The Power of Retreat

•November 16, 2012 • Leave a Comment

I’m just returning from a week-long retreat with Darren Rhodes (of YogaGlo and YogaOasis fame) at a fantastic jungle hideaway called Haramara in Sayulita, Mexico.  I’m amazed once again at the power of this thing we call “retreat.”

To “retreat” is to  take a step back – or even many steps back – from a situation.  On the battlefield, retreat happens when an army recognizes that it is overpowered.  It withdraws from a situation to regroup and reassess its resources.  When we yogis “go on retreat” we may or may not be facing the same losses and challenges as an army.  Nevertheless, we choose to remove ourselves from the battlefield of our daily lives and routines to look objectively at the bigger picture.  Like Arjuna in the Bhagavad Gita who basically calls a time out right before battle to review his possible courses of action with the Divine (Krishna), we periodically need to turn into ourselves to look at how far we’ve come and survey the landscape ahead before acting with resolve.

2012 has been a crazy year for so many people – myself included.  As it begins to wind down, I can’t help but be struck by the amount of change I moved through in the last ten months.  I saw the dissolution of Anusara Yoga and the public hanging-out-to-dry of my principal teacher, John Friend.  I lost clarity around my yoga teaching, but then dug deep to reestablish it on different footing.  With sadness I witnessed the unraveling of the Anusara Yoga community network, but worked hard to send runners out to the individuals I love so much within it.  I re-envisioned my management role at the studio I own and set about trying to sell it.  I relinquished most of my public yoga classes and refocused my teaching on intensive workshops.  I shifted a number of relationships, and I broke my first bone.

And that’s just me and my small life.  Around me there are myriad local, national, and global political changes.  Climate and weather variations are getting stranger and stranger.  Nearly every one of my friends has experienced significant upheaval in their personal and professional lives.  Most of all, there seems to be something brewing in everyone’s spiritual life.

While all these little tin soldiers move on the field of battle I know I get caught up in watching the play-by-play and I lose sight of the big picture.  I can’t always get up and out of my office to see what is going on from above…hence the need for retreat.

It was gratifying to check in this past week and notice how much more I trust the process of life and its cycles of creation this year than I have in the past.  I am more settled in to the flow of my path and my place within it, and I’m remarkably content to be here on the planet letting events unfold as they will.  I’m proud to say that I was in the jungle doing yoga and sitting and swimming and eating for a week without thinking at all about where I am going to live next or how my business is going to grow or not in the upcoming years.  That lack of chatter opened space to see and move towards the next step – which for me is, in fact, all about space  (more on that in the next post!).  It’s amazing how obvious the next step is after a period of retreat.  Right, duly noted.

And while I had the opportunity to escape to another country and another ecosystem for my retreat, you don’t necessarily need to go exotic to check-in.  Local retreats – such as the modules of “The Yogic Life” that Neesha Zollinger and I are offering in 2013 – can be just as effective.  Even one-day workshops are great options.  The key is to set some time aside for yourself and somehow mark the boundaries of your retreat – perhaps with a ritual, or by locking up your computer or hiding your phone.   I strongly recommend doing a bunch of yoga – to clear the channels, move some energy around, and rid yourself of thoughts and habits that aren’t serving you.  Then reflect.   Sit and watch the dance of the divine in you.  What wants to happen in you, around you, and through you?  Listen.  Write.  Feel.  Think.  Most of all, be.

Then, with gratitude for the insight you receive, move forward with dignity and grace.  You can’t be on retreat forever, and the reality is, you don’t want to!  I’m diving back in today – teaching all weekend and through the next couple of weeks, making videos for folks to use, writing, creating art, trying to offer what is needed.  And that feels good.


The thing is, you learn to do hard poses by doing EASY poses…

•October 15, 2012 • 2 Comments

I’ve found myself saying this almost daily in the last week, so there must be something to this, both on and off the mat.

In my yoga classes, I generally sequence postures towards what is commonly called an “apex pose.”  Apex poses are more challenging asanas that take skill and practice to perform.  They require you to juggle more than one action at a time.  Sometimes these actions are seemingly contradictory, making these poses just plain hard to do.  When you actually get to do them – or even just get a little taste of what it will be like when you DO get to do one down the line – you feel great.  That’s the point!

