Three Stages to Open Your Heart

On November 8th, in Portland, Maine, after 7 months of dedicated study and practice, 22 radiant yogis graduated from the Ashaya Yoga® 200-Hour Teacher Training. I am so proud of them and know that this world is brighter and better place because of all of the work they did on themselves.

I want to share with you the teachings from the final morning sadhana practice in Portland that flowed with such elegance and deep meaning for me.

The essence of yoga is love. Love is accessed in the heart. But the heart is so tender and vulnerable that it quickly protects itself against pain and closes down. Although it’s safer to live with a protected heart, the protected heart isolates us from others and, more importantly, from our own self. This is the pain that increases pain and suffering. We need to learn how to open our heart in order to experience the flow of grace. Grace is always flowing whether we are open to it or not. Living with an open and vulnerable heart is also painful since we feel everything more fully – both pain and joy. But this is the pain that heals the pain.

Yoga is the practice of learning how to “tenderize” the heart such that we know how much to open up and how much to maintain our boundaries. In Tantra we learn that in order to unbind ourselves we need to bind ourselves. That is, we need to create healthy self-boundaries and know our limits in order to maintain and sustain our freedom.

We live in a universe of “cosmic forgiveness”. The universe is constantly forgiving you. Forgiveness is its nature. But it’s difficult to get to forgiveness due to the […]

Choosing Alignment with Nature

Nature never ceases to amaze me. Recently in my Kripalu Retreat based on the Five Elements, the only day of rain was on the water element day. This is not the first time synchronicity has happened. In fact, every time I’ve offered this course, whether at Kripalu or Esalen in CA, an eerie synchronicity like this happens!

In life, there are no coincidences. Whenever any synchronicity happens, it’s the affirmation of the universe telling you that you are in the right place and that grace has your back. When it started to rain on the water day in my program, I said to myself, “Okay. I get the message. I’m meant to be doing exactly what I’m doing.” As I surrender to the power and growth of Ashaya Yoga®, I hear the voice of the universe whispering in my ear, “Trust the process.”

The truth is that whether there’s a synchronicity or not, grace always has your back and the universe is always giving you signals and subtle messages of how to proceed. “Go this way. Go that way. Stay steady. Let go.” When you align with the divine, every moment becomes an opportunity to lead from your heart and flow with the current of life.

The problem is that we become out of alignment with nature. We are out of touch with the deepest desires of our heart. So often we get distracted or deluded into negative thinking or feelings of unworthiness and hopelessness. When I give way to my negative, habitual mind, it will take me to the bottom of the well where I can’t see anything except darkness and despair.

Yoga teaches that you have a choice. You must choose to create a boundary of protection […]

It Takes Strength to Follow Your Heart


I want to continue with the 13 vitamins for living a happy and healthy life. But after returning from a phenomenal weekend workshop at the Arlington Center near Boston last weekend, I want to share a little inspiration with you first. I feel so graced and uplifted by the receptivity and authenticity of the students in attendance.

I taught about the heart being the center of the universe and that the highest purpose of the practice is to return to your heart and learn how to follow your heart. Ashaya means, “abode of the heart” and underlines the essential purpose of the practice – to regain access to the wisdom of the heart. When you come home to your heart there’s a moment of recognition, a pause, and a space where you realize you are already whole and complete. You realize that life is a gift and a miracle meant to be savored, not a problem to be solved.

Following your heart takes strength. You need strength because when you follow your heart, you may disappoint others. To keep you from abandoning your own center and caving into what others want and expect of you, you need strength, a kind of steadfastness to stand by your own side. If you don’t regularly disappoint others, you’re probably disappointing yourself instead.
There are two kinds of strengths needed to follow your heart, humility and high self-esteem. Humility relates to your capacity to open to a bigger energy greater than yourself. “Greatness is knowing you are greater than yourself.” (Dr. Douglas Brooks). But without self-esteem, humility leads to self-rejection or making yourself small.

When I moved out of Kripalu many years ago, I had no job, no money, and no business plan. On a walk with a close friend, I complained about how bad off I […]

The Third Vitamin: Education and Study

I’m delighted to continue the topic of the 13 basic “vitamins” in life that we need to give ourselves on a regular basis in order to sustain and maintain our joy. These 13 categories generate a well-rounded, well-adjusted connection to life and are the seeds that, when nourished, lead to happiness, permanent joy, and the fulfillment of your life-destiny path in the world. Last time I wrote about the importance of spiritual practices. Click here to review.

Study group at 200-Hour YTT in Portland

The third vitamin is education and study. As a yogi, it’s important to continue the learning process. Education is a life-long endeavor and should never end. In general, as the aging process progresses, it’s easy to fall into routines and avoid challenging our minds to think. But thinking is necessary in order to maintain a sharp mind. “Use it or lose it” as the phrase goes. If you don’t regularly challenge your mind, you will lose it. Whatever interests you, do that. Follow your passion and explore the wealth of information available to everyone today. We live in the information age. Well, actually it’s the digital age. But information is so easy to obtain. There are no excuses.

On a regular basis I attend trainings and spiritual retreats to sharpen my practices and refine my understandings. Boredom is essentially non-existent for me. When you follow your heart, you will never be bored. I’m currently studying with two Tantric scholars, Paul Muller-Ortega and Professor Douglas Brooks. Their teachings have been invaluable to stimulating my mind and contributing to my education. There will be two workshops with Paul coming up in October.

Paul Muller-Ortega and Professor Douglas Brooks

Education also includes spiritual study and self-study, Swadhyaya (one of the […]

The Renewal of Spring

Spring Greetings! I hope you are enjoying a delightful spring renewal! I’m so excited for the warmth. We had a beautiful weekend with lots of sunny weather. I just had my bike totally tuned up and parts replaced. It’s been hanging up in my garage waiting for me to take it out for a spin. I feel like an eager 10-year-old going out on his bike for the first time! So far I haven’t lost the thrill of that first ride. Thank God for spring!

Last month I mentioned the 13 basic “vitamins” in life that we need to give ourselves on a regular basis in order to sustain and maintain our joy. These vitamins might seem obvious, but it’s rare that we ever give ourselves this level of nourishment. These 13 categories generate a well-rounded, well-adjusted connection to life and are the seeds that, when nourished, lead to happiness, permanent joy, and the fulfillment of your life-destiny path in the world.

These vitamins make up the core of my life. They are what guide my thinking, activity, and service in my life off the mat. In a way, these vitamins comprise my yoga both on and off the mat. They keep me aligned with the highest and support me to offer my best self on a consistent basis. If your yoga doesn’t do this for you, and if it doesn’t bring about true and lasting satisfaction, fulfillment and joy, then you might need to get a new yoga!

I mentioned last time that the first vitamin is having an empowering philosophy of life. Click here for review. The second vitamin is spiritual practices. In order to create and empower joy in your life, you absolutely need a […]