Impermanence and My Yoga Practice

Impermanence is the truth of life. Embracing it in our most basic daily activities can be the key to everyday ease.

Judith Lasater

Here goes.

I am a big believer in speaking truth and since I have opted to being more emotionally exposed this year and vulnerable I am jumping in.

Since having three hip surgeries and an ankle surgery I have been avoiding the physical aspect of yoga for over six years. Occasionally I might unroll a mat and move around in positions that feel good, but a full on yoga practice guided by someone else?

Never. I have told myself for years that my practice was not focused on the physical and that I was simply working the other aspects of Yoga.

Was I? Or was I avoiding the sensations that bring up uncomfortable? Had I slipped into the practice of resistance or even worse, avoidance?

Maybe the continual orthopedic challenges over the last six years are valid or maybe it is my reasoning or excuse, or simply the story I tell myself. Unpeeling the layers of truth and excuse began to unravel quickly this past weekend on the Yoga mat.

With great intention to have at least one guided solid practice a week, I opted for Sunday to be the day. Sundays are typically a little slower around my house and seems to have a little tinge of sacredness on this day. I wanted to have someone else guide me through a practice because I tend to flow into poses that I like and are rarely challenged by. I stay within my comfort zone and was being gently nudged to open myself up to receive a practice guided by someone else and for me to not have any idea of what would be offered.

As I went out to my studio my eyes longed for the dumbbells that sat there eyeing me and my newly defined muscles. I wanted to grab them and do my thirty minutes of weight training that gives me a sense of strength and empowerment. I yearned for the fast 45 second on/15 second rest pace where I watch the time pass with eagerness to move onto the next exercise, or finish and get back on the whirling of the treadmill. I craved the fast and powerful movements where time flies.

Weight lifting has become my jam.

My Yoga practice used to be that. It was also where I laid out my emotions, my grief, my struggles, my celebrations and every other emotional season of my life. It is truly where I loved being and lifting weights was my aversion. As I continued to struggle with pain I needed a new relationship with my body and weights found a home in my heart. I even wrote about it here.

I knew I needed to work through my resistance to Yoga. I began the practice and literally within five minutes I was fighting myself to not quit. Every pose offered I had the internal dialogue as to why I hated it and why I can’t do it. I argued with myself. I made up a million reasons as to why this sucked. I wondered about half way through the practice why anyone would choose to do this and even more PAY for it. I heard myself say utter the words, “I hate Yoga and anyone who does this nonsense for 60 minutes must be crazy”. I fought the feelings of tightness and the humility of forward folds hurting and some of the postures being completely beyond my what I thought was available to my seeminlgy strong body. I glanced at my weights with love and endearment and thought to myself–they don’t hurt me like this.. they love me. I wrestled with the endless about of space and time in a single pose. I fought back quitting and then the realization that I was feeling this way was as shocking as the language my body was speaking. When the final moment came and the teacher thanked me for sharing my practice with her I wanted to scream “never again biiiiiiatcccch”.

I rolled up my mat completely stunned at my reaction to a simple 30 minute practice. Prior to my hip surgeries I was practicing hour long classes four to five times a week for a nearly two decades. What happened? How could I — a full time yoga teacher — feel such angst to time on the mat? I felt so much like I was an illegitimate English teacher who never opened a book.


I was shocked at what was coming up for me. These were deep feelings fueled with emotion that I can buried beneath surgical recoveries, a new found love affair with strength training and my seemingly inability to be still, and more be still with myself.

I am still one week later still stunned. And humbled. And determined to look deeper at this.

Judith Lasater says, “Impermanence is the truth of life. Embracing it in our most basic daily activities can be the key to everyday ease.” I suppose this master of Yoga would include time on the mat with this statement.

