Monday, December 24, 2012


I'm a goal setter, I love a new year's resolution. I always find that as I start to think about my resolution, or goal for next year, I look back at last year and assess what I'm leaving in my wake.

self- practice with the puppy at home
I am of the strong belief that every moment of your life is a lesson. If you choose not the learn the lesson the first time, life will let you keep repeating that experience until you learn. That can lead to moments of incredible frustration. As you've heard me say one too many times, I over commit myself. In the moments that I think I can't possibly keep all my balls in the air I have to smile and realize I'm just not learning this lesson. You might remember my goal to wait 30 minutes before comitting to anything and I'm proud to report that I have been abiding by my waiting period as well as saying no more often. So, while that would have been a perfect resolution for me, I'm just going to have to find something else.

My resolution last year wasn't too lofty, just to waste less food. I tend to buy more than I need and let food go bad and throw it out. I did a pretty good job this year of buying fewer groceries, and throwing less out in the end. In the past I've resolved to be nicer, slow down, do more yoga, and call my mom more.

leading FREEdOM Flow 
I'm in a plane right now on my way to family vacation (mind blown by technology, wifi in a plane, who knew?) and I can't help but reflect on my year as I sit in my seat. 2012 has been one of the craziest years of my life without question. I completed another yoga teacher training, started teaching at Green Monkey, painfully ended a long and amazing relationship, started my LLM in Taxation, secured my dream job for after law school, and started a brand spanking new relationship that I couldn't be more head over heels about. Just writing it all out is exausting. I am beyond brimming with gratitude for my year, but I can't help but remember (with thanks to this blog) some of the tougher moments that I have gone through this year. It's with all these changes in mind that I've been trying to work out an appropriate goal for 2013.

This upcoming year promises to be another year of change, only this time I know it's coming, where as last year I seemed to be blindsided by change. I'm looking ahead to my last (thank G-d) graduation, studying for the bar, traveling back to Israel, starting a new job, and my first trial as a big bad lawyer. So when it comes to goal setting is setting a goal for the entire year even reasonable? I think that it might not be, I'm a big fan of small digestible goals, so I'm going to go for four smaller goals.  So here they are, in cold hard ink, which means you get to hold me accountable to them, which is very very very very scary.

1. Run my second half-marathon, beat my time from the first one.
2. Master my headstand.
3. Blog more than twice a month.
4. Keep in touch with the people I love more.

I wish all of you a great finish to 2012, fill it with the people you love, tell them that, maybe even a little more than you usually would.


Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Look at the hot girl in front of you, OK now you're done

Anyone who knows who Bryan Kest is will understand my complete and utter excitement that I had the opportunity to take a 3 hour master class with him on Sunday. Bryan is the creator of power yoga as we know it, and he is the most no-bullshit person I have ever had the pleasure of meeting.  He opened his talk by saying, "Well, I could either start by talking to you about how you bring your shit into yoga and you turn yoga into shit. Or we could talk about how every fucking yoga pose is stupid."  Welcome to my head spinning around in exorcist circles in shock at this man and his theories on yoga.

packed class for Bryan Kest

So Bryan talked for an hour about how we are polluting our bodies by polluting our minds with stress and killing ourselves, about how we spend so much time competing in yoga that we lose the whole purpose of the practice. He also managed to say shit and fuck more times than I thought humanly possible in that time frame, as well as the phrase "kunalindi shooting up your asshole" multiple times.

Let's just remember the reason that the yoga asana practice was created, so we could sit on our asana and meditate for longer. It wasn't so your abs would look nice in a bikini or so you could bounce a quarter off your tush. Those are just happy side effects of the practice.

The idea that really stuck with me of Bryan's was the idea to not look around the room.  He started the class by bringing us to virasana, or sitting on your knees, and telling us to look around the room.  "This is it for the rest of the class, look around, see what you need to see. OK, now you're done and you can practice without looking at anyone else." You've heard other yoga teachers say it, you've heard me say it, don't worry about what other people are doing on their mats, there is no competition in yoga.
no peeking 

Bryan took this idea a step farther, don't even look at the person next to you because the person next to you doesn't matter to your practice. All that matters in that you are getting the full benefit of your practice, and the only way to get the full benefit is to not look around the room and stay on your mat. We talk about keeping the mind still, staying with your practice for the hour or hour and a half you're in class and not letting the mind wander off the mat, how about not letting your eyes wander off the mat? How do you think you're going to stay present on the mat with your mind if you're checking out the guy with no shirt on in front of you.

Bryan made another point that spoke to me, as long as you are in your fullest expression of the pose you are getting the most benefit possible from that pose.  That means if you are doing utanasana, or as Bryan might remind us, bending over and touching your toes, you don't have to look like everyone else to get the same benefit as the person next to you. If you bend over and your fingers are a foot off the ground, but you push your sit bones back, your stretch your neck down, you engage into the quads, and open into the hamstrings, you are getting the same benefit as the girl in the lulus who's head is on the floor.

I would venture to say that bendy lulu chick might be getting less intense of a stretch than you are. That means you Mr. or Ms. with the strained face and the "inflexible" hamstrings are getting more benefit from your forward fold than lulu in the front row. Look at that you won. Now put your head down and stop looking around.


Wednesday, November 14, 2012

getting light

So you've heard me talk write (or maybe talk if you're in Miami and you come to sweat your asana off with me) about a heaviness in your practice.  Yoga has gotten me though some rough stuff in my life and I cannot encourage you to do anything better than get on your mat when your life is feeling terrible.  You will feel better there, I can guarantee that.

But a light practice, if you've experienced it you know what I'm talking about, its the best feeling. Those days when you float on your mat, you do things you never even imagined you might be able to do one day.  Your mind isn't jumping around, you just get down and get to sweating and you're so happy the entire time you're practicing you could just break into a little yoga dance. So you do a million vinyasas, because that is our favorite dance move.

My friends, let me tell you something, I have been having a lightness in my practice that I have never experienced before.

Add to that that people have been commenting on how happy I am.  So, a little part of me wonders just how miserable I've been due to the number of people commenting on my newly cheery attitude, but the rest of me doesn't really care. Yep, I'm a happy girl, happy on my mat and happy off my mat.

 I've actually been able to get onto my mat and practice more than ususal.  For me, and I know for so many others, our biggest complaint about our practice is we don't have enough time. It is almost impossible for me to get 2 hours to play on the mat. So I don't practice for 2 hours. I go play around for 15 or 20 mins before I teach. I throw my headphones in and listen to some of the new jams I've been introduced to and just mess around a little.

