Contraction and Expansion, Expansion and Contraction

As someone who works with and talks about birth on the daily, I get to use this word contraction more than most. Labor contractions are no doubt intense and my clients definitely question their mysterious nature and the ability to cope with them.

As a yogi, I can feel this energy of contraction in my body through powerful breathing techniques and shapes.

Ask yourself whether you are expanding or contracting in your life right now. Look at your career, your relationships, your energy levels, and your emotional state. The thing with contraction- no matter how low and dark you feel, and no matter how long it lasts, is that it is always followed by expansion.

Let’s trace it back all the way to your conception.

It started with an orgasm, which is a series of rapid muscle contractions. Very short lived.

Once you implanted, your mother’s uterus expanded more and more and more. For 9 whole months.

When that expansion completed, it became time for labor contractions. These can last for hours or days.

Once those ended, expansion again. A new life. A family multiplies.

Nurturing a newborn. Keeping them warm, holding them close, nourishing him with your body. Contraction again.

The newborn grows into a toddler, a child, a teenager, an adult. Expansion for quite some years.

Life happens. Eventually we die. Contraction.

So, as we take a step back and see the greater picture of our lives- we might also start to realize that these rhythms are occurring on a smaller scale as well. It’s only natural to have moments in your life to both expand and contract. Observe nature- plants do not bloom all year long. Yet, I find we consistently seek expansion and fear contraction. We say yes to life and no to death. But the truth is, there is no life without death. We can’t have it all, live forever, and never let go. This is a good thing.

When I hold space at a birth for new life to be born, I’m also holding space for death whether the parents know it or not. Death of who they were before this baby, the ending of pregnancy, closure of their previous lifestyle.

When I hold space in a yoga class for people to expand themselves physically, energetically, and emotionally, I’m also holding space for them to release old patterns and habits. They let die their slightly less aware selves, as they step into a heightened awareness.

Lately, I’ve been feeling pretty contracted and have been wanting to spend most of my time alone and turned inward. When I start to get caught up in my head about how terrible this all feels, I try to observe my breath as a reminder that the deepest contraction is always followed by the most full expansion. I’m trusting in the rhythm of life~




Oya and the Courage to Embrace Change




I’m writing this from an edgy and spiritually charged place-

It’s the day before a powerful full moon, and I’m basking in my last few days of my saturn period before I enter my sun period on my birthday this Friday.

I started last week with so much energy and excitement, and ended the week by coming down with a cold, losing my voice, and needing to spend 3 days holed up in my apartment resting. As I chew on fiery ginger root and start to feel more “myself”, I realize I don’t feel like myself because my self is so subject to change these days. I took an African Studies class in college and was always so fascinated with Yoruba culture and a specific goddess from this tradition has been popping into my consciousness these days: Oya. Oya is a goddess of storms and winds- and change. The way Oya brings forth change is not slowly with patience- but destructively, with tornadoes and lightning.

As an extremely fiery and impatient sagittarius (moon in aries for double the fire), I vibe with Oya and I’m down with her methods. Looking back on major changes in my life, they were never that subtle or premeditated. It was always more of a sense of waking up one day and my life was drastically different. Taking things slow and steady was a project that I worked on all year and I’ve learned some things about being patient, and the art of building something one brick at a time.

But with that being said, 2016 has been an intense year and I’m kind of interested in change now, not later. As someone who works in the field of women’s reproduction I’m really uncomfortable with older white men who admittedly know nothing about the challenges women face are the ones pushing religious-backed regulations on what can be done with one’s own body. It makes me really uncomfortable that my black and hispanic clients and friends are 2-3x more likely to die in childbirth than their white counterparts even when you take into account socioeconomic factors. And just on a more personal note, I’m feeling ready for my own increased abundance and freedom doing the work I do in this world right about…………….now.

So I really think the time is now as a collective. And let’s remember the wise words of my favorite author, Dr. Clarissa Pinkola-Estes:

“To be an activist
does not mean
to be outraged
and outraged
and outraged.

To be an activist
does not mean
to repeat
and repeat
that x is wrong
and so is y
and by the way,
have you seen
the atrocious z yet?

To be an activist
means to lift
the injured
right within
one’s reach.”

