30 December 2008

New Year, Old Resolutions

Forget the noisy clubs, expensive champagne and drunk strangers in glittery outfits. It’s been a while since I’ve had a quiet New Years Eve at home and this year I am very excited to welcome 2009 with family and friends at my parents’ house. I am especially excited to participate in some of the traditions of a Mexican New Years Eve celebration. My favorite is the eating of the grapes. For those who are unaware of the grape eating madness - at the stroke of midnight you have to eat 12 grapes, and make a wish or a resolution for every grape which symbolizes each month of the year. It sounds simple enough, but its not easy to chew 12 individual grapes in less than a minute...a choking hazard really. In the past, I don’t think I ever made any grape wishes; I normally would just scarf all the grapes because they tasted good with the champagne. The other cool tradition is that you have to wear red underwear in order to bring love and good luck into your life for the New Year. I’m not sure if this is exclusively a Mexican tradition and most people usually laugh at the idea but, why risk it? Don't fight the red undies.

I’ve never been the type to make New Years resolutions. I always thought they were silly. Lose weight, learn to play guitar, eat healthy, blah, blah, blah. However, this year will be different. Not only am I making resolutions, but I am going so far as to write them down and maybe even prioritize them. As I started to think about some of my resolutions I realized that they weren’t really new. They were things I had wanted to do and accomplish for quite some time. I was just memorializing them by turning them into “resolutions.” I think my problem was that I believed resolutions required you to give something up, which is probably why I never made them because I couldn’t be bothered to forfeit or let go of anything. Now, I’m learning that resolutions are really just answers, or rather intentions to take a certain course of action (duh, hellooo - that’s kind of what resolution means).

So, now that I’ve had this little epiphany I have to approach my resolutions from a completely different perspective. For example, one of my resolutions was to bind in Marichyasana C. Well, “Binding in Marichyasana C” can’t be a resolution because binding is not the answer. Rather, my resolution should be “to open my shoulders, extend my spine, empty out my belly and let go of the fear that prevents me from binding in Marichyasana C.” Not being able to do any of those things is what keeps me from binding in the first place. I simply can’t resolve to bind in an asana. I have to bring my awareness to so many more places and tweak other parts of myself before I can get there. It makes way more sense now. A resolution should be composed of the foundational necessities required to obtain the means and an intention to eliminate the barriers that block us from the ultimate goal. The only way to actualize our resolutions is to work hard for them and fully accept the responsibilities that come with them, regardless of whether there is hardship and pain. Its way more work doing it this way, but it will benefit us in the long run! Happy resolution drafting!

Feliz Ano Nuevo!

Loka Samasta Sukino Bhavantu
Om Shanti, Shanti, Shanti…

May all beings be happy, healthy and free.
Om Peace, peace, peace

17 November 2008

Peace. Love. Asheville.

I had the pleasure of visiting Asheville, North Carolina this past weekend and now that I’ve had time to debrief and reflect, I feel like it’s the best kept secret of the South…mainly because I didn’t feel like I was in the South. I ate a vegan omelet made out of lentils, attended a wine tasting at a bookstore, saw an experimental performance artist eat an apple on stage and attended a gay rights protest. I’d never expect to experience any of that in the South. The city is quaint, beautiful and nestled in the mountains. There were guitar players on the street, drumming circles in the park and lots of yoga studios and museums around. I could definitely live there. Unfortunately, there was no time for yoga but I think we got the best of Asheville in the few days we were there. If I had to describe it in three words: earthy, organic and clean.

My favorite thing about Asheville was that I really felt like I experienced a true fall season...and I don't just mean that I got to get out my cool winter clothes and drink hot cocoa. I guess as summer starts to disappear, the leaves start to fall, warmth fades away and the sun plays hide-and-seek a bit more, I begin to realize how much beauty there is in the world. Gratitude and appreciation resonate with me on a much deeper level. To some extent, the cold weather embraces me by freezing away complications and new, crisp, cool air comes to invigorate my mind. Hmm, I guess I did practice a little yoga while I was there…

This will most likely be my last blog posting until after final exams, which will soon be rearing their ugly little heads soon. Taking a mini-escape from my life in Jacksonville was much needed. Computer glow, small font, indoor lighting and the sound of the office shredder were beginning to get to me…I feel lighter and recharged. I guess everyone can use a fresh set of batteries every now and then.

