“See no one as a body. Greet him as the holy Son of God he is, acknowledging that he is one with you in holiness.” – A Course in Miracles
Each new year brings new beginnings, energy and ideas around what we want to accomplish. This year, I am grateful for a surge of new ideas and inspiration on how to grow our international community around the practice of yoga, on and off the mat – as well as the big themes that I often hear when new clients are looking to join: Time & Money.
We live in a culture that places high value on outward appearances. It seems so easy to spend money on our hair, our clothes, our skin. We decorate our bodies with tattoos and piercings and make-up. Gyms and yoga studios’ memberships surge in January, exemplifying the value placed on getting in shape, physically. Most acknowledge these types of expenditures are money well spent and I agree, physical vitality and looking good feels good.
But, what about the inside? What about the soul? In yoga, we say to truly be in a state of wellness we must tend to the mind, body and soul (or spirit). We are fortunate to have organic foods, supplements, and other facets of healthy living at our fingertips; if we are willing, and so many of us are (myself included!), to pay the asking price. So here we are, eating healthy, looking good, with expensive haircuts & super cool body art, even $100+ yoga pants – yet why are so many of us still not at ease, at peace in our minds and hearts? We can be having a perfectly enjoyable morning and then bam! one negative comment from a friend or stranger, shifts our energy from comfort to discomfort, from ease to dis-ease, from feeling “good” to feeling “bad.”. We are so very tender emotionally. How is it then, that we can thicken our emotional skin? Beyond skincare products promising youth and radiance, how can we tap into the timelessness of inner radiance, peace of mind and well-being that lies within each of us, waiting to be awakened?
So much of my life’s journey up until now has been living in the question: How do I stay centered when it feels like the winds around me so easily seem to push me left and right? How do I reside in the clarity and certainty of my true heart, of knowing who I am, regardless of the actions or words of another? And, am I attached to this feeling of being at the mercy of the world around me or am I willing to invest time, energy and money so that I may dwell internally in an unshakable place of wellness, peace of mind and certainty about who I am. Am I willing to learn how to train my mind to value only loving thoughts? My answer to what may be the most important question of the souls human journey, is for sure – a mighty YES!
I hold the vision that the only answer, when we step out of fear and into our hearts, is a collective, resounding YES! I believe we all want to live in a place of physical, mental and spiritual wholeness. I also believe it is our birthright.
Recently, a “Yoga on the Mat” client asked to meet with me about The It’s Yoga International Coaching program, “Yoga off the Mat.” During our initial complimentary session, I shared with him our coaching model, as well as some of the benefits of engaging in this life affirming process. I shared that I have been committed to my own coaching mentorship for over 12 years. I also conveyed the progress, awareness, healing and transformation I have experienced as a direct result of my work with my life coach in sync with my Rocket® practice. Through my willingness to let go of my past thoughts and behaviors, in addition to a deep trust in my coach (Dorothy Divack), I can confidently say that I am at peace most of the time, that I feel certain of my purpose and aware of my connection to my Creator throughout my days and nights on planet Earth.
I can also say with confidence that it is only through my financial investment and personal commitment that I have reaped these and many other benefits. Afterall, finances simply represent energy. I would certainly invest the time and money all over again, and I continue to invest in this blessed relationship with yoga on and off the mat on a day to day basis. I see the value of this work for me and for so many others, my family, my clients, my students and my friends. This commitment to personal and spiritual growth is all that matters. When i do the work here, all the other pieces fall into place. Thus, I have come to see and live in the truth that Only Love is Real and I feel privileged and honored to share this truth with others.
Back to my client; he was very excited about the opportunity and potential to grow, and expressed interest in transforming several aspects of his life. First and foremost, he identified feeling held back by a myriad of “insecurities,” and, secondarily, acknowledged that he wants very much to excel professionally. Interestingly, what he also expressed was that, though confidence and success were paramount, he felt he could not rationalize the investments necessary to access these priorities. He wanted the transformation, yet wasn’t yet ready to invest the two things that would give him this profound life change: Time & Money. Another client shared with me her opinion recently, “Marie, you can’t be wealthy & healthy!” Well, that’s what we are out there to demonstrate is untrue. “Health is wealth,” as my friend Claudia likes to say, and health encompasses Spirit, Mind, Body – in that order.
