Tag Archives: Inspiration

Come Out and Play

14 May

“We have not come here to take prisoners
but to surrender ever more deeply
to freedom and joy.

We have not come into this exquisite world
to hold ourselves hostage
from love.

Run my dear,
from anything that may not strengthen
your precious budding wings.

Run like hell my dear,
from anyone likely to put a sharp knife
into the sacred, tender vision
of your beautiful heart.

We have a duty to befriend those aspects of obedience
that stand outside of our house and shout to our reason,
O please,
O please,
Come out and play.

For we have not come here to take prisoners
or to confine our wondrous spirits

but to experience
ever and ever more deeply
our divine courage, freedom
and light.”



Wishing you all a playful, joyful weekend!




Meditation Motivation

1 Aug

Stroke_Of_InsightThis Ted talk by Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor, a neuroscientist who speaks eloquently of her experience having and recovering from a stroke, is always so compelling, inspiring and empowering. What a beautiful reminder of our interconnectedness with all of the universe, and how we are empowered to practice accessing the place within that is always at peace.

Her book is just as great at the talk. You can find it now at the Center’s Lending Library!

“I believe that the more time we spend choosing to run the deep inner peace circuitry of our right hemispheres, the more peace we will project into the world, and the more peaceful our planet will be.”

~Jill Bolte Taylor, PhD


My teacher often cites an ancient adage that I think sums up this topic beautifully: “Where attention goes, energy flows.”  We have a choice: we can focus on the pain and suffering in the world, worrying and feeling into the sense of lack and fear, or we can direct our focus on cultivating an inner space of love and peace, which will radiate out and create more of these qualities in the world around us.

We are familiar with methods that get us out of the left hemisphere, like yogasana, concentration, breathing, meditation.  How do we continue to reside in that place of inner peace once we leave the yoga mat or the meditation cushion?


Happy (Aerial Yoga) Birthday Party to Nathan!

19 Apr

Today we celebrated my sweet Nathan’s birthday … with an Aerial Yoga “party” hosted at Riverside The Studio in Mount Vernon!


Given Nathan’s history with  what we dubbed Hanging Yogs,” I thought it would be the perfect celebration to check out an official Aerial Yoga class.




*      It was a celebration on many levels!   *


If you’re not familiar, here’s a slice of Nate’s Back Story:  Nathan healed his low back injury–a vertebral disc herniation at L5-S1 (for which 2 different surgeons, upon reviewing his MRI, recommended emergency spinal fusion … they were surprised that he had bladder and bowel function given the way his disc was pressing into his nerves)–by stumbling upon what we call hanging yogs … he discovered a photo of someone hanging upside down from a silk sling and it piqued his interest.  With more research, he found that lots of people with disc herniations find tremendous relief from unloading their discs by hanging upside down (usually on an inversion table).  This inspired him to rig a hammock up at the house and hang upside down for a few minutes throughout the day.  Over time, (coupled with mindfulness, a daily yoga practice, and physical therapy) his disc herniation healed. We were so grateful Nate found aerial yoga and opted to heal his back in a natural way!  And I personally have his journey toward healing to thank for inspiring my decision to go to Physical Therapy school!


We’d never been to a “real” Aerial Yoga class, so I booked this private party through Riverside.  It was a simple process–just call them up and schedule the date, then turn in release forms for all members of the group (unless you are a member of Riverside, then they already have your forms on file).

And today was the big day …


We were greeted by Miranda Keller, a friendly yogini who got us acquainted with The Studio.  They provided all the yoga mats and everything we needed.  Miranda helped us set up our silks to the proper height to match our bodies, put on some soothing music, and coached us into a meditative pose inside the yoga silk.  We tuned into our breathing lengthened our spines … and the class began!


