Lesson From Nature – Your Sand Crab is Out There

The sky was turning a pinkish orange and the air on my cheeks dropped a few degrees as the sun began setting and I continued to put one foot in front of the other while walking along the shoreline. The barrage of thoughts running through my mind was interrupted by loud squawking sounds. Then, out of the corner of my right eye, I caught sight of a bird with a sand crab in its beak half running, half flying as another bird chased after it in hot pursuit of the sand crab it did not catch but desperately wanted. I quietly chuckled to myself. It was comical to watch, but it also reminded me so much of life and human behavior.

How often do we see what someone else has or has accomplished and immediately think, “I want that!” Or “Why don’t I have that?” Or, “Why haven’t I accomplished that too?” It’s human nature to compare ourselves, our situations, and what we have to others. Present day social media amps that up, putting the ability to compare and contrast…and ultimately judge (ourselves and others) right in the palm of our hands. 

Sometimes it feels like there is always a clearly visible sand crab in someone else’s beak, enticingly glittering in the setting sun, calling out, “You want me and don’t have me because someone else got here first…faster.” So many times I believed that because someone got something first there simply wasn’t enough left for me. Classic scarcity mindset. Often I used what others had accomplished as a way of proving to myself that I was somehow a failure or not good enough. All my self-doubt and feelings of unworthiness being fueled by my spiraling thoughts.

Just as the bird was wasting energy chasing after what wasn’t rightfully his, we often expend precious energy chasing after what isn’t meant for us. Or we pour our efforts into feelings of jealousy and self-berating thoughts, effectively getting in our own way and keeping ourselves bogged down in.

So how do we stop chasing after what others have and expending energy in ways that generate unnecessary suffering for ourselves and keep us stuck? First we practice noticing and acknowledging when we are reaching for something someone else has or has accomplished. We begin recognizing when jealousy starts to creep in or we’ve dropped into the pit of self-doubt, or that dark hole of unworthiness. Often, our reactions are so habitually ingrained we don’t even know when we have been sucked into the vortex of our thought patterns.

Then comes what is perhaps the hardest piece, we actively choose not to beat ourselves up over any of this. The last thing we need is shame or guilt layered onto an already sensitive situation. We tenderly put an arm around the shoulder of our inner critic and guide it away from the stimuli. Firmly, but kindly directing our attention and energy back the work on our path. It takes practice – lots and lots of practice. It takes resiliency and patience because we will undoubtedly have to gently guide ourselves away from this path time and time again. It’s a lifelong practice for most of us, myself included.

I thought about all the sand crabs beneath the surface of the wet sand my feet kept traveling across. Seeing what others have worked for and attained shows us what is possible. We can let it inspire us as we set to work catching our own sand crab. Lately when I catch myself lingering on what someone else has or has accomplished I practice silently saying, “Thank you for showing me what is possible.” It’s really hard, but it ultimately feels a whole lot better then spiraling into negativity and less than helpful self-berating thought patterns. What’s ours is out there; it is not in someone else’s hands (or beak).

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What A Week


I would say this is the week that broke me, but I am still here and still very much whole. I am not broken, and neither are you. We are whole, even in the moments when we feel shattered. We forget pieces of ourselves. Sometimes we give them away. Sometimes we drop them because we are too busy carrying pieces not meant for us or that don’t belong to us. In the moments when we feel broken it is time to remember and gather the pieces that remind us of how beautifully whole we truly are. It’s a task that requires patience, kindness, deep listening without expectations, and unconditional love.

I may have gone seven or eight days without washing my hair (it’s kind of hard to keep track of days and things like when the last time shampoo and your scalp hung out these days). I had take-out three nights in a row because grocery shopping and cooking just felt too hard. The one meal I did cook for myself was made with a jar of sauce that was past its expiration date and pretty questionable. Whether that meal or stress caused a severely upset stomach remain unknown. I filed my taxes, albeit while drinking copious amounts of wine. Whether it was the wine or the government to blame for I, a yoga teacher, owing the government money while Jeff Bezos does not remains another unknown. I cried more this week than I have in a very long time. I spent a lot of time just staring at the wall or out the window without actually seeing anything. I also spent a lot of time scrolling through my social media feeds. Responding to any messages felt so overwhelming that by Tuesday I had simply ceased even trying. I was so physically exhausted by Friday that what was intended to be one day or rest turned into three days of no physical activity whatsoever. Denying myself that natural endorphin rush did nothing to uplift my mood, but you probably already guessed that already.