And you know what, my body and mind are grateful for the release.  My practice, in those few minutes is playful, there is no time to get down on myself or the new tightness I'm feeling in my hips (thanks to my ironwoman friend who has forced me to become a runner again).

Yoga is fun. Its supposed to be playful. Its so easy to forget that when you look around the room and see people with "perfect" practices or amazing bodies all around you. So my charge for you is to get on your mat, even for 5 mins. When you walk by a tempting wall just kick up into a handstand (I was doing arm balances outside of a starbucks yesterday). I can promise you a few things.  You will have fun. You will engage in conversations with some interesting new people, who will compliment you.  I'll see you on the mat my sweaty friends, even if its just for a few minutes. 

I also promised a little while months ago to post a video of me doing a crow jumpback with an explaination. Instead here you have a video of a lizard jumpback and I will give you a step by step how to.

1. Start in down dog, bring your hips up high, tuck the tailbone under, engage into the core.
2.  Step the foot forward into lizard lunge, keep the back knee up KEEP YOUR CORE ENGAGED (imagine how annoying I am when I repeat that in class). Press into both hips evenly opening into the hips. You should stay here opening up for several breaths.
3. Start to work the shoulder under the front leg. You can take your hand and shift the calf muscle to help the shoulder under as you see me do.
4. Straighten the front leg out, press into the hands, clawing the knuckles into the mat.
5. Start to lift the back toes off the mat, coming into the arm balance.
6. Pressing deeply into your hands shoot your legs back to take your vinyasa.
7. Feel like a bad ass.
8. Make a video and send it to me :)


Friday, November 2, 2012

apathy: the most un-yogic trait you can possess

Friday is usually my morning to sleep in late, take a nice long run, go to the dog park, and hang out. But this morning my alarm went off early and I jumped out of bed, put on real pants (ones not made out of spandex) and went to city hall to vote! This was my very first presidential election voting in person and after waiting for an hour and a half in line at 7am, I finally got to vote. And it was awesome.
waiting an hour and a half was not so awesome, but this view while waiting was
I headed to the dog park, still wearing my "I voted" sticker, smiling my "I just acted as a concerned citizen smile." Where someone remarked that he wasn't voting because "it doesn't matter" and "[I'm] retarded if [I] think [my] vote counts"  My head spun around and flew off of my body. Literally. A good Samaritan had to go retrieve it. Don't worry I've put some arnica and tea tree oil on it, its fine.

So, beyond the fact that its 2012 and this man used the word retarded, which is completely and utterly unacceptable, this man doesn't believe in voting. It is taking all of my effort to not go into a rant about how incredibly blessed we all are to have the right to vote, which remember is not a right in many places. Until recently women and people of color couldn't vote. But, I won't go there right now.

Let's talk about voting from a perspective of just being a person who is alive in the world. Forget about your political affiliations, the issues that press your buttons, just think about being a citizen who walks around in the world every day. You have to care about what is happening around you. You breathe air, you drive on roads, you see people jobless and homeless on the street, a crazy hurricane just hit New York. How can you not care?

Maybe this is a result of having the mother that I do. A mother that made it clear that the problems of the community were my personal problems. A mother that made it clear that it was my responsibility, as a person who was educated and lucky enough to have rights and privileges that other do not enjoy, to make sure the world was a fair place.

What's my point here you might ask, and how does it relate to yoga? OK I'm getting there, hang on.

Apathy. That is my point. Not only is apathy just about the most unsexy quality a person can possess, it is also makes you a terrible citizen and person. Yea, that was kinda harsh, but I also think its very true.  I don't know when people thought this became cool, but evidently there are people that think not caring is cool. It isn't.  It is extraordinarily lame. As lame as using the word retarded as a slur.

In yoga we dedicate our practices to bigger ideas and things that need our energy, we as teachers dedicate our time through karma yoga, we as yogis go to charity class after charity class donating our time and money, we care. So I recognize that I'm preaching to the choir, but you the choir are out in the world with these apathetic people, they roam amongst us, dressed like regular citizens.

If you are apathetic to the world around you, you are barely a part of the world around you. We say it in yoga about the breath, if you aren't connecting with your breath you haven't even walked into the studio yet. So I'm saying this, if you don't care about what is happening to the other humans roaming the earth with you, you haven't even walked into the world yet.

Yoga is all about caring for the rest of the world around us. Sure we care for our own bodies and minds, but we also care so deeply for our fellow humans.  It's the whole meaning of namaste, we look into the eyes of any other person and see the higher power within them.  We can't just say namaste at the end of class, we have to live namaste. If you look someone in the eye and say "I see the higher power in you and I love you for it," you must care for that person.


ps- A special happy birthday to one of my most loyal readers, my sister-in-law Jill, who has always taught her kids to care about the world around them and stand up for what they believe in.  Jill gave me my very first yoga job and I did my first teacher training in her studio! I love you!

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Why saying "no" is good for your yoga

So I disappeared. Again. And why you ask? Those who know me will not be in any way surprised by this- I over committed myself. Shocking, I know.

You may remember me blogging about how I love when a yoga teacher teaches a theme in class that seems to come right from my life and speaks to my soul. I have become my own teacher. I seem to stumble on these quotes, then create a class around a theme. When I look back I can't help but think I should be taking my own advice a little more. A lot more.

I talked about priorities in my classes last week. About how each thing you choose to you means you choose not to do another. Thats an OK thing to do, to choose one thing over another. But I've never lived that lifestyle. I've always chosen option E: all of the above. I, for some reason think I'm sort of superhero who doesn't need to eat or sleep and can just go go go all the time. I, unsurprisingly, am not actually a superhero.

So why do I keep doing this is the first question? Quickly followed by how do I stop doing this.

Last week I taught 11 yoga classes. Yes, its actually possible to do that and go to school full time. However, it isn't possible to sleep or eat or breathe or have friends while you do that. So I was a little miserable.

I've always kind of been of the mindset if you love something you can't have too much of it. I love teaching yoga, so teaching 11 times last week seemed like a good idea when I agreed to it. I totally overdosed on teaching though. You know the phrase if you love something let it go? I need a little leash space from my yoga teaching.

