Month: January 2020

OM AUM divine grace

There has been a thread of connection within my intentions for the past two weeks. This week is no different, it continues on. This is also a great example of how divine grace continues in a never ending flow of work within each of us, and within the greater community of humanity.

We began weeks ago with commitment, read its full blog HERE:
“When you commit yourself to living an extraordinary life, the universe accepts your deal and silently goes to work challlenging you so that you’re always prepared for bigger challenges – and greater rewards.” -Mike Dillard

Then came strength, read its full blog HERE:
“When we let go of our battles and open our heart to things as they are, then we come to rest in the present moment.  This is the beginning and the end of spiritual practice.” -Jack Kornfield

Its the beginning and the end because the moment is infinite.  There is no true beginning, nor end, only the infinite. Read HERE on your self as the infinite and timeless.

This week I came back to a word that forever sweetly haunts my mind and heart; grace.  As I dug a little deeper, I discovered something I hadn’t really identified or made clear before. I realized that what my heart was always coming to was ‘divine grace’.  This was different than what my mind was always trying to define, which was grace as elegance of movement, and courteous goodwill.

“Divine grace is a theological term present in many religions. It has been defined as the divine influence which operates in humans to regenerate and sanctify, to inspire virtuous impulses, and to impart strength to endure trial and resist temptation; and as an individual virtue or excellence of divine origin.” -Wikipedia.  Right away, I loved how it used our intention word of ‘strength’.

A lot of people, myself included, until lately, do not realize that early Yogic texts were written inclusively.  For example, the word Ishvara.  It can mean ‘God’, ‘Supreme Being’, ‘True Self’.  And, as Swami Satchidananda points out, in the Upanishads, it also means ‘a collective consciousness’, with the thought that we are all one.  I often try to remind others that the ‘divine’ is not something outside of yourself, it IS you.  So, with Ishvara Pranidhana, the last of the five niyamas, or observances, we can obtain samadhi by “devotion with total dedication to God[Ishvara].”-Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras, 1:23.  I love how this becomes inclusive again, because we are inspiring devotion to the collective consciousness, to God, to humanity, to Self. It’s all One. 

I specifically chose Ishvara Pranidhana because it also is known as ‘surrender’.  Letting go and ‘fixing’ our gaze always to Source/Universe/God/Collective Consciousness/Humanity.  As our quote in strength invites, “let go of our battles and open our heart to things as they are”.  We release expectations, worries, fear, judgments, and acknowledge what is present now, bringing us into the present moment and opening us up to being present to feel divine grace.  We must remember how this divine energy, of you will, has always been present within us, it always will, and it is always working in our favor, holding only the best of intentions for us.  Perhaps next week I will use trust as intention; because when we let go, instead of dropping into fear and all the “what if’s”, we can, instead, surrender and turn our inner focuses towards the divine.

Now, here’s something interesting and beautiful.  As I continued to read Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras after 1:23 on Ishvara Pranidhana, I rediscovered a wonderful reminder. OM. Also written as AUM.  AUM is shown written in the Sanskrit language at the top, inside the circle.

Sutra 1:27 is ‘Tasya Vācakah Pranava’, or as translated by Sri Swami Satchidananda, “The word expressive of Ishvara is the mystic sound OM”.  As I read his further explanation into this sutra, I was struck by this next passage, for it so gracefully brought together all that we are speaking to here, within this blog:

“After the verbal sound ends there is still a vibration.  That is the unspoken, or anagata, sound which is always in you, even before saying the A and after finishing M.  There is always a sound vibration in you that can never be destroyed. You can always listen to that sound if you remain quiet.  For that reason it is also called ajapa, or unrepeated.  Japa means repetition, but the ajapa is that which need not be repeated; it is always going on within.” To me, this exactly how I imagine divine grace to be, always moving, humming, working within us. 

This is why this week, especially, we are beginning and ending with OM; though its not the beginning or the end, lol, get it 😉 !