Yoga – either on or off the mat – above all, tends to the soul. It may look initially like the practice, especially asana/postures, is all about the body. One only needs to peruse the beautiful bodies and movements of Instagrams yoga feeds to see this emphasis on the body as real.. After all, the transformation of the body is often the gateway to the deeper transformational aspects of yoga. It’s important to remember that what happens on the mat is practice for life. Can we breathe through the difficulties we face from moment to moment? Are we willing to stretch ourselves spiritually and emotionally, to apply what we have learned in our practice to our daily life? To invest in healing ourselves so that we may inspire those around us to heal themselves? Can we acknowledge and then dare to live in our full potential, thereby giving others permission and encouragement to do the same?
The practice of yoga is about awakening to the Truth of who you are, your highest potential, your birthright. We invest time and money in gyms, yoga studios, organic foods, skincare products, haircuts, clothing and the list goes on. Yet, many of us are still apprehensive to value the inner work it takes to explore our inherent potential, to dare to breathe through the fear and learn to stand on our hands, off the mat, to extract all the juicy lessons from life’s experiences, to forgive ourselves and others to live an impassioned life, at peace, focused, living in compassion and manifesting our potential. I feel incredibly grateful that I connected with my mentor 12 years ago, and that I trusted her to support my journey towards wholeness, that I was and continue to be willing to invest in the It’s Yoga Centers and Center of Excellence trained coaches that have dedicated their lives to embodying and embracing and enlightened & empowered thought system. It is with a grateful heart that I share the desire to support you on your journey to wholeness, to unlocking your hearts desires, and building the confidence to walk that path.
My Vision and the collective vision of all of us at It’s Yoga International, is to support human beings in stepping into their potential and this happens when we unlock our hearts most sacred desires and discover the value of our precious unique soul.
We are all familiar with thought patterns such as. “If I had more time (or money), I would do what I loved, or change this or that and then I would be happy and healthy.” Yoga invites us to shift to an acknowledgment of the truth, that we have the time and money for those things that we value, and that to value our soul is the single most important act of our lives. The bottom line is that all we all want and deserve to be at peace, and to be happy. We all have what it takes to achieve this. Peace and happiness is a choice. Are we willing to do the work that will allow us to welcome these divine gifts in all their radiant abundance, the gifts of our birthright? How and where will we invest our time and money in 2018 to bring about real and lasting change? If you are ready for this journey, know that it is my honor, and our function at It’s Yoga International – to support you both on and off the mat.
I want to acknowledge ALL of you for your willingness to be brave enough to create space to be the best version of yourself possible. It is truly a, calling, and an inspiration or me to continue this transformational service of supporting personal and spiritual development.
Yoga, on and off the mat, connects us with our soul’s journey to the truth. For our part, we must simply make the investments necessary and have faith – so that when we put in the time, energy, money, and peace of mind, unconditional love and happiness come knocking, we know how to open the door wide, and welcome the Light of our Souls’ true potential to shine in on us.
I am so looking forward to this upcoming year. I believe and hold the vision that this year will move humanity closer to our true nature, that one by one, we will choose to invest so that we may discover the value of our souls expression, on and off the mat, and from the inside out.
The Yoga room in San Francisco was really big. We used to call it Yankee Stadium for yogi’s.
It smelled like insence, sweat, and chilled foggy air. The ceilings were very high, and there were seven sky lights that lit the room with well, a shade of gray, if you will. It’s Yoga was a haven in the concrete jungle South of Market.
During my training, I remember the classes being full and fun. People waltzed through the doors at 4:20 each day – and I couldn’t understand how that was, doesn’t anyone work in San Francisco?
One class, I vividly remember this quote come from Larry’s mouth:
“You’re not your car, you’re not your job, your not your body, you are your breath.”
I am my breath? What does that mean?
Those early days of transformation were intense for me, I questioned everything, I looked for inconsistencies, and was trying to intellectualize everything I was learning. My ego was fighting for its life, and I was beginning to wonder why on earth I was listening to the “inner critic” in the first place. Surely, all this San Francisco talk is all hippie stuff, but something inside was really triggered, there was a flutter in my heart center that invited me to be open to the possibility, that maybe just maybe, there was truth in all this.
