Friday, December 30, 2011


In a Yogic Healing class I took this past year I learned a lot about what we can do for ourselves to keep ourselves healthy.  Many of our pains can be prevented or aided by certain simple ways of living.  Most amazingly, if we can only do this one thing we might never be in pain again.  Our body heals itself if we are in an alkaline state.  Unfortunately most of what we love eating, white bread, pasta, sugar, meat and alcohol creates an acid state in our body.  Our bodies’ innate ability to heal itself is quickly compromised when our daily routine includes mostly these addictive foods. 

So what do we do if we already have the pain?  Many times a change in diet can help tremendously.  But at first, it’s mighty hard because taking a few bad items out of the daily rotation doesn’t create an alkaline state.  So at first it is necessary to eliminate these foods until you feel better.  Then, of course, going back to old habits will lead you back to where you started, uncomfortable and in pain.

One of the most common complaints of my Yoga students throughout the years has been back pain, especially sciatica.  This is the first of several heal yourself blog posts.  You might notice a common denominator – leavy greens yes—sugar, white flour, alcohol—no.  Here’s to a new healthy, happy year. 

These are my suggestions for sciatica that I learned at the Yogic Healing class and some online research. 

At the first sign of pain, apply a cold compress to the lower back for fifteen to twenty minutes. Repeat this action every two to three hours. Continue to keep the area cold for as long as possible for twenty-four to forty-eight hours.

After applying a cold compress for a couple of days, switch to using a heat pad. Use some type of heating pad to the affected area for fifteen minutes at a time. Every hour, repeat the process until it seems to lose its effectiveness. When you apply heat to the muscles, it relaxes them, while helping to reduce spasms. Circulation is also increased and toxins around the nerves are flushed away.

When treating sciatica, make sure that bowel movements remain regular. If you do not have regular bowel movements, try using a mild natural laxative, or an enema.  However, if you chose laxative, do not continue to use it for more than a couple of days, because your bowel movements could become dependent on the laxative. After a couple of days of using the laxative, resort to a high fiber - low fat diet to continue having regular bowel movements naturally.

Getting plenty of sleep is also very important.  Studies have shown that the body does the majority of healing while we sleep (also in sivasana at the end of a Hatha class.) Lying on our back is best, however, if the pain is too immense and keeps you awake; try raising your knees with a small pillow. Doing this will take some pressure off the nerves. If you must sleep on your side, curling up and putting a pillow between your knees will work just as fine.

If you can, go for a walk. Walking is known to be one of the best exercises for sciatica. Exercise helps to relieve and prevent it. Walking keeps muscles loose, while improving circulation throughout the body, including the area of the damaged nerve.

Coming up soon--- Kale, not Just a Plate Decoration (recipes for those who don’t think greens are yummy)

I hope that has helped you or someone you love.  Drop me a line if you have a specific ailment that is stopping you from living your life with gusto.  I’ll look into my healing files and try to come up with something you can do to heal yourself.

With lots of love, light and healing for the new year!

Yoga Girl

P.S. Many thanks goes out to my fabulous teacher, the honored and respected Yoga teacher and Director of the Integral Yoga Institute, Margabandhu Martarano. 

For more information about Margabandhu and his classes check out

Sunday, November 27, 2011

This Is Hard To Admit

It's so clear out today.  Sunshine makes the chill not so bad.  Yoga Dog and I went exploring this morning and found some new nooks to imagine what lived inside. I'm so grateful for our morning walks together.  Because I am not a morning person, even though for the past decade I've had to be, I do not hesitate when he wakes me up with the tapping of his toenails on the wood floor.  His need to go to the bathroom pulls me right out of bed without a thought to ignore him.

This is what meditation is supposed to be like.  It is supposed to be automatic, a call to worship, a call to honor and commune with the millions of others waking at dawn to connect to the universe.  It has been awhile since I did my daily meditation practice.  This is hard to admit for me.  For six years I woke up early and enjoyed the silence, the connection to the Om of the world, and a deep connection to God that I felt.  I wondered why everyone did not do this simple practice in the morning.  The hardest part was rolling out of bed, but once I sat cross-legged in front of Guruji's picture, Swamiji's, Shiva and Grandma Irene, I felt like I had walked straight into a family group hug.  I also added in a little ritual I garnered from the Native American sweat lodge ceremonies I had been to.  I added a hand wave around the candle in lieu of walking around the sacred fire.  As I circled the flame I gave away anything I was holding onto that was not serving me and into that void, I thought deeply about what I wanted to invite in that day.  It could have been love, patience, gratefulness, etc.  I enjoyed this moment in my day when I could remind myself what I wanted to think about during the day.  I used to say that I could tell the difference if I didn't meditate and when I did.  If I was running late and skipped meditation then I was impatient with my students and found myself unhappier throughout the day.  So how did this happen that I lost my meditation practice?  I am embarrassed because I teach that meditation is important and I have seen it transform my friends into living Saints.  So how did I lose my way?  My routine was interrupted I suppose.  Life changed a little. 

And yet, here I am early in the morning, after walking the dog.  I feel good that we had some nice winter breaths outside, some exercise and now it is time to begin again.  Here I go, before the hunger pangs arrive and I start my day.  Before the dust on the furniture pulls me into a chore.  Before I remember how many things are on my To do list, I will sit on my meditation cushion and see what happens.

Om Shanti.

Yoga Girl

Sunday, November 20, 2011

The Busy Months

And how are you coping with the busy days of winter?

My week is filled with running, running, running.  Drama club auditions this week, breaking hearts for some and boosting confidence in others, while also producing the upcoming show A Dickens Christmas.  Working on sound today for Cricket on the Hearth part of A Dickens Christmas.  And the work week felt long.  It wasn't, but it felt it.

