Category Archives: Wheel of the Year



So here we are once again at the fall equinox, that time when the light and dark are balanced, and we sit on the edge of descending darkness. Time to move inside a bit. What does that inside movement offer you?

This time of year is a metaphor for how we balance our lives as householder yogis. As householders, we have many responsibilities in our lives: our careers, families, and all of our interests. Yet we know that to be productive in the world we have to take care of ourselves, we have to nourish ourselves. Much like the plants shedding leaves and growing dormant for the season, we have to pull in, take care, and refuel. We need to rest and draw sustenance from the root of who we are.

Our yoga offers us an opportunity to draw in. The asana practice with a focus on breath can calm our nervous system and allow access to a more centered place. And the practice of meditation takes us deep into the center core of our being, a wellspring of light that lies in the dark quiet core of who we are. That light is the source of love, and knowledge, which can serve us to gracefully navigate the many seasons in our lives.

Our practice sustains us in these darker days, like a plant with roots deep in the ground resting and accessing energy, drawing nourishment from the depths to continue to grow and offer its flowers and fruits.

If you’re like me, spring and summertime involve a lot of activity and pleasure in the beauty of the season. And fall offers an opportunity to move inside, rest a little, nourish our deep roots, and experience the beauty inside of our being. Our practice of yoga, and especially meditation, can take us there.

Please see my meditation page for opportunities to learn this life changing practice.

You are invited to contemplate:
– What opportunity does the fall and winter offer you?
– How do you appreciate inside time?
– What would you like to cultivate this season?
– How have you seen that the inward path has supported your outward path?

Ganesh at the Threshold of a New Year


A beautiful wooden Ganesh came into my possession over the holidays, and paired with the fact that he is the Lord of Thresholds and Beginnings, he’s been on my mind as we enter this New Year.

Ganapati has many names, among them Vigneshvara. Vigna means obstacle, and Ishvara is Lord, and many praise him as the Remover of Obstacles. But more literally he is the Lord OF Obstacles. I’ve been thinking about this a bit as I review my last year and consider my intentions for the coming year. I’ve been contemplating how I work with obstacles, and how Vigneshvara can support me.

When I was living in India for a short time, one day I noticed the school children crowding around to pay homage to Ganesh at one of his shrines. I was curious as to what was going on and was informed that it was exam time, and the children were seeking support on their exams. This is an example of how Ganesh is often approached: as a good luck charm.

On New Year’s day I found myself chanting the Ganapati Atharvashirsha Upanishad, in honor of the new Year and all I would face this coming year. Wouldn’t it be nice if Ganapati just cleared the path for me like some kind of good luck charm, removing any obstacles that might block my desires from coming into fruition? We all hope for smooth sailing as we negotiate our lives, but when I invoke Ganapati, I understand it is not simply a transactional prayer, but has more layers of profound meaning.

When I invoke Vigneshvara, I am calling upon a particular quality, or set of qualities, that he exemplifies. As the Lord of Obstacles, Ganapati is that energy that supports me in negotiating the inevitable challenges that arise in my life.

In fact, could it be that the Lord of Obstacles is that which creates or places the very obstacles that need to be experienced? Challenges can be some of the best things to happen in our life, though in the moment we may not feel that way. In this last year, I experienced unexpected challenges in some of my relationships that caused me to look deep within myself, which served to shift some of my behavioral patterns, and look carefully at my responsibility in creating challenges. It also instigated some changes in how I communicate and how I commit my time.

You likely have heard the expression “when one door closes, another opens.” And what is a door, but an obstacle, closing off one direction, so another can be taken? Sometimes Ganesh shows up as that extreme occurrence when we have no choice but to radically change direction. And he is that energy that helps us negotiate obstacles in the most benevolent way.

For as the names Ganapati and Ganesh suggest, he is the Lord of the Ganas, of all the categories or terms of existence. When our desires are misaligned, when they are not serving the highest, Ganapati arranges the terms of our existence such that a more auspicious arrangement in encouraged.

And ultimately, Ganesh is that quality of the divine we invoke to encourage us to seek that alignment such that our desires reflect divine will. For when our actions emerge from the highest desire to align, Ganesh will then be the remover of obstacles.


Consider the last period of your life and the obstacles you have encountered. What have you learned from them?

