Monday, September 15, 2014

Natural Disasters

I alone cannot hold back the rivers of the world. 

Grant me permission to unclench my fists.

To avalanche, sprint, and downfall.

To wrap myself around you like wind arcs around an eagle’s wings.

I alone cannot subdue the storms of the world.

Like majestic sirens and sailors, I need

You to release your fingers into the poppy fields of my mane.

To sink your Titanic, and give way to this drunken dusk.

Like horizons take the sun.

Like horizons take the sun.

With ceaseless certainty.

Untiring and utterly undone.

Say you give into me.

Or take cover, and sound off

The alarms.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Filming My 10th Episode for Yoga Today

This past Monday I filmed my 10th episode with Yoga Today. It's my 3rd year joining the Yoga Today team in the beautiful state of Wyoming - a magnificent place I may otherwise never have had the pleasure to see and experience as much as I have! Jackson never fails to take my breathe away - the nature here is spectacular, and I am overwhelmingly grateful to be a part of Yoga Today and have the continued opportunity to keep spreading yoga around the world via the world wide web! Visit for full length classes!

Today we finished filming a few yoga "quick tips" and then practically flew off the mountain due to a crazy influx of bugs. I have never seen so many flying creatures in one place, and now I'm using every bit of my discipline to not scratch the bites. If Marisa and I (today's beautiful yogi extra) look like we are twitching in the new videos, it is because we are being eaten alive, and pretending like it is not happening. Oh the adventures of filming outside! 

I have one more full day left in Jackson, and then I fly back to Orange County. I will be teaching my last two classes at The Yoga Mat in Anaheim on Sunday, July 20th - Level 1/2 at 9:00am (subbing for Louise) and a Level 1 at 10:3am. If you are in the area, I hope that you can join me. It will be very special to teach those classes - right before I take off again! Then two days later I head back down under. I will be spending about a week visiting and enjoying Sydney and then I return to Perth, where starting August, I will be teaching a full schedule at Hayley Schmidt's BeyondBeing Power Yoga Studio in Subiaco. Once I know my schedule, I will post it on here and on Facebook.

I am so excited for everything that the future holds, and there is much greatness going on RIGHT NOW. At times it can feel over-stimulating, which is why I constantly remind myself that it is of utmost importance to slow down and find time for meditation! And find time to write! And sleep ... 

The Producer & Director
My annual Yoga Today van photo.
Marisa, our beautiful and super strong yogi-extra.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

What is important to you?

As I handed the officer my licence and registration yesterday, I knew two things; he was a dick (sorry but not sorry, it was sort of ridiculous) and the Universe was asking me to slow down. I wasn't speeding, but I heard the message right away; slow down MonaBear.

It has been an fiery whirlwind from the moment that my plane landed at LAX over a month ago - from  a cross country trip that ended in an accident, to playing the most ruthless game of catch up ever + the array of emotions that came along with finally coming back to visit. It's been all-consuming. 

The people-pleaser in me has been struggling to find time for everyone and everything, and all things considered, I've been doing alright. However, yesterday I heard the alarm sound off. I was sleep-deprived, disoriented, and out of sorts. And as I watched the officer walk away with my information, I caught a glimpse of myself in the side-mirror. I looked exhausted. I am no good to anyone like this.

I'm listening. I am listening.

I've been practicing, reconnecting to the studios, but meditating very little. I've been hiking with friends and relaxing in many ways, but spending very little time alone, which I have learned that I absolutely need in order to recharge and thrive. It might seem off, but sometimes relaxing with other people still takes it out of me. So today I have locked myself in my old bedroom to write and give myself some tender love and care. 

As I gain awareness through my ongoing years of practice, I've naturally become more sensitive. It's a sensitivity I worry other people will perceive as selfishness or lack of care. I think this is what stops me from taking care of myself. But again, how valuable  is my service if I am not really there - physically, emotionally, with 100% of my heart. The reality is, I am not going to be able to do everything I wanted to do. There will be people I will not have a chance to see or not see as much as I would have liked to. And then there are things I don't want to do and need to learn to say no to.

I am grateful for this beautiful time back home. I have been showered with love. Stepping away from the life that I created and then stepping back into the residual waves of it has shown me how powerful every seed we plant is. It is also teaching me how to manage my energy and where I tend to be most rattled and rocked. As the wind has picked up, and I feel swayed in every which direction, it has challenged me ground my feet, to dig my roots into the earth, and ask myself, but what is important to you?

On a more logistical note, I am excited to announce that I will be reconnecting with the Yoga Today team in Wyoming before I fly to Sydney on the 22nd of July. This leaves me very little time in California. I have made the promise to myself to slow down, so that it doesn't pass me by, with me not really being here here. In result, I suspect that I may appear even more MIA. I ask for understanding, from others, but mostly, mostly from myself.

