Friday, November 20, 2015

Two Sites, But Only One Blogger

Many thanks and credit to my beautiful and talented sister for helping to launch (who am I kidding? for creating!) my new blog format. Please make the cyber trip to to read my latest post, "Heads or Tails?" and to follow all future posts. Love and gratitude to all who have followed me here on Blogger!

It's all possible.



Friday, October 23, 2015

Asbury Park Blogger Crawl

I was flattered and so excited to be invited by Carrie Drazin of the fabulous blog to participate in her second "blog crawl" last Saturday in Asbury Park, New Jersey, following the first she organized in Red Bank last spring. Five other talented bloggers, Carrie and I set out to shed light on some of the unique and special spots Asbury Park has to offer. Don't miss these bloggers' posts on many popular, as well as hidden gems in this iconic Jersey Shore town!

The Daley Practice, 625 Bangs Avenue

As a certified yoga instructor, it seemed a natural fit for me to cover a yoga studio. For background "homework," I took a class at The Daley Practice, 625 Bangs Avenue,, with owner Thea Daley, former professional dancer and hair stylist. Opened roughly six months ago, Thea's studio specializes in Iyengar yoga, a form she has studied intensely for the last ten years which emphasizes physical alignment. Given that I practice almost strictly in heated studios, this was quite a departure for me. I rely on the heat to increase my flexibility and felt a wave of panic as I stepped into Thea's space and saw ceiling fans going! It didn't last long and I embraced the   challenge of stepping outside of my warm and cozy comfort zone and trying something new. 

Owner/Instructor Thea Daley at the rope wall
Following a warm up, Thea began guiding us, cueing multiple points of alignment in each pose and utilizing several different props to aid in laying a framework to build to a "peak." This particular class focused on twisting. We used folding chairs, blankets, blocks and the wall in order to  gradually open the body in stages. Our peak pose was parivrtta parsvakonasana, or revolved extended side angle pose, one that requires not only a deep spinal twist, but also a good deal of balance. Working step by step physically throughout the class, combined with Thea's acute direction, enabled me to get deeper into this pose than I ever have, which is something I hadn't thought I could achieve outside of a 105 degree room.

Tadasana, or mountain pose, is a usual starting position for any standing pose, and students in Iyengar yoga begin with basic standing poses. According to Thea, "tadasana is everything." This method and Thea's expert guidance provide an excellent foundation for any yoga practice. From both a teacher and student perspective, Thea's studio and the practice of Iyengar yoga is something to add to any yogi's routine if you want to form, solidify and/or strengthen good fundamental habits. Feeling both educated and inspired, I give Thea and The Daley Practice my highest recommendation. Check the website for more information and to schedule classes. You can also find the studio on Facebook and Instagram @thedaleypractice.

Interwoven, 511 Cookman Avenue

Next to yoga, I would say that shopping is my second passion. So for my other assignment I chose to blog about Interwoven, a stylish boutique located at 511 Cookman Avenue, From the first moment I set foot in this boutique earlier this year I was immediately drawn to the simple and soothing aura of the space...then blown away by the merchandise, simultaneously hip and polished, and all at a very fair price point. Below please find an interview with owner Bianca Freda, who is as effortlessly cool as her beautiful store.

How long have you been open?
The main shop on Cookman opened on Black Friday of last year. The boardwalk pop-up shop (Market at Fifth Avenue, 1200 Ocean Avenue) opened in May 2015.

What was your background prior to opening the store?
I did visuals for Anthropologie and dreamt about owning my own business.  I also worked in the interior design field and new store openings prior to opening Interwoven.

What is your design philosophy?
My response is long and lengthy and not so glamorous. ;)  I pay attention to subtle changes that occur in fashion; street style is my favorite.  I admire people who have style and who do not concern themselves with trends.  I admire the juxtaposition of effortlessness in an outfit along with looking put together.  I pay attention, I observe, I don't research trends.  Too much analyzation clutters your judgment.  I am such a visual learner and observer, so my inspiration comes from my daily routine.  The colors combined in foods, paintings, outdoors-it's all inspirational if you just observe.  And that's exactly why if my surroundings make me uncomfortable, I can't endure the pain ;) Sometimes I will stop what I am doing to rearrange furniture or a display at the of my quirks, i guess.

