Freedom, Ease & Spaciousness all on a Saturday afternoon.

Have you been longing to reconnect with that most deepest, truest expression of Divine Illumination and Freedom in your own heart? Join us at the lovely Yoga Tree Valencia in the beautiful Mission for this amazing offering that will move you toward that blessed abundance and grace! Saturday 1:15 pm, Aug. 31-

Sign Up Online at:

Special Classes and Events This Week! 6/26-6/30

special week happening, lots of extra classes i’m subbing-
1. Thurs Prajna core flow 6pm (followed by my Slow Flow, can you say double up?) – Prajna Belmont
2. Friday – Gentle Flow – 3pm (CC $12) Yoga Tree SF Stanyan, yep, the studio near Haight Ashbury
3. Saturday 9am – Power Vinyasa Yoga Belly Mountain View
4. Fire+Earth Workshop Saturday, Blue Iris Palo Alto, 2pm -5:15pm

I’m stoked…. kinda like early Fireworks… Come out! Look for me the following Sat morning teaching Vinyasa back up at OMPower in SF

Special Classes or Classes John is Subbing This Week

John is teaching:

Yoga Tree Stanyan San Francisco

Saturday, May 18, 6:15pm – Restorative Yoga


Yoga Belly Mountain View

Sunday, May 19, 6:15pm – Restorative Yoga & Meditation


John is not teaching:

Prajna Yoga Belmont

Sunday, May 19, 4pm Restorative

YogaSource Palo Alto

Sunday, May 19, 8:15pm – Restorative Yoga
sub – Lindsey Richards

The Sacred Path: Spirit and Soul

View from the top of Dolores ParkPsyche, spirit, symbol, soul

We are all on an amazing journey of self-discovery toward our highest potential. Yoga provides us with a path toward our abundance, a reflection of the sacred in all of our moments. The sacred may go unnoticed, or it may wake us up in moments where we may be astray or feeling lost.
Yoga magnifies what we may need to see clearer, it wipes the sleep, the dust, and the illusion from our eyes and invites us and elevates us toward healing and transformation.

There are never any guarantees about what might unfold when we arrive on the mat, but what we can be sure about is that the ultimate wisdom of Spirit is with us and she delivers exactly what we need that day. The teachings handed to us by life may not make sense in the moment, but by keeping on the path, despite the obstacles, challenges, and desires (for something else or more), we keep on showing up.

By simply showing up, day after day, we are setting the stage for transformation, we are connecting into that true spirit and immanence residing within our own beings.

We are all spiritual beings, perfect as we already are, and to keep the lens of awareness clear and open to seeing radiance, we must arrive, we must practice, we must stay present to the full range of our experience- whether it is bliss or grit.

Everything is always changing and unfolding, and we are continuously being asked to accept, to embrace, and to be with change. This year so far has been full of beauty for me, but this beauty has not arrived without challenge. The great universe, my teacher, has offered up a number of teaching around loss, letting go, and allowing myself to feel the deep, deep pain of the shifting tides of time and life.

I am currently enjoying the last two weeks of my teacher, Les Leventhal’s, time teaching yoga in San Francisco. After he finishes his last classes here he will be moving away to Bali to teach. Les has been an amazing mentor to me. He has taught me about possibilities in yoga, and there is definitely more that yoga has to offer that he has not yet seen himself, that hopefully one day I will have the opportunity to see through my own eyes. I have learned from him that things that I think I cannot not do as a yoga student, a teacher, or even as a human being, are possible. I have learned the qualities of fire, of compassion, of the integration of opposites, whether through asana, gracefully assisting a student, or perhaps by just simply falling out of a pose. I have learned about abundance, of joy, of sadness. I have been taught how the yoga mat is a true refuge, a true place of healing, of self-study, of purification, and of radical acceptance.

One of my first experiences with Les was early in teacher training where he had me teaching poses while in a handstand. In that moment, I connected into my voice, into myself, into what was truly essential and of spirit in the moment.

I learned how to let the ghosts of the past vanish and the illusions of the future vaporize. I learned presence as a teacher, and heart as a human being. I will miss seeing and being with Les on a regular basis, but will keep my heart open to what I have learned and let that shine through my teaching.

