Benefits of Virtual Yoga

Thanks Polly for sharing your most recent issue of Spirituality + Health magazine. It highlights a truth I’ve known for awhile now: There are MANY benefits to virtual yoga. Although I was resistant to the idea of teaching online way back in 2020 when the world shut down, I’ve come to appreciate the wonderful ways Heather Smith Yoga has grown and expanded by going virtual. For those that practice with me regularly you have likely experienced these benefits firsthand. For those who haven’t & who’ve maybe been hesitant to try a virtual class, I encourage you to keep an open-mind as you read the following:

1. Accessibility– You can’t beat the location! Anywhere you have access to WI-FI, you can practice. With a little searching you are likely to find virtual classes nearly anytime of day, any day of the week. 

2. Inclusion– I’ve had several students tell me that I’ll never see them at an in-person class. The reality is some yoga spaces don’t feel inclusive. There’s this feeling that if you aren’t a certain size, shape, gender or color, you don’t belong. Not so online. Everybody is welcome and is in control of their own screen giving them privacy if they desire. 

3. Saving Time- This is a big one. No more are the days of slogging your yoga props to the car/studio or spending time stuck in traffic or looking for parking. With online yoga you can hop right on your mat and be ready to practice in no time. Time is a precious commodity for many and a commute can often be the slightest reason to skip going to class.

4. Consistency– Virtual classes offer opportunities to practice with some of your favorite teachers, even if they live across the country. And should you find yourself moving away, no worries, you can still access virtual classes from any location. 

5. Connection– This may be one of the most important to me! Several people tell me they’re not interested in practicing online because they really like the social aspect of being in-person. I hear you! You may find that virtual classes don’t meet that need in the same way, but it’s still a powerful way to stay connected to folks. When you attend a virtual class you are still there, “LIVE” with the teacher & other students. And I always open the class 15 minutes early and stay late so people can say hello, check-in & even have a little chat. This really can go a long way in feeling connected. 

Both real & virtual yoga have pros & cons, & both allow us to stay connected to ourselves, each other & our practice. So, which is best? Whichever class you can start right now!

Have I convinced you? Don’t just take my word for it. Come join our little community and try a class for yourself. Sign up as a new student & I’ll add a credit to your account & you can try a class for free. 


We met a new neighbor last weekend. It was a rare, sunny day here in San Diego and 6 year old Theo was out for a walk with his big sister and mom. We were out front pulling weeds and cleaning up after the recent rains. Mom explained that the trails were too muddy for the hike they planned. Theo positioned his hands on his hips and declared, “I hate the rain!” I tried to console him by saying the rain makes everything so green and pretty. He wasn’t having it. I imagine some of you may be feeling the same. For those of us in southern California, it’s been an unusually long & wet winter. 

But let’s not ignore the many benefits of the rain…..particularly for a region that has been in a severe drought for years. The weather is constantly changing and spring is just around the corner. In fact, the Spring Equinox is this coming Monday, that long-awaited day when the sun crossed from south to north over the equator giving us equal amounts of day and night, 12 hours each.

Spring has always held a great deal of significance culturally as well as religiously and astrologically. Regardless of religion, Spring is universally seen and felt like a time of new life, constructive change & revitalization. In earlier times, this transition into spring was even considered the New Year due to it being the season of regeneration and growth of plants and crops.

For centuries in pre-Christian Europe, people worshiped Eostre, the moon goddess of spring & fertility. She is often portrayed as standing among spring flowers and holding an egg in her hand with her sacred animal the hare. This hare laid eggs to honor her and we now know this sacred creature as, the Easter Bunny.

Spend a moment or two contemplating these words: new life, growth, change, renewal. What sorts of emotions & thoughts come to mind? Do you experience any sensations in your body? After the darkness of winter, spring blows in and reminds us that better times lay ahead. It’s not a coincidence that we often experience urges to create radical change during this time. Maybe it’s the simple act of cleaning out your closet (think SPRING CLEANING), unloading those old items you no longer need to make room for the new, or maybe you wish to plan a big event. Spring offers us motivation, desire and that extra boost we need to take on whatever life throws at us. 

If you wish to mark this seasonal change, consider participating in a ritual. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy or overly involved. Here’s a few things to consider: 

Time In Nature

Trees are regaining their leaves, flowers are blooming, birds are singing, the whole earth is teeming with new energy. There is so much new life and beauty around this time of the year! Spring brings with it more sunshine and time for us to be outside earlier in the mornings and later into the evenings. The abundance and new life in Spring is most evident in nature. So, make sure you spend some time reconnecting with the natural world around you.

