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manifestation q&a series

Q & A Series, writing

The Manifest-Station Q&A Series: Best-Selling Author Dani Shapiro.

September 29, 2013

I’m Jennifer Pastiloff and this series is designed to introduce the world to someone I find incredible. Someone who is manifesting their dreams on a daily basis. Someone like best-selling author Dani Shapiro.

When I read Dani’s book Devotion, my life changed. Just like that, I was on a plane to Bali to lead a retreat there, and if you told me that the plane had changed courses, I would have believed you. Dani’s latest book Still Writing, which releases on Tuesday, October 1st, is no different. I had the distinct honor to read an advanced copy, which I carried around like a dog-eared Bible of sorts. 

Dani Shapiro crystallizes more than 20 years’ worth of lessons learned from teaching and writing into the instructive and inspiring Still Writing ~ Vanity Fair

You know when you find a writer and you think “They are talking to me. They wrote this book for me. They are, in fact, a little piece of me.” That’s Dani.

Perhaps my favorite quote by Dani, “Everything I know about life, I learned from the daily practice of sitting down to write.” I remind myself of that quote every time the resistance comes up to sit down or to be present. It’s the daily practice. It’e the putting one foot in front of the other, or, one letter after the other. It’s the sitting down to do it.

Writers need hope. Writers need help. Thank you, Dani Shapiro. ~Michael Cunningham

It’s a huge honor to have her featured on this series. I have taken a break from it and what better way to make a re-entry than with Dani Shapiro? Please, whatever you do, pick up a book by her and hold it close to your heart. Read it. You won’t ever put it down. It will stay inscribed there on your heart forever. Isn’t that what good writing does?

Lastly, and this just makes me giddy to write, Dani will be on SuperSoul Sunday with Oprah on Sunday October 20th. Talk about manifesting! Without further ado, here is my beloved friend, Dani Shapiro…

dani - 12 copy

Jennifer Pastiloff: I’ve taken a bit of a hiatus from this series but I’d like to start with the question I always start with. What are you most proud to have manifested in your life? 

Dani Shapiro: I have two immediate and powerful responses to that question.  The first is that I’ve manifested a happy family.  I’ve been genuinely, deeply, happily married for sixteen years.  I have a fourteen-year-old son who I’m very close to.  Both of these could so easily––as the poet Jane Kenyon once wrote so beautifully––could have been otherwise.  I was married twice before.  Once when I was still a teenager (!) and once in my twenties.  I made epically lousy choices in my romantic life until I met my husband.  And I was terrified to become a mother.  I had a very difficult relationship with my own mother, and I didn’t see the attraction.  Some women spend their whole lives wanting to become mothers.  This wasn’t me.  I experienced a single, stark moment of absolute grace when I thought I could become a mother––and I did. 

The second response is my life as a writer.  I was such a fuck-up.  You never would have looked at me, when I was in my early twenties, and thought: oh, yeah, that girl – she’s going to become a bestselling novelist and memoirist and is going to teach in universities.  Oh yeah, that girl is going to sit down with Oprah.  No… I don’t think so.  But I climbed my way out of the dark place I had burrowed myself into, and in a beautiful piece of symmetry, becoming a writer saved my life, a word, a sentence at a time.  

Jennifer Pastiloff: How did Devotion come to be? I read the book on a flight to Bali and it was one of those life-changing moments for me, where I bolted up out of my seat and started writing. My copy is now dog-eared and I assign it often to my students at workshops and retreats. Tell us, if you would, how that book was born?

Dani Shapiro: God, I love hearing that so much!  Thank you.  I was in the middle of my yoga practice when Devotion came to me.  I had been in a trough between novels, waiting for the next work of fiction to materialize, and on this particular day I was in tree pose, and suddenly the word “devotion” flashed before my eyes.  Nothing like this had ever happened to me.  I’ve never had a title before I’ve had a book.  I’ve written whole books before I’ve come upon the right title.  But as soon as I saw that word –– devotion –– I knew that it was a book, a memoir, an exploration of the spiritual and existential crisis I had found myself in.  I had been grappling with questions that I finally wanted to address directly, deeply, and as a writer the only way I know how to address anything is on the page.  I discover what I believe through the writing.  But this wasn’t particularly welcome news, I must say.  I hadn’t planned to write another memoir.  Certainly not a spiritual memoir.  But when a feeling of rightness accompanies an idea for a writer, you turn away from it at your own peril. 

Jennifer Pastiloff: As you know, one of my great dreams has been to be on Super Soul Sunday with Oprah. You, my friend, have had this dream become a reality. We’ve had a couple conversations where you have shared some gorgeous insight about this experience. I know you are planning on writing about it but would you tell my readers just a little about what that was like for you? The process of non-attachment, the letting go and having it return?

Dani Shapiro: I’ve learned so many things about myself, and about life, since I got the call inviting me to be a guest on “Super Soul Sunday” with Oprah.  The first revelation is about the nature of shock.  I had known for a long time that bad news could be shocking.  I’ve been on the receiving end of shocking bad news.  But what I hadn’t known is that good news can be shocking.  I had no idea that I was being considered for Super Soul.  I didn’t have a new book out when I got the call.  In fact, when Devotion came out in 2010, of course I had some faint hope that maybe the Oprah folks would come knocking, but who ever really thinks that will happen?  I don’t know why this is, but I really believe that things don’t happen when we’re trying to will them into being.  They don’t happen when we’re waiting for the phone to ring, or the email to pop up in our in box.  They don’t happen when we’re gripping too tightly.  They happen –– if they happen at all –– when we’ve fully let go of the results.  And, perhaps, when we’re ready.  I was much more ready for that phone call than I would have been in 2010.  I’d spent three years deepening my practice, thinking about spiritual matters, and living them.  I was more grounded and centered.  And that was my goal ­­–– when I sat down with Oprah.  My goal was to be centered and present.  Not to miss the experience.  Not to be all self-absorbed and self-conscious and up in my head.  I didn’t want to miss the moment.  I wanted to truly rise to the occasion. 

Jennifer Pastiloff: When will your Super Soul Sunday episode air?

Dani Shapiro: The air date is Sunday, October 20.

Jennifer Pastiloff: Expect to be delighted. I found this in a book years ago and I use it as one of the steps to manifesting in my workshops. Thoughts on this one? 

Dani Shapiro: Well, I love that.  Too often we expect the worst.  I spent a lot of my life being one of those “waiting for the other shoe to drop” people.  It doesn’t protect against the other shoe dropping, and all it really does is cause a lot of unnecessary anxiety.  But to anticipate delight is, perhaps, to cultivate delight!  What a wonderful way to live.  And why not?  I mean, we’re not in control.  We don’t know what will happen next.  Why not assume the very, very best?

Jennifer Pastiloff: What is the greatest lesson (or one of them) you have learned from being a mom?

Dani Shapiro: Being a mom has forced me to be more present, because I became aware, when my son was very small, that I didn’t want to look back on what really is a brief window in the span of a lifetime –– of early childhood, of his growing up, of his adolescence –– and feel like I had been elsewhere and missed it.  It’s easy to wish the time away.  Some of motherhood is boring, though most of us won’t admit it.  For instance, I do not like to play games.  I’m not a game-playing mom.  Not board games, not outdoor games.  And so I would find myself wishing those hours away, but I made myself stop living in the past or the future, and come to the awareness, instead, that this time of young motherhood would eventually become something I would feel nostalgia for.  I would miss it some day.  And so I wanted to be present for the very thing that I would some day miss.  

Jennifer Pastiloff: I know your husband is a filmmaker. Can you tell us a bit about what a day in the life of the Shapiro/Maren household is like?

Dani Shapiro: Every day is different!  When I’m working on a book, I’m home in my office in my yoga clothes, in a silent house, with just my dogs for company.  My husband has an office in a town near our house, and he heads there early in the morning, and that’s where he gets his work done.  But we both do a lot of traveling –– he directed his first feature film this year, “A Short History of Decay” and was in North Carolina for two months shooting.  That’s by far the longest we’ve been apart.  When I have a book out –– as I’m about to –– I’ll be on and off airplanes nearly every week for months at a time.  We live in rural Connecticut, which is very good for both of us, I think.  It’s a wonderful place to be based, and for our son to be growing up. 

Jennifer Pastiloff: Still Writing? I absolutely loved your blog piece about this and how people often ask that question. Still writing? In fact, your latest book is titled Still Writing. Can you tell us a little about the new book? When can we read it?

