I’m not dead. Or, how the yoga rubber meets the road.

me in India, only half dead

only half dead in India, 2008

Miss me?

I used to be a prolific yoga blogger.  I used to be a well-known yoga blogger, once called a fierce voice in the yoga blogosphere, and was even quoted in the New York Times during the Tara Stiles controversy.  But everything has its expiration date.

I got tired.  I got tired of writing about Yoga in OMerika because I thought, “what else can I write about?”  I read this excellent piece today and it addresses issues that I wrote about years ago.  Bottom line, same shit, different day.  Not much has changed since I started writing this blog in 2005, almost 10 years ago.  The funny thing is, you know how each generation thinks they’re original, like they’re the first ones to come up with an idea?  Kinda sorta how I feel when I read a yoga blog nowadays, like, been there, done that, you young whipper-snapper, ’cause back in my day….

It has also appeared for quite some time that the yoga blogosphere has become a tad cliquey, all rah rah, kiss kiss, pat each other on the back.  OK, a lot cliquey.  When I first started this blog the yoga blogosphere was a bit more outlaw-ish, the voices were of different tones, not so scholarly.  Not that there is anything wrong with scholarly (hey, I went to grad school), but I remember being called “anti-intellectual” by a well-known yoga blogger because I dared to question the overanalysis and didacticism.  I knew I was no longer in the top echelon of yoga bloggers (my tongue is firmly in cheek) when this post only received 5 comments where in the past I know it would have generated many more.  One has to be one of the Kool Kids now, someone who is Someone to continue to get your blog posts Facebooked, tweeted, or interviewed or asked to review books. You know what Groucho Marx said about being a member of a club.   Another photo of the latest celeb du jour walking into a yoga studio?  Really?

Over the past year I have had some major epiphanies that rocked my energy body.  Last March I dealt with two very problematic people on my yoga retreat in India who I realized later were my teachers.  Of course I did not realize it at the time because then I only wanted to kick their ungrateful asses into the Arabian Sea, but they taught me much about how to deal with people of their types so I thank them.  They were a lesson in how everyone can be your teacher and the more difficult ones more so.

I dealt with betrayal.  Lots and lots of meditation helped me with that one.  I am here to tell you that if someone fucks with you, just sit and meditate daily on their sorry ass until the vision of them no longer brings up feelings of attachment or aversion, until you can see them and feel neutrality.  It works and it’s wonderful.  Very freeing.  I learned to finally love myself completely.  Not a bad lesson to learn as I enter my 6th decade of this incarnation.

I dealt with trust issues I have with women and also (again) in my local yoga world.  The resolution to that is that I am damn fine with being alone and a loner.  Well, I was already, but I truly came into my own in 2013.  Probably because I finally owned what I do.  I’ve been teaching since 2002 and it took me all this time to realize that yes, I AM a damn good teacher, I am unique in what I do and fuck outside validation, I don’t need it.  My yoga is outside the box and I own the fact that what I offer is not found elsewhere.  I have studied with direct students of Krishnamacharya both here and in India and am damn proud of that.  Never mistake my confidence for arrogance.  Yes I do say I teach Real Yoga and don’t care if someone takes offense.  Mine is a bold statement and people like J.Brown who puts it out there when he says that he “seeks to change the dialog and direction of yoga practice in the west” inspire me.  You bet your asana I do the same in my little corner of the yoga world, one body at a time (“…you taught me more about Yoga in five minutes than anyone I’ve ever met in a yoga class, teacher or otherwise,” said a satisfied Yoga customer.)

I also finally came into my own as an energy worker.  That was a huge energetic shift for me in 2013, so much so the shift was also physical.  It is no coincidence that I learned I am part Native American (more on that below) in the same year I decided to make known the energy healing work I have practiced for over 10 years — because my work is akin to that of a Medicine Woman.  Energy healing is a deep, spiritual practice for me.  It feels natural.  I finally own that I am a facilitator of profound change.

I am happy to reside in my little yoga cave of my home studio with only two or three students in class.  If all my students suddenly disappeared, I am fine with that.  Bottom line, if I never taught another class in my life, I’m good.  The thought of never teaching again for whatever reason used to freak me out.  “Yoga teacher” used to be my identity but no longer.  I have peeled my onion layers down to the core.  Yoga is life, but Life is more than Yoga.  DING DING DING!  EPIPHANY TIME.  I am not This or That because I am so much more.

