Mantra Yoga + Health: Issue 10

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mantra TEAM PUBLISHER/EDITOR-IN-CHIEF Maranda Pleasant Twitter: @marandapleasant



CREATIVE DIRECTOR Melody Tarver COPY EDITOR Ian Prichard Assistant Editor Ocean Pleasant SENIOR CONTRIBUTING EDITORS Sarasvati Hewitt Gina Murdock

30 THIS SIDE 12 sianna sherman 18 Colleen Saidman yee 26 lama surya das 30 shiva rea 32 yogamos 36 joe longo 40 cool couple 46 readers’ photos

CONTRIBUTING EDITORS Nancy Alder Kenlyn Kolleen Jasper Johal


Photographers Robert Sturman Jasper Johal Joe Longo Cristian Buitron


The other side


8 kia miller 1 2 erica nix 18 daphne zuniga 24 kathryn budig 36 every body is a yoga body 40 michelle marchildon 44 dalai lama 48 Robert sturman

DALAI LAMA Images courtesy of the private office of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, India

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EDITOR’s Letter WOMEN RISING ​ h how my team must cringe when I say that I have a great idea, right O before deadline! I had last minute inspiration to put three of the women I love most, all together on a cover. Three days before press. Yep. So I called the one and only Robert Sturman to photograph it. Oh the chaos I put that badass through. Lighting, makeup, scheduling. Done. In one day. Without hesitation. Thank you so much to Robert, Sianna, Kia and Daphne that all jumped on board last minute to make it happen. Women coming together to inspire, uplift, support and protect each other is needed more than ever. If things are going to change, it will be because we come together and make it happen. Equality in pay, gay rights, reproductive freedom, getting GMOs out of our food supply, protecting animals and the environment. Can’t stop. Won’t stop. And how wonderful is it that we got a rare interview with the Dalia Lama? Thank you to Kelly Thornton Smith, founder of Center for Living Peace, for creating the 80th birthday celebration for His Holiness July 5-7th in Irvine. Please grab a ticket online and join us. #HHDL80 In our interview, he talked about the time he felt angry/irritated with a journalist, in between his childlike laughter. I took great comfort in our shared humanness and potential for uplifted consciousness and love. It’s not just a magazine; it’s a movement. Join us. We’re building community with our ambassadors, women on their game and getting shit done at a high level. Wanna play and connect? Write me: I am also so proud to feature 8 pages of our readers’ photos. Diverse, inspiring and real. Keep them coming: We are in this together.

Maranda Pleasant Mantra Yoga + Health • ORIGIN Magazine • THRIVE Magazine • REAL Magazine PHOTOs: ROBERT STURMAN | bottom right photo: maranda pleasant



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Yoga + Pregnancy

Maura Rassman E n c init a s , C a li f orni a

Yoga gave me so much freedom in my pregnancy. I was able to trust my body as I went through changes and grew my baby. I knew what my body was capable of, and that amount of trust is limitless. Every woman’s body is different. We each can tune into our innate wisdom and know what we are capable of. I regarded my pregnancy with a deep inward listening. That was the gift of more than 20 years on my yoga mat.



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Interview: Maranda Pleasant. Photos: Robert Sturman

The Mystery and Magic of Life

Sianna Sherman

Our beloved gypsy yogini on emerging from darkness, creating connections through compassion, and letting your heart break in the service of love

Maranda Pleasant: What is something that has made a huge difference in your life?

the Goddess. I am forever grateful to my family, yoga, and the power of sisterhood.

Sianna Sherman: The roots of my family, the gift of yoga, and the power of sisterhood have been a sacred triadic force of protection in my life.

MP: What do you reach for when you struggle or in times of stress?

When I was 13, I entered a very dark place inside myself for seven years. It felt like a switch flipped inside of me and I hit a stream of intense confrontation with every part of my existence. This dark encounter escalated into eating disorders, severe depression, addictions, fear of sex, and suicidal tendencies. Honestly, I was a total mess! My saving grace was the steady love of my family: the wisdom of my father, the kindness of my mother, the encouragement of my sister, and the devotional prayers of my grandmothers in union with Mother Mary. At the point where I reached utter darkness, where not even a shred of hope existed in me, the switch flipped again and it felt like lightning struck me from inside. Flashes of insight and a flooding of love poured through me. Yoga found me and I found yoga. At 21 years old, I abandoned everything for a gypsy life of seeking the teachings of yoga. I let go of all my belongings and all my known ambitions. Like a shedding snake, I released my outer identity and never turned back. Upon my first return from India, I was guided into the womb of the Goddess through a tribe of sisterhood dedicated to the path of the Priestess. The years I spent within this most holy circle of women shaped and formed me much more than I could have ever known at the time. This sisterhood showed me the intrepid way to my soul waters and guided me to rebirth myself through the womb of



SS: Nature, prayer, mantra, hot baths, steaming saunas, sisterhood, and hugs from my husband. I sit with the trees and they always help me transmute my rough, jagged edges. I stand in nature’s running water (a stream, river, or ocean) and ask for assistance in releasing the burdens of my mind. I always turn to prayer and mantra, which sustain me through every tough thing in my life. Hot baths and steaming saunas are a main medicine for me. I turn to my sisters for heart counsel. And my husband, Theo, just holds me in my struggles, and the entire world can melt when he is hugging me in his great embrace. MP: How do you deal with loss or letting go? SS: In times of loss, I turn to deep feeling, prayer, and true grieving. One of my most influential teachers in my life is Martín Prechtel, who I met in my twenties. He taught us that grief is a sacred art and the foundation of real peace. As Martín says, “It is the art of all arts; it is the art behind all real art,” and that “grief is the best friend of praise.” When we lose someone we love, our grief is a very natural way to honor the love. Martín guided us to speak our words as eloquently as possible and crack our hearts open with true grief. We learned how to embrace our loss and express our hearts versus sinking into despair with a

woe-is-me attitude. We rose to the challenge to create art in the messiness of life versus giving way to depression, which is a stagnant force that imprisons us. When I experience real loss, I let loose my tears. I sing, dance, write, and cry in the moonlight. I’m not interested in pretending like I’ve got it all together because the truth is, I don’t. I find my real friends, the ones I can show up at their house in my pajamas that I’ve been wearing for days, all disheveledlooking and in my rawness. I let them take care of me and I cuddle up in my authentic feeling state and let myself feel the breaking of my heart. I remind myself that heartbreak is in service of breaking open my heart to love even more. MP: What is one of your biggest passions? SS: Oh, how difficult to name just one! So I will name three: Tantra, mythology, and sisterhood. 1) Tantra is the real deal for me when it comes to yoga. It says yes to the whole of life and rejects nothing. The practices of Tantra are my anchor and refuge. 2) I’m wild for storytelling and mythology. I learn through stories and I teach through stories. Mythology speaks to the archetypal forces within us and evokes our multi-dimensional, magic self. Mythic realms circumvent the linear way of thinking and open us to

Photos: robert sturman


I practice to untie the knots of my heart so I can spin the prayer wheel within me and generate blessing energy. Whatever happens, I remind myself to bless everything and return to love again and again.�



My everyday question to Spirit is this: How may I best serve the mystery and magic of life?”

the mystery of life. We learn to embrace our shadow and free up stuck energy from our limited perspectives. 3) The power of women coming together in service to each other and humanity is outrageous! Sisterhood scooped me up in times of crisis and sang me back to wholeness. Ibelieve that women are rising in ways that will truly change the world. MP: What is a question you wish someone would ask you? SS: Honestly, I feel open to any question that might arise. My everyday question to Spirit is this: How may I best serve the mystery and magic of life? MP: Can you share with us your favorite relationship wisdom? SS: Many years ago, I was on a pilgrimage to the healing well of the Goddess Brighde, also known as Saint Bridget, in Kildare, Ireland. I had been drumming and dancing all night at the holy well with a group of pagans, when a priest walked up to me and asked me to join him for Sunday morning Mass. At first I declined, but there was something so crazy special about him that I couldn’t deny the longing to be near him. It turns out that he was one of Ireland’s most beloved Celtic poets, John O’Donohue, when he was still a Catholic priest. This unleashed mystic taught me how to listen to the silence between the words and how to bless the space between us. He wrote a book called Anam Cara, which means “Soul Friend.” He wrote: “One of the tasks of true friendship is to listen compassionately and creatively to the hidden silences.” This is what I try to do in relationships. I muster up my courage to truly listen to the other person and to the hidden silences. I practice to untie the knots of my heart so I can spin the prayer wheel within me and generate blessing energy. Whatever happens, I remind myself to bless everything and return to love again and again. And to find as many ways as possible to laugh together, especially when it’s the toughest! MP: What are your current projects that you are passionate about? SS: The Goddess Yoga Project with Yoga Journal: an in-depth journey with four goddesses—Durga, Lakhshmi, Saraswati, and Kali—with the teachings and practices of Tantra. ( Urban Priestess with my yogini sister Ashley Turner: We are launching a Mystery School devoted to women and the path of the Priestess. ( Mythic Yoga Flow: A series of 14 God & Goddess asana flows with myth, mantra, mudra, and music. Coming Soon! And in 2016, I’m creating a 1,008-hour yoga school rooted in Tantra and the alchemical way of transformation.

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Yulady Saluti

When you look in the mirror what do you see? After 26 surgeries and countless hospital visits, my body is a road map of the last 10 years of my life. Yoga has allowed me to see myself purely. I see hope and I see love. I see all of the people that have supported me. I see my loving family and friends. I see what they see. I see beauty. I am beauty. So are you. Now what do you see?

—Yulady Saluti

Photo: Robert Sturman



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Inte rvi ew: Mar an d a Pleas an t

The New York Times called her “the First Lady of Yoga”; we call her friend, soul sister, inspiration, and role model. Join us as Colleen talks about love, loss, service, and finding peace in sadness and pain.

Maranda Pleasant: What makes you come alive or inspires you? Colleen Saidman Yee: Music, babies, peanutbutter yogurt, poetry, but mostly my daily yoga practice and teaching. When I step on my mat, it is a message to myself that I am taking the time to listen to whatever is going on and not to be carried away by whatever drama is going on. Coming alive to me means being alive for every moment, not just the moments when everything is streaming the way that you would like it to. When practice is consistent, you have the opportunity to constantly check in and be attentive to what is actually going on, instead of what we want to show the world. Being alive is accepting every moment and emotion that is coming up right in this moment. To be alive is to be fully human. By wringing out the body and focusing the mind with asana, space is created that is otherwise occupied by the mind’s incessant chatter, and only when this kind of space is created can you sit and become intimate with the beauty and the sadness of this moment. Pema Chodron says that behind the restlessness and agitation sits sadness, and as you sit with the sadness that we usually try to cover up or run from, vulnerability opens into a soft, compassionate heart that can inspire the world to wake up and be fully human and fully alive. I believe that this is the heart of the practice that pulls me to my mat every day, even when it is the last thing that I want to do.



MP: What makes you feel vulnerable? CSY: Being in love, fear of losing love. Sometimes, vulnerability hits you in the heart when you least expect it. I felt a lot of vulnerability in writing Yoga for Life: A Journey to Inner Peace and Freedom, sharing my life story, warts and all, with people who don’t know me. It’s a lot like working on a new yoga pose, one that’s scary, like crow, or headstand or handstand. It’s a step into the unknown, and the unknown is where growth happens. If we spent our lives living only in our comfort zone, what a narrow and wasted life it would be. The word “courage” means “of the heart.” Sometimes courage means to cry. Sometimes courage is to walk into the room of someone who intimidates you and has been unjust and speak your truth. Courage can mean stepping away from a situation that is unhealthy and recognizing how we stay because it is familiar and we are scared of the unknown. The practice of yoga creates an intimacy with your body and reveals where you are not being honest. It is up to you whether you decide to listen to it. Mr. Iyengar said that if you don’t want your life to change, then don’t step on your mat. Your life will open up in ways that you have no idea about but it does take courage to face what life offers every single day. I believe that yoga can wake people up to their potential. It is beautiful to see students becoming comfortable with their vulnerability. I am an official yoga pusher and this is the main thing that kept me writing on days that I really

wanted to throw the towel in. I am in awe of the practice even after 30 years of practicing and close to 20 years of teaching. I believe that as I speak my truth in this book, it could free others to speak theirs and will give them to courage to get on their mat every day. I feel I have something to say to people about yoga and life that will resonate and connect and be comforting. MP: If you could say something to everyone on the planet, what would it be? CSY: “Service is the path to inner peace.” I learned this working for Mother Teresa in India, caring for people who were disabled, and ill, and dying. Eventually, I found that yoga is my form of service. I believe that yoga can enhance everyone’s life and this is a message that I am passionate about. I am dedicated to showing up every day to teach regardless of my many reasons and excuses why not to. It is an honor that students trust me to be a guide on this magical unfolding, this mysterious and beautiful journey. Everyone needs to find the kind of service that’s right for them. It’s so beautiful to watch Rodney’s and my kids figure this out. Rachel, our 19-year-old, is in her second year of college at University of California, Santa Barbara; she hands out condoms and water outside frat parties so the students hydrate after a night of drinking and can practice safe sex when judgment may be impaired. It’s the time of the week that has the most meaning for her.

“If we spent our lives living only in our comfort zone, what a narrow and wasted life it would be.”



“Shame, guilt, and loneliness keep us bound up in fear. My belief is that yoga practice can connect us to our true selves, and set us free.”

