Is Yoga Suppose to be Fun?

Twenty-five years ago, I began practicing yoga. I came to the mat to release the stress of years of competitive athletics and pressure of starting a new company. At first, there was an excitement of looking forward to the next class, wondering what new pose I would discover. Everything was an adventure. It was like a new relationship with someone you were falling in love with, the honeymoon stage where both of you are displaying your best characteristics. The practice continued that way for quite a long time, a ritual of spending time with myself, moving my body and focusing inward, being in the present moment.  Everything was fresh, fun and exciting. But like relationships, my yoga experience eventually reached some obstacles, injuries and time commitment. Something began to shift and I started to feel that this is work, it’s not so fun any more.  “Do I have to practice again today?”  It can be a very disheartening place, to look at something that once was so exciting and now no longer brings you the same sense of adventure and excitement.  This is where I had a decision to make. What is my yoga going to be for me?  Breakthrough!  This was an amazing place to be.  Yoga was no longer a ride that I was being taken on but a path I chose to walk.  This is when my yoga began an amazing transformation from providing entertainment to providing opportunities for personal evolution.  I  decided at that moment that this is more than yoga poses and personal time, that this is a lifestyle commitment I wanted to make, that this practice is something that extends beyond the mat and the time that I am on it. I was being drawn into this practice because I knew there was work I needed to continue.

For whatever reason you are brought to yoga, maybe to heal an old injury, relieve stress or were dragged into class by an enthusiastic friend for fun, if you practice consistently and long enough, it inevitably develops beyond the initial intention.  As we approach obstacles in the practice that feel like work, how do we maintain a regular practice when it is no longer fun? Is yoga supposed to be fun?  It’s something to think about, but I think it is more important to evaluate fun with regards to the yoga practice. I prefer to use the word joyful. Fun can sometimes border on the word “entertaining” or even “silly”. Definitely we can find joy in our yoga practice. And more importantly we will receive from our yoga what we are willing to put into it.  We can have a devotional experience by bringing devotion to our mat.  We can have a fun class by bringing an attitude of joy and a lighthearted approach.  Just because the yoga has become something that is transformative and about self-study it doesn’t mean that we need to drown in seriousness.  What it means is that we become the CEO of our yoga and begin to develop a grander perspective of what brings joy and contentment on the mat.  It is no longer about trying some elaborate new pose, although sometimes that is still there, but joy is found in discovering that over the course of time and practice we have come to know ourselves at a deeper, more profound level and grown into better versions of our self. When we receive this type of compensation, we are much more willing to do the daily work, to approach these obstacles with joy and an open heart because we know what is possible to be found on the other side. We learn that we need the discipline, but we also are happy to give ourselves those practices that are just about having fun. We need moments to experience the result of our efforts, and acknowledge the growth and self awareness gained through yoga. Through our disciplined and challenging practices, we appreciate the playful, fun practices where everything just feels good.

Wherever you are on your yoga journey, in the honeymoon stage or in a blossoming yoga marriage, remember that no practice is perfect and the road isn’t always smooth. For this journey, you’ll need patience, poise and lots of practice, just like a long, successful marriage. So, hold on tight, you’re about to take the ride of your life.

If You See Someone Without A Smile…Give Them One Of Yours

What’s the most important part of a yoga pose? Your smile 🙂


Even when you are breathing through a difficult posture, maintain an inner smile. What you feel and practice on the inside will come shining through on the outside. Smiling changes our mood. Next time you’re feeling down, start with an inner smile and then spread it to your outer lips. Smiling can trick the body into helping you change your mood. When my kids we’re young and would start complaining or crying, I would have them place a pencil in their mouth to form a big, wide grin and then have them look up. They would instantly go from unhappy to laughing and smiling.

The mere act of smiling is contagious and makes us more attractive. Frowns and grimaces push people away, but a smile draws them in. We are drawn to people who smile and want to figure out what is so good. The same muscles we use to smile are the same ones we use to lift our face and make us look younger. Save your money on a face lift, and just try smiling through the day. If you start to feel stressed, it can show up on your face making you look tired and worn down. Go back to your smile to help reduce your stress and prepare you to take more effective action on your concerns.

There’s a reason it’s recommended to watch a funny show when you are sick. The act of smiling is a natural pain killer releasing endorphins and serotonin. Your immune function improves helping to prevent flu and colds. If you have high blood pressure, smiling while monitoring it has been shown to reduce your reading. Try it if you have a blood pressure monitor at home. Take your reading frowning first, then take it smiling. Do you notice a difference? Smiling as a natural drug combines these body chemicals to make us feel good.

