Free Yoga Classes at 24 Hour Fitness This Week!

Attention friends and family in LA who like (or are curious about) doing yoga! All the mind-body classes at 24 Hour Fitness are free for guests this week (December 10-16). That means Pilates, PiYo, and, you guessed it, YOGA… with me! Here is my schedule for the week.

Leave a comment below or email info@coridom.com if you’d like to be my guest.

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Tuesday

8-9pm Mid-Wilshire

Wednesday

9:30-10:30am Glendale Super Sport

Thursday

9:30-10:30am Monterey Park

11am-12pm Pasadena (Downtown)

8-9pm Mid Wilshire

Friday

9:30-10:30am Pasadena (North Halstead St.)

Saturday

11am-12pm Pasadena (North Halstead St.)

Sunday Special, Vol. 17

Well, I’m just going to assume you’ll forgive me for this being a day late and this being the first time I’ve posted since last week. Just like I assumed (ie. prayed) everyone would forgive me for forgetting that the class I subbed this morning normally starts at 9am while all morning I was thinking that it started at 9:30 (like my other morning classes). I realized my error at about 8:54, leapt out the door and down the stairs, and thanked my lucky stars that I only live 10 minutes from the studio with few redlights in between. I was 3 minutes late and we started class with a few minutes of breathing and settling which, man oh man, if they didn’t need it, I certainly did.

 Gentlemen’s Fight Club Los Angeles

Health

I feel very excellent and nourished today after a very restful Sunday! I can’t say that I felt like this all weekend since on Friday night a friend and I went to happy hour at a cute little restaurant, followed by second happy hour at a sneaky little back bar, followed by regular old later in the night drinks at the neighborhood standard. Five drinks at night and teaching two yoga classes in the morning don’t really mix, per say, so Saturday afternoon called for a nap and some water and then a lot more water. (-)

Family

I’m Christmas shopping in person and online, basically everywhere I go, and I’m so excited to be going home in just over a week! (+)

Friends

I made some new ones and saw some traditional ones this weekend. We went to a new (to me) nightclub for a wild and fun time, and some took me to the tastiest vegan junk food place that made me briefly stop to reconsider my non-vegan ways. (+)

Mission/Work

After procrastinating tremendously, I completed ten hours of online training for a new part-time job and I’m psyched about it! I’ll be helping (mostly international) employees who have been relocated to work in Los Angeles get settled in, find housing, start driving, and generally figure out the city. It should be an adventure since I myself am still figuring out the city, but I have a bit more experience exploring and becoming acquainted with new places in a short time than most folks, so I’m hoping I can be of great help. (+)

Finances

Hmm there’s a delicate balance between making enough money to live and spending it all on Christmas presents. I’m trying to offer more handmade items and more of my presence this year, but there’s of course still a big part of me that doesn’t want to be known as the poor yoga lady who quit her real job and now gives only cheap gifts! I’m subbing a lot of extra yoga classes this week to keep things in the positive. (+)

Adventure

Going out in Hollywood is still always an adventure to me! (+)

Hobby

Well, I’m still crocheting the triangle scarf and I finished watching the Sopranos finally. I don’t know what to say about the ending… Also, at the diner in the last scene, everyone is eating onion rings by putting the whole thing into their mouths in one bite. Do you eat onion rings in that way?? I am much more of a multiple bites kind of gal. (+)

Spirituality

I am definitely realizing the power of a centering session. On Saturday, as I told you, I was in recovery from all the happy hours the night before. I took a nap and was wanting to feel fresh again, so I went to a class with one of my favorite LA teachers. It was harder than I expected a Yin/Yang class to be, but I left feeling so energized and completely reset. The teacher, Jeanne, is really something! (+)

Emotion

Excited for as much cookie baking as possible this week and for New York travels next week. (+)

Our Canyon Ranch Vacation, Day 4

The last morning of our trip came quickly, and we were already feeling nostalgic about having to return back to, sigh, regular life. Blah! My mom and I imagined out loud someday returning with my sister, since the three of us have always wanted to go together, yet we can never seem to get our schedules to align. My mom said maybe someday I could round up a group of girlfriends like she used to do. Apparently, if you visit with a group of friends, there is a way that the group organizer gets a free vacation out of the deal so, um, hi friends! ;) The last day was just a morning for my mom and a half day for me before I made my way back to the smoke scene of Los Angeles. Here’s what it was like:

6:15am Why are we getting up so early on vacation again?