And so J and I took in a Yoga class yesterday at the Freehold Yoga Center.  Ahhhh.
It's been so long that I almost forgot how good it was to participate in a full 1 1/2 class with fifteen minutes of pranayama.  When I practice at home there are a few shortcuts that happen since I feel the need to make the class shorter.  And there's something about the energy in a room full of Hatha Yoga practitioners that makes me sink deeper into myself.  Maybe their energy helps me focus, or relax.  Or maybe it is being outside of the house in a space for a certain fixed amount of time that gives me permission to let go of my daily life rushing around.  Whatever it is, I'm grateful for it.

And this Thanksgiving, I will be thanking Sri Guruji, Swami Satchidananda and Swami Sivanada for the blessing of Yoga lessons they've passed down to me.

What is it you're doing to help you stay grounded and let go of the rush of this time of year?

And if you'd like to cozy up to a good story check out the new NOW Theatre Company website including the page on A Dickens Christmas.  The show's in 2 1/2 weeks in East Brunswick, NJ.

Much relaxation and Om to you,
Yoga Girl

Monday, November 7, 2011

Look Both Ways!

Is it just me, or are people walking across the street without looking for cars these days?  I'm driving in parking lots (where there are a lot of cars coming both ways) and people are looking straight ahead, or in the opposite direction of my car.  I understand that if I, the driver, lose concentration then I will be forever horrified by what I've done, have to live with that forever and might go to jail.  But the consequences for not being mindful when crossing the street could be a huge injury, paralysis or the loss of my physical being on this Earth so I would think that they would listen to their inner mother who says, "Look both ways before crossing the street." 

Trying to be very mindful/grateful of the little things--
my beautiful nephew is walking with some assistance, is talking up a storm, and beyond a whisper.  He's saying "I love you" to everyone several times a day.  Which is sweet, until you think too much about it and remember he has short term memory loss and doesn't remember he just said it.  Oh wait the grateful list, right-- he's leaving the hospital for home in a few days.  My sister will once again be able to be with both children at once and lead some kind of "normal" existence. 

Yoga Dog and his girlfriend at the dog park
I'm also grateful that Yoga Dog wasn't eaten by another dog at the dog park.  He wasn't even scratched when a seemingly sweet new rescued dog was playing with him when suddenly he had Yoga Dog's face in his death jaws.  Yoga Dog is so trusting, playful and engages everyone that he doesn't realize when he's being too friendly too soon.  It took many scary moments to pry the dog's teeth off Yoga Dog's snout.  But luckily all we found was a lot of slobber and no blood.  I think we're going to be more mindful of where to bring Yoga Dog since he is overly friendly. 

This Friday Guruji Rev. Jaganath is having a Satsang at Akasha and guess what the topic is going to be?  Gratefulness.  Ah, another chance to live in the happy zone of what is good instead of the worries and negatives.  I hope to see you there.

Let me know what your challenges are on the path to mindfulness/gratefulness. 

Om and prem,
Yoga Girl

Thursday, October 20, 2011

The Good Things

Sometimes it's good to remind yourself how good things are going.  The gratitude list.  I do this every morning.  Now I'm going to have to teach my nephew.  It breaks my heart-- the little five year old is now speaking which thank God is happening, and yet he says, "I hate myself."  For many nights now I've been uneasy thinking about this and can not get to sleep.  I want to tell him that maybe what he means is that he hates this situation.  Maybe he means that he hates the hospital but saying "I hate myself" is breaking his mother and my heart.  And I want to tell him, it will get better.  I want to tell him that he's making great progress and soon he'll be able to run and jump and "Party like a Rock Star."

So for Ethan this list is dedicated:

I can breathe on my own
My legs can kick
I can speak and others understand me
I can sing
I can smile
I can explore new things
I can snuggle up with family
I can laugh
I can sleep
I can enjoy dessert if and when I chose to
I can listen to my favorite music and movies
I can tell everyone to "Stop" and they listen.

May you find pleasure in the little things today.

Lots of love, light and laughter,
Yoga Girl

Here's the video that took me months to edit but here he is with his older brother jumping and goofing around-- and singing my new yoga song appropriately titled, "My Yoga Song."  Enjoy.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Just a quick thought--

Sorry that I haven't been posting of late.  My nephew is in the hospital and I'm feeling the need to help family lately.  But as I do, I notice how much Yoga has taught me and kept me strong through it all. 
Seeing a once active four year old in the hospital slowed down by brain surgery is enough to put someone on the floor in fetal position for a very long time.  My heart is full and sometimes overflows with tears but my practice has deepened as of late.  I do my meditation and asana devoted to Ethan.  Whenever there is a lull in my day I pray for him and say my mantra. 

I feel lucky to have these practices in my life.  It was also such a gift that my sister who has been living at the hospital with him for three weeks now, asked me to lead a Yoga class for her.  My family is usually happy that I do Yoga but do not think it is for them.  It was so beautiful being able to help my sister breathe and find some relief from the daily stresses of nurses, medicines, new diagnoses, etc.

Ethan is getting a little better every day thanks to the many, many prayers.  We still do not know how many of his abilities he will regain but he smiles, and sings softly and can play catch.  These are all amazing gifts and I'm so thrilled to be able to be a part of his life. 

If you are interested there is a Benefit for Ethan concert on Dec. 10th.  Info below. 
Thank you for being a part of my life as well.

