Five Points Yoga

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Getting the Big Project Done!

‘Finding time to practice is part of the practice.” – unknown source from Twitter!

Paradoxically, it’s often when we’re so busy we feel we can’t squeeze another thing in, that we need yoga the most.  I’m in that space now in my life where some big projects are steaming ahead, and I *need* to be on the mat to help me get through it all in a healthy way.    Two weeks ago, I really needed yoga, but my mat remained rolled up tight.  It was a hard week and I’ll just say it:  I was miserable.  Last week was really busy too, but I prioritized yoga practice and you know what?   I could tell!  Everything flowed a bit more smoothly.

It’s hard to take care of yourself when you most need it, so here’s some ideas for getting a little yoga into your day and week.

a)     Set a timer and do 10 minutes on your mat!  Everyone has 10 minutes at some point in the next 24 hours! This is a great segue between parts of a big project.   It’s great to do when you first get up in the morning, or when you’re just getting home in the evening.   Put a favorite song on – commit to just being present during that song.  You don’t even need to move much.    Consider taking the Yoga Odyssey in January for more encouragement on doing a home practice!

b)      Look at your calendar and schedule a yoga class before your next 10 days get away from you.   Have your partner or close friend/family member help you stick to it.  For your sake and theirs you need yoga!

c) The library and Netflix have a great assortment of yoga videos that give you some direction.  When I get a Netflix workout video I try to return it within a week – that means I have to schedule exercising to the video in that amount of time!!

d) If you’re working on a big project over the course of several months (I’m designing a teacher training for example), reward yourself when you reach milestones in the project.   Book a massage, a weekend getaway, a hike in a beautiful and quiet place, a soak in the tub – positive energy rewards that keep you healthy!

Big projects are daunting when you’re at the beginning, but yoga helps us remember all we really need to worry about now is taking the next step forward.   If we keep doing that, we will eventually get there!!    If you get on your mat regularly, each little step will be easier, and you’ll hit your stride in no time and make a lot of progress!

Enjoy the journey,


Guest Post – Yoga and Rock Climbing

Friend and sister yogini Diana wrote this last month, but I thought it was great and worth reposting.   It’s all about the present moment 🙂

diana rock climbing

“Yell ‘FALLING,’ then push away from the wall, keep your feet flat against the rock, and trust your belay,” hollered Jason, our really cute shaggy headed rock climbing instructor ( on Sunday in my first climbing lesson.  It’s scary to trust that I could really freefall without fear because someone held me secure in their hands.  It worked, though – and the second time we ‘tested’ my belay, I was to fall without announcing it.  Because I knew that my belay was solid AND backed up by Jason, there was no fear and I just flew off the wall.

After the lesson, the climbing really began.  Rocks with the deepest indentations for my fingers were like an answered prayer as my grip weakened during the climb.  “Once you’ve climbed for a bit, rock climbing will begin to feel like climbing a ladder – boring,” admonished Jason.  “Instead of hand over hand, begin to map out the journey, strategize your next move, and get creative on the climb.  It’s all about having fun on the journey.”

Even with these words, I watched others new to this sport scrambling like mice over the rocks, leaving them breathless, forearms burning.  “Think of rock climbing as being like yoga,” Jason advised.

That’s IT!  All his instructions were yoga and real life instructions.

Rock climbing is just like yoga – as mind and body connect to the structure of the colored toe holds, there’s strategy and finesse in just how to step onto them, where to place your hands so your arms are lengthening away from the core, using muscles most effectively by pushing up with your legs with less pulling on your arms.  Just like the careful placement of your hands in down dog that allows a light lengthening from the solidness of your foundation.

Pause, breathe, extend.  Staying present and connected to my breathe, I looked for the next hand hold, then foot placed, exhale and push off.  Steadily, I climbed, and just like in yoga, treated the transitions with the respect of the pose knowing that these in-between-the-breath moments are just as critical to the flow of vinyasa as warrior poses.