7:00am We join the 50 minute speed and hill interval walk, which is enjoyable. We had considered taking an 8 mile scenic walk to check out a nearby canyon, but obviously that is a crazy amount to walk on a whim, so here’s a picture of it. You can imagine that we were there:

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8:00am The last breakfast! I cry into my french toast and bowl of yummy fruit muesli.

9:00am My mom does a multitude of exercises while I attend acrylic painting class. The description doesn’t tell me much of what to expect, and I’m worried it will be like one of those paint and sip parties where everyone has to paint the same thing and it’s a cherry blossom or a bridge or something else that you don’t really care about. Then I’m nervous because we start really slowly, learning about color theory by blending different quantities white and black into a single color. This lesson actually improves my knowledge of making colors, and after that we can paint whatever we want. I totally copy one of the paintings I’ve seen hanging on the walls at the Ranch, and it comes out pretty nicely.

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11:00am My mom’s flight is a few hours before mine, so we eat an early lunch and more dessert bars at the outdoor cafe.

12:00-4:00pm We’re rushed to say goodbye, but we’re both glad to have had this week of bonding together. I stay for a few more hours, enjoying the sunny desert weather, taking another Zumba class, and treating myself to one last soak in the hot tub. Then it’s time to turn in my plushy robe and slippers and head for the airport.

Between Tucson and LAX, I rope myself into helping a couple of Guatemalan women locate and reunite with their relatives, so I feel like I have done my part to give back to society after taking a week of luxuriously selfish pampering. Goodbye Canyon Ranch! I hope we see each other again soon.

Our Canyon Ranch Vacation, Day 3

Our last full day of fun! I’m not too sad because my regular life is a lot like life at The Ranch, and I’m sure my mom’s is, too. I was nervous to fly back to LA the next day in the midst of all the wildfire crises, but I am lucky enough not to live in the evacuation or danger zone. It feels extremely sad and scary to have a natural disaster hit so close to home. I feel guilty for not being in LA to endure the chaos, but thankful to be somewhere safe and flame-free.

 Paella

6:15am We wake up early again. Today is a little easier because mom agreed to turn on the heat in the room last night, so it’s not quite so chilly as we crawl out of bed and out the door.

7:00am Another morning walk. We decide to join the 50 minute power group this time. It ends up being much like the normal paced 40 minute walk because a couple tagged along who didn’t know what they were getting into. I just like walking and being outside, and I don’t wear a watch, so I don’t mind either way.

9:00am Zumba!!! I love taking Zumba and I love that the instructors here give us belly dancing wraps with fancy silver coins hanging from them. We dance and dance and dance.

10:00am I take a yoga class on surfboards. The surfboards are indoors on platforms, so it feels a little silly, but I’m pretending to branch out and try new and different things while still doing what I do every day.

11:00am My mom and I take a TRX fusion class with straps that hang down from the ceiling and heavy kettlebells. I’m a little worried since we’ve already been working out for like 3 hours at this point and it’s marked on the schedule as a Very Difficult class, but we have a good time anyway. The instructor is entertaining, and I appreciate his enthusiasm although we stop giving full effort about halfway through the class.

12:00pm We return to lunch in the main restaurant. This time, there’s a pasta bar plus the usual lunchtime offerings. I again eat everything and end up feeling much too full after. I’m glad there is enough exercise around here to balance out all of the deliciousness.

2:00pm I meet with Leslie the psychic for a Tarot card reading. They really do have everything here! She tells me that I attract narcissistic partners (I’m a blindfolded woman surrounded by swords!) and that my near future will contain a wonderfully sunny period followed by the image of two people leaping from the windows of a burning tower. Things are looking good…

3:00pm I’m back in the room trying to write a book for National Novel Writing Month. I’ve been sticking to the daily word requirements, and I won’t let vacation knock me off track. I will end up getting knocked off track after vacation, but that’s another detail for another time.

