Yesterday I attended Carolyn Butcher’s prana flow class at Yoga Fusion in Chevy Chase to ring in 2011.  Carolyn started off the class talking about the idea of replacing new years resolutions with intentions. Hmmm… I had starting writing this post a week or so ago but it still needed some polishing.  Remebering that 1.1.11 is a year of synchronicitys and alignment, I decided to go ahead and post. I am back from an unexpected hiatus from blogging.  I look forward to 2011 and where this new year will take me and I look forward to growing community here at DC Dharma in the coming year.

Goal vs. Intention

The impending new year often brings long lists of resolutions.  I resolve to lose 10 lbs., exercise more, and eat my vegetables.   Round about February…we’ve long since forgotten all of those resolutions in the hustle and bustle of our daily routines and we continue  the negative self-chatter that goes along with unmet goals.

In this new year, I suggest you consider a more yogic twist (that pun was not intended) on the idea of resolutions is to set intentions.  What is the difference you ask?  A resolution is more like a goal—something focused on the future.  Goals are very important and we rarely make progress in our lives without goals. But, resolutions, at least for me often feel heavy and burdensome, like another “have to” to add to my list.

Intentions, on the other hand, allow you to be softer with yourself. No “shoulds” allowed intentions are focused on what you need right now, or how you are showing up in the present moment.

Sankalpa in Sanskrit means will, purpose or determination. While a goal looks to the end result, an intention or sankalpa focuses on the path or the journey.

A sankalpa or intention also praises the effort you make to achieve your intention—you get credit for getting back on the path to your intention, regardless of how many times you may veer off course. This is the critical distinction for me.

When you set an intention or sankalpa at the beginning of your practice, it serves to center and ground you, to provide a focus for why you showed up on your mat and to establish presence in the moment.  The same can be said taking intentions off the mat, into your daily life.

Tips for Intention Setting

So when your yoga teacher invites you to set an intention for your daily practice, Don’t freak out….do you hear thoughts like? Should I wish for world peace? Or a cure for cancer? Is it wrong if I wish for an effortless handstand?

An intention is  simply a wish for you or for someone else. Here are  few suggestions:

Just be here now

Try my best

Listen to my body—do what it needs

Live in balance—take the middle path

As for setting New Year’s Intentions, its ok if you haven’t  done it yet.

Take some time to be quiet with yourself and listen to what comes up. What do you want more of in 2011, what do you want less of?

Some of my intentions include cultivating more community, balance and spaciousness and remembering to spend my time in activities I love like traveling and being in nature.

What are some of your intentions for 2011?  I look forward to hearing from you.

Photo by rogersmj on Flickr via CC license


The  Indian festival of Navratri is now underway in western India. The first three days of the festival are dedicated to the goddess Durga. In honor of Navratri, here are a few facts about the hindu goddess Durga.

Durga was created as a warrior goddess to fight the demon Mahishasura who could not be defeated by any god or man.

Durga is depicted as having ten arms and riding a lion or a tiger carrying multiple weapons and a lotus flower. Each of her weapons were contributed by other gods. Durga riding a tiger indicates that She possesses unlimited power and uses it to protect virtue and destroy evil.

Durga manifests fearlessness and patience, and never loses her sense of humor, even during spiritual battles of epic proportion. Legend has it that Durga’s mighty roar of laughter caused the worlds to quake and the oceans to churn.

It is said that worship of the goddess Durga removes the effect of all types of black magic, unfavourable effect of negative planets, bad luck, health problems, problems due to enemies etc.

I really love the stories of the hindu goddesses they are all depicted as so fierce. Durga Maa!

Photo by Indranil on Flickr via CC license

Oct 01

October Yoga Gems

Posted by Melanie in Events, Uncategorized

October is a busy month for yoga workshops in the DC area. Below are just a sampling of the juiciest workshops and happenings in the region. Of special note this month, Kirtan with Jai Uttal at River Road Universalist Church in Bethesda, MD.  Hope you enjoy a few of these yoga gems this month.  See you on the mat!