A couple of times, I could feel fatigue and trembling thighs, my grip loosening its hold on the rock.  Still, I didn’t worry.  I knew my belay had me and all I had to do is yell, “Take,” and she would slowly lower me to the ground.  Just like in yoga, someone has my back – my belay in rock climbing and my inner teacher in life.  That deep inner knowledge gave me strength to go on.

An aha moment to once again validate the path of yoga is not just on the mat!

Befriending the Backbend

“When the asana is correct, there is a lightness, a freedom.  Freedom comes when every part of the body is active.  Let us be free in whatever posture we are doing.  Let us be full in whatever we do. “  – BKS Iyengar

I have a love/hate relationship with backbends.   I love them because they are stimulating and energizing – who needs coffee when you’ve got some good backbends under your belt for the day?

But then I hate them because they’re hard – they require awhile to warm up before you can properly do them.  I have to practice at least 30 minutes before I can do more difficult backbends, and then I have to spend at least 15 minutes releasing them so I don’t have an achy back afterwards.   They also need to be repeated in a practice several times in order to really work in them, and after you’re done with the first, you rarely want to move on.   So, it’s a full hour practice for me, much of it pushing myself.

I also hate them because they show me the state of my practice – and when they’re stiff and stuck feeling, I know I haven’t been practicing with enough intensity.   And that’s how they’ve been feeling lately.   So….

It’s time to do a little backbend challenge!   I’m commiting to a month of backbends in October, my birthday month.  It’s a little Iyengar tradition to do dropbacks on your birthday – sometimes practitioners do as many as they are old (for me that would be 33 this year), and sometimes practitioners do 108, the sacred number of yoga.   Mr. Iyengar, now in his 90’s, still evidently does dropbacks!!

Here’s a beautiful video of a dropback. I’ll be using it as my inspiration – yes, I can do dropbacks, but no, I’ve never done any significant number in a row!  I don’t think that will be my goal in October, but who knows?  Stay tuned and check in with me on how my backbends are opening up as I commit to a more regular practice.

Anyone care to join me on my backbend quest?

Love to you all!


Some Postive Changes in Hospital Births

First and foremost, I’m a yoga teacher.  I teach all adults, and I specialize in prenatal and postnatal yoga.  But in my previous life, I did a lot of activism, in public health and human/civil rights.  My passion for the last decade has been working with moms in the childbearing year, and of course, a huge focus of our work is on laboring and birth.  So, I like to share positive news and trends in the pregnancy/birth world!

One of the reasons I think yoga is so important during pregnancy is that it helps you *trust* how healthy you are.  When you know from deep within that you are healthy and that your baby is healthy, then you can advocate for yourself if needed.   As valuable as hospitals and their well-trained staff are, navigating a hospital birth is often a minefield of interventions and restrictive policies, many of which can be unnecessary.   Two recent articles highlight some positive changes happening, in large part because families are advocating for them!!

First, hospitals are finally starting to lift the ban on drinking and eating in labor!   Can you imagine working hard for 14 hours (average length of labor for first time mom) and not eating or drinking?   That’s crazy!  So for years, informed mamas have snuck in snacks to their labor rooms, because they know they need fuel to make it through labor.   Now, hopefully, families can feel free to openly nourish their laboring women in the hospital.

If you’re pregnant, advocate for yourself ahead of time by letting your care provider know that you reserve the right to eat or drink (if you want) during your time in the hospital.

Second, we have a long road ahead of us, but a recent article in a medical journal is finally recognizing that routine induction of moms in their due time leads to a huge increase in the incidence of Cesarean section.   It’s so important to avoid medical induction if there is not a medical reason, and yet, half the moms in my class struggle to push back against eager doctors (and midwives!) who want to induce.

If you are a mama seeking to avoid CSection, talk to your provider early in your pregnancy about their induction rates.   Ask your provider if they routinely induce, and when.   I recommend if they routinely induce at 41 weeks that you seek another provider, and let the original provider know the reason why!   As a consumer, you have a great deal of power to change the way medical providers practice, especially when the science backs you up.

And of course, through it all, practicing yoga regularly with give you the motivation, determination and COURAGE to grow your baby, birth your baby, and parent your baby the best way you can.



