Home Practice

Last week, I was in my studio at the Girls Chorus practicing singing like mad, despite my cough and sniffles.  It was great–tons of music seeped into my brain, and I hope it will spring from my cords when the time comes.

This week, not so much singing has been sung.  Instead, I’ve felt inspired (perhaps by the summery warmth we’ve had) to move and be active.  In addition to ending a long absence from running, I’ve realized I actually need to practice yoga rather than just teach it.  Heh.  To that end, I’ve been on my mat four days running and plan to keep it up indefinitely.  These are not 90 minute, studio-style sessions, but rather the amount and type of asana that fit into my schedule and my energy at the time.  Perfection.

Tools and tips for home practice:

1. Do it as soon in the day as you are able; if the inspiration strikes and the will is there, don’t squander it.  Delay too often becomes permanent.

2. Set manageable expectations.  If you don’t have time for an hour, don’t be attached to that unrealistic timeframe, but rather embrace a practice that fits the time you have.  Baby steps. 🙂

Jason Crandell class on YogaGlo3. Use technology.  There are myriad modern means (alliteration–whee!) of accessing great yoga guidance outside a studio–often cheaply or for free.  Today, I did a 60-minute vinyasa class focused on shoulder and hip opening taught by one of my favorite teachers, Jason Crandell.  He, and many other excellent teachers, has a whole series of different practice videos available on YogaGlo.  They have a 15 day free trial, and after that it’s $18/mo for unlimited access.  I can’t recommend this site enough, but there are many others, as well as podcasts, DVDs, audio playlists, etc.  Get to streaming/downloading and practice happily!


This weekend, I travel to Kansas City to sing a memorial concert for 9/11. I am sure nearly every chorister in the country will participate in something similar over the next three days. In fact, some light googling uncovered commemorative choral concerts in nearly every major metropolitan area I checked, and many small cities and towns as well. Voices raised together will sing for the terror, the loss, the strength, the survival, and the hope born of those awful events ten years ago.

It strikes me choirs have always been at the center of commemorating our most important historical moments, and especially when healing, reconciliation, or hope are needed. There is something about hearing the human instrument give voice to our emotions surrounding these events that is transformative, and that allows all people to participate in the memorial. I remember remarking in the days after 9/11 that artists – especially singers – were certainly among the first responders.

Artists, musicians, singers tell the tales of our civilization as nothing else can. Without them, we have no memory, we have no way to offer a fitting tribute to the most important events, people, and ideals society holds dear. I will be offering my voice as a part of this worldwide requiem–a chorus that remembers, grieves, and helps us to move forward.


September Yoga Subs

I will be away this coming weekend and for a couple more classes this month. The following lovely subs will be taking great care of you. Thanks so much, and enjoy your practice.


Friday, 9/9 and Monday, 9/12
7-8am at Union Yoga
Martin Scott
Martin is Union Yoga’s owner and a fabulous vinyasa/Dharma Yoga teacher.

20110907-111311.jpgSaturday, 9/10
10:30-noon at Crunch, Embarcadero
Marie Murphy
Marie is Crunch’s newest yoga teacher whose Monday class, Enlightened Yoga, is partnered with HBO’s newest series, Enlightened.

Saturday, 9/24
10:30-noon at Crunch, Embarcadero
Kirstin Williams
Your favorite sub, Kirstin is a longtime Crunch teacher and friend to Justin’s classes. A spirited and challenging vinyasa practice.


Just got back from a couple days at the rustic and lovely Walker Creek Ranch outside Petaluma. I was returning for the third time to teach voice lessons at the Piedmont Children’s Choirs’ summer camp. Again, I was energized and inspired by these talented young people. They were uniformly well prepared, respectful, engaged and able to concentrate, and sincerely in love with music. It lifted my soul to be around so much promise and art, especially given the bad news on several fronts in our world. It was truly a restorational and inspirational escape.

The Piedmont kids join the San Francisco Choral Society for performances of Mendelssohn’s Elijah at the end of this month – details here:

Help a brother out

Y’all may or my know that I love Matt Alber (fellow Chanticleer alumnus) and his beautiful, heartfelt songs.  He’s ingeniously decided to help fund the self-production of his upcoming album by doing a presale.  You have a couple options for purchase and get to preview two of the tracks and a very charming video featuring his BF and sweet dad.

Hope you enjoy!

Pre-Order Matt’s New Album.

A study in contradictions

This is the first week in a while in which I’ve focused my public yoga classes on one theme. We’ve been working toward eka pada koundinyasana II, a very challenging arm balance. When B.K.S. Iyengar does it, it looks like this:


What I love about practicing this pose and watching my mastery of it and it of me dance back and forth, is that one has to achieve balance in so many ways to even begin to lift off the floor. The asana requires great strength of core and shoulders, but incredible flexibility in the hip and hamstrings. One must be lifting the core up, in, and away from the earth at the same time as you allow a softening or lowering of the body onto the support of the arms. At the same time as all of this is happening, one leg and the torso are reaching forward mightily, while the other leg lengthens just as strongly behind. Oh yes, and you have to breathe too…

The balancing of these opposing actions or forces in the pose mirror the more obvious balance you must find to hold it, even for a moment. I find that life presents me with these types of challenges all the time. In the midst of stress/duress/difficulty, can I soften enough to flow through the challenge, rather than stiffening and fighting it (causing suffering). Similarly, when I’m feeling heavy, sapped, or dragged down by life or my physicality on a given day, how can I find the energy to rise above?

If I successfully manage to balance energy and relaxation, stretch and strength, in both life and eka pada koundinyasana II, I may find balance and float there for a moment. Ahhhh…

Here we go

Well, I’m taking the leap. Word on the street is that Apple has, quite regrettably, discontinued iWeb–-a program I used for no fewer than four of my websites. Aargh. After receiving many great recommendations and playing around for a while with the top contenders, I’ve decided to give WordPress a go for a while. I like that it’s so customizable and easy to update from anywhere, but still offers a little bit of help with theme and design. I will miss iWeb’s drag and drop simplicity though…sigh.

Goals for my new WordPress site:
• Use the blog-style format to the max; post often and consistently
• Keep it simple; use the limitations of the site as a tool for streamlining my web work
• Increase the attractiveness and accessibility of my site for my readers

Please use the comment feature liberally, ye few who have found your way here. I’d love to adapt the site/blog to your needs and wishes. Help me be better.
Other than that, please consider this your Bay Area home for mixing singing and yoga, and living your song!