I was expecting it to be fun, but I was completely blown away!  The class was a skillful mix of strength & stabilization postures, with stretching, balance, meditative moments, and restorative yoga.  Miranda helped each of us find the pose that fit our body ~ she was so attentive and helpful ~ and we explored some really fun inversions (hanging upside down in Vampire was definitely a hit for our group!).  We giggled, we breathed fully, we stretched deep ~ I was quite impressed by how using the yoga sling really helped activate some deep core stabilizing muscles that don’t necessarily fire when I practice standing poses on the floor.  In a hanging version of Parivrtta Janu Sirsasana, for instance, having one leg on the ground and the other leg in the sling required a great amount of stabilizing that isn’t normally required: I felt muscles in my deep core and hips that have apparently been a little less than active in my floor yoga practice!  What an enlightening experience …


I am so exited about this new way to practice, bringing a new awareness to my body and my approach.  I can’t wait to go again!

If you are interested in joining a class, it’s easy!  Miranda currently teaches at The Studio on Mondays & Wednesdays at 5:30pm and Thursdays at 10am.  Click here for the current schedule.  You don’t have to be a Riverside member to join the class ~ you can just drop in (but they advise to call ahead to reserve your spot).

Aerial_VampireAbove, Nadya in “Vampire.”


Happy Birthday, Nathan!


Horray for healthy spines and happy birthday celebrations!


Gratitude: The Ultimate Practice

18 Feb

From Art of Revolution: http://www.anonymousartofrevolution.com/2013/03/the-attitude-of-gratitude-is-highest.html

Gratitude is the secret to happiness, and if in these dark and dreary days you’re feeling the winter blues coming on, a Gratitude Practice offers a beautiful way to relieve depression and draw your awareness to what a blessed life you already live.

  • Yoga Chicago featured an article entitled Welcome Discomfort with Gratitude by Jacqui Neurauter.  Her piece offers a perspective on how we can learn to move through discomfort–whether it is in asana practice or in relationships–and allow these experiences to transform out lives.  Neurauter’s piece is short, sweet, and penetrating.  Read it here.
  • Read about Yoga and Gratitude in an article by Philip Moffitt for Yoga Journal: Selfless Gratitude.

“The secret to happiness
is reflection
and Gratitude.”

~The nun who inspired the 365 Grateful project

What are you grateful for?  You can ask this question at any time of day, any day of the week.  Feel free to share.

Om shanti shanti shanti.

3 Uplifting Films

28 Dec

Winter is a beautiful time for slowing down, taking this season for introspection and reflection.  For me, this often means revisiting my past year and re-establishing my life’s intention.  Sometimes, though, winter can feel like a time of stagnation.  I’d like to offer three options for you, if it’s dark and dreary and you just don’t want to leave the house.


I’ve seen 3 documentaries recently that I found to be positively uplifting and inspiring ~ solutions-based ideas for our dynamic world.  They’re just the right medicine for a dreary day.  Do a few warming sun salutations, and I hope you enjoy them as much as I do!

Oh!  If you’re like me and can’t quite swallow the idea of a movie without popcorn, here’s a recipe to at least do it the Ayurvedic way, from Eden Ayruveda.

In a hot fry pan add spices in this order, toasting each a few seconds before adding the next. I like to toast the spices in whole form and then grind them all together.

  • 1 tsp black pepper corn
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp ajwain
  • 2 tsp sesame seeds
  • 1 tsp coriander
  • 1/2 tsp hing

When they have all released their fragrances grind them in a mortar and pestle or food processor and add:

  • 1 tsp amchur powder (dried green mango—you might also try ground pomegranate seeds or sumac?)
  • 1 tsp unrefined sugar
  • 1 tsp saindouv or Himalayan salt

Sprinkle over popcorn freshly popped in ghee!

~ Eden Ayruveda

Once you’ve got your popcorn ready, light a candle (I prefer 100% beeswax tealights from Quiet Light candles!), coze in and enjoy:

Movie #1: The Spirit of Good

A short-but-sweet preview of a full-length to come about the inspiring Mycologist Paul Stamets, who is perhaps most famous for his Ted Talk “Six Ways Mushrooms Can Save the World.”  This film, by Louie Schwartzberg (whose other works are well worth checking out, here), is a brief call to action paired with incredible time-lapse cinematography.


