Friday, March 23, 2012

Why curly yogi?

I named my blog curly yogi for many reasons but the most obvious reason is, I have curly hair. (While we are discussing name choice, I do know that yogi is traditionally male but being a modern feminist I thought what the heck) Why is this so significant you ask? Why is having curly hair so different? Well on a very practical level it is not at all, but for many people, me included, our hair (and our appearance in general) can have a huge impact on our lives. Having curly hair was not the norm in a small privileged New England private school and instantly I felt very different from all the other flaxen haired lovelies I shared a playground with. Whether perceived or real I frequently felt like an outsider. How could hair do that you ask? How could I be so shallow? These small things matter when you are young, and other kids certainly don’t hesitate to let you know. Although hard for me at the time this feeling of being the other was actually a gift. I may not have been able to whip my hair in and out of ponytails in class as some form of pubescent flirtation or let my hair out in a car with the windows down (for fear of it getting so huge it would consume everyone else in the vehicle) but I was forced to cultivate an outsider mentality which means I had to look elsewhere for acceptance. I thrived in the arts, after school programs, camps etc. and slowly began to value what I had to offer even though I did not come in a familiar package. Being intellectually rebellious, constantly questioning the status quo and looking for answers not declarations was how my brain worked. It made perfect sense that when I hit the yoga mat the path of a yogi seemed both familiar and exhilarating. As silly as it may sound, my curls helped me cultivate a rebellious outsider’s spirit that landed me on a mat and turned my life upside down (ha ha, inversion joke). To all curlies, or anyone who feels different, once you hit the mat you begin realize that we are all the same. Namaste

Monday, March 12, 2012

A special anniversary...

Dear devoted readers,

It has been such a long time since I have posted anything and now is the time I come back to my practice of writing and sharing!

It has been an amazing year since I attended Yoga Teacher Training at Kripalu, (not to mention the exciting fact that I now work there, hooray!). Not only did my month of living and learning at Kripalu help me make the changes necessary to move and start a new life but it helped me to uncover things that were already there; richness and joy that in the past I would have overlooked but now savor. Happiness is in reality relative and the more we can come to terms with this the happier we will be.

What an amazing journey this year has been!

Jai Bhagwan!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Holding The Pose

‘In order to lengthen a muscle in the long term, we must hold a position for a minimum of 30 seconds. In each bundle of muscles cells is a sensory nerve called the muscle spindle sensory nerve. Its function is to sense when a muscle is being stretched beyond its capacity. When the muscle spindle nerve senses danger, it sends a message to the spinal cord, which in turn sends a message through the muscle’s motor neurons to protect the muscle by shortening it. After 30 seconds, the muscle spindle nerve habituates to its new length and no longer sends a message of distress to the spinal cord. This allows the muscle to maintain its length.’ - Charlotte Bell

First of all, the human body never ceases to amaze me. It is so intelligent, resilient and awe inspiring. What goes on beneath our skin is more complex than any thought or action we may consciously partake in during the day. Second, like all things in yoga, this is such a perfect metaphor. Stay with the sensation. It may not be pleasant but if you stay with it, there will come resolution and acceptance. Pema Chodron often discusses this. When we have feelings that society has deemed as "bad" we often run away from them. We numb out (with drugs/alcohol), we distract ourselves with entertainment and we run away from our truth. By doing so we cause a myriad of issues and not only will the underlying issue not go away, but it will exponentially grow. As my mother said to me this morning "depression is simply blocked emotion" and I think she is absolutely correct.

So many of our ills are because we don't stay with the pain, ride the wave and breathe. I promise you it will pass. Either physical or emotional.

There is one necessary element in this that I have not yet mentioned which is knowing your limits. Now this is different from absolute statements about who you are/what kind of person you have convinced yourself you are... it is about knowing your edge. We talk about your edge in yoga a lot... but knowing your internal, emotional, edge is equally important. This idea of staying with the pain or difficult emotion is different from purposefully inflicting pain on yourself or wallowing in negative thoughts or self pity. As in all things, allow your inner knowledge to guide you in this matter.

At my YTT at Kripalu I betrayed my inner voice and allowed ego to take over at the very begging of the program. I took a pose too deep and re-injured my lower back which ultimately meant I had to ease up for the first half of the month-long program. Knowing your limits is hard and sometimes we will fail... but the lesson I learned was more valuable. There is no need to reside in pain for some higher goal or purpose.

In closing, don't run away from discomfort but know the distinct difference between making friends with your edge and crossing that line into pain and self denial. It is a tricky dance, but one that will help you grow and expand your practice and your mind.

Much love and namaste,


Friday, July 8, 2011

Come check out my first regular class! Details below...

My father (Chris) and his partner Gary have generously offered their salon to me and this finally gives me a space to start my own weekly classes! Yay! It will be mixed levels (all are welcome) and a laid back, easy atmosphere. Just what we all need after a hot summer day, some meditation and moderate asanas to wind down :)

Email me with any questions or to reserve a spot! Each class can only take about 6 students so it is a good idea to call ahead, but drop ins are great too!

Cant wait to see you all!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011


One of the handiest and easiest tools that Yoga can provide for our daily lives is BRFWA (pronounced "briff-wah") which stands for Breathe, Relax, Feel, Watch, Allow. My fellow Kripalu graduates and yogis of all stripes can attest to the amazing results of following these simple steps.
Take any situation which may create anxiety, fear, anger, frustration, liberally apply BRFWA and instantly these yucky emotions clear and your true emotions come to the foreground.
For example, I am not too fond of elevators. The tight quarters and jerky movements make me terribly nervous. If I breathe my heart rate slows, I relax and the knots in my tummy subside, I feel the physical sensations which get me out of my head, I watch myself from that compassionate witness seat and allow the true emotions (which are that I am not in control of the situation) to come to the fore. At the end of the day my fear of elevators is really a larger fear of being out of the drivers seat. My physical wellbeing in that moment relies on engineers, repair people and operators who I have never met and for me that is nerve wracking. However, life is about accepting those things that we cannot control, from the mundane elevator rides to the horrible acts of nature (like the recent tornadoes) to the wondrous mishaps that make our days worthwhile (like seeing baby geese waddle around their mama). It is a package deal and why not use BRFWA to get through the parts we are not so fond of...
And that is the power of BRFWA. Go try it! Or just take the stairs ;)

Friday, March 25, 2011

Welcome! Jai! Namaste! Peace!

Welcome to Curly Yogi, a blog where I (Caroline) will post yoga related info and my teaching schedule/availability. Keep checking back for more or subscribe to be automatically updated!
With love and gratitude,
The Curly Yogi