Viewing entries tagged
self love

Change Your Hair, Change Your Life

The past few months have been a massive transition, and an overall shedding of my old patterns and cynicisms, a mourning of the loss of my old life coupled with the embracing of a new one. I like metaphors, so I shed a huge chunk of hair and now feel light, open and ready to navigate yet another big change.Life is inherently unpredictable and chaotic. We do our best at the time, hopefully learn, and then adapt to change with confidence. I've never been afraid to change my mind or try something new. But I have been afraid to fully embrace myself from the inside out, to shine my light as bright as I know I can, out of some stark fear of rejection or failure. No more.With the release of some hair I also release any inner uncertainties, any fear of success or failure, and any question as to the purity of my own heart. My nature is good, my essence is whole. I ride into the future confident in this basic fact.Life is taking my tiny tribe back to the west coast. Work and passion projects are abundant in California, not to mention mountains and ocean. It's been imperative to transition into motherhood here in Chicago, with the ease of living and circle of loved ones surrounding me. But growing our tribe's abundance and opportunities has taken a priority, and we are excited to be patient and make a true home in Southern California. I'm so grateful for the h(OM)e Chicago will always be and I'm excited for the challenges and potential out west.Lots of love to all you beautiful yogis. I hope this fabulous planet keeps us connected.


remembering what you already know 

You are a power. A force as strong and strange as any element in nature. Do not shrink. Do not hide. Be the thing you were meant to be.
— Nayyirah Waheed

Found this piece written in my phone from the day before I gave birth. I have no recollection of writing it, but I have every intention of taking it with me and believing it with a depth and a force that can only exude from within.  Let's not waste another minute picking ourselves apart, measuring ourselves against others or feeling any shred of dislike for ourselves. Seriously. It's bullshit. No more.

Love & Namaste,


Today I cried three times for no reason. The tears running from my eyes were not escaped moments of sadness; no, they were overwhelmed morsels of joy. I have this ecstatic feeling that seeks some form of escape from my body; it needs to move. But regardless what I do, I am forever trapped in this vessel. And the tears I feel are constructed of immense gratitude for my vessel, my body, my flesh. Sure, I am more than a bag of bones, than some curly hair and curves that just won’t quit. My being cannot be summed up by the sum of my measurements and physicality. But it is the conduit for experience. It is the form I wake up and absorb life with everyday.  I see beauty because my amazing, brown, tree bark colored eyes perceive light. Because my incredible fucking body can do that! It has evolved to do that.  I hear because my small, slightly pointy ears perceive sound waves. And because of that, I hear music, sounds of an artist's making and sounds of my own inner space. It’s really quite astounding.  I smell because my long, slender nose pulls in surrounding air. Immediately, without my choosing, my nose smells it all. I smell and it leads to tears. I smell and it leads to sleep. I smell and it leads to hunger. I smell and it leads to vomit. I smell and it leads to god knows what, but my nose is quite the catalyst for sensation and emotion. And that’s fucking amazing.  I taste because my long, frenulum-less tongue has thousands of taste buds and a pallet that yearns to explore. Because of my tongue I can feel pleasure and satisfaction from any number of flavors in one day: the taste of my lover’s skin, the savory ingredients in my grandmother’s spaghetti sauce, the smooth, heroine-like joy of chocolate!  I feel because my skin is highly sensing, nerve endings combusting with every step, every hand held, every hug given. Because of my skin and touch I am able to perceive textures, from rough to silky, slimy to rubbery, natural and fabricated. I can feel it all. And it feels so fucking good.  I perceive and sense and experience this magnificent earth because of my weird brain and my passionate heart. None of the above would be possible without whatever the miracle is that turns my light on, making me conscious. Beyond the curse and blessing that is cognition is the simple awareness that I AM. And that awareness, coupled with all that I am able to perceive, is almost too much to bear. And at times, it’s not enough.  The insatiable in us all forgets. It’s all here, within and without. It’s all a fucking carnival ride. Throw your hands up.  I am about to have a fucking baby. For 9 full months my remarkable body has done what millions of other remarkable bodies have done: create and grow life. As I type I feel this little creature stirring inside of me. At one point, not long ago, he was the size of an apple seed, perceiving nothing, just absorbing my nutrients, doing what he was evolved to do: grow. And he did. And now, he perceives so much! And he’s only just begun.  I sit on the precipice of probably the most transformative, challenging, life affirming right of passage of my life: giving birth. The previous 40 weeks have been nothing compared to what these hours/days will be. I don’t even know, can’t even fathom, can only minimally imagine what this experience will be and how I will fall even more deeply in love with my body, my being, and my child than I already am.  This 240 days has served so many purposes. I feel the truth of so many yogic lessons. I feel them in my bones, know them to be true in my heart, rather than simply understanding them in my mind. Way beyond my intellectual understanding, I feel with every breath a gratitude, a love, an awakened sense of being that I’ve yet to truly feel. Not even in the deepest meditation, the most beautiful asana practice, the greatest travel adventures, wrapped up in the most captivating ecstasy with another, have I felt so in tune, so in love, so aware, and so god damn awake.  And despite the knowledge that my vessel is about to skyrocket into space for the first time, enduring shifts and changes I’ve only heard stories about, I feel so calm in my being, so ready, so trusting of all that I’m truly capable to overcome. And I know whatever it is will be worth it because of the love I already feel, and the love that will grow exponentially, for myself, my child, and my tribe once we’ve made it to the other side. I can do this. We all can do this. We’re meant to live and to love and all that intersects to create a true living experience. I fucking love Being.

