Warm Summer 2016 greetings!

My two week sojourn on the midcoast of Maine is drawing to a close. As I look out from my cabin porch into the vastness of sea and sky, I am filled with as much awe and gratitude as I was in 1996 when I first started coming to Greenwoods. Though I haven’t returned each and every year, when I walk onto the deck of “my” Mountain Spruce cabin overlooking the Penobscot Bay far below, it’s indeed a coming home – a coming home to my heart above all. (See photos from this beautiful space in the bar to the right!)

It is not only an awesome place of beauty but a haven to reconnect and source Spirit within and without. Settling into the profound quiet of the woods, waking to the pungent smells of pine and spruce, swimming in the chilly Penobscot Bay or resting by a clear lake, hiking the Camden Hills or scrambling over the huge rocks below me, eating the most delicious lobster rolls ever  – these are all experiences that continually open me to Spirit and expand my awareness of the Infinite.

As I head back in a couple of days to the busy-ness of my life which I also love and am ever grateful for, I know I will take much of the stillness and silent Presence that is so profound here. How can I not? That very same silent Presence is who we are under the noise of the mind and the bustle of our lives. As we begin to live and abide more and more in this eternal wakefulness, separation and division begin to drop away. An intimacy with all things, a quiet happiness and sense of peace pervade, even under whatever turmoil may arise. And yes, it still arises!

I look forward to sharing what I’ve gained here with our Spirited Women in our upcoming retreat on Emerald Isle, NC, in the latter part of August. This will be our tenth SWR with my dear friend and political and climate savy colleague Betsey Downing. It is so inspiring for us to be with amazing women each year and learn, love and evolve from our shared strength together. For more information on this, please click here. (and we do have one shared space left!)

Fall will bring yet another change to my schedule at Willow Street, as John and I make our slow transition to Oxford on the Eastern Shore of MD. I gave up my Yoga 3 class last Winter Session and beginning in the Fall Session I will give up my Monday night Silver Spring Yoga 1 class. That will mean I spend 5 nights in Oxford and two in Silver Spring. No plans to give up my remaining three classes in Takoma Park for some time however, as we also get to spend time with the grandkids on Tuesday and Wednesday. I will also be teaching a 6-week special on Core and More in the Fall after my Yoga 1/2 on Tuesday evenings. Please go to www.willowstreetyoga.com for information onlots of great classes and opportunities. And thank you Joe and Natalie for all you continue to do to make Willow Street Yoga a warm and welcoming school of excellent alignment-based yoga.

On the Eastern Shore I will begin 8 week sessions of both Beginning and Intermediate classes on Saturdays at the Oxford Community Center. Oxford continues to bring us peace and joy, both in the wonderful friendships we’ve cultivated, and being in a more natural environment. We still love kayaking and biking everywhere, as well as getting out on the rivers in our old 17’ Boston Whaler Newport. For Oxford class times and dates, please click here!

I will celebrate my 72nd birthday in October, and gratitude overflows for a healthy body and fairly sound mind on most days!! Good genes play a part for sure, but my continued yoga and meditation practice are the key. After almost 40 years of practice, it still holds magic for me. I am still blown away by how even 20 minutes can shift me back from forgetfulness to remembrance. This Presence or Awakefullness, the I Am, Consciousness, the Divine…so many names for our own true nature which can never leave as it is what we are. It is human nature to forget and to let the ego run the show. It is our practice that brings us back again and again.

2017 will bring our annual Jamaican Yoga Vacation. It will be the second year for Maria Hamburger and I to lead a group to the Cliffs of Negril. We will be at Sunset on the Cliffs from January 28 to February 4, where we will do asana, meditate, swim, eat great food, laugh, dance and joyfully celebrate ourselves and each other. Rooms go quickly so register early by clicking here!

Betsey Downing and I will be giving our 2017 Spirited Women’s Retreat in the summer again and are finalizing plans for it now. It looks like it may be very convenient, in Northern Virginia at a wonderfully inviting retreat center. More info on this to come soon!!

And then because, as it turns out, it looks like I have really no retirement plans, I’ve decided to take a group to Italy in October of 2017. This will be an adventure in Food, Wine and Yoga and it may not necessarily be in that order. It can actually be in whatever order you prefer!!! (LOL) We be in the beautiful countryside of Umbria, where one of my former teacher trainees and a long time Willow Street student, now lives. I must say he has made this so easy, I couldn’t refuse!! The day trips will be fabulous and are all included. It is a great price, especially if you’re an early bird. Click here for more info and registration form!

