Category Archives: Intro

From Pekoe to Cairo… and the Seas in Between

This summer, I’m taking some time away from the hustle in DC to go back and learn in the Mediterranean, a land that continues to teach the world about ancestral traditions of healthy eating and lifestyle.

I’m excited to reconnect with my family in Alexandria and Cairo.

To connect with friends and colleagues in Cairo, Beirut, and more doing great work in integrative health & lifestyle services. To learn from their experiences.

To be immersed and share in the region’s homegrown yoga & mindfulness culture.

To learn from foodies and farmers preserving and reinventing Mediterranean food and land traditions.

To experience the holistic healing practices utilized in trauma relief services & peacebuilding initiatives in a region that continues to struggle with conflict and insecurity for generations now.

I am honored to be invited into these various healing communities to teach what I have learned in my work over the last five years with individual clients and corporate wellness programs. And from the tribe of healers and misfits at Pekoe Acupuncture & Wellness where my practice was born.  In their devotion to natural healing methods that serve the long-term health of patients and clients, I have learned tremendously about the art and science of empowering individuals in physical, emotional, and spiritual health.

Thus far, I will teach healthy eating and Thai massage at healing centers & studios in Cairo including the Ashtanga Yoga Cairo and the Nun Center.  In Lebanon I will partner with Souk El-Tayyeb, a producer-run market that reclaims and reinvents food and land traditions in improving environmental sustainability and empowering at-risk communities.

I know better than to presume I know the needs of these communities before I arrive. Their unique environmental and cultural challenges.

My honest plan is to show up and serve.  To accept the invitations of these communities to come in as a guest speaker and educator, but to hold space and learn about the needs and challenges of each community – and how my teachings fit in.  How to offer my knowledge and experiences in a way that is relevant and offers value.

This trip will offer a healing exchange of sorts. To learn about service and the work of the integrative health community in the Middle East and offer what I have learned as a healer and educator in my time at Pekoe.

As I expand the scope of my work now outside of Pekoe, I am excited to share what I learn – lessons and recipes, healing traditions and stories – with my community and clients in DC and those I have yet to meet in the journey beyond.

More soon :-)

Breathing Life into a Practice

I finally did it. I took my very first yoga class this year on my own as a student.  It was my second yoga class this calendar year.  First one was a hot power yoga class at Down Dog Yoga that my ex-boyfriend dragged me to catching up one night. It was challenging and exhilarating. I nearly passed out.

But last night I checked out the new yoga studio in my hood – Shaw Yoga. Always socializing, I stopped in to welcome them to the neighborhood.  The space – gorgeous, well lit  and serene- called me to hang out for bit.

It was my day off… and on impulse it occurred to me: Why not just take a class again?

It had been a while.  Occupational hazard – I teach 7 yoga classes a week and I have no asana (yoga posture) practice to speak of really.  I have a solid daily meditation practice that keeps me grounded and inspired and sane. I demonstrate postures in my classes.  I bike from gig to gig. I do Thai bodywork.  My active lifestyle is enough to keep me in shape and present in my body, but not truly challenged.

Next class in 15 minutes with Gina was Ashtanga inspired.  I panicked. Ashtanga has always intimidated me because well, precision has never been my thing. That’s why I’ve always gravitated to prana-flow practices. Perhaps this aversion to precision also explains my impatience with recipes- following & creating them.  Elizabeth, one of the studio’s founders assured me that it would be taught at a mixed level, and there’s nothing to fear.

I needed to relieve some stress and release into someone else’s guidance as a student, without the responsibility for anyone else’s practice.

I’m about to take a big trip to the Mediterranean – a 50 day sabbatical to teach, serve and learn about nutrition and healthy lifestyle in Egypt, Lebanon, Israel & Palestine, and Spain.  Though I successfully transitioned out of the international development & conflict resolution field, I miss international work.  This trip – with workshops lined up thus far in Cairo, Beirut, and Ramallah – is an opportunity to expand the scope of my practice internationally.

And while I’m truly excited for exploration, attending to all of the logistical and financial arrangements has been stressful to say the least.

But I wasn’t prepared for the the emotional hurdles.  The practice of balancing compassion and respect towards my family – who express love and affection through protection and concern – and still stand up for myself.

I’m the youngest and only girl in a Middle Eastern family and even though I’m pushing 32, I always have to negotiate for confidence in my decisions and indeed the merits of my lifestyle and career choices.

Especially when my failed marriage to an abusive alcoholic asshole – and my family’s heroic & comprehensive intervention to get me out of it – can always be cited as proof that my instincts and decisions can’t be trusted.  Them bones.  What’s family for I suppose if not to dig them up at convenience.

So by the time walked into Shaw Yoga, I knew I was supposed to take a break and stay put for a moment. To just show up and just be a student without responsibility for anyone else. To release into someone else’s voice and guidance and literally breathe life into my practice.

And it was perfect.  Gina was perfect. Relaxed, encouraging and yes, precise – without any intimidation factor.  And Otis Redding and Bill Withers on the playlist was pretty perfect too. Gave me the permission to release into a soulful heart opening joy.

This is another first too… First non-recipe post on this blog this calendar year too. And I’m hoping the revival of a robust blogging presence to stay in touch with my clients and community while on the road.

Thank you Gina & Shaw Yoga for creating the space and inspiration.