With love, I leave you with this: 

“That is why it is so important to let certain things go. To release them. To cut loose. People need to understand that no one is playing with marked cards; sometimes we win and sometimes we lose. Don't expect to get anything back, don't expect recognition for your efforts, don't expect your genius to be discovered or your love to be understood. Complete the circle. Not out of pride, inability or arrogance, but simply because whatever it is no longer fits in your life. Close the door, change the record, clean the house, get rid of the dust. Stop being who you were and become who you are.”
― Paulo CoelhoThe Zahir 

Playing with transitions at Yoga Shakti - where I trained. Very relevant, as my whole life feels like a massive transition right now :)

New Class +New Quick Tip!

For full length classes visit I am also happy to announce that I will be rejoining my Yoga Today team in BEAUTIFUL Wyoming to create some new material in a little less than two weeks! So excited for this time, and unlike the last two years, my goal is to be a little more diligent about blogging whilst there! Can't wait to share this experience!

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Friction Vs. Fiction

I remember the moment when, in a Holdenism sort of manner, I decided there are two kinds of people in this world: those who are here to experience it, and those who, unbeknownst to themselves, will work as an enigmatic vessels for reconstruction.

The ‘experiencers’, they will live. Oh how they will live. They will laugh, and cry, and have babies. They will succumb to the monotonous cyclical obligatory patterns of society. And life will spin them like a pair of sneakers in a LG SteamWasher. They will spin until they can’t hold on anymore. They will spin until they crash. Chemical biological phenomena will occur.

The earth will take a deep breath.

It is a beautiful process, too much for words, too much for song, too much for film, too much for books. Then, slowly, the washer will start to turn again, and they will want pets, and host family BBQ’s, and argue about the color of their bedroom wallpaper. And they will make love. And they will make hate. And everything will feel far grander than reality. How I bloody envied these people. Although I wasn’t entirely sure I wanted what they had, nothing is as appealing of a thing or idea or person that is deemed taboo, or completely unavailable. And as I shuffled my feet to an old folk song, and bore the weight of my glued-on smile, I knew in that moment that it was the truth: all that life was not for me. I was not an ‘experiencer.’

The music slowed, and I made my way to a chair and sat down. A few grandmothers aside, I was one of the few sitting. I contemplated Universal shifts, and wondered if it was all too much to shoulder. My heart felt heavy, but in case someone took notice, I kept my smile. I watched the men turn the women by their hips. I watched the women throw back their heads and laugh. And it made me happy and sad all at once. A few slow songs later, I still sat there, uncomfortably grinning. Don't give yourself away. I don’t care that I am the only young girl sitting. This will be easier when you are older, I told myself. People won’t stare. I don’t care.

And that’s when he grabbed my hand, pulled me up, in, and close. His breath smelled of a man who’d surrendered his mind to the open bar. His hands were sweaty, sweaty on my ass. He was older, and I wondered how long he’d been watching me. Maybe it’s not a pity dance if they’re old enough to be your father. I let him nuzzle his face on the curve of my neck, closed my eyes, and as he spun me around, I tried to forget, tried to forget that enigmatic vessel, the task that I was utterly clueless about. I tried to forget the man I once I loved. I tried to forget I had to let it all go. Let it all go.

The vessels. They have to let go, or get dragged. Get dragged to every pivotal life event where they feel out of place, and obediently hang around in some corner at their sibling’s wedding. Constant, subtle, numbing, dulling reminders - this is not for you. Inevitably, these vessels will drown themselves in work. Where else do you hide? They’ll blame their work, their boss, their passion. And the experiencers, they will resent. You were absent. You didn't care. But it’s not true. The often-unconscious signs of simply passing through this world are not without consequence and pain. Some will do their part, and drink themselves do death. Some will overdose. Some will just die, alone. When their work is done. Unbeknownst to themselves. Done.

I remember that moment, I knew, but still, still I closed my eyes and pretended that drunken clown wasn’t wired to walk away. I closed my eyes and reformed the temperature of his body, the scent of his skin, and our fundamental difference. Experiencer. Vessel. For a millisecond, I imagined myself unaware, laughing, drunk, spinning around on the dance floor, stupidly happy - like everyone else.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

The Microscope

I am excited to announce that I've launched the official Facebook Page for 'Mona The Yoga Teacher'. In addition, I've also created a Yoga IG account that links to my new FB Page.