What strategies do you use to more gracefully negotiate the inevitable obstacles that arise in your life?

How do you align with your highest desires?

Mother’s Day

Like many holidays, Mother’s Day brings up mixed feelings. Many of us dislike or resent so many holidays that have become commercialized obligations. Yet there is something delightful about celebrating good ol’ mom.

And it can be challenging for many people.  Many of us have lost our moms, or never knew our moms, or had moms who were not the best of moms.  They’re human, after all.

And for women that are not moms, and will never be moms in the conventional sense, it can be a hard reminder.

As for myself, I loved my mom, and dad, dearly. I cherish the love I received from them. And I learned positive things from them both, and, as well, I learned a few negative things.  I learned from both of them some ways I did not want to be.  Yes, after all, they are human.

For Mother’s Day I choose the celebrate the love I shared with my mom, celebrate the fact that she birthed me, and gave me this precious life.  So for me, Mother’s Day is a celebration of the mother energy, the creative life force that we see so active in spring, and that innate mothering instinct that so many creatures share.  I celebrate caring, and I celebrate birthing and nurturing in its many forms.

I celebrate the feminine. Which is something this world needs a lot more of.

Cindy Lusk- Mother’s Day

That could be the end of the essay, but I must say that personally this holiday reminds me of how much I miss my mom. So much. I miss that person that was a steady light in my life, someone I knew I could depend on. That’s what is hard for me on Mother’s Day, that feeling of being alone.

So I celebrate community and connection, for moms are our earliest connection to the heartbeat of life, the pulse that runs through us all, the pulse of life and love that connects us all.

I celebrate yoga because yoga means connecting and joining, turning inwardly to my pulsing heart, and outwardly to embrace life as it is: childless, motherless me. And yet a life full of possibility.

I embrace the sadness, I embrace the joy.

I celebrate the embrace of all of those who have supported and nurtured me, my relatives, teachers and loved ones who have stood steady with me over the years with hugs and words of encouragement.

I celebrate you, for all you have nurtured in yourself and others.

May we all celebrate that nurturing sustaining life force energy from which we manifest.  And may we spread that energy through our love and nurturing of all beings.

Happy Mother’s Day.



We just returned from a very sweet relaxing time in Mexico, to discover spring has sprung here in Boulder.  On my first morning back, I had to take a moment to run out into my backyard and see if the tulips I had planted last summer came up.  I hadn’t much hope for them, it was a freebie from a neighbor that I planted at the wrong time, and not in the greatest soil. I kinda just threw them into the dirt to see what would happen.  And there they were, at least some of them, pushing up toward the light.

Looking around, I see a lot of other stuff peeking out.  The grape hyacinths are up, along with some dandelions (which I’ve decided to let go for a while for the sake of the bees).

What’s coming up in your garden?

As we’ve come to the spring equinox, it is a great time to pause to consider: what is manifesting in my life right now due to what I previously cultivated? What would I like to plant now to nurture into manifestation as I move further into the year?

As I look at my garden, I see very clearly some of the choices I made last fall.  I see the plants I carefully and consciously put to bed, pruned, or planted. And I see the things I ignored, yet to be dealt with.  I see the weeds I kept thinking “I’ll deal with that later,” now firmly established, and will require extra effort to deal with.

And of course this is all a metaphor for the choices we make each moment of our life.  If you are conscious and willing, you can often see in the present blossoming circumstance, the seeds you planted in the past.

It is sweet to recognize what you have worked so hard to manifest, be it some aspect of your health, a relationship, or a piece of work. As well we can acknowledge the very simple things we’ve created like a good meal or clean house.

And on the other hand, we must also pause to acknowledge the not-so-pleasant things we may have generated or tolerated, be it dysfunctional relations, clutter in our home, ill-health, or weeds in our garden. Or, some trajectory in our life that is not working.

Each moment we have the choice to plant the seeds of our future. Life keeps rolling on whether we do so consciously, or not.  And we reap what we sow.

This is not to say that we have control over every event that happens to us, certainly not. Part of living our yoga is determining what we cannot control, and choosing how to work with that as best we can.

Yet ultimately, there are many situations where we could more consciously choose to create a more optimal outcome.  Our yoga practice is intended to help us with this process, through the repeated connection to the center of our self. The onset of spring is a perfect time for pause, connecting to our wisest self, and contemplating what we wish to sow in the next phase of our life.


Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday, in part because it falls on a Thursday and therefore feels like a nice luxurious four day break as we move toward the depths of the darkest part of the year. Like so many of our holidays, Thanksgiving means different things to different people: a time to be with family and give thanks for the bounty in our lives, gorge ourselves on food, watch football, enjoy naps and reading, or shop ‘til you drop.  I invite you to take a moment to consider what Thanksgiving can mean for you.




I love Thanksgiving because for me it is a holiday of gratitude. As with any holiday, you can make it what you want, and I choose to make it about gratitude.  So I set this as my samkalpa, my intention, to focus on everything I’ve been given, the preciousness of life, of my loved ones, of my path.

It is an opportunity to pause and remember all that we have been given in this lifetime.  As we go about our day-to-day business, our awareness is often pulled to what is wrong, often by necessity.  Like if the electricity goes off, or a pipe breaks, or the floods come, we have to deal with it, both practically and emotionally.  But often our focus is inordinately on what is wrong, what we see as problematic, old pains and suffering.  And we forget to remember what is right, what is good, what I HAVE instead of what I don’t have.

One of the things that Thanksgiving and the December holidays can bring to us, is the opportunity to be with our birth family. This can be pleasant or not so pleasant, but it is an opportunity, especially if it IS challenging. This is where we can discern how our yoga practice is actually working. It gives us an opportunity to watch how the cycle of our thoughts and emotions arise from our old patterns, and depending on our response to those impulses, we reiterate the patterns, or we have the choice to begin to break free.

So for example, you find yourself in a situation with your family or old friends in which buttons begin to get pushed, some old patterns of behavior want to arise, perhaps someone starts treating you like you were 12 years old still, or people expect you to behave some way you always have, or someone else’s behavior pattern reminds you of some old painful and unresolved dynamic. So what do you do?  Do you choose to reactivate and reinforce that particular pattern?  Are you getting sucked into some old story like getting engrossed in an old movie you’ve outgrown but can’t seem to extract yourself from?

Or do you take a pause, breathe and access a deeper self that you’ve been connecting to via your practices, remembering who you really are inside, and who you want to be.  Can you remember to identify with this deeper self, your center, your essence, your heart? Remember to pause and remember your intention. Remember what Thanksgiving is really about, give thanks and gratitude to the teachings that have helped you remember to take that pause, and even thanks as well to the person that is allowing you to practice what you’ve been learning and demonstrate how far you’ve come along the path of yoga.

For many of us on the path of yoga, the holidays can be challenging with our relatives simply because our lifestyle is so different, and at times I had a certain self-righteousness around that.  I would be so aghast at the food on the menu, at what I considered the ill health of my relatives on so many levels, that I forgot to appreciate: there’s grandma, there’s grandpa, and there’s mom…and how much they all loved me, had supported me in so many way. And now all of those people are gone.  I missed many opportunities to be thankful for what was present and RIGHT because I was so focused on what I thought was WRONG. Luckily in later years when they were still alive I did learn to appreciate them, and express my gratitude, but there were many lost years of just being sulky.

Which brings me to another way holidays can affect us: as we’ve lost people who are dear to us, the holidays can be a sad and therefore hard time of the year. As I express this, I get a little choked up and sad about how I have no grandparents, no parents , or no kids or no grandkids with which to celebrate.

Here again is where remembering is so important.  And it is not a matter of stuffing feelings, the feelings are real, they’re there, and they’re OK.  I give them some space, allow myself to feel some of the sadness, and then I remember: life is precious, life is short, and I DO have a lot to be grateful for. I treasure the memories and what I do have in my life now.

Gratitude can be a year round practice that can really shift your life, even if it is simply considering each day what has gone right instead of focusing on what goes wrong. When you’re feeling challenged, when you’re feeling down, when your heart is feeling concealed, pause and reflect: What do you have to be grateful for?

Even in the darkest days, so much is going right for us. Sitting here in my office I notice: I am breathing, I have warm clothes, my computer is working, I have a sweet cat. These I can see just looking around me for 5 seconds.