I was also reminded of one of my all time favorite quotes:
“Inhale, and God approaches you. Hold the inhalation, and God remains with you. Exhale, and you approach God. Hold the exhalation, and surrender to God.” ~Krishnamacharya

And, on that note of vibration and sound, please join myself, Amy Soucy, and David Ellenbogen for our “Unplugged: Yoga and Sound Retreat” May 8-10 this year!  We are in the last four weeks for the early bird special, so please click HERE to learn more!  Click HERE to just go ahead and register!  We will do a number of OM’s throughout the retreat, I promise! 😉  This is a true DIGITAL DETOX weekend when you will also have plenty of room for silence, and to hear that infinite source of divine grace vibrating, never-ending, within you!

Breathe and Believe.
P.S. Have you ever heard a yoga teacher say, “Allow yourself to express your fullness within this posture!”?  Well, what if, instead, you sense deep within, feeling, in order to allow the power of your divine grace to express itself thru you in the pose?  Allow it to reveal itself to you in the posture?  Try it the next time you practice. Let me know how it goes…..  I am reminded of the Holy Spirit:

AUM is part of the Hindu Holy Trinity: AUM-TAT-SAT, which parallels the Christian Holy Trinity of Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.


AUM (Holy Ghost) is Cosmic Vibration, the Divine Mother


TAT (Son) is the Christ Consciousness, a reflection of the Supreme Spirit in all creation


SAT (Father) is the Vibrationless Spirit beyond creation. 
-The above descriptions are from this article, read HERE if you like! 🙂

*See ALL Workshops Below*

A divine story on strength:

One evening, as I sit on the floor playing with the kids, anxiety was starting to get the better of me. It was getting close to ‘leave time’ and go teach, and I still needed to look for an inspirational quote around the intention that I already knew I wanted to use this week; strength.

My son wanted me to play a minute longer, and the baby was pulling on my shoulder asking for mothers milk.  My husband had just come home and was settling in and making his way to the kitchen for food. I knew I had two options.  One, play a minute longer, or two, force a stop and say goodbye to go finish preparing for the yoga class.  The anxiety persisted.  However, I did something different. I consciously chose to stay and play, but WITHOUT allowing the anxiety to distract me, and to be FULLY PRESENT in those last moments with my son and daughter before dad would take over.  I also made a conscious thought to trust that the Universe would support me in finding the right words around strength; whether it was in a quote I would find, or during the class and the inspiration to flow thru me.

I fed my daughter while reading to my son. Then, after closing the book we happily kissed each other goodnight. I handed baby to dad, and I left the room to have about ten minutes to look over the physical practice I had already created, and seek some inpsiration around the intention of strength. I went right for my “Offerings” book on my book shelf, which I hadn’t picked up in a long while; opened it, and this is what was on the FIRST page I turned to!:

“When we let go of our battles and open our heart to things as they are, then we come to rest in the present moment.  This is the beginning and the end of spiritual practice.” -Jack Kornfield

Can you believe it?!! HA!  I had just literally lived out the action and practice that this quote was speaking towards. I let go of my “battle” with worry and stayed present to each moment. I had opened my heart to just be with the anxiety, choose to let it go, so I could have the open heart with my family and be present with them, rather than battling them to leave.  I was present. And it made my life easier in those moments. 

I’m not going to promise that everything will happen in this manner.  But, sometimes I DO wonder if everything would always feel like it does if I always have such a conscious approach. Maybe. Maybe not. What if that quote hadn’t been the first quote I found? I say to that, we cannot live in the “what ifs”.  And, most likely, I would have found something else. 

So, how can we find the strength to let go of our battles, even if for only a moment, and open our heart to things as they are?
Here’s a practice:

A first step may be to identify your “battles”. What are your concerns? What do you worry about most? What causes you dis-ease?

Once you name them, can you actually set them aside? Try it. For five minutes. Right now. Set aside ALL your concerns, and just breathe.  Close your eyes if you like. Now, connect with your heart.  That Spiritual/Universal Heart of yours.  How do you invite it to open?  I invite you to simply speak to your own heart and say, “you are invited to open to what is”. And then go back to breathing.  In your minds eye, name everything you notice; every physical sensation, every outside noise, every internal thought, and every emotion that is present now.  

Take a deep breath and exhale nice and long.  You did it! You became present. Hopefully. Don’t worry, it’s a practice. Try again tomorrow! 

When we continue the practices that help us to stay available and present in this journey of life, it is my belief that we ‘see’ more. We experience more. And we will experience more peace.  

