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P L E A S A N T ’ S M A R A N D A

MANTRA YOGA + HEALTH

DOMESTIC VIOLENCE • YOGA HEALS • SEXUAL ABUSE

BREAST CANCER

• MOMS • VEGAN RECIPES • BODY SHAME


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mantra

CONTENTS

32

10

SIDE TWO

SIDE ONE

65

SIDE ONE

16

52

SIDE ONE

SIDE TWO

16 48

SIDE two

12

SIDE two

SIDE two

38

SIDE two

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CONTENTS SIDE ONE 12

yoga heals

- Losing your job over 40

- The beauty of hitting rock bottom

- Binge eating, trapped by mental, emotional, and physical heaviness - Murder-suicide, growing up in the middle of addiction, surviving trauma, and being grateful for all of it - Struggling with getting sober, finding yoga, and being lost for so long

- Being anorexic, insecure, depressed, and

sexually unfulfilled

- Dealing with loss, death, and devastation

- Obsessive compulsive disorder and anxiety

- Domestic violence and body shame

- Weight gain, depression, miscarriage, and learning self love

- Losing a beloved animal

- Losing my child's father

- Losing a parent and facing fear

- Suicidal, depressed, and fighting an inner battle - A restless mind, my ADHD diagnosis, and being drawn to the intensity of polarity - Bulimia, years of hurting myself, kundalini, and the new measure of self-worth

SIDE TWO

6 The Wisdom of Sexual Abuse

Alyson Atma Simms: The story I’ve been trying to get on paper for a lifetime

16 WHAT LIFTS YOU

Street artist/author Kelsey Montague harnesses the power of social media to create uplifting and interactive art

20

celebrating yoga moms

These amazing moms share their stories of challenges, love, and practices for a more whole parenting experience

34 Amy Ippoliti

Is teaching yoga your destiny?

42 photographer feature

Austin Yogis + Teachers by Neil Gandhi

48 Driftnets + Our Dying Oceans

How our individual actions are killing our oceans and contributing to the extinction of dolphins, whales, and sea turtles

52 kathryn budig Recipes

Three simple + delicious vegan recipes

74 SIDE ONE

Celebrate Your Scars We Honor the Thrivers and Survivors of Breast Cancer

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7


mantra

editorʼs letter

mantra yoga + health

mantra TEAM

EDITOR’S LETTER , A W oman s Place Is in the Revolution.

This issue is dedicated to the power we have to heal our lives, restore our bodies, and calm our minds. The Revolution of Everyday Life. I have never been more proud of an issue. We are inundated with beautiful yoga photos online and see yoga treated as just an ethereal practice. For us, yoga heals. Real, tangible transformation. We can’t heal our lives, our bodies, and our families if we live in a cage of shame, silence, and darkness. If we can’t talk about it, we can’t move through it. Let’s talk about the wounds that heal us and the pain that reveals us, and recovering from being lost in a world that doesn’t want or understand you.

PUBLISHER/EDITOR-IN-CHIEF Maranda Pleasant Twitter: @marandapleasant CREATIVE DIRECTOR Melody Tarver COPY EDITOR Colin Legerton

COVER PHOTOGRAPHY side ONE Top Left: Kristi Knupp Top Middle: Kat Carney Top Right: Neil Gandhi Middle Left: Michel Andreo Bottom Middle: Bill Sitzman side TWO Top Left: Cheyenne Ellis Top Middle: Neil Gandhi Top Right: Sherry Sutton Middle Left: Gurusurya Khalsa Middle Right: Claire Sheprow Bottom Middle: DJ Pierce

Contact uS Head Ninja editor@mantramag.com Advertising ads@mantramag.com Subscriptions mantramag.com

I have a PhD in pain. It is so important for me that we all have resources and tools to develop better skills for processing, moving through, and transforming trauma, painful habits, and experiences in our lives. Many people don’t have $300 an hour for a therapist and wouldn’t know where to go if they did. I want this to be a real platform for the ecstasy and the laundry of everyday life. At some point, many of us have struggled with eating disorders, addiction, trauma, domestic violence, miscarriages, suicidal feelings, or self-hatred.

SUBMISSIONS mantramag.com/article-submission

We are so connected through our pain, similar experiences, and our love. When we come together, that is our power. When we talk about how we’ve healed, this is true beauty. Not a bikini, not a six-pack, not our bodies, but our spirit and raw vulnerability creating deep, real connection.

Rates begin at $3,400/Full page

And yes, we need more diversity on our covers and in our magazines. I also think we need more diversity in yoga as well. We would love your help in expanding this community to be more inclusive. Send me an email with the most amazing women and men you know that represent a more diverse community. We are also taking our Label/FEM campaign internationally, creating large-scale street art/posters all over the world. Support us. Contact us. Let me know if you want to be involved. More than a magazine, I want this to be an active community. And if you have a company with organic, ECO, and beautiful products and would like to be a part of our Instagram giveaway this month, email me. We will be honoring mothers, single mothers, survivors, community leaders, and yogis throughout the United States.

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713.922.8584 Join Our Team team@mantramag.com Twitter: @mantrayogamag ORIGIN MAGAZINE editor@originmagazine.com Twitter: @originmagazine thrive magazine editor@mythrivemag.com Twitter: @readthrive

Maranda Pleasant Mantra Yoga + Health • ORIGIN Magazine • THRIVE Magazine • REAL Magazine Founder / Editor-in-Chief | editor@mantramag.com

photo: Kylie Ruszczynski

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“

yoga men

Inspiration

Pablo Milian I enjoy living a healthy life and inspiring people to do the same, whether it is through yoga, acroyoga, handstands, exercising, eating healthy, etc. I have found many people that are on the same path as me, and the simple realization that they are inspired by me makes me happy. About a year ago, I started meeting some friends at South Pointe Park to play, and with time more and more people started to join. The truth is that we inspire each other to be better and happier through fitness and health. Yoga has helped me turn many strangers into friends.

Instagram: @murdoc305

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HADLEY HOW DO YOU LIVE OUTSIDE THE LABEL?

I’ve never fit into the prescribed binary of gender. It wasn’t until high school I really had discomfort in my assumed gender, but as I tried more to fit in as a girl I felt increasingly inadequate. I discovered trans people, and tried to be as masculine as possible to fit, but still felt uncomfortable. I soon learned about nonbinary identities, and found my place. I experienced gender euphoria, as opposed to the more often discussed dysphoria. Being nonbinary fits like a big sweater for me: comforting, enough to go out in public with, but certainly not a distinct depiction of my actual shape. In full, I am demibigender: mostly agender, with bits of masculinity and femininity. This definition of myself brings understanding and contentment. Knowledge is truly power, and widespread knowledge is the first step to acceptance for trans—especially nonbinary—people in this world. We are not a binary male or female, but independent and diverse. We are not all androgynous, skinny, and white, though I am. We are trans, but discussion of solutions for bathrooms (single-stall, neutral options are a must) and gender forms (ask for both gender and sex, with at least three options on each. Any demographic fields as well as medical fields are covered, without the cissexism) require additional considerations.

CUT THE LABEL™ CutTheLabel.org


yoga heals series We see beautiful photos of yoga on social media, experience yoga festival bliss, and hear so many people talk about it as an esoteric practice. For us, yoga heals. Real, tangible transformation. We have to get real. We can’t heal our lives, our bodies, and our families if we live in a cage of shame and darkness. If we don’t talk about it, we can’t move through it.

These amazing yogis dive into their struggles and transformation with yoga.