Om Shanti,
Yoga Girl

Friday, September 30, 2011

Namaste News Holistic Health Fair and Yogic Expo

Hello Yoga Friends,

What a wonderful event on Sept. 17th.  So many new friends I met and wonderful Yogic items that I was introduced to.

Yoga Mat that folds to easily travel and magically the dirty side never touches the clean one.

I'm going to have to ask them to make a Yoga mat that folds smaller into my cat carrier.

There was also a really fancy reusable pouch that can be used instead of throw-away plastic zip locks.  I bought a few and now I can carry some catnip with me and the velcro keeps it nice and fresh.

So many beautiful pieces of jewelry and essential oils. 
But even more beautiful...

Roshini from Urban Yoga Center

Michelle from Snooty Booty Diapers

Shannon and Rachel

Yoga Girl and Arlene Martin

Singing  My Yoga Song with the children

At the Yoga Life Society table, sending Guruji blessings

Johanna and Cyril from Urban Yoga Center

Such a lovely event.  I hope to be there next year.

Blessings to all!

Much love, light and purring,

Swami Cat

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Couldn't help but stare long and hard at this picture of the cat with two faces.

Made me think of  Vishvarupa, the universal form of Krishna in the Bhagavad Gita.
Krishna reveals that he is at once both the ultimate essence of Being in the universe and also its physical body, referred to as the Vishvarupa (`Universal Form`).

Why did I stare so hard and long at the cat with two faces?

Not because I couldn't believe this could happen in the world, but that I know anything can happen at any time.  Right now I am saddened to find my four year old beautiful nephew in the hospital having had two emergency out-of-the-blue brain surgeries last weekend and they are slowly waking him up from a coma today.  It is at these tremendously unbelievable times that I find myself hooking onto my Yoga practices more than ever.  It has become important to me to say my Mantra whole-heartedly for Ethan's health and my sister's and her husband's strength during these tough times. 

I am so grateful for the breathing techniques and kirtan chanting that has kept my mind from wandering to a dark place.  Furthermore the Sangha, the beautiful people who I know through Yoga and beyond have had an influx of well wishes and prayers for Ethan which just makes me so happy and grateful.

Yes, it has been a long time since I have written in the blog.
And yes I did say that I was going write a Swami Cat version of the Yoga Sutras every day, but life happens. 

What I do promise is that I am thinking of all of you, sending you love, healing and light every day.

May all beings find Yoga or some other form of peaceful practice to hold them steady through life's sudden Tsunamis.  

And yes, God, I too like Arjuna will continue to do my duty, what I was born for in the face of the scariest obstacles.  I will fight my inner demons by serving others today.   
Sending you love, light and a lot of energy to fight your own inner demons. 

Many, many blessings,

karuna (A.K.A. Yoga Girl)

Friday, August 26, 2011

You know you're a Yogi when...

1. Your Facebook wall posts consist of a quote from a Swami, The Dalai Lama or another Saint or wise ol' peacekeeper

2. You wake before everyone else in your house/neighborhood and instead of going back to sleep, you fall asleep in meditation

3. Instead of cursing the loud mouth drunk neighbor whose car needs a muffler, you picture him surrounded by light and love.  Then you put in some ear plugs.

4. You chanted Ram! Ram! Ram! during the earthquake and enjoyed the ride.

What else?  Send in your responses and I'll post them here!

Monday, August 22, 2011

Sutra 1.3: The Seer Abides In Its Own Nature

Ah, so much going on at the same time.  As I write this, a friend is struggling to give birth to a new human baby.  Jai to the little one and its mother.  Another friend is struggling with negative thoughts that plague her mind, poor thing.  Yoga Dog as usual is in sit, stay, drop it training as I watch and just giggle inside.  Luckily I am a cat and no one expects me to train in such mundane "trickery."  Since I do not have to bother with such trainings and have more time to study the Yoga Sutras, the primary text of the ancient science of Raja Yoga. 

Sri Patanjali's Sutras: 1.3  Then The Seer (Self) Abides In Its Own Nature

You are not the body nor the mind.  So simple, yet most of us get bogged down by distortions that cloud our ability to see the truth.  Our mind creates thoughts and desires.  The Seer or Self knows this but sometimes is mixed up by the mind.  For example, one day Yoga Dog was walking by a beautiful lake and looked in the clear water.  First he thought there was another dog looking back at him so he barked and barked.  After I told him that he was looking at a reflection of himself he recoiled in horror.  The lake from all his barking was rippling and he looked like a wavy mess.  He thought that was what he looked like.  Of course we know that his head is not wavy and misshapen.  He is not as good looking as a cat, but he is handsome for a dog.  Why is it that he could not see himself?  He thought that the reflection was him.  Of course we know that the reflection we see in a lake or mirror is not us, but then again if we have never seen ourselves before this might be something our mind believes.  This is how our mind works sometimes-- it looks at the reflection from mirrors, from other people-- and we take that as truth.  But our True Selves never change, and we are within pure and beautiful.

So how do we see ourselves as always true and unwavy?  We must help the mind get clear and calm again, just like the lake water.  When we allow our minds to be disturbed by negative thoughts, worrying, judgment, etc. we can no longer see our True Selves.  It is through meditation and Hatha Yoga that we can help the mind practice being in this calm clear state.  It isn't easy, but with time, perseverance and enthusiasm we can master the mind.

Any questions?  Try reading Sri Swami Satchidananda's translation and commentary of the Sutras (see picture above.)  Also my friend Rev. Jaganath's book Inside The Yoga Sutras is so helpful in understanding this ancient and wise text.  Rev. Jaganath analyzes the Sanskrit words and helps the reader understand why each word was used and what it meant at that time.  Very interesting!

