There’s a huge part of me that I’ve hidden for years that feels that yoga (or rather, much of the spiritual community) desperately needs a big splash of fun, play, flirty-ness, bad-ness and community. There is so much focus on improving, becoming “better,” and self-improvement. All wonderful things, yes. But are we doing this at the expense of learning to accept— heck, CELEBRATE— who we truly are, right now, without needing to be “fixed”? That includes the parts of us that have no idea what the fig we’re doing, the angry parts, the hopelessly sad and depressed parts, the parts that are controlling and anxious and terrified… the list goes on and on…

Have you only given voice and validity to the parts of yourself that feel acceptable to love?

You may think that those “other” parts don’t have a voice in your life, but they do.

They show up in passive-aggression. They show up in not wanting to get out of bed all day… for days. They show up as “anxiety” while you are doing something as mundane and simple as showering or washing the dishes, and then as shame when you feel you “shouldn’t” be anxious about something as silly as washing the dishes.

And while yoga can be a wonderful place to explore these parts of ourselves, there’s often no place to lovingly give these parts a voice.

Here’s what I mean.

We heard in yoga classes (perhaps) that if we just focus on the positive, the negative aspects of ourselves will go away. If we think abundant thoughts, our poor-ness will go away. If we focus on forgiveness, our anger will go away. We tell these lies to ourselves, quietly, on our mats in the back of the room.

And then we feel bad when we stay poor, angry and fearful! We feel BAD about feeling BAD!

So we turn to the spiritual community hoping for answers, we’re told to look inside, which we do, and then feel more confused because now on top of the confusion we feel we feel ALONE because everyone else seems happy and seems to be doing this self-discovery thing correctly.

What we need to understand is that every difficult emotion you feel is something that everyone else struggles with, and that we are absolutely still lovable. But we can’t realize this unless we get vulnerable and share and give others the opportunity to love and touch these parts of ourselves. Sitting alone is helpful, don’t get me wrong— but as a society we are actually doing quite a lot of that and wondering why we feel so lonely.

It’s a myth that self-discovery and “healing” are things we need to do alone, and it’s also a myth that we can just meditate our way to it.

I personally believe that the “self-discovery” journey needs to include BOTH movement and connecting with other people. And yoga classes typically focus solely on the teacher and ourselves. What about all the others in the room? What if we started communicating to one another, either verbally or through our bodies?

Some emotions we experience as positive, and some as negative. These are just perceptions. The truth is each emotion that we feel has value, and is the “right” emotion to be feeling at any given moment. Our emotions exist to serve us and protect us. Without giving them a voice, we cut ourselves off from our full potential in relationships, in money, career, and health.

We can give voice to the perceived “dark” parts of ourselves in many ways, but one of the easiest, for me, is through movement, specifically dance.

If you learned as a child that it was wrong to have needs and to voice your desires, it is tempting to believe that we can fulfill all our own needs. But we can’t. We need each other. Which is why I wanted to create a dance/expression-based class that focuses on exploring different parts of ourselves, giving them a shape, color, or “flavor,” and creating a safe container to be truly seen and known by others on a similar path.

You can watch a person dance and FEEL his or her anger, love, awkwardness, joy, sadness or anxiety. It is difficult to read someone’s emotions through their yoga practice because the body still passes through a sequence of shapes. One can feel the emotions within the body as it takes on those shapes, but really we are on our own to navigate them. I wish that we could create an experience where people could read and respond to one another through the language of movement.

Natalia will be guiding choreography while I share the grounding and breath aspects, and each class will have a “journal prompt” in particular to explore and give voice to different parts of ourselves. We will also focus on connection, not just in the sense of maybe talking before and after class, but we will create an environment that prompts participants to touch, look into each other’s eyes, “read” one other, lovingly acknowledging one another however he or she is in the moment.

We use “Pranayama” as part of our brand because Pranayama is one of yoga’s 8 limbs, focusing on moving energy through the body through the power of breath and intention. When a community comes together to get grounded, breathe, and move, we make breakthroughs that are impossible to do alone. I happen to love Hip Hop because it’s so spunky and fun. But really, our classes will vary in “flavor” on the spectrum of traditional and rigid to fluid and rebellious.

We are working on creating a half-day immersive workshop in the summer, but in the meantime, we will be teaching outdoor breathwork and dance classes in Huntington Beach. I hope you will join us.



Upcoming classes

Saturday, March 9 : HIP HOP IN THE PARK

Location: Huntington Beach State Park— 11th and PCH (on the beach)— across from Sun n’ Sands Inn

Time: 10:00 AM - 11:15 AM

Bring: water, hat, sunglasses, and a TOWEL (for savasana)

Cost: $10 online or $12 at the beach

Saturday, March 30: HIP HOP IN THE PARK

Location: Huntington Beach State Park— 11th and PCH (on the beach)— across from Sun n’ Sands Inn

Time: 10:00 AM - 11:15 AM

Bring: water, hat, sunglasses, and a TOWEL (for savasana)

Cost: $10 online or $12 on the beach