Yoga For Life

Dad's Stamp of Approval

My 88-year-old father stalked me to send him an advanced copy of my book, Yoga for Life, which comes out in June. Dad may forget some things, but this one thing, he did not. Every few days, I would get a text (yes, my dad texts), saying, “I am old and I want to read your book. I don’t want to wait until it comes out. Please send it to me today.” I was nervous about him reading it, because even though I am an adult, his approval is still very important to me. So I sent it, and he read it.

My dad is one of those people who doesn’t mince words or speak niceties just for the sake of it. That was part of my hesitation in letting him read it: I knew he would tell me what he thought, and I wasn’t sure I could handle hearing it. My other hesitation was that my book would make him sad, as his heart is still bleeding for my mom, who is featured large.

Well, today I sit here like a child, welled-up with tears. My father approves of my book. He said in a message that he loves it. He said I brought mom back to life in my pages. Then he wrote me this note:


Your book is very good. I wish your mother could read it. You were a wild child but have grown into one of the sweetest most caring adults I know. You have made me very proud. I love you, babe.


I would like to sell a million copies of my book because yoga is for life and I believe that the more people realize that, the better the world will be. But if I never sell a single copy, my father is proud of me, which makes me happy that I wrote the book.

The Elation and Worry of Motherhood

Mothering and being mothered are complicated experiences. They can take you beyond any love you’ve ever known, and they can bring you to your knees with worry and misery. When people ask Rodney and me who our main teachers have been, we respond, “Our kids.”

Our reactions to our children tell us everything. When you see your sweet angel’s name come up on the phone and you answer it excitedly, and all you hear is silence—oh, no.

“Honey, are you there?” you ask.

You hear sobs, and your heart sinks lower than you could ever have imagined. Her pain must be your fault, and you need to fix it.

Or when the phone rings, and he, elated, is speaking so fast you have to say, “Slow down, Darling, and tell me what you just said.” When our children are so excited about good news that you can’t understand what they’re saying, your heart soars as if it were your own accomplishment.


Then there’s the sly smile you try to hide when your child proudly tells you something he or she has just learned that you’ve spent the last 18 years trying teach them. Someone else has explained it to them, this lifelong lesson, and they act it as if it were brand new information.

And then there’s the learning how to keep your mouth shut. Or that certain mood of your beloved child’s when there’s no point in saying anything because it will be met with sarcasm or an argument, just for the sake of it.

Yes, being a mother (or father) is all encompassing. You have empathy and compassion for your own mother because you know that you took her through the same fires.

Mother’s Day is a time to reflect on the mothering process—both the joys and sorrows. It’s a day to buy or receive flowers and chocolates, or take or be taken out for brunch. But here’s the truth: what the mothers I know want most, is time alone. The best Mother’s Day gift might be to insist that your mom go to her yoga class, or go for a walk by herself.

Mother’s Day is a day of celebration for the sacrifice and dedication mothers bring to the world. It’s also a difficult day for those of us whose mothers, or children, have passed. So let us use what yoga has taught us to sit with it all, to laugh and cry and eat chocolate, to appreciate the flowers and hug our loved ones.

Happy Mother’s Day.

All love,

Let’s Connect Through Yoga!

The first time I heard about Instagram was when my teenage daughter, Rachel, and her friend were taking “selfies” two years ago. I didn’t get it. I had just started to get the hang of Facebook, and wasn’t so sure I liked it: what hurtful things could be said in the midst of so much anonymity? But the more time I spent with Facebook, the more I saw its benefits: I reconnected with friends that I’d lost touch with; I became inspired by poems and teachings friends had posted; I liked hearing what people were thinking about; I liked “liking” people, and being “liked.”

Social media is something like yoga. Yoga has given me a larger family, my yoga community, a congregation of people willing to work to find the connectivity that’s sometimes hidden. Yoga brings to the surface what we need to feel and know. The late B.K.S. Iyengar, perhaps the most influential yoga teacher of our age, said that you can only be as intimate with others as you are with yourself. Alone and in community we use yoga to get to our essence. Yoga peels away layer after layer to uncover what has been there all along. It’s like the Bob Dylan lyric: “How long, babe, will you search for what’s not there?”

I’ve just written a book, Yoga for Life: A Journey to Inner Peace and Freedom, which will be published by Atria/Simon & Schuster on June 2. I wrote it because I felt that I had something to say that would help people: I found yoga halfway through my life, and it’s become a tool that has helped me with nearly every challenge I encounter. It’s helped me see where I made mistakes in my life, and why. My friends and students have always been interested in my life stories—growing up in the Midwest, becoming a heroin user, a fashion model, a mother, and then a yogi. It’s the story of my life, in all its glory and occasional shame, both on and off the mat. Each chapter’s theme (Addiction, Trauma, Forgiveness, Confidence, Fear, and Love, among others) is accompanied by a related yoga sequence I’ve created related to the theme. My book will show you how yoga’s benefits extend from health and fitness, to better relationships, self-acceptance, the ability to speak the truth, and ultimately, inner peace.

