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ANATOMY OF TWISTS: HOW TO STOP BACK PAIN Train your mind for peace


& MIND The 5 key elements of yoga


Stretch & strengthen hips, and back




Wisdom from India


Travel should be exhilarating, not exhausting. Natrol Melatonin, the #1 Selling Melatonin Brand in America,* can help you keep your sleep schedule on track while you explore the far ends of the globe. It’s the 100% drug-free way to fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer, so you can wake up refreshed – no matter what time zone you wake up in.† Go ahead, own your health with Natrol. *Nielsen xAOC, 52 weeks ending 12/3/16. †These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. ©2017 Natrol LLC.


TRAVEL WELL. SLEEP WELL. PRESENTED BY NATROL This year, commit yourself to travel. From meeting new friends, to enriching yourself through the experience of other cultures, travel is great. However, it can throw your routine for a loop and your practice and sleep can suffer. This is your go-to-guide for making the most of your travel experience. By committing yourself to your practice and getting a perfect night’s rest, you’ll enjoy your new adventure and keep your sanity.

YOGA Look for recommendations for studios near where you’re staying. Commit to even 15 minutes in your hotel if you have a packed schedule. Guide yourself in your practice, and let your imagination and instinct lead you. If you prefer to have a guided practice, find a great online resource, like

MEDITATION Short meditations can help you find peace and calm during your adventures. Travel often leaves us feeling stressed with logistics considerations. Even 5 minutes of being still and focusing on your breath can help you reset, and enjoy your trip to the fullest.

SLEEP From jet-lag to adjusting to a different bed, getting great sleep is a challenge when you travel. Make sure your first day in your new location has a plan. Visit a museum, go to a restaurant, or take a walk around the city. Resist the urge to sleep until it’s bed-time, and you’ll adapt to the time change more quickly. Stay hydrated and watch what you eat. Avoid fatty or starchy foods that will be hard to digest as you sleep. Jet-lag is more likely when traveling West to East. It can take up to 4 days to adjust crossing 6 time zones compared to 3 days going East to West. Supplementing with Melatonin can help with jet-lag and reset your circadian rhythm (sleep and wake cycle). Try taking Melatonin the day you travel, about 20 minutes before bed, and for the next few nights in your new destination. Melatonin is a drug-free supplement that helps you fall asleep faster, stay asleep and wake up feeling refreshed to make the most of your new adventures!* *These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. ©2016 Natrol LLC.


Travel and


FEATURING KAT FOWLER Kat Fowler is a New York City based yoga teacher known for her lighthearted and inspirational style of teaching that encourages personal expression, inner connection and courage through movement. She teaches classes and teacher trainings in New York City at Pure Yoga and Yoga Vida, privately and online. Learn more about Kat at

Q: Aside from the basics, what are three must-bring things for you on a trip? A: My vitamins and homeopathic tinctures to keep me feeling healthy while traveling, my headphones for doing work or practicing on the go, and a lavender essential oil roll-on to put on my feet before bed to help me relax so I can get a good night’s rest.

Q: What is one of your guilty pleasures while traveling? A: I’m a firm believer in moderation in all things, including moderation! Traveling usually comes with a lot of work dinners with friends, so I’d have to say a good glass of pinot noir is my go to.

Q: How does the environment you are in influence your yoga practice? A: I live in NYC where the energy is fast-paced and intense and clearly not grounded through nature, so I always design a practice that will help ground and nourish me, depending on how I’m feeling on that given day. The environment definitely has a bit of an influence (energetically) on our systems—a yoga practice offers a great opportunity to balance that energy out in our nervous systems. I tend to customize what I practice according to my needs that day.

Q: Do you feel more vulnerable when you travel? How do essential oils help you feel grounded?

A: As a woman traveling alone in a foreign country you have to be very aware of your surroundings. I typically have a really great community of like-minded people that I’m working with who help me organize my trip so I always feel at home. But anytime I’m feeling a little spacy due to all the travel, I love using frankincense. It has an earthy, calming quality that helps me feel connected to my own sacred ground. Nature’s Truth® Essential Oils are for external use only and are not meant to be ingested, not as a reflection of our quality, but rather to keep our customers safe and healthy.


Pilgrimage to India The trek to Gomukh, the source of the holy waters of the Ganges in India, tops the bucket list for many yogis. YJ senior editor Meghan Rabbitt shares her journey to the river’s headwaters— and to a sense of peace with her past and a future unknown. By Meghan Rabbitt



It’s All Elemental Find fresh inspiration on your mat with Tibetan Yoga and Mayan Yoga, two culturally unique shamanistic practices that invoke the curative power of the five elements—earth, water, fire, air, and ether—to transform body and mind. By Tasha Eichenseher

Healing Spices Craving Indian food? Your body might be telling you something. Researchers say we may be primed to desire spices common in Indian dishes for their health benefits. Sounds like a good excuse to try these tasty recipes from Monisha Bharadwaj, author of The Indian Cooking Course. By Janis Jibrin, RD Recipes by Monisha Bharadwaj

march 2017



Cover model Briohny Smyth, pictured here in Anjali Mudra, shares how yoga keeps her centered amid hardship on page 12.


Anatomy of twists: How to stop back pain


Train your mind for peace


Balance body & mind: The 5 key elements of yoga


Stay well: 5 ways to boost your immunity


16 inspiring places to take your practice


10 poses to energize & empower


Stretch & strengthen your legs, hips, and back


Wisdom from India

cover credits Briohny Smyth in Toe Stand; photographed by Jeff Nelson. Stylist: Jessica Jeanne Eaton; hair/makeup: Beth Walker; top and bottoms: Alo; jewelry: Native Clutter.


MARCH 2o17



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16 BEST YOGA ESCAPES Inspire your practice at one of these transformative retreats, all recommended by some of the world’s top yoga teachers.


BEAUTY Tap the rejuvenating power of mushroom extracts with these hydrating and brightening skin-care products.


MEDITATION Learn to find inner peace with this practice from Richard Miller, PhD, founder of the Integrative Restoration Institute, in the ninth installment of his 10-part series on meditation.



8 12




YOGAPEDIA How to move from Virabhadrasana I (Warrior Pose I) to Eka Pada Rajakapotasana II (One-Legged King Pigeon Pose II) with Senior Iyengar Yoga teacher Carrie Owerko.


ANATOMY Twists are often blamed for low-back pain, but the poses can actually keep your back healthy. Ray Long, MD, founder of Bandha Yoga, shows you how. (Hint: Your core is key.)


HOME PRACTICE Boost your energy, mood, and heart health with these fast-moving sequences from Sadie Nardini, founder of Core Strength Vinyasa Yoga.






FLEX TABLE Up-level Sunday brunch with a light, flaky quiche, made with protein-rich salmon and leeks, kale and ricotta, or onions and wild mushrooms.


SMART CHEF Move over, almond milk. Cashew, macadamia, and pistachio milk are the new “it” nut milks, adding creamy, buttery goodness and delicious versatility to your cuisine.




IN FOCUS Readers share their favorite balance poses.


TAKE OM HOME One great way to live more in the present? Get on “island time.” These three tips from experts at the Carlisle Bay Antigua resort can help you.

14 94









weight loss

cheat your way

to lean

Break Through Your Weight Loss Plateau By Amber Rios


eing a health and nutrition correspondent means that companies frequently send me their products, and ask for my stamp of approval. Most of the time I dive into research, give the product a try, and send the company honest feedback about what they’ll need to change before I’ll recommend it. Plus my hectic job and my determination to stay fit means I’m always hunting for a quick and nutritious way to fill up on nutrients my body needs. So I can confidently say, “I’ve tried it all”. Last Tuesday work was especially hectic, but I’d booked with my $200 an hour personal trainer, Tony, a triathlon winning, organic-tothe-bone fitness guy with a ten mile long track record of whipping the “who’s who” into shape in record time, so I had to go. He noticed that my set count was down and playfully asked, “Feeling a little tired today?”,

as he handed me a bottle from his gym bag. After one sip I figured that there was no way this could be healthy because the creamy chocolate flavor was just too delicious. Still, he’d never risk his reputation. With more than a healthy dose of scepticism I decided to investigate this shake he’d called INVIGOR8. Turns out, it’s a full meal replacement shake, which stunned me because virtually every other shake I’d researched had tasted chalky, clumpy and packed with hidden “no-no’s” like cheap protein, tons of artificial ingredients, not to mention harmful synthetic dyes, additives, sugars, preservatives, and hormones. And even though INVIGOR8’s full meal replacement shake cost more than many of the shakes I’ve tried, it was about half the price of my favorite salad, and the nutrition profile looked second to none.

Wanting to know more, I reached out to a few of the people who were talking about it on trustworthy fitness forums. By the next morning three people got back to me saying, “As a trainer I love Invigor8. It’s definitely helped me to have more all-day energy, plus build the kind of lean sculpted muscle that burns more fat.” “Yes, I’ll recommend it, it tastes great, and I really like how it keeps me feeling full for hours.” “I’m a marathon runner and a friend recommended it to me. Drinking it has become a part of my regular training routine, because my time has improved, my energy is up, and I’m thinking more clearly than ever before.” I decided to take my investigation one step further by researching the development of INVIGOR8. I was pleasantly surprised to find out that the company went to great lengths to keep INVIGOR8 free of harmful ingredients. The makers of INVIGOR8 were determined to make the first 100% natural, non-GMO nutritional shake & green superfood. The result is a meal replacement shake that contains 100% grass-fed whey that has a superior nutrient profile to the grain-fed whey found in most shakes, metabolism boosting raw coconut oil, hormone free colostrum to promote a healthy immune system, Omega 3, 6, 9-rich chia and flaxseeds, superfood greens like kale, spinach, broccoli, alfalfa, and chlorella, and clinically tested cognitive enhancers for improved mood and brain function. The company even went a step further by including a balance of pre and probiotics for optimal digestive health, uptake, and regularity and digestive enzymes so your body absorbs the high-caliber nutrition you get from INVIGOR8. As a whole-foods nutritionist with a thriving practice I understand the importance of filling my body with the best Mother Nature has to offer. I have always been reluctant to try new products because I was never sure of the impact they would have on my energy, and weight. INVIGOR8 is different, not only because it’s delicious, but because it helps me to maintain the energy I need to run my busy practice, while helping me to stay fit and toned. Considering all of the shakes I’ve tried, I can honestly say that the results I’ve experienced from INVIGOR8 are nothing short of amazing. A company spokesperson confirmed an exclusive offer for Yoga readers: if you order this month, you’ll receive $10 off your first order by using promo code “YOGA10” at checkout. You can order INVIGOR8 today at or by calling 1-800-958-3392.

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Take your practice to a whole new level.

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LEVEL UP YOUR TEACHING As the saying goes, great students make great teachers. So if you’re craving real-time teaching feedback and advice from experienced teacher trainers, the Art of Teaching program is for you. At YJ LIVE! in New York City, April 21–24, you’ll have the chance to work closely with Coral Brown, a Prana Flow Yoga teacher with years of teaching experience, and Giselle Mari, a Jivamuktitrained teacher, faculty member, and mentor with 15 years teaching experience, as they observe your style and help you find your unique teaching voice. And if you’re trying to wrap your head around making a living

doing what you love, look to our Business of Yoga Bootcamp, with Karen Mozes and Justin Michael Williams. Sign up for both at Use the code MOREYJ for $50 off any pass.

May 3 THIS WAY TO HAPPINESS In his exclusive new online course, legendary integrative-medicine and meditation expert Deepak Chopra, MD, shares a seven-week plan that will change your perspective on the world— and in the process deliver greater harmony and abundance. Borrowing tools, science, and wisdom from his new highly acclaimed book You Are the Universe and his best-seller The Seven Spiritual Laws of Yoga, Chopra, with his yoga teacher, Sarah Platt-Finger, will deliver the philosophy and meditation and asana practices to help you develop a deeper understanding of yourself and a transformative relationship with the universe. Learn more at

CORRECTION The sequence Giselle Mari outlined in our “Chakra Alignment” feature in the December 2016 issue (No. 288) was derived from the Jivamukti Method, developed by Sharon Gannon and David Life.



Rejuvenate with Pachamama in Peru’s Sacred Valley


F E A T U R E D F A C U LT Y JUNE 2 - 4, 2017

SEANE CORN The Yoga of Awakening

COME AS YOU ARE. leave as you want to


JUNE 11 - 16, 2017

NICKI DOANE Maya Yoga Summer Intensive

JUNE 11 - 16, 2017

RICHARD MILLER iRest ® Yoga Nidra Meditation

J U N E 3 0 - J U LY 2 , 2 0 1 7

B R YA N K E S T & TRAVIS ELIOT A Power Yoga Weekend: Transformation for Total Health

J U LY 7 - 9, 2 0 1 7

FAITH HUNTER Spiritually Fly™ Yoga

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GURMUKH KAUR KHALSA Radiant Power of Women

AUGUST 4 - 6, 2017


Harmonize your mind, body, and spirit at 1440 Multiversity, an extraordinary new learning destination in the redwoods near Santa Cruz, California. Experience weekend or five-day programs from renowned faculty in mindfulness, authentic leadership, integrated health, neuroscience, and more. All accompanied with daily meditation, yoga, healing arts, and nourishing farm-to-table cuisine to help you renew, recharge, and reconnect with what’s most important in your life. Opening May 2017 SCHEDULE YOUR FIRST VISIT AT 1440.ORG/YOGA

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JASON CRANDELL Power, Precision, and Mindfulness

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RODNEY YEE & COLLEN SAIDMAN YEE A Journey into Asana, Meditation, and Pranayama

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Carin Gorrell editor in chief Kristen Schultz Dollard strategic brand director EDITORIAL

copy chief Matt Samet senior editor & senior content manager of online education Tasha Eichenseher senior editors Meghan Rabbitt, Amanda Tust associate editor Elizabeth Marglin contributing medical editor Timothy McCall, MD proofreader Laurel Kallenbach researchers Nancie Carollo, Melinda Dodd, Maya Dollarhide, Cathy Garrard, Mitra Malek, Virginia Pelley, Lisa Rogal, Joy Wingfield contributing editors Roger Cole, Jason Crandell, Alison Gwinn, Kate Holcombe, Sally Kempton, Ray Long, Richard Miller, Richard Rosen, Asha Wolf

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Mailing list: Occasionally, we make our subscriber list available to carefully screened companies unless the subscriber advises us otherwise. To remove your name from promotional lists, for changes of address, and for any other subscription matters contact: Yoga Journal, PO Box 420235, Palm Coast, FL, 32142-0235. E-mail the subscription customer-service department: Call subscription customer service, Mon–Fri 7 a.m.–12 a.m. EST; Sat–Sun 9 a.m.–6 p.m. EST: (800) 600-9642 or (386) 246-0197 from outside the United States. All issues of Yoga Journal are now available on microfiche from ProQuest, 300 N. Zeeb Rd, Ann Arbor, MI 48016. Copyright 2017 by Cruz Bay Publishing, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced without written permission from the publisher. Yoga Journal is not responsible for advertising claims. The editorial content of Yoga Journal should not be used as a substitute for professional health care. Talk with your doctor before starting any new exercise regimen.

