August 17, 2017
I had a question/comment come up recently about what kind of yoga I lead – that there needs to be more explanation about what to expect from a class with me. And I agree, there’s so much yoga being led right now that “flow” means as many things as there are people doing yoga, and even more possible descriptions as there are more teachers teaching “flow.” The idea has made me really think about my own evolution of the practice up to this point – how much it’s evolved from a heavy focus on physical movement to one that is still very physical, but totally amplified and vibrant with developing my relationship to my breath.
The short answer to the “flow” bit is that I don’t teach fitness classes. The yoga that I practice and that I lead isn’t geared to be my day’s workout. I’ve found really nourishing outlets like hiking and brisk walks and biking that keep my body feeling good and healthy and fit. But my yoga is distinctly separate. My practice is a homecoming to my body and my breath. I practice and I teach a Vinyasa flow or Hatha type of class if you’re looking for a “kind” of yoga to classify it as. There’s a good amount of movement – sun salutations, a focus on open hip postures, square hip postures, balancing, stretching, opening, inversion preps, backbends, twists – but movement led by breath rather than pushing or forcing or contorting the body to fit an idealized, imagined shape. Envision a yoga class where your breath was your first and foremost priority. Not the movement, and not the playlist. Breath first. That’s how I encourage myself to practice, and I’ve become empowered to lead from that place. In teaching, and in life – what best supports my breath? It’s been a fantastic, fascinating, ever evolving, self studying journey of the past year.
I started doing yoga 7 years ago at a YMCA in a suburb of Philadelphia. At the time, I think I was looking to move stuck energy. I had a deep spiritual component to the general scope of my life and for this, I was attracted to both yoga’s subtly & the independence the practice encouraged. It’s funny, yoga in a gym setting can be really dodgey, but the universe hand picked a true first teacher for me – a seasoned practitioner and massage therapist who used her knowledge of the body and her intuitive and insightful shakti to craft “real” yoga, even in a rec room.
On and off for 3 years, I grew my practice – a year in New York City and then back to the Philadelphia area, I dabbled in studios on a semi regular basis. Though I did notice Yoga was where I went when I felt “lost” or needed inspiration. The practice always did something – it slowed me down even if I was in a “power” class. Which being who I am, I totally leaned towards. More is better. Harder, faster, stronger. Back in Philly, I gravitated to hot power Vinyasa Yoga from one studio in particular that shockingly and thankfully delivered the “Yoga.” Several of those teachers would weave in instruction from the sutras and talk about anatomy within the class – and the Pitta part of me fell for the exertion that came from a sweaty hot practice. For a good bit, I was in a class every day. There was a movement mentality in that studio that wasn’t just fitness. But my mentality was still very much physically based, and I was still not practicing my yoga at home. I went “to” yoga.
It wasn’t until I moved to Raleigh and began my 200hr teacher training at blue that I actually cultivated a daily, steady home practice. And it wasn’t until teacher training that I was taking regular classes at blue – all which finally convinced me that movement and breath were supposed to be linked. That was the point. That all the philosophy and teaching and magical movement of yoga was well and good, but the transformative part of the practice came with the breath. And if I wanted to transform, I needed to drop my workout mentality. I knew too much of yoga at that point to know that yoga is not fitness. If I wanted to work up a good sweat and burn off some weekend brunch, I needed to make time to cycle, run, hike in addition to my yoga. When I did this, my world (inside and out) expanded for the better and I can say I actually started the yoga. I’ve not turned back.
Now most everything I’m focused on in my studentship, in my own practice, and in my teaching is how to best cultivate and support a really intimate relationship with my breath. It’s subtle and it’s not. And it requires a ton of movement and flow and fun and challenging poses – actually a lot of what I did in my past yoga life – but the intention with which I’m doing, is totally different. It’s breath led rather than movement based. I’m really grateful to take regular classes and attend workshops & trainings that have opened up breath for me, with teachers who have cultivated a knowing of the breath, who can mirror this expansion for me, and who are stirring this recent reawakening to infuse my practice and my life with the breath. And so it’s what I’m cultivating now in my teaching too. If you attend a class I lead, you will move and quite likely break a sweat and you will realize how strong you actually are without having to push yourself to a breaking point to see your strength. You can expect to move in a way that is sustainable for your body and your breath – that awakens and enlivens both – and that nourishes the part of your “big S” Self. Because that’s how energy moves and we get unstuck. Not by a million chaturangas. But by noticing, empowering, and using your breath to make change in your muscles and bones, your nervous system, and in your heart.
My ultimate class name? Yoga. Because this practice is open to anyone that inhales and exhales. And until we get back to knowing what “Yoga” is, those of us that have the “must move” mentality and tendencies need the reminder that the only wrong breathing you can do is the non breathing. So, for now — Sustainable Movement. Or, Breath Led movement. Or, All Levels Breathe and Flow.
Even those looking for a workout, come to a class. Try something new. You may very likely work a muscle in a way you haven’t ((muscle of the moment is the glutes, which some of you know and probably feel.)) And even if you’ve been breathing all your life, try one more time to stop and notice your breath. It’s shape, it’s size, how it’s best supported and how it is your support. A true Yoga practice is not a workout. It’s not one more thing to do in your day. And, it’s not a check out. It a focusing in. It’s a practice to move just enough so that you can peel back of all the layers of your thinking mind, lessen all of the distractions that laden your life, and intentionally use all of the movement of life to get to someplace smooth and steady where you’re always held – it’s a return to the breath.
June 18, 2017
I spent about 6 years after my Dad passed thinking that grief, grieving, was something that wore itself out. As in, it comes up, hovers right up in my face until enough time passes (or life distracts it), and then it’s dull, dormant grief until I evenutally would reach a point of having moved on…then grief would be gone for good. Similar to a virus, in control of me rather than me of it, with time as the antibiotic.
No one taught me this. I didn’t read it anywhere. It’s just what I assumed, what I defaulted to. That one day, and then for every day after that, I’d be cured of grief. I wouldn’t feel the loss of my Dad. It would be behind me rather than something that dances in and out of my lived experience. I think I tried for 6 years to live myself out of my grief.
