hump day ~ going beyond my comfort zone

Only 5 more days to go with the MINIMALISM challenge of getting rid of the same number of things as the day of the month.

I actually experienced “hump day” at day 19 when I felt like I was running out of things to get rid of…. or I think you could say, that was when I was going beyond my “comfort zone.”

When I practice and teach Yoga and am focusing on making the body stronger, I often think and say “if you don’t go beyond your comfort zone you won’t get stronger.” I think it’s the same even with practicing RELAXING your body in Yin Yoga. You want to challenge yourself to see how much you can actually make your body so relaxed that it truly starts to feel like dead weight.

Well, I guess that really applies to everything in life. If you don’t go beyond your comfort zone there is no growth.

Because after day 19 of this MINIMALISM challenge, it has gotten so much easier to get rid of the things that I initially thought I wanted to keep, that I am starting to think 30 days (which amounts to 465 things) will not be enough for me to feel the way I want to feel when this challenge is over. I’ll see how I feel at day 30 of this month.

the things I got rid of at day 22 (minus Kohana, the dog 😂 )

Let there be SPACE and SILENCE

It is day 15 of my MINIMALISM challenge which means I have gotten rid of 120 things already!! WOW I didn’t notice it has been that many until I calculated it just now.

It’s been very interesting so far.

I thought I didn’t have enough things to get rid of because I purged A LOT of stuff after reading Marie Kondo’s book “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up” over a year ago.

But everyday I end up finding things that I initially thought I would NEED or eventually use… but then on second or third thought, thanks to this challenge, I notice that I am just keeping it because I COULD use it or I have the space to store it.

So now when I walk around the house I feel like I’m assessing what I really need and don’t need so I have enough things to get rid of the next day to meet this challenge.

One AHA moment for me during this challenge is

Of course this applies to things… Just because I have a big refrigerator doesn’t mean I have to fill it up with food. Just because I have a closet doesn’t mean I have to fill it up with clothes. Just because I have a garage doesn’t mean I have to fill it up with junk.


I noticed this also applies to words.

About a year ago when I was teaching a Yin Yoga class describing the practice and how you can relax your body to get the stretch to reach into your deep connective tissue, there was a girl that had her mat down at the corner of the room that waved me over.

Assuming she had a question for me I walked over to her and she said, “Can you please be quiet because I can’t relax with all the talking you’re doing.”

My first reaction (in my head) was “Is she telling me to shut up when I’m here to teach?”

But this “complaint” that I got that day has been one of the best lessons for me ever.

After she told me to shut up I did talk way less than I usually do. And it made me notice that I was filling up the silent space with my words because “I” was feeling uncomfortable with the silence.

This made me observe the students in their Yoga poses and how they were reacting while they were holding these poses for minutes at a time. It also gave me time to go up to students individually and help them or just simply give them the time to be with their own thoughts, their body sensations, and also be with the discomfort of silence.

Silence, which is something that is pretty rare these days.

So, thanks to this MINIMALISM challenge and this girl that told me to shut up, now I know that JUST BECAUSE THERE IS SPACE, WE DON’T HAVE TO FILL IT UP


Minimalism in my body

I’m playing a Minimalism Game this month and getting rid of excess stuff every day of the month. → Minimalism Game

I started following these Minimalists when I watched a documentary called “MINIMALISM” on Netflix a few months ago.


In my opinion, this documentary is a MUST SEE and a MUST PRACTICE in this day and age when we are overloaded with STUFF and STIMULATION from every direction.

When I watched this documentary I realized that my Yin Yoga practice is a way of practicing MINIMALISM in my body.

The reason is because when I put myself in a Yin Yoga pose to stretch or “stress” a certain part of my body, I use the minutes I spend in that pose to let go of excess holding and gripping that I unconsciously accumulate in my body so that my body can slooooooowly release into gravity.

The other reason it feels like a minimalism in my body is because when I am in a Yin Yoga pose and release the NEED to feel strong and obvious sensations I get when I pull myself into a stretch in a YANG (muscular) way, I get to enjoy the more simple and subtle sensations that arise as I just watch what happens as I take each easy breath while I am in the pose.

Oh, and speaking of simple and subtle sensations… the feeling when I come out of the pose, which my teacher Paul Grilley calls “the rebound” and I sometimes call “the aftertaste” … it is the MOST subtle yet magical sensations that are changing moment to moment and cannot be described in words. The total opposite of the overstimulating sensations you get when you are doing a very muscular movement or exercise.

