August Theme: Slow

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Okay, New Yorkers, admit it: yogi or not, we’ve all had evil thoughts about that unwitting tourist we end up walking behind down the subway stairs. Even if you’re not running to get somewhere on time, New York trains you to have a certain gait that outpaces most all other people on the planet. Yeah, we live in that city.  What’s cool about it is we get more done in a minute than many do in an hour, but that speed catches up with you when you get to the end of your day and you can’t slow down or shut down. So we come to yoga and meditation to balance it all out.

A few weeks ago, an old knee injury started acting up again. I was in a great deal of pain. The only thing that would work to not aggravate it was to not go anywhere (not an option), or walk really really slowly. Slower than even the most relaxed person living in the deep south on the hottest day of the year. Yeah, that slow.

You can imagine what an odd thing it was to slow down that much. As a New Yorker, I was careful to move out of the way as the typical Ferrari-paced person needed to pass. But almost right away, I started to really enjoy myself. As I walked down a street in Brooklyn, I looked up at the sky, took in the breeze, and noticed the colors on the buildings.  Then something else started to happen. My brain waves became smooth. Not slow, or spacey, actually smooth and clear. All of the stuff on my mind stopped rattling around in a disorderly jumble and started to organize itself like rambunctious kids who finally found their place on stage in the school play.  Something else happened. I heard my breath. I was actually breathing all the way down into my lungs the way I do and teach every day in yoga.

Thich Naht Hahn, a world renowned spiritual leader, guides a beautiful meditation called the “Walking Meditation.” I’ve shared it to many students when we go to the ashram and are walking through the fresh green forest. But I’ve never done it in the city. I could feel my pulse slow, I could feel my cortisol (stress hormone) levels dropping, and my eyes began to see the world through a shine as when I’m in yoga class, or out in nature.

For all the philosophical perspectives I’ve learned and taught to buffer our sensitive systems from metropolitan madness, this very odd, accidental practice had more real physical and mental affect than any of them. Once again, I’m shown that our injuries can be wonderful teachers.

Studies show that slowing down, for even just a small period of time, has been correlated with better decision making, higher levels of creativity, and increased problem solving skills. Taking it slow can also increase our attunement to each other, causing a positive effect on our relationships. In their book “How Words Change your Brain” authors Andrew Newberg and  Mark Robert introduce the practice of Slow Speech. In my yoga class this week I had students take a few minutes to tell a partner about a current challenge in their life speaking one word at a time, at a pace of about half as fast as we usually speak. Students reported feeling a sense of ease surrounding a problem that had been causing them stress, and also a greater appreciation and connection to the person they were listening to.

That day on the sidewalk, my friend who was meeting me for dinner had seen me coming from the restaurant window. When I got there she laughed and said she’d knew better than to wonder if I’d taken drugs, but that’s still what it looked like. I laughed too. “No, no drugs," I told, her, "just trying out a little bit of “slow.”


-Ella Luckett





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June Theme: Ascending the Summit

With yoga we have to always remember it’s a balancing swing. The release of attachment to results is the medicine to those held in the clutches of misery when they don’t get what they want. But we can’t hover at the front crest of the swing, any more then we can hover at the back end. Meaning, complacency is as much an obstacle to a free and happy life as anything. It’s the attachment to being unattached! Read More

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April Theme: Thrive!



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Thrive by Ella Luckett


I was sitting near my friend on her wedding day as she was getting her hair done. I looked over at her face and I could see that her body was in the room, but her mind was in a million other places. Behind her eyes was a map of thoughts: did all the relatives get in okay, is the catering going to work out? on and on and on… The details of life, especially surrounding the big things, are endless. I could tell my friend was about to miss her wedding day. Her body was there, but her experience was split in a million directions.

I asked her if she wanted to join me in a five minute meditation after her hair was done. She said yes, absolutely.  We sat in two chairs, chaos all around, and breathed for five little minutes.

In that five minutes she became present to the beauty of the day. Her mind settled and released the unnecessary thoughts that were blocking her experience, and when she opened her eyes, there she was. She was back in her body, suddenly full of life and joy.

To this day, she thanks me for that moment.

The difference between surviving and thriving is almost always in the perspective. It’s in what type of breath you are taking in. Are you gasping in short shallow breaths to serve only the purpose of the moment? Or, can you breathe in big, and ride the moments like a wave – whether tumbling inside it, gliding on it’s crest - always with a laugh  just because you are in the ocean at all!?  

That is what our yoga practice is, friends. We take that daily moment to get inside our experience, instead of hovering all around it.  Sometimes there’s resistance, because most days are not our wedding day. Most days are pulling through the grind to realize the bigger picture. But our practice gives us the touch of that big picture now, in the present moment. Usually it takes a moment to get past the stuff that doesn’t feel so good. We travel deeper inside our body and mind and find that, at our core, we are peaceful. Just below the surface of stress, there’s a well of abundance that encompasses all the good and bad and gives us the gift of presence. So we don’t wait to look back at the end of a particular journey and appreciate it. We get to feel life's sweetness and saltiness more potently in every moment.  

This month notice the times when you are only half there. Gripping on for survival, racing through just to get done, or just dull and bored with the moment. Take a deep breath and loosen the grip, slow the gait, or shine your eyes. This life is made up of unmarked moments that you can either survive through -- or drink in, and thrive on!

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March Theme of the Month: Expectation, Inspiration, Communication

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Expectation, Inspiration and Communication by Ella Luckett


Expectation can get in the way of receiving. When we expect we are bound to be let down. But when we receive, everything is a gift.

I recently had an experience where my own expectations blinded me to the value of someone in my life. My own unmet expectations made me angry and uncommunicative. I realize in retrospect they were my expectations making me angry, not the person. My own frustration made me unsuccessful at communicating any desires from the relationship as something positive, or inspiring. Instead, mired in anger and frustration, I simply shut down and became distant… And then I lost them because of this distance. The loss is a great one. It took losing them to realize that I had been a victim only to my own expectations, and not one to that person’s lack of having the ability to be or give me what I wanted.

While I was dwelling in the story of what "should" have been, I became blind to the beauty of what was actually there. Something different then what I expected. Something I didn’t dream up myself, but that was being presented as a gift. Something that did actually make me happy, but in a different way then I had been attached to it looking.

We all have expectations from life. We dream things, are conditioned to want things, and also work hard toward achieving the things we want. But “expectation” is just a little far over the edge. Expectation is like the over ripe tomato. It has lost it’s inspiration to potentiality be something delicious by stewing it it’s own sense of itself.

When we were young and every experience was new, there was so much magic. It was so easy to get us to smile just by an adult presenting a simple thing in an inspired way. It could do us all some good to conjure back up that kind of open vision of what this life is to provide us.


So we want to keep, inspiration, momentum, communication, desire, achievement, and play, but experiment with high, but “OPEN” expectations of the result of all of those efforts. If you widen the scope if what comes your way perhaps it will contain just a little bit of something special that you hadn’t planned, for, but is in itself unique and amazing. How boring would life be if it was just a lever that we pull, and out comes exactly what we wanted.  

People are amazing creatures who each have their own gifts, and our expectations of them can block the colorful rays they are trying to bestow on us. 

So, this month, enjoy noticing your own expectations, and ask yourself if they are serving you or bringing you down. Transform them into inspiration and communication and see what you get!

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Namaste