Sequencing with Noah Maze- Toronto, June 2011

Three components of an Anusara class:

–       heart based theme

–       UPAs

–       Asana sequence

–       You can plan a class starting from any of those three points

–       “teaching Anusara is a creative process. Method always requires my creativity”

Three types of students (from Christina Sell)

–       mystics- get message and energy of room. Theme/heart/iccha

–       egineers- details of pose and alignment (bring their protractors to classJ) . UPAs/mind/jnana

–       athletes- how much did a sweat, did I get deeper/further than before. Asana sequence/action/ kriya


Important questions guide our teaching:

–       what am I trying to accomplish in this class/practice?

  • Trying changing your intention. Try peak pose in set amt of time- can I get there and it feels good?

–       What level class? What syllabus are we working with?

–       Who is my audience? What do they already know?

–       What are the knowns and unknowns?

–       In what pose does this (action/principle/quality/sequence) come easily? For free?

–       In what poses, when I get _____(the quality/action/principle)__ does a break through occur? Ie, the pose deepens, heart opens, pain alleviated, something new becomes possible that wasn’t possible before.

–       In what pose does the UPA/key action solve a common misalignment? Pay off…


Heart based theme:

–       philosophical teaching, mythic, life experience, stories, images, poems…

–       change tone in voice to emphasize heart qual

–       ex) patience- longer holds (use timer) of familiar poses. UPA- OTG, pausing, in pause, softening…

Planning a class using the there diff components of ME as starting point…

Three components are:

  1. hug- skin to musc, musc to bone
  2. midline
  3. periphery to core

in what pose does #1 HUG come easily?  Ex- hug- warrior 2 pose creates the action automatically, the front thigh has to hug when knees are bent. Or Utkatasana. Vs Tadasana you can do the pose w/out ME.

Ex) in bridge or Urdhva you have to work legs, but in cobra less so. So do action in bridge and then go back to cobra and tell students to remember how they worked legs in bridge, now do it in cobra.


In what pose does #2 MIDLINE come easily? Ex- block btwn thighs, Prasarita with blanket under one foot, tree, Garudasana, dog w/one hand off (unplug one part of the foundation). Pay off:: Bakasana, urdva one leg off…

In what poses does #3 P> C come easily? Ardha Chandrasana, vira 3, UHPadang, crescent warrior, Tadasana leg lifted pull foot into hip, partner arm press, lunge

Pay off: hand balancing, headed bends (for flexible people). Note: ME- floor postures- flexible students tend to flop. So teach ME in standing poses and then the pay off is floor poses.

*poses where it comes easily should be poses where you can visually measure if the students are getting the actions



warm up: 1, 2, 3,

ME #1 Hug

3 poses


ME #2 midline; 3 poses

ME #3 p>c : 3 poses

Pay off poses: 3 poses


cool down

symmetrical pose




Sequencing to a peak pose: Parivrtta Parsvakonasana


Key difficulties: (physical and psychological)- balance, back heel to floor, deep twist, flexion of front hip, arms and shoulders, sq hips, breathing- anxious, agitated, can’t get deep breath, panic

Key actions: midline (for balance), kidney loop (rounded back), shoulder loop (expanding spiral of bottom arm)

What poses teach key actions: twists w/rounded back- concave spine

What parts of the body need to be prepared (anatomy of pose/component parts): spine (twists), low body strong, hip flexion

–       hip- vira 1, Parsvakonasana, Anjaney, Parsva Utkatasana, pigeon, lunge variations, agni stombasana w/twist, pashasana prep

–       psychological- teach in poses where they’re not in the fire- breath into back body- for example child’s pose. Theme with it- trust that even in breath is short, shallow, labored, invoke a sense of trust and faith…



1 cat/cow


lunge twist

key action #1 midline


dog twist


Key action #2 kidney loop




Key action #3 twists

Malasana twist

Pigeon twist

Marichyasana 1

Pinnacle: Parivrtta Parsvakonasana in stages…

Knee down, hands in prayer

Knee up hangs in prayer

Full pose with arm outside foot (can refine the arm spirals depending on group…)


Cool down


Supta padang

Purvottanasana on elbows



Shoulder stand and headstand

–       HS is rajasic

–       SS is sattvic

–       Is it agitating to the nervous system to do HS without SS? “what’s more agitating is rigid adherence to dogma” – john friend

–       Attitude is first

–       If finding it hard to have time for SS, you need to create a culture of it- so students know how to set up props quickly. If you don’t have enough props for everyone, then you can have half the room do Shoulderstand and half do supported setubandha at the wall.

