Liz Vartanian of Yoga Betty and Yoga Mama: TGBTS Featured Teacher


Don’t you just love them?

I know I do.

There are those that inspire me and those that make me laugh. Some help me solve problems in my classroom and others that help me solve problems in my life.

I’d like to introduce you to some of my favorite teachers here.

Teachers in studios, classrooms and in the world at large. These are the folks you will see featured in my series of teacher interviews here at Teacher Goes Back to School.

I hope you enjoy these teachers as much as I do!


tgbts featured teacher liz vartanian

Have you met Liz yet? She’s been in my Twitter feed for years and we’ve become friends via social media. We both have babies and teach restorative yoga, so instant connection.

Here’s my interview.

When did you start practicing?

I started practicing in 1996, while I was in massage school, I did yoga from a Video Tape. I wore that tape out, but I learned so much! It wasn’t until I moved to Austin, TX in 2004 that I found a studio I loved and started going religiously.

Why did you start?

At first, it was a great way to get centered before doing a massage. Then it became more about a new way to learn how my body works. It really is amazing what our bodies can do.

Where did you practice?

My living room floor! Which was carpeted, but when you are watching a video there’s not a lot of options. Soon after I got comfortable with some of the poses, I practiced outside on my deck. Unfortunately, the little studio I eventually went to closed a few years ago.

How has your practice evolved over time?

I’ve gone from Hatha to Flow to vinyasa to prenatal. Now, I have found a balance of restorative (which I started while I was pregnant) and flow. I love the practice of moving with the breath, but I also know how much my body really needs to sit still and just be. Even when I flow or do vinyasa, I take a long savasana to make sure I let my body recuperate.

How long have you been a teacher?

I’ve been teaching almost 3 years now. Time really does fly when you are having fun!


Why did you start Yoga Betty/Yoga Momma?

I started Yoga Betty as a way to learn more about yoga. It sounds silly, but there is an amazing amount of knowledge in experiencing life. And really yoga is as much off the mat as it is on.

Yoga Momma was started after the birth of my son. If Yoga Betty is about a laid back yogini, Yoga Momma is about how that laid back yogini handles life with a baby guru!! Of course, now that the sweet little baby guru is almost a year old, I’ve realized that I’m both Betty and Momma so I’ve decided to combine the two blogs. After all, no person is just ONE aspect of themselves. We all evolve and change, it’s just time for me to embrace I am Betty, momma, yogini, partner, woman, and so much more. Now if I can just get kiddo to nap longer again, so I can finish combining the two!!

What are your classes like?

Currently, I teach restorative, prenatal, and post-natal. My pre and post-natal classes are all about breathing, building strength, and finding peace within. After all as a new momma or as a momma to be, knowing how to find some inner peace can be a life saver!

Do you have a home practice? What is it like? How often? Where? How’d you start and how do you keep at it?

Yes!! Home practice is all I have these days. Sometimes it is 15 minutes, sometimes I can get an hour, although right now that isn’t as often since baby guru is almost walking.

I practice every day. Nap time is a my practice time. I usually get in some cat/cow, puppy pose, thread the needle, and 5 minutes of meditation. If I have the time or really need it, I start with this and add as feels good. There is a lot of shoulder openers, bridge pose to get my heart open, and core. I keep it up because frankly getting to take a class is tough. My daily practice keeps me same, so if I don’t do it, I feel all put of whack.

mama baby

What’s your favorite pose? Why?

My current favorite pose is a tie between puppy pose (because it is easier on my wrists while giving me the same feeling down dog does) and forearm plank (because hot-damn if it doesn’t stoke the internal fire and get my core working!).

What’s your least favorite pose?

Hm, there isn’t a pose I don’t like, I can say that the one I’m finding challenging right now is crow. Finding the right muscles to use along with some wrist aches seem to be what makes this pose sooo tough on me right now.

Do you have a meditation practice?

I started meditation right after Aiden was born. I used the time I spent nursing to breathe and clear my mind. Although, I usually only get 5-10 minutes of meditation in, that is better than none!

What is your blog/s about? When did you start? Why did you start? What is your purpose?

Currently, my blogging is more about finding practice OFF the mat, since I’m starting to realize my “free time” is valuable which can make it hard to commit to an hour long asana practice (especially when nap times are sometimes 45 minutes!!). Plus Aiden really has become my little baby guru, he keeps me present and mindful of all I do and soon enough what I say (I know the parroting phase is coming up). Not everyone has kids and some people may not want to have kids, but that doesn’t mean our life lessons are any different. Any practitioner of yoga is working towards peace, presence of mind and body, and ultimately living our yoga. I just happen to think having kids speeds up the process!!

What is your favorite post? Why?

I have TWO!! One titled “Hips don’t lie” which talks about my ability to cry EVERY TIME I’m in pigeon pose and the fact that what comes up when we do hip openers can really show us what we are clinging to, what emotions we are storing, and what stuff we can let go of, by crying or by breathing.

The other is a article I wrote for Mind Body Green about “Rediscovering Yoga After Having a Baby”. There is this thing about having a baby, you’re body isn’t “yours” for 9 months of pregnancy and then it’s not really yours after baby shows up. So the importance of coming back to the practice is SO important.

Both of these pieces I wrote are raw and I think remind people that it is ok when we cry or feel “betrayed” by our bodies. That yoga is there because we are there, our mats will hold us. They will be the mirror we need to see what is happening. And they will help us let go and rebuild.

cup of liz

What other blogs do your read? Why?

The two blogs I am really digging these days are: SahajaMomma & Cup of Jo.

Sahaja Momma is a Austin Yoga Goddess and new momma, she has fabulous recipes and often has some great share on self-care or helpful momma items.

A Cup of Jo is one of my guilty pleasures, I read this blog daily!! I love the fashion (in hopes I one day will be stylish again and not just prepared for feeding 24/7), the food, and this New Yorkers great shares.

Who and what inspires you?

This is probably the best question ever! My loves, my family, specifically the man because he supports me and is a great person to talk to about any thing. Even when it is yoga related (he is NOT a yogi), baby guru is of course right there with his daddy. Mother Nature has her spot too, the ocean inspires me even though I’m so far away. The trees, the sunrise, and the sunset all play a part in my practice, in my teaching, and in my day. Sometimes songs can be inspiring, written words, and those spoken all seem to brighten my day too. I can pretty much find inspiration in anything and everything!

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Mrs. PartyPants

December 9th’s Prompt:

Party. What social gathering rocked your socks off in 2010? Describe the people, music, food, drink, clothes, shenanigans.


In March, I turned 40.

To celebrate some of my yoga teacher training buddies and I went on a yoga workshop weekend in Ukiah to study Balance with Mary Paffard.

I know. We know how to party!

A must stop if you are ever in Clear Lake

Once we were primed and ready (ie totally full of fried goodies) we off to Vichy Springs Resort for some soaking in the mineral pools.

An excellent way to spend an afternoon

Post soak, we hopped on down the road to meet the other YTTs for dinner at Oco Time.

Look at those lovely faces.

We chatted, we laughed, we snapped photos and drank a beer (or two).

More lovely faces.

We told jokes and talked about birthdays, age and yoga.

And then it was over.


It’s funny what a difference a decade makes.

My 30th birthday was a huge drunken bash.

I’m glad that nonsense is over now.


What’s your most memorable party this year?

(Author: Shauna Reid)

Saturday Senses

I’ve been inspired by Pink of Perfection’s Five Sense Friday to start a new tradition at Teacher Goes Back to School: Saturday Senses!

tasting :: farm fresh organic produce – thank you, Mayacamas Ranch.

hearing :: new friends connecting

smelling :: sunscreen

seeing :: a pile of books, some nature and my all time favorite summer thing: a swimming pool!

feeling :: still a bit sore from boot camp this week and quite smug I finally figured out how to schedule posts

What are your senses this Saturday?