This allows me to add students + fellow yogis that I meet at studios and/or from  without compromising the privacy of my personal account. It also provides a forum for me to share my yoga philosophies, developments, whereabouts, photos, etc., without bombarding my immediate family and friends - as they're usually all too well and over-informed about my love for the practice.

It's a good, win-win, positive step. However, it took some time and much consideration to take this step. Why? To be very raw and honest, when the idea first occurred, odd feelings came up. I thought to myself, who do you think you are to have a 'Teacher Page'? 

I know I am not the only yoga teacher who feels or has felt this way. I've had a dozen hushed conversations with others teachers who have repressed and/or processed these very same, dare I say, insecurities.

So I want to openly talk about this white elephant. Why do we have these stories and where do they originate? The community encourages, practically preaches, for us to let go of our hang-ups, so why all the hang-ups?

Let's rewind a few years: I had just given up my regular day job to put all my energy into becoming a full-time yoga instructor - and with my marketing and graphic design background, making a website seemed like a logical step. I would come home after long days of reaching out to studios, and begin to work away on Photoshop & Dreamweaver. It brought me immense fulfillment to be working on a project for my personal growth, and to have all the creative freedom I wanted. I was beyond excited to do what I was doing. This was my project, my baby.

However, when it was finally time to launch, after all the late nights at the computer, I found myself paralyzed with doubt. Who do you think you are? I wondered what my fellow yogis would think. Many instructors had been teaching for far longer than I, and didn't bother with the World Wide Web or marketing, period. Was I breaching some code?

I needed an outside opinion. After all, I'd given up my day job, the somewhat secure paycheck, to teach. Was I off my rocker? I sought advice from those who wore a suit and tie to work. After a few glasses of wine, some serious analytical talk, and a few good laughs, the verdict was in: they thought I was crazy. Downright crazy. Share the damn site and scream it from the rooftops. That or go beg for your job back. True. I sure as hell didn't have a sponsor, so I was going to have to make it a somewhat fruitful (ouch) business. It was then that I realized that in a twisted attempt to be respectful (to yoga, I guess?) I'd been willing to completely short change myself. There was and is nothing wrong with letting people know I exist, I teach, and I welcome new students. Why the shame?

Ever since yoga first entered into the West, its teachers and practitioners have been scrutinized, and the more mainstream it becomes, the bigger the microscope. The business of yoga, and in many ways rightfully so, is on an even tighter public surveillance. The cold-as-ice truth is, the judgement within the yoga realm runs thick like molasses, no different from other businesses or niche communities. It's far beyond discussing ethics, ancient traditions, or correct anatomy:  it's too this, or too that, the music, or the lack of, her shorts are too short, the chanting is weird, no, that's NOT how you pronounce shavasana, oh, and apparently, he eats meat. I'd heard it everyday, and I'm no saint. Most of us don't mean any harm with our insignificant comments, but in the end they add up, and it made me want to stay small. For me, this was the root of my hesitance, my shame, and my irrational worries. I needed to face it.

The microscope.

What I've realized is that whenever you stand up, you're going to be judged. Point blank. Have you seen the comments on celebrities' IG's or FB pages? They're painful to read! The disconnect that the modern-day means of communication harbors is massive. There is little to zero accountability, which makes these media platforms a bloody massacre. So, the question is - can you stand up anyways - especially if it's something worth getting on your feet for? I know I don't want to live my life on my bum bum. Most of the time I prefer to stand vs sit and run vs walk. And that was that.

Before I made my new profile public, I asked myself again: Who do you think you are? And this is my answer.

I'm a young woman who loves yoga. It changes me, for the better, everyday. When given the gift, the opportunity, to share this love, I am elevated. I only teach what I practice and what I've personally experienced. I am a student, first and foremost. I certainly don't know everything. In fact, I don't know the half of it, and maybe never will. I'm far from the best or the most seasoned, but I am passionate and willing to share my humble experience. I'm not the most advanced or flexible, but I'll fall and laugh with you. I am on the same journey as you, and willing to share my path. And I want to learn from yours, and learn with you.

Please join me in the conversation and share with me who you are on my Facebook: and find me instagram: @monalisayoga

Thank you for all your support and love! Namaste!

P.S I've been listening to this mix - enjoy!

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

40 Days to Personal Revolution

On the road during the 40 days, sleeping in our car, and laying down the mats to practice in the morning.

39 days ago I started the '40 Days to Personal Revolution' designed by Baron Baptiste. I was first introduced to this style of yoga many years ago at my home studio (Yoga Shakti in Irvine) by the wonderful (Baptist certified) Marie Friedlander. I'd always felt empowered and strong in her classes. Marie had brought the '40 Days to Personal Revolution' program to the studio - and technically, I had participated. It had been at no extra cost and didn't require one to officially sign up. At the time, I was practically living at yoga studios, so taking class everyday was the norm, and I didn't give it much thought if I did miss a day or two. I didn't meditate regularly and I didn't do the 3-day fruit cleanse. In other words, I was half assing - at best. When I saw that Baptist was doing an online version of this program, I thought, okay, you need this.

