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Yogi Living

Hipster Yoga: 20 minute hip opening yoga video


Hipster Yoga: 20 minute hip opening yoga video

Dear yogis,

I am off to Tulum this weekend for Brynne Billingsley and my Winter Escape retreat and I couldn’t be more excited! For those not joining us on the retreat this time around, I wanted to leave you with a new video so we can practice together while I am away :)

This 20 minute hip opening vinyasa flow is great for any time of day. Take a short break to stretch, breathe & re-center. Your body and mind will thank you for it!

Enjoy this feel good flow and let me know how it goes!




wishing you a bright new year!


wishing you a bright new year!


As we bid farewell to 2017 and say hello to 2018, I would love to share with you a practice I have found to be a powerful way to ring in the new year.

A few years ago, I started the tradition of closing out the year by listing all the positive aspects of the past year. No matter how big or small the event, the accomplishment, the blessing, I sit with my journal and list all the beauty that has entered my life. This has proved to be both a wonderful way to reflect on the past year as well as a way to embrace a positive perspective for the year to come. 

Not only does this practice frame the closing year in a positive light but it is very telling as to what IS working in our lives and how we can grow the positive aspects of our lives rather than being overly focused on what we need to change, uproot and shed. 

I encourage you to give this exercise a shot for a happy and positive transition into 2018.

Wishing you and your family a bright and happy New Year!

Much love,


Too busy for Yoga?

Too busy for Yoga?

There is an old Zen saying, "you should sit in meditation for 20 minutes a day, unless you are very busy; Then you should sit for an hour." 

This saying rings so true as I am currently moving out of my apartment where I have lived for the past 7 years. Between sorting through papers, organizing clothes and getting the room ready for the next tenant, this Zen reminder is just what I have needed to keep my practice going, even when super busy.

I think of all I have to do in order to get ready for my move (on Sunday!) and it feels like any spare moment when I am not teaching, I should be working to prepare for the move. However, knowing myself and knowing the power of meditation and yoga, most days I have carved out time for practice. Having a little time on my mat has given me the calm focus I need to stay on task and not get too distracted. This post-yoga focus has been a sharp contrast to days when I was 'too busy', didn't practice and somehow wasted more time than if I had spent just a bit of time on my mat.

I always love a nice, long yoga practice but it is true that we do not always have the time. That's why we could use a break from the all or nothing mentality. A 15-30 minute practice can do wonders, leaving you grounded, centered, focused and ready to take on whatever tasks are at hand. 

For this reason, I have been creating short yoga sequences and sharing them on YouTube. (You can subscribe here if you haven't already!) Anytime you need a shift of energy but don't feel like you have the time, try a video from the Urban Om Yoga channel, like the one below. Just 13 minutes is all you need for an afternoon boost :) Check out the video and, as always, let me know if you have any questions! 


This video was filmed in the loft I have called home for 7 years. Excited for a change but I will miss this dance floor!

Yoga for a Strong Core

Yoga for a Strong Core

Happy Self Care Sunday, Yogis!

I am excited to announce that I have started a YouTube Channel, Urban Om Yoga! 

I started this yoga channel to offer some peace and calm in an easily accessible (and free!) platform. Through various practices we will sweat, rest, restore and meditate. There will be a wide range of practices on the channel so you can find a practice that works best for your specific needs each day. I am so excited to share this project with you. Subscribe to the channel here and check out the most recent video below. 

A strong core supports from the inside out, promoting good posture and a healthy back. 

My yoga practice has been influenced by my recent pilates training and I have found some incredibly helpful exercises to weave into my everyday yoga flow. Check out the video and subscribe to Urban Om Yoga to stay in the loop for future videos- More coming soon!!

Have a wonderful Sunday! 


Traveling Yogi

Traveling Yogi

I recently returned to Brooklyn after a 10 day vacation in California. I love traveling and California always feels like my home away from home so I was happy to head west for a bit. 