Addressing fear- psychological challenges to poses

–       clear sequencing sets students up for success so they learn component parts gradually. Gives them psychological and physical tools to go deeper

–       “I’m a professional 🙂 … I’ve done this before, will you let me help you?”

backbends at night?

– ge to peak pose earlier and have a longer closing sequence. Give suggestions for people to do at home if they’re jazzed up (like legs up the wall).


Bhakti – devotion, also loyalty -the way we commit ourselves to ourselves again and again through these practices -everyday we choose, bhakti yoga happens in first moments on waking, we can choose to live bright and powerful -make the choice at the beginning of the day in the way of deep loyalty to ourselves, we set the tone -valentines day interesting time to teach yoga -utter euphoria or absolute terror -everyone in different states of outer relationships -we identify valentines day with whether or not we are in relationship that makes us happy or unhappy -yoga insists that its about divine inner love, about the stabilization of who we are from the inside out, regardless of the outer status of relationship -love, unlove, happiness, terror, its amazing what we go through as human beings -yoga is about an internal stabilization of the self love, clearing our minds in a vibrant way, pouring our hearts into our lives in the way of devotion, committing ourselves in the way of self loyalty “I love all of me no matter what, inside I am stabilized in this inner bhakti”

expand theme: growing our hearts in the face of disaster

heart quality: willingness

action: inner/outer spiral

purpose: chit

pinnacle: bound parsvkonasana/EPK prep

Honoured and excited to teach a more advanced class. It’s always great to come into Leena’s classes and work with her students because she has cultivated strong studentship. Easy to teach you because you and she have created such a strong foundation.

Because you are a more advanced class, I want to share with you the founding verse of Anusara as our theme today: Shaktinipata anusarena shisyo nugraham arhati Translation: By entering the current of Divine Shakti’s descent into the heart, the true disciple becomes capable of receiving Grace.

Divine Shakti = power

Descent into the heart = already happening

True disciple = openness, willingness

Capable of receiving Grace = recognizing the flow of the universe as grace, in all its myriad dark and difficult forms

Our work: enter the current that is already flowing into our hearts, willingness and openness to recognizing and dancing with grace of universe. This week we are faced with a difficult to reconcile event – earthquake in Japan. Hard to see how this can be “grace”. I feel helpless to even look at the newspaper because I know I will get emotional. I don’t know how to reconcile this kind of suffering. I’m not there yet in my understanding, in my experience. So what I want to offer is the opportunity to try this out. To test, to stretch into this idea that if we align with the flow that is mainlining into our hearts, if we have the willingness to look, to explore, then we will receive the grace, we will recognize it.

The closest thing that I can see as grace is that, when I open myself to difficult information about the world, I have an opportunity to grow my heart. It trembles, it shakes, it hurts, it threatens to close. But if I am aware of it, if I stay close to my practice, to my purpose, then it grows.

Centreing: Open to flow, current of breath. Always already there, waiting to be noticed. The breath flows into us, a current of power, of Shakti. Enter the current of your breath. Everything changes when we do this. Enter the current of your breath and watch your mindbody respond.


Downward dog

DD>fire hydrant>utt>tadasana

SN – SLL>parsvatonasana>half moon
SN – hip opener>triangle (top arm forward)>parsvakonasana
SN – full stretch > gentle twist > mod vasi (foot in front)

SN – silver surfer > parsvatonasana > half moon


Parsvakonasana with bind    *strap if needed

Child’s pose with active arms


EPK prep

pigeon *with thigh stretch if wanted
janu sir * back leg in virasana, reach under grab ankle
marichyasana * with strap


theme: honouring the shiva and ganesh in ourselves
heart qualities: creativity and determination
action: ME – muscle to bone, OE – focal point out
pinnacle: utthita hasta padangusthasana (standing leg = elephant leg, leg of determination. extended leg = dancer leg, leg of creativity)

Today I want to channel Shiva and Ganesh in our practice. You might have heard of them before. Shiva is one of “the big three”, he is the creator, the ground of everything, the all. He is often pictured dancing, in different poses. Ganesh is his son, he is an elephant headed god who is the remover of obstacles. Hindu deities are ways of personifying or imaging abstract qualities that exist in the world, in order to make them easier to relate to. It’s easier to relate to an image of a dancer than to the abstract quality of “creativity”. We see a dancer and experience that. It’s easier to relate to an image of an elephant than the abstract quality of “determination”. An elephant is such a strong image of that, moves forward, nothing gets in its way.