And of course I want to hear from you.  Are you having a hard time with The Yoga Sutras?  Or any part of Yoga?  Life?  Love?  Going back to school?  Let me know.  I'm all ears, and a little fur.

With much respect, love and purring,

Swami Cat

Friday, August 19, 2011

Day 2: The Sutras

 Day 2 of the Sutra Discussions. 

Feel free to write in your own thoughts and comments regarding the Sutras.  It is more fun with a dialogue, no?

Here we go...
Pada 1.2

This is the crux of Yoga.  This is why we do Yoga.  This section of the Sutras is the most important and if you could only study one of the sections, this would be the one.

Yoga chitta vritti nirodha. 

"Chitta Vritti"-- it sounds like a new snack food.

It is Sanskrit and it means the stopping of all the bouncing around of the mind is Yoga.

It is like when I was a little bitty furball and I saw a piece of yarn I would run and pounce on it.  But then I was distracted by the fly and so followed it.  It led me to the window and I jumped up and saw the dog outside and fell of the ledge, hurt my paws and ran to my mommy.

This is like the mind when we do not practice a form of meditation or Yoga.  Most people have trouble staying true to their path in life because there are so many distractions.  Many people have a very hard time sitting still and being quiet.  They say it is the scariest thing.  And if you ask them what they are scared of, they say-- their own thoughts.  Ahhh, the mind.  It IS the last frontier.  (Spock did not have a problem with chitta vritti.  His mind was not an incessant whirling.)

So what to do with our distracted, ego-centered mind that leads us to pain, suffering and ignorance?

We practice Yoga.  And put away the balls of yarn before we start.

Om and purr,
Swami Cat

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Now Yoga

Sitting with Yoga Girl and Gopal up on the mountains, looking at nature's beauty, I was reminded of how I feel after I meditate.  I admit, it has been awhile since I woke up early and did my full meditation and asana series.  This summer I took a part time job teaching kittens how to act (other than cute.)  My whole day was about wrangling kittens.  Have you ever tried to focus a clutter of kittens?  It is almost impossible except I know a secret.  Kittens love to play.  And so to re-focus them every so often I became the leader of Simon Says.  This then reminded me of meditation for is not the mind like a kitchen full of hungry chirping kittens?

And so when I returned from nature's quiet where I could easily meditate to the the home where dishes, laundry and cat liter lay, I opened my copy of Rev. Jaganath's Inside The Yoga Sutras.  I opened right to the first Pada.  "Now, the exposition of Yoga."  The only way to practice Yoga is to do it in the present.  Focus.  Be alert.  And so I will be alert and ask you to join me on my journey.  Once a day we together can study a section.

And so it begins.  See you back here tomorrow.

Om and purr,

Swami Cat

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Tail of the Day

Tail of the Day
Swami Cat

Every morning do a little stretch, breathe and Purring. 

When I miss my stretch, breathe and purr the day is a little off.  Sometimes the off day steamrolls into a bad day when I hiss at my students, stub another paw toe and miss many opportunities to serve others.  But when I take the few precious moments for myself the day is easier and I have more patience with others, the world becomes more colorful.  It's the difference between a cloudy day and a sunny day.  It is an old antennae TV channel filled with static instead of HD.

Yesterday I took a long walk with Gopal, A.K.A. Yoga Dog and taught him the joys of early morning Hatha.  We stretched, breathed and purred.  He did not get the purr down but he is very adept at the pant.  For the rest of the day we enjoyed each others' company, chose healthy foods to eat and for everyone we met along the way we smiled.  Gopal came up with the brilliant idea of picking up trash on our walk home.  We had paws full by the time we found a dumpster and hopefully all the people in the passing cars that saw us doing a good deed were inspired to as well.  It was a wonderful day watching the rain instead of cursing it, as could have happened. 

And so may you all find a little time to stretch, breathe and purr today.

A little reminder,

Swami Cat

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Time Off

Things to do before school starts again:
Try new Yoga classes
Make organic meals
Shop in local stores (anyone know a local farm that sells eggs?)
Take my bicycle off the bike rack and use it at the park
Kayak, kayak, kayak
See more of the world -- New Hampshire White Mountains next!
Write in this blog every day (every day I'm not "seeing the world")
Playtime with Yoga Dog.
Plan Swami Cat's live tour to Yoga studios near you
Create the Swami Cat book of Wisdom To Purr By (Just made that up, do you like it)
Hopefully sign up more followers to the blog.
Much easier to write if I know people are reading.
Put more artistic and business effort into writing career

What's your To Do list?

Sunday, July 24, 2011

"It's Hard to be a Saint in the City"

Dear Swami Cat,

Bruce Springsteen wrote, "It's so hard to be a saint in the city."  And it's true for the suburbs as well.  I find myself busy, busy, busy and then depleted of creativity, joy and patience.  But you'd be proud of me.  I took myself out into nature this weekend and watched as a neon green inch worm sauntered in down dog over and over in front of me.  I watched egrets take flight and turtles almost trust me but then jump last minute into the water.  There was a gorgeous butterfly that landed on the flower I had just hand-picked from the CSA I belong to.  I feel so much better in nature.  Then when I get home, ironing, dusting, cooking an organic, healthy meal for my family and cleaning off the clutter of my desk hounds me so much that I feel overwhelmed and unable to do any of it.  I don't see the beauty inside as I did watching that inch worm.

What can I do?  I can't give up my home and live outdoors always.

Bruce also penned, "They ride the line of balance and hold on by just a thread."   That's how I feel.