It wasn’t until the last 10 months or so that I cracked in on what a total falsehood that thinking is. Loving and loosing my Dad is part of my lived experience in this life. What was causing a repeated suffering was my own patterning. Much like how I wasn’t taught my ill assumptions about grief, I wasn’t taught how to respond to deep loss. Which, I don’t know if you can ever, really, be taught or shown such a thing.
I was 17 when he died, and I am the oldest of 3. What I instinctively thought most noble, best, needed, in the face of death was to pull the reins in, be a solace, and move forward. Not in a stoic way – what I did know even then is that life is so much more than death. I really truly was opened to the interconnectedness of everything. I saw God move. And figured, let’s focus on light, rather than anything grim or dark – because there was so much of that. My spirit was too big to let death define it. I went on choosing to be all light – even to myself. The dark spots of what I experienced not just from my Dad’s death but in his nine months of diagnosis leading up, just stayed put without me ever really seeing and dealing with them. It was certainly a kind of forced ignorance, likely a mechanism to protect myself. My excuse to myself mostly, was that I was working out the fact of his dying in my life – by living.
It’s taken a lot of getting to know myself to understand why I chose the things I chose and how I responded to my Dad’s death and dying. My 17 year old self – she just wanted to be okay. The unraveling of 7 years has taught me so far, that I am really good at grinning and bearing, pushing through, even pushing past. Really in every area of my life. It was my default – now it’s a deeply ingrained pattern that’s being retrained.
I remember my first cracking point in realizing my auto-response to loss. I made a trip home at the end of last summer and my Gram out of nowhere mentioned that my Uncle, who was with my Dad the night he died, played him Johnny Cash (not because my Dad like Johnny Cash, but because my Uncle did.) This was a beautiful something I never knew and it made me feel like my Dad was well taken care of as he prepared himself to go. He was held. And the sweetness of my Uncle to think to do something like play his favorite music for my Dad.
Driving back from my Grandmom’s, I turned on the radio, and there was Johnny Cash. I lost it. For the first time in a really long time, I balled my eyes out and I knew that there was so much to excavate… and so much I hadn’t looked at… and a Katie who really deep down there, packed underneath all the cool life adventures that she was in pursuit of, just really needed a big, big hug. From herself.
So that’s what I’ve been doing the better part of the last year. Getting to know grief in a new way. I’ve cried a lot. I’ve laughed a lot. I write more. I dream more. I’ve gone deeper by way of clearing out. I’m choosing myself first over anything else. It a process that goes like: really seeing the old bit that rises up, looking at it, holding it, and putting in the effort to make peace with it. Whatever it is – a memory (there are a lot of these), a desire, a sense of lack. It doesn’t mean it goes away. It may come back. But the value lies in giving the bit whatever I can muster at any given moment. The effort really, to let the grief wash through when it does, letting it visit for as long as it needs to uproot itself, and then letting it go – not getting stuck in identifying with it.
As I’m learning about my body and my breath in my yoga practice, I’ve been able to watch what my breath does when grief does rise up, the bit that there is to look at rises, and I don’t want to see it. Or I need to cry, need to release, and I don’t want to – there’s holding. A few months ago, I caught this for this first time – my breath does just what I did for so long in life – it squelches the emotion. It holds it down. It grins and bears. And that’s still my default, but now, when that happens, I let my breath loose on purpose so that the tears, the sadness, the emotion, the memory can come out and run its course. And it does. I feel lighter and maybe this contributes some to the lightness. Processing in real time, as much as possible, so as not to store up and work through later.
I’m still remembering my Dad, don’t get me wrong, but I feel like I’m not carrying him around as much as I did several years ago. Doing this work over and over and over these past months, I’ve come to discover that my Dad’s 7th anniversary this weekend is really more about me than it is about him. I used to put the focus so much on how he’s not here, and being sorry for the second half of his life he will never get to live (which is really putting the focus on me, but without naming it.) I told my mom as I packed up to come to the mountains for the weekend how much, now, this anniversary bit – it’s really about me.
I put aside time this weekend to just let whatever rise to the surface that needed to come up – and to honor his life, of course, but to deeply honor my own journey. How far I’ve come into my own becoming. And that was the point of me retreating for this weekend – a celebration in part, but really the mountains get it. The mountains know that there’s just so much life going on. And for me to see the mountains all big & up close and real, walk through their trails, touch their trees, gaze at their waterfalls and wonder at their creatures – it is a tangible experience of “yes, there’s so much – and it’s okay.” A lived experience that something bigger than myself exists. You can have a truly beautiful deep spiritual life, and a full, full tank of that goodness, but in my humanness, I want to go play in it. I need to. It’s medicine for the unsolvable, solace for the deep inner work, and great comfort that nature grieves too, on purpose and in right season.
This is not to say that my biggest wish this weekend, and most days, is that I could sit down and just have a beer with my dad. If anything, that’s the constant and most frequent longing. For now, I’ve made good peace with the life bits – graduations, holidays, mile markers. But that wish of a normal moment – still there. And if there is anyone reading this that has lost a parent, my biggest, best advice is to ask God for a Megan. Meg and I met at JFK airport enroute to 2 months in West Africa, and our seats happened to be right next to each other on the plane. Before we even took off into the sky, Meg and I had already confessed that we were both without our Dads. It happened only because we both knew the code we were speaking in… talking just about our moms. She had lost her father some 9 years before, and I was into year 3 without mine.
The thing about losing your parent is that no one gets it. No one really understands what it’s like to experience that kind of loss. As much self-reflection and self-work you can commit to doing alone or even with a therapist, it’s likely that not even your partner, your spouse, your already in place best friend will enrich your life and help your healing like someone that’s also been in the same trench. Your loved ones will love you, yes, and let them love you. My siblings are two of my favorite people on earth and my mom too – all three of them are supportive and caring and hugely aware even in their own respective losses. But the gift of someone that can really know you, see you, and stands with you, truly, in light of their loss and outside of the context of yours… Megan helps me to see and work through my shadow parts, and her journey lights mine. She knows when I’m being irrational or emotional or when I’ve dipped back into ignorance and she doesn’t try to bring me back any other way than just reminding me who I am and by telling it how it is. Because she knows how it is. Megan has fiercely, loyally, and lovingly brought me back to myself time and time again. Ask your angels for a Megan.
