Don’t Postpone Joy!

Posted by Lydia Merl | Uncategorized

dont postpone school

I recently spent the weekend on a yoga retreat in Maine with Caroline Wybar.  She relocated from Delray to Stonington and, though I did not know her well when she lived in Florida, I recognized her as a senior teacher despite her young age. Some people just have old souls, ya know? Caroline’s strength and resilience and willingness to share her wisdom while remaining humble and eager to learn inspires me.  Stonington is a sleepy little lobster fishing town off the coast of Maine that is capital S small town but so charming and so unapologetically New England that its easy to see why she chose it.
On Sunday morning our group got up early and set out on foot toward the community center for our yoga practice. Caroline suggested there was a possibility the “Church of the Morning After”, which meets in a local tackle shop, might be in session.  She was afraid they might only convene every second Sunday and, as she had seen them the Sunday before, wasn’t hopeful.  But, as luck would have it, they were.
And it was glorious.
A room chock full of decades of paraphernalia.  There were nets and traps; paint cans and paint splatter.  Buoys, ropes, tools, nuts and bolts and Maxwell House Coffee cans over brimming with gear. There were water bottles and soda cans and old takeout containers along with yellowed newspaper clippings tacked to the walls.  Posters and pictures and private jokes galore and amongst it all, there were musicians. 
The coolest woman you’d ever want to see belting out “Route 66” while playing the drums (who coincidentally is the Iyengar certified yoga teacher from a neighboring town!!) surrounded by people playing guitars and banjos and harmonicas and even a mandolin.  It felt as if we had walked on to a movie set and these people were straight out of central casting.  Our plans for a morning yoga practice swiftly changed to hunkering down and communing with the locals at the Church of the Morning After. 
I mention the name more than once because it has significance to the story. You see, Caroline, our (as it turns out, literally) fearless leader is a recovering alcoholic. The people in this room don’t know Caroline but some probably share a similar story.  As each musician took their turn choosing the song they’d sing, and passing around the microphone, the group leader, Steve, would make jokes and jabs. Despite the razzing there was an unspoken respect and acceptance that felt like a big bear hug. No matter the talent level all were welcomed and encouraged to participate.    
We stayed so long that eventually Caroline snuck out to return home to go to the bathroom.  When she returned she had the words to a song that held special meaning for her and her recovery, in her pocket.  She wanted to sing but was intimidated to step in. She vowed she would do it “next week’.  I don’t know if the woman in the band overheard or she could just feel Caroline’s energy but damned if she didn’t turn to Caroline and ask her if she wanted to sing? She asked if there was a song that was just bursting from her heart that needed to be sung to the heavens?  I could feel Caroline’s nerves and her impulse to say no (or was that mine?). Yet something in her knew if she didn’t do it then, she might never, so she got up and sang, legs shaking and voice quivering but growing stronger with each breath. The moment brought me to tears. 
I’ve thought about why and decided it comes down to bearing witness to someone truly opening their heart: to a place and a way of being in the world and just a deep yes to life’s simple pleasures.  It turns out that I admire Caroline for her vulnerability even more than her strength. My wish for all of us is that we learn the difference between fear that helps by keeping us safe from pain and fear that hurts by holding us back from joy.  When we shine we give others permission to do the same.  I deep-down-know I will remember this moment for the rest of my life and especially when the impulse to postpone joy out of ungrounded fear rears its ugly head.     So…go ahead. Take a risk.  Do something that makes your voice quiver and your legs a little shaky.  I’m willing to bet you won’t be sorry you did!


Written by Lydia Merl
I’m a terrible procrastinator. Or maybe I’m a really great procrastinator. Either way you look at it, I’m aware that this is not my best quality but it has been a persistent presence in my life. I know procrastination stems from fear and self-doubt and it rears its ugly head whenever I am tasked with something that triggers my vulnerability. When I do finally do the thing I’ve resisted I’ve gotta admit, I feel like superwoman. That superwoman feeling is pretty irrational when the put-off task is something mundane like making an overdue phone call or finally responding to an email but sometimes, like when I finally post my blog, that superwoman feeling feels totally justified!

