Morning Sadhana

My name is Kelly. I am 45 years old.Positive Vibes

That is a difficult thing for me to say. I am not ashamed to be 45. In fact, I feel a little bit of wonder that I’ve made it this far and that the things I did in my 20s feel like another lifetime away from me now. But still a lifetime to love and learn from those friends whom I may not see anymore. Southwest Virginia is a long way from Washington DC, let me tell you.

My spiritual name is Kalpana Devi, the “goddess of creative imagination.” And I do not feel 45.

Nobody calls me by that name anymore, but it was given to me by one of my first meditation teachers. Another friend whom I do not see anymore, but I hear she is happy and healthy and with family in her home country of Norway.

Sometimes I feel much older than 45, like when mysterious aches or pains arise in my body of which I may or may not know the origin. In my mind though, I pretty much always feel younger, like when a ray of sunshine breaks through the clouds and I want to go out and turn cartwheels in the yard. Coincidentally it has been raining for something like 17 out of 20 days this month.

In the present, my body is going through changes and has been for a few years now if I am being honest (which I am), and some days it really affects my mind too. Some days my mind indulges in that downward spiral of I am not worthy or I am not good enough, and I wonder where those thoughts are coming from. A lifetime of meditation and yoga practice has made me self-aware enough to recognize that I am more than my thoughts, and it has given me techniques to overcome that negativity. But due to these changes in my body and emotion, I am now more than ever so grateful for having the foundation of these practices.

Many people refer to it as simply “yoga.” However, these practices are so much deeper than the physical postures. A better term is really sadhana. Sadhana literally means practice and one who practices is a sadhaka. This means not just yoga postures, but the breath work, contemplation, meditation, concentration, and even daily routines that a sadhaka maintains, like taking food, waking and sleeping, the list goes on. When yoga is in your blood, that desire for relationship with the higher self is continuous –no longer a seeker, but really existing in seeing. I left the “k” out of “seek” on purpose.

Doesn’t mean daily life challenges disappear. In fact, due to being 45 as stated above, there many times seem to be more challenges physically, more mental stresses and stressors, more ways to have to be serious rather than light-hearted. Then, it all comes back to the practices. A few months ago, I set a conscious intention to do more yoga. Yoga Teacher, heal thyself, I said. And whatdoyouknow these practices, this sadhana actually works! Physically I am feeling stronger and there are less of those negative-spirally thoughts floating around in my head. Once in a while, I actually feel spontaneous joy. And this even happens while I’m “working” teaching classes. Some might say it is because I am teaching classes. My students are really the best, I am so proud of them for the attention they bring to their practice every week. That is something that makes me truly happy.

So, I thought I would let you in on my morning practice routine involving both yogic and ayurvedic habits. When I wake up, bathroom calls. Brush my teeth, scrape my tongue. Then I go in and sit for meditation, 30 minutes or more if I have time. I subscribe to what the Chopra Center calls RPM: rise, pee, meditate.

Next, two mugs of warm-to-hot water with 1/8 t of turmeric, a few shakes of black pepper, and a squeeze of lime in the first one. Then, yoga! At least 30 minutes of yoga, but if I only have 5 minutes, I still do 5 minutes worth. When I jump in the shower, I start with oil pulling with coconut oil, which is a mouth gargle instead of mouthwash, so for that 10-20 minutes it takes, I’m in the shower and not talking to anyone anyway. If I have time, dry brushing before showering stimulates the lymphatic system and makes my skin feel good. Moisturizing with a fine sheen of sesame oil afterward keeps my skin soft.

That may sound like a lot, but most items take only a few seconds. I would make meditation and yoga a little longer than that however. Due to being 45, this routine has become extra-special-important and I really miss it when it’s not there. Set an intention to take care of yourself.

What do you know, yoga actually works.


Lifting the Veil 3

This morning my mantra was
like water to a thirsty soul.
There was no question
I needed my cushion.
Wanted it
Loved it
It was a compulsion as easy as
a mountain stream flows to the sea.
No effort, only lightness
Each breath elixir
Each moment a chance to awaken
Each repetition a soft calling
To the one, the many.

Ever since my return from India
I’ve been highly inspired to maintain
Her attitude,
Things will happen when they happen.
It is so easy to default to the opposite
To push things, force things, rush things
Why? Just because
But reality is in the moment
The precious moment the sun rises
and the light touches your face.
Ease is there for the receptive taking,
Things will happen when they happen.

