Co_creation a la LYNDSEY

@ K R I P A L U

“What does yoga mean to you now?”

“Hold the edge.  Kiss the knife blade. Take courage, breathe into the pain.  Address the scum at the edge of the toilet.  Gaze with compassion into the ugliness. Take hands, lean back, blend laughter —– Beloved!        So good to see you, again.         So good to Be this again, Complete.               It’s okay to feel this good.       It’s okay to feel this bad.          I know how to color with all the crayons in my box – and this rainbow power that is healing itself up, rising coiled as a dancing snake smiling to the flute of life’s music. Sweetheart, it’s all God — and it’s finally time to fully forgive any well-meaning misled soul who told you different. Your body IS the temple of the Holy Spirit – you heard that – and you are free in the embodiment.  Daily, “take up your staff” = daily, roll out your mat.         This skin is home.          Nowhere to run – forever is safe to expand into.”

These words rolled out my pen during a few-minutes of free write, responding to that question posed during our Yoga Teacher Training’s (YTT) first nights’ welcoming session.   My definition has shifted and I’m sure it will continue to, since my early explorations of yoga…. my first classes, right out of college, with a spunky, leotard-clad 70-year-old teacher and a room full of retirees at a rural community college; a few years later, Sanskrit-wary, suspicious-of-hooey, with stl-punks in braless wifebeaters on southside rooftops, cigarettes post-savasana.

But I sensed there was something there for me, and I kept dabbling and coming back.  I showed up to the mat with more earnestness in 2006 during ‘exile’ from STL, healing up from a sexual assault. I went to live with my grandma in the East Bay and I didn’t know which way was up.  I google-found my new virtual teacher:, and fell in love with her kindness.  I took refuge in my breath: yoga was a place to feel sane, and safe.

During that time, I remember an image so vividly.  It was at the Temple burn, the final night at Burning Man.  It was a weird choice that I found myself there – it was my second time on the playa, someone had given me a free ticket last minute, but really I was heartbroken and confused.  I think I just wanted to escape reality, to be alone amongst strangers to process the violence I’d just experienced.    That night, I remember witnessing the freest woman I ever saw:  her spirit was so live. She was dancing before the fire with total abandon; I could feel her passion for life — it was like she was dancing her truest heart.   When she sat down to rest, she reached over to the man next to her – apparently a stranger, and held and started to rub his feet, an empathetic greeting of the universal Beloved.  I could feel her love, intimate with the world, completely in her skin, radiant.  And it hurt so bad and so deeply to feel that,  Ache,  because I felt entirely the opposite : afraid, suspicious, stiff, judgmental, closed, alone, stuck.

That image came back to me as the Before picture to this After — what a journey since then.  Some of the women in my YTT praised what they sensed to be my free spirit – “You glow!  You’re so comfortable in your skin!”   And I had to laugh, and give Grace the total glory…  ironically grateful for the myriad of straitjackets I’ve chosen to wear that have crystallized my desire and coached my inner-Baubo/Mirabai-spirit out of hiding.  This month brought complete acceptance to each of my body-mind’s past booboos – last year’s epidermis nightmare; balm to the bedrooms where I couldn’t speak No;  salve to the bathrooms where I puked my brains out for years.   Feel and heal – I felt a physiological sigh of relief to finally feel my past make sense.  During YTT I became so aware of my own body’s very specific history, the map of pleasures and pains that have brought me ripe into Now.   For the first time in a decade, I unanimously celebrate being on my path.

“So, how’d you end up here?”  Jovinna and Devarshi, my beloved teachers, ask in an early-on one-on-one.  “Hmmmm….. <shrugs>???”  As I surveyed my path, there was no straight answer… just gentle nudges.   I am high-fiving my Guides!  And sending effervescent gratitude to each of my teachers and seed-planters along this path: you know who you are. In retrospect, there’s nowhere I’d rather have trained.   I’d heard about Kripalu here and there, and started flirting with the website way before I thought I could actually come up with the cash to come.  The desire to become a yoga teacher grew out my love sharing yoga with children: the 200-hr basic certification is a prerequisite necessary to get the 95-hr children’s certification. Over 27 days with 63 incredible fellow students, 2 amazing teachers, and 8 skilled assistants,  a cadre of tiny bunny rabbits,  fields of of pink and red poppies and all the other amazing Beings at planet Kripalu, we delved deep into the anatomy of Practice.   The architecture of skilled   s u p p o r t framed authentic   i n q u i r y, which catalyzed epic  t r a n s f o r m a t i o n in each of us.   For a fun overview check out these irreverent Gifs and succint bulletpoints that hint humorously at a fraction of the magic; and here I’ll share the cairns that guided my personal process.

