* How Good a Listener are you?


To truly listen to someone we must be present – without distractions or interference in our heads.
Its estimated that the average human being has 10,000 thoughts per day. Real thinkers can have over 50,000 thoughts. That’s over 30 thoughts per minute…

Now that’s a lot of buzz, interference and distraction going on.

Here is a series of 3 experiments to try for yourself to see how present and focused your mind is. I believe that if we can listen to ourselves, then we can be a better listener for others.

At each level, be patient and try not to judge yourself. If your mind wanders simply start over.

Begin by taking a few deep breaths and take a moment to center yourself and be present with this moment. There is no rush.

Level 1
Count from 1 to 50 in your head.
Notice how many times you had to start over…

Keep working on it!
Once you have this one down, move on to the next level.

Level 2
Count from 50 back to 1. Notice that a little more concentration is needed here…
Once you can do this easily, move on to level 3.

Level 3
This is a meditation practice that I learned during my yoga teacher training. With your eyes closed bring your attention to the inhales and exhales of your breath.
On each exhale, count from 50 backwards until you reach 20. After 20, count on every exhale AND inhale until you reach 1.
When you have reached this goal, your mind will be clear of interference.

.. And you will have learned a lot about patience, commitment and acceptance of yourself in the process.

Not only will you have learned to listen to yourself, but you will have begun to train your mind to come to a place of focus. Through focus we are able to quieten the mind and find peace. … and of course, become better listeners.





* Relish Yoga

I’ve spent some lovely creative days re-vamping my yoga website. Its a place to see my schedule and get a feel for what I offer.

Here it is:  www.RelishYoga.com

fly free

If you are in the western suburbs of Philadelphia I would love to see you soon!

* Lean in

The next time you lose heart and you can’t bear to experience what you’re feeling, you might recall this instruction: change the way you see it and lean in. 
Instead of blaming our discomfort on outer circumstances or on our own weakness, we can choose to stay present and awake to our experience, not rejecting it, not grasping it, not buying the stories that we relentlessly tell ourselves.
This is priceless advice that addresses the true cause of suffering — yours, mine, and that of all beings.

~ Pema Chodron, Taking the Leap

courageous yoga pose

Reading these words I think of poses in yoga where we lean in to the physical and emotional discomfort and embrace the sensations and thoughts that come up. Surprisingly it is the poses of surrender and letting go, rather than strength building that can be the most challenging for us.

Our practice on the mat is a great metaphor for life. We learn to be present with whatever comes up and use our breath to lean into it. Accepting where we are in that moment.

On our mat there is no one to blame …except perhaps the yoga teacher who brought you to this challenging place. 😉


* How Yoga Heals


yoga for wellbeing

Thanks to Nancy over at Spirit Lights the Way for sparking some yoga inspiration!

I take a therapeutic approach to my Yoga teaching; focusing on body awareness, mindfulness and the breath. To me its more than a physical work out.

I love this quote from Georg Feuerstein taken from Yoga Gems:
“Beginners on the yogic path would do well to understand correctly what Yoga is all about and to then approach it accordingly.
There is a humorous saying in Yoga circles that Yoga has been reduced to the practice of postures, and that postures have been reduced to stretching, and that stretching has been reduced to lengthening the hamstrings. Authentic Yoga is always a spiritual discipline, even when the focus is on the body, as it is in Hatha Yoga.”

The intention of Yoga is the quieten the mind and connect with our inner spirit, consciousness or higher power. Read more about it on my Yoga page.

In his book “Yoga as Medicine” Dr Timothy McCall shares 40 ways that Yoga (Poses, Breathing and Meditation) heals:

  1. Increases flexibility
  2. Strengthen muscles
  3. Improves balance
  4. Improves immune function
  5. Improves posture
  6. Improves lung function
  7. Leads to slower and deeper breathing
  8. Discourages mouth breathing
  9. Increases oxygenation of the tissues
  10. Improves joint health
  11. Nourishes intervertebral discs
  12. Improves return of venous blood
  13. Increases circulation of lymph
  14. Improves circulation of the feet
  15. Improves proprioception (awareness of body in space)
  16. Increases control of bodily functions
  17. Strengthens bones
  18. Conditions the cardiovascular system
  19. Promotes weight loss
  20. Relaxes the nervous system and reduces anxiety
  21. Improves the function of the nervous system
  22. Improves brain function
  23. Activates the left prefrontal cortex
  24. Changes neurotransmitter levels
  25. Lowers levels of the stress hormone cortisol
  26. Lowers blood sugar
  27. Lowers blood pressure
  28. Improves levels of cholesterol and triglycerides
  29. Thins the blood
  30. Improves bowel function
  31. Releases unconscious muscle gripping
  32. Uses imagery to effect change in the body
  33. Relieves pain
  34. Lowers need for medication
  35. Fosters healthier relationships
  36. Improves psychological health and mood
  37. Leads to healthier habits
  38. Fosters spiritual growth
  39. Elicits the placebo effect
  40. Encourages involvement in your own healing

This list still wows me!