I did allow myself time to rest without guilt. I did turn off all my electronic devices and just lay in bed reading for two hours while my cat napped next to me one afternoon. I did work out four days out of seven. I did clean my apartment. I did hold space for myself to mediate and not just feel but begin to process some of the emotions that erupted like geysers this week. I did connect with friends so I wasn’t adrift or drowning in the sea of my own uninterrupted thoughts and feelings.

It has felt like the end of the world (maybe I’m being a bit dramatic, maybe I’m not) is on the horizon for months now. The losses just keep piling up, lives, jobs, relationships, yoga studios, simply existing in the ways we had all grown accustomed to. Alongside are the losses of safety, identity, community, everyday routines, familiarity in one’s own life, any sense of certainty, and groundedness. I would say control, but we never really have control in this life.

The last four months have been anything from challenging and uncomfortable to flat out devastating depending on circumstances and levels of privilege. Brooklyn, NY has been a particularly interesting place to be amidst the pandemic and public outcry and protests that erupted after George Floyd was murdered by Minneapolis police officers. Time to pause and process seemed evasive until recently.

With the arrival of summer comes a slower pace. And while this summer looks nothing like the one I had planned or previous summers, there is a sense of settling into a slower, more contemplative pace, even amidst a pandemic that is nowhere near over and the far reaching (still not far enough) rippling (still not strong enough) effects of all the protests and ensuing conversations.

It was one bit of unsurprising yet horrific news that was my tipping point this week. Pieces spilling all over, forcing me to slowly begin to gather all the little bits examining what was there. What had I been holding on to for dear life? What had been neglected? What was lost? What was never mine to begin with? And what will never be lost? The pieces don’t fit together just yet. With so much uncertainty piecing together something new feels scary and overwhelming. That being said, I am still whole, even as I stand with seemingly random bits in my hands and pieces scattered about at my feet. I am not broken or less than because I am still trying to figure it out. And neither are you.

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I have been thinking about transitions a lot recently. This time period, at least in New York City while we are all quarantined, leaving our homes as little as possible with only essential businesses open, working and socializing virtually, has felt like one elongated transition. What comes next? What led up to this? Questions we suddenly find ourselves with lots of time to ponder.

Transitions can be both magical and challenging. We don’t yet know what will come next. Our anxiety, fear, all of our expectations, preconceived notions, and projections run free, taking over our thoughts and pulling us out of the precious here and now. All of our thoughts and feelings about what has happened in the past cling to us coloring the present moment. When we do pause, more often than not we find discomfort and uneasiness just below the surface. It is incredibly hard to simply be present with the unknown, the transition between what was and what will be. If we get curious and soften around our experience in transitions we find tenderness and vulnerability. It is in moments of vulnerability that we can choose to open up or choose to erect our walls as high as possible. If we stay open there is so much possibility and wonder in transitions…anything could happen if we don’t close ourselves off.

Below is a practice, taught virtually, something I am still getting used to, still transitioning into on so many levels after almost a decade of teaching yoga in person. If you are new to yoga, need modifications to practice safely, or would prefer a guided meditation on transitions, let me know – I’m happy to create and share those practices with you.

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Dear New Yoga Student


To everyone attending their very first yoga class this year (and there are a whole lot of you as we enter the first full week of 2020),

Thank you for showing up, not for me as your teacher or for your loved one who encouraged (or maybe nagged you for years) to try a yoga class, but for yourself. You chose to take a concrete step in caring for your mind, body, and spirit. Even if you never step foot in a yoga studio again, or until next year or ten years from now, you did something positive for yourself – that deserves acknowledgment.

Some good rules to follow so you have the best experience possible:

  • Go to a basics or beginning level class. Even if you are incredibly fit, give yourself a solid foundation to build upon.
  • Arrive at least five minutes early (10-15 is best before your first class).
  • Introduce yourself to the teacher before class. Let them know it is your first yoga class. If you have any physical injuries or medical issues, be sure to let the teacher know.
  • No shoes in the studio (socks off too).
  • Set your mat somewhere in the center of the studio, unless the teacher tells you otherwise, so you can see both the teacher at the front of the room and students on all sides of you (not every teacher will demonstrate so it’s good to have other students to provide a visual if needed).
  • Ask the teacher what props you will need (a good rule of thumb is to take 2 blocks, a blanket, and a strap if they are available at the studio).
  • No talking during class.
  • Turn your phone off or silence it (tuck it away out of sight if you bring it into the studio).