All the feels 

Feel it. The thing you don’t want to feel. Feel it. And be free.
— Nayyirah Waheed

So this has been my practice as of late (per the insightful guidance of my superb therapist). My post partum transition has been emotional, to say the least. Despite the fact that I feel as if I've moved to another planet, I placed unfair expectations on myself (do you do this? Don't, it's abusive. We can help each other) and expected to flow through new motherhood with an even keel and energized body. Well that ain't most people, and it certainly ain't me.Part of my difficulty came from me feeling a certain way, and then feeling guilt or judgment over feeling that way. I never just felt it. I swam in the insidious waters of self loathing and criticism, but rarely just paused and felt the totality of sensation, emotion and experience of that specific moment.And that's precisely what the bodymind (our integrated being) needs to do and feel, exactly what we're fricken feeling! Without labeling, telling ourselves what we should or shouldn't feel, just listening deep within, into the murky, uncomfortable pit that flows in the pool of the gut.As I practice(d) this, I feel more acceptance of my humanity, of being a work in progress, of being a very sensitive soul, and of being a well intended but sometimes flawed and confused momma person. And the more softness I gave to myself, the more forgiveness I felt in my heart, the more apt I became at navigating through the rough waters, back to the calm, still deep of my inner essence. When you feel angry, sad, frustrated, overwhelmed, confused, etc., rather than chastising yourself, distracting yourself or avoiding your feelings, go further into the experience. Take a 2-3 minute sanity break, get quiet and still, and just listen. Observe intently. Describe all the feels. Feel all the feels. Let your whole self go there. And then watch yourself transfer into the next moment. Try this and let me know how it goes.It's helping me. I hope it helps you too.Love & Namaste 

Don’t Make Assumptions: Lessons from Robin Williams’ (and other's) Beautiful Lives and Tragic Deaths

Don Miguel Ruiz’s brilliant little book, The Four Agreements, has weighed heavily on me for a few years now. It has inspired more contemplation and reflection than most, and even inspired my own piece on the 2nd agreement, Don’t Take Anything Personally. The recent news of Robin Williams’ tragic death has many bewildered over such a bright, vibrant and funny personality succumbing to such darkness. And it is the onslaught of opinions and reactions that has me reflecting on the 3rd agreement, Don’t Make Assumptions.

Years of memes and quote sharing has helped us all see, even for a brief moment, that we never know the struggle of another, that we’re all winding our own weird path, often filled with deep pain and sadness, and there’s no way to know another’s plight unless we walk in their shoes. And we simply can’t. It’s impossible. And even within our closest loved ones, it is difficult to empathize and even understand their pain.

I do not personally struggle with addiction. That is not how my darkness manifests. It would be arrogant for me to assume to know the depth of pain, solitude, and endless confusion one might be enduring every single day to just survive. It would be just as arrogant for me to assume the whys and hows of one struggling with depression and anxiety, something I do have personal experiences with, both within my own psyche and as an outsider attempting to help loved ones.

We make assumptions about others, the reasons for their behaviors, the backstory to their pain in an attempt to square away some cognitive dissonance in ourselves. We don’t want to believe that sadness can cut so deep that fame, fortune and adoration cannot elevate it. We can’t fathom a loneliness so potent that a person surrounded by love isn’t somehow at the same time filled with that love within.

All the beauty in the world and all the examples and demonstrations of love simply aren’t enough. It is one thing to see, it is quite another to feel, understand and live in the truth of it. And often our forays into both lightness and dark are attempts to understand and receive glimpses of just that: Love.

Out of respect for our fellow humans we should make no assumptions about their lives. As innate as it feels to analyze thoughts and actions, it serves no one to draw conclusions based on nothing but our own mental machinations. And out of concern for our own sanity we should also make no assumptions about why someone is behaving in a certain way, whether it directly affects us or not. Easier said than done but the wiser choice.

Similar to not taking anything personally, often when we assume the truth of another it is merely a projection and reflection of how we feel about ourselves. Most human beings fall into the trap of making something about ourselves, allowing ourselves to feel offended, hurt, misunderstood or forgotten simply from assumptions created by our own minds.

