Non-attachment: The Yoga Practice That Keeps On Coming


I am sure that every yogi with a blog has written about the topic of non-attachment. The concept comes from the Yamas and Niyamas, which are the ethical guidelines laid out in the 8 limbed path of yoga. You can think of them as the dos and don’ts of the yogic lifestyle. Aparigraha, or non-attachment, refers to our fixation on the outcomes of our efforts. We are all raised to want the gold star, am I right?

So this is the basic concept: we work for the experience not for the reward. But I recently found myself in a situation where non-attachment seemed to come easily. If you have been following me, you know the studio I manage is relocating. We are nearing the finish line and are reopening this Friday. I will be teaching the first class in the new studio. And I really believed that, because of all the work I had put into the move, I deserved to teach that first class. No one, save maybe my bosses, deserved to teach that class more than me.

But then family obligations came up. It is no longer a guarantee I will be in DC on Friday to teach that class — the class that is so rightfully mine to teach. And I felt surprisingly ok with that outcome. I was accepting that it might not be “my class” that is the first to happen in the new space. The shift in my life’s priorities made me realize how silly I had been acting. I will teach many classes in the new studio. Some will be great. Others will be off. The first is only significant because I have attached a meaning to it.

When I look at the journey to opening the new studio, I can see just how influential this time will be on me as a person and as a professional. I boast of how I learned to calculate the size of HVAC system a space needs based on use. I have learned about commercial real estate (particularly in DC). I have also learned how detail-oriented construction managers are. Why yes, I did approve the size and swing of every door in the studio. Most importantly, this experience has taught me that I am stronger, more level-headed, and more steadfast than I ever thought possible.

None of those qualities will change if I don’t teach the first class. The journey to opening the new space isn’t any less meaningful. But that does not mean I have mastered Aparigraha. I have only released my attachment because of competing life priorities that have given me some perspective. There is a reason all yogis blog about their attachments. It is a lesson that comes around, and around, and around…

“Treat people well. The world is small.”


I have run into so many people from my past these last two months that I knew there had to be some lesson I was missing. I thought about it, stewed over it, and tried to come to an answer. Finally, I Googled lessons learned from past friendships. And I came across this quote in one of those Medium listicle pieces:

“Treat people well. The world is small.”

There you have it. A reminder that how you act and how you treat others is bound to return to you. I have been fortunate because all of these encounters have been pleasant. But it got me thinking about how I usually exit relationships.

I have shared on this website and blog how I value being independent but when I choose to love, I love hard. I describe myself as a fiercely loyal friend. I don’t do the casual acquaintance thing. Though when these friendships don’t work out that means it cuts me a little deeper.

I have had many good friends who over the years I cut from my life because of a misunderstanding or a petty feud. I can’t defend these actions because they are petty. As I think about treating people well, I know I have failed at times.

This has created a new intention for me: as much as I work to forgive others, I hope they can forgive me, and I first have to forgive myself. We are not perfect beings. Our emotions drive us to do strange things without understanding the consequences. You do your best to make amends but then you have to let yourself off the hook. Accept that you have learned all you can from that relationship and move forward.

Love Languages

Heart-opening poses get into the space representing where we give and receive love.

Heart-opening poses get into the space representing where we give and receive love.

I learned about the five love languages when I was in middle school. It is safe to say that I have been mildly obsessed with love languages ever since. I am a very verbal person so it came as no surprise that my love language is words of affirmation. I will remember every compliment (and disparagement) with crystal clarity. I have a gift for remembering conversations and have always been more of an auditory learner. It drives my husband a bit nuts that I can recall his exact words at the drop of a hat.

You might have guessed that my husband does not share my love language. He is a physical touch person. He likes holding hands, having his hair pet, giving hugs, etc. We are exact opposites in our ranking of these love languages. His preferred method of communicating love is my least favorite and my preferred is his least favorite. How are we even still married? Well, we do share a secondary language of quality time. But we also have worked on understanding how each other expresses our affection. I remember my mother scolding me once when Bill and I were only dating that I needed to “get over it and hold the poor boy’s hand!” Ick. Hands are sweaty and holding them feels controlling. I would much prefer he just told me how great I am. (Alternatively, I can tell Bill he is brilliant until I am blue in the face but he would rather I stroke his hair.)

But this isn’t a marriage blog, it is about my yoga practice. And I have seen how my preferred love language has greatly impacted who I am as a teacher. I am not what I would call a “handsy” teacher. I don’t adjust people physically unless I think it will help them understand the pose better. My first instinct is to change the language that I am using to describe a pose. And I often offer my students feedback and encouragement with my words. The occasional “beautiful expressions of the pose” or “nice self adjustments” is very natural for me to say. I work on keeping my language light and encouraging. I hope that I create an atmosphere where people feel they belong and can practice in a way that suits them.