Lastly, something that has really blown my mind and given me something to think about and treasure — briefly, in learning about breath from a fundamental yogic perspective, the inhale comes from above (like think from the space above the crown of your head) and moves into the body to a middle point, and the exhale rises from below (beneath), moving into the body to meet in the same middle point. The inhale corresponds to our receiving nature, to our moment of birth. Taking in life, breathing it in. On purpose. The exhale corresponds to our efforting nature, our strength, rising up and out. The exhale – our moment of death. Our last breath out, rising up and out. On purpose.
The “on purpose” part is what I find fascinating. What gives me chills. Because then, our first and our last breaths aren’t the only ones with purpose. It’s all the breaths in-between, too that make sense of that very first inhale, that keep taking in life, and that prepare for the last exhale, the letting life go completely. And that last exhale determines what’s next for our soul. As if all of the in-between breaths of this life are “on purpose” practice for that last one, and of great, purposeful tribute to the first.
So if anything, I’ve given myself permission to grieve on purpose, and I’m moving into a life where I’m doing, or not doing, everything on purpose. It makes it less that my life has purpose, and more that I am bringing purpose to my life. It becomes how I am living, not what I am living. How am I breathing not what I am breathing. What a beautiful thing to learn from grief – like a flower that grows out of mud. And as we know – No mud, no flower.
May 2, 2017
One of the notions I subscribe to is that nothing in this life is a coincidence. Well, April served me not-a-coincidence, straight up and on the rocks. (And as a preface, I never do this much online shopping. Ever.)
There were some new items I ordered for my kitchen that needed replacing – a blender (smoothie season, anyone?) and some sharp cooking knives (my soup season literally broke my knifes. Too much good squash.) I was expecting to reap of Amazon’s 2 day shipping glory, making smoothies before I could even muster the shopping for my greens. On the expected delivery day, I arrived home to find the kitchen knives delivered, but not the blender. I waited another day or two before checking the status – Amazon could somehow not find my address to deliver my blender. I’ve lived in the same place for the last 2 years and have ordered a number of things in that time. All to the same place, same name, same apartment number. And, I JUST had the knives left at my door. But after too many phone calls, and several days later, the UPS driver (I don’t know whether to bless or curse this person) conceded and sent my package back as a “refused package.” I then went to Target and bought my blender off the shelf like a proud 90’s kid. Took me all of 30 minutes. And cost me all of my ego.
Embarrassingly enough, shortly after, I ordered a new bathing suit. Not from Amazon (but I should have.) I called and placed my order over the phone. I confirmed my shipping details, and I even redeemed a coupon code – all thanks to a representative who was kind and likely meant well, but who ended up sending my package to a friend’s house. Yes, my bathing suit was sent to the wrong address, one that must have just been plucked from my online address book, rather than the one that I confirmed to match my billing address. I caught this minor detail in the shipment confirmation email, just a little too late to make a change. Again, as if I was in control.
As if I could have, should have, REALLY must have been able to pick up on the pattern by now (stop ordering things Katie… stop expecting things to come on time…or at all…stop… just… stop…making…it…harder.) I’ve hauled enough boxes of old clothes off to donate, and so I needed a few summer items. Ordered. Paid for 2-day shipping to better my odds and ensure ease. Right?!?! Wanna guess what happened? My package was never delivered. I called, I was told it would be delivered by end of day. This repeated for a few days. Day 3, I insisted to know where the actual physical box was, drove to a UPS shipment center that was no where near where I live, only to be told by the woman at the desk that she had no idea where my box may be. You would think this package held family heirlooms, but no, I’m just a Capricorn and stubborn as hell and if I ordered something, well damnit I’m going to track it down.
Clearly still missing the point. The whole point. Pushing past the point.
While all of this absolutely unnecessary excess minor drama that I brought into my own world was going on, I am working, teaching weekly classes (3 added just in April alone), running my first yoga retreat, trying to build on my own practice, healing from physical injury, having my family into town, and trying to keep myself alive.
I asked my corporate class on Friday morning how they were doing, what their week was like – I always ask them this. This past Friday, they asked me back, “How are you?” And I was honest… I told them “I’m good, overall, really. But April truly kicked my ass.” Their reply was instant, “You said that about March.”
Served at my own game.
When do we stop beating ourselves down? When is enough, enough?
What am I saying yes to? What am I inviting in? Why am I doing what I’m doing – from the choices I make, to the life bits that maybe just need to be LET GO OF or heck, AVOIDED. When we think we’re fast tracking forward, life steps in to remind us that actually, we’re taking steps back. We’re back tracking. And it’s this way on the mat when we move before we breathe, and we keep moving and pushing and exerting so much so that then we lose the breath completely. And then we’re either injured or exhausted or just not doing yoga – we’re practicing from a place of physical exertion. Each time, when we can catch ourselves in it, and we bring ourselves back to the breath, we come back into sync. Back into rhythm. What we’re doing on the mat is most likely what we’re doing in our lives. And if you’re not catching it in your practice, be wary of online shopping and delivery, because that spiral is some trap to catch yourself in. But I get it now.
In all honesty and in all goodness, catch your breath. Find it again. And let yourself make it last longer than a few moments. Let your steadiness go first in life, and in your practice. Let your breath guide your movement. Otherwise, life is just one push after another. And then our experiences become all dried up because there’s less life to our lives.
I recently had some one-on-one time with a teacher who invited me to come to know what my quality of the breath is like in the course of my life, when I feel an emotion or have an experience. Essentially knowing the qualities and traits of my breath in life too, in addition to my breath in my practice on the mat. And that fascinated me. Before I heard this, I could tell you exactly what my body does when I get angry – I tighten up, my gut wrenches, my heart pounds, I begin fuming, maybe I shake. I can elicit that physical response because I know it. I could tell you what my body does when I get sad, excited, frustrated, tired. I can describe and I know much of how I experience and move in this life on a physical plane, but I can’t say I know my breath as well. The breath, more subtle yes, but arguably most vital.