Here are a few examples you may have heard yourself or another say:

“Why would she look at me like that? She must…”

“Why won’t he text/call/message me back? It’s because…”

“I haven’t heard back so I probably didn’t get in/win/make it/etc.”

“They’re just being a jerk because they’re jealous.”

“They had a leg up because their more attractive/rich/popular than I am.”

“They’ve been gone a while. They must have diarrhea.”

That last example was just for levity, but you get my drift. I’ve fallen into these patterns of assumption so many times, too many times to even count. We’ve all most likely, at some point in our lives, been on the giving and receiving ends of assumptions. And at neither time does it feel good, does it satisfy whatever discomfort we’re trying to dissolve. It simply keeps our minds stirring, distracted from real life, pulled away yet again from the present moment.

The questions and statements above are very generic and broad, obviously we can get much more specific, detailed and often mean in our assumptions. And with the case of Robin Williams’ death and the tragic happenings of many other people we feel (assume) we know, the unkind and presumptive thoughts that suicide is selfish or cowardly, there must have been some lack of gratitude or perspective, or that there were any real choices in the matter are more reflective of those judging than those whose lives we’re carving hypotheses about.

Often the line between darkness and light is quite thin. And those providing the most light and levity frequently deal with deep, private darkness. As one who considers herself a bit of a comedy nerd, I've learned how many of those most talented are engulfed in crippling depression, anxiety and dread.

And I think many of you are aware of similar occurrences within Yoga.

It is my own experiences with darkness that led me to Yoga, a practice and career that I feel balances me, helps me share mere moments, lessons and aspects of light I wish I felt more. And sharing those experiences does just that; helps me feel. More.

My parents divorced when I was young. As sadly common as it was and still is, being the only child of my biological parents made the experience feel endlessly confusing, sad and lonesome. This caused many sleepless nights drowning in the depths of assumption. Throughout my adolescence and early adulthood I doubted real love existed, certainly didn't expect to feel it myself. And it is precisely through art, films like Mrs. Doubtfire, practices like Yoga and Meditation, and raw, honest comedy that I was first able to glimpse real light and real love.

I hope Robin Williams can truly rest now knowing he provided so much joy and light to an often dark world. Don't be afraid to reach out, friends. Hug someone. Tight. Let assumptions lie. And as Robin brilliantly said, “You’re only given a little spark of madness, you mustn’t lose it.”

Yoga Insights for Body Image and Self Love

Please feel invited to watch the short video below and/or read the corresponding piece of advice written in response to a great question posed by a wonderful student. I've received many similar questions and felt it an important subject to discuss. The written piece has more organized and outlined advice on dealing with negative self-image. The video is a heartfelt, off the cuff response involving my own experiences with this and the helpful insights I've learned in overcoming it. We're all works in progress. Be kind to yourself. I hope either resonate, and if they do, please feel welcome to share and continue the conversation. Apologies for the video being sideways, I find it apropos given the subject matter. Perfectionism is bullshit, embrace all the quirks.

Hi Dani,

I find myself struggling with body image in such a way that it affects all areas of my confidence and negatively affects my sex life. In truth, this has been with me my whole life. It feels like it’s simply who I am and that feels like an impossible mountain to climb. Is there hope and what can I do?

Thanks for your time, Rena

Hey there Rena,

It probably doesn’t provide much solace to know that you are not alone, but trust me, you are not alone. In fact, you are in some great company, the company of most western women and a surprising number of men.

Something we practice often in Yoga is making conscious choices to let go of what no longer serves our health and happiness. Our psyches become so accustomed to patterns that we’re then uncomfortable and unsure of how to break them. We have no idea what it feels like to be confident and that unease makes self esteem seem fake or out of reach.

Know this is a process. No one snapped their fingers and decided to let go of insecurities. They grew from knowledge and experience, and more importantly, they grew tired of being the unkind voice in their heads. However comfortable they felt in their patterns, the smarter, more accepting voice within finally spoke louder. And they decided to put in the work to move on.

Some actions you can take to grow your confidence:

