TREE POSE - Stand on one leg, pressing the foot evenly in the ground, deeply rooted in the earth, elongate through the spine, extending your arms into the air like branches of a tree reaching toward the sun.  This pose helps keep you balanced.
WARRIOR POSE - Stand with the front leg bent at a 90 degree angle, knee over the ankle.  The back foot turned in at an angle, press into the heel of the extended leg.  Reach the arms out, paralell to the ground.  Like a warrior, fight for what you believe in.  This pose helps make you strong. 

About

I started out as a dancer and performed in musical theater and numerous film and television productions.  Falling in love with the filmmaking process, I believed that media could provoke people to think.  Pursuing my bachelors degree in Theater Arts, Film and Television at CSULA I graduated cum laude while working my way up the ranks of the Hollywood studio system.  Branching out on my own, I raised equity financing and produced several independent motion pictures which toured the film festival circuit and went on to win numerous awards.  

 

Finding I had an affinity for the business and legal side of the entertainment industry, I enrolled in the Paralegal program at UCLA.  Upon graduation, I joined the legal department at New Line Cinema.  It was a great job where I was very fortunate to be mentored by some of the brightest legal minds in the industry. However, it was not without its stress and that is when I began practicing yoga.

 

I always had a love for the great outdoors and started going on yoga retreats for all my vacation and free time to eco friendly centers in foreign locals to unplug and recharge.  I prefer quaint lodges on the road less traveled than chain hotels and jumbo sized tourist resorts.  I find that practicing yoga and hiking in exotic places helps me to connect with my intuition.  I made a promise to myself that each year I would travel to a new sacred place so that by the time I die I would have traveled the world.  

 

I have always been involved with various non-profit orgs and have volunteered for years with Hollygrove Children's Home, Heal The Bay, Sierra Club, Friends of Ballona Wetlands, and numerous other foundations.  On one particular yoga trip to Villa Suyma in Lake Atitlan, Guatemala, I went on a trek through a remote village with my fellow explorers. Like so many poor countries, people were living without running water or proper waste management systems.  They were bathing in the same water they used to cook with and as a result, the children were becoming sick and dying.  My heart just ached when I saw the hardship on the faces of these people.  It really makes you pause and feel gratitude for everything we so often take for granted.  It made my problems seem so insignificant.  I wanted to do something to help.  The trip leader took us to a local non-profit founded by American ex-pats called Amigos De La Santa Cruz, which built a school for the kids and helps find solutions to local health and environmental issues.  The group of yogis pitched in and raised enough money to purchase several clay water filtration systems and wood burning stoves for families in the local community. It was then that I decided to incorporate service to all the yoga retreats.  Since then I have traveled to a dozen retreat centers around the world and have volunteered and contributed in small ways to numerous worthy causes.  Doing volunteer work, I feel a sense of accomplishment and pride planting seeds for a better future.  

 

Meanwhile, back at home, I went on to climb the ladder and worked for prominent entertainment law firms on motion picture financing, corporate transactions, mergers and acquisitions, and development and production matters. From there I was brought on board to run Paramount Pictures motion picture production legal administration department. It was an incredible opportunity to work on the biggest action pictures in history with some of the most talented professionals in the business. Being a type A "Pitta" personality that thrives under pressure, it was exhilarating - at first. After time, the workload increased exponentially (as the downsizing grew). Working late every night and on weekends for years straight without reprieve I was exhausted and completely out of balance.

I thought: This can't be all there is.

  

I went on another yoga retreat and contemplated my life's purpose.  I knew that I was fortunate to have the career I had however continuing to work at that pace would literally kill me. I dreamed about how great it would be to create a full, balanced life doing all the things I love: filmmaking, yoga, travel, and volunteering. Setting my intention, inspiration started to stir inside me and Yoga Trailblazers was born!

 

I left my studio gig, started a consulting business working from home for major independent production companies, quit smoking, completed the Yoga Alliance certified 200 hour Yoga Works Teacher Training, and in my spare time, launched Yoga Trailblazers, Inc., an organization that combines yoga with outdoor environmental volunteer opportunities around the globe.

I continue to study various meditation, pranayama, ayurveda and other healing arts modalities. Learning, self exploration and being of service to others has always been a source of inner peace for me.

 

As I continue on this journey as a lifetime student and fearless explorer, it is my calling to share what I have learned with others and to give back in small way.  Just think of all the positive changes we can make by volunteering our time just a few hours a month!  I hope to inspire others to blaze your own trail, take action and protect our planet for generations to come.


 

MEDITATE NOT MEDICATE (JUST BREATH)

I remember the first time I sat down on the cushion, my mind racing. Endless distractions keeping me from going within.  Fear not, learning to meditate is much easier than you think.  All you have to do is breath!  


Sit in a comfortable cross-legged position somewhere quite where you won't be disturbed for 10 minutes or longer.  Turn off the cell phone, television and computer.  Put your palms on your knees, one hand facing up ready to receive and one palm facing down, to give (to yourself as well as to others). Gently close your eyes. 

Just watch the breath as you naturally breath.  Notice if your breath is shallow or deep.  Notice that the breaths may be different lengths. Pay attention of the sound of your breath; the ssss as you in hale and the hhhhh as you exhale.  As you watch your breath, focus on the sensation of the air coming in at the tip of your nose.  The air feels cool as it enters and it feels warm as it exits the nostrils. 

Start to even out the breath, counting silently to yourself in for 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 and out for 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6.  As you inhale, silently say to yourself "IN" and on the exhale silently say "OUT", keeping the even rhythmic breathing. Do this for four rounds of breathing until you no longer need to count.