Back in college, I missed an opportunity to study abroad because I let the deadline for registration pass. In my defense, it required a written essay that I didn’t want to write, but that I did write. My topic was procrastination, however, I didn’t mail it in time. I wish I could say that I was being ironic but it was completely unintentional! The truth is, that voice inside me told me it would be better to not get in because I missed the deadline than be rejected because I’m not good enough. Each time I give in to that saboteur inside my head I fulfill her prophecy but when I resist her temptations, she shrinks.
Practicing yoga helps me quiet that “I’m not good enough” voice and has led me to other self-care practices that also keep her at bay. Be good to your body, your mind and spirit reap the reward. Be good to your spirit, your body and mind win. Be good to your mind, your spirit and body flourish.

I’m at my best when I am taking time to care for myself. I know this yet my regime definitely waxes and wanes. The list of things to do can seem daunting and that voice can get all judgey and critical about even that…
Practice yoga. Meditate. Eat organic. Oil pull. Get a massage. Exercise. Get 8 hours of sleep. Drink 8 glasses water. Take a mineral salt bath. Journal. Dry brush. Foam roll. And on and on.

Who has time for all that?

Not to mention that my intention behind all these practices needs to be grounded in self-love. If I am indulging in my (absolute!) favorite Organic Enzyme Facial at SKIN APEEL yet thinking of nothing other than my to-do list, am I really taking care? If I am exercising more as punishment for what I ate than as joyful expression of gratitude for what my body can do, am I really taking care?

At times my inner critic can be pretty freaking wily too. She will lure me into thinking self- indulgence is the same as self-care. It’s her voice that encourages me to hit the snooze button, again or have another scoop of ice cream or that second glass of wine yet she’s the first to condemn my doing the very thing she coaxed me into.
On the yogic path we learn that there is no separation, we are all one. In this framework, taking care of ourselves is the same as taking care of others. We also know that we can’t possibly care for others if we don’t care for ourselves (like the air mask on an airplane analogy).

The difference between indulgence and care can be subtle but listen closely: beyond that inner voice is always the observer, the one who can’t be fooled or manipulated and completely knows the difference between what the ego wants and what the spirit needs. Sometimes my spirit wants a massage. Sometimes she wants me to put others needs above my own. Spirit isn’t vain or self-indulgent. Spirit asks only that we pursue those things that bring love, joy and peace.

What self-care rituals can you incorporate into your routine? Perhaps you can set aside a few minutes each day to sit quietly in meditation or make an extra effort to get to a yoga class. Try doing something you do on auto pilot, like washing dishes or brushing your teeth, with extreme mindfulness or schedule a massage and set your intention to stay present and in gratitude for the duration. Pursue actions in your daily life that bring more love and more joy and more peace to a world that really, really needs it!


Written by Lydia Merl

Have you ever wondered why we humans are such a bundle of contradictions? We watch the news and see the “family values” politician dragged through the mud because of a sex scandal or read about the radio host that condemns drug addicts who must go to rehab because of his own dependence on pain killers. We can sit back and call them hypocrites, but our ability to justify our own incongruities is working all the time. Without even trying too hard: I’d love to lose a little weight, yet don’t want to give up bread, cheese, ice cream or wine; I’d like to consider myself a feminist yet I will not (yet) relinquish hair dye or Botox. I spend hours each week breaking down boxes, collecting and sorting recyclables yet I buy bottled water and coffee pods and frequently forget my green grocery bags when going to the store. I drive an electric car, yet I fly all over the world. I’m an animal lover who eats (and wears) animal products and a fiercely independent woman who loves the notion of a chivalrous man.

I can hear my mind rationalizing all these disparities even as I type them. I do believe that oftentimes these very contradictions are what make us productive. When we agree, there is little action. It is when we disagree that we get fired up. Perhaps disagreement is woven within ourselves to create action?