By focusing your energy predominantly on your physical, outward attributes, you neglect and dismiss the vast beauty you carry within. This is beyond the cliches of beauty being more than skin deep, it’s about you working to change your vision. You know there is good there, innumerable strengths, but your focus is on external flaws so there is no attention given to boost the positives. Practice this: for every negative thought you have about yourself, body or mind, replace it with 2 positives. And repeat them until you believe them. Practice is essential. Acknowledge what you do to contribute to your health and happiness, what physical activities you do or don’t do, how you feed your body, and more importantly, how you feed your mind. The body is a machine and it needs to move to stay vital. This has nothing to do with losing inches, burning calories, fitting into clothes. It has to do with feeling your body work from the inside out. Regardless how your body changes, you’ll feel better when you move it. Find something you like to do, be it walking, dancing, gardening, biking, hiking, playing with your pets or children, Yoga, Pilates, anything to get your blood pumping and pores sweating. And give yourself this gift everyday. As challenging as it is to change your nutrition, it’s helpful to remember the strong ties our diet has not only with our physical health, but with our moods and energy levels as well. I am a self-confessed foodie. I love it all, healthy, unhealthy, and everything in between. I don’t believe in deprivation or resistance, but rather balance. Take in more of the good (whole foods like fresh veggies, fruits, whole grains and lean meats if you eat them) and leave a small percentage for indulgences (chocolate, fried foods, saturated fats, etc.). The better you eat the better you’ll feel, no matter what the scale reads. Pay close attention to what consumes your mind. Are the books, articles, TV shows, films and other influences positive? Helpful? Inspiring? Uplifting? Art is most certainly an escape and a means of expressing a truth otherwise uncovered, but if the majority of the material you’re absorbing leaves you feeling less than energized, enthused or informed, then I’d replace it with something that does. Who’s in your circle? Do your friends and loved ones support you? Are they confident themselves or stuck in similar cycles of discontent? If someone drains you, makes you feel inferior in any way, or contributes more negativity to your life than positive, it may behoove you to take a step back from those relationships. It could be as simple as changing the dialogue within the relationship, expressing your desire to be more positive and open to growth. And at times, it may require stronger moves in a direction of your choosing, either closer to ones you find encouraging, or further away from those less positive. Be honest with yourself and be honest with others. In order to truly change, you must take a big step outside of these conditioned patterns and acknowledge out loud what you want to feel and how you’re going to make it happen. Trust you are capable and believe you are worthy. No one is perfect. The western world has set an unfair paradigm for human beings to live up to. It’s unhealthy and unrealistic. Try remembering what a gift it is to be a live, be in awe of the machine you get to live in, and don’t forget it is far more important how you feel than how you look. Sex is meant to be enjoyed without any thought at all, without reverence to measurements and cup sizes. It is unadulterated bliss and can only be fully lived by saying “Fuck it, I’m alive! Someone gets to have sex with me and I get to enjoy all the pleasure my body is capable of feeling. So I’m going to feel it, dammit!”

Patience and practice are pivotal. The more emphasis you place on accepting yourself, as you are, the more your true beauty will be revealed, to both yourself and to others. Happiness and a zest for life are magnetic and human beings are attractive because of the energy they radiate, not because of they’re symmetry or six pack abs. You are already beautiful, you are already enough. Start everyday remembering that simple fact and you will see tremendous growth in your health and happiness sooner than you can imagine.

Please keep me posted! Dani

Screen Shot 2014-05-14 at 4.28.30 PM
Screen Shot 2014-05-14 at 4.28.30 PM

Please feel welcome to engage via social media and follow me at Dani Eats Life on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube, or email me at

Overcoming Anxiety

photo If there’s one psychological experience that jars most humans in some form, it is recurring bouts of anxiety. We can all relate to the uneasy, nervous feelings that often go along with a future unknown. Despite differences in age, race, background, religious and political ideology, income level, or sexual orientation, feeling worry and tension over what’s to come is actually something that connects us all.

The intensity of the experience lies within the individual but it is imperative to strike an honest, open dialogue free from any judgment or shame. Sure, the negativity manifests differently in us all, but that doesn’t mean our sharing in what brings or exacerbates our anxiety and how we’ve managed to learn from it won’t benefit others. The more we collaborate in tackling these basic human challenges, the less power they have over us and the more likely we are to overcome them.

It is precisely within that dialogue where I found inspiration to write this piece. I wanted to write it with someone from a very different background, with her own unique challenges with anxiety, but one who I feel deeply connected with on this path. Our journey coming together was vastly different but the truths and insights we’ve gleaned are so similar and connected, we know they can help others.

Leeann is Yoga student, recently became a certified teacher, finishing her last year of college. After undergoing a particularly challenging divorce as a child, being an anxious teenager, along with the pressures of being a dancer contributed to deeply personal issues with control. The converging issues in her mind had nearly cataclysmic consequences on her body, after years of digging deep and undergoing significant amounts of pain (both physical and emotional), Leeann has emerged into one of the wisest, most compassionate, open and tremendously helpful human beings I know.

We’ve come together to share tools that have helped us manage our anxiety. Are we cured? Finished? Complete? No. We are each ever-evolving works in progress, but what we understand now is we don’t have to be complete or perfect to know we are whole, to know we are enough, to start the day with gratitude and withstand whatever highs and lows the outside world throws at us.

We recognize now how important our inner dialogue is and how deeply, profoundly connected the mind and body are and always will be. We share a bit of our personal experiences and then our most helpful tools. You will notice similarities and common truths, but we each carry a different echo. We hope you resonate with either of our words and will feel encouraged to start your own dialogue.