If you are young – there is every reason in the world to start now. Do it!

If you are in Mid life – it isn’t too late. I started yoga in my 40’s and it changed my life. This is where I find my middle ground every day.
Find a studio and a teacher that you can relate to and feel supported by. A word of caution here. Not every Yoga offered in classes is the same. Unless you are an athlete, avoid Vinyasa or Power Yoga.

Even if you are elderly and have a number of health and physical issues, finding an experienced trained teacher with a therapeutic approach can lead to a more active and healthy life… and a sense of peace and wellbeing.

yoga heals

So many people try Yoga in gyms these days. Please be careful as the focus is usually on having a physical workout. In my experience the instructors may not be as experienced, there is less personal attention and less time for relaxation and mindfulness.

For me, Yoga is about balance, alignment and inner peace. Finding balance and peace in our lives and alignment of our mind body and spirit… on and off the mat.

To find out more about where I teach in the western suburbs of Philadelphia, please check out www.RelishYoga.com


* Yoga and Your Brain

I came across this article from Angela Wilson at Kripalu on the latest research into how yoga affects our brain and mental health.

yoga changes the brain

“With the steady rise in the number of people practicing yoga in the USA —from 13 million in 2007 to more than 20 million today—researchers have begun to focus their attention on how yoga actually changes the brain. The results echo what many of us experience: Studies show that yoga increases relaxation in the brain, improves areas of the brain that help us manage pain, and protects us against age-related decline. Together, these benefits begin to reveal the scientifically validated effects of yoga practice on brain health.

Yoga Floods the Brain with Relaxation
To investigate why yoga induces feelings of calm and peacefulness, Dr. Chris Streeter and her research team from Boston University set out to discover whether practice helps our brains produce more GABA, a neurotransmitter that increases feelings of relaxation. When we don’t have enough GABA in our brains, we feel anxious or depressed; medications such as Xanax work by upping GABA levels.
To answer this question, the team had one group of subjects do yoga for 60 minutes, while a control group read for an hour. Both groups were scanned in the MRI pre- and post-intervention. Would yoga release more GABA in the brain than reading?
The results were an unequivocal yes. The yoga group had a 27 percent increase in GABA, while the readers had no increase. But to rule out the possibility that any type of physical movement can increase GABA levels, Chris ran a second study, comparing the effects of yoga with those of walking. Again, the yoga practice showed greater changes in GABA levels in the brain. Not surprisingly, the increase in GABA was correlated with self-reports of decreased anxiety.
Studies such as these suggest how yoga might be used as an adjunct treatment to mental-health conditions such as anxiety and depression, and point to how yoga positively impacts the brain.

Read more of this article here.

I love how science shows that mindfulness and the practice of yoga are so good for our health and wellbeing.

* Ego in Yoga – hydra


“Ego can take many different forms and shapes. It is like the hydra. You cut off one head and another head replaces it. You cut off that head and see a third head and a fourth head ad infinitum.

This is because in the manifest dimension, ego identity is the root of life, and if the ego identity is lost, then life as we know it no longer exists.

It exists as light; life becomes light.”

Swami Niranjanananda Saraswati

I enjoy reading the different metaphors explaining the complexity of our ego, and can relate to the idea of a hydra. Our ego will do everything in its power to survive – especially adapting and changing shape!

The ego is very clever. It will allow one version of ourselves to die and create a better version that fits in with either 1. how it wants to be seen in the world or 2. what is perceives is needed to stay alive in its physical body.

In my experience with others on a spiritual path, the newer version of ego is likely to be a more evolved version of the previous one. It may show up as being kinder person, a more patient parent, a wiser leader, a humble follower, a beacon of sanity in a world judged as mad…

These are still roles that the ego plays. Less damaging perhaps, yet still ego driven.

Recognizing the hydra heads of the ego is the gateway to beyond life as we know it.

The answer however is not to keep cutting its heads off. After all this would be an ego motivated act!

Instead embrace ego for what it is. A part of our very human nature that clings to life. It is neither good nor bad. It simply is.

Then we can wake up and realize we really are the divine light beyond ego and our human form.


* Haiku – Settle in

nurture and restore


Take time to nurture

Settle in the here and now

Find Your Middle Ground


The next Restorative Yoga Workshop will be on Saturday August 15 at 10.30 am. If you are near Media, Pennsylvania, why not join me for some nurturing and nourishment for body mind and spirit. Check it out at Watts of Yoga.

* If you are new to this site, welcome!

To explore more about finding your middle ground, please click here.