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editor’s letter

Why we practice If you’re reading this magazine, you probably already know how healing yoga can be. This month’s cover teacher, Briohny Smyth, is rediscovering that truth now after she and her husband, Dice Iida-Klein—who is also her co-teacher and business partner—began talking about splitting up. Briohny asked to share some of her recent revelations with the YJ audience, and I found them to be beautifully honest and inspiring—and a testament to the power of yoga and community. Here’s a tiny snippet of our conversation: CARIN GORRELL Please, share what you’re comfortable sharing. How has yoga helped you recently? BRIOHNY SMYTH Yoga has been a lifeline for the past couple of months. It slows everything down and gives you the opportunity to peel away the layers of the onion. The last thing I would want to do is use my practice to sweep things under the rug. It’s been really important to feel through my practice—to open up my body and feel how certain poses affect my emotions. Every time I feel negativity, coming back to the mat has been a refuge and a sanctuary.

CG You and Dice have decided to continue to teach together. It must be so hard to have your private life play out in a public forum—your teacher trainings, social media, this magazine! BS We’ve been somewhat public about our relationship challenges; it’s been a rocky road. Social media has been really difficult. You realize how as a public figure, people look up to you, and it’s hard to say, “Hey, I’m not perfect, and we’re not perfect, and we’re doing the best we can.” I’m thankful for yoga and the community, because people are so giving and so honest and real. And sharing is very healing: You talk about it out loud, and you live less in your own mind and in your shadows. “Real life is tough,” says this month’s cover and asana-feature model, Briohny Smyth (see “It’s All Elemental,” page 64). “That’s where yoga comes in: It fulfills our yearning for connection.”

march 2017

CG Do you have a mantra or words of wisdom that you live by? BS “Pain that has not yet come is avoidable.” It’s also a sutra, roughly translated. What I mean by that is not that you don’t want to experience pain, but that you can learn from your experiences and not experience the same pain again.


CG What is your favorite pose and why? BS Inversions are my favorite, because turning yourself upside down gives you a moment to reflect. It takes all of your focus. Very rarely am I upside down thinking, “Hmm, my problems in life….” An inversion is a full-body engager; therefore, it’s a full-mind engager.

Carin Gorrell Editor in Chief


CG I find that in times of trouble, yoga can become more of an escape, rather than the place I go to sit with my emotions and peel back those layers. Do you struggle with that, and how do you bring yourself back? BS You’re so right: Yoga can become an escape. It’s great because it opens you up and gives you space and clarity in the chaos of your mind. But if you don’t do anything with that clarity, it becomes an escape—”I did my yoga; all is good.” For me, the key part of opening up and actually doing the work is meditation. Meditation is traditionally used to clear or calm the mind, but I think that before you can get there, you have to work through all the stuff that is the chaos of your mind. Not all of this stuff is real, but you still have to work through it.

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Consider This

“I meditate on the plane with Satanama Meditation, and I travel with essential oils—my favorites are lavender, peppermint, and oregano.” Kat Tudor

“Travelers commonly experience symptoms of aggravated vata dosha: difficulty sleeping, constipation, nervousness. Vata oversees the intake of information through the five senses, so give your sense organs a break on the airplane: Cover up with a blanket, put in earplugs, and take a quiet nap.” Larissa Carlson Yoga teacher and former dean of the Kripalu School of Ayurveda (Sign up for her Ayurveda 101 class at

“I credit grapeseed extract, a natural antibacterial, for my amazing food experience in India. I ate everything from roadside paratha to street-cart dosas and had no digestive woes.”

march 2017

Meghan Rabbitt // YJ senior editor (Read about her trip on page 34.)


“I get sore throats when I travel, so I carry a homeopathic with echinacea [an anti-inflammatory] and propolis [believed to fight bacteria and viruses]. I put it in my water and drink often.” Briohny Smyth International yoga instructor and this month’s cover teacher

“Having experienced altitude sickness in India, I learned the importance of keeping the lymphatic system functioning well during travel. I start every day with a vigorous lymphatic self-massage, followed by postures like forward bends and seated twists to get the body moving.” Carol Dimopoulos // Certified yoga4cancer teacher and president of Perillo Tours’ Learning Journeys

691 MILLION //

The number of wellness trips made by world travelers in 2015—104.4 million more than in 2013, according to new findings from the Global Wellness Institute.



Yoga teacher and artist, pictured here with a crystal skull, which are believed to hold the ancient record of Mayan wisdom (Try Tudor’s Mayan Yoga practice, page 64.)

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IT’S TIME! Flood your body with the cleansing power of Flor•Essence


from everyday life. While it’s easy to see when we’re dirty on the outside, we can’t see the toxins that are in the air we breathe, the food we eat, or even in our own homes. If you’re feeling sluggish, tired, or just don’t feel like your usual beautiful self

your body shine with the cleansing power of Flor•Essence.

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If you don’t have a green thumb … try a snake plant. “They tolerate neglect very well and are easy to nurse back to health if they start looking sad,” says Loux. If you travel a lot … try aloe. This succulent thrives in desert conditions, so it can easily go a week or two without

water. Just be sure to leave it in a sunny spot, as aloe needs lots of light. If your home doesn’t get a lot of light … try a spider plant—these aren’t as sensitive to low light as other plants. “Keep in mind that a lack of sun will mean they grow slowly,” says Loux. If your home is drenched in sunlight … try a rubber plant, which thrives in direct sunlight and is one of the most effective formaldehyde removers. If you love to buy cut flowers … instead try potted peace lilies, mums, or Gerbera daisies, all flowering plants that scrub the air. MEGHAN RABBITT

march 2017


Home should be a sanctuary, but according to the Environmental Protection Agency, the air within most houses (and office buildings) can be more polluted than the air outside in even the largest, most industrialized cities. The culprit: volatile organic compounds like formaldehyde, which are offgassed from plastics, upholstery, furniture, and other synthetic (and so-called “natural”!) materials. While it’s nearly impossible to prevent this indoor air pollution, there is a low-tech

purification fix: houseplants. “Plants are as efficient at filtering air as some of the most high-tech machines,” says Renée Loux, green-living expert and author of Easy Green Living. “Plus, they’re beautiful and add moisture to the air.” Here, Loux’s advice on finding the right plant for you:


From Maui to Mexico, Bali to the Bahamas, world-renowned teachers share their favorite yoga retreats. Consider this the inspiration you need to book your next getaway. Story by Meghan Rabbitt

march 2017



PICTURED HERE: Locanda del Gallo, Gubbio, Italy



Locanda del Gallo GUBBIO, ITALY This charming, 10-room bed and breakfast is set in a remote part of the northern Umbria hills in a 12th-century mansion. With its sprawling lawns bordered by lavender and rosemary, a saltwater infinity pool and hot tub, and an organic garden that provides much of the food served on the property, there’s a good chance you’ll want to move in permanently.

“Locanda is remote, stunningly beautiful, deeply restful, and has the most glorious food and accommodations. Plus, there’s a gorgeous asana room with props!” —Gina Caputo, founder of the Colorado School of Yoga in Boulder, Colorado


The Watershed Center

Dedicated to a lineage of classical yoga that was introduced to the West by Swami Vishnudevananda, a disciple of Swami Sivananda, this retreat is part of an international organization of Sivananda ashrams and centers. The ashram, situated on the beach across the bay from Nassau on Paradise Island, offers daily asana and meditation classes.

Just two hours north of New York City, The Watershed Center feels worlds away thanks to farmhouses, barns, and a yurt set on a 73-acre farm backing to hundreds of acres of state forest. Its mission as “a retreat and resource center for changemakers” is as beautiful as the grounds.

“I had my first experience with yoga here, and I’ll never forget the physical practice (my first Headstand!), meditation (a sense of calm), and chanting (the words and intonations embedded themselves in me). Although my style of practice has changed, this visit was the beginning of lifelong daily yoga.”

march 2017

—Bo Forbes, a yoga teacher based in Cambridge, Massachusetts



“I love that the staff is committed to inner transformation and external work for social justice.” —Jacoby Ballard, an Amherst, Massachusetts–based yoga teacher


timeless spiritual energy creates an amazing backdrop for mindful yoga, unique spa services, and garden-to-table food.

Want to stay at a resort that captures the essence of Hawaii? Honolulu architect H.R. Kerr designed the complex that’s now Lumeria for a sugar-cane-farming family. It was completed in 1910, and local shamans blessed it before it opened. The property’s

“This stunning property feels secluded, which helps foster an inclusive, interactive group dynamic. And I love both practice areas—one on the beach and another on top of a volcano.”


—Laura Burkhart, a San Francisco–based yoga teacher


Located in the heart of Andalusia in southern Spain, this working olive farm exudes a sense of vastness the minute you arrive: rolling hills, sunflower fields, and lakes in front of the Sierra de Grazalema mountain range offer the perfect backdrop for deepening your yoga practice. “Suryalila was mindfully created by a yoga teacher who incorporated all of her favorite things from retreat centers around the world. The food is amazing, the yoga room is spectacular, and the cherry on top is that the staff is very helpful and friendly.”


—Tiffany Cruikshank, a Seattle-based yoga teacher and founder of Yoga Medicine

Samahita Retreat KOH SAMUI, THAILAND Come to this well-known tropical retreat to improve your yoga technique with world-class instruction. Or, opt for one of their signature yoga-and-fitness hybrid programs, such as YogaCoreCycle, which incorporates core and cardio into your yoga, meditation, and breathwork practices. “Samahita is a perfect balance of luxury and simplicity. They have all sorts of yoga programs yearround, as well as indoor cycling classes and a full range of health and spa treatments. The quality of the staff—they are caring, but not intrusive—and people who teach here is amazing, as is the food!” —Mary Taylor, a yoga teacher based in Boulder, Colorado, and co-author of The Art of Vinyasa

BLUE SPIRIT NOSARA, COSTA RICA Perched on a hilltop overlooking the Pacific and a white sand beach that’s a protected turtle refuge, this yoga and meditation retreat center is as beautiful as it is healing, say practitioners who’ve spent time here. “I’m drawn to Blue Spirit Costa Rica for the gorgeous land, sea, and relaxed resonance. After teaching here, I come home so reconnected to myself, it’s as though I’ve been on holiday.” —Elena Brower, a New York City–based yoga teacher, co-founder of, and co-author of Art of Attention


This secluded resort on the Pacific coast near the quaint town of Sayulita was designed with the environment in mind: Every structure was hand-built, and there’s minimal electricity, so you can feel the spirit of the jungle, beach, and ocean. “There’s so much to love about Haramara: cabanas above the Pacific Ocean, outdoor yoga platforms that overlook the water and the jungle, and candlelight everywhere. It’s magical.”


Widely regarded as one of the best centers in the country for yoga, meditation, and holistic-living trainings and getaways, Kripalu offers customizable retreats, training programs, and even one-off classes. All-inclusive stays include lovely, minimalistic accommodations, healthy meals, and daily classes, with plenty of time for roaming the spacious grounds or hiking in the nearby Berkshire Mountains. “I love Kripalu for its consistency: The food is always good, the noon dance is always fun, and the yoga classes are always high quality. I also love its variety: On any given day, you can choose from a range of programs, lectures, activities, and healing-arts treatments, all offered by experienced, friendly, inspiring teachers.” —Sage Rountree, author of The Athlete’s Guide to Yoga

—Jeanie Manchester, a Boulder, Colorado–based yoga teacher


Known for its robust addiction-treatment programs, herbal-medicine tours, and life-purpose coaching, Rythmia offers a range of holistic healing experiences in the tropical setting of Costa Rica’s Nicoya Peninsula, a region that’s considered one of the world’s “Blue Zones”— a place where people live measurably longer lives. At Rythmia, you’ll have access to spiritual healers and naturopathic doctors, an onsite spa with volcanic mud treatments, daily Prana Vinyasa classes, and a world-class surf break. “Rythmia brings state-of-the-art healing modalities into the retreat experience. The first thing you do is meet with a staff doctor who creates a plan for your stay, and there are massages and treatments for your specific custom journey.”


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This modern resort located on Aruba’s blissfully quiet Eagle Beach boasts large, clean, quiet rooms, a freshwater pool, and plenty of beach cabanas for lounging post-yoga by the Caribbean Sea. “Aruba is my second home—I have citizenship there—so I love leading retreats on this island, which is the perfect place to relax, rejuvenate, and reconnect with yourself. At Manchebo, the yoga deck is right on the beach, so you can watch the ocean and sunsets as you practice.” —Kat Fowler, a New York City–based yoga teacher


This open-architecture, modern-style home is just minutes from yoga hotspot Ubud, the artistic and cultural heart of Bali. With spectacular views of rice fields and palm trees, the eight bedrooms, infinity pool, and gorgeous outdoor spaces in this boutique-feeling retreat center inspire deep relaxation.

“Gaia offers the best of both worlds: It’s quiet and peaceful, with really incredible views, yet it’s also walking distance from the city center and some of the best restaurants in Ubud.” —David Magone, a Boston-based yoga teacher and founder of PranaVayu Yoga


—Shiva Rea, founder of Prana Vinyasa



Sex after menopause doesn’t have to hurt. And ESTRINGÂŽ (estradiol vaginal ring) 2 mg may help by reducing symptoms such as painful intercourse, painful urination, urinary urgency, vaginal itching, burning, or dryness due to moderate-to-severe postmenopausal changes. • -vĂŒ]yiĂ?Li]VĂ€i>vĂ€iiĂ€} • Releases a local, low dose of estrogen • One insertion lasts for a full 90 days • Once inserted, you and your partner shouldn’t even feel it ESTRING is a local estrogen therapy used after menopause to treat moderate-to-severe menopausal changes in and around the vagina. ESTRING PROVIDES RELIEF OF LOCAL SYMPTOMS OF MENOPAUSE ONLY. IMPORTANT SAFETY INFORMATION Using estrogen alone may increase your chance of getting cancer of the uterus (womb). Report any unusual vaginal bleeding right away while you are using ESTRING. Vaginal bleeding after menopause may be a warning sign of cancer of the uterus (womb). Your healthcare provider should check any WPWUWCNXCIKPCNDNGGFKPIVQĆ‚PFQWVVJGECWUG Do not use estrogens, with or without progestins, to prevent heart disease, heart attacks, strokes, or dementia (decline in brain function). Using estrogen alone may increase your chances of getting strokes or blood clots. Using estrogens with progestins may increase your chances of getting heart attacks, strokes, breast cancer, or blood clots. Using estrogens, with or without progestins, may increase your chance of getting dementia, based on a study of women 65 years of age or older. Estrogens should be used at the lowest dose possible, only for as long as needed. You and your healthcare provider should talk regularly about whether you still need treatment. ESTRING should be removed after 90 days of continued WUG+HEQPVKPWCVKQPQHVJGTCR[KUKPFKECVGFVJGĆƒGZKDNG ring should be replaced. You and your healthcare

provider should talk regularly about whether you still need treatment with ESTRING to control these problems. Do not use ESTRING if you have unusual vaginal bleeding, have or have had cancer of the breast or uterus, had a stroke or heart attack, have or have had blood clots or liver problems, have a bleeding disorder, are allergic to any of its ingredients, or think you may be pregnant. Estrogens increase the risk of gallbladder disease. Discontinue estrogen if loss of vision, pancreatitis, or liver problems occur. If you take thyroid medication, consult your healthcare provider, as use of estrogens may change the amount needed. The most frequently reported side effects are headaches, increased vaginal secretions, vaginal discomfort, abdominal pain, and genital itching. Call your healthcare provider right away if you have any of the following warning signs: breast lumps, unusual vaginal bleeding, dizziness and faintness, changes in speech, severe headaches, chest pain, shortness of breath, pain in your legs, or changes in vision. %CTGHWNN[HQNNQYKPUVTWEVKQPUHQTWUG+H[QWJCXGFKHĆ‚EWNV[ removing ESTRING, contact your healthcare provider right away. You are encouraged to report negative side effects of prescription drugs to the FDA. Visit or call 1-800-FDA-1088. Please see Consumer Brief Summary of Safety Information on the following page.

