How Family Members Protect Each Other

Dear Friends,

I hope this note finds you well and strong, full of trust and hope. And if not, I wish it for you and for those who need it most.

This post is about protection. It is just one glimpse of what protection looks like in real life. It is not a lecture or slide presentation, and it is not a treatise or dissertation covering the entire scope of what protection can mean and how it can manifest. Instead, this is an invitation to consider ways you protect yourself and your loved ones in your daily life.

Perhaps you practice yoga to help protect yourself from the negative effects of toxic stress. Or, maybe you pray the Lorica of St. Patrick or the Lord’s prayer to protect, guard, or strengthen yourself & your loved ones for the challenges of the day ahead. Beyond yoga and prayer, we study, teach, learn, and practice other types of protection, as well, such as creating strong passwords for our digital lives, locking our car doors before heading into the store, washing our hands before eating, even tossing on a coat and popping open an umbrella to shield the rain.

We all have practices of protection. Depending on our race, sexuality, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, religion, culture, identity (or identities) those practices can look, feel, and function differently.

Photo by Ylanite Koppens on

I am learning about ways protection for Black families is different from the forms of protection I am familiar with as a white person. And I’m offering this post as a way for you to learn along with me.

I’d like to speak specifically to my white friends and readers now. I invite you to think of any time you have taught a young person how to stay safe out in the world. Maybe you are in the midst of child rearing right now. Perhaps you have raised many children and the memories are flooding back to you. Maybe you have cared for your nieces or nephews, your neighbors’ children or your friends’. And if you’re a teacher, a coach, an art or music instructor, or are in service to children and teenagers in any way, most likely you have shared advice or teachings with your youth that would serve them in their lives, not just in the activity and training you provide.

I invite you now, my white friends and readers, to please listen to this story. Please do not read it, but click on the play button so that you can hear the voice. This is a story from our current time. It is not fiction. It is not magical realism. It is not memoir. It is not historical fiction. It is real, lived experience, and it is fact.

How a Mother Protects Her Black Teenage Son from the World.

Thank you for taking the time to follow the link above.

May you be blessed with the strength to bear your blessings,


The Catholic Yogi

Online Body Prayer 2020

Happy Holy Week, My Dear Friends,

I have been thinking of you and praying for you during these weeks of Lent and these days of unknowns. I hope you are being gentle with yourself and giving yourself as much grace as you would your dearest friend or the smallest child.

I’m writing to invite you this year’s Body Prayer practice. Several of you already know and love this pray-filled yoga experience. The 40 Sun-Salutations can be as gentle or as challenging as you’d like. Either way, it will definitely be intense — if you let it!

Many of you have never been able to attend, but now that it’s online and you find yourself at home, you have an opportunity to try it out.

Hosted by my friends and teammates at Mind Body Align, Body Prayer 2020 takes place on Zoom this Good Friday, April 10, from noon-1:30. Register by visiting and select “schedule.” Or just click here.

There is no set fee. We offer this experience for donation to the Mind Body Align Charitable Fund, which supports projects that nurture and empower members of our community to lead happier, more fulfilling lives. Some examples include, but are not limited to: alternative wellness, women’s entrepreneurship, yoga for under-served populations, healthy foods initiatives, arts & culture, and professional development. You choose the amount you donate, from $0 – $10.

Body Prayer is a God-Centered Yoga practice that embraces the fluid movements of the sun-salutation as a way of offering our whole selves to God, body, mind, and spirit. This particular session of Body Prayer falls on the Christian observance of Good Friday and one day after the Jewish Celebration of Passover. This presents a wonderful opportunity to make this a prayer of thanksgiving, though any form of prayer is encouraged: a prayer of praise and adoration, prayer of petition, a prayer of contrition, a prayer of blessing and others.

Our practice will begin with a moment of silent dedication followed by a few warming postures. After this, we will move into the sun-salutation practice, which consists of four variations progressing from gentle to more challenging and back again for a total of 40 in all. Remember, this practice will be as gentle, as challenging, or as moderate as you choose. We will end with a few restorative postures and deep relaxation.

Body Prayer is an all-embracing event; people of all faiths and spiritual traditions are welcome, and no prior yoga practice is required. Indeed, no prior prayer experience is required either!

Registration and the Online Platform for Body Prayer 2020

You may register up to an hour before our start time and will receive your link to the Zoom meeting 1/2 hour before the class begins. Just click here.

This event will take place on the Zoom platform. If you’re not familiar with Zoom, please check it out now so that you can be ready. Once you join the meeting by clicking your invitation link in your email, you will be able to choose to turn on your video or not. I’ve lead online classes in the webinar format in which there is no interaction. This will be my first experience leading class in a meeting format which gives us all a chance to see and hear each other. I will open the meeting about 10 minutes to noon to give us all a chance to say hello and figure out any technical difficulties. Please remember to always leave your audio on mute. Only unmute yourself when you are actively speaking. This cuts down on all the wild and crazy sounds happening in our homes, like kids, dogs, appliances, etc. So, “join with audio,” and then click or tap the microphone icon to mute. If your zoom settings are already set to “always enter meetings on mute,” then you’re good to go.

Please email me with questions!

Setting Up

When you’re ready to join the practice on Friday, take time to clear out any clutter and set up your space with a fresh flower or two from your yard. If you’d like to create a small altar, that’s great, too. Gather any blocks or blankets you’d like to have handy, as well as a sheet of paper and a pen. We’ll have time to write our prayer intentions at the beginning, and if you like, you can write or draw your reflections afterward on your own. As far as the other people in your home are concerned, you have some options: 1) invite them to practice with you, 2) set some agreements around respecting and honoring your prayer practice time, or 3) with a smile, embrace whatever chaos presents itself!