My experience with anxiety began very young. I’d lay awake just stewing at night, from the early ages of 7-8-9 I’d have trouble sleeping due to an over-active imagination. Sometimes this creativity can be fun, exhilarating even, but when the initial experiences of sadness, tragedy and heartache set in, the imagination is then led down a winding road of misery, and the very thought of those experiences repeating themselves would send my heart and gut into a tailspin of fear. The fear would build and I’d get sick, whether it be vomiting, aches and tension in my body, or even symptoms of the common cold, they all began and grew from an idea.

Making matters worse, I constantly felt guilt for those I knew who had circumstances much worse than mine. I felt gratitude for the good I had, the loving people in my life, but for some reason the noise of the good couldn’t overpower the constant chatter of the bad. I was trapped in a device of my own making and I didn’t even see it! I still had my happy days, of course, but inside, the unknown future kept me feeling a sense of dread. I feared I’d disappoint the world and that the world would ultimately disappoint me.

I’d yet to realize what power I held, what tools I had in my disposal, and the total lack of awareness that kept me perpetuating these vicious cycles. To borrow a line from Perks of Being a Wallflower, I felt happy and sad at the same time without knowing why. I felt sad, confused, unsure of anything. As soon as I’d strike out batting, I’d fear going back up to the plate, literally and figuratively. I let what-ifs takeover and it wasn’t until I began practicing Yoga consistently, deciding to become a teacher and delving into the wisdom of Eckhart Tolle, Joseph Campbell, Osho and others, that I woke the hell up and saw the misery I was repeatedly inflicting upon myself.

Below are some tools that have seen me through tough times and continue to see me through tough days:

-Disassociating from thoughts: We all talk to ourselves, internally or out-loud, there’s a dialogue within one mind. Recognize yourself as the witness, not simply the thinker. You are not your thoughts. How could you be something so small, so fleeting? You are the conscious presence behind them.

I borrow and echo this wisdom through Eckhart Tolle. I’ve been practicing staying aware of my mind-chatter and over the years it has become much, much easier. Set an intention to watch your thoughts, either through meditation, journaling, Yoga, setting an alarm a few times a day to check in and just observe, or whatever method works for you. Practice is key.

-Breathing through during the worst days: the greatest gift Yoga gave me was a stronger attention to my breath. When I’m anxious, worried, scared, stewing, my breath is short, labored, tense. My body is too. When I’m breathing, everything softens. Suddenly, I listen more acutely, I watch more intently, I’m more present. Combine watching your thoughts with slow breaths and you’ll see your mood transform within minutes.

-Movement/exercise/yoga: I do not count calories or exercise for weight loss benefits. I move because it feels good, it improves my attitude, keeps me energized and friendly. It also keeps metabolism ticking, my heart in great shape and muscles active. Win win. I always encourage students and loved ones to find movement they enjoy, be it walking, Yoga, dance, Pilates, gardening, hiking, responsible weight lifting, moderate running, playing with your dogs or children, frisbee, I could go on. Your body is a machine. It needs and wants to move. Use it or lose it.

-Being with others: I hold no specific religion or ideology in my heart. I feel we are born to love. Often specific regimens within spirituality are gateways to this experience. Sometimes they’re stifling. If yours opens you up, elevates you, makes you feel more love and respect for yourself and others, keep on keepin’ on. I have found my relationships with students, deep friendships and fostering stronger relationships with long-term loved ones to be an excellent religion and moral compass.

I don’t believe in holding onto bad relationships, whether family or otherwise. That is within your heart to decide who to keep close and who to wish well but send on their path. People say relationships, marriage in particular, are work. I disagree. It shouldn’t feel like work. Love yourself first, rely on that as your priority, your number one sense of confidence comes from within. Love is a reflective experience. Choose loved ones who elevate you. Period. Laugh, dance, walk, cry, exchange ideas and experiences with the same goodness you give.

-Give fear the middle finger: Confronting what it is that scares you proves the worst case scenario lies in your mind. Most things we talk ourselves out of will not even come close to killing us. It may hurt our feelings but there are valuable lessons within rejection and failure. Knowing what you can withstand will only make you stronger and more fearless, willing to try, willing to truly take steps toward your big dreams.

Recognize that what scares you is also what excites you, see the positive emotion over the negative what-ifs. Follow the excitement, believe in your ability to handle the inevitable ups and downs.

From Leeann: As a person who started Paxil at the age of 13, “anxiety” is a word that has resonated with me for many years. I spent my adolescence in and out of therapy and on and off of medications, never thinking twice about the fact that these weren’t permanent fixes. I would stay up all night checking my doors to make sure that they were locked and practicing superstitious rituals that I thought would keep my family and me safe.

