We are Hiring!

With a fairly full private practice and a yoga therapy school in the works I need help. At this time I am hiring for a small 4 hour/week position with potential to grow. 

Skills/needs looking for:
-phone calls to local businesses (must be comfortable making cold calls)
-car in order to make supply runs
-Microsoft Word/Excel/Google Docs experience and knowledge
-Canva experience and knowledge
-Wordpress knowledge and website maintenance
-commitment of a minimum 1 year
-independent worker
-Mail Chimp experience and knowledge
-Social media knowledge
-occasional need for last minute editing projects

In exchange:
-all yoga classes at Rainier Beach Yoga
-mileage reimbursement

I will be accepting resumes and cover letters until December 31 and doing interviews the first week of January. Please send cover letters and resumes to laura@satmato.com. People of color and trans folks especially encouraged to apply.


I want to start this newsletter by saying, #metoo. I also want to start by naming the Black woman, Tarana Burke, who started this movement more than a decade ago even as it gains momentum now with so many survivor’s stories being heard. 

I have noticed a lot happening inside me as I hear and witness stories of sexual violence.

I notice I am excited. I am excited people are talking and people are listening. I am excited people are heard and silence is broken. This excitement leads to grief and anger. I grieve for myself and everyone who has experienced violence. I am enraged as I remember feeling powerless and seeing how patriarchal power continues to try to shut voices down. I grieve the times that I was not heard and the times I did not hear. I grieve for all who are not being heard right now and who may never be heard. I am angry that virtually every woman I know has a #metoo story.

As memories come back I am reminded of the layers of grief and anger that can lie dormant in my body.  When we are exposed to other people’s traumas it can bring our own back to the surface. Speaking our traumas can be both liberating, powerful and healing as well as re-traumatizing, painful and triggering.

If you have also experienced sexual violence and are feeling a lot right now please know.
1. Your feelings are normal.
2. Rage is normal.
3. Grief is normal.
4. Confusion is normal.
5. Heartbreak is normal.
6. Excitement that silence is being broken is normal.
7. You can take breaks from the media.
8. You can keep yourself immersed in media.
9. You can talk to friends you trust or a therapist about what is coming up for you.
10. You can not talk to anyone about what is coming up for you.

I am finding connection to my body powerful right now as well. I notice nauseous, numbness or waves of heat when I listen to or read accounts of sexual violence. I have started to try to move with those feelings. This does not mean trying to move through or move those feelings out of me, but allowing the nausea, the numbness or the rage to move me. I am attempting to allow my body to express what it is still holding onto. 

If you have all the support you need right now I am so grateful for that. For those of you reading this wanting more you can go here to sign up for a free 20 minute yoga therapy phone consultation. We can’t heal on our own and sometimes we all need a little or a lot of extra support on our healing journeys.

May you be free from danger now and always.
May you befriend and honor all your emotions.
May your body be healthy, healed and whole.
May you be at peace.

May all beings be free from danger now and always.
May all beings befriend and honor all their emotions.
May all bodies be healthy, healed and whole.
May all beings be at peace.

The continuum of skillful and unskillful action

I got back a few days ago from a week long retreat with one of my teachers, Richard Miller. Many people have asked me if the retreat was good, and good is one word of many. It was good, bad, powerful, irritating, profound, annoying, sweet, vulnerable, sad, sleepy, enraging, connecting and so many other words.

I asked Richard about the difference between “right action” and conditioning. The more I delve into anti-oppression work the more I seem unable to tell the difference. I wonder if my actions are due to the ways I was conditioned or due to my intuitive discrimination for what feels right in the moment. Maybe sometimes it is both, and other times it is one or the other.

Richard shared with me the same conclusion I have come to: that when my actions are based on conditioning (conditioning of dominant culture, whiteness, able-bodiedness, straightness, etc.) I can take responsibility for that (attend to the impact) and refine my actions from messing up. Essentially, through wrong actions I can move more and more towards right action.

I was hoping for a different answer. I was hoping I could find the magic meditation that would cut through all the conditioning and I would never make another mistake or harm another being and I could transcend this body and mind. As I sat with this desire I realized this too was part of conditioning and wrong action. Wanting to get away from the messiness of life is wrong action because it isn’t possible. Wanting to not affect someone in a harmful way ever again is wrong action because I will impact someone negatively again (and most likely very soon).

