Guest Post

Where is Love?

Valentine’s Day words of wisdom from Sharyn Hahn.


As I was teaching my recent Valentine’s Day themed yoga class, which focused on the 4th chakra (anahata- the heart chakra) through heart-opening poses and self-love mantras, I became aware of the wisdom that I have gained on my path during the past 10 years. It felt very natural and comfortable to invite my students to acknowledge their respective uniqueness and worth, and to set an intention regarding self-love. I embraced my own, and felt strong and centered, connected to my love for myself.

“When anahata is open and energy is flowing freely, you are not only loving to others, you are also loving to yourself. You know when you need to say no and when you need care and self-nurturing.”[1]

When we shared out at the end of the class after the final journaling moments, it was clear that the older students in the class had an easier time connecting to the self-affirmations that I offered throughout the session. Everyone thanked me for reminding them of the powerful balancing energy of self-love. It made me remember that in my 20’s and 30’s I also struggled with this concept of being worthy of love not only from others, but also for myself.

During a series of unfulfilling and emotionally abusive relationships, along with health issues and family trauma, I slowly unpeeled the many layers of self-doubt, and I became aware of the disconnection between my mind, body and spirit. Although I had always respected all of my different “parts”, I had never honored and nurtured them as a “wholeness.” Each time a barrier presented itself on my path, I found the strength to climb it or go through it, and I slowly chipped away at them as they appeared. Most importantly, I acknowledged them and learned to recognize the choices I made that did not serve me.

This is how age and experience are positive aspects in our lives! When we have to struggle when we are younger, we are stronger when we are older. We are able to embrace our lives and appreciate our circumstances (even if they are not “perfect”); we can surround ourselves with that which makes us happy. When we are happy, we can share that energy and pass it on to others. “I let my happiness be visible to others. My happiness overflows from me. I can use my happiness to bring joy to others.”[2] This is very powerful. When we are able to reach out to those who may need love and support, it returns to us tenfold! And the result is that not only do we have more to give, but those whom we touched will also do so, thus setting a cycle of positive energy in motion.

Even if I am feeling sad or anxious, I always remind myself that I am worthy of love- from myself first and foremost. When the intentions that I set are not fulfilled yet, or the goals in daily life (exercise, diet, more sleep, etc.) are not met, I no longer beat myself up. I definitely engage in self-talk, which is very helpful. I remember to breathe and stay focused on my yoga practice. This has served me well! And I love sharing it with students, colleagues and friends, because it truly is a healing gift.

Heart-opening poses encourage the breath to flow, the shoulders to relax, and the inner energy to shine forward. Embrace yourself and you will continue to become the best person that you can be. I invite you to recite the mantra that is shared in this post and to practice the poses that I offer here in this order:

1. Cow Pose

2. Cobra Pose

3. Upward-Facing Dog Pose

4. Sphinx Pose

5. Bridge Pose

6. Full Wheel Pose (more challenging)

Enjoy your day, take care of yourself, eat chocolate, and share your love and happiness with others.



Sharyn Hahn has been a teacher to students of all ages for 33 years, with a focus on teaching French at a private school in NYC. During the past eight years she has added a new dimension to passion for teaching and is now an ACE certified Personal Trainer (FitWomaNow!), and a YogaFit instructor with a 200-hour RYT certification in Mind-Body Balancing from the Deep Yoga Center in San Diego, California. She is currently pursuing a certification in Yoga for Traumaas she continues to broaden her understanding of the significance of yoga, meditation, and breath in her students’ lives. Sharyn holds a Master’s degree in French literature and language and runs



[2] Sarah Samuel-



Mid-Winter Funk

I really loved Sharyn’s post on January 27th where she gave advice to start of the New Year right. The tips and insights were spot on and perfect to get me through my present mid-Winter funk.