Nature Girl

Dear Nature Girl,

Yes, nature is beautiful, all the miracles that surround you.  You take a walk and can marvel at the smallest of details that the universe displays before us-- a spider's intricate web, a caterpillar turning into a butterfly but can you not also see the beauty inside?  The handiwork of the craftsman that made the shelves that you have to dust and is it not easier to breathe once all the papers are put away.

I understand.  I know what it is like to dislike the "chores" of life.  I was once in a band and living with several band-mates on the road.  It's awful seeing dishes in the sink but day after day we all would not admit they were ours and so they sat there, congealing, foul smelling and a nasty reminder of just how ugly life could be.  But something happened when I couldn't take it anymore and cleaned all of them.  I didn't mind the suds, the repetitive motion, the chore.  I was doing it not only for me, but for my fellow band mates.   Could you not also think of the chores as little gifts to your family and the world?  Maybe we can not always say "I love you" as we would like, but it is the little things-- doing laundry for your family, making a tasty, healthy meal that help the world be a better place.  Outside we see sunsets and say "Ah," why can't we also wipe away dust and say, "Ah" as well.

Hope you can put on some good music and dance around as you do those chores.

And for you another few lyrics, from the memorable funky fun band, the B-52's--
"Housework, housework, housework...I am doing my housework / Got no time to fool 'round / I am doing my housework / Cleanin' up and I'm gettin' down."

Om and purr,
Swami Cat

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

What's New

Hari Om Yoga Friends,

What's New:
My first episode of Inside The Yoga Sutras is up on Youtube!  Rev. Jaganath Carrera's interview is very informative.  Please curl up on the sunny part of the rug when you have a few minutes.

What's Not New:
What is not new to us but new to many of Dr. Oz watchers: Meditation can help with many things, stress, focus and now weight loss.  This is the topic being covered on Dr. Oz Wednesday with special guest Deepak Chopra.

 Anything new happening in your part of the collective Yoga mat?

Om and Purr,
Swami Cat

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Too Much Yoga Causes...

Dear Swami Cat,

I'm thinking about Yoga too much.  It's on my mind constantly and even when I'm driving in my car I am thinking about Yoga.  I drove too far today and had to make a U-turn and then I was late to work.  Is there such a thing as too much Yoga?  Have you heard of this before?  What should I do?


Hari Om YOTB,

Ah yes, this is a problem.  Keeping the lessons of Yoga in the forefront of the mind is advantageous to ones progress on the path.  Yet one of the practices of Yoga is mindfulness.  This does not mean fill your mind with thoughts, in fact some translate it as clearing the mind.  Unfortunately the mind is a tricky one and it is not so easy to "clear the mind" as they say.  And so we Yogis practice one-pointedness, focusing on one thing during meditation to help focus the mind.  This focus could be on a mantra, on a candle or on one's breath.  There are many practices you can try and you will find what works for you.

But dearest YOTB do not try these practices while driving.  Your one focus on the road should be reading the signs and watching for a potential accident.  Remember Yoga is first and foremost about doing what is needed for your health and well-being.  Keeping your thoughts on the road and nothing else is a practice of Yoga.  It reminds me of a quote from one of my dear friends whom I met while still on tour with my band Heavy Cream.  I was complaining about doing the dishes on the tour bus when he happened to walk by.

 "While washing the dishes one should only be washing the dishes, which means one should be completely aware of the fact that one is washing the dishes. At first, glance, that might seem a little silly. Why put so much stress on a simple thing? But that’s precisely the point. The fact that I am standing there and washing these bowls is a wondrous reality. I am completely myself, following my breath, conscious of my presence, and conscious of my thoughts and actions. There’s no way I can be tossed around mindlessly like a bottle slapped here and there on the waves."

         – Thich Nhat Hanh 

Very good lesson, no?  I thought so.  I did all the dishes for the rest of the tour!

I hope this helps you. 

May all two and four legged beings find a spot of sunshine, a soft place to nap, and a scratch behind the ears.

Om and purr,
Swami Cat

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Driving on Empty

Dear Swami Cat,

I just wanted you to know that I am so thankful for my mantra.  It keeps me calm during liftoffs on airplanes and has helped me through a tough upwards climb on a hike.  And tonight I added another thing to be grateful for regarding my mantra. 

I ran out of gas.  I was driving on fumes.  I found one gas station after another only to find it closed.  I was beginning to panic and so I repeated my mantra.  I know it helped me find the only open Exxon in miles.  I am eternally grateful for my mantra.

Yoga Girl

I appreciate you Summer!


Outdoor Yoga
Walks in the dewy grass (good for absorption of chlorophyll)
Nighttime deep breaths in the cool relaxing air
Finding the night secret Avatar-like new universe of fireflies behind a wall of bushes
Dairy free ice cream
Digging in the earth
Green leaves of basil, a healthy promising batch of tomatoes
Bird songs
Natural vitamin D
Nostalgic tunes on the radio (Bruce, Journey)
Friend time
Daytime lasts so long the night sneaks up and suprises you
Ocean time
Park time
Biking time
Taking my kayak down off its winter perch
Sitting on my terrace just soaking it all in

Take some time to appreciate while the butterflies fly and the crickets serenade.  Make your own list and I'll post it here!

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

The Perfect Yogi

Dear Swami Cat:

I've been thinking lately about how when I take Gopal, my dog out for a ride in the car he jumps into my car not knowing where we're going or for how long.  He willingly jumps in and sits comfortably, feeling the breeze, content and happy without any knowledge of what's happening next.  I'm jealous of his complete surrender.  How do I cultivate this for myself?


Dear Chauffeur,

If you desire to be like your dog there are a few options you can try.