I actually managed to prioritize teaching over myself. Yikes, I'm upset just writing that out. So, I'm scaling it back a touch. Or I should say I'm going to try to scale back.

On to the next question- how do I stop saying yes so much? Because for me that is really the issue. I want the people around me to be happy, I love taking care of them, so I always say yes when they ask for anything.  You need a sub, a ride to the airport, a meal brought to your house? Sure I'll do it.

So, I'm going to have to start saying no. Much easier said than done. But don't worry I have a game plan.  From  now on when someone asks me to do something I'm going to wait at least 30 minutes before I respond. Because my tendency is to say yes immidiately, maybe taking some time to make the decision about whether I should say yes will induce me to say no more frequently.

That's the idea for now anyway.


Wednesday, October 3, 2012

108 things I love right now

I've had some intense posts lately, but not to worry its not all doom and gloom over here. I'm a happy camper most of the time, as such here it is a whole post about happiness, gratitude, thanks, fulfilment.

108 is a significant number in both Buddhism and Hinduism, japa malas have 108 beads. So here it is, 108 things I am totally in love with and grateful for right now.

  1. My puppy (you knew that was coming) 

2.The fact that you always have a chance for a new beginning
3. The awesome new yoga gig I got yesterday- hello, Fountainbleau
4. Fall break is in 3 days!
5. I will be done with corporate tax class in 3 days!
6. Hot pink yoga pants

7. The ability to back up my computer
8. Actually remembering to backup my computer
9. Hot tea
10. The smell of amber oil- perfume, in hair, on my mat
11. Friends, who call me and text me exactly when I need it
12. Family, who call me and text me even when I don't need it
13. sparkling water
14. Huge kitchen table/ desk/ mail sorting area
15. Having more art than wall space
16. My ever growing yoga mat collection
17. My ever growing yoga pant collection
18. The number of oils I now own, not the cooking kind, the scented kind
19. My reclaimed love of running
20. The stack of magazines just waiting for me to take them to the beach next week
21. Cuts, bumps, bruises, scratches all over my legs from an awesome Mud Run on Sunday
22. Playing Jay-Z in yoga class
23. The yoga loyalists who show up at 6:30am twice a week to practice with me
24. lebneh
25. A best friend who is willing to g-chat all day, and supplement constant g-chatting with at least two phone calls in order to deal with emergencies such as: I'm not sure which shade of hot pink to paint my nails, I'm not sure if I'm doing anything right in my life, I'm not sure what to teach my class tonight.

26. the feeling of settling into savasana after a super hard practice- what can I say I love lying in a pool of my own sweat
27. the temperature is FINALLY dropping- it just might get down to the high 70's next week
28. I get to go to the beach in the middle of October
30. the feeling when a yoga teacher opens the door after a sweaty hot practice and a breeze rushes into the room
31. waking up before the alarm goes off and feeling totally rested
32. a little sister who regularly dances around in a leotard and fur vest (don't worry Bex I'll save the video for a special occasion)
33. Orchids
34. Coconut Oil. In food. In hair. On skin. Its literally the greatest product in my world
35. Carmex- specifically vanilla flavored
36. Coffee- especially when someone else makes it
37. practicing yoga in complete silence
38. the moment your yoga teacher says something that you're positive they pulled directly from your life
39. Brie
40. My grandma, who I get to have lunch with every week
41. Spotify
42. Stealing my friends playlists off Spotify
43. Homemade Chex Mix
44. Taking really deep breaths- go ahead- take the deepest breath of your day so far
45. Peonies

46. salted caramel
47. Living on the water and looking at the ocean every day
48. gin and tonic
49. red string on my left wrist
50. Pomello
51. Bravo TV
52. having the nickname bunny

53. random acts of kindness
54. large mugs
55. cinnamon anything
56. sock buns
57. "re-purposing" ugly run t-shirts into cute racer back tanks
58. hamsas
59. being able to walk in very high heels
60. cold watermelon on a hot day
61. down dog. it just feels so damn good.
62. ballerinas doing yoga

63. weekends full of DIY ambition
64. throwing weekend ambition to the wayside in favor of a new unplanned plan
65. G-chat
66. the song yoga girl

67. bows
68. Moroccan inspired decor
69. raspberries - especially when eaten directly from the container
70. freshly washed sheets, especially when they're white. especially when I didn't have to wash them.
71. refined sugar
72. being introduced as someones yoga teacher
73. Israel

74. quotes like this one "We must be our own before we can be another's."
75. and this one "in the depths of winter, I discovered there was in me an invincible summer" -Camus
76. and finally this one "You are a perishable item. Live accordingly."
77. Free samples, of anything.
78. apps - both on my phone and before a meal
79. cashmere slippers
80. large candles
81. parents who are unconditionally supportive. unless I'm doing something really stupid. then they tell me.

82. avocados. with salt. eaten with a spoon directly from the skin.
83. cupcakes
84. nars laguna bronzer
85. an apartment full of pictures of incredible moments
86. foam rollers
87. to do lists
88. knowing that all the challenges that seem impossible today will be just a blip a year from now
89. a cool breeze in the middle of insufferable heat
90. driving aimlessly
91. baby goats

92. braids
93. yoga workshops - the nerdier the better. past life regression- yes please.
94. being so exhausted after a workout you literally feel like you've been wrung out
95. fresh snow
96. hot baths
97. sun worshiping
98. sparkles
99. Teaching 6 times a week- how lucky am I? How did that happen?!?
100. using legal jargon. current faves are evidently, allegedly, and fringe benefit.
101. sunset on a clear day when the entire sky turns shades of hot pink and lavender
102. fielding completely inappropriate questions from my mother
103. spending hours planning, prepping, shopping for, and cooking a meal for friends and then sharing it with them
104. impromptu tequila fueled happy hour on my balcony
105.Quinoa with a poached egg and a little pesto- it is literally the perfect meal, I had to stop blogging to go make some for lunch.
106. hiking
107. concerts
108. creating this list rather than studying for my exam, which is on Friday. I'm gonna go do that now.

Monday, September 24, 2012

asking for forgiveness

Over the past week I have talked to my classes about Yom Kippur, the day of atonement in Judaism, which is coming up this week. In the days between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur we are supposed to ask our fellow man for forgiveness, but on this holiest day of the year we ask for forgiveness from G-d. I have talked to my classes about being their own Higher Power, asking themselves for forgiveness and then granting that forgiveness.