I was scared to apply for jobs, meet new people and talk in class. It wasn’t until I started taking my yoga practice seriously and letting it penetrate my every day life that I was able to get off the medication and start dealing with my anxiety in a more direct way. This is a constant process and the lessons I learn on and off my mat help me to get through even the toughest days with anxiety. I know now that my anxiety doesn’t get to dictate my life and by taking baby steps, I am able to live more freely and open than ever before.

My journey with anxiety has given me the opportunity to experiment with different tricks and techniques to help me calm down and let go.

Inhale and Exhale- I find that whenever I am feeling anxious, my breath is the first thing that goes. Recognizing that and being able to slow down your breath can make a huge difference. It sounds almost too simple, but after about five deep and steady breaths, I always feel some relief. It helps if I count my inhales and exhales and make the numbers match. That way I give my body a chance to gain back control.

- Connections- Yoga has also brought me some amazing friends that have had a significant impact on how anxiety affects me. The people in my yoga community are open and loving humans who understand the depth of the mind-body connection, which is key in understanding anxiety. They’re helpful because they’re always encouraging me to stay out of my head. They serve as a distraction from my anxiety if I need it, or as listening ears if I want to talk about it. Surrounding yourself with loving, open people can keep you present and in the moment, rather than worrying about the future or the past.

- Leaning into fears- I have many small, trivial fears that come along with the bigger, more serious fears that can send me into a panic attack. I am learning that in some unconscious way, these fears are connected. While I can’t practice whether or not I will get a job when I graduate, or if I will be able to handle moving to a new city on my own, I found that I can practice fears that are on a smaller scale.

I recently bought a bike and started riding it in Chicago. I hesitated and was terrified to take this step as I came very close to losing a person dear to me in a bike accident two years ago. I always knew biking would be the most efficient way to get around the city, but I was consumed by the potential negatives. Thinking about getting on a bike in this fast-paced city gave me a knot in my stomach and triggered a sequence of dark and scary thoughts. Once I realized how little living in fear was doing for me, I decided to try taking baby-steps toward practicing courage and facing my fears head on. Since I began riding, I’ve noticed that I’m able to handle some of my more irrational fears that usually extract an anxious reaction.

By getting on my bike, I was practicing the act of freeing myself from constant worry and fear. I showed myself that my anxiety does not have to control me. Most of our fears are related to things completely out of our control, so by practicing facing fears that are in our control, we are learning to face and overcome. This could mean anything from riding a roller coaster to traveling to a new country on your own to telling someone a truth you’ve yet to reveal. It doesn’t matter so long as you’re giving yourself a brief moment where you’re letting go.

-Living Yoga off the mat- take your favorite quotes, memes, philosophies and lessons into the world, implement them on your bad days, not simply agreeing with them when times are easy.

None of these tools provide easy solutions. There isn’t an on and off button. They’re choices, tough choices to make in the midst of anxiety, but tremendously helpful in easing the intensity and moving through it. Applying the principles in everyday life, regardless of outside circumstances, will help keep a strong, calm presence within. Keep the dialogue moving. We can encourage each other through this.

Leeann Hepler works for a fantastic organization called Smarty Pants Yoga. Their goals surround empowering young girls through Yoga, teaching the real meaning of confidence, self love, strength, intelligence, and happiness. They're doing great work, you should check them out.

I continue to teach Yoga and write in the Los Angeles area. I teach private, couple, group and workplace Yoga, along with meditations, guided relaxation, and psychological coaching on building your own sense of health and happiness. Please feel invited to email me at for any questions and needs.

Letting Go of Being Let Go

IMG_0628 There’s a festering ball of assholey nerves combusting in my gut. I’m working to keep it contained, drained even, but it fucking lingers like the plague. I am feeling mostly positive, actually happy I don’t have a boss anymore (I dig my autonomy big time.), a place to be 50 hours a week, 2 hours of traffic to endure to get to this uninspiring place where dreams go to die. But I am still daunted, still unsure, still sick at the thought of growing a child while being under-employed.

I accept these are my circumstances and that they are not permanent. I do. But I wrangle with the impermanence all the same. What direction to move next? What to do? Where to go? Who to connect with? And all I really want to do is nap and eat bread with lots of butter (don’t judge me, that’s what the baby wants!). I feel guilty for being happy I don’t have to return to that wretched job, with people I enjoyed, but a space I did not. I feel embarrassed I was fired, my ego is screaming in anger. My heart is pounding in delight. My mind just keeps saying ‘FUCK.’

Should I feel guilty that a major part of my being now feels free? I feel unchained, bound to nothing, obliged to no one, left to be judged by only one harsh critic: ME. Is that bad? No, it just is. I can’t change it. My doubts going in are proving as truths coming out. Ain’t hindsight a bitch. And ain’t intuition brilliant? And ain’t my mind and my pesky little ego and its need for external satisfaction a bunch of idiots in cahoots?