MP: How do you handle emotional pain? CSY: Emotional pain is a part of life, mine and everybody else’s. My father’s mantra to us growing up, when we would be caught up in some drama, was, “This too shall pass.” I’ve gone through times of extreme pain, when kids at school were bullying my daughter, Rachel, when I got divorced, when Rachel left home for college, when my mom was dying. These are the times when my yoga practice has saved my life. They’re also the times when I’ve felt most resistant to practicing. My advice is when you’re feeling this way, drag yourself to class. If class isn’t an option, get on your mat and move or just lie in savasana, and connect to your body and breath. Peace is always there, deep within you. Yoga practice can be a tether to the heart of peace in times of struggle. The more you practice, the more accessible it will be when your world is crumbling. It doesn’t mean you won’t get rocked, but at your core there is peace. I’ve been grateful for the teaching of Roshi Joan Halifax, too. When dealing with pain, and death, we need to have a broad back of equanimity and a soft front of compassion. Instead of running away or numbing myself



as I used to do in the past, I did as Roshi Joan and Pema Chodron counsel: I sat with the pain. I felt the gripping from my diaphragm all the way to my throat. I settled into my back body and kept my front body soft to embrace what Pema calls the genuine heart of sadness. You touch it when you realize it is not just your pain, but the world’s pain. That’s how compassion and empathy can be born— out of sadness, anger, and brokenness that are part of everyone’s life. “There is a brokenness out of which comes the unbroken” is one of my favorite lines from Rashani Rea’s poem [“The Unbroken”]. MP: What’s been one of your biggest lessons so far in life? CSY: Recognizing that my insights are valid, that my voice is authentic, and that I have something to say that I hope will help people. MP: Tell me about your latest projects. CSY: My latest project is Yoga for Life: A Journey to Inner Peace and Freedom. The book is a story of one woman’s life—my life—in and out of yoga. I took the sometimes dramatic and unflattering stories of my life and told them as honestly as my memory allows. Then, from

my studies of yoga, I created a teaching and a sequence that addresses specific issues, including trauma, addiction, confidence, chaos, fear, expectation, love, and peace. I want to help others discover their truth through the practice of yoga. My hope is that the book will inspire readers to have the courage to find their voice and their way to the mat. MP: Why is this important to you? CSY: Shame, guilt, and loneliness keep us bound up in fear. My belief is that yoga practice can connect us to our true selves, and set us free. The best way to get these points across is through story. So I’ve put myself and my stories out there; hopefully they will have the power to help people.

Colleen is an internationally respected yoga teacher who opened her first studio in 1999. Before that, she was a top fashion model working around the globe. She and her husband, Rodney Yee, have studios in New York City and Westhampton Beach. With Donna Karan and Rodney, Colleen created and runs the Urban Zen Integrative Therapy Program, utilized in healthcare facilities around the country. Colleen is the author of Yoga for Life: A Journey to Inner Peace and Freedom.

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What is something you reach for when you stress?




Q + A

Tami Hafzalla Yoga Teacher + Bhakti Flow Seattle, Washington


My faith in divine cosmic order. Breath assists in aligning me. Through subtle awareness I embody presence and settle within myself, consciously calming my nervous system. I rest one hand on my abdomen, the other on my heart and follow the pattern, slowing, deepening. Breath is life and influences the mind to become focused yet spacious. From here peace is realized. Photo: Valeria Spring

Liandren Brown Yoga Instructor, BeLuminous Yoga Seattle, Washington

When I stress, I reach for my yoga mat, no matter how cliché this may sound. My practice offers me freedom to escape from my own constraints. On my mat I feel powerful, radiant and unstoppable. It’s a feeling that I carry to the classes I teach and the life I live. Photo: Hannah Marie

Flower Grosskopf Yoga Guide, 8Limbs Yoga Centers Seattle, Washington


Smile, breathe and seek space! Whether it be closing my eyes and tapping into the infinite space of being, seeking the great outdoors or shutting myself in the bathroom, sometimes I just need a little space! I check into my body using my breath, which generates clarity and this allows me to navigate stress with inner truth as my guide. Photo: Lilly Warner | Illustration: Chip Baker

4 “I rest one hand on my abdomen, the other on my heart and follow the pattern, slowing, deepening.” —Tami Hafzalla

Faith Macauley Yoga Healer, Faith Marie Yoga

When I’m stressed, I reach for my Tarot deck. I use cards to receive messages from my spirit guides when I don’t have the time or space to meditate. The cards give clear indications of where I need to adjust my focus so that I can feel spiritually, mentally and emotionally grounded. I can trust their messages to pinpoint the source of my unease and remind me that stress is but an illusion. Photo: Jon-Paul Petry

Clarissa L. Brown Yoga Teacher / Yogalife / Home Yoga / The Seattle Gym Seattle, Washington



I transform myself with a rigorous, captivating yoga class and the energy of the yoga studio. Or, if the weather is welcoming, I'll run about three miles through my beautiful Seattle neighborhood. These pursuits never fail to make me feel happier and healthier. When I stress, I reach for a body glow and a smile. Photo: James Blyseth



Sarah Betts Founder of Live Nourish Practice Teacher + Manager, The Grinning Yogi Seattle, Washington

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I reach for adventure and solace in the outdoors. Skiing, hiking, exploring and just being in the mountains is my medicine. I feel an incredible sense of belonging and bliss when I’m in their quiet, beautiful and humbling embrace. I can always count on the mountains to calm my mind, nurture my body and feed my soul. Photo: Isaac Lane Koval

Noé Khalfa Yoga Teacher / Life Coach Seattle, Washington


When I’m stressing, it’s usually because deep down I’m believing I’m not OK in that moment. So the first thing I reach for is the sky with a full, deep breath. Then I move my body around to feel magnificent again. Finally I reach inside for a few drops of self-love; that’s huge. Works every time! Photo: Stephen Matera

“So the first thing I reach for is the sky with a full, deep breath.” —Noé Khalfa



What is something you reach for when you stress?

Q + A


What is One of Your Biggest Life Lessons? Toby Kumin Yoga Instructor

After having children, I learned how to slow down the pace of life and bring more awareness into the most ordinary daily experiences. Children have a wonderful way of teaching us to really be present and truly appreciate every moment. Photo: Prana Yoga

Allison Daroie Yoga Instructor, Sadhana Yoga


My biggest life lesson has been to do what makes me happy. Life is too short and sometimes it’s easy to get lost and follow other people’s dreams. I went to law school, but I love fashion and yoga. Just this year I launched my transformative clothing line, Paridaez, and I couldn’t be happier! Photo: Dana Wendt

Q + A

David Magone Founder, PranaVayu Yoga

Learning how to feel OK when things are not OK has been one of my biggest lessons. When I’m sad, angry or frustrated, I find it very healing to simply acknowledge the pain without trying to force myself to feel any different. Somehow, just accepting the fact that I’m not feeling OK always makes me feel better. Photo: Kadri Kurgun

Glen Cunningham Owner + Head Instructor, Sadhana Yoga

That “perfection” is a very sloppy process. Not the overly manufactured version of perfection that most of us engage in. The fear-based, stomach-tightening, desperate-to-control concept of perfection that we strive to make manifest our somewhat hazy idea of how things ought to be, but rather perfection as it will ultimately unfold. True perfection.In all its messiness. Photo: Kelly Davidson

William Jackson South Boston Yoga

Sitting in meditation as a Buddhist monk in the forest of Burma, I realized that everything that has happened in my life has led to this point, to this state of mind, to my current perception of the world. Knowing we have the ability to intentionally craft our mind and perception has led me to continue practicing and teaching meditation.

Mariya Shiyko, PhD Sadhana Yoga

Stephanie Troy, LICSW RYT Wellness therapist and Yoga Teacher, Soba Yoga

Finding authentic happiness is a journey of healing that begins within. Nothing external could fulfill my soul’s desires. Listening to this yearning has become transformational. As a result of walking this path I created a yoga project for recovery, Soba Yoga. Together we let go of the baggage of the past and move forward towards a healthier and happier future. Photo: Sarah Foy

Nothing is personal. Life is not about me or mine. The natural approach to life is to surrender. I trust that I do not have a full picture of all the threads that connect me to people and circumstances. Life has its own timing, and patience is the key.



maya yoga with Nicki Doane and Eddie Modestini New Year Retreat at Soulshine Bali with Nicki Doane Dec 27 - Jan 3, 2016:

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Master Teacher Feature

Lama Surya Das on being more open, spacious, permeable, and resonating together interview: nancy alder

“ It is up to us to be very discerning and not just marry the first guru we see or prematurely sign on and sign our lives away. ”

Lama Surya Das is one of the most highly respected and trained American-born lamas in the Tibetan Buddhist tradition. He is part of the generation that brought the Dharma from the East to the West and pioneered making meditation and mindfulness common place. Lama Surya Das is the founder of three Dzogchen Centers and author of many books including the international best seller Awakening the Buddha Within. He tackles the subject of co-meditating in his latest book, Make Me One with Everything. Nancy Alder: Mindfulness is a buzzword these days. Yet there appears to be a disconnect with the principles of Buddhism. Do you see this separation and how do you resolve it? Lama Surya Das: It is a very modern approach to extract mindfulness as a technique separate from the path of enlightenment. Mindfulness is just one of the ingredients in the seven steps on the Buddhist path. Taking it as an individual thing is OK, but it’s like looking at Hatha yoga without the other eight limbs and merely for physical fitness. It is fine, but it is not Buddhism leading to enlightenment. It is akin to focusing only on prayer in Christianity: it is a technique, but it misses that Christ’s essential message is about love. So mindfulness is part of Buddhism, but character development, ethical morality, how you live your life, interconnectedness, and relational awareness regarding all beings are all part of this infinite journey we take together. As a technique for health and



wellness and mental training today it is a very important one. What’s the alternative? Mindlessness? Nobody is for that. NA: Let’s talk about awareness, which seems to be a core tenet of Tibetan Buddhism. LSD: Mindfulness without awareness is not complete. We cannot fall into the situation of mindfulness as mere mental floss. Of course mindfulness can help you concentrate, still your mind, lower stress and tension, but what is the real effectiveness we are looking for in the spiritual dimension? When mindfulness is being presented as the tool in the corporate settings, we need to remember that it part of a bigger spiritual tradition in the world. It’s only within the last 15 years or so that mindfulness has become popular and somewhat without the other aspects of the enlightenment tradition: various assets and checks and balances. Meditation, contemplation and/or spiritual awareness is a great friend with many benefits, not just one quick benefit. The Dalai Lama always says, “The essence of Buddhism is wisdom and compassion.” It is not just the head but the heart, and not just the self but awareness related to others too. We need each other to get enlightened. Tibetan Buddhism does not stress mindfulness but instead awareness; how can we be mindful asleep, in a coma or after death? It is not just about the mind, but about all the aspects of us—the higher, subtle consciousness of the clear light of pure luminous spirit.

NA: Your latest book, Make Me One with Everything, offers different approaches to connect with all beings. Tell me about it. LSD: In this book I talk about how to break through the illusion of separation. I describe simple practices you can do to connect with your loved ones, your pet, with nature, and also your own inner world (including difficult feelings or emotions). The book is about learning how to be part of the bigger ecology of being, seeing through the illusion of separateness. It’s about practicing co-meditating, inter-meditating, or what Thich Nhat Hahn calls “inter-being.” It is about getting away from the limiting us-and-them mentality that leads to political partisanship and wars, and coming back to the oneness, the wholeness, the all-inclusive collective. This book is about getting to beyond the me, myself and I. It is about the three jewels: Buddha, Dharma and Sangha. That is the message of this book, not just going inward to get away from it all, but to

be more open, spacious and permeable. To resonate together. NA: Is there a place for the religious teacherstudent relationship or does our current emphasis on the cult of personality make this relationship not work in Western society? LSD: What is the saying, “Power corrupts”? It is a challenge and that is why we have to do our inner work. Of course there is a natural hierarchy, but without immobility or the illusion of separateness—no room for ingrained class or caste system. There is a place for religious and also spiritual or simply wisdom teachers in Western society. We all have teachers, but we do not necessarily need all-powerful ones that we kowtow to. It is up to us to be very discerning and not just marry the first guru we see or prematurely sign on and sign our lives away.

blending yoga & ayurveda, ancient tools and practices, to bring balance, healing and strength to your whole being


teacher training : workshops : online education

LEVEL ONE AYURYOGA INSTRUCTOR TRAINING August 7-16, 2015 + January 8-17, 2016

ADVANCED PRACTICES IN ASSESSMENT & ANATOMY July 10-16, 2015 Albuquerque, New Mexico • 505.291.9698


Ayurvedic Institute

FLORIDA What challenges you and how do you deal?

Claudia Groetzinger Yoga Teacher, 3rd Street Beach Yoga Miami Beach, Florida


Q + A

Rina Jakubowicz Founder and CEO, Rina Yoga Miami and Los Angeles

My mind challenges me! Naturally, it experiences emotions that fluctuate too often. Therefore, I have to pause prior to taking any unfavorable actions in order to remind myself that they are fleeting and that I may be seeing the situation skewed. If my actions are loving and healthy for myself and others, then I have succeeded in conquering my mind. Photo: Rachael Thompson

Every day is a new challenge for me. I start out with meditation, yoga and a positive attitude to set the day. If a challenge arises, I sit back, breathe and observe the situation from a distance without emotions.

“If my actions are loving and healthy for myself and others, then I have succeeded in conquering my mind.”

Radha-Krishna Lila Rina Yoga Miami, FLORIDA

Every day I feel pain from injuries acquired from a career as a dancer. I’ve always loved doing yoga and due to injury have struggled. Nowadays, my goal is not to achieve physical perfection but to get in touch with my inner self. When I stand on the mat, I simply try to enjoy the practice and each breath, without expectations. Photo: Eyecbeauty

—rina jakubowicz

Angel Saunders Owner, Angel Yoga and Fitness Davie, Florida

When I see people I care about suffering on different levels and I know in my heart that yoga, meditation, healthy food and connections with others would help heal them, but they are not ready yet. Even so, I stay with them. I keep encouraging them along their path. We all need a bright light to help shine the way. Miguel Bertonatti Yoga teacher, Rina Yoga Miami, FLORIDA

Photo: Image First

Battling with addiction. I deal with it by being equanamous any time the thought of it visits my mind, and through this practice I can feel the sensation of addiction bubble up to the surface and fade away. The temptation is always there, but it became feeble to where it no longer imprisons me. Ever since, my life has an abundance of positivity everywhere I look. Photo: Venjhamin Reyes



“When I stand on the mat, I simply try to enjoy the practice and each breath, without expectations.” —Radha-Krishna Lila

The time is now, To wake up To wake up to the highest potential of life To wake up to unlimited access to growth, abundance, + love This takes a shift, An inner shift in consciousness This shift is here, now Do you say yes?