Dani Shapiro: Still Writing will be in bookstores October 1.  I began a blog a number of years ago about writing –– not so much about craft, but rather, what it takes to sit down day after day in solitude and with some sort of blind faith.  I was interested in exploring all the things that come up: resistance, fortitude, patience, frustration, the ability to withstand rejection –– all the struggles and challenges, as well as the incredible gifts and privileges, of spending life as a writer.  And the blog really caught on.  It took me by surprise.  I began receiving notes from all sorts of people telling me that they were reading it and getting something they needed out of it.  I never even considered writing a book based on the blog, but everyone kept asking –– and eventually it just seemed like something I should do.  I never once looked back at the blog, though, as I was writing Still Writing.  I wanted it to be a real book – part memoir, part meditation on the creative process.  I think of it as my love letter to creative people everywhere.  Writing saved my life –– in the book, I say that everything I know about how to live I have learned from the daily practice of struggling with the page.  And so I think the book is about those lessons, too.  

Still Writing by Dani Shapiro

Jennifer Pastiloff: Yoga. Tell us about how yoga has affected your life, as well as your writing? So many of my readers are a hybrid of yogis and writers and I find the crossover fascinating. One of the reasons I have them all read Devotion.

Dani Shapiro: I love that you have your yoga students read Devotion.  That means so much to me!  My yoga practice is so woven into my life as a writer that I can’t imagine one without the other.  In fact, the reason I work at home, rather than have an office outside of the house (which is sometimes very appealing!) is because I like the freedom of being able to unroll my mat in the middle of the day.  When I’m starting to feel stuck, or when my head gets too noisy, the one and only thing I have found that helps me come home to myself, and quiet my mind, is my yoga practice.  And while I love nothing more than a great yoga class (and am jealous of my friends who live near great studios all over the country) when I moved to Connecticut there weren’t any studios near my home, and so I built my own home practice, which I now love.  I unroll my mat in my bedroom, light a fire in my fireplace unless it’s the middle of summer, and I have these seven chakra sprays that Aveda makes lined up on my fireplace mantle, and a few crystals a healer once gave me –– this is my sanctuary. 

Jennifer Pastiloff: On being a Jew. Although you were raised with more structure around religion than I was, I felt I had found my soulmate when I read Devotion. You helped me arrive at the place of accepting that I absolutely did NOT have to put myself in a box or label myself as one thing or the other.

How does being “complicated with Jewishness” fit into your life now? It seems to be that a lot of the great spiritual leaders are Jews and that there is something inherent in Judaism that lends itself to spirituality as a whole. Tell us about being a writer, a yogi, a Jew and a spiritual seeker and a mom. I love this idea of I do not have to be just one thing. Watch me.

Dani Shapiro: Just yesterday, a writer friend who had just read an early copy of Still Writing paid me the ultimate compliment.  He told me that Still Writing felt to him like a prayer book.  That it felt Rabbinical in some way.  He felt the influence, he said, of all those Saturday mornings I spent sitting in synagogue with my father.  I tried not to deflect the compliment and really take it in.  These last years, since embarking on the journey that led to writing Devotion, have been a continuation of a path that I hope to wander for the rest of my life.  I am indeed complicated by my Judaism, in the way I think so many of us are “complicated” by our experiences of childhood religion.  Being Jewish is incredibly important to me, but I’m not observant.  At the same time, I cared deeply that my son know himself as Jewish –– not just culturally, but be steeped in the traditions and rituals.  His Bar Mitzvah last year –– which was completely homegrown, eclectic, held in a church, led by a female Rabbi with whom we’ve become close, with readings from Coleridge and Hannah Senesh, as well as the whole congregation singing Leonard Cohen’s “Broken Hallelujah” –– with my son playing his ukulele and me on the piano –– was one of the highlights of my life.  I looked around that church at all of our family and friends gathered and there was such love in that room, such a feeling of being part of something meaningful and real –– and I had built it –– we even made our own prayer books –– by necessity, and by choice, and out of a tremendous amount of focus on finding a way to do something that would truly resonate. 

It has been one of the biggest shifts in my life over these past few years, this feeling that I can be this and that.  Be Jewish and a great reader of eastern philosophy.  A messed up girl who grew up into a thoughtful and (hopefully not too messed up) woman.  A yogi who likes a good steak along with a bottle of Barolo.  An urbanite living in rural Connecticut.  All these things.  So what?  Why not?  I’ve been shrugging off definitions that have limited me.  The only person who can place these limiting definitions on us is ourselves. 

Jennifer Pastiloff: What would you say to yourself at 25 years old in terms of your career?

Dani Shapiro: Oh, dear girl, be patient.  Know that there is no well-lit path.  Know that your dreams for yourself at this moment are small and that you have no idea what life has in store for you.  Some of your disappointments and setbacks will turn out to be your greatest lessons.  More than anything, be in competition only with yourself.  You have the opportunity to spend your whole life getting better and better at what you do. 

What would you say to yourself 5 years ago?

I would say that worry is a waste of time.  That anxiety doesn’t change anything, it doesn’t protect us from anything.  All it does is sap us of our creative energy and impede our flow.  The things I’ve tended to worry about do not come to pass.  The difficulties I’ve had in my life are not ones I’ve anticipated.  So why not at least try to let go?  

JP: When was the last time you laughed at yourself?

DS: Yesterday.  A photographer was at my house, photographing me for a piece for The New York Times.  I was all dolled up, makeup, good hair, the whole deal – and they decided they wanted to take a picture of me on my yoga mat.  So I changed into my yoga clothes and sat in lotus position “meditating” while he took my picture.  Imagine the noise in my head!  Absurdity always makes me laugh.  All I could think was: “it’s come to this!” 

JP: Victor Frankl was able to mentally survive living in a concentration camp by finding beauty in a fish head floating in his soup. In a fish head.  Learning this is what inspired me to start the 5mostbeautifulthings Project. What if we walked around looking for beauty instead of looking for things to be stressed about or offended by? What if we trained our eyes and our hearts to tune into that which makes us cock our head to one side and close our eyes gently in an effort to memorize what we were looking at. What if it is all we got? What if all we have is our 5 beautiful things? What’s your fish head? What are your 5 most beautiful things right now, Dani?

DS: Literally right at this moment:

My son’s face.

My two dogs lying curled up in a patch of sunlight.

The changing leaves outside my window.  Autumn in New England.

My husband across the kitchen table me, both on our laptops.  A team.

The quiet and beauty of our lives.  Hard won.  Ephemeral.  Taking it in.

JP: Tell us about Sirenland. I just visited Positano after my Tuscany retreat and per your recommendation I went to Le Sireneuse, hugged the owners and had pink champagne with them. Le Sireneuse is where you hold Sirenland each March. I can safely say that it took my breath away. It’s a dream come true that you do this. What is Sirenland? How did it come to be? Who is teaching with you this year? Why Positano?

DS: Sirenland was born at a dinner party in Connecticut.  I had absolutely no dream of starting a writing conference.  My husband and I were at dinner at our friend Nancy Novogrod’s home –– she is the editor in chief of Travel+Leisure –– and she had invited, as she told me, her favorite hotel owners in the world.  These would be Antonio and Carla Sersale, owners of Le Sirenuse.  We had an incredibly fun evening together, and then a week later, I received an email from Antonio asking if I’d like to bring some writers to Italy.  This was eight years ago.  Sirenland has grown into one of the best writing conferences in the world.  We have thirty students come to Italy for a life-altering week.  (By the way, applications are now open at  My son has gotten to grow up going each year to this miraculous place.  And we’ve made so many incredible friends.  I always teach one of the three workshops, and the other faculty rotates.  We’ve had Jim Shepard teach for a number of years.  Last year, Karen Russell (who just became the youngest person ever to win a MacArthur “genius” Award), this year the wonderful writers Meg Wolitzer and Andre Dubus III will be joining us. 

JP: I often ask “what are your rules to live by?” because I think it’s a fun way to hold ourselves accountable. Some of mine are: Don’t take yourself too seriously, sing out loud, write poems (even if only in your head), don’t worry, everyone on Facebook seems like they have happier lives (they don’t.) I ask people of all ages to do this, including children, and to see what people write is a joy. What are some of your rules to live by?

DS: Always tell the truth.

Practice discernment.

To have a friend you have to be a friend.

Use the Internet –– don’t allow the Internet to use you.

Try to live in the moment.

Love, love, love.  Spend it all.  Every little bit.

Hold nothing back. 

JP: Kripalu. I love that you lead workshops there, as I do. It is one of my favorite places to teach.  The beloved Berkshires. Tell us about Kripalu. When will you be there next?

DS: I love Kripalu, and love teaching there too.  I’ll be there to teach my first workshop based on Still Writing from November 1-3.  And as a special treat, my dear friend, the great yogi, scholar and writer Stephen Cope will be joining me on that Saturday night for an honest, open, deep conversation about writing, creativity, doing and living the work.  I’m so excited to be doing an event with Stephen.  And next June –– the 6th through the 8th – Stephen and I will co-teach a weekend writing and yoga retreat.

