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yoga teacher

Guest Posts

I Don’t Buy The Whole “Love & Light” Thing.

January 15, 2016

By Stephanie Birch.

I don’t buy the whole love and light thing. Not all the time.

I think we can get so caught up in love and light that it becomes exhausting. There’s nothing liberating about choking on “light” and feathering “positivity” when you’ve not begun to uncover the buried parts of you. Collecting quotes to push down weathered stories and experiences is not something that necessarily radiates light. Often, it masks the disguise of experiences stacked in the history of your makeup. There’s an endless parade of corralled happiness and bliss-chasing that leaves the dark locked in pretend existence. That’s the thing about darkness, it’s always ahead of the light.
**

I used to be a quote collector, like nuts to a squirrel scooping up positive affirmations. As a yoga student, I often followed a teacher’s cues to “let go” in “love and light.” It was always so poetic and sometimes sounded like regurgitated myths that I could, in fact, be loving and light if I simply let go. If…

My brain would agree and I would nod, like a dutiful student, with brief sprints only to fall back into old thoughts, patterns, and beliefs. Like an addiction, I searched and hoarded for words that held little weight and much less responsibility. That’s the thing about collecting quotes, they belong to another. Continue Reading…

And So It Is, Inspiration

Boxed In.

September 5, 2013

I want to remind you of something you might already know. Or maybe you knew and forgot. Or maybe you never knew. Here is it: Do not put yourself in a box.
That goes for other people putting you in a box, as well. And if they insist, then bust on out of that box. Do not feel like you need to stay there.
You don’t.
And if you do, it will be by your own volition.
I led a retreat this weekend. A “yoga” retreat. Let me tell you, there wasn’t that much actual “yoga” done. Don’t get me wrong, the whole retreat was as yoga as yoga gets, but as far as the poses go, we didn’t do that much asana.
Sometimes, when I go into fear mode, I worry about the fact that so many people think of me as so many different things (Jen their yoga teacher, Jen the writer they follow, Jen the person I googled and found when I typed in “yoga retreat”.) Then, everyone arrives and the transformation is so complete, so profound, and I remind myself that it doesn’t matter what I am called.
What I do speaks for itself.
Same goes for you.
My dear friend, Caspar, is always the chef at my Ojai retreats. He is also an incredible musician and singer (among many many other things) so I asked him to come and sing to the group with his guitar. People wept. It was that beautiful.
Up until that point he was “chef.”
It was a gorgeous reminder that we don’t need to be labeled or put into boxes, that we can let ourselves shine no matter what our title is or is not.
I don’t know what you’d call my retreats. I don’t know what to call myself, and truthfully, it does not matter.
I am creating my own niche in the world. I hope you will consider doing the same.
When we feel that we need to be in a box or we need to be labeled it is usually, and this is purely speculation, fear running the show.

“What if I don’t fit in? I better do what everyone else does.
What if they don’t like me? I better conform.
What if no one comes? What if people think I am crazy? What if it doesn’t work? What is people say “who does she think she is?”

Keep being yourself unapologetically.
Be kind, do your best not to hurt anyone, love often, but be true to who you are. If you want to sing and you are an accountant, start singing dammit!

As I let go of the idea that I have to be “yoga teacher” (in quotes) I allow for inspiration.
Be boundless guys.

Get out there and roam. (That’s me speaking directly to your soul.)

Love, Jen Pastiloff, writer, yoga teacher, leader, coffee drinker, wine drinker, reader, poet, aunt, amateur photographer, slob, social media junky, friend, daughter, wife, inspirer, over thinker, yogi, sunset aficionado, human being.

Thank you Simplereminders.com

Thank you Simplereminders.com

ps, I have decided that I am indeed doing a 3 day retreat to Ojai over New Year!! Email barbara@jenniferpastiloff.com to book.

And So It Is, Forgiveness, Inspiration, Owning It!

How Kindness Works.

February 8, 2013

I got in a car accident the other night.

I was driving to teach my yoga class and just short of making it there I saw a car in front of me stopped. I stopped in time so as not to hit the car. The car in back of me however, slammed into me. The first word out of my mouth was Fuck and then my body shook.. My phone flew under the brake and the car got stuck in reverse and started rolling backward and tapped the car that had smashed into me and then a pretty woman cop was at my passenger window and mouthing something as she mimed a motion that probably said Roll down your window or Calm down. I shook harder. She came over to my side and got in (I must have gotten out at some point) and she got the car unstuck and moved it to the side of the road and the other drivers and I congregated on the curb. I was trying to call Equinox to tell them I had been in an accident and couldn’t get there to teach my yoga class but the guy cop was yelling at me to get off my phone and that he had been doing this too long or something like that. I couldn’t hear. I could hear but I couldn’t listen rather. I was gone. Somewhere else.

