Wednesday, October 28, 2009

A Complete Circumnavigation of the Earth in 33 Days!

A Complete Circumnavigation of the Earth in 33 Days!

My voyage began with an around-the-world ticket on September 25th from Denver with touchdowns in Washington DC, Rome, Perugia, Florence, Geneva, Munich, Seoul, and Los Angeles, and finally back to a snow storm in Denver!

People sometimes glamorize world travel, yet like anything, travel is not always easy and comes with its ups and downs. Precicesly at the moment I would start to miss home or feel the wear and tear of the road, I'd log in to Facebook or open an email and there would be a message thanking me for traveling as much as I do, appreciation for sharing the teachings despite the hardships of travel, and general loving wishes. I must thank each of you who wrote, because these messages came at exactly the moments I needed to hear them, and they meant so much to me. Truly, thank you.

The tour kicked off with my 8th retreat to Umbria, and another outstanding week of decadent food, wine, and yoga.

After an exciting day in my old stomping grounds of Florence, Kelli and I had an adventure – an overnight train to Geneva! We were greeted in the morning by David Newbery who promptly fed us with fresh juiced fruits and veggies made by 16-yr old, up-and-coming raw foods educator, AJ.

As always it was a total pleasure working with the exceptional Swiss and French Kula in Geneva.

After a day of rest, home practice, catching up, and a hot bath, I left for Munich and on to Seoul for two weeks of the Part 2 Immersion!

Since 2007 I have been helping to build Anusara yoga in Korea with Tina Park at Jai Center in Seoul. This was my 5th trip to Korea and this year we started a 3 part Immersion which has been rocking the yoga community.

Our one bi-lingual student, Henna Lew, summed up the Immersion with these words: "It's been truly magical for the past two weeks and has brought so much courage and happiness to a level that some of us have not experienced in our entire life until today!"

It has been a total honor to teach so much this year in Korea, because like anything into which we put our love and energy, a great vibration is created. It is wonderful to feel such a deep bond with a group of women who speak completely different languages than I, and who live in radically different cultures. Because of their dedication and eagerness to learn, the student’s transformation from Part 1 to Part 2 has been astonishing. Check out these shakti-filled sisters!

I have been learning Korean with Tina and the women, and enjoying the challenge. Because it is so difficult, I just end up laughing at myself a whole lot.

Trip to the DMZ

A few of us also had the great fortune of touring the DMZ (De-militarized zone, the 4 kilometer wide boundary that divides North and South Korea), which was a hugely eye opening and moving experience for me. The DMZ has had almost no human contact for over 50 years. Consequently, the whole stretch of this 4 kilometer-wide zone has reverted back to nature, attracting rare and otherwise extinct species of birds, animals, plants, and insects.

When these two countries reunite, all of the Korean peninsula will have this gorgeous wildlife preserve to enjoy – a gift to come out of the separation.

What was most uplifting about being there was seeing the art work on the South Korean side which was full of hope, as well as real structures such as a Freedom Bridge and a fully functioning train station that was built complete with train tracks that extend across the DMZ toward North Korea. Even though there is technically no use for this station, it was built as a vote of confidence and as a gesture toward the reality of the need for transportation across once reunification occurs. “Fake it till you make it, build it and they will come”, I always say!

Ribbons of Hope
In this photo, are the ribbons we placed containing our written prayers for unification.

At this stage on the tour you can see below Elizabeth (who has been assisting me on all three of my Asian tour stops this year) and I having a tough time smiling, as we were still absorbing the heaviness of the reality going on at the border.

We were also joined by om time Immersion graduate, Bill Carver from Durango, CO who will be traveling in Asia until January and joining parts of the Korean Immersion.

On our tour, we were taken into “The Third Tunnel”, one of 4 tunnels the North Koreans started digging under the DMZ to eventually invade Seoul. It is said that they began excavating at the end of the war, but the South Korean army discovered the 4 tunnels throughout the 70’s to the 90’s before they could be used.

Along with a slew of young soldiers, we entered the South Korean tunnel that had been built by the army in order to access and then block the North Korean passageway. We then came upon the spot where the North Koreans had stopped digging before they got caught, an actual narrow tunnel that was designed to dispatch thousands of soldiers in an hour's time. Total erie alert!

