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Guest Posts, Yoga, Yoga Classes

The Arena

May 27, 2016
yoga

By Anne Falkowski

My car flies at breakneck speed to make a yoga class. The sun spanks my eyes.

Its anonymity I seek. To be a body in a flock of bodies where none have crossed my path before. To be a cut-out swatch, side by side, without being pinned to any other. To complete a pattern. To be random. To fall. To float. To fly. To flutter. To feel.

To fight.

No, I have not come to the yoga mat to fight but I just realized I placed my mat next to someone I used to know. Someone I had a fight with. A public fight. I was left beaten, covered in my own invisible feathers. Maybe time has a way of making us more than we were.

It’s too late to move.

It’s subtle how we recognize the past. I knew it was her because of a curve of her skin and an angle of her cheek. The space she took up and the space she didn’t. The negative space of her. Nothing definite. Each of us carry our imprint of the other.

***

It’s been a few years. Does she know it’s me? Does she see my new tattoo spread across half my back? A blue goddess, covered in teeth and snakes. She holds a dagger.

I look down at my legs, one thigh folded over the other, my feet bare, aware that I haven’t showered in two days. My period is on its way. I smell it like moss, sticks, and bits of feather.

Her eyes are closed. Pretend rapture, I’m sure.

I want my blue goddess to aim her dagger between those eyes.

S. is attractive. Dark hair and eyes, tall and thin. Has six-pack abs. When she used to teach yoga at the studio I own, students would comment on how they wanted a stomach like hers. My hands go down and squeeze the flesh of mine which has been through too many rounds of weight gains and losses. My hands amass silvery webbed flesh with a slit for a belly button. Some would say a trophy.

Shit, I thought I was better than THIS. I had let all THIS go. Maybe old demons need to air their foul breath out of pursed lips to remind us what we have not completely digested. Maybe they need to tongue rattle.

I close my eyes. I draw my breath up to my collarbones where it lingers. I purposely hold it there. I watch the pause and wait for it to right me. It kind of does. On the exhale, the breath floods my belly. A wind sound fills the back of my skull. My jaw bones soften. I am finding my way back to what needs my attention. Back to now. Now is breath and sensation.

A yoga teacher once told me: Feed your demons. A strategy for not having them eat you.

Do you need to know the story between S. and me? Does it matter? Did it ever? Maybe I need to tell it.  Maybe the need is why it matters.

The climax of the fight takes place at my studio, three years ago, in the hallway, among carefully placed pairs of shoes. Mostly flip-flops and sandals. The bodies that go in the shoes are inside the yoga room, on their backs, their knees roll to one side and then the other, in a guided knee-down twist.

S. is my studio’s most popular teacher. She has stepped out of the room she is teaching in, and has grabbed my arm. For a brief moment, I think she is in pain. But no, it’s something else, hot and insistent. Her mouth moves open and shut, open and shut. Words come out and spill on the cork floor. Something about quitting, opening her own yoga studio less than a mile away, and taking with her as many students as possible.

I ask her why. She tells me, “You need to look inside. Do some searching. Ask yourself why no one respects you.”

NO ONE RESPECTS YOU…NO ONE RESPECTS…NO ONE…YOU….YOU…YOU….

Her bobbed black hair swings this way and that and her lips get redder as she speaks. Now the students are on their backs with knees bent, feet on floor. They push into their feet and lift hips and torsos up to the ceiling. Their necks are extensions of their spines. Little spines in neat rows. Up and down they go. An assembly line of ribs expand and contract like the small bodies of birds breathing.

YOU NEED TO LOOK INSIDE….

How fucking dare she?

Seeing red is a real thing.

Red is the color of heat,

the tongue.

I have never been able to speak up to her or anyone at my studio.

She tells whomever will listen I am jealous of the amount of students she draws in.

She says she is the reason my studio is a success.

She tells others not to take yoga from me, that I’m not a real yogi.

