerta Rico, and one to Umbria, Italia. I have 2 teacher trainings, one 100hr therapeutics starting in January, and a 200hr starting in March. Yoga Journal conference, wanderlust, performances in Las Vegas, and the list goes on! Check out the Workshops/Retreats/trainings link above for the most up to date offerings of the first half of 2014!
I am excited to take the adventure through the year as and see what life brings me. 2013 has been a tremendously special year for me both in my personal life and career. I learned so much and am so grateful for all the amazing experiences I have had and the people I have shared them with.
It is time to Create more online videos- tutorials, how to’s and so on. I know there is a high demand for students that dont live in new york that are hungry to learn, and I plan to provide some content for them/you.
I am also collaborating a lot more with other teachers, coaches, doctorcs, PT’s, Massage Therapists that I respect and think could help build a community of healthy loving yogis, athletes and human beings.
I want to break out of the walls of asana practice and continue to bring more elements of healing and athleticism into my teachings. In my life I go far beyond the typical Yoga poses when I learn about my body, and it has helped me tremendously, and I intend to share that on a bigger scale this year. I have already started in my classes around manhattan, and So far have received very positive feed back. The comment that moved me the most “I am 75 and I have never been able to balance well on one foot, today on one foot i felt so strong that i could just stand there for ever, thank you”.
I have many ideas in my head and while i know it will continue to evolve and I may not get to half of them in one year, I will do my best to share them all with you wherever we cross paths!
Much love and I hope the rest of 2013 is amazing for you!
Just got to be a part of an awesome train ride that could have been straight out of a cheesy holiday movie- the kind that you shed a tear out of happiness. As I’m walking past the first few train Cars I spot a girl with red dred-locks quietly strumming her guitar. I see the train car has a decent amount of people in it but everyone is clear of her area. I decide to walk in and sit down next to her and break the ice for everyone around. You could see it and feel in – everyone sort of annoyed that someone is playing guitar, some putting headphones in or turning up their music, others just facing away. you can feel people’s edgy nervousness with thoughts that probably sound something like “this is probably going to suck, but not enough for me to walk to a different train car”. Even my thoughts are doubtful, but the vibration of the guitar is pleasantly running through the subway bench soothing my back, so I stay figuring the worse case scenario is her voice is unpleasant and I have 2 min to tolerate it. I observe that thought and realize wow that is silly and decide to tune into the music. Once I am out of me head, stop observing my surroundings and start listening to her play I immediately can tell something special is about to happen, and I picked the best seat in the house. Doors close she introduces herself and starts singing with a time that would make Alicia keys jealous…the song is good too. I realize I don’t have a dollar as I am listening and feel a little bummed, but I decide a 5 is worth it for these 2 minutes that I wish would now turn into at least 30. I take a 5 out and notice the guy in front of me is digging for all his singles. The train ride ends and we hand her money, and I notice everyone is giving her $5 bills. 2 minutes of courage and faith in herself made her what looked like $50. We all smiled and thanked her- all of our days brightened and her very humbly smiling and thanking back. An hour later and I am still moved by the S train experience.
Share your passion- be courageous
please share the video if you dig it!
For a while I had trouble with the phrase “never forget”, simply because I wasn’t sure what we were referring to. It sounded to me like a reason to continue anger and fuel the desire for retaliation or more violence, attacking nations of people for the decisions of few. Finally it came to me- in contemplating my frustration I realized YES, there was more to the phrase then I had previously realized. I started to remember the power of 9/11. It was a tremendous tragedy that people are still trying to heal from. Since then our city, and economy have not quite gotten back to where we were prior to the attack. This is one side, but what actually amazed me the most was not that someone could get away with such horror, but rather the tremendous unity that came up from the ruins of our city. I remember the american flags, the music about loving each other on the radio- that is until the government band all songs of that nature…that’s a whole other topic. I remember everyone’s contribution to the society as a whole. People were willing to help each other no matter what the cost. Money came from every corner of the world to aid those in need. I remember how firefighters and police officers would not rest in order to save lives, even if it meant the cost of their own. It was a time of tragedy but also a time of true UNITY. One nation under God…Indivisible!We felt for each other, we fought for each other, we truly loved each other.
What I think is most important to never forget on 9/11 is the way that this city came together and worked as a team, a unit, helping in every way possible. the way that we as a culture loved one another, and could step outside of our daily routines and see the importance in caring for each other. We celebrated each others existence because we knew in those moments just how precious life was.
Have we learned that this is the most valuable part of life. or have we already forgotten? Let us never forget, not just on 9/11 but everyday. Can we care for each other, support one another, hold each other up every single day?!