In this moment wrong action and right action feel very intertwined, and I am even hesitant to continue to use those two words to describe what I am talking about. More accurately what I am meaning is skillful action and unskillful action, and they are both necessary. In yoga therapy there is a lot of focus on welcoming and accepting (and maybe even loving) all the parts of ourselves, even the parts we don’t like. As Richard would say, “they are all messengers.” The unskillful actions I have taken have helped me refine my actions with myself, my relationships and the world, and through that refinement I have found more skillful actions. Maybe, like most things in life, this is a continuum rather than an either/or. How can our unskillful actions become more and more skillful as we continue to learn, refine and be honest with ourselves and each other? How do you work with right or wrong action or skillful or unskillful action?

Using All the Gears

In the last month or so I have been practicing #reactionaryselfcare. Reactionary self care is going from one extreme to the other and than back again. When white supremacists took over Charlottesville I dove into social media and the news to find out what was happening and the responses to the violence. I could feel my body start to go into overdrive, and I would become jittery. Once that happened I shut off my phone and computer and would do something to settle myself. I swam. I meditated. I hung out with my dog. Once my nervous system came back down I would dive in again, and within a period of time I would be jittery again. The jitters were my cue to react and do something different.

I talked with my therapist about this, and she brought in the concept of gears. I was going from 5th gear to 1st without much fluctuation in the middle gears. This pendulation from high intensity to low intensity is a familiar feeling, and yet I am also familiar with the burnout that comes with this pattern.

In the last few weeks I have attempted to practice 2nd, 3rd and 4th gears, which has been difficult. I have trained my nervous system to know 5th gear and speed up. I notice when I walk in the woods I speed up and challenge myself to walk at a 3rd gear pace. I notice when I move from my home to the studio I do it in a fast pace, and I try to slow down, have a brief conversation with the chickens and move to the studio with intention rather than rush. When I move through my day in a 2nd-4th gear I don’t need reactionary self care as much. When I am primarily in 5th and 6th gear I do not sleep as well, my stomach hurts, I am frazzled, forgetful and lose capacity to tolerate discomfort. 1st gear eventually becomes a necessity rather than a choice, due to sickness, injury or emotional overwhelm.

I also notice the discomfort of 2nd-4th gear. I feel I “should” be doing more, being more “productive.” There is a feeling of guilt in these gears that I do not have in 5th gear. There is something powerful and strong about 5th gear that I am attached to, even addicted to. I also believe there is conditioning of capitalism and whiteness that is showing up inside myself that makes overdrive feel normal or even positive. Both of these systems of injustice and dehumanization condition people to work harder, faster and your value is associated with your work and your wealth instead of your inherent value as a human being. So I am learning to sit with discomfort in new ways. Instead of emotional overwhelm and a jittery nervous system I am feeling the discomfort of slowing down. When I am willing to allow myself to feel this discomfort it shifts, unlike the discomfort of 5th gear. Reactionary self care becomes a necessity in 5th gear overdrive. A few moments of mindfulness can shift my feelings of guilt in 2nd-4th gears, and I can move through the world with more groundedness, stability and sustainability.

Are you addicted to 5th gear? Have you found ways to move through the world with intentionality rather than reactivity? How do you practice #intentionalselfcare over #reactionaryselfcare?

Joy as an act of insurrection

Warrior 3 in the Redwoods

I had the joy and pleasure of going down to the redwoods to visit some amazing trees. This picture was my favorite and made me teary being in its presence. 

While we were driving through the forest I was reflecting on joy. Joy is not something I typically strive for in my daily life. I strive to get things done, to be of service, to be a strong and compassionate container for people in the depths of pain and trauma and to work on myself so I can be more aware, more awake and more kind. My life is more geared towards work and compassion than joy.


Yet a lack of joy can lead me to burnout, depression and anxiety. I love this quote from Rebecca Solnit, “Joy doesn’t betray but sustains activism. And when you face a politics that aspires to make you fearful, alienated and isolated, joy is a fine initial act of insurrection.” 