I am my breath. I am Spirit. I am the air, I am the unseen and the untouched, I am that which keeps me alive. I am that which is the intelligence that makes my heart beat without my asking it too. I didn’t make myself, and the Creator and the created are the same. So I must be that too, right?
And if that’s the case, then what about what I am “not.” If I’m not my car, my job or my body, then that must mean when I identify as those things, or have attachment around those things, I am not what I truly am.
I am my breath.
Gosh, most of my days and nights I spend time not then, as I am not, with my awareness focused on my body – what it looks like, feels like, what is happening in my “job” and I guess to a certain extent, my car too! Where am I going today?
Larry loved to say that there was no where to go, nothing to do, and no one to be. Just relax and breathe, and go with the flow.
I used to get so confused by that! I have lots of places to go, lots to do, and everyone to be. Relax and breathe? Go with the flow?
Yes, surrender, Marie. You will gain control when you let go, when you are guided, and allow Spirit (your breath) to lead the way. When you learn to listen to your inner teacher.
I used to sit in that room pretty much every morning, day and evening. If I want to, I can go there right now in my mind, and even smell that smell of It’s Yoga.
I am my breath.
So friends, if I am my breath, you are too. Notice when you are holding it, when you bend down to get something and you’re holding your breath, when you pick up the phone, and hold your breath, when you have to make a decision, and you hold your breath.
Then listen to the sound of your inner voice say, “BREATHE” Take a full one. Pause right there and then, and know, you are not that which you are holding your breath about, you are not your car, your job or your body. Slow down a moment, and realize, You, are your breath.
We enrolled our children, Ruby (3) and Adam (1), in the oldest Montessori school in our area this September. When we went to our visit during the summer, Ruby was enrolled in another “Montessori” school, however, we had started to realize that it may not be the most inspiring or consistent environment for her and as aligned to the Montessori system as the name would imply. We scheduled and met with an administration advisor who generously spent an hour with us discussing the method and philosophy of Dr. Maria Montessori, and offered us the privilege of observing the classrooms in action and speaking with teachers.
In the first 5 minutes, we knew that this was the real deal. The energy was peaceful, the teachers were bright, patient, pleasant, but even more important, the children were peaceful & kind, little masters welcoming our Ruby into the room. There was an energy of equality and respect in the air that I could literally reach out and touch. I informed our guide that Ruby was currently in a “Montessori” school but it certainly wasn’t the same experience and she said, well, this is the only accredited, authentic Montessori school in the area.
This fact statement rang a bell for me and Daniel. We locked eyes and knew instantly that this was the place for our children. We are all about authenticity. Say what you are and be what you say you are – Larry would say, practice what you teach, and teach what you practice.
This experience nurtured me big time, as we are again in the conversation with It’s Yoga® International and The Rocket® – around how to best serve the community while maintaining Larry’s Legacy, the authenticity of the It’s Yoga® System, and of course, the well known and much loved Rocket® Routines. Here’s my take away: the school that Ruby will be moving from, that says it is Montessori, only has a semblance of the “Montessori” method. You see, not all the teachers are certified from an accredited school, standards are not presented and met, and the facility does not meet the requirements to be a accredited on Montessori school. To be accredited Montessori takes a major commitment and full devotion to the Montessori method, and not everyone choices to go the distance – although many schools in the area call themselves Montessori, there is only one that embodies its genius 100%.
In terms of It’s Yoga, we see this often. It looks like the Rocket, sometimes it feels like it, but without the It’s Yoga accreditation, the standards and authenticity are absent, or let’s just say, there is more to be desired in the off the mat expression of The Rocket. I see it online – teachers teaching the “Rocket” and their language and energy is not aligned to the language of the Authentic self…its only an observation, and believe me, we want students who study The Rocket to get the experience of It’s Yoga that inspires the practice to be attainable and real.