Would you say you have a style icon?
I'm enamored by the photographer Bill Cunningham. He's a street style photographer for the NY times. Looking at him you would never think he had anything to do with fashion. He wears a blue smock as his uniform and the rest of his gear is underwhelming, but what he does in recognizing trends is unparalleled.  He's not caught up in the nonsensical side of fashion. He's just a regular guy with a vision.  Having vision is the utmost important thing in anything you do.

Owner Bianca Freda and I (sweater and jeans from Interwoven)
What do you consider when choosing which companies to work with?
Fit, would I want someone I know to wear it, is there a story behind the brand? Will this item be in the shopper's closet years from now? Are they pleasant to deal with?  For real, there are some nasty people out there and I just don't want to support that nonsense.

What are your hobbies/interests?
I am fortunate to love what I do, so I consider Interwoven my hobby and sourcing what people what, an interest.  When I step away from the shop you'll find me practicing yoga, dreaming about where I want to travel to when work is not so busy and rearranging furniture in my house.

Boardwalk Pop-Up Shop

It was such a pleasure to chat with Bianca, not to mention have her personal attention when I shopped in the store recently. I am so impressed with the passion and spirit she brings to every aspect of her business. She encourages people to shop from their closets and come to Interwoven to get pieces that will freshen up their wardrobe. If you are still bored with your closet, or struggling with how to style certain pieces, give the shop a call to make a personal appointment with Bianca (732) 775-1713. Until you can visit one of her locations in person, visit Interwoven on Facebook and Instagram

Thursday, October 22, 2015

"Somewhere Between LAZY and CRAZY"

I can't take credit for this genius advice, cued in class this week by my "first favorite" yoga instructor, Vanessa Van Noy, to encourage her students to find a place "between lazy and crazy" in a physical posture during our warm up. I really appreciated this funny, and totally impromptu description as I worked my physical practice to challenge and push myself out of a comfort zone in order to find that "edge" without forcing so much I crossed a line and found pain. If this suggestive phrase doesn't epitomize my current life off the mat, nothing does.

Parts of our home are in a relatively low-key state of construction, which has forced us to sort through a lot of our belongings and clear out some clutter. Again while our jobs are on the smaller side, there is still a fair amount of dirt, dust and debris infiltrating our living spaces, which when added to the already existing clutter and accumulation of simply too much "stuff," becomes rather overwhelming, even anxiety-provoking. Layer in a very busy schedule teaching, caring for a family of five and managing the antics of a six month old puppy can definitely push me to the edge of crazy on any given day. I can just as soon find the edge of lazy on other days when I look at my surroundings and feel paralyzed by the enormity of the tasks at hand, finding it easier to just leave the chaotic atmosphere of the house and as a result nothing gets done.

What it all boils down to, as so much of yoga has taught me, is finding balance. Vanessa's quippy, rhyming, off the cuff phrase has rung in my ears often in the last few days since hearing it in her class. It's really encouraged me to make a stronger effort to remain "somewhere between lazy and crazy," in order to chip away at my burdensome mountain of additional responsibilities...which will eventually lead to a more peaceful place...even if that place is just in my head!

Monday, October 19, 2015

Live in Your Strength

"Live in your strength" is a phrase I found on my Yogi Tea tag recently. Yes, I can even find inspiration in a cup of tea. Without even realizing it, this phrase has become somewhat of a mantra for me. When I practice, I try to remain conscious of the fact that yoga is not a linear path. Each time I step on my mat it is a new experience, and I guide my students to embrace the same mentality. My yoga practice is always changing. I've learned to embrace the good elements and take pride in measurable progress, and at the same time observe the setbacks without judgement. Life off the mat is constantly changing also. Who knows from one day to the next what kind of strength you'll need to face those fluctuating challenges.