As I have spent a couple years now focused connecting to my own anger and the injustices in the world I have also paid less attention to the beauty, the resilience and the joy that also surrounds me. My therapist told me recently that she works to post about justice on her Facebook page instead of only injustice. There is so much injustice in the world, but there is also justice. 

In thinking about my own experiences and witnessing of injustice in my private practice, community, country and world I am reminded that our brains are wired toward negativity. This negativity bias “overestimates threats, underestimates opportunities, and underestimates resources,” Rick Hansen says is this article. This is not a bad thing. In fact, this is how we survive. As a species it is more important to be aware of what will kill you than what is beautiful or joyful. We need this negativity bias, especially when there is so much injustice every single day that is literally killing people.

I also believe we can intentionally start to train our brains to look for the beauty, the magical, the awe inspiring that happens. Not as a way of discounting or ignoring threats and injustice, but as a way of noticing what else is happening at the same time. I talk in classes and with clients about “both/and.” If we only focus on one part we miss what else is happening in the world. When we focus only on the trauma of life we can become exhausted, overwhelmed and heartbroken. We need breaks, and again, not as a way of bypassing or denying truth. I believe when we can feel our joy or smell the sweetness of the flower or delight in a child playing when we return to the fight for justice we have more reserve in our tank and support to lean on.

What has made you smile today? What has brought you joy? 

If you want to explore the topic of joy I will be doing a daylong retreat on Sunday, September 10. I would love to see you there! 

38 Birthday Requests!

My birthday is coming next week, and in true Leo style I am shouting it out to the world. I have a birthday tradition thanks to a dear friend, V, who did this several years ago. For my 38th birthday here are 38 things I would love for you to do in the world. If you do any of them let me know how they go!

1. Write down 3 things that went well today.
2. Vote! Nikkita Oliver has my vote for mayor.
3.  Take a nap.
4. Smell a blooming flower that you walk by.
5. Swim in the lake.
6. Learn about the areas in your life where you hold privilege (i.e. being white, temporarily able-bodied, male, cisgender, etc.) and how that privilege plays out in your life. If you are white, CARW and European Dissent are 2 great local organizations and Witnessing Whiteness by Shelly Tochluk is one of my favorite books. 
7. Write down 3 things you love about yourself.
8. Tell someone else 3 things you love about them.
9. Go on a social media fast (1 hour, 1 day, 1 week or 1 month).
10. Meditate (Want support? Join me for a 30 day Lovingkindness Challenge starting August 1.)
11. Go screen free for 24 hours.
12. Do something that scares you.
13. Ask a friend for support around that thing that scares you.
14. Do whatever your pet wants to do for an hour.
15. Donate to a cause you are passionate about. Here are some of my favorites: Seattle Peoples Party, Missing Pet Partnership and Refugee Women’s Alliance.
16. Set a timer for 10 minutes and do absolutely nothing.
17. Learn what helps you stay grounded when in discomfort. Practice this daily.
18. Write yourself a love letter and mail it to yourself.
19. Write someone else a love letter and mail it to them.
20. Take a walk around a park without looking at your phone.
21. Buy flowers for yourself or someone else.
22. Write down what you are grateful everyday for a week.
23. What is your way of standing up against injustice and oppression? Find out how others stand up.
24. Read Radical Dharma, The Way of Tenderness and/or Living in the Tension. (If you choose Radical Dharma check out Genevieve and my facilitated group exploration in September)
25. Come to class at Rainier Beach Yoga on Tuesday, July 25 at 6:30pm to practice 38 Sun Salutations!
26. Go to bed early.
27. Go hiking and listen to the wisdom of nature.
28. Make someone a meal.
29. Give to a person experiencing houselessness.
30. Donate food, clothing or money to your nearest Nickelsville. You can learn more here.
31. Read about some aspect of history you don’t know much about. I am currently learning about the Great Migration through reading The Warmth of Other Suns.
32. Paint your toes.
33. Take yourself on a date.
34. Practice eating away from screens and work for a day.
35. Eat a meal in silence and enjoy all the sensations of the food.
36. Listen to or read anything by Sharon Salzberg.
37. Lie on the ground and feel the earth underneath you.
38. Do something creative (i.e. dance, paint, write, draw, sing, etc.)