AWAKEN. HERE. NOW. Awaken into Oneness with Julia Desmond




shiva rea

Sringara Rasa The Way Love Moves Enjoy walking even though there is no where to get to. Move within nature but not the way fear makes you move. Move the way love moves. . . . Sringara rasa is described within tantra and the arts (music, dance, poetry) as the inner eros of creation, the sensual flow, the revivifying taste, essence, nectar of love. Imagine you are tasting a delicious cacao chocolate melt in your mouth. If you really taste this bliss, even with your imagination, the subtle movement of love begins — the sway, the sound, the melting and awakening of your whole body. “The lovemaking of the universe,” referred to as samghatta, is the movement of friction which generates a fire. The mystery of the electrical charge generated by the pacemaker cells that create our heartbeat is described as the samghatta of Shiva and Shakti — the fire and friction of the divine lovemaking at the heart of the universe. Sringara rasa is the way love moves when we make the humming sound mmmm when savoring life or in lovemaking, in feline purring and the buzz of the bee’s pollinating dance. These naturally arising movements of sringara trigger a response in brain-wave flow that stimulates the slower heart-rate rhythms and the flow of hormones of love—oxytocin, seratonin, dopamine, and endorphins. Sringara rasa is also known as the refined essence and is related to the ayurvedic cultivation of soma (meditative nectar), ojas (life juices) and the very essence of the heart, the para ojas. In substances in the body, or in food, rasa is the quality of your vitality. Restoring your essence is related to ojas in the body, soma in the subtle body, and sringara rasa in the flow of love. Ojas is the essence, like honey created by the essence of flowers,




and is related to vitality and immunity. The accumulation of the flower essences is stored in the honeycomb, which in our body is like ojas, the pure essence of our dhatus, or bodily tissues. Ojas is considered to be generated from the original essence of para ojas in the heart, which then circulates via the heart and throughout the body for support. In that effortless state of awareness, you recognize your true nature, which is love, and that state is supported in every cell by para ojas. In other words, para ojas opens the door to God consciousness, which is non-judgmental awareness. Then para ojas becomes soma, which releases molecules of bliss throughout the body. —Dr. Vasant Lad If you find yourself moving mechanically, or losing your juice for life, experiment with moving as love, which has an instinctually fluid, connected quality that is part of the art of Sringara Rasa, expressed in curving movements and music with notes and melodies that bend and sway. It is impossible to be rigid and express love at the same time. Sringara Rasa is the cultivation in the heart of the love union of male and female. Sringara Rasa is fire and water, sun and moon, passion and peace. It is a cultivation of the heart and sensuality of yoga that can readically help us cultivate the free generate loving energy toward ourselves and others. All movements and music that are circular, wavelike, and fluid mirror the sway of love that Sringara Rasa invokes most, typified in the heart-liberating flow of backbends in yogasanas. Sringara rasa is nourishing and healing for any form of stress.

Cultivating Sringara rasa in your body and life is like discovering a secret well that flows inside you and can never run dry. Tandava and Lasya—The Sahaja Origins of Movement Meditation It is described in mythology how Shiva and Shakti’s dance is the origin of forms. Their dance lives on in stories, myths, and iconography found in the Puranas. The great guru Matsyendranath described a vision of the body in which each cell is alive with the dancing and lovemaking of these divine beings, whom he describes as being in union in their sport of love for several eons. In between their lovemaking, creative pastimes arise spontaneously, such as the poetic meditations Shiva offers to Parvati that are found in the Vijnana Bhairava Tantra and the creation of the veena, a musical instrument inspired by the beautiful movements Shiva witnessed arising from Parvati’s breath. Yet the dance of Shiva and Shakti—known as the tandava (his movements) and lasya (her movements)—is the heart of their creative expression. There are seven forms of tandava attributed to Shiva, with several expressing the loving rhythm of Sringara rasa that forms the creative cycles of the universe, while other forms, such as raudra tandava, express the fierce dissolution that comes with samhara, or the death cycle. Parvati’s lasya represents the fluid nature of the feminine and is composed of circular, spiral, and swirling movements. There are eight hundred forty thousand asanas attributed to their ecstatic dance.

“If you really taste this bliss, even with your imagination, the subtle movement of love begins­—the sway, the sound, the melting and awakening of your whole body.”



Life. Near-Death. Rebirth. A Couple’s Story of Authentic Love, Medical Miracles, and the Power of Divine Intervention



by Stephanie MoDavis

“It was funny, embarrassing, and ultimately humbling to see how much this man loved me—even when he had to wipe my ass.”

There’s no denying the transformative power of a regular yoga practice, but I never fully recognized what it could be until my life depended on it. At 18, I got my first glimpse of yoga in action with VinYasEmo dance company. Five or six times a week, we’d practice Ashtanga Yoga, and my muscles started to lengthen and relax, and emotions rose to the surface. I continued practicing with VinYasEmo for another three years before I met the love of my life, Chris. I remember the first time I laid eyes on him: A rugged man with a burly, full red beard and long hair. He was so attractive, but it was his love and willingness to get dirty with all the world has to offer and the fact that he was a grower at a greenhouse that grabbed me from the very beginning. It didn’t take long before we were deeply in love. As two young kids, we couldn’t have been happier. On weekends, we hiked the Appalachian Trail, played disc golf and practiced yoga. I remember when we first started the primary series together, he’d mentioned he had dabbled with yoga in the past. Watching his practice in action, I was in awe of the grace and beauty he exuded. He was a natural. We found ourselves practicing in our small cottage on the farm we rented, in the living room, outside, and in our screened-in porch watching the sun rise. Then, and still today, you may find us holding hands in savasana. A year after meeting Chris, my joints began shooting in pain, in Warrior I, walking down the street, and even at rest. Crippling fatigue and anxiety only made the throbbing worse. Most days, it was just in too much discomfort to get on my mat. Instead, I had to let go of any expectations and sometimes simply visualize my practice in action to keep me grounded and connected.

sensation would erupt in my chest. Bathrooms were out of reach, and I was relegated to a bed pan, always with assistance from Chris. It was funny, embarrassing, and ultimately humbling to see how much this man loved me­—even when he had to wipe my ass. Before I knew it, I’d morphed into a steroided, moonfaced, nearly bald thing I didn’t recognize anymore. But Chris stayed by me and constantly reminded me I was more beautiful than ever. He even stood by my side, razors in hand, in our tiny bathroom when we shaved our heads. We knew we were in it together. By 2003, the medical bills were rolling in faster than we could keep up with. I needed insurance, like yesterday. We knew we wanted to spend the rest of our lives together, so we drove an hour from our house to the justice of the peace in New Hope, Pennsylvania, where I had just enough stamina to stand during the short ceremony. Our union sealed our love and also put me on his insurance plan, which couldn’t have happened any sooner: The doctors soon after announced that my health was declining so rapidly, I would need a kidney transplant to survive. In the meantime, I’d start dialysis. My physical yoga practice was nonexistent at the time, so I used the opportunity to delve into the world of yoga and spirituality books. Some of my life-savers at that time were anything by Caroline Myss, Louise Hay, Marianne Williamson, and Eckhart Tolle. This is when I started practicing the art of positive intention, prayer and gratitude—even if it felt like my life was flashing before my eyes, I believed it was for a reason. It didn’t always work, but when I had a glimpse of what is was like to feel normal, I grasped onto whatever positivity I could to boost me up.

Eventually, multiple hospital stays led to a final diagnosis: systemic lupus, an autoimmune disease that, in my case, led to severe brain, heart, pancreas, lung, and kidney dysfunction over the course of five years. It was the most difficult time of my life. I remember one night in the hospital I had severe brain swelling. My doctor was so fearful he spent the night with Chris in my room to keep a watchful eye on me. Not many doctors would be willing to do that, kudos to him. Another time fluid had built up around my heart, and if I yawned, spoke, or laughed, a painful popping-corn

Meanwhile, as my kidneys continued to break down, my body filled with fluid, leaving me wheelchairbound. “I just can’t take this anymore,” I said to Chris one night in our bedroom. I should mention that there was more than one occasion where I saw my consciousness slipping and that’s when I learned the valuable lesson that death was nothing to be afraid of. In those moments I can only say that aside from seeing a native american chief who lead me back (this may have been the drugs but I’m not so sure) it was pure comfort and peace.



of him, he’s an angel and I need to repay him Chris once again reminded me “we’re going for all he’s done for me.” to get through this, keep fighting.” For his part, he’d take me to the dialysis center, The last thing I remember before the actual where I was the youngest patient, go to work, procedure was Dr. Robert Montgomery askthen come back four hours later to bring ing me if I liked Tom Petty’s “American Girl,” me home and feed me. Then he’d go back to which was playing in the cold, sterile surgical work, finish his day, and return to help me. room. I nodded yes, and that put a big smile He was incredibly strong during all of this, and a lot of trust in my heart that I was going never complaining, and always finding ways to be all right. to make me laugh and give me that boost of confidence in my lowest moments. He is my The next day, my eyes fluttered open. I lifted living angel. the blanket and looked down at the massive bruise on my belly and steri-strips covering After a year of treatments, my health started beautiful diagonal line from the left of my to improve, and the doctors announced it was navel down into my groin. Knowing I held time to start the kidney transplant process. someone else’s kidney was a crazy feeling. I was ecstatic to hear this but also scared What was this person like? How old were of all a kidney transplant entails. Again I they, and were they nice, did they know yoga? drew upon the lessons yoga had taught me: breathe and surrender. All is as it’s meant Chris was in a different part of the hospital to be. Chris wanted to donate one of his (donors get treated to special amenities as kidneys to me, but we weren’t the same blood they should). I called his room and barely type. Then we heard about the incompatible remember hearing his voice. It was enough, kidney exchange program at Johns Hopkins though, to know he was OK. A few days later, Hospital in Maryland, which matches donors. I fixed up my hair because he was going to We signed up and patiently awaited for news, be wheeled up to my room. We embraced, reknowing that more than half of the people lieved to know we’d overcome something that waiting for a life-saving organ die in the process. had devastated us for the past eight years. It was time for a fresh start. But not before Sitting in my kitchen one day, the phone rang. some more healing. The hospital had made their first-ever direct match between two married couples. We We returned home to recover together. It didn’t know who the other couple was, but it was an uplifting time even though we both was amazing to think of Chris and this other were in pain. (Typically the donor endures stranger’s husband giving a part of themmore pain than the recipient.) Days turned selves to another person’s partner in order into weeks, and we were soon getting around to save their wife’s life. To make the switch, again. Weeks later, Chris was back to the we needed to be in Maryland in three days. greenhouse and I returned to college. I began to hyperventilate, cry, and laugh all at the same time. Chris turned pale like he’d We were 30 and 33 and felt as though we had seen a ghost, and we began making plans for to completely begin again. We recommitted our surgeries: I would be receiving a kidney, to our physical yoga practice, eventually and Chris would be losing one. Again, fightworking up to a regular vinyasa flow a year ing together. I made sure to make a special after our surgeries. Through our practice and request to Chris’s surgeon, “please take care



“Before I knew it, I’d morphed into a steroided, moon-faced, nearly bald thing I didn’t recognize anymore. But Chris stayed by me and constantly reminded me I w a s more beautiful than ever.”

our experience with lupus, we came to a newfound appreciation of life and gratitude for the simple things. And so we decided to make teaching yoga and sharing our experience as a lifelong career a reality. After completing a month-long teacher intensive with our mentors, Melanie, Seane and Anodea, and filling up with inspiration, we began teaching and finding our voices to share our story of how yoga, mindfulness, and meditation guided us through some of our most difficult times and also some of our best times. It was starting to come full circle, and we could feel the universe conspiring to allow this grace into our lives. Then in 2012, we opened YogaMos—a decade after my initial diagnosis—in Hellertown, Pennsylvania. Those 10 years were far and beyond our biggest inspirations and learning experiences and it was clear it all was divine intervention. Today my lupus is in remission. My kidney is eight years old and still going strong. Most transplants last between eight and 20 years. So one day, we’ll go through this experience again, but I will have a solid foundation to draw upon to help me through, and I know Chris will be by my side every step of the way. And, of course, there’s yoga, meditation, and their most important aspects: attitude and gratitude. Stephanie MoDavis resides in Hellertown, Pennsylvania with her husband Chris and cat Gary. Together they own and operate YogaMos where they hold classes, workshops and community events based in the art of love, gratitude and intention. When they are not in the studio you can find them outdoors. Daily they open their hearts and home to teach, inspire and share their very personal experience of how yoga, meditation and mindfulness shaped their lives together.





Photographer Feature

Joe Longo T h e M i d d l e o f t h e Roa d J o e

Lo n g o

P h o t o g r a p h y

Jump into the middle of things, g e t y o u r h a n d s d i rt y, fa l l f l at on your fac e, and t h en r e ac h f o r t h e s ta r s .

—Ben Stein

There is something about the middle of the road that is so inviting. Maybe it’s the danger and the thrill that comes with creating in the middle of a busy city street. Maybe it’s the stillness in the madness of the city. All I know is I have an addiction to creating in the middle of the road, and if the opportunity presents itself I will ask you to play in traffic with me.




Joe Longo: The Middle of the Road



How has yoga affected your relationships?

Sandy Bechard Owner, Bonafide Yoga

Suzanne Davis Founder, Love Yoga Studios Albany, Oregon

Practicing yoga has given me the clarity and confidence to trust myself, to listen to my intuition, to go with my gut. Strengthening that relationship with myself has created a more positive foundation for connecting with others, in both my existing relationships as well as new ones. It helps to create an exchange of energy that simply feels more fun.

Yoga has enriched my relationships with the gift of pause. Granting me the time to understand someone’s actions or hear their words before reacting. The extra moment allows people not only to be listened to, but heard. Being heard is powerful. It shows you matter and you make a difference. When we pause we are present when heard we belong. Photo: Kim Lindner

Mary Bastien Owner, Open Space Yoga Honolulu, Hawaii


Veronica Lewinger Teacher and Studio Manager, Evolation Yoga Atlanta, Georgia

When I look back at the quality of my relationships with others and myself they were more based on the surface. My expectations were higher on both myself and others’ without really taking the time to understand the others viewpoints and conditions. The two most influential practices for myself in helping foster deeper relationships are a daily practice meditation and Ayurvedic wisdom.

Yoga has empowered me to speak my truth without falling apart. When I was younger, speaking my truth seemed impossible. Anxiety, anger, or tears would often overtake me. The practice of observing my emotions and understanding Raja Guna through yoga has helped me to learn to soothe my anxiety, and has enriched the quality of my relationships.

Photo: Moses Slovatizki

Photo: Mark Hill

Q + A

Romona Mukherjee Psychotherapist, Therapy to Evolve / Yoga Instructor New York, New York

Yoga has empowered me to speak my truth without falling apart.