16 October 2008

There is no recession in yoga...

In Mysore practice with Tim Feldman
October 2008

The other day, I heard one of my friends refer to herself as a recessionista. I was complementing her on the stylish jeans she had on and she responded “Target.” I had never heard of the term but I thought it was cute and catchy. My curiosity lead me to some online research and I came upon an article called “The Year of the Recessionista.” Apparently a recessionista is simply someone who seeks to remain fashionable and stylish on a tight budget.

I began to think about how the current economic situation has made an significant impact on the health and wellness community. When I promote yoga to my friends and people I meet, one of the first questions they ask is “how much does it cost?” It’s true, money makes the world go around, and the cost of yoga keeps people from wanting to go. Most of the time, it's just an excuse (I see how those people spend their money) but I understand that in many situations, people cannot afford to pay for a yoga membership, especially in these hard economic times. There are mouths to feed and bills to pay and the cash flow for a yoga practice simply isn’t there.

BUT…when the economy crashes do we allow our life practices to crash too? When jobs come and go and the stock market fails us, do we stop going to church, quit praying and give up on the higher power? I think during times of economic hardship we need to remain dedicated to our practice even more. History will always test us. There will be wars, recessions, rising gas prices, earthquakes, hurricanes, epidemics, the list of catastrophic events goes on. We may not be able to control history but we can certainly control our yoga practice by always returning to it. How we approach God may change, but God will always be there for us to approach. A true, committed yogi will not allow any recession to compromise their practice. I mean, technically, yoga is free right? By establishing a consistent home practice your bank account isn’t affected. And we ALL know that a committed yogi should have a home practice!

When it comes to health and wellness, we cannot suddenly cut corners or turn frugal. If we want to be recessionistas we should let go of things that are not good for us…alcohol, fast food, bar tabs, clothes, shoes, bad friends, anger, fear, resentment...we don’t need that stuff, and in the end, we really pay a huge cost by holding on to those things. We pay in stress, tears, high blood pressure, heart attacks, headaches and turning into plain old, unhappy, grumpy people...then we die and have to live out our bad karma all over again.

The economy should not be a further excuse to prevent positive changes in our lives. The economy will always change but we can always remain loyal to our inner self. By staying dedicated to the established tradition of yoga and its spirituality, no “recession” can ever touch us.

23 August 2008

Going into the madness to find a sense of peace...

Striking a pose on the Brooklyn Promenade - 13 August 2008

I was in New York City recently visiting a fellow yogini and I think it was one of the first trips where I spent a significant amount of time by myself. When I traveled in the past I was rarely left in solitude. I always believed that a vacation wasn’t really fun unless you were accompanied by others. The objective of my travels lately has involved visiting different yoga studios and learning from different teachers. My time in New York City was spent doing just that in addition to checking out museums, walking through parks, and seeing non-Broadway related performances. Being able to spend time alone and experience things on my own agenda felt very peaceful and relaxing. I didn’t have to concern myself with time or anyone else’s itinerary. It was absolutely amazing however a bit ironic that I found a sense of peace and harmony in the city that never sleeps. I am very thankful for my friend, Isa who put up with me for 5 days…

During my visit, I spent a day in New Jersey with an old friend who had an automobile-related tragedy about a year ago and is now confined to a wheelchair and lives in a rehabilitation center that treats brain injuries. This was the first time I had seen my friend in several years and I had been told by her Mother in advance that she was very different from the girl I used to know and to prepare myself to witness a lot of suffering at the rehab center. I won’t say much more about my experience visiting my friend but I will say that I left New Jersey on August 15, 2008 a very different person. As I sat waiting for the train to take me back to the City I wasn’t quite sure what to do with my emotions. I had never witnessed that type of suffering. Many of the patients at the center had been there for over 20 years, some had been abandoned by their families, and most would never fully recover from their injuries. I felt helpless, ignorant, sad and small. What did any of these people do to deserve this? I felt like I couldn’t do anything to remove the pain and suffering.

