A New Home

Back to the Sutra, the blog, has moved to jennifer-elise.com.  Sign up for the mailing list or like my Facebook page for blog updates, schedule changes and yoga resources.

Click here to read more about Jennifer Elise and her yoga story!

Enjoy the new space!  New blogs to come soon!!


Just Around the Riverbend [repost]

This was first posted on my blog The Real World as I prepared to leave Namibia.  I have included some of the thoughts I had on the future just a year earlier.

“What I love most about rivers is you can’t step in the same
river twice.
The water’s always changing, always flowing
But people I guess can’t live like that
They all must pay a price
To be safe we lose our chance of ever knowing
What’s around the river bend”

Like the river that is flowing by, every moment is new. We all know this. It’s common sense. Every minute things change. People are born and die. People leave, fall in love, decide to follow God. We know this.

Even though things are changing on us every minute we cling to the illusion that we have control over each outcome, each change. We plan. We worry. We replan and recheck. We resist.


The only thing that trying to control everything does is make it harder to admit we don’t have control over everything. In fact we have control of very little, mainly our reaction to change.

Resistance creates a dam in our river. The water backs up and becomes mucky, full of snails that carry disease or twigs that snag our thoughts, pulling us down. Resistance keeps us from moving forward.

I experienced this when I first decided to return to the States. I built a damn of resistance in my head. I filled my water with negativity. Everything from “I have no money” to “It is too cold.” I swam around with them for a while. Until I couldn’t anymore.

I took down my dam. I let the negativity come out to be pushed to the shore. I swam down my river, cleaning it of all the things that scared me and started to see all the beautiful things about going home. My family and friends, free time, new opportunities, my car.


It is difficult to describe the feeling of rigid flexibility you need to get along in this world. You need to be able to plan, but when they fall through you need to be able to see the adventure that an unplanned span of time can bring us. When some volunteers and I were on our big road trip last year, we made a plan and it fell to pieces. Still each unplanned step brought things we would have never experienced on our own terms.

Let your plans fall apart. Don’t worry too much what is coming around the river bend. You’ll get there when you get there and when you do, it’s usually more fantastic than you ever planned for yourself anyway.

Tomorrow I face the next bend in my river. I leave Namibia at peace and excited for the things ahead. Back out into the World! What a Real World it is!!

Beautiful Blogger Award

Many days ago I received the Beautiful Blogger Award from Cassandra of her name was cassandra.  I love everything about Cassandra’s blog.  She is open and funny and writes about yoga, writing and life in a relatable way.  I love this post, about being Unapologetically Narcissistic, which prompted me to write this post.  Her writing is also worth a gander.  I especially love Empty Room.  Go read.  Be inspired.  Then come back and read 7 random things about me.

I am supposed to pick 15 bloggers to pass this on to, however I am following in her steps and nominating 3.

1.  The most beautiful blogger I know is Alyson of  Six Imposserous Things. Her photos (check out these ones of Holi) are captivating and her insights always smack me over the head in the best way (see if this doesn’t throw you for a loop!).

2.  Theresa of Taozi Tree Yoga has the best insights into living a full yogic life.  This post on Bramacharya was particularly well-thought out.

3. Birdwrites was the first blog I followed.  I love the vulnerability and openness that comes through her writing.  I also love all the little projects she posts.  This post about a spider she named Patrick was just so adorable I had to share.

7 random things about Jennifer:

1. I was a synchronized swimmer throughout my youth.  I swam in competitions around the tri-state area.

2. I hate the wallpaper in my bathroom, but there is a swirl in the pattern that reminds me of an angel that somehow began to remind me of my grandmother and I will be sad when we finally get around to taking it down.

3. I love taking trains and buses.

4. I got robbed in Namibia while in a car.  This led to an adventure trying to find the proper police to report to, which though it led no where was kind of interesting.

5. My favorite food is salad, because it can be anything you want it to be.

6. I am terrible at games because I cannot pay attention to the order of turns or the rules and then I usually get bored.  Drinking games are even worse.  Though I always have fun.

7. I’ve never seen The Notebook.  Apparently this is some sort of crime.

Getting Personal: Ready to Dance Again

*(featured image) me dancing in traditional wear in Namibia

One theme of most personal blogs is to get personal with the audience.  So here goes.


I don’t like to get too personal.  It has always been hard for me to share what I am truly thinking and feeling.  The closest I come to opening up is when my soul is bleeding out onto a page through my writing.  Even then it is vague.  Case and point, halfway through the first sentence of this blog I switched screens and spent an hour creating a playlist for tomorrow’s class.

I am able to share with close friends and at camp on the last day.   I am able to share in my journal.  It is scary to share.  It means someone might see you, all of you.  Even those dark and stormy parts.  The ones you’d rather let pass by like a hurricane, covering up the damage best you can when gaping holes are ripped into your heart.

I used to be good at tearing myself open and letting people see.  But gradually all those padded rooms keeping the crazy in have been wrapped and rewrapped in caution tape.  I don’t know why this is.  Experience I’m sure.  One person or another told me to keep my mouth shut, another called me crazy.  I saw others get ridiculed for their sensitivity and watched movies where I was shown it is “cool” to be mysterious and coy.

Years ago my friends and I were in the city (New York City for all those who endearingly call some lesser city “the city”) waiting for a light to change.  A little boy was dancing next to his parent, excited for a pretzel.  Overwhelmed by his cuteness we all stared and laughed with joy, maybe remembering how it felt to be so unburdened by the need to be “appropriate” and “grown-up.”  One of my friends let out a laugh that could have been heard around the world, or at least to the next block.  The little boy looked up, startled, stopped dancing and ran behind his parent.

That’s what happens to us all.  We dance and sing and squirm and cry.  Until someone tells us not to.  I’m ready to dance again.

(I realize that this doesn’t really get that personal, but I’m on my way.  Baby steps.)

Share your feelings about getting personal.  Is there a moment that you recall that made it not ok?