February is always tough. I feel like I get through December with the holidays and it takes the next 31 days to settle in and adjust to the New Year. Once February rolls around, the deep freeze, grey skies and snowy wet weather start to wear on me. All motivation seems lost. Everything is moving at a slug-like pace. I feel like a drone punching in a clock at work (or in this case logging on and off my laptop), crossing things off my to do list, showering, eating, sleeping, waking up, repeat all over again. It’s a heavy kapha-esque feeling.

I woke up Monday morning with an urge to shake myself out of this stupor and reached for a Wild Orange essential oil. As I inhaled deeply, the vibrant scent electrified my nostrils and knocked the kapha right out of me. The bitter orange peel, bold citrus, mixed with audacious juicy flavors hit me like a lightning bolt. I was alive. It made me see sunlight again and filled my heart with warmth and joy, keeping the cold, icy claw of that mid-Winter funk away.

Walking outside this evening, as I made my way down East 47th Street, I could see the sun setting in the West, a rosy glow emanating from between the skyscrapers. It reminded me of a bright, beautiful, zesty orange and made me smile in anticipation of longer days and sunny weather.


Health · Kajal · Uncategorized

Setting Boundaries

Recently, I’ve been thinking a lot about boundaries. I clearly needed to set some with fellow yoga classmates in my last blog. This time I am just thinking about boundaries in general.

I always thought that a boundary was a negative or implied something was wrong. It meant you are closing something off or building some type of wall. Apparently, boundaries today are viewed as part of having a healthy life. And setting boundaries is a skill, but one that most of us have not learned, which makes sense why it feels so foreign to me, but keeps turning up as a theme.

But, in this new age of health and well-being, I’m learning that boundaries are good things. That having them means you know and understand what your limits are. They are the sign of a healthy relationship and giving yourself permission to put yourself and your needs first, especially at work.

It means speaking up for yourself, and not being a doormat. For instance, at physical therapy for my ankle, I was displeased with the young woman who was supposed to help me with physical activity after my therapy. Her efforts were mediocre at best and she finished up well before my time was up. I was and still am not happy about it and plan to speak to the person who runs the place.

At the very minimum, you have to speak up or politely push back without making it feel like you are pushing back, which is an art in and of itself. But, one I guess I am going to learn. Hopefully, younger generations are learning this stuff at an earlier age.


Yoga Etiquette (or revenge is a blog best served cold)

January is over and February has started. While I went on a hiatus from blogging last month, I did continue my yoga classes…along with everyone else. January in NYC is the month of people trying to keep their New Year’s resolutions. Go to the gym, start taking yoga, so on and so forth. In addition to all the Groupons and Class Passers, you have to deal with a bunch of yoga newbies.

And since starting this blog with Rachel, I’ve always tried to stay neutral or very Zen, calling out myself more than others. So advance apologies for doing something very un-yogic and venting about some of my pet peeves when taking a yoga class.

Body odor. Stinky, stinkable B.O. I mean the ripest of the ripe that curdles your blood. A whiff here or there is one thing but when it makes your soul want to gag instead of sigh, that’s a whole other level. A few weeks back, I was in class behind a lovely gentleman whose body odor was emanating from every single pore. It took all my strength to not wretch and set my gag reflex off. I ran out of that class so fast afterwards and scrubbed the B.O. off of me.

Stagger your mats, people. For Pete’s sake, don’t stand right in the same line as the person next to you. And if you do, have the courtesy not to bang into them each time you swan dive or lift your arms in a high prayer, you might poke their eye out. Even worse, they might poke your eye out, even when they don’t want to. This is so simple, yet, I see this all the time. It drives me bonkers. If you see me with my mat laid out, please set your mat 4-6 inches behind or ahead of mine so we don’t collide. My arms and body are not tiny and petite like yours. They are long and goofy and all mine.