The gorgeous stand of pines just near the labyrinth.... my hideout.


The Berkshires are breathtaking.  Serene and majestic, the woods were my hideout. During the intensity of training, it felt amazing to know that I could, if needed, fly the coop and commune with dirt — that I could continue feeding the intimacy I began to foster with the plants at Earthaven.  The first morning I woke early to sit in a stand of aromatic pines (and still haven’t gotten sap from the ass of my fanciest yoga pants),  which launched a growing love of yoga-in-trees – climbing up, leaning on, backbending in, hugging trunks, hanging upside down….. finding pressure points in feet or belly with knots and limbs.    Pre-sunrise, I’d sit on the sprawling, grassy front lawn in the spot where the first rays of sun would beam, and sing with my japa mala beads to the coming sunrise. I often ate my meals in silence, surveying the horizon of smoky peaks.  It felt like all the trees and beings of the retreat center were ‘for’ us, leaning in with momentum, cheerleading us toward our goal of Communion.

Kirtan with my homegirls. Photo by Genessa!

Devarshi demoes headstand in posture clinic... this room saw a whole lotta life that month!

Including the humans: what an amazingly skilled and loving staff! Wonder of wonders: spirituals teachers I want to receive from, no holds barred.  Total openness. This felt nothing short of miraculous after the necessary skepticism I’d donned to skirt emotional manipulation by religious leaders in my youth. “Kripalu” means compassion, and the heart of this teaching is compassionate practice on and off the mat—based in personal inquiry.  Each of our teachers embodied this relaxed authenticity, and often posed our questions right back to us. Our curriculum was expertly designed for maximum Flow — from interactive posture clinics and self-guided sadhana, to conscious communication workshops and one-on-one check-ins, to a Silent Day retreat and a massage night, to weekly practice teaches.  Jovinna’s practice exudes ethereal beauty, grace, and expression, her background as a dancer singing thru her every move.  Devarshi’s committed wisdom pours out every pore with heartfelt tears and laughter, whether elucidating the Bhagavad Gita or cajoling our gluts with ancient mantras like “Yes I love my back and butt….”   As well, in addition to being attentive to our every need, each of our eight assistants carried in their presence a profound treasure  –   Vicki’s transportive gift of the gong bath, Lisa’s sacred flute accompaniment, Sam’s extensive and applied knowledge of anatomy, Stephen’s humorous tee shirts and unsurpassed acro-massage, and so much more….   And in addition to the full-time YTT staff, our visiting teachers delivered gems.  In particular I was moved by the deft language we got an opportunity to take notes on…..Grace taught physiology at the threshold of the sublime, poetically leading us to interact with the consciousness of our cells, muscles, bones, systems aware of the miracle they are.   I also really resonated with her side project, Farm Wellness, which trains yogis to partner with farmers to lead retreats in nature.  Prophetic!!! Danny cracked us up with his spoofy yoga teacher blooper language and then illustrated the exact opposite with spot-on pacing, sensitive invitations, apt Sanskrit –  I just bought his book, Nourishing the Teacher, to support my beginning teaching endeavors.

But the real magic of the YTT was the family formed with my fellow yogis– my precious Sangha (sanksrit for “spiritual community”).  I was soooo not having it the first night when 63 students filled the room.  WHaT?! I envisioned maybe 20 or so.   I laugh now at the vestigial defenses and posturing that flared that evening, despite myself….ha ha ha little ego. You think you have it all figured out.  Day by day, partner exercise by partner exercise, every snap judgment I made was flushed down the drain. His breathing, her tears, their laughter, that comment….. each person triggered and sparked divine revelation; We Are Mirrors – whether that’s fun or tough.   Each of us aligned to create this particular class.  This entity. Our Alchemy.   Over time, we realized that our true selves were fully allowed to come forward, and oh how we loved – fiercely, vulnerably, risking.  Put on the headset, step on the stage, we’re rooting for you!!   I’ve never before felt that safe being that ‘big’.  The combination of dorm bunkbeds, acroyoga breaks, hike and talk ‘lunch dates’,  sauna conversations,  side by side mats in practice, witnessing tears and trembling —- the intimacy we built was the cauldron that held each of our transformation.