I am absorbed in love.

Yoga Center of Columbia India Trip 2016

I have an obsession with India. I admit it. The colors, the sights, the smells, the people. So naturally I was thrilled to have this opportunity to assist in turning others on to my own addiction. From March 1-15, Rimmi Singh and I led a group of intrepid travelers half-way around the world to this timeless place that is the Indian subcontinent. We visited Delhi, Agra, Jaipur, these three known as the Golden Triangle, and then we went to Amritsar and Dharmsala. Each place had its own special personality, its own special offering for the world and us. And did I mention the food? Superb. Here are a few photos from Delhi.

sunrise in delhi

first morning yoga


Agra Fort

Naked Monk Jain temple

Jammu Masjid gate

Jammu Masjid

Market outside Jammu Masjid, Delhi

Traffic Jam

two wheeled transport

Bamboo Flute in Taj Hotel

Bahai Temple Delhi

And a few photos at the Taj Mahal and Red Fort in Agra and at the Amber Fort and City Palace in Jaipur.


Tree Taj

Taj detail

Taj Pooch

Taj from Gate

Agra Fort

Ladies Quarters, Agra Fort

Cuspid Arch

Taj from Agra Fort with Awilda


Detail of Agra Fort

Detail of Agra Fort 2


Three Ganeshas

Krishna Temple with Michael

Stained glass


Ride to Amber Fort

Elephant back

Inside the City Palace, Jaipur

The Peacock Gate, City Palace

Next up, Amritsar, home of the Golden Temple, which we saw pre-dawn for a prakash ceremony and then returned midday. It was a new moon the day we visited, a holiday for the local villages, so the temple was packed.

Prakash Seva ceremony, predawn




Group at Golden Temple

Version 2

Dharamsala, the exiled home of Dalai Lama. We arrived on March 10. Every March 10 there is a march for Tibetan freedom. So many monks, so many Tibet flags. And, the Netherlands cricket team staying in our hotel, Fortune Moksha.

View from Morning Yoga

Himalayan glacier

Our Sherpa

St. John Church

St. John Church inside

Dalai Lama Temple window

Dalai Lama's Temple monks studying

Gyoto Monk temple, yes, the throat singers

Monk boys, monkettes?

Seen on the wall

Norbulinkga Institute for Tibetan Culture

Monkeys 1

Monkeys 2 leaping

Monkeys 3

And our return to Delhi before the flight home. Ladies cricket team from New Zealand was at the Taj Hotel with us upon our return.



shopkeeper 2

shopkeeper 3


Cindy, Carolyn, and Shiva


Up next: Absorption.

Return to Costa Rica Good Times.

Costa Rica Good Times

The lovely weather this week marked my first morning practice outdoors for the year… except for when we were in Tamarindo, Costa Rica at Panacea de la Montaña in March when we meditated and did yoga outside everyday. Mary, Debbie, and Peter were excellent hosts and all of their furry friends, Gandhi, Daphne, Maya, Pepper, Kobi, Mama Kitty, Josie, & Harry are our friends now too. Here are some highlights from our retreat in no particular order:

Our kind hosts Debbie (l) and Mary (r).
Our kind hosts Debbie (l) and Mary (r).

Some of our group on an estuary tour.
Some of our group on an estuary tour.

On the estuary tour.  So many birds and monkeys too.
On the estuary tour. So many birds and monkeys too.

Tamagringo Beach
Tamagringo Beach

Beach yoga
Beach yoga
Tom in the kitchen
Tom in the kitchen







Sunset Sail on the Antares
Sunset Sail on the Antares



























Return to Grace Happens.

Move ahead to Yoga Center of Columbia India Trip 2016.

Grace Happens

photoAbout a week ago on a Thursday afternoon, I walked out my front door and at the end of the walk, there sat a peaceful Buddha meditating in my yard. He took me completely by surprise. And a funny coincidence, we were about to go see Jai Uttal, kirtan singer, at a performance sponsored by Buddhafest in Rosslyn. When I saw him, I felt so happy to be blessed by his presence. [As an aside, I really do *not* like to use this word “blessed.” For some reason, I can feel my muscles contract when I hear the word because it feels a little too earnest, or showy, or contrived for me and I’m just not comfortable with it. However, once a friend explained that being “blessed” simply means that something happened to make your heart feel lighter, less burdened. And I like that definition. And, I cannot think of a better word to use here.]