So now what? Now it’s time to get the word out about the book. How do we reach one another in this world today? In addition to Facebook, I’ve become an enthusiastic convert to Instagram and Twitter. I would be honored if you would connect with me on any or all of these platforms and help spread news about the book (you’ll be hearing more about it, and my story in the weeks to come). And here’s the fun part: If you sign on to follow me, you’ll be entered in our fantabulous contest to win a personally signed (to you) copy of Yoga for Life, and/or a top-of-the-line yoga mat from one of my great partners in yoga, Gaiam.

In advance, I want to thank you for joining me on this journey. Let’s keep connecting, through yoga—and beyond the mat!

Namaste and love,



Insomnia can deprive us of the joy of the day by creating anything from a fuzzy brain, to an agitated nervous system, to lousy digestion, to a compromised immune system. How do we get a good night’s sleep when our minds are on overdrive, and our muscles are bound up? One reason for insomnia can be that we haven’t used our legs enough during the day; when your legs are restless, it is difficult for your body to relax. If you can’t get off the “go” mode, sleep may be illusive—after all, for incessant worriers, what better time to worry than when you should be sleeping?

Here are some tips I’ve found extremely helpful when it comes to insomnia:

Once your dinner has digested, turn off all screens and do the asana practice outlined below. Then, drink a cup of chamomile tea while taking a bath with Epsom salts and lavender (drop the oil into the salt before putting in the tub, so that the oil is absorbed)—the water should be warm, not hot.

Eat a handful of nuts and take a recommended dose of magnesium and calcium. Then brush your teeth with toothpaste that doesn’t have peppermint. (Peppermint can be stimulating.) Make sure that your bed is made and your room tidy. Write down your list of “to do’s,” and anything else that you are presently worried about, and set it aside. Crawl into your bed and get comfortable.

Scan your body from head to toe (not toe to head) and notice any lingering tension. Elongate your exhalation for 25 breaths.

It sounds like a lot. But, you can do all that I have recommended in roughly 30 minutes. If you don’t have time for the entire “routine,” pick what elements are essentials for you, and don’t skip them. I can’t do without a forward bend, calcium and magnesium, a “note to self,” and a bodyscan meditation.

You owe it to yourself, your family and your co-workers. The world is a more beautiful place when you are looking through rested eyes.

Good night (and good luck). Sleep soundly and wake up refreshed, with a clear mind and a calm disposition.

 Insomnia Sequence

This sequence works the legs, releases the hamstrings and quads, dispels tension from the shoulders, and promotes the exhalation, which increases relaxation. By placing a sandbag on the shins, the calves (which are a big component in the fight-or-flight mechanism) are released.

  1.  Warrior 2 (15 breaths per side). (if you have not worked your legs during the day)
  2. Standing forward bend, legs hip distance apart, with blocks under the crown of your head (10 breaths).
  3. Lunge with the back knee on the floor. Take both hands to the inside of the front leg, bend your elbows, and release your head and neck (10 breaths per side).
  4. Standing forward bend. This time, interlace the fingers behind your back and take the arms overhead. Release your hands, change the interlace, and take your arms overhead again (5 breaths per side).
  5. Simple crossed-legged pose, sitting on a rolled up blanket. Wrap your arms in eagle pose and fold forward (5 breaths). Put the other leg in front and the other arm on top in eagle’s pose and fold forward (5 more breaths).
  6. Child’s pose with arms alongside of the body (15 breaths). If this isn’t comfortable, curl up on your side and hug knees into chest.
  7. Savasana with calves on the seat of a chair and weight on the shins. Rest the heels of your hands on your temple skin and touch the fingers together at the crown of the head (15 breaths); then rest your hands lightly on your face, covering your eyes (15 breaths); then place your hands on your belly (15 breaths). Release your arms alongside of your body and stay for another 5 minutes. (it’s best not to fall asleep here, save that for your comfy bed!)

An Author Broken Open

I had dinner with my book agent, Esther Newberg, the other evening after class in New York City. When it came time to pay, I snatched the bill, at which point Esther said, “That’s the last time you’ll pay. An agent always pays for the author.” I looked over my shoulder to see whom she might be talking to. I had never been called an author before. But I suppose an author I now am.

I turned in the final manuscript of my book to Simon & Schuster yesterday. Yesterday was the day I’ve dreamt about for the past 14 months as I sat at the kitchen table (and on buses, airplanes, and in coffee shops) pouring my life onto a Word document. Yesterday was the day I imagined in the middle of so many sleepless nights as I lay churning over the content of the book, and worrying about the friends and family I’d neglected because the project was so all-inclusive. And then yesterday came.

So why don’t I feel relieved? Why haven’t I grabbed a bottle of champagne and invited friends over to celebrate? Why didn’t I sleep like a baby last night, and instead had frightening dreams of rejection from loved and respected people in my life? Why have I cried over every little thing for the last 24 hours—from a tire commercial to a stranger telling me that she liked what I was wearing?

I am broken open. I guess my lesson, once again, is to sit with this vulnerability and not run away.

The last time I went to a bookstore, I walked up and down the aisles in amazement that every one of those writers went through this process of heart-wrenching soul searching, deciding what from their lives to turn into print. I would love to ask them how they felt when the manuscript was turned in. In the meantime, if you call me today, I will cry and tell you how much I love you. I will wait patiently for the relief and satisfaction of saying I wrote a book. I am now an author.

On Sale June 2

Available now for pre-order now
in trade paperback and ebook editions:

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Apple iBooks | Indie Bound | BAM! | Google Play