So that is how my love language has impacted how I teach. But it also impacts how I receive feedback from my students. In the practice, if a student asks a question or laughs at my joke I know they are engaged in what I am offering. But we live in a digital world where opinions are shared through all sorts of methods. When I would read the studio’s reviews to share encouraging feedback with other teachers, I would get stomach aches. Finding out that I did not meet a student’s expectations, that they did not connect with me or my class, was devastating. Even though I know that I will not be the right teacher for every student — that would be unrealistic to expect — reading the words that I was not the right teacher strikes a deep chord with me.

These students are not offering their feedback to hurt me. They are trying to express their opinions to be constructive. But I am who I am. Words have a certain power over me. As much as I love with words, I have used them as a weapon too. Reflecting on all of this, I have created a personal intention to not demean any other person. And it has been difficult. The person who runs the red light in front of my street usually makes me mutter under my breath. But what good did calling that person a name do? They couldn’t hear me and all I am doing is creating an world with more negative energy in it.

The love languages give us a framework to go deeper in our understanding of the ego, the false self, and how we might adjust. I encourage you to learn more about how you express and receive love (you might also learn how you react negatively using this lens as well). And then explore what personal intention you could hold to create a world with more love. The love and energy we put into our lives returns to us.

Things I Don't Talk About

This weekend I was catching up with my mother over the phone. After telling me about her painting class, how she has started swimming again, and the new restaurant she tried, she turned the conversation to me. She asked me how things at work were going and if we had moved into the new studio yet. I began detailing the various roadblocks we had come up against to which she said, “Oh, so you are exhausted and depressed?” Moms always know, huh?

I hate to admit that I am the kind of person who subscribes to strong, silent type ideals. I carry difficult things inside me and maintain a high level of privacy. I rarely share deep details of my life with my coworkers, clients, even friends. My mom knows this about me and knows that when my life is out of balance I tend to sleep more, talk less, and cry only when alone.

My mother calling me out on my silent struggle reminded me of a beautiful sentiment that comes from the legendary Fred Rogers. Mr. Rogers taught us that “feelings are mentionable and they are manageable.” This inspired me to share a few personal struggles that I rarely talk about as an effort to better manage how I feel.


1- My father’s dementia. I talk about my dad a lot. I share with people how my dad was a basketball coach who truly believed that defense wins championships. I share that I come by my love of athleisure wear honestly because my dad loves nothing more than a good pair of sweatpants. I share how growing up with a federal pretrial officer for a dad kept me on the straight and narrow. But those are all memories of my father. In the here and now my father is very sick. The onset of his dementia hit my family hard. None of us were prepared to deal with the rapid decline of his mental health, and we certainly weren’t prepared for it to happen when he was in his early sixties. There are days when the thought that if I ever have children they will not know their grandfather creeps into my mind. It breaks my heart. Sometimes I am so overcome with emotions that I can’t breathe.

2- My mother’s breast cancer. In the last year my mother was diagnosed with and treated for breast cancer. Although she was fortunate in that she only needed the mass removed and not the entire breast, her treatment has not been an easy road. Our entire family is very fair and has sensitive skin. The radiation burned her so badly that wearing almost any clothing was unbearable. The best way I could think to help was buying her some silky bras. I felt a mix of worry for myself and what this could mean in my future (damn you, genetics) and fear that our family could lose my father’s caretaker. Then I would feel guilt that my initial reactions were so selfish. My mom was tired but fighting and doing so without the presence of three of her children (two still live in the state and are much better children to my parents than myself).

3- My feelings of inadequacy and failure. Nearly every day I wonder if I made a mistake leaving my previous profession for managing a yoga studio. Nearly every day I wonder if teaching yoga is actually what I should be doing. Over the last four months, as we have planned for and started to move the studio, I have felt like I am consistently dropping the ball. There is always something I didn’t anticipate. There is always some snag, some detail, some something that I overlooked. I begin to think about the clients that I am letting down. I think about my bosses, whose business I have been entrusted with steering, and how I am not carrying enough weight for them. I think about everyone who relies on me and how I have failed them because we are not in the new studio yet. And then either I shut down or I lash out.

You know who else was a fan of the strong and silent type? Tony Soprano. I would much rather be a Fred Rogers than a Tony Soprano (I know that one is real and one is not but you catch my drift). We cannot manage the feelings that we do not acknowledge. Strong emotions and intense feelings carry a vast amount of energy. Yoga teaches us that being present to this energy, learning how to practice with it, brings us to a deeper understanding. My mother offered a kind reminder to me that I cannot bury the difficult inside me. It will surface in another form. So instead I will try to practice being present to what is honest and true in my life. I will practice acknowledging and mentioning my feelings to manage them through my practice.

"Demoing brings up all of your body issues."

I had the distinct pleasure of working with the Be Here Now teacher trainees this week. I love getting to work with this group because I learn a ton just by talking yoga with them. They ask great questions and they have valuable perspectives and wisdom to share.


This week, we were tackling the subtle art of demonstrating poses for your class. We talked about teachers who they have seen demo effectively and why those approaches were effective. We talked about the tips and tricks to demoing for your class without having to do an entire practice. And then it was time for the trainees to practice demoing with one another.