The chakra system provides a framework to help explain and understand our dichotomous nature. Each chakra corresponds to a different location in the physical body. The chakras are energy centers and, while they themselves are not physical, they reside within the body where major nerve ganglia assemble. When the chakras are aligned and balanced we operate optimally: our basic needs for food and shelter are met and we are engaged in work that aligns with our values while our relationships are happy and healthy. We are confident and secure as we move through our lives with grace, love and compassion for all beings. We speak our truth without inflicting undue harm on others and we’re able to dream and create and see our connection to the greater good while surrendering to the mystery that there is more to life than the eye can see.

But, alas, we are human, so we get blocked or off-balance in a chakra or two. Also, as humans, we are constantly changing and adjusting to new circumstances. So, our blockages and imbalances are quite subject to change depending on what is happening in our lives at any given time.

We have 7 major chakras and each represents a part of our essence. Within the chakra system each center has its own set of rules on how we give, get and process information that pertains to that chakra. It’s a good idea to study each chakra individually but they should be understood as a system where each has influence on the rest. The chakra system gives us tools to identify our weaknesses or imbalances and then use that information to create harmony as opposed to continually making those juicy rationalizations. At each chakra, there is the possibility of being balanced, excessive or deficient. When you identify your strengths and weaknesses you create self-awareness… never a bad thing, as it is through awareness that we can take on the work of self-responsibility. When my kids were little they’d plead to watch R rated movies and ask, “why?” when I’d say no. My answer was always “honey, you can never un-see it”. The same is true with the chakra system. It is both blessing and curse. You can never “un-know” it but, unlike many of those R rated movies, you’ll never be sorry because the information is illuminating and empowering, pragmatic and mystical, and always applicable.

Terri Cooper Space, the chakra queen and master workshop/experience facilitator is presenting this weekend at Yoga Journey. If you have any interest in delving deep into the chakra system she is the WO-man! You will learn and shift; change and grow; practice and glow; cry and laugh, and evolve and love every moment.

It’s Not Too Late!

Posted by Lydia Merl | Uncategorized


Written by Lydia Merl

Yoga4cancer (y4c) teacher training started Monday but don’t despair my fellow procrastinator.  It is NOT too late to sign up.  I may have completely missed my self imposed deadline for getting this blog post done.  You may have missed the enrollment deadline. Yet, as is true with most everything, late is better than never. And, every day is a new chance to begin again, so If you have been considering enrolling in the y4c training, Go For It! 

Tari Prinster is a force and her experience and wisdom will forever change you. She is a cancer survivor, a yogini, and author/developer of Yoga4Cancer: the book and the teacher training program.  Tari has helped cancer survivors reap the many benefits of yoga. Tari intuitively knew that yoga was helping ease her symptoms and speed her recovery so she set out to discover why.  That path of scientific learning and experiential discovery compelled her to share. As of today, Tari has armed over 1000 yoga teachers with the methodology that has benefited so many.  Not only does Tari offer classes and retreats for cancer survivors but she has exponentially increased the number of people who might benefit from her knowledge by training yoga instructors (and healthcare providers with a passion for yoga) to teach to this important community. 
The training provides information, tools and insight on adapting different yoga styles and poses to fit the specific needs of the cancer survivor community.  

This 8 week online course began on Monday February 20th but it really is not too late to register! There are weekly webinars, readings, videos, quizzes and projects assigned to be completed at your own pace.  Any missed content is easily accessible.  There are roughly 27 hours of online and distance learning assigned. The course culminates right here in Boca at our own Wyndham hotel, with an in-person intensive where participants gather to test and hone their skills. 

Ellen Patrick, a yoga therapist, a 500hr RYT, previous studio owner and y4c graduate credits the training with giving her appropriate language along with greater insight into the physical, emotional and psychological needs of the cancer survivor. Ellen felt a responsibility to undergo the training before attempting to serve the specific and dynamic needs of this diverse community. She now teaches and empowers many to play an integral role in their own healing through yoga at Boca Raton Hospital.  