JP: I know you talk about it in Devotion but can you share with us how you met Stephen and how that relationship came to be? Sylvia Boorstein?

DS: That story is such a life-lesson in putting one foot in front of the other.  In saying yes, instead of no.  I first met Stephen on the page.  I was reading his gorgeous book, That story is such a life-lesson in putting one foot in front of the other.  In saying yes, instead of no.  I first met Stephen on the page.  I was reading his gorgeous book, Yoga and the Quest for the True Self.  It was, for me, one of those life-changing books.  I carried it around with me, underlining, doodling exclamation points in the margins.  And one summer afternoon I found myself at a library fundraiser –– I had promised ages before to attend –– and I was grumbling to myself the whole way there.  Didn’t want to go.  It was hot, humid, a bad hair day, and I was annoyed at myself for having agreed.  It was one of those events where authors sit behind piles of their books, in a sweltering tent, and people in linen jackets and madras shorts walk by carrying plastic cups of white wine.  Sound fun?  Anyway, I was shown to my table and sat grumpily down.  Then the author next to me leaned over to introduce himself.  “Hi,” he said.  “Steve Cope.”

He and I became immediate, fast friends.  I had his book with me in my bag!  I just couldn’t believe it.  Shortly thereafter, I signed up for a retreat he was teaching at Kripalu –– which was a place I had wanted to visit, but had always felt intimidated and resistant.  But now I had a pal there, so I pushed myself to go.  That weekend, he was teaching with a Buddhist named Sylvia Boorstein, who I hadn’t known, not being of that world.  Attending that retreat at Kripalu changed my life.  I made two of my dearest friends, teachers, fellow travelers, guides.  And now –– only four or five years later –– I am a part of the Kripalu family as well, and love leading my retreats there.  I’m going to be on the West Coast for my Still Writing book tour, and Sylvia and I are doing an event together at Book Passage in Marin County.  It will be one of the highlights of my book tour.  All because I showed up at a library event in Connecticut.  We never know what life has in store for us.    

JP: Who have been your greatest teachers?

DS: I had a great high school English teacher, Peter Cowen, who is still in my life.  Ditto for my 19th Century Literary Professor at Sarah Lawrence, Ilja Wachs, who taught me the art of close reading.  Grace Paley and Jerome Badanes were my teachers when I was in graduate school and I owe a tremendous debt to them both.  In recent years, Sylvia Boorstein and Stephen Cope.  My friend the great Rabbi Burton Visotzky, who gave me a new lens with which to read the Torah.  Then there are the teachers I’ve never met: Virginia Woolf.  Thomas Merton. 

JP: Advice to new writers reading this?

DS: Read my book!  Seriously –– I wrote it for you!  And if you don’t read my book, the one piece of advice I have is to read something worthwhile every day –– the poet Jane Kenyon describes this as “keeping good sentences in your ears.”  Reading is your best teacher.  Also, get used to rejection.  Get used to discomfort.  Who said it should be easy?  Writing well is hard, hard work.  Develop the ability to endure.  To stay in the chair. 

JP: I couldn’t be more excited that you are now writing for Positively Positive, along with Emily Rapp and myself. Writing for this site has definitely changed my life. I am humbled to be in your company there. What is up next for Dani Shapiro?

DS: I love writing for Positively Positive as well!  As for what’s next, I will be traveling to teach and give readings from Still Writing for the next bunch of months.  I can’t write and travel at the same time –– I need to sink in deeply –– so I will wait for the shimmer.  I will try to be patient and keep good sentences in my ears.  I will try to take care of myself and my loved ones, body and soul, and endure, so that I can sit down come spring and be…still writing!  

JP: G-d willing. We should live and be well. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

DS: Thanks, Jen!  You’re a beautiful force for good in the world.  I’m proud to know you.

Q & A Series, Yoga Classes

Lara Heimann of Yoga Stream. The Manifestation Q&A Series.

April 16, 2012

Welcome to The Manifestation Q&A Series. 

I am Jennifer Pastiloff and this series is designed to introduce the world to someone I find incredible. Someone who is manifesting their dreams on a daily basis.

I am honored to call today’s guest a dear friend. I don’t meet strangers anymore. I only meet old friends. Lara Heimann, the creator of Yoga Stream, is one of them.

When I found out my Mexico retreat in February was going to be shared with another yoga teacher I felt a bit nervous. I had never done that before. And, she was from New Jersey? Yikes! (That’s a joke folks. I grew up in Jersey.)

I met Lara and instantly fell in love. (Another lesson for me in TRUST.) There was absoloutely no separation between her group and mine. It truly was magical. It was ease-filled, joy-filled, laughter-filled. I credit that to Lara. The group she brought with her were dedicated, loyal, kind and funny. Watching how they interacted with her, I knew I had to get to know her better.

So that’s what I did.

Last week I taught a workshop in Philly and Lara drove all the way from Princeton to come! It was such an honor to have her their. Then, a few of her students came to my NYC workshops. She then drove again to NYC to take me to an amazing vegan restaurant.

I love meeting family I never knew I had until I meet them.

Lara Heimann lives in Princeton folks, but she leads retreats and workshops all over. She is also about to lead her first ever teacher training and if I was closer I would do it. No questions asked.

She is a teacher to the core. She is a fierce momma, friend and wife. Get to know this loving vegan and you will fall in love, as I did.

Next time you are on the east coast, go find her!

You will not be sorry.

The gorgeous Lara. Check out her yoga classes/workshops/retreats!

Jennifer Pastiloff: What are you most proud to have manifested in your life?

Lara Heimann: I am most proud of manifesting an intentional life in which my values and actions are in harmony. I try to live in accordance with the golden rule: treat others as you would want to be treated. This principle encompasses kindness to all beings and reverence for the environment. Professionally, I chose a health- related career first as a physical therapist and then as a yoga teacher because I love working with people and seeing them improve physically and mentally. In my personal life, striving to be intentional led me to become vegan (over 10 years ago) and an active animal advocate, get certified as a natural foods chef, and build an eco-green sustainable home with my husband. We are raising our children to be mindful, compassionate and intentional beings- they are daily reminders to walk my talk and do it with humility, clarity and gratitude.

Jennifer Pastiloff: What’s the greatest lesson that you have learned from being a teacher?

Lara Heimann: I don’t need to solve problems, be perfect, or know everything; I just need to teach intelligently and intuitively, securely hold a space in which people can experience whatever yoga brings up, and then guide, support, encourage, and celebrate them.

From being a mom?

Lara Heimann: Genuineness is everything. Kids are little radar detectors who can sniff out inauthenticity. My kids make me speak, live, and act with integrity and clarity because my thoughts and actions are mirrored in their own behavior.

From your own yoga practice?

Lara Heimann: My yoga practice has taught me the importance of patience, perseverance, commitment, determination and humor. I am so much better in life because of my steady yoga practice. Like other aspects in life, a huge part of my learning occurs just because I decide to show up.

From owning your own studio?

Lara Heimann: Committing my vision to practice and making that vision a reality is extremely powerful. My home studio arose organically- people started to request classes after I stopped my large public classes (shortly after giving birth to my daughter.) I began to teach small classes in my original home studio and loved teaching there so much that I created an expanded studio in our newly built home exactly as I wanted. Owning my own studio has taught me a different type of commitment. I need to be fully present every class to give of my time, energy, creativity and knowledge. As a result, I have cultivated a joyous business that is fueled by my amazing students.

Jennifer Pastiloff: Who has been your greatest teacher?

Lara Heimann: My mother, in her own subtle way, has been my greatest teacher. Since my father had a busy surgical practice, she dedicated herself to being the primary caregiver to four kids (I have an older brother and am a triplet!) While raising us was a “wonderful adventure”, I know that she also felt ambivalent about not having a career outside the home and strongly encouraged me to be able to stand on my own two feet. Her example and advice have informed the way that I live- fully committing to my family while also feeding my personal ambition and passion.

While I have had many wonderful yoga mentors, Ana Forrest stands out as one who was pivotal in transforming my personal practice and teaching philosophy. She emphasizes focusing on the core and having a “no bullshit” approach in your teaching. Although our personalities and styles are quite different, these principles resonate in my practice and my classes.

Lara chillin' on her car.

Jennifer Pastiloff: Who/what inspires you the most?