Everyone had to put on these ridiculous helmets, which I was convinced were a gimmick, but when I heard all the tall people’s helmets hitting the top of the tunnel repeatedly, I realized they were a needed commodity. We are smiling in this picture because, despite the heaviness of the actuality, the young soldiers were so jovial inside the tunnel, we couldn’t help but smile. At one point I was questioning the light-hearted vibe jokingly, and Tina said, “Yeah, what’s with the party attitude in The Third Tunnel?” Well, this was their educational field trip from hard training – they were as much tourists as we were!

Overall, it was an unforgettable experience for me. The fact that such a separation exists, and that so many people are intentionally isolated from the global community (the North Koreans have no cell phones, internet, or cars!) is totally wild.

Whenever there is separation, there is a lack of relationship and therefore isolation and then delusion, and when there is a lack of relationship or isolation, there is NO YOGA.

On the ribbons we set out on the fence of the DMZ, we placed our prayers for unification. It has been too long to hold such a stance of separation and hope is very much REAL.

In our lifetime, may we be witnesses to the DMZ’s dissolution, may all the fascinating nature that has emerged be left standing as a symbol of rebirth for the entire planet, and may North Korean citizens be welcomed lovingly into the International community with peace and harmony. May it be so. May it be real.

Los Angeles

The day after the immersion, I had one of the longest Mondays I've ever had - I left Seoul at 12:08pm on Monday and arrived in LA on Monday at 10:15am, "earlier" than I had left! In three short days, I managed to sleep off dangerously drowsy jet lag (thank you Tanya and Beate for driving me around the first day!), I saw 11 different friends I have not seen in years, got a much needed and ecstatic facial at Julique, had productive meetings, and got my toes wet in the Pacific. It was too short, so I will make sure to go back to LA soon, and stay much longer next time!

As I write this from the plane, I return to the first major blizzard back home in Colorado, the final stretch of my planetary circumnavigation!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Yogi Highlight - Eric Ryan!

The first yogi I am featuring, is Eric Ryan from New Jersey. Eric is known all over the world now for his radical transformation in the last two years since studying Anusara yoga. Since I met him, he has been with me on the mat on Martha's Vineyard, in Italy, Chile, Colorado, Pennsylvania, New York and Massachusetts. When I met Eric, I found him to be bright and kind, yet there were clouds cloaking his full light from shining. He was less fully engaged, less social, and more withdrawn. He could not push up off the floor in Urdvha Dhanurasana, his handstands were enthusiastic, but his alignment was not refined, so his stamina would burn out like a flame in seconds and he'd be down. His athletic background made him competent on the mat, but he would not pause long enough to sync with me and so he'd rush in and out of poses, and over-effort many times.

Watching Eric soften, open up, channel his greatness, and embrace being part of a kula (community of the heart), has been a total blessing for me. Each new workshop or part of the immersion, his light would come through with more clarity. His poses, out of no where, started to unfold. For example, within only a year and a half he went from "can't push up" in urdhva dhanurasana to demoing drop backs and dwi pada viparita dandasana and nailing it on the first try.

He slimmed down significantly. His skin tone and overall luster energetically started to glow.

Eric became a true friend to all of us, became an official Douglas Brooks groupie, and over the course of the Immersion a spectacular tattoo of Ganesh evolved on his upper back followed by Kali alighting on his foot! I have not seen it yet, but apparently there is a third addition - Hanuman in flying form holding the mountainside of Sanjivani herbs, now on his chest.

Congratulations, Eric. You've worked hard, your adhikara (studentship) rocks, your devotion is appreciated, your service to the greater good and the kula is our greatest blessing, and your presence is an inspiration! Keep on evolving!

Words from Eric:

My first Anusara Yoga class was also one of my first yoga classes. It was a workshop with Amy on Martha’s Vineyard in 2006. I was pretty clueless and had to watch other students to have any idea what the poses were. I felt awkward and clumsy but something clicked and I knew that this was something I wanted more of.