Now I’m starting to pay attention. I’m learning about my breath. It quickens, it deepens, certain people/conversations/daily tasks make my breath respond in different ways because they reflect something I either really can lean into about myself or something I’m shying away from. Just as our breath needs the right conditions to become known to us, so do we in order for the noticing to even take place. Give yourself time. Give yourself space. Even just a small space to notice – how much am I taking in, taking on, inviting in, causing, how am I reacting tangibly, how am I responding subtly in my life? And then how, qualitatively, does it change my rhythm? Breath first. Then move.
Life as a reflection of our practice? Our practice a reflection of our life? Not a coincidence. Not one bit.
May 1, 2017
It was a beautiful R&R Retreat Weekend! Grateful to have led alongside Katelin Ryan and so very happy to have had such a special group of R&R-ers, beach bums and yogis all in one!
“When the soul remembers itself, regardless of how or when, it spreads like light on stone to fill us with the presences of all life and all time. So wait, especially when you’re worn and tired, wait till you fall open like a small clear bowl destined to collect rain. Wait in the open for your soul to remember that you are its home. Wait for your soul to rain into you.” Mark Nepo
May you know retreat is not a place to get away to, but a place always available to you, within.
May you feel your breath first – everything else follows, in life and on the mat.
May you always hear laughter, know fun, and surround yourselves with things are that grand and beautiful, sparkly and sacred, and precious and delicious.
And, may you sleep like rocks tonight – hydrated and lathered in aloe.
Love to you, sweet sweet group! Thank you for showing up, and for your smiles all weekend long! 🕉
April 27, 2017
I came looking for this guy today. He wasn’t in his normal spot. I always wonder what he’s thinking – or not thinking about – in his stillness.
I’ve felt anticipation arise in myself this week- in a whole lot of ways- in all of the catergoires of being a human. And when I can’t get much else done until what’s due to pass, well, passes, I know I’m too saturated in an emotion – my sure signal that I’m operating from a past or future, unreal, framework. And this will always cause resistance because i can’t breathe for a past version of me, or a future one.
When I can pull out just enough and recenter, the emotion is good enough shakti to release itself and move through. It wasn’t until my practice yesterday when I remembered – oh right, I can just let myself be with anticipation. I can hold it as an emotion, knowing it too will pass through and I’m not victim to it. It doesn’t rule my days or covet my relationships or worse even, my internal dialogue.
This too with saddness, expectation, even joy – can we feel the feeling and let it pass through? It’s maybe only when we stop trying to possess it that it moves through us. We can have the felt experience. And release it. Finally. Free it. And be free. Free for the next experience to come through.
Thanks Heron friend.
April 22, 2017
Today is EarthDay and I’m about to go teach on the Farm. While it seems pretty silly to talk about EarthDay (its every day, especially every Saturday for the Farm yogis!), I can’t go teach on the Earth and NOT talk about it 🙂
Five years ago, I was out in the Four Corners region of New Mexico with a group of big hearted students from Villanova. We stayed on land tended to by a Navajo, Dine, man – Larry – a scholar, artist, farmer, teacher and healer. One of the tasks that was the busy work of our stay was to help construct a rammed earth floor structure. We built doors and collected gravel from near-by to lay the rock to start the floor.
As we were laying the rock, we encountered an ant colony. Several, actually. And it was very clear that ants had made their home in the dirt right where we were planning to put in the rock. We couldn’t build over the ants – it wouldn’t be right, though may have been instinctive before our conversations and reflections about always being on sacred land. We chose to move them outside of the building, keeping them in tact as best we could, carefully scooping up the ant mounds with shovels and walking them outside. It was a moment that nature was calling out “hi, I’m here too.” And we responded with “okay. Let’s charge our way of thinking and proceeding to include what’s here. To respect it and take care of it.” Even in this small instance. It became a big instance.
There was more, though, the crux – Larry reflected back to us our divide and conquer methodology. We wanted to achieve an end result in the fast, most effective method possible, instead of taking time to reflect, pray, and truly become part of the nature we were interacting with. That rang in my bones as truth, but I was so unaccustomed to take the pause. It was a wake up point. Before that trip, I hadn’t realized that I am creation, creation is just not what’s around me. It’s not to be objectified – because I am it.
I still cannot buy ant traps – even in North Carolina summer. I sprinkle my house with cinnamon, and eucalyptus, and peppermint as an offering of sorts to a small creature that also participates in the being and doing of living.
So maybe this collective consciousness, reverence, and a pause is what takes us back to understanding and caring for the earth. The small stuff. Not building over an ant farm. Taking the time to make ceremony from old and stale productivity. Making the profance, sacred.
I’ve been reading Thomas Berry like crazy lately and there’s this quote I love about us having the same power that brought the Earth into being – we’re made of that. So how do we honor that? What do we do with that? “Know the connection between a Styrofoam cup and a sacred fire.” I think it’s knowing we’re the connection and we’re better beings for living from this place.
Thank you Larry for the teachings.
March 7, 2017
Friends! Exciting news! The North Face is an added sponsor for Yoga at RCF: Spring Season Kickoff! The North Face actually has a whole brand of yoga & workout gear (in addition to their cold/winter lines) that is making milestones in supporting the local sustainability efforts and the environment through their brand! Check it out!
The pants I’m wearing are made from Volcanic Ash, Coconut Husk, and Coffee Beans! and the shirt… American cotton and recycled plastic bottles…AND (it gets better..) the tag – you can plant in the ground and grow Wildflowers from! Magic. I’m totally geeking out & you should too because….
The North Face will be at the farm on Saturday after yoga, raffling a $50 gift card to their store so you can check out their awesome lines and see how they too are connecting back to sustainability in what they do! A huge thanks them for connecting with and supporting their local farm, Raleigh City Farm! See you Saturday, 3/25!
March 1, 2017
10 hours of sleep & 10 miles. Effort & ease, truly.The last time I ran 10 miles was May 2013 for the infamous Broad Street Run in downtown Philadelphia. I remember getting brunch with my friend Janet afterwards, and sitting at the table and needing to go to the bathroom, I was scared to get up because I knew I would limp. That run took all of me. Last time I slept 10 hours may have been just as long ago.