Lara Heimann: When I need inspiration, my good friend, Gene Baur, always comes to mind. As the co-founder of Farm Sanctuary, which is dedicated to rescuing farm animals from horrible situations, he educates the public about the realities of factory farming, and lobbies for legislation to protect these sentient beings. Gene travels most of the year, working tirelessly to speak for the voiceless, and is relentless, yet compassionate when meeting people from all sides of the issue. He is a modern-day Gandhi and I am inspired by his commitment, his passion, and his kindness; he has seen the worst of humanity and yet has eternal belief in the innate goodness of mankind. Gene has truly made me more compassionate and committed in my own life.

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Jennifer Pastiloff: YogaStream. Can you share with us a bit about the birth of YogaStream and what it is. 

Lara Heimann: Yogastream was created out of my love for the flow and my drive to delve deeper. Movement has always fueled me and inspires my sequencing with its’ limitless possibilities. In addition to the classic asanas, I add some flavorful moves from dance, physical therapy exercises, and even my son’s Taekwondo! I chose the name YogaStream because streams conjure up images that resonate with me: movement, fluidity, life, nature, beauty, and power. We all have an innate current of strength, and my aim is to tap into this reservoir with each practice. A YogaStream class starts with core work and inversions to improve strength and ready the body for the flow. Inversions bring an unique challenge, making us face our fears while getting comfortable on our hands. During the flow, inversions can be integrated and a series of mini vinyasas are ultimately streamed together for a longer, energetic flow.

YogaStream classes are physically challenging in a meaningful way- by fortifying the core and becoming more centered, life off the mat improves. YogaStream classes are all-encompassing: they increase strength, flexibility, and endurance while calming the mind. My students often talk of how this style of yoga has made them clearer, both mentally and spiritually, more courageous, confident, driven, and compassionate.

Lara flying high in Mexico where we met!

Jennifer Pastiloff: What was your favorite part about leading your Mexico retreat?

Lara Heimann: The retreat in Mexico was awesome because I had wonderful participants, many of whom are my students in Princeton. To be able to watch them deepen their yoga practices and then spend more time with them outside of yoga was truly a joy. I loved observing them change from slightly worried and frazzled the first day (leaving kids, some for the first time, family,etc.) to happy, content and blissful the next day. And at night, that festive energy continued as we let it rip with some dancing and singing! Of course, it was icing on the cake to meet you:-)

Jennifer Pastiloff: If you weren’t teaching yoga, what would you be doing?

Lara Heimann: I would be running some kind of animal rescue/ sanctuary. My daughter and I volunteer at a local animal shelter and I am always fueled by the experience. My heart swells when I see how animals forgive their past situations and open up to kindness.

Jennifer Pastiloff: I know you are a vegetarian and as far as I can tell, a pretty awesome chef. Can you share with us your favorite go-to dinner or any other fabulous things you have come up with?

Lara Heimann: I have been vegan for 10 1/2 years and in that time, I have truly learned how to cook. Before kids, I was very good at boiling pasta and grilling veggie burgers, but aspired to be more healthy, knowledgeable and creative in the kitchen. I went on to graduate from the Natural Kitchen Cooking School, and learned so much about intuitive cooking.

One of my go to recipes is Raw Kale Salad. I have the recipe on my FB page, “Lara Heimann Yoga and Wellness” (https:// It’s so finger-lickin’ good that my son will eat 3-4 bowls of it at a time!!

Jennifer Pastiloff: Some words you live by?

Lara Heimann: I have a quote on my kitchen dry-erase board : Be good to yourself. Be excellent with others. Do everything with love. I strive to live that motto. Growing up, I also had a Nadia Comaneci poster that made an indelible mark on me. It is a picture of her holding a ridiculously difficult pose. At the bottom of the poster is this quote: Do not pray for an easy life. Pray to be a strong person.

Wow- so powerful! The poster is now in my daughter’s room and I hope that the message will imprint on her too.

So…. my words: “Be kind. Be good. Be strong. Be thankful. Work hard. Play hard. Have fun. Please don’t whine!”

Jennifer Pastiloff: I heard you are going to start leading teacher trainings. Where can we find about more about your teacher trainings and workshops?

Lara Heimann: Here is information about my 200 hour Yoga Alliance teacher training that starts in September in Princeton, NJ. It will be highly experiential, with an emphasis on understanding the body, alignment, and how to create and sequence a really rocking flow!

Click here for more info on Yoga Stream’s teacher training.

Jennifer Pastiloff: I teach many of my classes to the theme of gratitude. If you could say thank you right now to one person who would it be?

Lara Heimann: My husband. He is the epitome of giving. My life is made easier and richer every day because of him. He supports me, cheers me, challenges me and loves me fully and without holding back. He is my biggest cheerleader and really makes me want to be the best for myself, my family, and my work. I feel immense gratitude for him and the life we have created together. (And he is hilarious and super cute!!)

Jennifer Pastiloff: What is one message you would pass on right now to someone looking to manifest his/her best self?

Lara Heimann: Quiet the chatter in your mind and feel with your heart. Find what stirs your soul, pulls on your heartstrings, and makes you happy and then JUST DO IT. We only have one life to live. I am guided by the line “life is not a dress rehearsal.” As a physical therapist, I spent years working with older people and the biggest regret many of them had was not doing more of what they loved and listening too much to their own doubts. These old souls also taught me to appreciate my health and so I do, every day! At the end of each practice, I say a little mantra ” May I be good in life and may life be good to me. Thank you thank you for my health.”

In order to manifest your best self- feel your passion, let it guide and inspire you, and appreciate the path.

Jennifer Pastiloff: What brings you the most joy? Your joy list, as it were.

Lara Heimann: My family- both human and animal; my friends (both new and old); books; strong, black coffee in the morning; a handstand that floats; my children’s giggles and hilarious conversations; long walks in the woods behind my house; travel; meeting new and interesting people; teaching yoga; cooking a lovely meal; eating at my favorite vegan restaurants; sports; belly laughter; couch snuggles with my hubby, kids, and/or cats; being with animals; creating a new flow; dancing; dark chocolate….

Jennifer Pastiloff: Tell us a bit about Princeton – your community. From what I saw in Mexico you have a strong following.

Lara Heimann: Wow! It is hard to put into words how fortunate I am to have such a strong, loving, dedicated group of yogis. They are a wide mix of ages and backgrounds. I have had a few who have been practicing with me for over 10 years and have celebrated many milestones with me, both personal and professional. My students are universally supportive of each other. Because of the more intimate setting (max. of 10 people per class), everyone gets to be cheered and encouraged. There is no competition or ego- just an energy of inspiration, validation, and enthusiasm. I have virtually no rules in my studio because I don’t need them- I set the standard high with what I give and in return, my students give their best. I feel so privileged to be the captain of this ship of outstanding people, who are committed, supportive, and grateful.

Jennifer Pastiloff: Has your teaching and your own practice changed at all over the years? If so, can you describe how?

Lara Heimann: I have been teaching for 15 years and used to teach without as much intention or detail. Fortunately, my background in fitness and as a physical therapist helped me be safe but my creativity and detail have grown the most over the past 5-7 years. What resonates with me is to connect with my physical and spiritual core. As my own practice has strengthened and my style has become more innovative and intuitive, I have had many more breakthroughs. My goal with my teaching and with my own practice is to journey toward this physical (and ultimately spiritual) core and become more centered, strong,clear, and energetically alive.

Jennifer Pastiloff: When is the last time you laughed at yourself?

Lara Heimann: I laughed a few hours ago when I had to do a voice over for a video. I was sounding very robotic so my husband and I started doing silly voices. Laughter is so important in my life- my husband makes me laugh every day (all it takes is some toilet humor!) And I laugh a lot when I am teaching. In my own practice, there is nothing like a good giggle after doing a lovely face plant! Even if we are intense in our practice, we can’t take it too seriously 🙂

Jennifer Pastiloff: Where will your next retreat be?

Lara Heimann: I am going back to Mexico next winter and am looking at different places to explore too, including bike riding/ yoga in Spain and maybe a yoga retreat with a certain lovely Cali gal! (That would be me, dear readers. Me, as in Jen Pastiloff.)

Jennifer Pastiloff: Where can we find more of Lara?

Lara Heimann: Website:

Facebook page:

I am starting to teach more workshops outside of New Jersey and in addition to more retreats, I am planning a video series that will enable people to have multiple flows with different levels to ensure challenge, fun, and diversity!

Also I am coming out to California at the end of August so I will keep you posted.