I can tell you, from personal experience, that time-and-time-again, when I have layed down my ‘battles’, whether the battles are in my control or not, more opens up.  

The quote does not say, “see things as they are”, it simply, and courageously states to “open your heart to things as they are”.  This is a big difference to me. When I ‘look’ to ‘see’ things as they are, I tend to start to name all the circumstaces in my life, and it pulls me out of the present moment. I am not actually present to what is, here and now. When I open my heart only to what is right now, I can only name what is present now. My circumstaces, my “stuff”, is not here now. Only I am here. 

For me, this opens up so much spaciousness in my breath, my body, my heart, and my mind. Some call this liberation and the freedom.  Jack Kornfield calls this the beginning and the end of spiritual practice. And in that space, lives so much. In my humble opinion, from that place of spaciousness and freedom, we can ‘see’ all things more clearly, and make better choices moving forward. We can feel our Truth, and we can come to know Universal Truths; like your right to be here, on Earth, right now! 

Experiment with this practice this week. Take tim to let go, open your heart to things as they are, and just notice. Notice to notice. Don’t judge what you notice, just stay open with the moment.  Don’t try to create anything either. Just observe. Watch. Breathe. 

Later, let me know how it goes. 

Breathe and Believe.
*See Workshops Coming Up Below!

P.s. Did you think this was about physical strength? Did my picture sway your thinking? The look of things from the outside can be deceiving.  But, our Inner Guidance knows truth.  Remeber this as you seek Truth, dear Seeker. 🙂
Up Coming Workshops To Register For NOW!

**THIS SUNDAY, Deep Winter’s Rest(orative) Workshop**
This Sunday, January 19th, 2-4pm at Bread and Yoga, Inwood, Manhattan
Come connect to this space in a sacred, supportive environment and spend the time to go deep within.  We will practice gentle movements, deepening breath work, and long-held luxurious restorative yoga postures.  All will allow us to sink into a deep winter’s rest.  Shawna will complement this wonderful practice with the essence of aromatherapy, healing Reiki touch, and soothing sounds.
Pre-requisites: able to be on the floor.
Please pre-register, space limited to 15 people for space!
Day of rate: $40
Advanced rate: $35
Register HERE!

**January 26th I will be hosting the Deep Winter’s Rest(orative) Workshop at Riverstone Yoga in Tarrytown, NY from 1-3pm! Register HERE! It will be slightly different than the one at Bread and Yoga, so please come to BOTH! 

**Sunday, February 9th, from 1:30-3:30pm, Journey Thru the Chakras**
Join me in exploring the seven main chakras within your energetic, or Prana, body.  We will define what a chakra is, explore where they are, and tap into how you can use them in your everyday living in order to support all dimensions of your Self.  Come dressed in loose clothing for movement.  Every body welcomed. Held at Riverstone Yoga, Tarrytown, NY.  Register HERE!


*February 15th, Saturday, 2-4pm, at Bread and Yoga, Inwood location.
*February 16th, Sunday, 1-3pm, at Riverstone Yoga, Tarrytown, NY.
—These workshops are designed for friends and partners to come together around Valentine’s Day, to share a fun and light-hearted partner yoga practice with each other, and then moving into the ancient practice of Thai Massage.  After the partner yoga, each ‘duet’ will exchange a lovely 30 minute whole-body/well-being Thai Massage to each other.  Loose clothes to be worn, and bring clean socks.  Must be able to be comfortable moving around on the floor.

Email me with any and all questions!
Thank you.

Commitment is defined as “a willingness to give your time and energy to something you believe in, or a promise or firm decision to do something.” 

This first week of classes inside 2020 held  this intention.  It did not come from the idea of resolutions.  It did not come from goal setting or dreams.  It came out of a deep desire to get some things done, at least for me. But, the things I want to do come from a place of my deepest beliefs. Beliefs that I am committed to.

I believe in family.  That’s Quinn in the picture. She just turned 10 months on January 4th! I believe in community. I believe everyone has an innate right to be here, even people I don’t like and disagree with.  I believe in offering love and wonder to others, and myself.  I believe in unconditional love and unconditional acceptance.  I believe in breath. I believe in movement. I believe in Source/God/Universe.  

And, I believe in you. That’s why I am committed to continuing my work in the world; even now, and perhaps especially now, in my time of matrescence. *
*For more around commitment, scroll down.