4:00pm We make our daily visit to the spa for a quick dip. I bounce back and forth between the cold and hot tubs, and I think I could get used to this. The cold pool is very icy, but I can definitely feel a difference in my muscles the following day.

5:00pm It’s Spanish paella night! We’re excited so we get there too early and end up having some time to kill. We look around to find the “Live Ranch Music” and find that it’s an elderly man playing piano in the lobby. We run back to the room to grab our books to read on the couch by the fireplace. Someone requests that the pianist play “Thanksgiving Songs”, but isn’t sure if there are any or which ones he would like to hear.

6:00pm BINGO time! They’ve moved the game far away into one of the conference rooms, and we walk along the winding paths to get there. The adobe buildings all look similar so it’s easy to get lost here, at least for us, but there are usually signs and friendly employees to point you the right way. We have a nice time playing Bingo for prizes, but neither of us comes close to winning unlike the group of women behind us who each win 2 times in a row!

8:00pm We have to exit Bingo early to get our second round of massages. It’s not a huge loss because our cards are all duds, and getting an immediate massage is a much better prize anyway.

Our Canyon Ranch Vacation, Day 2

Pardon the interruption as I was taking a little Thanksgiving break, but I’ll return to our detailed account of a Canyon Ranch vacay! Day 2 was our first full day of taking advantage of everything the resort had to offer.

6:15am My mom’s alarm goes off and I reconsider my level of interest in the morning walk. It’s cold! And I didn’t sleep well the night before. But I decide to urge myself out of bed so I can see more of the scenery around the ranch.

7:00am We meet in one of the gyms with a group of other walkers to split up into three groups. There are 30, 40, and 50-minute guided walks and the leaders are very peppy for my 7am self. We decide to stick to the middle and head out for a nice walk. I decide to decorate my future home in the color scheme of a Saguaro cactus desert.

8:00am The air warms up on the walk and I see some of my favorite cacti. We’ve worked up an appetite so we head to one of the breakfast options for pretty much anything we could possibly want to eat for breakfast including a fruit/yogurt/oatmeal bar, omelette station, pancakes, waffles, eggs, and other special menu items.

9:00am We take another yoga class, foregoing my promise to try new and different things.

10:00am We stumble upon some kind of cardio class that uses exercise balls and Bosu trainers. I like it and it gives me some new ideas for my own workouts. Then I head back to the room to work on a writing project for a little bit while my mom goes off to join another class.

12:00pm We visit one of the lunch and learn sessions in the demo kitchen where a chef shows you how to make yummy healthy meals while you watch him work and then get to eat whatever he’s making. We learn about brown butter shrimp and winter squash gnocchi, and I’m happy to devour it. I learn that you can make gnocchi much, much more easily by putting the dough into a pastry bag, and then squeezing out a bit and slicing it straight into boiling water. I’ll have to try this at home.

2:00pm Water aerobics! I am not usually a fan of swimming in outdoor pools when it’s below 80 degrees, but the water is heated and I’m trying new things so I join the pool full of eager classmates. It’s not bad, but too cold for me and run-swim-leaping from side to side across the pool is not enough to warm my spirits. I want to quit early but I like the teacher and don’t want her to think it’s because of her. Probably won’t do water aerobics in November again.

3:30pm We stick to our afternoon spa date and enjoy the hot tub(s). I try to master my mind and body by dipping into the cold tub. I turn my back to the clock and try to last a minute, which ends up being the longest 60 seconds of my life. I’m not sure how long you’re supposed to stay in the cold dip so I retreat back to the scalding waters of the hot tub. I think the cold helps my muscles though since I don’t feel sore at all the next day.

5:00pm We return to the room to get ready for dinner, and my mom spots a group of these babies just outside our door:

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6:30pm We eat in the same restaurant as the night before. There’s no need to branch out when the entire menu looks and is so good!

8:00pm My mom booked us massage appointments, which is one of the best ways ever to round out the day. My masseuse is a little heavy on the foot massaging, but I’m thankful for the overall pampering. I fall asleep easily again.

Our Canyon Ranch Vacation, Day 1

In case you missed it, my mom took me to the most wonderful wellness retreat in Tuscon, Arizona a couple weeks ago, and I promised I would tell you more about it. The purpose of the trip was to celebrate my belated 30th birthday. I moved to LA about a month before my b-day, so I wasn’t ready to make any travel plans to close to the move date. Luckily, my mom is retired and her golf and tennis schedule allows for frequent vacations. And, if you didn’t already know, my yoga teaching schedule does too!