So my intention this full moon is to clear the way for powerful change. To see the thunderstorms in my life not just as death and destruction, but as possibility for new life and growth. Pain and discomfort are just side effects of death, and death is just a prerequisite for my most favorite thing in this whole existence…birth!

❤ Dani

Traveling Between Worlds

I have chosen a less traditional life path in the sense that I have multiple jobs and don’t wake up and go to the same job every day. This keeps things interesting and also feels very unstable at times- it is not easy to balance. But I keep needing to remind myself over and over again that I actually do just have one job- and that is to hold space for transitions. Whether I’m teaching yoga or helping a mother give birth to her child, I’m helping in bringing the unseen into the seen. I’m just a helper in lifting up the veil between worlds.

So as I work very fluidly between the physical world and spirit world I receive some downloads about what is real and what isn’t real. An amazing teacher gave the advice recently “be more like energy and less like matter”. Especially living in these times, where information moves at the speed of the internet, I feel this is more important than ever. If we try to ground and solidify ourselves in this reality too much- we’re just going to be knocked off of our feet when the ground beneath us starts to shift. Like I tell mothers in labor- stay on top of the energy. Yogi Bhajan says “You can either be above the energy of your life and ride it or you can be below the energy and it rides you.” The only way to be in control is to surrender to it- paradoxical don’t you think?

So it’s very important to stop labeling ourselves and putting ourselves in boxes and categories. Don’t label yourself by your career or job because that can change. Don’t label yourself by your relationship(s) because that can change. So actually no labels at all, ever, because it all can change. And the  less attached you are to being something, the easier it will be to shift when the time comes. This takes a lot of work when we live in a society where you meet someone and they want to know what you do and all small talk is based upon putting ourselves in neat boxes.

We also really limit ourselves when we label and we do it in subtle ways. I’ve always labeled myself as “bad with technology” so therefore I am. Sometimes I let that go and then find myself updating my website and just figuring it all out. How do you limit yourself financially? If you see yourself as broke, you create that. What kind of energy does a billionaire carry? Can you tap into that? We pay for everything these days with plastic cards and now you just literally hold it up to a device and money (energy) is moved. Can we hop on that wavelength since like money, we are energy? Be more like energy and less like matter and see how quickly something can materialize. It all starts with a thought.

To be detached is not the to be apathetic so I’m not saying we should be floaty spirit-butterflies without a care in the world because really I’m not that lofty. You can live in each moment with so much presence and feel the whole spectrum of emotions- but can you know deep within yourself that none of it is permanent? It is empowering to understand that everything begins within you and that the veil between seen and unseen, life and death, unborn and born- is really quite thin. If you take a step back you’ll see we’re all just ebbing and flowing in and out of these two worlds- nothing to be scared of if you can let go of who you think you are. Be playful with this spirit energy and see what kind of magic you can create.




Burning Away My Mask…

Something has profoundly shifted in my yoga practice. The work I’m doing is no longer instilling feelings of peace and calm like it has consistently done for the past 5 years or so. I have been experiencing a lot of anger lately, the more I meditate and dive into my inner world, the more angry I become. Even though this may not sound right to many who associate yoga with calm, it feels so right within me. I’m understanding that the anger within me has been there for a long time, way longer then the amount of time I’ve been on a yogic journey. The anger I feel that comes through in my spiritual practice is not this red raging forest-fire type of anger, but rather a feeling of anger that contains clarity, and that serves as a telescope into pain I have experienced as well as a guide to determine my next steps on my life-journey.

When I was young I had a tendency to explode and throw temper tantrums very often. I was taught that this is not ok and as I got older they stopped, and I let my anger of the injustices of this life simmer within me. Then I discovered yoga, at a pretty young age. I was always so grateful for this discovery because I felt it brought me so much calm, insight, and happiness. I thought that it really healed all of the emotional wounds within me. It was only very recently, with the help of some gifted healers/teachers who had the ability to truly see me, and by the grace of god my heightened awareness of self, that I realized that this consistent yoga practice did not heal me. It feels strange to admit, but I think it just numbed me, and served as a nice distraction and cover up for those feelings that still were boiling inside of me. Actually, I got so used to this mask of “peace and love” that I became certain that this mask was now my true identity. This was further perpetuated by people around me in my life, students and otherwise, who tell me so regularly that my voice is so calming, I’m always so at peace, I bring so much positivity because I’m always smiling, etc…