Eating disorders, addiction, trauma, losing a loved one, reclaiming self-worth, domestic violence, miscarriage,

feeling lost dealing

with

and

unfulfilled,

inner darkness,

body image, biopsies,

hitting rock bottom, judging yourself, needing approval,

feeling suicidal,

obsessive compulsive disorder,

jail time,

torturing yourself

with

food,

betrayal, feeling worthless,

getting sober, ADHD,

needing to be perfect, fear of failure and rejection,

and

healing ourselves through yoga Yoga can heal, transform, help us process pain, and turn our lives around Photo: ALLAN HAYSLIP

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yoga heals series

Losing Your Job over 40 Michelle Erbs, RYT |

It’s how you get to Carnegie Hall. You practice before the performance. And apparently, practice also makes perfect. So, when do we practice yoga? Really practice yoga? On the mat? On the beach? At the gym? In one of those cute little meditation rooms at the airport? For me, the practice really came into, well, practice, when I lost my job. You know how they say that women over 40 have a better chance of being struck by lightning than getting married? The same may be true for over-40 female marketing executives finding new jobs. Me... the yogini practicing for more than 20 years. Countless immersions, teacher trainings, retreats later and I find myself with that mythic, ethereal stuff—time on my hands. First thought? Freak the fuck out! Bills must be paid—how is that gonna happen? Worry and stress will help, right? At least that is what the 2 am monkeys tell me… Then, after that fitful night of sleep… I woke up. I fed the kids. I walked them to school. I didn’t do the laundry or weed the yard. Instead, I rolled out my yoga mat. I come to my mat. Every day. Roll it out and open my heart. How lucky am I that I have time on my hands? I can spend that time exploring those hard-to-do poses. I can yoga for 90 minutes and then go on a six-mile walk.

"

Instagram: @meinnapa

Yo u kno w ho w t h e y say th at wo m e n o ve r 40 hav e a be t t e r ch ance o f b eing st ruck b y l ig h t ning th an ge t t ing ma rrie d? Th e s am e m ay be t rue fo r over-40 female m arke t ing exe cut iv e s finding ne w jo bs.

I can stroll past the clutter on my table and decide whether to clear it off or not. Over the past few years, I’ve been sneaking in my practice when I can grab 30 minutes to myself. My creaky hips, tender back, and tight quads were my teachers, and I’ve been a willing student. Now, I’ve healed my body. Can I heal my mind and calm the monkeys who worry about the damn bills? When I had those 30 minutes at the end of the day, I would ask myself, “What will it be, Michelle? Yoga? Jog? Glass of wine? Sex with my husband? Do I have the energy for two out of four?” Now, circumstance insists I take my practice into the world—in real time. I smile at strangers. On my walks, I help rescue runaway dogs. I maneuver people into parking spaces. And I instagram lots and lots of flowers. The bank account may be dwindling, but I’m worrying less about it. Manifesting a new life for me and my family— I practice this. And it may be coming soon. If it doesn’t? We’ll sell everything, buy a van, and homeschool the kids while we drive across the country.

Photo: michael blake

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yoga heals series

Betrayal, Feeling Worthless, and Being Lost in, a World that Doesn t Want You De’Andre Sinette Instagram:@Deandreyoga Struggle? The definition of my entire grade school years. I wasn’t the best at school and spent more than half of my childhood in trouble, grounded, and crying because I was told I was worthless and I wouldn’t amount to anything. I was so lost in a world that didn’t want me. I didn’t see any light until I graduated from high school. I decided after I graduated to find a better path for myself. I separated myself from the individual who hurt me, found the journey of fitness, and landed a job with a huge supplement company, which later on stole from me and really just destroyed who I was. The biggest change to my life was changing the way I thought about myself and putting myself in situations and environments where I could really love myself the most. It was hard, but there’s always light in the darkness. From those struggles came success. If it weren’t for being betrayed, I wouldn’t have fallen in love with myself through the practice of yoga. I practiced meditation every day. I spoke to people who filled my body with light and I finally saw something greater for myself. It wasn’t the practice that healed me. It was my willingness to mingle with the practice. The conversations that come out of a practice are something only to be experienced. The practice meets you where you are. Everything falls into place eventually.

Deandreyoga.com

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"

I f it wer en , t for b ei ng b et r a y e d, I wo u l d n , t h a v e f a l l en in l o ve with m y s el f t h r o ugh the p r a c t i c e of y oga.

"

PHOTO: Danielle Doby


yoga heals series

The Beauty of Hitting Rock Bottom DJ Tasha Blank Instagram: @djtashablank

I hit rock bottom when I was twenty. Balled up on the couch of an empty apartment where I was house-sitting, I was thirty pounds underweight and could barely digest solid food. My face was entirely covered in excruciating cystic acne. I’d lost most of my friends, and my blood was pumped full of poorly dosed prescription medications that spun my brain chemistry somewhere between extreme anxiety and complete despair.

like hell, but it snapped me into myself. Into the inhale I was inhaling, the exhale I was exhaling. A loosening of my grip. And the awareness that I didn’t know what was next—only that it would be different.

Things had been getting increasingly difficult for months, but it was that moment alone on that couch when I finally saw what had become so glaringly obvious: this was unbearable. And I’d gotten myself there. And there was no way I could let it get worse. All the things I’d done to put myself there had to change, and there was nothing more important than changing.

I went from being a Critical Theory nerd pulling heady Adderall-fueled allnighters in the library to someone I barely recognized but actually liked: someone who said yes to life.

Until that moment, I’d poured most of my energy into running away from pain. I used substances, starved myself, and exercised obsessively to shut down any emotion that might ruffle the feathers of the people around me. I built a fortress around myself designed to let nothing out and no one in. I gave myself the illusion of control for a brief time, but quickly learned that the truth always finds a way out. My body broke down, my skin broke out, and I was forced to ask for help. This is the beauty of rock bottom. As the system I’d created to keep the uncomfortable stuff below the surface gave way, all I could do was sit with what was actually real. It hurt tashablank.com

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It was from this place that I stopped trying to have all the answers, and started asking more questions.

I learned how to listen to my body and treat it with respect. I made new friends, sought out new experiences, and followed synchronicities all the way to Burning Man, where I found myself—exactly one year after that night on the couch—dancing wildly under the desert moon. Electronic beats bounced through my bones for the first time, and joy reverberated through my chest bigger than ever, inhales and exhales still carrying me just as they have ever since. When we give up on the illusion of control, we stop limiting the amount of good that can enter our lives. Sometimes it just takes a kick in the ass for us to give up our version of the way things should be and surrender to an unknown that may very well turn out to be better than we could have imagined. When the future is a giant question mark, everything becomes possible. PHOTOS: Neil Gandhi


"

that m o men t, Unt , il I d p o ure d most of m y e ne rg y in to running a wa y fro m p ain. I u sed subst an c es, st arv e d m yself , and e xe rcised o bse ssive l y to shu t do wn any e m otion that m igh t ruf f le the fe at h e rs of the p e o p l e aro und me.

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yoga heals series

—Tasha Blank

"

, as the system I d c r e a t e d to k e e p the un c o m fo r t a ble s t uf f b e l o w the s ur f a c e g a v e w ay, a l l I co u l d d o wa s s i t with w h a t w as a c t ua l l y r e a l . It h ur t l i k e h e l l , b u t it s n a p p e d me into m y s e l f . I n t o the i n h a l e I w a s i n h a l i n g , the e x h ale I was exhaling. A l o o s e n i n g of m y g r i p . A n d the a w a, r e n e s s that I d i d n t k n o w w h at was next—only that it w o u l d be different.