I see you struggling. Yoga is hard! You can be in great shape or in the worst shape of your life – yoga is unlike any other movement or exercise regime you have or have had in the past. I don’t care if you can do one single pose. I don’t care if you fall or look like an absolute fool. I don’t care if you nail the hardest pose in class on your first attempt. I care that you showed up and you tried. Yoga class is the one place where it truly is okay if you don’t do well, there are no consequences.

I know you are going to compare yourself to other people in the room, but try not to, okay? I mean really try. Put on blinders. Look at other students if you need a visual guide, but do not, I repeat, do not compare yourself to anyone else. We are all different. Each pose will look a little different on every body. And that is okay.

I’ll let you in on a little secret, I hated yoga for years (okay closer to a full decade really). I thought yoga was stupid. It was too slow, too hard to keep my mind quiet long enough to focus, too much breathing, too new agey woo-woo. It just wasn’t my thing. It took a long while for me to “get it”. If you hate yoga, it’s okay. I invite you to give it some time, keep coming back, but if you don’t, that’s okay too. I’ll still respect you.

Thank you for being brave enough to try something new. So many people never even try.

Oh, and maybe even have some fun. Try not to take yourself or your experience too seriously. Smile. Perhaps laugh (quietly or loudly).


A Yoga Teacher Who Loves Students New to Yoga (or as I like to call you, fresh                      meat…and yes, I am vegan)

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Come Closer

Several years ago I discovered the poetry of Anis Mojgani.  A yoga teacher shared pieces of his poem, Shake the Dust, in a class I took. I immediately Googled him and then listened to him recite the poem over and over and over again. I have shared it on this blog before: Shake the Dust

I found myself pulled back to the poem, Shake the Dust, a few evenings ago. Then stumbled across another on of Anis Mojgani’s poems, Come Closer. I listened to it repeatedly, soaking it all in as if he were speaking directly to me. And so I share it here with you.

Come closer.
Come into this.
You are quite the beauty.
If no one has ever told you that before,
know that right now: you are quite the beauty.
There is joy in how your mouth dances with your teeth
Your smiles are simply signs of how sacred your life actually is.
He made you and he was happy.
You make the Lord happy.
Come into this.
Come closer.
Know that something softer than us but just as holy planted the pieces of Himself into our feet that we might one day dance our way back.
Know that you are almost home.
Come just a little bit closer.
There are birds beating their wings beneath your breastplate, gentle sparrows who are aching to sing. Come aching hearts. Come soldiers of joy, doormen of truth. Know that my heart was too big for my body, so I let it go.
And most days this world has thinned me, to the point where I am just another cloud forgetting another flock of swans but believe me when I tell you that my soul has managed to squeeze itself into such narrow spaces; Place your hands beneath your heads when you sleep tonight and perhaps you will find it there making beauty, as we sleep, as we dream, as we turn over, when we turn over in ground may the ghosts that we have asked answers of do that turning, kneading us into crumbs of light and into this thing love, thing called life, come into it!
Come you wooden museums, gentle tigers, little giants!
I see teacups upside down glowing across your grins, your hearts are like my hands, some days all they do is tremble.
I am like you.
I am like you
I too at times am filled with so much fear, so much fear, but like a hallway must find the strength to walk through it.
Walk through this with me.
Through this church of blood, bone, and muscle, that is ours
There is a door knob glowing like chance before you.
Grab it, turn and pull, step through, back straight, chin up, eyes open, hearts loud.
Walk through this with me.
Walk through this with me.


Some of my favorite lines:

Your smiles are simply signs of how sacred your life actually is.

The reminder that we were born to dance…into this world and out of it. We were not born to shuffle or stumble or drag ourselves through each day, but to dance:

Know that something softer than us but just as holy planted the pieces of Himself into our feet that we might one day dance our way back.  

The beautiful reminder that deep down, in spite of all our differences, we really are the same:

I am like you.
I am like you
I too at times am filled with so much fear, so much fear, but like a hallway must find the strength to walk through it. 

The ending is by far my favorite…lines I fully intend to read at some point this week in the yoga classes I teach.