{click on image for source}

You Are All Invited – Yoga Retreat!



I’ve never been on a “real” yoga retreat before, but that is all about to change.

A little history…. For my birthday this year I went away with some amazing yoga friends to a workshop on balance. In my head I kept referring to it as a retreat because we traveled to get there.


Not so much.

I did learn the difference between a workshop and a retreat though.

At a workshop you work: learn, practice, meditate.

At a retreat you retreat: you practice, but there is built-in downtime. 

I’m definitely in need of some serious downtime and since I’m still celebrating my birthday 3 months later, I wanted a real retreat – damn it.

The retreat this weekend is with my favorite teacher Michelle and a bunch of lovelies from It’s All Yoga.  For the next few days we’ll be calling this place home.

Why am I telling you all this?

It certainly isn’t to rub it in that I’m on retreat and you aren’t.

I’d like to invite you to join us for all or part of the retreat from home.

I’ll post the schedule below. Feel free to follow any or all parts of it.

So are you in?

The schedule will allow for individual or group activities with plenty of time to rest or play . {music to my ears!}

 Here’s the schedule


3:30pm              Arrive 

4:30-6pm          Opening Circle and Practice {if you want to practice with others, feel free to stop by the studio – it’s free at 4:30!}

6:30pm              Dinner 


6:30am              Optional Meditation 

7-8:30am           Breakfast 

9-11:30am         Pranayama (breathing), Asana (poses), Meditation (sitting)

12pm                 Lunch 

4-6pm                Pranayama (breathing), Asana (poses), Meditation (sitting)

6:30pm              Dinner 


6:30am              Optional Meditation 

7-8:30am           Breakfast 

9-11:30am         Pranayama (breathing), Asana (poses),  Meditation (sitting)

12pm                 Lunch 

4-6pm                Pranayama (breathing), Asana (poses), Meditation (sitting)

6:30pm              Dinner 

8:30 pm           Campfire


6:30am              Optional Meditation 

7-8am                Breakfast 

8:30-10:30am    Pranayama (breathing), Asana (poses), Meditation (sitting)

12pm                 Lunch  

Please leave me a comment  to tell me what part you decided to do and how it is going. Or tell me about your retreat experience. I’d love to hear from you!

The In Case You Missed It Edition! Volume 2

I’ve recently discovered the wonderful world of blogs, Twitter and the idea of creating community online. I am aware I am late to the party, however it’s better to be late than never arrive.

Who knew the Internet was full of such wonderful, caring, compassionate people?

Occasionally, I’ll post my favorite posts from other people here.

The In Case You Missed It Edition!

Impermanence — My father has Alzheimer’s disease.  Last night, during a family conference call, we decided it is time to move him into the dementia unit of the retirement community where my parents live…..

Bob has a way of cutting right to the important parts. See if you can read this without feeling deeply.

Good Enough is the New Perfect is the title of the upcoming book by my Twitter friends @holleeinbalance and @beckyinbalance. Their  blog is a treasure box full of gems about issues around work and family. A must read! Plus Hollee is a fellow yogi!

This week’s guest post is by a woman who has 30 HOURS of LEISURE time a WEEK. If that doesn’t grab your attention, I don’t know what will. It sure got mine.

Social Change Through Simple Living pretty much sums it up, doesn’t it? That’s what @RowdyKittens is all about. Tammy S is a former Sacramentan, now Portlander (hello, opposite of me!) explores the notion of living a fuller, richer life with less stuff. I think she may be on to something.

The Beet Goes On is my friend V3’s chronicling of her life in NYC. Filled with food photos that make you want to bite your monitor. This girl rocks.

Last but not least, the woman with so many ideas I want to steal.

Office Hours at Gwen Bell, Big Love in a Small World. – LOVE HER.  I wish I was in Boulder. I just may have to copy this. Who wants to meet for office hours?

If you have a favorite blog that you’d want everyone to read if you were in charge of the universe, please let me know about it here. Leave me a comment about your favorites and maybe I’ll start reading them too.


Yoga+Music(notquite)365 (day94)

Today’s yoga brought to you by Michelle at It’s All Yoga in Sacramento.

Today’s music is Away We Go Movie Soundtrack. I’ve been loving the movie soundtracks recently, even those movies that didn’t make me love them. Go figure.


Yoga Teaching Update:

FREE Fridays at 4:30 with the new It’s All Yoga teachers (21st and X in Sacramento) – you’ve got to sign up online

I’m sub-teaching 4/5/10 – for Michelle at 5:45. Level 1-2, so every body is welcome.

Free class for School Teachers in honor of Teacher Appreciation Week – May 1st. Yoga Nap+Milk and Cookies.

Teacher Appreciation = Yoga Nap + Milk and Cookies!

Dear School Teacher,

I’m going to go out on a limb here.

It’s been a really hard school year.

I know, I’m a public school teacher too.

Are you tired and looking forward to the end of the school year?

Do you work really hard taking care of your students?

Wouldn’t it be nice for someone to take care of you?

Maybe rub your shoulders and temples while you rest in a warm little nest.

And serve you cookies and milk when you finish.

In honor of Teacher Appreciation Week and in thanks for all that you do:

A FREE class just for you!

No yoga experience needed.

We (meaning me, Amanda from Urban Almanac and Erin from The Search Begins) will pamper and support you.

You will leave refreshed.

Think Yoga Nap.

With milk and cookies.

(No, really.)

May 1st, 3-4:30 pm. to register (under workshops)

Yoga+Music(notquite)365 – Day 88 – Crazy Heart Movie Soundtrack- Resilience Edition!

Lately I feel like I’ve been wearing my feelings on the outside of my body. That heightened sense of vulnerability has left me feeling uneasy.  

 During yoga yesterday, Michelle read an excerpt from poet David Whyte where he uses the image of walking down a country dirt road: A huge storm comes. You take shelter in the barn until the storm passes. Sometimes the warmth and protection of the barn feel so good, so easy and safe, you never leave. But you have to get back on the road. You have to keep going.

She spoke briefly about resilience and how it’s easy for some people to bounce back from events while others take more time. She used the barn analogy to illustrate how some have sought protection in the barn and maybe gotten stuck.

It’s funny because she wrote about getting stuck in the comforting place while I wondered where I find comfort.

In a way, yoga has become that comforting place.

So struck by this idea of resilience, I got up from my mat. I grabbed a pen and piece of paper to capture what came up for me during class.

I won’t bore you with the details, but let’s just say I was left with the feeling that I’ve somehow lost some of my former resilience, or the ability to “bounce back” from difficult experiences.

When I shared this with Michelle, she offered a different perspective.

She asked if maybe I hadn’t really lost my resilience, but rather shed some of the armour I’d built around my heart.

The tears that briefly came up in that moment were indicator that something is brewing in there.

What are your thoughts on resilience? How do you cope with the hard parts of life? Has it gotten easier or harder over the years?


Teaching Update!

Saturday, May 1st from 3-4:30 I’m teaching a FREE class for school teachers to celebrate the beginning of National Teacher Appreciation Week.

Think of it as a yoga nap – plus milk and cookies!

If you or someone you know teaches school for a living, please save the date.

21st and X – Sacramento, CA


Fridays 4:30 are still FREE at @itsallyoga!

BTSA – Yoga Class Sequence #1

Welcome New Teachers and anyone else looking for a relaxing easy to do at work yoga sequence!

Constructive rest – laying on your back, feet hip width, knees bent, feet flat on the floor, knees leaning toward each other.

Ideas for this class are from Office Yoga: Simple Stretches for Busy People 

Come up slowly and find your chair.