I am also grateful for the challenges in my life, the challenging situations and people, for they teach me how to be a better person. They remind me to move beyond the surface to access my greater self, and to remember that same place is underneath the surface of everyone.

I am so grateful for having found yoga, for the great teachings of yoga, for all my teachers, everything they have taught me that flows through me now. I am grateful for all the great beings who have walked the path before me.

I am so grateful to each of you, for taking the time to read this, for showing up, for considering deeply these teachings, for walking the path of yoga, working to create a deeper connection with yourselves and thereby making the world a more loving place.

I would love to hear from you about Thanksgiving and the practice of gratitude.

What meaning does the Thanksgiving holiday have for you?

Do you have a particular intention for this holiday you can explicitly articulate?

What are you most grateful for in your life?



I was at a coffee shop last week and the barista asked me “what are you being for Halloween?” I scrunched up my nose, shook my head and replied, “I’m not into Halloween.” I felt like the Halloween grinch, but I’ve wondered about this holiday for a long time, ever since I spent three years as a child in England where they didn’t trick or treat. Later I found out that the basis of many of our western holidays come from pagan roots, and realized that many of the holidays we cherish have become commercial occasions.

Don’t get me wrong: I am all for having fun and merry-making (and money-making), especially for the little kids (though the sugar consumption is clearly unhealthy). But in the midst of the consumption and partying, perhaps we can step back to take a closer look at a deeper meaning of this holiday.

Halloween marks the midpoint between the fall equinox and the winter solstice. It is our entry into the darkest time of the year. For the next six weeks, the days get progressively darker until the darkest day of the year on the winter solstice, then we slowly start climbing back toward the light. So November, December, and January comprise the darkest quarter of the year. Traditionally, Halloween was seen as a time when the veil between the spirit world and the material world was thinnest, and a gateway to receive the whispering of insights from the spirit world. Coming at the end of harvest time, it is also the celebration of darkness, the dead, and death, which marks the beginning of a new cycle.

The Trick.

In our America culture, Halloween has become a big party holiday. The stores have aisles full of the accouterments, and my inbox is full of “scary deals.” Even for adults, it has become very popular to dress up, sometimes in elaborate costumes, and take on the role of someone we aren’t. This strikes me as so ironic, given the opportunity of this time of year. And it is exemplary of what we do in our lives in general. Every day we get up, and put on our various masks, make-up and clothing, and take on the roles of wife, mother, teacher, daughter, etc.

Perhaps partying, putting on a costume and taking on a different role for Halloween provides some temporary relief from the stress of our everyday roles, and the challenges of moving into the darkest times of the year. But it feels like the exact opposite of how we could spend our energy. Have we been tricked into another collective consumptive party at a time when the energy is naturally flowing into a quieter space?

The Treat.

In these shortest days, we begin to move inside, literally, as the days grow shorter we spend less time outside. And we have the opportunity to move more internally into our being as well. I often use these days to study and solidify my internal practices that may have waned a little during the days of light and summer fun.

The time around Halloween could be a time of deep introspection, of listening to our heart’s longing, of listening to our spirit speak. It could be a time to take that barista’s question to a deeper level: what do you want to be? In these days of a thinner veil, when the earth is turning in upon itself, to turn inside and listen to the guidance of our spirit. In doing so, we can begin to penetrate the various layers of our being into the core essence of who we are beyond all the roles we play. Knowing this part of our Self is a true treat, indeed.

So please excuse me for seeming like the Halloween grinch, as the last thing I want to do is put a damper on an opportunity to have fun and make merry. I know many people enjoy the creativity of costuming and the fun of connecting with friends. But as we dress up and put on our masks to this Halloween, after we’ve handed out the candy, take some time to consider some of the deeper opportunity this time of year can provide. I’ve included some contemplations below to help. Let me know how it turns out!

– If you enjoy Halloween, contemplate and write about what part of you it supports.
– The next three months are the darkest time of the year. Does this scare you, or can you see it as an opportunity? What more internal activities would you like to cultivate in the next quarter year?
– Contemplate this aphorism from the Shiva Sutras: nartarka ātmā, the self is a dancer (or actor). The essence of our Self is like an actor on the world stage.


Hard to think of it as May Day with the snow falling here in Boulder, but that’s what the calendar says nonetheless! I’ve always found the image of the maypole dance intriguing, and have thought about it in many ways and different levels. Here’s my latest iteration.

