Author Archives: francestaylorbrown

About francestaylorbrown

Frances is originally from Los Angeles, where she earned her B. F. A. in dance from California State University at Long Beach. She has been performing and dancing for over 20 years, and teaching dance and movement since 1987. Frances’ diverse background in the exercise and movement arts includes certifications in Hatha and Prenatal Yoga, Structural Yoga Therapy, Yogilates, Pilates Mat and Equipment, Thai Yoga Massage, Muscle Ballet, Holistic Health Counseling and Personal Training. Her personal and professional philosophy focuses on balancing body, mind and spirit through the creative connection of movement, exercise, holistic health, personal empowerment and supportive community. Frances often employs a variety of training techniques when working with clients. Each session is tailored to the client’s specific needs and goals. She works with a wide range of clients, those wanting to lose weight or simply feel better and more energized as well as those who are rehabilitating after illness or injury and pre- and postnatal clients.

Albert Einstein was a Yogi

albert-einstein5I found this quote from Albert Einstein, and thought immediately to myself “Wow, Albert Einstein was a Yogi … Who Knew.” It reminded me of the feeling I got when reading a book that was about famous vegetarians. I was surprised by all of the people I wouldn’t have thought would be in the book, but were. Some of the people included in the book were obvious, but many were an interesting surprise. Here’s the quote … what do you think?

“A human being is a part of the whole that we call the universe, a part limited in time and space. She experiences herself, her thoughts and feelings, as something separated from the rest–a kind of optical illusion of her consciousness. This illusion is a prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for only the few people nearest us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all  living beings and all of nature.”

A Simple Exercise in Overcoming Obstacles

Picture 4

This is coming up for me because yesterday I lapsed on my meditation for the first time, and feel my own resistances coming up.

I just read in the Yoga Vasistha … “Demons come in many colors” It is a little out of context, but I thought the analogy could apply to some of those little annoying things that keep us from doing what we want to do. (meditate!)

from time to time, we all come up against procrastination, self sabotage, lack of self care. Things that keep us from doing what we set out to do. Even though we know it will bring us to a better place if we do follow through, we are stopped in our tracks.
The book “The Artist’s Way” spoke about naming your personal demons, and coming to terms/making friends with them by making them not so threatening.

The exercise has you literally picture your “demons” as silly cartoon figures running around in your head. If you go through this process, then you can label them when they come up and greet them at the door so to speak. Maybe even show them right away to the “out door”.
Step one … naming your demons. Ready go!

Building Peace

a painting from The Yoga Vasistha manuscript 1602

a painting from The Yoga Vasistha manuscript 1602

It was so inspiring Saturday to be in a room full of people ready willing and able to jump in to the 30 day meditation challenge. I myself have been really excited about building a regular practice of doing daily inspirational reading, yoga and meditation, but had not added the meditation part in yet, so… doing the 30 day meditation challenge is the perfect opportunity to complete my practice!

I remember going through Mukunda Stiles Structural Yoga Therapy Training in 2004, and learning of the daily ritual of reading from “Vasistha’s Yoga” and doing daily meditation and yoga asana . By that time Mukunda had been through the 725 page book seven times. I was very inspired by this and had the feeling that if there was only one book you could own this one would be the perfect choice.

Here is Mukunda’s practice as I have been applying daily:

  1. As soon as you wake up, read one verse from the Vasistha’s Yoga (it’s about one page so I say to myself … I can do one page! and that doesn’t seem too daunting). Whatever stands out as helpful to you is what you keep in mind that day as your focus.
  2. Roll out of bed on to your yoga mat. Meditate for 10-20 minutes. (Do not pass go, do not collect $200.)
  3. Do Yoga asana for 10-20 minutes.

Vasistha’s Yoga is a spiritual text written by Swami Venkatesananda, and is believed to answer all the questions that arise in the human mind.  It recounts a discourse of the sage Vasistha to a young Prince Rama during a period when the latter is in a dejected state. The contents relate to the illusory nature of the manifest world and the principle of non-duality. The book consists of about 32,000 shlokas (lines), including numerous short stories and anecdotes used to help illustrate its content.