So next time, you find yourself scowling through your least favorite yoga pose, take a deep breath and smile. Let me know how it feels.   🙂

Bali Retreat Raises Funds for Charity

Local Residents co-hosting Bali yoga retreat as fundraiser
By Kristina Houck

Two local yoga instructors are teaming up to rase more than hope for City of Hope.

With City of Hope’s fifth annual Yoga for Hope set for June 13 at Petco Park, yoga instructors Stacy McCarty and Heidi Shurtz are planning a unique fundraiser to raise awareness about the benefits of yoga, as well as funds for research, treatment and education programs: For one week in July, the pair will be hosting a yoga retreat to Bali.

Bali yoga retreat“It really goes hand in-hand,” said McCarthy, who has liven in Rancho Santa Fe for 17 years. “Yoga for Hope and City of Hope connects, renews, inspires and cures. That’s much of what we’re doing on a retreat.”

Every year, McCarthy co-leads the master yoga class during Yoga for Hope. Having participated in the event since it first launched, she has helped make it the success it is today.

Last year’s event raised more than $80,000 for City of Hope, one of the nations leading centers for canter treatment and research, through more than 70 donation-based yoga classes and the fundraising efforts of participants.

“It’s so rewarding,” McCarthy said. “It’s Southern California’s largest yoga event. It’s a phenomenal thing.”

Scheduled to co-lead the class again this year, McCarthy has looked for new ways to raise funds for the event. In previous years, she has hosted donation-given yoga classes. This year, she and fellow yoga instructor Heidi Shurtz are traveling to Bali with a group of yogis July 12-18. A portion of the proceeds from the retreat will benefit City of Hope.

“We want to give back to our retreat members, but we also want to give back to the community and help raise awareness,” Shurtz said.

This is Shurtz’ third time hosting a yoga retreat to Bali. She and her husband, Jason Shurtz, lead retreats through their local business Yoga Retreats Bali.

A Carmel Valley native and Torrey Pines High School alumna, Shurtz has been a yoga instructor for more than four years. After college in 2010, Shurtz traveled to Bali, where she and her now-husband trained as yoga instructors for about three months.

“I was not expecting to come out of it wanting to change my career path,” said Shurtz, who has a degree in Landscape Architecture. “But I fell in love with teaching yoga.”

Now a Carlsbad resident, she returned to the island in 2011 and hosted her first Bali retreat in 2012, with another one the following year.

“I wanted to find a way to bring people to Bali,” she said. “It’s just such an amazing place. The impact that it had on my life was so profound [and I wanted others to be able to experience that].”

Although McCarthy has never been to Bali, she has traveled around the world and has more than 20 years of teaching experience. In 1991, she helped launch the original Frog’s Athletic Club in Solana Beach, bringing yoga classes to the health club the next year. She began teaching in 1994.

McCarthy and Shurtz met years ago at the Pacific Athletic Club, now Bay Club Carmel Valley, where McCarthy is an instructor and Shurtz is a member.

“We wanted to have an experience where people who practiced yoga with us have more time, so we can really deepen our connection,” said McCarthy, who holds private classes and wellness retreats through her business, Yoga Namastacy, which launched in 1999. She is also a yoga teacher and faculty member at Mira Costa College and offers classes on SpiroFit, a live, on demand, online fitness network.

“It’s a very bonding and very spiritual area, where they will get away from their everyday life and also deepen their connection with their inner selves. We’re their to foster and cultivate that.”

The one week retreat features daily yoga classes, and cultural excursions. Up to 20 spots are available.

“Being in a place like Bali lends itself to a transformative, deep and emotional experience,” Shurtz said.

“It’s also a place to reconnect and refocus,” said McCarthy, noting that husbands and wives, as well as mothers and daughters, have signed up for the retreat. “Yoga does that.”

Single occupancy rates are $3400 and double occupancy rates are $2600 per person. Group discounts are available for 3 or more people.

A portion of the proceeds will benefit City of Hope. The last day to book is June 1.

“Time for yourself,” Shurtz said. “It’s important to take care of yourself.”

If you really want to go, make it happen. You won’t regret it.

For more information or to register for the retreat visit

We are also offering an additional discount to help raise money for Yoga for Hope. The promotion is DONATE AND SAVE! Donate to Yoga for Hope under the yoga retreats-bali team and get additional discounts for the retreat:

Donate $50 for $100 off – Donate $100 for $200 off – Donate $150 for $300 off

Click HERE to register for the retreat today!