Sit up tall, feet flat on the floor, pelvis slightly tipped forward, spine tall – head floating up like a helium balloon.

Neck stretches:

Moving with the breath.

Ear to shoulder – both sides

Ear to shoulder – both sides – gentle press on shoulder – making space in the neck.

Nose pointing toward shoulder and gently looking down – both sides. Gently moving the head to find the tender spots to breathe into. Moving the jaw around to loosen the grip.

Breathing through all movement.

Shoulder rolls: up to ears, back and bring the blades down to rest in the back pockets. 3 times.

Easy seated twists: come sit toward the front of the chair. Left hand, right knee – right hand tucked into seatback. Inhale – sit up tall and gentle twist – like your spine is a barber pole — breathing. Full breath cycle 2 or 3 times. Release on exhale and slowly return to neutral.


Right hand, left knee – left hand tucked into seatback. Inhale – sit up tall and gentle twist. Full breath cycle 2 or 3 times. Release on exhale and slowly return to neutral.


Come to all 4s on the floor, blanket under the knees – Cat/Cow.

Sit in Easy seat, Hero or stand.


Raise arms straight above head in preparation for Cow Face Pose arms with a strap. Both sides. Creating space in the neck and shoulders.

Come to stand in Mountain pose. Close your eyes and breathe.

Big bear hug in preparation for Eagle arms. Spread arms wide, right arm on top, big bear hug, trying to reach fingers around to touch. Breathing. Release on exhale and do other side.

Big bear hug and wrapping arms into Eagle. Release on exhale. Other side.

Shake it out.

Come down to the floor by the wall for Legs Up the Wall Pose.

Release  by bending the knees, rolling to one side and pausing on your side using your arm as a pillow.

Final relaxation!


Yoga+Music365 (day53) – Gone by Dwight Yoakam – (Half) Marathon Training – The Unexpected Edition

When I signed up for the half marathon training I wasn’t sure what to expect other than consistent cardio excercise twice a week. The following are some of the lovely treats I’ve experienced during the training.

  • Nature early in the morning. We mostly walk on the levy and so we’re amongst the trees, shrubs and plants.
  • The BIRDS! Who knew seeing yellow-billed magpies would be so exciting? I think this all stems from my learning about these birds on our last class field trip to the Yolo Basin Wetlands. (In case you don’t live in the Central Valley in California, I’ve posted a picture below.)
  • The ease in conversation amongst strangers. Most folks signed up to walk with their friends. Me and a couple other women went solo and have found each other to be great company.
  • Saying walk out five miles and turn around sounds so much easier than walk 10 miles. I love the semantic game of the turn around and its ability to ease my mind.
  • I’ve been pleasantly surprized at my body’s recuperation. I’m really tired at the end of a long walk, but after a good home practice I feel fine. Even days later my body feels way better than I thought it would.
  • I’m really happy with my choice to walk, rather than push myself to run. Thirteen miles really is a long way, so however you get there is a big accomplishment.
  • Genuine hunger after training. It feels good to be thinking about how to fuel my body in training.

I’ve been struck by how much this training is a form of yoga for me. I’m paying attention to my surroundings, listening to subtle clues from my body, and not pushing myself beyond what I need at any given moment.

Yellow Billed Magpie


Today’s yoga brought to you by the home practice! I’m teaching tonight, so I have to prep myself.

Today’s music is Gone by Dwight Yoakam.


Don’t forget FREE Fridays at 4:30 with the new It’s All Yoga teachers (21st and X in Sacramento) – you’ve got to sign up online

I’m teaching 3/5/10 – so mark your calendar.

For the month of February, I’m teaching a Level 1/2 on Mondays at 5:45. Come join me.

TONIGHT is the last class in this series!

Yoga+Music365 (day51) – Closer to the Bone by Kris Kristofferson – Mrs. Pricklepants Edition

February seems like a good idea on paper. It’s got at least two school holidays, daylight is getting longer, and there are only three and a half more months of school.

And yet, I’ve been kind of grumpy all month. Go figure.

Instead of leaving a trail of complaints why February sucks, the following is a short list of things about February that don’t.

  • We started the Money unit at school and students LOVE earning money for their hard work. They are decidedly less enthusiastic about paying for not working, however motivation is at an all time high right now.
  • I love teaching yoga! Who knew that something that scared me so much so recently could turn out to be so fulfilling?
  • My amazing sweetheart surprised me with a very sweet valentine – a little certificate for lunch and a foot massage – by hiding it in the cat food bag while he was away and I actually found it on Valentine’s Day.
  • Acro-yoga was super fun, even when working with a complete stranger. We met during the middle of the class and managed to laugh all afternoon. She’s the one I’m helping into handstand in the photo.
  • One of my best friends is moving into a house with a SWIMMING POOL!  Fishes like me, love them some swimming pools!
  • Three Feet High and Rising.
  • One of my other friends took me to her very fancy gym this week for a spa day. Steam, sauna, and soak – with towel service.  
  • The movie Crazy Heart.
  • Massage!
  • Seeing Rhett Miller play and being in the front row.
  • Reading the Fluent Self and other excellent blogs make me happy.
  • Yoga
  • Possibility of summer road trips with friends for more yoga and general all around fun times.
  • Anticipating seeing my amazingly wonderful friends from junior high over Zachary’s Pizza and a cocktail or two.

What about YOUR February isn’t sucking? Remind me why this month doesn’t totally blow. (That’s your clue to leave me a comment, so I don’t feel like I’m talking to myself.)


Today’s yoga brought to you by the home practice! It’s a half-marathon training day.

Today’s music is Closer to the Bone by Kris Kristofferson.

Don’t forget FREE Fridays at 4:30 with the new It’s All Yoga teachers (21st and X in Sacramento) – you’ve got to sign up online

I’m teaching 3/5/10 – so mark your calendar.

For the month of February, I’m teaching a Level 1/2 on Mondays at 5:45. Come join me.

Yoga+Music365 (day48) – The Greatest by Cat Power – Handstand Heimlich Edition!


Handstand HeimlichJust a little something I learned at yoga teacher school.

Photo credit: Allie Hall

Yoga+Music365 (day41) – The Con by Tegan and Sara – Refinements Edition

This week I’ve thought a lot about this Yoga+Music365 project.

I’ve reached the 40 day milestone, people in real life have talked to me about it (which is such an amazing feeling) and I simply feel different from when I started.

I feel lighter, more clear-headed, more fun.

Maybe it’s the daily yoga.

The biggest indicator that things are shifting in my life came to me yesterday. At school we give HUGE assessments every six weeks and a week or two later get together to discuss the results. We’re looking at data to see how well our instruction is reaching each student and then make a plan how to refine said instruction before the next set of exams.

In the past, testing week was hell. I was very crabby and only worried about results. My stress and results driven ego would essentially ruin everyone’s week.

This time I decided to change my perspective. I would face the assessment results with a sense of curiosity.

Did this last round of instructional refinements make a difference in outcome? Can everyone survive testing week intact?

While testing week isn’t over yet, I am happy to report I have felt a definite lightness in myself. I’ve also seen that lightness translate into encouragement for students working hard and seeing them relax more.

The biggest growth I’ve seen in my students are from my two that struggle the most. I’ve been watching them take their tests this week. Instead of giving up and guessing, each of them is spending time trying to sound out each word and giving their all.

It’s been one big proud teacher moment all week with these two.

So has the refinement in instruction worked?

I would say so.

Has the daily yoga helped me be a better teacher?



Today’s yoga brought to you by Kim at It’s All Yoga in Sacramento.

Today’s music is The Con by Tegan and Sara.

Don’t forget FREE Fridays at 4:30 with the new It’s All Yoga teachers (21st and X in Sacramento) – you’ve got to sign up online

I’m teaching 3/5/10 – so mark your calendar.