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yoga heals series

"

I can see now that in a way I was torturing myself with food, and eating became a punishment for not being able to control other things in my life.

"

Binge Eating, Trapped by Mental, Emotional, and Physical Heaviness Dana Falsetti Instagram: @nolatrees Dealing with a binge eating disorder has been one of the most difficult challenges in my life. I consider it an addiction, something I’ll live with, but manage, forever. I used to eat as a response to every trigger. I can see now that in a way I was torturing myself with food, and eating became a punishment for not being able to control other things in my life. When I started practicing yoga, I really got a chance to see and understand myself for the first time. Most importantly, I came to believe in my worth as something far deeper than my physical body, and with that sense of worth came freedom. I no longer feel trapped by mental, emotional, or physical heaviness. While every day is different, and some days I fall off track, my sense of self is unshakable. I know I am worthy of love for myself and from myself. I know I am enough.

nolatreesyoga.com

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Photo: Cheyenne Gil


yoga heals series

Struggling

with

Low Self-Esteem and the

Fear

of

Rejection Jessica Richburg Instagram: @jessicarichburg I am a huge advocate for self-love. Having a positive relationship with yourself changes everything. I used to struggle with low self-esteem. I had trouble believing in my capabilities and myself, which affected all aspects of my life. I was constantly afraid of rejection. It took a long time for me to realize I was trapped in this mental prison of never thinking I was good enough. It took a combination of yoga, meditation, and therapy for me to come to terms with my past and my present. My yoga practice has been the most healing experience for me yet. I’ve learned not to compare myself to others and to focus on progress, rather than perfection. I’ve been able to let go of self-limiting beliefs that used to hold me back in life. Yoga has shown me my own self-worth, reminded me that I am enough—more than enough. Yoga has opened my heart and created a space for me to love, grow, and heal.

"

I t t o o k a l o n g t i m e for m e to r e a l i z e I w a s t r a p p e d in this m e n t a l p r i s o n of n e v e r t h i n k i n g I w a s g o o d e n o ug h . I t took a c o m b i n a t i o n of y o g a , m e d i t a t i o n , and t h e r a p y for m e to c om e to t e r m s with m y p a s t and m y p r e s e n t .

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yoga heals series

"

Acne. Bags under my eyes. So cold , I couldn t move my fingers.

"

Acne. Bags under my eyes. So cold I couldn’t move my fingers. Sleepdeprived. I had to keep working. I gave up my apartment in the East Village to be closer to Love Grace when we first started out. Sometimes going 72 hours without sleep, camping out in our office space above our juice factory, not suited for living, with frozen pipes from Hurricane Sandy. I needed to be a beacon of health, for our clients and my mission on the planet, but instead I was depleted and running on nerves. I finally cracked.

Exhausted, OverWorked, Sleep-Deprived, and Pushing

Too Hard. Learning Self-Care is a

Spiritual Practice

Carissa-Ann Santos | lovegracefoods.com

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Instagram: love_carissa_ann

I managed to hire more staff and moved to Long Island to take space from work. I made a promise to implement some form of self-care daily, even if it was something small, to honor, nurture, and recharge. No matter what. To be in service and show up for our staff and our community, I need to be sharp and bright and be charged up. Each morning, I make an amazing nutrientdense smoothie and pair it with my favorite green juice from Love Grace, Purify. I send a message to at least three people telling them I love them and they make a difference for me. Each night, I take inventory of my day and say a thank you prayer and write a small love note to the universe. I hold each moment with high gratitude, both the light moments and dark ones. Yes, these were trying, uncomfortable times, however, finding perspective on how great you really have it, seeing all of your blessings, being present to the divine miracle of life, and being in service to others, I believe, are the ultimate tools that got me through. I have become a wiser and stronger business woman and warrior of self-love. Photo: Rob Gulotta


yoga heals series

murder-suicide, growing up

in the

middle

addiction,

of

surviving trauma,

being grateful Melody Tarver |

for

and

all of it

Instagram: @mellyybell

Photos: Allan Hayslip

It was the summer of 1997 when I received the phone call from my mother. My first husband and I had just gotten married and we were in newlywed bliss. “Jeremy has murdered his wife and committed suicide.” Just days before, I had spoken with my cousin Jeremy. We were very close. I could tell he had been drinking, and when I confronted him, he didn’t deny it. He had been having some struggles with his wife, and she was ready for divorce. He told me he was going to take a three-hour road trip to shoot her after she got off work and then turn the gun on himself. I told him he needed help and that he needed to reach out to his father or I would. He told me he would come after me and kill me first if I was to tell anyone about his plan. By the time I told my mom, it was too late. It was done. He left two very young sons behind that were raised by their maternal grandparents. Our family was estranged from them. After his death, I suffered severe PTSD. I couldn’t be alone. I thought his ghost was going to come back and take my life. The feeling was potent and real. There were times I blamed myself for his death and his actions because I was under the illusion that I had the power to stop him. I chose to stuff all of it and never look back.

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As if that wasn’t enough, I had already lived a life of constant chaos all of my childhood. My father was a raging alcoholic. I remember being five years old, hiding in my baby sister’s closet when he would come home drunk, screaming at the top of his lungs, throwing things, threatening my mother. My father is a force to be reckoned with. He has been in and out of psychiatric hospitals and prisons (once escaping a maximum security prison), halfway houses, and has had several attempts at suicide. For years, my father has battled with his addiction and depression, and somehow he has survived. Once my brother was born, he found recovery for what feels like a minute—nine years to be exact. But if you know addicts, once they find recovery, the real shit starts surfacing— the things they have hidden behind the bottle. He went to several psychologists and psychiatrists, attended AA meetings, and was a guinea pig for medication and shock treatments. His depression was unbearable to watch, and his temper was still just as terrifying. I was so tired of living in trauma. It wasn’t the life a teenager hopes for. After his nine-year stint with recovery, he fell off the wagon. He became a full-on drug addict. Crack, meth, heroine, pain pills, the list goes on. My mother decided that divorce was the only way to keep us all safe. He threatened to take us away if she left. He held us all

hostage. It was a fucking miserable way to live. I wanted to run away. I wanted him to die. I was broken. I was scarred. And I hated God enough for all of us. I was 19 when my parents finally divorced. My mother had to file a restraining order because my father was so unpredictable and couldn’t be trusted. My mom, my brother, my sister, and I became one unit. We couldn’t be alone. We all slept in the same bed together because we were scared he would come back in a drunken rage. And when he did, the police would take him away, which was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to watch. It wasn’t long before my father became my sole creator, and the men I found myself involved with became my higher powers. I lost myself completely. I became a people pleaser and over-extended myself. I allowed myself to be sexually, verbally, and emotionally abused. I became someone that thought she could control every situation by some form of manipulation or by isolating herself to the world just to protect her heart. I had abandonment issues and low self-esteem. I refused to be alone, so I became a serial monogamist. I couldn’t stand being in my own skin. I was so afraid that if someone really knew me, they would stop loving me. I was a mess, but I found out quickly that I was also a survivor. ›


"

I wan te d to r u n away. I w an t ed hi m to di e . I was broken . I w as s carr ed. An d I hate d G o d en ough for all of u s .

"

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yoga heals series I found yoga in 1998 and I never looked back. Practice has taught me to have unconditional love, to separate my father from this disease that has consumed him, and to forgive myself. I have been gifted with a nurturing heart and compassion that is infinite. I’ve learned that it isn’t about what pose you perfect on the mat, but what you take into the world that is the true practice. There is a safety and allowance in yoga to fall apart and be vulnerable, and then a freedom for re-entry into self-love. My mat has been there, soaking up all of my tears, my sweat, and holding me through the intensity of divorces, breakups, deaths, and PTSD attacks, and really challenging practices. And yoga has cracked me wide open to other conscious practices like dance and reiki.

