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Here are some reflections from my practice and hopefully some inspiration for yours:

This winter and spring I have been concentrating on getting stronger through hiking.  It has felt important as I enter into middle age to not just move more, but to be in nature and to be reminded that my body is a vehicle for connecting with the wilderness.

My asana practice is simple and sweet these days.  I don’t try and get much out of my body- rather I attend to it so it feels good and balanced.  This attitude has been distilled from years of practicing in ways that were not necessarily simple and sweet.

Even though I have always gravitated to gentle styles and found teachers who understood the meditative and spiritual dimension of yoga, I still pressured myself to do more and more.  I imagine I thought that was my duty as a professional yoga teacher.   It took some time to realize I was inflicting pain upon myself rather than resolving it, and that was serving no one!

This is really a lesson regarding the Mind.  I didn’t know I was being aggressive.  I didn’t know I was off track.  My teacher Rama always emphasized a will-less way of progressing and I loved the message.  It just took years to bear fruit and flowers. Perhaps there is much more to come.   Meanwhile, I am pain free, at ease, and in awe with the way my practice has evolved.

This brings me to the concept of Mind/Body that I am playing with lately.  In the new brain science we see more than ever that the mind and body are integral, not distinct.  The mind is the body, the body is the mind.  Awareness and sensitivity are keys to integration, thinking and dissecting are disturbances.  Yogis and Buddhas and Mystics of all stripes have essentially agreed upon this- now there is a modern wave of contemplative science and study that affirms and explains the phenomena of integration.

It is an exciting and exhilarating new way of conceiving of self and human potential.   What does your body tell you?  How does the thinking and judging mind distort the information?  How do we enter into the energy and information of the mind/body, learn from it directly?  How do we translate this integration of being into our lives and world? What might it mean for the future?

In regards to your practice, I hope you have the opportunity to move more and the wisdom to will-less from your body.  I wish you the enjoyment of nature and the opportunity to touch into wilderness.  I pray that your own mind/body journey flowers into good health and spiritual integration.  And that each of our practices aids to the healing of the world.

Blessings and Light, Natasha

For many years I ran a yoga, meditation, and mindfulness program for Miraval: Life in Balance, and was regularly asked by our sales and marketing team to speak with journalists about our programs and what we do.  Inevitably I was always asked for “tips”.

I can do tips of course and it is good way to get very clear, very quick.  In the beginning it was exciting to be asked and a fun challenge and I always felt pretty good about what I offered up.  It was nice to see my name in print as the expert or authority and to get comments from friends, family, and colleagues about the publicity.  I’m happy to say that my name and advice popping up in an article in Woman’s Day was a particularly thrilling experience for my mother-in-law.   Yet more and more I felt dissatisfied about what ended up in print.

It was never quite what I said or meant, not the right context, it seemed banal and superficial.  The idea here was of course to simply get mentioned, to get attention to your cause, but it never felt quite right seeing the tips end up next to tips for removing cellulite or losing your belly fat, or having the perfect bath.  It’s like seeing the woman on tv who teaches yoga to professional athletes and swears by Advil for the days she is too sore or sick but the game must go on. It’s simply not the right message about these subjects.  It’s static rather than substance.

I don’t mean to sound cynical, I have benefited from the mainstreaming of these practices.  I am sure we all have benefited from these casual tips at some point and that we all need a little something different to get information across our filters.  We all deserve a good bath after all!  I will indeed keep giving tips and receiving tips.

Rather than cynical, I am curious.  Can I find a way to get clear, quick, and still transmit meaning?  Can tips be experienced as ideas, reminders, sparks that energize the reader or listener rather than concepts we mistakenly impose upon ourselves?  In my mind one tip truly received could change our lives’, it’s that simple, yet not that easy!

Three Tips for Maximizing your Experience of Tips:

  • Your breath is more important than anything you are reading or hearing or doing.
  •  You are already whole and complete, no improvement necessary.
  •  Let life live through you. (poem fragment from “Hokusai Says”, by Roger Keys)

When I was in my early 20’s a friend and her mother recommended I see a psychic they thought highly of.  I had already finished my undergraduate degree in history, was practicing yoga, and working in the food service world to get by.  The main question was what would I DO with my life?  What would I be?  It was a pressing concern.

The psychic was serious, lived simply, a devotee of Siddha Yoga, an astrologer , a lesbian, her house had a certain smell- old, a bit musty, like an old book.   I liked her and trusted her for some reason right away.

What I remember most was that she said clearly that I would be a teacher.  I flinched.  I had never particularly enjoyed school and never saw myself as a teacher.  I had a Bachelors of Arts degree and everyone always asked, “What are you going to do, teach?”  “NO” was my immediate response.  I had nothing affirmative to offer next.

“You won’t teach normal things, academic things, not a school room teacher.” I still had no idea what she was talking about and remember feeling deeply disappointed that there wasn’t something else offered up as a more appealing possibility.  Teach?!

Then my yoga teacher, Priscilla, asked me to teach for her one day.  She was going away and wanted me to simply fill in for her.  I was surprised and honored and felt that if she thought I could do it, I could and simply would.  I remember mapping out how a class might unfold together at the table in “Delectables” restaurant and thinking “here we go”, but not knowing what that meant.

I was probably nervous and undoubtedly self-conscious, but I have no recollection of that.  Only that I did it and would continue doing it and then suddenly Priscilla was saying that a teacher training program would happen, her first in Tucson, and that it was me who was begging for it.  I was?

I won’t share the whole story right now, only that the psychic was right and the journey into that truth, its realization, is the essence of what I am doing here with Yoga at Heart.   It is about me and it is about you and it is about the world.  I say that not to be grand, quite the opposite.  Utter humility is what I hope to embody as a teacher and give birth to in my teaching.  It’s about the teaching, it’s about you, it’s about the flow of the life force.  These are not normal things after all, not academics, not a school room…

The word ‘education’ is derived from the Latin root ‘educare’. While education refers to collection of worldly facts, educare is to bring out from within. Education is for a living while educare is for life.

~ Sri Sathya Sai Baba