So back to the story. No one has claimed putting him there. I took a photo of him and posted it on Facebook and asked the secret delivery-person to show him or herself. Nothing. I sort of don’t want to know really, because what an awesome gift to simply enjoy for the sheer thoughtfulness of the giving. But it has not stopped me from asking.

I’ve been contemplating this gift ever since he arrived. To me, it seems a manifestation from the ether. The universe, and someone in it, felt the desire to give this gift and nature conspired to make it so. When I sit for meditation, I usually use a mantra and when I breathe with the mantra, I do my best to feel the vibration of the mantra and let it penetrate the many layers of my awareness. This experience, over the years, has proven to me that there is a natural order of things, dharma if you like, and we are all immersed in that order. We are all players in this big soup of playing. The player, the play, and the act of playing are different experiences of the same consciousness. So as this gift has uplifted my spirits, I hope that I may help uplift others’ spirits in its wake.

In this lifetime we collect memories. The more and varied memories we make, the richer our experience becomes. Sometimes the threads of memories are good and sometimes they are challenging and painful. The fabric of life becomes intricate and detailed and filled with an aching beauty. This Buddha who decided to manifest in my yard last week has definitely contributed Grace to the fabric of experience in my world.

And I thank YOU.

Return to Trust and The Holy Science.

Move ahead to Costa Rica Good Times.

Trust and the Holy Science

Over the summer my most excellent acupuncturist, Don Diggs, recommended a book for me to check out, The Holy Science by Swami Sri Yukteswar. It is a collection of Sanskrit sutras that draw comparisons between yogic science and the book of Revelations. Interesting stuff, and the introduction contains a quite provocative explanation for why we have already moved through the Kali Yuga, the age of darkness, and are in the ascending Dwapara Yuga. Swamiji talks about the math, but also mentions the innovations that have occurred within the last several centuries — electricity, the discovery of gravity, exploration of space, other inventions — advances in human knowledge that supposedly are not possible in an age of darkness where consciousness cannot progress.
Bring on the Dwapara Yuga. Bring on the age of Aquarius!

Anyway, after he made this recommendation to me, I looked it up on amazon. Several times. And never made the purchase for a myriad of reasons. Meanwhile, in my own mind I’ve been dealing with issues of trust. Trust that this house project we’ve taken on will come to completion, trust that Erik will find his true calling in life, trust that we will have health insurance next year despite the fact that the policy we just found on January 1 is being canceled on us this December 31. You know, the little things.

Last weekend, when I was done teaching yoga at Columbia Yoga Center and was about to head out to Evolvefest in Philadelphia to play some music with my new band Groovananda, I was heading toward the door of the studio when I noticed a stack of books with a sign that said “Free!”

What should be sitting on the top of the stack? You guessed it, The Holy Science by Sri Yukteswar. It hit me in the gut and immediately expanded my heart that Mahashakti was talking to me. Trusting is a state of mind, just like thinking positively. The universe is abundant. Life is a gift. There are a million things to be thankful for. And, everything that I, you, we, need, will appear at the exact time we need it.

Move ahead to Grace Happens.

Return to Saundarya Days.

Saundarya Days in Costa Rica

CR butterfly

“Days of Beauty” in Costa Rica

with Kelly Fisher, E-RYT 500

Panacea de la Montaña
March 11-15, 2015

Enjoy a five-day getaway to beautiful, natural, wild, scenic Costa Rica. Panacea de la Montaña is located on the northwest coast less than a mile from the Pacific Ocean and features breathtaking views of both the ocean and the spectacular mountains. It is the perfect spot to relax, rejuvenate, and go deeper into your yoga practice. Accommodations include your own cabina with large covered porch and hammock, three meals a day prepared from fresh and local ingredients, an infinity pool, and semi-private yoga classes. This retreat is limited to 10 participants, so each yoga class offers an intimate gathering with much more personal time with Kelly. It will be a great time to ask questions regarding your yoga practice and receive more personalized instruction. There is also plenty of free time for you to explore your surroundings. Nature walks, turtle-watching, paddle boarding, surfing, snorkeling, diving, and zip-lining the tree canopy are all within your grasp.