So when we invoke or honour Hindu deities in our practice what we are doing is invoking the qualities that they represent. The qualities in ourselves and others. So today we are going to call the qualities of creativity (Shiva) and determination (Ganesh) into our practice. And we can use the images of the dancer, of the elephant to make those qualities more concrete and real.

So as we practice we can think about what we might want to channel our determination and creativity towards. What would you like to happen for you in the coming months that you could use some help from Ganesh and Shiva? That you could channel your determination and creativity towards?


warmups – noodle arms/shakedown/shakti flings

SN – straight leg lunge, holy ham > starfish
-anjaney prep, full stretch > eel (arms and legs in line, lift up)
-three legged dog
-gentle twist into mod. vasi (foot on floor) > thigh stretch
-full stretch > half bow (thigh stretch lift up)


turn front rows back to face back rows, be steady and determined together, help each other balance, see creativity reflected in each of us

-baby natarajasana
-tree – focus on standing leg “elephant leg”

-uttitha hasta padangusthasana (three times, in stages)

  • prep = knee bent, hold outside of foot (or use strap)
    (determination in standing leg – GANESH, creativity in top leg – SHIVA)
  • straighten leg to front
  • knee bent, widen knee to side, play with straightening

navasana crunches
happy baby
supta padang/jathara pari


theme: seeing beauty and responding to it
heart quality: remembrance and celebration
action: ME – hug the midline OE – expand out circumferentially

pinnacle: wild thing

Hands up if you’ve heard of “double rainbow” the big youtube meme on the internet? Explain – guy making a video of seeing a rainbow, he cries and screams and wonders for seven minutes, so expressive, no holds barred. Got 8 million hits in a week, now at 24 million views! What was it that people resonated with in this video?

I think it was his ability to see beauty and respond to it with full expression. Alot of the time its hard for us to really see beauty and culturally we don’t usually know how to respond to it. I think we’re relieved when we see someone respond authentically to something truly marvelous.

We can connect this to the two core purposes for practicing yoga: remembrance & celebration. Remembrance is connecting to the world around us, the beauty in us and the beauty all around. Celebration is expressing our experience of that, making it known.

Practice of yoga helps us to connect to ourselves, and the poses become an expression of that connection. So today we are going to do what the double rainbow guy did: remember the beauty and wonders of the world and ourselves and then express that.


-hip circles, cat/cow
-SN – lunge/gentle twist
-SN full stretch/runners stretch
SN – hip opener/twisted lunge

DD – mini demo “wax on, plug in, strong arms, soft heart”
everyone try it

utkatasana>prayer twist>full stretch>mod. side plank (foot in front)
utka> gentle twist> side plank

cobra X3
salabhasana (hands behind head)
bhekasana (thigh stretch)
bow pose

half moon (balance)
side plank *HAB
wild thing *HAB

happy baby


theme: lila and kula
heart quality: joy

hands up if you’ve ever heard of a flashmob! (explain what they are – people getting together and practicing singing or dancing and then surprise performing them in public places – malls, public squares, buses)

when i see flashmob videos i get chills. i think it’s because they are people doing something for the pure joy of it. and the really elaborate ones remind me of our potential as a human community – whats its possible to do together.

flashmobs remind me of two concepts in yoga: lila which is the divine play of the universe, and kula which means community. lila is the idea that we are here in these bodies for the pure joy of it, that this life is the play of the universe. and we come together in kula, to practice together, to explore and expand our potential as humans together.

today our class is going to be a little flashmob -a little spark of community and play. we are going to practice for the pure joy of it: lila. and we are going to see whats possible when we bring all of our energy together: kula.

Refining Our Hearts

Samskara can mean many things, in this sense it means the process by which we refine something. Move from the grossest sense to its essence. Samskara is a methodical practice, like refining a diamond from coal.

Vikalpa means the way that we see the world.

Here he has applied Vikalpa Samskara to the loops! These secondary currents/refinements that enhance the UPAs.