Movie #2: Dirt!  The Movie

I thought the same thing when I first saw this come across my Netflix “recommended for you” cue.  A documentary … about dirt?  But trust me, the inspirational, timely, motivating visionaries and voices in this film can change your life!  And it’s so beautifully well-done.  Give it a try!  Here’s the trailer below, and you can rent it or find it on a variety of online video rentals.


Movie #3: I Am ~ the shift is about to hit the fan

There are tons and tons of docs you can find about the problems humanity faces in this time of overpopulation, climate change, species loss, food shortage and more.  I love this film because director Tom Shadyac (yeah, the guy who did movies like Ace Ventura Pet Detective and Bruce Almighty) approaches the world’s spiritual and intellectual leaders to ask about solutions.  The film ended and I felt uplifted and ready to make a difference.  I think you will too.  Great part: you can watch it on Hulu, for free!  Below is the trailer.


Movie #4 : YogaWoman ~ the film

I know I said three films, but I had to include this one, too.  It’s affirming and sweet, and just might inspire you to roll out your mat and get moving!  A history of yoga’s evolution and women in the west.


Add in a few yoga postures between scenes, or you could try watching in Upavistha Konasana!

Let me know what you think!


Legacy of the Sages

24 Sep

This article, published in Yoga International, may be of interest to those of you who are curious about a brief history of Yoga, its teachers, and how they came to the West, as told by Pandit Rajmani Tigunait, Spiritual head of the Himalayan Institute.  It also explores some of the deeper elements and paths of yoga.  Enjoy!


Photo: Yoga International

“Yoga comes from a rich tradition, one whose origins are lost in the mists of time. It is at once a philosophy and a practice. As a philosophy, yoga is the voice of the sages telling us clearly who we are, where we come from, and where we are going. As a practice, yoga is a technique developed by the sages to help us awaken our dormant abilities, to strengthen our body, to focus our mind, and to unlock our limitless potential to become anything we wish to become.

Yoga is the embodiment of the collective experiences of thousands of adepts and aspirants over a span of centuries. Born in the East, it made its way to the New World in increments, taking almost a century to fully manifest here in the West. Yoga made its official entrance into the New World in 1893, when a great Indian yogi, Swami Vivekananda, addressed the World Parliament of Religions in Chicago.” ~Pandit Rajmani Tigunait

Read the rest here.

I got my classes!

25 Jul

.. ALL of them!

Miraculously, and uncharacteristically for a post-baccalaureate transfer student (who is the last of the entire school to be allowed to register for courses), I got ALL of the classes I needed!

But let’s back up first …

Back in early 2013, I applied to Western Washington University’s Pre-Physical Therapy program in their kinesiology department.  I was told that it was highly unlikely that I would be accepted due to most of their fall science/movement courses already being full, particularly in Kinesiology.  For me, going to Western opens more doors than going to a community college like Skagit Valley College (though it is ranked #2 in the nation for community colleges): My target schools–Duke, University of Washington, Columbia University and University of Colorado–view credits from a university far more favorably than those from a community college.  When I checked with Duke, they said that it was unlikely that they would consider community college applicant due to their already highly competitive pool.  So at that juncture, when I head the news, I figured I’d try for Western and if I didn’t get in, I’d go to Skagit and settle for going to lower-tier schools with less going on in the field of research (It’s my dream to do research on yoga from a PT standpoint, and combine the two modalities for holistic healing).



I was just getting settled into the idea that I’d be going to a community college, then to a smaller, private PT school when I ended my morning run this spring at the mailbox and pulled out an envelope from Western.  It was more exciting than my first time as an undergrad … I had, in fact, been accepted to Western’s competitive Pre-PT program as a post-baccalaureate!

But if we back up even further, we come to math.  Oh, math … part of a reason I went to an arts school was so that I could avoid taking any more math.  And this goes back even to High School, when I opted out of precalculus and took an AP Art course instead.  Then at Columbia, the only math course I took was called “Math for Survival,” which is self-explanatory (though quite fun!).  And since then, I haven’t missed math one ounce.  But as I started looking into physical therapy schools, I realized that there’s quite a bit more math that I need, so I decided to change my approach.  I decided to learn to like math, maybe even LOVE it.  And to do that, studied for the GRE (which was also, eventually, required for me to get into PT schools).