What really attracted me was the sense of welcome I felt. Folks asked :“How are you?” and I sensed that they actually cared about the answer. The quality and depth of my every conversation and interaction improved; as did my sense of connection to my heart and the community.

The Fall of 2008 was calamitous. The economic collapse caused me significant dislocation and demanded reappraisal of what I had held as precious. My marriage seemed irreparable, and there was the passing of loved ones. I arrived in Umbria raw and grieving. The kula was a lifeline and I felt like a drowning man. The kula took care of me with loving support, acceptance and hugs.In Umbria Amy spoke about the Immersion as the next step for those who wanted to deepen their understanding of the Anusara philosophy and system of alignment. I felt ill prepared for such a big step but I hungered for it.

I asked Amy: What would I have to do to be ready for the Immersion?
I expected a checklist: Practice 10 hours a week. Kick up into handstand at the wall. Urdva with straight arms… etc.

The answer that Amy gave was: It is just a breath away.

I could no more refuse her invitation than I could stop my own breath. I returned home and amped up my class schedule, trying to get prepare. The Immersion proved to be more than I could have hoped for. Here were people who had chosen the same path I had. My sense and appreciation of the kula deepened and enriched me. The authenticity of the connection among us was profound and powerful. It inspired confidence and effort. I found that by trusting my teacher and living and breathing my commitment that the boundaries of my asana practice were expanding. Asana also became more playful. Even falling out of a pose became an occasion for laughter and joy.

One of the things I have experienced along the way is that progress is seldom linear and it can be frustrating to me when I think that I am about to finally “get it” and then “it” decides to dance out of my reach. I often feel as if I am actually going backwards. This is the time to take a “step towards the teacher”. Sometimes that teacher is the universal principles of alignment, sometimes the asana teacher standing in front of you at the studio and sometimes it is the teacher that is in each of our hearts. In all cases taking a step towards the teacher results in the teacher taking two steps towards you.

It sounds mundane; but the commitment to scheduling chunks of time for yogic exploration and restoration is an affirmation that this is the path I have chosen and this is the path that I am on. Even the act of marking my calendar with a future event is making an important choice that renews my commitment to my practice and to ordering the rest of my life so that it is in support of that practice. Then, when challenges come, I look at the calendar and think: Well, this month may be a bit of a bumpy road, but the middle of next month I get to be in the company of some amazing beings and then the Shakti will really pulse!

I have immense gratitude that I stumbled in to Anusara. I am also deeply grateful for the teachings of John Friend, Douglas Brooks, Amy, and all of my other teachers and I am grateful for the support of the kula. May it continue to expand and enfold.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Why Keeping the Rainforest Standing Benefits You, Your Loved Ones, and the Future of Planet Earth

This recent New York Times article reaffirmed my choice two years ago to dedicate time and energy to the Amazon Herb Company and ACEER Foundation. Since I was a girl, I have always had a passion for the rainforest and animals. For as far back as I can remember, innately I could feel the vital importance of our interconnection on planet earth, and I was determined to be an advocate.

With just 28% more devastation, the Amazon will reach its tipping point, and all those centuries of growth, the world's main source of oxygen, a stable climate and cooler temperatures would go out like a flame. We are rapidly reaching that point, but there is a solution!!

I encourage you to watch this inspiring video by the Cousteau Society about what is happening in the Amazon these days. Then, consider participating as a consumer of the life-enhancing super foods available through Amazon Herb Company. No other organization or business is making such a powerful impact in the Amazon, preserving almost 1 million acres thus far, and helping tribes like these all over the Amazon to get their legal land titles and deeds, so their land is protected.

Recently Peru repealed laws that were passed which would open up 70% of Peru's Rainforest to oil exploration. Public appearances were made in Peru by Amazon Herb's founder, John Easterling and his wife, Olivia Newton-John speaking about the importance of the rainforest. After all the media attention surrounding the company's work and Olivia's involvement, public opinion turned and these laws were repealed!! Read story.

This is great news, and there is more. Each of us has the power, through our purchases to help keep the forest standing. The circle of benefit is genius - by supporting our own health and well being, we support the tribes. With the tribes supported and prosperous, the land is protected. With the land protected, the whole Earth continues to have a stable climate and we can breathe again.