For the month of February, I’m teaching a Level 1/2 on Mondays at 5:45. Come join me.

Yoga+Music365 (day36) – The Stand Ins by Okkervil River – Massage Edition!

Every Friday I take the day off from blogging.

But what about the yoga and the music? Not to worry friends, it’s still happening, I’m just not writing about it today.


Let’s be honest, the real self-care comes from knowing your limits, boundaries and taking the time you need to renew.

What will I be doing instead of yoga, music and writing about yoga and music?

In honor of listening to my need for self-care, I’m having my twice monthly massage today.  Yep, I get a 90 minute massage every other Friday from Tess Bradley at the Body Mind Center in Midtown Sacramento.

Make an appointment with her – she’s AMAZING! Tell her you read about her here!

Twice a month massage?!?!?

It must be nice. I’ve been hearing for years about this practice.

Why yes, it is.

I look at massage as a financial commitment to my health and well-being. Massage, like yoga, helps me be a nicer person. It feels good and it helps keep me healthy. It also helps me be a better teacher, wife and friend. I started having massage regularly so I could deal with the grief of my stepdad dying and felt all the benefits of regular body work.


This is what I said the last time I told you about taking time off on Fridays. Not much has changed… I’m having a massage, wishing I could also go to the 4:30 class at It’s All Yoga to support my classmates and to luxuriate in their sweetness.

During my brief recess today I think I’ll concentrate on planning my next class and spending some quality time with the J-man and going bed early so I can be ready for my seven (7!!!!) mile training walk tomorrow morning.

What practices do you regularly do to take care of yourself? Please leave a comment and if your self-care thing interests me, maybe I’ll start doing your thing too.

PS- Think of Fridays as blog-reading catch-up day. If you’ve been a little behind on all the good stuff, here’s my gift to you.

PPS- Sunday is Music Round Up!

 Don’t forget FREE Fridays at 4:30 with the new It’s All Yoga teachers (21st and X in Sacramento) – you’ve got to sign up online

I’m teaching 3/5/10 – so mark your calendar.

For the month of February, I’m teaching a Level 1/2 on Mondays at 5:45. Come join me.

Yoga+Music365 (day35) – Live A Little by Pernice Brothers

I have a confession.

I never understood why yoga teachers thank their students for sharing their practice with them. I honestly just thought it was something that they say to end a class. Or they wanted to be polite or whatever. In any case, I just didn’t get it.

Then at the end of my first class, with everyone smiling at me, I felt it.


Like that welling up, spilling over, where the hell did this come from – gratitude.

They (gulp! WE) truly are humbled and grateful for you sharing your practice.

I thought you’d like to know… we aren’t faking it.


Today’s yoga brought to you by Madeleine at It’s All Yoga.

Today’s music is Live A Little by Pernice Brothers.

Don’t forget FREE Fridays at 4:30 with the new It’s All Yoga teachers (21st and X in Sacramento) – you’ve got to sign up online

I’m teaching 3/5/10 – so mark your calendar.

For the month of February, I’m teaching a Level 1/2 on Mondays at 5:45. Come join me.

Yoga+Music365 (day34) – Human Like a House by The Finches – My First Class Edition

Monday night I taught my very first solo yoga class.

Despite all my hand wringing nervousness before the class, I absolutely loved it!

It finally clicked why I wanted to do this in the first place: to share something I love with people.

The following is from Start Where You Are: A Guide to Compassionate Living by Pema Chodron:

We already have everything we need. There is no need for self-improvement.

These words sum up why I love yoga.

Oh yeah, I also really like the laying down with your eyes closed part too!


Don’t forget FREE Fridays at 4:30 with the new It’s All Yoga teachers (21st and X in Sacramento) – you’ve got to sign up online

I’m teaching 3/5/10 – so mark your calendar.

For the month of February, I’m teaching a Level 1/2 on Mondays at 5:45. Come join me.

Yoga+Music365 (day32) – Blame It On Gravity by Old97s- The Blindfolded Yoga Edition!

Blindfolded yoga?

I so didn’t make this up.

That would be Michelle.

She’s a fancy yoga teacher who is taking a month off from teaching. She’s been doing this for years, so she can get away with that wackiness. She knows what she’s doing and people trust her. They know she’s driving and so they follow her lead.

She’s pretty much a genius.

And she’s trusting me to sub for her during her time off.


That’s a lot of pressure.

I’ve talked to my Monsters and we’ve come to an agreement.

I’ve practiced my class at home, taught it to my wonderfully patient dude, and I promise to remember to breathe during the class.

I’ll also keep in mind that everyone there isn’t expecting Michelle because they all read her blog about her February Recess.

But back to the Blindfolded Yoga…

As soon as I put the blindfold on, I was filled with a sense of peaceful euphoria. All the striving and ego I fight against in the higher level classes just disappeared.  I was free to practice with all my focus internally. I was able to really let go of the anxiety I had been feeling about teaching and settle into concentrating on being in the moment. Of course all those moments included trying not to fall over myself or my props.

For a few minutes I was able to really live in the moment and that’s what yoga is all about.

Today’s yoga brought to you by the home practice! I’ve got to contain my nervous energy somehow.

Today’s music is Blame It on Gravity by Old97s.

Don’t forget FREE Fridays at 4:30 with the new It’s All Yoga teachers (21st and X in Sacramento) – you’ve got to sign up online

I’m teaching 3/5/10 – so mark your calendar.

For the month of February, I’m teaching a Level 1/2 on Mondays at 5:45. Come join me.

There Are Monsters All Up In There!

At 4:30 am I woke up from an awful dream. I was scheduled to teach a yoga class and it was at the house where I grew up. The room where I was to be teaching was longer and more narrow than I remembered, so I switched to another room only to find it stuffed full of furniture and people waiting.

There were couches and coffee table after coffee table after coffee table, and dining room tables. A bar had been set up and needed to be moved and even coffee and Danish.

And did I mention all the people?

Even my dad was there. He said he wanted to try yoga. He’d heard from someone it’s really good for you and since I’m teaching now, he was there for my class.

Are you effing kidding me?

My dad?

The people just kept coming. They didn’t have their mats or their clothes or any of their yoga stuff. There was a sense of anticipation.The time kept ticking and the furniture moving was going at a snail’s pace.

When would we start? How would we ever begin with all the talking, milling about, furniture moving? How would we fit everyone there?

Everyone kept asking me questions…. thinking I was in charge. Like I knew what to do in these strange circumstances. Like I WAS IN CHARGE….

I kept reminding myself to breathe and that it would be ok.

Except I didn’t even believe myself.

I guess my Monsters are trying to tell me something.

It’s now 5am, I’m blogging and I’ve got heartburn.

I guess you could say I’m losing my freaking marbles about subbing for Michelle (my badass, seemingly perfect, rock star teacher) .

I guess you could say that I’m feeling like I need to plan the perfect class and prepare for everything that may happen.

I need to find the perfect story/poem to start the class.

I need to come up with the perfect sequence for every single person in the class.

I need to know every modification and prop to support every person in every pose.

I need to say the perfect words for every pose and have witty, but not too witty banter between poses.

Simply put, I need ME to be perfect.

Can someone talk to my MONSTERS for me?

I am having trouble getting through.

Michelle said she felt better after she let hers rant and rave for a while.


I’ve just got heartburn.

Yoga+Music365 (day25) – Carried to Dust by Calexico

Three people in as many days have asked me where I find cool stuff on the internet.

My answer: Twitter

Don’t knock it until you try it.

That’s all I’m saying.

Today’s yoga brought to you by the home practice in Sacramento.

