Friday, May 28, 2010

Birth of a dream

“Far better it is to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs, even though checkered by failure, than to take rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy much nor suffer much, because they live in the gray twilight that knows not victory or defeat.” ~Theodore Roosevelt


These words perfectly define the path that we find ourselves the near future, we will take a huge leap into a vast and scary void of the unknown. We are hopeful that the net will appear and we will embrace success. Regardless of what challenges face us and what failures we may suffer, in the end, having dared to work for our dream will make it all worthwhile.

One baby step towards that dream is a workshop I will be giving in a little over one week at a women's retreat. The focus will be on the power of now, of settling into your body through breathing techniques, meditation, and movement. We will be breaking a sweat, but we will also honor our bodies for whatever limits or sensations it may experience in that moment in time, without judgment.

Over the next few weeks, we will also be crafting a few experiential workshops and promoting them at local churches, yoga centers, meditation groups, etc. It's a way for us to begin to build confidence and momentum for Caya's realization.

I am nervous, excited, worried, hopeful, enthusiastic, and eager all at the same time.

Caya is in the process of literally being born and I want to enjoy every moment of it.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Ecstasy in Motion: Post JourneyDance Experience

True passion is intoxicating, sensual, mysterious, magical, energizing, and inspiring. Toni Bergins of JourneyDance embodies passion in dance and movement.

Our Friday evening workshop at Dhyana Yoga in West Philadelphia was pure joy. The group was much smaller and more intimate than a typical Kripalu group of 60-80 people, so the energy we raised was much more subtle. But it also gave us the opportunity to interact with each person, to share a moment or a movement with them, and to build a gentle trust.

The evening was guided by Toni and we slowly moved our way up through the chakras using movement and expression to experience a vast array of emotions and sensations.

Unlike many other types of dance, JourneyDance is a spontaneous community dance that takes on a myriad of forms and depends entirely on the energy and dedication of the participants.

Friday night, we did dances of love, of dreams, of healing and forgiveness. We danced and moved with partners, we floated through space as if with wings, and we acknowledged each other as beautiful and magical - no matter age, size, ability, or expression. It was pure love and devotion.


One of Toni's methods for using dance as healing is an exercise in playing a duel role as yourself and then as your own healer.

I threw myself open during this dance and found fear, pain, and doubt buried within, but I also found a deep river of hope and joy.

When I acted as myself, I found that my body was in pain from all of the years of abuse. I found that my heart held fear and doubt because of my neglect. It was scary, overwhelming, surprising...I was mad at myself, even.

But I also unearthed an amazement at this new life and path I've been forging. My soul was responding to the yoga and dance and meditation and the challenges of movement. My body was excited by the changes and hopeful that they'd continue.

And as I stepped into my healer role, I began to forgive. I felt my heart opening up towards the heavens, inviting the light, inviting wisdom, inviting acceptance and growth. I showered myself with love and attention; I opened an honest ear and listened; I sat with this knowledge with an open mind and without judgement. I also nurtured this inner joy and watered this seed of hope to give it strength as it continued to grow.

Moving from self to healer and back to self, I felt different with each transition. I felt more alive, more willing to accept this new future - for myself and for my community. It was exhilarating.


The power of dance, especially JourneyDance with Toni, is immeasurable. Connecting with people on such an honest and organic level is transformative! We created a totally unique and beautiful sacred space of love and happiness that the universe will never see again.

I am more excited than ever to continue working on my path towards teaching and sharing the joy of dance and yoga, healing and self-acceptance with our community. It has the potential to have such a powerfully positive impact and it excites me from head to toe.

If you are looking for ecstasy, I dare say that you need nothing else than to get up and move. Dance is passion when you do it from your heart. Toni teaches that lesson with such passion and I can't wait to share it...


*Special thanks to Raymond for including us in this powerful event. For Raymond's thoughts on the weekend, check out his blog post:

A few upcoming events with Toni Bergins (also available on

- May 28-31 – Tribal Jam: Dance, Drum & Yoga @ Kripalu
- June 3-6 – Midwest Yoga Conference in Chicago
- July 18-23 & October 24-29 – JourneyDance Teacher Training @ Kripalu
- August 27-29 – JourneyDance weekend @ Omega Institute

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

JourneyDance on Friday

We are driving to Philadelphia on Friday for a weekend JourneyDance workshop with Toni Bergin. YAY!!!

It should be a nice reminder and refresher before our teacher certification in the Fall and then we'll be set to start teaching JourneyDance in the area. I can't even begin to share my excitement!

Any excuse to dance and move and challenge my body in new and exciting ways...

After that, I'm hoping to have about 8-10 months before yoga teacher training at Kripalu and then let the new life unfold for both of us.