To all those that have lost someone close to them, let the lives of your loved ones not be remembered by the job they had or how they died. But let them LIVE on through our kindness, care, and love that we can share with the world in their honor.
(Pardon the grammar please)
I have traveled all over the country and parts of the world this summer and I have discovered many things about myself as well as had the opportunity to observe how people respond to my teaching depending on the environment they live in. Returning back to NYC has been a shock for me. I am keenly aware of how much I have been working against the grain for so long here. On the up side I have learned so much from this challenging environment that we New Yorkers live in. The intensity of the concrete jungle mixed with all of our incredible ambitions hidden from the sunlight, in a city that forgets the importance of sleep, it seems like we may also have forgotten WHY we are all here to begin with. Most of us New Yorkers are dreamers, achievers, goal oriented, and believers when we arrive here but slowly get sucked into the vortex of result oriented success, rather then enjoying the process of the ever evolving, and unfolding of the expansion of life and its endless possibilities. In other words, we have become numb to the beauty of life because of our narrow vision and lack of awareness of the process that life has to offer. To give a more tangible example, for those of you that live in the city, how often do you walk down the street and feel empowered, uplifted or inspired by the joyous smiles and acts of kindness that surround you? When I asked this in the classes here in NYC everyone burst out laughing every time…me included, because that is a rare opportunity here.
If perhaps we can broaden our goals and mindset to see the big picture- joy, creativity, expression, growth, challenges, laughter, love, connection, etc- as well as, or in addition to our career path, or whatever we put most of our energy into, then maybe the city can be a little more welcoming, and kind. I know I don’t have much more time here in this city because it does not feel like HOME for me, but I do not intend to run away before putting my best foot forward to cultivating a bigger community of people that want to experience the big picture together.
For me, In the meantime I hope to continue to take groups of New Yorkers to beautiful lands of Costa Rica, Puerto Rico, and wherever else I have the privilege of hosting retreats. Through the retreats we are cultivating strong bonds because we get away from our routine, get to let go of who we think we should be and really get in touch with ourselves, and each other. It has brought me such joy to see students that didnt know each other prior to retreat, no laughing and chatting in the hallways of the yoga studios I work in. I am so grateful that life has brought me in this direction- traveling to beautiful beaches and mountains, and getting to share Yoga in a setting that holds tremendous power for transformation and Joy!
Thank you all that have shared this summer with me so far be it in workshops, retreats, wanderlust festivals, or performances. I am so grateful to be on this path in both the narrow vision and the big picture of it all.
Below are some videos I wanted to share with you. one is instructional for arm balances, and the other is a collaborative AcroYoga/Intel video. So much love!
The Divine Artist
I recently had the privilege of reconnecting to my high school art teacher. To this day, my heart beats a little faster at the thought of her, the mention of her name, or the sight of soulful mastery spilled onto a canvas. She moves my heart and represents the fire that resurrected something deep inside of me- drawing it out like an exorcism of the soul.
Later that day, reflecting upon our conversation, I remembered the artistic process. At the time, I didn’t know what I was getting myself into and the thought of learning to draw, paint, and sculpt was overwhelming. I wouldn’t admit it then - but I was scared. Others were so talented. Learning new techniques sounded boring and impossible. I had a choice: fail, and forfeit graduation, or… try. One by one, I began learning new techniques, and, to my surprise, I fell in love. I became obsessed with the details – trying to make things perfectly realistic. I loved to watch the lines on the page dance with life. As the energy on the page swirled, so did my emotions. Those of you that practice yoga can likely relate to this energetic movement: we get into a pose and organize our bodies with technique and alignment. This awakens our inner world of breath and consciousness, and with a rush of power our pose expands in all directions and creates a physical expression of our inner world!
Music, Art, Yoga, Dance, Poetry… they’re all very similar. Each serves as a platform for self expression. A means of sharing this unique, individual experience that we call life. While each avenue requires specific techniques and skills, the process is the same: draw upon inner-inspiration and let it flow through your paint brush, vocal chords, instrument, and body.
Do we need to master the technical side of our craft to express ourselves? Absolutely not. We can dance around like monkeys at a Phish concert, or draw inside (or outside) the lines with crayons and magic markers, or play four chords on the guitar or piano and still create a hit song like “let it be”. Masterpieces come from the depths of our souls – from our willingness to be vulnerable as we tap deeply into the inspiration of our hearts. Sometimes the only tool we need is courage.