The biggest revelation of 2013 came to me in the form of genetic testing and discovering my true ancestry.  I grew up believing I was 50/50 German-Polish, but I also always intuited that I wasn’t.  I am part Native American, enough that I can self-identify as a Native American; unfortunately, a genetic test can not determine tribe.  Either I was the product of an affair or my sister was really my mother.  My nephew who is only 7 years younger is probably my half-brother.  How would you handle that if you found out in your late 50s that you were lied to about your heritage and parentage?

As for handling things, after planning my 8th trip to India (departure in 9 days) for yoga study, my yoga therapy course was cancelled just last week.  This affected my entire trip because my trips are a tax write-off — no yoga study, no tax write-off.  Plans I had made almost a year ago and reservations on planes and trains all had to be changed when I got the news.  I cancelled the last 7 weeks of my trip and I would have cancelled the entire trip but I would have lost too much money in airfare and other fees so my trip changed in one day from almost 3 months to one month.  Dharma 101: How Life Changes in a Second.

The day I received the news of the course cancellation I was more than a little freaked but by evening I was at peace.  A deep peace and I was surprised at how deep that peace was — because YOGA ISN’T REAL YOGA UNLESS IT HELPS YOU DEAL WITH HOW LIFE CAN CHANGE IN A SECOND.  

Knowing how I love India (in reality it’s a love-hate relationship), my friends thought I’d be more upset than I was about cutting my trip by more than half.  Nope, not really.  Because that’s where the yoga rubber hits the road.  What good is your yoga if you can’t deal effectively with life’s major and minor ups and downs?

As for Ma India Herself, if this upcoming trip is my last I am good with that.  Finally.  Because in the past the thought of never returning to India created such angst I would shake.  Even cry.  India is in my bones and always will be and each time I am there I know I am Home.  I know I will die there but just like Yoga Teacher became a piece of my identity, so did India.     DING DING DING!  EPIPHANY TIME.  I am not This or That because I am so much more.

Real Yoga sure as hell ain’t about the asana but I already knew that.  108 Sun Salutations or a sick arm balance would not have helped me when I learned that the woman I thought was my mother was probably really my grandmother.  Or maybe my sister is really my mother.  I will never know.  Made up yoga, as A. G. Mohan calls what passes for yoga nowadays, could never help me with that.

Real Yoga is so much more.  It’s Freedom.

the B.I.T.C.H. is back

B = Brave
I = Intelligent
T = Tenacious
C = Creative
H = Honest

“Embracing your inner bitch…means that you’re being strong and honest with yourself and those around you, and I think that’s a good thing.”

Thanks to Tabatha for that!

Yeah, you heard me. I’m back. But on a very limited basis.

Since I stopped writing in February I can’t tell you how many readers left comments on Facebook or wrote to me asking me to start writing again — or to write for their online yoga mags. It seriously overwhelmed me. Goddess bless you all!

I’ve decided to reopen this blog to post about SPECIAL TOPICS such as my upcoming trainings in teaching yoga to trauma survivors, a weekend with Gary Kraftsow, a week with Mark Whitwell, and a weekend with Erich Schiffman.

We’ll see how it goes, but I’m no longer into the blah blah blah of the modern yoga scene. It bores me.

The ayurveda teacher in my last training at the Mandiram said that a yogi is one whose prana is contained and doesn’t let it leak out with unnecessary blah blah blah (among other things.) Hence, “shut up and do your practice.” So no more snaps of my tats. Hey, I SAID TATS!

Others can write about the usual yoga suspects. Like Lululemon pants, how yoga makes you sexy, or a celebrity doing yoga on the beach. Whatever.

I remember what Kausthub Desikachar told us: if we do not teach others what we have learned we are nothing more than thieves.

I’m no thief. I’m a B.I.T.C.H.

Stay tuned.

 

kudos!

I want to acknowledge the two yogini bloggers who awarded me the MeMe Award. I am in good company with all of these blog award winners!