Pregnant Parsva Konasana

What is that Savasana feeling?

What is that quintessential Savasana feeling?

I just got home from a week long vacation, in which I did very little yoga.  I couldn’t wait to get into a routine at home again, including a regular yoga practice.   I rolled out my mat on Sunday afternoon, and just fell on it in happiness.  After about 30 minutes on the mat, I took my first Savasana (did you know you can do that??  Multiple rest and relaxations in your yoga practice??)

The feeling was exquisite.   Everything in my body was vibrating!  It felt so good to physically notice my toes, to feel the weight of my body sinking into the ground, to imagine my imprint on the earth as I let go.   Because I had just been on vacation, I wasn’t yet thinking about lists of to-dos.    So, even though I was on the clock, having to teach in an hour or so, I felt delicious.   I could just float through and on the sensations of deep relaxation.

My teacher Don has a phrase that he says during Savasana: “Notice any pulsing, tingling, streaming sensations.”   I’ll use this occasionally in class, and I also try to come up with other evocative language.   If you’re at all a “word” person, then it will be worth your while to notice the words and phrases that work for you in your yoga practice, whether you hear them from  a teacher or come up with them yourself.  The words that came up during this Savasana were “thrumming” and “vibrating.”

I had a sense of deep well-being.   At one point, I was saying Well-Being over and over, which is really nice if you think about it.  Smiling and sighing a lot (you know how much I encourage that if you go to my class).

Afterwards, it felt so clear to me *why* yoga makes such a difference.   When you have that experience as part of the back drop of your day, you can draw on it to help you with difficult situations.   Instead of reacting in anger or defensiveness, you might be able to take a deep breath, feel compassion, and try a different, more effective tack.   That’s what happened to me!  It was wonderful to know that my yoga practice was good for me, and for the others around me who benefitted from a more soothing response from me.

They say the effects of yoga practice last for about 48 hours.   I think that’s more or less true – of course we’re all different, and so are our yoga practices!   But if you can give yourself a little yoga (WITH Savasana of course) at least every other day, I think you’ll notice some changes, both on and off the mat.

Happy to be back!


savasanaCircle lululemon picture 🙂

Yoga Journal’s Boston Conference

Way back in April, as part of my bachelorette weekend, I did part of the Yoga Journal Boston conference.   I don’t think I had been to a yoga conference since 1999 – they’re huge and very consumerist-oriented, so sometimes they are a turn-off to me.   I lose the yoga in all the hubbub!

But this was actually really great for me.   I needed a weekend of intensive yoga – no teaching, just doing my own thing.  It was wonderful to take care of my hamstring and shoulder, and go at my own pace.   There was a sense of less ego and performance for me in this conference than I probably had 10 years ago at my last conference.   Injury and experience both will humble you, I guess!

I saw some teachers I’d studied with before and to whom I wanted to make a little pilgrimage.  David Swenson, Shiva Rea, and Beryl Bender Birch were all great, and it was nice to be in their energy again. Each one is so different!  It’s good to study with lots of people.

New for me was Desiree Rumbaugh, an Anusara teacher.   I have always liked Anusara, but just haven’t pursued training because I like a lot of other styles too.  I’d never studied with Desiree and I’m so glad I did!   She’s got a lot of energy, and she teaches well.   She reminds me of my teacher Amba with her infectious laugh and joie de vivre.  I did a handstanding workshop, and though I’m very proficient in handstands, I learned a little of the Anusara approach, which is definitely different than any other approach I’ve learned or intuited on my own.   I’m considering another workshop with Desiree later in the summer, because this short intro was not enough!

I also had an introduction to Julie Gudmestad, who had written the Anatomy column in Yoga Journal for forever!   She’s a physical therapist and yoga teacher, and I did a course with her on the rotator cuff.   It was great because my rotator cuff has been getting aggravated easily in the last few months.   She had some really helpful information, and in general, the conference helped me zone in a bit more on some of the things I am doing in my teaching that are probably contributing to the problem.

