10 Reasons to Do Yoga At Home

If you want to keep reading posts from Back to the Sutra, please go follow my new blog at Jennifer-elise.com or follow me on Facebook.

1. It’s free.

2. Skip all your least favorite poses.

3. Avoid the rain, snow, sleet, hail, apocalypse.

4. You pick the music.

5. No need to make sure your clothes match.  Or are clean.

6. 30 minute savasana?  Yes, please.

7. Your pet’s love for you will reach a whole new level.

8. You can keep your dinner plans and get your practice in.

9. There’s alway enough space.

10. You will deepen your practice.  Having time to sit in a pose and feel it out is important.  Take the cues from class and repeat them at home.  Listen to your body and flow with the rhythm of your heart.  Play a song on repeat.  Spend half an hour on balancing.  When you practice at home your time is just for you.

Starting a home practice can be a daunting task.  If you are looking for tools to take your yoga with you and are located in the Central Jersey area, join me for a Home Practice Workshop.

Located at HIP Lifestyle Studio
Somerville, NJ
Sunday February 16th, 11:30-1:30
Call 908-672-2758 or email kimakje@gmail.com

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Why You Shouldn’t Start Yoga

You shouldn’t do yoga… unless you want to change your life.  Yoga will change your life.  Whether you openly invite it into your life or begrudgingly tag along to the studio with a friend, it will change your life, for better or worse.  It will grab you and shake you and force you to take a look at all the skeletons you piled in the closet.

How do I know this?  Because it happened to me.

…Want more?  Click here.

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!!

A Tree Says…

IMG_1387“For me, trees have always been the most penetrating preachers. I revere them when they live in tribes and families, in forests and groves. And even more I revere them when they stand alone. They are like lonely persons. Not like hermits who have stolen away out of some weakness, but like great, solitary men,

IMG_1314 like Beethoven and Nietzsche. In their highest boughs the world rustles, their roots rest in infinity; but they do not lose themselves there, they struggle with all the force of their lives for one thing only: to fulfill themselves according to their own laws, to build up their own form, to represent themselves. Nothing is holier, nothing is more exemplary than a beautiful, strong tree. When a tree is cut down and reveals its naked death-wound to the sun, one can read its whole history in the luminous, inscribed disk of its trunk: in the rings of its years, its scars, all the struggle, all the suffering, all the sickness, all the happiness and prosperity stand truly written, the narrow years and the luxurious years, the attacks withstood, the storms endured. And every young farm boy knows that the hardest and noblest wood has the narrowest rings, that high on the mountains and in continuing danger the most indestructible, the strongest, the ideal trees grow.

Trees are sanctuaries. Whoever knows how to speak to them, whoever knows how to listen to them, can learn the truth. They do not preach learning and precepts, they preach, undeterred by particulars, the ancient law of life.

IMG_2369A tree says: A kernel is hidden in me, a spark, a thought, I am life from eternal life. The attempt and the risk that the eternal mother took with me is unique, unique the form and veins of my skin, unique the smallest play of leaves in my branches and the smallest scar on my bark. I was made to form and reveal the eternal in my smallest special detail.

A tree says: My strength is trust. I know nothing about my fathers, I know nothing about the thousand children that every year spring out of me. I live out the secret of my seed to the very end, and I care for nothing else. I trust that God is in me. I trust that my labor is holy. Out of this trust I live.

When we are stricken and cannot bear our lives any longer, then a tree has something to say to us: Be still! Be still! Look at me! Life is not easy, life is not difficult. Those are childish thoughts. Let God speak within you, and your thoughts will grow silent. You are anxious because your path leads away from mother and home. But every step and every day lead you back again to the mother. Home is neitherIMG_1357 here nor there. Home is within you, or home is nowhere at all.

A longing to wander tears my heart when I hear trees rustling in the wind at evening. If one listens to them silently for a long time, this longing reveals its kernel, its meaning. It is not so much a matter of escaping from one’s suffering, though it may seem to be so. It is a longing for home, for a memory of the mother, for new metaphors for life. It leads home. Every path leads homeward, every step is birth, every step is death, every grave is mother.

So the tree rustles in the evening, when we stand uneasy before our own childish thoughts: Trees have long thoughts, long-breathing and restful, just as they have longer lives than ours. They are wiser than we are, as long as we do not listen to them. But when we have learned how to listen to trees, then the brevity and the quickness and the childlike hastiness of our thoughts achieve an incomparable joy. Whoever has learned how to listen to trees no longer wants to be a tree. He wants to be nothing except what he is. That is home. That is happiness.”

― Hermann Hesse, Bäume. Betrachtungen und Gedichte

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One time I stuck my tongue out.

and other tales from our 20s.

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I share Miley’s need to air my tongue out

(Make sure you scroll to the bottom to see more fantastic photos of me… being me…)

I have stuck my tongue out in a lot of photos.  This is the only one where I’m not trying to “sexy lick” someone’s face…if there is such a thing as “sexy lick”… and I figured it wasn’t fair to include my friends in my confessionals without their permission.