Back body=inner transformation
Front body=outer manifestation
Initiate from back body, but don’t forget front body!

inner edge of foot=universal
outer edge of foot= individual

from Paul Muller Ortega, description of Vikalpa Samskara

“Vikalpa Samskara reveals the sequence of liberative attainments, of penetrations into the meaning of anything whatsoever, beginning with contracted, unclear and limited states of awareness and thought, it leads progressively and systematically toward the liberative attainment of both the most clear, expanded and refined levels of thought.”


kidney loop

  • puff kidneys up, top of sternum moves down toward belly
  • kidneys lift you forward to plank

thigh loop

  • tops of the thigh bones move back in space
  • firm DOWN the back of the hamstrings
  • lift forward through top of shin bones
  • quads reach up towards top of thigh bones
  • this resets the femur back, ending at the top of the thigh bones


pelvic loop

  • inhale back thigh up
  • tuck tailbone strong under front seat, like putting a stool under your butt
  • front belly lifts away from front thigh
  • pelvic loop has to move faster on that front leg


kidney loop

  • fingertips to wall, kick up
  • bring kidneys to wall, sternum lifts up towards ceiling


inner spiral/pelvic loop

  • lift back knee up, inner edge of leg widens out out out, outer hip of back leg rotates around to floor
  • lower knee, tuck tailbone, belly lifts off of front thigh


  • hips stay facing the side while heart spins up


  • press toes into mat (like reverse ‘lift and spread toes’ in tadasana)
  • look down at thighs, top of the thigh bones move back, tailbone lifts up to pubis
  • puff up kidneys, sacrum flows down, head of the arm bones back, heart forward, reach back


  • hands give active muscular energy to legs by drawing outer edges of feet down
  • organic energy reaches up through inner edges of feet, big toe mound

Courage to Feel and be Vulnerable

Talk about partner yoga workshop– some couples neither partner had done yoga, but most one was regular yogi, and other partner had never done yoga. And I was thinking of how courageous it was for the non-yogi partner to be willing to try something so new with their partner… Courageous, because it can be really vulnerable to do something that your partner is the “expert” at, and you are totally new at…. Saw that courageous vulnerability as an expression of love.

TED Talk, Brene Brown- Social worker focuses on importance of vulnerability in order for us to feel human and alive, and fulfilled. In her research, she found that she could basically divide people into 2 groups:

  • There were people who have a strong sense of love and belonging and the people who really struggle for it.
  • there was one variable that separated them- was the people who have a strong sense of love and belonging believe they’re worthy of love and belonging. That’s it. They believe they’re worthy. She calls these people- whole-hearted people, living from this deep sense of worthiness.

And these whole-hearted people had one other thing in common: They fully embraced vulnerability. “They believed that what made them vulnerable made them beautiful. They didn’t talk about vulnerability being comfortable, nor did they talk about it being excruciating — They just talked about it being necessary. They talked about the willingness to say “I love you” first, the willingness to do something where there are no guarantees, the willingness to breathe through waiting for the doctor to call after your mammogram. They’re willing to invest in a relationship that may or may not work out. They thought this was fundamental.”

Contextualize/universalize: I love this so much, this is one of the most important things we can gain from our yoga practice. Our tantric philosophy invites us to embrace the full spectrum of life- the courage to feel the full spectrum of physical sensations and emotion, the courage to love ourselves and others despite our imperfectness. To really experience life fully and express ourselves fully > courage&vulnerability.

Context Statements:

–       Courage- from the Latin word cor, meaning heart — and the original definition was to tell the story of who you are with your whole heart.

–       yoga invites us to express ourselves fully, it doesn’t mean that we don’t have to be discrete about how we express ourselves, like you don’t express yourself the same way at home and at work, but in all cases, can we at least be honest with ourselves and have the courage to be imperfect?

–       We must learn to be compassion to be kind to ourselves first, because we can’t practice compassion with other people if we can’t treat ourselves kindly

–       It takes courage to let go of who we should be in order to be who were are. But this is necessary for real connection.

–       What makes us vulnerable is also what makes us beautiful.

–       We live in a vulnerable world. And one of the ways we deal with it is we numb vulnerability> but you cannot selectively numb emotion. You can’t say, here’s the stuff I don’t’ want to feel: here’s grief, here’s shame, here’s fear, here’s disappointment, I don’t want to feel these.

–       When we numb those, we numb joy, we numb gratitude, we numb happiness. And then we are miserable, and we are looking for purpose and meaning, and then we feel vulnerable, so then we have a couple of beers and a banana nut muffin. And it becomes this dangerous cycle.