So, do I recommend conferences?   Yes!  But sparingly.  A conference once every 5 years or so is plenty for me.  If you’re interested in studying yoga more intensively, a conference is a good way to shop around for potential teachers, and could even be a good way to explore one topic with many teachers.   For example, if you wanted to work on arm balances, you could do a conference and pick sessions that help you learn a bit more about arm balances (word to the wise though – these conferences are tiring, so make sure you don’t injure yourself overdoing it!).

Once you have teachers you love, seek them out and learn from them.   Most teachers who inspire you will be a deep well of information and transformation, good to learn from several times over many years.   I think there’s beauty in going deep with one teacher or tradition, and while a conference doesn’t give you that, it’s a valuable sampling.

Now get on the mat!


A Good Excuse for Being Away

I got married!!  Hence, my hiatus here on the blog and in my monthly newsletters!

A lot of people give advice when you’re getting married, and I found it breaks down into equal thirds.   1/3 of the advice is complete bollucks, 1/3 is good advice that you’re not going to take because it’s too late or doesn’t apply to you, and 1/3 of it is something you end up using.

The best advice we got?   Try to be in the moment!!   So many people told us the wedding would be a blur.   Several women told us that they were still so busy coordinating on the day of the wedding that they weren’t really present.  Lots of people said we NEEDED to have a videographer because that’s the only way we’d remember the wedding.

That was some bullocks for us – no video needed!  Instead, we planned a lot and worked hard.  For the actual weekend, Gadi and I were really *present* and the whole experience blew my mind.    Lots of others seemed to have a great time too, which was nice, but it ROCKED for us.  I remember everything so vividly!  Of course, we’re also trying to write everything down and collect pictures from everyone, because we know someday we will start to forget.

Interesting right?   That was what a lot of people missed about their own wedding experience – being in the moment – being present.   For me, even though there was very little yoga asana happening in the week leading up to our extravaganza, we tried every night to debrief with each other and really soak it all in.   It felt for me like a lot of my yoga training came into play each day in order to go with the flow of it all.

At 2am the night before our wedding, when I couldn’t sleep, I finally turned to the mat, and it felt SO good to breathe deeply.   In general, the times when I feel most present in my life are on the mat or in the studio teaching.   It’s a really familiar touchstone at this point.   I knew in that moment on the mat, in the middle of the night, in a hotel room, the day before my wedding, that everything would be fine. Even if I was only getting a few hours of sleep before the marathon day of getting married (I had a good makeup artist to hide the circles if need be!).

Thanks to everyone for your advice, even if I didn’t take it 🙂 Hearing about other’s experiences was enough for us to really plan out our weekend so that we could be there with people who’d traveled hundreds (and thousands) of miles to be with us.   And so we could really be there with each other, in the moment, as we made a big commitment!   It was, for sure, a high moment in our lives!


Just married!!

Of Interest to Moms

While I’m on a roll with mom resources, here’s some more local events in town, and global events happening online!

1. Monday, March 22 at 7pm.   Mass Midwives Birth Circle at the Cambridge Women’s Center.  “Each meeting will include positive birth stories in all settings as well as additional topics regarding pregnancy, birth, and parenting. Come meet women who treasure their birthing experiences.”  For more information see above Women’s Center link or email

2.   Mothering Magazine – I get a digital subscription and it’s awesome!  No magazines cluttering my house!  I wish more magazines did this – I’d subscribe.    Occasionally, Mothering also offers packets of helpful information, like this Sleep Packet.   The number 1 thing new moms discuss is sleep – their lack of it, and their babies’ ever changing patterns of it.   This packet has a lot of helpful information about sleep during the first year of your baby’s life.

3. A new pamphlet out from Childbirth Connection called Comfort in Labor.    This is a helpful guide to print out and use when you go into labor.  Also,  I highly recommend having a doula if you’re giving birth in a hospital – she’ll help you through all the things this handout mentions, and more!  