In some of my recent studying on Buddhism, I learned that the Buddha taught that you can’t reach Nirvana until you have passed the stage of becoming fully human. The only way to become fully human is to witness true suffering and take on that suffering as your own. I obviously still have a long way to go in extinguishing my “Self” but I felt like I became a little bit more human that day in Jersey. I don’t know what its like to be confined to a wheelchair, unable to communicate through speech and needing 24 hour medical assistance. What I do know is that I was immersed in a pool of human suffering and I swam through it and emerged totally drenched and a little out of breath but in the end feeling more refreshed and alive. I left a piece of my heart with my friend in Jersey and she gave me a piece of hers. Suffering doesn’t have to be permanent; it can be turned into something beautiful. From witnessing or experiencing suffering, we can learn to be more compassionate and treat others with loving-kindness. I think sometimes that all the misery and anguish in the world is a test to get us closer to divine love. As each day goes by, my friend gains strength, her smile becomes brighter and her eyes have an amazing sparkle. I see divine love in her and I will never cease to learn from her…she is an inspiration.

14 July 2008

Finding pain in all the right places...

"I am a work in progress,
dressed in the fabric of a world unfolding,
offering me intricate patterns of questions,
rythms that never come clean,
and strengths that you still haven't seen."
- Ani DiFranco, The Slant / The Diner
About a month ago I was practicing ashtanga and I injured my hamstring as I came down unevenly in supta konasana. Now, I’m a pretty tough girl and I hate to sound like a total wuss but it hurt….it hurt real bad…so bad I wanted to cry. Supta konasana was a pose I had done countless times without any difficulty or hesitation. Why did I screw it up this time? What was different about my practice on that day? I didn’t know the answer for a while but eventually it came to me because it was so obvious…I had become complacent in my asana practice. I have no idea where my drishti was at that moment or whether I was breathing properly. I wasn’t present at all. Bandas? Forget it, I probably threw those out the window too. I had done away with everything that is essential for a successful practice.

Initially, I was really mad about hurting my hamstring. My teacher told me to ice my injury immediately and when I thought I had iced enough to ice it some more then ice again until kingdom come. I tried this icing process but I had absolutely no patience for icing nor did I have the time to sit around and ice my butt all day. I became even more upset and frustrated when I tried practicing ashtanga a few days later only to discover I couldn’t do most of the asanas I had worked so hard to master for almost a year…grrrrrrr. I hobbled around for a few weeks mumbling and complaining about my pain but I wasn’t doing anything about it. I didn’t ice and I continued to wear high-heels despite my teacher’s strong advice against it. I couldn’t stop thinking about my pain as a huge set-back.

When I feel frustrated with my yogic development I often look to my teachers, fellow ashtangis and the revered gurus for some words of wisdom. I picked up one of my ashtanga books, turned to the commentary on Pantanjali’s Yoga Sutras and skimmed through some of the text I had highlighted during my teacher training. Part II of the Sutras discusses certain spiritual disciplines and how they can bring pleasure or pain depending on whether we allow various afflictions to cloud our minds. As it turns out, pain is really a condition of the mind, it isn’t physical at all. It is associated with fear, vice and impurity…all of which keep us in a state of spiritual ignorance. Because our bodies are poisoned with the ego, our actions induce sadness, attachment, aversion and lots of pain. When we are in this place of emptiness, we are unable to recognize what is eternal and pure or what resides in our own true nature. Only when we finally decide to confront our fears and stop viewing pain as regression and negative, we become free from it.

All the answers...right there. I acknowledged that my pain wasn't the result of any physical injury or response from my ashtanga practice; rather it was due to a mental blockage. My mind was in a state of delusion. I wasn’t present; I was totally distracted and completely unaware. That’s a recipe for ashtanga disaster.