So back in September of 2012, I fell off the face of all my social networking platforms and delved into the study of math.  I studied every day for eight weeks, and then I studied even more.  I was basically teaching myself the math skills that I … never had.  At one point I even hired a tutor to help me learn (re-learn?  If so, I don’t remember learning in the first place!) how to simplify square roots and factor algebraic equations.  Boy those guys are expensive if you’re not a student!  GRE test day came, and I scored okay on the math section, good enough to apply to PT schools with, which was worlds better than I would have had I not studied so diligently.  I had intentions to continue familiarizing myself with math, but as the months ticked on, my GRE math study book collected dust.

These past few months have been crazily busy (in all the best ways), and, despite my best intentions, I only cracked that math book open one time before my math placement test, which I was required to take before I was permitted to register for courses at Western.

A lot hinged on this test.  I needed science classes that required math prereqs.  In fact, nearly all my classes required at least Algebra & Precalc.  It had been TWELVE YEARS since my last math class (no wonder I didn’t remember what an explanation mark meant in the math world!).  If I didn’t test into Precalc, I would not be able to register for my needed classes.  If I couldn’t register for my needed classes, I wouldn’t be a fulltime student.  If I wasn’t a fulltime student, my financial aid would not process.  At that point, I would be jobless and financial-aid-less, which would not be a good combination.

So, this morning, I arrived at Western’s Science Math & Technology building, and took the test, at 7:45 am.  I guessed on the answers I didn’t know.  Then I painstakingly waited the rest of the day, through how-to-register sessions and advising sessions.  I kept checking my student account to see if my math scores processed yet, to no avail.

Class registration started for us post-bac transfer students at 3:20 pm sharp.  Our accounts were universally locked until that moment of truth.  We met in a computer lab with an advisor and a student assistant who walked us through the process, offering tips and strategies for how to register quickest.  Still, no sign of my math test score.  I wrote down my ideal schedule, then wrote down backup classes and re-affirmed that if I hadn’t passed that test, there was no reason for me to be attending school that fall.  Time seemed to go in reverse.

Then finally, at 2:30 pm, less than an hour before I was slated to register, my math scores posted.  And … I had scored AWESOMELY WELL!  I could register for whatever classes I needed.  Whew!  I could barely believe it was true.  I just stared at the screen for a minute.  Then I flagged down our student assistant to make sure it was true.  She smiled at me and said that yes, I could register for whatever classes I needed.  What a huge relief.

But it wasn’t a complete relief: I still had to get a seat in the four classes I needed to fill my schedule so I would be considered a fulltime student.  Most classes had 1-4 seats open.  There were probably over three hundred people at Registration, and I sat in a room with twenty other Pre-Medical students who all had their mouses strategically hovering over the “Register” button.  Nearly all of us needed to get into the same classes.  I had my ideal schedule (class codes) written out in my notebook beside me.  The clock ticked on.  The girl next to me said, “I feel like we’re in a game show or something, about to win a million dollars or something…”  I literally had butterflies, so I took some deep yoga breaths and told myself that what is meant to be will be.

3:20 struck!  At the moment of truth, I speed-typed my class codes in.  Biology … click … “this class is full.”  Precalc … click … “this class is full.”  Statistics … “this class is full.”  Psychology … “this class is full.”  Grunts, gasps, and sighs from my registration-mates.  The girls next to me exclaimed, “Oh my god what am I going to do?  None of my classes are open!”

Strangely, I did not panic.  I consulted my list of all possible biology classes and began punching in numbers in random lab/lecture combinations.  “Class is full.”  “Class is full,” then magically, one of the lectures let me in.  One of the labs let me in.  On to Precalc, my second priority.  After a few tries, one of the courses let me in, and amazingly, it did not conflict with my bio/lab schedule.  I punched in Psychology, and BAM!  I’m in.  Miraculously, all these classes worked into the same schedule.  Stats was still full, but I had registered for 14 credits and was only allowed 17 at this point, so I couldn’t have registered for stats anyway.  Suddenly, I was official!