I learned about Canyon Ranch when I was younger, because my mom used to go with her girlfriends for a week every year. She would come back carrying logo-bearing tote bags and fancy water bottles and tell us about pampering spa treatments, so my sister and I have always been curious. Unfortunately, Elayne the vet was busy slaving away at her internship and couldn’t join us this time. Hopefully there will be a next time when the three of us can go together.

Before leaving, I knew that we were going to a nice, outdoorsy type of spa place, but I didn’t know what to expect. My mom had revealed that there would be yoga classes and healthy cooking demos, but that’s the extent of what I knew. I imagined a bunch of older, already pretty healthy women treating themselves to spa day. But during our 4-day relaxcation, I found that Canyon Ranch actually offers a lot more than spa services. I was pleased to find a more holistic approach to health— the classes range from cardio bootcamps to lectures on technology addiction or running on an underwater treadmill. There were people of all sizes and adult ages. People suffering from loss, mental illness, and addiction. Families celebrating together. Men and women on their own learning about self-care. There seemed to be something for anyone interested in improving their physical, emotional, and mental health or simply looking to recharge and reset the system.

 Canyon Ranch yoga

Here’s a daily schedule of some things that we experienced:

Wednesday

11:00am I arrive after a quick up and down flight from LAX. Driver Dan picks me up at the airport with a sign that has my name on it. I feel very elite.

12:00pm I check into the resort and find my mom at the outdoor cafe. We split a tasty portion-controlled salmon burger and some desert bars. I learn that everything on the menu is all-inclusive, but it’s not a buffet, so you can really order one of everything on the menu if that’s your game.

1:00pm We’re early, so our rooms aren’t ready yet, which doesn’t bother us. We stop at a shoe shop in the hallway to talk to the foot specialist about my lingering foot problem (I have a bone spur on one of my heels). Before I even stand up out of the chair, she comments on my right foot collapsing inward. She watches me walk from 4 angles on a treadmill and has me step across a sensory pad. My mom and I both end up getting new running/walking shoes. Mine are meant to correct the way I’ve been compensating for the heel spur. This ends up being the most valuable life takeaway of the trip for me. I can run pain-free again!

3:00pm We take our first class— Yogilates. I realize that I miss the strength and slow control of Pilates; it was my gateway into yoga and my first teaching stint. I feel inspired to incorporate it more into my yoga classes.

4:00pm We stay for Yoga Vinyasa flow, even though I said I was going to branch out and try other forms of movement on this trip. Oh well. You can take the yogi off the mat, but you can’t put the yogi back into a room full of mats and expect them not to practice.

5:00pm We decide to skip meditation class, having just done two hours of controlled movement and breathing. We head to the room to check in and unpack.

5:30pm We visit the spa area and change into our bathing suits and plush robes. There’s a eucalyptus aromatherapy room, a regular steam room, a sauna, two hot tubs, a cold dipping pool, showers, a nude sunbathing area (maybe good for sunning the skin, but I’m with my mom, so come on…), and a room where you can apply masks and body scrubs. And if you lose your towel or robe there are about 600 other towels and robes available to you.

6:30pm Dinner time. I order almost everything, and it is all delicious.

8:30pm My mom made us facial appointments. What a treat! I would pay a lot of money just to lie down on the facial bed again because the way it is sloped and padded makes me the most comfortable I’ve ever been. Usually I would change someone’s name if I’m going to talk about them, but Euvgenia, my Eastern European facialist, has the most amazing presence and facial skills. Seek her out! Afterwards I visit the restroom where all the walls and ceilings are mirrors and there is a hanging chandelier. I can’t tell if I’m just extremely relaxed or I’ve been transported into a Las Vegas drug-induced experience. 10 out of 10 either way.

10:00pm Easy bed time.

New Weekly Schedule!