I sincerely hope to see there!

Many blessings and peace be with you,


Mindful Moments: 3 Chocolate Practices for Ash Wednesday & Beyond

Mindfulness is the practice of noticing what’s happening in the present moment without judgement.  It’s being aware of your sensory experience: sight, sound, scent, touch, taste. It’s offering your kind attention to your emotions and thoughts, all without analyzing or criticizing.  In my Catholic experience, chocolate has been associated with Lent and Easter for decades, and it’s possible some of you have memories of giving up chocolate for Lent and then eating a basket full on Easter Sunday.  Mindfulness is a big part of my yoga practice both on and off the mat. And chocolate is a big part of my life, both during Ordinary Time and during Lent. So, I thought I’d share a few mindful Lenten prayer practices that I have found useful at various times in my life.  

1. Give Up Chocolate Mindfully

When I give up chocolate for Lent, it’s a big deal.  Seriously. Because I love chocolate, the dark kind. I savor it daily.  When a person enjoys chocolate the way I do, it really is a sacrifice to give it up.  Non-chocolate-lovers might not have a felt experience of this. If that’s you, think of a special treat or snack you really enjoy and imagine not enjoying it for 40-ish days.  It can seem near impossible, excruciating, or completely pointless! However, it’s comforting to remember that the point of not eating chocolate (or any food or beverage of your choice)  is not so that we suffer, so that we lose weight, or so that we check the box of “giving something up for Lent.”  

2. Don’t Give Up Chocolate Mindfully

We don’t have to give up chocolate. In fact, we can choose to eat chocolate during Lent, and eat it mindfully.  Mindful eating is a practice of paying close attention to the experience of eating your meal by noticing the details of your food, how it looks and feels, its aroma and flavor.  Mindful eating slows us down and allows time to contemplate all the needed resources for the food to grow, such as healthy soil, the the sun and the rain, as well as the many people who made the food available to you: the farmers, harvesters, packers, shippers, and sales attendants.  And finally, mindful eating gives space for your lived experience of enjoying it: noticing the shape and color, then the scent, then the texture, then the taste, and as you swallow, offering thanks. This practice has a way of slowing us down to savor, to acknowledge that we don’t stand alone as individualists, but are an integral piece of the interconnectedness of all life.  

“This practice might allow
the act of eating to become
a prayer in itself.

These moments of mindful eating can create space to grow closer to Christ through an experience of profound gratitude for the many blessings we enjoy.  We often begin our meals with prayer, and some of us end our meals with prayer, but this practice might allow the act of eating to become a prayer in itself.  Try it out with your favorite piece of chocolate after your next yoga practice, or anytime!

3. Mindfully Explore Your Relationship to Chocolate 

What happens when we look closely at our cravings?  (Remember, it doesn’t have to be chocolate. It can even be cravings for non-edible things like attention or acknowledgment.) Consider this breath practice for Ash Wednesday:  

  • Identify a specific food, drink, or experience you have everyday.  Decide to be curious about your relationship to this item.  
  • When you notice a craving for it, acknowledge it, perhaps by labeling it with a name.  Then pause. Take a long, slow, deep breath. And wait. Does the craving pass?  Are there any emotions present here?
  • Take four more breaths, and if you like, link your breath with your favorite prayer or favorite name for God.  Then, look again. Is the craving still there? What emotions are present? Where do the emotions manifest in your body?  Are there any thoughts moving through your mind?  

Remember, in the moment of mindfulness there is no judgment, only awareness of the experience.  After your five breaths, decide to satisfy the craving or decide not to, remembering that neither of these actions is necessarily bad or good.  Mindfulness is noticing, and this noticing might give you interesting information. Stay curious. Breathe deeply. Pray well.  

For me, mindful moments are a pathway to prayer. They offer space and time for me to connect to my self, to my God, and to others. And that’s really what the Lenten journey is about – growing closer to others through prayer, through Christ, through a loving relationship with your own inner being. God has plans for you this Lent. Spend Ash Wednesday being open to possibility, open to connection to yourself and God’s Divine presence within you. And from there, move out from contemplation and into doing. In the words of Richard Rohr, ask God, “What is mine to do?” Listen and look closely for the answers and allow your prayer life to become an access road to action.

I’ll leave you with four prayer quotes for Lent gathered by Sr. Melanie Svoboda on her blog Sunflower Seeds:

“God is hiding in the world. Our task is to let the Divine emerge from our deeds.” Rabbi Abraham Heschel.

“Lent comes providentially to reawaken us, to shake us from our lethargy.” Pope Francis.

”No act of virtue can be great if it is not followed by advantage for others. So no matter how much time you spend fasting, no matter how much you sleep on a hard floor and eat ashes and sigh continually, if you do no good to others, you do nothing great.” St. John Chrysostom.

 “Lent’s not what you give up; it’s how you reach out.” Regina Brett.

What do you think?  Do any of these practices sound interesting?  Do any of these quotes inspire you? Perhaps you’ll start with the practice of exploration on Ash Wednesday, and then decide how (or if) the other two practices will be a part of your Lenten journey this year.  You might like to make up one or two chocolate practices that are unique to your own experience. If you do, be sure to share your experience here.

Happy Fat Tuesday, Happy Lent, Happy Practicing!