It’s easy to bark, I didn’t like you that much anyway! once someone broke your heart, but seeing they were no good for you at the get go, now that intelligence takes some honing. The mind is so crafty, the ego so convincing. You need this, it says. Your parents will be so proud, it purports. How much longer must you live paycheck to paycheck, it annoyingly questions.

The point is it’s easy to cry I knew it once someone’s pulled the plug before I could. But I didn’t know it. And that might bother me most of all, the fact that I’d leave whatever keen intuition I thought I’d built over years of introspection, yoga, meditation. Years of discontent, doubt, criticism. I’d found such peace in Chicago, I’d stopped worrying whether I was in the right place because I felt like I was.

But transition helps you take 3 steps backward and get to know the real you again. And I learned there’s still that little asshole inside of me that feels incomplete, unsuccessful and ultimately, unworthy. I loathe pragmatism and yet I chose it at the drop of a hat. I wasn’t looking for it, but it still found me. The universe found yet another way to test me.

I’m listening. I see. I promise.

So what am I supposed to learn from this? I am a crummy project manager? I should’ve listened to those semi-ripened instincts? Income doesn’t predicate success? Don’t quit your day job? All of the above? Believe me, I feel it all. I’ve usually reflected on myself with bird shit covered glasses, failures make me simultaneously feel right and wrong. I’m often quite mean to myself. And I’m still working on it. Obviously.

I feel humbled, to say the least. And I’m not sure how to wisely move forward. My head throbs from berating myself and my eyes burn from wasted tears. Who the fuck am I? Thought I’d had a fraction of my recipe figured out, but I’m still just a mess of ingredients with no clue how to assemble into a functional piece that makes sense.

I know there are lessons to be learned, wisdom to be gleaned, a window to be opened from this slammed door. Or at least cracked. A cracked window that I can nudge and hopefully squeeze me and my pregnant belly through. But in truth, I am baffled by the task of starting over, yet again, of hitting rewind and pushing play in a now different movie.

I can’t help the thoughts that I disappointed by family, let down my loved ones, even though they’d smack me for feeling that way (not really, they’d roll their eyes and say shut the hell up and move on, you got this shit!). I know the fear is a projection of what I feel inside, but it’s there nonetheless. The lessons of my favorite writers and teachers are echoing in my mind. The memes we all love to share reverberating truths into my pounding skull.

I must practice acceptance, embrace surrender. I must take responsibility and own my contribution so I emerge better and smarter from my failures, rather than bitter and befuddled. I’m not angry at anyone else but myself. And I shouldn’t be angry. I tried. I gave it my best, I can sincerely say that. So fuck it, I didn’t like it anyway. Money schmoney.

This release is a relief, a gift, a pink slip to freedom. I’ve been returned to a world I should have never left. In the 5.5 years I spent teaching, I never doubted my place, didn’t question my purpose. I knew I was right where I was supposed to be. I never had less money but felt more abundant. I felt I was helping people while helping myself.

Who cares if I had to shake things up and move to a completely new place? Who cares if I’m now with child and my husband is in what feels like an endlessly expensive and time sucking stint in grad school? We’ve endured worse in our 9 years. For some reason, staring at the precipice of 30, with dreams of a family and home in my future, allowed me to let logic and societal norms brainwash me again.

There is something for everyone, a job that can fulfill many, but my job rests in sharing what I know and love with others. And I’m good at it, not afraid or hesitant to admit it anymore. There are many amazing people who also share what I do. They make me better, they uplift my spirits, they're brilliance doesn't make me any less of what I am.

Feedback from students has always been good, why would I question it? Fear. Fear of how to build success without selling out or selling my soul. Fear of trusting my way and my unique path. I’d forgotten the advice I’d so often given: Your path is un-carved, trust yourself to make your way. I simply need to focus on being a great teacher for my wonderful students. I don’t need to be anyone but me, follow any path but mine, adhere to anyone’s code but my own.

I just need to teach. And teach well. And love hard. And hug tight. Who cares about the beauty of a handstand? I’m more interested in sharing insights on living with ease. The handstands will come, let’s try for happy and sane first. I know I must practice what I preach and accept all flaws and failures before I can truly see beauty and success.

Time to nut up or shut up. Nothing more motivating than having no choice to be exactly who you fucking are. And I’m ready. Things often get hard before they get good. I know life ain’t all sunshine and rainbows all the time. I wouldn’t want it to be. This little bitter end adds to the spice of my life, adds to my quirky little recipe. I’m becoming quite the flavorful dish.

Please stay connected and think of me if you need a qualified and passionate Restorative and Yoga teacher, creative nonfiction writer or web content creator, a Yoga Hike guide, or just a nice boost! You can find me at Dani Eats Life on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Please also feel welcome to email!