* Blogging and Serendipity

People sometimes ask how I am able to post so often. They imagine it is somehow hard work or at least requiring will and effort.

Well, I can tell you that it is such a delight to be a blogger! I had no idea when I started that this would be as much fun as it is. It feels as natural as yoga. Yup – its takes practice and you have to engage fully in the process. But when you know the basics, you can let go and go with the flow.


“Serendipity” by Josephine Wall at http://www.josephinewall.co.uk

Every day I wake up with ideas and thoughts about people, what I have learned and how I can share it with others. I usually have someone in mind that I am communicating with. (Yes – it could be you). There is inspiration everywhere on the blogosphere … and from the piles of books on my bed side table.

I admit that when it comes to reading books, I am a dipper rather than a “start to finisher”. I believe in serendipity. A part of me wants to believe that the universe will show me what I need when I open to a random page. In my yoga classes I do this with my favorite inspiration “Yoga Gems” by Georg Feuerstein.

And, now that I think about it, its just like in the mornings, when I choose what earrings to wear.
I have a jewellery box with small earrings in it. They are all mixed up. When I reach in, I have in my mind to use the one I find and then pair it up. Every time its partner finds its way quickly between my fingers. It never seizes to delight me! How does it do this?…

In writing this post I decided to share my thoughts as they came up. I was curious about what I would write. I notice that there is some vulnerability when I don’t have a particular thought or idea to build from.

Perhaps the universe gently nudged me so I hit the right spot with you …

May you too have a day filled with serendipity and ease.

* Titanic Flow

This usually brings a smile in my yoga classes. If you can’t join me this morning, I thought you might appreciate it too! This yoga flow for the shoulders and arms, is a great way counteract using keyboard, iPads and smartphones as well as driving.  Release your shoulders and open your heart.

Titanic flow

Stand tall at the bow of the ship with open arms. Feel the ocean breeze. (Visualizing Leo DeCaprio is optional).

As you inhale open sternum and shoulders as far as is comfortable. Palms face forward.

On the exhale slowly bring hands towards each other until palms touch.

Inhale open arms and gentling squeeze shoulder blades towards each other. 

Exhale, brings palms together.

Continue moving slowly with breath 4 more times.

On last exhale pause and bring hands to heart center.

Release arms behind back and interlace fingers. On the inhale lengthen spine and gently pull arms towards the floor and away from the body. 

Pause and breathe here.

With each exhale imaging the tops of your shoulders melting

Release arms to sides and pause. Notice the energy moving around shoulders and arms.

For a short guided practice, you may enjoy listening to this recording of my voice:


Gratitude to Kripalu gentle yogi Rudy Peirce for the inspiration!

* What do you look for in Yoga?

yoga in India and USA

I subscribe to the Yoga Journal magazine, and I must be honest here and let you know that it looks more like a fashion magazine and Bally’s commercial than a journal about yoga.


Because I come away feeling pressured to be younger, skinnier and more beautiful. There can be some great articles in between a bunch of marketing telling me to:

tune in
lift up
be strong
be awesome
get toned
buy this
look cool
eat healthy
as you give to the world
you can do it
….  and relax!

It feels exhausting being around this vata energy and targeted marketing.

Don’t get me going about yoga clothes either … I’m looking for clothes that fit and feel comfortable and don’t fall over my head in downward facing dog! Pink neon pants … really?

In my 30’s and 40’s I really wanted to be fit and awesome and now I know that what we all yearn for is to feel centered and accepting of ourselves.

A part of me understands that it’s  connected with the stage of adult life that we find ourselves in. Yet the message of what yoga is really about is being lost.

Yoga isn’t about postures, fitness and looking good.

It is a spiritual path that brings our attention inwards in order to awaken to our true Self.  Its about bringing alignment and a strong foundation into our lives… and yes, our bodies too ;)

It feels wonderful and empowering to find this place without competition, looks, accessories and being seen … just to accept ourselves fully and find peace within. There is a lot of love here.

And to those of you who don’t get it yet, I know it may seem like being old and boring, but to me its pretty darn cool.


* Pondering – accepting what is

I woke up this morning pondering how it is so hard to accept what is. Our brains say – yes I get it. We may even bring it into mindful awareness every day through meditation or yoga.

We think we have it handled, and then … out of the blue we find ourselves getting impatient, frustrated or triggered.

For example, think of the last time you were driving and were cut off by someone else. Or you were running late and got stopped behind a school bus or a red light? What thoughts, sensations and feelings came up?

road rage

So how can we handle these turbulent emotions and accept what is….

In the moment we become aware of our reactions we have a choice: to allow the fight or flight  reaction to take over with its rush of adrenaline and cortisol; or to center ourselves with full deep breaths and consciously let go of the stories, judgments, and resistance to what is happening.