Oftentimes, we can no longer practice certain poses because of age or injury, yet we feel agitated because we assume that the poses of our youth should be the poses of our middle and old age. We are surprised when familiar asanas become difficult and formerly difficult ones become impossible. This surprise emotion rattled me and when I spoke to a fellow Yoga teacher I was relieved to learn that she too experiences much of the same resistance to time on the mat, for many of the same reasons. The inherent acknowledgement of the impermanence of each stage of life is key to acceptance both on and off the mat. There is here in this awareness—not just because our lives do obviously and unavoidably change but, more important, because when we accept this fact as truth, we suffer so much less. Without having an awareness of impermanence, we typically fall into one of two patterns: denial or depression.

So what do I do with this? Deny it or become depressed.

Neither are an option for me, especially since I am a master at discipline and overcoming hard things. I choose to not deny the ever changing qualities to my body and my constantly evolving practice, and I also choose to not be depressed about it.

Instead I am going to roll out my Yoga mat and try again. And again. And again until I fall into that sweet spot of surrender that once lovingly welcomed me into her arms.

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Morning Ritual

Many years ago I would get out of bed and just start “doing”…. I was asleep living my life and just going through the motions of existing.

Then I started a ritual of being quiet and still. I made a commitment to getting up a little earlier before the house woke up and began making time for myself. I say this a lot, but when I WOKE UP to living, I became a better person. Part of the waking up process was cultivating a morning ritual.

The results were amazing. I yelled less, I reacted less, I was angry less, and I was peeling off all the garbage I had accumulated through my life. It was clear to me that anger can erode every cell of your being and I was a perfect example of what that looked like.

I was toxic mess in every aspect of my life. Physically, emotionally, spiritually, and mentally. A toxic, heavy mess.

And then I began this simple morning ritual. I started the great wake up. The rest is history 😂

I usually take 30 minutes to do some of these things before the day gets busy. I am a big intention for the day person and I almost always pull a positive card that gives me something to think about throughout the day. I note all the goodness in my life and welcome in the day with an open heart. After this part of my morning is complete and my spirit is cared for, I go and take care of my physical body with movement.

Once I have had a little time for myself I can be ready to give to others. You know the old saying you cannot pour from an empty cup.

What’s your morning routine like?

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Someone’s Survival Guide

I am a super private person and unless you know me really well or catch the occasional revealing posts about my private life, you may not know the whole story.

I am not one to carry on about the past much because I believe what happened is what happened and by perhaps looking through a different lens, I have learned to see the gifts and lessons learned.

Yesterday I had an opportunity to have a very honest and real conversation with a girl I met a few years ago that is entering into a season of her life that includes being a single mom, wondering how she will work, feed her kids and fulfill her deep calling to do what her heart and soul is calling her to do.

I was there.

Eating cheap food to survive, scrambling for a job, yearning for something more and doing the best I knew how with my kids.

I failed a bunch but I also succeeded way more. I evolved into this. I overcame the you obstacles of single parenting and finding myself through the process.

My hope is that I gave this young girl a sense that she WILL be okay and that she WILL find her way and that she WILL succeed in her wildest dreams. She is certainly deserving of it and skilled in many ways.

It felt kinda strange to share my story and see the other side of what overcoming struggles can possibly do for someone just entering that sisterhood.

You just never know how your challenges can help someone else in a time of need.

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I was sipping my coffee this morning while reading Atlas of the Heart written by Brene Brown and was captured by this quote.

When I ventured out into the yoga world as a teacher I spent a few years trying to “fit in” to the culture of what I thought a yoga teacher was. I played the role and yet it never felt authentic.

As I gained confidence in myself and began to return home to my heart and found the deepest values that I hold dear to myself as a human, I stepped into my authentic self and realized belonging begins with me. I no longer strive to “fit in” or become someone I am not.

Instead, I am me. And I am outspoken and an advocate for others and I teach yoga from my heart, not from a book or a culture that promotes “perfection”.