1) Let someone else drive and stick your head out the window
2) Take a few minutes in the morning and meditate on the notion that we are not in control of the driver seat no matter how much it feels or looks like we are-- God's hand is really moving our car, not our foot on the pedal
3) Practice saying yes to someone who usually makes you lose your cool.  Maybe a small child at home who talks to you only when you pick up the telephone or a student who calls your name from across the room-- practice hearing that person's voice as the voic of God, drop everything and listen to that voice.  Then you will be like your dog.

Now if you want to know how to surrender like your cat just let a mouse or bird loose in your house and hunt it all day.  It's very focusing and better than Pilates at core strengthening.

Om and Purr,
Swami Cat

Monday, May 23, 2011

What we need now is a Laugh

Dearest Yogis,

Well we survived!  Another day.  Another chance to laugh, isn't it so?

I thought it about time we started a Yoga blast of laughter.  Send in your Yogic-style jokes.   I look forward to reading them.

Here is mine which I heard from the sweetest most open hearted nurse/Yogi that I ever had the privilege of learning from-- Radha/Ginny at Freehold Yoga Center

The Joke:
This guy walks into a barber and asks him to buzz his hair and says,"Whatever you do, do not take my headphones off."  The barber cuts his hair as he wishes but thinks that's weird because it won't look very good.  Next week the same guy comes in and asks for the same thing.  This happens three more times and then the next time the guy comes in asks for a haircut and reminds him that whatever you do don't take the headphones off.  So the barber begins to cut.  This time the guy falls asleep.  So he quickly takes the headphones off, buzzes his hair and then replaces them on his ears.  But when he tries to wake the guy, the guy doesn't wake up.  The barber tries but the man's fallen unconscious.  The barber lifts the headphones to his own ears and hears, "Breathe in, breathe out, breathe in, breathe out."

 Don't Forget To Breathe!

(And on your walk today even if it rains you can smell those wonderful flowers that are bursting open right now!)

Please send your own favorite Yogic joke to Swami Cat.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

On Death and Birth

Dear Readers of the Yoga Girl Blog,

Thank you so much for the kind words regarding this hard time that my family is going through with the passing of my grandmother a few weeks ago and now my grandfather on Sunday.  Many in the Yoga community have been so sweet and it feels as if I have a second family's support.

Having loved ones pass out of their body is such a reflective time.  I am reminded so often lately to not take any moment for granted. 

My grandfather's recent passing was a bittersweet goodbye.  He so badly wanted to end his suffering and did not want us to see him so frail.  He used to be a boxer and was very proud of his machismo, as well as his knuckle-crushing handshake.  So being under 100 pounds at the end was not how he wanted to be remembered.  So I am happy he is now pain-free and I hope with all my heart that he is reunited with his beloved wife who passed about six years ago now.  They knew each other as kids and married at eighteen.  It makes me feel so happy to imagine them together again.

I am glad that this ordeal is over, especially for my parents.  They have been running, shopping, making doctor's appointments and taking care of their parents on a daily basis for almost a year.  I have a new vivid compassion for caregivers now.  So hard they work, many times forgetting to take care of themselves. 

So I asked my mother how she feels now that her father has passed.  She didn't hesitate when she answered.  She told me that she isn't afraid of dying now and that it reminded her of when she gave birth.  She said that when she was giving birth to me she was very nervous about the pain and didn't know what to expect.  But, she thought, if her mother could give birth (who was not the most courageous person-- running away from even a discussion of pain) then she could do it.  Mom said that she used, "If mom can do it, I can do it" as her mantra.  And now watching her father's slow decline, she is no longer afraid of death either because she can see it is just like giving birth.  Giving birth is a violent pushing and contracting of a baby away from one world into another.  Mom said, "maybe death is just another messy birthing from one world into another."  What a profound notion, I thought.  So maybe some deaths are harder because they need more of the pushing and contracting to get them to their next adventure.

I like this thought.  And I like knowing that my mother isn't afraid of death now, for she has a mantra, "If my parents could do it, I can do it."  And so shall I use this mantra when my time comes. 

Om Shanti, Shanti, Shanti.
Peace to all.
Love to all.
Light to all.
And rest in this peace Poppy Mel and Grandma Ethel.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Cesar's Way


My dog's obsession is his bone that he will chew on until he kills it.

My new obsession is my dog.  I rush home from work so we can go on a walk together and have time to practice what I've been learning from Cesar Milan's DVD.  Harrison and I are both benefiting from Cesar's teachings on dog psychology and behavior.   

As Cesar's DVD teaches me tricks to snap a dog out of his obsessions that are bad for him or us, I constantly see new and improved ways that I can calmly and assertively train my junior high school students.  Okay, okay dogs-- kids not the same.  But Cesar's Way is all about calm, assertive energy that redirects the canine when s/he is not focusing on the right thing.

My favorite part of this training is learning that dogs when they walk following a pack leader, their ears are back, they are submissive and are in a open mind zone.  They clear their mind and all stress, anxiety, defensive nature goes away so that they can just follow.  This is the same as a person in a good Yoga class, is it not?  I love knowing that when I calmly, assertively take Harrison on a walk that he is in a Yoga zone. 

So I've been thinking about how I can translate this training to the classroom with 20-30 Jr. High students.  I can't put them on a leash, but I can use calm, assertive energy and practice some Yoga techniques with them.  I have taught them a relaxation exercise and after that lesson my students always beg me to do it again and again.  They tell me that they never learned how to relax or quiet their mind and they see the benefits right away.

I hope some day I am able to teach more ways to bring peace into their lives.  And one way I hope to do this is by creating a calm but fun classroom where students know their boundaries and I can find tricks that refocus them quickly just like a quick harmless yank on the leash redirects Harrison.