Thanks to girlwarrior of it’s all yoga, baby who said that I am “sassy, opinionated and sincere in her practice”, and thanks to Brooks at Yoga, the Mind and Culture who said “she’s really doing her yoga, and shares inspiration and road bumps along the way.” Thank you, thank you, thank you! I especially want to thank the yoga bloggers who supported me during the Troll Event — you know who you are!

I’m not really into rules but the rules to this award are that I should (1) share 7 tidbits about myself and (2) share this MeMe Blog Award with 7 blogger friends. As for those tidbits about me, I think if you read LYJ from the beginning you will certainly glean more than 7 tidbits about me (!!), but here goes:

1. My first OM was with Beat Poet and Buddhist Allen Ginsberg in 1973 when he came to my junior college for a poetry reading.

2. I’ve been green since the first Earth Day in 1970, many years before being green became the thing to do. I helped organize my high school’s Earth Day celebration and I ordered the Earth Day flag decals (they were cool!). I’ve never seen decals like that again.

3. I am also a garden designer. My business is Loba Landscapes…Gardens With a Touch of the Wild. My niche is native plants in the home landscape and eco-gardening.

Yes, that’s my backyard.

4. I was in a riot in 1970. Sly and the Family Stone were supposed to play a concert in Grant Park in Chicago and in those days Sly was known to show up late or not at all for concerts. People got upset and a riot broke out. I ran from the police just as they started to tear gas us. Ah….those were the days…the smell of tear gas and major doobage in the air, flowers in our hair….

I still loves me some Sly!

I am sure 1970 must sound like the olden days to many of you but throw the peace sign up, it will do you no harm!

5. I was named one of Illinois’ best high school poets when I was a junior.

6. Besides being an activist for the environment, I’ve always been an activist for women’s issues. I know some of you don’t remember the days before Roe v. Wade, but at that time when I was in junior college abortions were legal in New York City. As a member of a women’s liberation group at that time, I helped a few women get to New York City.

7. I am clairsentient and clairaudient.

I give this award to:

Shelley, for caring so much about India’s children;

Svasti, for being so real and open and honest and brave (we are both survivors);

Nadine, for being a fellow KYM-er, for being sweet enough to consider me her “yoga mother”, and for becoming a friend;

Amanda for supporting me and also becoming a friend;

Flowergirl, because I love her stories about India as much as I love India and because she has become my thankachi;

Fernanda, because she is as passionate about our Mother India as I am, and for becoming mi amiga (and who is trying to get me to teach in Brazil, YAY!);

YogaDawg, for obvious reasons!

Blog on!


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I get it….it was REVERSE PSYCHOLOGY!

Brenda left a comment on my Facebook page that maybe the Commenter Who Shall Remain Nameless is using reverse psychology to keep me on the air, to get me mad enough to keep me around.

Since my last post, the contributor in question to the Sadhana Bliss Chicago blog has made their Blogger profile unavailable and has changed their name to “fooled you” as if that in some way absolves him or her. You can form your own opinion about that.

I am shocked (in a good way) but heartened that two bloggers took up my cause, so to speak. Brooks wrote in her blog Yoga, the Mind and Culture:

“What provoked me to write about this is a comment she received about her announcement. It starts out like this: “would that you could go quietly into the night, but that would be too much for you to manage, wouldn’t it? at least you’re GOING.”

I am so saddened and shocked by this comment. Using a metaphor for dying quietly is just so hurtful and wrong to receive…”

…and AnthroYogini in Australia who went on to comment that it’s “cyberbullying by adults who should know better. I’m sick of people hiding behind their ISPs and typing nasty shit they’d never have the balls to say to your face.”

A blog troll is a troll is a troll so let’s not feed the trolls. They always come back to see what kind of a rise they got out of of the blogger. They lurk around, always reading the same post or comments to that post. And you know they keep coming around because you can tell by your site meter (and you also know where they live.) In actuality I probably should not have published the comment or written about it because doing that is exactly what the troll wants, but I felt that enough was enough, it was time to bring that type of activity out into daylight especially because it was in the yoga blogosphere.

Both I and this blog are acquired tastes so if you don’t like my style or my voice, don’t read. Simple. But for those of you who do like the spice, I will continue my “cathartic musings and occasional rants about my trips to India to study my heart’s passion, and my sweet adventures along the yoga path” albeit not as frequently. Only when the muse calls. I am concentrating on my upcoming trip to India and Africa.