Let me know how it goes! The best part is hearing from you!

Wholeness is no trifling matter.

Radical Dharma by Rev. angel Kyodo williams is a powerful book on race, love and liberation within spiritual (specifically Buddhist) communities, and this quote by Toni Cade Bambara jumped out at me:

“Are you sure, sweetheart, that you want to be well?…Just so’s you’re sure, sweetheart, and ready to be healed, cause wholeness is no trifling matter. A lot of weight when you’re well.”

Yoga and yoga therapy are not meant to bring ease and comfort and relaxation. Sure, that may happen, but that is not the ultimate goal of the practice. According the to the Yoga Sutras, yoga is the stopping of the fluctuations of the mind, and once that happens we rest in our true essence. But getting there is a whole other story. 

I love the metaphor of a lotus flower, which are blooming right now in Seward Park. The lotus is a beautiful flower, yet it comes from the murky dark water and mud. Through the mud it finds its way to the amazing expression at the surface.

We too are born through struggle. Every birth story I have heard shares elements of pain, beauty, agony and tenderness.

As I think about a healing journey I think of it as an intentional birthing through the mud and the murkiness to find our whole Self through the pain, the hardship and the growing up process. 

When I work with yoga therapy clients I say, “I am going to sound like a therapist right now,” and I share common therapisty sayings like: “the only way out is through” or “it gets worse before it gets better.” I believe these things are generally true, but it does not make it easier to move through the healing process. 

I generally want to bypass pain to get to a healed state. I have very successfully bypassed much of my pain for many years, but there were consequences to the bypass. I did not know who I really was. I had to shut down and shut out parts of myself that were too painful to look at. Looking back, I felt as if I only had access to some of me instead of all of me. I was unintegrated. I am sure I am still bypassing now and will continue to go through the mud throughout my life.

I believe that we are constantly birthing ourselves through whatever mud we are currently working with, and when we can actually be in the mud, get to know it, accept it as part of the process and even love it we can find our way to wellness. 

The quote above mentions the weight of wellness. Have you gone through a birthing process? What has been the weight on it for you? For me, that weight has included losing friends, relationships shifting out of conditioned patterns, experiencing more anger, sadness and fear, setting more boundaries, being more vulnerable, having vulnerability hangovers and looking at myself more honestly (which is not always pleasant). These weights are all amazing because they have brought me closer to my more authentic Self, but there was, and is, a lot of pain, turmoil and agony to go through.

Wellness, healing and wholeness are “no trifling matter.” But, in my opinion, it is worth the mud. It is worth coming home to yourself, to wake up, to see more clearly, and the more mud we go through the easier it becomes to get back in and do it again. You gain practice and skills to help with the birthing process. The only way the lotus makes it to the surface of the water is through the mud. It will probably get worse before it gets better. What helps you stay in the process to move towards wholeness? What supports you to do healing work even when it is painful?

Verified vs. Unverified Compassion and Anger

I hope this newsletter finds you well in your world. I am in the midst of a “sandwich retreat,” which is bringing the experience of retreat into daily life. I attended a daylong retreat last weekend, I returned to retreat Monday-Friday in the early morning and again in the evening, and tomorrow I end our time together with another daylong retreat. I have never done anything like this. I usually check out of daily life and responsibilities to attend a retreat, and it has been a fascinating experience to both be on retreat and to live my daily life at the same time.

One of the things I experience on retreat is a deep connectedness to others. My compassion grows exponentially, and I have a tendency to fall in love with the people I encounter and hold those who do harm with tenderness and compassion for the struggle that is at the root of their acting out. I even found myself having compassion for Sean Spicer this week, a remarkable shift, after struggling to locate compassion for any of the current political administration. In all honesty, I had an aversion to the compassion and connection I was feeling though.