Don’t, I repeat, don’t, move others’ props. This is the worst offense of all. I honestly feel that I shouldn’t even have to explain this, but here goes. I was in class last month and I had two blocks and a bolster in front of my mat. The class was crowded (all those resolutions still being kept) but they were not touching anyone else’s mat. This woman who is in front of me and a little to my right has the gall right smack dab in the middle of class, to move my stuff up by her to her left. So it’s completely out of my reach. It’s not like anything was in her way or on her mat. She kept rolling down on her mat, but as long as my props are not on the mat, that’s not my problem. Argh, it gets me worked up just thinking about it. Anyways, when the teacher said it was time to get the bolster, as I went up to get my stuff, I made an audible HISS in the guilty prop mover’s direction. It was a piercing HISS that caused her to jump back a bit. I dropped my bolster down with polite, yet, solid thud. If I ever come across that prop mover again, I will say something…



In a Blue Moon, Once


Two more hours of the eclipse. We didn’t catch a glimpse of the super moon or the blood moon or any penumbral activity at all. But knowing it has been going on has given an extra charge to the day, a mystical quality.

It was quite cold as I jogged up the river and I was underdressed. My only goal was to get home as fast as possible. I noticed that because of the cold, my attention was very focused. I did not take notice of the usual things that bother me. Often I am attentive to how tired and uncomfortable I feel, of irritation at all the construction, wishing I had brought a protein bar. But this time all those irritations faded so far into the background that they were out of my awareness.

I wasn’t sure what to make of it except to remark on how powerful a strong focus can be.


To read, perchance to dream



I have had a lot more time for reading books lately. Not that I am reading luxuriously, curled up for a few hours with tea. Mostly I read on the subway and a little bit at night before going to sleep.

A few years ago we tried something I read about where everyone in the family reads separately. SQUIRT it was called in some magazine or other. Super Quiet Uninterrupted Reading Time. It never really caught on. For me it was important that everyone read books, physical books, not something on a Kindle or Ipad or phone. Why? If one is “legitimately” reading a book on a phone, why doesn’t that feel right to me? I guess I fear the person will be pinged and otherwise interrupted and tempted to scroll around and look at other stuff, won’t be immersed fully in the book. I need to be less controlling about how and what other people choose to read, however. Alex (my partner) likes to scroll around on news sites, particularly Brazilian ones. He claims to like books—and wants to hold on to all his accounts of the Hungarian Empire, counterpoint melodies and Tai Chi—but I rarely ever see him holding one. But anyway it shouldn’t matter to me what someone else chooses to read, or in what format. I need only focus on myself. I have to remind myself of this constantly.

Anyway, the reason I’m getting to read books more often is very simple—I choose them instead of scrolling around, clicking on links, checking various cites. There still are blogs I follow and I almost always read The New York Times digitally, but aimless clicking and scrolling, I am trying to avoid. It brings me so very little satisfaction, and yet for years I willing jumped down into rabbit holes rather than pick up a book. Laziness or a feeling of wanted to be connected, current, “in the know.” Somehow not having the energy to step away from the computer and push through the initial resistance that can attend opening a book. Why should there be so much resistance to something we love doing? I suppose part of it is knowing that we’ll be interrupted, and can’t read the way we want to, so instead we settle for fragmented online reading, a few minutes here, a few minutes there.

It took me a while to realize most books don’t demand so much attention that we can’t read them the same fragmented way.

Mindful decision-making brings clarity to almost every aspect of our lives.

Now step away from the computer.



Guest Post

Happy New Year – Happy New You

Here is Sharyn’s wonderful advice for starting the year off right. xo, r



Happy New Year! This is time of the year when everyone tends to make resolutions, determined to become the best they can be. Ironically, it also the time of year when it is the coldest and darkest for most places in our hemisphere, which leads to lowered energy, the craving for rich foods, and a desire to stay home under a blanket reading or watching television instead of moving our bodies. January is called “the dead of winter.” It is the most difficult time to begin new routines. However, you can take steps to find balance this season and feel better so that you can begin to make some small changes and plan for the bigger ones. Self-care in winter is an important part of Ayurveda, which can complement and support your yoga practice.

