Wedding Morning Yoga

Michael and I were deeply thankful to open our wedding day with an Ashtanga Yoga practice.

I knew yoga would be a part of our wedding weekend since we began planning the celebrations almost a year before, but it wasn’t clear how exactly it would fit in – would I teach? Would I do my own solitary practice? Or offer a guided yoga class for guests taught by someone else? Eventually we decided that, like everything else in our wedding, we wanted the yoga practice to be about relaxing and joining together.

I asked my dear friend and colleague Shanna White to teach an open level class for anyone who wanted to practice together with us. So, next to family and friends, we rolled out our mats just after sunrise on the deck to move, breathe, chant and sweat along with the sounds of crashing waves.


Shanna’s guidance set the perfect tone for a day of love, union, reflection and relaxation. The class is such a special memory from an absolutely fabulous wedding! I highly recommend taking the time for your yoga practice on any big day, a wedding, holiday or special event – those days when you might think you’re too busy with planning or too excited from the anticipation to stop and breathe for a second are the days you need it most.

Photos by the immensely talented Christine Hewitt. (I met both Shanna and Christine in Mysore, India, and having them there to teach and take photos was a special and wonderful treat!)


Post-India Daze

Dana Colors

Dana Colors
It takes me roughy a month to decompress from life in India and settle back in to the peculiar comforts of western life. I love these post-India days. I remember my time in Mysore vividly through my jet lag. It was truly inspiring. As I grocery shop in Harlem at 6am because I can’t sleep, the days seem to swirl together, peppered with the smooth, polished sounds of Sanskrit chanting and the peculiar rhythms of the Indian tabla drums. They burn bright in my memory with Indian sunshine. They were fueled by the crispy masala dosa, and buzzed with the caffeine from sweet chai.

My physical asana practice felt steady, challenging, but surprisingly pain-free.

My boyfriend was able to join me there for the last half of the journey and we bonded over our deep love for the country, zooming through town on a rented scooter, marveling at the perfect chaos of each intersection we somehow survived.

And I started to study the Yoga Sutras with a wonderful teacher. After the talks I’d ride home on the back of Michael’s motorcycle, grateful for the helmet on my head, which seemed to be guarding not only my actual skull, but also my thoughts from spilling out of my ears as they ran wild with philosophical questions, realizations, revelations.

I tried, as my teacher Sharath says he does, to practice yoga 24 hours a day. I’m sure I failed, but I’m sure that doesn’t matter.

I started to examine what it means to “have a practice.” I’ve been bending my body for nearly ten years now. I’ve been dedicated to a spiritual practice for about five. I’ve been trying to seriously apply the principles of a yogic life to my life for about three years.

And I feel small.

I feel like I’m a total beginner.

I feel I know nothing of the depths of practice.

And it’s thrilling.

So I dive deeper.

The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali describes Practice as ‘Any effort entered in the direction of restraining the tendencies of the mind,’ and says that practice should be ‘long-termed, continuous and done with dedication (love and respect) to be fruitful.’

In that way the physical asanas start to change the patterning of our outer material body. The yamas and niyamas shape or reshape the way we interact with the world and treat ourselves. As we withdraw our minds from the chatter, we’re practicing feeling the stillness.

And in that way, in anything and everything, in each moment of our day, we can practice.

How do you practice? How do you  still the fluctuating tendencies of your mind?  Do you do it with love and respect?

*photo by Christine Hewitt of Yogic Photos

Meditation Techniques at the JCC


Land Yoga sent me over to the JCC  to teach a free yoga and meditation class this past Saturday as part of their R&R Shabbat Saturdays. If you’ve not been there, the upper west side location of the Jewish Community Center is a huge, lovely building on Amsterdam Ave. near 76th Street. Saturdays are buzzing around the center with community members attending playgroups, movie screenings and other activities designed to give their day of rest some positive vibes. After our hour-long Ashtanga Yoga asana class, I guided participants through a meditation. I’d like to share the three simple techniques I used because they’re super accessible for anyone looking to clear their mind!

Simple Meditation and Relaxation Techniques

Take a comfortable seated position, either in a chair or on the floor. Make sure it feels comfortable and that your spine is in a supported, upright position. If you find tightness or discomfort during your practice, move around a bit so that you are relaxed. Try not to fidget all the time, but be aware and allow the body to feel at ease. Turn your palms to face up and rest your hands on your knees or thighs. Close your eyes.

Begin by observing your thoughts, noticing where your mind naturally settles. Allow each thought to come…whether it’s about food, family, your relationship, financial problems, tonight’s plans, or your mile-long to-do list. One by one, accept each thought. Acknowledge it. Thank it for being there, and then send it on its way. Work slowly, observing each thought or sensation that comes up. Gradually, as if you were cleaning clutter out of a room, make space in the brain. Try not to judge yourself or become frustrated when more and more thoughts come up. Repeat the practice of acknowledging, accepting, and letting go until the thoughts slow down and you feel softer and more centered.

With the newfound space and emptiness in the brain begin to focus on the breath. Notice the natural rhythm of the breathing. How the body feels as each inhale comes and each exhale goes. Place your right hand on your heart and your left hand on your belly. Notice the feeling of rising and falling in the chest and belly as you breathe. Allow your mind to focus on one idea or thought of positive nature. For example: thankfulness for good health, or more generally just the sensation of happiness. On each inhale allow yourself to take in the positive. Allow opportunity and newness to flood your body via your breath. With each exhale allow any obstacles to this positive happy thought exit your body and mind. Inhale the positive, exhale the negative. Inhale the opportunity, exhale the obstacles. Feel the physical sensation of each breath. You can keep your hands on the chest and belly for as long as you like, or let them return to their place on your thighs or knees. Repeat.

Finally allow your thoughts to slow down again. If you’ve been sitting you can come to lie down on your back with your palms facing up and your feet relaxing away from each other (if you prefer to stay seated that’s always an option). Beginning at the tips of the toes, trace your awareness up through each part of the body. Move slowly and allow each one to relax and soften. End with the very tip of the head. Settle in and rest for at least five minutes.

Do you have any of your own meditation or relaxation techniques? Let me know if you try these!