–       numb through addictions, through striving to be perfect, through trying to make our kids perfect, through believing in certainties, through blame.

-But there’s another way: to let ourselves be seen, deeply seen, vulnerably seen; to love with our whole hearts, even though there’s no guarantee, to practice gratitude and joy in those moments of difficulty, “I’m enough,” then we stop screaming and start listening, we’re kinder and gentler to the people around us, and we’re kinder and gentler to ourselves.

Courage to be vulnerable- Open Lvl Class

IS/OS- action of the thighs and tailbone + SL

Strong action in the legs and low back gives us the support to open our hearts with courage.

4 SN for Sarah – with twists and back bends

standing poses and quad stretches

child’s pose

Handstand- demo tailbone action

King author’s pose

Abs > bridge> abs> bridge/urdva

Camel pose

camel assist


child’s pose

standing forward bends

seated twists and forward bends



So, I’ll start with this: a couple years ago, an event planner called me because I was going to do a speaking event. And she called, and she said, “I’m really struggling with how to write about you on the little flier.” And I thought, “Well, what’s the struggle?” And she said, “Well, I saw you speak, and I’m going to call you a researcher, I think, but I’m afraid if I call you a researcher no one will come, because they’ll think you’re boring and irrelevant.” (Laughter) Okay. And she said, “But the thing I liked about your talk is you’re a storyteller. So I think what I’ll do is just call you a storyteller.” And of course the academic, insecure part of me was like, “You’re going to call me a what?” And she said, “I’m going to call you a storyteller.” And I was like, “Why not magic pixie?” (Laughter) I was like, “Let me think about this for a second.” I tried to call deep on my courage. And I thought, I am a storyteller. I’m a qualitative researcher. I collect stories; that’s what I do. And maybe stories are just data with a soul. And maybe I’m just a storyteller. And so I said, “You know what? Why don’t you just say I’m a researcher-storyteller.” And she went, “Haha. There’s no such thing.” (Laughter) So I’m a researcher-storyteller, and I’m going to talk to you today — we’re talking about expanding perception — and so I want to talk to you and tell some stories about a piece of my research that fundamentally expanded my perception and really actually changed the way that I live and love and work and parent.

And this is where my story starts. When I was a young researcher, doctoral student, my first year I had a research professor who said to us, “Here’s the thing, if you cannot measure it, it does not exist.” And I thought he was just sweet-talking me. I was like, “Really?” and he was like, “Absolutely.” And so you have to understand that I have a bachelor’s in social work, a master’s in social work, and I was getting my Ph.D. in social work, so my entire academic career was surrounded by people who kind of believed the life’s messy, love it. And I’m more of the, life’s messy, clean it up, organize it and put it into a bento box. (Laughter) And so to think that I had found my way, to found a career that takes me — really, one of the big sayings in social work is lean into the discomfort of the work. And I’m like, knock discomfort upside the head and move it over and get all A’s. That was my mantra. So I was very excited about this. And so I thought, you know what, this is the career for me, because I am interested in some messy topics. But I want to be able to make them not messy. I want to understand them. I want to hack into these things I know are important and lay the code out for everyone to see.

So where I started was with connection. Because, by the time you’re a social worker for 10 years, what you realize is that connection is why we’re here. It’s what gives purpose and meaning to our lives. This is what it’s all about. It doesn’t matter whether you talk to people who work in social justice and mental health and abuse and neglect, what we know is that connection, the ability to feel connected, is — neurobiologically that’s how we’re wired — it’s why we’re here. So I thought, you know what, I’m going to start with connection. Well you know that situation where you get an evaluation from your boss, and she tells you 37 things you do really awesome, and one thing — an opportunity for growth? (Laughter) And all you can think about is that opportunity for growth, right. Well apparently this is the way my work went as well, because, when you ask people about love, they tell you about heartbreak. When you ask people about belonging, they’ll tell you their most excruciating experiences of being excluded. And when you ask people about connection, the stories they told me were about disconnection.

So very quickly — really about six weeks into this research — I ran into this unnamed thing that absolutely unraveled connection in a way that I didn’t understand or had never seen. And so I pulled back out of the research and thought, I need to figure out what this is. And it turned out to be shame. And shame is really easily understood as the fear of disconnection. Is there something about me that, if other people know it or see it, that I won’t be worthy of connection. The things I can tell you about it: it’s universal; we all have it. The only people who don’t experience shame have no capacity for human empathy or connection. No one wants to talk about it, and the less you talk about it the more you have it. What underpinned this shame, this “I’m not good enough,” — which we all know that feeling: “I’m not blank enough. I’m not thin enough, rich enough, beautiful enough, smart enough, promoted enough.” The thing that underpinned this was excruciating vulnerability, this idea of, in order for connection to happen, we have to allow ourselves to be seen, really seen.