See patient stories and videos at ETP737210-01 Š 2015 Pfizer Inc. All rights reserved. December 2015

Consumer Brief Summary ESTRING® (estradiol vaginal ring) About ESTRING ESTRING (estradiol vaginal ring) is an off-white, soft, flexible ring with a center that contains 2 mg of estradiol (an estrogen hormone). ESTRING releases estradiol into the vagina in a consistent, stable manner for 90 days. The soft, flexible ring is placed in the upper third of the vagina (by the physician or the patient). ESTRING should be removed after 90 days of continuous use. If continuation of therapy is indicated, the flexible ring should be replaced. ESTRING is used after menopause to treat moderate to severe menopausal changes in and around the vagina. You and your healthcare provider should talk regularly about whether you still need treatment with ESTRING to control these problems. IMPORTANT SAFETY INFORMATION What is the most important information I should know about ESTRING (an estrogen hormone)? • Using estrogen alone may increase your chance of getting cancer of the uterus (womb). Report any unusual vaginal bleeding right away while you are using ESTRING. Vaginal bleeding after menopause may be a warning sign of cancer of the uterus (womb). Your healthcare provider should check any unusual vaginal bleeding to find out the cause. • Do not use estrogen alone or estrogens with progestin to prevent heart disease, heart attacks, strokes, or dementia (decline in brain function). Using estrogen alone may increase your chance of getting dementia, based on a study of women 65 years of age or older. • Using estrogen alone may increase your chances of getting strokes or blood clots. • Using estrogens with progestins may increase your chance of getting heart attacks, strokes, breast cancer, or blood clots. • Using estrogens alone or combined with progestins may increase your chance of getting dementia, based on a study of women 65 years of age or older. • You and your healthcare provider should talk regularly about whether you still need treatment with ESTRING. Who should not use ESTRING? Do not start using ESTRING if you: • Have unusual vaginal bleeding • Currently have or have had certain cancers. Estrogens may increase the chance of getting certain types of cancers, including cancer of the breast or uterus. If you have or had cancer, talk with your healthcare provider about whether you should use ESTRING. • Had a stroke or heart attack • Currently have or have had blood clots • Currently have or have had liver problems • Have been diagnosed with a bleeding disorder • Are allergic to ESTRING or any of its ingredients. See the list of ingredients in ESTRING in the leaflet. • Think you may be pregnant What should I tell my healthcare provider before I use ESTRING? Before you use ESTRING, tell your healthcare provider: • If you have any unusual vaginal bleeding • About all your medical problems. Your healthcare provider may need to check you more carefully if you have certain conditions, such as asthma (wheezing), epilepsy (seizures), diabetes, migraine, endometriosis, lupus, angioedema (swelling of face and tongue), or problems with your heart, liver, thyroid, kidneys, or have high calcium levels in your blood. • If you are going to have surgery or will be on bed rest • If you are breast feeding • About all the medicines you take including prescription and nonprescription medicines, vitamins, and herbal supplements. Some medicines may affect how ESTRING works. ESTRING may also affect how your other medicines work. What are the possible side effects of ESTRING? If you experience any of the following side effects, immediately remove ESTRING if possible and contact your healthcare provider: • Cases of toxic shock syndrome (TSS) have been reported in women using vaginal rings. TSS is a rare, but serious disease that may cause death. Warning symptoms of TSS include fever, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, muscle pain, dizziness, faintness, or a sunburn-like rash on face and body. • Cases of ring adherence to the vaginal wall, making ring removal difficult, have occurred. Some cases have required surgical removal of vaginal rings • Cases of vaginal erosion and vaginal ulceration that may manifest as vaginal irritation, erythema, abrasion, or spotting have occurred. • Cases of bowel obstruction have been reported. • Severe allergic reactions have been reported including skin rash, giant hives, swelling of the eyelids, face, lips, tongue or throat. The most frequently reported side effect with ESTRING use is increased vaginal secretions. Many of these vaginal secretions are like those that occur normally prior to menopause and indicate that ESTRING is working. Vaginal secretions that are associated with a bad odor, vaginal itching, or other signs of vaginal infection are NOT normal and may indicate a risk or a cause for concern. Vaginal wall ulceration or erosion should be carefully evaluated. If an ulceration or erosion has occurred, consideration should

be given to leaving the ring out and not replacing it until healing is complete in order to prevent the ring from adhering to the healing tissue. Other side effects may include vaginal discomfort, abdominal pain, or genital itching. What are the possible side effects of estrogens? Side effects are grouped by how serious they are and how often they happen when you are treated. Serious, but less common side effects include: • Heart attack • High blood pressure • Stroke • High blood sugar • Blood clots • Gallbladder disease • Dementia • Liver problems • Breast cancer • Changes in your thyroid hormone levels • Cancer of the lining of the uterus • Enlargement of benign tumors of the • Ovarian cancer uterus (“fibroids”) Call your healthcare provider right away if you get any of the following warning signs or any other unusual symptoms that concern you: • New breast lumps • Severe pains in your chest or legs with or • Unusual vaginal bleeding without shortness of breath, weakness • Changes in vision or speech and fatigue • Severe headaches • Memory loss or confusion Less serious, but common side effects include: • Headache • Nausea and vomiting • Breast pain • Fluid retention • Irregular vaginal bleeding or spotting • Vaginal yeast infection • Stomach or abdominal cramps, bloating These are not all the possible side effects of ESTRING. For more information, ask your healthcare provider or pharmacist for advice about side effects. Tell your healthcare provider if you have any side effect that bothers you or does not go away. You may report side effects to the FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088 or to Pfizer at 1-800-438-1985. What can I do to lower my chances of getting a serious side effect with ESTRING? • Follow carefully the instructions for use. • Talk with your healthcare provider regularly about whether you should continue using ESTRING. • See your healthcare provider right away if you get vaginal bleeding while using ESTRING. • If you have fever, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, muscle pain, dizziness, faintness, or a sunburn-like rash on face and body, remove ESTRING and contact your healthcare provider. • Contact your healthcare provider if you have difficulty removing the vaginal ring. HOW TO USE ESTRING ESTRING is a local estrogen therapy used after menopause to treat moderate to severe menopausal changes in and around the vagina. ESTRING PROVIDES RELIEF OF LOCAL SYMPTOMS OF MENOPAUSE ONLY. Estrogens should be used only as long as needed. You and your healthcare provider should talk regularly (for example, every 3 to 6 months) about whether you still need treatment with ESTRING. ESTRING INSERTION ESTRING can be inserted and removed by you, your doctor, or healthcare provider. To insert ESTRING yourself, choose the position that is most comfortable for you: standing with one leg up, squatting, or lying down. 1. After washing and drying your hands, remove ESTRING from its pouch using the tear-off notch on the side. 2. Hold ESTRING between your thumb and index finger and press the opposite sides of the ring together. 3. Gently push the compressed ring into your vagina as far as you can. ESTRING PLACEMENT When ESTRING is in place, you should not feel anything. If you feel uncomfortable, ESTRING is probably not far enough inside. Use your finger to gently push ESTRING further into your vagina. ESTRING DRUG DELIVERY Once in the vagina, ESTRING begins to release estradiol immediately. ESTRING will continue to release a low, continuous dose of estradiol for the full 90 days it remains in place. It will take about 2 to 3 weeks to restore the tissue of the vagina and urinary tract to a healthier condition and to feel the full effect of ESTRING in relieving vaginal and urinary symptoms. ESTRING REMOVAL After 90 days there will no longer be enough estradiol in the ring to maintain its full effect in relieving your vaginal or urinary symptoms. ESTRING should be removed at that time and replaced with a new ESTRING, if your doctor determines that you need to continue your therapy. To remove ESTRING: 1. Wash and dry your hands thoroughly. 2. Assume a comfortable position, either standing with one leg up, squatting, or lying down. 3. Loop your finger through the ring and gently pull it out. 4. Discard the used ring in a waste receptacle. (Do not flush ESTRING.) If you have any additional questions about removing ESTRING, contact your doctor or healthcare provider. LAB-0087-8.0 Revised 09/2015 PP-EST-USA-0085 Distributed by

Pharmacia & Upjohn Company Division of Pfizer Inc, NY, NY 10017


Ready, set, retreat! With so many yoga retreats at any given time, finding your ideal escape can be a challenge. Here, a dozen of the ones we’re most excited about in the coming year: MARCH 26–APRIL 2 Sol Rising with Shiva Rea, an immersion into elemental vinyasa and spring nutritional and lifestyle rituals Rythmia Life Advancement Center, Guanacaste, Costa Rica APRIL 27–30 Tantra Yoga Immersion with Todd Norian, Sally Kempton, and Douglas Brooks Kripalu Center for Yoga & Health, Stockbridge, Massachusetts MAY 26–JUNE 4 10-Day Silent Retreat led by George Haas, with daily yoga taught by Leslie Booker of the Urban Sangha Project The Watershed Center, Millerton, New York


JUNE 17–24 Summer Energizing Retreat with a variety of yoga styles, chanting, and meditation led by Maggie Dunne Suryalila Retreat Centre, Cádiz, Spain


Located on the outskirts of Rishikesh— a city alongside the holy Ganges River that’s revered as the birthplace of yoga— Sattva Retreat offers a unique blend of ancient and contemporary offerings: yoga, meditation, nature hikes, Ayurvedic cooking classes, and even bungee jumping and ziplining.


An Ayurvedic destination spa and retreat center, Villa Ananda offers weeklong programs that include Ayurveda consultations, daily yoga and meditation, personalized daily treatments, and delicious food. With retreats maxing out at 14 people, a stay here feels both intimate and deeply healing. “I love how personal retreats feel at Villa Ananda. The staff has been the same for the nine years I’ve been teaching here, and we often see whales while practicing outside on the pool deck right on the ocean.” —Jamie Elmer, a yoga teacher based in Grand Junction, Colorado

AUGUST 12–18 Study the evolution of yoga and evolve your personal practice with Baxter Bell, MD, and Melina Meza Feathered Pipe Ranch, Helena, Montana SEPTEMBER 30–OCTOBER 7 AcroYoga retreat with Arkady Shirin Haramara Retreat, Nayarit, Mexico OCTOBER 15–22 Yoga and hiking retreat with Katie Silcox Locanda del Gallo, Gubbio, Italy

Santa Sabina Retreat Center

SAN RAFAEL, CALIFORNIA Built in 1939 as a house for women preparing to join the community of the Dominican Sisters of San Rafael, this center honors its heritage as a place of study, prayer, and community. “This sanctuary of deep stillness has spacious meeting rooms for yoga, meditation, and dialogue. I love the high-quality meals, inner courtyard that always holds silence, and outer courtyard with picnic tables and a grassy area for walking meditation.”

NOVEMBER 5–10 Dancing with Dharma, a weekend of meditation and dance with Lucia Horan Lumeria Maui, Makawao, Hawaii DECEMBER 9–16 ParaYoga Immersion with Rod Stryker Blue Spirit, Nosara, Costa Rica JANUARY 30–FEBRUARY 5, 2018 The Yoga of Sound and Voice Retreat with chanting and movement for healing Sivananda Ashram Yoga Retreat, Paradise Island, Bahamas FEBRUARY 9–18, 2018 Panchakarma detox program Sattva Retreat, Rishikesh, India

—Richard Miller, president of the Integrative Restoration Institute and developer of iRest Meditation


Tucked in a dense forest in the majestic Rocky Mountains, this quaint retreat offers a variety of lodging options, including tents, tepees, yurts, and suites with private bathrooms. Outdoor activities include horseback riding and hiking, with plenty of opportunities for wildlifespotting (deer, elk, beavers, ducks, and more). “This place comes from an era before yoga went luxury: just good people, good food, and good vibes, all set in the beauty of a national forest.” —Lizzie Lasater, a Salzburg, Austria–based yoga teacher who leads restorative yoga workshops and designs online education for yoga teachers


—Terri Cooper, founder of Connection Coalition, a nonprofit that brings yoga and meditation to schools, jails, shelters, and foster homes

JULY 27–AUGUST 1 Yoga and fitness retreat with Stefanie Ellis Manchebo Beach Resort, Aruba

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“This is a magical place nestled in the sacred foothills of the Himalayas. The center is quiet and has practice spaces that are large and bright, with windows overlooking the mountains and river.”


live well BEAUTY

Forest to face

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1 The chaga and maitake mushrooms in Red Flower’s Lymphatic Phytopower Sea Cleanser and Masque are rich in antioxidants, to turbocharge skin repair ($42, 2 Reishi mushrooms are a headliner for Alaffia’s Hydrating Coconut Night Cream, designed to soothe and revive dull, damaged skin ($19, 3 One Love Organics’ Vitamin D Moisture Mist contains shiitake mushrooms, a major

source of vitamin D, to boost elasticity and protect skin from free-radical damage ($39,

4 Suki Even-Tone Brightening Serum includes songyi mushrooms to help fade sun-related dark spots ($51, 5 Silver ear mushroom, a star ingredient in Jurlique’s Rose Moisture Plus Revitalising Gel-Lotion with Antioxidant Complex, offers a surge of hydration ($47,

3 2 4

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One Emergen-C every day and you’ll emerge restored, fortified and replenished. A super fresh formula packed with B vitamins, electrolytes, antioxidants† and more vitamin C than ten oranges.* Why not feel this good every day? †Antioxidants include Vitamin C, Zinc and Manganese. *Based on using the nutrient database value for a large, raw orange. ©Alacer 2015

live well MEDITATION

Find lasting peace Let your meditation practice take you places you never thought possible. By Richard Miller, PhD

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thing’s wrong,” and conclude that “something’s wrong with me.” When this occurs, you may become psychologically embroiled in trying to fix or change yourself, and not recognize that you’ve simply separated from your underlying wholeness.

Stages of meditation Yogic meditation helps you re-remember your connection to the universe and recover a sense of peace, no matter your circumstances. The process of embodying your wholeness can unfold in four stages. First, take time to reflect upon each of these stages below, then practice the meditation that follows, which is designed to help you actualize the four stages.

1 Attend to what’s changing If you make an effort to consciously notice sensations and emotions in your body, thoughts in your mind, and sounds within and around your body, you’ll soon discover that everything, within and around you, is constantly changing. You’ll also learn to respond, rather than react, to these changing perceptions. For instance, noticing discomfort in your lower back can remind you to get up and move, or to do your back exercises. And noticing mental irritation might lead you to realize that

you’re either hungry or needing to set an appropriate boundary with a demanding person or stressful situation.