When she slammed into me maybe I died or maybe I floated away but when the cop said that no one was injured so he wouldn’t take a police report but that we had to get each other’s information I just nodded Uh-huh and shook. I was the only one panicking. And I kept saying I am sorry because we had all been in an accident and wasn’t that the polite thing to do? No one else said I am sorry so when I came home and told my husband I started to obsess that once again I had screwed up. I had opened my big mouth and because of being a people pleaser I was going to be at fault. I was going to jail. I was wrong. I messed up. Someone crashes into me and I apologize?

I haven’t been able to get out of bed for two days. I was depressed and my back hurt terribly from the impact. I was feeling sorry for myself and vulnerable and terrified to drive. Something this small rocked me so hard I thought. What exactly am I made of?

Why did I apologize? Apologizing denotes guilt. I was the only one that said I am sorry. I also noted that night the irony that I was the yoga teacher and the most freaked out. They were both so calm as if they’d had many car accidents and this was just another rung on the bedpost. The girl who hit me, her hood was smashed badly, and yet she seemed bored and un-phased. Me? I drifted into oblivion when she crashed into me and headed straight for my bed where I have yet to emerge.

It takes such little to shake me. My iPad gets lost or stolen (I will never know) and I have an accident and poof! I am bed-ridden, lost, scared of my shadow as well as the rain and the cars on the road and the idea of waking up in the morning, of being up with the lark.

While I was lying in bed yesterday and feeling this overwhelming sense of what’s it all for anyway? I posted on my Facebook the following question:

What is the kindest thing anyone has ever done for you?

I don’t know why I asked it. I was in a foul people-hating mood. Maybe that is precisely why I asked it. Maybe I needed a reminder of kindness.

So I am laying in bed and the heat is blasting even though it wasn’t cold and I live in Southern California, and I am sweating and freezing and I start to cry reading the responses from my Tribe on Facebook.

Here’s one:

Nicole Markardt I was in a horrible car accident when I was 18. My back broke in 2 places, lying on a beach after the car rolled off of a bridge. A man ran through traffic… ran down rocks to the beach and back into traffic to flag down anyone that could call an ambulance ( pre cell phone). He gave me CPR. He even brought me flowers in the hospital. His name was Gabriel. Like the archangel. He cried when he saw I survived. I believe in the kindness of strangers.

I wanted to believe in the kindness of people again. Someone used my iPad on Monday so it obviously wasn’t coming back. Someone crashed into me and whether it was an accident or not did not say I am sorry. So many crap things happening and if I keep looking I will keep finding them. 

We find what we look for.

I broke into my ex-boyfriend’s apartment once. I used a credit card to unlock his door and let myself in.

He forgave me eventually. We had a big fight and he called me crazy and told me to get out but, eventually, we made up and went on to have about 2 years of more of the same, minus the “breaking in” with the credit card.

I didn’t think of it as breaking in at the time. He’d never use keys to let himself in his own apartment. We would come back to his place and he would slide a credit card through the space between the doorjamb and the door and voila! The door would open. It made him proud how easy it would be to rob his place. 

I had never thought of it as breaking in until he said that. I simply thought I was being cute. How could it be breaking in when the credit card was the way we always got in the door? The credit car was the key!

Except I knew. I knew he would be upset. I knew he never wanted me to stop by un-announced or call him my “boyfriend” but I did it anyway. I had such an adrenaline rush as I was sliding that card through the crack in the door that my whole body shook  like it did in the accident but worse.

Find what you are looking for.

I knew I could possibly catch him cheating. He was in bed though when I slid the credit car through the door and walked in. Asleep. He jumped up when I crawled in next to him and called me crazy and said that I broke in and that I needed to get out.

Look for someone to disappoint you hard enough and they will.

On some level, I knew he would react exactly how he did, but, since there are always two of us (at least) I ignored Voice #1 and went instead with Voice #2 in hopes I would catch him fucking someone else or doing something awful and I could say Uh-huh! People suck. You let me down. I knew it! People will fail you. See?

But he was asleep and he kicked me out and eventually we made up and went on to have a disastrous coupe of years but I think back on how I really let him down. His rules may have stank and he may have been a jerk but who was I to let myself in when he never gave me that permission, no matter how cute I thought it would be?

I wanted to fail.

I wanted to prove that people suck. Even me.

Yesterday I laid in my bed and posted that question on Facebook because I needed a reminder of the good in the world.

That’s why I said I was sorry when I was in the middle of the accident sandwich. I wasn’t at fault but I thought it was the human thing to do. The kind thing to do.

I don’t know. I don’t know if kindness counts much in the legal system but I stand by why I said it. Not all people suck. Some do. Can I say that as a yoga teacher? ( I just did, so I guess so.)

I don’t suck. 

I am kind. 