"

My dad is now in a maximum security prison, for maybe the final time, and now possesses a twenty-year sentence. We have been writing letters for years, and I see him as much as I can. When I do see him, I feel the pain in his eyes. It permeates the deepest parts of my heart. He has three beautiful grandchildren and three very successful children, and he’s missing it all. It takes a lot of emotional energy to keep seeing him, but I keep picking myself up to go, and I’m always glad for the moments we share. I have an amazing bond with my mom and siblings. We never say goodbye without saying, “I love you, call me when you’re home safe.” I am forever grateful for that. I have two nieces and a nephew and three dogs that show me how joy is constant and living in the present moment is significant. My relationship with God has been reignited. I love my father very much, even though he has broken my heart over and over again. Two years ago, Jeremy’s eldest son reached out to me. He wanted to talk about what had happened to his mother and father. All of the things I had repressed were resurfacing. Emotions welled up and the floodgates released everything. I began to have PTSD episodes and to feel the same feelings I did after he died. I was terrified for my life all over again. I couldn’t sleep. I was in a constant state of anxiety. My boyfriend had to come over at night to walk my dogs with me. It was becoming a disruption in my life. Once I spoke to Jeremy’s son, I was floored. It was an invitation for healing, and I took the plunge. We continue to stay connected, and I love him as if he were my own.

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At any given mo ment, I beli eve we have cho i ces, and there is so mu ch po wer i n that. We can sta y in an u nraveled state, or we can mo ve thro ugh it and o pen o urselve s u p to whatever jo y and peace f o llo w the p ai n and grief .

"

—Melody Tarver

Gratitude, prayer, and meditation have also become my constant practices, and those things would not happen without me stepping onto my yoga mat. At any given moment, I believe we have choices, and there is so much power in that. We can stay in an unraveled state, or we can move through it and open ourselves up to whatever joy and peace follow the pain and grief. And those things will always show up. I chose to mend my broken heart through yoga, meditation, therapy, and communication with my father. Had it not been for being raised by an extremely strong, loving mother and grandparents to step in to help fill the dad void in my heart, who knows where I would be. I surround myself with the most beautiful people and find ultimate support and refuge in those friendships. I am with the most beautiful man who teaches me to own my shit, to step into love, and be loved fully. I have created a life for myself that I never knew I could have. I am a strong woman. I wouldn’t change one experience. I would never ask for a do-over. I have willpower, grit, a strong work ethic, and I will make waves if my loved ones are hurt. I am a lover and I feel whole. I am learning to embrace my authenticity. I love myself, just as I am. I have arrived. Finally.


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yoga heals series

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My struggle was in my head and I was creating my own suffering. It , wasn t serving me, or anyone around me.

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Trauma, Creating Our Own Suffering, and Learning to be Kind to Ourselves Courtney Mitchell Instagram: @cmitch1019

After graduating college, I left my family on Long Island to start a new life in Florida with my boyfriend. Trauma looks different for everyone, and the morning I moved out left scars on all of us. I remember the tears on their faces, an image that haunted me every night when I laid down to sleep. I cried myself to sleep for months. My new job was overwhelming. I worked 12-hour days, often skipping meals. After weeks of this routine, the principal told me that they did not have enough students to keep my position. To release some of the stress, I tried yoga. My first teacher talked about letting go of anything that no longer serves you, being kind to yourself, and that if you live in the past, you miss the present moment. With her guidance, I stopped telling myself that I was evil and deserved to be sad, and I replaced those thoughts with positive, supportive ones. I signed up for yoga teacher training, and now yoga is my full-time career. My struggle was in my head, and I was creating my own suffering. It wasn’t serving me or anyone around me.

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Photo: Naya Rappaport


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yoga heals series

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As a b a l l e t d an c e r , I a l so h ad this b o d y dy smorph i c t hi n g , alw a y s t h i n ki ng I w a s too f at .

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Healing the Body and Negative Body Image Rebekah Letch

Instagram: @RebekahLetch I went to my first class during a difficult period in my ballet career. I was a classical dancer; I had won the gold medal in an international ballet competition and been accepted to Juilliard. But my body wasn’t ready for the modern dance style taught there, and I tore my meniscus. I had to stop dancing for a year and a half, which was devastating, so a friend brought me to yoga. It helped heal my body. As a ballet dancer, I also had this body dysmorphic thing, always thinking I was too fat. On facing the mat every day, I eventually learned to love myself and that feeling went away because I knew I was enough and beautiful as I am. Above all, yoga taught me patience and kindness towards myself, and because of that, I can love and serve others better. I can do so many things with my body that I couldn’t do before, and that’s what amazes me each time I get on the mat. Because of yoga, I fell in love with essential oils and started the best-selling beauty brand, Radha Beauty.

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I wish I could s ay that the ol d habit is gone. , , It s n ot. It s mor phed into othe r areas , like social me dia and the te n de n cy to c ompare myse l f to oth ers , but the diffe re n ce is that I now have tools to manage it.

"

By all external measures, I exceeded my goals. I was a perfect student with extracurricular accolades, and I had the tiniest waist in town. None of it made me feel ok and none of it helped me through the real problems of life, like my sister’s sickness and early death.

Seeking Perfection and Approval Lauren Taus Instagram: @lauren.taus

laurentaus.com

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It’s been a terrible habit of mine to look outside of myself for approval. When I was young, I had a perceived need to get straight A’s and win awards as a rhythmic gymnast. Nothing shy of first place felt good enough. This drive to perform and achieve moved its way into my body in high school, and I felt a dangerously aggressive pull to be thin. I dropped a ton of weight and lost my period for years.

I was 18 years old, grieving and starving, when I found my cure in therapy and yoga. I learned that true happiness is an inside job, and the only acceptance that I need is my own. Over the years, I’ve cultivated a number of other daily practices to keep me grounded. I pray, I meditate, I practice gratitude, and I do acts of anonymous kindness. I wish I could say that the old habit is gone. It’s not. It’s morphed into other areas, like social media and the tendency to compare myself to others, but the difference is that I now have tools to manage it. I see when it rears its ugly head and I know how to take care of myself.


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yoga heals series

Struggling

Getting Sober, Finding Yoga,

with

and

Being Lost for

So Long

Naturally, I love coffee. It is about the only stimulant I can still have. Picture: I’m thirty-three days sober today and my morning routine consists of two shots of espresso over ice dashed with soymilk. The coffee shop I frequent every morning is next to the bar I still work at. I’m early again because I couldn’t sleep; the nightmares and cold sweats had me shaking and awake every few hours. A window decal is going up on the second story above my coffee shop: “YOGA.” I still have time; I could go in. It smells like I imagine a puffy cloud would smell. Immediately, I don’t feel good enough to be here. Putting the little cardboard flyer into my purse, I escape to the beach for low tide before my shift. I just need something tangible, something to help me understand who I am. I’ve been lost for so long. At the end of my shift, drinking a nonalcoholic beer, sitting at the same bar expecting a different result. Subtly that colorful cardboard cutout says 4:15 Vinyasa Flow. So I go. I can’t touch my toes in this forward fold, and find my breath? Where is my breath?

Erin Kelly Instagram: @erinkellyart

Erinkellyart.com

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Oh. I found it. That night I slept. It was magic. Soon the one class after work became two and then possibly three. I started going before work and any chance I had. The mat was the only place I felt the chaos of my brain quiet. I often sat in child pose. I started asking questions and diving deeper into the abysses of my unknown. I felt vulnerable, but safe. Curious, but reserved. My yoga practice was excessive at first, but that was the only way I knew how to do anything. For the past four years, I’ve traveled the world practicing balance and found faith in the process.