2 Realize yourself as an observer Next, recognize that you are an observer of all you’re experiencing. As your capacity to observe grows, so too does your ability to maintain distance from, and perspective on, that which you’re observing. This helps you break free of conditioned reactions. Here, you’re learning to disentangle from your perceptions and to experience yourself as an observer. You’re also learning to shift your attention from observing with your physical eyes to observing from the “eyes of your heart.” By doing so, you grow your capacity to experience yourself as an openhearted and compassionate observing presence.

3 Recognize the self as ephemeral In this next stage, notice how your sense of being a separate self is ephemeral. For instance, notice how you can be unaware of driving across a bridge until you reach the far side. Or how your sense of self is absent during dreamless sleep. The self is designed to arise when you need to feel separate for social or survival purposes. Consider how helpful it is to feel like a unique individual, with your own opinions, when participating in a political discussion. That said, forgetting your interconnected wholeness and feeling separate can lead to reactive conflict, as we see when political discussions become polarized. While the self function provides us with a sense of being unique, meditation helps


IN YOGA THEORY, we are all innately connected to and not separate from a universal life force that can help us access feelings of lasting peace. But it’s also true that every object throughout the entire universe, including you, is unique. It’s natural, then, to think of yourself as separate from others. But to quantum physicists and yogis alike, you are not separate: You, and everything in the universe, are both unique and nonseparate. Everything is part of an interconnected, undivided wholeness that underlies the entire cosmos. This realization is perhaps the most powerful insight on the path of yogic meditation. Your sense of interconnected, undivided wholeness is hardwired into your nervous system. Whenever you separate from this feeling, your body sends you somatic messages, such as contractions in your gut or heart palpitations, that let you know that “something’s wrong.” These are messengers warning you to stop and take action to restore your innate sense of peace. Unfortunately, our ability to remain connected to this undivided wholeness is too often commandeered by our egos, which, by default, are designed to emphasize separateness. In this case, your ego can identify the feeling of “some-



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us remember that we are, at the same time, always part of something bigger.

4 Be colorfast Lastly, notice how all changing perceptions, including yourself as a separate self, are movements unfolding in awareness. During this stage of meditation, turn your attention away from changing phenomena and remain absorbed in being in a state of awareness. As you remain undistracted, absorption deepens and self-awareness itself eventually falls away, along with any sense of the self as separate. Here, you enter a dimension much like deep, dreamless sleep, resting as the undivided wholeness that is your essential nature. You are simply being. Repeatedly dissolving into essential nature for even a few moments during meditation is much like being immersed in a container of dye. Over time, with consistent meditation and repeated absorptions, you become colorfast as essential nature, incapable of being washed out, or disturbed, by inner or outer circumstances. You can forget your essential nature of

interconnected, undivided wholeness, but it never goes away. It’s indestructible. It’s always whole, healthy, existing beyond space and time, perfect, and complete. Experiencing your wholeness enables you to recover a sense of unchanging and ever-present peace and well-being, even when facing your deepest fears. Here is a description of becoming colorfast from one of my students, Frank, a combat veteran: “Through yogic meditation, I now experience an unchanging peace that’s within me. I feel like a samurai warrior who knows the secret of who I truly am. Originally at the mercy of my PTSD, I now have the inner resource of well-being that helps me respond, rather than react, when old memories resurface. I believe that meditation saves my life every day.” As your capacity to embody your wholeness increases, you move through life with unchanging inner peace and well-being. Like Frank, you live from your wholeness, which enables you to resiliently navigate your way through life.

PRACTICE: EXPERIENCE YOUR WHOLENESS SETTLING IN Sit or lie down in a comfortable position. With your eyes open or gently closed, allow your senses to open to the sounds around you, the touch of air on your skin, the sensations where your body touches the surface that it’s resting on, and the feeling of being at ease throughout your entire body and mind. Bring attention to sensations in your forehead, eyes, ears, jaw, neck, shoulders, arms, palms, torso, pelvis, hips, legs, and feet. Be equally aware of the front and back of your body, the left and right sides, the inside and outside. Welcome your entire body as a field of radiant sensation. Be aware of sensations, emotions, and thoughts that are arising. Take time to relate to them as messengers and recognize actions they’re asking you to take in your life. Observation Now, turn your attention to sensing yourself as the one who is aware of the changing movements that are present. Let go of attending to the changing movements and simply

Let nature be your teacher. —William Wordsworth

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to move back into daily life, continue noticing the sense of unchanging well-being and wholeness as ever-present, no matter your circumstances.

Moving forward AfďŹ rm your intention to remember your interconnected, undivided wholeness as an inner resource of unchanging peace and well-being throughout your daily activities. Then, one day, you may realize how wholeness and well-being are always with you—your allies for life—supporting you in every moment.

march 2017

Richard Miller, PhD, is the founding president of the Integrative Restoration Institute ( and co-founder of the International Association of Yoga Therapists. This is his ninth in a series of 10 columns designed to help you create a lasting and impactful meditation practice.



“Travel and yoga adjust the soul, taking each experience and imprinting it on our psyche. Although life is upon us and the physical act of the travel passes, people and communities are changed permanently by the experience”. - Carol Dimopoulos President Perillo’s Learning Journeys Kundalini Yoga Teacher Global Yoga Ambassador To the Maltese Islands



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from the village of Gangotri to the headwaters of the holy river Ganges after a big breakfast of rice, beans, and Nutella on toast. A minute in, I regretted my decision to heap seconds of everything onto my tin

plate. At 1o,ooo-plus feet, I’d felt winded simply walking to the trailhead. Now, stuffed and fighting for air, I was attempting a 28-mile trek that gained another 2,5oo feet of elevation in three days. I glanced nervously at our guide, Sandesh Singh. The lithe 42-year-old shot me a wide smile that put me, an experienced hiker yet India first-timer, at ease. Singh is a native of Haridwar, considered one of the most sacred cities in India because it’s

lodged where the Ganges emerges from the Himalayas and starts flowing through the plains. He has walked this path with pilgrims from around the world nearly two dozen times, and his gratitude for getting to show it to tourists like us—six American yogis on a spiritual journey through North India—felt profound. We walked silently, choosing to conserve our energy rather than expend it by chatting—except for Singh, who excitedly


protect the Earth from Ma Ganga’s force, Lord Shiva sat in Gangotri and caught the powerful river in his hair, saving the Earth from cracking open. Thanks to Shiva, Ma Ganga’s purifying waters could then flow without being destructive, and for centuries the devout have traveled to her banks to wash away sins and find salvation. The water is considered so sacred, Hindus will have it sprinkled on their bodies if they can’t die on the banks of the Ganges. And

the ultimate pilgrimage, for those who are able, is a journey to Gomukh, the Gangotri Glacier where Ma Ganga’s headwaters start flowing. “You can feel the energy there,” Singh said. About a mile into the hike, we took a water break in a shady spot at the first of countless mini-peaks. “Oh, Shiva!” said a breathless Carol Dimopoulos, a yoga teacher and president of Learning Journeys at Perillo Tours, who had organized

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told us why so many Hindus make this pilgrimage. “The Ganges isn’t just a river—she is a goddess, Ma Ganga,” said Singh, who went on to explain why she is the most revered and sacred river in Hindu lore. When Ma Ganga was asked to descend to Earth from the heavens, she was insulted, so she decided to sweep away everything in her path with her waters once she reached the terrestrial plain. In order to

How a trek to holy Gomukh, the source of the mystical waters of the Ganges, deepened one writer’s understanding of yoga’s teachings.


In a place where nothing seemed familiar—the language, the elaborate Sanskrit lettering on boulders along the trail, the devotion woven into every interaction, and the imposing peaks on the horizon that made me feel like I was approaching the edge of the world— I felt a surprising sense of ease.

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the trip. We laughed, and the phrase became a refrain when one or more of us was struggling. It had been a year of “Oh, Shiva!” moments for me, big life changes that were as emotionally challenging as the physically demanding trail I was on: a bad breakup, a big move, a new job. This opportunity to trek to Gomukh and also see some of North India’s holiest cities and temples felt like an ideal way to take stock and start fresh.


The trail to Gomukh was surprisingly uncrowded given the hike’s spiritual significance. However, the 1o-hour drive from Rishikesh to Gangotri we’d made the day before explained why so few undertake the journey. Unlike the well-paved highways leading to the national parks in the United States, we encountered nothing but singlelane, pothole-filled mountain passes. The higher our van climbed, the more nailbiting—though majestic—the views. The roads were so narrow that our driver had no choice but to hug the abyss, a guardrail-free plunge into increasingly deeper ravines. The common experience of chaos in India that had struck me just a few days earlier in Delhi—the sea of rickshaws, threewheeled tuk-tuk taxis, and forlorn cows walking through it all—felt far away as I traveled into a somewhat

more peaceful, inner chaos high in the Himalayas. As we approached 11,ooo feet, the strong sun made the wild Himalayan roses lining our path glitter, yet it wilted our energy. Altitude sickness set in for a few members of the group, who slowed down due to headache and nausea. And none of us was immune to the surge in emotional rumblings as we walked along the quiet trail— something my friend Elizabeth, who’d gone on this pilgrimage herself when she lived in India years ago, mentioned might happen. “As much as India is about an outer pilgrimage, pay close attention to the invisible stirrings inside you, what seems familiar and what seems so amazingly sacred,” she wrote in an e-mail to me before my trip. “May you have the ability to be totally present with whatever arises and be able to surrender to the grace of what is.” In a place where nothing seemed familiar—the language, the elaborate Sanskrit lettering on boulders along the trail, the devotion woven into every interaction, and the imposing peaks on the horizon that made me feel like I was approaching the edge of the world—I felt a surprising sense of ease. My sadness and uncertainty about the turns my life had taken over the previous year were tempered by the happiness, gratitude, and trust I was feeling on this path in the high Himalayas.

I found myself leaning in to my emotions as they surfaced and staying present with them, experiencing what’s arguably the real purpose of yoga—a tradition that has deep spiritual roots in this place. Just beyond the halfway mark for the day, I walked ahead of Singh and the others, though I still trailed far behind the Sherpas from neighboring Nepal whom Singh had hired to carry our bags, tents, and food. I felt content alone on the trail, and the only people I encountered were fellow pilgrims descending from Gomukh, mostly older Indian men wearing tattered lungis (traditional sarongs) and plastic sandals, and carrying jugs of silty, sacred Ganges water. I stuck out in my REI pants and trail-running shoes, but it didn’t seem to matter. Every person I passed greeted me with a friendly nod and said “Sita Ram,” the spiritual version of “Hi” or “Howdy.” One barefoot man in a saffron lungi that symbolized he was a sadhu, an ascetic who’d chosen to live on the fringes of society to focus on his own spiritual practices, held my gaze as he approached. “Sita Ram,” he said, and then stopped. “Sita Ram,” I replied, stopping as well. Though he said something else in Hindi that I couldn’t understand, his raised eyebrows telegraphed a question: Why was I hiking to Gomukh? When it was clear we wouldn’t be able to chat, we went our separate ways. As I hiked on, I considered the sadhu’s unspoken question, one I’m not sure I could’ve answered in that moment even if I were fluent in Hindi. The path got rockier, and I wondered how the sadhu had traversed this ground without shoes. It reminded me of my Irish grandmother, who often told my sister and me the story of how she’d hiked Croagh Patrick—a Catholic pilgrimage up a 2,ooo-foot mountain in County Mayo—barefoot, which got dicey at a steep pitch near

FACING PAGE, CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT The Taj Mahal; the writer at an elephant sanctuary in Dehradun; collecting water at Gomukh; monkeys on the road to Rishikesh; Ma Ganga flowing through Rishikesh; chanting with a baba in a cave at camp; offerings for a puja ceremony the night before the hike to Gomukh; a young pilgrim rings the bell at Gangotri Temple; en route to Gangotri.


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the top covered in loose shale. “We took three steps forward and 1o back, it was so slippery,” she’d say in her sweet Irish accent. “It’s like life itself: When you fall back, you try again. And you have faith that you will make it.” Thoughts of my grandmother took my mind off my fatigue as I pushed up the final rocky hills to our campsite for the night. We’d pause here to sleep and refuel before the final four-mile push to Gomukh the following day.

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The temple at Gomukh.


At Gomukh, there is a small stone temple nestled among mountain peaks that seem to protect the big ice cave from which the river flows. When I got there, I knelt before a statue of Lord Shiva, held my hands at my heart, and silently wished for clarity.

The Sherpas had arrived hours before us to set up our tents and cook a vegetarian feast: vegetable biryani, saag paneer, and aloo gobi, with stacks of freshly made chapati—pan-fried, unleavened flatbread we used to sop up every last bit of sauce on our plates and in the serving dishes. After sipping masala tea, we wandered around the campsite and into a cave where a baba (considered even holier than a sadhu for his commitment to a life of meditation and living in a state of samadhi, or bliss) was playing his harmonium. We sat cross-legged in a circle around him and chanted Hare Krishna in a call-and-response—a scene that’s remarkably normal on this pilgrimage. The next day, I woke up early and wandered back to the cave, where the baba hosts a daily morning meditation. I settled onto a stack of blankets and closed my eyes, and before I knew it, almost an hour had passed and it was time to head back to camp for breakfast. If only meditating always felt so lovely at home, I thought, before remembering the energy Singh had told us we’d feel near the source. Bellies full—though not too full, having learned from the previous morning’s mistake—we set out for our final destination. While still uphill, the last leg of the trek was considerably easier than the ground we’d covered the day before, giving my mind the chance to wander. And there in the high Himalayas, after sharing the trail with sadhus and chanting and meditating in a cave with a baba, my thoughts returned again to my Irish-Catholic grandmother. What would she have thought of my Indian pilgrimage? Would she have balked at the Hindu mythology, or urged me to say a few Hail Marys at the summit? And what I most wanted to know: What invisible stirrings had my grandmother faced as she walked barefoot up Croagh Patrick, and were they similar to my own as I made my way toward Gomukh? My grandmother died 1o years ago, so I’ll never know the answers to my questions. But I do know that shortly after she made her own pilgrimage, she left her family and all that she knew in her tiny village in Ireland and emigrated to New York. At the top of Croagh Patrick, there is a little white church where pilgrims say their prayers before heading back down the mountain. I imagined my young grandmother walking into that

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Most experts recommend spending at least 14 days to see some of the holiest cities and temples in North India. To make the most of your time, here’s a suggested itinerary: Arrive in Delhi and take in the bustling metropolis on a bicycle rickshaw; attend an aarti ceremony (a spiritual ritual) at ISKCON temple. Travel to Agra (a 2-hour train ride from Delhi) to visit the Taj Mahal, one of the Seven Wonders of the World. From Delhi, take the train to Haridwar (a 6-hour journey). The city’s name means “Gateway to God,” and it is one of the most accessible pilgrimage sites in India. Attend the aarti ceremony at Har-ki-Pauri and visit the Jain Temple. Drive to Rishikesh, commonly referred to as the birthplace of yoga. Visit the “Beatles Ashram,” where the band reportedly wrote 40 songs while learning meditation from Maharishi Mahesh Yogi in 1968; shop in the open-air markets; and attend the Maha Aarti ceremony at Triveni Ghat, where the purifying waters from three holy rivers come together and you can drop an offering into Ma Ganga and make a wish. Drive to Uttarkashi (approximately 6 hours from Rishikesh) and stay overnight en route to Gangotri.

march 2017

Mala beads for sale in an open-air market near Badrinath Temple.


church and lighting a candle, praying for strength as she prepared to leave her homeland and asking for blessings in the unknown future she’d have in America. At Gomukh, there is a small stone temple nestled among mountain peaks that seem to protect the big ice cave from which the river flows. When I got there, I slipped off my shoes, knelt before a statue of Lord Shiva, and held my hands at my heart. Then I walked over to the bank of Ma Ganga mere feet from where she starts flowing and bowed, silently wishing for clarity and comfort as I moved on from the heartache and lessons of my past and toward my own unknown future. The few people around me seemed to be just as reflective as I was, basking in the peaceful, comforting energy that crystallized—both around and within us—here at the source. As I cupped my hands in the icy river and drank from it, I held

the feelings of loss and hope my grandmother surely experienced as a young woman about to leave Ireland, as well as my own past hurt and optimism for what’s to come. And then I opened my palms and let it all go, watching the clear droplets merge with the flow. This, I thought, is why people of all faiths go on pilgrimages, and why I was on this one now. These journeys are like life itself, filled with setbacks and struggles as well as victories and beauty, just as my grandmother had told me. And no matter what you believe in—a whole posse of Hindu gods like the sadhus and babas worship, the holy Trinity like my grandmother did, or no higher being at all—the journey serves as a reminder that we’re all on our own path, facing our fears, feeling our sadness, and trusting in the unknowable gifts of the future. Want to go on a retreat in India or lead one for your students? Visit to find out how.