Let’s make this a little more tangible. Take language for example. Most of our communication and our ability to express our wants and needs comes through our ability to speak. Ever listen to a non-English speaking tourist try to ask for what they need? You witness the struggle and the occasional lapse into their first language in hopes that they will get the point across. You stand there hoping they can communicate through body language. Language is a learned skill. The more languages you know the more people you can communicate with. Many musicians study/play various styles to draw upon the appropriate “flavor” when improvising or writing music.
Prior to studying art, I lacked many tools of self expression. This resulted in a fairly constant state of frustration. I was never very good at verbal expression – words came slowly to my mind while emotions rushed through me. In a fast paced world, where silence is deemed awkward, i was fearful of not being heard if I couldn’t speak up and speak fast. Writing? Forget about it. My thought process was too filled with self-judgement and frustration to get passed my poor spelling and grammar. I was told those are “necessary” in the writing process, and I therefore determined I could not (and would not) write. I needed something to crack the shell. I needed to find freedom. I needed to let out all the energetic pressure that was building inside me. Visual art came to my rescue!
Art somehow drew out a side of me I had never seen before. My teacher had an amazing teaching style – assigning a technical assignment followed by a creative one. She gave us the skills to communicate freely from the heart. It was never boring. I learned to draw the bones of a hand one day and creatively incorporate the hand into a work of art the next day. Other times she’d ask us to draw anything we wanted in the medium of our choice (mine was pencil). Then we’d learn how to recreate it with charcoal, inc, acrylic, watercolor, and clay. If I drew a tree for fun, she would show me some ways to draw it more accurately and efficiently. She never required anything more than our effort and attention. She was famous for eliminating the words “I can’t” from our vocabulary. That lesson still permeates my life. If the only way to fail was by not trying, what would your life canvas look like? Is that fun to think about or does it scare you to admit to what you really want? If it scares you, is it because you are not doing anything to support what you really want? Or is it because you aren’t there yet?
You will never be “there”. You will always be HERE – moving towards “there”. That is the nature of growth.
When you witness fear, you have an opportunity to connect to what you really want. You can gain the skills and tools to take you “there”! It all comes down to finding the desire inside our hearts to create the masterpiece, song, or life that we want and having the tools to create it. The vision, coupled with the learning of appropriate skills, provides the inspiration and means to fly!
Part 2: Breaking Down the Walls
What stops us from sharing and expressing ourselves? Sometimes it is a lack of capability, or the belief that we have nothing to share, or the fear of being vulnerable that paralyzes us. If it’s lack of skill, start experimenting! Take a dance lesson, yoga class, or art class. There are endless art forms, and they all have their benefits. Personally, I can speak to yoga. The focus on breath brings the mind into a state of presence and ease. The attention to the physical body leaves a long lasting effect of feeling good. That being said, I started with art, and music first. There is no wrong starting point other than not starting. As Dan Millman says, “there is no starting or stopping, only doing.”
If you are not fully expressing yourself out of fear of not being accepted or fear that you have nothing to offer, here is a bit of perspective: Every single person on this planet has a unique set of life experiences, and a perspective that no one else shares. This means every one of us has something to learn from each other. We often take our diversity for granted. Instead of sharing our differences and learning from each other, we allow our differences to drive us apart. Sharing your individuality (without forcing it upon someone) is a service to the world. It’s scary to share ourselves. The very things that make us unique are usually the things that make us feel different and separate. The people that intrigue us the most often hold the most amount of power. They wield a sword of courageous vulnerability. They stand up and make speeches like “I have a dream…” or light their guitar on fire and drop to their knees in the name of passion. They step outside the norm and paint drooping clocks over trees, stop warring countries by starving themselves to stand up for ahimsa (non violence)…the list goes on.
Do we have to take ourselves to the extreme to make a positive difference in this world? Of course not. A simple, loving hug – an outward expression of the heart – can turn someone’s day around, and in turn, might turn their week or life around. Dig deep into the inspiration that lies within your own heart.
The world deserves you.
We are united in that we are all unique. When we share ourselves, we take down the walls of perceived separation, and allow for the opportunity to connect on the deepest level. So please, let these be more than words on a page. Let them mean something to this world by taking a moment to step outside the heavy armor and let your heart breathe. From that breath, share your story…the world deserves you.
Thank you to my teacher Eileen Walk, and to my high school art buddy Mary Benyo for both pushing me to my potential, and empowering me to go deeper. The first art piece above was inspired by my spiritual sister Julia Garcia- “draw me something vulnerable” thanks J. Big Big Thank you to Yogi, Graphic Designer, and Photographer Taylor Dunham for editing this blog out of the goodness of her heart. I stand tall from the support of amazing people.