The Wisdom That Comes With Age

As we come off the holiday high and dive into a New Year, I’d like to share a few thoughts  that help keep life in perspective.   (Edited from Baz Luhrmann – Everybody’s Free)

  • Enjoy the power and beauty of your youth; in 20 years you’ll look back at photos of yourself and recall in a way you can’t grasp now how much possibility lay before you and how fabulous you really looked….You’re not as fat as you imagine.  
  • Don’t worry about the future; The real troubles in your life are apt to be things that never crossed your worried mind; the kind that blindside you at 4pm on some idle Tuesday.   
  •  Enjoy your body, use it every way you candon’t be afraid of it, or what other people think of it, it’s the greatest instrument you’ll ever own..
  • Do one thing everyday that scares you.   
  • Sing – Floss – Stretch – Travel. 
  • Don’t be reckless with other people’s hearts, don’t put up with people who are reckless with yours.
  • Don’t waste your time on jealousy; sometimes you’re ahead, sometimes you’re behind…the race is long, and in the end, it’s only with yourself.  
  • Remember the compliments you receive, forget the insults; if you succeed in doing this, tell me how.
  •  Keep your old love letters, throw away your old bank statements.
  • Be kind to your knees, you’ll miss them when they’re gone.  
  • Do NOT read beauty magazines, they will only make you feel ugly.
  • Get to know your parents, you never know when they’ll be gone for good.  
  • Be nice to your siblings; they are the best link to your past and the people most likely to stick with you in the future.
  • Understand that friends come and go, but for a precious few you should hold on. Work hard to bridge the gaps in geography and lifestyle because the older you get, the more you need the people you knew when you were young.   
  • Respect your elders.  
  • Don’t expect anyone else to support you. Maybe you have a trust fund, maybe you have a wealthy spouse; but you never know when either one might run out.
  • Don’t feel guilty if you don’t know what you want to do with your life…the most interesting people I know didn’t know at 22 what they wanted to do with their lives, some of the most interesting 40 year olds I know still don’t.
  • Maybe you’ll marry, maybe you won’t, maybe you’ll have children, maybe you won’t, maybe you’ll divorce at 40, maybe you’ll dance the funky chicken on your 75th wedding anniversary…what ever you do, don’t congratulate yourself too much or berate yourself either – your choices are half chance, so are everybody else’s.   ~Namaste~ Stacy
Beyond Age

Beyond Age

5 sure fire-giveaways that you’re a dedicated Yogi

Recently I was taking a class in LA and I watched the most focused yogi ever:

This yogi was sitting in padmasana against a wall

waiting for class to begin.

A few feet away from this yogi, is a very Famous and Attractive

Actress (F.A.A.) trying to get his attention.

Not only does he NOT EVEN LOOK

at F.A.A.,… He doesn’t even appear

to physically HEAR F.A.A.

He’s so immersed in the moment… Focused

on his breath… That not even one of the

worlds most beautiful women can distract him.

Watching this got me thinking…

It never takes longer than 60 seconds

to tell the difference between a Dedicated Yogi (D.Y.)

and a fly by night yogi (F.B.N.)

And having taught thousands of students and trained hundreds of teachers,

I’ve noticed a few sure fire giveaways between the

students who get it – and the students who

fall off the mat entirely.

Here’s 5:


A F.B.N. Yogi will complain that she doesn’t have

a studio or the props to train.


A Dedicated Yogi will find a place to practice at all costs… Even when it means

practicing with chaos around you  –

Or using no equipment except your body and your breath.



“I had my first baby and I tried to go to a yoga class, but my baby was too young to attend childcare at the studio. I don’t have any yoga props at home, but I turned the phone off and put in your Busy Mom Yoga DVD with my newborn nearby. Still the best Yoga practice I’ve ever done, even now that my newborn is a toddler!!!”

Jennifer Davidson

Dedicated Yogi and Peaceful Mom

– —————————————–


F.B.N. Yogi’s will complain they need to be in a hot room, not to be in a hot room, have music playing, not have music playing, have a teacher, have only a particular teacher.


A Dedicated Yogi will not make excuses of why they can’t practice, no matter

what the reason is. They will be okay with life’s ebbs and flow. They will accept life’s ups and downs and do their practice anyway.



