Wednesday, October 10, 2018


I was driving along a busy street last week and came to a stop at a red light. As I looked around, I saw to my right a store selling glittery clothing, elegant shoes, and adornments for weddings and parties. The windows gleamed joyfully, conveying the sparkling promise of happiness, hope, future. To my left was a store selling wheelchairs, walkers, canes, and other products for the elderly, the injured, the recovering, the disabled. The items looked dusty and old, the signs in the window yellowed with age. The store exuded a dim, tired sadness. 

I gazed from one to the other until the honking from the car behind me stirred me out of my musings.

"This is life," I thought. There is hopefulness and the promise of a shiny future. And there is the sad "other:" the challenging times, and maybe life toward the end of its span. Life is all that, and everything in between.

I was glad to have yoga then, and mindfulness, to steady me. The vast chasm between the two storefronts tugged at me. But yoga, breath and awareness helped me understand something that felt big and important: that I am not at that place of glitter and shine, nor am I at that place of sad decline. I am here, in this moment, breathing in, breathing out. It held me, this returning to the present moment, pulling me back from the tug of despair, back toward just me, between the storefronts.

There is something for me to learn here, about steering away from the extremes, toward balance and a contentment with the everyday that is neither glitter nor gloom. I'm OK with that.

Thursday, September 20, 2018


Best wishes for a happy holiday season, and a happy, healthy New Year to all our yoga friends!


Please note the following class cancellations:

Monday, Sept. 24:


Tuesday, Sept. 25:

Monday, Oct. 1:


Tuesday, Oct 2:

All our other classes will take place as scheduled.

Monday, October 23, 2017


You can register for most of these classes through our website:
Click on the Register for Classes link to sign up in advance ... or just drop-in!

We look forward to welcoming you to our studio!

Monday, July 31, 2017

Pure Bliss Is A Choice

The Sanskrit term for pure bliss is ananda. In yoga philosophy we are taught that we can experience this rare feeling. I recently had the opportunity to experience just this type of pure, unadulterated joy. 

It happened when I was playing on the floor with my grandson, Hunter. He is nine months old, and he loves movement. Rolling. Tumbling. Climbing. Laughing. Well, at Gymboree last week, he was down there on the mat, rolling, tumbling, climbing, laughing. And I was right there on the mat alongside him. We did yoga. We did Cobra. We did Flying Wolenda (OK, that's a more contemporary yoga pose involving him resting belly-down on my shins, his arms outstretched, flying.) And a lot of "laugh-asana."

Yes, there I was, crawling along on the mat next to my little guy. One might argue that this is behavior unbecoming a 63 year old grandmother. To which I can only offer this: I don't care! 

What I felt in those precious moments was ananda. Bliss. Complete, unadulterated immersion in joy. I had zero concern for what might be proper. I had zero thought as to whether grandmothers do or do not crawl around on padded mats in children's gyms. I had no thoughts at all. Instead, I had a sense of complete immersion in the moment. I was in a state of complete happiness. Bliss.

I write this because those feelings of joy, bliss, and happiness are rare. When do we ever get to feel joy with such complete, wild abandon? 

And that question led me to investigate further: could I experience such blissful moments at other times? Was I missing opportunities to be in that state of complete immersion in joy?

My conclusion: I have been flying by moments where joy was possible. But there is hope! Every time I practice yoga, I can reach a still point that can help me refocus my awareness on all the small moments in my life that offer opportunities to experience joy.

The summer flowers: bliss. 
A good conversation with a friend: bliss.
A quiet moment on the mat: bliss.
My dog's eyes: bliss.
And many more.

So here's what I've learned from my Gymboree experience, and from my moments on the mat: experiencing ananda is a choice. If I wait for external circumstances to line up just right, I make my happiness dependent on what happens TO me. Instead, I can cultivate my ability to pay full attention to each present moment, and to all the small moments that can completely hold me and fill me with joy.