As we move forward and continue educating, informing and inviting Rocket® practitioners and instructors to re-engage and fully step into accreditation and certification through It’s Yoga® International, we ask that you remember Larry’s quote, “It’s Yoga is the Montessori school for Yoga Instructors.” This primary education is essential, grounding, and designed to affirm in each person, the training tools/techniques, authenticity and generosity of Spirit that is essential to bring the planet to a higher vibration. Rocket® Instructors in the It’s Yoga® system and accreditation, have been trained in the highest level of education in the Rocket® available – not only in the physical aspects of the practice, but in the emotional, intellectual, and Spiritual aspects so that we are serving from a place of WHOLENESS.
Consider this: The Founder of It’s Yoga®, Larry Schultz, is the creator of The Rocket®, that is a Fact. Where else could you find his full Legacy and more importantly his intentions and vision for the Rocket carried on? It’s Yoga® International is 100% committed to maintaining his Living Legacy, and as I have been so blessed to experience recently, the difference is palpable. The purpose of accreditation is to be fully aligned to the Founders’ intentions, genius, and discoveries and the institutions that are in place after Founders have moved on – with the intention of preserving the methods to be passed on and utilized to the the fullest potential.
Our invitation? Go for the real deal. It may be more difficult at first, there may be additional costs, you may need to sit in the circle with us, but the bottom line is that if you want to experience the The Rocket in its essence, it is through an accredited It’s Yoga. This is not about a specific teacher, its about the System. And It’s Yoga® is the partner to The Rocket® that grounds it so that it can truly Soar. Like Montessori, “We believe that each person is unique and capable. We believe in nurturing the whole person by creating a community where the heart of the individual is as important as challenging the intellect.” Whole is the key word here – that’s the main reason we created 300/500 Hr. Programs in The Rocket® – without It’s Yoga the Rocket would become just another physical activity spinning around the universe aimlessly. After all, when students ask what is “The Rocket?” It’s only natural to reply, “It’s Yoga!”
Montessori philosophy and curriculum promotes an understanding and appreciation for the interconnectedness of all that exists and a consequent social policy that teaches we are stewards of the earth…Larry was so spot on to call It’s Yoga the comparable for yoga instructors….
Visit the program description page to see about becoming a registered member of It’s Yoga International – continue your learning, be humble, be open, and remember, you can’t DO yoga, it can DO you. We hold the vision that all who are teaching the Rocket and the It’s Yoga System in the world, will join us, after all, “Now is the time for Yoga.” Sutra1:1.
A curveball, in the It’s Yoga lingo, is anything you didn’t ask for, but got anyway, something you didn’t see coming.My first “curveball” that I remember being dubbed as such, was when I left San Francisco after my training, got in the car, arrived to the airport, and realized I had forgotten my phone and wallet in the car. I called It’s Yoga SF freaking out. Larry, who never answered the phone, answered the phone. When I told him what had happened he said, “Well, that’s a curveball, do you trust It’s Yoga?”
“Yes,” I said, “but I can’t get on the plane without my ID.”
He replied, “Take three breaths, then go back outside and I bet Wisler is there.”
As fate would have it, Wisler, Larry’s personal driver, realized I had left my belongings and was waiting for me just outside the door. He had already called Larry and said that if I reached him, that he’d wait by the entrance for me. And thus, began the many opportunities I would have to process and experience “curveballs,” and learn about “trusting It’s Yoga.”
What I learned?
That if it wasn’t for all these and many other curveballs, I wouldn’t know how to hit a ball.
I got a tumor in my hip at 19 and was guided towards It’s Yoga for healing on a deeper level. I would learn to take responsibility for that tumor during teacher training a few years later, when I learned (thank you Ashley Nunn for that presentation on Chakras) that hips are where we hold emotions and feelings of guilt about our sexuality. Interesting!!! Around 18-19 I was just coming into my sexuality and was judging myself SO fiercely about having “sex out of wedlock” —and liking it!!!! My negative thoughts were so unhealthy that I literally created a mass of energy in my hip. For sure I was going to be punished for this “sin” and thus, learned about the power of my own thoughts to do just that! But even what seemed like a “punishment” was a blessing and gift. I was going to soon learn to ultimately embody a whole new thought system – where punishment is impossible where Love is present (pre-sent).