I have asked them all to practice with more, ahimsa, compassion for themselves, less judgement. And then I have asked them to take that feeling of self-compassion out of the studio, off the mat, and into their lives. Its a tall order I know, but as I speak about ahimsa, I can see what I'm saying is hitting home with so many of my students as they nod their heads along while I speak to them.

Increasingly I find myself awake in the early hours of the morning contemplating decisions I have made.  Don't worry my friends, I'm no longer lying on my mat in a crumpled little pile.  I've made it off the mat and back into the world, still knowing my mat is a little haven for me, and returning there with frequency.  As you can imagine accompanying all this contemplation of my decisions comes a range of emotions: regret, anger, self-satisfaction, pain, joy. And yet a lack of ahimsa.

I know I am my own worst critic.  I often think of it as being critical in a loving way, the way a parent pushes their child to do more, better, faster, stronger, I push myself.  It seems I may have found the tipping point of pushing myself to be better. I often ask my students to quiet the negative chatter in their minds when they practice, but I have been unable to do the same. I have found myself tearing apart every choice I have made over the past two years. And regretting a good portion of my choices.  I wasn't as loving as I could have been. I was selfish. I went to the library when I could have stayed and studied at home with my partner. I chose activities around campus rather than building my relationship.

I recognize the harshness with which I am treating myself. I haven't made all bad choices, but in this moment I'm having a hard time taking my own advice and treating my practice, my life, my choices, with ahimsa.

I would like to say that what I will do is spend more of my thoughts being compassionate to myself, but I can't promise that. I can promise myself that I will try for more compassion. I can promise I will keep trying to be my own Higher Power and to forgive myself.

Here is one thing that I know for sure, I'm good at asking for forgiveness. It can take me some time, but I can recognize when I have been wrong. When I get there I admit it and I ask to be forgiven.  So you can bet on Yom Kippur I will be asking my Higher Power for forgiveness, I will keep asking myself for forgiveness, and I will always ask the person I have harmed for forgiveness.

For right now that's the best I can do as far as ahimsa for myself.  I always tell my students that as long as they are truly trying the effort is what brings the benefit, I'm going to work on taking my own advice today.


Tuesday, September 11, 2012

why laying in a broken pile on your mat is enough

Some days yoga is easy, your body asks you for it, begs you for it. Your mat seems to unroll itself and you float on to it.  You think about the ease of your practice and how yoga is so right for you and your life.

Some days it takes every ounce of strength you have just to put your mat on the floor. That day you lie in a broken pile on your mat, and that is your yoga.  You think, "I'm not sure if I can even keep breathing, but if I can that's my yoga today." And so you do, and its excruciating.  Every breath feels like a marathon.  The idea of leaving your thoughts off the mat that day is an impossibility. Your thoughts swirl around you and taunt you, refusing to quiet.  You laugh to yourself as you think "I just need to breathe louder than my thoughts."  Because your thoughts are screaming at you.

Today I am lying in a broken pile.  I don't even know how I made it on to my mat. But I know at 3am I woke up crawled out of bed and curled up here and I can't really tell you why I chose that this morning.

Yoga serves different purposes on different days. There are days its a workout, I just want to sweat so I practice.  There are days I need some introspection and so I meditate though my practice.  Today I don't know if I can do anything more with my life than just lie here, so that's exactly what I'm doing.

I've spent the past days barraging myself with positive ideas. When something good leaves you have space for something even better. Standing in the rubble of what once was is an opportunity to build again.  Fear of being alone is just that, fear, so acknowledge it and get stronger.  Thinking all those positive thoughts felt like the right thing to be doing right now.

But right now those positive thoughts aren't serving me.  You've heard me and a million other yoga teachers tell you, "Whatever isn't serving you today, just let it go." Well, today all that positivity isn't serving me.  Today I am served by feeling my excruciatingly deep pain.

Don't get me wrong, especially on a day like today I feel gratitude.  It's September 11th, and to not mention the tragedy that this country faced 11 years ago would be a mistake.  And so today, even as I feel like the pain I am feeling is deeper, and darker, and impossible to climb out of, I know deep down it isn't.  And that is when I feel a glimmer of gratitude and those positive thoughts start to trickle back in.

I know that in order to feel pain this deep and profound, to have my heart broken so completely means that my heart was totally exposed and I loved deeply.  The person I loved taught me how to love myself when I hated myself. I know that I loved someone more than I had ever imagined possible and that person loved me more than I even loved myself. When I think about it that way how can I feel anything but gratitude, what more can I ask for than to have had someone in my life who truely saw me and loved me?

Today it feels like I'm never going to pick up the pieces of my shattered heart. And so today I'm not going to.


Friday, August 17, 2012

balancing act

Today is my last first day of school. Weird.  It is an extreme bittersweet feeling, I have literally been working towards this goal for as long as I can remember, but I feel a little bit of emptiness. What do I do now? I think I have to be an adult. Not so interested in that part. But that's a few months off, and today I'm just going to deal with today.

Today I have to go back to my balancing act. I don't get to be the sweaty yogini that I've been for the last month.  I have to put on real clothes.  That don't involve spandex.  Add that to the list of things I'm not so interested in.  But alas, here I am in my first day of school outfit (yes, I laid it out last night), backpack packed and ready to go.

This morning as I got ready and ran a few errands I really meditated (or "thought about" for you non-sweaty people) on how to keep a nice balance between all that I do.  I am often told that I take too much onto my plate, that I'm doing too much.  This may be true, but balancing it what I do, when I only have one thing to focus on I go a little crazy. So today I'm taking one more thing onto my plate, filling up on not just yoga but now a healthy helping of tax law.

As sad and weird as it feels to be near the end of my life as a student, I'm amazed at how my track has changed from my "plan". Yes, I've always wanted to to go to law school and now that's almost over, but I've picked up some extra little things along my path. The empty feeling of being so close to the end of law school really has been filled by the extras that I've picked up.

Yoga is one of those extras, even though I've been practicing for much longer than I've been a law student, my practice has deepened significantly while in law school.  Not what one might expect, but thats just how it worked out.  So, as I make my schedule (yes, I write out my schedule a week in advance) it includes studying and class, but it also includes my own practice and time to teach others.

Its all about balance, we don't all have law school and yoga but we all have careers, family, gym, partner, friends, and ourselves.  Maybe writing out your schedule a week in advance is crazy, but maybe if it lets you get a little more onto your plate with ease it's worth it.