Need an excuse to take a yoga vacation? Read this NYT Op-Ed piece.

This retreat is FULL, but you may register to be on the Wait List.

Sample Daily Schedule:
6:30-7:00am: Meditation
7:00-8:30am: Yoga Class
8:30-9:30am: Breakfast
9:30-12:30pm: Free Time – spend the day participating in the things that you want to do on your vacation, whether enjoying local adventures like scuba, snorkeling, surfing, zip-lining or cultural activities, getting a massage, catching up on reading, or just hanging out.
12:30-1:30pm: Lunch
1:30-5:00pm: Free Time – anything you choose.
5:00-6:30: Yoga Class
6:30-7:30pm: Dinner
8:00: Evening Activity, may include yoga nidra, music, or bonfire
CR Poor Man's Umbrella

Your Stay Includes:
three meals per day (except Saturday night dinner)
daily meditation
twice daily yoga classes
one reflexology session (other services available at additional cost)
shuttle to local beaches
yoga nidra
Saturday evening sailboat outing on the Antares

Panacea offers:
Infinity swimming pool with waterfall
open air rancho for yoga and meditation classes
spa services like massage, aromatherapy, reflexology, facials, and mud treatments
labyrinth and nature walks
fresh, locally grown, organic meals

Other activities you may choose:
(some may have a separate fee)
zip line through the tree canopy
horseback ride on the beach
tour the estuaries, volcanoes, waterfalls
kayak, surf, snorkel, dive
turtle watch
paddle board
white water raft

CR VolcanoAccommodations:
Panacea de la Montana offers bungalow-style cabinas in the simple and comfortable Costa Rican style. Your cabina is double occupancy and is tucked into the mountain, surrounded by native Guanacaste woods and tropical foliage. You will feel at home with nature. Each cabina is furnished with single and/or double beds plus a complete indoor bathroom and full shower.

Panacea de la Montaña is located about five miles from Tamarindo, right off the Pacific coast on the Guanacaste Peninsula in northwest Costa Rica.

Please book your own flight. Tamarindo is a short 1 hour drive from the Liberia airport (LIR), or a 4-5 hour drive from SJO Airport. You may also take a domestic flight from SJO to Tamarindo. Check in is from 12 – 5 pm, so please plan your trip accordingly.

Please note that Costa Rica imposes an airport departure tax, currently $29USD. Please go to US government travel website for up-to-date fee.

$995 per person, double occupancy, if registered by November 1. ($1195 after Nov 1.)
$500 deposit due upon registration; final payment of $495 (or $695 if registered after Nov 1) due by Jan 15, 2015.

This retreat is FULL, but you may register to be on the Wait List.

All-inclusive: comfortable and scenic accommodations; three fresh, healthy, organic meals per day; sunset sailboat cruise Saturday evening; all yoga, meditation, and yoga nidra classes; plus one reflexology treatment at Panacea’s spa.

What’s not included:
*Shuttle fee from Liberia Airport to Tamarindo, (approximately $65 for 1-2 people, $25 per person for three people, $20 per person for four or more people… I will be happy to help coordinate this with your flights.)
*Any gratuities for services rendered.
*Any special day-adventures you plan on your own. These can be coordinated through me or Panacea if you choose.
*Costa Rica departure tax, currently $29USD.

What to Bring:
your own yoga mat (optional)
your own journal to integrate life’s lessons
one set of nicer clothing for dinner in town or other nightlife activities
sturdy shoes for hiking
sunglasses, hat, sunscreen, beach towel, sandals, umbrella or poncho, insect repellent, sweater, flashlight

I hope you will not have to cancel at all, but if something comes up, your deposit is fully refundable minus a $50 administrative fee until November 1, 2014. After that date, the deposit is fully refundable (minus $50 administrative fee) as long as your space is filled by someone else.

Return to Mamacita Costa Rica.
Move ahead to Trust and the Holy Science.