I secretly wonder if she’s right.

Red is the color of shame.

Deal with red.

I’ve done yoga with weapons. At a workshop. We were meditating on death, while we flowed through standing poses. A live drum pulsed in the room. The space between hitting the drum and the sound it makes is called Spanda. In Sanskrit, Spanda means pulse of the universe. The beat of your heart is called Anahata. It means unstruck sound.

The teacher put various weapons in our hands. In Warrior One, he gave me a staff. I felt nothing. In Goddess Pose, he changed out the staff for a sword, still nothing. Then a loaded pistol, black and heavy. He curled his slim fingers around my hand. Our wrists touched one another. Still no response. Then the dagger. In my hands in Warrior Two. Front knee bent and my bare feet pushing into the ground. There. There it was. The right weight. Its size surprisingly small. My throat opens and the drum beat burrows deep into my hip sockets. My body electrifies. A familiarity. A knowing.

I’ve killed with a dagger. More than once.

Knife-wield, wing-flap, tongue-dance, bone-beat, heart-beat, drum-beat, red rhythm, ancient ones I have known.

Always known.

We don’t make eye contact, S. and me, as the teacher calls out poses in the heated room, and sweat pours from my hair-line. S. was never one to break a sweat but not because she doesn’t work hard. For a few poses, I forget about S.  It’s only me and the rise and fall of my breath in the forest of others, my body folded in half. A silvery belly I am. A long spine I am, making it expand and contract to lightly cage me, to hold me lover-like.

At the end of class, before final resting period, the teacher brings us onto our backs and talks us up into wheel pose. A pose where you bend your knees, feet on the floor, bring your hands behind your shoulders and press up making a big upside down U shape with your spine. It moves stuck energy.

Out of the corner of my eye, I watch S. She pushes up into wheel with me. For a few breaths we are holding together in sync. We are both strong. But then she pushes herself up off her hands to standing. A move requiring huge amounts of leg and back strength.

I know, right there, she is competing with me. Wanting to show me what she can do, just like I wanted her to see my tattoo. For a moment, I feel nothing but awe.

She does five of these. They are called wheel drop backs. A pose I cannot do, but oddly I do not feel less than. I witness each one while I hold my own, more moderate wheel, the one the teacher is guiding. My legs shake in their own right. My boneless tongue curls and presses up against my soft palate.

The yogis believe emotions are manifestation of energy. They purposely raised animal energy: anger, jealousy, lust, shame, and fear. And then they sat in it. Don’t move, don’t flinch. The more you bring up animal energy, the ones that throw you the most, the more you breathe into them and feel them and face them, the more you will learn to ride bareback.

After wheel, we go into final relaxation.

Ten minutes later, the teacher tells us to slowly awaken our bodies. My ritual is to hold every part of me still except to slowly move my tongue side to side. My red tongue, the color of the earthworm, a creature who can regrow segments of themselves when they need to. In this liminal space after yoga, the parts of me which have been cut off, banished, damaged, or lost, have regenerated. Only now, they are different, not exactly the same. They’ve reinvented.

I sit up and wait for S.

I’m not sure what will happen.

Nothing does.

S. remains on her back, covered in a blanket, a small silky pillow stretched across her eyes. I sit there, with my legs tucked under me, until everyone else is almost gone. It becomes obvious she’s not going to get up. She will stay like this forever, covered and motionless, if she has to.

I don’t want her to have to.

I roll up my mat and walk away.

A dagger inked on my back.

My body feels light and full at the same time.

I could take flight off the ground.

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Anne Falkowski is a yoga teacher/workshop leader and a wannabe writer. She has published numerous articles on yoga and body image.  She can be reached at director@samadhiyogastudio.com

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Join Jen Pastiloff in Tuscany Sep 17-24, 2016. There are 5 spaces left. This will be her only international retreat in 2016 and is her favorite retreat of the year. Email barbara@jenniferpastiloff.com asap. More info here. Must email first to sign up.

