Leading my first yoga class for Upenn CHIBE retreat

CHIBE-ROYBAL Retreat with UPENN at Congress Hall in Cape May gave me the chance to lead a group of scientists in the art and medicine of yoga.

Photography: Hoag Levins

What a courageous group of intelligent and empowered women.

I could not have done it w/o Emily- her decade of youth more than mine, ran through this class.
Thank you for embracing me, all of you. You have given me so much to go forward with.
Yoga has been a part of my independent study and life, for as long as I can remember.
My practice of disciplined ashtanga study and asanas, is in its infancy. I was so grateful to be able to practice what I've been practicing on such brilliant ladies.

Part of the intimidation came from the fact that these were PhD's, MD's, Professor's, and Researchers that inspire and lead me in my daily life.
I had to try to lead them, for an hour, at 6:30 am.
The class began at 6:30 am, 9-12-14, regardless of my emotion.
I had to be ready, at least a little.
Usually at this hour I am facing myself in my giant mirror and my own practice and meditation. Instead I found myself faced with the eyes of 10 others- looking for instruction.
I tried to bring them with me, on this most gorgeous of mornings on a blissful beach, post-martini's to a journey I have come to adore.

It worked so beautifully with Emily Kane demonstrating and reassuring me, while I walked around to each individual assisting and adjusting their postures- using the energy in my hands to bring a healing touch, I hope.
I gave them each a stone to hold onto, some grasped it for dear life, while others wondered what they should do with it.
I immediately saw in each person the subtle shifts that could help them with these asana's going forward, as they plunged ahead with such power and might.

Dana got into Ustrasana quite boldly.
Pam Shaw, I saw in the elevator this morning and she took up another yoga class the next day, as well! She has such life in her eyes that one.
Alison held a beautiful practice with a deep connection to herself and her independence just before plunging into the ocean and delivering a lecture on her research project.
Emily has such a united flow about her and helped lead this class, without her youth and confidence it would not have been the same.
Joelle is determined and her focus uninterrupted- those students challenge the teachers. She is a force and is the one who brought this group together. Joelle the gatherer.

I got my feet wet with something I've been studying since I was a child.

It showed me how far I have to go and how far I've come.
Teaching has taught me.

Reminding each student as  Liana reminded me, "nothing is right or wrong here today- do what comes naturally to you."

Another scent that brings on a sensation

I'm one of those people highly affected by aroma's and scents. Therefore I don't like many of them. Superior purity alone gets lathered onto this beauty.

If I'm writing about it here, it really made an impact.
I wrote about only one other oil in the past, Vetiver. I compared the oil to a lover because it was the scent of a lover that sent me in search of the feeling Vetiver delivered.
It brought about a tranquility that's difficult to describe (the Aura cacia Frontier brand only.)

That same luring emotion snuck up on me this time while at Plough on the Stars with my mother on her recent trip to Philadelphia.
Frank and Myrrh both have a rich history dating back to the beginning of time.
However, only one brings me to a place that feels like heaven.

So far Everyone loves this one. "So much depth" said Anna who I can't stop mystically running into on the lovely streets of Queen Village. "Wow what's that smell" said a man who speaks only when he must.

Ancient Essense with a strong feelings towards Ahimsa (non violence) has created heavens elixir-
My mom dabbed some on my wrist while I was sipping on a Malbec.
Every time I try to stop thinking of this particular succulent being, waves of him crash into me from unsuspecting corners of the universe. There it was that spice, that seduction, that sensation. This time the scent found me.
I thought Vetiver had it- and it does, but this scent hits closer to the home I spoke of when I described the sensuality that vibrates off of this particular man. With a layer of respect and experience- like the aged quality of a fine wine- it sends a chill that makes you want to embrace it.

That sort of Essense that is layered with healing and magnetism- royalty and rebellion.
It can't be described with words. If you need proof I'll give you a peak.

I'm convinced.
One sniff from a lover and he was hooked- insisting much more than usual.
The sassy salon owners daughter left my house doused in it and it made her blush.
My highly selective twins both love it.
It gets its hooks into the universal "you" and changes the air around we breathe.

It's on the top of the list of products- click the link to purchase. Like the brand for the Vetiver I recommended don't try to duplicate with other brands. There is something unique done by both Ancient Essense and Frontier that make the Frank and Myrrh and Vetiver stand apart from the rest.

"It is a happy talent to know how to play."- Emerson

Photo Credit: Isaana Chrispin


Photo credit: Lulu Chrispin
Fulton Street butterflies-
 by Conrad Booker

Friday August 8, 2014
There was this little
that busted my
heart wide open.

I was never a butterfly person. My uncle John made a piece called, "Butterflies for Kathy," my mom is the butterfly girl. But something happened to change that.