Contribute to the circle of healing by supporting your own health, the health of the tribes, and therefore the safety of everyone on the planet. It is simple, drink ZAMU and eat Amazon Herbs. The secret behind Zamu™ is the synergy of all Rainforest ingredients featuring camu camu - the exciting Amazon 'feel good' fruit. Sustainably harvested in the Rainforest, the camu camu berry and other ingredients in Zamu™ are scientifically recognized for their beneficial properties.

With every delicious sip of ZAMU™ you are flooding your body with life-enhancing nutrients that support a positive life experience. Order a 4-pack Box and other vital superfoods from the Amazon HERE.

If you are interested in becoming an associate messenger for this good news and earning referral income, contact us at

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Asia tour 2009

South Korea

In May, I traveled to South Korea for the third time to teach at Jai Center, a yoga studio dedicated to building yoga community in Korea. This time we offered the first ever Anusara Yoga 100-hour Immersion, to a group of extraordinary students from all over Korea and the world.

The immersion was translated from English into Korean by my dear friend and yoga teacher, Tina Park, who is bilingual and also grew up in Korea. Because of Tina's skills, and a 15 year friendship that makes us totally in sync with translating, the teachings penetrated the room, creating a synergistic cross pollination of cultures and backgrounds which linked the hearts of the Western and Eastern students in a profound way.

In addition yoga is really growing in Korea, so to be sharing these teachings feels really remarkable when you consider that only 50 years ago South Korea was desecrated from war. Out of so much destruction, in such a short time, Seoul has totally re-created itself and is now a thriving modern city full of life, culture, and urban prowess. This energy of rebirth, re-creation, and perseverance truly permeates the culture in Seoul and that shakti floods the practice and the energy in the yoga studio, a total inspiration and a metaphor for our own yoga and personal expansion that we experience in the Immersion. It was profound to be a part of such a meaningful week with everyone.

The Immersion was so powerful for the students that we decided to offer an additional Part 1 in August so that more students throughout Asia can begin the Immersion cycle that will continue through spring of 2010. With the challenge of bringing US teachers over to Asia consistently, it is rare to be able to take the whole 3-part Immersion with the same teacher and the same group throughout. My immersion graduates are always so thankful for the experience they gained by doing the complete program with the same group and same teacher. If you have every wanted to visit Seoul or wanted to take a 3 part Immersion in this way, now is the time to jump on this training, August 28-September 6th, 2009. To register visit Jai Center.

There will be a 4-day break in between long weekend sessions so you can see, and experience Seoul and assimilate the teachings. And one of the wonderful benefits of translation is the natural pause that occurs while the English is being translated - it gives you time to take amazing notes and really take in the teachings. And very exciting, we will be preparing the ground for John Friend who will be visiting Korea for the first time in April of 2010!

South East Asia

Touring in South East Asia this year was a record high on many levels. More students than ever came out for Anusara Yoga. I taught in Singapore for the first time and loved it, we had our usual epic yoga marathon in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, and we culminated the tour with a fabulous Therapy Retreat in Koh Samui Thailand
, where I taught our group daily therapeutic yoga. We were all mercilessly pampered by amazing spa treatments that abound on the island.

Anusara Inspired teacher, Elizabeth Linton, a graduate of my 100-hr Anusara Immersion
and teacher training in Denver, joined up on the tour to assist me. She was a total trooper and added so much to the tour. The students truly benefitted from all the added attention and we had a blast traveling and hanging out with the kulas all over South East Asia.

We did a lot of great eating in Singapore!

Riding the "Flyer" in Singapore

Celebrating John Friend's 50th birthday with Durian Cake and the Malaysian Anusara Kula.

Retreat on Koh Samui
at Absolute Sanctuary

Following the retreat a few of us got to go to some of the islands by boat. In this picture we are sitting in the ocean where multi colored rainbows of fish did auspicious pradakshina around the Goddesses. This does not even capture the majesty of it!

