Thursday, August 28, 2008

Pre-Labor Day HuffPO - You & Work - ENJOY!

Click here! I wanted to call this post"Life Is a Tab of Acid" in homage to Ram Dass, but the PR divinity decided those days have passed. Check it out - just in time for a long, Labor Day weekend, so please forward and comment!

Interestingly, our summons earlier this week for Labor Day reading suggestions with yogic philosophy mostly resulted in books drawing from Buddhist philosophy. This may be due to the fact that the Buddhists have been much more prolific in commenting actively on day to day challenges of life in a modern context while yoga seems to surface more as a physical practice than the operational philosophy it was designed as.
Granted, Gautama Buddha was raised Hindu so the concepts are very aligned in many ways. It all works, no pun intended, but we're doing our best to create a space for those beyond the list of usual suspects. After all, given the number of Yogis who go to work, think about work, and even coach, facilitate, consult and "guru" in organizations, and the fact that yoga is a set of practices to support us IN LIFE, where the heck are all the yogis? C'mon yogis - put your voices out there!

Here's the list we came up with - doing our best to keep it yogic, you'll see one exception.

1. The Highest Goal - Michael Ray
2. Creativity In Business - Michael Ray
3. The Bhaghavad Gita - you can get this online for free, just Google it. Sally Kempton suggests the Eknath Esarwan translation for language.
4. Management By Consciousness - Sri Aurobindo Society, their .org should have sources for it
5. Yoga Nidra - Swami Satyananda Saraswati. This is a GREAT way to achieve meditative clarity and reenergize in the midst of midday monkeymind.
6. Quiet Leadership - David Rock. I don't know if David Rock practices yoga, but his explanations of brain patterns using laymans terms for scientific insights are a modern explanation of the Vrittis.
7. The Office Sutras - Marcia Menter
8. Yoga For Suits - Edward Vilga. Basic stretches you probably know but always forget to do. Stay tuned as we'll be debuting the media downloads version of this under the name Digital Guru on our website next month.
9. Ten Zen Seconds - this came from my brilliant friend, writer Martha Garvey. It's written by Eric Maisel who I certified as a creativity coach with - yes, Buddhist, but with two personal connections we had to let it in the list.
10. Paths To God - Ram Dass. From a Harvard/Stanford professor who delved into psychedelics to learn about consciousness and landed solidly in the practice of yoga, this is a transcription of a course he taught one summer at Naropa Institute. Supposedly the course was on the Bhagavad Gita, but the main take away I found is the relationship between the heart and the intellect.
Always looking for more - feel free to send anytime and I'll help spread the word.
Now, how about MOVIES??? Got any movies you particularly like to raise insight into work/self? Again, send me your faves and if you get me your address, I'll send you a little blue balance stone - they rock!

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Balancing Action

Just a few minutes ago I sat down to do crank out some ideas for my blog. Let's be clear about the situation: here I am, Balance Integration founder, and after a nice weekend in the mountains with family, the sun is setting over beautiful Chelsea NYC, and at my feet is a sweet puppy I KNOW would love a walk - what am I doing? About to crank out ideas for my BLOG?????

Luckily our new branding gimmies came last week and I gotta say, these little blue glass stone balance reminders actually WORK! With a big bowl of them strategically placed by my laptop, one caught my eye and reminded me to be conscious of my choices and the actions I take and to do so in this very moment.

So damming the idea vesuvius from erupting into a molten mass of hours immersed in writing, I'm going to ask a question instead: what books do you LOVE that relate work to yoga or apply the concepts of the practice of yoga to the workplace? I have a couple in mind - so in honor of Labor Day quickly approaching I can't think of a cooler list of books to take to the 'zon or in prep for the long weekend than ones that reinforce yoga as a householder (ie. regular folks like you and me) practice and everyday ticket to blissful being.

Send me your suggestions and if you take a moment to email me your name/address, I'll send you one of these blue balance stones with a big huge karmic hug sprinkled in for good measure.

You never know - strategically placed it could just save you from a beautiful night lost in the cool glow of pixelated images.

With that, I'm OFF!

Thursday, August 21, 2008

The Belly of Balance

People always ask how we keep the good vibe going, how we manage to connect with such a broad spectrum of clients, students and workshop participants, and how we find the time to really be what we teach others. Not a secret, nothing serves the ability to connect and feel good and respect priorities quite so much as serving others.
Suann Polverari, our director of client relationships in NY shimmies the talk by teaching bellydancing to physically impaired women in her own time outside of her work with Balance...and though it is of her own choice and has nothing to do with our work in corporations, I can't think of a better portrayal of the values we strive to represent.