I was born with a naturally flexible body (thank you mom and dad) and I admit that strengthening my body balances out all the flexibility I have.


Some people see how flexible my body is and ask me “do you even need to stretch more when you are already flexible?”

When I used to stretch my body only in a more of a YANG (muscular) way by pulling myself into certain stretches I feel like I was more numb to these subtle sensations that I am more sensitive to now.

Five years ago I went to my first Yin Yoga teacher training with Paul and Suzee Grilley. I remember we were in Saddle Pose to stretch the quadriceps and Paul walked up to me and asked, “Is this the best way for you to stretch your quadriceps?”

Up until that moment, I had never practiced in a way of letting the sensations of my body be the leader to create my own unique Yoga pose to get the function of stretching certain parts of my body.

I had always created a shape that looks like a certain Yoga pose and made sure I was doing it “correctly” and because of my natural flexibility I could do a lot of these Yoga poses that required a lot of flexibility.

Now I allow my Yoga practice to be a way to connect to all these different colorful sensations that are present in my body and it has made my love for Yoga Asana practice even greater. It truly feels like a communication with my body when I am making sure I am listening to the feedback that my body is sending me as I move or hold myself in a Yoga pose.

And becoming more sensitive to these different sensations in my body that ONLY I could feel, I can say, YES even if I was born with a flexible body I do need to stretch every day because I can feel where and how I am getting tighter in certain parts of my body, and I’ve also noticed my “holding patterns” in my body from being still and passive with my Yin practice.

My habitual place to grip and hold is in my neck, jaw, and skull and when I practice relaxing these areas it feels like it relaxes my whole body. I jokingly say it is “natural botox” when I practice letting go of all the fascial expressions I make in my daily life.

In this day and age when we are always wanting MORE and MORE, which includes body sensations too… STRONGER body, MORE flexible body, IMPRESSIVE looking Yoga poses, being passive in a Yin Yoga pose and just practicing relaxing and being still for minutes at a time might seem boring and a waste of time to some people…

But just the way getting rid of excess stuff in my house allows me to feel clear and appreciate what I cherish, I love my Yin Yoga practice because it allows me the time to practice feeling what it feels like to live in my own body without having to DO MORE, and to be comfortable being with my own body and my own thoughts.

This is my own unique experience that I feel in my own unique body that I have in this life time.

I will be co-leading a retreat this September and teaching Yin Yoga in the evenings. Click here for more information and to sign up → Retreat Website



Feel the REBOUND

When I started practicing Yoga I learned the “root and rebound” concept. When I actually felt the rebound in my body, standing in the simplest asana like Tadasana with my feet rooting down and the energetic rebound going upward….

I fell in love.

I fell in love with that feeling of lightness in my body, that feeling of connecting to both earth and heaven energy, that feeling of “playing with gravity,” and it got me hooked to practicing Yoga which led me to teaching it.

Then, fast forward a few years, I attended my first Yin Yoga teacher training with my teachers Paul and Suzee Grilley.

That is when I heard Paul use the word “rebound” as well, but it was a different “rebound” from the “root and rebound” concept.

First of all, in a Yin Yoga pose, you are not rooting your body down like you would in a Yang pose because you are practicing yielding into gravity, so there is more of a sinking feeling while you are holding these poses for minutes at a time.

Once we come out of the long-held pose, Paul or Suzee would tell us to rest in a comfortable position and “feel the rebound” while keeping our body still and silent.

This meant feeling the effect of the pose once you come out of the pose with no expectations. Just receiving and observing the energetic rush and swirls and response that your body is feeling, which you will probably miss out on if you rushed to the next pose or if you didn’t pay attention.

I fell in love.

I fell in love with the indescribable sensations that arise in my body and how I almost feel hypnotized by them, sometimes making me not want to move for a very long time. I loved how it made me notice how there is something to feel AFTER you practice a Yoga pose, whether it is a Yin or Yang Yoga pose.

I sometimes describe it as taking a bite of something super yummy, closing your eyes, and savoring the after taste in your mouth…. or striking the singing bowl and listening to the reverberation until it feels like you can’t hear it anymore.


Which means there is a “rebound” to everything.