Most days I am able to live in the strength of a strong, healthy body. When my body aches, I live in the strength of my mental focus. When my mind wanders, I live in the strength of my heart. When it's all a struggle, I live in the strength of the love and support of my family and friends...and an inspirational cup of tea.

Monday, October 5, 2015


Service is a cornerstone of Catholicism, the first religion which was introduced to me. It is how I was raised as a child and how my children are now raised. While I'm grateful for that foundation in my life and support it for my family, I've been less personally connected to it's messages as I've grown older.

I've really enjoyed the spiritual quality that's come with a devout asana practice. The basic definition of "yoga" is "union" or "connection". Unity between mind and body, connection to all beings, doesn't get much more spiritual than that. This weekend I found my spirituality on the mat connect to my life off of it.

On Saturday, Synergy Hot Yoga (a studio where I joyfully teach and practice) held the first annual "Synergy Day" where there was a number of vendors, giveaways, special pricing on class packages and FREE YOGA all day! Undoubtedly offering free yoga classes all day is something that will hopefully encourage and result in new business for the studio, but the real inspiration for me as both teacher and student was the number of people I saw and met who were brand new to the practice of studio yoga, let alone a hot studio. Best of all, proceeds from Synergy Day and generous donations went to support Oasis tlc, a local non-profit started by a Synergy student, whose mission is to establish local farming centers for autistic adults to work, volunteer and live. Please check them out at

On Sunday, I represented Synergy and taught a free community class at my local lulu lemon store. This was a first for me and a challenge on a few different levels. Vinyasa sequencing has not been my primary teaching focus to date, but it is an area I'd like to grow. I never turn down an opportunity to teach vinyasa, although the opportunities are few and far between. Teaching in a foreign environment, without mirrors or heat, to a multi-level population, would make for added layers of difficulty. I came up with a class I am proud of, complete with modifications for those new to yoga, and felt it was a success and growth experience for me.

Just as there is a marketing angle and potential for gain and growth for a studio or a retail store to offer free classes, the honor and privilege for me to be part of both of these events (in the same weekend!) lies in the spread of yoga to members of the public who otherwise might not find it. I see these gestures as a show of thanks for the community that has supported them, as well as a service for the community at large.

The Bible itself calls us to serve others with the gifts we have received. This small way of serving others through my passion for yoga, and the large reward of gratitude not only humble me, but bring me back to my Catholic roots. While I'll still take my yoga mat over a church pew for my daily dose of spirituality, I have two children who will receive sacraments in the Catholic church next year. As they are encouraged to serve their community, I am grateful for my weekend of service and hope to feel that greater call to action not only in my own life, but as I guide my children too.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

A Yoga Mama Muses on Malas and the Moon

Sunday morning my teenage daughter asked me a question: "What is one thing in your life you wish you could change?" My reply..."Just ONE????" While the humor in that response may have been lost on her, it made the drive to soccer not only long but also pensive.

Yoga has taught me the importance of living in the present moment. As a result, I spend less and less time living in the past or in the future. I find this to be the most kind and calm way to live, especially with the busyness of work and family. I recognize what I can control, what I can or can't change, and act accordingly. While this philosophy makes sense for me on a day-to-day basis, sometimes a little reflection is necessary in order to grow. 

That night I decided I would take her to the beach to watch the lunar eclipse. I spared her the the "cosmic analysis" of what this event could cause or create. I did talk to her about the two broken malas I brought. I explained how when a mala breaks, it is releasing energy, ending a "karmic cycle" and is no longer needed by the wearer. That by making these broken beads an "offering" of some sort, you close a chapter and are ready to choose a new mala. I spared her the deeply personal details behind these pieces, or at least one of them.