Today’s music – Carried to Dust by Calexico

Don’t forget FREE Fridays at 4:30 with the new It’s All Yoga teachers (21st and X in Sacramento) – you’ve got to sign up online

NEW!!!! Mondays at 5:45 in February I’ll be teaching a Level 1/2 at It’s All Yoga – come join me.

Yoga+Music365 (day24) – Self-Titled by Killed By Bears

Self-care Tested

My self-care challenge was truly put to the test this week.  Bad adoption news kicked my butt.

In order to best care for myself, I took some time off work and tried really hard not to feel guilty about it. I know it was the best thing for me and I got a lot of support from everyone to do it, but I still felt a bit weird about it.

I wasn’t sick, but I definitely felt incapable of functioning. Fuzzy brain, spontaneous crying, and overall body fatigue and aches/pains.


No bueno.

I turned to a trusted source for self-care: The Woman’s Comfort Book – A Self-Nurturing Guide for Restoring Balance in Your Life by Jennifer Louden.

Chapters are written like self-care recipes.  You find out what the assignment is, what it isn’t, what you need and when to do it leaving you no excuse not to take care of yourself.

Some of my favorites:

A Day Off – It sounds a lot like Pajama Day with excellent ideas like: making a picnic, a bliss list, being a tourist for the day, reconnecting with someone special, just being day, and silent day. I highly recommend this.

Hiding Under the Covers – Doesn’t really need any further explanation, does it? This is exactly what Mary Paffard advocated for us to do – REST.

When I Think of Comfort I Think of Food – permission to eat what you want without feeling guilty about it. I’d argue most American women could stand to read this chapter.


It wasn’t until Saturday morning during my half-marathon training that I really felt the physical effects of our bad news. During my warmup I felt like I was trudging through oatmeal. My legs were heavy and slow and my brain was foggy.

Although about halfway through my walk/run the cobwebs finally lifted and I felt my mood lift and I felt like I’ll eventually feel good again.

I’m so glad for this new found awareness of how a little self-care goes a long way.


Today’s yoga brought to you by Deborah at It’s All Yoga in Sacramento.

Today’s music is Killed by Bears – Self Titled.

Don’t forget FREE Fridays at 4:30 with the new It’s All Yoga teachers (21st and X in Sacramento) – you’ve got to sign up online

NEW!!!! Mondays at 5:45 in February I’ll be teaching a Level 1/2 at It’s All Yoga – come join me.

Yoga+Music365 (day18) – Volume One by She & Him

My left shoulder is hurting again.

And by again, I mean still.

I initially injured my shoulder falling on it on pavement back in 2000.



In the dark.

In front of a busy hotel.

Over a crack in the sidewalk.

Totally completely and utterly jet-lagged as I had just returned from London the night before.

In other words, I had absolutely zero warning that I was about to kill my shoulder.

The day after I fell I went to the doctor and had it x-rayed because I thought I broke my shoulder (ha – It’s only 9 years later that I know there is NO shoulder bone!) and the doctor told me it was just deeply bruised. I needed to rest it and eventually it would be fine.

I did my best to rest it while still taking twice a week yoga classes. Every time we went into Downward Facing Dog I would suffer through the discomfort in my shoulder and wonder why people kept claiming this was a resting pose.  I thought everyone felt the same discomfort and pressure in their shoulder that I did.

I thought that I was just doing the pose wrong. If I only practiced it more, I’d get better and my shoulder would stop hurting.

The only relief I found was coming out of the dreaded dog and putting myself in Child’s Pose with my arms wrapped around my feet.

It wasn’t long and something else caught my attention and I quit yoga.

Eventually my shoulder felt better. Or at least I didn’t notice it.

When I started practicing yoga regularly and the shoulder discomfort came back with a vengeance. Oddly, instead of listening to my inner voice screaming to stop doing what hurts, I just kept doing what the teacher asked.

And that was a lot of dog.

It wasn’t until we started talking about developing a home practice during teacher training that I started to think about what would help me feel better. Not doing every pose the class because someone went through a lot of planning and because I didn’t want anyone to think I couldn’t keep up.

If for nothing else, I’m so glad I decided to do the teacher training because it really deepened my own practice. Not so much the physical practice, but the practice of listening to my body and asking it what it needs to feel best.

So in order to really listen to what my body needs, until further notice – NO MORE DOG.

My fellow YTT, Bob, killed his pigeon and now I’m killing the dog.

If you set your mat up next to mine, please remind me to kill the dog.

Today’s yoga brought to you by Amanda, at It’s All Yoga in Sacramento.

Today’s music is Volume One by She and Him

Don’t forget FREE Fridays at 4:30 with the new It’s All Yoga teachers (21st and X in Sacramento) – you’ve got to sign up online  — I’m teaching 3/5/10!

Yoga+Music365 (day15) – Townes by Steve Earle

Every Friday I am going to take a day off from blogging.

Let’s be honest, the real self-care comes from knowing your limits, boundaries and taking the time you need to renew.

But what about the yoga and the music?

 Today’s yoga brought to you by the new teachers at It’s All Yoga in Sacramento.

Today’s music is Townes by Steve Earle.

What practices do you regularly do to take care of yourself? Please leave a comment and if your self-care thing interests me, maybe I’ll start doing your thing too.

PS- Think of Fridays as blog-reading catch-up day. If you’ve been a little behind on all the good stuff, here’s my gift to you.

 PPS- Don’t forget FREE Fridays at 4:30 with the new It’s All Yoga teachers (21st and X in Sacramento) – you’ve got to sign up online

Yoga+Music365 (day12) – Middle Cyclone by Neko Case

  Each Tuesday I’ll share an easy, nutritious recipe so you can join me in the home-cooked self-care.

Since my first week back, I’ve slipped a bit back into my habit of reading awesome blogs (Fluent Self being my favorite FREE therapy) in the morning before work.

Sometimes I get so caught up in the online goodness. Then I realize if I don’t leave RIGHT NOW, I’m going to be late. Which of course gives me a little adrenaline rush before work as I’m then rushing around trying to figure out at the last-minute what I’m going to grab quickly that will still nourish my body.

It’s not pretty, but I’m most alert first thing in the morning so that’s when I like to read the most… so sue me.

Here’s my easy quick healthy breakfast for the week.

Manna Bread (cinnamon date) with butter, jam or honey. I slice it, heat it for 45 seconds in the microwave or lightly toast it, spread and go. I eat it in the car (I know, I know) on the way to work with a warm cup of Pacific Natural Foods Almond Milk.

By the time I’ve gotten to work, my belly is full and I feel like I’ve taken care of myself even though I was a crazy rushed person.

Tell me: Do you have any super quick, easy, delicious food ideas that help you feel well cared for? If so, leave me a comment and I’ll try them too.

Today’s yoga brought to you by Madeleine at It’s All Yoga in Sacramento. Gentle Yoga with Madeleine is like getting a little kiss on the forehead after a long day. In other words, just what I need at the end of the day. LOVE her!

Today’s music is Middle Cyclone by Neko Case.

Don’t forget FREE Fridays at 4:30 with the new It’s All Yoga teachers (21st and X in Sacramento) – you’ve got to sign up online

Yoga+Music365 (day10) – Noble Beast by Andrew Bird

Dear Downward Facing Dog and your evil twin Reverse Plank,

I hate you.



PS – I can’t see why anyone else likes you either. That’s how much I hate you.

Today’s yoga brought to you by Althea at It’s All Yoga, Sacramento. – A rare weekend treat!

Today’s music is Noble Beast by Andrew Bird.

Don’t forget FREE Fridays at 4:30 with the new It’s All Yoga teachers (21st and X in Sacramento) – you’ve got to sign up online

My Yoga Manifesto – PART III- All People Can Do Yoga

iay awesomeness - photo credit: vanessa vichit-vadakan

Manifesto: a public declaration of intentions, opinions, objectives, or motives, as one issued by a government, sovereign, or organization (or in this case, yoga teacher).