That was when a trainee shared, “Demoing brings up all of your body issues.” And all I could say was, “Yes.” Because that is a statement of fact. While yoga is not a visual art, like dance for example, demoing for your class is undeniably a visual means of teaching. There are expectations of how your body should look to effectively communicate a pose’s shape. This means people are looking critically at your body.

When I say critically, I don’t mean to be judgmental. I simply mean they are looking to you for guidance. For those of us who haven’t made peace with our bodies, this is an uncomfortable situation. Even if your students are simply looking to be guided, they are looking and you assume they are judging.

I struggle with the curves of my body. I was 11 when I gained the hips of a woman’s body. I was incredibly embarrassed to be the only tween wearing junior sizes while my friends were still in kids’. Since those early days, I have never truly come to terms with my lower half (see my previous post where I explain how I use my curves an excuse to not invert). So yes, there have been many classes when I doubted myself and wondered if the students thought I “look like a yoga teacher” enough to lead them. Translation: am I skinny enough?

This feeling has mostly subsided in my everyday teaching classes. This confidence is hard earned over hundreds of hours being in front of folks and leading them into yoga poses. But I did get a wallop of insecurity reviewing the photos Alex took for me to build this website.

Half moon pose and I have a long history of struggles. I couldn’t hold my balance in it for a very long time and I decided the culprit was my hips. “They are too robust to stack and open correctly” was the utter nonsense I told myself. So when I saw the picture of Half Moon pose I thought, “Goodness gracious my hips look so thick and not stacked at all!” But that is just my body. And my hips do a lot of work for me on the regular. I should really appreciate them for it and, in an effort to do so, I am sharing this picture with the internet!

If you feel insecure in yoga because you don’t look like an Instagram Yogi (no offense Insta Yogis because you inspire me to try new and fun poses), I am here for you. Your body can do yoga if you want it to do yoga. After all, if you just keep breathing you are doing yoga.

The Things that Scare Us

Fear is such an interesting thing. I still remember the first time I saw a clown and a deep-rooted, instinctual fear took over my body. It was at a farmer's market. My mother was buying Michigan blueberries (Michiganders will understand the distinction is important). And I ran to hide behind my mother's maxi skirted legs. While I have outgrown my fear of clowns in some ways (I still hold the belief clowning is an odd life choice), the feeling I experienced on that day is as real to me sitting here typing as it was in the moment. 

I was discussing the fear of different poses with a male student last night. He shared with me that working on splits is his greatest yoga fear. This statement made me pause for a beat. He explained that when he is in the pose, it feels like there could be a moment of no return, like he is constantly riding the edge of injury. I can understand and respect this feeling. I am far from the full expression of Hanumanasana (splits) and depending on the day my hamstrings feel like a rubber band about to break. But I don't get that fight or flight feeling in the pit of my stomach. 

No. The pose that gives me that sinking feeling is headstand. Sirsasana (headstand) has been my asana nemesis for years now. Some weeks I am intent on conquering it. Some weeks I am fine with it never being a part of my practice. I make all sorts of excuses. "I am really bottom heavy so inverting is hard for me." "I have to be really warm to stack my hips over my shoulders." "I slept on my neck weird so it isn't feeling it today." Oh, I have used them all. But none of these excuses are valid. It is fear that keeps me out of the pose. My fear of looking silly in a class. My fear of hurting myself. My fear of falling loudly, my body betraying me, and feeling like a heavy sack of potatoes. 

Now that same student I was speaking with loves inversions. In fact, he was practicing handstands with great control later in the class. It made me think about the intention that I offered my class the previous week, reflecting on how in the class each individual is experiencing the pose differently, but we still try to create a collective consciousness among us. This requires compassion and understanding for the other on the mat next to you. And a healthy dose of self-compassion as well. 

For those of you who might share my fear of headstand, I am sharing my best efforts at the pose (Alex's photography talent make it look a little better). It is far from perfect. It is far from complete. But if I can try it, I promise you can too! Even if you just start with the building blocks of placing your head below you heart. Hmm... head below heart I wonder if that has a philosophical meaning in yoga? Oh wait, it does. You are creating a shape that represents compassion (heart over the head). Alright, enough of my writing. Get practicing! 

This is 30... almost


This weekend I celebrated the last few days left in my 20s. I am not sad to see this time in my life go, but I do appreciate how formative these years have been. I was married in my 20s. I served in AmeriCorps in my 20s. I moved from Flint to Madison to DC all in my 20s. I have come to appreciate my life as a tapestry.

Yes, I know that I am still quite young. But I have been through many phases already. I have reconnected in the last month with friends who knew me from AmeriCorps in Michigan and from group fitness classes in Madison. I continue to be friends with people from previous jobs and internships. If my network is already this diverse and strong before 30, I can't imagine what life has in store for me in this new decade. 

To celebrate this new phase in life I spent time capturing shapes that represent my most recent form: Simone the yoga teacher. They also captured a bit of Simone the dog lady. I am taking on this new phase of life with a heart full of gratitude for what has passed and looking forward to what is to come.