Drive to Gangotri (approximately 4 hours from Uttarkashi), stopping at Gangnani for a dip in the village’s hot sulphur springs. Visit Gangotri Temple for evening prayer dedicated to Ma Ganga, and participate in a puja ceremony, a ritual performed by Gangotri Temple’s priest to keep those hiking to Gomukh safe on their journey. Begin hiking to Gomukh and stay the night at the campsite in Bhojwasa. Walk to Gomukh and spend time on the banks of Ma Ganga. Fill a vessel with the holy water to take home with you. Walk back to Bhojwasa for another night at camp. Return to Gangotri, then drive to Uttarkashi. From Uttarkashi, drive to Rudarparyag (approximately 7 hours) for an overnight respite en route to Badrinath, one of the most sacred and respected shrines in India and one of the four pilgrimage sites collectively called Char Dham (the “four abodes/seats”), which every Hindu is supposed to visit to attain salvation. Drive from Rudarparyag to Badrinath (approximately 7 hours) to visit the Badrinath Temple, take a bath in the thermal hot springs (where pilgrims bathe before entering the temple), and visit Mana, India’s last civilian village before the Tibet/Indo-China border. From Badrinath, drive back to Rishikesh (approximately 9 hours) for a 2-day stay at NaturOvillé Ayurvedic Spa. Drive to Haridwar (approximately 1 hour) and take the train back to Delhi. The author in one of the meditation caves at the “Beatles Ashram” near Rishikesh.


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Setting an intention can be a powerful practice that helps you align with your higher goals. But keeping that intention front-of-mind so you actually follow through? That can be more challenging. Enter the DIY affirmation card. “I leave these little love notes—acknowledgements of divinity, reminders of presence, and notes of appreciation—around the house to remind myself how to point my attention,” says New York City yoga teacher Elena Brower. “And the art of creating them is a meditation in and of itself, a sweet morning ritual.” To make your own, decorate a little piece of paper with any type of art that calls to you—you can use watercolor, collage, or even magic markers or crayons—and write a phrase or quote that moves you, says Brower. “Enjoy the informal act of creating art,” she says. “Think of these as a gift to yourself that will add to your space, to your heart, and to your world.” MEGHAN RABBITT


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practice well YOGAPEDIA

Poses of the month

How to move from Virabhadrasana I


Instruction 1 Begin in Tadasana (Mountain Pose), with your feet together and arms at your sides.

up over your ankles.

straight. Simultaneously press down and

to maintain length in your sides. 

without losing the downward pressure of the inner edge of your right foot. 4 On an exhale, bend your right knee to a right angle so it’s over your ankle. Your right thigh will be parallel to the floor—or

you rotate that leg and your trunk. Reach back through the center of your left heel, even if the outer heel lifts a bit.  5 Let your hips descend as you lift through your arms. It’s OK for your back to arch

your side and back ribs as you reach through or even “beyond” your fingertips. If your neck supports it, tilt your head back and look up. Stay in the pose for 30 seconds with normal breathing. Repeat on the other side.

OUR PRO Teacher and model Carrie Owerko is a New York–based Senior Iyengar Yoga teacher, Laban Movement Analyst, and playful-practice enthusiast. She travels the world sharing her love of inquiry and the practice of Iyengar Yoga. Learn more at

Virabhadrasana I

Virabhadrasana I modifications, page 48

Eka Pada Rajakapotasana II prep, pages 5o–51

Eka Pada Rajakapotasana II, pages 52–53

in 30–60 degrees. Revolve the left outer

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2 On an inhale, raise your arms alongside


practice well YOGAPEDIA

Modify Virabhadrasana I if needed to find safe alignment in your body.

If you have pain in your  sacrum, lower back, or front knee … TRY elevating your front foot using one or two blocks at the wall. Keeping the ball and heel of the foot on the block, take your toes up the wall. You can also place a second block between your knee and the wall. Press into your back heel, and keep your body weight over your back leg as you move your pelvis toward the wall and lift through your arms. 

If your legs are shaky or cramping, or if you feel wobbly … TRY using the crossbar of a turned-over folding chair to support your pelvis. (If you need addi-

THE POWER (AND POETRY) OF PROCESS Poses can be like prayers or poems—they represent a process. In order to understand a poem, we have

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Using a chair allows your body, especially your hips and groins, to relax and open without having to support your full


times a simple poetic line cuts through our defenses and pierces our heart. In the same way, the process of patterning and surprise us with an experience of freedom or joy. So in each pose, let the sense of direction (process) be more important than the final form. Virabhadrasana I is a powerful pose that takes the body through a process of continuous rooting and rising, a process that’s an expression of what it means to live wholeheartedly in the space between earth and sky.

prayatna shaitilya (effortless effort), which Patanjali writes about in the Yoga Sutra.

Virabhadrasana I, page 47

Virabhadrasana I modifications

Eka Pada Rajakapotasana II prep, pages 5o–51

Eka Pada Rajakapotasana II, pages 52–53

practice well YOGAPEDIA

Paryankasana Bed Pose, supported variation

Benefits Opens and expands the chest and shoulders; stretches the quadriceps

Instruction To begin, come into Virasana (Hero Pose): Kneel with your knees together, shins hip-width apart, and sit between your heels. If this is too stressful for your knees, place a block at its short height between your ankles before you sit back; for further comfort, you can also add a blanket behind your knees. Now place a tall block on the floor behind

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Virabhadrasana I, page 47


you so that when you recline it lands between your shoulder blades. Allow your neck to extend, and release your head backward as you reach your arms overhead and down toward the floor. (If this position hurts your neck, place another block on its tall setting under your head.) Try holding onto the edges of your mat. Stay in the pose for at least 1 minute with steady breathing. Keep your eyes soft, and your throat and tongue relaxed. Observe how your heart is uplifted and your lungs are spreading. Virabhadrasana I modifications, page 48

Eka Pada Urdhva Dhanurasana One-Legged Upward Bow Pose (or Wheel Pose)

Benefits Expands the chest and shoulders; stretches the groins and hamstrings; provides a balance challenge


Low Lunge, variation

Benefits Opens the hips and hip flexors; helps you learn to maintain the lift of the back ribs and chest when moving into a deep extension of the spine

Instruction From kneeling, place your right foot on a block at the top of your mat, with your knee over your ankle. Keeping your hips level, extend your left leg backward. Inhale, reaching your arms overhead and then toward the wall behind you. Lift your back ribs. Maintaining your attention on the connection of your base (back shin and front foot) and the flow of your breath, reach up through your arms to come up and out of the pose. Repeat this movement 3 times.


Eka Pada Rajakapotasana II, pages 52–53

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Eka Pada Rajakapotasana II prep

Lie down with your knees bent, heels close to your buttocks, and feet hip-width apart with your toes up on a wall. Place your hands by your shoulders, with your elbows in line with your wrists. On an exhale, bend your elbows and place the crown of your head on the floor. On the next exhale, push up, straighten your arms, and lift your back ribs and sacrum. After 2 breaths, press into the inner edge of your left foot as you draw your right knee toward your chest. On an exhale, straighten your right leg upward. Keep your hips level, and relax your face. Stay for a few breaths, then bend your right knee into your chest; switch sides. Rest; repeat sequence 3 times.

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practice well YOGAPEDIA

Open your chest and shoulders and challenge your balance as you move step by step into Eka Pada Rajakapotasana II. Benefits This calming yet uplifting backbend stretches the deep hip flexors, and it also opens the chest, upper back, and shoulders; it requires a combination of stability and mobility— as well as total presence


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1 From kneeling, step your right foot forward as you extend your left foot backward. Press your right foot and left shin and foot into the floor. On an inhale, reach your arms forward, up, and then behind you; your right knee can come forward a bit as you extend your spine. Take a few breaths here, then on your next inhale press down though your right foot and left shin to reach and return upright. Explore how you’re using your breath—you need to be breathing without strain. The breath is your prime mover and your most intimate partner in this dance. Repeat this arcing movement with breath awareness and a relaxed countenance. 2 Reach back with your left arm, externally rotating the upper arm so your palm faces up. Bend your left knee and grab your left big toe with your thumb and forefinger (or use a strap around the ankle). Elongate your left arm and keep your torso pointing forward as much as possible. Take a breath or two, and relax your eyes, jaw, and tongue.  3 Release your hips toward the floor and open across the front thigh of your back leg. Bend your left arm and lift your elbow, rotating your arm externally. Stabilize your hips by imagining the sides of your pelvis squeezing in toward the midline. Lift the sides of your trunk (as with Warrior Pose I). Take your right arm overhead.

Virabhadrasana I, page 47

Virabhadrasana I modifications, page 48

Eka Pada Rajakapotasana II

} eka = one · pada = leg or foot · raja = king · kapota = pigeon · asana = pose One-Legged King Pigeon Pose II

4 Externally rotate your right upper arm and take hold of your left foot with your right hand (or use a strap). Reposition your hands on your left foot to secure the clasp. Take a breath. Pull upward on your left foot as you simultaneously raise your back ribs and sternum and release your head back toward your foot. Keep rolling your outer arms forward to draw your elbows in. Let your shoulder blades lift and rotate upward to help raise your side trunk and support your neck as it extends backward. Stay here with soft eyes and steady breathing for a few breaths (or longer, if you can remain relaxed, alert, and at ease). Come up and out the same way you went in: by slowly releasing the foot with your right hand and allowing your left arm to reverse the path that it took going into the pose. Repeat on the other side.

VARIATION Place a chair at the wall and a folded mat in front of the chair. From all fours, facing away from the chair, bend your left leg to rest your left foot against the chair. Step your right foot forward. Come to an upright position and allow your hips to come forward. Reach your arms overhead, then back toward the chair as you breathe steadily. If your hands are able to touch the back of the chair, take your hips forward and, if possible, take your head back to your foot.

LEARN MORE! Study more creative approaches to asana with Carrie and her 6-week Iyengar course. Go to Iyengar101.

Eka Pada Rajakapotasana II prep, pages 5o–51

Eka Pada Rajakapotasana II

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This pose offers us a wonderful opportunity to experience the power of the pause. We learn to slow down and feel the moments that make up our movements. We stop along the way to breathe and reflect. We pose and repose. We are learning to do and perceive at the same time. This deliberate pausing (and breathing) synchronizes the body, mind,  and breath so that they dance together. This way, we can stop, readjust, and back off when there is either unsteadiness or too much resistance, ultimately moving toward the effortless effort described by Patanjali in the Yoga Sutra.

Stay safe


practice well ANATOMY

Body of knowledge How can I prevent low-back pain in twists?

march 2017


ALL TOO OFTEN when we move into

Before you twist

a yoga pose, we prioritize getting the shape right over creating that shape safely. Twists are a prime example of this. Think about the last time you did Parivrtta Utkatasana (Revolved Chair Pose). Did you move into the posture with the primary goal of going “deep” into the twist, without first considering which muscles you’d need to engage so you could rotate safely? If you answered “yes,” that might be one reason you experience low-back pain in twists. It doesn’t help that many of us are primed for low-back pain in general. For starters, as we age, it’s estimated that a whopping 9o percent of Americans develop degenerative disk disease, a condition in which the intervertebral disks dry out and lose height. This can lead to stiffness and low-back pain, which tend to worsen over time. Then, there’s the fact that somewhere around 4o to 75 percent of the population has some type of asymptomatic (painless) herniated disk. These disk deficiencies limit the spine’s mobility, which can make twisting—a movement that demands both agility and spinal flexibility— potentially more painful. However, when done properly, twists have the potential to help your low back feel great. Twisting can activate the muscles around the lumbar spine and abdominal core, increasing stability as well as blood flow and oxygenation to the area. Twisting also appears to increase hydration of the intervertebral disks, which may help to counteract the changes caused by degenerative disk disease.

Before you ever even rotate, the first step is learning how to stabilize your core by engaging the muscles surrounding the lumbar spine. Step two involves not twisting too deeply— at least until this stabilization work has become second nature. If you already suffer from low-back pain, this work is especially important: Research shows that those with lowLATISSIMUS back pain tend to lack the ability to DORSI engage the muscles surrounding the lumbar spine and also have weak core muscles. The good news? Do INTERCOSTALS the work I describe here and there’s THORACOLUMBAR FASCIA a good chance you’ll not only stay pain-free as you twist, but you may EXTERNAL OBLIQUE also have less low-back pain off QUADRATUS the yoga mat. LUMBORUM (QL) To stabilize anything in the body, INTERNAL OBLIQUE you must contract muscles. In this GLUTEUS case, you want to focus on the mus- ABDOMINAL MAXIMUS cles surrounding the lumbar spine. APONEUROSIS These include the psoas, quadratus TRANSVERSE lumborum (QL), and gluteal musABDOMINIS cles, all of which are connected to




By Ray Long, MD

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practice well ANATOMY

3 poses to relieve low-back pain in twists

Sphinx Pose


Practicing chest openers, such as Sphinx Pose, before you twist is a nice way to expand the chest—a key action while twisting, too. Lie on your belly, legs side by side, and contract your glutes. Roll your outer thighs toward the floor to internally rotate your femurs, helping to broaden and lengthen your lower back and sacrum to protect them in this backbend. Set your elbows under your shoulders, and your forearms on the floor parallel to each other. Inhale and lift your upper torso and head away from the floor into a mild backbend. Stay here for 3–5 deep breaths, then find your way to Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward-Facing Dog Pose).

To release any tension created in a twist, I like to follow up with a pose in which the spine is symmetrical. Forward folds—such as Uttanasana (Standing Forward Bend) or Paschimottanasana—are great choices. For the latter, sit on the floor or a folded blanket with your legs extended in front of you. Press actively through your heels and slightly turn in the tops of your thighs, pressing them down into the floor. As you inhale, lengthen your front torso; as you exhale, lean forward from your hip joints and lengthen your tailbone away from the back of your pelvis to fold over your legs. Stay in the posture for 5–10 deep, easy breaths.

