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I know it sounds terribly cliche, but this is a brutal tour de force, a story of the rare variety that is so horrible, yet so captivating, it boggles the mind.  Loosely based on fact, follow the roller coaster ride of a very few brave men searching for the truth behind the vicious killings of the Yorkshire Ripper and the disappearances of young school girls over a fifteen year period.  At the center is a police force beleaguered by ineptitude, beastly violence, greed, and corruption, where truth and justice are secondary to maintaining an unwritten code of honor.  It is shocking and abhorrent, and there was much covering of the eyes and ears in disbelief, disgust, and fear.  We stayed up late and stole moments where we could to see it end and mercifully so. Well written, beautifully filmed, and vividly portrayed, I don’t think you can ask for more of a thriller.  Well worth the five hours!

In yoga, much like an ice cream cone or a stiff drink after a hard day, postures are followed by counter poses to maintain equanimity.  A series of back bends without inversions (my favorites!) or forward bends and I am smarting with tight muscles and discomfort the next day.  With that in mind, I bring you It’s Kind of a Funny Story, for there has to be something light after the creepy darkness of the Red Riding Trilogy.  Seriously.  Though this story isn’t without sadness and fear, it is hopeful and left me smiling.  To borrow the title, it is kind of a funny story (there were some tears shed) about a high school boy battling depression, a whole lot of stress, and a strong desire to end his life.  Rather than do that, he checks himself into a psych ward and learns, through the lens of others’ pain, that his life, however mired it might be, could be a lot worse.

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Life List

I’ve thought about writing a list like this for a long time yet always worried that it meant that what I’m doing right now is lacking in merit.  A shift occurred, however, when I had that moment of realization that there is no THERE without HERE.  The future doesn’t exist without today.  So thank you, Andrea at Superhero Journal, for inspiring me to voice my dreams to the world.

1. Be a successfully published novelist.

2. Win an award for my work.

3. Be interviewed by Tavis, Terry, and Charlie.

4. Be paid handsomely for work that I love.

4. Visit Cambodia and India.

5. Really know America.

6. Be financially independent.

7. Master the Yoga Shakti DVD and meet Shiva Rea.

8. Love myself, inside and out (and tell my thirteen year old self,  “It’s okay”).


As many of you know, from this space and my life in the physical world, I practice yoga.  What initially began as neat way to get exercise has become a deeply invigorating physical and spiritual practice.  By God’s (or maybe Buddha’s or Shiva Nataraja’s) grace, I have the privilege to be led through asanas that bring me closer to what I believe is most important in this world: body, mind, and spirit connecting and strengthening, not just within me, but to human consciousness, and all that lives, breathes, and moves.  As a result, I have changed.  I am more integrated, physically stronger yet softer, more understanding, caring, and connected.  I still have a long way to go, but the journey, with yoga, is far more joyous and centered.

At the center of this is Shiva Rea.  I have had other teachers, but none has inspired me or encouraged me to continue as she has (despite never having met!).  Were it not for the discovery of the brilliant Yoga Shakti DVD more than five years ago, I don’t know that I would still be practicing.  It’s not only Shiva’s way of teaching, of leading, but the steady evolution of her yoga, rooted in the ebb and flow of life, not to mention those fabulous matrices that allow me to mix it up according to my needs and time.

These four DVDs are my favorites and are the foundation of my practice.  They are challenging, fun, beautiful, and as ever changing as I am.  Difficult one day, a breeze the next, they enable me to be exactly where I am and embrace it.

As for each video – Yoga Shakti is closest to what I would call a traditional vinyasa practice.  I think, too, if you are new to yoga, it is the best place to start, as she offers some basic postures and forms.  As you progress, it can be very challenging, too.  Even after more than five years, I can, by no means, complete all the postures as shown.  Shiva is strong and incredibly flexible!  My goal is to have this video mastered in 2013.  The body and mind open slowly, over time.

Trance Dance – I’ve written about this before, and my love for it is simple.  Dance!  Invigorating, fluid, sacred, and totally fun!

Daily Energy – I was so jazzed when she made this DVD!  Sometimes I don’t have a lot of time.  With this video, I can have a complete practice in as little as twenty minutes, which is pretty awesome.  Since it also has a yoga matrix, I can make it a whole lot longer, add some core work, forward bends, and a complete shavasana, too.

Creative Core + Upper Body – Though the practice is centered around 108 push-ups (not all at once – thank goodness!), it is definitely not just for the upper body.  The legs and core get a terrific workout, too.  Speaking of the core – in all of the DVDs except Trance, she offers core cultivation in very creative and fun ways.   I’d never seen or felt anything like it – very good!  Oh, and this one is also pretty short, running at 35 minutes.

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Something amazing happened to me the other day, mind blowing, wonderful kind of amazing.  I was finishing my yoga practice with a meditation before shavasana, something I don’t normally incorporate for reasons of time and laziness.

Anyway, as I was sitting there, listening to Shiva’s kind voice, I felt my body moving, only I didn’t feel like I was the one doing it.  It was just happening, smooth and effortless, a birch branch slowly oscillating in the breeze.   As I continued to move, I had this sensation of fullness, effervescence.  I could no longer tell where my body ended and the rest of the universe began.  In my closed eyes, I could see and feel billions of tiny bubbles of light pulsing and emanating to and from what I can only guess was the essence of all being: me, you, the sun, moon, and stars.

As you might imagine, it was exhilarating.  It brought me the greatest sense of joy, peace, and wonder, and the moment I became fully conscious of what was happening, I wanted it to continue, to watch where it might take me, but, of course, in this same moment, I made the connection back to my thinking mind, and it was over, leaving me with tiny traces of its perfection.

Thinking about it now, I feel a bit empty but in the most positive way.  Empty of pain, worry, suffering, and full of hope at the possibility of my life and our world.  Now I am sharing it with you.


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I first began practicing yoga about eight years ago.  I dabbled with different videos and “live”classes, but was never very serious, at least, not until I discovered Shiva Rea.

My introduction to Shiva Rea was with the Yoga Shakti video on Amazon about two years ago.  I was immediately intrigued by the possibility of creating my own practice by selecting from the different series of vinyasas on the yoga matrix.  Since then, I have also added the Fluid Power Vinyasa Flow and the Creative Core Abs to my collection.  Each DVD gives me myriad possibilities for my practice, including degree of difficulty and length.

However, the best part about the videos is Shiva herself: strong, graceful, and powerful.  She radiates peace, love, and joy.  I find myself inspired by her, learning to approach yoga in a completely different way by connecting my practice and my life.  Before Shiva, I was “doing” yoga, but here, I feel myself evolving and actually “being” each of the asanas, all while growing stronger, too.  It is really quite wonderful.

It is funny, too, I created the title for this entry before deciding that I wanted to include a picture of Shiva, so when I did my Google search, I found her website and it is called Shiva Rea: Yoga as Conscious Evolution.  Kind of an interesting coincidence isn’t it?  Her presence in my life extends far beyond my practice.

Who knows?  Maybe one day, we’ll even meet.  Until then, thank you Shiva.  Infinite blessings upon your path…

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