"

I j u s t n e ed s ome thing t ang i b le , s om ething to h elp m e ,u n d e rsta nd w ho I am . I v e be e n l o st for s o long.

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Being Disconnected from Your Body, Lacking Purpose, and Overhaul ing Your Life

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It m ight n o t, have b een eas y, b ut I c o ul dn t ho l d m ys el f b ac k o ut of fear and r is k of fail ure. I had l et that go .

Lo s An ge les

Ashley Galvin |

Instagram: @AshleyGalvinYoga

I grew up in a small town a few hours outside of L.A. I always knew I wanted more out of my life. I just didn’t know what that looked like. The day I stumbled into my first yoga class, everything changed. This was it, the feeling I had been searching for. Yoga helped me realize how out of touch with my body I had been my entire life. It brought an awareness to every part of my being. Yoga transformed my body physically and mentally. I had a deeper sense of purpose and wanted to share this with anyone and everyone around me. The problem was that I was a hairstylist in a small town and most people around me didn’t care to hear it. Around this time, I had a few major setbacks. I got divorced at the age of 26, had major codyapp.com/completebody

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abdominal surgery that took me out of my physical practice (the only thing saving me), and my business was failing. I decided to take a yoga teacher training. Without realizing it, this was when I set my first intention. I was manifesting the life I wanted and didn’t even know it. I put all of myself into this feeling, this thought. From that moment on, my life changed. That was the first step I took toward putting my intention into motion. Opportunities arose all around. I was getting offers for jobs I never thought I would, and so on. It was not an easy path. I worked hard, but I was fulfilled. For the first time, I knew I was living my purpose. It might not have been easy, but I couldn’t hold myself back out of fear and risk of failure. I had let that go.


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yoga heals series

Being Anorexic, Insecure, Depressed, and Sexually Unfulfilled Christina Zipperlen

Instagram: @anandasoulcreations

anandasoul.com

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"

What if I have been gift ed the most radiant, precious t ool to t ravel t hrough t his lifetime in a human body?!

"

negative thought pattern). So here is where I enter my desired quality: *** What would #selflove do? *** And then I look for a more downstream thought: “What if I have been gifted the most radiant, precious tool to travel through this lifetime in a human body?!” Here’s another juicy one:

“What if I am really not beautiful enough?” ***What would #truebeauty do? *** “What if I am loved for exactly who I am— in particular for all my unique quirkiness?!”

“What if I really work too much?” *** What would #nurturingmother do? *** “What if my work makes women feel beautiful, empowers street children, gives hope to underprivileged women, and makes a true difference in the world?!” “What if my business is not going to work?” *** What would #openmindedness do? *** “What if my creativity and joy for life will always find a way to beautifully express itself?!”

And I thought there was something wrong with me… Playing small doesn’t serve the world. Thank you, Marianne, for those sweet, sweet words that shook me eight years ago. Nope, you’re right, making myself anorexic, insecure, depressed, and sexually unfulfilled certainly didn’t serve the world—nor myself. So instead I turned the playing small into something more like what Gabby Bernstein said: “Say nice things to yourself because you’re the only one listening.” Now, how are we gonna turn around this stubborn voice inside our heads? I mean, most of the time I don’t even know if it is me speaking in there! I decided to get creative with it, and with the help of my beautiful friend Kat Dawes and the glorious Abraham Hicks, I’ve created a little mind game for myself. When I have a fearful or unpleasant thought, I stop myself and question what quality is missing. Once I identify that #quality and throw it into the mix, it shines a new light on the thought and usually is a lot easier to upgrade and restructure. So let’s say I have this thought: “What if I am really too fat?” (squeeeek…imagine loud sounds of breaks stopping me in my tracks and interrupting this

“What if I’m too naive thinking I can make a difference in this world?” *** What would #trust do? *** “What if my ridiculous amount of faith in humanity will always draw amazing humans into my path?!” “What if I’m really gay?” *** What would #joy do? *** “What if I am so outrageously, audaciously in love with the most precious being, celebrating life together?!” “What if I’m really unlovable?” *** What would #love do? *** “What if I love myself first?!” “What if I’m really a bad writer?” *** What would #audacity do? *** “What if there is always going to be somebody who will be grateful for the words I write?!” “What if I’m really broken and there is something wrong with me?” *** What would #whogivesashit do? ***“What if it doesn’t frickin’ matter and all this whole human thing is about is to love, dance, and celebrate? What if the light really only truly comes in through the cracks?!” You probably understand the game at this point. The whole thing is a moment by moment choice of which voice you want to give airtime to. And these voices get amplified through the people we surround ourselves with, the media exposure we give our attention to, and eventually the thoughts we hear in our own heads. Because we all know by now: thoughts become things. And I am choosing beautiful, uplifting, smiling, loving things. You?

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, I m n o t g o i n g to t e l l y o u to t r u s t l i f e ’and b u m p e r s t i c k e r p h r a s e s l i k e that, , because that s not how it w o r k e d for m e .

Healing

Anorexia, Mental Stress, and Accumulated Injuries from

labchicago.com

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'

"

Carmen Aguilar Instagram: @cyogalab What started as a way to deal with anorexia, mental stress, and a plethora of accumulated injuries, not only became just the healing potion, but also changed my life path. I wasn’t flexible or strong (imagine the complete opposite of me today and you’d picture me then), nor did I think that making a living teaching yoga was an option. I was shy speaking in public and had a hard time asking people to do poses. I had no idea how to run a yoga business and felt quite unprepared for every new step.

I’m not going to tell you to “trust life” and bumper sticker phrases like that, because that’s not how it worked for me. There’s a big component you can’t control, but there are other elements you can learn. Tenacity, which is highly disregarded in favor of a one-time “lucky” shot these days, has worked for me, and certainly will work for you as well. Hard work, surrounding myself with good people, and my daily yoga practice have been my secret formula for a long time. Now you have it, too.


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Feeling Lost, Unfulfilled, and Unhappy at Work Rachel Mulvaney |

Instagram: @theyoganinja

Stuck in a rut. That is the best way to describe the place I was in. I was working long hours at a job I hated, my relationship had recently ended in heartbreak, and I had no direction of where my life was going. I would get off work, complaining and exhausted, only to go out and drink to try to have a “good time.” More than once, these good times ended in regret.

a half before this point. I did some praying and soul-searching and felt called to help people. I had been practicing yoga off and on for about four years, but had never really deepened my practice until I went through yoga teacher training. Everything fell into place. I felt a new sense of peace in my life, a kind of calmness in the chaos that had been.

I was very lost and unfulfilled. At the end of my career with this company, I remember driving to work and just crying the whole way there. I couldn’t spend one more day being this unhappy. It was time to make a change. I quit! The weight lifted off my shoulders. But now what!? This five-year career I had just ended brought me to California from Missouri a year and

I am nowhere near perfect, but each day I strive to be better. If you are unhappy in any way, it’s time to step back and reevaluate. Starting on a new path may be scary at first, but it’s always worth it. Know you can always start again.

RachelMulvaney.com

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Photos: Kat Carney


"

A t t h e end of m y c a r e e r with this c o m p a ny, I r em em be r d r i vi ng to wo r k and j ust c r y i n g t h e wh o l e wa y t h ere . , I c o u l d n t s p en d o n e m or e d a y b ei ng this u n h a p py .