And there is a lot of kindness around us. It moved me to read about the things people posted on my Facebook and it reminded me how all we have to do is hear about it, read about, witness it, and kindness will live inside us. We don’t even have to be the one the kindness is meant for specifically, and yet and still, it will live somewhere within us as if it was meant for us specifically. That’s how it works.

BTCLOGOfinal

Beating Fear with a Stick, Eating Disorders/Healing, Jen Pastiloff, Jen's Musings

You Sure Like To Eat!

September 27, 2011

By Jen Pastiloff

As I was standing in line at Trader Joe’s yesterday, minding my own sweet business, I opened a package of dried seaweed (the new wasabi kind which is very, very spicy). An older (very much older, like born in the 1800’s older) man in line in front of me starts staring at my breasts first, then proceeds to look me up and down. With what sounded like a Russian accent comes, “You sure like to eat!!”

What the what? 

“I am not sure how to take that,” my reply.

(Why I dignified him with even so much as a word is beyond me.)

Russian accent, “You’ll put on weight if you keep eating.”

Then he walks away.

Off to offer his sage wisdom to another unsuspecting seaweed eating stranger, I suppose.

I felt the old need to yell, “But it’s just seaweed! But I am a yoga teacher! But! But! But!

Are you calling me fat?”

Then I got angry at myself. Jennifer, you know better! I think I said this out loud but the people that work at Trader Joe’s are totally cool (I hear it’s not a bad place to work, you get good benefits) and my cashier didn’t even acknowledge it, but rather says “You look great.”

Again, besides the point. Nothing needs defending here. This creepy old fart, all of a sudden, has taken my power away, and, like magic, everyone, on cue seemingly, needs to make excuses and defend and justify the very, very evil: FOOD. As well as commenting on my figure and it’s curves or lack thereof.

(And side note: food is NOT evil. I have had some very literal-minded folks read this and write me how food is not evil. Yea. I got that. It’s so exhausting how much we can be at war with it though, isn’t it? The other day in the car my friend goes, “It’s not the issue you know, Jen. It’s how you respond to the issue that’s the issue.” So, it’s kind of like that with the food/evil thing. It’s not the food, it’s our fucked up beliefs and past and childhoods and things people said and heartbreaks and losses and weird behaviors and stories about our bodies and self-worth but whatever. Another blog post. Another day. Another pack of seaweed.)

But, it’s a fitting statement on our weight/food obsessed culture, isn’t it. That even from an old nosy man, I am getting flack for being too fat or too skinny or eating too much or not enough.

The day before, I had just published this article on Fear and overcoming an eating disorder.

Here is an excerpt from that article:

I had a fear that people would stop asking me “Are you ill? ”  It made me feel like I stood out. Like I was special. When someone told me I looked “healthy,” I panicked. (I know that this is hard to believe for the people who know me now. I am so at ease with my self these days.

Most days.

Okay, some days.)
Had the COF (Creepy Old Fart) said this to me ten years ago, I would have gotten back into my car and had a full blown panic attack. I would have decided that he was right and I eat too much so I would stop eating and lose weight and why was I such a loser and why and why and Oh My God and I can’t breathe and I am a pig and Oh My God and I will just exercise for 4 hours tomorrow and I do like to eat, he’s right, I am bad….

(The pleasant imitation of said panic attack.)

So many things ran through my blood besides ice after this incident with Mr. Nosy.

Incidentally, he was buying 3 frozen dinners and a case of water. That can be analyzed later. (Of course I peeked. You would have too.)

The way he said ” You like to eat!” as an accusation, like I should be burned alive at the stake. I realize a lot of women live like this (I’m sure men as well). I used to. Still do at times. When I am depressed or under tremendous stress. This notion that eating is something to be ashamed of or forgiven for. I cannot believe the thought crossed my mind to defend myself with it’s just seaweed.

Forgive me Sir, It is just seaweed with a little wasabi. It’s not much? I am so sorry. So sorry. So sorry. So sorry. So sorry.

The relentless apologizing.

And so what if someone gains weight? So what? Then what? You are no longer you? You will no longer have your job or your kids or your thoughts or memories? No one will love you?

I suppose that’s it. Equating our beloved self worth with our oh-so very temporary bodies.

I wish I had dug into my car for my Salt & Vinegar Chips, which I would have done had I been able to reach them.

And just a side note which I would like to make very public: YES I LIKE TO EAT! I LOVE TO EAT! 

 

All of Jen Pastiloff’s upcoming events listed here, including her two Tuscany retreats. 

 

I would love to hear your thoughts, an open dialogue of sorts on this incident and the feelings it triggers. 