—Veronica Lewinger

I feel tremendous ease relating authentically with others which I attribute to practicing yoga. Yoga and meditation have ushered me into profound connection with my breath, body, vulnerability and strength. It is this succulent connection to myself that quite organically extends out into my connection with people. And so, my relationships are more honest, loving, and kind. Photo: Miana Jun Photography



CR +

Cheetah Platt

+ Rhiann

Woodyard This amazing young couple documented their love with 48 Weddings and traveling to 12 countries Our interview with one of the most unique couples we know, about the their journey, wisdom for couples and advice for those still seeking their mate Interview: Maranda Pleasant



Photos: Cheetah Platt



Cheetah Platt

+ Rhiann

Woodyard - continued -

Maranda Pleasant: What advice would you give couples? Cheetah Platt + Rhiann Woodyard: Travel with your partner. Put yourself in new and sometimes difficult situations, because it’s then that you learn how compatible you are as a couple. If you only spend the good times with your partner you will never figure out of you can actually support each other through the bad. MP: What would you say to someone who is single, looking for their match? CP+ RW: Don’t settle. Don’t ever give up the search for the right one. Trust us, they are out there missing you right now, and they are better than you could ever imagine.

CR +



Photos: Cheetah Platt

MP: What are some of the greatest things you’ve learned about being in a partnership? CP+ RW: No relationship is without stress, or challenges. You need to find a partner who will always be there to support you and get you through the pain, even if they caused it in the first place. We have learned not to expect perfection from our relationship, but rather, the understanding and empathy that makes it all worthwhile. MP: What is something that surprised you about “couplehood.” CP+ RW: It is incredibly powerful to care so deeply about someone. Neither of us had ever felt that before we met and it can be scary to feel so connected. It’s amazing to find out how much you can learn and grow with someone who completes you, challenges you, loves you, listens to you, and cares for you.

+ C




Cheetah Platt

+ Rhiann

Woodyard - continued -

MP: Tell me about your journey together and these photos. What inspired them?

We have learned not to expect perfection from our relationship, But rather, the understanding and empathy

CP+ RW: We couldn’t justify spending so much money on a day wedding, so we decided to save money by traveling around the globe and holding free wedding ceremonies all over the world. After it is all said and done, we spent far less than one forth of what a traditional wedding would have cost in Los Angeles. This amazing adventure, with 48 weddings and traveling to 12 countries, was so much cheaper than holding a single-day wedding. I took all the pictures with my cell phone on a tripod. We didn’t bring a photographer, or professional camera equipment either.

that makes it all worthwhile.



Cheetah Platt and Rhiann Woodyard are writing a complete novel about these amazing weddings and the adventure they experienced. Follow this amazing couple @CheetahPlatt on all social media for more info and updates. Owners of

Photos: Cheetah Platt



Readers’ Photos

from Across the Globe Featuring the most awesome photos sent i n b y o u r M a n t r a Yo g a + H e a l t h c o m m u n i t y of yogis, meditators, and athletes

Megan Kuczynski with sons Alexander + James • Photo: Robert Sturman



Alison Bernasco • Washington Square, New York City • Photo: Leo Lo Photography

Katie Ortiz • Tuscaloosa, Alabama • Photo: Leo Lo Photography

Jen Palmer • Boulder, Colorado • Photo: Images with Focus

Samantha Warman • Birmingham, Alabama • Photo: Leo Lo Photography

Beth Stuart • Sun Valley, Idaho • Photo: Hillary Maybery •

Damaris Maria Grossman • Montclair, NJ • Photo: Yara Esquivel •

J Elissa Marshall • Cartagena, Colombia • Photo: Ricardo Bustamante

Ali Calvaruso • Philadelphia • Photo: Lizzy Lopez •




Readers’ Photos from Across the Globe

Jeffrey Posner • Photo: Nina Skowronski

Juliana Hemphill • Falls Church, Virginia

Melanie Caines • St. John’s, Newfoundland, Canada •

Eleonora Rachele Zampatti • Red Bank, New Jersey • Photo: Claire Sheprow

Jessica Chin Fong + Ernesto Garruto • Fort Lauderdale Beach, Florida • Photo: Whitney Nicole Stephenson



Cady McBride • Dyersburg, Tennessee

Kimberly Culp + daughter Jasmine • San Antonio, Texas •

The Starnes Sisters: Stephanie + Sarah • Portland, Oregon • Photo: •

Pavla Haluskova • Chicago, IL • Photo: Kelly McShane •

Anna Ferguson • Cincinnati, OH •

Marcy Mackey + Amy Huf • Kennett Square, Pennsylvania

Carol Morehead • Evanston, Illinois • Certified Instructor • Transcendental Meditation Center

Christel Arcucci • Walnut Creek, California • Photo: Lucinda Rae •

Sara Quiriconi Grossi • Miami Beach, Florida • Photo: Matt Roy •

Chrispy Bhagat Singh • Austin, Texas •

Amy Leonard • Red Bank, New Jersey

Sallie Herrold • Lake Cascade, Idaho • Photo: James Herrold

Elizabeth Rowan • Atlanta, Georgia • Photo: Raftermen •

Briohny Smyth • Photo: Claire Sheprow • •

Joanna Nasar • Boulder, Colorado

Maggie Hawk • Ashland, Oregon •




Readers’ Photos from Across the Globe

Nancy Matalon • Photo: Colleen Allison • Maggie Grueskin • San Antonio, Texas •

Stacey Ramsower • Houston, Texas • Photo: Chrissy Burdsall •

Eleonora Rachele Zampatti + Allison LaRochelle • Red Bank, New Jersey • Photo: Claire Sheprow.

Molly Lucinda • Portland, Oregon •

Jenipher Abeyta • Castle Rock, Colorado • Photo: MikeCon Photography

Hope + Steve Dezember • Johns Creek, Georgia • •

Sindre Lønnes + Hilde Mesics • Oslo, Norway •



Kristin Page • Photo: Joe Longo

Brook Cheatham • Dallas, Texas •

Jill Wheeler • Naples, Florida + Boulder, Colorado •

Elissa Cirignotta + Greg LoRang • Portland, Oregon • Photo: Debbie Baxter •

Allie Purdy • Portland, Oregon •

Natalie Levin • Photo: Joe Longo •

Justine Talling • Boulder, Colorado • Photo: Images with Focus

Greg Winger • Mississauga, Ontario • Photo: Erin Caledonia Photography

Hope Dezember • Johns Creek, Georgia • •

Fiona Davis • Howell, New Jersey

Graham M. Schweig • Newport News, Virginia • Photo: Catherine Ghosh

Kevin Naidoo




Readers’ Photos from Across the Globe

Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor • Bloomington, Indiana •

Anna Click • Austin, Texas Lisa Rundall • Denver, Colorado

Cindy Hurlbert •

Chance, son of Alycia Monet Herron Sylvie Astrid • San Rafael, CA • Photo: Carl Otsuki

Lyn Gerfin Kehoe • Ridgefield, Connecticut •

Francesca Magnani • New York, New York •



Hanny Chandra • New York, New York

Chris Ochs • Los Angeles, California •

Lisa Rueff • Sausalito, California •

Sherrice Kirby • Photo: BK Studios •

Martina Ruocco • Vernon, New Jersey •

Aubrey Monk Warren • Photo: Lori Sparkman •

Lisa Drake • Boulder, Colorado

Charlie Amis + Cheri Gray with Bianca • Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

Hayley Beth Worthman • Pittsburgh • Photo: Kelley Bedoloto •

Lily Russo • Mancos, Colorado

Jennifer Ciarimboli • Photo: Joe Longo •

Dhyana Tse + 5yo son Kai • San Antonio, Texas

Lauren Harris with daughters Emmy + Megan

Kayla Emmons • Minneapolis, Minnesota • Photo: Zane Spang • MANTRAMAG.COM


What is the truth you know for sure?


Advice for Yoga Beginners:

Q + A

How has meditation changed your life?

Paul Watts Meditation + Restoration Instructor, Love Yoga Studios Albany, Oregon Molly Radtke Teacher / Studio Manager, Full Lotus Yoga Grosse Pointe Woods, Michigan

Debra Perlson-Mishalove Founder, Flow Yoga Center Washington, DC

This life is the great mystery and love is always the answer. Aging is a privilege, wrinkles and all. Gaze deeply into someone’s eyes, the truth will be revealed. It will also be revealed in gardening, a mother’s love for her children, and in the darkest hours. The truth lives in our hearts and and we have to get very quiet to experience it. Photo: Drew Xeron

Try all of the studios near you and take a variety of class styles from different teachers. See what resonates. Take three classes a week to start. Have a beginner’s (childlike innocence) mind as you learn the poses. Enjoy this process free of judgment, open to possibility. Know we were all once beginners in our first classes, too!

A meditation practice has enabled me to more fully in the present moment. I am more focused, accepting and compassionate to myself and others. Meditation on my mind’s recurring thoughts also gives me tools not simply to even out the highs and lows, but to see and appreciate the high and lows for what they offer. Photo: Kris Watts

Who do you teach? Kylee Stein Founder, Yogi Soul Apparel Teacher / Manager, Hot Yoga for Life Portland, Oregon

As a plus-size yoga teacher, I have experienced first-hand the profound impact yoga can have when learning to love oneself. In an attempt to break down barriers for other full-bodied yogis, I teach classes that are accessible and empowering for all bodies. My students include anyone ready to embark on a journey toward self-love and acceptance. Photo: Natasha Nemyre



Roland Nash Founder, The Free Up Savannah, Georgia

I instruct all ages in yoga and meditation. I was a co-founder of a small “urban ashram” near Atlanta’s culturally vibrant West End in 2007. I also share yoga, meditation, Homa therapy, organic gardening, and environmental stewardship with at-risk youth. It’s inspiring to see their enthusiasm in learning these ancient techniques to help them bring the balance back to their lives.

How do you relax? Amanda Rubio The Yoga Hive + MoWa Yoga Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

I love reading in the park on a sunny day; cooking in a quiet kitchen; snuggling with my cat with a cup of tea in hand. I also relax through meditation. These methods are meditative in their own ways. I am able to focus, and the rest of the world falls away. In these moments, I am truly myself.


Photo: Andrew Russell

Ulla Lundgren Teacher / Co-Owner, The Yoga Lab Bend, Oregon

Q + A

After I get out of bed in the morning, curling up in a comfy blue chair in our living room with my french bulldog Ganesha and our cat Noisy. We just sit, in silence, snuggled up, looking out the window at the trees in our yard and ponder life. Photo: Clare Kubota

“Free time for relaxation is hard to come by, but I make sure to recover on my days “off” and sneak in some asana, pranayama, and meditation to reset.” —Doug Kreitzer

Doug Kreitzer Musician / Yoga Teacher, World Peace Yoga Cincinnati, Ohio

I relax by hanging out with my dog friend Mardi and taking walks in the woods, watching comedies with my girlfriend, playing chess, and writing songs for my band ThePeace. Free time for relaxation is hard to come by, but I make sure to recover on my days “off” and sneak in some asana, pranayama, and meditation to reset. Photo: Jesse Fox

When/where do you feel most at peace? Alan Finger Yogiraj, ISHTA Yoga New York, New York

I feel most at peace reaching into the state of Samadhi, or singularity. When my consciousness returns to the world of the senses, that state of peace spills into each moment of my living. This allows me to respond to life from my spirit, rather than react from the mind. This is my formula for peaceful living.







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In the words of Yogi Bhajan, we are either a slave to the mind, or the mind serves our Soul.”


The Integral Practices of Yoga Ask almost anyone in the Western world what yoga is and they will describe postures or perhaps mention the word asana (Sanskrit for “yoga posture”). Ask most people in India and they will refer to meditation, prayer, or devotion. In the West we have gone very external with our practice, in the East they have gone very internal. Both are necessary. It is so fun to teach yoga in India and to see people getting excited about reclaiming their physical health and creating a positive connection to their body, their strength and wellness. It is fun to teach Western yogis about the subtler aspects of yoga, the transformation possible through the breath and the greater awareness and sensitivity we can attain through creating a regular meditation practice. There are so many types of yoga. Ultimately it is not the type that matters so much as the underlying intention. Is our practice and approach pointing us to connection, greater awareness and peace? A holistic approach is one that incorporates mind, body and spirit, and speaks to the unity of all life. The deeper practices invite us to recognize the degree to which we are all connected. Every thought, action and word impacts the whole. The physical body is in many senses pretty straight forward, we are tight in some areas and loose in others, we have injuries to attend to and postural habits to undo over time. We practice asana in a way that helps to release tension and trauma out of our muscles and tissues. We learn to be in right relationship to gravity and discover ways to



stand and sit with ease. The energetic and mental practices require deeper understanding and focus. Specific pranayama (breath) techniques can be used to awaken our vital energy and move through emotional blocks. We learn that we can change our consciousness through the breath, and calm the fluctuations of the mind. When pranayama practices are introduced we start the steady progress of moving from the darkness of our ignorance and conditioned responses into greater awareness of ourselves, and our journey. This is a vital step toward the journey of self-realization. The mind is the last hurdle. It generally leads us around from whim to whim as we seek pleasure and avoid pain, lament and complain, judge, analyze, focus and fantasize! In the words of Yogi Bhajan, we are either a slave to the mind, or the mind serves our Soul. The great challenge is that we identify with what the mind has fixed upon, as if the object of the mind’s attention is in some way related to our true identity. Mostly we don’t even understand that we have a relationship with our mind. It is through meditation that we learn to identify our Self as the “witness,” to observe our thoughts rather than identify with them. The “response-ability” it takes to reign in our wandering mind, to release self-doubt, judgment and negativity takes an Olympian effort on our part. It requires a commitment to keep coming back to a full awareness of the present moment, to let go of what disturbs us.

We learn to treat joys and challenges equally as necessary counterparts for growth, and to let go of attachment to the outcome of our efforts. Most importantly this present moment awareness helps us to maintain right relationship with the forces of nature. Rather than imposing our personal will, we enter into a co-creation marked by originality and spontaneity. The mark of an advanced yogi is not an acrobatic Cirque Du Soleil feat, but a human being who has developed the capacity to show kindness and compassion to all, who lives in service to others and radiates peace and joy. I have had the great pleasure of being in the company of some living masters whilst in India. Being in their presence one simply feels better, like an unconscious weight is lifted. Inspiration dawns and one feels the possibility that exists for us all to live in a state of inner freedom. The more clearly we perceive reality the more we can create peace, not just inner peace, but also peace in the world. Meditation results in a state of freedom so profound that one’s very presence causes peace in his or her total environment.