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Judging Yourself and Proving Yourself to Others Ashley Zhang

Instagram: @Ashley.yoga

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People ask me all the time what my plans are: with yoga, with school, after graduation, in three years, in five years. For a long time, I’ve felt the need to have an answer, any answer. I needed to prove my worth to others, afraid of judgement from other people because, well, I was judging myself. I wanted to be someone who knew exactly what they wanted to do, who they wanted to be. This is the amazing thing about my yoga journey: it’s reminding me of who I am. You don’t have to have it all figured out, because life changes in unimaginable ways. It’s more important to care about who you are to yourself than who you are to others. So just show up, set your intentions, do what makes you feel good, and spend time with people who inspire you. I am still figuring life out, one breath at a time.

"

It , s mor e important to care about who you are to yours el f than wh o you are to others.


Stressed, Lost, and Losing Focus, and Turning that Shit Around Jillian Frein

"

Instagram: @likeagirl__fitness

Wh en I think ab ou t my futu re , I think about all the lives I h o p e to help me nd and imp act with positivity and t ende rne ss.

There is a quote I hold near and dear to my heart: “When a flower doesn’t bloom, you fix the environment in which it grows, not the flower.” Two years ago at my university, I was having a hard time dealing with stress and anxiety. I lost my focus, and no matter how hard I tried to push forward, I wasn’t getting anywhere, with my schoolwork or in my life. Eventually, with the support of my parents, I withdrew from college to take some time for myself, but also to follow my heart and my passion. At the time, there were three things in my life that made me feel whole, alive, and loved with purpose: my daily training methods, my yoga practice, and my itty-bitty dream known as LIKEAGIRLFITNESS. Today, I am the 21-year-old #GIRLBOSS of LIKEAGIRLFITNESS, inspiring, motivating, and empowering women worldwide to #SHINEEVERYDAMNDAY. Day-to-day I wake up to train and educate hundreds of clients worldwide regarding self-love, self-care, and self-respect. My heart has never felt this full and I have never felt more alive. Everything finally feels whole, and rather than feeling disappointed with myself on a day-to-day basis, I awake with pride and ambition to further my dreams and to help others achieve theirs. When I think about my future, I think about all the lives I hope to help mend and impact with positivity and tenderness. I read a quote long ago: “To know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded.” And this, this is exactly the type of success I crave.

likeagirlfitness.com

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Painful Breakups and Being Numb with Pain

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W h a t is c h a l l e n g i n g a t t ime s is to r e a l i z e and f e e l t h a t the s o u r c e of s uf f e r i n g is also the so urc e of g r o w t h and e m p o we r m e n t .

"

Philippe Beer Gabel Yin Yoga + Yoga Nidra Teacher. Musician

pa ri s

Facebook: YinYogaParis I went through the most important and powerful relationship breakup I encountered in my life in 2013 through the practice of Yin Yoga. I was stuck in my head. Entirely. Completely. Numb with pain. I had no home, no job, no money. It felt like the end of me in every way. The woman I loved opened the drawer of all my deepest and buried past traumas. I was torn apart. The regular practice of Yin Yoga allowed me to (re)connect with my body’s inner intelligence, with my source which is pure love. I began to listen more carefully and to trust what my body had to communicate. Yin Yoga has truly been one the main tools of my recovery, in addition to another modality called Body Talk System and some Yoga Nidra sessions. A regular practice developed my sense of listening in an acute way. What is challenging at times is to realize and feel that the source

of suffering is also the source of growth and empowerment. I strongly believe we always know in our core and have the answer to every single question which arises in our life. It is a matter of working on our ability to listen and to address the questions to the heart instead of the mind. The heart has no boundary and is like a spring. It answers immediately. Then it belongs to us to listen and accept the answer. To stop the story we put on the circumstances of our life. To go deeper and discover the resources we have to serve us and stop the mistreatment. Life doesn’t always provide what we want, but it always does send us what we need. I am very grateful to my teachers Jo Ishiguro, Caroline Pillet, Virginie Mira, and other colleagues who’ve led me to the way of affection, compassion, appreciation, and acceptance.

beer-gabel.com

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June 18-July 2


yoga heals series

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I t ha nk my p r a c tice fo r t he bo dy a wa r enes s that a lerted m e to t he pr o b lem .

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Finding a Tumor, Having a Biopsy, and Learning to Listen to your Body Sprite Soren | Last spring at my annual exam, my ob-gyn found a lump. Within hours, I was at a radiologist where everyone was very concerned by what they saw. Days later, I found myself in surgery, where they decided to do a complete tumor removal because of the tumor’s size and invasiveness. As the biopsy went to multiple specialists for testing, it would be a month before I learned that it was cancer-free. I’ve known women close to me who had fought breast cancer and other cancers, such as lung cancer and lymphoma; some had not survived. I know how extremely fortunate I am. I will continue to be carefully checked from now on. This is all out of the ordinary for someone my age, 33, with almost no family history. I had been feeling

Instagram: @SpriteSoren pain in my shoulder and had written it off as an old work injury. During yoga, I had felt unusual pain that made me feel uneasy. I thank my practice for the body awareness that alerted me to the problem. The recovery was painful, but I had the support of a very understanding yoga studio with knowledgeable teachers. They let me cry on my yoga mat, gave me adjustment suggestions, and taught me how to practice with greater patience as I healed. My yoga truly healed me. Breast exams are important for women of all ages. Please pay attention and learn how to do self-exams, ask your doctor questions, and heal through yoga.

spritesoren.com

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Dealing with Loss, Death, and Devastation Michelle Muench | Q: What have you struggled with + how has yoga helped? A: I wish this wasn’t the topic. I’m a funny girl who likes to make people laugh. That’s my schtick! Not this dark, deep yoga teacher stuff.

But here it is. I’m facing the biggest struggle of my life right now. My best friend died suddenly after suffering a catastrophic stroke a couple of months ago. She was only 34 and left behind her seven-year-old daughter. How does one go on after this? Continue with the laundry and dayto-day routines? I am devastated and angry that the world

thrivingplantbased.com

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Instagram: @bananablondie108

continues to turn without her in it. The daily rollercoaster of emotions I’ve experienced since she left is gut-wrenching. My yoga practice is really my only coping tool. It’s no magic wand, but it gave me something to work with, something to do, a place to go. My mat is my therapist’s couch and my practice is my medicine. Most days since her death, my practice has felt tired, heavy, uninspired. But there have been days recently which are lighter, strong, and steady. This practice is my reminder that there is always a light at the end of the tunnel. No darkness lasts forever. We must keep at it and be grateful for our moments in the sun.

Photos: Adorned Photography


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No darkness lasts forever. We must keep a t i t and b e grateful for o u r mo me n t s in the s u n . MANTRAMAG.COM

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ObsessiveCompulsive Disorder and Anxiety Drew Osborne Yogi + Associate Producer

Instagram: @drewosborne I have suffered from severe Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder and anxiety from a very young age. Panic attacks and over-thinking were simply a part of me, or so I thought. Yoga truly changed my life. Studying mindfulness has given me the tools I need in order to maintain a healthy relationship with myself. The understanding that I am not my body or my mind, and observing this experience we call life from the spirit, have shown me love instead of fear. While I still have struggles, I always have Yoga to turn to.

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Th e u nd e r s t and i n g t h a t I am n o t my b o d y or m y m i n d, a nd o b s e r v i n g this e x p e r i e nc e w e ca l l li f e f r o m the sp irit, hav e s h o w n me l o v e i ns t e ad of fe ar .