 

Join founder Jen Pastiloff for a weekend retreat at Kripalu Center in Western Massachusetts Feb 19-21, 2016. Get ready to connect to your joy, manifest the life of your dreams, and tell the truth about who you are. This program is an excavation of the self, a deep and fun journey into questions such as: If I wasn’t afraid, what would I do? Who would I be if no one told me who I was? Jennifer Pastiloff, creator of Manifestation Yoga and author of the forthcoming Girl Power: You Are Enough, invites you beyond your comfort zone to explore what it means to be creative, human, and free—through writing, asana, and maybe a dance party or two! Jennifer’s focus is less on yoga postures and more on diving into life in all its unpredictable, messy beauty. Note Bring a journal, an open heart, and a sense of humor. Click the photo to sign up.

depression, Guest Posts, Yoga Classes, Young Voices

Sometimes Smoothies and Yoga Aren’t Enough

January 20, 2016

By Emma Faesi Hudelson

I suffer from depression and lately, my mat has felt like a life raft. Not in a “yoga is saving my life” way. Not even in a “my practice is the only thing keeping me sane” way. It’s a life raft because I feel like I’ve been shipwrecked in the middle of the ocean, and if I don’t hang on to my raft, I’m going to drown.

Depression feels like roadkill looks. Unless I’m in the middle of one of my sobbing spells, I may look OK, but internally, I’m flat and messy as that raccoon I saw on my way to the grocery store this morning, all bared teeth and gaping guts.

When my brain gets like this, my practice changes. Sometimes, it becomes the only bright spot in my days. I look forward to it, even if everything else sucks. My mat is a place of refuge. I may not know if I’ll make it through my day without snapping at my husband or crying because I got hummus on my shirt, but I know I can inhale, exhale, and take a goddamn vinyasa.

More commonly, practice becomes a chore when I’m depressed. It’s another dreaded task on in infinite list. When brushing my teeth feels like an impossible effort, spending ninety minutes jumping around, folding, and twisting seems laughable. Even on those days, I’m sometimes able to force my way through it all, and I usually feel better for it, even if my body is so knotted with emotion that I can barely touch my toes.

The physical part of yoga does help. Working up a sweat means that exercise-induced endorphins release into my bloodstream, giving me a temporary mood boost. Breathing deeply soothes my nervous system. Backbends energize my emotions. The three closing lotuses give me a chance to consciously open a channel to God.

I know all this, but sometimes, I still can’t force myself to practice. Those days are the worst. Not only do I feel so bleak inside that I’m praying I get T-boned by a semi on my way to work, but I can’t do the one thing that I know will make me feel better. It’s hard not to beat myself up. Continue Reading…

Free Stuff, Inspiration, Yoga, Yoga Classes

The Time to Be Holy is Now.

December 24, 2012

Christmas Eve morning. I taught my last yoga class this morning before I head off to London.

Class this morning was holy. It was sacred and I don’t care if you are religious or not, it was a moment in time where connection was possible, and not only possible, but rampant.

Where love was there in the room and no one questioned its presence, no one doubted it’s intention or wondered Will you stay?

The class moved like we’d rehearsed (we hadn’t.)

That’s what happens when you allow things to flow, you find yourself all of a sudden in synch with your own life. You find that everything is easy and it may not always be easy but right now in this moment, it is easy. And that feels holy and right.

The class this morning was quiet and powerful and full of laughter and I thought what a gift, what a gift, over and over as I led them through the postures. What a gift I get to meet these people on this day. On any day! What are the odds that with all the billions of people we get to meet? To move together? What are the odds? Now, that’s holy.

I asked the room: “How many of you have had moments of insurmountable joy this past year?”

Many raised their hands.

And then, “How many of you have had unspeakable heartbreak and/or loss in 2012?”

Many raised their hands.

“You see” I said “They always go hand in hand.”

