Monthly Archives: July 2013

Ode to a Community

Whole Life Yoga teacher training class 2012 - 2013Tonight will be an evening of endings and beginnings. At 6:30 I’ll say goodbye to twenty-three yoga teachers-in-training; ninety minutes later, I’ll greet twenty-three newly minted teachers.  After certifying eleven classes, you’d think I’d get used to the transition. But each final ceremony remains bittersweet. The twenty-eight of us (twenty-three students, four teaching assistants, and me) have spent 200 hours together over the last ten months learning, growing, sometimes struggling, and laughing—though not often enough at my lame attempts at humor.

As I reflect on the past year, I realize that this unique group taught me many lessons.

  • All yoga is good yoga—regardless of lineage—as long as it speaks to your heart.
  • Well-taught yoga helps all populations. From autistic preteens, to homeless youth, to martial arts teachers, to runners, to “people who sit at a desk all day.” (Of course, I knew this before, but it was wonderful to see these teachers show it in action.)
  • A female instructor can teach a fabulous Yoga for Men class.
  • Be careful what you joke about—it might just come true. (The three students who broke their ankles last fall know what I mean.  And no, none were injured while doing yoga.)

Thank you to this wonderful community for being so sweet. For putting up with my sometimes chaotic life, yet seemingly not holding my personal struggles against me. For, in some cases, traveling long distances each week to take part in this adventure.

If I didn’t tell you before, I love, respect, and appreciate each of you—students and teaching assistants alike. I will miss our time together. The good news is that the whole process will start again in October when many of us embark on the fifteen-month advanced training. Whether you continue to study with me or not, please stay in touch.

The teacher in me bows to the teacher that is you.

Tracy Weber

Come visit Whole Life Yoga in Seattle, and join my author mailing list for updates on MURDER STRIKES A POSE, available early 2014 from Midnight Ink!

The Meditation Myth

Today’s blog article was written by  guest author Ashley Josephine Herzberger and was inspired by her new book The Unconventional Beginner’s Guide to Yoga, an e-book introduction to yoga practice for those who are wary of stepping on the mat. Ashley also guides an online community for busy women looking to relax, release stress, stretch and connect at

Ashley Josephine HerzbergerThese days, the benefits of meditation grace the pages of scientific news journals, national newspapers, thoroughly researched magazine articles and entire books. Meditation is indeed becoming mainstream as more and more doctors start to prescribe the practice as a remedy for anxiety and its host of symptoms. But with the mainstream, comes the propagation of a myth that meditation must be done the  “right” way for it to be as effective as the medical journals say it can be.

The Downfall of Meditation

As any curious yoga student, I had been hearing enough about meditation to believe that I could benefit from its wide array of soothing solutions. A few years back, I decided I should probably start a meditation practice. I didn’t know much about it, but the several silent moments I’d spend in yoga classes every day quieting the mind seemed to me as good an introduction as any.

The hardest part was finding the time to do it. Once I decided I would spend 10 minutes before bed every night quietly contemplating nothing, I was ready to start practicing.

Except I kept looking at the timer, convinced that I had forgotten to set it or that it had somehow malfunctioned and I’d actually been sitting for hours instead of minutes. I couldn’t slow down my mind and my thoughts wouldn’t disappear, no matter how much I willed them to go away.

And then there were some nights I was just so tired…so my meditation practice fell by the wayside.

A month or so later, I’d try again, but the same things kept happening. I got frustrated and decided meditation wasn’t working.

Then I met a teacher. He gave me a personalized meditation practice but that still wasn’t enough.

What I came to learn through personal experience and through teaching beginning students is that meditation can be a formal practice but it doesn’t have to be.

The myth of meditation is that it must be done a certain way. The name confers a practice, when in fact we engage in contemplation every single day in our own unique way.

How To Find Your Own Meditation Practice

To find your own meditation practice, you need not look for special teachers or particular practices.

To start building your own meditation practice, look around in your life and see what it is you already do to reflect. Consider the following activities and ask yourself if you can perform these with more intention, awareness and focus.