Wednesday, August 15, 2012

the light in me sees the light in you

Anyone who has been to a yoga class has heard this word, namaste.  It happens to be that I have been thinking about this word quite a bit over the past few days and weeks. Likely because I have finished my official teacher training, with just a few hours to spend with Fred in the studio left before I'm unleashed on the yoga world. As I finished this part of my yoga journey I found that I wanted to thank those around me and the word namaste kept coming to mind. Some of you may have seen the picture and note that I posted on facebook thanking all my teachers and fellow yogis:
To all of my amazing yoga teachers and those who have shared the mat with me: You each bring a wonderful light into my life. I am eternally greatful for each and every one of you and all that you give to me through your words, actions, and thoughts. I would have never made it through teacher training without your love. I say to each of you with the deepest sense of gratitude, namaste.

When I first started practicing I said namaste because that's what yoga people do. At the end of class you say namaste. I was told the basic definition "the light in me, honors, recognizes, and loves the light in you", or something close to that. I was satisfied with that definition for a long time. I've heard some variations over the years, but that is the heart of it.

I've been bopping around the Internet looking for other meanings, deeper meanings and I ran across an article today (how convenient!). The definition I liked the most was this one:

As my journey has taken me deeper, both into the asana practice and also into the other limbs of yoga, namaste has taken on something greater.  Maybe greater isn't the right word, but truer. I actually do recognize that light in those around me.  My yogis truly bring a light into my life in a unique way that I have never before experienced.

Let me break it down for you non-sweaty people.  Those of us who spend hours on the mat, sweating, wearing spandex, discussing natural deodorant, and the best brand of kombucha, share something.  Something deeper than general sweaty stinkyness (we do have that too).  I have found that these are the people who greet me with a hug every time they see me.  These are the people who look at me differently than anyone else in my life.

There is something very particular about the way yoga people look and speak to each other.  Something that made me uncomfortable when I was new to this world. Yoga people speak close.  They are in your personal space and they touch you.  No regard for the fact that you have been sweating your asana off.  And, they look right into your eyes.  Not in the make eye contact in a job interview sort of way, in the I'm really listening to you and understanding you way.  Its a little scary at first, because we spend most of our time not doing that or just looking at people in a cursory way.

So why do yogis get so close and look so deep? I think it comes back to namaste. If you aren't looking deep how could you possibly see the light in someone else?  By looking deeply into those around us we are able to see the light that shines from them and we are able to acknowledge how much we love them for that.  We look deep to see the light in others, because that light is a reflection of the light within ourselves.


Tuesday, August 7, 2012

ups and downs

I've had a crazy few days. Teacher training with Allaine is wrapping up, I have both of my written exams and one of my practicals on Friday.  On top of that life has thrown a few challanges at me. My computer decided it would go on summer vacation (have I backed up you ask? Of course not!). I got in a car accident (I'm fine a cab hit me).

I have found that this yoga teacher training, what I might see as the pinnacle of my yoga journey so far, has been an incredible experience of getting to know myself, the things I love about me and the things I wish I did differently.  In the past I have been reactive, when someone did something I didn't like, I let them know. Like, 3 seconds after they did whatever that thing was. I had no delay button. I got really angry really fast, and frequently. That is a little trait that seems to have disappeared, thankfully.

My lack of patience has been replaced with a deep sense of gratitude and love.  I'm doing that thing that annoys me when someone else does it, I'm clearly talking about something specific in a sort of generalized way, so I'll just tell you what happened.  I had a member of my family do something very hurtful to me, they told me they didn't want me to be a part of their lives anymore, I was disowned.  Six months or a year ago I might have blown up at them, a month ago I might have felt really sorry for myself and wondered what I had done wrong and wallowed.

Instead I had this interaction and I instantly felt abundant love for them. I dedicated my yoga practice to them the next time I was on the mat. Was what they did hurtful? Absolutely. Am I hurt by it? Not at all.

I feel immense love and gratitude for that person for all of the time they were in my life, even if they choose to not be in it any longer. And the reality is a space has been created for more love to come into my life. I now have more space for more friends and family to be welcomed in.

To some this will seem like a callous reaction, you might even think that I'm just not dealing with what is going on.  But what I'm telling you is the absolute truth for me. My yoga journey has changed me in many ways, from buying weirder stuff at the grocery store to wearing spandex on a almost constant basis. Most importantly I have a profound sense of gratitude for my life and all of my experiences, so much so that when something happens that might be "bad" or "hurtful" all I feel is love for the person I am interacting with.

with a deep sense of gratitude for your presence in my life,

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Mom is always right...

One of my favorite things in life is being surprised. This doesn't happen often, just ask my boyfriend. I am nearly impossible to surprise. So I was pleased as peaches today (excuse my crazy phrases I think I'm high on headstands) when I was surprised.

On the first day of teacher training a few rules were laid out, you may remember them from my first post. One of them was that we could not complain. About anything. Ever. At the time Fred told us that if we did this we would see a difference when other people complained to us. We would see it as weakness. As Fred said this, Allaine nodded her head. This idea was sealed by the two people who were in charge of my life, it was now a fact. Complaining = weakness. I thought they were wrong. They were, as they usually are, right. 

At the time that seemed harsh to say we would think others were weak. Very harsh. But then today, I found myself listening to a friend complaining and I wanted to look at them and say, "Well if you have a problem fix it, but this conversation is highly annoying and you just sound whiny." Whoa, thats a little out of character. Harsh. But that was how I felt. 

I have been going through this challenging journey and I have been kicking ass if I do say so myself. As this person whined to me and ignored all suggestions of solutions all I could think about was how out of control of their own life they are. I have to admit it, I thought they were weak. 

This obviously is not the nicest thought I have ever had. It was followed by immediate guilt for thinking such a negative thought about someone else. Then I thought about something that my mom has told me my entire life. Prepare yourselves you're about to get sage Fancy Nancy advice: only be friends with people who make you the best version of yourself. 

The thoughts I was having were not making me the best version of myself. I realized that being friends with someone who chooses not to control their destiny and rather than complain take action is not going to make me the person I want to be. But I also realized I could use my frustration to practice compassion and love. 

Overall a day of wonderful lessons: 1. Mom is always right 2. You can always be surprised 3.  Allaine and Fred are almost as right as Mom. 