There is a lot that running regularly again has shown me about myself – but the greatest revelation that’s come about is the parallel between the needs of my body and desires of my heart – shown through the contrast of my mind, my thoughts. When I’m running, my mind fills with “you’ve gone far enough,” “you’re so tired, let’s come back tomorrow when you’ll be more on your game,” Or my favorite, “but this is the place you always stop to check your phone/rest/drink water/tie your shoe.” What my body tells me, though, more of the time than not, is that it is just fine. That however I’m pacing or the act of running itself is exactly what it needs to physically and energetically release. My body is tired but because it’s burning away the bullshit, not because it “can’t” anymore. It doesn’t want to stop. My mind is what needs reeling in – similar to my practice on the mat.
Because of a regular mediation and yoga practice, I can see what this shows me. With my mind being the worst cheerleader ever for my physically body, what if my inner dialogue around my current state of life in all of its categories is the worst for my soul? What if when I think about how hard something is, or how much pain there is, or how much I rather be doing anything else in a given moment, or convincing myself with the lists of “shoulds,” what if my soul is quietly speaking “this is exactly what I need. It’s the right speed, good pacing, and I’ve just enough fuel. This is just right for me to grow stronger and more evolved.“What if the story I’m running in my mind is nothing like the journey my soul is actually taking? What if each time my mind said stop, I choose to consider and ask, “isn’t this exactly what is needed?”
Now that running has come back around for me, I’m keen on picking up its lessons. Heart first. It’s exactly what I need.
December 30, 2016
So what if for 2017, I didn’t set a resolution? What if I didn’t try & dictate the direction my year is going to take, but rather, cleared as much room within myself for the good, challenging, discovering, experimenting, reveling, stilling beauty of another year to show up? To come to me?
What would happen if I didn’t beckon or summon the “stuff” and the “results” but instead I just made sure it was welcomed? That both routine moments and life’s holiness were both invited to join me?
I think I’d start a sort of revolution within myself, and within my world. Born from spacemaking.
6:45-8pm Open NYE Yoga Flow 🕉
8-9pm Meditation and Intention Setting
December 29, 2016
Yesterday seems UNREAL. But it was so very real. There’s news clip to prove it. But here’s what it all comes down:
1.) I hope you take a moment to check out Profugo and learn about a local organization making strides and setting the precedent for global impact. Please consider contributing even $10 to their annual campaign. That money goes a long way… Imagine your $10 bill flying to Kerala and landing in a family’s Kitchen Garden project. Seed the intention to connect in a small way and you will feel it in your heart. Because we are connected. Profugo taught me that. And this was the whole reason for yesterday.
2.) I hope you uncover something in this life that not only lights a fire under your ass, but sets off the pure light of your heart. I hope it brings a sparkle to your eyes and makes all of you buzz with big YES. And I hope you chase it fiercely. RUN after it. Follow it loyally and joyfully and curiously. Hold it preciously. And every now and then, look around and say thank you. To its force, to those standing around you in support, to you for showing up as you in the world, and to the great Source that has us all held. Always. And honor the moments when you are given larger snapshots of the greatest picture that is your life.
(And forever grateful to Tara for agreeing in an hour’s notice to go on TV with me!)
December 28, 2016
Friendship & Community
These last few days of 2016 have taught me more about friendship and community than I ever thought possible.
Today was a gift. A gathering for a purpose. Even maybe, a reunion.
A friend who traveled from New York and back in a day.
A Raleigh friend.
Two friends who I last saw 3 years ago in Wayanad.
And three new friends. All who faithfully showed up and shined their light. Big time.
We practiced in a circle. The only fitting way with what felt like a hand selected group.
We shed a lot of load and uncovered a whole ton of light. All with breath and intention set to Profugos mission of a global neighborhood for the wellbeing of all.
As if the world was at the center of our ciricling, filling the whole globe with light. 🌎✨
My heart is full. And I go to sleep tonight one content & happy Yogi rooted in community and the worlds best models of friendship & global impact. 🙏🏻
Sincere gratitude to the fierce support that is Hez Lewis and to Profugo who both stepped up in the biggest ways to make today happen. ❤
There are a few days remaining for Profugo’s annual campaign! If you can make a small donation please consider supporting these efforts of light and global community! https://www.crowdrise.com/2016-annual-fundraising…/…/profugo
December 15, 2016
Sitting down to write a note to Southern Poverty Law Center that Glenda & I will send along with the $600 in donations those of you who attended the partner practice on Sunday helped raise. Together. Generously.
This note is a thank you card. A message of gratitude to SPLC for who they are in the world. It is a message of solidarity. That we see that justice is being worked for and we stand with it. It is a note that we see, we hear, we feel, & we want peace too. We will contribute to moving the world in the direction of wholeness, too. It is a promise that we will continue to do our part.
‘Tis the season. ‘Tis always the season to be the peace and the love and the joy that we wish for in our lives and in the world.
Thank you to all of you again for being part of one expression of this intention and thank you to Glenda for being my partner in this practice of peace!
December 12. 2016
Many of you know this time 3 years ago, I had just returned from Kerela, South India with a small production team from Villanova University. We spent 2 weeks making a documentary highlighting the social, systemic impacts a Philadelphia area non profit, Profugo, is making in the district Wayanad. Profugo is truly fulfilling their mission of creating a global neighborhood for a better quality of life, by empowering community members with the skills and tools needed to live bigger and brighter lives. My time spent in the midst of Profugo’s work is fundamental to who I am today as a person and Profugo is changing more lives than just mine – every day in a big ways.
Three years later, I have found myself practicing and teaching yoga in Raleigh, NC and one of my main interests and current pursuits is the development of a sustainable society, particularly that which connects us to the land, to each other, and to ourselves. Personally, Profugo’s newest Sustainable Agriculture program is a call to action and supporting their efforts is both my social responsibility & my privilege. In this light, I want to channel a practice of intention to benefit a intention for sustainability and connection.