And you know how I feel about vulnerability. I hate vulnerability. And so I thought, this is my chance to beat it back with my measuring stick. I’m going in, I’m going to figure this stuff out, I’m going to spend a year, I’m going to totally deconstruct shame, I’m going to understand how vulnerability works, and I’m going to outsmart it. So I was ready, and I was really excited. As you know, it’s not going to turn out well. (Laughter) You know this. So I could tell you a lot about shame, but I’d have to borrow everyone else’s time. But here’s what I can tell you that it boils down to — and this may be one of the most important things that I’ve ever learned in the decade of doing this research. My one year turned into six years, thousands of stories, hundreds of long interviews, focus groups. At one point people were sending me journal pages and sending me their stories — thousands of pieces of data in six years. And I kind of got a handle on it.

I kind of understood, this is what shame is, this is how it works. I wrote a book, I published a theory, but something was not okay — and what it was is that, if I roughly took the people I interviewed and divided them into people who really have a sense of worthiness — that’s what this comes down to, a sense of worthiness — they have a strong sense of love and belonging — and folks who struggle for it, and folks who are always wondering if their good enough. There was only one variable that separated the people who have a strong sense of love and belonging and the people who really struggle for it. And that was, the people who have a strong sense of love and belonging believe they’re worthy of love and belonging. That’s it. They believe they’re worthy. And to me, the hard part of the one thing that keeps us out of connection is our fear that we’re not worthy of connection, was something that, personally and professionally, I felt like I needed to understand better. So what I did is I took all of the interviews where I saw worthiness, where I saw people living that way, and just looked at those.

What do these people have in common? I have a slight office supply addiction, but that’s another talk. So I had a manila folder, and I had a Sharpie, and I was like, what am I going to call this research? And the first words that came to my mind were whole-hearted. These are whole-hearted people, living from this deep sense of worthiness. So I wrote at the top of the manila folder, and I started looking at the data. In fact, I did it first in a four-day very intensive data analysis, where I went back, pulled these interviews, pulled the stories, pulled the incidents. What’s the theme? What’s the pattern? My husband left town with the kids because I always go into this Jackson Pollock crazy thing, where I’m just like writing and in my researcher mode. And so here’s what I found. What they had in common was a sense of courage. And I want to separate courage and bravery for you for a minute. Courage, the original definition of courage when it first came into the English language — it’s from the Latin word cor, meaning heart — and the original definition was to tell the story of who you are with your whole heart. And so these folks had, very simply, the courage to be imperfect. They had the compassion to be kind to themselves first and then to others, because, as it turns out, we can’t practice compassion with other people if we can’t treat ourselves kindly. And the last was they had connection, and — this was the hard part — as a result of authenticity, they were willing to let go of who they thought they should be in order to be who they were, which you have to absolutely do that for connection.

The other thing that they had in common was this. They fully embraced vulnerability. They believed that what made them vulnerable made them beautiful. They didn’t talk about vulnerability being comfortable, nor did they talk about it being excruciating — as I had heard it earlier in the shame interviewing. They just talked about it being necessary. They talked about the willingness to say “I love you” first, the willingness to do something where there are no guarantees, the willingness to breathe through waiting for the doctor to call after your mammogram. They’re willing to invest in a relationship that may or may not work out. They thought this was fundamental.

I personally thought it was betrayal. I could not believe I had pledged allegiance to research — the definition of research is to control and predict, to study phenomena, for the explicit reason to control and predict. And now my mission to control and predict had turned up the answer that the way to live is with vulnerability and to stop controlling and predicting. This led to a little breakdown — (Laughter) — which actually looked more like this. (Laughter) And it did. I called it a breakdown, my therapist calls it a spiritual awakening. A spiritual awakening sounds better than breakdown, but I assure you it was a breakdown. And I had to put my data away and go find a therapist. Let me tell you something: you know who you are when you call your friends and say, “I think I need to see somebody. Do you have any recommendations?” Because about five of my friends were like, “Wooo. I wouldn’t want to be your therapist.” (Laughter) I was like, “What does that mean?” And they’re like, “I’m just saying, you know. Don’t bring your measuring stick.” I was like, “Okay.”