Every morning: chant the sutras.  Vibration paves the way.   Atha Yoga Nushasam: Now, the Inquiry of Yoga!!!  Pull the red velvet curtain back to the stage of the present moment.  “Whhaaaaaaat is IT?!” — can I engage every breath, every interaction with this reverent curiosity?  Can I let go of being right and just be interested?    Most every question we posed to our teachers was met with,  “Hmmm… that’s a great inquiry – let us know what you find”…… Soon, the historic pattern of reaching for the ‘correct answer’ that traditional education plagued us with gave way to a more wide-eyed, patient, Feeling-toward.  For me, turning the onus back to Self-authority was mighty healing after an upbringing of do/don’t sermons.  A big piece of this responsibility landed in our language: we agreed to speak in “I” statements…. And anytime we’d lapse into “You know when you…’ to describe a personal observation, we’d expect to be corrected with the sign-language pinky “I’ held at the listener’s heart.  “When I…..”

At the start, we were invited to create intentions to guide our inquiry.  With crayons and construction paper. ;0) These statements adorned our class altar and met our gaze during practice.  On my pink circle I drew a woman-tree beneath a rainbow and my intention for YTT —-  To invite and allow full reconnect with Spirit, and to emerge playfully embodying the power of the divine feminine. I’d surveyed my inner landscape thoroughly thru sickness and challenge and in my co-counseling practice last year, and I knew clearly where I wanted this yoga-medicine to land.  I felt ready to fully pick up my relationship with the Great Mystery where I’d ditched it in college, and I was ready to address fears that keep me acting like a twelve-year-old girl instead of the woman I am.

I sealed these intentions after our first sacred night of Meditation-in-Motion. Jovinna read a Hafiz poem, “Now is the Time,” during our dance that stirred my soul loose. I could feel the layers sloughing off, ready to blow open.  Alone, I hiked down through the woods to the water’s edge.  Super mosquito-y but I braved it, stripped down, and headed toward the middle of the giant lake.  Ack! Seaweed! I was offput by the overgrowth of scratchy algae but more offput by the thought of staying swimming tiny circles within the tiny cordoned-off swimming area.  Just then someone had come down to the beach to scour the sand for something they’d lost earlier in the day, and I asked if they’d swum toward the center of the lake…. They advised me where to pass through the seaweed with least effort and assured me I’d get through and it was worth it.  So I glided out, long strokes, black water, feeling the fear of the dark unknown and glee at doing it anyway.   As I approached the center of the lake, the full moon dazzled out from behind a cloud.  Treading water, naked, happy, strong, alone, free.

Let’s do this thing.

Ok! Ready, Aim, Fire!  If aim = intention; fire = sadhana. Practice. Show up, it will happen. Don’t worry about when or how. Show up.   We practiced yoga for an hour and half in the morning and in the afternoon, and I kept a log of each practice in my custom-made workbook.  Throughout the month, poses I’d heretofore totally ignored –too easy —-or totally avoided – too hard — became my best friends.  My first posture eureka, tears-streaming-down-face “I get it!”  was with Tadasana. Aha!  Mountain Pose. So simple,  so profound. Ummm, just stand there.   OK? Now what??? I realized how much I skip that step to try and ‘succeed’ at more complicated postures – like life. With my arms upraised, breathing, nowhere to go, I felt how much I’ve been afraid to fully reach myself because I’m afraid I’ll be rejected. I’ve taught myself to be small to feel safe.  With all I am, I reached up, standing my ground. Fully extended, fully grounded. Wow. Yeah. That.   . . . . !!!  Held. Fullness.  Then: (dum dum dummmmm) – the dreaded  Utkatasana. Yuck. I’ve always hated chair pose. No thank you.  So of course, every teacher rocked it hard, and finally, in Sam’s sadhana…. He led us in a 5 minute utkatasana to the soundtrack of Queen & David Bowie’s Under Pressure.  Hysterical!  Laughter, trembling, hips shaking, ok-fine-i-guess-it’s-fun-to-feel…. Hooray. Melt.  After that, it felt like old friend. Yeah, kick back, sit down, utkatasana! Love it.

As on the mat, so in the mind – during yoga practice, I loved noticing the nuances linking my physical and mental bodies, my anamaya kosha and manomaya kosha. I’d use this personal awareness to inform my practice teach lessons, sharing from my heart whatever the leading learning of my practice was. I got excited to keep up this ‘fresh news’, to deepen my own practice so I’ll have current revelation to share with my future students.  The theme of my first practice teach was “intimacy with your edge,”  upon realizing that I’ve never used yoga to challenge myself – only to feel better.   With a history of using exercise as self-punishment, it had never felt safe to really all-out and exert in my yoga.  I realized it’s fine. It’s time. I can exit the safety zone, staying compassionate while simultaneously being challenged.