All the proceeds from this event will contribute to Profugo’s 2016 Annual Campaign to support the new Sustainable Agriculture program. This includes rainwater harvesting, composting, eliminating harmful pesticides, empowering community members with the skills needed in organic farming practice, developing community nurseries, and growing kitchen gardens.
I wish for sustainability in every pocket of the world. I wish for connection here and now. I wish for nothing more than the Philadelphia Mainline area to really & truly gather together, in one space, at the same time, and turn to the practice of yoga in a way that embodies Profugo’s mission of a global neighborhood for a better quality of life. Bring your family, your friends, yourself to your mat and let’s Root down & Rise up, Philly!
To find out more and for details on the event visit: http://bit.ly/2hH8NUT
Please share this with your friends, neighbors and family and of course anyone who may be in the Philadelphia area and able to join us!
December 11, 2016
Questions & Answers & Yoga for ACTION
Yesterday I was asked what it is I do in this world, and when I said I teach yoga & manage a yoga studio, I was met harshly with “Oh. So you’re a yogi?” And it stopped me.
I felt categorized- as if I had commercial yoga taped to my face. Which I don’t. But this person didn’t know me and I was clearly unprepared with an adequate response. How though, could I not be able to put words around and transcend the green juice & tight pants stereotype when I’ve been with this practice for the last 6 years? I was speechless and unsettled. With myself.
And so my personal practice this morning led me to the question “So, Kate, are you a yogi?” But before that could be determined, it begs, “Well, what is a yogi?” In just my searching this morning, I concluded that in the lineage of yoga, the classical yogis, the greats, had three distinct qualities:
So how to land this? How do I take the abstract qualities that compose a yogi and make them concrete, to me, in my own life? How do I guide others to do the same? For me, the process boiled down to a few questions that I know in my gut boil down to the truth:
-Do I show up?
-Do I seek?
-Do I yield?
-Do I say both yes AND no?
-Do I love? Do I show it, share it, act on it, feel it? Am I love embodied in the world to others and to myself?
I think if one can offer a wholehearted yes to any of these questions, they sure do have the right to call themselves a yogi. And they should. Because yoga is not doing. It’s being. And ultimately, you are it. I am yoga. You are yoga. We do not do yoga. And when we are yoga, we are yogis.
Today was a gift. I shared these questions and continued the exploration with 35 students this morning at Lululemon North Hills and spirit moved them to celebrate the excavation process that this morning’s practice was. They erupted into applause for themselves after class. They begged the questions and hopefully touched in on some answers.
From there, I was both honored & humbled to co-lead a partner practice with my dear friend Glenda to benefit Souther Poverty Law Center, an organization that brings support to the marginalized of our community. On this special day of remembrance, Glenda’s moms birthday, the room at Art’s Together – an organization Glenda’s mother built and Glenda herself to this day breathes the brightness of the yoga into- was filled with 30 people who showed up for themselves, each other, and the greater community. To move and to breathe as one. To celebrate and collaborate by way of being yoga. And with that kind of energy – the being energy – close to $600 was raised for SPLC! I bow to all of the generosity! And a special thanks to Jim Crew for holding the space in sweetness with his musical accompaniment! All the parts were present. A whole practice. Yoga.
My heart is full.
My hands are open.
My intention is seeded.
Damn straight I am a yogi. And most grateful to be surrounded & supported by yogis. 🙏🏻
December 2, 2016
So December has already got me brewing on some big plans & exciting ideas!
To kick things off, I’m super stoked to offer holiday specials on private & semi private yoga session for anyone looking to give yourself or a loved one the gift of yoga this season!
single sessions: $50
3 sessions: $145
5 sessions: $225
Also ask about semi privates (for you & a friend or spouse!), group classes, office classes, family yoga, & ladies’ nights!
OMMM for the holidays, my friends!
Contact Katie at firstname.lastname@example.org with questions or to book your session!
Planting Ourselves on Fertile Ground
Grateful to have been featured on Raleigh City Farm’s blog as a guest contributor!
October 26, 2016
Four years ago, I spent about a week in New Mexico on the land of a Navajo farmer, educator, and healer. I landed in this Four Corners Region with 12 others on a Fall Break mission trip of sorts. Our mornings there were spent with a daily sunrise ceremony. We would awake to the cold, crisp October morning seeping into our sleeping bags that lay on the adobe earth floor of the Hogan where we slept, and we would rise to the sounds of a drum and the voice of song that was preparing the way for sunrise. Wrapped in blankets, we would gather outside under a expansive, clear sky and acknowledge all of the directions – South, West, North, and East. The beat of the drum and the rhythm of song ultimately landing us facing East, in the direction of the sunrise, 360° of prayer. We would take a salt offering in our hand and face the pen, uninhibited rising sun. The sun streaming strong and fierce in our faces, flooding us with light. As we made our personal prayer of reciprocity to the earth each morning, I wondered “why choose to wake up in any other way than this?” How connected and full and intentional and sparkling I was for that week of being a participant in the sun rising. And why I’ve continued to hold mornings sacred for this very reason ever since: Connection to source. My experiences with those morning ceremonies changed and enlivened me as an individual.
For the last 18 weeks, Yoga at Raleigh City Farm is how now as a yoga teacher and continued practitioner, I wanted to bring that very experience alive – in my own way, for my community. Get up and out of bed, move and breath, together, our faces in the face of the sun. Plant ourselves on fertile ground, in the midst of a booming city and life around us – all the sounds and sensations. Take Saturday morning and make it holy. Face the sun, look up at the sky, and acknowledge the body and the breath in a space that was built by the community, for the community. Sacred space.
I’m grateful to Raleigh City Farm, especially Rebekah, for hearing out a yogi’s dream and trusting me with the special space that is the farm. I am so thankful for all of the time, effort and support that went into allowing Yoga to take root at RCF! I am humbled by the downtown raleigh yogis who dubbed themselves the weekend warriors and showed up with mats and towels, and smiles and sweat, and not a single clue what they were in for. Yoga was mentioned, and they were in. Thank you to each and every one of you from day one who shared Saturday space on the farm! To all of the sights and sounds, the bugs and humidity, the distractions, calamites, and the sweetness of grassy feet – I am grateful for such awesome Summer & Fall yoga seasons!