Walk through this with me.
Through this church of blood, bone, and muscle, that is ours
There is a door knob glowing like chance before you.
Grab it, turn and pull, step through, back straight, chin up, eyes open, hearts loud.
Walk through this with me.
Walk through this with me.


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I hear the voice before I round the bend actually catching sight of her. My patience for people walking the nature trails while having a phone conversation having run out days ago I am instantly annoyed. As I begin tuning into the actual words of this private conversation echoing out across the bay I instantly start judging this woman, and not just because she is ruining my evening walk. I take a deep breath and listen; I don’t really have a choice.

“She is a loved girl and we have to keep filling her with love. Jesus will…”

Oh no, here’s the Jesus will fix everything spiel about to let loose, I think to myself. Some guy in the sky will magically fix everything. I can feel myself beginning to mount my high horse of reason while carrying my shield of judgment while the Jesus rant continues. Then I pause. I remind myself of my new mantra, “Get curious.”

I have been feeling extra judgey lately. I am a recovering perfectionist. And a requisite for perfectionism is judging – critically harsh self-judgment at all times in pursuit of the unattainably perfect. For years I believed I could silently judge myself without it spilling over to others, but the truth is, I can be shamefully judgmental of others too. I’ve spent the last few years doing the unglamorous, never ending work of unraveling my perfectionism, easing up on myself, and in turn easing up on others. But when I am particularly tired or cranky or irritated (all of which I was on my evening walk) I get super judgey.

In meditation we catch ourselves each time a thought drags us out of the present moment, calmly label it as a thought, then gently bring ourselves back to our breath. I have begun doing this throughout my day when I find myself judging. To combat the resurgence of judgments I have begun inviting myself to get curious, about myself, the other person, the situation. What lies just beneath the judgments? I’ve become ninja like at catching myself the moment I begin judging, deftly cutting off the judgmental thoughts with my mantra, “Get curious.” But, as anyone who has meditated for more than five minutes knows, just as swiftly as the mind gets pulled back to the breath it will dash back off with a thought, new thought, same thought, take your pick the mind has gone there before a full inhalation and exhalation have occurred. Still, I keep gently urging myself to be curious instead of judgmental.

I quicken my pace trying to get out of earshot of the Jesus will save speech as fast as possible. “Get curious,” I remind myself over and over again. Finally, there is a pause; this woman is letting the person on the other end get a word in edgewise. The last clip of the conversation I hear is, “I believe you that she is acting out, but we have to return to our faith. We just have to keep praying…”

I dismount my horse of reason. I may not believe in a higher power fixing all problems, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t one. I lay down my shield of judgments. Life hits hard and unpredictably, whether we have a strong faith in some higher power of not. Finding the strength to keep treading water and not just outright sink is no easy task at times. If praying and believing in Jesus is what gets you through, more power to you. This woman was talking to someone clearly going through a horrifically hard time with a loved one. Instead of opening myself to the fact that she was being a good support to the person on the other end of the line, I was judging her because the support and words of comfort and guidance she was offering were not in line with what I would want or what I believe. I was being a judgmental jerk. (But she was also being a bit of jerk ruining a peaceful evening walk by the bay for everyone being forced to listen to her conversation.)

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Being Seen & Heard


The other day, after class, two long-time regular students were quietly chatting about the recent privatization of the local jail. A student who began attending class regularly last month started asking questions, in earnest at first. She hadn’t figured out how to connect with this group of long-time regulars. And while a more innocuous conversation may have been a wiser starting ground she was diving in head first before checking the depth of the pool.

We all have a desire to be seen and heard exactly as we are – it creates a sense of belonging, something this student was seeking. Our yoga mats are a place to show up exactly as we are – to examine our beliefs and ourselves in an effort to connect deeply with our true selves, which in turn allows us to authentically connect with others. I refrain from more than surface level sharing of my political and religious beliefs in the yoga studio, mostly because no one wants a proselytizing yoga teacher but also because I don’t want to make any of my students feel shut out or shut down if we do not share the same beliefs.

As I watched the new student rapidly alienate herself from the group by vehemently refuting facts and revealing herself to be an extreme conservative with little regard for the well being of all amidst socially-minded liberals I sensed myself judging her harshly.  I could feel anger beginning to take over my body, tension and heat rising into my chest and throat. I chose to come back to my breath, feel my feet standing firmly on the ground, and swallowed the urge to vehemently spit, “Are you fucking kidding me?!? You are out of your mind!” I mean, no one likes to be yelled at, and it just kind of looks bad if your yoga teacher is the one screaming at you in the midst of a blind rage.