In the last two years I have woken up to the ways that my compassion has not served me. Compassion kept me silent when I could have used my voice to disrupt harm. Compassion allowed me to let people off the hook because, “they are suffering” or “they are just on their journey” or “I should focus on what I agree with,” etc. Compassion made me turn away from suffering because it was too painful to look at. I am coming to think of this deluded form of compassion as ‘unverified compassion’. One concept we talked about on retreat this week was faith. The teachers distinguished between ‘blind faith’ and ‘verified faith.’ I don’t love using the term blind though, as it serves as an ableist way of describing an unconscious process, so I will use the term unverified instead. Unverified faith is believing in something without understanding why, and this kind of faith can be unquestioning. Verified faith is when we examine, question and challenge the teachings so we know them personally and intimately. We know we have faith in something not because someone told us we should but because we have struggled and grappled with it ourselves. 

The last two years have also been about reclaiming anger, and just as I became attached to compassion I also became very attached to anger. Anger served me by giving me the energy to speak up, to have a more critical analysis of the world around me, and to use this energy to turn towards the pain of the world. But I knew it wasn’t ‘verified’. Many times my experience with anger helped to reassure me that I was ‘right’ and ‘they’ were wrong. Other times I stopped listening to the people in front of me because anger flooded my system and I could no longer process what was happening around me. Some nights my body was so activated by my anger that I could not sleep. 

Even though there are many ways that my anger does not serve me, when I felt a strong pull of compassion start to return to me, I freaked out. I wanted to push it away. In the past my unverified compassion kept me unconscious about the harm I was doing in the world with the privileges I have. I was afraid I was going to lose my anger and return to the dismissive narrative of ‘it’s all good’. 

I know intellectually this fear is not true. I can not go back to who I was three years ago. I want to be compassionate, and I also want to be active. I want to integrate the two, and I believe the integration of anger and compassion can be a powerful force in the world. 

As compassion started to return I noticed myself grasping for the comfort of my anger and my righteousness. A dear friend asked me what my wise self had to say about this conflict between compassion and anger. Once I stopped to pay attention, my wise self told me I had to strengthen my anger muscle for the last couple years because it was so undeveloped. My anger  is important because it helps me access my passion and the fire for compassionate, fierce action. My compassion muscle is strong, and it needed to take a back seat for a season so it could learn to be in partnership with other parts of me. My anger and my compassion are in the early stages of dialogue. I am attempting to have faith in the process as these two parts of myself learn from each other and hopefully, become a little more verified.

Navigating uncertainty

I am in a percolating state of creation. I have a lot of ideas and am currently unsure of how to bring them to fruition. Although I am not ready to share the specifics of my dreams publicly I am interested in sharing with you the uncertainty of a the process of creation. When clients begin addressing the anxiety of a big transition in their lives, I get excited. I love supporting people going through changes, following their dreams, and living into the questions that don’t have answers yet. Yet when I find myself in the midst of transition, I am not excited. I am nervous. I can’t see the clear path ahead. To be in the midst of uncertainty makes me crave clear steps, mile markers, and clarity. At the same time another part of me also yearns for exploration, creativity and surprise.

What do we do with uncertainty, transition, and the unknown? In reality, we are always in a state of not knowing. I am on a plane heading to Chicago to surprise my best friend for his 40th birthday. I have a plan in my mind of how I imagine my time with him will be, but in reality I have no idea what is going to happen. 

When I think about creating something new, the superficial certainty that keeps me feeling safe fades away. Yesterday I shared that when I am in a moment of overwhelm or uncertainty I get a strong sensation in my head of a fast movement going back and forth. I have learned to recognize this as a hopeful sign. It means I am processing something I don’t yet understand, and that there is something shifting in my brain to attempt to integrate new information. I’ve actually grown to love this feeling even though it is uncomfortable because I’ve come to recognize that it means something is coming into focus.

With this new project nothing is in focus yet. I am mostly in a constant state of these fast moving head sensations interwoven with loud voices in my head that tell me, ‘I can’t do this,’ and ‘Who do I think I am to attempt this?’

One of the folks I confided in told me that she is excited for me. It was meaningful to me that someone in my life can hold my dream when I not sure. I needed someone else to hold belief in me while I struggle to believe in myself.