Raw Kale Salad ( adapted from Latham Thomas)

Place in blender (Vita-Mix is my pick!)
2 cups of cashews, water to cover and soften
1 Tbsp tahini
1-2 fresh lemons, squeezed
2 -3 Tbsp Shoyu Soy Sauce
2 Tbsp Agave
1 Tbsp minced ginger ( I use more!)
1 Tbsp Curry
Blend until smooth, add water if too thick and spread over chopped dino kale ( 2 bunches), 1-2 cups sliced green olives, 1 cup hemp seeds and diced carrots or bell pepper. Mix it up and munch away!Another easy recipe for Curry in a Hurry ( Lara’s name for it)
Saute 1 onion, 2-3 cloves garlic and add sea salt and 1/2 -1 Tbsp curry
Add 1 bag frozen or 5 cups raw organic spinach and cook for 5 minutes
Add 1 can (or 2 cups) cooked chickpeas
Add 1 can of light coconut milk
Simmer for 5 more minutes and serve over brown rice.
Lara’s Oil-Free Hummus:
3–4 cups of cooked chickpeas ( approximately 2 cans)
1 Tbsp tahini
2-3 cloves garlic
1/2-3/4 Tbsp cumin- I use a lot!
3/4 Tbsp sea salt
freshly ground pepper
lemon juice from 1 lemon
water as needed
Blend in Cuisinart and add more seasoning( salt, pepper, cumin) as desired.
I also will omit the lemon and use orange juice and little or no water for a different, yummy taste! I have even thrown a whole Clementine :-)”
Lara and I in Mexico

Q & A Series

The Manifestation Q&A Series. Spencer Paysinger of the NY Giants. A Superbowl Winner Loves Yoga.

April 6, 2012

Welcome to The Manifestation Q&A Series.

 I am Jennifer Pastiloff and this series is designed to introduce the world to someone I find incredible. Someone who is manifesting their dreams on a daily basis.

Today’s guest is Spencer Paysinger, #55 on the NY Giants football team. Yes, the ones who just won the 2012 Superbowl! 

Spencer is one of the most incredible people I have ever met. I am so excited he has started a yoga practice and that I have been on this journey with him. (He kicks major butt, too. You should see him headstand!)

The cool thing about how us is that we met through social media. He tweeted that he was looking for a yoga instructor and a bunch of people tweeted my name to him. I love when social media works to bring people together like that.

There are no accidents.

He followed his own dreams and ended up winning the Superbowl so I thought I’d do a little interview with him so you too could be inspired. 

He also cherishes his family above all, and for this I love him dearly.



You can find Spencer playing for the NY Giants or on his yoga mat. 

You can find me on Facebook and on Twitter. To book a private session or to find out more please visit

Spencer and I wear our Omie t-shirts. We love the Omies. They donate proceeds to Autism research too! Order yours today.
11% of all revenue generated by the OMies goes directly to helping families dealing with the daily challenge of autism via, a non-profit organization created by Rick & Dahlia Rondeau.

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Q & A Series, Self Image

Sarah DeAnna: SuperModel YOU. The Manifestation Q&A Series.

February 12, 2012

Welcome to The Manifestation Q&A Series.

I am Jennifer Pastiloff and this series is designed to introduce the world to someone I find incredible. Someone who is manifesting their dreams on a daily basis.

Sarah DeAnna stumbled into my yoga class like she was always meant to be in my life, the way many of my tribe have done before her. Some might call it an accident.

I know better.

When you get to her last question in this interview you will see the serendipity involved in her being in my class that day. The power behind the intentions she set in that very first class she ever took with me.

Sarah is a high fashion SkealthyModel (skinny healthy), writer, and health enthusiast. Overcoming childhood poverty and tragedies, Sarah DeAnna graduated high school with honors, then put herself through college finishing ahead of schedule and went on to become an international high fashion model who’s worked for Dolce & Gabbana, Versace, Vogue, and countless others. Her upcoming book SuperModel You is being published by the esteemed Hay House.

What I love most about Sarah is her inner beauty. It’s always a treat to meet someone who makes their living off what they look like and to discover that is the thing you notice last about them. The first thing that pops into my mind when I think of Sarah is her kindness. Sure, she is stunning.  That’s not why I asked her to do this q&a though. She is a living example of what it means to be self-actualized. She is beautiful, yet humble. She is powerful, yet gentle. She is willing to be silly and not take herself too seriously (one of my favorite qualities in a person.)

She is someone I would want as a role model for my daughter (no, I am not expecting.)

Not yet anyway. 🙂

It is a great honor to introduce you to Sarah DeAnna. 

Jennifer Pastiloff: What are you most proud to have manifested in your life?

Sarah DeAnna: I am most proud of what I’ve manifested in terms of my future life and where I’m going. I am not lost in the overgrown jungle of life. I am on the clear and open road of my dreams. A lot of times, when people think of manifestations, they think of the physical things; the things they can see, touch, taste, and hold in their hand. But for me, knowing that I am on the right path to fulfilling all of my dreams is what’s allowing me to live in the NOW as they say we should, enjoying the journey and not the destination or in this case, the manifestation. 🙂

Jennifer Pastiloff: What is the greatest lesson that you have learned from being a model? From your own personal yoga practice? From being a writer?

Sarah DeAnna:

From Modeling:

That we really are ALL beautiful! We should not compare ourselves or judge ourselves against another. It would be better to use those feelings of “jealousy and envy” as inspiration to inspire us to the action that will lead us manifest whatever we find ourselves coveting in another. For example, if we find ourselves jealous of another person’s body, let that inspire us to work out more, or eat healthier, take better care of ourselves, or realize how beautiful our body really is.

From Yoga:

OMG! OM with a G! 🙂 It is endless! Yoga’s great lessons never stop! The beauty of yoga is that it’s a life long practice and something you can do forever. One can never master yoga. Yoga is the physical and mental practice of living, breathing, and being. I’ve learned something in every yoga class and from every yoga instructor. Even if for example I dislike a class and find it not challenging enough or too slow, I am able to practice patience and the art of finding something good in everything. I’m really athletic so I thought yoga was boring and easy and never wanted to try it. I will be eternally grateful to all my yoga instructors and especially to, Keith Levin, my 1st yoga instructor, for challenging me to try his class and humbling me beyond words.

From Writing:

I don’t actually consider myself a writer, even though I write everyday. I prefer to be called an author. Writing is an art and that’s why NY Times Bestselling writer, Eve Adamson, will be making sure my book, Model Skinny, is in tip top shape. (Pun intended). On the contrary, I believe that we are all writers, singers, dancers and artists. Each and every one of us has something to share, express, and contribute in the lives of others.

Jennifer Pastiloff: I have a list of “rules”. See below. What would some of Sarah DeAnna’s “rules” be?

Sarah DeAnna: Rules…? I have so many rules. Too many rules. And, too many expectations. Mostly of myself that I have in the past projected onto others. Now, my only rule is to break those rules! Have fun. Live free. Trust yourself. Go with the Flow. Let Go. Expect nothing and expect everything at the same time. And, laugh and smile as much as humanly possible. Even if you’re faking it, a fake smile still releases serotonin making you feel better, can light up a room, and can improve even a stranger’s day. 🙂

Jennifer Pastiloff: Who/what inspires you the most?

Sarah DeAnna: The people who challenge the socially unaccepted norms and beliefs and who have changed the world as we know it will forever be an inspiration to me to NEVER give up and to challenge your beliefs. Most of the time, the only thing that’s holding us back from realizing our dreams are the very beliefs we harbor against them. Inspiration is everywhere and in everything, what’s truly inspiring, is finding inspiration in the mundane, the ugly, the uncommon, and in things generally disregarded.

Jennifer Pastiloff: I teach many of my classes to the theme of gratitude. If you could say thank you right now to one person who would it be?

Sarah DeAnna: I am thankful to so many people that I could go on an endless rampage of appreciation: for my friends, my family, my teachers, my agents, my publishing company, my clients, etc. I am even thankful to the people who I have perceived have done me wrong and who have hurt me. From those people there has always been a lesson learned and I have grown insurmountably because of it. If I had to chose one person to give the most gratitude to, it probably would be to the person who has hurt me the most, who has broken my heart, and who has caused me to question myself and everything around me. It was in the dark of that pain that led me to the light that shines on me today.

Jennifer Pastiloff: What is one message you would pass on right now to someone looking to manifest their best selves?

Sarah DeAnna: Whoever your best self is, whatever they look like, dress like, act like… etc.. try your best everyday to emulate and be that person. Your best self is the person you really are, minus all the baggage, biases, stereotypes, negativity, and everything else that’s keeping you from living your true potential. Your BEST SELF=YOUR TRUE SELF!

Jennifer Pastiloff: What brings you the most joy? Your joy list, as it were.

Sarah DeAnna:  


I get the most joy out of being healthy fit, active, and following my passions and dreams. I love knowing that I made a difference in someone’s day or life no matter how small. Especially to the strangers and people I’ve never met on Facebook, Twitter, and other places, they bring me so much joy and assure me that I am doing what I was meant to do. 