B y L au r i e G r av e s

Find Your Freedom, then

Blaze a Trail for Others

How spirituality paved the way

leven years ago, I fought depression and suicidal thoughts. I was ninety pounds overweight. I was living in an invisible prison constructed with negative thoughts. The prison door was securely sealed by distancing myself from my creator. I mostly sat on the couch in my XXL yoga pants, watching TV and doing potato-chip curls. But all that changed in 2003. A personal trainer put a flyer on my door, and instead of throwing it away, I held on to it. It felt like a lifeline. I finally got up the courage to call her number, and that’s when my journey to freedom began. The trainer and I worked together in my garage until I had enough self-confidence to go to the gym. Eventually, I felt confident enough to stand on a stage in a sequined bikini in figure and fitness competitions. I had overcome depression and I was physically strong, yet the healing of my soul and spirit was still eluding me. Why? Because, in my efforts to change, the focus was on my dress size, my fitness achievements, my pride—me, me, me. The realization that my journey to freedom could help blaze a trail for someone else came in bits and pieces. As my knowledge of health and wellness issues grew, I decided to become




a personal trainer and wellness leader like the woman who was so instrumental in my own metamorphosis. As I studied and trained, God has allowed me to share my deliverance story with others in order to help them. It is amazing how many individuals have been put in my path for a divine moment. My freedom wasn’t given to me for self-indulgence; it was a gift to help others. Recently, I went for a walk with God on a nearby equestrian trail. I happened upon an older woman in fleece pajamas walking her dog. She seemed disoriented. I greeted her and asked if she was OK. She replied, “What do you mean? I am not one hundred years old, you know!” Then shot number two was fired: “I’ll bet you don’t like dogs. I sense you are not an animal lover.” Then, “I am from Germany, but I suppose you have no idea where that is, do you?” I apologized for intruding upon her time, and I wished her a beautiful walk. She turned to me again and said, “Most people do not like me because I am so harsh, but you have been very patient. Do you know God?” In this divinely appointed moment in the woods, the woman told me about her cold and stoic parents, her two abusive marriages, and the recent death

of a homeless man to whom she had been supplying food. Having been in a place of depression and seclusion myself, I had patience to hear her stories. I was able to share a few things that had helped me walk away from my own anger and fear. As we stood in the beauty of the forest with fall leaves dropping all around us, total strangers became friends.

Laurie Graves is the author of Fit for Freedom: Healing for Your Body, Mind, and Spirit. She’s a NASM-certified personal trainer who works with contestants and former contestants from NBC’s The Biggest Loser and ABC’s Extreme Weight Loss. Her passion is leading spiritually based fitness and wellness classes.

I had overcome depression and I was physically strong, yet the healing of my soul and spirit was still eluding me. Why?


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legendary spaz fitness instructor

interview by mantra magazine

Austin, Texas Workout!


Erica Nix

Erica Nix is on a mission to make working out fun again!

This is not your typical aerobics class. This class is more raw, more gay, and more ridiculous than any class you have ever experienced. You can find Erica in Austin, Texas teaching four classes a week at The Center Spot on North Loop. There’s a vintage shop next door if you forgot your spandex. Vintage spandex is highly encouraged. Mantra: What’s different about your workout? Erica Nix: Ha! A lot! We shake weights to orgasm. We make love to the air in a dance called Sex’n the Air. I’ll never talk about an exercise “toning your panty line.” That drives me crazy! I don’t want to be sweating like a pig and have my instructor remind me of my “problem areas,” whatever that is. I will, however, tell you to stick out your ass and shake it. We don’t ignore that working out can be about looking sexy—we just allow ourselves to realize that we already are. M: What’s queer about your workout?

a lot of my inspiration has come from queer culture

EN: Well, you don’t have to be queer to come to Workout! just because I am. We definitely play with gender in Sex’n the Air. A lot of my inspiration has come from queer culture. We twerk to Big Freedia and Vogue to Cherie Lily. We often perform at queer festivals, rallies, and bars. Recently 20 of us impersonated Richard Simmons for the first-ever Gay Wax Museum and last week we opened the rally at Queer Bomb.

M: You guys perform? EN: Oh, yeah. Workout! started as performance over a decade ago. It was just in the last three years that it became a functional fitness class. It’s really bizarre when I think about it. I created a performance to express my dissatisfaction with physical culture and in the end I became an extension of it. M: We have to know about your relationship with Richard Simmons. EN: Relationship! I wish! He’s my fitness guru and gay icon. I’ve worked out to his videos since I was a kid. He made fitness accessible to people outside of physical culture and made it fun too! When I heard he was auditioning for a new workout video, I had to go. Working with him was amazing! At the end of our taping he took each of us aside privately and told us our future. M: What did he tell you? EN: I can’t tell you that, but I will tell you that I cried.

Drawing inspiration from her mother, Jane Fonda, Richard Simmons, and Jazzercise, Erica began using aerobics as a vehicle for exploring female anxiety associated with body image in 2001. In 2004 she continued to engage a public audience through Dance Jog, a weekly aerobic flash mob on the pedestrian bridge at Lady Bird Lake. In 2010, Erica collaborated with director Jessica Gardner to develop a web-based fitness revolution entitled Workout! with Erica Nix.

Photos: Danielle McColgin



Fly Away Leggings; I Wear Light tank

By Khnum “Stic” Ibomu of Dead Prez

Running with the Tao Finding inspiration, healing, and joy through running


unning has become a billion-dollar global industry, but its roots go much deeper than the competitive sport. Running’s rich cultural legacy is lesser known and celebrated, but in indigenous communities around the world, running played a central role in daily life and the evolution of society. Running served for hunting, transportation, messengering, scouting, fitness, ceremony and ritual, races and games, peaceful settlement of tribal conflicts, and more. Hopi farmers depended on their ability to run great distances to reach and care for their fields. In the ancient Egyptian Heb-Sed festivals, pharaohs ran to symbolize their fitness to continue leading the nation. The modern-day emphasis on PRs, paces, medals, and races, and the atmosphere of competitive elitism, can be intimidating factors that stop many people from feeling like running has anything to offer them. When we only focus on competition in running, we miss out on the sheer joy of it, the therapeutic nature of being out in nature, moving like our ancestors, relieving stress, and reconnecting with our heritage. Running helps develop strong character qualities such as commitment, endurance, and perseverance as well as provide a host of health benefits for the heart, lungs, and immune system, among other things. For me, running is health, heritage, and happiness, all in one. I’ve trained and ran the 10 K, 13.1, and the 26.2 full marathon and enjoyed every bit of it, but what I find most rewarding are the regular weekly running group experiences that I host in Atlanta. We smudge ourselves with burning sage and run the city streets and the scenic trails, incorporating meditation and prayer into our running experience. The emphasis is on enjoying the run, relaxing in nature, bonding socially, and staying consistent in our fitness. It’s about finding meaning, purpose, and confidence in the practice, not in competing with others. Now, don’t get me wrong, competitive running is a sport I highly respect and enjoy as well. Seeing the talents of great runners, like Haile Gebrselassie or Usain Bolt, is awe-inspiring. But competition isn’t for everyone. It would be a shame for a person to miss out on all the fun and other benefits of running because they may not want to or be able to run at a competitive level. I became a certified running coach because I wanted to help more people find inspiration, healing, and joy through running. Being fast is great, but speed runs out at some point. Being steadfast, however, allows us to run without the anxieties of comparing ourselves to others and to enjoy a lifetime of fitness, fun, and self-discovery. This is how we run with the Tao.

“When we only focus on competition in running, we miss out on the sheer joy of it, the therapeutic nature of being out in nature, moving like our ancestors, relieving stress, and reconnecting with our heritage.”




Khnum “Stic” Ibomu of Dead Prez is an acclaimed hip-hop artist and certified running coach. Stic’s folk-guitar-infused “fit hop” anthem, “We Run These Streets,” is available on iTunes.


T h e

C o n s C i o u s

C u l T u r e

Top Female C h a n G e M a k e r s

M a g a z i n e Mind. body. yoGa. reCovery. Plant-based. natural health. aniMal aCtivists. sea shePherd.

Peter Gabriel

[ Madonna ]


ON STANDS nationally now Connelly

100 to P a rt ists + innovators + C reat i ves



eCo heroes





Corn “We give thanks

for the air that we

breathe, for our bodies, so capable and strong, and to all of life that sustains, nourishes and

nurtures. May we remain present in our body and mind and continue to grow, learn and

expand our consciousness so as to know our highest Self. May we commit to observing our reactivity and breathe more fully and

completely in times of conflict. May we stay grounded so that the choices we make are

influenced by our mindfulness and compassion. May we see beyond reason, heal beyond belief, love beyond barriers. May we surrender to this deep work, commit to the beauty of our

awakening souls and celebrate the bond of

all of us—you, me, this planet and spirit as one.

breath that binds






Interview: Maranda Pleasant photos: robert sturman

Daphne Zuniga on Surrendering to Loss, the Benefits of Beach Medicine, and the Rise of Women

Maranda Pleasant: What would you say to your younger self? Any advice? Daphne Zuniga: “Don’t worry, kiddo, you’re going to have the best therapist ever.” MP: What is something that has made a huge difference in your life? DZ: Meditation. Sitting still with all the stuff that comes up has been excruciating and miraculous. I’ve studied many different practices over the years and try to bring them to my everyday life and career. The entertainment industry is competitive, creates self-doubt and fear, and if you don’t watch it, it will drive you down a dark-ass path! I meditate every day, and then check in with some close friends who do the same. I know that the more I embrace all of myself with compassion, the more love I have for others and the more freedom I have creatively. Many of my fans are young women and I want them to not be afraid to know the depth and beauty of their own inner paths. MP: What do you reach for when you struggle or in times of stress? DZ: Goldie, my lab! |



In my meditation courses, I’ve learned to feel where in my body the negative emotion is located. For example, I’ll notice my jaw is clenched, my arms are tense, and/or my heart is beating fast. Being present in the moment to where the stress is physically keeps me from letting my mind make it worse by adding to it with its stories like, “You’re always uptight you can’t let go. It’s a major problem for you. Remember that time when . . . .” Instead, by noticing the physical sensations, the energy actually dissipates.

which has proven to be medicine for almost everything. The key is to go easy on yourself; do you with love.

There’s another technique I do for processing something difficult called Voice Dialogue, which was created by psychologists Hal and Sidra Stone. I do it with an expert facilitator. She will talk to me, and different “parts” or “selves” in me will express their feelings and thoughts about what’s troubling me. These parts are in all of us, and create inner conflict because they have opposite points of view. But if you really hear them each out, the inner struggle lessens. When we listen fully without judgment to these feelings, our problem often disappears and we’ll take action from a less conflicted place.

DZ: Inner work-People-Acting-Music-Nature. Five in one!

If my stress is immediate, I usually vent with my boyfriend. He grounds me. We love to walk on the beach at the end of the day,

MP: How do you deal with loss or letting go? DZ: I cry. What else can one do? I surrender and let the river take me until I land on shore again. Life will always be bigger than any and all of us. It has its way of showing us that. MP: What is one of your biggest passions?

MP: Are you noticing women rising? DZ: Yes! I mean, look at this issue of Mantra magazine! In my own industry, it’s slow, but there is change happening. Look at the new show on Netflix, Grace and Frankie; Lily Tomlin and Jane Fonda star and are both over 70. Meryl Streep has funded a lab for women screenwriters over 40. Melissa McCarthy’s new movie, Spy, was highest at the box office. Shonda Rhimes created three network hits, Grey’s Anatomy, Scandal, and How to Get Away with Murder.

Photos: robert sturman

“The more I embrace all of myself with compassion, the more love I have for others and the more freedom I have creatively.�



It’s happening, so get excited.

“Life will always be bigger than any and all of us. It has its way of showing us that.”

I spoke at a women’s conference this year that was amazing! I left there bursting with optimism for the world because when we tap into what we love, and move forward with it, the universe will meet us and together all kinds of healing and solutions will take place for everyone. MP: Can you share with us your favorite relationship wisdom? DZ: Your partner will love in different ways than you. Let him. Soak it in. Also, it’s supposed to be safe. It’s supposed to feel good and be mutual. MP: What current projects are you passionate about? DZ: I am developing a TV show. It’s been a long but very satisfying process. It’s loosely based on my own experiences and I got a great writer who’s written a funny script. It’s exciting to hear your characters speak and do things after years of having them in my head! As a Board member of the L.A. River Revitalization Corp., I am very excited about what’s happening on the L.A. River. What has been a 51-mile cement drainage channel in Los Angeles for decades

is becoming a destination for recreation and a healthy ecosystem once again for life along and in the river! Our goal is to connect our sprawling city with the river that runs through it. We invite all to be a part of what’s happening on this city’s river! MP: What is a big concern for you right now, on the planet? DZ: The planet and, so, all living creatures. Living in California, we’re feeling the drought; my front yard is now stones and low-water plants. No lawn. All over the world, animals and people are dealing with dramatic weather. There are millions of climate refugees. Our oceans and ecosystems are breaking down all because humans are so disconnected from the environment and have created systems of consumerism and greed. The less we consume, buy, and use, the easier on the planet, which is where everything comes from. It’s way late in the game. In 1990, we had ten years before global warming was irreversible, so that day came and went in 2000. Now, in 2015, it’s all about adapting to the situation we’ve caused. I am grateful for and inspired by the many people doing things to shine light on the consequences of our consumerism and who have created solutions. I love Climate Reality, Plastic Pollution Coalition, Global Green, and the NRDC, to name a few.

Born in the ’60s in Berkeley, Daphne became an activist at age five when she marched with her parents against the Vietnam War—she thought the whole city was going on a picnic together. After high school, she came to Los Angeles and has worked in film and television ever since. Her credits include Mel Brooks’s Spaceballs, The Sure Thing, Melrose Place, and One Tree Hill. She also produced and directed a documentary on the TED conference.



patti lang Chef Instructor, Culinary Arts Program, McFatter Technical College

Cool off—and show off for your guests—with this fruity, rooty salad and bright, tangy vinaigrette. Summer Salad

Citrus Vinaigrette



4 servings, 2 oz. each

1 ½ oz. 1 ½ oz. 1 ½ oz. 1 tsp. 2 large ¼ tsp. Dash 3 ½ oz.