Not only would I get financial aid, but I also got all the classes I possibly could have.  Stats would open again for me on August 26th, when I would be permitted to register for 18 credits (interesting rule).  I sat at my computer and stared at my listing of courses, feeling dazed.  Throughout the room, my pre-medical peers let out exasperated groans.  The student assistant asked one guy, “What can I do to make this right for you?” and was met with a cold, “Nothing.  I’m screwed.”

I can say that many of the other transfer students in that room walked away disappointed, with half-full schedules, or classes that they took not because they needed them for their major, but because they needed enough credits to be considered a fulltime student.

After I finalized my course registration, I left the room and could barely hold back tears.  There was so much at stake, and so much hinged on that day, and now it was over.  I felt silly for worrying so much about the math test, but also felt a sense that something greater than me was at work.  As the reality sinked in, I was overwhelmed by gratitude and a profound sense that I am walking my path, flowing right in line with what I’m meant to do.

Really, truly, this experience has reaffirmed for me that if you believe you can achieve something, and you work hard and surrender to the process, you can accomplish anything.

Do what you dream!

Do what you dream!

It is our responsibility to ourselves and to each other to chase our dreams.  Especially our most outrageous ones.

From math tests to lucky numbers, here I am, ready to embark on my journey to PT school.  I will excitedly keep you posted along the way.

“I like my body because it’s magic”

17 Jul

This post on Interrupt is so precious and wonderful.


Click here to read all of it.

What did you like about your body when you were 8?

Sprinkling Happiness

22 Jun

Today, on a bit of a whim, I joined Hadea (my amazing acupuncturist) and her community for my first-ever happiness sprinkling!

DSC_0225We dressed in yellow and gathered to meet in the JoAnne’s parking lot in Mount Vernon, where Hadea doled out signs inscribed with short affirmations like “Live Your Dream!,” “You Are Enough!” and “Trust Yourself.”  We stationed ourselves on the four corners of Riverside & College Way and sprinkled happiness for a few hours by smiling big and waving our happy signs at drivers as they passed (or sat for a seemingly eternal stop light).


Well, as one of the signs states, “Why Not?”

Hadea created today’s event in honor of Laura Lavigne, founder of the Anacortes Center for Happiness, who began the greater Happiness Sprinkling Project (read the whole story here).  Today, Laura was just up the road giving a talk about the Sprinkling Project at TedX (yes, like the Ted Talks we all love) hosted by Skagit Valley College.  My friend and fellow yoga instructor previously hosted a Happiness Sprinkling and said it was a blast.  Why not?

I expected it to be fun, but the experience was better than I’d hoped for!  I chose the sign that resonated most with my personal life mission and my practice of yoga: “You are Loved!”  Standing on the corner in my bright yellow pants, I danced to the occasional music pumping out of the Camero with tinted windows, I blew kisses to the frowning truck driver, I waved to the small eyes poking up just past the window in the back seat of the soccer mom van.  It was a fun challenge trying to reach the folks who diverted their eyes away from our activities while they waited for the light to turn green.  I pointed, I jumped, I blew more kisses.  It was transformation on the spot, a scowl into a smile.  Some people looked at us untrustingly, wondering if we had an agenda.  Many people, of course, honked and waved.  One yelled out his window, “I LOVE YOU TOO!”  There were lots and lots of smiles.

At one moment, Hadea exclaimed, “Oh my cheeks hurt from smiling so much!” (she was holding the sign that said “You Rock!”) and I realized my cheeks had a sweet sensation, too.  It took me back to the days of my childhood, riding horseback with Huntoon Stables in the fourth of July parade, waving and smiling and feeling so proud to be on a horse.  I can remember even as a young person the joy of connection when my eyes met a stranger’s: the sparkle of acknowledgment.

I think that’s what we need most as a species.  Connection.  Acknowledgment of our interrelatedness.  The realization that we depend on one another, and that when we build each other up, we both benefit.  Union.  Today’s sprinkling was yoga in action: my smile transformed your smile, and it fed me just as much as it fed you.  We took our smiles into the rest of our days and they spread to others.  We can be so much more powerful when we are united.