  • Praying
  • Writing in a journal
  • Drinking coffee or tea
  • Preparing meals
  • Taking a walk
  • Working out
  • Going to yoga class
  • Listening to music
  • Gardening
  • Reading a book
  • Swimming
  • Running
  • Working on a project you love
  • Playing with your kids

Notice how the activity changes and how you feel when bringing more focus to it. Notice the relaxation qualities and the struggles to maintain focus.

Let go of the need to practice something formal all the time. Be compassionate with yourself if you skip a sitting session for whatever reason.

Now that you know meditation isn’t so scary, formal and pretentious after all, email this post to a friend or two who has complained they don’t have time to start something new.


Come visit Whole Life Yoga in Seattle, and join Tracy Weber’s author mailing list for updates on MURDER STRIKES A POSE, available early 2014 from Midnight Ink!

Preserve Your Active Lifestyle with Yoga

This week’s blog entry was written by guest author Jeanne Startzman. Jeanne is a Whole Life Yoga graduate and certified yoga instructor who teaches Breath-Centered Yoga Basics in downtown Edmonds each Thursday evening. Jeanne can be contacted at and

We all want to maintain our ability to enjoy an active lifestyle–to get in and out of a car with ease, bend over to pick-up something, sit on the floor and play with our dog, or climb up-and-down stairs without pain. Simple things, yet each add richness to our quality of life.

Once we reach a certain age, however, many of us begin to limit our body positions to standing up, lying down, and sitting in a chair. And over time, that lack of movement begins to erode flexibility, mobility, stamina, and our overall health.

Consider the Tin Man. With his joints rusted motionless, he was unable to move until Dorothy came along and used his oil can to release him. If Dorothy had known–and in the context of a yoga practice–consistent, gentle movement of his joints would have brought about the same welcome release.

I have watched yoga students as young as their 40s struggle with beginning, basic postures. Not because of any specific physical issues, but due simply to years of moving within a very limited range of motion.

And depending on the pose, yoga can look easier than it is. Some new students come to class completely unaware that their body is less strong and less limber than even a few years earlier. I can read the surprise and discouragement on their faces when they struggle to bend laterally or exhale into a deep forward bend. As a result, some decide they can’t do yoga and unfortunately, don’t return.

A person who decides to start running doesn’t register for a marathon their first day out. A budding photographer realizes that learning the mechanics of her camera is the first step toward capturing beautiful shots.

And so it is with yoga. It is an unfolding process; we start where we are with mindful breath and basic movement, and within a short time of beginning a consistent practice, we feel our bodies begin to soften and respond. Our very first yoga class leaves us with a greater sense of calm and peace.

If you’ve been thinking about doing yoga, it’s never too late to start. But why not make it a priority now? Think about how you want your body to move and the activities you want to continue into your 50s, 60s, 70s, and beyond. Yoga is designed to be a lifelong practice. Poses are modified to integrate the changes in your body as the years progress. Yet at the same time, your yoga practice will allow you to keep moving, whether it’s mowing your lawn, skiing, or keeping the beat playing an 18-pound bass during a four-hour Blues performance.

Jim Brandt, 62, practices yoga, commutes 25 miles round trip to work on his bicycle, runs with Run Seattle for Life, babysits two young granddaughters, and is bass guitarist for the Curtis Hammond Band.


Come visit Whole Life Yoga in Seattle, and join Tracy Weber’s author mailing list for updates on MURDER STRIKES A POSE, available early 2014 from Midnight Ink!

Seven Viniyoga DVD’s to Help You Continue Your Summer Yoga Practice

Larry Payne Yoga DVDsI don’t know how I missed these, since they were created in 2005, but better late than never.  Larry Payne, author of Yoga RX and co-author of Yoga for Dummies has several DVD’s available.  Larry may not call his yoga style Viniyoga, but he studied with Desikachar—the leader of the Viniyoga lineage—and his work definitely utilizes the Viniyoga principles. There are a variety of practices to choose from:

  • Immune Booster and General Conditioning: Level One
  • Immune Booster and General Conditioning: Level Two
  • Weight Management for People with Curves
  • Common Lower Back Problems
  • Common Upper Back & Neck Problems
  • Restorative Health for Women
  • Classic Beginner’s Yoga for Men & Women

Each video offers at least two, sometimes three, separate routines of different lengths. They also contain MP3 audio versions of the practices, so you can listen to them on your ipod or computer.