Last year when I went to attend a Yoga training with Paul to study the Yoga Sutras, the study and talk was sometimes too deep for my limited brain and it almost felt like I could feel the “????” hovering above my head… and maybe Paul saw them too because that is when he said “Just the way you don’t practice Yoga poses so you can MASTER them, it is okay if you are not grasping everything you hear. Just the fact that you are interested in studying this and opening up your mind to it is enough. Take in what you can and then feel the rebound.”

I must admit, these words made me tear up.

Partly because I can feel the panicked feeling of “not understanding everything” melt away, and partly because I thought it was so beautiful to think that there is even a rebound to receiving and studying a certain subject.

Since then, it seems like I feel the REBOUND in almost everything I do.

I am co-leading a “ROOT REBOUND REFLECTION” Yoga retreat with my dear friend and Yoga teacher Stacie Reeve. Please go to our website for more information and to sign up!

Tidying up to feel good

Almost two years ago, I was at a session with my life coach Gage and came up with a fun challenge of doing what feels good deep inside for 100 consecutive days. It was a few months after I separated from my husband and I wanted to focus on discovering who I am and what makes me truly happy.

On day four, I decided to clean out my closet and just pick out the clothes that feels good and get rid of the rest.

An inspiring lady that has been taking my Yoga class since my first day I started teaching Yoga, saw the Facebook post of me cleaning out the closet and gave me a book called “the life-changing magic of tidying up” by Marie Kondo.


The method I had used to clean out my closet was basically the same way this book instructs you to tidy up. The author of this book says you should hold each item in your hand to notice if you feel a “spark of joy” (in Japanese called “tokimeki” ときめき) and if you do, you can keep that item even if it is old or out of style.

I loved this.

I loved it because this method was something that makes you tune into your intuition instead of THINKING about what you should do with your belongings.

I got hooked and got rid of A LOT of stuff. I even folded and stored my clothes exactly the way she tells you to and it felt SO GOOD to be surrounded by what makes me feel good and to feel organized. (I must admit… a lot of what I got rid of is now in my garage and I still have major tidying up to do there…)

All this “tidying up” is cleaning up what you can see. Clothes, books, paper, pictures, etc.

When I practice my Yoga, especially Yin Yoga, I feel like it is a “tidying up” of my body. Tidying up the invisible… the tension that gets stuck in my body, especially from past thoughts and emotions that I don’t want settling deep into my body.

It’s not that I am resisting emotions. I admit I feel guilt, anger, frustration, even hate towards certain people and/or events, especially with what is happening in this country right now.

But I don’t want those thoughts/emotions to accumulate inside me, just the way I don’t want unnecessary and unwanted possessions to take over my house.

So, what I do is when I come into a Yin Yoga pose, like the shoelace, making sure that I feel the good stress in the target area (which is the glutes/IT band/spine), I become still…. I focus on FEELING the sensation of relaxation sloooooowly ripple across and through my body as if this sensation is cleansing my body from any negative thoughts/emotions that would have become stuck otherwise.


If I let the sensations of anger, fear, hate, reside in my body, I think I will be more prone to feeling those emotions over and over again, which means it will accumulate even more. On the other hand, if I practice letting go of the tension that arise with those emotions through my Yin Yoga practice, I can catch the sensations when they surface and decide if I am going to give it permission to reside in my body or not.

Just the way I still have to tidy up my garage, which has been on my to-do list for the past …. months, okay maybe years… I know I have a lot of tidying up to do with my emotional body, but I am SO very grateful for the tools I have.

Whether it is my house or my body, I want to create and save room for FEELING GOOD.

click here for information on a Yoga retreat I will be co-leading this September in Central California →


My advanced Yoga practice in Japan

My month-long visit to Japan is almost over…

During my stay here, my Yoga asana practice has been maybe a few Sun Salutations in the morning, spontaneous twists and side stretches while I wait for my bowl of udon or sushi to arrive at a restaurant, some abdominal work to balance all the overeating, and my favorite… Yin Yoga practice on the futon before falling asleep almost every night (sometimes even falling asleep during my Yin Yoga practice).

Only a few times have I given myself some time to lay out my mat and do a full hour or more of Yang Yoga practice, but my time here is limited and precious and I want to spend as much of that time with my family and friends before going back to LA where I will have plenty of time to do my Yoga asana practice on my own or in class.

For me, being the so-called “bendy-type” thanks to my super flexible mom and pretty flexible dad, the challenge in my Yoga asana practice are the “strong” poses like arm balances and finding the integrity of the pose when doing big backbends or forward folds (unless I’m practicing Yin Yoga). And that is why it is very rewarding when I find myself doing poses that I thought were impossible a few years earlier like Bakasana or even Chaturanga Dandasana and I am very thankful for my Yoga practice.

