Upside down…

Photo by Sam Kolder on

This summer, I signed up for a 6-week yoga series on inversions. It was an impromptu decision. I figured that after my weekend at Kripalu, it would be nice to keep my yoga practice going. Even though I pull out my mat at least a couple of times in a week, my practice has also gotten more gentle and restorative lately (my nice way of saying that I have become lazier!). Increasing my strength has definitely been a goal for me, and without a structured class setting, I knew that this would not be possible. So, without even meeting the teacher, I signed up for the series!

I liked the teacher when I met her at the first class. She was going to show us a very specific way of training for handstands. And even if I didn’t make it to handstands, I would at least have a solid foundation to work on! I was optimistic, especially after bringing more dance into my life lately.

Unfortunately, the foundation is all I am going to have, I’m afraid. I have done four classes so far, and it has been a humbling experience. I am by far the weakest student in the class, and I say that with a laugh! There are significantly older women than me who seem to be stronger.

But I’m learning so much as a teacher, by being a struggling learner! Here are some of the lessons/reminders I have had so far:

  • When you tell your students to seek out what they struggle with and to practice, practice, practice, know that they may not know what they struggle with. You need to help them narrow down exactly what it is they are having trouble with, with compassion and kindness and help them arrive at a sustainable plan!
  • Appreciate what is going well! Taking a few moments to say a silent thank you to my body for what it is doing well has been more important to me than observing all that it cannot do!
  • The journey is more important than the goal! Yes, I was there to learn handstands, but if I continually focused only on that, I would be very disappointed and frustrated! But when I remember to enjoy the process of learning something new with my body, I can actually relax and go deeper and also have more fun!
  • The idea of going upside down was used in yoga to get a different perspective. A reminder to keep being mindful of observing my mind and witnessing the effects of going upside down (even if with the help of a wall!). How do I feel afterwards?
  • Savasana is important. After all the hard work, letting go is the sweetest part for me. But somehow that wasn’t part of this particular yoga class. I missed it sorely, and in my latest class this past weekend, I actually did let go of wheel pose in favor of having a longer wind-down. It was helpful to me, and it felt so sweet in my body. So, make time to celebrate the small and big achievements. Each one is a sweet moment that comes after a lot of hard work!

This yoga series feels like a professional development workshop of sorts! Probably because I have always found it immensely satisfying to be a student, and more so this time, being a struggling student in class. This weekend will be my last class of the series; I hope that I can remember these reminders and to have fun and not take myself so seriously! Maybe I will even make it upside down, who knows! 🙂

With gratitude, S.

Twilight moments…

I am a twilight fan. There. I said it! I have been dreading this moment. It all started harmlessly enough. Sitting with Abhi on the couch, browsing through netflix, we came across Twilight among recent new releases on Netflix. I remembered vaguely enjoying it a few years ago, so we watched it that night. I am a sucker for love stories. Abhi, noticing my obvious enjoyment of Bella and Edward’s love story went ahead and ordered the whole saga for me. Mistake. Not that I’m not hugely appreciative – but mistake nonetheless. I ended up watching each installment of the saga over the period of a week. That is 5 movies of 2 hours each, so about 10 hours in total. This may not seem like much to some of you – but I’m somebody who doesn’t get very attached to TV series. Or rather, I’m impressionable so I practice restraint. The few shows I watch – and have watched – Downton Abby, Parenthood, Baking shows, to name a few – are in moderation because they only show one episode a week. I avoid crime, violence and intense drama because they get into my head. And I get bored by watching the same show for more than a couple of days. Hence, imagine my puzzlement when I found myself anxious to return each night after Anji’s bedtime, to the next chapter in vampire romance!

Clearly, this was against all odds. I could think of so many reasons why I should’t be watching this saga. Top of the list was that this series does not make any sense. And yet, drawn I was, like a moth to a flame night after night. My sweet husband valiantly watched all of them with me – that is how much he loves to spend time with me. I felt terrible for putting him through the ordeal! But stop, I could not.