Revolved Triangle Pose

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From Mountain Pose, step your feet about 4 feet apart and turn your right foot out to 45–60 degrees, with your left foot facing forward. Bend your left knee and on an inhale, raise your arms overhead; on an exhale, turn your torso to the left, encouraging your pelvis toward the front edge of the mat. Now lean forward over your front leg, reaching your right hand down either to the floor (inside or outside the left foot) or a block; bring your left hand skyward. With your front knee still bent, squeeze your torso against your thigh. Hold this shape, and then gradually engage your quads to straighten your front leg (shown). Draw your hips away from your shoulders to lengthen your spine. Stay here for 5 deep breaths, and then switch sides.


the fascia that surrounds the spine. Also crucial: contracting the transversus abdominis (TA) muscle, which creates the “corset” that starts in the front body, wraps around the torso on both sides, and then attaches to the thoracolumbar fascia—the tri-layered connective tissue enclosing muscles associated with the thoracic and lumbar spine. The abdominal oblique muscles, which run along both side bodies and rotate your trunk, also attach to this fascial structure. The thoracolumbar fascia is one of the most important fascia in the body. This is because it’s responsible for load transfer

from the shoulder girdle to the pelvic girdle and is also a key player in maintaining the integrity of the sacroiliac (SI) joint— the spot at the base of the spine where the sacrum joins the ilium bones of the pelvis. Interestingly, tightening the TA and thoracolumbar fascia increases the pressure inside your abdominal compartment, causing your abdominal organs to press against your lumbar spine to stabilize it even more. (Pregnant women and those with hernias or diastasis recti—in which the abdominal muscles widen away from rather than stay knitted to each other—

should check with their doctor before working with twists.) Engaging these muscles is important because the spine isn’t designed to excessively rotate or flex. In fact, that’s why it has facet joints: cartilage-lined joints that run along its length and between which nerves exit the spinal cord en route to other parts of the body. These facet joints protect against excessive rotation and flexion by limiting the motion of the spine; if you twist your spine without stabilizing first, you not only risk irritating the disks but also the facet joints, leading to further pain.


Parivrtta Trikonasana

Seated Forward Bend

OUR PROS Teacher Ray Long, MD, is an orthopedic surgeon in Detroit and the founder of Bandha Yoga, a website and book series dedicated to the anatomy and biomechanics of yoga. Model Stephanie Schwartz is a yoga teacher based in Boulder, Colorado.

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To begin a twist, I like to cue my students to turn “on” their TA—also known as activating Uddiyana Bandha (Upward Abdominal Lock)—because this action should happen before any kind of twist. To do this, imagine drawing the point two inches above your navel in toward your lumbar spine. This should tighten the TA, which in turn tightens the all-important thoracolumbar fascia to keep your back safe. Next, let’s look at how to use the psoas, QL, glutes, and hamstrings to create stability in the seated twist Marichyasana III. To begin, sit on your mat with your right knee bent and your left leg extended in front of you; start to twist the left side of your torso toward your right thigh, with your left elbow moving toward the outside of your right knee and your right hand on the floor behind you. Rather than coming fully into the posture, gently wrap your left forearm around your right knee and squeeze your torso against your thigh, and your thigh against your torso. Do this from the hip and trunk (not just squeezing with the arm). This action turns “on” the psoas, a trunk flexor, which stabilizes the spine. Next, squeeze your right calf against your right thigh to activate the hamstrings. At the same time, activate Uddiyana Bandha to stabilize your core. Contract the gluteus maximus on the left (straight) leg by pressing your heel into the mat. Feel how these various actions stabilize your pelvis. It’s only after doing this muscular stabilization that you’re ready to go deeper into Marichyasana III. To do so, press the ball of your right foot firmly into the mat, fixing it in place, as you attempt to rotate the foot away from the midline, encouraging an isometric contraction of your outer hamstrings. Then, activate your abdominal external obliques by tightening them, and twist, allowing your spine to follow. What you’ll find is that now you’re turning your spine from your core; in essence, you’re both stabilizing and twisting at the same time. It’s only when this stabilization work is combined with effort in yoga that you’ll be able to maintain your practice and enable it to serve you for many years to come.

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Smart cues





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½ teaspoon olive oil 1 tablespoon avocado

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Mash the avocado, mix together with the olive oil. Apply to your skin, leave for 15-20 minutes. Rinse with warm water.

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practice well HOME PRACTICE

A home practice to

get strong and empowered

By Sadie Nardini HIGH-INTENSITY INTERVAL TRAINING (HIIT) has been trending for the last few years for good reason: There’s strong scientific evidence that it can help you do everything from burn fat and build muscle to improve your metabolism and heart health. Yet as yogis, we don’t always incorporate this kind of cardiovascularly challenging exercise into our regular routines. Enter the following sequence, my blend of asana with a HIIT tempo, which can help you build strength and burn calories while also inspiring you to feel empowered—all in 15 to 20 minutes.

2. Breathe through your mouth whenever needed, and feel free to walk in place for 1 minute between each 1-minute active round as you build your cardiovascular endurance.

1 Mountain Pose

2 Fists-of-Fire Flying Chair

Come to stand at the front of your mat with your feet either together or hip-distance apart and your arms at your sides. Root down evenly through your feet and lift up through the crown of your head as you take a few mindful breaths through your nose or mouth.

Step your feet hip-distance apart. With your feet evenly grounded and toes spreading (not gripping the mat), bend your knees. Reach your arms up to find Utkatasana (Chair Pose) and inhale. On an exhale, straighten your legs and lift your heels off the mat as you bring your fists, facing upward, to your hips. Repeat for 30 seconds, then begin to jump off the mat entirely on your exhales, making sure to land with your hips back, which will take pressure off your knee joints. Repeat for 1 minute.

OUR PRO Teacher and model Sadie Nardini is the founder of Core Strength Vinyasa Yoga, a biomechanics-based flow style, and she is the lead singer of Salt & Bone. Nardini teaches online and around the world. Learn more at


1. Do each move for 1 minute, then transition to the next. With each HIIT-inspired asana, aim for 30 seconds of slow, mindful motion, followed by 20 seconds of a faster pace, and finally 10 seconds of highintensity movement in which you move as strongly as you can while still maintaining good alignment.

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Practice tips


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practice well HOME PRACTICE


3 Twists-of-Fire Chair Pose

4 Temple Prayer Pose

Come into Chair Pose again. Inhale here, and on your exhale, bring your palms together at your chest and touch your right elbow to the outside of your left knee. (Keep both hips back to protect your knees.) Inhale to return to Chair Pose, or come to stand with your arms reaching up. On your next exhale, twist to the opposite direction (left elbow to right knee). Continue this movement, alternating sides as you pass back through center, for 1 minute. 

Face the long edge of your mat and walk your feet much wider than your hips. Bend your knees, and turn your feet out until your toes face the same direction as your kneecaps. As you inhale, reach your arms overhead for Temple Pose. As you exhale, step your left foot to meet your right foot in Chair Pose with palms together at your chest. Inhale and step wide to return to Temple Pose; exhale and step your right foot to meet your left back in Chair Pose facing the other direction, again with your palms together at your chest. Repeat for 1 minute.

5 Ninja Lunges From Temple Pose, turn your feet forward, so they’re parallel to the short edges of your mat. Bend your knees and move your spine and arms to the left and right in a flowing, organic movement of your choice. Be sure to draw your low belly and lumbar spine in a little so you don’t “hang” in the lowerback curve. 

Come into High Lunge with your left foot forward, right foot back; your feet should be about hip-width apart. As you inhale, straighten your legs and reach your arms overhead. As you exhale, bend your front knee and sweep your hands down to form upturned fists at your hips. Inhale to return to High Lunge. Repeat for 1 minute; then, if needed, rest before switching sides, with your right foot forward. Repeat for 1 more minute.


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practice well HOME PRACTICE

8 Diabloasana Come into Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward-Facing Dog Pose), making sure your fingertips and palms are planted strongly and evenly on your mat. On your exhale, lift the heel of your right foot, bend your left knee, and move it toward your left elbow; on your inhale, return to Down Dog. On your next exhale, come onto the ball of your left foot, bring your right knee toward your right elbow, then return to Down Dog on the inhale. Repeat for 30 seconds. If possible, for the final 30 seconds, pick up the pace until you begin to “run” this pose, bringing your knees to your elbows on each exhale. (If “running” is too much, drop to your hands and knees.)

Come into Plank Pose, with your hands shoulder-width apart and fingers strongly grounded into the mat. Focus on lifting your front belly, ribs, and lumbar spine for support. Stay here for a couple of breaths, then, keeping your feet separated (not stacked), begin to sway your heels from side to side, keeping your hips lifted and your body in one long line. Repeat for 1 minute. (If this is too challenging to maintain without losing form, drop to your knees and instead sway your hips from side to side.)

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Practice tip After your heart rate slows, rest in Savasana (Corpse Pose) for 5–10 minutes to really integrate the physical and mental benefits of this vigorous practice. Then, set an intention to let this empowered state guide you throughout the rest of your day.


9 Seated Shoulder Stretch

1o Balasana

Come to sit on your shins and walk your fingertips back until you feel a shoulder stretch. Gently draw your front low belly in and up for lumbar support. Take a few long, deep breaths to fill your chest. Stay here, breathing deeply, for 1 minute.

Bring your knees mat-distance apart and touch your big toes together. As you exhale, lay your torso down between your thighs and place your hands on the mat alongside your body. Stay here for 1 minute or longer, breathing deeply as you take a well-earned rest.

Child’s Pose

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It’s all

ELEMENTAL Access health and happiness with ancient yet little-known yoga practices from around the world that tap into the healing power of nature. STORY BY TASHA EICHENSEHER // PHOTOGRAPHY BY JEFF NELSON IN

e fi a m t As it turns out, quite a lot. Tudor’s teachings are inspired by what she calls Mayan Yoga—a tradition she learned from Miguel Angel Vergara Calleros, her teacher in Yucatan, Mexico. With mytho-historic roots, their practice combines classical yoga with Mayan rituals from approximately 7oo years ago, many of them considered shamanistic, to channel the energy of the natural world and elevate consciousness. “In every way, Mayan Yoga is linked to what we Westerners consider yoga,” says Tudor. “The words are different, but Mayan Yoga addresses all the levels of a person through mantra, mudra, breath, poses, and stories.” For starters, the elements can relate to the chakras, internal energy centers associated with various moods and ailments and that yoga practices aim to unblock or keep in balance. For example, if you’re feeling ungrounded, your root chakra or the earth energy within you may be blocked. (See some of the benefits associated with each element, page 66.) But the yoga-element connection goes deeper than that. The idea that you can heal mind, body, and spirit by mastering the balance of subtle energies within you—energies that carry the qualities of natural elements—originally comes from ancient Hindu philosophy and the underpinnings of yoga and Ayurveda, explains Yoga Journal contributing medical editor Timothy McCall, MD. “Then, around the fifth century BCE, Hippocrates (the father of modern medicine) started talking about elements that exist within us … I think the Greeks likely got many of their ideas from Ayurveda,” says McCall. Later, colonists brought those Hippocratic ideas of mind-body bal-

ance—their conventional medicine—to Latin American cultures, possibly including the Maya, he explains. Halfway around the world, another ancient elementoriented yogalike practice was already in play: Tibetan Yoga. This highly spiritual, 2,5oo-plus-year-old practice emerged from a combination of Indian Tantric Buddhism, indigenous Tibetan shamanism, and Tibetan medicine, which is based on elements that make up our constitution and correlate to emotions and illnesses. Tibetan Yoga combines movements, breath, meditation, and visualization to help open subtle-energy channels (again, think chakras in hatha yoga); it also balances the body’s three humors, or vital constituents—wind, bile, and phlegm— and integrates body and mind. Ultimately, the practice clears obstacles so the practitioner can experience wellbeing and reach higher states of consciousness, says Ian Baker, PhD, an anthropologist and author of multiple books on Tibetan culture and healing arts, including his most recent, Tibetan Yoga: Secrets from the Source. Traditionally, Tibetan Yoga has been shrouded in secrecy, explains Baker, and marked by fantastical stories of yogis in the mountains who keep their naked bodies warm through esoteric breathing practices or who can jump, contort midair into shapes like Lotus Pose, and land in seated meditation. Today, introductory forms of the practice, brought to the West by Tibetan monks and lamas over the past several decades, are gaining popularity here. To sample these magical, medicinal, shamanistic forms of yoga, practice the Mayan and Tibetan sequences on the following pages. Both aim to balance body and mind by encouraging a harmonious flow of elemental energy. Try these timeless sequences on their own, or start to incorporate the movements into your regular yoga practice if something feels off kilter, physically or mentally.




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Rhythmically stomp your left foot forward, back, and out to the side, then back to center. Repeat with the right foot, and end by stomping your left foot 9 times. Repeat the full sequence 2 more times, speeding up with each round. Afterward, sense the energy in your feet, your connection to the earth, and your root chakra.


HIGH FIVE While the elements themselves and what each represents vary from culture to culture, there are general moods and physical processes associated with each element across traditions:

Earth Grounding, calming; keeps ego in check; the energy of bones, muscles, tissues, and “hot” illnesses, such as infection Water Provides the ability to adapt, flow, act selflessly, and avoid unhealthy attachments; rules your blood, other bodily fluids, and “cold” illnesses, such as joint pain Fire Brings confidence and courage; the energy of metabolism, drive, and creativ-

ity; an excess can present as anger or hatred Air/Wind A channel for clear communication and self-expression; influences your ability to act from a place of compassion and love; jealousy occurs when out of balance Ether/Space A container for all the other elements; the source of intuition and wisdom from the universe; associated with magnanimity and expansion


CONNECT TO AND HONOR the five elements found in ancient Mayan practices with these movements passed down to Miguel Angel Vergara Calleros and Kat Tudor. Each set of movements is designed to evoke the healing power of one element. Start with your eyes closed, setting an intention to connect both to the heart of the earth and the heart of the sky. In the Mayan tradition, you are always touching both the earth and sky—and these two meet at your heart. As you work through the poses, keep moving and find a steady rhythm. Afterward, pause for a few breaths with eyes closed and see if you notice an energetic shift.

AN 2


This sequence draws the energy of earth up through your pelvis—the body part most closely associated with water in Mayan culture. Start by standing with your hands in front of your hips, palms up. Then bring your fingertips together at your heart before reaching overhead in a V shape. Visualize a fountain of energy and love coming from your heart. Release forward and allow your arms to flow down like a waterfall until you are in a standing forward fold, similar to Uttanasana. Repeat this sequence 2 more times, flowing with your breath and letting go of physical or emotional baggage.



Hold your palms as if carrying a large conch shell—used in ancient Mayan culture to call people to ceremonies. Inhale to bring your arms overhead and touch your fingertips together. Then, release your hands out to your sides while you exhale sharply several times through your mouth. With each exhale, briefly stop moving your arms. Repeat this sequence 2 more times, connecting to your internal heat and power.




Bring your hands to your heart, one hand on top of the other. Inhale, breathing from your roots, and extend your arms out, as though they were branches extending from your heart. Move your fingers like leaves, and let your arms move all around you, exploring the air in all directions. Keep moving in this way for about 2 minutes, and then return your hands to your heart. Repeat 2 more times, spreading love through your hands—the physical extension of your heart chakra.