One more thing. It’s an historic political year. More is at stake in whom we support for President than at any other time in our lives. Our children and grandchildren will be most adversely affected by climate disruption, but all our lives will be impacted by the leadership of the next 4 or 8 years. As President Obama so succinctly put it in his amazing speech at the DNC, “Don’t boo, Vote!” But do more than vote – donate, volunteer, knock on doors in PA where it’s needed, make calls, drive people to the polls, help in any way you can to get the vote out.  I know some of you are not overly enamored with Hillary. But hold your nose, do whatever it takes to ensure Donald Trump does not become our next President. Know you’re voting for the greater good, and know that a vote for the Libertarian Party or for Jill Stein (and I do like her platform) is a vote for Trump. They are not viable candidates – it’s that simple.

I will leave you with a poem that I read for my Dad’s eulogy. He was instrumental in my life for showing me by his example how to live from love rather than fear. He died on Thanksgiving Day morning in 1995. I think these words apply more than ever today.

The Choice for Love ~ Emmanuel

“What does the voice of fear
whisper to you?

Fear speaks to you
in logic and reason.
It assumes the language
of love itself.

Fear tells you,
“I want to make you safe.”
“You are safe.”

Fear says,
“Give me symbols.
Give me something
I can rely on.”

Loving truth says,
“Only give me
this moment.”

Fear would walk you
on a narrow path
promising to take you
where you want to go.

Love says,
“Open your arms
and fly with me.”

Every moment of your life
you are offered the opportunity
to choose–
love or fear,
to tread the earth
or to soar the heavens.”

And Love Trumps Fear every time!

 

Happy Holidays in this Winter of 2015

IMG_1999Dear Students and Friends,

I hope this finds you healthy and happy this holiday season, and enjoying your yoga practice which certainly helps us remain healthy and happy as the years pass. I’m seeing that very clearly, as I recently celebrated my 71st birthday, and also welcomed our seventh grandchild into the world!

The holiday season in all spiritual traditions and religions comes back to what Yoga is really about, Love. Love of Self, Love of Other. To open our hearts with more and more compassion, tolerance and understanding in these challenging times is what our practice invites us to do. It’s much easier to close down and ignore or deny the pain and fear in the world, living happily in our own personal little bubble. Yet that is neither honest nor useful.  To take the fearlessness, confidence and acceptance we find on the mat and channel it into a cause that is meaningful and inspiring to each of us is to contribute to making our world a better place.

My colleague and dear friend Betsey Downing and I shared an incredibly meaningful time in Maya Tulum, Mexico with a group of inspirational women who are doing some amazing things in the world, on our annual Spirited Women’s Retreat. It was a time to share and discuss and be inspired by each other in so many wonderful ways.  We will be staying in the U.S. next year, on Emerald Isle on the coast of North Carolina at Trinity Center. The dates will be August 21-August 28, and we are in the midst of doing the brochure now which should be on our websites by January 1.

Coming up in February are not one, but two yoga retreats to Jamaica!  I am excited about doing my first retreat with my friend and awesome Willow Street  yoga teacher extraordinaire, Maria Hamburger.  Maria graduated from one of my earliest Teacher Trainings, in 2002, and has gone on to study and explore the therapeutic aspects of yoga, as well as specialize in yoga for MS and Parkinson’s Disease. Her teaching is direct and precise, as well as creative and exploratory. And fun!  The retreat is January 30-February 6, at Sunset on the Cliffs and you can download the brochure from this site.  And then more fun two weeks later, when Moses Brown and I will be doing our 12th Jamaica Yoga Vacation back at the Negril Escape. The dates are February 13-Feb. 21.  Moses teaches with a wonderful combination of humor and love. You can download both brochures with registration forms from this site. Each retreat will be a great respite  from the February chill, and non-yogi spouses are welcome.

Betsey and I will also be doing our annual 4 day mini-Spirited Women’s Retreat for women 45 and older at Kripalu Holistic Health Center in Lenox, MA.  The dates are April 28-May 1; more information is on this site.  Our intention is to encourage and inspire all of us to step into our greatness as wild, wonderful & wise women!

I continue to enjoy splitting my time between teaching at Willow Street Yoga Center and Oxford, MD on the Eastern Shore. We now have a wonderfully dedicated group of Eastern Shore yogis and yoginis that is growing each year. Wherever did I get the idea that I was even going to “semi-retire?”  But I can’t imagine ever stopping. I also love my Hospice work in Easton, Md that is tremendously rewarding. We are blessed to be close to five of our seven grandchildren who we see in each week on the Western Shore.

I wish you all the happiest of holidays. May you experience the love, compassion and abundance of the season. May you grow closer to the Grace that each day offers and may you offer back that Grace in a meaningful way. My very best to each of you, may you prosper and grow in every way in 2016.