I hope to connect and be with you on the mat soon. Many blessings, love and light to you, may we all be blessed with the healing gifts of yoga and of each other.


John Yoga: A 2012 Constant Contact All Star

Dear Lovely Community,

I wanted to share the great news and express my gratitude to you, our wonderful yoga sangha and community, for receiving this honor. My emails and events are true offerings of my heart and spirit, and my deepest aspiration is to bring health and healing into this world through mindfulness and yoga.

To celebrate this journey, I am holding two special mindfulness and yoga nidra practices at my home studio, Blue Elephant Yoga and Mindfulness Center. It is a very humble space and can only accommodate a little more than a handful of students.

We will be joining together in community for the next: two tuesday nights in April- 4/9 and 4/16 at 6:15 pm. We will practice until 7:45pm. (2 sessions for $36) To sign up:

Constant Contact All Star 2012

As many of you know, I will be heading on retreat to teach in Hawaii at the end of the month, so I hope we can gather together as much as possible before I head out.
 I have so much gratitude for you being part of this lovely community that is, through our efforts on the mat, changing the world!

Reflections from a haze in Berkeley

This article was recently published in my email newsletter. I am reprinting it here for those not yet on my email list.

T.S. Eliot once wrote that April is “the cruelest month”, well, I think that February must then be “the fiercest month”. We have rain, sun, warm days and cold nights. As I journey through the labyrinth of February, I find it helpful to take pause. I’ll briefly share my thoughts with you.ganeshajohn

I sat one afternoon by myself in silence, in deep reflection softly gazing out of the café window into the rainy haze of Berkeley. I felt solace as I cast my gaze up toward the grey overcast sky looming above the trees lining Telegraph Ave. On this particular day, I had a lot stirring in my mind.

I had recently listened to a talk by one of my teachers, Tara Brach. In the talk she told a story about a woman who sat with her mother who was lying on her deathbed in a coma. Suddenly her mother woke up for a few moments and uttered to her daughter something like- “my whole life, I lived thinking there was something wrong with me!” Shortly thereafter the women died. It is hard to shake this kind of sentiment, particularly when placed in the context of death and finitude. It certainly sent shock waves through my bones. Tara went on to describe this type of thought as the “trance of unworthiness”.

We all have these kinds of moments. We are all vulnerable of a fall into self-doubt, self-criticism, a lapse of self-compassion and feeling that we simply do not measure up. In our culture, we are often given more examples or feedback in a negative direction. Based on this cultural-conditioning, our mind tends to gravitate and cling to these negative beliefs. Therefore, we must dig even deeper to reconnect to our inherent grace and beauty. We have to shine our light of awareness through these inner-veils of delusion to see the burning bright light of our own Divine perfection.

In light of these challenging core beliefs, we are fortunate to have found our way to the path of yoga. Yoga provides us with a systematic way of deconstructing the trance of unworthiness and restoring our heart connection. Being yogis we can make this heart transformation through effort and practice. I believe that our own efforts can extend beyond our own hearts and minds and reach out to those who may not have made this inner-shift yet. In this way our practice reaches out beyond our mats, beyond our own self and serves to liberate all beings from the shackles of despair.

We must stay close to our own hearts to keep this light alive. We must practice the gifts of meditation and yoga to keep the lens of awareness clear. We must not be afraid to live fully, to love fully, and to open up to the rainbow of emotions that shines through us each day.

I hope we can share in this celebration of life, love, and yoga together soon. Check out some of my upcoming special events and classes below!


Hawaii is Happening: Are you coming?


Listen to some of the music from class tonight

Dear Friends and Lovely Community,

Please check out some of the music from class tonight here: Purna Mantra

Yonat will be with me again Friday night 8pm. Yoga Tree Valencia in SF.

Yonat Mayer


Live Music in Restorative Classes at Yoga Tree in December

LInk to full scedule:

Live Music Schedule


yonat & her muse

yonat and her muse


Perry Dexter


Perry Dexter


What’s a spider got to do with Mindfulness?