Sat 10.2.2010 1:00 PM – 3:30 PM Cost: $40, Yoga Chai, DC, * Rasa Lilasana: Moving with the Emotions of Devotion

Sat. 10.2.2010 1:30 – 3:00 PM Cost: $30, Past Tense, DC * Meditation Myth Busters

Sat. 10.2.2010 4:00-6:00 PM Cost: $35, Circle Yoga, DC * Mantra Meditation

Sat. 10.2.2010 1:30 -4:00PM Cost: $40 Quiet Mind, DC * Rise and Shine with a Yogic Sheen (Daily Ritual Workshop)

Sun. 10.3.2010 2:00 PM-3:30 PM, Cost: $25/30, Studio Serenity, DC * Creating a Home Practice

Fri. 10.8.2010, 7:30- 9:00 PM, Cost: $25/30 Tranquil Space, Arlington, VA * Yoga Practice to Live Drummers

Sat. 10.9.2010, 3:30 – 7:00 PM, Cost: $45,Tranquil Space, DC * Anatomy of Pranayama

Sat. 10.9.2010 1:00PM – 3:00 PM, Cost: $38, Yoga Fusion, Chevy Chase, MD * Yoga as a Living Flow, Ignite Your Sva Shakti

Sat. 10.9.2010, 11:00AM – 2:30 PM, Cost: $40, Tranquil Space, DC * Foundations of Yoga Philosophy

Sun. 10.10.2010, 9:00AM – 12:00PM Cost: $50, Boundless Yoga, DC * Seeing Bodies, Yoga Anatomy

Sun. 10.10.2010 1:00PM – 4:00 PM, Cost: $45, Willow Street Yoga, Silver Spring, MD * Yoga Breath and Yoga Nidra, Meditation

Sat. 10.16.2010 2:00 – 4:00 PM, Cost: $30/35, Circle Yoga, DC * Pranayama for Relaxation and Meditation

Sat. 10.16.2010 1:30 – 3:30 PM, Cost:  Past Tense, DC * Meditative Yoga Hike in Rock Creek Park

Sat. 10.16.2010 1:00 – 3:00 PM, Cost: $10, Yoga Fusion, Chevy Chase, MD * Yoga Book Club “The Heart of Yoga” by TKV Desikachar

Sun. 10.17.2010 2:30 – 4:30 PM, Cost: $35, Pure Prana, Alexandria, VA * The Fourth Limb: Pranayama Practice

Sun. 10.17.2010 3:00 – 5:00 PM, Cost: $45, Flow Yoga Center, DC * There’s No Place Like OM: A Chanting Workshop to Find Your Singing Voice

Mon. 10.18.2010 6:30 – 10:00 PM, Cost: $25/35, River Road Unitarian Church, Bethesda, MD * An Evening of Kirtan with Jai Uttal and Daniel Paul

Sun. 10.24.2010 11:45AM-1:40 PM, Cost: Donation, Yoga District, 14th Street, DC * Yoga, Willpower & Diet

Sat. 10.30.2010 2:30 – 5:30 PM, Cost: $40, Pure Prana, Alexandria, VA * Sanskrit – The Language of Yoga

Sat. 10.30.2010 1:00 PM – 3:00 PM, Cost: $38, Yoga Fusion, Chevy Chase, MD * Yoga as a Living Flow: Explore Your Sva Dharma

Sun. 10.31.2010 2:30 – 5:00 PM, Cost: $35/40, Pure Prana, Alexandria, VA * Workshop of Death: A Halloween Yoga Workshop

Photo by FrankH via Flickr with CC License

Sep 28

Ease into Autumn

Posted by Melanie in Ayurveda, Uncategorized

Fall is here on the calendar having just passed the Autumn equinox this past week. The weather man is promising that we will soon be feeling the relief of cooler days soon as well. In the farmers market apples, pears, squash and pumpkins are replacing tomatoes and berries. Transitions are underway with students going back to school and particularly here in DC, politicians preparing for elections.

In Ayurveda the ancient indian science of wellness, Autumn is the Vata Season.  Vata is associated with the elements of air and space. Autumn is a yin season and is associated with physical, emotional, and spiritual transformation. It is a time for letting go and releasing the things that are not serving you. Vata is aggravated by feelings of fear and insecurity. This makes fall an excellent time to turn inward, create a space for stillness, seek balance. Fall is a good time to undertake a dietary cleanse to eliminate toxins in the body and mind.