  • Wake up for sunrise, wrap up and sit with your morning tea or coffee and listen to the birds call in the new day.
  • Take a walking meditation. Slowly walk around your local park or beach and tune into noticing the smaller details of the natural world you would otherwise miss.
  • Plant something. Whether it’s a new herb for your windowsill or flowers in your garden, get your hands into the dirt and nurture new life by growing something.
  • Create a wildlife haven in your outdoor space. A birdbath, feeder or insect hotel is not only helping wildlife but is great fun, especially with your kids or grandkids.

Out With The Old

Is there anything more satisfying than a spring clean?! Turn up your favorite tunes, open the windows and clear out all that excess stuff! The Spring Equinox isn’t just about letting go of the thoughts and feelings holding you back. The physical things & clutter in your home have an impact too.  Here are some spring cleaning tips.

  • Take on just one room at a time!
  • Use it as a time to reconnect with your sentimental possessions and all the wonderful memories they hold (but don’t stop there, take action and keep moving).
  • Have a bag for collecting the items that can go to charity shops or other local organizations. 

Clear the Way

Was this last year complicated? Hard? Sad? Maybe now is the time to step away from everything this last year threw at you. Sometimes a conscious effort to remove obstacles is just the thing to clear the path for what lies ahead. Create a list of events from the last year that have caused you pain & upset and then light a candle, hold them over the flame and watch them burn away. You may wish to use this time to talk to loved ones and share your ideas and experiences. Life is meant to be shared. 

Spring Ahead

Now that you have cleared the way, it is time to look forward! If you find you struggle with New Year’s resolutions in January (you already know how I feel about ‘em), use this astrological New Year at Spring Equinox as your time instead. I don’t know about you but I always feel far more positive & focused on the future once the darkest months have passed.

  • Make a list of the things you want to achieve this year. Remember, there is nothing wrong with wanting! Sit with that list and think and reflect on all the ways you can make them possible to achieve! Positive action will get you there.
  • Design a vision board. Not only does creating something feel really fulfilling but you’ll have a visual reminder of your hopes and dreams for the year ahead. Even better, do this with friends and share your thoughts as you go!
  • Set an intention. Select a single word or short phrase that can become your own personal mantra. Find a time each day to repeat the mantra (maybe when you’re brushing your teeth). You can also use this mantra during your yoga practice. 

Pay it Forward

As a sign of gratitude for all that this life offers and the opportunity to start fresh each spring, you may want to give something back in return! It may be that your offering is something for nature, like a bee loving plant for your garden or it could mean donating money to a charity. A wonderful thing to do is volunteer in your local area, putting your words into action. It can be inspiring to join forces with like-minded humans, to make the world a more peaceful & compassionate place. 

For additional ideas on how to honor the SPRING EQUINOX, head HERE.


Every now and then a brief encounter can make a lasting impact. A dear friend turned 80 a couple weeks ago. As friends and family gathered to celebrate I watched as my friend made his way from person to person, taking the time to greet and enjoy time with each one. In a moment of stillness we sat together and he asked if he could share a story from earlier in the week. He said he’s been having some mobility issues recently and the doctor recommended he get a walker to use. The particular type of walker he needed is several hundred dollars so his wife called around to area thrift shops to see if they could find one used. A shop said they had one, so they rushed over. Unfortunately it wasn’t what he needed. A young woman in the store overheard them and asked if she might help, she knew someone who had what he needed. She made a call and 15 minutes later they met a woman whose husband and had recently died and she still had his walker. It was exactly the thing my friend needed. He asked how much he could pay for it and the woman said “nothing,” that it would make her husband and her happy knowing he could use it. His eyes lit with joy my friend said, “Isn’t that just wonderful? With all that’s happening in the world, it’s nice to be reminded that there’s a lot of good.” 

In her book This Here Flesh, Cole Arthur Riley shares a touching story of joy. On one side of a velvet curtain clumsy preteens bobbed and swayed to the music. On the other, anxious parents huddled in clusters, containing all the nerves they’d wished away from their children hours before. Riley’s father slid in and out of groups before settling at a table far enough to rest but close enough to still feel the bass on the other side. A half an hour before the dance was over he was surprised when he looked up and saw his daughter emerging from the curtain—glistening over to him. He was sitting there holding his breath and smiling, as if to say, Don’t worry about me. I’m doing okay. But she grabbed his hand and pulled with a force that seemed strange for an 11 year old. Come dance with me, she said. I want to show you to everyone. And the momentum of her joy collided with his chest at such a rate that the breath he’d been carrying was knocked right out of him. I don’t remember any of the people she introduced me to, but I remember her not being embarrassed of me.

Joy is not really about scripted, expected or store-bought things. It is about the impromptu realm of deep connection, the willingness to be vulnerable, to be present with sorrow, to be honest, to be surprised. It’s sharing in the unpredicted, rather than holding back. It’s also about the moments when, despite all, we feel met. 

There are sparks of joy all around. Let us find time in the coming weeks may we find to reflect on the moments of each day and identify when we have shared and when we have welcomed life’s joys. And may our intention this holiday season be a renewed commitment to being joy-bearers.