Although yoga is always best studied with a teacher, summer activities often make it difficult to get to the studio.  I’m happy to be able to offer you the next best thing.  I don’t currently carry these videos at the studio, but you can purchase them on line at Larry’s web site

Let me know what you think of them!


Tracy Weber

Come visit Whole Life Yoga in Seattle, and join my author mailing list for updates on MURDER STRIKES A POSE, available early 2014 from Midnight Ink!

Yoga and the Maggie

This week’s blog entry was written by guest author Maggie Toussaint. Maggie is a mystery/suspense author and a yoga teacher!   Find out more about Maggie at

Maggie ToussaintLet’s jump back in time nearly eleven years. Imagine, if you would, a 45-50 year old female, that would be me, who is having auto-immune issues. Also imagine that I have a closed mindset.

Closed, that’s right. New things are scary. If I don’t know about it, I don’t need to know about it. Aches and pains I understand. They run in my family. I’ve been to the doctor. I know what’s going on with my health.

Enter my guy who loves to try new things and always keeps me on my toes. He’s been looking into a new gym membership and instead of getting a single membership, is thinking about a family deal because of all the classes offered at this gym. And would I please come look at it with him.

Since this invite also included a stop at my favorite pizza place, I agreed. The gym was pretty much what I expected. Lots of people churning and burning calories, but the manager got my attention when she noticed how stiffly I moved and she showed me a hip-stretching yoga move in the middle of the floor. Going with the flow and trying not to hyperventilate, I tried it and was more than pleasantly surprised with the results. Not only did my hip feel better – I felt better.

Soon we had a gym membership, and I started taking yoga from a willowy, gentle soul named Erica. Her yoga was a mix of styles she’d done throughout her lifelong practice. I loved her choices of music and I loved how she worked with me, even in a large class of nearly 30 men and women, she showed me how to adjust and compensate and strengthen my body – and my spirit.

Other gals subbed or taught different yoga classes in time, but Erica really reached me. I learned to see what I could do, instead of focusing on the negative, and from that starting point, I learned to do more. A few years passed, and we moved six hundred miles away from the gym, back to my hometown, a place where yoga was viewed with outright suspicion because it was different.

I found a kindred spirit, another person with outsider ways, like me. We practiced yoga together, taking turns “leading” our small class for each other, and then others heard about it and wanted to participate. The two of us got certified to teach through AAFAA, but insurance concerns kept my friend from moving forward with a yoga studio.

The start-up YMCA invited me to teach yoga, and they would handle the insurance issues. I said yes to the Y. Much to my surprise, the class kept growing and growing. And many students came to the class who were more advanced than I was. I worked to offer something for beginner through advanced students, which was more challenging than my formerly all beginner’s class. At the same time, two family members developed what became terminal illnesses. I had to let the yoga teaching go to handle my other responsibilities.

Time passed. A niece approached me about yoga. She was recently diagnosed with a related autoimmune issue, and it was suggested that yoga would help her. Would I show her some yoga moves? Yes, of course I would. We began to meet weekly in my living room, both of us benefitting from the yoga time. Soon more family members joined us, and my lifelong best friend.

Family yoga is what we’re calling this iteration of my yoga class. It’s a way I pay it forward to help my family. Our practice consists of various breathing techniques, asanas from Erica’s blended Iyengar/Hatha/other styles of yoga, stretches I learned from various physical therapists, and meditation. Not your typical yoga class, but lots of love and laughter and fellowship.

(Never in my wildest dreams would I have imagined that I’d tell my sisters to twist themselves this way and that, and they’d do it! But each week they come back for more.)

Lessons learned: there’s an ebb and flow to life; we adjust to life’s changes or we become out of sorts; and there is deep joy in helping others.


Maggie Toussaint

Come visit Whole Life Yoga in Seattle, and join my author mailing list for updates on MURDER STRIKES A POSE, available January 8, 2014 from Midnight Ink!