Finally the last of Breaking Dawn finished and I realized how much of a lesson I was really learning. Other than my own self-judgment criticizing staying up late and any related thought that arose harmlessly in my mind, there was no problem really. But that is forgetting exactly how entrenched my self-judgment really is! I struggled with pushing away innocent thoughts of Forks as I drove on new england roads. ‘Go away!’, I said. And of course that didn’t work!

And finally, one night tossing and turning, berating myself and my mind, I came into softening. There was really nowhere else to go. My mind and heart softened. I chanted metta phrases every time a thought or scene from the movies arose in my mind. ‘May I be happy, may I be peaceful!’, I repeated over and over.. All night, my body and face kept softening intentionally until I realized: here was the practice! This was what Twilight had led me to. The workings of my own mind, observing, witnessing and accepting all of my thoughts. and softening and embracing my own loving heart. When I woke up in the morning, all was calm, my face and heart was shining.

I am a twilight fan. I adore the story of Bella Swan and Edward Cullen. There I said it. I’m not proud but I still love the goofball teenager inside me!

Peace to you,


I was reading a magazine today and came across the bio of the author: ‘she balances being senior editor with yoga and teaching’, or something of the kind. I have read so many such bios, and written such bios of myself. Somehow today it made me pause: the word, ‘Balance’. We are always balancing. We are juggling so many things in life, and learning to balance on the ice, without letting it all drop. We lose our balance a lot – and that’s partly how we learn which direction we have to lean again – to regain our balance.

This month has been a lot about this lesson of balance for me. After a packed few months of so many events – birthdays, Diwali, Halloween, and work and doing too many things, my body took a pause. I had a really bad cold and it lasted for about 10 days. It forced me to get a lot of rest, less of talking, less of doing, and more of surrender. It was a reminder that we can’t always do things simply by force of will. The heart needs to follow. And as the beautiful poem by Daniel Mead, pasted on the door of my room reminds me, ‘a flower cannot be opened by a hammer’.

I had taken up swim lessons and confronting my deep fears from nearly drowning once. Watching Anji had inspired me and I was determined to ‘do it!’ this time. My body did not feel the same way. I have managed to attend classes once a week instead of two – and have had a lot of pain in left arm from possibly over-rotating. And then I couldn’t go, because I got sick. Maybe group lessons are not for me. I have also realized that maybe no push is needed.. Maybe the only deadline is my own. Maybe it will all happen in good time. Maybe I don’t need to ‘swim’ by tomorrow!

I had also resolved in the beginning of November, to commit to a more regular yoga practice. This has also been really powerful. It has also brought many questions into my attention. What modifications can I offer myself when I am sick? Can I be kind? Can I redefine success? I have not been on my yoga mat everyday, but my resolution has been successful nevertheless. I have come to yoga more often, and that has been super. I also found that since I had committed to only 5 poses, that was simple to practice and I didn’t always need to dedicate 45 minutes to an hour to practice. Sometimes 20 minutes was plenty. I also found that I had to bring mindfulness to how much I wanted to do each day, where my body was, and which poses. It has been a creative exercise as well as one of bringing attention. I have done poses I haven’t in a long time. I have also just showed up and done legs up the wall pose. My body leading the way has made me happier. And realizing that there is nobody else judging this but myself has been liberating, as always. I can be softer, kinder and when I do, I miraculously bring this into my life.

As Rumi says, ‘let the beauty we love be what we do. There are hundreds of ways to kneel and kiss the ground’. May all our paths lead to more ways of discovering this…

Peace to you and happy thanksgiving!


the practice of gratitude

In the beginning of this month, I set the intention to bring my yoga practice into focus, along with the practice of gratitude. This week, I have managed to make space for yoga everyday with the exception of wednesday. The space has been sometimes early in the morning, sometimes in the evening before the chaotic dinner time and tonight, after 7.00. The commitment to five poses has been liberating. I have felt good about extending my yoga practice when time permits, but I have not held it against myself to have a brief practice at times. Doing yoga more than just a couple of times has been so good for me. One, it has helped me sleep better. Two, I am able to be more mindful of my spine extending and able to sense more resilience in my body and mind. My mind has felt clearer at the end of the day, with less of the dullness I usually feel by the time my family duties are over. I’m energized by the possibility that doing yoga more frequently IS possible. 