My hamstring hurts less and less everyday. My pain has allowed me to be more present in my practice. It has become a catalyst for improvement because when I feel the pain, my drishti, bandas and breath get kicked into high gear and take priority over any physical discomfort. Naturally, because I’m still an unenlightened human, my ego gets in the way every now and then but my new mantra - I love my hammy, but I’m not attached to it – helps me along the way.

27 May 2008

Did this really happen?

The yoga crew with our teacher, Sati, Guruji and his daughter, Saraswati
23 March 2008

Expressing my Islamorada experience in words is not going to be easy…but I’m giving it a shot.

On the 23rd of March 2008 nine ashtangis, including myself, from Yoga Life went on an 8 hour road trip to Islamorada, Florida for the grand opening of the Ashtanga Yoga Research Institute U.S.A. Our excitement and anticipation was indescribable. Not only were we going to be witnesses to this amazing historical event in yoga history, we were going to be meeting the one and only, Sri Krishna Phattabhi Jois and his daughter, Saraswati.

When we arrived to the condo we began to get all glammed up with dresses, hair and make-up like we were meeting the Queen of England or something. On our way to the shala, Sati was in the back seat and I guess in a way of bringing us back to reality, she said, “guys, we’re about to meet Guruji.”

There are no words to describe how I felt walking into the shala and seeing Guruji for the first time. My immediate reaction was to cry…but I was able to hold it back. Then, I just felt extremely weak, like my legs were going to collapse. All I could do was stare at him and embrace the overwhelming sense of shock of being in his presence.

During the teacher training program, we talked about Guruji as if he were royalty (and he kinda sorta is), like he sat on a huge golden chair behind elevated gates and armed guards or something. But when I saw him, he was just…a man, with a gentle smile, soft, sparkling eyes and grandfather-like demeanor (who rolled into class on the last day with a beanie...I mean, how awesome is that?). From some of the stories I heard about Guruji, I think I was expecting someone more aggressive or intimidating. I will hold that memory deep in my heart.

And…oh….Saraswati. All I can say is “WOW”. She led most of the classes while we were there. She is just an amazing force of greatness. When I look at her I see loyalty, love, maternal goodness, strength…like it could have been my own Mother teaching class. It was so great to take led primary with her, especially since ashtanga was originally taught and practiced only by men. Having her walk by us during our practice sporting her adidas sweat pants and cute little fuschia-painted toes gave me a great sense of…I don’t know…triumph and comfort.

I remember over 2 years ago watching the NYC Guruji documentary on television with my Dad and thinking that I could never attempt such a difficult form of yoga. It was so foreign to me…I could never be a part of that “world.” Little did I know that one day I would be in Guruji’s presence and bow before his feet.

This is going to begin to sound like the academy awards now...but, I would like to take this opportunity to give express many, many, many thanks to my parents who have given me endless support (both financial and emotional) on my yoga journey. If it wasn’t for them, I’d probably have to resort to a life of crime in order to fund my yogic “excursions.” :-)
I also have to thank my fellow ashtangis/colleagues/friends/road-trip buddies/roomies for sharing this experience with me: Pinky, Isa, Sati, Pria, Annie, Radha, Stacy and Mia. In the words of Ani DiFranco "we gotta have a good explanation for all the fun that we had." I love you guys.

Lastly, I would like to thank my yoga teacher, Sati because without her ashtanga and Pattabhi Jois would never have entered my world. Thanks to her I have the understanding and education of Guruji’s impact on such an important aspect of my life. A shout-out to Sara Torbett for allowing Sati to cultivate the ashtanga program at Yoga Life.

I am so grateful to be a part of this amazing history…
Saraswati Namastubyam
Varde Kamaroopani Vidya Aarambham
Karishyami Siddhi Bhavatu Me Sada

02 May 2008

Finding Solid Ground

This time of year for a law student is very stressful. Final exams are beginning to rear their ugly little heads and emotions of anxiety, fear and nervousness are all around. Distractions suddenly begin to pop up. I have the immediate urge to clean my closet, tidy up my drawers, make cupcakes, and do anything that will distract me from having to actually sit down and just study.