Lisa Ponczek, a 500hr RYT, a cancer survivor and y4c teacher loved the program and found the assignments invaluable to her own healing.  The course work forced her to make connections between her yoga practice and her cancer diagnosis. Lisa found these exercises simultaneously emotional and empowering.  One of Lisa’s favorite take-aways from Tari was this: “a cancer diagnosis takes your breath away. Yoga gives it back”!

So, if you are considering taking your teaching to the next level but are thinking you missed the deadline, enroll now! There is no time like the present, right?! 
y4c training is prescribed for all those touched by cancer… and really, who of us is not? 

To register or get more information visit

Waging Peace

Posted by Lydia Merl | Uncategorized

womens march Written by Lydia Merl

I returned from the Women’s March in DC last night.  The weekend was everything…. Inspiring, empowering, frustrating, confrontational, exhilarating and depleting.  I stayed in a hotel for 4 nights and ate (and drank) in restaurants for 5 days; did very little yoga, lots of walking and almost no meditation.  I squandered too much time reading tweets and Facebook posts and other people’s opinions and perspectives, not to mention clever, snarky, profound, inspirational, crude and funny protest posters.  By the time I got home last night I was in complete “who cares?” mode, eating popcorn for dinner with yet another glass of wine.   When I awoke this morning, and reached for my phone before even getting up to go to the bathroom I thought “Wow. I really need to reset”.  Feeling bloated, tired, sluggish and out of sorts I reluctantly put my phone down.  But only after reading that one group text message and the attached link.  I did a little self-bashing but finally rolled out of bed and sat in meditation.
I listened to my body and noticed the thoughts that swirled in my restless mind and heard the words of the ever inspirational Seane Corn whisper in my ear.  “Figure out what your non-negotiables are”.  The last several months of the campaign and the weeks post-election have been traumatic and I have allowed that to sidetrack my non-negotiables.  I have spent far too much time listening to news I agree with on a loop in different packaging.  I have not practiced self-care in the ways that make me feel healthy, empowered and strong.  I’ve over indulged in too many french fries and glasses of cabernet and not enough home cooked meals, good books and long walks on the beach.  Nature grounds me in a way that nothing else does, and yet my preoccupation with all things Trump has taken me out of nature and into cyberspace.
When I lived in Michigan I practiced yoga regularly with Jonny Kest.  He would often yell in the midst of ridiculously challenging sequences “YOU’RE IN TRAINING!”.  He’d proclaim that if we didn’t yet know what for, that one day we would.  Well.  I think we who practice yoga have been in training for this moment in time ever since our first breath.  All the events of our lives led us to this historic and defining moment and it is going to require us to be on our A game.  We are going to need to fortify our bodies, minds and spirits to stay strong for the fight ahead.  It’s going to be a fight for social justice, democracy, dignity, humility, compassion and empathy.  It is going to require that we stay vigilant in our search for the truth and it’s going to require humility when we see ourselves acting in the very ways we proclaim to disdain. The dual nature of being human means that we will contradict ourselves: we will seem hypocritical in unforeseen ways and we will mess up. Our future will be determined by what we do next.  Will we brush ourselves off and start anew or will we continue the spiral into old and unhealthy patterns of behavior and thought that no longer serve ourselves and certainly don’t serve the higher good.  I like to imagine that we yogi’s are warriors waging peace in a turbulent world.   #nowwebegin

Practicing Yoga Now

Posted by Lydia Merl | Uncategorized

Written by Lydia Merl

Whether your theme song for 2016 was “Make America Great Again” or “Stronger Together” or “Feel the Bern” it’s clear that we all want a country that makes us proud to be American.  What that looks like in the big picture is a country that takes care of its citizens and its ideals.  What that looks like up close depends on which slogan speaks to your heart.  But, whatever your political leanings, perhaps we can agree that its time to envision a political revolution that makes our country stronger because its citizens and leaders work together to make America great, period!.