The maypole dance seems to take different forms, but they all have one thing in common: the pole. Attached to the pole are ribbons, and through a dance around the pole these ribbons are interwoven, forming a tapestry around the maypole.

The image of the pole is not unlike the image of a Shiva linga, which represent the essential core root of Reality. It is still and unchanging, it is that which supports everything else.  On the individual level, it is our ground of Being, Awareness itself, the stillpoint that watches the unfolding of our lives.  And that unfolding, of course, is reflected in the dance and in the ribbons, in their varied movements, colors and textures. The ribbons are the different strands of our manifest reality, woven together to create the tapestry of our life.

Once the dance has proceeded, and the maypole is wrapped, the pole itself is obscured by the tapestry that surrounds it, and it can be easy to forget what it is that is supporting the whole thing.  So it is with our life: we get caught up in the dance, in the colors, blown about by the wind, and we forget that each strand is tethered to the pole, without which the dance could not occur.

Yoga and meditation provide us with an opportunity to cultivate and appreciate both our ground of being, Awareness itself, and the dance that is our life.  From tuning in regularly through our practice to this stable core, we tether ourselves to it, and it feeds the dance and allows for the creation of a tapestry that is artistic, aligned, and resilient.  This May, let us remember this ever-present, all-pervading ground of Being that supports and feeds the dance and the fabric of our lives.

Trimming the Tree

Last year we didn’t have a Christmas tree.  I was really busy, time got away, and I just didn’t feel the spirit.  It was OK, I told myself. 

But honestly, I missed it.  I missed having the bright lights during this darkest season.  And I knew there was a part of myself I was ignoring. The truth is, that like most holidays once you’ve reached a certain age, Christmas is bittersweet. Lots of fond memories, and some sad ones, too.

So this year, Peter put the lights on, and I starting unwrapping the ornaments.  There are no round bulbs on my tree.  Over the years I have collected an odd assortment of ornaments on various themes.  Most of them have a memory attached.

The oldest are some eggs covered in felt and glitter with a vignette inside.  These are from my teenage years, and are what I have left from my family trees.  Then there are the Hindu deities: Ganesh, Sarasvati, Krishna, and some other unidentified God, that I brought back from one of my trips to India.  I have a rather battered portrait of Jesus I got at some yoga party, which I absolutely love, and always figures prominently on the tree.

Then there are those silly personalized ones my mom got at one of those kiosks at the mall in 2004 (I know that because they say so).  The one with my name has a bear sitting in lotus, dressed in leotard, with a water bottle and boom box (?). Weird.  Peter’s has a boy holding a bass guitar. There is an odd assortment of others I inherited from my mom and ones we bought together: enamelware from a factory tour we took in China and the gold spray painted rigatoni being holding a violin we got at a craft show. There’s the tabby cat I bought the year our Franz cat died. Then there’s an assortment that various friends have given me over the years.

It’s a kitschy blend, and I love it.

These ornaments bring to life the many memories of Christmas past, of people and pets that are long gone, which evokes a sweet ache in my heart.  At first it feels just plain sad. So many I have lost, so much time already gone. This feeling could overwhelm me and spin into melancholy, but instead I hold it in my heart and follow the feeling inside to its root…. I find love.  Love, and a happiness in having the memories of these holidays past, even the challenging ones. Remembering the love I shared with those that have passed makes me committed to making time to being with my family, which is not only those I’m connected to at birth, but those with whom I walk the path. 

In these darkest days, may we connect to the light and the love, and each other.

Guru Purnima

In honor of Guru Purnima, which is this Tuesday July 3, I thought I would post this essay I wrote a few months ago.

For a whole variety of reasons my teachers have been on my mind: Richard Freeman, John Friend, Douglas Brooks, and Paul Muller-Ortega (in the order I met them). In their own way, each initiated me into yoga, educated me, and supported me personally and professionally.  I would not be who I am today without them. I have so much gratitude for them and seek to honor them in my own behavior and teaching.

Vande gurunam
These are words from the first sanskrit chant I learned from Richard. I bow to the teacher. Richard taught me the art and science of body as mudra: to listen and move with the pulsation of breath, to channel energy with bandha, the focus of drishti and dedicated practice. He supported me as I became a new teacher, allowing me to teach classes at his studio. He also whetted my thirst for yoga philosophy and again supported my first attempts at teaching that. I am so grateful for these gifts and many others Richard bestowed.