If you have any Yogic redirecting tricks for kids or dogs, let me know.

Lots of love, light and calm, assertive energy to you.

--Yoga Girl

Saturday, April 2, 2011

A letter from Swami Cat

Dear Yogis and Yoginis,

Thank you for your letters.  I understand that some of you want to know a little bit about my daily routine.  Do I wake and do Asanas and Pranayama?  But of course.  Meditation-- every day.  Twice daily if I can fit it into my night time schedule, if not just a little on my bed before I take my nightly catnap.

The day is busy full of responding to emails, writing my book of Yogic Lessons from the Liter Box, working on editing the Inside the Yoga Studio: Swami Cat Yoga Interviews, and consulting with other animals that wish to follow the Yogic lifestyle.  There are many.

Have you noticed that when you do your Yoga practices outside there are animals paying attention?  They are looking for some peace and the ability to rest in meditation as well, I assure you.  It is not as easy for the wild animals.  Those poor souls must always be on the lookout for a predator or an encroaching construction tractor that they have lost their instinctive ability to be at peace.

Just recently I had a call from a squirrel that doesn't know why the humans are so upset with her.  She couldn't see their point of view.  After a few sessions of Yoga Nidra we spoke about the human's desire to feed the birds and see their pretty colors and so she discontinued her attack of the bird feeder and resumed her search for acorns.  Another happy soul.

Often I am faced with a challenge that even I can not handle calmly right away.  Just recently the home where I reside, with Yoga Girl has had an invader.  Yes, Yoga Girl did invite him in, but I was not consulted.  This creature is of a loving nature but has not had proper Yogic training.  I am taking upon myself to teach him to stop licking certain parts of his body early in the morning and focus more on his downward dog stretches that he does quite well.  He is a very willing student but he is of the species of animals that does not listen well to cats, so I am sometimes met with a growl.  Luckily the growling subsides quickly when I show him that I have the doggy treats in my paw.

I'll keep you updated on Yoga Dog's progress.

Please let me know if you are having any problems with your animals or your Yogic practice.  I am here to serve.

With much love, light and purring.

Swami Cat

Sunday, March 27, 2011


What happened to being quiet when you are in the audience and letting the artist entertain you?  In this current climate of Youtube I think some people think they are allowed to be the center of attention all the times because they constantly tweet or update their status on Facebook.  I am embarrassed that last few times I've been out to see a performance that someone in the audience thought they had the right to talk directly to the performer in the middle of their show.  It happened to us last night at Lily Thomlin's show in Red Bank.  In the middle of her show a woman in the front row asked if Lily could sign her autograph.  Lily was going to say no but the audience urged her to do it.  Then the woman asked if she could sign it for her daughter and spelled it out-- two names with unique spellings.  This took about four minutes, but who has such an ego that they think that it is okay to waste hundreds of other people's time?  What made the night even worse was that I had a hard time listening to Lily for the five women behind me were straight out of the book of rudeness.  They probably think that "Etiquette" is a kind of French croquette.  They were talking the whole time but not in a whisper a full out cackling, ranting misery.  Three people asked them to be quiet but they continued to talk as if they were at home watching a football game and their team was losing.  I am afraid that performers might think all of New Jersey is this uncultured and selfish.

Is this a trend?  I hope not.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011


I was inspired to clean out my closet of old clothes.  It was really easy once I started.  Out went the shirt I've only worn a few times, and the pants that are way too big but they were on sale and were comfortable.  So I tried to get the whole collection down to 33 but I couldn't.  That's okay, I am donating a whole 2 large bags of clothes to Goodwill and now I have space in my closet. 

Check this out. 

Okay it still needs a closet makeover but it is less cluttered.   And now I feel like my mind has had a little Spring cleaning as well. 

Ah, Spring cleaning.  Making room for a few breezes and long walks in the woods.  I can't wait.

How's your closet and mind?  Any open space?

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Lovely day to spend with friends

Ah the sun, it wakes up a joy in me that needed to come back to life.  With the sun comes more awareness of dust and clutter.  Time for Spring cleaning-- I feel the need for it.

Not this weekend though.

But I'm going to get ready for it.  A lovely new friend just introduced me to:

Check it out.  My goal is to get rid of the clothes that don't make me happy to be wearing them.  And I think I'll be shopping at consignment shops -- it's another way to recycle, and it makes me feel good.

If you'd like to join with me, let's inspire each other to get rid of that which no longer serves us and bring in some space to breathe, see and enjoy what we already have.  Of course I'll be buying a few new things (like pants for work, I can never find pants that fit well and are comfortable) but the goal is to keep to 33 things. 

I'm looking forward to this!  Join me, comment or email me.  I'd love to hear about the space you are consciously bringing into your life!

When I do the Spring cleaning I'll post pictures.  Please send me your pics too-- we'll inspire a closet revolution!

Om Shanti,

Yoga Girl

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

The Green Eyed Monster Strikes Again

Some days I wake up with this extra weight on my shoulders, unhappy with my career, unhappy with the choices I've made in life and I desperately want to stay home and work on my art.  This week I read about a successful writer who grew up in the same town as me.  I can't help but think that she has my ideal life.  But then there are other days like today when I wake up and I feel like I am in the right place, the right career and the burden of jealousy is lifted.  I can see how my path has brought me to a place where I might not be writing for a living, but I am teaching others to find their artistic outlet and even more fulfilling is my ability to share with them the Yogic Philosophy thinly veiled by lessons on how to be a theatre artist.