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Only goddesses are strong enough to connect with the cosmos, so channel this element in Goddess Pose. Step your feet apart, turn your toes out 45 degrees, and bring your palms together between your eyebrows. Then, bend the knees slightly and with an open heart, open your hands and spread your fingers wide, bringing your forearms and upper arms to right angles. Radiate energy through each finger, as if it were connected to a star or planet. With your exhale, say “Eeeeeeeeessssssssss” (an ancient name of the goddess Ix), hissing the final “s.” For the next 2 rounds, stay in Goddess Pose and chant Ix’s name 2 more times, bringing energy to your third eye and crown chakra, the seat of intuition and higher knowledge. End your practice by placing your hands over your heart, one hand on top of the other. Bow to the right, saying the Mayan greeting InLak’Ech (“I am you”), then bow to the left, saying Ala K’in (“You are Me. We are one”).

WHERE TO LEARN Travel to Mexico with Kat Tudor and Miguel Angel Vergara Calleros to explore ancient Mayan sites and rituals, along with daily meditations and movement practices ( To explore South America through this lens, start with retreats with Kawoq Conscious Living School, founded by Juan Pablo Barahona, who has taught energy medicine, healing arts, and shamanistic yoga for decades (

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Stand with your legs spread wide, and bring your hands to your waist, fingers on your back and thumbs forward. On an inhale, fold forward with a long spine, maintaining space between each vertebra and making sure the neck is a natural extension of the spine and not compressed. Exhale to come back to standing and take a gentle backbend, lifting the heart. Repeat 6 more times.


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THE MOST COMMON beginner form of Tibetan Yoga is Lu Jong, or “body training.” Lu Jong is different from hatha yoga in that it perceives the body to be a vehicle to enlightenment and not something to transcend, explains Lharampa Tenzin Kalden, a Buddhist monk and Tibetan meditation teacher. But like hatha, “It helps us get rid of anger, attachment, and other negative emotions,” he explains. Start this Lu Jong practice, from Kalden’s teacher, Tulku Lama Lobsang, with a cleansing breath called Lung Ro Sel. Inhale and draw your palms up from your belly to your head; exhale, turn your palms over, and push them back down to your belly, exhaling any stale energy. Between each sequence that follows, take several cleansing Lung Ro Sel breaths.



From a wide-legged stance, turn your right toes out 90 degrees and bring your left toes in slightly. With hands on your waist, this time with fingers to the front and your thumbs back, inhale, bend your right knee so it’s over your right ankle, and move your left shoulder toward that knee. Exhale, come up, and pivot to set up for the other side (shown here), inhaling to fold forward and twist. Repeat 6 more times.



With your feet hip-distance apart, turn your right toes out 90 degrees and your left toes slightly in, as if about to move into Parsvottanasana (Intense Side Stretch Pose). Inhale to move your left elbow to your right knee; exhale to come back up. Pivot on your feet and repeat on the left side (shown here). Take 6 more rounds.



From standing, bring your feet together and return your hands to your waist, with thumbs forward and fingers on your back. Just like in Tibetan Goose Drinking Water, inhale to fold forward, and exhale to come back up and take a slight backbend. Repeat 6 more times.


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Access to Tibet and teachers of these traditions is still limited. It’s better to explore in the neighboring Himalayan Kingdom of Bhutan with Ian Baker. The expert on Tibet leads trips there with Tibetan and Bhutanese lamas. Journeys include practices and initiations at sacred sites (


Or for a five-star Tibetan Yoga and healing experience, visit The Alpina Gstaad and Six Senses Spa in Switzerland. Twice a year, this luxury hotel invites Lharampa Tenzin Kalden for private and semi-private meditation and yoga sessions. And the spa’s lead therapist is trained in Tibetan healing treatments, including massage and alpine herbal poultices (


5 NEW MOUNTAIN RISING Extend your arms in front of you and turn the left hand so the thumb is facing down. Then, place the back of your right hand in your left palm and curl the left fingers around it. (If this isn’t possible, keep the left fingers straight.) Inhale and stretch your arms alongside your ears; exhale to bring the hands down toward your navel. Do this 6 more times, then switch the clasp of your hands and repeat a final 7 times. OUR MODELS Model Briohny Smyth is a vinyasa teacher based in Los Angeles. Find her schedule of classes and international workshops at Model Keith Allen is a Boulder, Colorado–based vinyasa teacher.



YOGA JOURNAL LIVE NEW YORK APRIL 21-24 HILTON MIDTOWN An Evening with Deepak Chopra “You Are The Universe” I Friday, April 21, 7:30pm Join Deepak Chopra, MD, founder of The Chopra Foundation, for an intimate evening as he shares insights from his exploration of some of the most important and baffling questions about our place in the world.

Practice with the best teachers in the world! At YJ LIVE, you will be empowered to live a healthier, happier, more fulfilling life both on and off the mat. Learn from Kathryn Budig, Seane Corn, Bo Forbes, Richard Freeman, Dharma Mittra, Shiva Rea, Rod Stryker, Colleen Saidman Yee, Rodney Yee, and more.

Here’s what to expect: On-site trainings for teachers and yogis of all levels. AT YJ LIVE you’ll... Earn continuing education credits for the classes you attend Receive hands-on instruction to enhance your practice and teaching skills Gain invaluable knowledge through in-depth study with master instructors A variety of workshops and classes to choose from every day, plus extras you won’t want to miss, including... Free community classes, discussions, and demonstrations all taking place in the Sangha Space throughout the weekend All the best mats, props, pants, tops, essential oils, malas, and more under one roof at the Yoga Market



something awesome. Your new favorite snack isn’t just delicious; it helps increase organic farmland. Introducing new Kashi Chewy Nut Butter Bars made with creamy almond butter and chocolate chunks. But that’s not all ³WKH\·UHDOVR&HUWLÀHG7UDQVLWLRQDO7KDWPHDQVWKH\DUHPDGH with ingredients from farms in the process of transitioning to organic — no easy task. In fact, less than 1% of farmland in the 86LVFHUWLÀHGRUJDQLF So let’s do something about it. Every time you enjoy a product ZLWKWKH&HUWLÀHG7UDQVLWLRQDOVHDO\RX·UHQRWRQO\VXSSRUWLQJ farmers in transition, you’re also helping to increase that 1%.

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BLEND ambition

Once you’ve discovered your favorite green smoothie ingredients, you might not feel like switching things up. However, an optimal diet includes a variety of nutrients that come from different foods, says Ashley Koff, RD, a dietitian in Washington, DC. The good news: You don’t need to overhaul your preferred smoothie recipe to get the health-boosting variety Koff’s talking about. Stick to your go-to greens and try some of these add-ins:

CITRUS PEELS Sounds crazy, but a good blender will finely grind orange, lemon, and/or lime peels so they’re incorporated into your smoothie, giving you a dose of flavonoids— powerful antioxidants shown to help lower chronic inflammation, prevent cancer, and more. HEMP SEEDS These tiny seeds add a mild, nutty flavor, plus they’re a complete protein and contain anti-inflammatory omega 3s, fiber, iron, and magnesium. MATCHA This concentrated green-tea powder will give your smoothie a caffeine boost, plus a hefty dose of antioxidants.

SPICES Black pepper, cayenne, chili flakes, and cinnamon are warming and can help support a healthy metabolism. MEGHAN RABBITT

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CACAO This bitter, beanlike seed from which chocolate is made is a great addition if you need a pick-me-up, says Koff.


eat well FLEX TABLE

Let’s do brunch

PICTURED HERE: Kale, Ricotta, and Sundried-Tomato Quiche

Homemade quiche, with its deliciously flaky pastry plus protein-packed filling, makes the perfect dish for a weekend brunch with loved ones. By Brittany Risher

smoked-salmon and leek quiche

kale, ricotta, and sundried-tomato quiche



2 3 ¼ ¼ ⅛ ¼ ⅛ 2 2 1 1 ¼ 8

Canola-oil cooking spray Frozen pie crust, thawed 15 min tbsp butter small leeks, thinly sliced tsp fine sea salt, divided cup white wine tsp freshly grated nutmeg tsp crushed pink peppercorns tsp black pepper whole organic eggs egg yolks cup 2 percent milk cup heavy cream cup grated Parmesan, divided oz smoked salmon, diced

Heat oven to 350°. Spray a 10-inch metal pie pan with cooking spray and line with pie crust.

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In a large skillet over medium heat, melt butter. Add leeks and ⅛ tsp salt. Cover; cook, stirring, 10 minutes. Add wine; cook until liquid evaporates. Stir in nutmeg, peppercorns, and black pepper.



In a bowl, whisk eggs and yolks. Add milk, cream, 2 tbsp Parmesan, and remaining ⅛ tsp salt; whisk again. Fold in leeks and salmon. Pour mixture into pie crust; top with remaining 2 tbsp Parmesan. Bake until set, 45 minutes. Let cool 10 minutes. NUTRITIONAL INFO 334 calories per serving, 24 g fat (12 g saturated), 18 g carbs, 1 g fiber, 12 g protein, 56 mg sodium Recipe by Noémie Videau-Zagar and Christine Herelle-Lewis, owners of Pistache, a French catering company in Brooklyn

Canola-oil cooking spray Frozen pie crust, thawed 15 min ¼ cup seeds (such as pumpkin seeds or pine nuts) 3 tbsp olive oil 1 medium onion, sliced ¼ tsp sea salt, divided 4–5 large kale leaves, chopped 1 large clove garlic, minced ¼ tsp freshly grated nutmeg ⅛ tsp freshly ground black pepper ⅓ cup chopped sundried tomatoes 2 eggs 2 egg yolks ⅔ cup 2 percent milk ⅔ cup heavy cream 7 oz part-skim ricotta Heat oven to 350°. Spray a 10-inch metal pie pan with cooking spray and line with pie crust.


caramelized-onion and wild mushroom quiche SERVES 8

2 2 1 ¼ 3 2 1 1 1 2 1 ¼

tbsp extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for greasing Frozen vegan pie crust, thawed 15 min medium yellow onions, thinly sliced lb mixed mushrooms, thinly sliced cup white wine, divided cloves garlic, minced tsp minced fresh thyme tsp plus ⅛ tsp sea salt, divided block (14 oz) firm tofu, patted dry tbsp apple cider vinegar tsp nutritional yeast tsp white miso paste tsp garlic powder

On a bake pan, toast seeds, 7 min.

Heat oven to 350°. Line a greased 10-inch metal pie pan with pie crust.

In a large skillet over medium heat, warm oil. Add onion and ⅛ tsp salt; sauté until soft, 5 minutes. Add kale, garlic, nutmeg, and black pepper; cook 5 minutes. Add mixture to crust. Top with tomatoes and 2 tbsp seeds.

In a large sauté pan over medium-low heat, warm oil. Add onions and cook until they’re a dark golden brown, 40 minutes. Add mushrooms; cook until tender, 8 minutes. Reduce heat to low and add 2 tbsp white wine, garlic, thyme, and ⅛ tsp salt. Scrape any brown bits off bottom of pan and cook, 1 minute.

In a bowl, whisk eggs, yolks, milk, cream, ricotta, and remaining ⅛ tsp salt; pour over veggies. Top with remaining 2 tbsp seeds. Bake until set, 45 minutes. Let cool 10 minutes.

In a food processor, process tofu, remaining 2 tbsp white wine, vinegar, yeast, miso paste, remaining 1 tsp salt, and garlic powder until combined. Add tofu mixture to pan and stir to combine; pour mixture into pie crust and smooth out the top. Bake until crust is golden and tofu is golden and springy, 45 minutes. Let cool 10 minutes.

NUTRITIONAL INFO 324 calories per

serving, 25 g fat (10 g saturated), 17 g carbs, 2 g fiber, 9 g protein, 214 mg sodium Recipe by Noémie Videau-Zagar and Christine Herelle-Lewis, owners of Pistache

NUTRITIONAL INFO 237 calories per serving, 14 g fat (4 g

saturated), 20 g carbs, 2 g fiber, 8 g protein, 491 mg sodium Recipe by Lauren Kretzer, contributing chef at by CHLOE., a fast-casual vegan restaurant in New York City



eat well SMART CHEF

The other nut milks

Almond milk has become the go-to nondairy staple, with sales up 250 percent over the past five years, according to a 2016 Nielsen report. Now, almond-milk alternatives are crowding supermarket shelves. Here, three uniquely creamy varieties, plus tips from Jonathan Poyourow, RD, assistant professor of culinary nutrition at Johnson & Wales University, to help you find the one that suits your tastes. By Amy Gorin, MS, RDN MACADAMIA MILK


This nut milk is sweet on its own, with no need for added sugars and only 50 to 60 calories per serving. It’s typically fortified with vitamins and provides about half your daily B12, a vitamin critical to nerve and blood-cell health. To increase protein count, some milks contain ingredients beyond macadamia nuts and water, such as pea protein. GOOD FOR Curries or smoothies MACADAMIA-MILK BERRY SMOOTHIE Combine 1 tbsp chia seeds and ½ cup macadamia milk in a cup; set aside 10 minutes. In a blender, process milk-chia mixture, ½ cup fresh berries, and 1 tsp honey until smooth.


The nuttiest-tasting of the bunch, pistachio milk has about 30 calories per serving and offers more fiber than many of its counterparts. It’s hard to find in a store, so consider blending your own (see “Make your own milk,” below).

More buttery than nutty, cashew milk typically has between 25 and 40 calories per serving, but some brands are more concentrated, add sugar, and may contain up to 100 calories. It naturally has a small amount of iron and calcium.

GOOD FOR Creamed vegetables or as stock in lentil soups

GOOD FOR Stirring into pancake or French toast batter

CREAMY ASPARAGUS CASSEROLE Chop 16 asparagus spears into 2-inch pieces, then steam until just tender. In a bowl, mix 1¼ cups pistachio milk with 8 oz softened light cream cheese. Stir in asparagus. Pour mixture onto a greased 1-quart baking dish; sprinkle with 1 cup seasoned breadcrumbs. Bake at 375° until bubbly, 25 minutes.

OLD-FASHIONED PANCAKES In a bowl, sift 1½ cups all-purpose flour with 3½ tsp baking powder, 1 tbsp sugar, and 1 tsp salt. Make a well in the center; pour in 1¼ cups cashew milk, 1 egg, and 3 tbsp canola oil; mix until smooth. Heat an oiled pan over medium heat. Scoop ¼ cup batter into pan for each pancake; brown on both sides.

Make your own milk


For added flavor plus antioxidants, stir these into 1 cup of nut milk. If you want ...


vanilla milk

½ tsp vanilla extract

chocolate milk

1 tsp unsweetened cocoa powder


spiced milk

½ tsp nutmeg or cinnamon



march 2017

To yield about 1 cup of nut milk, simply rinse ¼ cup nuts (for a creamier milk, first soak them for 4–6 hours), blend with 1 cup water, and strain through a cheesecloth.




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Indian cuisine gets its bold, complex flavors from an array of spices, many of which are linked to powerful health benefits. Discover which five belong in your cabinet, plus sample four delicious recipes that will help you enjoy them often.

march 2017

Story by Janis Jibrin, RD Recipes by Monisha Bharadwaj Photography by Jennifer Olson




list of ailments. Of these, the one with the best backing by modern science is the prevention and treatment of nausea brought on by pregnancy or chemotherapy. Ginger may help food pass more quickly through your GI tract, relieving mild constipation or indigestion, and it may also offer relief from menstrual cramps, according to studies. Plus, test-tube experiments found that the compounds that give ginger its distinctive sharp taste and odor, such as gingerols and shogaols, help kill and prevent the spread of cancer cells.