Yesterday, I practiced Ashtanga primary series for the first time in quite awhile. I had gotten a bit too comfortable in doing half of primary series and forgot how challenging it was for me to do the last half of the practice. I think I kicked the girl practicing next to me a few times. I felt wobbly in my chatarangas and in my attempt at Marichyasana C I started to think about what the requirements were for an arrest warrant (letting my Constitutional Criminal Procedure class get the best of me). I even managed to screw up the closing prayer by taking over for the teacher mid-chant (good times).

Once again, I found comfort for my ashtangic short-comings in the Bhagavad Gita (you can seriously open that book to any page and find instant answers…its magic). In Chapter 3, discussing the Yoga of Action, Krishna says to Arjuna: “It is better to do your own duty badly, than to perfectly do another’s; you are safe from harm when you do what you should be doing” (3.35).

I practiced Ashtanga full primary. I got in the car and drove to the studio. I might not have practiced perfectly or been fully present, but I was there and how I practiced was where I was in my practice (I know that makes sense to all you yogis out there). I know I have a long and challenging road ahead of me in my Ashtanga studies but I acknowledge it, live with it and move on.

I look forward to practicing a few Mysore classes at Yoga Life this month and continuing to do what I should be doing.

Now, back to Constitutional Criminal Procedure….

~ Namaste ~

17 March 2008

Eat, Play & Ashtanga...Miami Style

With the sad news of Guruji canceling his long-awaited two-week workshop in Islamorada, a few of my fellow yogini friends, Isa, Pria & Finelli, decided to embrace the weekend and head to Miami to take Mysore classes at the Miami Life Center. We had heard what an amazing yoga shala this was from our yoga teacher, Sati and had taken several Ashtanga workshops with MLC co-founder, Tim Feldman. Thanks to Pria's Mother, who has a gorgeous condo in Key Biscayne we didn't have to worry about accommodations.

When we arrived at MLC early Friday morning on March 14th, the four of us were like little girls going to a giant dollhouse heaven. We were so excited to finally be in the presence of Kino McGregor, an Ashtanga teacher certified by Sri. K. Phattabhi Jois himself. When she entered the room, I looked over at Pria and mouthed the words "Oh my God!" as if Gwen Stefani had just walked into the room or something. We had seen this extraordinary woman on the cover of Yoga Journal, and on several YouTube videos doing amazing asanas that would blow your mind. When we began Mysore class, Kino controlled the room with an elegant, graceful dictatorship and peaceful intensity that sent chills throughout my body. There were many visitors at MLC practicing that day and she had this amazing ability of knowing where everyone was in their Ashtanga practice despite the fact that she had never met many of the practitioners before. Kino is definitely a great feminine power force of light, love and elegance. Her manner reminds me very much of Sati.

The next morning we took led primary class with Greg Nardi, who was like another famous celebrity to us. After class was over we hesitantly approached him like little groupies and asked if we could take a picture with him. We saw this man do a levitating hand stand on YouTube which left me speechless. The highlight of the class was when he had us hold head stand for 3 minutes (and its a pose I'm accustomed to holding for about 45 seconds, max...on a good day). That was such a humbling moment...Greg told us that he heard Guruji say many times that you can really only measure an asana by how long you can stay in it...something that I'm sure I've heard Sati discuss on an occasion or two, but it really made me think about my yoga practice and what I am really doing in it?

The day after Greg's class, we placed ourselves in familiar, comfortable and loving territory by going to Tim Feldman's Mysore class. Thanks to our yoga teachers at Yoga Life, we have come to know and love Tim from taking several workshops with him. His warm and friendly hugs and kisses immediately set us at ease for Mysore.