Inevitably, when I teach or demonstrate a pose that’s just a bit out of the class’ reach, someone in the group will ask me, “so, how do I get better at this pose? Just by trying it again and again?”  Of course that helps, I’ll acknowledge. But more often, I tell them to go back to the drawing board and work on the actions required by the hard pose in easier poses.

Case in point: tittibhasana, or firefly pose.  This is considered to be a “Level 2 Arm Balance” in the Anusara tradition – meaning it’s not straightforward, but it’s not crazy hard either.  In this pose, you’re balancing on your hands with your fingertips forward.  Your legs are hovering up off the ground spread wide apart, each outside of its respective arm.  It’s hard to get off the ground, even harder to straighten your legs out to the sides, and especially challenging to fully straighten your arms.  Simply sitting in the prep position willing your legs and butt up off the floor is not going to do much (I’ve tried it, of course!) What will do a lot, however, is dissecting the pose into its requisite actions and getting after those.  What are the requisite actions in this pose?  For starters, you need to be able to keep your hands solidly on the floor with fingers spread, wrist creases aligned, and all knuckles and finger pads rooting.  You need to pull energy up from your fingers into the center of your palm and from there up into your arms and the space behind your heart.  All of these actions keep your wrist safe and give you a strong foundation to balance upon.  Can you practice these actions in tittibhasana itself?  Sure, but given that you’re juggling a bunch of other things at the same time, it’s unlikely that you’ll get anywhere.  These hand actions are best practiced in downward dog, chaturanga, and plank – poses you do every day, multiple times a day, that don’t take anywhere near as much focus and juggling.  Another action required by tittibhasana is a truly crazy amount of hugging to the midline.  Again, can you learn this in a Level 2 pose?  Sure. But it’s much more accessible in standing poses. Do you need to hug like mad in Warrior 2?  Not really, But you could be “practicing” that action every day, to build that skill and be ready for the day when tittibhasana comes knocking at your door.

Relevance to daily life? Oh yeah, it’s there. At some point, we are all going to be called upon by loved ones to be present in challenging situations – disease, loss, death.  Are we going to be able to rise to the occasion?  Maybe.  If we’ve had practice, almost certainly.  That practice doesn’t usually come in the form of helping people through tragedy day after day.  More often than not it comes in the form of sticking by each other through small crises – altercations with a boss, minor injuries, or love interests that don’t return phone calls.  These are “easier poses” – the ones we can do without too much focus.  The invitation is to do them for whomever we can, and with our complete attention, knowing that they build the strength and skill that will allow us to step up when the teacher calls the hard pose name.

We don’t call it a “practice” for nothing.  We really ARE practicing, for every curveball life throws our way.  And practice makes perfect, right?


Life Lessons from a Broken Finger

•October 1, 2012 • 7 Comments

I broke my finger three weeks ago and had to have surgery to stabilize the fragments with titanium. (Yes, I flew over the handlebars of my mountain bike.  This should come as no surprise to anyone who knows me!) As someone who had never broken a bone, never been under general anesthesia, and never asked anyone for rides to the hospital and back, this event that might be insignificant for some people definitely rocked my world.  It’s been a pretty fun ride, really, fraught with lessons…here are some of them.

My new titanium finger, post-op.

1.  Your dominant hand index finger does A LOT!  Appreciate it.

Really.  I never bothered to consider the importance of my right index finger until I tried to put my bra on with my finger immobilized in a cast.  Cutting veggies to put in the juicer?  Nope.  Picking up small objects between your thumb and forefinger.  Definitely not.  Holding a fork?  Ha!  And shaving your left armpit?  Completely out of the question.  I have a whole new sense of gratitude and wonder for all the fine motor skills my right index finger performs, and I have been gently prodded to be a little more ambidextrous in the future by occasionally doing something – anything really – with my left hand.

2.  Flexible human bodies and minds can nearly always find a work-around.

Not having the use of a dominant hand index finger is annoying, but you can get by without it.  It’s amazing the ways you figure out to hold your toothbrush creatively and hunt and peck on the typewriter keyboard with your remaining digits.  And teeth can come to the rescue to hold a lot of things…..

3.  You can lose the use of one body part and you still have so much.

The morning after my surgery I got on my mat, because that is what I do, and where I work things out.  Much to my surprise, I could do A LOT!  Sure, no handstands and arm balances, and I had to do down dog on my forearms.  But short of that, I could do just about everything else.  I was so very grateful for every single pose that I could do!  It was as if I were discovering each of them for the first time again.