Lemon juice, freshly squeezed Lime juice, freshly squeezed Orange juice, freshly squeezed Dijon mustard Medjool dates, pitted Sea salt Cayenne pepper Avocado oil (other salad oils may be substituted)

4 as an Entrée

10 oz. Baby spinach & arugula blend (or desired lettuce mix) 1 ¹/³ cups Red cabbage, shredded 1 ¹/³ cups Red beets, shredded 1 ¹/³ cups Golden beets, shredded 1 ¹/³ cups Carrot, shredded 1 ¹/³ cups English cucumber, quartered and thinly sliced 2 cups Strawberries, sliced 2 cups Mango, medium dice 1 large Avocado, medium dice 1 cup Pumpkin seeds, toasted if desired



1. Place all ingredients in a blender or food processor and process until well combined and smooth.

1. Place salad greens in bowls and artfully arrange all other components, topping with pumpkin seeds.

2. Drizzle over Summer Salad and serve.

2. Serve with Citrus Vinaigrette. Photos: Danielle McColgin




What is your Skincare or Beauty Secret?

Q + A

Maggie Soto​ Yoga teacher​.​ YogaOasis

Qian Liya Leng Yoga by Liya Leng, MD

Tucson, Arizona

Portland, Oregon

​M​y homemade g​reen tea and coconut oil sugar body rub! It helps soothe my skin and revitalizes with the c ​ ​oconut oil as the antioxidants of the green tea help my skin look and feel younger!

“ Drink tons of water, eat as cleanly as possible, wear sunscreen and don’t touch your face. —Allison Joy Phillips

Jen Reuben Owner, Salt Lake Power Yoga ​Salt Lake City, Utah

The next time you are in your favorite yoga class, start it out with a smile. Lifting both corners of your mouth does more than change the expression on your face. It literally triggers happiness in your brain, and makes other people happy​. Laugh, smile and sweat once a day, I promise you’ll thank me later.

Acupuncture. When I started getting acupuncture for neck pain, one of the amazing effects I found was that my skin started to glow. Now that I practice acupuncture, I see even more the connections between yoga and acupuncture, between prana and qi. As an acupuncturist, I treat the whole person and the skin naturally gets better as the person becomes healthier.

Photo: Priscilla Gibson

Cristy Chavez Yoga Instructor. Sani Yoga​

Lauren Davis ​Yoga Instructor​. ​Om On Yoga

Albuquerque, New Mexico

Richmond, V​irginia

My skincare secret is yoga! Practicing on and off the mat keeps me radian​t healthy and young!

I think there is nothing more beautiful than being truly confident in your own skin. Embrace yourself, every last bit of you, because there is no one else quite like you. And make sure to get 7.5 hours of sleep. Trust me, it works!

“My skincare secret is Yoga!



My healthy skin secrets are pretty simple! Drink tons of water, eat as cleanly as possible, wear sunscreen and don’t touch your face. I also have a slight obsession with coconut oil and believe it is the only beauty product necessary for soft, smooth, silky skin!

Photo​: Cassie Goodluck-Johnson

P​hoto: Ethan Watts


Allison Joy Phillips Yoga Teacher​. ​Swan River Yoga

Photo Credit: Adrian McCavitt

How do you

stay fit?

Krista Majkrzak

Laura Dasi

Fitness Instructor, Mojofit Studios Fargo, North Dakota |

Aerialist. Dancer. Yoga Teacher

Fortunately, I have a healthy friend base. We keep each other moving. As my body ages, movement of any kind is a must to stay agile and fluid. I find I am drawn to all types of exercise, from traditional to the nontraditional. Any movement that challenges my brain as well as my body, I am game for! Photo: Andrea Coombs

Staying fit means not only taking care of our body, but our mind and spirit too. I do this by pursuing my curiosity and passion for creative movement. My yoga teaching is inspired by my professional dance background and my spirit finds expression through performing as an aerialist. I lead with my heart, staying open to the flow of life. Photo: Meghan Meredith

I lead with my heart, staying open to the flow of life.” — Laura Dasi

Master Teacher Feature



I n t e r n at i o n a l y o g a t e a c h e r

Kathryn Budig International Yoga Teacher, Animal Activist, Culinary Alchemist, Passionate Skydiver, and Author of The Women ̕ s Health Big Book of Yoga and the Forthcoming Aim True

Pa rt T w o o f t h e c o n v e r s at i o n b e tw e e n K at h ry n a n d M a n t r a e d i t o r I a n P r i c h a r d, l o n gt i m e f r i e n d s a n d f e l l ow b o o kw o r m s , r e v o lv e s a ro u n d m e m o r a b l e c l a s s e s , m e d i tat i o n , a n d t h e m ag i c o f s t o ryt e l l i n g Interview: Ian Prichard

Ian Prichard: Tell me about a particularly memorable class you’ve taught. Kathryn Budig: A really cool class was when I led a retreat in Queenstown, New Zealand, and I was taking my students skydiving. The drop zone gave us a room and I gave them a thirty-minute class showing them how to jump out of a plane, showing them what shape they wanted to get their body into and how to get into the mentality to be ready for something like that. [My husband] Bob was on the retreat and jumped with us, and that gave people the peace of mind because he has so much experience and he’s such a professional and has this really calming voice and this wise presence. Skydiving really puts life into perspective. You can be in a horrible mood—it can be tax season and you can be freaking out about how you’re going to survive—and then when you’re falling 125 miles per hour towards the earth, you don’t really have time to think about that. All of a sudden, all the problems you have, anything that’s been weighing you down—poof! It’s gone, and when you get under the canopy and you’re flying around like a bird with that totally different perspective . . . . Every time I’d be under canopy I’d say, “Thank you, God”—for opening my parachute, yes, but also because it’s such a spiritual experience that such a small percentage of people will have in their lives, and you get on the ground and yeah, your problems aren’t gone for good but there’s that moment in time when it’s just you and nature and magic, basically. It just feels like magic that you can do something like that, be a bird and fly. KATHRYNBUDIG.COM



And I think you learn how to cultivate those emotions in other venues, ideally, or just store those memories so you can tap into your little reserves of goodness when you need to. IP: You mentioned that clarity or singularity of mind, which is forced upon you by skydiving and other really intense experiences—do you think for people who are having a hard time meditating you could say, “Well, go jump out of a plane, you’ll see what I mean”? KB: I mean, meditation is hard. You tell someone to go sit down and not think for a while, that’s crazy. For anybody. And yeah, I think that experience of jumping out of a plane— sure, it’s an adrenaline rush, but sometimes you need a baseball bat to the head, to just be knocked out, and that’s what skydiving is, it’s a smack to the head and you come back and say, “Whoa, that’s meditation.” You realize that you have, somewhere in you, the ability to drop all your distractions. And you know, mediation is not the lack of thinking—it’s the natural state of the mind to think and it’s impossible to prevent it from doing that—but the ceasing of the fluctuation of the mind, which is something we talk about in yoga all the time, this ability to remove this façade we put up around us all the time, of what our story is and why we are the way we are and why situations are the way they are. It’s just storytelling—and I love storytelling, don’t get me wrong—but it’s not effective when you’re trying to get to the heart of the matter. So whether it’s skydiving or meditation or yoga, the idea is to strip all that away and

get to the core of who you are and what your relationships are all about and what’s really happening. IP: Speaking of stories—storytelling, and mythology in particular, are a huge part of who you are. What do they do for you and how do you incorporate them into your life? KB: Yeah, they are. As a child, I loved stories and fiction and anything magical, and all the gods and goddesses and their stories, so part of it is it brings me back to my childhood and to a more pure and innocent time in my life, without all those distractions we were just talking about. I’m just such a believer in magic, and being able to write an amazing story, or read an amazing story—that’s magic. You know, when I read a great novel, I think how unbelievable it is that someone could create a world and a place that will live forever, and what a gorgeous offering it is to give the world. It sounds a little contradictory to what we were saying earlier, because it sounds like an escape, and it can be, but I think that kind of practice for your mind is so important, to flex your creativity muscles. A lot of people don’t believe in magic anymore, and they don’t believe in possibility, and when you’re a storyteller or a consumer of fiction or a lover of mythology it reminds you that all these crazy stories have a basis, a root in reality, and if you can find that connection then the magic becomes a bit more probable or real. I want to believe in magic for the rest of my life, because I experience it on a daily basis, and I hope that through my teachings and my writing I can encourage others to have that too. Photos: JASPER JOHAL

I wa n t t o b e l i e v e i n m a g i c f o r t h e r e s t o f m y l i f e , b e c au s e I e x p e r i e n c e i t o n a d a i ly b a s i s , a n d I h o p e t h at t h r o u g h m y t e a c h i n g s a n d m y w r i t i n g I c a n e n c o u r a g e o t h e r s t o h av e t h at t o o.



What advice do you have for beginners in yoga? 1







Q + A Kelley J. Boyd


Xenia Guido


Founder/Director, Savannah Yoga Center Savannah, Georgia

Owner, Pura Vida Yoga San Diego, California

I am often asked by beginners, “What do I need to bring to my first yoga class?” My reply is, “You only need to bring three things: self-compassion, dedication and a sense of humor. Yoga will bring the rest!”

Go. Just go and go often. Try a different class if the first one does not work out. Do not wait to lose weight, or until you are able to “touch your toes,” or for the kids to grow up. Yoga will meet you right where you are at. This a personal practice, for your own growth and health.

Photo: Libby Muenckler

Tara Mala White


Yoga Teacher, The Yoga Lab Bend, Oregon

Photo: Nancy Baldon

I feel the most important details when beginning to practice yoga is to find a teacher that inspires, encourages and excites me! This inspires me to keep stepping onto my mat, into my body and deeper into my breath. And, nothing is more motivating than inspiration! Teamed with positive encouragement, one tends to return to the mat. Add a little excitement and challenging poses, and we have a “recipe”that will continue to inspire us for decades. Photo: Nick Edmonds

Paula Tursi


Reflections Center for Conscious Living and Yoga New York, New York

Yoga is a practice that can change your life. My inside scoop on yoga is that it is not just about asana, but about how you embrace the world. If you are aggressive in your poses you may also be this way in life. Move slowly and listen. Your body has great wisdom. It’s not about achieving a pose, but what that pose is trying to teach you. Photo: Levi Stolove



Linda Meacci


Stacie Beckert Downs


Linda Meacci Yoga Instruction Pittsburgh, PENNSYLVANIA

Yoga Instructor Tulsa, Oklahoma

For beginners I offer the mantra, “Slow and steady.” Begin with who and where you are. Yoga is a lifetime practice and a very personal endeavor. There is nothing to prove to the outside world. Patience, understanding, selfcompassion and a willingness to unfold will carry one beautifully on this journey.

No one is good or bad at yoga. People come in different shapes and sizes. Yoga is a discipline that requires work. It is hard and kind and it cultivates presence and honesty. Everyone can do yoga and the effects are phenomenal. When we sit with ourselves, the faults and beauties, we stop judging, start accepting, and experience true love.

Photo: Levana Melamed

Photo: Anna Denney



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Tehila Minas-Woosley Yoga Teacher / Artist / Healer Honolulu, Hawaii

I Am Strong: I’ve gone through hell and kept walking. I know my weaknesses.

What Truth Do You Know For Sure?

I Am Worthy: It took me a long time to believe that. I’ve worked through my “unworthiness.” I Am Beautiful: And no one needs to convince me of that anymore. I’ve dropped the illusion of not enough. I Am Perfect: I have imperfections but that doesn’t make me imperfect. I am perfect as I am.


I Am Me: I thought I was lost and alone, but now I realize that I was always with me!

Q + A

“I Am Beautiful: And no one needs to convince me of that anymore. I’ve dropped the illusion of not enough.” —Tehila Minas-Woosley

▲ Leticia Franchi Lila Organics

My truth arises when I sit quietly. My truth arises in my practice. My truth arises in the waves of the ocean. My truth arises when I look in my son’s eyes. My truth is love. And love is always the answer. That is what I know for sure. Photo: Nancy Saiz

▲ Erin Ferguson Web Designer / Yoga Teacher, Yoga One San Diego, CAlifornia

I know that everything changes and nothing stands still. Releasing attachment to the way things have been and embracing the new and unpredictable is one lesson I have taken from my practice, as well as learning to trust my intuition, that innermost quiet self to navigate the unexpected and unknown.



“I know that everything changes and nothing stands still.” —erin ferguson

▲ Tristan St.Germain Yoga + Movement Medicine Teacher Sonoma County, California

Love heals fear. Pachamama is speaking, crying out, telling us if we listen to the wisdom of the plants, clear out the traumas within our collective consciousness, we as a species can begin to co-create a new paradigm, one of peace and abundance for all beings. Then we can explore our limitless potential beyond what most dream is even possible. Photo: John T Photography











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Yoga Legend FEATURE

Inte rvi ew: Mar an d a Pleas an t

F o u n d e r

o f

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Rod Stryker Part two

One of the West’s leading yogis on his oceanic passions, his French accent, and surviving life’s greatest trials through practice, contemplation, Grace, and serving Truth

Maranda Pleasant: What are your biggest passions? Rod Stryker: Practically anything related to the ocean: surfing, sailing, swimming in it. Hearing it. Watching it. Music—anything with a really good beat. Dancing. Photography, I love provocative images and how they tell stories we otherwise might miss. I am passionate about soul-searching and truth-telling. Parenting, holding one of my children’s hands—it doesn’t matter if it’s one of my younger or older ones. Travel, art. Fire, whether it be a ceremonial fire or a campfire. A star-filled night sky. Good company, being around people who are living their life well but feel no inclination to boast about it. And finally, the process of uncovering the self— self-realization. Whether trying to master the outer world or the inner worlds: it’s all about self-realization. Oh yeah, I love fountain pens. MP: What’s something we probably don’t know about you? RS: I have an excellent French accent. My vocabulary and conjugation are not so hot, so when I speak French in France, I always get this curious look, that more or less says, “How could you speak so poorly, yet with such a good accent?” I credit three years of French private school from the ages of 10 to 13. MP: What’s one of the hardest things you’ve




been through? What helped get you through it? RS: I’ve had two experiences that truly brought me to my knees. The first was divorce and becoming a single father to 14-month-old twin boys and second was my two youngest children in ICU and my daughter coming very close to death. The latter is just too hard to talk about and in the end what it took to get through it was Grace, something pretty hard, if not impossible, to describe or define. So, I’ll address getting through divorce and becoming a single father. Really two things got me through that. One was an absolute commitment to do whatever I had to do, sidestepping all the challenges by committing to serving the best interests of my sons. As hard as that was, making that commitment, living it, in time became its own reward. Despite the loneliness, the difficulties, and the challenges, I was fortified by sensing that in the very process of serving and nurturing them, we were all somehow being served and nurtured. The second thing that got me (and us) through it was—no surprise—practice. I managed to squeeze it in despite all of the diaper changing, cooking, teaching and physical exhaustion. I managed to make it a priority and fit it in. My life, and perhaps all of our lives, depended on it. MP: If you could say something to everyone on the planet, what would it be?