Summer Solstice One Day Retreat

Saturday, June 21, 9:00am-4:30pm
Blueberry Gardens Wellness Center

Kelly-9083_2This one day getaway is designed for you to be able to step out of your everyday routine to gain some perspective for yourself. Yoga and its accompanying practices of meditation, yoga nidra, chanting, and healthy eating assist you in letting go of patterns in your life that are constricting. Then you become able to make space for yourself to be the creative, loving person you already are but for which you might not always have time. It is not just living, it is thriving. This year, before the long sultry dog days of summer settle in, give yourself the gift of peace and contentment. When you nourish yourself, your friends and family, your community, even the planet will benefit. Celebrate the summer solstice with Certified Holistic Health Coach and vegan chef Ingrid Benecke and Kelly Fisher, E-RYT 500, of Wildflower Yoga on this one day wellness retreat at Blueberry Gardens.

Register online now! $120 if registered by May 18 includes delicious, fresh and local lunch. ($140 if registered after May 18)

9:00–9:45am Introductions, tea or raw juice
9:45–11:15am Asana class with Kelly — flow, standing poses, and backbends
11:15–12:00pm Yoga nidra — deep guided relaxation Vegetarian lunch
12:00–1:00pm Lunch
1:00–1:45pm Discussion on food and nutrition with Ingrid
1:45–2:30pm Mauna vrata — conscious silence
2:30-3:00pm Kirtan, chanting
3:00-4:00pm Asana class with Kelly — seated poses and forward bends
4:00-4:30pm Meditation and Closing

What to Wear and Bring
Wear comfortable yoga clothes and bring your sticky mat. The studio has props available but feel free to bring your own if you prefer. Please bring your journal and something to write with. To avoid unnecessary waste, please bring reusable eating utensils and a cloth napkin.

Mamacita Costa Rica

Om Mata Kali, Kali Durge Ma

It’s been two weeks since we returned from Costa Rica, but I am still living in the afterglow. There were so many great things about our visit — 16 of us yogis both teachers and students, all with a connection to Yoga Center of Columbia — so I will try to hit on some of my highlights.

Poas PanoramaThe first day we had some free time, so we got to tour and hike around Poas Volcano and La Paz Waterfalls. This was a great introduction to the country. Colder than I expected because we were up high in altitude. This volcano is active… in fact it was active just one week before we arrived! It was only gurgling on the day we were there, which was fascinating because the sound was such a low frequency that you felt the sound more in your body then you actually heard it.

When's yoga?
When’s yoga?
We spent the first half of the week in Grecia, a suburb of San Jose, at Villas Azaleas, and each day we visited a senior center nearby. We were there to plant a butterfly and hummingbird garden, do arts and crafts, and practice gentle yoga. I was in the yoga group. Kath had prepared a sequence and there were several of us assisting. These seniors were so open and joyous and wanting to practice, at the end of the first day they were asking when would we be back and for how long. It was really a rewarding treat to be so warmly received. After yoga was over, the seniors would usually break out their vinyl and start dancing. So elegant and dignified. Hener, who walked with a cane, came over to my wallflower seat, promptly hooked is cane over the back of my chair and asked me to dance. This man had a hip replacement (as near as we could tell with what pokito Espanol any of us spoke) and had the gumption to lay it out on the dance floor. Inspiring.

La Presidenta
La Presidenta
While in Grecia we also visited a women’s co-op that produces cosmetics, hair care and soaps, and coffee — a great combination. These women fought through many hardships to make there business survive. It seemed the government and everyone was against their success, and many people just did not think they could pull it off. But the women persisted and now it brings meaningful sustainable work to good people, they grow many herbs in their own greenhouses and gardens. Xavier was our host and interpreter that day as La Presidenta told us her story. And the coffee is delicious.

morning yogaOur group was both yoga teachers and students, so we took turns leading each other in yoga class in the mornings before we went off to the senior center. It was an opportunity to stretch and center before facing the day. On days that we did not return too late, Lucy offered excellent and relaxing yoga nidra sessions outdoors before sleep. For the two mornings that I taught, we chanted Om Mata Kali, Kali Durge Ma to the land and to nature and to our good fortune for being able to share in the bounty of our Earth Mother in such a verdant and beautiful place. The sheer variety of birds, even in the city of Grecia, was a sight to behold. The blue crowned motmot joined us for several mornings. Oh yes, and the fruits — lime, mango, banana, star fruit, and sour orange were in our secret garden behind the concrete wall. Just walk outside and pick one. The mangoes were not quite ripe yet, but green mango, sliced in long french fry shape, with a squeeze of lime and sprinkle of salt is a tasty Costa Rican dish. When it is fresh from the tree, you can taste the vitality. Costa Rica is home to nearly 4% of the worlds diversity in flora and fauna. Many of which are insects.