As the weather becomes cooler and dryer characteristics of vata increase for all doshas. You might notice your skin getting drier, your mind may become more scattered. The seasonal change may bring on more instances of cold and flu.
The cooler drier fall days should be balanced by a warming, oily and nurturing diet and daily routine.

As the weather turns cooler, Ayurveda tells us that we should eat less iced and cold food and drinks and less dry foods like dried fruits, crackers and bread. Warm grounding foods like soups and stews and root vegetables are recommended. Steamed greens are preferred over salads. Cooked foods are preferred over raw foods in the fall.
Warming spices like cinnamon, cardamon, ginger, cumin, cloves and corriander should be used in your cooking.

Specific yoga asanas are recommended for the fall as well. Grounding poses Inverted poses, including down dog, twists, slow sun salutations will soothe a scattered mind. Ayurveda suggests holding poses longer than you are normally inclined to.

I am embracing the fall by catching up with needed health appointments, clearing clutter from my home and office trying to reestablish an outdoor running habit and making sure to include at least one weekly yin yoga practice.

Do you have a particular autumn ritual? Please share how you greet the shifting seasons.

Photo by Catchesthelight on Flickr via CC license


Today many in India are celebrating Ganesh Chaturthi or the Hindu god Ganesha’s Birthday.  I posted earlier about Ganesha, my favorite Hindu god–the God of mischief,  new beginnings, prosperity and wisdom.

In India, to celebrate Ganesh Chaturthi, clay statues of Ganesh sit decorated with red paste and flowers in Indian homes for ten days until today when they will be taken to bathe in rivers, lakes or another body of water to symbolize Lord Ganesh sailing to Mt. Kailish, his birthplace.
In honor of the birthday boy Ganesh, I’m posting MC Yogi’s “Ganesh is Fresh”. May you enjoy good mischief, new beginnings, prosperity and wisdom. Jai Ganesha.

Photo:  Flickr by WadeM via CC license

Aug 28

September Yoga Gems

Posted by Melanie in Events

We are slowly coming out of the August doldrums in DC. The mornings are a bit cooler, the days growing shorter.  On my regular run route, I’m noticing leaves that are beginning to turn.  Kids are back to school and fall will be arriving soon. As Washington slowly returns to life, yoga workshop schedules are beginning to ramp back up. This month MC Yogi will be in town, the DC Global Mala takes place and a number of great workshops are not to be missed.

Thu 9.9.2010 8:00 – 9:30 PM Cost: Donation, Studio Serenity, Adams Morgan, DC * Psychology of Karma w/Dhanurdhara Swami

Sat 9.11.2010 1:30 – 3:30 PM Cost: Donation, Quiet Mind Yoga, DC * The Non Dominant Side Experiment

9.12.2010 1:00 – 3:00 PM, Cost: Free, Lil Omm Yoga, DC * Introduction to Ayurveda – Motherhood and Ayurveda: Care for Self, Baby and Family based on Ancient Teachings

Thu 9.16.2010 7:45 – 9:15 PM Cost: Free, Circle Yoga, DC * Introduction to Yoga Workshop

Sat 9.18.2010 4:00 – 6:00 PM Cost: $35, Tranquil Space Yoga, DC * Cupcakes & Chakras

Sun 9.19.2010 1:00 – 2:30 PM Cost: Free, Circle Yoga, DC * What is Reiki? An Introduction

Thu 9.23.2010 6:30 – 8:30 PM, Cost $40/50, Tranquil Space Yoga, DC * Autumn Equinox with Live Sitar Under the Full Harvest Moon!

Sat 9.25.2010 1:30 – 4:00 PM Cost: $35, Flow Yoga Center, DC * Ganesh is Fresh with MC Yogi

Sun 9.26.2010 12:00 – 3:00 PM, Cost $35, Flow Yoga Center, DC * Jai Ma! with MC Yogi

Sun 9.26.2010 12:30 – 4:30 PM, DC Global Mala * Tickets and Info here

Sun 9.26.2010 1:30 – 3:30 PM Cost: Donation, Quiet Mind Yoga, DC * What Makes You Move? An introduction to the Musculoskeletal System

Photo by Old Sarge on Flickr via CC license


So…its here..the movie version of Elizabeth Gilbert’s runaway best selling book opens today. I have a date this weekend with a group of girlfriends to go see it. I’ve downloaded the CD from itunes. As a yogi and a wanderluster, I’ll admit right up front, I’m an unabashed fan girl. This is my version of “Sex in the City” weekend.