Traveling can be an amazing adventure, one that encourages you to leave your comfort zone, try new things and experience different cultures. It creates opportunity to discover fresh perspective by nudging you out of your usual routine.

Combining your travels with a bit of yoga here and there can keep you feeling grounded and calm while on the road. Below are a few tips to help squeeze in some yoga and healthy habits while exploring new terrain. Happy travels yogis!!

Love Wall in Venice Beach, California

Love Wall in Venice Beach, California

Pack a yoga mat

You can purchase a mat bag for as little as $10. Lightweight and easily portable, you can carry your bag onto the plane as a carryon and slide your mat under your airplane seat. If you have your mat during your travels, you are much more likely to practice. It can be great to find a class at a local studio but sometimes when one is visiting family and friends, there is not time for a full yoga class every day. Find a quiet space to practice for as much time as you have available.

Find a shady spot outside to practice while on vacation

Find a shady spot outside to practice while on vacation

A 10 minute yoga practice can make all the difference

Really. Taking time to center yourself, set an intention for the day and move your body makes you a happy traveler and travel companion. Even if you only have a few minutes to stretch and breathe, you will find yourself making healthier choices throughout the day. So often traveling is the opposite of structure. We are often going with the flow and ‘winging’ it, so to say. By adding a bit of structure to your day in the form of a yoga or meditation practice, you will find that you can relax and go with the flow a bit more. 

Practice first thing in the morning

I know it’s vacation and you want to sleep in but if you can wake up just a few minutes early to squeeze in a practice, your body will be happy with you for the rest of the day. 


I personally love the Headspace meditation app. It has super simple meditations and cute animations to boot. Choose from several minutes of meditation up to one hour. They also have 1 minute kids meditations if you are traveling with kiddos. On my recent JetBlue flight there were several Headspace meditations in the inflight entertainment so check your flight’s channels and you might be so lucky. 



Pack Healthy Snacks

Keep your blood sugar even to avoid sugar crashes. I always love having snacks such as Lara bars, almonds, and fruit in my bag as to avoid the hangry stage ;) It is also always great to have options while at the airport where food is often overpriced. 

Find a local studio

It can be a lot of fun to check out a local yoga studio while traveling. Often times family or friends will have a recommendation or they will be up for trying a new class with you. Just as it can be eye opening to experience a different culture, it is always interesting to try a new practice and experience a new view on yoga and meditation.

Know that it’s ok if you stray from your yoga plan

Also, remember that you are on vacation and if you fall out of your usual yoga routine, it is not the end of the world. Sometimes we need a break from practice for one reason or another. Often it is the absence of our yoga practice when we realize how much benefit our practice offers. Do your best while on the road and then get back into your usual routine once you are back home. 

I wish you safe and happy travels!


City Calm in 3,2,1 with 2-1 Breathing

City Calm in 3,2,1 with 2-1 Breathing

My yogi toolkit is a collection of short practices I count on to bring balance and calm to my day. These practices are a great way to supplement a yoga practice when I have a few minutes to spare.

One simple practice I carry in my yogi toolkit is 2-1 breathing, or Rechaka Pranayama. This simple breathing exercise doubles the length of the exhale, bringing stress relief to body and mind. It is the perfect antidote for anxiety, insomnia and stress. Unlike other pranayama techniques, this practice can be done anytime, anywhere, without the supervision of an instructor.

Practice this yoga gem the next time you have a few minutes to spare and want to quiet the mind and regain focus. It is a great exercise to have in your back pocket and I highly recommend adding it to your yogi toolkit :)

The how to:

Begin by taking a tall seat, with the legs crossed. Ideally the hips are higher than the knees. Feel free to sit on a blanket or yoga block if this makes this alignment possible and/or feels better for your back. Close the eyes and begin to breathe evenly in and out through the nose.