Bliss is everywhere; all I have to do to see it, is to make the choice to pay attention. My practice has taught me how to do that. And so, I commit to bliss. In this moment. And the next. And the one after that.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

The Sewing Kit

I’ve been busy lately. Every day or two, I take some time to sort through the items that defined my parents’ lives: files, old documents – Russia, Poland, Germany, Switzerland, USA – yellowed deeds to properties long sold, faded photographs, birth certificates. My father’s diploma for an apprenticeship as a furrier, completed. A letter of recommendation from my mother’s year in Denmark for a job well done, shortly before escaping the growing threat of Adolf Hitler for the safety of America.

My father passed away fifteen years ago, my mom just barely three months ago. That’s still very raw; the ache from my father’s passing a more distant and familiar friend.

And so today, I find myself looking for her sewing kit, identical to mine, a gift to her, and to me, from an aunt, many years ago. I’m looking for grey thread to sew a hem on my husband’s pants; why am I all out of grey? I find the sewing kit, woven in white plastic, with flowered puffy panels cushioning the top. I notice that hers is in far better condition than mine; it still has the white plastic around the loop that mine lost years ago. Was this box used less frequently? This isn’t the first sewing kit I remember; that one disappeared long ago, a large wood box that opened in stepped zigzag layers as you unfolded it, revealing one side or the other.

I forget to steel myself before opening the lid. How am I to know that this box, so innocent, sitting on the shelf untouched since I moved it into my house, could hold such a wealth of memories?

As I open the box, I’m stunned. Tiny, elegant scissors in the shape of a fanciful bird, greet me. A few spools of thread: yellow (what was that supposed to repair?), orange (for her sweater, new in Zurich, and now not new anymore?). Oh, and here’s that grey thread I was hoping to find. This spool at first commands my attention, but quickly, my eye is drawn to a treasure trove of sewing paraphernalia. A sharp needle, for sewing leather: that was my father’s, clearly. A zipper. Pins. Chalk.

I catch my breath as I spot a button with a flower pattern in the fabric. I know that button, and the dress it came from. It makes me wonder: why did she remove it? Was it an extra button, irritatingly placed inside a seam, that my father removed for my mother many years ago? I miss her, in that blue green pink swirl of a dress, a holiday afternoon kind of a dress.

The top layer of the sewing kit is see-through plastic, with compartments for items such as spools for the sewing machine – something she never touched. A red tape measure, centimeters and inches, carefully folded upon itself in S loops, a slender metal band holding it together neatly, keeping the ends from unraveling. Another scissor, not quite as delicate as the first, the lower blade rounded so as to protect the fabric one layer below. Shiny gold ornaments – they look like earrings, but they’re not. What were they used for? And what was my mother doing with those sparkly red discs? Maybe she bought them, or picked them up at the crafts club, but without my father, anything to do with sewing wasn’t going to happen. I’m left to wonder.

I excavate deeper. Black batting. A mini-sewing kit, for traveling. There are loose buttons, and neatly organized buttons, from suits, men’s shirts, and dresses. And a needle threader: that must have come in handy when it was no longer easy to thread a needle with aging eyes. Hooks for fixing a bra (does anyone repair those anymore?).

As I get to the hard, blue-lined bottom, it finally dawns on me: this was my father’s sewing kit. My mother didn’t sew; I’d never once seen her thread a needle, or sew on a button. She left that to my father. Oh sure, she picked up crocheting again when she moved into an apartment at a senior residence: the Knitting Club, but she would crochet, she insisted, always a bit different from everyone else, slightly defiant. Maybe she snipped a stray thread with that elegant scissor, once.

My father was the one who used this kit, lovingly, meticulously choosing what he needed: the scissor, the thread, the tailor’s chalk to mark a hem. I can see his sinewy-strong, veined violinist’s hands choosing, threading, holding the fabric just so, his elegant fingers stitching a perfect hem, sewing on a button with the eye of the perfectionist. My mom must have asked him to fix this or that, surely. And, just as surely, she would have been pleased with his handiwork. They might have smiled at each other on a quiet evening, when the sewing was done. Or he might have left her sweater, the seam repaired with almost-invisible stitches, neatly folded on her dresser, to be discovered the next day, with pleasure. There are many ways to love.