Thanks to everyone who helped make my tour in Asia so gorgeous, especially Tina Park
(Seoul), Elizabeth Linton (from somewhere else), Sumei Shum, Lynn Yeo and Monica Lee (Singapore), Vincent Tam (Kuala Lumpur), Jeanne Chung (Singapore/Koh Samui) and Joung-ah Ghedini-Williams (Bangkok)!

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Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Why Yoga Retreats Rock

An article by Amy Ippoliti and Tarah Cech

Hi my name is Amy Ippoliti, and I am a yoga retreat junkie. It started back in the 90’s in Utah after my first taste of a retreat with John Friend up in the mountains. Thanks to John, I now have an addiction to yoga retreats.

In yoga, we start with the premise that as individuals we want to take care of our health, emotional well-being and develop a deeper connection to spirit in order to serve our families, community and the world more fully.

With today’s fast paced culture it is easy to lose sight of what is most meaningful in our lives. Distractions abound, and the use of abundant forms of communication technology leaves us little time for restoration, relaxation, and rejuvenation, let alone basic free time. Over time, lack of attention to what is most important leads to depletion, stress and “dis-ease”.

In the ancient yogic text called the Upanishads, it is stated that one must first be able to put food on the table and take care of survival needs before asking the bigger questions in life. So once one finds a certain degree of success, the opportunity to go to the next level arises. Most yoga students have achieved this basic level of success and have made it to the yoga studio to discover more.

What is so different about a yoga retreat?

Imagine waking up in an exotic location, strolling along a garden path to join a group of like minded friends for a vibrant organic breakfast that has been prepared for you by someone else, and then making your way to a gorgeous outdoor yoga studio where your favorite teacher is waiting to guide you in an extended blissful practice.

With out you having to think about it, as you are on the mat, your room is being freshly cleaned, your bed made, and an exquisite lunch is being prepared in the kitchen.

Following lunch you relax in the hot tub or receive a healing spa treatment, and like magic the gardens are being optimized by the staff, the yoga studio is being swept clean, and a nourishing dinner is on its way.

You invest your leisure time in contemplation of what really matters, setting intentions for your life, turning obstacles into opportunities, and visioning your dreams while keeping company with other great beings who share the desire to live out loud, on purpose and with celebration.

Your afternoon practice supports you in integrating the wisdom of a great lineage of teachers into your experience both on and off the mat, and you leave class feeling more inspired, hopeful, with a lighter load, and more open to possibility.
The days continue in this way, and by the end of the trip your spiritual gas tank has been filled to the brim, your battery has been recharged, you realize that you are truly supported by friends on your journey, and the world awaits your excellent contribution and the higher frequency you can now share.

What’s not to love?

If you want to become a retreat junkie like me, there are a variety of fabulous trips to choose from with beautiful teachings, in gorgeous locations globally. Visit to begin dreaming your next adventure now.

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Sunday, January 25, 2009

Amy, and some Boulder Yogi's, Take a Look at the Economy

Constant exposure to the media creates a wave of fear that rocks the web of our culture. I am not an economist, and certainly there are many reasons the economy is in need of a high-colonic right now (sorry for the imagery!) - there is a lot of understandable contraction. However fear it seems, is the one of the biggest causes of the constipation. Yogis have always lived as an example, whether through living green, being kind, or showing up for our own self inquiry. Now more than ever, we can do so many things to transcend the fear, be positive lights for the world, bring prosperity and abundance into our lives and those around us, and help assist the flow of shri (abundance and resourcefulness) back into our economy! To help have a better attitude during these times, I started re-applying some tried and true principles to my life, and already I am seeing a difference in the amount of fiscal flow around myself and others around me!

The Yogi's Guide to Economic Transformation
Some things to keep your spirits up and ride the wave of the economic transition:

1. Ride the Wave
Recognize that this is a contractive ("nimeshic") part of the cycle or spanda of things. As with anything challenging, breathe and move through it, trusting in the passage of time to ride out the cycle.

2. Turn off your TV
We often think the world will fall apart if we ourselves do not watch the news. The world does fine "falling apart" with out us! I admit the news since Jan. 20th must be a vast improvement, but keep yourself uplifted in general by reducing your news feed and becoming more conscious of what you are ingesting - you'll be of much more help that way!