Since I don’t want the last post for a long time to end on a sour note, I leave you with some good notes from one of my favorite musicians (and true yogi) Alice Coltrane. Enjoy.


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my life on the yoga D-list

I returned yesterday from my Level 2 Phoenix Rising Yoga Therapy training in Vermont to find out that there was a glaring omission in Yoga Journal’s story about yoga blogs — me. And how did I find out that Yoga Journal neglected me? From my brother from a different mother, YogaDawg. So just like a good brother he came to my rescue by mentioning me in his blog post about being anointed by Yoga Journal. He said that he “couldn’t let it go without giving you a plug at the end of my blog post”, reminding people that I continue to “kick yoga’s ass.” Thanks, bro!

Let’s see who else thinks that Yoga Journal should have put me on their A list of yoga blogs…Dr. Jay over at Yoga for Cynics who said “I think you should’ve been in the YJ blog list, too” and Yoga Dork who thinks that Yoga Journal should have also included “Linda’s Yoga Journey, Everything Yoga, Yoga Nation, Svasti and It’s All Yoga, Baby.”

I feel like Kathy Griffin. Kathy is a loud-mouthed, snarky broad from Chicago (what is it about Chicago women?) whose show My Life on the D List is hilarious (at least I think so.) The show follows her struggle as a self-proclaimed “D-list” celebrity to climb the Hollywood ladder.

Hey, wait a minute. This blog is about the same thing, only in a different world. This blog is about my journey up (and down) the yoga ladder and like Kathy, I’m also unplugged, uncensored, and unafraid to dish the dirt about what really happens on the yoga road. So how can Yoga Journal ignore me?

Yogini writers (real writers who actually get paid to write!) like Anne Cushman and Lucy Edge could not have been wrong when they wrote their kudos about LYJ. Over 30,000 global readers can’t be wrong. What’s a yogini blogger to do? I’m just so vaklempt that YJ writer Lauren Ladoceour did not think LYJ worthy enough to be listed on her yoga blog A List, especially not worthy enough to be called snarky and satirical! After four years and 300+ cathartic and snarky posts? Moi?!?

So just like Kathy Griffin who enlisted her mother, her assistants, and her Mexican housekeeper to call musicians to ask them to vote for her Grammy nominated comedy album (I know I am dating myself by calling it an “album”), I am asking all my lovely and faithful readers from all over the world to email Yoga Journal at letters@yogajournal.com to tell them how you feel about their glaring omission. In no uncertain terms. Let your throat chakra open up and speak your truth. Pretend that you’re calling Simon Cowell and voting for the next American Yoga Idol. Over 30,000 readers have passed through here so let’s see if Yoga Journal’s computers can handle all the emails! Yeah! Knock ‘em on their asana!

Listen, Yoga Journal, who needs your stupid list anyway? I will hold my head high and proudly channel Groucho Marx who said:

“I would not join any club that would have someone like me for a member.”

So there. Besides….

CONGRATULATIONS TO ALL THE YOGA BLOGS WHO MADE THE LIST….SERIOUSLY. MY A-LIST OF BLOGS, YOGA AND OTHERWISE, ARE IN MY BLOGROLL, SO VISIT THEM.

YOU CAN FIND THE BOXER SHORTS AT KATHY GRIFFIN’S WEBSITE.

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I am blessed….

….to have such readers.

Kevin is a long-time reader and has always been very supportive of my cathartic rants and musings about yoga. As what sometimes happens in the online world, we struck up an email correspondence about all things yoga. In fact, Kevin and his wife Erin had also planned to visit the ashram in South India where I was originally scheduled to spend two months but life gets in the way and they had to change their plans — so Kevin generously donated their deposit for my stay. I was overwhelmed by his gesture considering that we have never met. I will say again that I am always amazed at the support I’ve received in the global yoga community through this blog compared to my local “yoga community.” And those of you who have read about my misadventures with local studio owners know what I’m talking about.

Kevin and Erin have relocated to Mexico and have started blogging — Kevin and Erin in Mexico. So I was again overwhelmed to read Kevin’s latest post:

“How could I mention India without mentioning…..?