There was a 50/50 spilt right down the center. Perhaps it veered more towards the joy. Perhaps it veered more towards the pain. Either way.

How holy that we meet on this day. That we meet at all. That we connect. That we can say I stood here. I prayed here.

That we can say I was here at all.

What a gift that I was able to be part of that class this morning.

 The time is now.

Move forward from where you are. Take with you the little bits of happiness and the shards of hurt too, if you want, if you want to remember all of it, but move forward, because the time is now.

The time is now to turn inward and see what I see. (You won’t see it exactly the way I see it. That’s okay. It’s not really meant for you that way. Your beauty is for you to give away) but what I am saying is that you must know it’s there.

You must trust its there. You must put on your coat and walk into the light or into the snow or into the house with the fireplace and a glass of wine waiting there and you must know that the time is now to leave the darkness behind.

It ebbs and flows. You can count on that. There might be moments or years where you feel the darkness descending and, when that happens, remember what it felt like to be connected. To be light. To be holy. Or call me. I will remind you. (I hope you extend the same for me because Lord knows, I ebb and flow the hell out of life.)

Remember being in synch. What that felt like. Remember what it felt like to move in time with someone next to you, someone who maybe you’ve never met and will never meet again and if only for that brief moment who you moved with, like you were attached. Like you were connected.

It’s always there even when we forget that it is.

That is why I love yoga. That is why I will never ever stop teaching yoga even as I pair down my schedule and teach less.

The time is now to be holy.

Can you feel it? Can you hear it cracking, that shell around your heart? White as moon and made of the bones of your past? The bones may lay in a heap, and, if you let them, they will slowly rise and trail off for some dinner. They will leave you alone.

They won’t forget you nor you them, but they will soften the grip they have on you. Their fists opening, your heart fluttering away.

Now is the time.

Happy Holidays. I love you guys. Thank you. Stay connected. Stay open. Loosen your grip.

(Enjoy 10 free days of online yoga classes with me by using code jenp10 at YogisAnonymous.com)

Thanks Jenni Young as usual.

Thanks Jenni Young as usual.

Yoga Classes

Take a Yoga Class With Jen No Matter Where You Are!

November 13, 2012

I am not sure if you guys knew this but I have a weekly online yoga class via Yogis Anonymous, a lovely studio in Santa Monica. All the classes are archived and you can take them whenever you want. Each class has a different theme. Happy yoga’ing and let me know what you think!

Here is the link http://yogisanonymous.com/yoga-video-library.php?teacher=Jennifer+Pastiloff

Click picture to watch an online class with me. There are 8 to choose from!

For those of you that practice with me regularly, these are good for when I travel.

Love to you all. Wish every single one of you was coming to Bali with me xojp

 

 

Delight, Yoga Classes

Look For The Whee In Everything!

September 17, 2012

whee interjection ˈhwē, ˈwē

Definition of WHEE

—used to express delight or exuberance

I have a few quirks as a yoga teacher. I have some rules. One of them, which you all know by now is: If you fall you must laugh.

Rod Stweart’s wife Penny and I for a filming of Karaoke Yoga for the British show Lorraine. She liked my rule! We laughed a lot.

Another one: You are not allowed to take YOURSELF seriously.

And then there’s: when you are hopping up and attempting a handstand you must yell “wheeee!” 

There are a few reasons behind this. One is this: try and say Whee without smiling.

See. I told you. You can’t.

In a land where most of us (read:me) take ourselves too seriously, and especially our yoga, a little smiling can go a long way. A little light heartedness to go with the light footedness.

The whee brings the joy back, the silliness, and the idea that this is not as serious as I am probably making it out to be.

It also helps you lose any self-consciousness (much as my Karaoke Yoga® class does.)

So here is the question: Can you find the Whee in all you do?

Where is the whee?

Reminds me of that awful 80’s commercial: Where’s the beef?

Look for the whee in everything.