I sat with a student yesterday who desperately wants to return home to her daughter but has no direction or plan to get there. She struggles with daily independent living and needs support to do the little things most of us overlook. The desperation in her eyes to find her purpose, to work and feel valued, and ultimately return to being a mom shook me. As I listened and reminded her that she has human rights to become her dreams and ambitions I realized that there I was living in my values. I was showing her what belonging means and in no way was I worried about what yoga is “supposed” to be.

Our yoga was pure union. Her and I were in union. I was in union with myself. And she was demonstrating grit in wanting to find her wholeness again and to find that belonging within herself.

That was my spiritual practice of belonging.

Dedication and Release

Last fall I started to increase my daily steps from an average of 18,000 (ish) a day to above 20,000. By mid spring and early summer I was hitting more like 25,000 steps a DAY walking. Many days l topped 30,00 steps and sometimes that was multiple days in a row.

I sustained that number for nearly 10 months and I am realizing a couple things by walking that many steps per day.

1) it takes on average 2.5 hours a day of deliberate walking to sustain that amount. I love walking probably more than anyone but giving up over two hours a day of my work and family life to reach that goal has been a lot.

2) I feel the same whether I walk 15,000 steps or 23,000. My body literally feels the same. Is more always better?

3) I let several balls drop these last 10 months. Some of them needed to be dropped but others have felt the impact of me not having that extra hour to give. I try to work while I walk—listen to podcasts, plan lessons, write blogs posts but the truth is while I am excellent at multitasking, is multitasking excellent for me?

4) Other areas of my life have been left dry because of my lack of attention to them while I have focused on steps. Meal prep, social connection, down time to name a few. It’s basically really hard to work full time, commute hours at a time and still find 2-4 hours a day to walk two to four hours a day that and strength train multiple times a week.

I was planning to finish this year with the same tenacity but my heart is saying to let it go. My body has trimmed up and toned up. I am leaner than I have ever been in my adult life. But, it’s time to celebrate ten months of incredible dedication and now, stop. Breathe. Let it go. Release the grip. Walk when I want to walk. Unroll a yoga mat instead. Read a book. Sit.

I am so proud of my body. So proud of all she has overcome. I will never take for granted a mile or a even a step again.

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Searching Among the Branches

Do you know the most important part of a house? What about a tree?

Is it the big windows and fancy backyard? Is it the glorious leaves and fruit? Or is it the foundation and the roots?

What’s the most important part of YOU? I believe it isn’t the material gains, titles, how much you weigh, how fast you can run, the size of you bank account, the size of your home, how much weight you can lift, your boundaries or how smart your kids are.

What is it then?

It’s the depth of WHO you are and how you show up in the world. It’s your values that lead you down the path. It’s the beliefs you hold most dear to yourself. It’s the way you treat yourself and others.

Not sure what values make up your foundation or your roots? If you don’t know yourself that well, it’s likely your behaviors and choices aren’t aligning with your best self and you’re often struggling in relationships and in life.


Thanks for reading my #tedtalk of the day and reach out if your life can’t seem to withstand the storms. It’s likely you have a rotten root or a weak foundation wall.

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August is Abundance

According to the Cambridge dictionary, abundance is defined as an amount that is more than enough.

Have any of you noticed how much nature reminds us of that same bounty that is available? The constantly changing and growing plants tell me that the same extraordinary potential exists within me. I see how the animals gather and forage what they need and this reminds me that everything I need is right here. I am grateful for the rain and the amazing colors that surround me. My garden is a perfect example to me of “more than enough”– the green beans and cucumbers this year may just feed the neighborhood! Oh, and I made my first ever batch of chokecherry jelly and it is amazing.

For years I have focused on creating a more abundant life and the ways in which that has all happened marvels me on a daily basis. Some may think of abundance as simply financial bounty, but I have come to see it as so much more.

For me abundance shows up in the random acts of kindness I receive, the support I consistently have for my classes, my friendships, the magnitude of joy in my life, colors everywhere, laughter that fills a room, a belly full of food, and enough money for me to live happily and generously.