Rockin' the OM on NPR

Our whip smart corporate yogini and Director of Programs Sonia Wilczewski in Miami gave me the heads up on this great story that was featured on NPR.

The story explains the science of why breath and meditation techniques WORK in managing stress related dysfunctions and diseases - even for the doubters among us.


Lesson from the Mat - Falling Free

A lesson from practicing yoga: when people fall or fail, they smile. Really. In seven years as a teacher, with very few exceptions the moments of greatest levity and human playfulness in practice follow those in which a difficult pose is suggested and people FAIL to accomplish them.

Forearm stand, scorpion, kundiniasana, astavakrasana, handstand without the wall, bird of paradise, vishvamitrasana, tripod headstand. Calling the names of these positions has the power to furrow brows and harden the breathing of even hearty practitioners. More timid yogins may find an urgent need for the bathroom as excuse to slip from the room and flee their knee-jerk fear response.
Here's the secret I've discovered: in attempting the impossible it is those who try but fail that convey pleasure, humility and even a sense of renewal - a sense of YOGA or union with the moment, themselves and life itself. Those who actually somewhat achieve the shape tend to emerge with fretful expressions perhaps questioning their performance, resisting the natural urge to celebrate, or worrying if they will ever get into the shape again.
That picture above of me frowning in an "okay" version of astavakrasana is a great example of joyless, critical execution, ie. asana performed as an exacting technician, devoid of the experiential fruit of the practice of yoga. In comparing the faces and energetic bearing of those who give these more challenging shapes a try and find themselves humbled by failure to those who actually come close to achieving them, there's no second guessing the instances where grace is present and where grace has been evicted by the critic. Let's face it - if we're moving through what we do totally in our heads, locked in constant analysis, chances are we're not fully present or enjoying it much.

As a lesson from the mat, this suggests that ALLOWING oneself to humbly try the "impossible" and fail (gracefully or not) is the renewing or regenerating act. That you are not done evolving or acquiring new skills allows you to be small and humble in such a way that allows for your greatness to emerge. Be radical. Know you do not and cannot possibly have all the answers. Let yourself off the hook from pretending as much. The permission you give yourself to be a student and not be perfect requires your acceptance that there is growth at hand, and invites you to consider all the wonderful possibilities growth may bring. It reorients us towards the experience of the attempt rather than the evaluation of the outcome.
Where do you need to give yourself a little freedom to fall?

Monday, August 18, 2008


Check out our appearance commenting on Corporate Yoga on CNBC!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Corporate Yogis UNITE! - in the flesh!

Hey there corporate yogis - if you've got a passion to get a little more OM into the office by teaching yoga in corporations, come check out our Corporate Yoga Teacher Training at Omega next month! Check out
and come join us for autumn leaves, yoga, passion for work, and lots of like minded folks! We can't wait!

Monday, August 11, 2008


That impossible cuteness above - it's Ruby, my new puppy. The whole rearranging of life thing is true, in case you're wondering. Lamentation of such rearranging doesn't seem to be an issue, although I am really eager to be done with Nature's Miracle - every puppy owner's first line of defence against accidents. A month into this, it's been a great practice is to allow "dog culture" to provide a couple worklife lessons.

1. "Friendly?" This is the first word exchanged between two people walking dogs on the streets of NYC. This one-word indicator tells us how close to pass, if we should linger or if we should hurry by. Humbled by the fact that dogs are just as they are and efforts at changing their personality is a total waste of energy, you become very accepting and at one with the reality that there are friendly dogs and their are unfriendly dogs. It's not personal. There are dogs who love dogs, and dogs who love people and dogs, and dogs who seem to love no one at all. And still, there they go down the sidewalk. With the human at the other end of the leash, or any other human for that matter, how liberating that wisdom.

2. Even for dogs, focus matters. Currently enjoying some of her cutest moments, getting her to do what she needs to do outside is really hard with passersby oohing and aahing. Sound like sour grapes? Try planning an hour extra prep time before a long awaited pitch meeting at Yahoo to get a quiet moment alone on the sidewalk for her to pee. Makes me not so yogic, and reminds me of working under deadline to get something done only to be interrupted incessantly at work. Also calls to mind studies done by Kings College in London where IQ performance declined by 10 points with interruptions.

3. Bodily functions require attention. Hers result in little spots on the floor if not attended to. This one may not make sense to you, guys, but female incontinence is at an all time high specifically because of what great multitaskers we are. Women tend to ignore the need to pee for hours on end. Because of this, companies like Johnson & Johnson have entire divisions related to developing devices for women to re-learn bladder control because the truth of the matter is, if you abuse it, you lose it. Ladies, have a pitstop.