So I found a therapist. My first meeting with her, Diana — I brought in my list of the way the whole-hearted live, and I sat down. And she said, “How are you?” And I said, “I’m great. I’m okay.” She said, “What’s going on?” And this is a therapist who sees therapists, because we have to go to those, because their B.S. meters are good. (Laughter) And so I said, “Here’s the thing, I’m struggling.” And she said, “What’s the struggle?” And I said, “Well, I have a vulnerability issue. And I know that vulnerability is the core of shame and fear and our struggle for worthiness, but it appears that it’s also the birthplace of joy, of creativity, of belonging, of love. And I think I have a problem, and I need some help.” And I said, “But here’s the thing, no family stuff, no childhood shit.” (Laughter) “I just need some strategies.” (Laughter) (Applause) Thank you. So she goes like this. (Laughter) And then I said, “It’s bad, right?” And she said, “It’s neither good, nor bad.” (Laughter) “It just is what it is.” And I said, “Oh my God, this is going to suck.”


And it did, and it didn’t. And it took about a year. And you know how there are people that, when they realize that vulnerability and tenderness are important, that they surrender and walk into it. A: that’s not me, and B: I don’t even hang out with people like that. (Laughter) For me, it was a yearlong street fight. It was a slugfest. Vulnerability pushed, I pushed back. I lost the fight, but probably won my life back.

And so then I went back into the research and spent the next couple of years really trying to understand what they, the whole-hearted, what choices they were making, and what are we doing with vulnerability. Why do we struggle with it so much? Am I alone in struggling with vulnerability? No. So this is what I learned. We numb vulnerability — when we’re waiting for the call. It was funny, I sent something out on Twitter and on Facebook that says, “How would you define vulnerability? What makes you feel vulnerable?” And within an hour and a half, I had a 150 responses. Because I wanted to know what’s out there. Having to ask my husband for help, because I’m sick, and we’re newly married; initiating sex with my husband; initiating sex with my wife; being turned down; asking someone out; waiting for the doctor to call back; getting laid-off; laying-off people — this is the world we live in. We live in a vulnerable world. And one of the ways we deal with it is we numb vulnerability.

And I think there’s evidence — and it’s not the only reason this evidence exists, but I think it’s a huge cause — we are the most in-debt, obese, addicted and medicated adult cohort in U.S. history. The problem is — and I learned this from the research — that you cannot selectively numb emotion. You can’t say, here’s the bad stuff. Here’s vulnerability, here’s grief, here’s shame, here’s fear, here’s disappointment, I don’t want to feel these. I’m going to have a couple of beers and a banana nut muffin. (Laughter) I don’t want to feel these. And I know that’s knowing laughter. I hack into your lives for a living. God. (Laughter) You can’t numb those hard feelings without numbing the affects, our emotions. You cannot selectively numb. So when we numb those, we numb joy, we numb gratitude, we numb happiness. And then we are miserable, and we are looking for purpose and meaning, and then we feel vulnerable, so then we have a couple of beers and a banana nut muffin. And it becomes this dangerous cycle.

One of the things that I think we need to think about is why and how we numb. And it doesn’t just have to be addiction. The other thing we do is we make everything that’s uncertain certain. Religion has gone from a belief in faith and mystery to certainty. I’m right, you’re wrong. Shut up. That’s it. Just certain. The more afraid we are, the more vulnerable we are, the more afraid we are. This is what politics looks like today. There’s no discourse anymore. There’s no conversation. There’s just blame. You know how blame is described in the research? A way to discharge pain and discomfort. We perfect. If there’s anyone who wants their life to look like this it would be me, but it doesn’t work. Because what we do is we take fat from our butts and put it in our cheeks. (Laughter) Which just, I hope in a hundred years, people will look back and go, “Wow.”


And we perfect, most dangerously, our children. Let me tell you what we think about children. They’re hardwired for struggle when they get here. And when you hold those perfect little babies in your hand, our job is not so say, “Look at her, she’s perfect. My job is just to keep her perfect — make sure she makes the tennis team by fifth grade and Yale by seventh grade.” That’s not our job. Our job is to look and say, “You know what? You’re imperfect, and you’re wired for struggle, but you are worthy of love and belonging.” That’s our job. Show me a generation of kids raised like that, and we’ll end the problems I think that we see today. We pretend that what we do doesn’t have an effect on people. We do that in our personal lives. We do that corporate — whether it’s a bailout, an oil spill, a recall — we pretend like what we’re doing doesn’t have a huge impact on other people. I would say to companies, this is not our first rodeo people. We just need you to be authentic and real and say, “We’re sorry. We’ll fix it.”