Instead of focusing on the cold, dry, and dark aspects of this time of the year, I invite you to use it as a time to contemplate how the universe is calling you to set intentions and plant the seeds of new beginnings. If you are feeling down, surround yourself with uplifting scents, comforting food, and soft layers of clothing. A light that compensates for the reduced sunlight is also very helpful to have in your favorite room.

Winter becomes a time for delicate balance requiring that we pay close attention to our inner and outer environments. It is the time to build and restore. Balance is the goal both when we practice asanas (the physical poses of yoga) and when we nourish our body and our spirit. We need to bring energy levels up, eat warming foods that are easy to digest, and get plenty of sleep to counteract our temptation to curl up in a ball, move less, and eat heavier foods. Staying hydrated both inside and out is also very important. Drink warm and cool liquids throughout the day, and massage oils into your skin in the morning and/or at night. Infuse your environment with hydrating mist. You can add essential oils to add another layer of uplifting energy. I shared a bergamot essential oil with my yoga classes and it is delicious to inhale!

Take extra care of your skin in the winter. The low temperatures, wind, and bitter cold can leave skin feeling dull and especially dry. Ayurveda, which promotes balance above all else, encourages dealing with the cold, dry, windy winter with a daily oil massage (Abhyanga). Right after you shower, apply 1 ounce of warm organic oil to your skin. Rub in well like a moisturizer, making circles over joints and long strokes over long bones.

“Daily massage not only leaves skin radiant and supple but helps enhance circulation (great for cold hands and feet!), settles the nerves, and calms the mind. It’s the perfect body-mind remedy for the cold, stressful winter months, and it supports good sleep and reduces tension.”

You can go to your local health food store for organic, cold-pressed oil. Try naturally warming sesame seed oil or a neutral-temperature oil, such as almond or sunflower seed. (However, if you have a fever, cold, flu, or are pregnant, avoid this practice). Look for an organic sesame or sunflower oil base, infused with stimulating herbs to energize and refresh the mind, such as eucalyptus, peppermint, or lemon. For more mental relaxation, try oils with calming herbs like lavender, sandalwood, or rose.

Coconut Oil is another versatile product to use, especially on your hair! You can nourish your hair during the winter with a weekly coconut oil head massage. Put a bit of organic coconut oil onto fingertips and massage the scalp to enhance circulation and nourish the roots. Then, apply a bit more oil and massage a light coating through the hair all the way to the ends. This will result in a silky shine.

To get a complete picture of what we need to balance in winter, let’s turn to Shiva Rea’s tips posted on Omega. Rea describes the qualities this way:
“• Cold with warmth
• Heaviness with lightness of spirit
• Static energy with circulation
• Dullness with inspiration
• Excess dampness with dryness”

Rea goes on to tell us that balancing these qualities can make winter into a healing and strengthening season. If they’re out of balance, “kapha qualities accumulate within body and mind, creating heaviness of spirit, weight gain, poor digestion, depression, lethargy, and weakness in the immune system that leads to colds and flus.”

In addition to following these self-care practices, maintaining a morning meditation and yoga flow practice will support your mind and body so that you will face your days with balance and energy.

Do three warrior poses: Warrior I, Warrior II, Peaceful Warrior. Hold each for 5 breaths.

Move into the Chair Pose. Hold for 5 breaths.

Stand in a balancing pose of your choice (Tree Pose or Warrior III, for example.)

Stand in Tadasana (Mountain Pose) for 5 breaths.

End with ten minutes of your mantra recitation (I am…on the inhale/mantra of your choice: strength/love/gratitude. etc. on the exhale) as you sit comfortably.

This is a restorative time to allow your body to rest and renew itself. Set intentions and begin to plan how you will manifest them as the days get longer and eventually warmer. Plant the seeds and get them ready to germinate so that you will be ready to act on them; now is the time to dream. Namaste.



Photo to go with Sharyn's blog.JPG