“I started practicing with you back at the beginning of January. As I followed you from Hot Yoga studios, to College Yoga Classes to Ashtanga Classes at a Sports Resort I learned to maintain the ritual and cultivation of a regular practice without the attachment to one environment. I’ve learned to work towards my goals but view my practice everyday with new eyes.

–       Justine Lu

Yogi cultivating a regular practice




F.B.N. Yogi’s will blame their injuries on yoga poses.

…And give up entirely. They’ll say that “chatarunga hurt their shoulder or

padmasana (lotus pose) hurt their knee”. They’ll demonize the pose instead of admitting…

It is you doing yoga postures wrong or pushing yourself into poses you are not ready for that is the problem.


A Dedicated Yogi will look at their injury, and say this:

“I need to let my ego go and modify my practice. I may not be able to do everything I use to, but I have a bigger picture I’m working towards and this set back is temporary”.



“I have a group of friends that I started yoga with several years ago, now only a couple of us still have a regular yoga practice. The excuses were many, they wanted  to try the latest exercise craze or they were to hyper for yoga or they kept getting injured. I’ve heard you say there is always someone out there with a disciplined yoga practice, transforming from the inside out when others are jumping from the latest exercise craze searching for something outside themselves, searching to change their physical shell. I am that person staying committed to my yoga practice through all the highs and lows of physical and mental discomfort.

The transformation for me continues to evolve physically, mentally and spiritually and I’ve never felt so grounded and content in my life.

Jesica Murphy

Yogi calming a monkey mind




F.B.N. Yogi’s will claim they don’t have

enough TIME to get their practice in, read inspiring texts

daily, and stay on top of their responsibilities.


A Dedicated Yogi will say that she doesn’t have enough time either.

Then she’ll just get up earlier.



“Since I’m in college and work on

the weekends, it’s tough to get my yoga practice in

– especially with exams almost every week.


So I wake up at 5:45 am to get on my mat

and although it’s tough, I persevere

because I can feel and see the difference.

It’s this discipline that has given me a

Powerful Body and a Peaceful Mind”


– Tracy McFarland

Dedicated Yogi



And finally, #5:


F.B.N. Yogi’s will push themselves for a couple months,

and say that it’s “too hard.”


Dedicated Yogi’s will challenge themselves but will

work at a rate that’s safe and say it’s challenging.

And then continue to practice & modify as needed

until the practice becomes easy.


Dedicated Yogis will get results like this:



“Stacy I struggled with my stomach for years after having four children.  Your teaching physically changed my body.  My stomach is finally flat and strong, my back is muscular, and overall my body is firm and toned. I have a greater awareness of my body, how I carry myself, and my posture outside of yoga. And I’m more present with my children and loving to my husband.”

–       Patti Lorne

Dedicated Yogi, Wife and Mom


Now it’s up to you to decide which results

YOU want.

Fly By Night Yogi…

Or Dedicated Yogi.

The choice is yours.



My New Tesla

My latest Zen experience comes from driving a car. This is not just any car, it’s the 100% electric, pull back the edges of your lips, sexy, sleek, high tech and hard core amazing Tesla Model S. I’ve had three different Hybrid Lexus over the years and loved them all, but I was ready to make the leap to a 100% electric vehicle. Not only do I never have to go to the gas station ever again, but also I’m no longer dependent on any fossil fuels to go to the Bbar to get my Beaming Zing. With its sleek lines, minimalist feel, and quiet interior, the Tesla turns driving into a Zen experience and what’s more yogic than that. Also when you step on the gas, you get what’s called the Tesla smile.

Energy Boosting Yoga Poses

Anytime, Any Place Energy Boosting Yoga Move

As busy moms, we don’t always have time for a full yoga class, but what about a simple move you can do to help pick up your energy at home? I shot a series of short Yoga videos with Lifetime Moms here’s one of my first with Zen Mom Angela Chee. Check out the Busy Mom Yoga DVD for a full yoga practice.

Thrive Through The Holidays

Happy Holy-days!

Thrive through the holidays with a few simple strategies.
1) Be Moderate – don’t overdue it. Too much food, alcohol, sweets and social commitments can take a toll both physically and

2) Lower Your Expectations – you may set yourself up for frustration if you expect too much of yourself and others this time of the

3) Avoid Over Spending – don’t go intodebt.

4) Take Time For Yourself – practice a few yoga poses, go for a walk, sip tea , meditate and listen to music.

5) Focus On Your Spiritual Life – Make it happy holy-days. No matter what tradition you come from take this time to connect to your spiritual life.