Rock and Roll Yogi

sonic wisdom, stories, sojourns from an artist rocker writer

Archive for the tag “Union Arts Center”

When The Tree of Life Falls on Your Head: Sandy 2012

Dear Readers:

My last entry ended with a photograph of a giant drippy nostril.  I was readying to write about the silliness and the challenge of teaching and doing yoga with a cold during my “7 Days and Nights in Yoga Land” explorations.

Alas, as fate would have it, Super Storm Sandy had something else in mind:

Tree On House 2

And this. Sigh.

Tree on house-South

And this?! Whaat?

This Was My Desk

That tree is hovering where I sat every morning.  Musing about dripping noses and RRY-isms.  FB-ing. Organizing. Working. Archiving. Creating Calm in a Chaotic World.  My desk – made of solid wood – is no where to be found.  It has vanished into dumpster food.  Ironically, just prior to the drippy nose entry, I wrote about the various mud piles and trenches and other uglies of our yard project getting in the way of my Enlightenment.  I think someone or something wanted to drive a point home – All Things Are Temporary.


My archives, lyrics, cds, dvs, tapes – “Saved” from the other room, pre storm.  That didn’t work so well because the tree decided to gauge a hole through 3 rooms.

Skylight Storm

The cats enjoyed this hole in the ceiling.  It allowed them easy access to the outside, where they climbed the tree all day long and perched on branches.  I think they thought this was the best thing that ever happened to them.

KitchenStorm 2

When the 90′ tall, 100 year-old Oak Tree fell, I was standing in front of the stove, mom was next to the breakfast bar, and Ira was in front of the sink.  We’re still not quite sure why Ira wasn’t impaled by that branch sticking through the wall over the sink.  Ceiling dry wall and/or a section of a large branch hit me hard on the head, as I fell to the floor, and Ira was badly bruised (we found out later) in several places on his torso. We both had minor scratches and cuts.  Just in case, we took a harrowing midst of the storm trip to the (thankfully) nearby Nyack Hospital.  First responders led us through our neighbor’s yard under huge fallen trees, and in insanely whipping winds.  It was terrifying being out in the thick of it.  But we made it.

Hospital hand

As Ira waited with me to get a CAT scan, we met members of another family from nearby Pearl River, who also had a tree fall on them while they were all watching TV in their living room.  They were not so lucky.  Their father died from his injuries and the mother and sister were seriously injured.  Ira and I looked at one another in that moment with tears in our eyes.  I knew then that we would be OK.  No matter what was in front of us, we had one another.  And Mom.

Smiling Buddha beacon of light that she is.  She was miraculously unharmed.  Not even a scratch.

Mom and Nik Storm Pic

That’s my brother Nik with her at her home in Palisades, NY during the ensuing week or so of no power.

So in summary.  When literally the ceiling falls on your head – and  your family – causing you to hug the floor and close your eyes – and a giant Oak Tree branch is perilously close to where your beloved was just standing, let’s just say the old adage of “gaining a new perspective” has never seemed less cliche and more real.

This is only the beginning of many entries devoted to this incident, my resulting state of mind, and all the related adventures and challenges.  I hope you’ll stay tuned in to this journey.

Not only will I be coming back to my yoga and meditation practice and study with new energy (Just started a Meditation Teacher training in NYC at Integral Yoga Institute with Cyndi Lee), but we just secured the contractor for all the repairs including a kitchen gut and total reno.  I can’t wait to keep you posted on everything mind, body and design. I may even have some video footage of demo and rebuild (RRY-TV exclusives!)  Watch out HGTV!. 😉

In the mean time-check this out:  I’ll be debuting my first Yoga/Arts Workshop at the glorious new Community/Arts/Yoga gathering space, Union Center Arts in Sparkill, NY.  Saturday January 26th 2-4pm, in the beautiful 2nd Floor Quincy Hall:

Quincy Hall-jpeg

Ahhhh….Doesn’t just looking at that wide open space make you breathe a little deeper and feel inspired?

Creativity Flow Workshop 1/26/13, 2-4pm, Only $10!

Re-Ignite Your Creative Spark! FB Event Invite

7 Days and Nights in Yoga Land: Put Your Hands On Me


Plus other, less easily sourced, in-pain, hot spots along my left side (neck, shoulder, arm).  Slept funny?  Slept not enough?  Too much stressing about the next blog post? Too much rock and roll fun with AH and his brother visiting on the weekend (i.e.: Whiskey Shots, Beer, Bar Crawl, Steak…)?  Well, no matter, the reason.  It’s here.  And I’m Yoga-Ing anyway.

Luckily for me, this week’s classes so far all seem to have one thing in common:  Hands-On-Assists.  Oh happy me. Bring it on.  I should really make and wear a t-shirt to class that says “Put Your Hands on Me”.