I’ve got a new weekly schedule starting today, and I’m excited to share it with you. You may notice some new classes on here, and the fact that I won’t be teaching at Seishin Karate Dojo anymore. The owners have a new baby and the decision to offer nighttime yoga classes was interrupting her snoozing schedule. I’m bummed not to be working with them, but glad I got to meet them and baby Grace.

If a public class isn’t what you’re looking for, you can always contact me to set up a private (info@coridom.com). Here’s how my days are looking:

Monday

Tuesday

Wednesday

Thursday

Friday

Saturday

Sunday

Free/Teacher training day!

New Classes!

Hi friends doing yoga in LA… I am starting a new all-levels flow class this week and I’ve posted the details below. I will also be subbing the Tuesday 12-1pm flow class at Mockingbird Yoga in Eagle Rock for those of you who are wanting some mid-day yoga on a Tuesday.

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Days: Tuesday & Thursday

Time: 6-7pm—Get there early for street parking!

Location: Seishin Karate Dojo in Highland Park

Price: $10 drop-in

I’ll be holding this class every week starting October 2nd, and I look forward to practicing together and building a community of interested yogis.

Women's Yoga Series

Hi yogi friends! And, more specifically, lady yogini friends! I’ve got two videos that may be relevant for you, if you ever struggle with cramps before or during your period.

It can be a drag, but it’s special and something that connects us, or at least gives us a reason to hang out and complain and eat chocolate every month.

Check out these two new classes. We’re keeping it very chill:

Yoga for PMS/Cramps

Yoga for Period Pains

Success and No-Success

Well, I was going to give you all a week-by-week recap of my 300 hour teacher training with YogaWorks, and suddenly here we are in week three already! How did that happen?

Our 30-person group meets every other weekend for a workshop on revolving topics (ie. standing poses, hands-on adjustments, pre- and post-natal, etc.) and every Wednesday to discuss philosophy. During the weeks we study under an experienced mentor teacher to attend and assist her classes. We also work in smaller groups of 5-6, all under the same mentor, to practice teaching and receive more personalized guidance.

We're now two workshops, two Wednesdays, and many mentor classes in and, flashing back to week one, I'll try to pick out a most interesting observation from each week.

The lectures that tend to stick with me best are usually the philosophical studies, and our first night class on the Bhagavad Gita kept me thinking long after returning home. The story reminds us of an important aspect of life--discovering our purpose, our dharma, and acting according to it without attachment to results, awards, or success. Can we find our purpose and keep fulfilling it when it doesn't bring riches or glory? And even if it does, can we stay true to ourselves and keep doing it, unaffected by the powerful ego?

Our teacher left us with a quote:

"While remaining the same in success and in no success, such sameness is said to be yoga."

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After two and a half years as a yoga teacher, I feel a certain reassurance that this teaching is what I'm meant to do. When I pass auditions or someone returns to my class regularly, I see it as a sign that I'm doing well. But really, the assurance is not about any of that; it's the joy and the flow that I get from the teaching itself. Likewise, in any work or activity we undertake, like playing an instrument or writing a book or taking care of someone, we often find ourselves doing it for the sake of doing it, unselfishly and without concern for a return on investment, simply because something inside said it was right. And that's when we really know it's the stuff for us.

Hands-on Healing

One thing I love about teaching is that it cannot be separated from the other meditative practices that I'm working on in life. As I teach and work to improve my teaching, I am continuously reminded to step myself, the ego, out of the way. It's distracting to wonder throughout class, "Am I doing this right? Are my words getting through to everyone? Do they like me?" Sometimes it feels impossible not to have those thoughts, but the more I focus my attention on what I'm doing, the more it seems like the teaching is coming from a deeper source, and I'm just another student along for the ride. 

And I'm sure it comes as no surprise that the yoga world has led me to other forms of spiritual practice and healing. It seems like every yoga teacher these days eventually becomes enveloped in a circle of tarot cards, a force field of crystals, and the mist of essential oils. My journey led me last week to become initiated in a more ancient form of energy healing, called Reiki.

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I visited my teacher, Mer's, house for the initiation ceremony where she worked with me to explain the details and benefits of the practice:

"Reiki is a Japanese word that means Spiritually Guided Life Force Energy or Universal Life Force Energy. It’s an ancient form of energy healing that has a Higher Intelligence that knows exactly how to heal the physical, emotional, mental and spiritual levels of
our bodies."