I believe all people can do yoga.

Yes, even you.

Some folks may be put off by yoga because they may think it’s about twisting their bodies into impossible poses usually found in a bag of pretzels.

Some people may be put off yoga because they think they are too ( chubby, old, young, busy, injured, poor, sad, happy, stressed out, tired, cool…)

Other may be put off yoga because they think they aren’t (flexible, strong, rich, fashionable, knowledgable…) enough.

Still others don’t do yoga because they think yoga is too (weird, out there, religious, trendy, bendy, slow, foreign).

I’m positive people that can find 1,001 reasons not to practice yoga.

I’d like to change all that.

You’ve just got to find the right teacher for your kind of yoga. The right teacher for you.

The right kind of teacher for you, right now, in the body you live in.

The right teacher for you will give modifications, work with the body you have, not have expectations of you, not judge you, not push you, not laugh at you. Generally not make you feel bad about yourself.

The right kind of teacher for you will explain what you are doing, help you move in and out of poses safely, show you how to use props to help you go places you can’t go on your own and maybe even make you giggle on occasion.

The right kind of teacher for you will help you see that yoga isn’t about perfecting poses, but about living in the body you have right now.

The right kind of teacher for you will help you find some stillness in the over-scheduled life we all seem to be living these days.

The right kind of teacher for you will help you see the beauty in the world.

The right kind of teacher for you will help you see the beauty in you.

If any of this sounds good to you, come take a class with me. Right now, I’m on the rotating new teacher schedule at It’s All Yoga in Sacramento. We’ve got a free class on Friday afternoons.

FREE Fridays at 4:30 with the new It’s All Yoga teachers (21st and X in Sacramento) –  sign up online

If you are looking for a restorative class in Sacramento, we’ve got one of those too.


What do you think makes a teacher right for you?

Music Roundup! Week 1

 Starting today, each Saturday I’ll share my thoughts on the music of the week. Please keep in mind I am not a music critic, just a girl with a musical obsession that needs to be tempered.

Yoga+Music365 is my effort to expand my musical horizons by listening to a new album every day in 2010.

I’m always looking for new music, so please send me the titles of albums that you absolutely can not live without, albums you wish were on everyone’s iPods and albums you play over and over despite no one else “getting it”.

The albums don’t have to be new releases, just new to me.

NOTE: I’m linking to MySpace when it’s available because of the ease of listening to songs, not because of a love of MySpace.


Day One:

Title: 500 Days of Summer Soundtrack


There is a Light that Never Goes Off – The Smiths

 Mushaboom – Feist

Us – Regina Spektor (link included video of this and the next song and movie preview – BONUS!)

Vagabond Wolfmother

You Make My Dreams – Hall and Oates – If you haven’t seen this movie, this scene is worth the price of admission. Seriously, watch it NOW!

Will I listen again?

Without a doubt!

Day Two:

Title: Furr by Blitzen Trapper


1. Sleepy Time in the Western World (every album should start so strong)

2. Furr – very Beatles, Simon & Garfunkel-esque. LOVE IT!

3. God+Suicide (the title alone wins)

4. Black River Killer (Why oh why, do I so enjoy the songs about killing people?)

Will I listen again?


Day Three:

Title: In Our Nature by Jose Gonzalez


1. How Low

Will I listen again?

Jose Gonzalez was recommended to be by a friend because of how much I love Elliot Smith‘s breathy/folky “only meant for lover’s ears” kinds of songs. JG didn’t do much for me. Not to say he isn’t a talented musician because he is, he just isn’t my cup of tea.

Plus he has an 8 (!) minute song on a 33 minute record. I guess he didn’t get my very personal memo about the brilliance of the 3 minute song.

Will I listen again? Maybe. We’ll see what other gems are uncovered this year.

Day Four:

Title: My Maudlin Career by Camera Obscura


1. French Navy (Just trying listening without tapping your foot or shaking your butt.)

2. Away with Murder

3. Forests and Sand

4. Honey in the Sun

Will I listen again?

I already am!

Tracyanne Campbell sounds like an angel, plus it’s catchy & you can dance to it!

Day Five:

Title: Narrow Stairs by Death Cab for Cutie (full disclosure: I’ve heard it before, just not in 2010. For some reason I LOVE this band name. Why? I really don’t know).


Radio hits galore!

1. I Will Possess Your Heart

2. Cath…

Will I listen again?

Um, yeah. And so will you if you listen to “alternative” commercial radio. This isn’t a bad thing, it’s nice for good music to come on the radio sometimes.

Day Six:

Title: Flower of Avalon by Tracy Grammer


1. Laughlin Boy

2. Preston Miller

Will I listen again?

She has a beautiful voice – very much like Margo Timmins of the Cowboy Junkies. So I’ll probably stick with Margo and play “Lay It Down” when I want to hear the Cowboy Junkies.

 Day Seven:

Title: Here We Come by The Fratellis


1. Shameless (very Big Star. Yes, Big Star that did that 70’s show song)

2. Look Out Sunshine!

3. Babydoll

4. Acid Jazz Singer

Will I listen again?


Please leave a comment about what you think I should be listening to this year.

Or send me a CD – Yoga+Music365 c/o Tami Hackbarth PO BOX 188616 Sacramento, CA 95818.

Today’s yoga brought to you by: The Kitchen! in Sacramento. All kidding aside, it’s a home practice day.

Today’s music is The Reminder by Feist.


Yoga+Music365 (day7) – Here We Stand by The Fratellis

I love January.

Most people think of January as the beginning of the year, the time of year for resolutions and self-improvement. But as a teacher, it is pretty much the midpoint.

I spend the first half of the year filling them up with information, procedures and expectations. Some kids can keep up with the quick pace from the start. Some kids can’t.

But then I send them home for winter break and it finally all sinks in.

My students are finally mine.

Every year in January I’m surprised how much my class comes together. I’m surprised how much we’ve become a real community. We’ve finally learned how to work well together, how to get our work finished and what behavior works and what doesn’t.

By this time of the year, I always feel connected to my students and I am proud of their accomplishments. It’s so nice to see them become more independent learners and to really start to take charge of their learning.

It’s my hope that one day, I will finally remember that my class really becomes mine, in January.

Today’s yoga brought to you by Madeleine at It’s All Yoga, Sacramento. <ROCKS>

Today’s music is Here We Stand by The Fratellis.

Yoga+Music365 (day6) – Flower of Avalon by Tracy Grammer

I slept horribly last night. It was hard to turn off my head and fall asleep. I woke up several times and had a hard time turning my head off to go back to sleep. The alarm went off way too early today. Needless to say, the adrenaline of returning to school has gone.



All this self-care mindfulness is working!  Rather than sitting on the couch waiting for bedtime to arrive, I went to a yoga class and a walk with a friend. So thank you readers for getting my butt off the couch.

Yoga = Kim at It’s All Yoga – (check out the “Word of the Year”). Check out the comments and leave your word of the year.

Kim reminded us that our practice is a good way to witness our thoughts and patterns. We were working on balance poses today. She kindly reminded us to not get too attached one way or the other to the outcome.  So nice to have someone telling you again and again what you need to hear.

She also gave some incredibly clear and concise instruction for Vasisthasana. I got into the pose feeling very balanced and strong – what a huge difference!  

Today’s Music: Flowers of Avalon Tracy Grammer

Stayed tuned for the weekly music roundup and my love letter to the yoga props I love.

Please let me know what you like and want to hear more about.