RS: You asked me something similar a few years ago and I said something pithy: “Stop your noise. Get silent. Share love.” I still stand by that, but as I look at the world now I would want to say this: Perception is not more important than Truth. We seem to have lost our way. Fewer and fewer of us seem interested in reflecting deeply, finding truth, thinking for ourselves or even being willing to take the time to try. Instead of helping us evolve, the information age has led us to become more tribal and more intellectually lazy than ever. Critical thinking, not to mention reading and deep contemplation, have become the exception. After all, why bother, when you can so easily tune in to what the group you identify yourself as being a part of has recently posted and thus is telling you what to think, to do and to say. Wake up to the voice of your conscience. Look deep in your own heart to discover true wisdom and intelligence. I say: Serve Truth—the one abiding in your heart that links you to all beings. Lwet it be your guide and put to rest others’ judgments.

Rod Stryker has taught for thirty-five years and is widely considered one of the West’s leading authorities on the traditions of yoga, tantra, and meditation. He is founder of ParaYoga and author of The Four Desires. Rod is a mentor to thousands of students and hundreds of teachers throughout the world.



Perception is not more important than Truth. We

seem to have lost our way. Fewer and fewer of us seem interested in reflecting deeply, finding truth, thinking for ourselves or even being willing to take the time to try.




What would you tell your younger self?

Ita Reyes Owner / Founder / Yoga Instructor, Ita Yoga Studio Ann Arbor, Michigan


Q + A

Acceptance, no matter how gray the picture seems. Understand that it is precisely where you are supposed to be. You are perfectly equipped to handle what is right there in your hands. You are never given more than you can handle. From it, greater things will come. Photo: AJ Kahn

Tim Laporte

Let your intuition be your guide to happiness and allow kindness to be the driving force behind every thought, word, and action.” — Anna


Encinitas, California

I would tell myself not to worry about making my life look like anybody else’s life. I believe that we all have a specific path to follow, a particular dharma or work that we must bring forth in this life. If we block out the distractions and listen to our inner wisdom and guidance, we will surely find the correct path. Photo:

Justin Michael Williams

Lindsey Crow

Anna Ferguson

Yoga Business Expert

Yoga Teacher, Reyn Studios

New Orleans

Yoga Teacher / Co-Founder, World Peace Yoga |

The things that make you “different” are the things that make you so incredible. Embrace your uniqueness, stop trying to fit in, and love yourself for the wonderfully weird kid that you are! You are loved for exactly who you are.

I would say be playful in life and practice of yoga. Embrace all failures and mistakes. Remember not to hide or let shame keep me small. I’d tell myself to be human and real, and bring all my crazy experiences to the teacher’s seat. I would add: please oh please don’t get married and go to law school just because! Photo: Patrick Niddrie


Religious Studies Professor Yoga Instructor


Cincinnati, Ohio

I have found the purpose of life. Your purpose is to deeply love and serve yourself, the earth, and all beings. Let your intuition be your guide to happiness and allow kindness to be the driving force behind every thought, word, and action. Living this way you serve all. Photo: Jesse Fox

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What health tip do you live by?

Q + A

Troy Alexander Munsey Ginseng Yoga, Bheemashakti Yoga School San Diego

Allison Pals Registered Nurse / Vinyasa Yoga Instructor, Om Shala Yoga Energy Medicine Yoga Arcata, California

Sonia Marshall Graphic Designer / Yoga Teacher, Be Love Yoga Studio Tulsa, Oklahoma

Everything in moderation. I believe life is about enjoyment. I try not to set to many restrictions for myself or create to many labels about what is “healthy.” Instead I listen to my body, keep a regular yoga practice, and live my life. Learning to listen to my body has been one of the biggest gifts yoga has taught me.

Creating a personal toolkit to help manage stress and anxiety, has greatly improved my health. It includes five things I can do anywhere, anytime I am feeling stressed or anxious. They are: Ujjayi breath, pray, sing, listen to my favorite music, meditate with a mantra.

Photo: Marina Sonn

In 2001 my first yoga teacher said, “If you really want to experience yoga, mediation is essential.” This struck a chord with the deepest part of me, and I started that same day. I sat for one impossible, excruciating minute! Now, I can sit a little longer and continue to enjoy all the benefits a daily meditation practice offers.

—Troy Alexander Munsey



Photo: Joe Picorale

Patricia Melodista Yoga Teacher, Inner Vision Yoga Tempe, Arizona

I think the biggest factor in improving my health has been honesty. When we are honest in our relationships with food, our environment, people and even our own bodies, we develop a certain level of sensitivity that supports a balanced lifestyle. Through balance, a healthy, radiant life can emerge. We respect our selves and the world around us.

When we are honest in our relationships with food, our environment, people and even our own bodies, we develop a certain level of sensitivity that supports a balanced lifestyle.

Photo: Chris Tai Melodista

Rebecca Bell

I love to spend time in nature and getting upside down every day! Trail running clears my mind and connects me to my sense of spirit. Running supports my ability to return to the present moment literally one step at a time. Inversions help me feel invigorated to sustain directing a yoga studio, teacher trainings, teaching full time and playing with my two boys! Photo: Clare Kubota

What health tip do you live by?

Stan Woodman Owner, Kaia Yoga Complete Wellness Center Greenwich, Connecticut

Life’s too short to waste it restricting myself from indulging in the pleasures that life has to offer. Doing it responsibly is the key. I treat my body with clean foods, yoga and other highintensity trainings to stay strong and healthy, but I also like to enjoy a treat or two and rest when my body needs it. Photo: Charlie Pedersen

Spend time in nature! Nature has an amazing positive effect on us both physically and emotionally. A simple walk in the park or on the beach can lighten up your spirit and bring a smile to your face. Walking is also good for reducing stress and depression while improving your mood, self-esteem, and increases creative thinking. Just walk it off.

Angela Aucoin Yates Yoga Teacher / Truth Seeker La Jolla, California

“Ahimsa,” the principle of nonviolence, can be applied to treating oneself with loving-kindness, nonjudgment, and nonattachment. The psycho-emotional architecture of being hard on myself to project a certain image contributed to a state of physical “dis-ease” in my body. I am now a work in progress, striving every day with practice and intention to treat myself with acceptance and love.

Photo: Gina Norman


Jennifer Harpin Pura Vida Yoga Center San Diego, California

Q + A

What’s Really Improved Your Health?

Yoga has taught me to listen and pay attention to my body. That simple lesson has really improved my health. It is not about numbers on a scale, or whether I drank one extra glass of wine, but trusting the wisdom and the intuitive knowledge that comes from paying attention to the feedback my body gives me daily. Photo: Saam Dilmaghani

Allisun Snow Hull Yoga Teacher / Doula / Owner, Orange Yoga Albuquerque Albuquerque, New Mexico

When really taking the time to listen to what my spirit is calling for, I am in my truest, most healthful self.

Jennifer Reed Co-owner / Director, Modo Yoga Portland Portland, Oregon

Lovingly witnessing my body, mind, and soul growing into my mid-thirties has not only brought the clarity and awareness to improve my health, but also has shifted and evolved my perceptions of what “health” is. When really taking the time to listen to what my spirit is calling for, I am in my truest, most healthful self.

—Allisun Snow Hull

Photo: Olivia Jean



M o e Ko h a n • S e e k e r

Yoga i s for every body an d any bo dy.

Every Body is a Yoga Body By: Hala Khouri and Melanie Klein

Unfortunately, that’s not the popular perception about yoga practitioners. Yoga has been commodified and glamorized to the point that many people associate it with thinness, youth, physical perfection, whiteness, and able-bodied people with incredible flexibility and strength mastering complicated postures. And that keeps many from trying yoga in the first place. Yet a yoga practice has the ability to transform us from the inside out. Yoga is a healing tool that can be used by many, not just those typically seen in the mainstream press. The Yoga and Body Image Coalition is committed to dismantling stereotypes about who practices yoga, who should practice yoga and what a “yoga body” looks like. We are committed to the creation of new yoga imagery so that those who can benefit the most from it will see themselves in the imagery and be open to practicing. The Yoga and Body Image Coalition has been on a mission to diversify yoga media by leading by example to show everyone what a yogi looks like and that every body is a yoga body. Our most recent photo shoot included a variety of people who have all used their yoga practice in different ways to heal in countless personal ways. With bravery and open hearts, they shared with us how yoga is one tool that they use to deal with their challenges. As Laura Sharkey shares, “I have struggled with clinical depression my entire life, and chronic physical illness for several years. When I am consistent with my practice my mental/ emotional state is more balanced, I am more compassionate towards both myself and others, and I am better able to tolerate the emotional and physical discomforts that come from the

C.C. White



Laura Sharkey • Activist, student, meditation teacher

real-life cultural, social, financial and logistical challenges related to living with chronic illness.” Stephanie Waxman said that, at age 70, she sees “the benefits of a flexible body and mind, something necessary when facing the challenges of aging.” Ebay Williams shared with us that his yoga practice while he was incarcerated helped him keep a level head while also finding ways to connect with others across differences that would have normally had them in conflict. Finally, Jon Schechter shares about the community aspect of yoga when he says that “being in class tends to dispel feelings of isolation­—precisely the kind of isolation that can challenge those with late onset-deafness.” According to Jon, “If it weren’t for yoga, I’d be spending much time on the couch (i.e., in therapy), instead of on my mat. Panic is eliminated­— and, with chronic health issues, that’s quite a feat.” Our models shared with us so many other applications of yoga that go beyond physical strength and flexibility—yoga can cultivate resilience, our ability to deal with difficulty and thrive in the process.



C.C. White • Soul Kirtan, Vocalist, Musician, Songwriter, Producer, Earth Mother, Soul Stirrer, Heart-Song Keeper

“Let’s keep yoga body-positive and accessible to all by blowing a hole through the ‘yoga body’ stereotype.”

S aman t ha Mehr a • Fr i en d, yog in i, d an c e r

It’s often hard for images to capture the inner experience of a person’s practice. Yet capturing images of yoga and people that don’t fit the “yoga body” stereotype disrupts the status quo which most of us have internalized as “normal.” It can help alleviate the shame that so many feel because they don’t conform to the unrealistic ideals we’re constantly exposed to in the cultural landscape. Let’s keep yoga body-positive and accessible to all by blowing a hole through the “yoga body” stereotype. Be c ause e v ery body is a yoga body.

Hala Khouri Hala Khouri, M.A., E-RYT, has been teaching yoga and the movement arts for over 20 years. She is a yoga teacher and somatic counselor interested using the power of embodied practices to heal trauma both in individuals and communities. She is a co-founder of Off the Mat, Into the World.

Melanie Klein is a writer, speaker, and professor of Sociology and Women’s Studies. She is the co-editor of Yoga and Body Image: 25 Personal Stories About Beauty, Bravery and Loving Your Body and co-founder of the Yoga and Body Image Coalition.



Vytas Baskauskas • Teacher

Every Body is a Yoga Body Rachael Arias • Yoga instructor, human rights activist


Stephanie Waxman • Teacher, writer, explorer




Michelle Marchildon

Go Local or

Go Home

The Joy of Your Local Teacher By most standards, I am a total yoga ’ho. I practice, a lot, at least six days a week. I travel almost anywhere for yoga. I have been on my mat in New York, London and Los Angeles. From the California coast to Paris, France, they have seen Michelle’s underpants. I almost practiced on top of Machu Picchu, but we were rained out. I have taken workshops with the world’s most famous teachers including Baron and Beryl, Desiree and David—Swenson that is. From Amy to Noah, Kathryn to Shiva, I have done them all. My latest yoga crush is sexy Sadie. That woman has some powerful energy. I want what she’s having. But I have a confession: While I enjoy dropping into these teachers’ rooms, they are just one-mat stands. The truth is you may learn a trick or two, or see a new posture. But you will probably not learn more about you. The visiting teacher knows a lot about yoga, but they do not know you. They do not know your tendency to stick out your ribs, or to be fearful of forward folds. They do not know

how long you have worked to get your handstand, or to find savasana. All they see is what is in front of them at that moment.

my arm, and it took a year to regain the pose, that was even better. My local teacher was there to celebrate with me.

If you practice yoga to discover more about who you are, and what you are about, then the truth is hiding in the measure of time. You will not discover what you are seeking in a fly-by. Yoga is not a speed-dating exercise. Yoga is a long-term relationship.

Nobody loves you, baby, like the person by your side. The teacher-student relationship is at the heart of yoga. I owe my practice to many travelling teachers including Amy Ippoliti, Desiree Rumbaugh, Christina Sell and the not-so-travelling star, Darren Rhodes.

I have learned as much about my practice on the bad days as I have on the good ones. I have learned more from being ill and coming to my mat, than from the show I can put on in a workshop.

But I also owe my progress to my local teachers, Melissa, Michelle and Channing. There is Buffy and Clare, Jack and Miranda. There is Chris, who was my first, and you always remember your first. There are so many I cannot name them all. We lift each other up. We walk each other home.

But most of all, I have learned from my local teachers. My teachers comfort me when I fall. They yell at me when I’m lazy. They talk me out of my fears. They encourage me when I fail. There is nothing like the person who stands beside you through the good, the bad and the ugly days of practice. It was great when Baron Baptiste stood on my back as I held chaturanga. But after I broke

“ My teachers comfort me when I fall. They yell at me when I’m lazy. They talk me out of my fears. They encourage me when I fail.” Enlightenment is not served quickly like a microwavable meal. It is simmered slowly, and slowly earned. It is best enjoyed with good company, like the person by your side.

Michelle Marchildon is the Yogi Muse. She’s a Contributing Editor for Mantra and the author of Theme Weaver: Connect the Power of Inspiration to Teaching Yoga. For more, go to

Photo: Kimberly Benfield



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Who or What Inspires You?





1 4 5

Q + A


“The energy that keeps the rhythms spinning us around in the universe and yet holds us together strongly as One.” —Nami Soga

1. Stephanie Adams RYS, True Nature~Summer Yoga Gathering and Flow Yoga Community Hood River, Oregon |

Courage inspires me. Those who live from their hearts. I am honored and inspired by those who are willing to hold space for their own inquiry and whole-hearted vulnerability, and also be a safe container for the same in others. These beautiful friends live a yoga practice off the mat truly grounded in the universal principles of living yoga, the yamas and niyamas.