4. One of my favorite articles to come out in the last few months on the NYTimes concerns laboring women’s right to eat and drink during labor.  This has been quite exciting, because if you’ve been in labor you know it’s a lot of work and you need *fuel.*   Midwives and doulas have been encouraging moms to snack for years in labor, and hopefully this lifting of the ban on eating and drinking during labor will go by the wayside quickly. 

 I’ll leave you with some cute pictures of our mom and baby class that happens on Friday afternoons.   Happy families!

Babies love to watch their parents move!

Feels good to go upside down!

Mama Resources

For years, I’ve sent expectant moms a prenatal resource list and new moms a postpartum resource list.  Both are chock full of local people (doctors, doulas, acupuncturists, classes, etc.) and items (DVDs, music, etc.) that are helpful in pregnancy and postpartum.  I’m now putting them online!!  Click here for my favorite prenatal resources  in the Boston area.   Click here for my postpartum resources list in the Boston area, and please note that this is a work in progress.   Email me if you have other suggestions.   

I realize that wherever you are in the world, it’s so important to find a community that can give you these kinds of resources.   I’m always learning from moms in my classes about new resources.   It got me thinking –

How do you find your community?  

1)     Go to movement class – preferably yoga!!   When you’re pregnant, it’s so helpful not only to move and breathe in pregnancy, but also to meet moms.  This goes for the postpartum period as well.   After my Friday afternoon new moms yoga class, participants go across the street to the local café to keep on talking.   I know many pregnant and new moms make walking/hiking dates, and even have girls’ nights out, baby-free!  

2)     When you’re pregnant, go to the new moms groups, like LaLecheLeague.  Going before you have your baby helps you scope out the best  resources ahead of time, while you still have time! 

3)     Consider taking  childbirth education classes earlier.  The trend these days is to take CBE classes all in one weekend later in the 3rd trimester.   I recommend taking a 6 week series between your 2nd-3rd trimester (like 24-30 weeks).   You’ll interact more in a longer series, and you’ll have more opportunity to act on helpful information you receive (caregivers, test options, etc.)

4)      Keep hanging out with your non-parent friends.   Keeping this all in context is so important!!  In the first months postpartum, it’s difficult to talk about anything else besides babies.   Having some good friends around who have been with you through pregnancy will be invaluable in this time.   They’ll listen to you, but they’ll also help you with some non-baby conversation and stimulation!

5)     Get online.   There are a lot of virtual communities as well that can be a good source of support and information.  Nothing replaces real human connection, of course, but this can be a good adjunct.

I hope this helps moms in my local area, but also around the world.   Please pass along!

Love and light,


Yoga and Food in the News

There was an interesting article recently in the NYTimes, about a workshop that combined yoga and a rich meal afterwards.  The idea was after the yoga class, you would enjoy the flavors more in your heightened sense of awareness. 

Then the article delved into whether you needed to be a vegetarian in order to be a devout yoga practitioner.   About once a year, I see an article talking about this.   Last year, it was Sadie Nardini “coming out” as a meat eater in the Huffington Post.  

Over the years, the owners of the largest yoga studio in NYC have written books and countless articles about their vegan diet, and their belief that everyone should adopt that diet.  I learned from the NYTimes article that they require their teacher trainees to become vegan.  

What I LOVE about yoga is that it makes you aware of everything.   Yoga is about relationship – to yourself, your family, and yes, with your food.   I think any regular practitioner of yoga thinks about what they eat in relation to their practice, at some point.   We know that eating a large meal is going to make our practice difficult, but we also start to realize what kind of food makes us feel energized and what doesn’t.   

But you get to pick.   To me, it is so clear that some people just can’t be vegetarian and healthy.  It’s also clear that overall, Americans eat too much meat, from both a health and environmental perspective.  Wouldn’t it be incredible if there could be less judgment and more balance around this very personal topic of food choices?  That seems like the “yogic way” to me. 

I recently picked up an old Yoga Journal magazine and found this article.

I think it offers some refreshing perspectives from several yogis about their decision to eat meat, or not. 

Enjoy eating, today, with awareness, with love and appreciation for all that you have, and with no guilt!!


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