Having flown the earth for 300 million years, dragonflies symbolize our ability to overcome times of hardship. They remind us to take time to reconnect with our own strength, courage and happiness. 

This truth is what gave my Aunt Deb hope in the midst of her health challenges. Even when she struggled to move, struggled to breathe, she strived to overcome so many hardships. She was vivacious, fun-loving and compassionate and her laugh was one for the ages. We celebrated her life last week by gathering and sharing stories and photos. We ate and drank and laughed and cried. She would have loved it! In her last days we talked a lot about letting go: letting go of regrets, letting go of pleasing others, letting go of grudges. She was working hard at finding peace in her present circumstances and I’m grateful she glimpsed moments of it.

It sounds simple: stop, do nothing, let go. But if it is so simple – why is it so hard? Why is it a struggle to not do something, to just let things be? Why is it so hard to not think about the drama occurring in life, to let go of the stress of a job or relationship problems? Maybe it’s because letting go is not valued in our culture, and what is not valued is not practiced. It does take practice to learn how to let go and let things be. 

Ajahn Brahm is an entertaining and provocative monk. He was trained in the Forest Tradition of Buddhism in Thailand, originally hailed from England, but now is the abbot of a monastery outside of Perth in Australia. He has a number of specific stories that show both the importance of letting go, and the challenge in doing just that.

In his book Mindfulness, Bliss and Beyond, Ajahn Brahm shares this illustrative example from his own teacher: he would hold up a cup and ask his monks, “how heavy is this cup?” Before they could answer, he would continue, “at first it is very light, but after ten minutes of holding it up it begins to be heavier. Imagine how it would feel after one hour of holding?” The obvious answer is – quite heavy. Now, what is the wise thing to do if something is getting very heavy, too heavy to continue to hold up? The wise thing is to set it down for a little while. Then, after a short rest, you can pick it up again, and it is once more quite light and easy to bear. It really is that simple!

And yet, how many burdens are you carrying in this moment? When the stress of life, obligations and responsibilities become really heavy, are you wise enough to set them down for a little while and take a rest? Or do you believe that you should keep struggling and keep your arm up forever? Stress takes a heavy toll in our lives: it can create illness and exacerbate disease. It poisons relationships and ages us prematurely. There is a simple remedy: set down your burden! Not forever; not even for very long: even a short rest from your responsibilities, a brief letting go, may help you pick them up again and bear them more appropriately.

For those of us in the Northern Hemisphere, nature is calling us to let go as we enter Autumn. Shorter days have historically meant less time for doing. More time for being still; being quiet. 

Seasonal changes also remind us that the only constant in life is change. As such, we must learn to let go of anything we no longer need and embrace that change.

I’d love to hear from you. How do you briefly let go? What does it look like to take a rest from life’s stresses?

Consider joining me in practicing yoga. Maybe this gentle, contemplative practice is just what you need during this season of life. There are many opportunities online and in-person. Please reach out if you have any questions.


Internal inquiry is at the heart of a yoga philosophy. Yoga, especially those teachings derived from the Yoga Sutra of Patanjali, centers on the idea of svadhyaya. 

Svadhyaya means self-study. The philosophical basis for yoga is self-reflection and self-responsibility, meaning that the yogi centers reflection as they sort through the troubles in their life. Yoga philosophy is based on the idea that as we see more clearly, and understand ourselves more thoroughly, we are better equipped to avoid troubles in the future, ease our troubles in the present, and make peace with our troubles in the past. 

I’m currently dealing with annoying neck & shoulder pain. It’s a chronic issue that comes and goes and my usual methods of coping (acupuncture, therapeutic massage, yoga, etc.) are not offering much relief. My tendency is to panic and assume the worst…..the pain will never end, I’m going to feel this way forever. Things get very dark, very quick. It’s not a good place to be.

Some yoga studios advertise “good vibes only.” However, in yoga philosophy, pain is an assumed component of your experience, which makes sense, we all experience pain in some form or fashion. Instead of centering this pain as the focal point of our thinking, yoga encourages us to focus on our reaction and our relationship to our own suffering. From that study of self, we can create practical support and solutions for ourselves.

I’m curious, when you experience pain, whether physical, emotional or spiritual, what do you do to help yourself? 

I continue to develop my toolbox of self-compassion as I relate to my physical pain. Stillness and silence provide me opportunities to consider how I want to relate to my pain. Messages of love and compassion counter the doom and gloom my mind wants to jump to. A hot bath and self-massage may not be the magic cure I wish they were, but they do provide soothing comfort. Intuitively I’m learning when I should move and when I should rest. Our bodies are complex and mysterious. Let’s take the time to listen as they speak to us.  

Do you have a practice, a pose, or a meditation that you rely on when you’re not well? Let me know!