But being in Japan these last few weeks, I have felt a deep sense of gratitude for my Yoga practice in a different way…

As some or many of you may relate, spending an extended amount of time with family brings up “stuff”. That “stuff” is probably different for everybody, but for me, being brought up in a Japanese family and being influenced by the culture where it is not as common for parents to praise their kids or outwardly show their affection, I always felt a sense of inferiority and a desire for acknowledgement and attention.

Even during this visit to Japan, I had a few moments where I could feel a sense of frustration and sadness bubble up inside when my mom would say something like “maybe you’re too into that Yoga stuff”, or when my dad would make a comment that makes me feel like I’m not good enough.

At one point, I felt the urge to go back to LA so I can be myself without feeling discouraged or let down and live my peaceful life… but that is when I noticed that THIS is my Yoga practice. THIS is what I’ve been practicing for.

Also, the word I had chosen as the intention of this year 2016 is “action” because I didn’t just want to read or say the inspiring quotes that you see all over the place nowadays, but to truly put that into “action” in my own body and my own life.

This is when I started to take very deep breaths and truly allow and feel the negative feelings leave my body and mind along with my audible exhales. This is when I started to truly practice viewing the “imperfections” of my parents as unique and loving qualities. This is when I started to give myself and my parents the praise and acknowledgment that I was craving. This is when I started to feel the underlying care, love, and acknowledgement that my parents have for me that they do not outwardly show. And this is when I started to enjoy and savor the limited time I have with my family so I don’t regret not having it in the future.

Just like my Yoga asana practice, I did not do it perfectly and that is not my intention… but as I sit here on the bullet train ride back to Tokyo after saying good-bye to my parents with a big hug and tears in my eyes and a one-way “I love you” from me to them, I am feeling a sense of love, ease, and content just like during a Savasana at the end of a great Yoga practice.

So, who cares if I might have lost my Chaturanga muscles or even if my stretchy Yoga pants feel a little tighter… I feel I have advanced in MY Yoga practice.



なんとヒロが来月からYogaworksの200時間ティーチャートレーニングを受けることにした。前からたまに「やってみたいなぁ」とは言ってたんだけど今年になって「なんか自分が一歩前進するために良いと思う」と言ってついにsign upした。

「予習しといたほうがいいんじゃない?」と私は2007年に受けたヨガティーチャートレーニングのテキストを引っ張りだし、ヒロのこれからの新しいYoga Journeyのことを考えて私までなんかワクワクしている。



家でホームプラクティスをするときに「よし、自分だけの為のselfish practiceをするぞ!」というintentionでプラクティスを始め、自分の体だけに集中しようとしても気づくといつの間にか頭の中で「体が固い人だったらここでは足を曲げて。。。」と教えるときのことを考えたり、教えるシークエンスを考え始めてしまっている。だから自分のselfishプラクティスをするときはなるべくノートブックとペンを横に置いてプラクティスし、教えるためのアイデアが浮かんだらすぐ書き留めるようにしている。書き留めてしまえばすぐにそれを忘れて自分のプラクティスに切り替えることができる。




父へのunconditional love






昔はそういうイラっとする気持ちは自然に感じるもので “I can’t help it” と思っていた。でもYOGAをpracticeしたり自分が幸せになる方法を勉強していくに連れて自分の姿勢や生活をadjustできるのと同じように、実は自分の気持ちもadjustできるんだということに気づいた。


そんな父のちょっとしたsarcasticコメントをいちいちイライラしていたなんて今になって考えるともったいない。イラっとするのは私の中にある何かがそういうコメントに反応しているわけで if I don’t take it personal だんだん気にならないようになった。そして貴重な時間にイライラする代わりにその場の父との、家族との時間をもっと楽しみ、満喫できるようになった。

家族でもやっぱり自分とは違う人間なんだから意見の違いなんかはあって当たり前。でもそういうdifferencesやimperfectionsなんか関係無く愛せるからこそunconditional loveと言えるんだと思う。

I love you and miss you so much お父さん!!!!!