When I work with folks who are in a big transition or are dreaming of the next big journey I often ask them, ‘What is one small step you can make towards that dream?’ This is where I am currently finding solace. When I can see a tiny stepping stone to focus on, I can find enough support to keep me moving forward on this journey. As Lao Tzu wrote, “the journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.”

My dear friend, RW Alves, often talks about the concept of comfort, overwhelm, and growth. Comfort can be helpful sometimes, but honesty I find too much comfort boring and stagnant. Overwhelm is unsustainable, stressful, and I can’t get much done because I am too flooded to think clearly. Growth can be uncomfortable, but also incredibly rewarding and fulfilling. As I sit in this uncertainty I vacillate between growing (i.e. finding that one small step I can take), overwhelm (i.e. this is all too much, and I can’t do it anyway) and comfort (i.e. deciding the dream isn’t worth it and I should stick with what I know and what I’m good at). Comfort comes with competence, and I love that I have many areas in my life and work where I do feel capable. I can rest in these places of comfort when the overwhelm sweeps into my body and mind. The growth is the exciting part where I can keep finding and meeting my next edge.

Yoga and meditation have challenged me in so many ways in the last fourteen years. The practice has asked me to grow and grow and grow. It has highlighted where I need to go even when I didn’t want to. My practice and intuition are asking me to grow again, and I’m facing the ambivalence of both desiring and dreading the discomfort of this next step.

When you are in a place of uncertainty or growth what helps you navigate the journey? 

Spiritual bypass and the more I learn, the less I know.

Albert Einstein said, “The more I learn, the more I realize how much I don’t know.”

This statement feels appropriate to the way I walk through the world right now. I am reading the book, Spiritual Bypassing, by Robert Augustus Masters (I highly recommend it!) and I am coming to terms with how frequently I attempt to bypass my body and mind using spiritual ideas.

I remember going through a traumatic experience and constantly looking for the lesson in it rather than simply going through the pain of it. I was waiting to see what the experience meant, or what I was going to learn or how going through this trauma was going to make me a better person and teacher. I used my spiritual and meditation practice to move away from the pain to the treasure that awaited after the pain was gone. This bypassed the very real pain I was in though in order to focus on the time after the pain.

I share with students when I teach lovingkindness that I used this practice for years to dissociate from my anger. I could do this meditation practice while angry and repeat the phrases, “May I be safe. May I be happy. May I be healthy. May I be at peace.” Soon enough I was not angry anymore, and for years I believed this was a good thing. I do not believe this anymore because anger can be a force for good, for resistance, for motivation and for creating change. Yes, it can also be destructive, abusive and oppressive, but anger does not have to be those things. 

This weekend I had a wonderful massage, and near the end of our time our conversation turned to Trump. The kind and compassionate therapist shared he believed we needed to love Trump. He shared that Trump was providing us with an opportunity to look into our individual and collective shadows. The commonly heard spiritual message of “Love trumps hate,” feels like a bypass to me. I shared I needed to do the opposite right now. I needed to own and claim my anger because I have used love, compassion and spirituality to move away from it, away from action and away from looking at pain and trauma in my individual life as well as the collective world.

Yoga is about wholeness. The root of the word comes from yoke, and union is another common translation. When we are whole we are not just love and light and healing and happiness. If we are to truly hold all the parts of ourselves it means holding our anger, rage, divisiveness, fear and hatred just as we hold the parts of ourselves that we enjoy and we want to project into the world.

This book is both inspiring and frustrating as it shows me ways I continue to use my practice to leave myself instead of come towards myself more fully. The frustration comes from spiritual bypass itself because I should be above and beyond spiritual bypass. The inspiration comes from the honesty that I can look at myself and see there are more layers to peel back, and there always will be. From that inspiration comes gratitude for the teachers, books, students, friends and family who help me grow my consciousness, awareness and capacity to look with clear seeing (as clearly as I can) at myself. I do not know if this gratitude is another way of wiggling out of discomfort into bypassing, and I will attempt to be open to comes next.

If you are curious about the intersections of spirituality, spiritual bypass and social and racial justice check out the new on-line book club, Moving with Balance Towards Racial Justice, Genevieve Hicks and I are co-facilitating starting Thursday, March 30.