I fell in love with an older man who taught me about yoga (union), love and life to the point that I became a Master directed to carry on his legacy & lineage. I followed my heart in the relationship despite the judgements, and got “barbequed” by how that decision was seemingly tearing my friends & family apart – which led Larry to introduce me to Dorothy Divack, my coach and mentor for over 12 years. She opened up a whole new thought system that encouraged me to own my truth and trust the process. That only Love is Real. That I am not responsible for everyone’s happiness. That it was actually egoic to think that I could make others happy. That I could have faith that everyone in my life and in the world had a path, and that God was with them every step of the way. My family learned acceptance and now we have all sorts of crazy beautiful Love happening all around.
I abandoned my career path and embraced anew lifestyle. Did not see that coming. I learned how to walk the walk and that sometimes I couldn’t be in two places at the same time. That commitment to my purpose in life would be a full time job. I learned how to lead international trainings with confidence, passion and expertise. I watched friends and colleagues make decisions that broke my heart, and practiced and learned about forgiveness and tolerance. I became a widow at 30 and met Daniel 3 months later. I miscarried more than I’d like to admit, and learned how to heal my relationship with mySelf, and now have two gorgeous angelic children from God.
Curveballs are the stuff we didn’t ask for, but got anyway. They make us stronger, they teach us how to shed the layers of our armor to get to the Truth of who we are and what we are here to experience – and ultimately to transcend. To learn that the thoughts we choose to value have a direct and real relationship with our bodies, and that in order to be truly healthy, and authentic, we need to heal our relationship to our Creator, and learn to Trust again.
Larry would say often that when we were “getting barbequed” or feeling afraid, we should ask for more. That transformation was happening, and that you can’t mess up. It’s all for learning. He was so right.
I am eternally grateful to the Weaver of this tapestry called Life, that brings together the good, the bad, the ugly, the sad, the disturbing, the unacceptable and the beautiful, in one big colorful quilt, to keep us warm, while leading us to realize that we are, indeed, “stronger than we think we are.”
Namaste, friends. You’ve got this. When a curveball comes your way, take three breaths, and Trust, it’s Yoga. If I can support you in any way, let me know, I am here – and it’s a privilege to serve you on your journey through curveballs and beyond. Let’s do this together.
It’s intelligence is beyond our understanding. It is only in our surrendering to It do we have any sense of knowing It. It’s truth lives deep in our Mind, and is untouched and unaffected by our disbelief. It continues radiating Its true Light, reminding us that we are a part of the Mystery. Our purpose is important, and we are worthy of being a part of It simply because it is our nature, instead of it being something we need to earn, It is there as a gift, speaking to who we really are, as a holy child of
That which create the sun and moon and stars and seas. Synchronicity, what we like to call “It’s Yoga Moments” happen all around each day, if we are willing to notice.
Today I woke up with my children, breakfast, packed lunches, dressed and out the door. Buckled the babes in, turned on the car and “Shakedown Street” by the Grateful Dead begins. Ruby says, “Mommy, is this your favorite song?” I said “yes, Ruby, it is one of my favorites.”
Every day since I was 14 I have been listening to the Grateful Dead. I remember the first time I listened to American Beauty. Their music is the vibe that I want to be on, and now that my children are also on the vibe, I feel the another layer of gratitude for the “Grateful Dead.”
When they named themselves this cryptic name, it was through one of the band members reading something and there was a phrase, “Grateful Dead” and they liked it. I found them confident and fearless to call themselves that. When I was teenager my mother told me they were evil, symbols of skulls and skeletons…I didn’t know about all that – I just liked the music, I felt like I remembered it somehow.
After I dropped my beautiful babes at school, I got back in the car to “Til the Morning Comes,” another one of my favorites, and a call from my dear friend Michele who was in Brighton UK at the new It’s Yoga Opening. She had planned to be there since July for another event, the studio was meant to be open in July, and all was in Divine Plan for them to all be in the same place at the same time, to celebrate the birth of this new Center.
She spoke to the Centers’ beauty, the flowers, the energy, the Love that is signature It’s Yoga. She said the Yogaman (Larry) was there, and I felt my heart expand inside my chest. There is still a core group of us, that are fully committed to It’s Yoga, to extending our love of the practice through with the system that Larry began in San Francisco. And although many have left, the ones who are here, and the new that come, remind me that the essence of It’s Yoga is still alive and thriving…and in the foggy town of Brighton, another Rocket takes off.