Enjoy these cooler months. Wake up on crisp Saturdays, make yourself a warm cup of something, and take a moment to face East – simile at the sun – and breath in all the light that is rightly yours. See you in the Spring, yogis!
September 14, 2016
Points of intersection…
I’ve always admired the movie Once, mostly because the story told is realistic. It takes craft and defiance to atypical story arch for a movie to unveil the truth that sometimes the people and experiences that play in our encounters with love, are not always that which prove to be love’s stopping point. In these more frequent than not instances, love’s ultimate destination is to specific version of our very selves, one that is arriving or departing. Love creates a marker for us of who we are. Where we are in the sky that is our life.
Six years ago, Once initiated my continuing curiosity in the chance that all many tiny love stories in my own life were really invitations to mark points of meeting with that version of myself in time – with whatever capacity I find myself creating in the world from the experiences life feeds me. Both this notion, and Once, has followed me from my days in Glenside, to my final evening of my year in New York City, and back again. Markers. Versions of me arriving and departing. Over and over.
It is just the distinct blend of Irish storytelling and lyrical craft of Glen Hansard’s songs that have inspired these many markers. The way he arranges his words finds me in remembrance of every blessing & curse, and I’m left to marvel in a oversized faith that what is to come is grand, hand crafted, and better than I can imagine. I’m deserving of just that. We all deserve something in life that moves us to this point of hope and trust.
Monday night, Glen Hansard came to my hometown and performed at a venue that has been in Glenside for more years than I know. In my dad’s days growing up in this town, it was a movie theater. The space was later renovated to fit a stage and throughout the years, has hosted the generations of Glensiders in Summerstock performances, dance recitals, and frequent and sometimes epic visiting performers. Eight summers of my childhood I spent on this stage and throughout my teenage years I watched a few great artists come through and add the echoes of their lives stories in the walls of this knowing space.
To have Glen Hansard on the stage Monday evening was more than a just a single marker. His lyrics heard live brought me to the realization that all of the markers of me were converging. His songs have fed many a version of Kate – Marked many illuminations, pilgrimages, beginnings, endings, and everything in between. His performance was a point of intersection of all the versions of me. Like a constellation. All of the dots connected. And all of the versions of myself honored and very much present.
Glen Hansard began his days as a musician as a busker in Ireland. Really and truly just him and his guitar on the streets of Dublin. And from that version of him, with everything that came for him in between, he found himself beginning his leg of his latest North American tour in little Glensida, Pennsylvania. And somehow, stars aligned for the current version of Kate to be there, standing on the shoulders of all of her past versions, all of the markers of all of her moments.
May my Winning Streak never end.
September 9, 2016
September 6, 2016
A constant in my yoga practice for the last 6 years has been a ritual offering, “Let a blessing wash in and through you for being exactly who you are.” Softly spoken from my heart space while laying on my side in post savasana marvel. The palm of my hand rooting me down and my forehead connected to earth source.
Beth Hummel spoke these words once & then always in her teaching. They hit my soul with such sweetness, like a magnet to my hummingbird heart.
This phrase is my daily recommitment to self compassion – for me existing as Kate in the world in all of the forms…. as an utter train wreck, an act of grace, aligned, not aligned, sunbeam or shitstorm. Affectionally, the spectrum. My soul speaks these words each time I rise at the end of practice, whether I want to believe them or not. Whether I want to be the exactly person that I am that day, or not. In spite of all the dandelion wishing that some elements of life were different than they are, this anthem remains a declaration that the state of things are exactly as they are and in a way, perfect. As they should be.
Most certainly beyond my scope of full understanding. But supreme to holding all answers, I believe in these words, their meaning, and the power that is harnessed in their truth. I offer these words, with my whole heart, to my students to take in whatever capacity serves them.
There is no other identity to subscribe to, or duty to fulfill other than the person that I am, doing the work that I am doing in the world – today. And today I stand in full Tuesday morning glory, doused in the maximum degree of humanness I think I can ask for. But nonetheless, I welcome that same blessing in and through me. and THAT is what is enough.
This is the great bow of gratitude for being exactly who I am. The rest will come.
As I pack myself up for an extended weekend in the philly area, I am grateful to these shining guides for stepping up to allow me to take me away for a few days… to put to practice being me. I’ll see y’all next week: same times, same places, same shining faces.
August 27, 2016
These are my Saturday people at Raleigh City Farm! 👊🏻💜🙏🏻🌞🌱 Join us every Saturday, 8am, for Pay What You Can yoga on the farm!
August 25, 2016
Show up. Smile. Breathe fully & deeply. Witness the dance of your heartbeat. Feel. Move in a way that recognizes the great blessing that it is to be alive. Be loud in you stillness, your steadiness, your unique rhythm. Ask for your truth to show itself. Locate your light. Shine with intention. Hold sacredness in your thoughts, your words, your hands & your heart. Let the blessings, the signs, the universe’s love notes pour in. Keep showing up for yourself, first and continuously, & for your world, bigger and brighter each with each beat and with every breath.
See you on your mat for the practice of showing up:
5:30pm, Foundations: TRC NR
8-9am, Pay What You Can: Raleigh City Farm
10-11am, Power Flow: TRC MV
6-7pm, Pay What You Can: blue lotus yoga
11:30-12:30, Power Flow: TRC MV
11:30-12:30, Foundations: TRC MV
August 20, 2016
Farm feet are happy feet! Grateful for yoga space @ Raleigh City Farm every Saturday morning and for the dedicated yogis who come back week after week to play in the grass! 🌱✌🏻
August 18, 2016
Early bird gets the worm 🐛 or in today’s case, early mama gets the yoga! 🙏🏽Congrats on completing 8 weeks of fitness, ladies! Thanks Fit4Mom Midtown Raleigh – Body Back for including me in the celebration and letting me guide your moms in moving & breathing this morning!
August 9, 2016
“The sun gives itself for the life of the universe.”
Last night, I watched Rob Bell‘s Everything is Spiritual film. And the quote above has been reverberating between my ears. I’ve concluded that if the sun gives of itself to that extent, the least my being can do is reflect back some of its light by shining into my own dark matter & the dark matter found in my little world.