Even in what can be perceived as a stressful situation, there is a Whee lurking somewhere. Maybe it is just laughing at ourselves for a moment.

I love when I get messages from people who move away or can no longer take my class and they say things like: I miss the Whee!

Why shouldn’t there be more Whee?

I am not suggesting you don’t take your job seriously or your yoga practice. I am suggesting you (read: me again) stop taking yourself so seriously!

Most of us are desperate for more joy, more connection, more Wheeeeeeeee!

Post below your Whee of the day.

Must have at least on Whee a day says ancient Chinese proverb!

Wheee! Filming for CBS The Doctors at Equinox! We had a lot of Wheees!

Q & A Series, Yoga Classes

Lara Heimann of Yoga Stream. The Manifestation Q&A Series.

April 16, 2012

Welcome to The Manifestation Q&A Series. 

I am Jennifer Pastiloff and this series is designed to introduce the world to someone I find incredible. Someone who is manifesting their dreams on a daily basis.

I am honored to call today’s guest a dear friend. I don’t meet strangers anymore. I only meet old friends. Lara Heimann, the creator of Yoga Stream, is one of them.

When I found out my Mexico retreat in February was going to be shared with another yoga teacher I felt a bit nervous. I had never done that before. And, she was from New Jersey? Yikes! (That’s a joke folks. I grew up in Jersey.)

I met Lara and instantly fell in love. (Another lesson for me in TRUST.) There was absoloutely no separation between her group and mine. It truly was magical. It was ease-filled, joy-filled, laughter-filled. I credit that to Lara. The group she brought with her were dedicated, loyal, kind and funny. Watching how they interacted with her, I knew I had to get to know her better.

So that’s what I did.

Last week I taught a workshop in Philly and Lara drove all the way from Princeton to come! It was such an honor to have her their. Then, a few of her students came to my NYC workshops. She then drove again to NYC to take me to an amazing vegan restaurant.

I love meeting family I never knew I had until I meet them.

Lara Heimann lives in Princeton folks, but she leads retreats and workshops all over. She is also about to lead her first ever teacher training and if I was closer I would do it. No questions asked.

She is a teacher to the core. She is a fierce momma, friend and wife. Get to know this loving vegan and you will fall in love, as I did.

Next time you are on the east coast, go find her!

You will not be sorry.

The gorgeous Lara. Check out her yoga classes/workshops/retreats!

Jennifer Pastiloff: What are you most proud to have manifested in your life?

Lara Heimann: I am most proud of manifesting an intentional life in which my values and actions are in harmony. I try to live in accordance with the golden rule: treat others as you would want to be treated. This principle encompasses kindness to all beings and reverence for the environment. Professionally, I chose a health- related career first as a physical therapist and then as a yoga teacher because I love working with people and seeing them improve physically and mentally. In my personal life, striving to be intentional led me to become vegan (over 10 years ago) and an active animal advocate, get certified as a natural foods chef, and build an eco-green sustainable home with my husband. We are raising our children to be mindful, compassionate and intentional beings- they are daily reminders to walk my talk and do it with humility, clarity and gratitude.

Jennifer Pastiloff: What’s the greatest lesson that you have learned from being a teacher?

Lara Heimann: I don’t need to solve problems, be perfect, or know everything; I just need to teach intelligently and intuitively, securely hold a space in which people can experience whatever yoga brings up, and then guide, support, encourage, and celebrate them.

From being a mom?

Lara Heimann: Genuineness is everything. Kids are little radar detectors who can sniff out inauthenticity. My kids make me speak, live, and act with integrity and clarity because my thoughts and actions are mirrored in their own behavior.

From your own yoga practice?

Lara Heimann: My yoga practice has taught me the importance of patience, perseverance, commitment, determination and humor. I am so much better in life because of my steady yoga practice. Like other aspects in life, a huge part of my learning occurs just because I decide to show up.

From owning your own studio?