Our yoga mat is a perfect place to explore this vision.  On the mat, we are confronted with our own humanity.  No 2.5 x 6-foot space will reveal your strengths and weaknesses quite as succinctly.  There will be moments that bring you to your knees~ physically, emotionally, spiritually.  And there will be moments when you are totally in the flow of breath and movement; one with time and space and consciousness; that will allow you to see the limitless possibility of your existence and grasp in the most profound way the oneness and divinity that is your true nature.

When we look out into the world and see divisiveness and anger, hate and violence, disrespect and inequality we need not look further than the confines of our mat to know that because we can see it “out there” it must exist within each of us on a smaller scale.   As you move through your practice pause and notice when divisive or judgmental thoughts arise. What postures push your buttons and trigger your anger? Are their times in your practice that you push past the point of no return? When your hamstrings are screaming and you are forcing straight legs, stop and ask yourself if this isn’t a form of violence.  When you are criticizing yourself because you can feel your stomach hang over the top of your yoga pants, or you are judging those around you stop and notice how these thoughts take you out of the flow.

If we can be triggered in yoga, then imagine how easy it is to be triggered out in the real world.  As our yoga practice moves past the physicality of the poses and into the subtler realms of emotion and spirit we can take the lessons learned and apply them to our daily lives. How we approach anything is how we approach everything, so why not use the grace, intention, flexibility, strength, awareness, acceptance, courage, discipline, perseverance, resilience, forgiveness, love and humility that we’ve practiced on our mats to approach this new reality?  We will create a ripple effect through our bodies, our relationships our communities and our world.

This is not the time to bypass what needs to be done or numb out or take a wait and see attitude.  We must practice self-care to be on our A game, and practice discernment so we take appropriate action when we see bigotry or hatred or bullying or backward thinking being paraded through our public forums.  As Meryl Streep said so eloquently in her now famous Golden Globe acceptance speech, “when people in power are disrespectful it gives permission to others to behave disrespectfully”.  The opposite is also true.  When others shine their light in inspirational ways, this too is contagious. There can be no sitting back and letting someone else do it.  It is on me.  And you.  All of us.  We are the light workers and if we believe that everything is happening exactly as it must for our souls to evolve then we must look at this era as the call to action I believe it is.

screen-shot-2016-10-02-at-1-50-09-pmNext month, some of the most nationally recognized yoga teachers converge on South Florida to present at the Yoga Journal conference in Hollywood. Yogis from all over the country will be flocking to The Diplomat Resort and Spa to learn from the likes of Seane Corn, Shiva Rea,  Rodney and Colleen Yee, Jason Crandell, Amy Ippoliti, and so many more. This year, Yoga Journey’s very own Leslie Glickman joins their ranks and will be teaching two Yin classes at the conference. It’s a big deal.

“When you look at the line-up of teachers presenting, It’s humbling for me to be sitting in the same arena with them at that level. It’s a huge honor and so amazing to me. I am grateful for the opportunity,” says Leslie

Yoga Journey has been a studio partner with the event for years. For the past two years Leslie has been assisting Seane Corn at the Florida Yoga Journal conference. Last year Leslie led a beautiful sunrise meditation on the beach for participants. This is the first time she will be teaching full class sessions at the conference.

The Yoga Journal conference only travels to a handful of cities per year and we are very lucky that it lands here on our doorstep. We want to support the conference to make sure it keeps South Florida on its radar! We also want to support Leslie as her participation could lead to so much more for her, and for our local yoga community.

Building community has long been Leslie’s passion, and the South Florida yoga community is strong. Leslie is excited to develop relationships with these high level teachers and hopes it will elevate even further the quality of the workshops and types of yoga programming she can offer here. She would love to be able to host some of these teachers for events at Yoga Journey. In addition, if given a national platform, Leslie hopes to be able to inspire other areas across the country to create stronger communities through yoga as well.