Jennifer Pastiloff: What is Sarah DeAnna to manifesting in 2012?

Sarah DeAnna: Expect Everything and Expect Nothing at the Same Time! (See my No Rules, Rules). I expect an amazing, abundant, and joyful journey. I hope you’re joining me!

Jennifer Pastiloff: Can you tell us a little about your journey. Tell us about ModelSkinny?

Sarah DeAnna: My personal journey has been and continues to be amazing. It has been crazy and tragic and awesome and just incredible in every way. Model Skinny, was/is my physical body’s journey. I have always been on the journey to Model Skinny, my dream body. Model Skinny is how I defined the body I always wanted to have. The body I have now. My best self I suppose in terms of my physical, visible, outer body.

Model Skinny is a book I began writing, when I first starting modeling and saw the overwhelming need for people, models and everyone else, to know that they can have the body they want and still be healthy. Model Skinny is a book about how to get the body of your dreams, which might not actually be a skinny one! And why should it be? Curves are so sexy and guys prefer that to skinny! But if it’s a skinny body you desire, it’s important to know that not all models are anorexic, bulimic, or have an eating disorder. And my book, Model Skinny, will give you the keys you need to manifest your dream body in whatever shape or size that may be.

Jennifer Pastiloff: How did Hay House find out about you? When is the book out?

Sarah DeAnna: The better question is how was I so lucky to find out about Hay House!? Most people my age have never heard of Hay House, Louise Hay, Wayne Dyer or any of the other amazing Hay House authors. While shopping my book with other publisher’s, something felt wrong. I didn’t know what it was, but something wasn’t right. I decided to walk away from the offers and my literary agent and within a few months, I discovered Hay House. In fact, it was the authors at Hay House and what Hay House stands for that inspired me most. Many of the Hay House authors and the people who buy the books and materials they produce are older, so I knew the odds were stacked against me. But I was determine to show Hay House that I could be a Hay House author and hopefully help inspire a younger generation to all the incredible things they do. Imagine my surprise that inspiring a younger generation was exactly the vision of Louise Hay and the Hay House team and is the objective of the Hay House Ignite Event in March. (See link for information).

The publishing date is TBD, but the “Model Skealthy Dream is Alive” as I wrote on the piece of paper in my 1st yoga class with you. Skealthy means skinny/healthy. You can look it up. 🙂

Jennifer Pastiloff: When was the last time you laughed at yourself?

Sarah DeAnna: The other night! And I really want to tell you about it because it was absolutely hilarious! But it’s going to be an anecdote in my next book. Let’s just say, I did something really stupid that hurt really bad, but ended up inspiring me. I don’t believe in accidents or mistakes, I believe everything occurs for a reason and when you start to see the world that way, it’s amazing how seemingly really tragic events or things can change your life and become some of your greatest blessings in disguise!

Jennifer Pastiloff: Can you share the story again of the first time you came to my class… the note I had you write and how you found it later because I think you are a walking example of someone who is manifesting their dreams by first imagining them. You are creating the life of your dreams!

Sarah DeAnna: 

Here is link to an earlier post where Sarah shares her story about my yoga class and what transpired during and after.

Dear Jennifer,

So this is the paper from my 1st class EVER with you! I walked in, I was late… (kinda a problem I’ve been working on…) You said, “Here’s a piece of paper, write down what you’re manifesting right now in your life. Whatever that is. The first thing that comes to your mind”. I was late, so I just scribbled this down in 2 seconds.

The Hay House

Sarah DeAnna Supermodel

Model Skealthy Man of my

Dreams Dream Life Spirituality

Family Friends Money

Love Dream is


Then you told us to fold it up put it under or next to our mat and think of it every time our hands came together. I never felt so alive in that class! So connected to my dream and everything I wanted. Then class ended and I took that piece of paper and put it in my backpack only to find it months later. And when I unfolded it, it put the biggest, happiest, and most authentic smile on my face.

The truth is I’ve been chasing these dreams for sometime now and I have only recently began to manifest them in the most amazing and incredible ways. As for did I manifest everything in that class before or after I signed my dream book deal with my dream publishing house and my dream writer, I can NOT recall precisely. But the timing of both definitely coincided and definitely influenced one another. Now this piece of paper is tacked on my wall as a reminder about the power of manifestation and the invaluable impact that one class, one person, and or one moment in time can have on your life! I really do feel like I am living my dream life and the words on this piece of paper from your class can NOT feel more active in my vibration than if I was hit on the head with a gong!

Jennifer, you are an incredible person and a wonderful teacher! My wish is that all your dreams come to fruition and that you live your life to it’s fullest manifestation possible!

With Love and Gratitude, SarahDeAnna

Twitter: @ModelSkinny
Hay House Bio/Event information:

You Tube Link for event:

Jen’s “rules”:

1. Be Kind.

2. Have a sense of humor especially when it comes to yourself

3. Write poems, even if only in your head

4. Sing out loud, even if badly

5. Dance

6. If you don’t have anything nice to say… you know the deal

7. Find things to be in awe of

8. Be grateful for what you have right now .

9. Watch Modern Family, read Wayne Dyer, and end every complaint with “But I’m so blessed!”

10. Duh, do yoga

11. Don’t worry. Everyone on Facebook seems like they have happier and funner lives. They don’t.

12. Tell someone you love that you love them. Right now.

13.. Take more pictures.

14. Forgive yourself for not being perfect. No such thing.

15. Thank the Universe in advance.

Q & A Series

Alissa Finerman: Living In Your Top 1%. The Manifestation Q&A Series.

February 10, 2012

Welcome to The Manifestation Q&A Series.

 I am Jennifer Pastiloff and this series is designed to introduce the world to someone I find incredible. Someone who is manifesting their dreams on a daily basis.

Today’s guest is life/business coach and author Alissa Finerman. Alissa has become a dear friend over this last year, and, in fact, we have done a couple of workshops together called “Manifesting Your Top 1%.” Alissa and her book “Living In Your Top 1%” helped me to get clear on my goals and really step into my power, allowing me to achieve so much in these last few months. Allowing me also to really define my own top 1% team. It’s exciting!

I highly recommend her book, Manifesters! 

She has done a guest post already on the Manifestation Station but I wanted you all to get to know my dear friend and mentor, so I asked her to join us in the Q&A Series. She fits right in, alongside such great minds as Dr. Wayne Dyer, Anita Moorjani and the lovely Christy Turlington.

Alissa is one of the most powerful and strong people I have come in contact with. To have her on your own top 1% team would be a dream come true. Now is your chance to get a glimpse into the mind of Alissa Finerman…..

Jennifer Pastiloff: What are you most proud to have manifested in your life?

Alissa Finerman: In 2004, I visited one of my best friends who lived in Santa Monica, CA. I took a picture of the sun shining down on the ocean with the mountains in the background. I put that picture in a frame in my apt in NYC, where I was living at the time, and told myself that’s where I would live. Today, that picture is in my kitchen in Santa Monica, CA and amazingly enough — I see that view every single day!

Alissa holding up KIND bars, which everyone enjoyed at my Manifestation Retreat. Thank you KIND.

Jennifer Pastiloff: What is the greatest lesson that you have learned from being a life and business coach? from competing on the professional tennis tour? from writing a book?

Alissa Finerman I’ve learned different lessons from each of these experiences.

* Life/Business Coach: Once people shift their minds to believe in themselves, anything is possible.

* Professional Tennis Tour: I learned the importance of quieting my mind and focusing on one point at a time. That’s how tournaments and big matches are won and it’s how big things are accomplished in life. One step at a time.

* Writing a book: Writing a book was an incredible learning experience and process. I was outside my comfort zone during the entire process and had to depend on myself (although I did have a great team). At the end of the day, I had to step into the CEO role and make the decisions. And I proved to myself that I can successfully step outside my comfort zone and do it!

Alissa's book is a MUST READ.

Jennifer Pastiloff: Can you tell us a bit about your book?

Alissa Finerman: My book, Living in Your Top 1%, is a combination of motivation, inspiration, and practical how-to (think Tony Robbins meets Oprah). In the book, I break down the laws of success and show people that you can achieve personal greatness from any starting point. There is a process and I share nine rituals to help people create the life they want. I share insights from the best thinkers in the field with a collection of compelling stories, to help people of all ages reach their true potential. I also wanted to make people aware that your top 1% is different than the top 1% and we need to separate what society thinks we should do from what we actually want to do. One of the biggest thrills was having Marianne Williamson, a NY Times bestselling author, give me an endorsement to use on my book cover — I manifested that too! 🙂

Alissa and I at my Manifestation Retreat to Ojai where she was a special guest and a big hit!