It was early evening in Washington Square West, Philadelphia on 7th St. I'm walking home from work. As I approached Lombard something made me stop and look.
There was a perfect black butterfly with one large orange splotch on each wing sitting in the middle of the road. I heard a car approaching so I gazed with an urgent focus at the butterfly as a warning. The butterfly remained still for a few moments and then began to fly. The butterfly flew around me and I twirled to see it. I lost it after a glance, but felt it. It had landed on my right shoulder and was looking directly into my eyes for 15-30 seconds. My heart was pounding, blood rushing, breath quickening, my feet became sternly rooted into the ground.
The butterfly flew around me again, I spun around slowly looking for it, but I couldn't see it. I stopped-  it landed on my left shoulder. That butterfly looked right through me. I was frozen still as I felt my soul coming to the surface, without asking my permission.
My mind flickered into humanity- I wanted to capture this moment- I thought about reaching for my camera and the butterfly flew around me again. I could only move my eyes. I remained still, but could not see the butterfly. (I instantly abandoned the idea of taking a picture- promising myself I would never try to capture a precious moment like this with a camera again- staging to share the glory is perfectly fine!)
I could not see it or where it went. I stood still looking slowly around as people began to stare at me and wonder what I was doing. I felt the butterfly again. It had landed on my chest, directly on top of my heart this butterfly sat staring up at me, facing me, looking me in the eye.
My mouth opened in disbelief. It was the same, so tender, I felt the little feet of that butterfly penetrating into me watching me for a good 15 seconds as my spirit sank and blasted my heart wide open.
Then it vanished. I shivered.
I couldn't see it fly away into the trees or around the corner.
The butterfly  just vanished.
From that moment, I was changed with a new point of focus. Transformed. Still. Quiet. Touched. Withdrawn from my senses. Aware. Awake.
I am as free as that butterfly.

"Who was that?" said D
"That butterfly was for you" said Justine.
"Would you believe I saw that same butterfly today" said Donna.
 "I think that was my mother. She was speaking to me earlier." Beth said

Home practice gets personal

"Open your heart even as it breaks wide open. " Kino MacGregor

Sometimes to get into the groove and stay there I venture down a few roads, explore, which path is the one to focus on, for now? Part of the answer is to avoid the feeling of my heart breaking wide open. This is a practice that hurts so good.

Sticking with a daily discipline to practice my asana's every single day has become quite a journey. Any dis-ease lurking within my body is melting fleeing the scene, any sneaky mentalities that are better flushed out are getting let out of jail and the list goes on and on right down to why have I been pushing my hips out that way when it feels much more natural to push them in and so on and so forth. It's a host of strange sensations and a view at things that are right inside of you that you may have never seen before. It's this reality that sometimes makes me prefer to venture into the unknown in private, you know in case I need a good strong grunt of a breath to get my core to participate properly or something along those lines.

I love going into the yoga studios and getting face to face instruction, assists and adjustments with teachers, despite how vulnerable it can make me feel. The guidance is both physical and spiritual. I go every chance I get. My first visit to an actual yoga class, I cried while breathing in scents of lemongrass and being surprised to find my way into Eka Pada Rajakapotasana. It's a memory I won't soon forget. Liana and Sarra are two of those teachers, that a simple laying of the hand on my vulnerable shoulder and suddenly I'm less vulnerable. They put a little Reiki on it.

The Dhyana studio is where I found a place that felt like home, while just around the corner I saw an Astanga school that I knew I wanted to venture into. Amanda Medina, on her first day of teaching was a total inspiration. Brand new and devoted. You could see the time it took her to develop herself in this way. She's a natural. Liana Cameris, one of those unforgettables shining warmly with so much love and passion. You can feel that her journey has been a long one- old soul. I took my first studio yoga class with Liana- she sort of feels like a first love to me now, despite how brief our encounters. Alex Holmes, a powerful force with courage and the sense that she is always looking for herself and ready. Sarra Kauffman, encouraging with humor and innocent depth- with remains of travel and history, so pure. Her time in Thailand and with the dance of Thai massage is one she shares very well.

The day the above make videos I'll be buying them up too, in order to see them more frequently than I currently do. Until then I take their lessons with me and practice them daily. Liana really gave me the goods for king pigeon, Sarra downward dog, Amanda pranayama, Alex arm balances.

With my schedule, the unpredictable nature of my life and the need to practice yoga multiple times daily what has worked for me in the past has had to present itself on a screen, as well as in a studio or school. Rodney Yee on my TV screen, not as quite as touching as the studio environment, however I did do it everyday for years and years. It's definately on my agenda to go visit Yee's new Manhattan studio and take a class.

While reading the Light on Yoga text book by BKS Iyengar with great focus and a highlighter this video below spoke to me. I can relate to this way of thinking. Something about someone who reminds me of myself, brings me confidence to continue on my path. Kino MacGregor only a short trip from my former home in Sarasota, FL has a studio she teaches out of in Miami. When Kino started she didn't have a ton of strength in her core or in general- she learned that it would take her years of unending, uninterrupted practice to master the flexibility and strength she was aiming for. She went through a lot of changes. Kino has a way of communicating and demonstrating in her videos that enables me to get aligned with my goals.

Until life allows me more time to spend at the shala in India, Kino's studio in Miami, David's Astanga school down the street, Yee's Manhattan digs and Dhyana's homey studio- I'll be looking for video instruction and text books such as Light on Yoga to strengthen my asana's with breath and focus.
I've posted a few videos that are very helpful to me- in this blog post and the others following.

Finding my focus (pratyahara) by looking (drishti) practicing my asana's (getting all twisty) and breathing (pranayama.)
I've got to get stronger, my spirit and my soul are requesting a stronger house!

This also made me see me in her- fun story about her humble beginnings,