That “yoga and meditation” (if one has the hard-to-come-by understanding of what yoga actually is, pre-spandex and pre-group class zombie world) is a redundant phrase – and that if you want to learn why that is so, and so much else about yoga, meditation, life, music, great writing, wicked humor and what it means to really love India you must check out this blog:

Linda’s Yoga Journey

I find Linda’s depth and breadth of experience, writing chops and fearlessness very inspiring, and have learned (and continue to learn) so much about all of the above topics from her. Her blog is beautiful in so many ways, and a portal to a vast array of positive things going on in the world. Check it out.”

Wow, wow, wow. I am not only blessed but also humbled. Out of everything that he said, I am most touched that Kevin thinks I’m fearless, more so than being considered a good writer.

I want to take this time to thank Kevin and Erin and ALL my long-time readers — and I know who my regular readers are even if you never comment — for putting up with these “cathartic musings and occasional rants about my trips to India to study my heart’s passion, and my sweet adventures along the yoga path.”

I also want to thank all of the yoga bloggers who have put this blog on your blogrolls. I can tell from my site meter how people find me and I am amazed at how many blogs I’m linked to so mucho thanks for the link love!

May you all know happiness and the causes of happiness.
May you all be free from suffering and the causes of suffering.
May you all never be parted from freedom’s true joy.
May you all dwell in equanimity, free from attachment and aversion.

peace
shanti
a-salaam aleikum
so shall it be.

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this and that

I’ve been writing this blog since 2005. Blogging is the new journaling and I started this blog as a way of recording my thoughts, first, about my initial trip to India in 2005 — and at that time I never expected to be planning my fourth trip to India at the end of this year — and second, as a means of chronicling my own personal yoga journey. As the Grateful Dead sang, what a long, strange trip it’s been.

The blogosphere, and indeed the internet itself, is still a strange place to me — you make “friends” whom you never expect to meet, but if you really meet them, it’s a beautiful thing.

I used to be a moderator of an India travel website, through which the Universe has granted me two dear friends who I love to death — one is a woman in Chennai who calls me her older sister, akka in Tamil, and another woman in California with whom I will travel to the Kumbh Mela next year. A faithful reader who I have never met but consider a yoga friend has paid for my deposit at the ashram where I will study yoga therapy next year. Another reader has thrown it out into the Universe that maybe I should come teach at his holistic center in Taiwan that he is planning for some time in the future. If it happens, it happens, I am not attached. It’s all good, that’s the wonder of this thing we call the blogosphere.

And it always amazes how many people read this yoga blog. I post something and I can see on my sitemeter who logs on almost immediately to read my words, always the same cities. Y’all must not be too busy at work, so stop lurking and leave some comments! I also want to thank all the readers who have left comments of support regarding the trials and tribulations I’ve had with the yoga studios where I’ve taught in the past two years. I received more support from people in the global yoga community who don’t know me and will probably never meet me than from yoga peeps in my yoga world. Astounding.

I’ve received my share of blog awards from people who I consider my blog buddies. I’ve just received another one from Fernanda Lima who writes her blog All of Om or Tudo de Om from Sao Paulo, Brazil. Call me a simpleton, but I’m impressed that someone from Brazil loves my blog. A 17 year old girl from Uganda loves my other blog. It just amazes me.

Fernanda writes about India, yoga, ayurveda, and all things in between. Who knows? Maybe we’ll meet one day, either in Brazil or India. It’s obvious from her blog that Fernanda loves India as much as I do. How about it, Fernanda, mi hermana? Sorry, I know Spanish, not Portugues! Muchas gracias, Fernanda!

And then there are the phrases that people google and end up on this blog. According to my site meter, the most searched for phrases are:

Mark Whitwell

St. Theresa’s Prayer

and anything having to do with “hot yoga chicks”, “naked yoga”, “hot yoga babes”, “skinny yoga chicks”, etc. etc. etc.

Eeeeuuuuu.

But it’s all good. And I’m glad you like what you read.

I’m giving the Fabulous Blog award to non-yoga blogs:

my sister from a different mother, Utah Savage

another sister from a different mother, Liberality

new found sisters, Evil Slutopia

the woman formerly known as DCup

and one yoga/mind/body/spirit blog:

Svasti, for her courage.

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