3. Keep giving to Non-profits and charities
In challenging times it is important to put into motion the causes that will create the future you want. Therefore the quickest way to help clear monetary constipation is to keep it moving and flowing! The more generous you are, the more space you create for generosity to flow back to you. Donating up to 10% of your income to your favorite organizations will not only empower you, but return to you tenfold! A small good deed will over time become mega-magnified. Here are some organizations to which I regularly donate:

"It's as if our Asana practice was the conscious attempt at creating challenging and stressful conditions so that we might practice "YOGA" with greater ease when those conditions arise in our day to day life. The current Economic Situation is like a really deep Hanumanasana for someone with tight hamstrings like me. The opportunity here is to maintain the YOGA of spacious mind, open heart and easy breathing....which then creates the causes for more of the same in the future!"
~Mathew Gerson, CEO and founder,

4. Be Resourceful
Part of living abundantly is also about being "squirrely", which is distinctly different than being an uptight scrooge! Even if you think you do not have it, pay yourself first by consistently putting 10% of your income into a savings account (or stash) and commit to not spend or touch it. Put this money away and you will naturally adapt and learn to live off the rest. Naturally you will be encouraged to find ways to earn more if you need it. Just this one act alone of putting money away BEFORE you spend it, sends a message to the universe that you can handle "containing" money, and like magic more than enough comes back to cover your expenses plus more.

5. Reduce Stress by keeping up your health and wellness routine
I recently lapsed in having my regular bodywork done. After I finally got back into it, I was so glad did - it shifted my whole being! When stress and uncertainty are in the air, living in angst or thinking fearfully is crippling. Now more than ever it is critical to keep up your mind and body by practicing your yoga consistently with the kula, meditating, staying fit, getting massaged and pampered, and keeping regular wellness appointments. The barter system is also alive and well, so get creative and trade where you can.

6. Keep up your Yoga Studies, Retreats, Immersions and Keep Company with the Best
Through meditation, positive affirmation and yoga you can more easily shift your energy to creating internal wealth and wellness. By keeping company with the best, our spirits stay uplifted. Retreats, Immersions, and trainings are investments that provide infinite returns, without fail. Our internal reality is what actually creates our external reality or circumstances (not the other way around). When you are with the kula, it is so much easier to find others who are positive and elevated. I'm pretty stoked to be going to Costa Rica with John Friend this March just after leading our retreat in Chile!

7. Continue to eat well and fortify yourself
I read somewhere recently that in a downed economy sales on SPAM go through the roof. Now is not the time to compromise on nutrition! If I could narrow down the thing I am most grateful for, it would be my health. It is my health and vitality that allows me to move in the world most vibrantly and to be of the most service with my energy. Keep eating super foods, organic produce, and go for the beans and rice! My personal favorite supplier of raw, organic rainforest super foods is Amazon Herb Company. Not only is their food outstanding, but they are one of the few superfood companies that are proving to everyone that the rainforest is more valuable alive then cut down! Check out their new Pure Camu Rainforest Blend that is sweeping the nation, ZAMU.

"While the old economy is dying there is a new one emerging. The old crops are gone, new seedlings need to be tended. I love pouring what money and time I have like water onto the seeds of a beautiful and peaceful emerging world. Some of my favorites - local farmers, small independent stores, small clothing companies, local environmental organizations, public radio and service groups. Instead of stopping the flow, I'm finding that digging into the corners, there are a lot of resources that have been lying dormant and are ready to be made useful by being given away or activated. Let the crumbling dishonest and corrupt businesses dissolve from lack of attention and turn toward what you love. Keep the flow going into the places you want to nurture!"
~ Ellin Todd, Anusara Yoga Inspired teacher, Boulder, Co

Nothing can stagnate forever - we are made up of pulsation (spanda). I'd like to think that a breakdown like this is our opportunity to become that much more conscious of everything we do, say, and choose, and a time to allow old ideas and habits to pass on and for new creativity and ideals to be born. How am I choosing to view the current economy? Not just in transition, but in TRANSFORMATION! How am I choosing to view my own personal economy? As prosperous and abundant as ever - because I believe in the promise of Shri - there is always more.