I had a realization in class at MLC that I am in a battle with Ashtanga yoga (and have been...for quite some time). Every time I practice Ashtanga, I am fighting with it. When I come to the mat to practice, I feel like I have armed myself with a sword and shield. When Ashtanga is defeating me in a certain asana, my body begins to defend itself against it. I become afraid that Ashtanga will win and take over me and hold me prisoner. I will have no choice but to surrender to Ashtanga and be it's slave forever. Any trace of who I was before will have disappeared and my identity will be lost...and there will be nothing left of me except the bones and remains of a caged captive. Then...fortunately...in moments of reason during the "battle", I think to myself...I should be SO lucky to be Ashtanga's slave, hellloooo! This is what I have been working towards....it's what I want to happen. Why am I so afraid to go to a place that I have established as my final destination? I know...it all sounds very dramatic for yoga...but, that's how it is.

When we weren't practicing Ashtanga at MLC we basically spent our time eating, laying by the pool, eating, listening to Ani DiFranco, hanging on the beach and more eating. The weather was beautiful, I never knew where my cell phone was and I did nothing related to law school for four days. It was AWESOME. I give much appreciation and many thanks to Tim, Kino and Greg and the MLC team for making our visit so beautiful, pleasant and wonderful. I also give lots of love to Pria, Isa and Finelli for all their openess and giving.

26 February 2008

Aaahhh...the Gita, my true love

During my yoga teacher training, the Bhagavad-Gita was a required text. I read it. I liked it, found some inspiration, got a little "wisdom." But I didn't really read it. The first time around, I was reading it as a pupil who was told to read it. I guess I was approaching the book like I would a homework assignment. Now that I have completed my training program I can't put the book down! It's by my bedside. I take it with me when I teach yoga class. I read passages from it to my students. There are all these tabbies sticking out of it. I know part of it has to do with the fact that I recently purchased a newer translation of it. The one by Stephen Mitchell, which Sati, my yoga teacher recommended. It is a much better edition than the previous one I read. I think the bigger part of it is that I am reading it with new eyes, a new identity, a little bit more "educated" intellect perhaps.

Now, I honestly feel like I am reading it for the first time. Everyday I continue to find new messages within it. When I read passages from the Gita, I seem to receive more clarity, more understanding and more peace. When I am looking for answers about God, life, death, friendships, my yoga practice, the future, anything, really, I pick it up and amazingly enough, the solutions are right there in front me. There is no need to search any further.

The passages that have stuck with me this week, and which I also read to my yoga class this morning, are in chapter 2. Krishna is talking to Arjuna about the practice of yoga and is beginning to enlighten Arjuna about "the Self "and how his mind is filled with delusion:

"This is philosophy's wisdom;
now hear the wisdom of yoga.
Armed with this understanding,
you will shatter your karmic bonds.

On this path no effort is wasted,
no gain is ever reversed;
even a little of this practice
will shelter you from great sorrow."


Mahatma Gandhi referred to the Gita as his Bible. I am definitely no Gandhi but I feel like the Gita is kind of my "Bible" too. I think...if I ever have a baby girl, her name will be Gita....even if I have a boy, maybe I'll still name him Gita. When I die, I want to be cremated and I want those crematory-people, or whatever you call them, to throw in a copy of the Gita with my body, so I can forever rest with it...in hard-copy that is....

23 February 2008

Vagina Warriors Unite! Ahimsa & V-DAY 2008!

Rehearsal for the Vagina Monologues has begun! For the next 4 weeks until opening night, I’ll be plugging the show, doing a bit of promoting. Performances are on March 21st and 22nd at 5 Points Theater in Riverside. If you are in the Jacksonville area, I know you will have nothing better to do than come and see the show. I am not sure at this point how much tickets are or what time the performance begins (I know, I'm such a well-informed promoter), but will post as soon as I find out. I believe tickets are in the $20.00 – $30.00 range and I think curtain goes up at 8 pm. Last year both performances were sold out, so get your tickets ASAP.
I can't give away too much about the show, but I can tell you that the goal of V-Day is to educate the community about violence against women and what to do to bring an end to it. For all you yogis out there, I know you are fully aware of ahimsa or non-violence, one of the yamas (observances) of the eight-limbed yogic path. The Monologues are ALL ABOUT ahimsa (I'm no Patanjali, but I know we need to practice ahimsa in order to reach samadhi, that little place also known as "enlightenment").
To learn more about the V-Day cause and the Monologues, visit http://www.vday.org/. All proceeds benefit the Hubbard House, a shelter for victims of violence and abuse. It’s for a good cause! Thanks for your support!