Notice how the chest rises on the inhale and how the chest falls on the exhale.  When the incessant to do list and thoughts arise, just name that "thinking" and gently focus your attention back on the breath IN and OUT.  

Notice the beginning of the breath, the middle of the breath and the top of the inhale, notice the moment in between the inhale and release of the exhale.  Notice the beginning, middle and end of the exhale and the space before the beginning of the next inhale.  Visualize the cool air coming IN, passing through your throat filling up your chest, opening your heart and notice the space at the top of the inhale, just before releasing the breath OUT, exhaling, chest falling. 

Pay attention to the sensations of the body, are you trying to hold your breath.  There is no need to cling to the breath, another breath will automatically follow your last. Breathing IN love, exhale OUT, letting go of anything you no longer need, INhaling love, exhaling OUT, releasing, surrendering.  

Just watch the thoughts (chitta vritti) float by gently, like clouds, ever changing incessant chatter of the mind, and return to breathing IN and OUT.  Breathing IN Love, exhaling OUT Love.  Breathing IN Love, exhaling OUT love to all creatures and beings on the plant, breathing IN Love and exhaling OUT Love and understanding to yourself, breathing IN Love and exhaling out OUT send Love to your friends, family, someone who maybe you know is in need of support.  Gently thank yourself for taking the time to sit in silence and just breath. Slowly open your eyes.  As you go about your day when you encounter someone, anyone, look at them and silently breath OUT love (and understanding) to them.  Do this even to people who annoy you.  Do this practice every day for 10 minutes for 30 days and whenever you remember, breath out Love to people you come in contact with.  See how this feels. 

After some steady practice, you will be able to sit for 30 minutes or longer at a time and you will see the calmness that the observation of simply breathing brings.
AYURVEDA (pronounced "air" - "you" - "veh" - "duh")

I took an Ayurveda self healing workshop and was so amazed by this ancient knowledge that I feel compelled to share with you what I learned. Ayurveda is an ancient system from India which takes a holistic approach to healing and finding balance. As everything is made up of energy (Einstein) and the five elements (ether, air, fire, water and earth), each person has a unique constitution or "Dosha" (Vata, Pitta or Kapha).  


The elements are metaphors for our personalities or characteristics.


ETHER:  Space - abundance, positive, fast, creativity, potential, open, light hearted

AIR:  Wind - creative, mobile, movement, change, breezy, detached

FIRE:  Heat - passionate, brilliant, intense, sharp, subtle, leader

WATER:  Calm - flowing, nurturing, cool, compassionate, caring

EARTH:  Grounded - stable, loving, nurturing, solid, earthy, gross, dense, slow


Combining the elements, you can easily see a persons disposition or Doshic type.


VATA:  Ether and Air - a Vata person is usually thin or small, has a high metabolism and doesn't gain weight (may be underweight).  They move quickly, possess the ability to change easily, are not attached, and are more likely to do things on a spontaneous whim than being planners.  When out of balance, they become flighty, or can seem like an "air head", forgetting commitments, and if they are particularly stormy, they can be quite chaotic, and will suffer anxiety, insomnia and sciatica.


PITTA:  Fire and Water - a Pitta person in usually medium build, in good shape, has a sharp mind, transformative, brave, a go getter, fearless, leader and excellent mentor.  They tend to be planners, meticulously organized and detail oriented.  When out of balance, they can become angry (hot headed), controlling, judgmental, perfectionists and suffer from inflammation, stomach/GI problems (IBS, hemorrhoids), headaches, and have a predisposition for arthritis.


KAPHA:  Water and Earth (Mud) - A Kapha person is usually large, heavy (obese), slower moving, down to earth, compassionate, loving, stable, devoted.  They prefer to take things extremely slow (lethargy), don't care for change and can be immovable, unwaivering (stubborn).  When out of balance, they can be moody, depressed (grief) and become emotional eaters and suffer from obesity, high cholesterol, heart attacks and impotence.


Rather than go to the doctor and pay for prescription pills which only medicate the symptoms, Ayurveda prescribes the right yoga for your Dosha combined with eating the right foods to provide balancing energy.


For Vata, taking a vigorous hatha yoga class, doing calm breathing (pranayama) exercises, and meditation combined with eating heavier, warm and moist foods, will help calm excess wind and bring Vata into balance. The best foods for balancing Vata are root veggies (grounding), warm soups, hot tea (calming chamomile), hearty stews, and risotto.  Foods to avoid are raw foods, salads, cold drinks (caffeinated), potato chips and refined sugar.


For Pita, taking a restorative yoga class, doing no to little pranayama (as to much air fans the fires), and meditation combined with eating cool and moist (think cool as a cucumber) foods will help cool excess heat and bring Pitta into balance.  The best foods for balancing Pitta are leafy greens, cabbage, beans, lentils, ice cream, mint rose, water, apples, cucumber, cilantro, gazpacho, quinoa and lean free range chicken or wild caught white fish (no red meat).  Foods to avoid are hot, spicy (chili peppers), anything fermented, salt, fried, acidic (lemons, vinegars, tomatoes), sauces, corn.


For Kapha, taking hot yoga (Bikram), breath of fire, saunas, and hot Jacuzzi's along with eating a healthy lean diet of light leafy greens, spices, lentils, mushrooms, quinoa, barley, corn, garlic will help put a fire under Kapha and motivate them to action.  Foods to avoid are heavy stews, fast food, fried food, bread, dairy, brown ride, meat, salt, sweets, wheat.


If you are interested in more information read "Yoga & Ayurveda" by David Frawley and "Eat Well, Be Well" by Lois Leonhardi, both excellent books I highly recommend.