Lara Heimann: Committing my vision to practice and making that vision a reality is extremely powerful. My home studio arose organically- people started to request classes after I stopped my large public classes (shortly after giving birth to my daughter.) I began to teach small classes in my original home studio and loved teaching there so much that I created an expanded studio in our newly built home exactly as I wanted. Owning my own studio has taught me a different type of commitment. I need to be fully present every class to give of my time, energy, creativity and knowledge. As a result, I have cultivated a joyous business that is fueled by my amazing students.

Jennifer Pastiloff: Who has been your greatest teacher?

Lara Heimann: My mother, in her own subtle way, has been my greatest teacher. Since my father had a busy surgical practice, she dedicated herself to being the primary caregiver to four kids (I have an older brother and am a triplet!) While raising us was a “wonderful adventure”, I know that she also felt ambivalent about not having a career outside the home and strongly encouraged me to be able to stand on my own two feet. Her example and advice have informed the way that I live- fully committing to my family while also feeding my personal ambition and passion.

While I have had many wonderful yoga mentors, Ana Forrest stands out as one who was pivotal in transforming my personal practice and teaching philosophy. She emphasizes focusing on the core and having a “no bullshit” approach in your teaching. Although our personalities and styles are quite different, these principles resonate in my practice and my classes.

Lara chillin' on her car.

Jennifer Pastiloff: Who/what inspires you the most?

Lara Heimann: When I need inspiration, my good friend, Gene Baur, always comes to mind. As the co-founder of Farm Sanctuary, which is dedicated to rescuing farm animals from horrible situations, he educates the public about the realities of factory farming, and lobbies for legislation to protect these sentient beings. Gene travels most of the year, working tirelessly to speak for the voiceless, and is relentless, yet compassionate when meeting people from all sides of the issue. He is a modern-day Gandhi and I am inspired by his commitment, his passion, and his kindness; he has seen the worst of humanity and yet has eternal belief in the innate goodness of mankind. Gene has truly made me more compassionate and committed in my own life.

( www.farmsanctuary.org and www.genebaur.com)

Jennifer Pastiloff: YogaStream. Can you share with us a bit about the birth of YogaStream and what it is. 

Lara Heimann: Yogastream was created out of my love for the flow and my drive to delve deeper. Movement has always fueled me and inspires my sequencing with its’ limitless possibilities. In addition to the classic asanas, I add some flavorful moves from dance, physical therapy exercises, and even my son’s Taekwondo! I chose the name YogaStream because streams conjure up images that resonate with me: movement, fluidity, life, nature, beauty, and power. We all have an innate current of strength, and my aim is to tap into this reservoir with each practice. A YogaStream class starts with core work and inversions to improve strength and ready the body for the flow. Inversions bring an unique challenge, making us face our fears while getting comfortable on our hands. During the flow, inversions can be integrated and a series of mini vinyasas are ultimately streamed together for a longer, energetic flow.

YogaStream classes are physically challenging in a meaningful way- by fortifying the core and becoming more centered, life off the mat improves. YogaStream classes are all-encompassing: they increase strength, flexibility, and endurance while calming the mind. My students often talk of how this style of yoga has made them clearer, both mentally and spiritually, more courageous, confident, driven, and compassionate.

Lara flying high in Mexico where we met!

Jennifer Pastiloff: What was your favorite part about leading your Mexico retreat?

Lara Heimann: The retreat in Mexico was awesome because I had wonderful participants, many of whom are my students in Princeton. To be able to watch them deepen their yoga practices and then spend more time with them outside of yoga was truly a joy. I loved observing them change from slightly worried and frazzled the first day (leaving kids, some for the first time, family,etc.) to happy, content and blissful the next day. And at night, that festive energy continued as we let it rip with some dancing and singing! Of course, it was icing on the cake to meet you:-)

Jennifer Pastiloff: If you weren’t teaching yoga, what would you be doing?