What’s a spider got to do with Mindfulness?
by John P. Rettger, PhD, RYT-200

I am offering up this short reflection on how mindfulness works in my life. Over the past few weeks I have been privy to what may seem like a rather small experience when you first think about it. This seemingly small experience has turned out to be quite a big emotional metaphor for me. It certainly has brought about a kind of emotional transformation within me. Here is my story. At my studio and yoga research center (some of you may know it as the Blue Elephant- we have a couple of shared bathrooms that are located at the side of the building with a door that you enter directly from the outside. Naturally, this door lends itself to various little beings such as spiders entering into the bathroom.

Morning Dew Spider Web

Image from:

Over the years I have seen several of these spiders come and go, perhaps some exited through the door, others likely down the various sink, shower, and toilet drains. Over the past couple of weeks, I have had daily check-ins with one particular spider that conveniently made her home above the men’s toilet. Perhaps only a spider would choose such an odd place to live.Over the weeks, I have watched her seemingly get bigger and bigger. During our initial getting to know each other phase, I must admit I felt that primitive, perhaps instinctual desire arise in me to assist this spider in moving on to its next incarnation. In those moments of what we in psychology call “homicidal ideation”, a stream of mindfulness and compassion flooded me; and three simple words become my guiding principal- “Let it be!”.So I have been letting it be and one day, some time ago, I noticed that the spider was again a bit smaller and there was a little white egg. In seeing this, I watched my thoughts arise with a sense of panic about how many spiders there were going to be, and that old instinctual worry of whether or not they are poisonous came up. And again, deep from within me, the homicidal ideation arose, and from even deeper within me, the mindfulness arose with a bit more tenacity than the rage. Again the words, just “Let it be!”

Over the days I watched this mama spider in relationship to her egg. I noticed how close she would get to it, as if holding it, and embracing it. In witnessing this kind of holding, I was feeling myself change in how I was viewing this tiny creature. At first I was no doubt caught up in how ugly and gross she was, to transforming and seeing her with soft eyes of compassion, and understanding how dearly she cherished and loved this egg. She was certainly fulfilling that motherly instinct. I began to see this spider with fresh eyes each day. Seeing her not just for her spiderness, but as a fellow inhabitant of our Mother Earth, making her contributions to our shared cosmic web. We were both journeying through existence together- birth, life, and inevitably some day for us both- death.

I saw and felt in waves of emotion in myself my own loneliness, my own desire for the kind of holding she gave to this dear egg. I felt my own desire to offer this kind of holding. I felt deep in my bones how interconnected we all are.

So, I have been letting it be and yesterday, when I got back from teaching, I went in to check on the spider and initially I could not see what happened to the egg. I went in to take a closer look and I saw that the egg had hatched. Scattered all the way throughout this web woven in the corner were so many of these little spiderlings. When I got past my now familiar, instinctual homicidal ideation and feeling of panic, I softly gazed at them and suddenly an image came into my mind. I saw the mother spider as the Sun and the spiderlings as all of these little stars in the sky reflecting a kind of Divine luminosity. I felt my heart light up and a tingle up my spine. As I looked closer at the mother spider, she looked worn out but also content, happy.

I reflected on how that initial desire to kill the spider, the egg, and now all of these baby spiders came rushing in so quickly and how easy it is, as a human, to exercise destruction over nature. As I breathed into all of this so many images came to me- the destruction of the trees, the tearing up of the earth for building, urban sprawl, oil dumping into the water… I took pause just let myself feel all of this sadness. The following words came into my mind: “I can not take part in that!”

In that moment, the spider family became my dharma teacher. I feel so blessed to have had this witnessing, and to have mindfulness and yoga in my life. What a gift it is to be able to receive this type of emotional awareness and healing. This experience has offered me renewed energy toward my dharma of offering these practices in service of healing for all beings. I can, and we all can make a huge difference in elevating consciousness and creating peace on earth everyday through our very own small actions. In this very moment, if we all performed one action to heal ourselves and thereby our planet, that would be more than 7,035,834,125* actions in service of healing.

Join me in offering up some healing energy in the first Donation-based Vinyasa class I will teach at YogaSource Palo Alto at 1:30pm, Saturday, Sep. 1. Info online at:



*Population data from retrieved on Aug 29, 2012