Once you feel you have established a consistent rhythm, breathe in for the count of 2 and breathe out for the count of 4. Take a few rounds of this breath ratio. As you are ready, increase the breath ratio by inhaling for the count of 3 and exhale for the count of 6, then progressing to a ratio of 4 to 8, and so on. Take care not to push past your breath capacity. This exercise should feel calming and should not create strain.

Take this 2-1 breath for a few minutes, or until you feel the mind settle. Once you feel ready, take a few even breaths, bringing the breath back into a steady, equal rhythm. Open your eyes and continue your day, with a bit more calm and clarity. 

Just a few minutes of Rechaka Pranayama has the ability to quiet the mind. Try it out the next time you need to recenter, such as the next time your train is stalled! Give it a try for instant calm.

Just a few minutes of Rechaka Pranayama has the ability to quiet the mind. Try it out the next time you need to recenter, such as the next time your train is stalled! Give it a try for instant calm.

You can do everything you want to do... just not all at the same time

You can do everything you want to do... just not all at the same time

A few years ago, at a time when I felt overwhelmed with the task of finding balance between my workload and all that I wanted to accomplish and experience, a friend offered me some poignant advice. She said, "You can do everything you want to do, just not all at the same time." Especially because I live in a city that never sleeps, where everyone seems to be working both constantly as well as on multiple projects or jobs at one time, this came as very welcomed and comforting advice that I have returned to again and again. 

It is all too easy to feel scattered and begin one project only to desert it when remembering another. This might be a big culprit for why many of us don't get to all the the things on our list. If we focus our efforts on one subject at a time, we have much more of a chance to complete not just the one goal but all of our goals rather than if we scatter our efforts among multiple jobs, only to complete them half way. 

There is the ancient wisdom, "When you are walking, walk. When you are sitting, sit". Perhaps this same wisdom can encourage us to truly commit to what we have decided to do. Doubt can be such a distraction as can the feeling of needing to be one hundred places at the same time. True focus has the ability to cut through doubt and distraction in a way that enables us to efficiently tackle our to do list and goals.

Yoga practice teaches us to gather our attention. We learn to strengthen our ability to focus by drawing the mind to the breath and the body. Once we tether the mind to the breath, distractions have less of an ability to take hold of us. The chatter in the mind begins to dissipate and we are able to concentrate.

So, if you start to feel overwhelmed about how to complete multiple tasks or which project to focus on and when, here are a few things that can help : 

1. Practice yoga and/or meditation- even a few minutes per day can make a big difference in strengthening your ability to focus.

2. Focus on one task at a time. Pick one project or task and complete it before moving onto the next. If it's helpful, break down each task into bite size, manageable pieces and take it piece by piece.

3. Set a time limit for each task. Designating 15 minutes to purely focus on one goal can yield more productivity than you might think, and over time it is an effective way to chip away at your bigger goals, especially those tasks that seem daunting or out of reach. Set a timer on your phone to keep you honest and so you don't need to keep checking the clock.

4. Know that you can do everything you want to do.. just not all at the same time. 

A Meditation for When You Feel like You are Going to Lose it!!

A Meditation for When You Feel like You are Going to Lose it!!

It would be lovely if your yoga and meditation practice spared you from that moment that occurs every now and then, when you absolutely feel like you are just going to lose it.

Yoga allows us to process stress in a healthier way but it does not negate the actual feelings that arise both in every day life and on the mat. The practice does, however, give us some tools to better cope with some of the stronger reactions we might have.

Whatever your triggers might be for said potential freak out, we could all use a rescue plan for when we feel like we are at our wit's end and need to keep our cool.

See below for a super simple meditation that can be done anywhere, anytime. Eyes can be open if you prefer and you don't need to fold your legs into a fancy position (unless you want to!)

Breath Count Meditation:

Sit up tall and bring your attention to your breath. Eyes can be closed or open, with a soft gaze.

Begin to count the breaths up to the number 10:

Inhale: one
Exhale: two
Inhale: three
And so on..