4.  Slow down.

When one hand is compromised it’s MUCH harder to multi-task.  Instead of carrying my computer bag, grocery bags, bike gear bag, phone, water bottle and to-go mug from my car into my kitchen all at the same time, I have had to make several trips.  I can’t talk on the phone and type at once.  Or play with my Ipod while driving.  I should never be doing this many activities simultaneously anyway.  But I do — unless I can’t.

And when you slow down, you get to see sights like this…

And this…









5.When you ask for help, you get it. 

Okay, so this is not my strength.  I’ve spent a lot of energy defining myself as a tough independent woman who can take care of herself.  In some weird way I’ve prided myself on NOT asking for help, and as a result, haven’t gotten much – go figure!  In the space of one day I had to ask for rides to and from the hospital, help bathing, and assistance dressing.  I had to ask someone to prepare my juice and cook meals for me.  I needed to ask other people to demo poses for me in some of my yoga classes, and I requested permission to cancel other classes.  I’ve had people load my bike atop my car for me, open doors for me, and carry my groceries out of the market.  And guess what?  Every one of the people I asked for help from was more than pleased to give it.  In fact, I think they even enjoyed helping me.  Hmm.

6.  Pain is temporary.

I know, this sounds like a football team slogan, but it’s true.  For the most part, pain passes – especially if you keep breathing through it rather than resisting it.  Yoga has so much to teach about this.  Long holds in uncomfortable poses that you choose are excellent training grounds for the pain that life doles out to you from time to time.  After a while, your brain gets bored and moves onto the next thing.  Or, time passes and it just goes away.

7.  Time passes.

When I was first told that I could not bear weight on my hand for 3-4 weeks I thought that would feel like an eternity.  It’s didn’t.  Time passes, and before you know it, the cast is off, the stitches are off, the joint is moving, and you can grab the scissors again.  In this case, the passage of time is a blessing.  It isn’t always…which is a good reminder for me to go drive out to that trailhead today while the leaves are peaking, rather than spending the time answering more email.

Here’s what my finger looks like after three weeks. Not pretty, but starting to be functional.

8.  Trust the universe; she’s got your back.

I’ve been terrified of general anesthesia for years.  I bent over backwards to never get it (including “accidentally” eating before my one other surgery so that they would have to give me a spinal block), fearing that I’d be put out and never come back.  I was offered the option of  an axial block (a technique where they pull shoulder ligaments out of alignment to access and deaden the main nerve that allows for sensation in the hand) on my arm, which would have allowed me the option to remain awake during my surgery but would have presented a high likelihood of ongoing post-operative pain and numbness in my arm.  As my companion put it, “that sounds really invasive!”  And not ideal for someone whose arms help her make a living.  So I opted for the general anesthesia, and, in doing so, I had to come to terms with trusting a nurse I’d never met to knock me unconscious and bring me back.  I had to settle into the belief that if my work was done in the world, I wouldn’t come back, and that if I was meant to come back and give more of what I have to offer I would.  That’s a big concept to wrestle with while being wheeled into the OR! I DID come back, and came to looking at the faces of a couple of people I love very much.  It’s a treat to be back on the planet when you’re not sure if you going to return….right, every day counts.  I think that all the tears shed between the anesthesia decision and awakening in the recovery room have empowered me to trust more and let go of a just a little more control over my life and its plan.  It’s on loan after all.


Accepting the Bounty

•September 14, 2012 • 2 Comments

So, this is kinda crazy, but I wrote this post (and didn’t publish it) the day before I crashed my mountain bike, blacked out and shattered a bone in my right index finger that required me to experience my first broken bone, to undergo my first major surgery, and to have my first go-round with general anesthesia.  I made it through all of this with the help of a few amazing people, and suffice it to say that these words below are ringing even more true right now.  I have so many more thoughts and insights on this theme today than I had when I wrote this last week, and so much more to work through and share.  BUT…it’s going to have to wait until I can type again! Hunting and pecking with my left hand has made this paragraph a 10-minute project, so stay tuned until the cast is off! 

My life has been overflowing with goodness lately. So much so, in fact, that accepting what it has to offer has turned into as challenging a practice as any of the others on my plate.  I know, you’re scoffing at me right now, saying “come on girl, smile and ride the wave!” But if you’re really honest with yourself, I bet you might find a small piece of you that has some trouble opening your arms and heart to fullness as well.