You Don’t Need A Guru. YOU Are Your Best Guide.

Screen Shot 2014-04-02 at 12.40.35 PM The very concept of this article can lead me to shooting myself in the foot. I’m a Yoga teacher. And writer. Naturally, my hope is students and readers will resonate with me, and want to stay connected into the foreseeable future. And while I feel my words and actions may be worthy of following, I in no way see my philosophy as the be all, end all, to be followed mercilessly, strictly, to the fucking T!

So, yes, I say and write fuck. Often. My apologies. What I’ve found through years of self doubt, anxiety, and unease over the unknown, is the truth that no other path should resemble my own. No other human being’s moral code and life philosophy should be a mirror image of mine. Why would I want to copy when I have a heart and mind intelligent enough to decipher through the bullshit and keep the good shit?

That’s precisely what I tell my students, take whatever I say that resonates and throw the rest away. Needing someone to follow me and believe so strongly in my personal philosophy is simply my ego’s desire, a fool’s errand. What I and many fantastic teachers and leaders around the globe can do is help you hone your intuition more, challenge you to tune in and listen to the quiet intelligence within.

There’s an obscene amount of noise out there. Have you noticed? There are books, studies, articles, and oodles of research to support pretty much any theory imaginable. Should we adopt a vegetarian diet? Veganism? Gluten free? Paleo? There are mountains of data to support all of these options. Mountains! No one knows what it’s like to fuel your body. Consult a doctor, sure, experts you respect and admire, but mostly, tune in, feel, experience, learn, and you will make the smartest decision for yourself.

Within the Yoga community there are a thousand schools of thought on everything from how often you should practice, exactly what type of yoga you should take, who you should study with, what you should wear, what you should eat before and after, how to properly align in foundational poses, whether you should practice in the heat or not, etc.

It’s a headache. Many teachers I respect have adopted philosophies and strategies that differ greatly from mine. Who cares? I still learn a hell of a lot from them. I take what resonates and I throw away the rest.

Putting it bluntly, those who tell you with black and white certainty you HAVE to do something or you can NEVER do something else, are know-it-all jerks. Who likes being brow beat into an opinion anyway? But what we get inundated with these days are clever sharks disguised as sweethearts. We pay thousands of dollars and walk on hot coals, for what? Something we could have gleaned from 30-45 minutes of reading on our own.

This is not to say you should start diagnosing yourself, prescribing your own remedies, taking care of your own legal work, practicing Yoga however the fuck you want, adopting your own financial and tax philosophies, eating McDonald’s because it just “feels right,” etc. Spend time with people you admire, allow the expertise of others (like me, I’m awesome, and so are you!) to fill you with more knowledge, insight, and joy, but at the end of the day, you are your own guru!

There is no need to “worship” and cling to every word and move someone you admire makes. Appreciate them, respect them, get inspired by them, support them (yes, we need support!), but merely spend more time plowing the fields of your unique existence rather than following someone else’s. Find teachers and mentors that foster more love and interest in who you are, allow them to spark your creative juices without actually being your creative outlet.

It’s not about dismissing or dissing another, quite the contrary. The more love you feel for yourself, the more you hold for others. They go hand in hand. So rather than belonging to an exclusive club or buying into some niche way of thinking, you understand the inherent truth that opinions and philosophies are like assholes: everybody’s got em. You can respect the paths of others while choosing kindly to walk your own. And you deserve just that, do you not?

We live once. Be your weird ass self.

You're Already A Peacock

Please excuse any potty language below:) You can be rich Perhaps you're poor Fact of the matter is We all poop We all cry We excrete A cavalcade of weird things We share the same pleasures And plights We're not objects We're beings Who cares what your job title is Of what importance is your income Our hearts beat just the same High status No status We're all the same No matter your name You deserve respect Love A Chance A best friend To be heard And encouraged Because we all poop We share common fears Of embarrassment Failure Being misunderstood Unloved Rejected Unseen There is more uniting us Than dividing us Let's connect And recollect All the ways we can love And support Knowing we're all the same deep down Gives us wings to fly high No better And no worse We're already peacocks So let's smile Be bright And bold Let our freaky feathers fan out And welcome love in To dismiss our uniqueness Or disrespect another's Would be a damn sin Let go Soar You're already a peacock What are you waiting for?


Where's the Beauty?

Where's the beauty?I feel the cool sting of my dog's nose on my hip My eyes blink open and I take in the day Sauntering out of bed in my PJs No thoughts churn as my mind is so clear Rays of light escape through windows I absorb the pure newness of each moment And I am carried away by morning The stillness inside awakens my senses Envelops me in the wide open space of being The trees whisper in the wind Birds sing in a vivacious clarity And I am at peace No filter for which to speak or think No mask to hide flaws or true feelings Just life being lived Breath being breathed Just me

Where's the beauty?