As we come into the long, and usually hot month of August, I encourage you to look for the bounty in your own life that exist all around you….Simple things like lemonade, lazy afternoons in the hammock, delicious ice cream, sunflowers, sweet watermelon, a basket of veggies, the feel of a breeze against our cheek, the laughter of children chasing the ice cream truck and much more.

When we recognize all that truly IS, we can shed the notion that there is not enough.

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I often say that I am putting all of the amazing nuggets of wisdom that come from my students with brain injuries into my future book and to share on my future Ted Talk. Wouldn’t that be amazing?

Year after year and class after class, I am humbled at the insights that come from people living with brain injuries and feel so strongly that they can teach the world so many things about truly living. Over the years I have kept a little notebook with some of the teachings that they bring to my life and will often pull inspiration from that notebook in my everyday classes or in my personal life.

This one is a keeper.

I have been teaching from the theme of freedom this month. According to Webster’s dictionary, freedom is defined as having the ability to think, speak and act without hindrance or restraint. As we broke down each of those areas and shared the hinderances in our lives it is easy to see that everyone has certain hinderances or restraints that keep them from living fully free. For some, it is living without the ability to move their legs, or for others it is not being able to drive or work. For me although I can drive and work, I have certain physical limitations and responsibilities that keep me from being fully free in my actions.

We then moved onto our ability to speak without hinderance or restraint and it was evident that while the idea of free speech exists, there is a limitation to what we can all say and not get into a little hot water, whether that it within our own home or in the community.

We finished our discussion with the realization that the only true place we have freedom is in our thoughts. We are all free to think what we think and no matter what our challenges or our struggles are, it is ultimately what do with it through our mindset.

Here is the moment of ah-ha that has stayed in my heart for weeks. As we were closing up our discussion on living freedom, this was spoken:

“The confinement that I feel is only what I ALLOW myself to feel.”

Read that again.

The woman who said this is a student who lives in assisted living and occasionally comes down for yoga. Her body is riddled with pain so her practice is breathing and sharing. She is brave and wise.

She also lost her independence, her family, her ability to work and drive, and basically do the things that feed her soul. And yet she has the insight to see that despite all of her lack of freedoms, she can escape the cage with her thoughts.  She is one of the most insightful and grateful people I have ever met.

And to think that I am called the teacher.

Truth is, I am a conduit for their wisdom. I get to be the messenger. 

Pay Attention and Practice Gratitude

I think we get so caught up in life events having to be extraordinary in order to be happy, but I am with #brenebrown on this one that happiness is right in front of me when I am paying attention and practicing gratitude.

When I look back at my week I can say with certainty that it was a rollercoaster of emotions and experiences, and it was also a week of ordinary moments in everyday life that can either be celebrated or denied. I had beautiful work, a profound experience with a dying woman, a pretty disappointing doctor’s appointment, amazing workouts, playing in my garden, driving over 750 miles for work, celebrating my sweet granddaughter’s birthday, and quiet moments on the patio.

Ordinary moments of life experiences, yet so amazing in many ways. I am grateful for my life in all of its craziness–the observing of joy and sorrow, celebrating small successes, experiencing humanness, giving and receiving love, and being the witness to the cycles of life. All of it deeply embedded in my heart.

Hope you have a moment to pause. To breathe. And to notice all that is good in your life. Try paying attention and feeling gratitude. It just may surprise you how ordinarily awesome your life is.

Peeling Away the Layers

Sometimes I go to my yoga studio and just sit on a mat or cushion and ponder life’s mysteries. I might process it all through some movement and other times I just sit with the silence and my wandering thoughts. Recently, I have been working at noticing the thoughts that irritate me and invite them in for a deeper look, which usually results in some pretty awesome growth. I have found that the irritation is usually a mirror reflection of myself (duhhh….isn’t it always?).

This weeks recommendation from me is to go find a place to sit, to move and to be. Notice what shows up for you and then welcome it in like you would an old friend and see what shows up. It is likely a portal that will allow you to peel away another layer and reveal even more of your deepest truth.