Six months ago I was writing blogposts about hanging out with Kali.  I was deeply embedded in the destructive spin of the cycle of creation, feeling Kali’s power to cut through, cut away, and eliminate everything unnecessary from my life.  It was a dark place to be, and the aftermath of her cleansing left me empty and uncertain.  Even in the thick of it, however, I knew it was going to yield fruits.  And, of course, it has.  Here I am at the exact opposite end of the cycle, experiencing abundance in a way I never have before.  I’ve had the best summer I can remember.  I taught six intense and powerful Anusara Yoga Immersions to students I connected with in the company of fellow teachers I love and respect.  I practiced asana nearly every day, and as a result experienced levitation in my arm balances, a whole new kind of access to my core, and deeper hip opening than ever before.  I went to at least 15 live music events, rode my bike over 50 days, floated rivers, swam in ponds and creeks, sat on my deck for hours, witnessed unique sunsets nearly every night, ate succulent homegrown food, stargazed, moongazed, and watched my flowers grow.  Above all, I had countless moments of connection with other human beings – from smiles exchanged with the grocery store checker to insights shared with yoga students to powerful intimacy with an amazing new partner.

It’s a lot.  I’m trying to take it in, and believe that I deserve it all.  In order to do so, there are a host of old tapes (maybe they’re more like 8-track cassettes –they’re that ancient!) in my head that have to be silenced.  They say things like “just wait, if your love life gets good, your professional life will fall apart.”  Or, “if it looks too good to be true, then it is.”  How about this one: “don’t act too happy or tell anyone how much fun you are having because it will make them sad or jealous. Anyone with this much beauty and love in their life should keep their mouth shut and keep it to themselves.”    And then there’s the clincher, “what did you do to deserve this?”

What I did to deserve it, of course, is be born.  I didn’t have to earn joy and abundance through hard work or suffering; it’s my birthright – and yours too.  It’s more obvious at some times than others – in part because of our life circumstances, and in part because of the perspectives we choose to take – but it’s always present.  What is amazing to me is that there is part of me that tries this hard to sabotage – or at least muffle – the exuberance of a blessed life, the recognition of happiness as my birthright.  Sad, really.

Thankfully I have gotten to a point in my practices and life that I can recognize those ugly tapes and identify them for the outdated programming that they are.  That’s where the daily practice comes in.  I have finally arrived at a point where no matter how many wild, wooly, and wonderful things are happening in my life, I know that I must must must keep up my sitting practice and my asana or a hijacking of my mind is immanent.  It’s not easy to take a time out from the momentum of fun to sit and to move on the mat.  But I did it most days, and I think that level of commitment is what helped me to identify these bad mental patterns and keep them at bay.  Then I am ready to show up at the table of abundance, say grace, and feast – not with gluttony, but with openness and celebration.

I’m hoping that if I learn to receive with more grace I’ll weather the spins of the cycle in better style.  I’ll remain steady, open, and grateful, and more of all, able to move that abundance through me and onto others – which is my ultimate goal.

We’ll see.  But I am figuring a public acknowledgement of the amazing gift of this 2012 summer is a good place to start.

The Matrix and Walking as “The One”

•September 5, 2012 • 2 Comments

Neo, sooner or later you’re going to realize just as I did that there’s a difference between knowing the path and walking the path.  – The Matrix, 1999

The interesting question is….which is more important?

I re-watched The Matrix for the first time in ages last week (yeah, I know, I am on a sci-fi/fantasy movie kick…but heck, it’s giving me good philosophical fodder, so hang in there with me).  The power of this modern myth is encapsulated in this quote – Neo’s ability to walk the path.

Plot recap for those of you who don’t geek out on these sorts of things:  Neo, the main character and a talented computer programmer/hacker, gets recruited by a gang of rebels who have “seen the truth.” What they know is that the universe in which everyone appears to live is actually a computer program, a constructed reality called “The Matrix” established to keep human beings ignorant of the fact that intelligent machines are mining their bodies for energy.  Neo and his buddies can enter and exit The Matrix thanks to some nifty hi-tech equipment, and they do so to try to disrupt the program and move the human race away from captivity and towards freedom and enlightenment.  To make real progress though, they need a special kind of person – one they call “The One” — who can manipulate The Matrix and ultimately foster peace between the machines and mankind.

Neo’s gang believes he is The One; Neo himself is not too sure.  In fact, after visiting The Oracle (a clairvoyant), he’s pretty darn sure he’s not The One at all.  On top of that, he doesn’t even know exactly what The One is supposed to do.  He’s not sure the path of The One is his, nor is he sure of what that path looks like.