When I heard Rob & Elizabeth Gilbert speak just two months back Wanderlust Hollywood, both Rob and Liz spoke to this resurfacing theme of allowing. Rob said that “every explanation merely moves the mystery down a layer.”
Fact: I don’t want to live life as a degraded mystery.
Mystery, enhancement, wonder – I choose for these to be nourished from the self giving light the sun models. Not fed from the dark matter, the old stories, the past habits or the unsaids of life.
Liz, as she spoke about relaxing into the mystery and safeguarding it from logical grids, encouraged the anthem: “there’s something else [besides the tangible] going on here and I want to swim in that.”
I’m recommitting to the flow. Being in it & of it. Swimming in a pattern set by a force of light giving Mystery, which refurbishes the bits of dark into something of use to me & to the world. A recycling which is of beauty and which radiates the brightest and most spacious light & love.
A brilliant love…defined in Rob’s film as the action of “lining yourself up with the fundamental direction of the universe which is to expand and to self transcend and to move beyond itself for the wellbeing of the world around you.” Maybe in all of its light, the sun just knows love, aligns with love and has nailed the rising factor. And thus that ball of fire is so fundamental to our universe. And so very transcendent.
Join me in less explaining and more allowing, more flowing, greater rising and in eternal and massive gratitude & love.
Flowing on the mat this week:
– 6:30am Restore Triangle Rock Club – North Raleigh
– 6am Assisting Carrington at Sunrise Yoga: Raleigh Rose Garden
– 2pm Community Yoga (free) Blue Lotus Community
– 8am Pay What You Can Raleigh City Farm
– 10am Power Flow Triangle Rock Club – Morrisville
August 2, 2016
Nature is medicine.
Time with creation bigger than myself ✔️
A few hours off radar ✔ A solid hike ✔️
Good conversation✔️ Nourishing food✔️
36 hours away ✔️
cup = full.
July 30, 2016
View from my mat this morning. Grateful for you all. 🙏🏻🌱🕉
July 9, 2016
I received an emphatic facebook message this Saturday morning informing me, at the chance I wasn’t already aware, that I have made no comments on social media about the recent events in the world regarding black lives – As if I am a public figure due to issue an official proclamation on the state of things. This messaging instigator seemed to find it outlandish that despite my previous efforts, experiences, and conversations within the realm of social justice, I have not joined forces with the picture posting, status making Facebook collective that has formed over the last days and weeks in the midst of the very real and overwhelming number of tragedies. If I am receiving throwback like this for simply choosing not to post anything up until this point, I am surely not alone, and let me clarify that my silence on the social media-sphere most definitely does not denote a lack of opinion.
My friend would like a quote on my stance? My stance is twofold. Life is sacred and precious. It is fleeting and raw. And each moment of every day should be a living testimony to the beauty bestowed to us as a community of caretakers of this earth and most importantly of each other. This life is a shared experience of wonder, growth, transformation, and all encompassing, illuminating strength. To witness it decay in any form, violence or illness, is pure vandalism to the holy living that belongs to each and every one of us as a basic human right and essential privilege of the soul. To see man against man is ineffably saddening. It is troubling. It is confusing and unfair. It is of the highest imbalance with our inherent nature. Evolution cannot go on like this. Killing does not create and the consequences for people being so far off the mark with themselves holds the rest of the collective back from evolving as a human race and as spiritual beings. We are so every connected to each other – It is real, it is in our faces and etched all over our hearts. And every deed that is done by any one member effects us each at our core, regardless and supreme of our multitude of identifications – race, political party, financial background, gender, belief system, education, the list sadly continues. Identifiers are keeping us at war with ourselves and each other. In the recent events, identification is deemed the higher choice over unification moment after moment and all beings everywhere are left with straight up chaos.
There are no words, there are no pictures, there is no justice which I feel is potent enough to post on social media to convey the state of things. There is only one amplifying and contagious combatant that is loud enough to stand next to the shit fest this world is in. My choice of antidote is how I live my days. I choose light. I feed this world with goodness, with freedom, and with the intention that my god it is just a single thread which runs through us all. I stuff my time, my interactions, my experiences, and my relationships with the fiercest brew of love I know. I do not even feel the need to share this as a stance or as my Facebook status because its who I am, it is who we all are if we so choose to be. I only take the time & space to respond to a probing, provoking message because I see it as an opportunity, and a reminder for all of us light bearers to keep living loudly and to keep showing up to the world with all the life we’ve got, because we’ve got it all – this life is not just all we’ve got.
So my quote, sir? My quote is and will continue be my noisy life of light. I hope you too can join me in that intention.
June 11, 2016
I’ve been in the graces of my immediate family these past 10 days. Mother. Sister. Brother. We adventured and explored and ate and drank and beached. We also fought and laughed and cried and teased and complained and dreamed and remembered. Time together. Nothing we could have done during this trip could outweigh the currency of time. I spent all I brought.
Today, to be with the sweetness and warmth and all encompassing love of the one on the left & to feel the distinct presence, humor, and conviction of the one on the right, I woke up with the sun, spent 8 hours in a caravan of sorts with my mom at the wheel and siblings in tow and made the trip from MA to PA with as little complaining as possible.
My reward: To sit and drink port wine with my Gram, watching 70’s game shows from back when Alex Trebek hosted with a full head of hair.
A recharge and a regroup. A pause to eat in her dining hall and be a part of each other’s afternoons if for only a few hours.
To take rest in the infamous recliner, with this photo to my right, as our time drew to a close to the sounds of a PBS feature of Willy Nelson and Johnny Cash in concert. Gratitude in progress. Preciousness present.
My selfless 90 year old grandmother then drove me to the train station, where I’m now bound for the airport… Relieved, filled up, and overly happy to be headed back to NC. Back home.
A glimmering realization though, I just may have been home this entire time✨❤️✈️
June 5, 21016
During two recent photo sessions, it was difficult to find myself on the other side of the camera. But friends Stephanie Uribe in LA and Hide Terada in Raleigh made it easy to capture the practice that I love, thanks to their kindness and talent.