And after the hour and a half of dancing and waving, my cheeks hurt and I was sunburned but not exhausted.  In fact, I was reenergized, positively buzzing.  And I noticed something when I traveled up to Fairhaven to the bookstore, and when I stopped at Rite Aid to get some aloe for my sunburn: even long after the sprinkling, my heart felt more open, I looked into people’s eyes more, and I smiled.  And for the rest of the day, each person I encountered smiled back.

Happy Sprinkling!


If you are located anywhere in the WORLD and are interested in hosting your own happiness sprinkling, contact the Happiness Sprinkling Project and Laura will send you some yellow shirts and signs.  It’s a simple as that!

And stay tuned, as soon as it’s accessible, I’ll post Laura’s TedX talk here!

Yoga Anywhere!

13 Jun

Please enjoy some photos of Jessie and friends practicing Yoga asana in some of the most beautiful places in the world!





Crescent Lunge Mt. Baker




Yoga Play












Hanging Yogs in Washington



Horseback Yoga

Click here for more Horseback and Hayloft Yoga photos!

Hayloft Yoga



















12 Jun

“Avidya (ignorance) is regarding the impermanent as permanent, the impure as pure, the painful as pleasant, and the non-self as the Self.”



Fascia: A Great Reason to do Yoga!

3 May

Dr. Frank Lipman: Why Yoga Works from MindBodyGreen on Vimeo.


Gil Hedley, PHD and founder of Integral Anatomy’s famous “Fuzz Speech.”

And below, another fascinating video about Fascia.

Yoga Inspiration

9 Apr

Yoga News & Inspiration from Jessie!

1 a : a divine influence or action on a person believed to qualify him or her to receive and communicate sacred revelation
1 b : the action or power of moving the intellect or emotions
1 c : the act of influencing or suggesting opinions

2: the act of drawing in; specifically : the drawing of air into the lungs


Julie Gudmestad, PT

I just returned from a trip to Portland to Julie Gudmestad’s Yoga & Physical Therapy studio.  I encourage everyone interested to check out her collection of articles written for Yoga Journal on Anatomy of Asana (asana means yoga posture).

Julie is hosting a 5-day intensive Anatomy of Asana clinic at her studio in Portland this coming August 5-9, 2013.  I hope to attend, and invite you to join me!  Check out the details here.


“There is a story in Zen circles about a man and a horse.  The horse is galloping quickly, and it appears that the man on the horse is going somewhere important.  Another man, standing alongside the road, shouts, ‘Where are you going?’ and the first man replies, ‘I don’t know!  Ask the horse!’  This is also our story.  We are riding a horse, we don’t know where we are going, and we can’t stop.  The horse is our habit energy pulling us along, and we are powerless.  We are always running, and it has become a habit.  We struggle all the time even during our sleep.  We are at war within ourselves, and we can easily start a war with others.  We have to learn the art of stopping–stopping our thinking, our habit energies, our forgetfulness, the strong emotions that rule us.  When an emotion rushes through us like a storm, we have no peace.  We turn on the TV and then we turn it off.  We pick up a book and then we put it down.  How can we stop this state of agitation?  How can we stop our fear, dispair, anger, and craving?  We can stop by practicing mindful breathing, mindful talking, mindful smiling, and deep looking in order to understand.  When we are mindful, touching deeply the present moment, the fruits are always understnading, acceptance, love, and the desire to relieve suffering and bring joy.”

~ Thich Nhat Hanh

ImageTry this Book!

If you are interested in the nature of the mind, how to separate from the incessant chitta vrttis (mental chatter) and cultivate a deep and lasting sense of peacefulness and clarity, definitely read this book!

The Untethered Soul by Michael Singer is a straightforward, easy-to-understand, practical and accessible approach to yoga philosophy and practice that anyone, from the most devout religious to the agnostic–will benefit from reading.

This is the type of book that I know I’ll be reading again and again throughout my lifetime, and will give as a gift to many.