While on the subway ride to class I witnessed a comical transaction between two people. It was one of the older subway car designs, which I like better because two seats face the isle and two seats face those seats. To me it feels more kind and allows for more of a community feel. However, it became incredibly apparent why the subway design is now a straight bench on one side and the same on the other after witnessing the event. The lady turns to the man and makes a hand signal to move his knee- he doesn’t catch on. She does it again, and then finally says your knee is pushing into my ass, move it. He moves it angrily and murmurs under his breath for a while. They both happen to get up at the same stop to leave. While waiting for the train doors to open he finally murmurs a little louder something in German I think, followed by a frustrated “your ass was sitting on my knee, keep your ass on the seat!” They bickered and got off the train, and the rest of us laughed at the hilarity of the situation.
Two people had two very different perspectives, who was right? The rest of us found it quite funny, why couldn’t they see the humor? How we look at life is nothing more than a matter of perspective. Are we able to see life from more than one viewpoint, and appreciate other angles and ways of looking at the same thing? More importantly when someone has a different opinion is it possible to know that they too are correct, and are we able to create a space for that to exist along side our own. One step further- can we learn from each others journeys and our own unique individual expressions of what our eyes, and ears have picked up along the way?
I would love to hear your perspective and thoughts, email theyogimatt (@) gmail.com or facebook-theyogimatt
This blog was born out of a homework assignment for one of my spiritual mentors. She wanted to hear about an experience of the “higher self”. What was supposed to be one paragraph quickly turned into a story that I knew I wanted to share for the readers following this blog. This is a topic I usually never talk about, and have only shared with people close to me. To give you a bit of context, what you are about to read took place many years before my journey of Yoga, but after a few years after I had started studying my mind through contemplation and meditation practices. Enjoy the journey!
My First Awakening to Spirit
My first awakening to the spiritual realm came unexpectedly. I had been deeply focused on inner work: cultivating a peaceful mind and compassionate heart; but I hadn’t thought much about spirituality beyond the physical realm.
The weather was absolutely beautiful – seventy-eight degrees and blue skies – when we all showed up for Brian’s memorial in a local park overlooking the harbor. In his honor, I took off my shoes prior to entering the park. I had never seen Brian wear shoes, even when I’d run into him in the street or at the ice cream shop. At the time I thought he was out of his mind, but something drew me close to him despite his shoe-less style and vegetarian diet. At the time I had no idea what was so magnetic about him but I knew I wanted to be closer. I wanted to impress him. I think everyone around him felt it…but what was it? He was calm when others were stressed; he found humor when others were engulfed by anger. And, his ability to stay focused was incomparable. I never developed the relationship I yearned for while Brian was alive, but after he passed I got to know him as a mentor, guide and best friend.
The memorial was beautiful – full of musicians pouring their hearts into honoring Brian. I admit I was freaked out by the meditators and the esoteric practices – chakra meditation bowls and chanting the sound of Om. Unbeknownst to me, a few short years later I would call these practices my own. I tried my hardest not to judge these “weirdos” knowing that Brian was close friends with them and would probably participate if he were still in his body. I watched my mind struggle to listen to statements such as: “he is with us in spirit”, “he is all around us”, and “he’s in a beautiful place now”. I had heard these phrases all my life but chalked them up to a means of comforting loved ones. I had little belief in afterlife, reincarnation, or the ‘G’ word that I was so scared of. My association with spirituality was that God was synonymous with organized religion, and that meant church every Sunday and believing what everyone else believed. As cynical as I was, and as atheist as I claimed to be, I yearned to believe in something…but I needed proof. When I was growing up, if something bad was happening I’d find myself saying “if there is a God – I mean, if you exist – please help me.” Rightfully so – why believe anyone else without evidence?!
The evidence showed up on that beautiful day in the park. As I listened to this weird lady whispering “Brian, Brian, Briiaaaann” into a microphone, judgements ran wild. She was creepy, crazy, and out of her mind; that’s when it hit me. Suddenly, without trying, I was out of my mind too. Colors were as vivid as a high contrast HDTV. Every sound was crystal clear no matter how close or far. The bird in the tree across the park was as loud as my friend crunching a twig with his bare feet. I could smell the burning sage that was on the stage forty yards away. He was all around me, and I could feel him and sense him more fully than when he was alive and physically in my presence.
I was awake for the first time in my life, really awake, as if the rest of my life was a dream – a dream I didn’t even realized I wanted to escape. Life was pretty good until that moment: I was driven, artistic, passionate. I was doing the things I loved, but nothing compared to the overwhelming sense of joy and peace I felt on that day. I knew it, and I could feel it: life would never be the same.
To Be Continued…
-Thank you to Lauren Lauren Jacobs for preliminary editing, and Taylor Dunham for the final edit.