I love yoga so much and I’m an advocate for its healing ability. I believe it wasn’t until I started getting more involved and interested in working with pregnant women and birthing that I was able to step back and see that spending so much of my time perpetuating this “peace, love, light” attitude of yoga was suppressing my truest and therefore highest expression of self. There is currently so much injustice towards pregnant women/mothers in this culture we live in and I get so incredibly angry thinking about it and learning about it. Women are forced to leave their 6-week old infants to keep their jobs, women and their birth experiences are disrespected while they birth in a hospital far too often, shamed for feeding their infants because of sexualization of their bodies, I can go on all day. Wow, I’m so angry just writing this.

I don’t feel its this way for everyone, but yoga was/is a nice escape for me from reality; when problems didn’t affect me, I basically didn’t care, as hard as that is to admit. It felt so un-yogic to involve myself in such earthly, practical, issues and I really felt that just living with a high vibration was doing my part. As I shift more of my energy into birth work, I realize I have greater ability to help people in a practical, grounded way while at the same time getting to process and heal emotions within myself instead of living numb. I’m not ditching my yoga practice or teaching but taking a few steps back has given me the ability to use the healing techniques of this sacred technology to bring a more authentic type of healing to myself and others. Large_bonfire


Manipura Madness

An interesting concept-turned-meditation flowed out of my mouth while teaching last night so I wanted to write it down and share.

What do you most closely identify your self with? What are some of the labels that you put on yourself? Most often it’s a job, or a relationship. My go-to label is that of “yoga teacher”. In past long term relationships I’ve closely identified with being the partner of whoever it was. But what happens if those things vanish from your life, then who are you? If I’m not a yoga teacher then who am I?

Before I got involved in teaching yoga I was studying music and was a jazz trombonist. I often imagined what would happen if I were to lose my hands and not be able to play trombone anymore. I remember it being a scary thought because I felt that my whole identity would be lost if I couldn’t play the trombone.

So the third chakra, manipura, is the naval center/solar plexus area. It is also referred to as the “I am” center; it’s where our true essence lies, beyond any of the labels we’ve slapped on ourselves.

It’s interesting to observe the qualities of this energy center. It is a power center. It is also a place where we hold fear (think of that painful feeling in your gut if you’re in a scary situation or even watching a scary movie).

When we know who we are, beyond labels and earthly identifications, this makes us very powerful. When we don’t know who we truly are beyond our job or relationships, this is terrifying! It’s all God. God has this quality of being nothing and everything at the same time. It can be a scary realization to have that we are this, and I can see why it may feel safer to not dive into spirituality at all.

Try this meditation: close your eyes and focus your awareness at your third chakra center, right above the naval center. Start to come up with every label of yourself you can possibly think of and then immediately negate it. So it will sound something like this in your mind: ” I am a yoga teacher. I am not a yoga teacher. I am a musician. I am not a musician. I am a sister, wife, mother. I am not a sister, wife, or mother. I am insecure. I am not insecure…” etc, etc, etc you can really come up with a whole lot. Eventually whenever you run out, just allow yourself to be still and notice.

Who are you?



New Moon Thoughts

It’s interesting to me that people use the turning of the year as a way to start over new. It says a lot about the masculinity of society as a whole–it is very masculine to remain steady for a sustained period of time. If you shift your paradigm to the feminine, there is a clear cyclical renewal occurring way more frequently than once per year…

Masculine energy is like the sun and therefore extremely important. We depend on the sun to radiate its light and warmth every day and if it one day fluctuated and decided not to, we would all be dead. So thank you God for steady masculinity. Even though things are shifting, we are living in some pretty masculine times and in a rather patriarchal society. This makes change very hard because like the sun, masculinity likes to stay consistent even when we are in desperate need of change.

This is where feminine energy comes in. It’s really only through the feminine, the energy of the moon, can we find balance and change. This gives women a unique power in our masculine society. Both women and the moon work in ~28 day cycles; 2 weeks of waxing (growing) to the peak of the full moon, 2 weeks of waning (shrinking) to the darkness of the new moon. This is mimicked in the female menstrual cycle. So every time the moon is new, it’s a new chance to plant a seed and bring a sense of renewal.