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Self- Image, Growing Up Overweight, and the Image of Perfection in Fitness Hunter Cook | The struggle I had plagues many of us, especially in the fitness industry that I work in. That would be my relationship with my own self-image. I grew up overweight and was out of shape for almost all of my childhood. I wouldn’t change my path even if I could—because it has developed my passion for fitness that has sparked my business that is thriving today—but it is still something that I am reminded of every time I look in the mirror. Self-image issues are a gateway to body dysmorphia issues, and for many, eating disorders as well. I am in an industry where perfection is expected. And we are in a time when perfection is portrayed on the regular by most in the fitness industry. People display their highlight reels and photoshopped images, thinking they are portraying what people

Facebook: Hunter-Fitness

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Instagram: @hunterfitness

People display their highlight reels and photoshopped images, thinking they are portraying what people want to see fitness as, " but in turn“ they are actually making the gap wider than ever before between the average “ person" person and the they expect that they can become under a proper diet and exercise program.

want to see “fitness” as, but in turn they are actually making the gap wider than ever before between the “average” person and the person they expect that they can become under a proper diet and exercise program. I am a work in progress. I know these aren’t considered major human struggles, but I am working on making sure that they never define me. The best part about having this understanding is that I get to open a dialogue about this subject with my clients and can discuss it with them while expressing empathy since I have been in their shoes. I then teach them how to take control over their body image, like I did, with a combination of exercise, diet, yoga, and an open discussion with people you care about concerning how you feel.

Photo: RYAN TIEHEN


Domestic Violenc e and Body Shame Eleonora Rachele Zampatti Instagram: eleonorazampatti

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M y b od y became my p r is on , and I d idn t k n ow how to b r e a k free.

"

For years, I lived trapped in an abusive relationship. Over time, my captor isolated me, destroyed my self-esteem, and controlled every aspect of my life. I lost my freedom, my visa, the ability to have a bank account and a driver’s license. But that was only the beginning. Standing in front of the mirror repulsed me. My body became my prison and I didn’t know how to break free. Through yoga practice, I learned to accept the beauty of my body. I found safety and harmony on the mat, my sacred place of power where I am “allowed” to love who I am, where I transcend and push through the barriers of my past. Sometimes, I still hear that voice creep in and tell me I’m not enough. The prison walls start to close in again. I find my mat and my purpose. I am whole again. I’ve been broken down, but I survived because I am courageous, strong, and full of light. That’s the meaning of true beauty.

eleonorazampatti.com Photo: CLAIRE SHEPROW, FINDORION PHOTOGRAPHY

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yoga heals series

W eight Gain, Depression,

Miscarriage, and Learning Self-Love For the majority of my childhood and all of my young adult life, up until two years ago, I would base my value on what society thought was best. I was struggling with weight gain and depression. Looking back now, I realize that I was living to eat and not eating to live. In 2010, my husband and I miscarried. This experience took its toll on me, physically and mentally. I was broken in body, mind, and soul, and I slowly let the weight pack on. We attempted once more, and with the help of my husband, I lost 70 pounds and soon after conceived our daughter, Allison. After maintaining my weight for two years, we conceived my son, Abraham. Shortly after his birth, I began my journey into yoga. My initial motivation came after seeing a few friends posting online while participating in yoga challenges through Instagram. Through this yoga community, I have established friends, dedication, and love. Self-love— learning to love who I am today even if I’m not exactly where I want to be. I have found that with daily movement through asana, mindful pranayama, and meditation, my body, mind, and soul can open to a new being of physical health, relaxation, and serene state of being. Every day on the mat is a journey, a new experience with struggles, leaps, and bounds. Some days I fail. It is up to me to try, try again.

Malea Hooper

"

Instagram: @malea_yogia

In 20 10 , m y hu sb a nd and I miscar r ie d. T h is experie nc e t ook its t oll on me , physic a lly and menta lly. I w a s bro ke n in b ody, mind , and soul, and I slow ly let the w e ig h t pa c k on.

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"

I g r e w u p k eep i n g s o m uc h of m y s elf v e r y p r i v a t e. I kept my weaknesses a s e cr e t , t hi n k i n g th a t if an y on e knew my struggles and i n s e curi t i es, t h e y w o uld us e t h e m ag a i n s t m e.

"

Fearful of Failure, Gaining Weight, and Being Vulnerable Jessica Blackmun Instagram: @jessblackmun

My biggest struggle has been learning to love myself and allowing myself to be vulnerable with others. I grew up keeping so much of myself very private. I kept my weaknesses a secret, thinking that if anyone knew my struggles and insecurities, they would use them against me. I’ve always had a lot of body image issues and insecurity about giving anything 100 percent, in fear of failure. I first began practicing yoga about six years ago. In the beginning, it helped me to get in better shape, then it slowly began to seep off my mat and spread into all areas of my life. Yoga has helped me to get over my fear of failure. I cannot even count how many times I’ve tried a pose and ended up a tangled heap on the floor. Not only that, but I’ve begun to really look at what I want out of life and I can actually put myself out there. I even like it. Now I look at failing as a learning opportunity and an experience that I can grow from. Last summer, I moved to Hawaii and decided to start taking pictures of my yoga practice. My boyfriend is an amazing photographer who encourages me to chase my dreams. He helped me come up with the idea to make a yoga and lifestyle Instagram account. This meant constantly putting myself out there, and it really helped me to see myself and my body in a new light. I began to see myself as strong and capable. Like anyone else, I still struggle sometimes with my weight and outside appearance, but it doesn’t have a hold over me like it used to. Now I care more about being healthy, happy, and having the guts to go after what I want in life.

journeyera.com

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yoga heals series

"

I like to think of my self-imposed, lo ss-induced moments of exile as m oments wh en the silence of my internal gu ru kicks in.

"

Loss of

Struggle Letting Go and the

Ann Mordine |

Instagram: @Chattrayoga

I struggle with loss. Loss by death, the end of a relationship, a place I’ve lived and loved and I’m moving on from, or the closing of an experience. Like when my best friend passed from AIDS or when my first marriage ended. Or when I left the exhilarating intensity of living life in India. Or when I completed the intimate, revealing months of yoga teacher training. Even when I return from a fabulous trip, my instinct is to turn inwards and fly solo, almost like hibernating. Over time, I’ve come to learn this is okay. The silence with myself helps me sort my thoughts and let the experience,

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and whatever change it has to offer, settle in. It is a chance to go deeper to receive, regroup, transition, and move forward. A teacher of mine in India shares that the original guru is the Self, and it is present in everybody’s heart as Silence. Called Chup Sadhana, The Yoga of Silence, he says it is where all of the events of life are experienced. I like to think of my selfimposed, loss-induced moments of exile as moments when the silence of my internal guru kicks in.


Love, Loss, and Letting Go. Losing a Beloved Animal Kenlyn Kolleen Kundalini yoga teacher

Yoga showed up to heal me through the other side of love, the one no one talks about: Letting Go. The poet Mary Oliver wrote, “To live in this world / you must be able / to do three things: / to love what is mortal; / to hold it / against your bones knowing / your own life depends on it; / and, when the time comes to let it go, / to let it go.”

"

Whether it’s a boyfriend, your mother, or a graduating child, the time always comes to let go. No amount of denying letting go makes it go away, because it’s part and parcel of the very thing we crave—love. It too is love: the completion of love. Loving and letting go come together to form the whole experience of love. I don’t take this process lightly. I have deep respect for it.

Y o ga sho w e d u p to he a l me t hr o u g h the o t he r s i d e of lo v e , the o ne n o o n e t al ks a b out : L e t t i n g G o .