17 February 2008

Ladies & Gentlemen, Please Welcome "Shivani"...

Today was an amazing day. The weather was gorgeous. There was sunshine and a beautiful breeze. I graduated from my yoga program. The feeling that I've had all day is the feeling you get when you finish reading a great book. The story was so great that you're sad its over, you want to keep reading. It's like you feel emptiness, not a bad emptiness, just a sense of uncertainty about the next step to take.

My teachers, Sara and Sati put so much work into making it such a special day. We began the day by attending Pooja, which is a Hindu worship ceremony. The Hindu Priest went out of his way to welcome us and even focused his lecture around the different forms of yoga. We listened to his beautiful chanting and were extremely amazed when we recognized most of the chants he was singing! I am so grateful to Sati for having taught us those chants.

After Pooja, we went to Sara's house for lunch and the ceremony. The ceremony was so beautiful, warm and peaceful. Sati gave a very inspiring speech about the path of yoga and how yoga is a constant state of learning and pondering. She said, “To be a yogi is to be a spiritual adventurer who embarks on the most daring, mysterious, divinely lit ride of existence. And in the middle of it all, do not underestimate your power. Do not underestimate your core.”

This has definitely been an adventure and I definitely underestimated where this training program would take me. After her speech, Sati handed us our certificates and Sanskrit names. I had been waiting for this moment for 6 months with so much excitement and anticipation! When I opened the envelope and saw Shivani written on the piece of paper, I felt a sense of peace come over me. All of a sudden I felt like I had received some sort of closure from a life I had abandoned and forgotten about.

Shivani is the name of the Hindu Goddess, Parvati. From some of the internet research I read about Shivani, I learned that she was the second love of the God, Shiva. She was believed to be a reincarnation of Shiva’s first love, Sati. Parvati was also the mother of Ganesha, one of the most worshiped deities in Hinduism who is known as the “Remover of Obstacles.” Parvati is said to symbolize divine power and maternal devotion. In some Hindu communities, it is believed that Parvati is the source of all power in the universe because without her, Shiva would be powerless and weak. On certain festivals honoring Parvati, she is celebrated as the goddess of harvest and protector of women. She is typically depicted with bare breasts, carrying a pink lotus and showing the abhaya mudra which is a hand gesture of fearlessness.

I do feel fearless today. I love my new name. It’s beautiful and I feel honored to have received it. Except, now that I know that Shivani was a reincarnation of Sati, I feel like I have some major shoes to fill! My teacher, Sati is definitely an inspiration and I will always work to make her proud and promote the education she has given me.

Today is a day that no one can take away from me. I will always have today’s memories and the experiences in my heart. I know that the adventures have just begun!!!!

12 February 2008

Peace, Love & Yoga Graduation!

In just 4 days I will be receiving my yoga certification. 6 months of hard work over in the blink of an eye. There will be a ceremony, pictures will be taken, I have to wear my yoga uniform...its just like college graduation except cooler. The most exciting part is that I'll be getting a Sanskrit name. A new name. Wow. I don't know what it is yet, but I know that it will symbolize a new me. The person that Yoga and its philosophy has transformed me into. No matter what, I will cherish that name forever. I will keep it and hold it close in my heart....

Speaking of the heart, and with Valentine's Day just around the corner...it is always around this time of year when I begin to feel an overwhelming sense of love for the people around me. My law school classmates, my fellow yoginis & soon-to-be collegues, my yoga teachers, my professors. It's not the kind of love you naturally feel on a daily basis, but it's the kind of love that just makes you want to approach a person and give them a 10 minute hug for no reason at all, and if you don't you feel like you are going to burst. Each day I am extremely grateful to that Divine force for having brought me to Jacksonville so that I could meet these wonderful individuals. So many blessings, so much love, so many thanks....

Om Namaha Shivaya