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DAILY GOAL About 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon


Ginger ORIGINS Native to China but now grown all over the world, this mouth-tingling root is both sweet and peppery, and a major flavoring in Asian cuisines. HEALTH BENEFITS Ginger has long been used in traditional Chinese, Ayurvedic (Indian), and Unani Tibb (ancient Greek, Persian, and Arab) medicine to treat a long

dried ginger a day, taken in 1/8-teaspoon doses, may help quell nausea, aid digestion, and prevent constipation. Or you can ingest 1 to 2 teaspoons fresh-grated ginger per day, raw or boiled in tea.

TRY IT Combined with garlic as an aromatic recipe staple, or as a healing tea: • Chicken or fish curries • Fresh herb chutneys • Spice rubs • Ginger and honey tea

Turmeric ORIGINS Dried and ground, turmeric has been spicing up food in Asia for at least 2,5oo years. India is a major exporter. HEALTH BENEFITS A staple of Indian and Chinese medicine systems, turmeric is also the latest darling of nutrition researchers, mainly because of curcumin, the compound that imparts the spice’s yellow color. You name the health concern—including diabetes, heart disease, cancer, and possibly Alzheimer’s—and it seems like curcumin helps prevent or treat it. “In addition to curcumin, turmeric has more than a hundred other active components, which probably act synergistically to benefit your health,” explains Sahdeo Prasad, PhD, a postdoctoral fellow at the Department of Experimental Therapeutics, MD Anderson Cancer Center, in Houston, Texas. This powerful synergy may explain turmeric’s impressive health creds: It may help heal peptic ulcers, reduce symptoms


that makes it crave-worthy—the sweet fragrance of basmati rice, the creaminess of curries. But above all, it’s the spices. It’s common to find almost a dozen in just one dish, seemingly custom-blended to please your taste buds. In fact, that may not be far from the truth: We may be genetically programmed to love the spices in Indian (and other) dishes because they contain healthpromoting compounds like cancer-fighting curcumin in turmeric and heart-protective capsaicin in chili powder, according to an article in the European Molecular Biology Organization’s journal EMBO Reports. Researchers speculate that when our ancestors were sorting safe from poisonous foods, they figured out spices were A-OK; and that spice-lovers were subsequently healthier, lived longer, and had more offspring who also loved spices. To help you get your flavor fix and support good health, we homed in on five spices common to Indian dishes that are generating excitement among scientists worldwide. Learn each one’s unique healing properties, the ideal amount to consume daily, and a few basic ideas for incorporating it into your repertoire. Then put them on your plate with simple, delicious recipes from Monisha Bharadwaj, author of The Indian Cooking Course.

gallic acid, found to boost memory and tamp down brain inflammation that leads to Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s.

tamater aur dal ka shorba (tomato-lentil soup) SERVES 4

This simple soup from North India is spiked with warming spices, such as ginger and cinnamon, and served piping hot in winter and early spring. 1 2 1 3 ½ ½ ½ ¼

tbsp coconut oil tbsp mung dal, washed and drained tsp dried ginger large, ripe tomatoes, chopped tsp ground Ceylon cinnamon tsp mild chili powder tsp finely ground black pepper cup chopped cilantro, divided

In a large, heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium heat, warm oil. Add dal

and ginger; fry until a nutty aroma develops, 3–4 minutes. Add tomatoes and cook until soft, 5–6 minutes. Sprinkle in cinnamon, chili powder, and black pepper; cook 1 minute. Stir in ⅛ cup cilantro; cook 1 minute. Add 2½ cups water and bring mixture to a boil; reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, partially covered, until lentils are broken down and mushy, 30–35 minutes. Remove pan from heat and let cool, 5 minutes. Pour mixture into a blender and blend until smooth. Strain through a sieve or fine strainer over the saucepan to catch the liquid; discard tomato skins and seeds. Season soup with salt to taste, top with remaining ⅛ cup cilantro, and serve piping hot. NUTRITIONAL INFO 81 calories per serving, 4 g fat (3 g saturated), 10 g carbs, 2 g fiber, 3 g protein, 19 mg sodium

DAILY GOAL Exact levels aren’t yet known, but a dash goes a long way—the menthol-like flavor can take over quickly and burn your mouth if you overdo it! TRY IT Combined with other spices to lend rich flavor to such foods as: • Coconut-based curries • Fruit-poaching liquid • Hot herbal tea • Rice biryanis

Chili powder ORIGINS People in what is today called Mexico were eating hot peppers as far back as 8,ooo years ago. It wasn’t until the 15th century, when Christopher Columbus and crew “discovered” the peppers, that they were introduced to Europe. It’s believed that Portuguese traders then brought them to India, where they quickly became a beloved staple. Though hot peppers are grown all over the world, India is now a major producer.

DAILY GOAL About 1/2 teaspoon per day is enough, although more might be needed for certain medical conditions, says Prasad. Curcumin is fat soluble, so cook turmeric with some oil or coconut milk to enhance absorption. Combining it with black or white pepper also improves bioavailability. TRY IT In a range of savory recipes thanks to its relatively mild taste: • Beans and chickpea dishes • Rice dishes • Red or yellow curries • Vegetable stir-fries

Cloves ORIGINS Cloves are the flower bud of the clove tree, dried and sold whole or ground. Native to Indonesia, cloves are also cultivated in India and other Asian countries, as well as Tanzania and Brazil. The infamous East India Company introduced cloves to India in 18oo. HEALTH BENEFITS Cloves ranked first in a French study of the 1oo foods highest in polyphenols, a large group of antioxidant compounds found in plants. To put this in perspective, a mere half-teaspoon of ground cloves contains as many antioxidants as a half-cup of blueberries—often touted as a top antioxidant-rich superfood. So far, research on cloves and its polyphenols has been mainly conducted in test tubes or on lab animals. Even so, early results look promising. For example, cloves are a great source of the antioxidant eugenol, which has been shown to suppress the spread of melanoma. They’re also rich in

continued on page 89

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of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), and zap some of the carcinogens found in cigarettes. Another article in the Indian Journal of Dental Research suggests making a paste—1 tsp turmeric, 1/2 tsp salt, and 1/2 tsp mustard oil—and rubbing it on your gums twice daily to treat gingivitis (inflammation of the gums) and periodontitis (gums receding and forming infected pockets).

are dried and sold whole or ground into chili powder get their heat from healing compounds called capsaicinoids, the most abundant and well-researched being capsaicin. The hotter the pepper, the more capsaicin it contains, says Krishnapura Srinivasan, PhD, chief scientist at the Central Food Technological Research Institute in Mysore, India. Capsaicin has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory powers and protects you on many fronts. For example, it can lower cholesterol, which reduces your risk of heart disease and of cholesterol-related gallstones. (Srinivasan notes that Indians, who eat a lot of chili peppers, have a lower risk of gallstones compared to other cultures.) The spice might also help you maintain a healthy weight by delivering feelings of satiation and a temporary bump in metabolic rate: People took in 74 fewer calories after eating spicy meals or taking a capsaicin supplement with their food, compared to when they ate blander fare or took a placebo, according to a review in the journal Appetite. While this may not sound like much, over a few meals it adds up.

HEALTH BENEFITS Hot peppers that


bengali dal (chana dal with raisins)



An aromatic main course served at weddings and other celebrations in East India, this flavorful dal contains four of our five featured healing spices, as well as panch phoron (a blend of five spices). 1 1 ½ 1 2

cup chana dal (split lentils), soaked in warm water for 1 hour, then drained tsp ground turmeric tsp freshly ground black pepper tbsp coconut oil tbsp panch phoron (to make your own, mix 1 ¼ tsp each of black or brown mustard seeds, cumin seeds, fennel

Boost your benefits How you cook your spices affects their health perks. Microwaving, simmering, and stewing increase the antioxidant powers of cinnamon, cloves, and ginger, whereas dry-heating, grilling, and frying diminish them, according to research at Kingston University, United Kingdom.


3 1 2 1 1

seeds, fenugreek seeds, and nigella seeds) dried red chilies, seeded and broken in half dried cloves stick Ceylon cinnamon tsp raisins tsp dried or fresh coconut slices cup basmati rice, cooked according to package directions, or 8 roti

In a large, heavy-bottomed saucepan, bring 2 cups water to a boil. Add dal, reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer, partially covered. Check on lentils occasionally to skim foam off surface, and add more hot water as needed to keep lentils slightly submerged and soupy. Simmer until lentils are soft and

broken down, 1 hour. Stir in turmeric and black pepper. In a small frying pan over medium-high heat, warm oil. Add panch phoron and cook until seeds begin to crackle, 15 seconds. Add red chilies, cloves, and cinnamon and fry for 10 seconds. Stir in raisins and coconut slices and fry until coconut begins to turn golden, 10 seconds. Pour spice-and-coconut mixture over dal, stir, and bring to a boil; turn off heat. Remove cinnamon stick, cloves, and chilies. Serve over rice or roti. NUTRITIONAL INFO 387 calories per serving, 6 g fat (2 g saturated), 65 g carbs, 24 g fiber, 18 g protein, 2 mg sodium

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malvani shrimp rassa (shrimp curry)

4 4


The cooking of Western India often includes coconut. Add tamarind (a sour fruit) paste and all five of our healing spices, and you get a great balance of sweet, tangy, and fiery.

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1 1 2 1 1½ 1 1 1 1 4 2


lb shrimp, shelled and deveined tsp ground turmeric tsp minced garlic (about 4 cloves), divided tsp chopped ginger, divided tsp salt, divided tbsp coconut oil, divided stick Ceylon cinnamon tsp black peppercorns tsp coriander seeds cloves medium yellow onions, finely diced

4 1

tbsp unsweetened dried coconut, soaked in ½ cup hot water for 20 minutes dried red chilies, seeded, soaked in 4 tbsp hot water for 10 minutes, liquid reserved tsp tamarind paste cup basmati rice, cooked according to package directions Cilantro or coconut flakes, for garnish

Rub shrimp with turmeric, 1 tsp garlic, ½ tsp ginger, and 1 tsp salt. In a large frying pan over medium-high heat, warm ½ tbsp oil. Add cinnamon stick, peppercorns, coriander, and cloves; cook until seeds sizzle, 30 seconds. Add onions and cook until golden, 3–4 minutes. Reduce heat to medium and cook until onions are fully soft, 7–8 minutes. Stir in remaining 1 tsp garlic and ½ tsp ginger; cook 30 seconds. Stir in

coconut, increase heat to high, and cook until coconut browns, 1 minute. Remove from heat and stir in chilies and reserved soaking water. Pour pan contents and ⅔ cup cold water into blender; pulse to make a thick curry paste. In the same pan over medium heat, warm remaining ½ tbsp oil. Add shrimp and fry until they begin to turn opaque, 3–4 minutes. Stir in tamarind paste and cook, 1 minute. Stir in curry paste and remaining ½ tsp salt. Rinse blender with 1 cup water and pour water into pan. Bring mixture to a boil; reduce heat to a simmer, cooking until shrimp are cooked through, 5 minutes. Divide rice and curry among 6 bowls. Garnish with cilantro and/or coconut flakes. NUTRITIONAL INFO 322 calories per serving, 15 g fat (12 g saturated), 38 g carbs, 6 g fiber, 12 g protein, 838 mg sodium

masala chai ice cream (spiced-tea ice cream) SERVES 8

Indian ice cream is made by boiling whole milk for hours until it thickens, making it denser than its Western counterpart, which is typically aerated. To save time, this recipe uses evaporated milk as a quick alternative to boiling whole milk. 1¾ 1½ 3 ½ ½ 3 8 1

cups evaporated milk cups condensed milk teabags black tea, such as English breakfast, or 2 tsp loose-leaf tea tsp dried ginger or juice squeezed from a 1-inch piece fresh, grated ginger (fibrous part discarded) tsp ground Ceylon cinnamon pods green cardamom, seeds finely crushed and husks discarded 2-inch-diameter silicone molds or 2 plastic tubs (should each hold 2–3 cups/22 oz) tsp crushed pistachios

In a medium saucepan over low heat, combine milks, tea, ginger, cinnamon, and cardamom; cook, stirring frequently, until milk is almost boiling. Remove from heat and pour liquid through a sieve into a heatproof jug. Squeeze teabags, if using, in order to extract maximum flavor. Cool mixture to room temperature, about 1 hour. Divide among molds or pour into tubs. Freeze until solidified, 2–3 hours for molds or overnight for tubs. Store in freezer up to 2 months. Serve sprinkled with crushed pistachios. NUTRITIONAL INFO 263 calories per serving, 9 g fat (6 g saturated), 37 g carbs, 0 g fiber, 8 g protein, 134 mg sodium

continued from page 85

TRY IT To add heat to savory foods like: • Asian soups

HEALTH BENEFITS The research on cinna-

• Dal/lentils

mon’s ability to lower blood sugar has been mixed, but a recent review by Western University of Health Sciences, in California, gives it the thumbs up. It showed that people with type 2 diabetes who eat about 1/4 to 2 teaspoons daily can substantially drop their blood sugar—by 25 mg/dL. And if you have pre-diabetes or even normal blood sugar, cinnamon may blunt the rise in blood sugar that results from downing a

• Grilled meats • Tomato-based curries

Cinnamon ORIGINS Made from the inner bark of a cinnamon tree, the spice version of

sugary beverage, according to a few studies.

DAILY GOAL In various studies, about 1/4 to 2 teaspoons daily for 4 to 18 weeks were enough to significantly lower blood sugar in people with type 2 diabetes. This data is based on studies using cinnamon capsules, but you could also try adding this amount directly to your food. TRY IT In garam masala (a classic Indian spice blend) or in sweet or aromatic foods, including: • Baked goods like cookies and fruit breads • Beef curries • Masala chai • Rice pudding or ice cream Janis Jibrin is a writer and registered dietitian based in Washington, DC, as well as an adjunct professor of nutrition at American University. Monisha Bharadwaj, author of The Indian Cooking Course, runs an Indian cooking school in London called Cooking with Monisha (

DAILY GOAL It’s hard to know exactly— animal studies used 5 to 1o times the amounts eaten in hot-pepper-loving parts of India. Srinivasan suggests 1/2 to 3/4 teaspoons a day spread out over several meals; this equals about 2 to 4 dried hot peppers, half the average intake of Indians.

cinnamon is cut, dried, and sold as sticks or ground powder. Most of the cinnamon sold in the United States is “cassia,” from trees grown in China, Burma, Vietnam, and Indonesia. While it’s fine in moderation, regularly eating large amounts (about 1/2 teaspoon or more) can possibly cause liver damage and other ill effects thanks to a naturally occurring toxin called coumarin. Another variety of cinnamon tree, indigenous to Sri Lanka and Southern India, produces “Ceylon” or “true” cinnamon, which has very low levels of the toxin and is found online or in natural grocers.

march 2017

And chili powder may help you get more out of foods: “It enhances the absorption of vitamins by enlarging villi—tiny hairlike structures in the intestine that transport nutrients into the bloodstream,” Srinivasan explains.




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