Regarding gratitude, isn’t this an endless journey!? Just when I was noticing yesterday that I have been feeling less inclined to anger lately, today I was hit by it out of nowhere. Yes, it is true, I have felt less prone to strong emotional upheavals in recent months; partly because of better diet and movement and partly because I have enjoyed many activities with Anjali. Her growing up into her 4s, has meant less irrational tantrums for her, and more calm for me. And I have taken time to notice this for sure. But today, my familiar friend Anger threw me for a loop. I had dropped down my guard. I had not taken my pause in a busy morning. I was also nursing the beginning of a headache. And there He was. Waiting. Of course. And I had forgotten my beloved Rumi’s words: 

“Learn the alchemy true human beings know. The moment you accept what troubles you’ve been given, the door will open. Welcome difficulty as a familiar comrade. Joke with torment brought by the friend.”

There is no other way but through, and gratitude leads us through. I feel humbled by my own emotions and vulnerability. My body’s tiredness and limitations sometimes and the shortcoming in mY own capacity to respond with wisdom. I think this is essential to compassion. If I were perfect, I would be unable to understand and empathize with the imperfections of others. When I see through my own humanness, when I accept the troubles, then my heart softens. My daughter said to me, ‘mom you are not being kind to me.’ It tore my heart open in that moment. The situation doesn’t matter – that I carried her crying, through the playground before she had a chance to say goodbye to her teachers, even though she had had adequate warning and plenty of time to play. Yes, I was not being kind. I was busy in a battle with my ego, my anger. My stories. My heart wrestled in that moment with the truth of the words. I was crushed against the weight of my own judgment. Anjali forgave me soon. She moved on. We had a beautiful afternoon. But  I didn’t really move on, until now, until the breathing softened me, through the yoga.


We hold ourselves with such love when we hit these tender moments. That is what we learn through the practice, and that is the way through. May we appreciate these moments of waking up. May we have peace through this journey of life. This moment is like no other. May we welcome this full moon, this new day with open heart. 


With love,  S.


November challenges: the mindful way…

November the 1st. How this year is flying by! One of the books that I have been reading and rereading three past couple of months is the ‘happiness project’ by Gretchen Rubin. I have found it a fun read and also incredibly useful in reminding me about intentions and resolutions. I can really relate to Gretchen and I think it is helping me keep some of my controlling behavior in check and let go a little more. I have tried to become more mindful of my complaints and criticisms, especially in my relationship with my close ones. I have become more mindful of bringing in more lightness into my life. I am trying to pause more and take in more. Especially more delight around Anjali. Many small changes, and now I am ready for two big ones. Here they are!


1) Take care of my body. I used to be a serious yogi – yoga everyday, classes twice a week, retreats and so on. Becoming a mom changed my priorities hugely and in unexpected ways. And somehow I have drifted away from paying attention to my body. My yoga practice has dwindled to mostly supportive poses to offer respite from busy days,  but not strengthening in any way. My massage today was as usual, an eye opener to how much stress I carry in my body. I would like to change this relationship and take better care of my body. So here is my challenge for November:

To do yoga everyday,at least  five poses. The five poses I have chosen are: child’s pose, downward dog, plank, forward bend and triangle or tree pose. I could certainly do more if time permits, but I got to do these five at least once everyday for the month of November. It has been ages since I challenged myself, and I think I am ready to do so now. Anjali can be a witness if she would like, as she usually is, to any major happenings in the house 🙂 

2) keep a gratitude journal. What better month than November, the month of thanksgiving? I journal frequently and often write about what I am grateful for. But writing for myself makes me lazy sometimes and I hope making this a deliberate and more public resolution will make me more accountable. I’m sure I will have thoughts to share!


If you would like to join me on one or both challenges, please do so and let me know through the comments! Your support is always appreciated. I don’t intend to make my posts on these public on Facebook, so if you would like to follow, please sign up on my blog!


Wish me luck,

With peace, s.