Look at this little guy.
Look at this little guy.

For the second portion of our trip we visited Hacienda Baru on the southern Pacific coast. This national wildlife refuge is the heart of a rainforest teeming with life. Our cabinas were less than half a mile from the ocean so you bet we did some yoga there. The water was warm, but had the potential for riptides so not many people swim. It was okay though because the abundant hermit crabs (in the wild!) were fascinating to watch as they lumbered about with their homes on their backs. There were so many opportunities to commune with nature. I chose hiking and kayaking. One hike took us up the side of a mountain with birds, frogs, monkeys, even a two-toed sloth. They call the capuchin monkeys “cappuchino monkeys” because they are dark brown with milky faces. One afternoon I went walking by myself. Of course that is when a snake chose to show up. There are two types of poisonous snakes in that area of the country. I found out later the one I came across was not poisonous, but a little “shoo… shoo” was enough to make him turn around back into his foliage so I could quickly pass. My favorites were the afternoon monkeys feeding up in the fruit tree. It was just me and the monkeys. There were about three cappuchinos that I could see at first,cappuchino monkeys so standing still, I just watched. They saw me, but they also saw the fruit. Soon others were joining them, including two mothers with babies on their backs. I counted at least 22, but they were moving around pretty quickly, it was hard to get a good count. At that point, I felt completely immersed in nature as I watched them have their afternoon meal.

There are challenges in traveling to another country when one does not have the conveniences of home, like a warm shower or an air conditioned room, or the proper shoes for the task, or dirt under your toenails due to a lack of the proper shoes. But the Earth is abundant and beautiful and wild. On this trip, whenever I would slow down and simply be, simply allow nature to flow around me and in me and through me, I was uplifted beyond words.

Om Mata Kali, Kali Durge Ma

Did I mention the humidity? It felt like a Washington DC summer. Our guide kept telling us that it was not humid. I think I believe him.

Move ahead to Saundarya Days.
Return to: I Feel Good…But Not *That* Good

I Feel Good… But Not *That* Good

Let there be light at the end of the tunnel.
Let there be light at the end of the tunnel.
When I left my day job at NPR ten years ago (gulp), I went on to Erik’s health insurance with his employer. When he left his day job two years ago to become a freelancer/entrepreneur/construction worker (gulp again), we had a big decision to make. Do we continue health coverage through COBRA? Way expensive. Do we purchase our own health insurance? Also way expensive, and even more so if we were to keep the same level of coverage we enjoyed through his employer. Or, do we risk it and go health-care-coverage-free until one of us stumbles across an employer willing to offer us this important piece of social safety net?

For better or worse, we chose option three. Thank goodness there were no major issues for either one of us in the last two years. We knew we were taking a big risk.

I can say that now because recently we evidently were approved for health care coverage on our own. By our own little selves. This is still in process, but we must have been approved because they have already taken our payment. Hopefully soon we will get our insurance cards.

When I noticed on the bank statement that our payment went through I felt a palpable thread in the fabric of my life get a little stronger. Now, don’t be mistaken, this is catastrophic insurance, our deductible is $10,000 (gulp 3x)… but at least the other members of our families will not be burdened if something horrible were to happen to one of us.

The only reason I’m bringing this up here is to point out that Erik and I are pretty average human beings. We are both smart enough… we just happen to want to work for ourselves and therefore not only are we charged with extra tax due to self-employment, in the past we had been effectively excluded from health care coverage. We are not an unusual case, and this is late in the game for me to chime in to this conversation. I am consciously not making this a political rant, but something is wrong in American society when you are required by law to have auto insurance but, until now, health insurance was your own choice.

As a yoga teacher, I believe strongly in preventive medicine — and in the power of the individual to take care of him or herself through lifestyle choices and behaviors first. But at some point in everyone’s life, a doctor will be necessary, and thank goodness we as a society are a little bit closer to everyone having an opportunity to see a doctor when in need.

Go back to Dealing With Distraction.
Go forward to Mamacita Costa Rica.

Scroll To Top