Nevertheless, Neo knows for certain that he has an important role to play in the unfolding drama. He goes into The Matrix ready to die in the process of conducting a near impossible rescue of  Morpheus, the rebel leader.  Neo stays completely present with each challenge, calls upon his skills, bends his mind, and is ready to risk it all (Does that sound like Yoga Sutra 2.1 – Tapas, svadyaya, ishvara pranidhana –  to anyone? Sure does to me…!).  In short, he walks the path.  If he were The One, this might not be all that difficult, but what’s so interesting here is that he’s convinced that he’s NOT The One.  He shows up as The One because he has to – to support his community and to give the team hope and a fighting chance.   And it works!  He starts exhibiting unique powers – high speed kicks, running up walls, stopping bullets (yeah, see the movie for this stuff – awesome graphics for sure) – that only The One could possess.  His confidence builds with each of his successes, and before the movie is over he’s convinced even himself that he’s The One – simply by walking The One’s path.

I love what this fable has to offer me.  For starters, it suggests that I don’t need to know exactly who I am, what I need to become, or what my end result is supposed to be before I set out on the journey. I just need to walk the path.  And in fact, by walking the path, I will actually become the walker of the path.  It’s the order of operations that matters here.  You don’t need to know exactly what the path is or whether it’s the one you’re destined for before you start walking.  You just start walking.  The path you walk then makes you who you are!  (So yes, you’d better choose a good and worthy path.)  The best part about this tale?  The path Neo walks is probably NOT the one he would choose for himself.  It’s the one he’s needed on.  Hmm.

In my practice, I’m working with showing up as The One Who Can Pike Up to Handstand In the Middle of the Room.  And The One Who Can Seemlessly Transition Between Tittibhasana and Eka Pada Koundinyasana.  In my teaching I’m speaking as The One Who Transmits What Is Needed.  And The One Who Chooses Just the Right Pose and Theme at Just the Right Time.  I’m not those people – not yet, and not entirely, anyway.  I’m not even sure I know those paths – what they look like, what the stops are along the way.  But I’m walking them to see if they become me.  I’m not even sure I’m choosing them, to be honest.  Doing yoga and teaching yoga chose me, and seem to be what people need from me right now.   So I’m going to keep going.  And I am going to allow myself to be convinced that those poses and powers are on their way.
If you’re working on Tittibhasana too, and want some more immediate and practical tips, check this out….

“Total Recall” and the body’s wisdom

•August 29, 2012 • 2 Comments

Somehow I managed to make it through the 90’s without seeing the infamous Arnold movie, Total Recall.  Thankfully (?) it’s been remade, so I had a chance to see it on the big screen here in 2012.  In fact, I saw it on a VERY big screen – the antique outdoor one at our local historic Spud Drive-In in Driggs, ID.

I’ll be honest: it was not the greatest movie I’ve seen, although my movie-going companion argues that I need to see the original before I pass judgment.  Nevertheless, it provided me with some good food for thought – this time about our oh-so-human habit of forgetting our true nature and our body’s ability to help us remember it.

In case you haven’t seen Total Recall, here’s the quick and dirty:  Douglas Quaid is a factory worker in space (on Mars in the original, at an orbiting outpost in the remake). He’s married, he commutes on a spaceship, and he seems like an average (albeit ripped) guy.  One day he decides to check out this place called Rekall where they instill memories of experiences you’ve never had (but wish you did) into your brain. While he’s there, however, all hell breaks loose as the establishment is attacked by a small army of bad guys. Our hero manages to take on all of them single-handedly. Serious butt-kicking ensues, and no one left standing.  So much for the average guy factory worker!  The rest of the movie is devoted to Douglas’s attempt to figure out who he really is and to the additional butt-kicking once he discovers his true identity as a community warrior.

So what does this have to do with yoga??  Well, here’s the thing:  Douglas forgot his true nature – to the point of not being able to remember his name, his girlfriend’s face, or his life mission.  Granted, his forgetfulness was assisted by the bad guys who manipulated his brain and memories, but still – we all have this experience all the time.  We’re assisted in our forgetting by stress.  Conflict.  Fear.  Lack of resources.  Loneliness.  Separation.  All those demons that seem to tell us we’re unworthy, that we’re just a name and a social security number and a job title and nothing more.

