Abhyasa: Practice


“Our practice is a shelter we build for our spiritual selves. It is the work we do to safeguard and support the possibility of spiritual growth. The winds of life constantly wear away the shelter, but if we stick to our tools, the shelter will hold.” Day 11 MEDITATIONS FROM THE MAT

For the past 5 years, I’ve watched regular students drag, bounce, stumble, crawl themselves into my Monday evening class. More times than not, I walk in the studio and see lots of bolster supported Supta Baddha Konasana, Savasana’s, or sitting with blank stares. When I do my usual check-in (most likely perched on the the edge of the cob bench) students tell me about past or present injuries, big life decisions, celebrations, pregnancies, miscarriages, illness, recovery… But they’ve made it. They’ve showed up, not just for their practice, but for themselves.

A couple weeks ago, my joints were swollen, my esophagus on fire, dull vertigo creating the sound of dizziness which has become a familiar warning I’m about to be taken down by my own body. The old me would have wrapped up in a blanket and dark hole of pity piled with panic…sheltering the vulnerability of not being top notch for practice. Ego telling me I had to reach a certain “level” of pose just incase someone was watching in the room(yeah yeah yeah, very ME focused). But not now.

I walked into my “home” studio that day, into a trusted teachers/cohorts/friends class, surrounded by students(many who have become friends) who come to my classes, and spent most of the sequence on my knees(aka coming out of poses or doing the most mild variation). I made it to class and did what I could. I let the teacher know where I was that day, and she taught me new ways to handle the asanas.

As a “recovering type A” the hardest thing for me is to show up and “fail”.  Where some would push through to the point of exhaustion, or not even give a damn, for me, comfort would be me not showing up at all. To hide. But at some point during my healing these last six months,through my time on the mat in meditation&physical practice, long conversations with doctors and mentors…  it hit me that I didn’t have to always be the teacher on all the instagram posts landing the perfect poses(don’t get me wrong, I’m super inspired by all those rockstar yogis & yoginis and amittidly post when I feel on fire).

The mat is my space to be me. To investigate hellish days where I can’t and the “rockstar” days when I can. To trust the foundation of asana and work with spirit I’ve already built to hold me up when everything seems to be taking me down. I wouldn’t be easing back into the “advanced” practice I’m in now if it weren’t for showing up on the days where I feel far from.

So this is Abyasa: Showing up, making it, doing. Trusting the work we’ve already put in, then allowing our spirit to be our main teacher. Our bodies be the guide. They’ll let us know where we’re really at, whether our ego likes it or not. But we have to keep at it. To maintain the hard work we’ve put into investigating and building.

So let’s get at it.

See you on the mat,


ps As always, I would love to hear about your adventures, practice, and feedback. Post here or send an email via callieannyoga@gmail.com

Right Action: Stepping back to move forward

“My yoga Practice was teaching me how to pay attention to my everyday life in a way that was beneficial to myself and those around me. I was getting a glimpse of the hugeness of the ordinary, the sacred beauty of the everyday. I felt I could spend a hundred lifetimes just refining my own ability to have a good day. To move through the world in a manner that was keeping with my values, and to be of service to myself and others, seemed like an enormous achievement” – Day 22

My husband(Matt), two year-old (Caleb), and I recently relocated to the Chicago suburbs from a rock-&-roll lifestyle in the city. I could have (along with many around us) sworn I would NEVER move to the ‘burbs(my husband is another story) and was going to be one of those urban moms walking with her toddler on the westside.

We gave it a fair shot. We lasted two years and learned how damn hard it it to raise a rambunctious toddler in the city with pretty much middle class income. An offer from my in-laws to move in with them in Naperville to set our family up for “success” stopped us in our city loving tracks. Lots of conversation, back and forth, and a collection of med bills finally made the decision to make the move.

My ego could not handle the beginning stages of the move. I bawled my eyes out at our condo the last night, confessing to Matt that I felt like a failure. That we failed to make it in the city. He listened, understood. We stood as a team, knowing this was for the best, whether we could feel it then or not…we had eachother.

But you know what? Only two months in and I’m falling in love. In love the small moments that would never happen if we didn’t do this, or may have missed in the mayhem of a metropolis…those beautiful moments of Caleb following his grandfather, whom he calls “Pops”, around the house/yard as a mini version of a very tall man doing yard work and chores. Calling his “Oma” through-out the early mornings and seeing the joy on her face to hear him call her name. The happy hour in the backyard, getting to know my in-laws in such intimate ways over a crisp glass of wine. We play in the yard, watch airplanes take off at the small airport down the street, jump in the pool…

I am now seeing the extraordinary in what I used to think of as dully ordinary… I let ego go and did what was best for my family, my child, and really my spirit. Matt and I both still work in the city, the commute can get grueling, but it keeps us feeling our age and in-touch with the life we built there, while we get to escape to nature on weekends, knowing we’re building something great.