My goal in every class is to hold a safe space while remaining open to seeing and hearing each student, free of judgment. Whether I know how you voted in the last election, how strictly you adhere to your religious beliefs, your dog’s name, and the birthday of your most recent grandchild or simply that you hold tension in your left shoulder on particularly rough days and smile out of the corner of your mouth when I crack the same joke for the millionth time on good days – I see you. I hear what you verbally tell me as well as what your body physically communicates as you move through your practice. I do my best to listen with an open mind and open heart.

I found myself face-to-face with the new student as even those typically left lingering for a chat after class had swiftly exited, escaping the ultra-conservative, fact-less rhetoric she had begun to spew. Almost imperceptibly she turned toward the door as if she too were going to leave. Then she stood up a little taller. Her hands began shaking as the floodgates opened and she spoke passionately about her beliefs even as the remaining students slipped out the door behind her. I stayed present and listened attentively without interjecting any of my own opinions even though I was appalled by much of what she was saying. After she had finished her piece she said, “Thank you for listening. I find it so hard to connect with people in this area because of my beliefs.” I felt a deep sense of sadness and isolation coming from this student. She wanted to be heard. She wanted to feel a sense connection and belonging.

I used to take classes with a teacher who closed every practice by saying, “May the corners of your heart and the corners of your mind open a little wider.” Sometimes holding space for someone, seeing them and accepting them exactly as is requires opening the corners of our hearts and minds wider than we are comfortably prepared for in the moment. Sometimes it requires listening deeply to what is just under the words being spoken. We don’t have to agree with others to see them, hear them, and make them feel they belong. And ultimately, we get to choose how deeply we connect with others once we have seen and heard them.

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Well…How Did I Get Here?


As I write down dates for the two teacher trainings and retreat I’m co-leading in 2020 the Talking Heads song, “Once in a Lifetime” pops into my head. “And you may ask yourself, ‘Well…How did I get here?'”

Eight years ago I embarked on a journey that changed my life, which sounds cheesy and cliché, but it’s true. In the summer of 2011, I partook in a 200-hour yoga teacher training, the same one I have co-lead for the last two years. I had an inkling that I might want to teach yoga. I had been happily teaching dance on and off for close to a decade. Mostly, I just thought I would incorporate yoga into the work I was doing as a dance/movement therapist. I was constantly being asked to lead yoga groups in addition to my therapeutic groups. My response remained a steadfast no because I was not a certified yoga instructor. Now, I would finally be able to incorporate yoga into my therapeutic work. That was the only path I really saw for myself at that point in time.

I had shelved the idea of doing a yoga teacher training after half-heartedly researching different programs and not finding one that felt like the perfect fit. When the studio that had become my yoga home four years prior announced their inaugural teacher training my gut instinct said, “Do it!” Having finished my graduate degree just two years earlier, the whole school thing was still fresh. My yoga practice had become an integrated and integral piece of my life over the last five years. I went in to the teacher training believing I was well prepared.

Sparks of nervous excitement were woven into even the calmest of moments as four teachers, leading their first teacher training, and nine students spent four weekends during one of the hottest Augusts in New York City history nestled inside a tiny yoga studio in midtown Manhattan. We were all embarking on this brand new journey together. It was simultaneously messy and magical, and really hard.

During the week, I was working as a per diem dance/movement therapist in nursing homes. The beautifully fleeting moments of genuine connection where I felt I was truly doing worthwhile and fulfilling work were too few and far between to sustain me through what felt like wading in knee-deep mud with no help or shore in sight 90% of the time. The work simply was not for me, although I wasn’t ready to admit that just yet. During the teacher training, I was interviewing for a position as lead therapist at a preschool for children on the spectrum. While I looked like a shoe in for the position there was a nagging voice in the back of my mind that kept whispering, “Are you sure this is what you want to do?” In desperate need of a full-time job to replace the per diem work I was doing I forged ahead full steam.

Hurricane Irene swept across much of the Caribbean and East Coast while we were safely sequestered at a retreat center upstate New York for the final seven days of our teacher training. Completely unaffected by the gusts of wind and torrents of rain wrecking havoc and causing widespread destruction, we practiced teaching sun salutations during the day and discussed the Yoga Sutras by night. While the landscape of our retreat center remained serene, internally, I was in the midst of my own personal hurricane. I hadn’t been prepared for so much personal and emotional stuff to be unearthed while studying yoga philosophy and dissecting asana (physical poses). I had explored myself extensively through individual and group talk and movement therapy. I truly thought I had worked through all my stuff, and the stuff I hadn’t yet worked through I was at least super aware of. Oh, how wrong I was.