Leslie rarely asks for anything from her tribe. She gives a lot. She hosts Yoga in the park every Saturday morning in Sanborn Square in Boca Raton (and offers free live streaming of those classes). She hosts the Something Big! New Year’s Day event at Mizner Park. She offers many workshops for all, and continuing ed opportunities for teachers at Yoga Journey. She offers a donation based lunch & learn every Friday afternoon where people can come learn more about yoga. She offers so many events not just at the studio, but elsewhere in the community such as Farmer’s TableRaw Juice, and Eau Spa. This is a chance for us to show up for her in a big way (and enjoy her amazing Yin class in the process). Come to the conference! Sign up for at least one of Leslie’s classes. She is on the cusp of being a nationally recognized teacher and really needs our support to take her gifts forward and do even bigger work in this world. Show your support for her, and also expose yourself to the other amazing teachers there all weekend. Even if you can’t make it to the entire conference, just coming on Friday evening will be a big way for you to show up for Leslie. It would mean so much.

exhault something big

Along with her passion for building community, Leslie feels driven to spread the message that people need to take responsibility for elevating themselves. She says everyone needs to be responsible for how they show up in the world, and they need to know that how they show up contributes to the whole. She feels strongly it’s her calling to bring this message to a bigger audience and is asking for her community to help her do that.

If you’ve never experienced the Yoga Journal conference, now is the time. If you’ve participated before, you know how special it is. Come out and support our teacher as she takes her next BIG step.

– Namaste’

Yoga Journal Conference, Hollywood Florida 2016
Nov 11-14th
Diplomat Resort & Spa
3555 S Ocean Dr, Hollywood, FL 33019
REGISTER HERE Use code LESLIE to save 15% on the pass of your choice! 


Photo Credit: Naya Rappaport & Andrea Blakesberg.



On this blog I’ve been covering the Yamas and the Niyamas, which make up one branch of the eightfold path of yoga, according to Patanjali’s Sutras. The Yamas tell yogis what not to do. Posts about these restraints can be found here: AhimsaSatyaAsteyaBrahmacharya and Aparigraha.

The Niyamas remind us what we should do. We’ve already explored four of the Niyamas, SauchaSantoshaTapas and Svadhyaya. In this post, I delve into the final Niyama which is Ishvara Pranidhana.

I do not write about these as a scholar, but as a fairly new yoga teacher, (three years in) and I am sure my understanding of the the Yoga Sutras will keep evolving over time. It has been my joy to write about them, allowing me to absorb the concepts more deeply as I go. If my writings about them resonate with readers of this blog in some way, I am grateful to have had that opportunity for connection.

The fifth Niyama, Ishvara Pranidhana, means devotion. According to Patanjali’s Sutras it means self-surrender to Supreme consciousness. It is when the will of the yogi lines up with the will of the Divine.

No longer are you doing your practice, trying to get in shape. No longer are you trying to get “better” at the pose. No longer are you worried about what you look like on the mat. No longer are you worried that you did’n’t get enough practice in this week. No longer are you interested in beating yourself up over anything. Ishvara means you surrender it all to something greater than your small self. You let go of anything other than being the highest version of yourself, in the moment. It is not done for accolades. It is not done to get ahead. It is not done for a prize. It is only so you might be of service to something higher.

The ego leads us to think if we take time to meditate,  we are giving something up. We don’t have time. When we are in the space of Ishvara Pranidhana, we are fully integrated with our Higher self, and the biggest secret is… it’s not a sacrifice. It’s bliss. No longer do we meditate because we should. We do it because it is wonderful. This state can also be found when we are “in the zone.” How many times have you been inspired seeing a person doing exactly what they came here on earth to do? A singer hitting that perfect note. A basketball player making the shot. Leslie Glickman leading Something Big? Their highest selves lining up with their human selves, bringing something of light to the world. Sometimes it happens in quieter humbler moments. A special education teacher taking an overwhelmed child under their wing. A chef excitedly preparing a new menu. A grandmother gently rocking a baby. No matter what we are doing, when we lose our small selves and merge with the Divine, we are practicing Ishvara Pranidhana.