I’m shocked by the amount of people who are shocked by anything Miley Cyrus does or says.  Maybe no one remembers when Christina Aguilera went from

this: tumblr_m6xdtpdotb1r27dcdo1_500  to this: vmas-christina-aguilera

It seems like it took the girl 10 years to find the bottom half of her shirt.  And with abs like that, why should she bother? Getting naked (or semi-naked) is nothing new.

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Even Judy Garland lost some clothes in her 20’s

Neither is overt experimentation with sexuality.

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Elizabeth Berkley of Saved by the Bell fame.

Maybe we have collective cultural amnesia when it comes to our starlets, and ourselves, growing up.  But each time it happens someone cries “Outrage!” and accuses them of seeking attention.

Of course they are seeking attention.  A) A lot of them became stars for just that reason.  AND B) DO YOU REMEMBER BEING 20?  The fact that you were changing into a woman was of the utmost importance and obviously (to no one but themselves) the only thing around anyone should pay any attention.  If they couldn’t see all of the ways in which you had transformed, you were going to make sure they did.  What screams, “I’m grown up,” more than a few tattoos or a leather bustier?  Most of us were just as narcissistic.

It is often painful to watch.  Those of us past the early 20s can shake our heads, knowing that in a few years these stars just might look at that video of them half-clothed grinding on a chair and wonder what the hell they were thinking.  Even the most intelligent of us has inspired a friend to think, sometimes out loud, a big “AWKWARD”.

Not every celebrity follows the crowd.  One exception I found during my search for the “I’m going to take off all my clothes and kiss everything that moves” formula for breaking out of child stardom was Janet Jackson (who no doubt has some sexy photos, they just happened more towards her 30s, which might be because celebrities didn’t really double as models until the 90s).  However, the album she put out in her 20th year was full of songs with statements on sexuality.  “Nasty” and “The Pleasure Principle” were included on the album, aptly named, Control.  Because that’s what the reinvention is all about, gaining control of ourselves as an autonomous human being

Redefining yourself is an intrinsic part of the late teens early twenties.  Though some people start the transformation much younger due to their own maturity level or environmental factors, for most of us 18-22 is the time we begin to build our future.  As a newly enrolled college student I looked forward to it.  Some people go out and start a job or a family. You step out of high school and suddenly the people you grew up with are not around everyday to monitor your every move.   You can be anyone you want to be.  

Part of that reinvention inevitably revolves around sex and sexuality.  In college, I had my own “place” (if you want to use that word very liberally to describe the tiny box I shared with another female), no curfew, very little rules and boys and girls were living in the same building (Coming out of an all girls school, I did not even know how to speak to a boy so most of this was wasted on me…).  You might even see one standing next to you in the bathroom stall.  It’s a heady time.  Mix in alcohol and life just can’t seem to get any better.

If someone made a video of me dancing or flirting in college it would probably look a lot like Miley’s performance at the VMAs.  My moves haven’t changed much from then to now.  The difference is that now I fully occupy my body.  I no longer execute spectacular mathematical routines made-up to solve the mystery of men.  I seemed to honestly think that if I added the right amount of exposed midriff to the perfect lip part and threw in just enough sexy laugh that would equal boys falling at my feet.  This real-time self-analysis is what made Miley look like she was trying to hard.  Because she was.  She was trying really hard.

I remember when Christina Aguilera left behind the dreads and came out all blonde-bombshell pin-up girl.  That was her coming out, as a woman.  She no longer had anything to prove to anyone.  She occupied her body, clothed or not.  The pictures that pop up in the search for Back to Basics tell a completely different story than Stripped.  But she, and every other woman, had to get there on her own terms, even if the results do make us cringe.

It makes me extremely grateful that most of my experiments are but a memory.  I am blessed that my first attempts at expressing my sexuality were not caught on film.  My coming-of-age is not the subject of public ridicule.  I never had to explain my terrible choices, I just had to live with them until I learned better.  Even now, I’m gonna get a lil bit crazy when “Pour Some Sugar On Me” comes on.

This is not a discussion of whether these images are ok for our children or whether they should look up to these people as role models.  That is for each parent to mull over and make an informed decision that I should have no say in. This is also not an apology or excuse and the other stars coming-of-age in the public eye, it may not be fair that they are so ruthlessly scrutinized, but that is part of the job-description.  It is not a discussion of talent, accountability or appropriateness.  It is simply stating something I, and many others, have noticed among our peers, VIP, IP or just a “lonely little P” (10 pts for anyone who catches the reference).  Twenty-somethings sometimes act the fool.

Miley is nothing new.  She’s not even special (don’t tell her mom).  She is a 20 year old woman trying to figure out what being a woman in America today means.  People have criticized her team, her parents, her PR.  That all may factor in, but it is Miley making the ultimate decisions.  It’s her party, she can do what she wants.  And we all have the option of turning the power off.

Just for fun here are some pictures of me in my 20s…(they are hard to come by as a) I hate posing for pictures and b) I often prefer having fun over posing for pictures)

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my friends and I being sexy with a fan
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yea. i did that. And let someone take a picture.
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I like to dance
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and stick my butt on things
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notice my butt. please.