The humidity of summer still thick in the New York City air, my phone quietly rang as I was stepping off the M15 bus just south of E 42nd Street on 2nd Avenue. I was unsuccessfully trying to keep my anxiety in check as I began walking toward the yoga studio to take my final written exam for teacher training. I glanced at the phone, not intending to answer until I saw it was the supervisor at the school where I had been interviewing. Not knowing if I had officially received the job would be too great of a distraction while I took the four hour exam, so I answered. A classic case of nepotism – I was regretfully informed the position had been given to someone else but my next employer would be very lucky to have me.

I felt on the precipice of something as summer gradually turned into fall. I busied myself with performing and creating new work for my dance company, attempting to navigate but mostly trying to forget the raw confusion I felt when pausing to look at my life. The healing power of movement had been saving me for close to three decades. I wanted to share this with others, I just didn’t know how that was going to manifest. My life was about to shift in ways I never could have dreamt for myself. I was about to learn the real magic of yoga – if we remain open, it will guide us exactly where we are meant to be.

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Yoga Retreat in Greece

Close your eyes…envision Summer 2020…

Feel the gentle warmth of the setting sun on your face and shoulders as you soak in the last golden hues of light casting out over the Aegean Sea and mountains. Contentedly tired after a day filled with yoga, long walks with breath-taking views, floating in the pool, and sitting in the sauna. Ready to stand firmly in your light and power after skillfully guided and supported self-reflection. Blissfully filled to the brim with love and support, surrounded by beauty.



Reflect. Rest. Renew.



Unearth Your Magic & Light


July 16-23, 2020

Amorgos, Greece

Join me, along with special guest teacher, Heather Bernstein, on the Greek island of Amorgos, famed for its clear waters. Connect with your truest self through daily yoga and meditation classes combined with intention setting and Unearthing Your Magic & Light journaling sessions. Rejuvenate your soul exploring breathtaking hiking trails, swimming in the pool and Aegean Sea, and pampering yourself with massages and downtime to daydream.


Double Rooms – $2320                                                                                 Single Rooms – $2975

A Deposit of $800 reserves your spot!

What is Included:

·      7nights/6 days at the Aegialis Hotel & Spa with private balcony and sea view of the crystal-clear Aegean Sea

·      Daily yoga, meditation, and Unearthing Your Magic & Light journaling sessions with Djuna

·      Evening restorative yoga sessions with guest teacher, Heather

·      Daily delicious breakfast buffet (vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free options available)

·      Daily lunch OR dinner at the hotel’s award-winning Ambrosia Gallery restaurant (vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free options available) – additional meals may be added for a small fee

·      One 30 minute relaxing massage at the hotel’s peaceful spa complex, Lalon Idor Spa

·      10% discount on Face and Body treatments at Lalon Ido Spa

·      Use of Lalon Idor Spa facilities (the sauna and hammam, Jacuzzi, indoor heated seawater swimming pool, and fitness center

·      Transfers upon arrival and departure in Amorgos island (port-hotel-port)

I would love to have you join me on this incredible retreat. For more information visit DjunaPassman.com

Register Now!

Let the summer of 2020 be the year you deepen your practice, unearth your magic, and let your light shine!

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Reflecting on 2018


On more than one occasion I mentioned to someone that 2018 had been a really challenging year for me only to be met with a quizzical look. On the outside, 2018 was a great year both professionally and personally. Internally, there was a lot of turmoil and some major shifting caused by finally realizing my own self-worth, no longer judging myself, and ceasing to be busy all the time.