Take a breath and think about a moment when you lost track of time and felt truly at one with your Higher self. It might have been for just a moment or two. A moment out of time, when everything lined up and you felt like you were right where you were meant to be.

What were you doing?

What is it that makes your sweet soul fill up? What are you doing when you feel most yourself?

Maybe do more of that today.

And if you can’t actually physically do it, take a moment to think about it, imagine it. Draw it near.



 raw juice

What could be better than Yoga, Raw Juice, and the funky music of DJ Sal on a rooftop, downtown in East Boca? Treat yourself to the healthiest of happy hours this Friday. Join us for a fun all-levels Vinyasa class followed by light bites and fresh juice. No registration required, just show up! It’s free! Bring your own mat.

Yoga Journey’s Lisa Poncek will be leading class. She says, “I’m  excited to teach at Raw Juice because it’s an event that really brings community together and I’m so proud to represent Yoga Journey there. Yoga Journey and Raw Juice are both such generous businesses.”

Come see your friends, and/or make some new ones!

Friday: 8/19/2016

6:00 pm – 8:00 pm 
197 S. Federal Highway in Boca Raton, 33432

Join Yoga Journey each month for this fun all levels vinyasa practice at Raw Juice.


On this blog I’ve been covering the Yamas and the Niyamas, (which make up one arm of the eightfold path of yoga). In review, the Yamas tell students what not to do. Posts about these restraints can be found here: AhimsaSatyaAsteyaBrahmacharya and Aparigraha.

The Niyamas remind us what we should do. We’ve already explored three of the Niyamas, SauchaSantosha and Tapas. In this post, I delve into Svadhyaya, which means self-study. Truly, the possibilities are endless. If you master this, and become the observer of your own self, you will never be bored again.

You can explore Svadhyaya right this minute by stopping, taking a breath and checking in with how you feel. Are you feeling rushed? Are you sad? Are you angry? Content? Blissed out? Just notice without judgement what your primary emotion is. Be with it for a moment.

Are you aware of a favorite color? Smell? Sound? Taste? You may have always loved the color yellow, but check in; is it your favorite color today?

Are your thoughts really your thoughts? Is your thinking influenced by what you’ve been told by others?

Pausing to notice how we feel, especially when strong emotions come up offers an opportunity to go deeper.  Do you know what your triggers are?

Most of us can see very clearly where others need to grow, but are we able to look at ourselves objectively? Likely not. We all have blind spots. How willing are you to explore your own blind spots? Your triggers will take you there. What bugs you? We are never upset for the reason we think. There is a whole extremely complex history behind every strong reaction. We give situations all the meaning they have for us. Another person faced with the same situation might react very differently or have no reaction at all to something that sets me off.  Observing our personal reactions is a rich exercise. The more we do it, the more empowered we are. With self study, when triggered, we can choose to “react” the same way we always do, or we can choose to “respond” differently. Self observation, Svadhyaya, is key to this awareness, and gives us choice.

Are you aware of how you treat people? Are you kind and respectful? Sweet as punch? Are you condescending? Are you a giver (to a fault)? A taker (to a fault)? What’s your nature? Again, no judgement. Knowing ourselves can help to keep these tendencies in check so we can have balanced energy exchanges with others.

Speaking of energy…are you full of energy? Or does it take a little while for your enthusiasm to build? Are you an early adopter to new ideas, or do you need to hang back a bit to decide? There is merit to both ways of being.

Do you have a biting tongue? If so, why?

A hearty laugh?

Are you tired? Thirsty? Lonely?

What brings you joy?

On the mat, notice everything. Notice your breath. Notice the feel of the body as it roots down, lifts up, stretches. Notice where your mind goes. Ask yourself, who am I? Right now? And now? And now? Notice your emotional reactions as you breathe and move into each pose. No judgement.

Savor your self-study. Nothing is more fascinating than you.

And then ask yourself, who is doing all this noticing?

Take a breath.

Be with that.

Be still.

Now you’re cooking.