Studentship and Half Visvamitrasana

"You must learn basic math before taking on Calculus," I actually said this to a student once. She wanted to contort herself into a bind that her body was in no condition to attempt. The ego had taken over.

If you follow the yoga world at all, then you are completely bombarded with images of poses that are extremely advanced.  On the face of it, there is nothing wrong with showcasing spectacular feats of yoga, however, I do take issue with showcasing these poses without explaining the work that goes in before achieving it.  

My experience with half Visvamitrasana was completely unexpected.  I was attending a workshop class on advanced asana (posture) taught by the (dare I say magical?) Naomi Gottlieb Miller.  I knew that we were doing binds and transitions because I requested that we practice going from bound angle pose to bird of paradise. 

Achieving the poses to a certain degree was awesome but there was something else offered of more value: the importance of studentship.  Reviewing and strengthening foundations and asking why. The hallmark of a great teacher is her willingness to stay a student. And I am a great teacher.

Check out the video. I begin with the Half Visvamitrasana and then show you some of the fundamental poses that it took to get there.  I did several reps of the basic poses to prepare but also keep in mind that I have been doing the foundations for over a decade so my body may be more prepared than the average person. Keep with your fundamentals of the practice and the rest will come. 

#JuliesRealLifeYoga and the Awakening of the Spirit

What is my "why"? What is it that I am purposed to do as a Yogini and as a Yoga Teacher?  This has been weighing on my mind for some time now and I believe that the answer has finally arrived.  My "why" is to promote elevation to and remembrance of the Spirit.  To continue my own evolution, to teach my students how to tap into the deeper work of yoga.  To create peace within my family and among my friends.  To create peace throughout my community, my country, the world.  To raise the vibration, the frequency.


I want to remind people that we all have God in us.  If you believe the creation story of the Bible, then you know that God breathed into Adam. We are decended from Adam so the breath of God is also within us. It is that Divine spark within that compels us to move this world toward peace and elevation towards the Spirit. Not only are we indwelled by the Divine, but we are also made of stars! Yes, everything in the physical world is made up of the same stuff and everything and everyone is One. When we are armed with this knowledge, how can we continue to harm one another, and harm our planet?

In yoga, we use our body as a means to create peace throughout our organism. Asana (pose) enables us to release tension from our physical body. Pranayama (control of the breath) helps us to calm the mind and meditation takes place after these in order for us to have vertical conversations with Spirit. As we grow into the practice, compassion grows within us. When we act on our compassion, we move into a space of Love and Love is God!

Downward Facing Dog or The Art of Body Awareness

I don't know if all yogini's have a favorite posture, but hands down mine is Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward Facing Dog).  This posture makes me feel strong, grounded and blissful. The Dog also helps me develop greater body awareness as I constantly refine it. 

To paraphrase one of my teachers, Claudia Neuman,: "the mark of an advanced practitioner is not the ability to do 'advanced' postures but the ability to refine basic postures." Through my Dog practice, I have developed upper body strength, a sense of clarity and the ability to forgive my left leg for being an inch shorter than my right.  

For years, I would force my left heel down while in this posture leading to hip discomfort in most other standing postures. Then one day I had an epiphany: what would happen if I loved myself enough to not force anything? Don't force friendships, don't force a job that you hate, don't force romance.  What would happen as I allowed my left leg to just be and leave that left heel floating in the air? Freedom.


#RealLifeYogini #JuliesRealLifeYoga

"A Yogini is the sacred feminine force made incarnate: the goddesses of mythology (Lakshmi, Parvati, Durga, Kali) as well as the ordinary human woman who is enlightened, both having exuberant passion, spiritual powers and deep insight, capable of giving birth to saints, peacemakers, and Yogis," from Wikipedia.

What is a Real Life Yogini and what is Julie's Real Life Yoga? Sometimes real life yoga is what happens after you've sat in DC traffic, or picked up your crying child from school, had a fight with your significant other or have bills due and no money.  Sometimes real life yoga happens after you've gotten a promotion, spent the day in bed making love, danced all night with your friends or finished a delicious read.  Real life yoga doesn't always happen on the beach with blonde hair blowing while wearing a size 2 bikini. Real life yoga happens in your 9th floor apartment outside of DC on those cold, cloudy days as well as the warm sunny ones when all you want in this world is to be on your mat and inside of your own heart.

To become a Yogini, one must not rely on the act of asana (posture/pose) alone.  To truly become a Yogini, you must go inside.  Where there is light.  Where there is dark. Where there is mess. Where there is Infinite Love.  Where your true Self resides.  This and this alone is what the practice is about.  It is not about looking cute in your jeans, buying outrageously expensive yoga gear or even getting to the studio each day.  Real yoga is about feeling your life. All of it.

My intention here is not to discredit the "cute" girls in their bikinis posing on their stand-up paddle boards, but to add something that I feel the conversation is lacking.  Basic poses with good alignment. The right to know that it is ok to feel bad sometimes. The right to know that is ok to celebrate every single moment of your life. I will also share my own journey as I work on two advanced poses: Hanumanasana (split) and Tittibhasana (firefly pose, arm-balance). 

Lastly, I'm working on letting go. Letting go of fear.  Letting go of attachments to material things. Letting go of the picture of what I think my life should look like. In exchange I will be more present. I will be fearless. I will be awake. I will see the world. I will be a Yogini.

 "The Yogini possesses the power of Yoga herself and can awaken that in others, not only generally but at any point or place in the body or mind. A man’s ability to achieve the higher states of Yoga can be facilitated by his association with such a female companion who reflects this energy," from the book Yogini, Unfolding the Goddess Within by Shambhavi Chopra