Jennifer Pastiloff: I have a list of “rules”. See below. What would some of Alissa’s “rules” be?

Alissa Finerman 

1. Set aside the shoulds

2. Make yourself a priority

3. You have the right to say yes and no

4. Match your words and actions

5. Own your choices

6. Be consistent

7. Go after what’s important to you

8. Honor your non-negotiables

9. Define success and follow YOUR top 1%

10. Step into the CEO role of YOU INC.

Alissa speaking to some of my retreat participants. They loved her!

Jennifer Pastiloff: Who/what inspires you the most?

Alissa Finerman: I’m inspired when people find their passion and truly do what they love. It could be Anthony Robles, who won the NCAA wrestling championships with only one leg, or a teenager that I mentored who will be the first person in her family to go to college. I love when people shine and redefine their potential — that makes me really happy and inspires me.

Jennifer Pastiloff: I teach many of my classes to the theme of gratitude. If you could say thank you right now to one person who would it be?

Alissa Finerman: I love your classes and the themes you choose. I’d have to say “thank you” to my mom, dad and brother for always believing in me during every stage of my journey (from leaving a successful Wall Street career, to moving to LA from NYC). They are incredibly consistent and I can always count on them, and for that I am deeply grateful.

Jennifer Pastiloff: What is one message you would pass on right now to someone looking to manifest their best selves and their top 1%?

Alissa Finerman: Be kind to yourself and realize that success or finding your passion doesn’t happen overnight — it’s a process so enjoy it. You’re top 1% is ready for you and you CAN go from impossible to possible (it’s only 2 letters). Start to build a top 1% team and condition your mind to practice rituals that help you shine.

Jennifer Pastiloff: What brings you the most joy? Your joy list, as it were.

Alissa Finerman: Seeing other people shine and experience top 1% moments.

Jennifer Pastiloff: What can we expect Alissa Finerman to manifest in 2012?

Alissa Finerman: Wow, there’s so much to manifest! I will give my “Living in Your Top 1%” workshop all over the country, write for OWN (Oprah Winfrey Network), have Oprah recommend my book as one of her favorites and have the book be in the Top 50 on Amazon, give a TED talk, work with at least three Fortune 500 companies as a speaker/coach, donate 5k to charity with proceeds from my book, have my own radio show featuring people who are inspiring others and making a difference in the world, and be in an amazing relationship! And much more!

Jennifer Pastiloff: Can you tell us a little about your journey. Giving up your 9-5 job to pursue your dreams…..

Alissa Finerman: I had a great life, good job, was living in NYC and making good money. There was only one problem — I wasn’t fulfilled or engaged in my job and I didn’t want to live in the cold weather. In 2007, I was finally honest with myself and realized that even though I had gone to business school to have a finance career — it wasn’t my path. It came to the point where I couldn’t go on one more day in a finance because I wasn’t passionate about that area. I left my investment job in 2007 and started on my journey as a Business/Life Coach and got my coaching credentials.

Jennifer Pastiloff: Why did you pick life coaching? When did you realize you had a gift for this?

Alissa Finerman: I’ve always been interested in motivation and why two people given the same resources excel to different levels. I started reading personal development books back in 2000 and have read hundreds of books and articles. I received my coaching credentials from New York University. As a coach, I get to inspire and be inspired by incredible people and that’s a true gift. I love what I do and it’s taken me a long time to say that. I’m grateful for that too!

Jennifer Pastiloff: I read somewhere you mentor young women. Can you tell us about that?

Alissa Finerman: When I worked on Wall Street, I didn’t feel like I was making a difference and that always bothered me. Last year, I set a goal to get involved with three non-profit organizations, Dress for Success, Step-up Women’s Network, and I gave a scholarship with proceeds from a book signing event I did to a great organization Exceeding Expectations. So I’ve had the privilege to make an impact with young women in these organizations and that’s very exciting for me. It’s important to me that every person has someone who believes in her and tells her she can not only dream but achieve great things too.

Jennifer Pastiloff: Who are your greatest teachers?

Alissa Finerman: Marianne Williamson started me on my journey with her book, A Return to Love, and helped me open my heart and mind to a world outside of Wall Street. I learn everyday from my clients, yoga teachers (yes you), hiking in the Santa Monica mountains, and stories of people redefining possible.

Jennifer Pastiloff: What is one quote you live by?

Alissa Finerman: Different quotes speak to me during different periods in my life, this quote speaks to me right now because I like to challenge myself to live in my stretch zone and reach higher…

“There is no passion to be found playing small, in settling for a life that is less than the one you are capable of living.” ~ Nelson Mandela

Jennifer Pastiloff: Are you writing a 2nd book?

Alissa Finerman: Soon! One of my goals is to have an idea/theme for my next book clearly defined by the end of 2012!

Jennifer Pastiloff: How can we find more of Alissa Finerman?

Alissa Finerman: I have a monthly newsletter that people can sign up for on my website. They can also join my Facebook and Twitter pages to learn about upcoming workshops/events. And to learn more about coaching options, please visit



Twitter: @alissafinerman

Jen’s “rules”:

1. Be Kind.

2. Have a sense of humor especially when it comes to yourself

3. Write poems, even if only in your head

4. Sing out loud, even if badly

5. Dance

6. If you don’t have anything nice to say… you know the deal

7. Find things to be in awe of

8. Be grateful for what you have right now .

9. Watch Modern Family, read Wayne Dyer, and end every complaint with “But I’m so blessed!”

10. Duh, do yoga

11. Don’t worry. Everyone on Facebook seems like they have happier and funner lives. They don’t.

12. Tell someone you love that you love them. Right now.

13.. Take more pictures.

14. Forgive yourself for not being perfect. no such thing.

15. Thank the Universe in advance.

Q & A Series, Wayne Dyer

Wayne Dyer! My Beloved Teacher Visits The Manifestation Q&A Series. A Dream Come True.

February 8, 2012

Welcome to The Manifestation Q&A Series.

 I am Jennifer Pastiloff and this series is designed to introduce the world to someone I find incredible. Someone who is manifesting their dreams on a daily basis.

Someone like Wayne Dyer.

The greatest day of my life is here! My beloved Wayne Dyer is visiting us for a short q&a.

 Pinch me?

My inspiring friend Karen Salmasohn designed these posters especially for this day. Check her out at

Wayne Dyer is THE reason I call my company “Manifestation Yoga.” When I started to achieve success as a yoga teacher very early on in my career people would ask how it was that I made such profound changes in my life so quickly. How so many amazing things kept showing up for me, from being on Good Morning America and traveling around the world with sold out retreats/workshops or becoming a writer for Positively Positive. As Wayne says: it is not our job to ask “how” or “when” but to say YES! 

That is just what I did.

I do not think all of this happened because of Wayne Dyer but I do know that he was the most powerful teacher I could have ever prayed for. (And, to be clear, I did pray for a teacher.)

He showed up in my life exactly when I needed him to, as the teacher will do when the student is ready.

His talented and inspiring daughter Skye, who happens to be my dear friend, will be doing music for my upcoming yoga/life dvd so I did a Q&A with her in December. In it, I mentioned that my dream was to have her father do a Q&A.

Guess what? Ask for what you want and be prepared when it shows up.

And most definitely, honor your worthiness to receive.

I have Dr. Dyer on my vision board (of course.) I have thanked the Universe in advance daily for this opportunity.

I could go on and on about Dr. Dyer. How he is a father figure for me, how I listen to him talk about his children and how it humanizes him. How his humor gets me through some dark days (you will see some of his silly humor below). How I have learned to “let it be” and find the G-d within from his words. How I have relearned to believe in miracles. How I have cultivated a meditation practice despite the difficulty I have because of my tinnitus. (I will save that all for my book dedicated to him and my deceased father, Melvin Pastiloff.)

Dear Manifesters, the proof is in the pudding. Here I am, interviewing my beloved Dr Dyer. I have manifested my greatest dream.

I am humbled.

I live my life by the mantra “ How May I Serve?” yet another thing I have learned from Dr. Dyer.

Because of him, I decided to forego a traditional wedding and donate all my money from my wedding (in lieu of gifts) to Haiti after their earthquake. I do my best to let others shine their light. What I love about this man is that he is doing the very same! By him being here today, he has asked “How May I Serve?” and in doing so, he is enabling me to have my own dream come true. I have seen him do this more times than I can count, by the way. In fact, one of my other guests, Anita Moorjani, my friend who wrote the amazing book “Dying To Be Me” was introduced to me via Wayne Dyer.

He picks up inspiring people he believes and lets the world get to know them.

I will stop raving now.