With mindfulness practice, our reactivity gets less and less.  Our acceptance of the highs and lows of life grows and we become more centered and less volatile.

Like a pendulum we find our way to the center.

From a scientific perspective, the more we meditate and calm our mind, the more neural pathways we create and reinforce our ability to come more quickly to a calm state.

It is a practice…. that may take a long time if not a life time.

The Dalai Lama says that while we cannot stop an emotion from arising, we have the power to let it go, and the highly trained mind can let it go the moment it arises.

writing  on water

The Buddha shared a metaphor for this state of mind. He called it “like writing on water”. Whenever an unwholesome thought or emotion arises in an enlightened mind, it is like writing on water. The moment it is written it disappears.

Through meditation and mindfulness practice we learn to master our reactions and center ourselves.

We re-balance ourselves and in doing so, learn to accept what is.

The next time you are in traffic be ready to breathe deeply and let the emotion flow through you…

And don’t get upset with yourself for getting upset! Let it go.  Just keep practicing coming into the present moment.



* Haiku – gratitude

I woke up today with a heart filled with gratitude. I am driving north to Kripalu to assist in a 300 hour yoga teacher training module for teachers wanting to learn about yoga for special population groups.  Let the magic flow 💛

This is my haiku to share with you while I am away. I will be taking a break from blogging, and have set up some re-posts some of my favorite inspirations. See you after May 10th.

Namaste and Jai Bhagwan!

kripalu spring


Find your Middle Ground

Greet each day with gratitude

Let the magic flow


If you are new to this site – Welcome!

To explore more about finding your middle ground please click here.

* The Wise Woman and the Precious Stone

This is a story from an unknown author that I came across in a lovely collection of poems, prayers and stories to end a yoga class called Soul To Soul by John Mundahl.

precious stone

Once a wise woman was traveling in the mountains and found a precious stone in a stream. The next day she met another traveller who was hungry and the wise woman opened her bag to share her food. The hungry traveller saw the precious stone and asked the woman to give it to him. She did so without hesitation.

The traveller left rejoicing in his good fortune. He knew the stone was worth enough to give him security for a lifetime.

But a few days later, he came back to return the stone to the wise woman.

“I’ve been thinking” he said, “I know how valuable this stone is, but I give it back to you with hope that you will give me something more precious. Give me what have within you that enabled you to give me this stone.”

Sometimes its not the wealth we have, but what’s inside us that others need.

This is dedicated to all of you who bring wisdom and light to the world and those around you every day. Never forget that what you have inside is what others are drawn to.


* Layers of Being

I woke up to cold temperatures, however the sun was shining and the forecast was for the day to become surprisingly warm. I thought to myself “This is a day for layers”.


Layers are practical. We put them on and take them off depending on how our body feels. I like the whole idea of layers … and it made me think about the other types of layers that we have as human beings.

How easy is it to add them and how easy is it to shed them?

As we add layers they protect us, yet weigh us down over time… For example, when we pretend to know something because we are afraid to let others see that we don’t know. Ego protecting strategies easily become burdens that are hard to let go of.

As we shed layers we become more vulnerable, yet at the same time we get lighter and more free. For example, taking off our “I am strong” mask and letting someone see that we need help, allows us to be authentic and true to our own feelings and thoughts.

Appreciating this can bring a new awareness of ourselves and our inner being.

Can you imagine yourself as a layered being?  Like one of those Russian nesting dolls.

Russian dolls


I love the yoga philosophy approach to our individual layers. They are called the 5 Koshas, which means sheaths in sanskrit. They are:

Physical – The outer sheath is our physical body. How it looks and functions. Our Annamaya kosha. We are well acquainted with this layer. It faces us in the mirror every day.

Energy – The next layer is our life energy. Like the Chinese Chi, yoga energy is called Prana. This is our Pranamaya kosha. We can’t see it, but we know it is present in our breath and our sense of well being.

Mental – Beneath this is the layer of  our thinking and emotions. Our mental body is called Manomaya kosha. This is the controller and director of operations.

Wisdom – The fourth sheath is our inner wisdom and being a witness to our selves. Our Vijnamaya kosha. I like to think of it as our intuitive layer of unconscious wisdom and knowing.

Bliss – The innermost layer is bliss. This is a place of beauty, joy and peace which surrounds the divine center of our being called the Atman. The Anandamaya kosha connects us to a Universal Consciousness, Source or Divine Spirit.


peacock feather

Like the eye on a peacock’s feather, each layer creates a beautiful whole.

I believe we are spiritual beings encased in sheaths. To live life fully we must learn to bring awareness to each layer and how it shows up, not only in our yoga practice, but in our daily lives.

Finding our Middle Ground opens the door to exploring these inner realms. In shedding our layers we connect more and more with our spiritual Self and inner Being.

It is there for each and every one of us.