As I anticipate seeing the movie, I am reflecting on the many, many discussions I’ve had about Elizabeth Gilbert’s story of travel and self-discovery since I first read the book several years ago.  Reactions vary from my own…”I LOVE it, I LOVE Elizabeth Gilbert, I want to hang out with her–I’m certain we’d be fast friends. I want to be the ashram’s key hostess. I want to go to Bali and laugh from my liver.” To…“I didn’t care for it,  Elizabeth Gilbert seems self indulgent, people just don’t leave their lives (or their husbands) like that”–to many variations in between.  I am struck by how intensely personal each reaction is.  It seems to me that each reaction is a mirror to where an individual is in their life–no single opinion is right or wrong–we are just where we are.But, if we pay attention to our reaction to the story–we can gain awareness. What makes you afraid? What makes you angry? What makes you laugh? Do you maybe feel jealous?

I’m writing this post while sitting in a cafe, Just now, I can hear two women discussing the book. They are both saying how unrealistic the story is–that most people can’t just drop out and travel around the globe for a year to find themselves.

It is true, Liz Gilbert had a book contract in hand before she set off on her year abroad. That’s a really nice thing to have. I get that we don’t all have book contracts or trust funds or whatever you think it would take to make a break for it like Liz.  I will tell you that I know more than one person who has done a similar thing. They made a decision that they wanted to take some time to travel and gain some breathing space–they planned for it financially and took some risks and some really wonderful things happened for them as a result. I’d say that, if you think you want to take off in this way, its important to really know your intention before you take off–because travel without an intention is just escape.

The truth is, I don’t think that we necessarily need a pot of gold to embrace the spirit of this story. To me, the larger theme of the book was just to listen to what your heart is telling you and move towards it, regardless of whether your family, your friends, your work colleagues or society thinks its the “right” thing to do. I think that anyone can take a journey like Liz’s even without getting on a plane, even without quitting your job and leaving your life behind. I think it may take longer and… c’mon…admit it…won’t be nearly as fun, but you can take a similar journey inward without actually going anywhere. With the intention to follow your gut and your heart… magic can happen…just like it did for Liz.

Please share with me your thoughts about the book, the movie or any old thing related.

Update:  Saw the movie loved it, loved the meandering quality, beautiful cinematography. It made me want to reread the book because it reminded  me of pieces I had forgotten.

Aug 07

How to Be Alone

Posted by Melanie in Atman: Self-Discovry

Happy beautiful Saturday.  I am posting this video gem everywhere I can. I’ve been a fan of singer/songwriter Tanya Davis for a while now, which makes this even more lovely. Enjoy. That’s it.


I first started yoga nearly twenty years ago. I’ve posted about it here. Over the years yoga has become a true passion of mine. Like most things I’m passionate about…I try to get my friends and family to share it with me. I hear lots of reasons why folks are hesitant to practice yoga.

Yoga seems to have a mystique for the uninitiated. The following are common reasons I hear that people are hesitant to practice yoga. I hope I can bust a few of these myths and encourage a few of the yoga-shy to get on the mat.

I’m Too Big
Many people seem to think that you have to start out looking like Gwyneth Paltrow, Jennifer Anniston or [insert size 0 starlet here] to practice yoga. I am living proof that the average sized gal [or guy] can do yoga. I’m not gonna lie, its easier to get into some of the poses when you are not..ahem…in your own way. Be that as it may, lots of average and bigger than average sized folks practice yoga. What’s more, if you practice regularly you may achieve the “yoga butt” (keep on reading to learn more.) If you feel intimidated in class because of your size, you just haven’t yet found the right studio or instructor–try another class or if need be another studio–read reviews on yelp, blogs (like this one) etc.