Have you read, The Artist's Way?  Its author, Julia Cameron suggests that jealousy is a way for us to know what to put effort into.  She says that if we put effort toward that goal then the jealousy goes away.  She's right.  I've tried it and it works. 

But then why does this nagging, unhealthy-- "I wish I had her life" keep coming back into my consciousness?  How do I know which is my path?  To put more effort into the art and someday have the sparkling hot spotlights on my work, or to cultivate gratitude for  my current job and enjoy the lightness it brings to my soul?

I can hear Swami Cat now, saying the answer dear Yoga Girl is...


Okay, okay Swami Cat-- I'll rededicate myself to my meditation practice of which I spend a few minutes each morning in gratitude.  That will help.  And I will try to stick to the present moment-- always looking at how I can serve my students, other teachers, and myself.  But, I will continue to put my extra energy into making my writing career blossom, while maintaining a calm that is not attached to having it come to fruition in this lifetime.  Maybe yes, maybe no.  "You must have faith," I hear him saying, "for we do not know what is ultimately best for us and the universe." 

Ah yes, wise, wise, wise. 

Anyone else dealing with a recurring emotion that doesn't feel healthy?  Please let me know how you've handled it.  It's lonely having these thoughts by myself.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011


Kirtan, for me, is the easiest way to get out of my head.  I feel like I'm floating.  At home in front of pictures of Guruji, Swami Satchidanandaji and Swami Catji -- if my meditation isn't going so smoothly I begin to chant.  My go to chant is usually Jai Ganesha in order to remove the obstacles that are making meditation so hard that morning but then I usually branch out into other tunes that I've heard at different kirtans.  Wah's Om Nama Sivaya is so spiritually uplifting and Girish's Sita Ram makes my body sway (which is always good since my back is constantly stiff and movement helps.)  Now I have a new go to song:  Robin Renee's Chant (Words and Music.)  J and I heard her live the other night at One Yoga Studio.  She's been touring all over the country so it was a treat to have her perform right in the neighborhood.  She invited Swami Cat to the performance via Facebook so of course he came along as well.  It was a lively, moving night.  Swami Cat even jumped up and played harmonium with her at the end of the evening. 

Jai Robin Renee!  Check out her CD's Live Devotion and Spirit.Rock.Sexy.  ( She mentioned a new album coming out soon.  I can't wait.   

-- Yoga Girl

Sunday, February 6, 2011

The Golden Compass

I'm always a little late with trends.  In high school everyone was wearing Doc Martens and I didn't get my first pair until I was in college.  Last month I started reading The Golden Compass trilogy because a friend recommended them.  I know, I know, you probably read them years ago or at least saw the movie with Nicole Kidman but I didn't know I'd enjoy the story so much.  I'm loving the spiritual aspects that mixes with science.  When the main character Lyra reads her "golden compass" she has to get into a meditative state to understand its meaning.  And now I'm onto the second book, The Subtle Knife where Lyra explains to the other main character Will, how to use another important tool while his mind is focused on pain in his hand.  "Just sort of relax your mind and say yes, it does hurt, I know.  Don't try and shut it out."  I was reading this thinking about what I learned in meditation teacher's training with Rev. Jaganath.  I learned that thoughts come into the mind and you can not force them out.  Instead try focusing on something positive and peaceful.  It could be focusing on a candle flame or a mantra. 

I love finding Yogic reminders in my daily life.  Anyone else find a Yogic hint today?

Om Shanti,

Yoga Girl

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Thoughts on teaching Yoga class

I have to say that each and every time I lead a Yoga class I come out feeling lighter, more energized and positive about the world.  It's amazing.  For an hour and a half I focus my energy on others and really try to tap into what they need, reminding them to breathe, relax, stretch but only to their limit and cultivate compassion.  Maybe it is all that reminding I do, or maybe it is an energy thing but I love life more after Yoga class.

Imagine if I did that every day, all the time.... hmmmm.

Anyone one of you thinking of taking the Yoga Teacher's Training, I highly recommend it.  Especially if the classes come from the heart and focus on the teachings, not on the right clothes to wear.

How do you feel after teaching a Yoga class?  Or taking one?

-- Yoga Girl

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Guilty Non-Pleasures

There's water pouring out of my bathroom ceiling.  The plumber said he'd be here between 9 and 11.  It is now 11:34.  I have six things on my To Do list today and yet I should add to it a visit to my grandparents who are both in the hospital again.  I don't know what to do first.  So instead of doing anything I'm going to make myself Tea and put on some good music and write in my blog.  It's been too long. 

Tomorrow J and I perform a Yoga Girl and Swami Cat skit at Jayanthi for Rev. Jaganath's 61st birthday celebration.  We've been practicing all week.  I have to sing, so I hope I don't choke like I did in college.  I had a solo and in the middle of it my voice cracked, or should I say squeaked.  I was so embarrassed.  But this is a comedy and I never said Yoga Girl was a professional singer.  She's more like Lucy Ricardo (Lucille Ball) trying to be a Yogi.

Hope you all have a wonderful non-guilt filled day.  And maybe I will see you at the celebration tomorrow.  If so, please send me lots of positive, non-squeaky energy.

Love and light,
Yoga Girl (A.K.A. Karuna)

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Most Brilliantly put-- in the age of the internet-- Arts-- Spirituality--Community...

This is a must watch video from Ted Talks online.  A brilliant speaker, Ben Cameron, is also a very nice guy.  I met him in Alaska while my play was being performed there, before I was a Yogi and was pursuing the arts as my livelihood.  What he mentions here is why I've started the blog in the first place to merge Yoga, service and my love of the arts.

Be Well.  Enjoy life.  Create and go to art when you can.

Love and light,

-- Yoga Girl