As a mom, I am glad to have my kids be privy to my practice. I think it is good for them to see me actively cultivating tools that can help in life. I tend to be pretty optimistic maybe sometimes to a fault. My sister jokingly refers to me as “Pollyanna” and pokes a little fun at my optimism. I do try to make the best of things when I can, but know that life is not always butterflies and rainbows.   I also know that in life we need guidance to deal with the tough questions that can come up. I want to show my kids, through example, the tools they need to build more peace and ease into their lives. I am reminded of a quote by Louise Diamond about building peace. Perhaps our meditation practice can become integral part of our building process.

“Building peace is like building a house. Peace exists in the ideal realm, and our job is to bring it into manifestation. Peace, too [like a house], needs a strong foundation, an appropriate infrastructure, good protection from bad weather, and all the trimmings and details that ensure its ability to stand for a long long time, providing a home within which generations of children might grow up safely and happily.” —The Courage for Peace by Louise Diamond

Let Others Help You Grow

I love to read Pema Chodron Quotes at the end of teaching a yoga class at the studio. She has a wonderful little book called “The Pocket Pema Chodron” and I thought I would share a little bit of her wisdom from the book. I often am touched by the themes of letting others help you with your spiritual growth. It is surprisingly not always the “nice” connections that Pema Chodron suggests as support for spiritual growth, but often, the difficult connections we have with people that can really help us to grow tremendously. Today I read:

“Be Grateful to Everyone

Others will always show you exactly where you are stuck. They say or do something and you automatically get hooked into a familiar way of reacting— shutting down, speeding up, or getting all worked up. When you react in the habitual way, with anger, greed, and so forth, it gives you a chance to see your patterns and work with them honestly and compassionately. Without others provoking you, you remain ignorant of your painful habits and cannot train in transforming them into the path of awakening.”

Thank you Pema Chodron for your wonderful insight on letting our challenges with others become a gift to help us evolve into more peaceful beings.

sun sea soul

I am often inspired by nature and especially at this time of year love to think about the beach. Please enjoy this poem by one of my favorite yogis.

Sun Sea Soul

A Poem by Swami Ramananda:

spirit erupts into form
like fire bursting into flames
startles you awake
speaks your name
silent towering clouds, endless sky
the perfect voice of tiny mountain flowers
the music of little girl giggle
the vast reach of sea that rises into a dried up soul

sky and sun, dazzling light and color
a call to prayer
a mark on the heart

if I open an eye for an instant
how can I not give up my dialogue with safety
run into these arms held out to me
fall to my knees in the wake of this public Grace

grant me a bigger cup
to receive the miracle of movement
and the blessing of wonder,
given freely despite my weak worship

use the hardened surface of my wooden story
to echo the sacred words of a true teacher
convert my timid steps into a leap with no landing

Bullying Scars Exemplified

A good Friend Ann just shared this and I thought it really made sense to explain bullying to kids this way.
A teacher in New York was teaching her class about bullying and gave them the following exercise to perform. She had the children take a piece of paper and told them to crumple it up, stamp on it and really mess it up but do not rip it. Then she had them unfold the paper, smooth it out and look at how scarred and dirty is was. She then told them to tell it they’re sorry. Now even though they said they were sorry and tried to fix the paper, she pointed out all the scars they left behind. And that those scars will never go away no matter how hard they tried to fix it. That is what happens when a child bully’s another child, they may say they’re sorry but the scars are there forever. The looks on the faces of the children in the classroom told her the message hit home. Pass it on or better yet, if you’re a parent or a teacher, do it with your child/children.
The thought of maintaining a strong focus on mindful speech as adults came to mind also. A simple experiment to try. For the next week. slow down a bit in your replies. Ask yourself these three questions about your words before you speak them.
1) Is this true?
2) Is this kind?
3) Is this necessary?
Let us know how it goes!
Kind Regards,

Meditation Practice: Counting down from 50

Meditation Picture
Our Meditation practice this month is counting down from 50. Begin by taking a comfortable seated position. Lengthen your spine and get comfy as we’ll be here for at least 5 minutes. Don’t feel obligated to try to sit on the floor, a chair is great! First take stock of the conditions you are experiencing both external and internal. Notice sounds, the temperature in the room and any thoughts and emotions that are coming up for you. Do your best to delay judgement, just observe and intentionally relax.  Inhale to start. Exhale count 50. Inhale 49. Exhale 48, and continue. When you reach 20, only count the exhales. If you lose your place, don’t worry, just come back to 50. If you find that you have been following a train of thought, as soon as you notice, come back to 50.

Have a focused day!