Reiki is a hands-on healing technique that balances the spirit, promotes joy, and supports a health body. It has been found to lower blood pressure, reduce stress, lower respiration rate, raise red blood cell count, fight insomnia, and, anecdotally, produce some healing miracles.

As Mer and I discussed the format of a healing session, many of the Reiki principles rang true to me, because doesn't this sound like what we should be doing for each other all the time?

  • Focus on the person's highest good
  • Stay in the present moment
  • Provide a safe space that is comforting
  • Stay away from ego
  • Always work with integrity and authenticity

Even if you're not a believer in a thing called Universal Life Force Energy, there is something special about the healing power of touch and a conscious connection between two human beings. 

I'll be spending the next month or so practicing Reiki on myself, so that I may soon be able to offer it to others. Stay tuned!
 

 Reiki Level One Certification

Recap: YogaWorks 200-Hour Teacher Training

I talked to my grandma on the phone the other day, and she said she was happy to hear that so many things are going well in this little life of mine. She also said that she wishes I would go out to more places to meet single guys, because she enjoys having a boyfriend since he waters her plants regularly. Would be nice. Luckily, I share plants with one of my roommates who helps out with the twice daily watering that Southern California necessitates. Plus, I am of the belief that there is much to be gained from tending to one's own garden.

 YogaWorks teacher training

The number one reason things have been going so well is because last week I graduated from YogaWorks 200-hour Teacher Training! I was incredibly pleased with the program and ended up learning a ton of new information, even though it was my second time around doing a 200-hour certification. I found that the two programs that I've completed balanced each other perfectly-- the YogaWorks program was very anatomical and alignment-based while my training in 2016 with Dharma Yoga in Austin focused heavily on spirituality and weaving a themed flow into classes. It was a nice harmony to receive two different perspectives on teaching. 

The month went by so quickly, although I experienced various waves of emotions over the 4 weeks. Some days I was feeling tremendously lucky to be doing something I love all day; other days I was so worn out in my body from hours of yoga practice and exhausted in my brain from hours of studying. I couldn't believe it when the last days arrived. It was bittersweet to leave our group after spending so much time together during the month of intensive learning and yoga. But I'm happy that a few of us will be continuing onto the 300-hour program, starting this weekend.

I packed up my Santa Monica sublet and headed back to the trendy streets of East LA. Although it was hard to tear myself away from the beach scene, I'm excited to be settled back into my sweaty non-air conditioned room that's starting to feel more and more like a home.

Spilling (even more) Secrets

I suppose I left you hanging a bit after the last secret-revealing post. But the secret was that I left my job! Of course, it's only natural that you would wonder what's happened since... 

After about a month of working there and already contemplating leaving, I asked for a sign that would tell me what to do. Later that week, I crashed my car. And I'm not attempting to take responsibility off of myself for being an inattentive driver, but that was a pretty big sign to me!

So I put in 3 weeks notice and booked a long trip home to capitalize on the newfound time off. I didn't know what to do. The jumping is always the scariest part. 

 Yoga mat

Since then, some happenings have come together. I applied for and received a scholarship to do another 200-hour yoga teacher training-- the same level that I have now, but this one is certified by the Yoga Alliance which is a whole important or maybe not-so-important deal. Then in August I'll start a 300-hour advanced teacher training which is a deeper level for yoga teaching professionals who want to know most, if not all, of the knowledge. 

For the month of July, I've been subletting a room in Santa Monica, riding my bike to the beach, and basically making all of my California dreams come true. Add to that studying yoga 40 hours a week and it is feeling pretty alright to me.

 YogaWorks Teacher Training

No matter how twisted your path has become or how fearful you might be to switch directions, remember that it's never too late to change your mind. That just might be what this is all about anyway: 

"A further meaning to the word yoga is 'to attain what was previously unattainable.' The starting point for this thought is that there is something that we are today unable to do; when we find the means for bringing that desire into action, that step is yoga. In fact, every change is yoga."

Right Places, Right Times

Sometimes circumstances come together in such a way that it makes it impossible for you to doubt any of the steps you've taken to get to the point upon which you're standing in that exact moment. That's how I felt a couple weeks ago when I drove up into the mountains of Malibu for an Earth Day yoga weekend with my friend/teacher/mentor/inspirational goddess, La Mer.