The crux in Total Recall is that even though Douglas’ mind lost its way, his body didn’t!  At Rekall he has no idea who he is, but his body takes over and cuts down the bad guys with a vengeance.  His body knows he’s a fighter, and his body even seems to know what he’s fighting for, and how passionately he’s committed to it.  It’s almost as though his cells contain the knowledge of his core identity.

I, for one, think that the ticket.   I’m sure that our bodies vibrate with the knowledge that we are made of love and light.  Yes, we take on human forms and identities to navigate, experience, and enjoy this world, but we are so much more than the tasks we complete in a day.  If our bodies know this, tapping into them is all we have to do to get a shot of remembrance.  How do we tap in?  Through the practice of yoga, of course!  When we move on the mat we abandon the distractions of daily life and connect with our essential nature.  It only a takes a few poses before the combination of breathwork and movement release the deep knowledge of who we are..  Petty problems shrink into the background, important relationships and missions come to the forefront.  Clarity and equanimity result. And that feels good, plain and simple, whether you’re a movie superhero or the Wonder Woman of your family.

Yoda, Patanjali, Yoga Sutras, the Force, and You

•July 12, 2012 • 3 Comments

My idea of how to appropriately celebrate the completion of another successful and satisfying Anusara Yoga Immersion module is to crash out on my couch with slice of homemade rhubarb pie and pop a copy of “The Empire Strikes Back” into the DVD player. (I know, I’m an odd duck.)

It’s been a while since my last check-in with Luke, Leia, Han, and Yoda, and judging by the number of times I broke into an ear-to-ear smile over the course of the two hours, I’d have to say it’s been way too long.  But the most remarkable part of this watching of this 1980 masterpiece was the incredible parallel between Yoda’s vision of the Force and the cosmology of Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras, the principle text we examine in Anusara Immersion 2.

Luminous beings are we, not this crude matter.” – Yoda.

This is what Yoda says to Luke when Luke questions his ability to raise his sunken spaceship out of the pond into which he crashed it.  Luke thinks that he is not big enough or strong enough for the task, and in his fashion, complains to Yoga about his inadequacy (I love Luke and all, but boy can he whine!) Yoda scolds him, saying that his size has nothing to do with his success (or lack thereof), and attempts to remind him of his true essence – his “luminosity.”  This revelation of Luke’s – and our – inherently divine nature should ring true for all of you yogis out there.  We forget, and then we remember.  That’s the dance we all live in.

But then Yoda squeezes Luke’s arm and calls it “crude matter.”  For those of you familiar with Classical Yoga Philosophy, this line could be straight out of Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras.  In Patanjali’s time (which is about 200 BCE, by the way), it was held that everything could be divided into purusha (spirit) and prakriti (matter).  [For more information on this dichotomy, see my blogpost on the tattvas.]  This is a “dualistic” view of the world – meaning, that spirit and matter are separate, and that in order to connect with one (spirit), we need to transcend the other (matter).  Yoda’s reference to Luke’s body as “crude matter” suggests a hierarchy – the luminous part of Luke being superior to the flesh in which he dwells.  Through Luke’s intense physical and mental training, he can better learn to go beyond his body to connect more deeply with The Force.

Tantric philosophy, the school of thought that arose in India about one thousand years after Patanjali, has a slightly different take on this spirit/matter situation. Tantric thinking is non-dual, which is to say that there is no division between spirit and matter. Tantrikas believe that everything is spirit – and this includes the “crude matter” of our bodies.  This leads to a slightly different perspective on the body.  Rather than working it hard to get up and out of it, we might choose to work it hard to get INTO it, to get to know it better, to appreciate it more.  Yes, we are our divine essence, and that divine essence includes our bodies too.  A Tantrika might reword Yoda’s statement to read:

Luminous beings are we, embodied in this amazing matter.

A subtle, but important, shift!  And one worth thinking about when defining your approach to the world.  Were you raised to think that your body is divine?  Or do you have a deep-seated idea that it is tainted?  Is your bodily experience a gift to be celebrated or a prison to be escaped?  Knowing what you think – better yet, what you FEEL about this question will help you to figure out which of the myriad schools of philosophy you most closely identify with.  In determining that, you may also be more successful finding a yoga class that aligns with your world view and keeps you on your path and in a state of remembrance.

And remember, regardless of where you fall on this spectrum, wise words are worth listening to and contemplating.  Even when they come from 2 foot tall green guys living in swamps!