Yoga+Music365 (day3) – In Our Nature by Jose Gonzalez

My inner teacher this morning would like to share some insights that came up during class today. Just a warning, not all insights are pleasant or very “yoga” like (whatever that means)…


Here’s a pet peeve… if you are new to a studio and need to fill out the new student form, wouldn’t it be a good idea to get to the studio a few minutes before class starts? I am just saying that your late arrival didn’t just inconvenience you. The people who planned and actually got to class on time all have to shift their mats to make room for you.

Not the end of the world, however in case you are wondering if that bugged anyone, it did.


Just yesterday I wondered who wears perfume because of all the advertisements I was choking on while trying to read a magazine. I thought, I don’t think I know a single person that wears perfume daily. I wonder if the perfume companies are hurting for money…. (don’t mock me for my stupid thoughts, you know you have them too).

Well, silly me. When you ask the universe a question, even a silly one like who still wears perfume – the universe feels compelled to answer it.

This morning’s yoga class gave me my answer. I found out that someone still wears perfume.


It didn’t hit me until I was coming up from a forward bend and my nose started dripping on my mat. Snot literally dripping out of my nose onto the mat. Fast! Like I can’t even catch it fast. Disgusting, I know. Imagine how I felt! As I rushed back to grab a tissue, I looked for the culprit and was unable to figure out who was offending my nostrils. 

The perfume in question was a lovely scent, however probably more appropriate anywhere in the world other than a hugely crowded beginning of the year yoga class.

No one is smelling like roses at the end of the class, so let’s not try to begin the class that way either.


Don’t think I am just bitching about others. 

Wasn’t it just the other day when I was talking about how I never left a yoga class feeling worse than when I went in?

Again, it’s like I was just tempting the universe to prove me wrong.

I kept looking at other people on their mats and comparing myself to them. I know this kind of thinking isn’t popular in yoga circles, but sometimes it just happens. Or at least it happens to me.

I was thinking why can they do that twisty around thingy when I am having trouble sitting this morning?

They even seem to be enjoying this ridiculous amount of flow… Hey wait a minute! We never do this much flow… why are we now?

I HATE FLOW! That’s it, I’m not doing any more….

My inner teacher spoke loudly to me today.  I think she reminded me that if I want to not bugged by tardiness, perfume and competition maybe I need to spend a bit more time in my kitchen being my own teacher.

Anyone else have any yoga class pet peeves?

Yoga+Music365 (day2) – Furr by Blitzen Trapper

I feel so very virtuous! I practiced yoga all by myself at home for 45 minutes and it didn’t feel like a chore, weird, lonely or anything else negative. I also didn’t feel awkward or fumble around for what to do next (all of which has happened in the past).

This is a huge deal for me because I’ve been so spoiled by finding such amazing teachers in Sacramento. It’s All Yoga has an embarrassment of riches in this way and by working the front desk, I get all the free yoga I can do.

But let’s be honest, sometimes classes don’t fit into your schedule or you just can’t be bothered to get all the way dressed or your hair just isn’t public ready and so you’ve got to do your own practice at home. Believe me, I know it sounds crazy and like a big hassle. And honestly when others do such a great job teaching why should I do it for myself?

Check out my post on starting a home practice to see my reasoning.

All that being said, not everyone knows where to start a home practice. Since I totally have been resisting doing one even though it was a requirement in my yoga teacher training, I figure I should share what is making it possible for me.

1. I’ve got some sequences written just for me by my yoga study buddy Erin. She rocks and is one of the people teaching free Fridays at 4:30 at It’s All Yoga, so if you are lucky enough to go when she’s teaching, she’ll love you up too. I’ll share her magic sequence from today.

2. I have a yoga mat that is so squishy and sticky and yummy it begs me to use it. Long story short, I’ve been test driving a Jade Harmony Professional mat over the last few months at the studio. The company is on Facebook and Twitter and they like to give stuff away. Jade sent me a teacher demo blemished mat in Sedona Red (and I was supposed to give it to my husband but,)  I love its blemish.  In fact, I think it’s little hiccup stripe makes it even more beautiful.

PS – I love social media and have won so much stuff on Facebook and Twitter that now I think of it as the magic universe.

Here’s the lovely sequence from Erin. Yes, we were talking menu metaphors when we were writing these =)


Start in CR (constructive rest) with lazy belly breaths, landing, arriving

Knees to chest arms out to a ‘t’ – lower knees to either side and bringing them back in with strong belly exhalation (3-5 times each side)

Back to CR, breathe

Opposite arm/leg extensions using breath (from Mary Paffard Belly Work Article)

*exhale as you extend right leg and left arm out straight, inhale extended, and exhale to bring the limbs back to CR (3-5 for each side)


Roll spine to come to Uttanasana

reverse swan dive up

exhale hands to heart

full breath cycle @ heart

inhale arms sweep back up, baby backbend

exhale Uttanasana

inhale flat back

exhale Uttanasana

step back into playful, squirmy Adho Mukha Svanasana


When you’re ready, right leg lunge

Virabhadrasana I and hold for some breaths (belly belly belly)

Clasp hands or strap behind back (shoulder opener)

Lower torso down to inside of thigh with arms clasped behind pointing toward ceiling

Hold for a couple breath cycles as comfy

Exhale upright, release arms and raise them back to Virabhadrasana I

(heart feel more open than first Virabhadrasana I?)


Flow: Plank, Chaturanga Dandasana, Cobra/up dog, Down Dog

Step to Uttanasana


REPEAT ENTRÉE on Left side

 Cheese Plate


To Belly with limbs fully extended, raising opposite Arm/Leg with inhales, releasing with exhales (4-5 times each side)  *Similar to how we started except on the belly.


Come onto back, knees to chest, gentle rolls

Figure 4 stretch w/ right leg on top

Figure 4 with twist (sole of right foot to floor on left side, looking right)

Repeat on Left and anything else you need/feel like doing before Savasana


Savasana (10 mins)

Resolution #best09

This is the last of the Best of 2009 Blog Challenge. I finished 16 out of 31 prompts. Not too shabby considering I found this challenge on December 27th!  Here’s to better planning next year.

Taking the time to reflect on the past year in this way has helped me see what a great year it was. I blame all of you for that!

December 31 Resolution you wish you’d stuck with. (You know, there’s always next year…)

I’m not a big resolution maker. At least not a public one. I, like most people, failed to keep them year after year, so I eventually stopped making them.

Until last year.

By the end of December last year, I’d had a really good run of consistent yoga classes and I was feeling amazing. I decided that I would try to do some yoga every day in January. I figured I would start small – just a month – to see how it went. I made a spread sheet to keep track of my progress and did pretty well for the first few weeks until I got a virus,  broke my resolution and abandoned the project.

The second part of my secret non-resolution project was a bit more successful. After years of spending all my music hours almost exclusively on The Old97’s and Rhett Miller solo albums (Best Night Out and Best Album of 2009 – oh look! 2 more prompts just answered!), I decided to use January to expand my musical horizons.

During my Old97’s fast I listened to a new album a day. New didn’t necessarily mean newly released, it meant a different album everyday in January. I made it farther than with the yoga, however I still didn’t manage new music everyday.

This year, I’ve decided to try both these projects again(without the 97s fast!), but this time for the whole year.

In 2010, I am going to do some sort of  yoga and listen to new music everyday.

Please leave comments about classes I should go to, teachers you find inspiring, poses you love and music I shouldn’t miss. Hell, if you come across a book you can’t stop reading, be sure to tell me about that too!

Sometimes I get stuck in a rut and I’m counting on all of you to help me diversify.

YOGA! cluster #best09

For me, 2009 was the year of coming out of the yoga closet. Before this year, I’d been quietly practicing on and off for the last decade or so. In thinking what changed for me, I’d have to say it was my changing relationship with my favorite yoga studio, It’s All Yoga, in Sacramento.