 Malibu Mountains

I met Meredith three years ago in Austin through a web of mutual friends and wild women who were drawn to yoga and healing. My friend Beth had asked if I would like to come to a ladies' day of yoga, meditation, and honoring the divine feminine. I was practicing physical yoga regularly; I hadn't gotten into teaching or much of the spiritual side yet, but, yes, of course I would like to participate in a day of ritual practice with flowy women like me. We went to Lauren's house, which was still under construction at the time, but already filling up with cozy magic (and bulldogs). We spent the day moving mindfully, exploring our inner selves, and listening to the rhythm of the rain on the roof. It was one of my first experiences with any type of yoga retreat, sound baths, energy healing, and bringing women together to talk about our femininity in a spiritually attuned way.

 sound bath altar

Mer came back to Austin seasonally over the next few years. I got a taste of Spring, Summer, Fall, and Winter practices and rituals to follow the cycle of a year. I experienced different cycles within myself, too. On that first rainy afternoon in the attic, I asked for guidance growing up. I wanted to step into my role as a woman, but still maintain the childish playfulness that feels like a big part of who I am. In the following sessions, I alternated between feeling enchanted, collapsing into tears about loss and uncertainty, and slowly gaining the confidence to share my voice. I became a teacher and began attempting (I'm still attempting...) to create the safe, open spaces for growth that Mer and all my teachers have provided for me.

In April, Lauren sent out her usual invite that Mer would be coming back to Austin for a Spring women's workshop. I replied that I was disappointed to miss this round, but I knew that Mer lived in LA so I could find her at one of her weekly classes. To my delight, Mer wrote back to me that she would be offering her first retreat in nearby Malibu later that month. I immediately signed up.

 Malibu Airbnb

The weekend started with a crawl up into the mountains of Malibu-- I hadn't even known you could go up there!-- to a hillside chateau with the most gorgeous view. I tried not to think of leaving on Sunday and imagined that it would be my home for now and forever. That night, we claimed the space and set our intentions for the weekend. We drew from a deck of goddess cards. I was lead to choose the Mother of Seas, a symbol that offered to help me trust my innate knowledge and claim my role as a healer. I was surprised that Mer remembered my request from our session years ago. I had knelt in the attic in Texas asking to grow up while staying in touch with my inner child, and now in California, in full view of the sea, I drew the mother, a nurturing guide with the wisdom to protect and to teach.

 Yoga deck

We spent the rest of the weekend exploring deeper meditation practices and bowing in reverence to our Mother Earth. The six of us formed an intimate group. We were all different-- single ladies charting their paths, mothers reclaiming their bodies, divorcees finding their way back to themselves-- and we were all the same-- lovers of the planet we inhabit and women on a mission to hear our voices ring pure in the world. I had something to learn from all these ladies and the experiences they brought to our altar. I was especially grateful to meet an assortment of ages; most of us were in our 20's-30's, but one older yogini shared the irreplaceable wisdom and humor of her years.

 Malibu sunset

We hiked around the property, sang and danced harmoniously (debatable) with hand-painted squash shakers, and capped off each evening with a restful meditation to the sounds of crystal bowls. Our weekend culminated on Sunday when we kayaked out to sea. I'd never been ocean kayaking before, and I am pretty remedial with still-water kayaking, so getting the boat out past the break proved challenging for me. We toppled over a few times and scratched up our legs a bit, but eventually I was able to push our boat onto a more stable surface and flounder aboard. It was such a relief to glide gracefully over the the waves. I worried about making it back to shore, but, when the time was right, the sea guided us gently back in.

What a weekend. I am learning to trust the flow within me and all around me. I know that with all these strong women to guide and support me, I'll always end up in the right place.

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New Video: Sacral Chakra

This year, I've been doing my best to put up a new yoga video just about every week! We'll see how that goes now that I'm back to working full-time, but so far, so good. This one targets the hips, or the Sacral Chakra. It's the third in a series of chakra videos that work on opening up different areas of the body. You can check them all out here.

As always, I hope you are enjoying them or courteously ignoring them. Feel free to send over any requests!