We are all journeying, transforming, and changing, whether we realize it or not. So, I invite you to take a ‘Sacred Pause’, as I call it, and actualize your journey, feel into it, see it, hear your hearts longing, and begin to name your beliefs in order to start making commitments to which you will take actions towards, and get some sh#@ done! 😉 

Here are some events to help you to take Sacred Pause, and to reconnect to Spirit within you:

**Thai Massage Workshop**
With Shawna Emerick and Margaret Liston
Sunday, January 12th, 2-4pm at Birchwood Center for Yoga and Massage.
This event is SOLD OUT, BUT you should still send your info and be placed on the wait list so that you can be notified for when we run it again! Click HERE to be placed on the wait list!

**Deep Winter’s Rest: a Restorative Yoga Workshop**
Sunday, January 19th, 2-4pm at Bread and Yoga. It will be held at the Inwood Location, and I am limiting it to 15 people for space, so REGISTER TODAY!! Click HERE to do so!  Please note, I will be using essential oils and sounds for this workshop.

**Deep Winter’s Rest: a Restorative Yoga Workshop**
Sunday, January 26th, 1-3pm at Riverstone Yoga, Tarrytown, NY.  It will be slightly different than the ones I have done before, so come to all of them!  Register HERE!

**A Journey Thru the Chakras**
Sunday, February 9th, 1:30-3:30pm at Riverstone Yoga, Tarrytown, NY.  This is a workshop open to the public, though offered inside their 200HR Yoga Teacher Training. Come to get an overview of the seven main energetic portals within your subtle energy body; somatic experiences to do with each chakra; and information around each one in order to be able to use the chakras within your daily living and support all areas of your life. Call Riverstone at (914) 332 9642 or email for this special event!

More workshops will be coming up in February as well! And, don’t for get to sign up and register for the Unplugged Yoga and Sound Retreat in May! May 8-10! Register HERE!

*More on Commitment:
“Personal development is the belief that you are worth the effort, time and energy needed to develop yourself.” -Denis Waitley

“Be patient with yourself.  Self-growth is tender; it’s holy ground.  There’s no greater investment.”-Stephen Covey

“When you commit yourself to living an extraordinary life, the universe accepts your deal and silently goes to work challenging you so that you’re always prepared for bigger challenges – and greater rewards.”-Mike Dillard

“You need to make a commitment, and once you make it, then life will give yo some answers.”-Les Brown

As always, send me requests for things you want to work on in weekly classes, or email me for any reason.  Be well.

Breathe and Believe!


Winter’s Cloak
by: Joyce Rupp

This year I do not want
the dark to leave me.
I need its wrap
of silent stillness,
its cloak
of long lasting embrace.
Too much light
has pulled me away
from the chamber
of gestation.

Let the dawns
come late,
let the sunsets
arrive early,
let the evenings
extend themselves
while I lean into
the abyss of my being.

Let me lie in the cave
of my soul,
for too much light
blinds me,
steals the source
of revelation.

Let me seek solace
in the empty places
of winter’s passage,
those vast dark nights
that never fail to shelter me. 

This poem, and the invitations from Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat that follow, where the intentions of the last week of classes that I taught. May your holidays hold the glory of light while honoring the dark. May you hibernate, like I am, and reflect; where you’ve been, where you are, and where you’re headed. May your coming new year and new decade be full, abundant, fun, and open with clarity, love, laughter, stillness, excitement, and more! 

“Let us invite our hearts to be glad for the courage winter proclaims.  Let us be grateful for the wisdom winter brings in teaching us about the need for withdrawal as an essential part of renewal.”

“Ponder the darkness as a spur to reverencing the mysteriousness of God.  What place have you made for the darkness of the divine as fertile and transformative in your spiritual path?”

This had me thinking…what seeds do you want to be planting in this time of gestation? Not as resolutions, but to simply plant, and leave? Trusting that the Universe will nourish and care for your vision with the upmost respect and love.  Like Rumi said, “That which you seek, is seeking you.” What you plant now, has already been making its way towards you. Is it a seed for love over fear; a seed of forgiveness; a seed for courage; a seed of hope; a seed for healing? If you want, let me know. 

See you in 2020!

Breathe and believe.