In 2009, I really made IAY my second home. It all started mid 2008 when I began my career as a Desk Diva and that summer the studio relocated 6 blocks from my house. Those two things changed everything!

Suddenly I was able to go to as many classes as I wanted with all the amazing, inspiring and let’s be honest – funny! – teachers and that made me want to share all of the yoga yummy-ness with everyone I know. I couldn’t keep yoga to myself any longer!

Workshops, partner classes, book club, movie night, creek cleanup, birthday parties, fundraisers, teacher training…. I did it all in 2009.

Creek Clean

Creek Clean - the kill

The following are a cluster of Best of 2009 Blog Challenge prompts about yoga, yoga, yoga.

December 6 Workshop or conference. Was there a conference or workshop you attended that was especially beneficial? Where was it? What did you learn?

The Serene Heart with Mary Paffard – Working with upekkha, or equanimity, in all aspects of yoga. I wrote about this workshop in my Not Losing Your Marbles During the Holidays post.

The morning of Mary’s workshop I posted my Yoga Manifesto – Part 1 – REST.


December 8 Moment of peace. An hour or a day or a week of solitude. What was the quality of your breath? The state of your mind? How did you get there?

Short answer. Yoga!

December 9 Challenge. Something that really made you grow this year. That made you go to your edge and then some. What made it the best challenge of the year for you?

Yoga school while teaching. See the Saturation Point.

December 18 Shop. Online or offline, where did you spend most of your mad money this year?

Here’s a partial sampling of the yoga workshops and special classes I attended this year:

  • New Year’s Day with Michelle Marlahan
  • Valentine’s Day Partners with Michelle Marlahan
  • Earth Day partners with Michelle Marlahan
  • Chakras Workshop with Madeleine Lohman
  • Tapas with Mary Paffard
  • Yoga for Holiday Stress with Madeleine Lohman
  • Serene Heart Mary Paffard 
  • Anatomy Parts I and II with Baxter Bell

Valentine's Day

December 24 Learning experience. What was a lesson you learned this year that changed you?

Learning to teach yoga. Really to share what I love with others. That’s what this blog is all about.



December 25 Gift. What’s a gift you gave yourself this year that has kept on giving?

Short answer: Yoga!




Ad #best09

December 30 Ad.

What advertisement made you think this year

This lululemon ad caught my attention. I wanted to know what it said.

It didn’t make me buy the product, but it did make me stop and think.

Some people have very strong feelings about this company.

I don’t.

Mostly because I don’t wear fancy yoga clothes. I don’t think they’re necessary in order to have a yoga practice. I can’t really afford expensive yoga wear (I’d rather travel) and I’m pretty sure their clothes wouldn’t flatter my more mature womanly curves.

In any case, this ad made me take a look.

Social Web Moment #best09

While lurking around many blogs today trying to uncover their mystery, I stumbled up  The Best of 2009 Blog Challenge.  The idea is to write 31 posts using 31 prompts (or as many or as few as you want) as a retrospective of 2009.

I’ll start with today’s prompt and see what unfolds over the next few days…

December 27 Social web moment.

Did you meet someone you used to only know from her blog? Did you discover Twitter? 

Blog – I’d say my biggest blog moment in 2009 is that I started one! It wasn’t my idea, but here I am trying to figure out what to write, when to write, how to write etc. I feel like a toddler learning to type or a dog trying to drive the car.

Yes, I can do it, but someone might need to take the wheel every once in a while or everyone might get car sick.

Anyway…Michelle Marlahan, our lovely leader of the It’s All Yoga teacher training, asked us to document our journey of becoming yoga teachers. About half of us signed up and shared our discoveries along the way. See my blogroll for the scoop…

While we have just wrapped up our official training, most of us are still using our blogs to find our new place in the world. I feel like these blogs have let us see what is behind the curtain for the new teachers. It feels like a community.

Havi Brooks of the Fluent Self is a complete genius. She came to Sacramento to talk to me and all the other newbie yoga teachers about business stuff and to do some very cool dancing.

I’m so glad I got to meet her in person. She has so many interesting and thoughtful and wordy things to say in her blog, it was nice to hear them and now I’m so much better at understanding what she’s talking about. I hope I get to meet her again!

I discovered Twitter because my favorite singer, @rhettmiller is on there.  Embarrassing semi-stalker confessions, but totally true. He’s the first person on my following list and he was my #97 when he decided to follow me (amazing because his band is called the Old97s).

Getting Rhett Miller to follow me took some lobbying from one of my other Twitter friends @sophieandlili who I did not know before the wonderful world of Twitter.

In addition to keeping apprised of all things Rhett, I’ve connected with a bunch of really interesting, smart women while I was there: @sophieandlili, @beckyandhollee, @ashmont  to name just a couple.


I love you.


Yogi to (Half) Marathoner

I signed up for a half marathon training through Fleet Feet in Sacramento. I have been quietly thinking about joining a training group like this for months and without over-thinking (and talking myself out of ) the whole thing, I committed myself to training at least twice a week from January to March.

This is a huge deal for me because I have been only doing yoga as exercise for a couple of years now. And from what you know about my kind of yoga, most of it has involved laying down.

Truth be told, I’m a little nervous. I’ve never been a runner, jogger or even regular walker. I’m not really sure what I’ve gotten myself into. As of right now, I don’t know anyone else doing this training. I’ve never done a big event like this before and I’m pretty sure 13.1 miles is a long way, even if you are just walking!

I signed up for the Tuesday night and Saturday morning workouts. My goal is to learn how to do a run/walk, however  right now I’m in the walkers group.

The big event takes place the weekend before my big 4-0. I guess I’ll have a lot to celebrate!

My Yoga Manifesto – PART II- Kindness

Like most people who come to yoga, I was first drawn to what I needed least from a yoga practice.

  • heat
  • intensity
  • power
  • competition

Too much heat and intensity for my already intense personality burnt me out quickly.  So I stopped going.


Manifesto – a public declaration of intentions, opinions, objectives, or motives, as one issued by a government, sovereign, or organization (or in this case yoga teacher).


Eventually I found what I really need from a yoga practice – kindness.

You may be scratching your head wondering what the hell kindness has to do with stretching and contorting your body into funny shapes.

As it turns out, a lot.

Let me explain.

When I first started taking classes with Michelle at It’s All Yoga (Sacramento), I was struck by her warmth and friendliness. She’d always greet me with a hug – and by hug I mean a full body embrace (she gives the best hugs)– and welcome me to class like we were long-lost best friends.


Then before we’d begin class, Michelle would remind us to work somewhere between effort and ease. She’d invite us to explore how we felt in our bodies in the different poses and listen to what we needed to feel good in that moment.

Admittedly, at first I thought this was crazy talk.

Why would I come to yoga class and not do my best poses?

Why wouldn’t I push myself harder than I had the day before?

How would I ever get better at yoga?

In these early days with Michelle, she’d walk by my mat and lovingly put her hand on my shoulder and say “For you my friend, 70 percent.”

I tried to do what she said, but it felt so foreign.

Who was this person that didn’t want to see the best that I had to offer?

Didn’t she see that I could do more?

What did she know that I didn’t?

Over time, what I learned from Michelle is that yoga isn’t a performance.

It’s isn’t a competition – even with yourself.

That what you could do yesterday doesn’t really matter. Every time you do a pose it’s different because this moment is different from the last.

The only thing that really matters is the now.

Michelle’s kind reminders of “70 percent” were exactly what I needed to hear. I needed someone to teach me to be kinder to myself.

As it turns out, being kinder to myself is my yoga.

Michelle’s kindness is one of the reasons I’ve decided I want to teach yoga. I hope to touch the hearts of other people the way she has touched mine.