Lara Heimann: I would be running some kind of animal rescue/ sanctuary. My daughter and I volunteer at a local animal shelter and I am always fueled by the experience. My heart swells when I see how animals forgive their past situations and open up to kindness.

Jennifer Pastiloff: I know you are a vegetarian and as far as I can tell, a pretty awesome chef. Can you share with us your favorite go-to dinner or any other fabulous things you have come up with?

Lara Heimann: I have been vegan for 10 1/2 years and in that time, I have truly learned how to cook. Before kids, I was very good at boiling pasta and grilling veggie burgers, but aspired to be more healthy, knowledgeable and creative in the kitchen. I went on to graduate from the Natural Kitchen Cooking School, and learned so much about intuitive cooking.

One of my go to recipes is Raw Kale Salad. I have the recipe on my FB page, “Lara Heimann Yoga and Wellness” (http:// www.facebook.com/YogaStream). It’s so finger-lickin’ good that my son will eat 3-4 bowls of it at a time!!

Jennifer Pastiloff: Some words you live by?

Lara Heimann: I have a quote on my kitchen dry-erase board : Be good to yourself. Be excellent with others. Do everything with love. I strive to live that motto. Growing up, I also had a Nadia Comaneci poster that made an indelible mark on me. It is a picture of her holding a ridiculously difficult pose. At the bottom of the poster is this quote: Do not pray for an easy life. Pray to be a strong person.

Wow- so powerful! The poster is now in my daughter’s room and I hope that the message will imprint on her too.

So…. my words: “Be kind. Be good. Be strong. Be thankful. Work hard. Play hard. Have fun. Please don’t whine!”

Jennifer Pastiloff: I heard you are going to start leading teacher trainings. Where can we find about more about your teacher trainings and workshops?

Lara Heimann: Here is information about my 200 hour Yoga Alliance teacher training that starts in September in Princeton, NJ. It will be highly experiential, with an emphasis on understanding the body, alignment, and how to create and sequence a really rocking flow!

Click here for more info on Yoga Stream’s teacher training.

Jennifer Pastiloff: I teach many of my classes to the theme of gratitude. If you could say thank you right now to one person who would it be?

Lara Heimann: My husband. He is the epitome of giving. My life is made easier and richer every day because of him. He supports me, cheers me, challenges me and loves me fully and without holding back. He is my biggest cheerleader and really makes me want to be the best for myself, my family, and my work. I feel immense gratitude for him and the life we have created together. (And he is hilarious and super cute!!)

Jennifer Pastiloff: What is one message you would pass on right now to someone looking to manifest his/her best self?

Lara Heimann: Quiet the chatter in your mind and feel with your heart. Find what stirs your soul, pulls on your heartstrings, and makes you happy and then JUST DO IT. We only have one life to live. I am guided by the line “life is not a dress rehearsal.” As a physical therapist, I spent years working with older people and the biggest regret many of them had was not doing more of what they loved and listening too much to their own doubts. These old souls also taught me to appreciate my health and so I do, every day! At the end of each practice, I say a little mantra ” May I be good in life and may life be good to me. Thank you thank you for my health.”

In order to manifest your best self- feel your passion, let it guide and inspire you, and appreciate the path.

Jennifer Pastiloff: What brings you the most joy? Your joy list, as it were.

Lara Heimann: My family- both human and animal; my friends (both new and old); books; strong, black coffee in the morning; a handstand that floats; my children’s giggles and hilarious conversations; long walks in the woods behind my house; travel; meeting new and interesting people; teaching yoga; cooking a lovely meal; eating at my favorite vegan restaurants; sports; belly laughter; couch snuggles with my hubby, kids, and/or cats; being with animals; creating a new flow; dancing; dark chocolate….

Jennifer Pastiloff: Tell us a bit about Princeton – your community. From what I saw in Mexico you have a strong following.