Tuesday, July 31, 2012

a new perspective

Prepare yourself friends, I am about to become that yogini. I'm about to quote Guruji Iyengar. I've heard other instructors do it, I didn't love it when they did it. I am now one of them. And I get why they do it, this man is a genius. I mean he's not called Guruji for no reason right?
handstand prep

Today we worked on salamba sirsasana (headstand) for a long long long time. Salamba sirsanana is a pose people love, its pretty easy against a wall and you feel awesome doing it right? You think to yourself, I rock at yoga look at me on my head. You have a new perspective on life. You tell all your friends nonchalantly that you did a headstand today, what did they do?

On the other hand (stand, badum bum) headstand can be scary. Like really really scary. You're upside down. You could fall. In front of a room of people. And it would be really loud in the really quiet yoga studio.
half handstand (adho mukha vrkasana) on the wall (I know I'm taking about headstand and showing you pictures of headstand, just seeing if you're paying attention!)

Guruji Iyengar says, "The best way to overcome a fear is to face with equanimity the situation of which one is afraid. Then one gets the correct perspective, and one is not frightened anymore." 

Read that again. It's revolutionary. At least in my exhausted little head it is.
Going upside down the first time is scary, but if you go into it calm, prepared, ready to rock, its amazing. I can now tell you about 500 preps for headstand and handstand, just ask and I will be happy to share.

headstand prep against the wall
Upside down might not be the "correct perspective" but it sure is a different and interesting one. Certainly situation, however foreign, when approached in the way Iyengar suggests becomes easy. Scary things in life seem a little less so.


Monday, July 30, 2012

and I'm back

I disappeared. Which is exactly what I said I would not do. I said I would have a 7 day a week practice and I haven't, I also said I would blog every day and I haven't. So I apologize to all of you and to myself for not keeping up my promises.
In any case I'm back. Well, I've been back on the mat for a while, but I haven't been blogging. You'll all be happy to know that I've been keeping up with the yoga, the sweating, and the exhaustion.
I've moved on to part two of the teacher training, on from Power Yoga, aka sweating constantly to Gentle Therapeutics Yoga with Allaine Stricklen, which is just a HUGE change. Much more personalized, more about alignment and healing through yoga.

laughing at all the props i need

It is intense in a completely different way. I am no longer sweating my asana off but I am juggling yoga props like you would not believe. Whats that? You thought yoga was just you and your mat? So did I. We were wrong.

dominatrix down dog with a strap

Its a joke watching me walk around with all of my stuff. Schlepping it up and down the stairs and in and out of my car every day.  But the reality is that it helps. All these extra things that sometimes feel like a weight on me, but a little help from a  block, a strap, a mat, or a bolster can really help sometimes.

down dog head on a block hands on the wall

I so frequently see people in a yoga class who look like they are in pain and they force themselves into an asana that looks cool. Clearly your life will be better if you can bind in side angle right? You aren't any good at yoga if your heels aren't on the ground in down dog.

We hear instructors say everyday that we should leave our ego at the door, but its hard to do sometimes Well, most of the time we see other people doing cool stuff and we think, "if she can do that I can definitely do that" or "I'm better at yoga than she is." What does that even mean? Kind of a crazy idea when you think about it.

I have a new view on the people in class using the props, plus I'm now one of them. Where I might have once thought that it was "beginner" to use a block, I now realize that it is the people in the room using a block that are truly advanced, they have checked their egos at the door in order to further their practice. Can you check your ego at the door? Are you game? 



Saturday, July 14, 2012

Day Eight: Yoga Means Union

Today was a LOOOOOONG day. I stared at 9am with a gentle yoga with Allaine then 10:30am power hot yoga with Pablo then four hours of teacher training. I was not into it today.  When your body has gotten used to one series of actions, taking a different route is really hard.  I'm used to biking to yoga and biking home. I have things I like to do after yoga class. Showering is one of those things. After hot yoga its a requirement.

That doesn't happen for me any more. I do yoga and then I sit through a teacher training for four hours. Its exhausting. Its also a little gross. Don't get me wrong I rinse off but I'm not getting the full scrub down I really need. Spending 8 hours a day at the yoga studio also means that I essentially don't do anything else in my life but yoga.

In fact I am officially getting burnt out. I haven't spoken to anyone in my family for more than 5 minutes and I haven't seen my boyfriend for more than a consecutive hour since teacher training started. That is why I made a bold move tonight.

I'm ignoring my homework, I didn't come home and roll out my mat and start practicing what I learned today in class. Maybe tomorrow I'll decide this was a bad choice but right now I'm watching a documentary, sitting on my couch, drinking an awesome bottle of champagne and cuddling with my two faves: my boyfriend and my dog.

 Yoga is a sanskrit word that means union. The fact is that my life has not felt very cohesive for the last week or so. I feel like I have a yoga life and a real life. My real life has ended. So tonight is the comeback of my real life.
 Starting right this second I'm going to make an effort to have a little more union, a little more yoga in my life. You know what that might mean? A little less yoga homework might get done. But I think thats worthwhile if I get to talk to my sister and maybe see a little daylight.
How does this relate you you? You're sane, you didn't take too much on to your plate right? Pardon my language but BULLS*$%T! We all have too much on our plates. We all take on too many responsibilities. We all ignore people and things that deserve more attention. We all need a little yoga. A little union.

Try it. It feels really good to say, "I'm going to say no to something in order to give the people I love a little more time."

In the meantime I'm going to finish my bottle of champs with my little family.
Namaste and Bubbles,

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Day Six: DON'T Check Your Ego at the Door

We've all heard the same thing in various yoga classes: "yoga isn't about ego", "focus on your own practice", "look inward not to others", "take a child's pose if your body asks for it". But what if a little ego is good? What if looking over at the guy next to you makes you push yourself a little farther than you would other wise.

I once heard a teacher speak about the balance between ahimsa (non-violence) and satyam (truth).  The idea of "check your ego at the door" speaks to the first principle, ahimsa, being non-violent to your own body. The problem with this concept is that it can also be complacency. Lazyness and compassion are a breath apart on your yoga mat. Satyam on the other hand is the trueness of your practice. When you say to yourself "I'm taking a child's pose because this is what my body is asking for today" it feels very zen goddess yogini doesn't it? But get real, you're a badass, you can do one more breath. And it's gonna hurt and thats awesome. The trueness of your practice is that you can take one more breath.