Namaste with Love,

Suzie

 

Summer 2015 is Flying By!

suzie_fbDear Friends and Students,

Well, we seemed to have the Winter that would never end, and tho Spring was late, it was more than welcome, and now the heat and humidity of Summer is upon us.  I’ll happily take it!  I hope this finds you having summer adventures and/or some great relaxing beach time or whatever makes you happy.

Happiness is such a choice isn’t it? My great friend and colleague Betsey Downing is now reading a book entitled ”     “.  I remember when I turned 50, I made a conscious decision to be happy, and to always bring an element of fun into whatever endeavor I embarked on.  Life is too short to do anything else. I believe that the purpose of our life is to awaken, enjoy and learn from our experiences. We’re not helping anyone by being miserable. Events need not determine whether or not you’re going to be happy, they’re just events. You alone determine that! Michael Singer, in The Untethered Soul, says, “if you decide that you’re going to be happy from now on for the rest of your life, you will not only be happy, you will become enlightened. Unconditional happiness is the highest technique there is.”  Yes, of course, we will be challenged, the test of our commitment is exactly what stimulates spiritual growth. Singer goes on to say, “in fact it is the unconditional aspect of your commitment to be happy that makes this the highest path. You get to decide whether or not you will break your vow.”  Simple but not easy, but what in life that is truly meaningful is easy?

And speaking of some great events coming up to help your happiness quotient, the first being Betsey Downing’s and my workshop at Willow Street Yoga on Sunday July 26 for women of all ages, “Honoring the Divine Feminine.” Click on the link here to know more!  Before our workshop Betsey will give a free lecture on Climate Change on Friday night and how we can help, and on Saturday will give two more powerful workshops.

And for all you women over 45 we are about half full for our annual Spirited Women’s Retreat in  Maya Tulum, Mexico this coming October. This is our 8th retreat and second year at the beautiful Maya Tulum Resort. We liked it so much last year, everyone wanted to go back again! Please click here on the link here to download a brochure with all the details and registration form. Don’t wait too long though, as we have to release our extra rooms by the end of August, so please get your deposit in by Aug. 15.

And if you’re not looking forward to another cold snowy wet winter, plan to take a break in February with either a Jamaica vacation with Maria Hamburger and me from January 30 to February 6, or  with Moses and me from February 13-21.  Click on links to learn more here!

My husband John and I will be happily embarking on a Windstar Cruise to the Scandinavian countries in July and then after four years, in August, I will be returning to Northport, Maine for a two week personal retreat in my little rented rustic cabin, Mt. Spruce which overlooks the beautiful Penobscot Bay. Summer is flying by, and we want to make every moment count.

I’m still loving teaching my five classes at Willow Street but also doing some workshops and series of classes in Oxford, Md. where our retirement home is. Our little yoga kula there has grown to about 20 dedicated and wonderful practitioners, some of whom are coming to our Mexico Retreat this year!  Very rewarding and fulfilling for me in many ways as we continue to make dear friends at this stage in our lives. And the four grand girls keep us busy and entertained on our days on the Western Shore!  We celebrated our oldest grandson, Jody’s High School graduation not long ago, and are so proud of him for receiving a full tuitional scholarship to the Berklee School of Music in Boston. And his younger brother Reid, has a beautiful voice, is in Chorus and also plays a mean violin.

So as they say in Jamaica, (and I say often!), “Don’t worry, Be Happy” and have an awesomely wonderful and happy Summer,

In Love,  Suzie

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Happy New Year 2015

IMG_5055 Dear Students and Friends,

I hope you and your families had a joyful and meaningful holiday season.  May the beauty and love that is generated from gathering together this time of year hold us as we venture forward into a new year, one that may be full of mystery or dedicated to a specific personal vision.  Or maybe a little of both!  I continue to enjoy my “split time” between the Eastern Shore (Oxford, MD), and Takoma Park, and am now teaching a class on Sat. mornings at the Oxford Community Center which is also a wonderful way of making new friends with common interests. I don’t know what 2015 holds for me as yet, but I remain open and eager for new discoveries.  One of the most exciting things I did in October of 2014 was to jump out of an airplane for my 70th!  It was definitely thrilling, and helped me overcome my fear of heights that was getting stronger as I was getting older!!  Very glad to still be able to take risks and step into my fears!!

Moses Brown and I will soon be celebrating our 11th year of teaching together on the cliffs of Negril in Jamaica. It is one of the most fun and financially viable yoga vacations ever, and we still have just one more space for a yogi or yogini!  Not a bad getaway from the February winter chill!  The dates are Jan. 31-Feb. 8, and non-yogi spouses are welcome. You can download a brochure with registration form from this site.