This awareness of the mind/body relationship extended off the mat too. I developed further sensitivity to divine surprises, like a game — call and response with the physical world.  There was that time I ditched class to sob in the woods, unable to stay equanimous with the rage coming up in a practice led by a self-proclaimed ‘former frat boy’ teacher (who was a totally rad teddy bear, but triggered unfinished business with the frat boy culture of my own college experience)….. after I passed my storm, I was playing in the apples trees thinking “sure would be fun to have a friend right now”…. When who but Mathias, on break from a fire alarm that led everyone outside, serendipitously wandered toward the forest and comes up juggling apples, climbs up the tree ready to heart-to-heart.  Thought/response.   Then there was that lesson on Bramacharya – traditionally translated as “celibacy” – more broadly, “disciplined directing of energy toward the divine”.  I’d made a commitment during YTT of not using physical attraction as a cop-out distraction from deeper business, of watching my pattern of finding a man to ‘report to’ to give my power away… the same day I discovered a small hole smack dab in the crotch of my stripey leggings and – of course – was offered thread to repair it by the person who my junior-high-self was tooootally crushing on.   Ha. Point taken. (Not that sex can’t be totally transcendant, but my own patterns of why I seek it stand to be cleaned up.)     Sew up that leak, sister! We have evolving to do!


Guesswork, goodbye.  Simply put: with support, inquiry, and practice –  transformation is inevitable..  A process which usually feels mysterious and evasive got mapped out into diagrams and acronyms. (Which became the subject of many jokes. “Brfwa that shit!”)  But it occurs to me, isn’t that how it “should” be??  Instead of just spelling tests and periodic tables, imagine a junior high curriculum that included maps for how your human soul could effectively heal its aches and pains instead of racking them up?  Or better yet, a society in which the adults model the process so fully that kids pick it up by watching.  Challenge, resistance, chaos, fertile void, new norm – bring it!  Breathe, Relax, Feel, Watch, Allow. Ok. Go There.

Our time on the mat felt foundational to these discoveries, but the unscripted places – beyond formal asana – packed the most power for me. I began to learn how to give myself over to the Being inside my body, who wants to move through me.  During Kirtan with Yogi P, the harmonies we wove transported me to Vessel-dom: “wind, I am the reed you sing through.”    During our silent retreat, we shared an Osho meditation that invited us to shake for fifteen minutes.  A forcible choice to shove the ego over and push through the ‘well, thAt’s stupid’ bred letting-go of the deepest order.  WILDNESS, it’s okay. Cells, you don’t have to cling to that any longer. Beautiful fellow YTTer ‘Universal Empresss’ aka Nadine aptly captured the Catharsis of these embodied eurekas:  “Life danced me, shifting me in spirited ways and necessary means that my mortal self would never give herself permission to imagine”.

The more I gave my body permission, to feel, to stretch, to demand, to express, the more I felt totally at Home in my body.  Meditation-in-Motion is the heart of Kripalu practice, a movement based in deep listening, like prayer.  During our closing ritual, we created a sacred space to witness each other, one-at-a-time, in this devoted dance with the unknown.  Yeowza.  As darling a revelation I’ve yet been given, and words won’t suffice to transmit: maybe if a grey-whiskered four year old wizard gave you a giggling raspberry on your belly while fast-paced flying on poofy lavendar-scented clouds like googlemaps o’er the horizon of time.  Yeah so:  My body is my spaceship. It’s safe to be fully alive. God is laughing in me and with me, definitely not at me.

Also particular to my coming-home was the power of song.  Alone in the womb of the downstairs hot tub I’d sing… in the shower, I’d sing.….. during practice we’d chant….. rock the kirtan…japa mala… tone the sutras…… Om for days……  Sweet vibrations. And not-so-sweet — Kripalu experienced an uncanny amount of major, beepy, clear-the-building fire alarms during my stay – something about no a/c and humidity and an outdated sensor system? One night in the wee hours, the dreaded Beep Beep Beep. Beep Beep Beep split open our sleep.  But in my dream, the sound had been the metronome keeping the beat of a melody…… So I woke gently in that reality and rode the wave of the gift of a song, in my jammies, out on the front lawn.   The dark, the fog, the song, all danced in me a vision of Genesis.  Formless. Timeless. Spirit hovers over the water.  Here we are. Enraptured. Created. Creating…

/ sound the alarm on zion zion / my holy mountain

Everyone went back to bed after the fire trucks came and quieted the alarm, but I stayed in this waking dream to keep singing.  Lyrics started coming through… the ending verses of a song that showed up years ago.   The Cocoon Song became The Butterfly song. No longer stuck in the waiting. No longer resentful of the time it takes to transform.

In the next week, together with friends, we choreographed the song and performed it for our closing ceremony. The interpersonal chemistry developed from training together was so seamless that collaboration happened in an instant.  Our dance was a metaphor for the molting and becoming the past month had gifted us each.