My sister gave me a stunning mala for Christmas last year, a symbol of peace and comfort, following a long stretch without either. It was the only thing on my mental "Christmas list," but I hadn't told anyone that. I wore it every day, brought it to practice and to teach. It looked great with basically everything in my wardrobe. I used it to pray, to reinforce my intention and my mantra, and peace and comfort it brought me. This mala broke a few months ago, the same week my sister was scheduled to spend the weekend at our house watching our children. It was a lot for me to ask this of her, and a generous step towards healing when she accepted. I loved this mala, as much for it's beauty as for the many things it represented. I was sad when it broke, but the timing was right. The bridge from my sister's heart to mine started to be rebuilt last Christmas and was nearing a stage of completion. I no longer needed that mala.

I received a new mala last week and brought that one too, laying it on my blanket next to the broken ones, and told my daughter that doing so would enable it to absorb the moon's energy. I spared her the reasons I selected this particular mala, the significance of the stones and what I hoped to gain by wearing it. I didn't share the details of my new intention. 

When I answered my daughter's question (for real), I let her know we can only learn from our past and hope to gather strength from that which has challenged us. I'm grateful to her for initiating my self-reflection just in time to maximally benefit from it as we watched that beautiful eclipse over the ocean. No doubt about it, my current favorite and most comfortable way to live is placing one foot in front of the other and not dwelling on a past I can't change or worrying about a future that still holds miles ahead. But only once forced to look back, did I realize how far I've come.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Transition...a Journey within the Journey

Transition has been occupying a lot of thought these last few weeks, as I trade my bikinis and flip-flops for leggings and boots. In our house this transition has been met with less than enthusiastic attitudes, myself included. We enjoyed beautiful weather at the Jersey Shore this summer, and especially following a long and cold winter, we are sad to see the season change. But change happens whether we want it to or not. There are ways we can approach these changes, these life transitions, however, to create and encourage a little more ease and comfort. As with many other things, I look to my yoga practice to guide me.

A recent article in the September 2015 issue of Yoga Journal magazine referred to author Mark Stephens ("Yoga Sequencing: Designing Transformative Yoga Classes" of my yoga library favorites) and his teaching that "one of the most common times to get injured in yoga practice is during a transition" p. 76.  So for example, say you layer in a vinyasa flow between a sequence of postures, I would most commonly think I would wind up in a downward facing dog and depending on levels of focus, energy and presence, I may just rush through the other postures or steps prior to arriving there, and in turn, I'm missing the mind/body benefits of those postures (i.e., opening of the heart center in upward facing dog, core and upper body strengthening in chaturanga). Additionally, rushing through in a less than mindful fashion could lead to poor form and even injury.

During Ashtanga class this weekend I noticed (just before my instructor did!) that my shoulders weren't in line with my elbows, but much closer to the mat, as I lowered down through chaturanga during my vinyasa. I'm not sure how long I've had this habit, but thankfully it was early enough in the class that I spent the rest of my practice making the correction. After class my fellow teacher and friend commented that she thinks this is what may have caused my recent shoulder injury.

My primary area of teaching is Bikram, or hot 26, where the physical transitions of the practice are a bit more subtle. However, thinking about these transitions led me to a different perspective, and appreciation of transition off the mat. The two major transition postures are savasana and the sit-up, both of which occur in the floor series during the latter portion of class. The sit-up could definitely cause or exacerbate injury or discomfort if performed incorrectly and mindlessly. Savasana, "corpse pose", as transition has less risk of injuring the physical body (as the body is still), but creates an added challenge for the mind to be still and present. The signature pause between sets and postures throughout the series, in my opinion, is it's own transition and shouldn't be ignored.

We've all heard the cliche that "life is about the journey not the destination". I like to think transitions are journeys within the journey, added gifts in life. While transitional yoga postures are a path from point A to point B, that doesn't mean we should ignore the path as a purposeful entity in and of itself, right? As we transition from summer to fall, rather than become overwhelmed with all that needs to be done to get from A to B, enjoy the present moment. Don't be too quick and mindless to empty those drawers full of cut-offs and tank tops to just as quickly fill them with sweaters and socks. Feel the comforting warmth of the sun during the day, maybe even jump in the ocean to cool off. At night feel the energizing crispness in the air, sleeping with windows...and hearts...wide open.