Om namah Shivaya
John Friend gave me back my yoga asana practice which was threatened by a lot of low back pain. He showed me how to align my body to be pain free, introduced me to the profound practice of opening to grace and the tantric philosophy that everything is a manifestation of the divine.  He consistently challenged me physically, emotionally, and spiritually to soften, connect with source, and become a vehicle for divine light. John taught me how to be an excellent yoga teacher and bolstered a well-rounded studentship, and these two gifts serve me well to this day. The support of John personally and the Anusara Yoga organization has been unyielding, and allowed me to build a career doing what I truly love to do.

Keep good company
One of the greatest gifts John gives, is to promote others’ gifts and that is how I met Douglas. Douglas ignited in me a profound love of the deep teachings of yoga through its stories, culture, and philosophy. HIs particular interpretation of yoga philosophy turned my world upside down in a way that taught me a radical affirmation for and appreciation of the many gifs the divine is offering me in this life. Not a day goes by when I don’t think of something I’ve learned from Douglas, his teachings have had a profound effect on me, my life, and my own teaching and I am forever grateful our paths came together.

Dakshinamurtaye namah
John also introduced me to Paul at a time in my life when I thought I certainly didn’t need another teacher! Luckily those other teachers taught me to listen to the call of my heart which was clearly clamoring for something more, and my recent studies with Paul have produced a more expansive shift in my being that I thought possible. As my time with him has thus far been relatively short, it is harder to articulate the gifts he has given me, but in a word I would say: sadhana. He has taught me effective techniques and the value of a regular meditation practice, the result of which has been a profound realignment in the core of my being toward the supreme pulsations of the divine. This benefits me daily and allows me to serve as a teacher in a more effective way than I ever though possible. Paul has fed my appetite for a systematic understanding of yoga philosophy, particularly the tantras.  The work I am doing with Paul feels like the crowning jewel of 20+ years of yoga study and practice, and I look forward to much more.

Tasmai shri gurave namah
From these teachers I repeatedly heard an honoring of their own teachers, a remembrance of those that helped them on their own paths.  I also heard a profound respect for the manifest and unmanifest divine and have received the call to attune, again and again, to That, which can take the form of my desires, the teachings, and all of my actions.  May I continue to serve all of you the best I can.


The Wheel turns and once again we find ourselves having passed the spring equinox spoke, moving us into the lightest half of the year. As the wheel turns, each of the spokes has a different rasa: taste or essence. Spring at essence is potential, a time of new growth. We plan and begin the planting of this year’s garden. In our lives, this spoke in the wheel is an opportunity to check in with our lives as we re-emerge from the darkness: what has manifested in these past months?

And, what do we want to begin creating in the next few months?  Spring equinox can be a time of renewed or revised intention, or sankalpa. As a practice, we may time take to contemplate a particular sankalpa for the next period of the wheel’s turning.

Sit with these questions:
What do I want?
What is my heart’s desire?
What do I long to create in my life?
What is the greatest thing I could offer to myself and/or to others in these coming months?

Sitting with these questions, allow any “should” or “ought” to bubble up and pop, then go deeper into your heart’s true longing. Sit with that desire and allow it to crystallize into sankalpa. When you feel ready, write about what came up in your contemplation. Finally, try to encapsulate your intention in a word, phrase, or sentence that is easy to repeat to guide you as the wheel moves forward.

Is there something you can do today to begin manifesting your intention? What seeds can you start planning? What do you need to do to prepare the soil for the seed to take hold?

As we proceed toward manifestation of our intention, we of course must work with what is. Those of us who live in Colorado know that one hailstorm can decimate even the most cared-for garden. We are not in control. This is the flipside of sankalpa: what is the universe offering you?  This question also invites deep contemplation.

Sometimes what we think we want on the surface is not aligned with the deepest layers of being and we find ourselves pushing against forces that move us in a different direction than we intended.  So we must keep remembering, re-examining, and revising our intentions so they align us with our deepest sense of self. Inevitably, intentions that reflect our heart’s truest desire WILL manifest.