All of these photos are from our explorations of the southern part of Western Australia.

  39+ days ago I was at a point in my practice where it seemed like no matter how much I was practicing, all the fluctuations of travel still left me feeling discombobulated. Even though I'd purchased a mat in Indonesia and was finally getting on it rather frequently, I somehow still felt like my body was not my own. It was a frustrating reality because this disconnect was despite a wave of new effort. I felt like I was t r y i n g  but swimming upstream. I hoped that the daily e-mails, the Facebook community page, and the asana and meditation podcasts would help me feel more connected. Unless you wanted to purchase/download all the classes (vs stream in the allotted time) it was free, so there was nothing to loose. When I signed up on the website, they asked a straightforward question - "are you going to be 100% committed?" - and for a split split split second I almost felt like 'woa'. There was that big C word. But why, when there was no money involved or even real consequences to be felt? Was I really afraid to make this commitment to myself? And on top of that, wasn't I already committed to my practice. I wrote YES before I could over-think and clicked submit.

Over two years ago, I took my NASM (National Academy of Sport Medicine) certification test and passed. Soon after I began training at a nice gym in Corona Del Mar, California. I was getting up at 4am to train clients, before their work and way before my morning coffee. I remember how grueling it was to get up before the sun, and all the sacrifices I made to make it happen. I had to forgo many wine nights, movie nights, date nights, sex, etc.  I remember thinking - if only I could do this for myself. Why can I go to bed at 9pm and get up before the sun for these people and not for myself? What if I was getting up this early and putting this time into MY health and well-being? Intellectually, I very well understand that I am the best person I can invest time, energy, and efforts into, but then why in the world is it so difficult to do? On day 2 of my 40 Days to Personal Revolution, these thoughts from over two years ago resurfaced, and boy did they challenge me. How come I can show up for others, but not for myself. Am I not deserving? I disliked the answers that my actions were revealing. I was determined to change. The moment my alarm would go off, I'd begin to bargain with myself - here's your chance to show up for you. 

3 out of 5 times I stayed in bed. Yea. Ha ha.

But I did stick to it. If I stayed in bed and didn't practice before work, then I was forced to push back dinner and practice after work. There were days when it felt like pulling fingernails, especially after a long day. I found excuses for why it was so hard: I wish I had the community back home. I wish I could take class from X (insert instructor). I wish I could class at X (insert studio). It would be so much easier if X (insert whatever). Yes, it would be easier. See, I'd have reasons, other than myself, to show up for. I've come to realize that there are a lot of incentives to go to yoga that have nothing to do with yoga when you go to a yoga studio. There's the social aspect (I think this is huge one for all yogis), the zen space, or the tea or coffee that I often get with my fellow yogis after class. I'd been stripped of those and many other stimulants. It was just me and yoga. It was raw and revealing. I never realized all the other outside factors that sometimes helped motivate me to practice until I had to fully let them all go, here and now. (I am not saying they are necessarily bad either. I was just grateful to develop that awareness).

Doing yoga every day for no other reason than to do yoga brought a whole new level of integrity to my practice. It presented me with an opportunity to strip away. Literally. Yes, I did yoga naked some days - something I've never done before. I've never had such an intimate relationship with my body, my mind, and my most inner self as I do now, 39 days later. It feels like mine. It feels like nothing can take that away from me, not as long as I can close my eyes and breathe. It's such a beautiful stepping stone in my journey. It is especially reassuring to fully experience this knowing whilst still traveling. I never even realized how much I relied on external factors, on and off the mat, until I began the peeling away of layers - not 40 days ago, no, but the first time I stepped on my mat. My vision is becoming more and more vivid and clear everyday, and I fully understand that this is just the tip of the iceberg. The more I see the more I realize how impaired it all really is. I might very well be blind. The 7 months, and the 40 days were just another kick off. The Baptist e-mails will stop after tomorrow, eventually the movement may cease, but the practice, the practice will remain. 

Other developments: Starting March, I will teaching for Lululemon once a week. More info coming soon. I am currently teaching at Bloom Yoga: [ ] I love this studio and took a couple of classes here during my 40DaystoPR. As much as I appreciate creating awareness around my attachment to yoga spaces, yoga people, yoga communities - nothing beats walking into a yummy space and be surrounded by a bunch of yogis. Yaaas. Cheers to that.