Early this year as I began lesson planning for the first yoga teacher training I would be co-leading it became clear that I could not continue to shrink and deny my strengths and talents. I couldn’t ask others to stand in their power and shine their lights brightly if I was dimming my light hiding in the corner. Other people believed in me so maybe, just maybe, it was time to start believing in myself. It was time to fully own my strengths and weaknesses. Acknowledging all the ways I had been holding myself back, all the missed opportunities, and all the unhealthy relationships was like a punch in the gut. I’m still unpacking where the denial of my self-worth truly stems from. Somewhere along the road I began to feel less than, not quite good enough, a small weight I began toting around early in life that gained in heft until it effectively overshadowed everything. For so long I lied to myself saying it was just healthy self-criticism and critique. In reality it was perfectionism run amok. Several years ago I began to genuinely hear the voices of those close to me asking that I acknowledge all the ways my lack of self-worth was impacting my everyday life from relationships to income to daily interactions and conversations. I had to truly own up to this and take some very hard, sometimes painful, actions to drop the weight. After months of anxiety induced sleeplessness I finally increased my private client fees and asked for raises at the studios where I taught. A few important relationships had to end, some ended when others walked away from me, some ended when I chose to walk away. Let me tell you, it sucks to be on both sides of that coin – loss is loss no matter where you stand. Old internal dialogues that had become entrenched in the way I spoke to myself had to be massively rewritten. I had to consciously practice speaking to myself in different ways, kinder, more positive ways.

For years, okay, decades, I believed that I could silently judge myself in every imaginable way while remaining nonjudgmental of others. Sure, a few people had openly called me out as being judgmental of others over the years, which totally irritated me (in the way we get shifty and angry and full of blame when called out on things that are true but we are unready to hear and accept) before I shrugged it off as nonsense. It wasn’t until I addressed the self-judging and critiquing, actively choosing to rewrite my internal monologue, that I realized how much I was also silently judging others. It was rarely the big stuff, although, I would be lying if I said I wasn’t judging others about big stuff at times. I was mostly judging others about little stuff, what they posted on Instagram, the clothes they wore, the new haircut, the way they spoke to others, it allowed me to feel right, justified in my choices, dare I even say, superior. This was not something that was easy or comfortable to admit. Quite honestly, it felt super shitty to stare this fact down and take it in. All of the self-judging made me feel lousy so in turn, I was judging others to help boost myself back up. What an ugly, vicious cycle. No one was winning. The more I silenced the judging voice speaking to me the more it stopped speaking about others. The little things just didn’t matter. I did not need to get worked up over or have any opinions or feelings about all the trivial stuff I had been choosing to weigh in on simply because it momentarily turned the harsh judging voice away from myself and bolstered how I was feeling. Releasing the judging voice kind of happened overnight. Well, my realization of it happened overnight. In hindsight, it had been a work in progress built upon millions of barely perceptible baby steps I had begun taking a few years ago.

I, like so many others, wore being busy as a badge of success. Being busy meant I was an accomplished, in-demand yoga teacher. I had made it. Living in New York City can sometimes feel like a competition to see who can be the busiest. It is, after all, the city that never sleeps filled with people who go, go, go, go, go. However, being busy all the time also meant I was tired all the time, always teetering on the edge of burnout, and not fully present or dealing with a lot of stuff in my life. I am fortunate to love my work, but I was not okay with it becoming the sole thing everything else in my life revolved around. Slowing down was hard. I had been on the go-go-go, crash and burn, pause, and repeat cycle since I was a teenager. Choosing not to be busy all the time meant letting go of classes and clients I loved working with and creating a new schedule. First, I luxuriated in having time to fully engage in things I love like cooking and baking, and going to the theatre regularly as opposed to once in awhile. Then, I got bored. I felt huge pangs of guilt over having downtime each week. And then all kinds of stuff started to surface, feelings I hadn’t really had time to deal with, choices I had made and the consequences I had cleverly sidestepped because I was…busy. Things that needed attention and focus, painful, messy things like processing the loss of certain relationships and accepting that years I would never get back had been devoted to work instead of other pieces of my life suddenly had my time and attention. My first instinct was to pick up more classes and clients, in other words, return to being busy. Instead, I set firm boundaries with myself and chose to finally sort through and deal with the uncomfortable feelings that surfaced. I will admit, I kind of miss wearing the busy badge, but devoting more time and energy to things outside of work has been truly wonderful.

I’ve been sitting with all of this as 2018 winds down and people begin talking about setting goals and intentions for 2019. I’ll be spending the last handful of days remaining in this year reflecting on all of the shifts that took place, allowing them to sink in a little more before I start pondering what I hope to bring into fruition in the New Year. At the heart of all the change was how I spoke to myself, my internal dialogue. I started to fully understand the power of my own thoughts and the importance of consciously choosing how I spoke to myself, which in the end impacted how I treated others and myself.

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