But there’s another way, and I leave you with this. This is what I have found: to let ourselves be seen, deeply seen, vulnerably seen; to love with our whole hearts, even though there’s no guarantee — and that’s really hard, and I can tell you as a parent, that’s excruciatingly difficult — to practice gratitude and joy in those moments of terror, when we’re wondering, “Can I love you this much? Can I believe in this this passionately? Can I be this fierce about this?” just to be able to stop and, instead of catastrophizing what might happen, to say, “I’m just so grateful, because to feel this vulnerable means I’m alive.” And the last, which I think is probably the most important, is to believe that we’re enough. Because when we work from a place I believe that says, “I’m enough,” then we stop screaming and start listening, we’re kinder and gentler to the people around us, and we’re kinder and gentler to ourselves.

That’s all I have. Thank you.



Hanuman class!

-Hanuman appears in the Indian epic the Ramayana

-he represents remembrance, play and power

-he shows us that we can do anything when we align with our true nature, with our path

-in the Ramayana, Hanuman is trying to help his friend Rama get back his wife Sita from an evil king. at first he forgets that he is a divine incarnation of Shiva, but when he remembers, he puts his SUPERPOWERS into action

-hanuman’s superpowers are:

  • he can expand and contract at will, become as huge as a mountain or as small as a bug
  • he can leap over anything (oceans for example)
  • super speed!
  • incredible strength



Who was hanuman?
Hanuman is the son of Anjani, (who had been cursed into a female monkey) and Vayu – the wind god, his father. Sundara Kanda, the fifth book in the Ramayana concentrates mainly on the adventures of Hanuman. Hanuman is easily reachable – just by chanting the name ‘ram’.
Hanuman is worshipped as a symbol of physical strength, perseverance and devotion. On Saturdays and Tuesdays, many people keep fast in honour of Hanuman and give special offerings to him. The character on Hanuman teaches us of the unlimited power that lies unused within each one of us. Hanuman directed all his energies towards the worship of Lord Rama, and his undying devotion made him such that he became free from all physical harm & tiredness. And Hanuman’s only desire was to go on serving Rama.
In order to aid Rama, Lord Brahma commanded some gods and goddesses to take the avatar of ‘Varanas’ (or monkeys). Indra was reincarnated as Bali, Surya as Sugriva, Vrihaspati as Tara, and Pavana, the god of wind was reborn as Hanuman, the wisest, swiftest and strongest of all apes.
How did Hanuman learn to fly?
He received the ability to fly from his father, Vayu. Other qualities such as forceful travel and mighty strength were also inherited.
Why was hanuman’s knowledge of powers removed?
Hanuman was a naughty monkey god, in his childhood. He used his powers to pester the saints, create whirlwinds, pulling a supporting stick with his tail, pulling a beard and messing with sacred fire. All the gods prayed to Brahma to find a solution. To protect the world, he was cursed & that’s how his knowledge of powers was removed.
However, it was Jambavant, the King of bears who reminded Hanuman of his powers. With these powers, he could turn big or small and these took him through many adventures for the good.
How did he become immortal?
At the end of the Ramayana, Ram defeated Ravana and Ram & Sita were crowned King & Queen of Ayodhya. Hanuman remained Ram’s favorite general & continued to serve Ram. When Rama offered Hanuman anything that he mentioned, he asked to live for as long as men spoke of the deeds of Rama.
Hanuman Jayanti
Hanuman Jayanti is celebrated to commemorate the birth of Hanuman. It is celebrated during the month of Chaitra, on a full moon day. He was a devotee of Rama and on this day all devotees of Hanuman visit temples to worship the monkey god. Hanuman is the symbol of strength and energy. He had enough power and strength, to move mountains, run through the air, etc. The devotees apply ‘tilak’ of sindhoor to their foreheads from Hanuman’s body as it is considered to be good luck.
According to the legend, Sita was applying Sindhoor to her head and Hanuman questioned her about why she applies it. She said that it would ensure a long life for her husband, Rama. Hanuman then smeared his entire body with sindhoor, as an effort to ensure Rama’s immortality.