The yamas are a step by step prescription to stay in right action. And right action sometimes leads to what is best for the whole as well as what’s best for you. So what can you do you today to start the right action in your life? What have you done so far that you can stand tall in, be proud of, even if at first it seemed like stepping backward but was really forward?Or maybe vice versa.  What can you bring to the mat to work on/through?

Sometimes we leap into a pose and discover such an amazing new aspect of ourselves. But other times we pull back from what we know we can do, because today is about refining the foundation.

Let’s work on it together.

See you on the mat,


Satya: Truthfulness


“Think of a pose you’ve almost nailed. You’re SO close to mastering it that you can almost taste it. How tempting is it to push now, to let your ego step in and take you the rest of the way. But when we become ambitious, we lose sight of the point of our practice…or…When we avoid poses, though, we’re allowing our own beliefs to dictate our reality. We believe we are less capable than the person to our right or left. The truth is that any demon honestly met becomes a friend, and our friends should be treated wisely of we wise them to remain our friends” Day 25 MEDITATIONS FROM THE MAT

It’s so complicated, this business of Satya, of being “truthful” on the mat. How can you go further in your practice if you aren’t seeking another layer to the pose? Or we don’t do a pose because it just feels too wacky in our body and we AREN’T that flexible!!

All I can speak from is experience. The moment where all else goes, I’m listening to the teacher, connecting to my body, breath, connecting to my spirit, and all of a sudden my forearms are on the ground, underneath my body in a deeper variation of wheel (Viparita Dandandasa), this is the place of bliss they speak of… Or when I see someone holding handstand and think “my vertigo’s never going to let me do that” so don’t even try coming away from the wall.  Forcing into a hip stretch I’m not quite ready for and then feel it for a week. The thing is, I KNOW when I’m pushing and when I’m “playing small”. And playing small used to be my JAM.

I would “fallout” of a pose WAY before I would hold it until I shook. The overwhelm of intensity was something my body and mind were not used to. You would think riding a bike across the country would have made me a beast in the yoga room, but oh no… believe it or not it was when I was practicing Ashtanga A LOT and would hit the Utthita Hasta Pandangusthasana (balancing on one leg while holding the other leg in air and maybe grabbing the big toe, then sending it all to the side)sequence I could have spat fire. To say I DREADED that part of the practice would be in the  moors of understatement. And of course, more times than not, my teacher, AmyBeth, would walk over to hold me up in it…because she knew with her wise yogi soul that I was gritting my teeth and thinking the most un-yogic thoughts.I would even position myself in the corner hoping she wouldn’t adjust me in it that day. Ha!!

But I kept practicing. Kept breathing. AmyBeth kept holding my heel, class after class. Eight years of practice later I can fully extend my legs out while binding the big toe. It took facing that damn pose every class. When I would try to defeat it, I couldn’t get my leg that high. When I would play small because the gal next to me was bringing her leg to her forehead, I would lose my balance every 2seconds. But, when I befriended the subtly of the shifts that were happening in the movements, breath, and hold of the pose, it was better(I first typed in “bliss came” but am trying harder these days not to exaggerate). Because it was always going to be there, in this set sequence. So why not just learn how to sink into it?

And isn’t that the lovely thing about our time on the mat? We see how we react to the most minute(grabbing a big toes in the air aka doing a task at work you KNOW your boss can do but doesn’t want to) or grand(learning how to modify shoudlerstand with a metal rod in your back aka going for that promotion you know you deserve when you feel unseen) aspects of ourselves and have the opportunity to name, learn, and change it. Or love and keep it. But we can do all this in such a safe, open way because the community around us is showing up for the same reasons: practicing, on the mat, who we want to be outside of the studio walls. Yes it complicated. But we show up to move through the complications to simplify. To not think about the practice to let the practice do the thinking for us. We show up to feel.

See you on the mat,



“The Yoga Sutra organize the essence of all spiritual practices into a basic plan for living. You will find nothing in this ancient text that contradicts the precepts of any religion. Instead you will find a step-by-step to right living, a guide that complements the goals of any spiritual practice.” – Day 1  from Meditations from the Mat

THE 8 Limbs of Yoga:

1)Yamas: Five Moral Restraints (aka, try not to do THAT and do THIS instead)

2)Niyamas: The Five observances (Happy place)

3) Asana: Postures (there it is! we know this one)

4)Pranayama: Mindful Breathing (super hard)

5)Pratyahara: Turning Inward (why we teachers have you close your eyes so much)

6)Dharana: Concentration (keep your eyes on your own mat)

7)Dhyana: Meditation (this we’ve done)

8) Samadhi: Union of self with Object of Meditation (whoa)

Welcome to the first week of our adventure with MEDITATIONS FROM THE MAT! An AMAZING book that teaches the principals(aka Eight-Limb Path) of yoga through daily readings a western mind can grasp, while digging deeper into the eastern concepts(are the two so very different these days?).