Lyrics that came through me for the song we danced for closing ceremony. The first half of the song came in 2008 for the Metamorphosis show produced by Kelsey LaPoint. The last half just landed as a gift during the culminating week of YTT.

Mathias and Sarah rehearsing for the dance.

We stood together on our final day together at Kripalu, amidst rose petals and praise, at the brink. Having fully encountered our fears and our potential, our souls stretched as much as our bodies.  Full up with the desire to keep on, to be of service, to support others in this same miraculous process of transformation, we left.

You know the drill – the ending is the beginning.

+ + + + + + + + +

So – back to the daily grind— our sangha keeps it real on facebook, and that’s a plus – swapping songs and sequences, enlisting support.  Liz mixed a short video of sweet snippets (above) we can watch when we miss each other.  Feeling surrounded when I step on my mat, knowing they have my back, they echo my Om.

In some ways, I feel I’m back to who I was when I was five. “You must become as a child”…. Coming home from kindergarten I used to dance my heart out to records, unabashed. Or sit by my bed communing with Spirit, with total faith I was heard.

I’m allowed, again.

Bucky Fuller says: “Dare to be naïve.”

I am struck by the simplicity and humility of this walk.

Bucky also says, “God is a verb.”

Off the train from yoga school, on the way home, I had a layover in Chicago.  Blissed out and slow-mo, feeling my cells tingle in that field out beyond right and wrong,  I watched the world go by with this filter . . . all the humans in action, all around me. That’s God godding!  The man up on the pulley washing windows – that’s God godding! The bollywood flash mob by the mirror jellybean, that’s those Goddesses godding!  Yoga training has attuned me to sense inside other’s body – like advanced empathy – what does it feel like to be you?  How can I support the growth of that fullness?

Only from the lushness of my own practice will the knowledge unfold. I commit.
St.Thomas Aquinas wrote:  “From my breath I extract God. And my eye is a shop where I offer him to the world.”
Storefront grand opening. May I live this.

9 Responses to @ K R I P A L U

  1. Jessie says:

    speechless. left breathless…thoughts escape me…i invite the tears that drip down my cheeks and into my empty hands…how do you do it? dig up such ancient things…forgotten..buried on purpose or by accident. who knows? the only thing that matters is they are here now, in front of me, waiting to be uncovered, dusted off and acknowledged…i have been so afraid of who i might be–who i might see if i actually started looking. you help me, lyndsey, to look. i love you.

  2. Bess says:

    You are beautiful and full of light. I feel blessed to know you. Much Love! Jai!

  3. Matt Fauver says:

    Love you Lyndsey. Its been so long. I want to tell you how much I admire, love and appreciate the transformation(s) you have gone through the past year or two. Some horrible-ness. Some lovely-ness. Life, and you are in it. I’m proud of you and the power you possess in this lifetime. You continue to use it for good and love and I want to bow and commend you for that. You are an amazing woman. Please continue on!…

    • lyndsey says:

      Matt! Diamond in the rough – sorting spam today and your comment just surfaced. The hugest smile to see your name, thanks for reaching out. Right?? Life. I laugh at the shit I manifest to ‘get it’ or at least get nearer to It. haaaaa. I remember once in my young smugness I commented to you – “I’m so glad i’m different now “…. and you ruffled my feathers with your simple “yeah hopefully you’ll say the same thing in five years” ;0) so grateful for all the evolutionary nudges you gift me, on lots of levels. Joy and love your way, dear one.

  4. Herman says:

    Great post, really enjoyed it!
    — Herman

  5. Pingback: » Archive » P L A Y @ S U P E R H E R O – I N G

  6. Tara Mahady says:

    As I am in the midst of packing to leave for my Kripalu 200YTT, your words offer great comfort and support. Thank you.

    • lyndsey says:

      hi Tara! Awesome. Glad you found these words & that they lift you and accompany you . . . . My best friend Rachel is also packing for the ytt …. i’m so excited for you all!! You’ll be in such great hands with Jovinna and Jurian. A special chapter about to be written . . . . love love and jai bhagwan!

  7. Pingback: » Archive » STL^sHaPeS

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

About me
Educated as a painter, learning as a yogi, and playful as a baby monkey: I am a willing human being __ emphasis on the Be. I am traveling-learning, designing projects to feed my inquiries while attracting adventures and connecting with tribes that grace my journey with experiential wisdom in creative healing and joyful sustainability. My passions are catalyzing radically simple + beautiful + fun intentional community, sparking spontaneous collaborative singing and dancing, acroyoga, permaculture, and loving children.