Let's be clear I'm not saying you should be in pain to the point that you hurt yourself. I'm saying when your muscles burn and you want to cry and quit and take a child's pose, instead take a breath, sink deeper, open your heart brighter, sweat a little more.

Now for those who are kind enough to read this and don't do yoga you make have checked out a few sentences ago (likely when I mentioned sanskrit). How do these principles apply to the world off the mat you ask? Why thanks for asking! I have an answer. Or at least an attempt at an answer.

Today at work someone said something a little rude to me about leaving early to go to my yoga teacher training. They essentially implied I was being lazy by leaving early. My initial reaction was to just ignore the comment, ahimsa right?  I was being compassionate to that person. I'm a zen loving, mala bead wearing, incense burning yogini so I'm not going to lower myself and make a rude comment back. They weren't really upset with me their snarky comment was really about themselves not me.

Then I thought about truth. The truth was I would think about this comment all day. Here we are 12 hours later and I'm writing about it. So instead I said something. I just expressed my gratitude that I get to be in court every morning and on my mat in the afternoon. How lucky am I? Very. And I know it. And so I told them how lucky and blessed and grateful I am.

how can you feel anything but grateful when this is right outside your window?

So I've created a new road. The "high road" or not reacting to a rude comment is being diverted to a little path called satyam street.  I'm gonna walk on that road for a while and see how it feels, I'm betting its going to feel as good as holding a yoga pose for an extra breath does.


Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Day Five: The only thing your body hates is a day off

Have you heard the one about the dyslexic overachiever? She misunderstood the homework from her yoga teacher training and instead of doing 200 breaths of navasana (boat pose) she did 200 boat poses... for 5 breaths each. 

For my mathematically challenged law school friends that is 1,000 breaths in boat pose. And that is what I attempted to do last night. Now get off your couch for a minute and try boat pose for 5 breaths, forget 1,000. Balance on your sits bones, bring your knees up, don't even worry about straightening the legs, and bring your arms up. And enjoy that for a moment.  Now imagine me 300 breaths in. I was almost in tears.  Obviously this did not happen for 1,000 breaths. In fact at the end of my night I ended at about 500 because I couldn't take it any more. And lets be clear, it wasn't 500 straight I took breaks. And I did it while listening to Kanye. 

I arrived at class today and asked the other girls how they did. No one seemed phased. So I mentioned to Fred how hard 1,000 breaths had been and that I had only been able to do 500. "Oh, yea, you were only supposed to do 200 breaths, not 200 boat poses." Oh. Then I made the mistake of asking if that was homework for every night. "No, only if you want to improve your practice. But you're welcome to just stay where you are in your practice if you don't want to improve." Double Oh. 

guess which shoes at the studio belong to me
I've heard many teachers say, what you don't like to do is what you need. I used to hate pigeon, its really really really really hard for me. And then one day I decided obviously it must be good for me because I hated it and I just decided to love it instead. Navasana is my new favorite.  To the credit of navasana and my increasingly strong core I did my first jump back from bakasana (crow) to chaturanga (push up). Without face planting.

not me, but just so y'all can get an idea 

Fred said something today that resonated with me "the only thing your body hates is a day off."  Your body might ask you to do something differently today, maybe your injured and you need to honor your body with a little ahimsa (non-violence/ compassion). More than likely though you're fine. You, like me, are just lazy and that is why you aren't practicing.

So, let's practice a little more satyam (truth/ trueness). When we're being a little more truthful the reality is that you might hate rolling out your mat, but you also hate rolling it back up. Because once you start your practice, your workout, your homework, your family dinner. Once you work out those kinks, you shake out the aches and pains the truth come out. It feels good. Really good.

Today was my first day teaching to the whole group of 9 people including Fred, which is kiiiiinda intimidating, its something that doesn't necessarily feel good for me right away. Its like pigeon pose, it takes a few times to get good for me. You also have to remember that everyone is two days ahead of me now because they are going to class seven days a week and I am only going four. No one died during my part of the class. No one fell over. No seriously bodily injuries.  I'm counting today as a win.

One thing you have to love about Fred is he doesn't mince words. When you miss something or cue it wrong he IMMEDIATELY informs you. And its not like a "hey next time you might try..." its like, "don't ever do it that way. ever."

So thats something that I don't like so much, but I definitely need it. After some tough love from Fred I'm feeling mighty fine and ready to go to 1000 200 breaths in boat pose. While watching trashy TV. Its all about balance right?


Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Day Four: Who you are in Yoga is who you are in the world.

Today I practiced at Green Monkey again, and was thrilled to see some old and new friends I hadn't seen in a while. I was in an awesome mood today and it totally reflected in my practice, I had one of the easiest practices I've had in a long time. Maybe this whole no days off thing really is a good idea. Maybe I was high on a guilty verdict. Either way I bounced my tush onto my mat and found myself taking extra chaturangas and vinyasas.

Jason Lawner led an incredible class. His theme tonight, and theres always a theme in a Jason class, was taking notice of your tendencies. Umm Hi Jason, thats a suuuuuuuper uncomfortable thing to do. I like prancing through life pretending to be perfect and here you are kind of ruining that for me.

post yoga bliss with the gang

OK, so its a pretty valid point he's bringing up. If you cheat at yoga, its something that only you really know. Let's be honest no one is hurt by this. The guy next to you doesn't have his practice effected in any way by your cheating. What do I mean by cheating you ask? We've all done it. The instructor says, firm up, brighten, melt and we.... do nothing. We chill right where we are.

In life those who share our lives aren't quite so lucky, if we cheat, they probably get cheated. Of our time, our love, our attention. Maybe of something more important, we might actually harm someone by cheating. I am notorious about lying about how far away I am from somewhere, I always say I'm closer than I am because, truthfully, I'm embarrassed to be running late. I think being late is a sign of disrespect and I don't want to be disrespectful.

Jason's point today was just to take notice of our tendencies, not necessarily to change them. But the challenge I extend to you is when you notice you are cheating to not only take note of it but maybe to shift. Now I'm not asking you to change your life, but maybe a little bump as I would call it in my spin class. Take a little bump of a change, just enough so you notice it. I'm going to be a little more conscious of my time and the time of others.

Also going to actually engage my legs in forward bends. Yea, I've totally been cheating there.