Come to one of my Manifestation Workshops/retreats or the Tadasana Festival in Santa Monica on Earth Day weekend. if you want more Wayne Dyer quotes or inspirations or read one of my Positively Positive articles.

I got more Wayne. 

I got tons more on Wayne Dyer, the man who helped me change my life and discover my bliss.

(Do you think I am too old to be adopted by him?)

Jen, Wayne and Jen's friend Tara Berro.

Jennifer Pastiloff: What are you most proud to have manifested in your life?

Wayne Dyer: The divine love in my heart.

Jennifer Pastiloff: What is your favorite part of having Skye sing on stage with you? Having lost my dad at age 8, I could not stop sobbing the first time I saw you two up there together. That feeling from that first night I saw you both live in Santa Monica is still with me.

Wayne Dyer: She brings her supreme talent to my audience along with her gracious and loving personality, which I feel so proud to watch.

Jennifer Pastiloff: I am so moved by the forgiveness you have shown toward your father. Forgiveness is something I struggle with often. The last thing I ever said to my dad was “ I hate you.” What would you say helped you the most in forgiving your father? What would you also say in regards to someone who is struggling with forgiving themselves?I know when I do ‘Forgiveness” themed meditations in my Manifestation Workshops, they are the most powerful. People are the usually most moved when I ask them to meditate on forgiving themselves.

Wayne Dyer: I was sent by forces bigger than all of us to his grave for the purpose of forgiveness, even though I wasn’t aware of it. Forgiveness is for yourself and not for the other person, it clears your soul of rage and that is why its so important to forgive.

Jennifer Pastiloff: I have a list of “rules”. See below. What would some of Wayne Dyer’s be?

Wayne Dyer: I live by the Tao, a man of the Tao is kind to the kind and kind to the unkind because kindness is his nature.

Jennifer Pastiloff: In my workshops I have people share with the room, and in writing, what it is they are manifesting in their lives. I may be wrong, and please correct me if I am, but I thought I have read that you suggest to keep what you are manifesting private. I go back and forth. Suggestions?

Wayne Dyer: It’s absolutely crucial to keep it private because that keeps the ego out of the process. My feelings are: Don’t explain, Don’t complain.

Another by the lovely

Jennifer Pastiloff: What is the greatest lesson you have learned from your kids?

Wayne Dyer: Don’t have any more. Just kidding.

I used all ‘S’ names and I should have used “Stop” for the first one.. Only joking.

Having children gives you an opportunity to truly experience divine love which is no matter what they do or who they are or what they choose, you still always love them.

Jennifer Pastiloff:  I guess I will have to change my name to “Sennifer” to be adopted by you then.

My sister Rachel, whose one son has Prader Willi Syndrome asked me to ask you the following: How does one continue to manifest your dreams while being a parent? I recall you saying children will challenge your worthiness to receive the most, somewhat facetiously, of course.

Wayne Dyer: Parents are not for learning. They make learning unnecessary. Manifest your dreams by letting your children manifest theirs.

Jennifer Pastiloff: Do you practice yoga? (When are you coming to one of my classes, ahem? It’s NOT Bikram!)

Wayne Dyer: Yes, I practice Bikram yoga everyday. Maybe one day I will come to one of your classes 🙂

(Note from Jen: Yay! Yay! Yay!)

Jennifer Pastiloff: Gratitude is the greatest force In my life. Most of my classes are set to this theme. If you could say thank you right now, who would it be to?

Wayne Dyer: I thank everyday the “I am” presence that is located within me. I am in a state of gratitude for the “I am” presence that is the life that is in my body.

Jennifer Pastiloff: One of the things I love most about you is your humor and the fact that you seemingly do not take yourself too seriously (Note from Jen: After reading this you will indeed believe that this amazing man does NOT take himself too seriously at all. What a gift!).

I have a “rule” in my yoga class which is “ if you fall you must laugh”. You are not allowed to take yourself seriously in my room. Being mostly deaf I have learned to laugh at myself in a way that has surprised even me sometimes, because the alternative was to feel sorry for myself. And that, I believe, is my ego at work. What part does humor play in your life? When is the last time you have laughed at yourself?

Wayne Dyer: One of the most important lessons I have learned is to not take yourself too seriously. Yes, that is the work of the ego.

I laugh at myself everyday.

Jennifer Pastiloff:  Based on your answers I can tell you laugh at yourself daily and I love that balance. I absolutely cherished the film “The Shift.” ( I knew I wanted to be on ‘The Ellen Show’ (currently working on getting my Karaoke Yoga on there as we speak) but when I saw her wife Portia in your film, it was a done deal! When I found out you married them I almost fell out of my seat.) Can we expect any more films from you soon?

Wayne Dyer: I have a new film, My Greatest Teacher, which is based on a series of miracles that occurred and brought me to my father’s grave, which is where I learned forgiveness. I have a mind that is open to all things and attached to nothing so anything could happen, including another film.

Jennifer Pastiloff: Can you tell us about your latest book?

Wayne Dyer: Wishes Fulfilled, my latest book, is about understanding spiritual manifestation; you manifest what you are rather than what you find is missing in your life.

Jennifer Pastiloff: I am writing a book on how I manifested my dreams and overcame depression and adversities like hearing loss. I am struggling. Any tips on the writing process from someone who has written so many books?

Wayne Dyer: Writing is not what I do, writing is what I am. It is how I express my whole humanity.

Jennifer Pastiloff: Did you finally get a computer? I remember you saying you wrote your books by hand.

Wayne Dyer: I have an iPad (which I am using to write this) and the thing I like most about it is the trash button. Anything that comes at me that I don’t want to hear, I just push trash and then delete.

I am trying to figure out a way to get one of those in my real life.

I am still writing my books by hand though.

Jennifer Pastiloff: How has meditation changed your life?

Wayne Dyer: Herman Melville said ” God’s one and only voice is silence”. Meditation allowed me to make conscious contact with God.

The incredible Robert Sturman captures me in silence. Malibu 2012.

Jennifer Pastiloff: What do you think the 5 greatest keys to the manifesting process are?

Wayne Dyer: I don’t think linear and I don’t think numerically. The only key to manifesting is staying connected to your source of being, which is the author of all things.

Jennifer Pastiloff: Everytime I see you, I am amazed at how great you look. As if you are ageless. Can you tell us about this? I know we all die, of course, but I am fascinated by the idea that everything about how we live is a choice. As you say, you can be miserable or motivate yourself, the choice is yours. I look at you and see someone so vibrant and full of life.

Wayne Dyer: At my essence I am birthless, deathless, and changeless, that is who I am. This body I am in is just a container for my formless soul.

Jennifer Pastiloff: How is your health now? What has the journey been like since you were diagnosed with leukemia?

Wayne Dyer: I am perfect health. I am well.

Jennifer Pastiloff: One of the things that shifted my life the most was when you spoke of Manifesting at your Santa Monica talk and gave us 7 steps. You said one of them was “ Does It feel natural to you?” I thought about my prior career as an actor and realized that it had never felt natural. What I am doing now does. I cannot imagine another life, nor a life without you as my teacher. How and when did you discover this principle?

Wayne Dyer: Generally speaking something not feeling natural means you feel unworthy of what you would like to attract into your life. It doesn’t feel natural for a person who has always been poor to feel prosperous. Drug addicts can’t picture themselves free of their addiction, but our natural state is one of well being and unlimited potential.

Jennifer Pastiloff: What are you manifesting in 2012?

Wayne Dyer: A four hour erection but I am consulting my doctor.

Just kidding.

I am manifesting experiential awareness of divine love!

Thank you Jen.

Jennifer Pastiloff: Thank you, Dr. Dyer. I love you.

At 72 years young this man still has a sense of humor like no one else and a life energy and force to be admired. I love you Wayne!


Jen’s “rules”:

1. Be Kind.

2. Have a sense of humor especially when it comes to yourself

3. Write poems, even if only in your head

4. Sing out loud, even if badly

5. Dance

6. If you don’t have anything nice to say… you know the deal

7. Find things to be in awe of

8. Be grateful for what you have right now .

9. Watch Modern Family, read Wayne Dyer, and end every complaint with “But I’m so blessed!”

10. Duh, do yoga

11. Don’t worry. Everyone on Facebook seems like they have happier and funner lives. They don’t.

12. Tell someone you love that you love them. Right now.

13.. Take more pictures.

14. Forgive yourself for not being perfect. no such thing.

15. Thank the Universe in advance.

You can see why I love this man so much. Not only is he enlightened but he is  funny and silly! I will be seeing him and Anita Moorjani, and of course the lovely Skye Dyer in San Jose March 17th. Join me!

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Follow Jen on Twitter!/ManifestYogaJen