I sigh. The ache is there as tears well up with the memory and the missing of him, and her, and them, and their quiet understanding.

The work of choosing what to keep and what to discard begins. The yellow thread: no. The elegant scissors, yes, definitely. I allow myself moments of pleasure: his hands held that scissor. A large silver thimble: I try it on and feel the metal that protected his fingertips envelop mine, he, still keeping me safe from harm, reaching out to me across the years. I sort things out, holding onto some of the items because I’ll use them (can’t everyone use more needles? pins? elastic thread?), others because in keeping them, I can keep him, them, close to me.

I can’t stitch them back into my life. But I can piece together the fabric of their lives, one scissor, one thread, one memory at a time. In that, there is the stab of loss and pain. And in that, there is also great, great comfort.

- Charlotte Chandler Stone, December 20, 2015

Friday, September 4, 2015

If You're Going To Trek To The Lighthouse, You Need To Do Three Things

If You're Going To Trek To The Lighthouse, You Need To Do Three Things

Northern Lighthouse, Block Island

Have you ever set a goal for yourself? Maybe you were going to take a course, and finish it. Maybe you were going to exercise more. Maybe you were going to learn a new language. Setting the goal was the easy part. Getting there, and completing the goal, that was the hard part. It took some planning, some decision-making, some preparing, some tough choices and trade-offs. I recently spent a few days on Block Island. I walked a lot (that's what you do on Block Island), and it was fun to be a tourist, snapping photos of quaint houses, the great Victorian inns, and the ocean, forever changing. One of those days, I found myself at the northern tip of the island, where the paved road ends, and there's nothing but sand between the end of the road, and the northern lighthouse. A lot of sand.  I decided that I was going to see that lighthouse. And so, I set forth. I thought it would be a short hike, maybe 10-15 minutes, tops. It wasn't. I started out, feeling just fine. For about two minutes. That's when I realized that there was no "road," no path at all, nothing solid underfoot. Just sand. Shifting, slippery sliding sand that turned each step into a Herculean effort. It was 92 degrees that afternoon. But I wanted to get to that lighthouse. Suddenly, nothing else mattered. Everything else fell away, and it seemed to me that my life depended on reaching that lighthouse. I wanted this like I had never wanted anything else before. Well, my head wanted it, and my heart wanted it. My legs: that was another matter. It became a torturous walking meditation of sorts: Stepping high, placing, sliding, pushing off. Stepping high, placing, sliding, pushing off.  

I tried different strategies: What if I took longer strides? That didn't work. What if I turned my feet out as I strode forward? That did work: I must have looked like a cross-country skier lost in a nightmare, displaced from snowy slopes onto a distant and unfriendly beach. 

I stopped to catch my breath (a lot). I stopped to take gulps of water (a lot). I stopped to shake out the sand caught in my sneakers (a lot). I stopped to take pictures of the lighthouse, taunting me. I stopped to look back to check on my progress (unimpressive). OK, I stopped a lot, but I kept going. The sweat pouring down my forehead stung my eyes. But I kept going. And I finally got to the bottom of the little hill that leads up to the lighthouse. The structure loomed large in front of me now, not so far away anymore. I considered turning around: after all, I'd sort of made it. That didn't feel right, though; I hadn't trekked all that way in the unforgiving sand just to turn back when I was just one small hill away from the lighthouse. I was going to get to that lighthouse and touch that building and look around and take in the view! So I trudged up the final hill, quads screaming, heart pounding, face burning from the heat. And I made it! I felt triumphant! For others (people in better aerobic condition than I), this is probably not a hard trek. But for me, it was, and I was grinning from ear to ear because I had vanquished my inner demon ("go back ... this is crazy .... it's hot as blazes out here ... you don't have to do this ... you're not in any shape to do this ... what if you die out here ... "). And when I had rested a bit, and taken a selfie or two (oh yes, I wanted proof!), and gulped more water, I turned around to face the trek back to where the road had ended, and my quest had begun. 
Here's what I learned. If you're going to trek to the lighthouse, you need to do three things: Travel light. Drink water. And wear sturdy shoes.