Betsey Downing and I had a total blast with 26 of the most inspirational Spirited Women on our sixth annual Spirited Women’s Retreat near Tulum, Mexico. The highlights were wonderful discussions, renewing and making new friendships, some great trips, and of course the unforgettable Mayan Belly Massages!  O, and the yoga wasn’t half bad either!  Next years dates are October 24-31 so mark your calendars.  We will be at the beautiful Maya Tulum Resort on the same incredible beach we were this year. We will hold the numbers to 36  and registration will open March 24 and first come, first served. The brochure should be available to download by early February.

Betsey and I will also be doing our annual 4 day mini-Spirited Women’s Retreat for women 45 and older at Kripalu Holistic Health Center in Lenox, MA.  The dates are April 2-5 over Easter weekend; more information is on this site.  Our intention is to encourage and inspire all of us to step into our greatness as wild, wonderful & wise women!

We are also ruminating about giving an online meditation course. Both of us have had committed meditation practices for over 35 years, and think we might have a little to share in this direction as well.  We are both being drawn to teaching more meditation in all of our workshops and we feel the time is now, because we are at such a delicate balance with world and planetary issues. Not that we can meditate or transcend them away, or even want to, but from a deep and committed meditation practice, we can be more effective activists as we make a more and more healthy engagement in the world.

And then there is The Kindred Spirits Reunion on February 20-22 of 2015 in Austin, Texas  that was an incredible brainstorm by my good friend and yogini extraordinaire, Desiree Rumbaugh.  This will be for all Anusara” teachers, both present, and for those who left the system last year, as well as for those who were in the process of certification. Betsey and I are helping Desire organize this, and it promises to bring us all back together in a beautiful way.

And for all my dedicated and devoted yoga students at Willow Street and elsewhere, I want you to know that being your yoga teacher is an honor, and a never-ending process of growth and service. We have seen, again and again, how yoga changes lives, and being part of that is a great  privilege. Without your presence in my classes and workshops, I would not be able to continue in what I consider to be one of the most sacred and honorable professions one can do.   

I urge you to stay in the deepest connection to the Divine in however you experience It.  May you know that the Divine longs for you as much as you long for the Divine, and all will unfold as it should as we enter the sacred mystery of 2015.

Fly High and Trust,

IMG_5020_2Blessings and Love, Suzie

 

suzie_fb

The Dog Days of Summer (2014)

Hopefully, some of these days are Downward Facing Dog Days and you’re wagging your tails in delight from lots of summer fun and good vacation time. And of course, delighting in your own yoga practice as well. My husband, John, who retired in January, and I are spending long weekends in Oxford, MD on the Eastern Shore, exploring the creeks and rivers in our little Boston Whaler. We’re delighted by the fact that the sea nettles have stayed away so far this year and the swimming is grand!

Our big adventure this year is a cruise/trip to Alaska for a couple of weeks in early August. Before we leave I wanted to give ya’ll a quick update on my upcoming retreats and other teaching activities.

Betsey Downing and I will be giving our annual Spirited Women’s Retreat October 25-November 1 of this year, at the wonderful zen-like resort of Maya Tulum in Mexico. We are about 2/3 full, so if you are on the fence or if you have any friends who may be interested in joining us for the SWR, tell them to register soon!  On August 25 Maya Tulum will release all the rooms that we have not booked for our retreat, and there may not be rooms available if they wait too long. The brochure and all the info is here.

Next up is the Jamaica Retreat led by Moses Brown and me from January 31-February 8, 2015. Registration just opened and we’re already more than 2/3 full. We are at a new place this year, up the road a bit from the Negril Escape with fewer rooms available.  No worries tho, as folks can still stay at the Negril Escape or the Mirage, both in walking distance.  We can take only 40 in the yoga space tho, so don’t wait too long if you’re thinking of coming!  Again, click here for all the info.

I continue to enjoy teaching my five classes at Willow Street and doing an occasional series of classes in Oxford. That plus teaching some workshops, seeing a few privates each week, doing the two retreats a year and spending time with the grandkids makes for a full and happy life. I feel especially fortunate, with my 70th trip around the sun coming up this October, to have somehow been so blessed to have stumbled upon this Yogic path that has guided and continues to bless my life.

There’s an additional PS that is important to me and I feel needs to be said to all seasoned and budding yogis.  We are not here to transcend life, and live only in some state of bliss-filled nirvana. As we awaken to who we are, we realize the need to do all we can to make the world a more conscious place. To say no to the politics and politicians that are tearing at our democracy and yes, to those policies, which are far-reaching and necessary to the survival of our planet.  We need to speak up and out from that deep place that knows what’s right in our very soul!  Be progressive and always stand up for your Truth.

Love and Namaste,