I’m Too Old..Young..Middle-Aged
Yoga is not just for the twenty-somethings–again I know this from experience. I am not twenty-something. I’m not even thirty-something. Lots of people of every age practice yoga. At my favorite studio, six year olds and sixty year olds practice together. On twitter recently, an article was making the rounds about a ninety year old woman who began a yoga practice. Really….anyone at any age can begin a yoga practice and experience the benefits. Get over yourself and get on the mat.

I’m Not Flexible
Not yet maybe….but umm…that is kind of the point isn’t it? If you keep up with yoga I promise, even the tightest hamstrings and hips will loosen. The most important thing to remember in yoga class, after remembering to breathe, is that none of the the other students are paying attention to what you are doing–really. They are all too busy focusing on their own poses and remembering to breathe. As for the instructor, they are there to assist and guide you not judge you…promise. And like I said earlier, if you feel judged, you haven’t found the right instructor or studio…move on till you find a place that feels right for you.

I’m a Straight Guy
Yes its true, many studio classes are mostly full of women. Mostly women in tank tops and form fitting leggings. Straight guys, do you see my point? Now, I am not advocating lechery but I am saying guys shouldn’t let a mostly female crowd keep them from enjoying the health and wellness benefits of yoga.

I’m Not a Hippie..Vegan..WooWoo.. etc.
It is true that in some yoga classes there will be chanting, some studios burn incense some yogis are vegan but none of these things are strictly required. Again there are so many different styles of yoga and every studio has its own unique vibe. Each yoga teacher develops their own teaching style–certain schools or styles of yoga take on generally the same characteristics. Many classes are chanting free zones…others are nothing but Kirtan (that’s sanskrit for chanting.) My advice, try a little chanting, you may just find you like it, and vegan isn’t a virus–you won’t catch it unless you decide you want to.

I’m a Christian…Jew…Wiccan etc.
Yoga is not a religion…for me, I feel like my yoga practice is about the closest thing to a religion that I’ve really ever known. That said, anyone of any faith can practice yoga. One of the best thing about yoga is that it is accepting of all, come as you are.

Its too expensive
Its true that most studio classes in DC run close to $20 for a drop in class and a yoga outfit at Lululemon can approach $200. The good news is that yoga can be had even on a frugalista budget. Most DC studios offer donation based or deeply discounted classes a few times a week. Here in DC the summer weather offers yogis free outdoor yoga options. As for gear, all that you really need is something that you can move in comfortably. Most studios will even rent you a mat for about a buck.

What Else Ya Got?
So have I convinced you to give yoga a try?  What did I miss, any other yoga concerns that I haven’t covered? I’d hate to have anyone miss out on all of the wonderful benefits that yoga has to offer. C’mon get on a mat and give it a try.

Photo by kk+ via Flickr with a cc license

Aug 03

Ayurveda: Yoga’s Sister Science

Posted by Melanie in Ayurveda

I have been doing a lot of reading lately on Ayurveda and I’m beginning to adopt diet and lifestyle changes based on my dosha or constitution. I am just beginning this journey and thought it would be fun to share what I’m learning and experiencing on the blog and welcome you to ask questions or share what you know in the comments. So let’s start today with a few Ayurveda basics.

Ayurveda, known as the “Science of Life”, is the sister science to yoga. It is an ancient Indian system of healing that takes a holistic appraisal of one’s physical constitution, emotional nature and spiritual outlook to recommend a set lifestyle practices—diet, exercise, self care, daily habits — unique to each individual’s constitution.

Ayurveda is based on the idea that we are all made up of a unique combination of the three energies or doshas. Your individual make-up is known as your prakriti or nature. The doshas are known as vata or air element, pitta or fire element and kapha or earth element. The dosha—or doshas that are most prevalent in your body will determine what steps you take to keep your doshas in balance thereby maintaining optimum wellness in mind and body.

So determining your dosha is fundamental to beginning your journey in ayurveda. There are a number of websites that offer quizzes that will help you determine your dosha.  You may want to try more than one just to compare results.

Here are a few of my favorite Ayurveda sites:

Hey MonicaB

Chopra Center


Next time, we’ll talk about the characteristics of each of the doshas.

If you have a favorite Ayurveda resource or know a great local practitioner won’t you please share them in the comments.

Photo by Prakhar on Flickr via CC license


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