Monday’s class was a Gentle Yoga class taught by one of Birchwood Center’s directors, Betsy Ceva.  Class was packed and I found a mat way in the back so that my slightly pained squirming about wouldn’t bother anyone.  Little did I know that I’d stumbled into one of the Gentle Yoga Immersion Training for Teachers practice sessions.  There were two Yogis walking around giving assists, and I knew personally one of them – Jen Mayer – whose awesome gentle classes I’d taken regularly  back in 2010, and who was my mentor during my own Teacher Training at Birchwood Center in 2010-2011.

Jen and the other lovely Yogi must have known something was up with me, because there were various pairs of hands descending on me throughout class.  Perhaps a new T-Shirt needs to be considered.

My eyes closed, suddenly gentle palms would professionally urge my hips back towards my heels in child’s pose and adjust my shoulder and leg in my supine twist.  OH Thank You.  And of course, they asked me at first, whether this was “OK” for them to do, as all yoga teachers should do before giving touch assists.

Coming out of Savasana, I wasn’t cured, but I felt good about showing up, practicing and breathing through my discomfort.  Like I said in my Intro Post, sometimes you just gotta do it anyway, even when you are not inspired, or you are crazy busy, or in my case, all of the above, plus feeling kinda lousy in my own body.

On Tuesday morning, I was looking forward to teaching my class at Birchwood, and then hopping over to Sparkill’s new Union Arts Center for friend and fellow Birchwood Graduate, Suzanne’s Candlelight Yoga class.

Yet, as fate would have it, by that afternoon, I had the sniffles.  As I prepared for my class, each Sun Breath and Uttansana (Forward Standing Bend) brought with it Downward Dripping Nose.

What Brilliant Yogic Wisdom did I gleam from this unfortunate turn of events?  You’ll just have to wait for the next installment…

When Ego Gets a little Crazy, Reach Beyond The Self – Or,

…How to Play Music in the Dark, Tune a Broken Guitar in front of a large crowd, and Be OK with Other Major and Minor Technical Mishaps…

Ahhhhhh.  Can we all breathe a collective sigh of _____________?!  Yes.  Let it go people.

Summer is winding down.  September is here.

Its That Feeling of – “Uh, oh, Its time for me to really (Insert your Goal Chart/Vision Board, or List of Things to Get Done, or Pile of Bills, Here).”  Here.  How on earth did we get Here?!  Summer flew by.  And man have I been flying every which way.

I’m trying to be oh so Cool and Grounded about it all. But lately, it’s been “One of those weeks” – Dare I say, one of those Summers.  A whole lotta work, rallying, family obligations, running around, practicing, writing, cleaning, teaching, animal tending, fundraising, marketing, commuting.  Bickering with AH (Almost Husband) on the State of Things House. Lots of things I love, Yes. But Lots of Busy-ness to make it Manifest. It’s the nature of work.  Even partying has become a little tiring.  I LOVE connecting and meeting new folks, but when my own inner well is down to a few droplets, I need a vacation from it all.  But that’s not been reality.  So I’m pushing through.

This push through anyway thing has unfortunately (and naturally) gotten me a little out of whack.

Ego -The thing that has nothing to do with pure Katie (Insert Your Name Here)-ness – has gotten the better of me this week.  She just won’t leave me alone, just won’t let me be.

She’s become a strange, mean little cartoonish creature following me around from room to room, gig to gig, yoga pose to yoga pose.  She says:

“Haha!, what’s up with those extreme dust bunnies in the bedroom messing with The Romance and Love Feng Shui, mingling with Large Dog hairs and Cat hairs into a Super Nova Power Allergen Ball of Hell?  Get with the Cleaning Program Now or Forever be Blocked by Furry Anti-Chi Balls”.  Sigh.  Vacuuming has seen better days.


“Yogi Chick, get on the mat and breathe.  Stop all this Life Stuff.  You need your Yoga, and your Yoga needs you.  Down Dog is waiting.”  But then when I get there, my body hurts, my pains and aches start screaming.  “Haha!” says EvilEgoElevitch – “You are being punished for lack of Practice!  How dare you Abandon Yourself like this!”  So much for Yoga being a path to happiness.


“Girl, what is UP with your hands flopping all over the guitar neck like you’ve never played a Chord in your Life?!  Get it Together!  What are you – A Beginner?! I mean, ALL THOSE YEARS OF VOICE LESSONS, and you’ve got weird posture and a frog in your throat, those high notes have seen better days.”  The Triple E has a way with me sometimes. I really hope my audiences this week didn’t hear that one as I humbly worked my way through songs in the dark.