We're starting to look for spaces for Caya, too. There are a few that I'm really interested in, but we aren't quite ready to sign anything official, so we have to keep faith that the right space will present itself to us when we are ready.

In the networking world, we're starting to look for all kinds of professionals that might be interested in participating in our community-building efforts: massage therapists, yoga teachers, tai chi teachers, bellydance and African dance teachers, acupuncturists, midwives and doulas, chiropractors, even nurses!

So if you or anyone you know might be interested in joining our vision, send them our way!

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Brutal Truth = Hurt Feelings - A Hard Lesson to Learn

Truth is a slippery thing if it's not wielded safely. Some people subscribe to the belief that all truth is good truth, but most of us know that sometimes truth can be harmful and mean.

Ken Nelson, a facilitator at our most recent Kripalu workshop, framed truth beautifully. He said we should welcome useful truth, not brutal truth.

It's something I've been ruminating on for the last few months. In fact, I've been chewing on a lot of concepts lately thanks to Stephen Cope's "The Wisdom of Yoga" and a series of other yoga-based texts.

Today offered me the chance to witness myself exercising brutal truth and it led to hurt feelings and guilt. Oh the discomfort of seeing myself as I am in all of my glorious imperfections...


Over the last several days I've been challenged with a pet peeve of mine via a dear, dear friend. Regardless of what it is, I was faced with a situation that left me uncomfortable, agitated, and in judgment.

Leaving one of my yoga classes, I was mulling over how to handle this situation. Should I start an honest but gentle conversation with this person or would that cause unnecessary drama? Should I accept that my friend just does this and let it go (who's to say what someone should or shouldn't do - I'm not anyone's boss, right)? I wasn't sure what the honest and compassionate path saying something "useful" truth or is it "brutal"? Is not saying something skirting honesty for the sake of avoiding something uncomfortable? I really had no idea.

A while later, my friend and I were discussing things we were trying to work on and I literally felt myself step away from my body and witness myself rudely and bluntly say something like "You're famous for talking while someone else is talking and I'm trying to listen to them. You do it all the time and it can be kind of rude."

Internally, my jaw dropped.

Talk about brutal truth. I was surprised at how this judgmental declaration just came tumbling out.

My friend is painfully transparent. Every emotion & thought flashes across her face and I saw that I'd hurt her (not my goal by any stretch) and really, these minor irritants just weren't THAT important to me. Not if this was the price.

I felt guilty. She closed down and remained guarded for much of the morning. I don't blame her, either. It was rude and unnecessary of me to blurt out an uninvited observation.

I wanted to apologize to her and discuss my behavior, but Ego stepped in and instead I kept quiet.

On my long drive home, I marinated on everything.

Brutal truth had exploded from me in an instant - completely unplanned and unscripted; the antithesis of how I'd envisioned handling the situation.

The last thing I want to do is use brutal truth, especially if it leads to hurting people I love and value.

What was I doing to myself? Was I this insensitive or was something deeper going on? This kind of truth served no one but myself - and that means it was anything but useful.


Stephen Cope writes about the power of getting in touch with your inner Witness or your inner soul/truth. Witness does not judge, does not decide right or simply observes and sees things as they are (instead of how Ego and Puppy Mind WANT us to see them which is OUR way or the highway).

I'm certainly not a master meditator or a wise yogi, so experiencing this Witness was a major event for me. Though admittedly, it's difficult to reflect on this kind of insight without sitting in judgment of myself.

As I think about my use of brutal truth, I see that it's something I've used in the past on a number of occasions.

Typically, it rears its ugly head when I'm judging someone I care about and I'm not sure how to communicate my thoughts without seeming rude...and then brutal truth comes blurting out in my desperation to be heard. Basically, it's all about me sometimes and that's when I cross a line from compassionate to self-serving.

It's difficult to learn these things about myself. I see how I've hurt people I care about because of a discomfort within myself that gets projected...

But, today I'm thankful for this insight. I'm thankful to the Witness for showing me a glimpse of something I need to think about and bring awareness to. I'm thankful to yoga for giving me the tools to self-reflect without putting myself down or questioning my heart and value.


Life lessons (especially those about yourself) aren't easy pills to swallow. As bumpy as the road may seem, each lesson teaches us something valuable that can lift us up and bring us closer to peace and serenity.

I suspect I have a few apologies to dole out and some hard work ahead of me.

But I'm simultaneously practicing self-acceptance, self-awareness, and self-compassion. I cannot change overnight but I can put one foot in front of the other, mindfully, and see where I end up.

I cannot begin to describe how thankful I am to have yoga in my life...for the moments when I'm on the mat and I'm settling into myself and my truth and learning now to navigate this crazy world. Bringing this inner serenity into the outside world is a little more challenging, but I'm working on it. Because like all of us, I'm a beautiful work in progress.