2. Nami Soga Yoga Instructor / Artist New York, New York

3. Dana Menlove Mindfulness + Yoga Teacher Boise, Idaho

Cosmic rhythms. The cycles of life, yin and yang, day to night, inhale to exhale, eternity to void. The energy that keeps the rhythms spinning us around in the universe and yet holds us together strongly as one.

Nature inspires me with its stark authenticity and unrestrained expression. I stand in wonderment of great blue herons, braided Western rivers, mountain strongholds, resilient humans, sentinel Ponderosa pines, and wild brown trout. I am guided by the way all life forms seek to bravely express themselves over and over again saying yes, yes, yes to possibility! Photo: C.M. Lansche

Photo: Jennifer Jones 4. Betsi Heithaus Yoga Teacher / ASL Interpreter, World Peace Yoga Cincinnati, Ohio |

5. Amber Karnes Founder, Body Positive Yoga Charlottesville, Virginia |

6. Shelley Lowther Director of Possibility, Dancing Dogs Yoga Savannah, Georgia

I am inspired by the power and beauty of pure love in action. Nature, my children, my friends, and activists like Dr. Will Tuttle, author of The World Peace Diet, the inspiration behind World Peace Yoga, and WPY’s cofounders, Mark Stroud and Anna Ferguson, who dedicate their lives to the happiness and freedom for all beings. Lokah Samastah Soukinoh Bhavantu.

My students constantly inspire me. Every single week they bring their unique bodies, their humor, honesty, and courage into the yoga room and teach me something new. My students challenge me to be a better teacher and a better person, more compassionate, observant, empathetic and kind. Thank you all for putting your trust in me again and again!

The DDY Tribe, our yoga community, inspires me. I love the diversity and connection when professionals, artists, and students practice together and make a difference. I am most inspired by Matt Davis, a student recovering from a traumatic brain injury and learning to walk again. Despite physical challenges, Matt shows up fully with a huge smile and a yes attitude!

Photo: Jesse Fox

Photo: Jimmy Karnes

Photo: Christine Hall



YOGA. MUSIC. LOVE. August 6-9 Live Music Dharma talks Dance Party Wellness Booths

MichaeL franti

40 Yoga Presenters Kirtan Movie Premiere


Interview: Maranda Pleasant, Gina Murdock, Ocean Pleasant

Images courtesy of the private office of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, India






Interview with His Holiness the Dalai Lama


This July, the Dalai Lama turns 80.

Q: How do you deal with anger?

We are celebrating his birthday with him, at a three-day Global Compassion Summit in Irvine, California, at the Center for Living Peace.

Dalai Lama: Some scientists say constant anger, fear, and hatred seeps into our human system. More warm-heartedness, more compassionate heart and mind, your physical getting better. Healthy mind very important for healthy body. Everybody care a lot about good health. You see ladies—ladies they care about their beautiful face. But no matter how beautiful is your face, angry face no longer has any beauty. So therefore the external beauty is important, but more important is inner beauty, isn’t it? Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Hindu, all these major religions, main message is love. In order to practice seriously about love, [it is] necessary to have tolerance. All the religious traditions that carry these messages are actually based on the basic human value, or secular ethics. Different religions, races, nationalities, social background—all human beings same.

Our team—Gina Murdock, Maranda Pleasant, and Ocean Pleasant—had the chance to speak with the spiritual leader about yoga, anger, spirituality, and the power of compassion, forgiveness and meditation. His answers were filled with childlike laughter and warmth. Not many people speak personally with the Dalai Lama, and the living deity was not shy about sharing his wisdom. Q: What has meditation taught you? Dalai Lama: I always get up in the morning at three o’clock. Besides some recitation and some prayer, mainly analytical meditation. Analyze matters of world. And then thinking about infinite altruism. That brings inner peace. Immense help to maintain my physical health. Except my knees are a problem.

I always consider myself as a human being. I never consider ‘I’m Buddhist,’ ‘I’m Asian,’ ‘I’m Tibetan,’ particularly, ‘I’m His Holiness, Dalai Lama.’ I never do that.”


Then another thing—the comfort of emptiness. Absence of independent existence. Very similar to quantum physics. Immense benefit to shake the basis of destructive pushing, such as anger. Anger depends on the viewpoint. When we develop anger, the object that we feel appears very negative. But actually, 90 percent of that negativeness is mental projection. Short temper occasionally comes, but ceaseless anger, never. Meditation [is an] immense help to get a deeper understanding about reality. I always consider myself as a human being. I never consider “I’m Buddhist,” “I’m Asian,” “I’m Tibetan,” particularly, “I’m His Holiness, Dalai Lama.” I never do that. If [there’s] too much emphasis that I’m Buddhist—too difficult; that I’m Tibetan—too difficult. Particularly, “I’m Dalai Lama”—when I consider myself from other people’s [perspective], that actually creates my own prison. I am the same as other human beings. When I present myself as a human being instead of someone special, communication becomes much easier.

Build happy individuals, happy family, happy community, happy nation, then finally happy humanity. We need these inner values. Once we educate people, the younger generation, I think the world can be a big human family. It’s not an option. If we are indifferent, all these problems will remain. The 20th century became century of bloodshed. Now, this 21st century, we can make some new efforts with new thinking, with new vision. Since these problems we human beings created, we must make effort, work hard. It’s our responsibility. That’s the better way to offer gratitude to the creator. Q: How is laughter medicine? Dalai Lama: If you show me your face very serious, then I will also eventually be very serious. But we are human beings. Human beings smile. Brothers, sisters, fundamentally we are the same. You want happy life, I want happy life. Laughing wholeheartedly creates positive effect for our health. Then, mind. Genuine smile, genuine laughing, comes from friendship. The smile is the expression of respect, love, affection. Affection comes if you have genuine concern over their well-being. Basic human nature is more gentleness and love and kindness.



Q: Has the world changed for the better? Dalai Lama: I think people [are] really fed up about violence. Look at the European Union. In early part of 20th century, for example France and Germany enemies. That kind of attitude completely changed. Things are changing for better. And ecological thinking. Early 20th century, nobody talked about importance of ecology. Now people talk with a deeper understanding of importance of ecology. Now they’re making effort. I think science and the mind, previously something separate, now closer. America, no matter how many drawbacks, still the leading nation of free world. In Washington, I said I do not admire American military power, nuclear power. I really admire American concept of liberty, freedom, democracy. These are very important. In order to lead the free world, you should pay more attention to these fundamental values. Sometimes, American mind is a little bit isolation-feeling. Must open to whole world, same world, if I may say so. Q: What’s the role of the media in shaping perception?

Q: How do you maintain compassion?

or be grateful to God or creator.

Dalai Lama: We all have the same situation: A lot of problems. I want happy life. And sometimes emotions disturb my mind.

Then, emphasis on own inner potential and positive interactions. That is called “karma.” Receiving more affection means getting more inner peace. Without affection, difficult to develop trust. Without trust, difficult to develop genuine friendship. Family creates meaningful values. But lack of trust against a family member—never be happy family. Use common sense. If you consider other human beings as members of the same human family, then immediately that’s helping our inner qualities. We should not be slaves of nations or to using technology, using material things. We must keep our unique values. Machines can’t show affection or courage. Love and kindness are human values that should be over technology or material things.

Therefore, we have to think: How to bring inner peace? Utilize intelligence. Humans’ basic nature is compassion. Physical condition is very much in relation to peace of mind. Therefore, we seven billion human beings have the same potential to increase our basic human nature. Calm mind is the basis of moral and spiritual practice—if used seriously. We are lacking the sense of oneness of humanity. But all religions are about oneness of humanity. We must make the effort to create happy humanity. That’s the best way to worship

Dalai Lama: Media people have very, very important role: to educate people. It’s your responsibility to tell people all these sad sort of stories. Also, at the same time, you also should show we also have positive potential—if we pay more attention. All these manmade problems are linked to our emotion. Our dominant brain dominated by negative emotions: anger, fear, jealousy. Stabilizing emotion is not handled by injection or drugs or alcohol. Since these destructive emotions are within mind, we must find within mind. How to handle that destructive emotion? Nothing to do with religion. Nothing to do with the next life. Simply how to bring happy individual, happy family, happy face. So, media people also have very important sort of role. Inform people that there is potential, there is hope. We must carry determination with full of enthusiasm. That’s important. Join us July 5-7 in Irvine, California, to celebrate with His Holiness and other world leaders. Purchase tickets at Get updates at #HHDL80.

Images courtesy of the private office of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, India



Join us July 5-7

in Irvine, California to celebrate with His Holiness and other world leaders Purchase tickets at Get updates at #HHDL80

We must make the effort to create happy humanity. That’s the best way to worship or be grateful to God or creator.” —Dalai Lama



R o b e r t St u r m a n P h o t o g r a p h y


The Florida Tour

I would have never imagined that Florida was going to be one of the more prolific photo expeditions of my career. I decided to make the trip from Los Angeles to Miami to see my 85-year-old uncle, who had been in a coma late last year. When he woke up, I told him I was coming to see him. When I announced I’d be in Miami booking a few shoots and received requests from all over the Sunshine State, I decided to turn it into a tour. ​ orty-five shoots later and after some F quality time shared with my Uncle Robert, here is what happened along the magical Atlantic and Gulf Coasts.





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R o b e r t St u r m a n P h o t o g r a p h y [CONTINUED]









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Get right to the point. Less Pain. More Yoga. Knee Pads • Hand & Wrist Support Hip Support • Arch Support & Balance

P 717-300-1686


F 717-399-7930

1 Jennifer Reuter Yoga Teacher, Open Space Yoga Honolulu, Hawaii

2 1

Meditation has changed my life. As a mother with a full time career, I find that my daily practice of meditation up-levels every facet of my life. Beyond the noisy chatter there lies an ocean of silence, infused with bliss. Journeying there every morning recalibrates my whole being. It is an essential necessity, a required ingredient for manifesting my best self. Photo: Matthew Ferdinand Hartz

Gina Norman Owner and Director, Kaia Yoga Greenwich Darien + Westport, Connecticut



3 2

Meditation continually reveals my path to me. It holds me accountable for my thoughts and actions. The discipline of witnessing my mind allows me space before reacting while eliminating responses of aggression. With these tools my intuitive power is limitless and I can truly wish happiness for all beings, moving from my heart with genuine care for others.

Q + A

Naïma Audant Healing art consultant and practitioner Maui, Hawaii


Mediation has given me a ​s​acred foundation ​ where I can keep discovering myself beyond the illusions of my personality complex. It gives me a ​​s​acred sanctuary I can carry with me everywhere I go in order to keep remembering to tap into the Divine Essence of all ​l​ife. Photo: Goran Rad

Photo: Megan Moss Freeman





Photographer Feature

C r i s ti a n B u it r o n Originally from Quito, Ecuador, and a competitive gymnast for 20 years, I was always captivated by the strength and beauty of gymnasts. These days I capture the amazing movement and grace of aerial artists and dancers with my camera.





Beach Yoga P h o t o g r a p h y by J a s p e r J o h a l


M a k e u p by M a n d y P e r e z


Sty l i n g by F r a n z y St a e d t e r

Clothing by Hard Tail J o i n u s in celebrating summer with yoga on Santa Monica Beach, with three yogini friends: Caley Alyssa (, Miki Ash (, and Sophie Jaffe (





opening page acro yogis: Miki on top in Berry Crop Bra and Rainbow Skeleton #3 Contour Waist Crop Leggings; Caley on bottom in Skeleton Lizard #1 Keyhole Crossover Tank. previous page supported dancers: Miki on left in Heather Gray Cage Bra and Rainbow Skeleton #3 Contour Waist Crop Leggings. Caley on right in Skeleton Lizard #1 Keyhole Crossover Tank and Tide Tuxedo Leggings; ABOVE PEACE SIGN: SOPHIE IN Navy Blue Panel Strap Tank Two Color Iceberg #1 Flat Waist Capri Leggings; Caley in the middle in Berry Crop Bra and Pink Slip Easy Running Shorts; Miki on right in Heather Gray Ruched Spaghetti Tank and Triple Lizard #6 Flat Waist Crop Leggings. Photography: Jasper Johal,  | Makeup: Mandy Perez, Styling: Franzy Staedter, | Clothing: Hard Tail,

above in supported handstands: Caley on left in White Freestyle Bra and Sapphire Bootie Shorts; Miki supporting the middle in Blue Mist Cat’s Craddle Bra and Side Circle #24 Bootie Shorts; Sophie on right in Diagonal Lizard #1 Crop Bound Bra and Navy Bootie Shorts. Photography: Jasper Johal,  | Makeup: Mandy Perez, Styling: Franzy Staedter, | Clothing: Hard Tail,

ABOVE IN SOLE TOUCHING inversion: Caley in Kelly Green Y-Slide Bra and Heather Gray Flat Waist Capri Leggings; Sophie in Rainbow Horizon #26 Mesh Layer Crop Tank and Heather Gray Rolldown Speed Jogger Pants. facing page triple stacked: Miki on top in White Freestyle Bra and White Bootie Shorts; Sophie in the middle in Blue Mist Cat’s Craddle Bra and Sapphire Bootie Shorts; Caley holding the bottom in Black Freestyle Bra and Black Bootie Shorts. Photography: Jasper Johal, | Makeup: Mandy Perez, Styling: Franzy Staedter, | Clothing: Hard Tail,

following page three goddesses: Sophie in Lavender Slouchy Racer Back Tank over a Blue Mist Cat’s Craddle and Sapphire Bootie Shorts; Caley in Heather Gray Gym Tank over a Black Freestyle Bra and Black Bootie Shorts; Miki in White Boxy Crop Racer Tank over a White Freestyle Bra and White Bootie Shorts. final page: Caley rocking a solid scorpion in the sand in a Berry Crop Bra and Side Circle #24 Bootie Shorts. Photography: Jasper Johal, | Makeup: Mandy Perez, Styling: Franzy Staedter, | Clothing: Hard Tail,

Photography: Jasper Johal,  | Makeup: Mandy Perez, Styling: Franzy Staedter, | Clothing: Hard Tail,



Photography Jasper Johal  | Makeup Mandy Perez Styling Franzy Staedter | Clothing Hard Tail



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