The Darkness.  Well, that’s a loaded term.  We’ve all been there in some way or another. There will always be more to say on this.

But actually, this week I really did play, sing and try to connect to my audience in the dark.

The venue was outdoors (the lovely Art Café in Nyack, NY), and although there were petite lanterns peppered about, I found myself not really seeing my sheet music, my lyrics, and, well, my hands on my guitar.  Nor could I see my lovely fans.  And I wondered: Could they see me?  We were swimming in sound in the dark.  And it appears I was the one creating the sound.  Although at times, I wasn’t even sure about that.

The week leading up to this gig I had had a vision of an outdoor silken summer night of easy breezy communing under the full moon with friends and fans.  Instead, time slogged by as if I was sorta not there.  Cuz I wanted it to feel like something I’d envisioned. Not something that it was. I wanted out of reality.  Tsk, tsk, Katie. Reality. This. Is all there Is.

My intention as always, was to connect.  Yet, although I was singing out into the open air under the stars, within my own heart, I was unraveling with Mind.  Tension.  Disconnect.

Those of you who are performers or teachers might know this moment – when the inner and the outer just won’t match no matter how hard we try.  It’s a hard thing to explain to non-performers.  Because maybe to them, things seemed a little off, but still “good”, “fun”, “fine”.

To us, we are lost in some limbo of – “Why couldn’t I just get in the flow?”.

And those moments are magic.  I will be sharing some of those moments in this blog too in future posts…2012 brought me many of those moments thankfully.  And I am truly grateful when it does happen.

I try to help my students find this flow.  I use imagery, music, pacing, movement.  Breath.  But ultimately, there’s some crazy letting go that must happen in order for it to all come together.  And I can’t make you get there.  Nor, can I make myself.

Getting there requires – even demands – no effort at all.  Huh? So how do I “DO” that!?

Time to face off with that Ego.  That “to do” should be first on that list as we enter into even busier times this fall.

Creepy Ego Creatures exist simply to keep us from that flowing joy that we feel when we know we are in the zone.

Hear her out, be amused, even angered by her insistence, but then freakin’ let that stuff go.  It does not have to win.

Easier said than done, I know people.  This is an on-going process, not a step 1-2-3 simple check it off your list kind of task.  It takes practice.

What has helped me this Summer and now, this September, to ultimately stay out of my tension, my EEE, and into my flow, is to actually get out of my Self Focus altogether.  As AH gently reminds: Katie, you are a little TOO self aware, sometimes.

So what do we do?

Pay it forward.  Do Unto Others.  Help Others Find their Flow.  Leave your own mind and take action.  Bring that intention of connection and push outwards into the space around you, feeling that in whatever you do.  Maybe it’s noticing a neighbor in need, and taking action.  AH spent his Labor Day holiday helping Chad and family re-grade their driveway.  AH is more of a Yogi than he realizes.

Or, notice and help an older person at the store, open a door, smile, engage from a heartfelt place.  It doesn’t take much to get outside of our selves and back into that flow by connecting to others.

I jump started this way of being yesterday by performing at a fundraiser at the wonderful new Union Arts Center in Sparkill, NY to help raise $ for Yoga Across America – an organization that brings yoga to veterans for healing and stress reduction.  Wow. You will hear more on this topic as the blog progresses this year.

Once I started my set, my voice lifted with emotion as I sang a few songs about my Dad who was a WWII Vet. I felt connected again to my music and sound.  I could see folks nodding their heads and tapping their feet.  I think I’m onto something a little voice murmured as I continued just flowing.

Somehow I got there, even though, a few minutes before, I stood talking to the crowd trying to tune a guitar that has finally reached a point of non-tuning.  She needs a total re-string, neck adjustment. Ugh, not now, I thought as I muttered, sputtered, apologized, as I turned knobs and adjusted capos.  I was flustered, but all I needed was just enough alignment to get me to where I knew I could go.  Finally, although the crowd had lost hope and began distractedly chatting, my guitar cooperated.  Was this the perfect, seamless, professional introduction I had in mind?  No.

Did I overcome that moment and trust the next moment was a new reality?  Yes.

I still am kicking myself a little for not taking better care of my guitar, but in the end, despite all those visible and invisible technical gaffs firing off in my brain, trying to keep me from joy and flow, I salvaged enough wisdom and courage to allow my voice to soar out into the open room and potentially touch someone else in need of soothing.

For that lesson, I am grateful.  Namaste.

Please read more about my Pay It Forward Campaign to help another Rock and Roll Yogi like me realize her dreams of becoming a Yoga Teacher – “Get Shelley To Yoga School” on, a fundraising collaboration between and Shelley Nicole Jefferson, reiki healer, band leader, musician and aspiring yogi.

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