Mother's Day Retreat! Join Jen Pastiloff in Ojai, Calif this May for a life-changing weekend retreat. May 8-10th. No yoga experience required. Just be a human being. Click photo to book. "Here’s the thing about Jen Pastiloff, folks. Here’s the revolutionary thing. She listens. She listens with an intent focus, a focus that follows your words inside you. Because she has hearing problems, she watches your lips as you speak, and she plucks the ash of your words from the air and takes it inside herself and lays it beside her heart, where before too long your words start beating as if they were strong, capable, living mammals. And then she gives them back to you. Boiled down, this is the secret to Jen’s popularity. She can call what she does Beauty Hunting–she is for sure out there helping people find beauty. She can start a campaign called “Don’t be an asshole” and remind us all to stop a second and please, please, please be our better selves. She can use words like attention, space, time, connection, intimacy. She can ask participants to answer questions like What gets in your way? What stories are you carrying around in your body? What makes you come alive? Who would you be if nobody told you who you were? All of that is what it is. But why it works is because of her kind of listening. And what her kind of listening does is simple: It saves lives." ~ Jane Eaton Hamilton.

Mother’s Day Retreat! Join Jen Pastiloff in Ojai, Calif this May for a life-changing weekend retreat. May 8-10th. No yoga experience required. Just be a human being. Click photo to book.
“Here’s the thing about Jen Pastiloff, folks. Here’s the revolutionary thing.
She listens.
She listens with an intent focus, a focus that follows your words inside you. Because she has hearing problems, she watches your lips as you speak, and she plucks the ash of your words from the air and takes it inside herself and lays it beside her heart, where before too long your words start beating as if they were strong, capable, living mammals. And then she gives them back to you.
Boiled down, this is the secret to Jen’s popularity. She can call what she does Beauty Hunting–she is for sure out there helping people find beauty. She can start a campaign called “Don’t be an asshole” and remind us all to stop a second and please, please, please be our better selves. She can use words like attention, space, time, connection, intimacy. She can ask participants to answer questions like What gets in your way? What stories are you carrying around in your body? What makes you come alive? Who would you be if nobody told you who you were? All of that is what it is. But why it works is because of her kind of listening.
And what her kind of listening does is simple:
It saves lives.” ~ Jane Eaton Hamilton.

Join founder Jen Pastiloff for a weekend retreat at Kripalu Center in Western Massachusetts Feb 19-21, 2016.  Get ready to connect to your joy, manifest the life of your dreams, and tell the truth about who you are. This program is an excavation of the self, a deep and fun journey into questions such as: If I wasn’t afraid, what would I do? Who would I be if no one told me who I was? Jennifer Pastiloff, creator of Manifestation Yoga and author of the forthcoming Girl Power: You Are Enough, invites you beyond your comfort zone to explore what it means to be creative, human, and free—through writing, asana, and maybe a dance party or two! Jennifer’s focus is less on yoga postures and more on diving into life in all its unpredictable, messy beauty. Note Bring a journal, an open heart, and a sense of humor. Click the photo to sign up.

Join founder Jen Pastiloff for a weekend retreat at Kripalu Center in Western Massachusetts Feb 19-21, 2016.
Get ready to connect to your joy, manifest the life of your dreams, and tell the truth about who you are. This program is an excavation of the self, a deep and fun journey into questions such as: If I wasn’t afraid, what would I do? Who would I be if no one told me who I was?
Jennifer Pastiloff, creator of Manifestation Yoga and author of the forthcoming Girl Power: You Are Enough, invites you beyond your comfort zone to explore what it means to be creative, human, and free—through writing, asana, and maybe a dance party or two! Jennifer’s focus is less on yoga postures and more on diving into life in all its unpredictable, messy beauty.
Note Bring a journal, an open heart, and a sense of humor. Click the photo to sign up.

Ring in New Years 2016 with Jen Pastiloff at her annual Ojai retreat. It's magic! It sells out quickly so book early. No yoga experience required. Just be a human being. With a sense of humor. Email barbara@jenniferpastiloff.com with questions or click photo to book. NO yoga experience needed. Just be a human being.

Ring in New Years 2016 with Jen Pastiloff at her annual Ojai retreat. It’s magic! It sells out quickly so book early. No yoga experience required. Just be a human being. With a sense of humor. Email barbara@jenniferpastiloff.com with questions or click photo to book. NO yoga experience needed. Just be a human being.

 

The 12 Day Detox is here. Sign up now for the next cleanse on November 30th. Space is limited. This detox comes at just the perfect time. Reprogram your body and mind as we move into the holiday season. This is your time of rejuvenation and renewal.This is not a juice fast, or a detox based on deprivation.

The 12 Day Detox is here. Sign up now for the next cleanse on November 30th. Space is limited. This detox comes at just the perfect time. Reprogram your body and mind as we move into the holiday season. This is your time of rejuvenation and renewal.This is not a juice fast, or a detox based on deprivation.

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