The Earth and the people living on it need balance and need change. Stagnant water gets polluted but running, flowing water stays clean and pure. The fluctuations of the moon and the female may be challenging and unpredictable but also are incredibly healing. Bring awareness to the cycles of the moon and you will find a new awareness in your life; in your relationships, projects, and energy.

If you want to learn more about tapping into the divine feminine and exploring this work I periodically run workshops on the subject–the next one is coming up Saturday January 30th from 5-7pm at Naam Yoga New York (

Happy New Moon and if you’re feeling stuck remember that every passing moment is another chance to choose to turn it all around.

new moon.jpgPeace-





Moving into 2016 Newsletter~

Dear Beloved Friends, Students, Family, and Community:

I’m writing with the hope that you have arrived at this last full moon of 2015 filled up with contentment and love in your hearts!! This past year has been a wild journey and I know I’m not the only one. I’ve experienced some of my highest highs and lowest lows all in this same year and it has been a deeply transformative year of learning and growth. As this world is shifting in such an extreme way (either extremely conscious and positive or extremely doomed and negative depending on where you’re looking from), the work that we all do as yogis/light workers is needed now more than ever! I’m so grateful for this conscious community that we are all a part of, and that we are making the world a better place simply by trying to live in the best way that we can. 
The most important thing that I learned this year is that I am not a teacher or a healer. Teaching flows through me and healing flows through me towards others. I am simply the channel for God/Creator/Sun/Universe, whatever you want to call it, to heal and teach through me. This truth has guided me to some of the most profound and humbling experiences of my life, where I’ve witnessed deep healing, birth, death, transformation, and growth. Powerful words have been finding their way out of my mouth in my classes and I’ll solidify them here.
Whether your experience right now is amazing, incredible and blissful; or awful, painful, and terrifying—forget it! Let it go, don’t let it become part of your story. We have such a strong tendency to treasure the “good” and avoid the “bad”. As yogis, it is extremely important to remain neutral and just let experience pass through us without entangling in a story line about it. This neutrality is actually the true bliss and it is more permanent and more similar to God/Creator/Sun/Universe, whatever you want to call it.
I’ve given up on searching for happiness because i AM happiness, I’m more concerned with searching for truth. I’m praying that 2016 is a year of truth and realness for us all. Stay with your practice and dedication, keep it real, make choices that come from love instead of fear!
Continue reading for my 2016 schedule and offerings ❤
To kick off the new year I always offer anyone who wants to begin working one-on-one with me a special discounted rate of $85/session for your first 3 sessions! (normally $125/session). This applies to any of the following offerings:
-Private Yoga/Yoga Therapy
-Private Meditation Lessons
-Nutrition Consultations
-Aromatherapy Consultations
-Prenatal/Postnatal Yoga Sessions
This is a great gift idea; buy 3 sessions for a friend/loved one who you think could benefit from these healing services!
Low-Cost Doula Services!
I recently became certified as a birth doula and feel so humbled and blessed to be offering this service to birthing mamas! A doula literally means “a woman who serves” and as a doula I attend your birth and offer emotional support and assistance in a non-medical capacity. I am currently offering this service for the low-cost of $300 as I work to gain more experience and this includes a prenatal visit, the entire birth, and a postnatal visit! Having a doula has been shown to lower pain and duration of labor, and eases anxiety that may come up before, during, and after the birth. 
2016 Group Class ScheduleIf you would like to try a class as a guest please just reach out!
7am Core Yoga at Mang’oh Yoga
5:15pm Hatha/Restorative at Naam Yoga New York
9:45am Hatha Yoga + Meditation for Women at Naam Yoga New York
5:15pm Hatha/Restorative at Naam Yoga New York
6:15pm Moon Salutations at Mi-Mi-For-Me Yoga
7am Core Yoga at Mang’oh Yoga
8pm Naam Yoga + Aromatherapy at Naam Yoga New York
4:30pm Basics at Mang’oh Yoga
12pm Vinyasa at Naam Yoga New York
I post my schedule every week on Facebook which will include when I’m subbing classes for others, so if we’re not friends yet please add me there!
I have many workshops in the works for 2016 so please say connected to me through Facebook or email to find out about those!
Sending you all so much love and light,IMG_0365