Every class we’ll focus on a different aspect of the weeks readings and examination of the path as we unpack them during asana practice and meditation. These blogs should also serve as forum for you to come back to during the week as a “refresher” or place to add comments on how the path is, or is not, translating into your every day life. Just as in the sacred space of the studio, we are here to support each others growth/process(aka being mean or judgmental is not tolerated…especially towards yourself!!). Stop. Take a deep inhale. Jaw melting exhale. Okay, we continue…

Lets get started with the YAMAS.

Yamas: Five Moral Restaints

  1. Ahimsa- nonviolence
  2. Satya- truthfulness
  3. Asteya- nonstealing
  4. Bramachara- moderation
  5. Aparigraha- nonhoarding

I don’t know about you, but when I read these, I think “yes”, “yup”,”need to work on that one”, “need to work that one AGAIN”, and on and on. Try not to take them all on at once, give yourself time to roll around in one, seeing how it resinates in your body during your time on the mat and with the world around you.

Something I’ve found when working these prior(and will be working them again right along with y’all) is that the Yamas can pop-up in the smaller, less expected moments. You can think “yeah, yeah, yeah, nonstealing. Get that. Don’t steal things from people”…but maybe it’s not objects you’re stealing. Maybe it’s someone’s time by being late to a lunch or meeting. Or you think nonviolence is becoming a vegetarian(your choice, lots of debate over this one), but what about the violent words and actions you take onto yourself or throw at loved ones in moments of frustration?

These aren’t easy aspects of ourselves to face. But as we work them, we discover that the awareness and acknowledgement creates freedom. Freedom of knowledge in the present moment of what we’re putting out there… Of being aware of our actions and holding our selves accountable to who we want to be outside the studio walls.

So…let’s get at it!!

See you on the mat,


The Beginning: Be impeccable With Your Word/Be Intentional


You will see this site is VERY basic. Mostly because I wanted to start it this way, as many journeys do, with the intention, and then the rest building from there.

To say I’ve been talking about following through on this blog for some time now, would be a wild understatement, not to mention laughable to some who are now reading this(having been through the previous attempts).

So, obviously, there is no  better way than to start than with the first of the FOUR AGREEMENTS: Be impeccable with your word. 

Here I am, doing what I’ve said I’ve wanted to do for, well, YEARS. What’s different?  What have I discovered now that I didn’t have for the follow through before?

I’ve discovered how utterly human I am.

Buzz word, I know, but they exist for a reason, and these past two years have slammed my own humanity(aka humility) in my face at a pace I could not keep up with.

I came at motherhood, (oh, and a brand spanking new marriage) with the thoughts “I rode a bike across the United States. Traveled all around Asia and South America. Completed the Forrest Foundational Training WHILE pregnant. I can do this mom/wife thing!” Rattling off the credentials in my head, as if they could help in the very moments and situations I found myself in.

But that’s what we do, isn’t it? “Should” ourselves almost to death. Mucking it all that up even more with “Well I SHOULD know better because I’m a yoga teacher/lawyer/psychologist/mother/been here before/fill in whatever you last said to yourself”. Atleast I did.

It took a doctor, who had just diagnosed the rare auto-immune disease I’m now looking to heal from, with a soft hand on my shoulder and kind eyes to say to me “It’s ok to feel overwhelmed, exhausted, and like you can’t handle all of this. That’s normal. But something’s not working, something we can change…Let’s make this life work for you. And a good place to start is with the conversation you’re having with yourself about everything.”

Nope, not a psychologist saying this y’all, but a straight-up white coated GI specialist at Northwestern.

I cried. I bawled. I heaved.

It hurt. It stung.

It was the best fucking release I have ever allowed myself to have, with the aftermath being freedom.

Yes. I’ve discovered how human I actually am. With a fierce need to come back to the basics- a toolbox I’ve already filled with yoga, healers, close friends, family, students, a community that was waiting for me, with wide open hearts… and space for more. 

This is where we begin-

Be Impeccable With Your Word/BE INTENTIONAL.

When I was in the depths of chaos in my body, as it screamed out into my life… this, THIS very agreement, was the first to go.

And I DEMAND(with softness and as much grace as I can muster)to get it back.

So,in my classes during May,we will be investigating how to be impeccable with our word: showing up to the conversations we have when upside down or right side up(literally AND figuratively). The yoga room will be our safe place to practice this: success and failure as our true teachers. I’m there to guide you through it, to experience it along with you, hence why I’m including myself in the journey.

To clarify, all this does not mean you have to keep every promise you make from here on out. It’s about being INTENTIONAL in how you’re speaking, FIRST to yourself, THEN to others. If you are coming from an honest, centered, grounded place(are you breathing? being kind to yourself? truly listening/holding space for that other person? ), you will have no other choice than to be impeccable with your word.

See you on the mat,


* Follow along by picking up The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz