Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Our Best Aspirations

I chanced upon an inspiring project this evening: "" This is an online community collecting aspirations from people around the world to put in a "stupa" in Vermont. Stupas are sacred monuments to peace, tolerance and compassion that are at the heart of the Buddhist tradition. 

I was all set to type my aspiration into the box on the "100,000" home page, but suddenly found myself pausing, fingers hovering above the keys - waiting, thinking. I had expected that it would be easy to do this seemingly simple thing; it wasn't. 

So many aspirations came to mind. Which aspirations to choose for such an ambitious project? I aspire to work toward world peace ... I aspire to be a better person, more patient, kind, generous ... I aspire to truly, really, unconditionally wish all beings well (yes, ALL beings, even despots, corrupt leaders, and those who have been unkind, cruel, inconsiderate, unappreciative, disloyal, hurtful) ... I aspire to be calmer, quieter ... I aspire to be more mindful and less reactive ... I aspire to live with more consciousness, more awareness, to live more "awake" ... I aspire to have healthier boundaries ... I aspire to cultivate contentment and equanimity ... I aspire to not make assumptions ... I aspire to think the best of others ...

What affirmation could be worthy of standing alongside the likes of Pema Chödrön, Sharon Salzberg, Roshi Joan Halifax and the other "greats"  weighing in on the topic? 

But then I "got it:" I didn't have to be an enlightened being, nor a respected dharma teacher. I just had to identify a goal and commit to working toward that goal. I had to have the intention to be authentic and honest. I had to have the desire to be the best I could be. Everyone can do that. I could do that.

Here's the aspiration I submitted: "I aspire to cultivate happiness, embrace gratitude, see things as they really are, be fearless, live my yoga, help relieve suffering, stand in my truth, and empower others to do the same." 

At 11:00 pm tonight, the project still had 96,166 aspirations to go. You can add your voice by visiting

Let's create a better world, together, one aspiration at a time.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

A Journey Within

Over the years, many of you have asked for recordings of my guided imagery meditations. I'm excited to share my first recording with you. 

Here is "Journey Within" -- a guided journey through the layers of our being (called "koshas" in yoga).

You can sit back and follow the audio, eyes closed, or you're welcome to enjoy the beautiful images.

Welcome to the "Journey Within."  Enjoy!

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Yoga DOESN'T Wreck Your Body

In today's New York Times magazine, there's an article titled, "How Yoga Can Wreck Your Body," by William J. Broad. 

Here's a link to the article, which is adapted from "The Science of Yoga: The Risks and Rewards," by William J. Broad, to be published next month by Simon & Schuster.

If you are a yoga practitioner, and/or a teacher of yoga, you'll want to read the article, and you may want to weigh in with your own perspective, joining the hundreds of readers posting comments on the Times's online thread. 

Here are the comments I sent in earlier this evening:

"Yoga can be enormously beneficial when practiced sensibly, with modifications, in a manner that awakens presence and self-empowerment. Thousands of studies document yoga's benefits for body, mind, stress, and healthy lifestyle. 

This article focuses on what can happen when people practice yoga to the extreme, pushing themselves beyond what their bodies are designed to do. Injuries occur when students practice in a forceful way that violates functional range of motion, health considerations, or common sense. Ill-informed, aggressive instructors teaching yoga as a purely physical workout only fuel this harmful trend.

The first law of yoga is "ahimsa" (non-harming). Students of yoga must assess whether they feel safe with their instructors. They must also take responsibility for their practice and be willing to modify or omit poses, especially if they have injuries or health conditions that require a moderate approach. As yoga teachers, it behooves us to pursue studies that help us teach safely, and to commit to creating a respectful, non-competitive atmosphere through our words, actions and touch.

People get hurt practicing baseball, golf, tennis, working out, cheerleading, and running; surely these American-as-apple-pie activities account for far more injuries than yoga ever will. Yet no one is calling for an end to these sports. Nor should they for yoga."

* * * * * * * * * *

On a personal note, I want to express my gratitude to some of my most influential teachers, for sharing with me their great knowledge and their unswerving commitment to safe, sensible, highly adaptive yoga, and for supporting me as I share these teachings with others: Mukunda Stiles, Sara Meeks, Adrienne Jamiel, Cheri Clampett, and Leslie Kaminoff. I am most fortunate to have the benefit of their wise guidance.

I am also deeply moved that the students who come to Stone Yoga "get it" and enjoy practicing yoga in ways that are respectful of their needs. And I am honored that the teachers I have the privilege to train are deeply committed to teaching safe, sensible yoga to their students.