As I arrived at the It’s Yoga International Center here in Toledo, I looked at the pictures of Larry on the wall. What a mysterious man he was. I wanted to move the frames in front of me, like the old days when we practiced across from each other all those mornings. I felt his presence, the energy of the It’s Yoga Center in SF, and as I began to move, I was Grateful to the Dead.
To be “dead” means to have left this world, this body, for the next. To be at peace with the sequence of life, and death, whether I know it or understand it, or agree or disagree, means I am One with the Divine Mystery, and I trust that all is in Divine Right Order. I know that for me, and for those of us devoted to surrendering to the Divine Plan, that we will keep moving, gratefully, Til the Morning Comes.
Namaste friends, make it easy on yourself and surrender to the Divine Plan….
You may or may not know that I was raised in the Antiochian Orthodox Church. My family of origin is deeply rooted in this ancient tribe that ties itself back to the earliest of Christians. It is committed to its rituals, its legacy and its culture.
When I was in my late teens early twenties, I served at the “Antiochian Village” as a camp councilor – and one evening session the Metropolitan, kind of like our version of a Patriarch/Pope/High Priest was visiting – when he gave his sermon, he said being there was like an “explosion of Love.”
That phrase has stayed with me, and arises most often when I am with my family of origin and extended, international family. This past weekend we had a family wedding, and people literally joined from all over the world. It is as if they all just stop their lives, rearrange their schedules, pack their bags, and come to what we affectionately call, “Holy Toledo.” Somehow this place in the world, has become home to a large tribe of Lebanese peeps from the Bekka Valley.
I wonder often what would have happened if my father had gone to Chicago, LA or New York when he came to North America in the early 70s. He had come for school, and didn’t necessarily intend to remain, and then there is circumstances of living in this world that inspire different outcomes than we may have imagined. Nonetheless, he landed here in Toledo, Ohio, and about 100 others joined us this weekend, for an “explosion of Love.”
They all said, “yes” to Love. Maybe it made them uncomfortable, to not be in the church for the “sacrament of marriage.” Maybe the other side of the family had expectations about what they wanted to experience – but whatever they thought, or felt, they showed up, and said, “yes,” let’s celebrate Love. Let’s rearrange our lives, our minds, our feelings, and say “yes!” every opportunity we have.
Let’s say “yes” even when we know it will make others uncomfortable. Let’s say “yes” even when we feel afraid that we are making the wrong decision. Let’s say “yes” when we know in our heart that it is time to make a change. Love is gentle and kind, and in my experience, it also asks us to stretch, to break through the limits we place on ourselves. Love is also endless, open and accepting.
My husband took this picture of me by my dad’s 66 Cadillac. It was late in the night after the wedding, the children were asleep and we were having a little party ourselves. I am so grateful I said “yes” to him, to love, when it came knocking on my door in Stockholm only 2 months after Larry had passed. What if I had said “no” – people will talk (they did anyway), “no” I’m not ready – I am too sad, or “no” I’m afraid that others will think I didn’t love Larry. What if I said, “no” I don’t want to share this picture, it’s too revealing! Or whatever my inner critic wants to say….then we wouldn’t be having this conversation on, Love.
Love requires us to be brave. To step out of the box. To be confident. To be open to its gifts in packaging we may not have asked for. Saying “yes,” brings us many more gifts than we could ever see with the body’s eyes. Dad said “yes” to Toledo, and a beautiful life unfolded, family said “yes” to travel and bring the love of family and culture together at the same place and the same time, I said “yes” to Love again, and became a mother among a multitude of other blessings – and you say “yes” to love everyday you decide to smile at someone on the street as your brother and friend.
Love will lead us to the places we want to go – even if we don’t have a 66 Cadillac to drive us, Love knows the way, all we have to do, is say “yes” sit back, and enjoy the ride. Let’s trust Love, it is indeed intelligent and has a Master plan, dear friends. Say “yes” as much as you can, and experience daily, “explosions of Love.”