4. Food is fuel. Measuring food means having the right amount of food. With all due respect to the awe-inspiring practices of culinary artistry, the purpose of food is to fuel our bodies, nothing more. You see lots of fat dachsunds out there so the vet told us immediately that we have to measure her food and feed her three times a day and give her lots of exercise. Funny, that's EXACTLY what the nutritionist told me. Got the 10lb. cubicle or corner office spread? Go back to a utilitarian look at food. And just a bonus: a couple short walks every day has already made me feel lighter and even more connected to nature and my neighborhood.

5. Coercion brings compliance, enthusiasm brings engagement. I can't make this dog do anything. Try making her walk when she doesn't want to - I'm the jerk dragging the cute little doggy down the sidewalk. Sure, I can lock her in her cage, but the only way I'll teach her to walk when I want her to, stop when I need her to, or void her bladder when the time is right for me is if I study her actions and reactions and encourage the ones that are in line with my wishes. And oh, to respond to the "digging in heels"? Enthusiasm and delight for walking forward are the only thing that will get her moving.

The last lesson is accepting what IS. In the picture, Ruby is standing under the desk of the founder of Balance Integration (me) at our world headquarters in NYC. A plush executive suite, painstakingly renovated with a Hermann-Miller chair, some plants, bookshelves and internet access from the dining room it was six years ago, just when I think she's fast asleep and won't make a peep, every so often mid-conference call she'll lift her head and chime in with an idea or two. The first time it happened, I wanted to die. On the phone with the VP of Marketing of one of our client companies, pitching a Business Creativity initiative for her entire team, the voice of judgement inside of me reared up, my heart pounding. The VP, Michelle's delighted response: "Is that a PUPPY?", reinforcing my belief that for Balance to be what it stands for, we have to work with people whose outer corporate rock star is enhanced by their inner humanity.

So yes, we are moving forward with Michelle, and yes, we are putting Ruby on our team as Director of Friendly Relations.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

In The Arena

Doesn't it seem like the messages we get are impeccably timed? Like the whispers and shouts of the world around us have somehow magically set themselves to exactly the wisdom we most need to listen to?

Lately I've heard and read many friends express the need to "get through it" - whatever "it" is for each of us. Jen Groover referenced this in her Ladies Who Launch profile yesterday. My Krishna Cab driver nudged me with his playful approach in that same direction. Wandering through LinkedIn this morning, I noticed that my old boss' boss, Fernando Espuelas of StarMedia and now VOY, seems to look to this form of counsel to keep himself going. Given his tenacity through brilliant venture to debacle and now back to brilliant venture, no doubt he is.

Teddy Roosevelt said this:

“I wish to preach, not the doctrine of ignoble ease, but the doctrine of the strenuous life, the life of toil and effort, of labor and strife; to preach the highest form of success which comes, not to the man who desires mere easy peace, but to the man who does not shrink from danger, from hardship, or from bitter toil, and who out of these wins the splendid ultimate triumph...It is not the critic who counts, not the man who points out how the strong man stumbled or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena; whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who errs and comes short again…who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, and spends himself in a worthy cause; who at least knows in the end the triumph of high achievement; and who, at worst, if he fails, at least fails while doing greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat.”

Keepin' on keepin' on isn't glamorous, fer sure. And what a powerful truth to remember. Be it reading words of wisdom from the greats or simply watching my own friends like Fernando, Jen or Beth Schoenfeldt - alternately revelling in their success as readily as I take counsel from observing their process of lifting themselves up again and again and again, it becomes easier to realize that my current "it's" are okay. That it's completely okay to not know what to do next. That it's completely okay that in running Balance Integration I am challenged to the core by staff, sales, training, finances, growth. That it's okay to not be sure how things are going to unfold. That it's okay to have my own quiet moments where in spite of my conviction that yoga-based tools have a huge contribution to make to the quality of our lives at work and the quality of our work - I feel in my core what Gandhi said about being first ignored/ridiculed/fought and truly praying through doubt to win. That all the things that make my heart tremble with fear and my mind seek ways to find new courage are nothing but reminders that I am in the arena, getting dirty and sweaty, and earning my way to the next round of play.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Krishna Cab

Practicing inspiration everywhere - today offered a "Life IS the Baghavad Gita " moment. Rushing to a meeting at Sony, I told my cab driver I was late. He lamented the same.

I said , "What are you late for - shift change?"

"No," he replied. "I gotta go fight a ticket."

"Oh, I'm sorry to hear that", I said, thinking about how his job depends on his ability to drive.

He said, "Don't be sorry, it's just PLAYING THE GAME. You gotta just love playing the game."

Right on, brother. I thought about all the little games at play in my life, and suddenly none of them seemed so onerous, nor were their outcomes so meaningful. Carrying a notion of playing them feels so much better than the vauge sense of getting played.