Once you reach 10, begin again. No worries if the mind wanders- just bring the breath back to the number you were last on and continue.

Repeat as many times as you like, whenever you need.

Winter Inspiration

Winter Inspiration

We welcome the month of December with twinkling lights, warm sweaters, sweet treats and holiday parties with family and friends. This month is meant to be a joyous one, filled with cheer but sometimes the cold, dark days can leave us feeling a bit down and uninspired.

Inspiration is not a quality reserved for artists, writers or musicians, but rather it is a feeling we all need in order to experience life in a full and enthusiastic way. It provides energy to the present and light to the future.

Sometimes when we are feeling uninspired it can be a welcome reminder that the word inspire means to breathe. The etymology of the word breaks down as: in = into and spire = breath. So often we look for inspiration in our external world but, similar to many of the teachings of yoga and meditation, it can prove more advantageous to turn our focus inwards to find that inner lift or boost that inspiration gifts. 

The word inspire is also related to the word, spirit, from the Latin spiritus. When we feel like we are lacking inspiration and spirit, our yoga and meditation practice can be a place to turn to in order to find that inner enthusiasm that drives us forward.

As a dancer, I will often take a yoga class before heading to rehearsal. Class not only prepares me physically, but it enables a calmer, more open mind, receptive to creativity, trying new things, and ultimately, inspiration. Yoga and meditation give us a break from our regular internal mental chatter so that the mind is more clear headed by the end of our time on the mat and thus more open to new ideas and perspectives, a much needed requirement for finding inspiration. 

If you feel like you could use a little more internal enthusiasm these winter days, find a way to practice. Whether that means a few minutes of meditation, going to a yoga class or practicing a few asanas on your own, find a way to look inwards so that you are fueled to move forward with inspiration.

Ocean Gazing Lessons: Dharana, the Art of Concentration


Last month at The Shala we took an in depth look at Pratyahara, or the withdrawal of the senses. The limbs of yoga are systematic, the limb preceding the next providing you with the tools you need to enable your best shot at tackling the limb to come. As we flip our calendars to September, and we shift our focus to the 6th limb, Dharana, or concentration, we are uniquely prepared to practice single pointed focus, having taken a big step back from external distractions.

So often as New Yorkers we pride ourselves on being able to focus in the form of working very hard but we often ride the stress train to meet our goals.

When we practice Dharana, the goal is to maintain the calm energy that we developed through Pratyahara while still directing our attention to one place. In yoga this focal point is the breath.

The other day I went to the beach and the tropical storm making its way up the east coast had brought these huge, beautiful waves. When I looked down the beach, 90% of the beach goers were sitting up, gazing out at the ocean. Everyone shared a collective, calm focus directed towards the water. We want to find a similar balance of serene focus in our practice.

There is sometimes a misconception of yoga and meditation that its practitioners are spaced out or ‘out to lunch’. In actuality the practices advocate just the opposite and encourage a tuning in rather than a checking out.

So the question is, how do we collect our attention in a concentrated yet peaceful fashion while maintaining a stress-free mind and demeanor?

Yoga is the union of opposites so the effort and action placed towards achieving this pure attention while maintaining a chill mind is the goal itself. Just like a muscle, the skill of concentration is strengthened the more you ask of it. This limb is attained by the continuous intention to return the mind back to its focal point while at the same time keeping an easy mind about it. Just like the buoyancy and consistency of the ocean waves, your mind can find steadiness through the practice of Dharana with calm, steady practice over time.

Practice Dharana with a Breath Based Meditation:

Sit up tall, close your eyes and bring your attention to your breath. No matter how many times the mind wanders from the breath, bring it back to your breathing in the most loving, kind, gentle way possible. No berating yourself, no guilt, just simply try again and again. The process is the goal and over time this task will become easier. Eventually you will find yourself with not only the ability to focus more acutely but with more energy as your mind is a little less scattered and a little more serene, setting you up nicely for the next limb meditation.