Yours in sweatyness,


Monday, July 9, 2012

On My Own

Today was my first day on my own. My 8 fellow teacher training yoginis headed back to the studio and I went... to court. I spent my morning sending people to jail for traffic infractions (yay! thrilling! justice in the works!) and my afternoon prepping for my day tomorrow (bench trials! suspended licenses! south dade courthouse!).

Now, many of you may take my exclamation marks sarcastically. In fact I am serious, seriously happy. I am seemingly permanently happy. On the phone with Larry tonight he asked if I was OK. Because I sound shockingly happy for getting home at 10pm.  I don't even seem stressed. For those of you who know me well, sarcastic and stressed is sort of my M.O.

Yoga teacher training seems to be doing me well. In any case, I came home, I did work for school (bleh) and I got dressed to go to yoga! Back to my home studio, Green Monkey, with my favorite new teacher, Thomas Taulbee!

I have had the honor of practicing near Thomas for over a year now and he was my first yogi friend at GM. Over the last few months he has moved from the front row of the class next to me to the very front of the room leading me.  I had the best one on one class with Thomas last week and an equally amazing class packed into the small branch room with about 20 other yogis tonight.
Sweaty after class with Thomas

Twenty people in a tiny room = mucho sweat.  You may be catching onto a theme here, I'm essentially planning on sweating my asana off for the next six months. Or possibly the rest of my life.


Teacher Training Day One: Welcome to Teacher Training, Now You're a Vegan

I arrived on my first day of yoga teacher training bright eyed and clad in lululemon- ready to dive into the depths of yoga knowledge in front of me.

Maybe I should back up, "how did I end up here?" you may ask. Aren't you in law school and doing a million other activities? Uh, yes, I just like to overwhelm myself with activities.

The truth is I've been thinking about getting certified for years. Recently I've felt a greater push towards getting certified. So, I went to Wanderlust in Vermont with my lovely girls Lara and Molly and when I came back I knew the time had come to finally get certified.

Then like magic Fred Busch's website appeared on my iPhone beckoning me to come and sweat my asana off. I skipped out of work early and strutted in stilettos into Fred's studio clad in a suit, I did not appear to be yoga ready. But, I was and I am, and so days later I arrived at my first day of teacher training.

I took two classes taught by other instructors before training even began. Now, this is hot yoga. My first yoga class I ever took at age 15 was Bikram. I've done hot yoga. I ran a studio that had hot yoga. I have never been this hot in my life. I sweated my asana off to say the least.

Day one of training was a flood of information. Asanas to learn. IN SANSKRIT. Homework. Every day. So much yoga to do. And now I'm a vegan.

You ask: Rachel, when did you decide to do that!?!

Answer: I reference October 2010 for 6 weeks while living in Alaska I was a vegan. I also had time there. Like, tons of time. I cooked. Lots. I made incredible gourmet vegan meals three times a day. I actually made my own salad dressing and bottled it. I made kick ass vegan cupcakes. Now flash forward to July 2012. I work 50 hours a week, as an intern, an unpaid intern. Then I teach spin. And I practice yoga. Plus yoga teacher training. Aaaaand I occasionally try to see my boyfriend.  Allegedly I have a family, I don't see them very frequently, they may or may not live down the street. So time to cook vegan meals- not so much. I'm essentially a vegetarian, but I have a confession. I love cheese. A lot. Veganism is hard for me. Thus, you can imagine my shock when I was informed that I am now a vegan. At least for the foreseeable future.

A new pintrest board was immediately created. Recipes are being pinned furiously, feel free to make suggestions.

Other important life changes from day one, I was also informed that I have officially had my last day off of yoga. For the rest of my life. I'm obviously happier about doing the yoga everyday than being a vegan.

And lastly- I'm not allowed to complain. For the rest of training. Sooooo my sarcastic jewyness is not appreciated.

So, none of the above was complaining. The reality is I am so grateful that I have this opportunity. I am the luckiest girl in the world and I know it. I have a loooooong road ahead of me, and you're all coming along with me :)

Keeping it sweaty,

Day Two Teacher Training: Talk Less, Say More

I started on my mat at 10:30am. Not an unbearable time by any means. I actually had a great morning, work up with my puppy and my boyfriend. Had a little family breakfast. Picked up my new yogini friend Tara, and headed to class.

And then we started our practice with Gaby. Gaby looks like a nice girl. She has a sweet smile and a hug to greet you with. She has an awesome yoga voice. She doesn't annoy you with fake soothing, she's genuine in every word she says.

She was out to kill yesterday. I have LITERALLY never sweated so much in my life. I had to walk out at one point, just to breathe some not hot air. I took that as an opportunity to look in the mirror (p.s. never look in the mirror in the middle of a hot yoga class, you will not be happy with what is looking back at you). I looked like a drowned rat.

You see friends, I set mat up right in front of the heater, a mistake I will never make again. It was sweltering. I sweat buckets. And you know what, so did everyone in the room. I was a little miserable. In my head I complained (Fred, if you're reading this, don't kill me).

Then I surrendered, I was so exhausted I just stopped being able to resist. It's something I'm not particularly good at, but it's part of my mantra and I'm working on it. And when I surrendered, when I stopped fighting the heat and the pain and fatigue, I got strong. It wasn't so hard anymore. I went back and finished the last 20 minutes, still sweating my asana off, but feeling pretty kick ass.

Then after sweating for 90 minutes I got to start the real deal- I had 4 hours of teacher training ahead of me.

No one will be surprised by my next admission. I talk too much. In general, in specific, just always, I talk way too much. It's like a genetic disease, everyone in my family talks. Or perhaps it's a gift. Certainly it's lead to a career path that allows me to speak exorbitant amounts in front of a captured captive group of defendants audience.

I learned on day two of training that my propensity for verbosity isn't always a blessing. One of our tasks was to teach portions of a class to each other. This is something I feel super comfortable doing, I taught yoga for almost 2 years in college to 6th grade boys in and I teach spin every week now. On top of that I was an elementary school teacher for a year. I spend all day talking in court! On the record! In front of scary people that I'm trying to impress!

And therein lies the lesson: I talk too much. Pablo taught our teacher training yesterday, and as he came around to observe us, he gave me some much needed correction. I needed to use fewer words to explain more information.

"When someone only has three breaths in a pose you can't be saying all that crazy shit," he explained, "get to the point, just tell them where they're going." Harsh? Yea. Correct? Hell yea.

So it's a lesson I'm taking off the mat and into the world with me. Less filler words, less mindless jabbering, more meaning.