Lara Heimann: Wow! It is hard to put into words how fortunate I am to have such a strong, loving, dedicated group of yogis. They are a wide mix of ages and backgrounds. I have had a few who have been practicing with me for over 10 years and have celebrated many milestones with me, both personal and professional. My students are universally supportive of each other. Because of the more intimate setting (max. of 10 people per class), everyone gets to be cheered and encouraged. There is no competition or ego- just an energy of inspiration, validation, and enthusiasm. I have virtually no rules in my studio because I don’t need them- I set the standard high with what I give and in return, my students give their best. I feel so privileged to be the captain of this ship of outstanding people, who are committed, supportive, and grateful.

Jennifer Pastiloff: Has your teaching and your own practice changed at all over the years? If so, can you describe how?

Lara Heimann: I have been teaching for 15 years and used to teach without as much intention or detail. Fortunately, my background in fitness and as a physical therapist helped me be safe but my creativity and detail have grown the most over the past 5-7 years. What resonates with me is to connect with my physical and spiritual core. As my own practice has strengthened and my style has become more innovative and intuitive, I have had many more breakthroughs. My goal with my teaching and with my own practice is to journey toward this physical (and ultimately spiritual) core and become more centered, strong,clear, and energetically alive.

Jennifer Pastiloff: When is the last time you laughed at yourself?

Lara Heimann: I laughed a few hours ago when I had to do a voice over for a video. I was sounding very robotic so my husband and I started doing silly voices. Laughter is so important in my life- my husband makes me laugh every day (all it takes is some toilet humor!) And I laugh a lot when I am teaching. In my own practice, there is nothing like a good giggle after doing a lovely face plant! Even if we are intense in our practice, we can’t take it too seriously 🙂

Jennifer Pastiloff: Where will your next retreat be?

Lara Heimann: I am going back to Mexico next winter and am looking at different places to explore too, including bike riding/ yoga in Spain and maybe a yoga retreat with a certain lovely Cali gal! (That would be me, dear readers. Me, as in Jen Pastiloff.)

Jennifer Pastiloff: Where can we find more of Lara?

Lara Heimann: Website: www.yogastream.net

Facebook page: www.facebook.com/YogaStream

I am starting to teach more workshops outside of New Jersey and in addition to more retreats, I am planning a video series that will enable people to have multiple flows with different levels to ensure challenge, fun, and diversity!

Also I am coming out to California at the end of August so I will keep you posted.


Raw Kale Salad ( adapted from Latham Thomas)

Place in blender (Vita-Mix is my pick!)
2 cups of cashews, water to cover and soften
1 Tbsp tahini
1-2 fresh lemons, squeezed
2 -3 Tbsp Shoyu Soy Sauce
2 Tbsp Agave
1 Tbsp minced ginger ( I use more!)
1 Tbsp Curry
Blend until smooth, add water if too thick and spread over chopped dino kale ( 2 bunches), 1-2 cups sliced green olives, 1 cup hemp seeds and diced carrots or bell pepper. Mix it up and munch away!Another easy recipe for Curry in a Hurry ( Lara’s name for it)
Saute 1 onion, 2-3 cloves garlic and add sea salt and 1/2 -1 Tbsp curry
Add 1 bag frozen or 5 cups raw organic spinach and cook for 5 minutes
Add 1 can (or 2 cups) cooked chickpeas
Add 1 can of light coconut milk
Simmer for 5 more minutes and serve over brown rice.
Lara’s Oil-Free Hummus:
3–4 cups of cooked chickpeas ( approximately 2 cans)
1 Tbsp tahini
2-3 cloves garlic
1/2-3/4 Tbsp cumin- I use a lot!
3/4 Tbsp sea salt
freshly ground pepper
lemon juice from 1 lemon
water as needed
Blend in Cuisinart and add more seasoning( salt, pepper, cumin) as desired.
I also will omit the lemon and use orange juice and little or no water for a different, yummy taste! I have even thrown a whole Clementine :-)”
Lara and I in Mexico