脱腸そしてHappy End〜Supta Hasta Padangusthasana




両親は今年の夏ロスアンゼルスに遊びに来て私のヨガクラスも受けに来てくれた。父親は普段パソコンかテレビの前で座りっぱなしの時間が多く、一切運動しない割には body awarenessがあるけれどもやはり体は固い。「無理しちゃ駄目だよ」と言ってるのにお父さんは顔を赤くしながらストレッチをし、腹筋を強くする動きをしていた。


すると数日後には「なんか下腹部にふくらみを感じる」と言い出し、病院に行くと脱腸 (鼠径ヘルニア) だということが判明!!鼠径ヘルニアはお腹に力を入れることが原因のひとつであるからsarcasm好きな父は「二度とヨガはやらない。ヨガは体に悪い」と笑みを浮かべながら言っていた。

結局日本に戻ってから手術をしたものの傷口が化膿してしまい大変な目にあったけど、今はもうすっかり元気になった。というわけで今日はお父さんにHamstrings (大腿の後にある筋肉たち)をストレッチしてもらうことにした。


今日お父さんがモデルしてくれるのはSupta Hasta Padangusthasana (Reclining Hand-to-big toe pose)。Hamstringsが固い人には最高に良いストレッチ。

  1. まず、仰向けになった状態でアゴが上 (天井のほう)に上がって喉が開くような状態になるようであれば父のように頭の下に枕かタオルを敷く。
    最初は右足のヒザを曲げて足裏を床に置いておく。ヨガストラップか無ければ何でもいいから長いもの (写真では私の長いスカーフを使用)を使って左足に引っ掛ける。左足をゆっくりと足裏でストラップを押すようにしながら足を真っすぐ上げてみる。足が床と直角にならなくていいからまずは足を真っすぐにして気持ち良い程度のストレッチをENJOYしながら呼吸を整える。このときなるべく両肩が床から離れないように両肩を軽く床に押すような感じで鎖骨を広くしておいてあげる。
  2. 次は試しに右足をゆっくり真っすぐにして床に下ろしてみる。ストレッチの感覚が変わった?きつくなりすぎないようにストラップを持つ場所を変えたり左足の角度を変えたりしてまた数呼吸ホールド。床に下ろしたほうの足はだら〜んとせず、かかとを前に押し出しながら足指を上に向ける。
  3. 次はもう一度右足のヒザを曲げて足裏を床におき、左足が直角になるようにしてみる。Hamstringsが柔らかい人だったら簡単に直角になるかもしれないけど、お父さんみたいに固かったら写真のようにヒザを曲げる必要がある。かかとを天井に向けて押し上げ、足指をぱーっと広げてみる。こうするとまたさっきのストレッチとは感覚が違う可能性あり。(お父さんはストレッチの感覚が更に強くなったとのこと)
  4. さっきと同じように左足は変えずに右足をゆっくり床に下ろして真っすぐにしてまた感覚の違いを感じてみる。
  5. このあとは右足を同じようにストレッチして左足との感覚の違いを感じながら繰り返す。各ポーズでホールドする時間は様子を見ながらだけど1分〜2分くらいでいいと思う。
  6. 両足のストレッチが終わったら両足を床に休め、両腕も休め、目を軽く閉じ、5分ほど全身の力を抜いて休む。


言っておくけど脱腸の原因はYOGAでは無い。喫煙者の父は脱腸と判明する少し前から咳をする度に下っ腹にdiscomfortを感じていたらしい。そして脱腸の手術後辛い思いをしたけど入院が長引いたおかげで約57年間吸いつづけたタバコをついに止めた!!!!ずっとずっと「タバコを止めて下さい運動」をしていた母も私も大喜び!!!!というHappy ENDに終わった 🙂







誰もが知っている通り、ASANA(ヨガポーズ)はいわゆる “正しい” とされているポーズは柔軟性を必要とするポーズがたくさんある。だから最初にヨガのクラスを受け始めた時は「ストレッチ気持ち良い〜」という感じで practiceを楽しんでいた。

そんな時に私のTeacher Trainingの先生 Annie Carpenter のクラスを初めて受けに行ったら、とてもアライメントに厳しい先生で私がいかにだら〜んと力を入れずにポーズをしているのかを気づかされた。

体がやわらかいとついつい「あ、できる」って楽にポーズをしがちだけど逆に体がやわらかいからこそ、それと逆に体の必要な箇所の筋肉を使うようにしてflexilibility and strengthのバランスを良くするとポーズが実は何倍も気持ち良い。

私はもともと筋肉がつきにくいタイプなんだけど、このように柔軟だからこそ気をつけて practice するようになってから腹筋や腕筋がすごく強くなった。