Doglama.com

"

When I was faced with letting go of my dog, Pennylane, it was truly the hardest thing I’ve ever done. Full stop. Exhale. I must tell you the full story, however. It was also the most incredible experience I’ve ever had. Full stop. Inhale. I am a deeper, more loving, more secure, and richer person because I went through the death portal so consciously and so contained by the practice of Kundalini yoga. A few months ago, I participated in a Kundalini yoga class where we practiced the sacred death breath. Tears rolled down my face as I breathed the breath of death. I felt so connected to life and experienced a profound transpersonal gratitude for all of life’s twists and turns. I saw that it was only ever love. For the 15-minute film version of Kenlyn’s journey of loving and letting go of Pennylane, please see Doglama.com. PHOTOS: Robert KittilÄ

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"

Losing a Parent and Facing Fear

DJ Drez |

Instagram: @djdrez

My dad died at age 39; I was only 10. He and my mom had four boys and one girl. I’m the youngest. Around a year or two leading up to my 39th birthday, I began to feel very mortal. To make the experience more vulnerable, my son was 10 that year: the same age I was when my dad died. I talked with my mom and she said my siblings suffered from similar feelings with the fear of death and its association with turning 39. I travel the globe for a living. To have anxiety about dying while away, leaving my wife a widow and son fatherless, was everyday life for some time. That is no way to live, I know, but the mind is a tricky place. I started practicing yoga a year or two before my boy was born. I know yoga is meant to calm the monkey mind. I’ve had great teachers, but that monkey was wild with thoughts of death. Breath and mantra got me through all the flights, trains, crazy thoughts, and winding, nauseating roads. It’s an ongoing practice. Tools that help me balance my very real human experience and my Jedi divine existence. I just turned forty and I’m extremely alive!

T o h av e a nxiety ab ou t dyin g whil e a wa y, l ea v in g my w i fe a wido w a nd son f ather l es s , wa s ever yda y l ife for s o me t i me. That is no wa y to l ive, I kn ow, but the mi nd i s a t ri ck y place .

djdrez.com

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,

Losing M y Child s Father Renee Watkins

Instagram: @iAmReneeWatkins

I’ve faced so so many struggles, from being a teen parent to starting up my own company, but in my twenty-six years of living, the hardest thing I’ve had to face was the death of my son’s father. Jon died August 29, 2015, after a motorcycle accident, and I swear I felt like I would die with him. I’ve had older family members die and distant friends die, but nothing this close and nothing this sudden. Because of my children, I’m reminded of him daily. Some days, because of him it seems almost impossible, but because of yoga I think I’m able to deal with it. Yoga has taught me to breathe, focus, be patient, understand, and be receptive. When I first began my practice, I noticed the mental benefit almost immediately, but I never knew it would help so much in situations like this. Losing Jon was/is hard, but I am truly thankful for my practice.

"

Jon died Au gu st 29, 2015, after a motorc yc le accident, and I swear I fel t l i k e I wou ld die with him .

rwyoga.com

"

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"

The moment you think you have it all figured out, you get squashed like a bug. Ryan Leier |

Instagram: @ryanleier

I’ve had some struggle in my life these past few years. I used to believe my yoga practice insulated me from suffering. ‘It’s all good’ is a term synonymous with the yogis. We often believe our yoga practice will keep us from falling apart! If it is holistic and deep-rooted in the yama (kindness, truth, etc.) and niyama (courage, surrender, etc.), the practice will, as Patanjali says, make us more tolerant and less affected by the extremes of joy/sorrow, praise/blame, success/failure, anxiety/depression. It will help us to cope and to thrive.

point, a few months in, was in the midst of the dark depression I found a glimmer of light. One night, my 11-year-old was sleeping beside me. Thankfully, I could not sleep. I spent the whole night listening to her breathe while she slept peacefully. The gratitude and glint of joy that she was healthy and peaceful beside me gave me a light to tap into to get me through the next year. Here’s how I got through:

I’ve had my share of struggle with depression since I was young. A combination of difficult circumstances, genetics, and life sometimes took me out for a few months at a time. Eventually, I found yoga, a healthy diet, true friends, faith, love, and seemed to be coasting along pretty well. In 2013, our daughter Thora Grace passed away in my arms. We knew it would take a miracle for her to survive here on earth. There were many complications leading to her birth. I had hoped for a miracle and was not ready to let her go. I coped for a year, taking care of my surviving daughter and Thora’s mom. I travelled and taught yoga and on the surface everything was alright. The dark night of the soul then descended on me. I was squashed, but not dead. I had neglected taking care of my body/mind and completely broke. I mean shattered. I could not and did not want to get out of bed. I wanted to join Thora in the Sun. I stopped eating and was suicidal. My family, friends, yoga teachers, and doctor all helped to nurse me back to life over the next year and a half. As I was zombified with antianxiety and antidepressant pills, I ceased to really feel for a few months. The turning

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"

—BKS Iyengar

Rest/Relax: I decided to stop working and to rest in nature. More often than not, I got outside every day for a walk and tried to absorb the fresh air and sunlight. I also connected to our feathered bird friends and the spirit birds. I asked for help: I leaned on my teachers, my friends, and my family. I was pretty real with people about my struggle and often asked for help, which is very difficult for someone who has all the answers (like a yoga teacher). I let my friends and family love me back to life. Practicing yoga: I stopped teaching (so many teachers, like me, get burned out) and eventually started PRACTICING yoga. The asana and pranayama helped to bring back clarity and energy. Discipline was needed. Tip for all yoga teachers: You should practice yoga twice the amount of time you teach. Sri K Pattabhi Jois called yoga, “Mind Medicine.” He was right. Gratitude and Faith: By practicing gratitude, patience, and having faith even when the light was dim, I was able to come back with more confidence, power, and peace than ever before. Those of you who struggle, just remember everything changes, and eventually you will feel better.


"

As I w as z om bified with an t i an x iet y and an t i de p r essan t p i lls , I ceased to r e ally feel fo r a f e w m ont hs.

"

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yoga heals series

"

, I ve lea rn ed to look at en d in g s as b eg in n in g s , the sta rt of a n ew jour ney, for som ethin g f ru itf ul sprin g s a b ou t when one cycle en d s and a n other b eg in s.

"

Struggling with

Low Self-Esteem and the

Fear

of

Rejection Kayla Butler Instagram: @SprdLove

The greatest struggle of my young life thus far was the death of my grandmother in 2013. I was 23 years old, freshly graduated, and frustrated due to the lack of career opportunities. The death of my grandmother shook my world; never did I envision life without her despite knowing that she was terminally ill with late-stage lung cancer. I didn’t want to accept that she would ever leave me. I didn’t want to think about burying the person I loved the most. I wanted her to be present for every milestone in my life, from graduation to the birth of my children. My grandmother was my world, and she meant everything to my family. Adjusting to life without her was the most difficult thing I had to overcome. I’ve learned from my own trials after her passing and through yoga that death is inevitable. For so long I sought to avoid the conversation, when in actuality it should’ve been something I accepted as part

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of life. My grandmother always told me that death was not to be feared, as all living things have an end. Why does an end have to be something filled with sorrow? I’ve learned to look at endings as beginnings, the start of a new journey, for something fruitful springs about when one cycle ends and another begins. In life there is death and in death there is life. My yoga practice has allowed me to admire all of the beautiful things of this world. As one life ends, another begins. The elements that make us who we are contribute to the growth of the life we need to sustain our existence here on Earth. My grandmother is with me every single day; her energy is all around me, just like all of those who have gone before us. We never really lose the ones we love, instead we gain a boundless love that can’t be taken away.


Suicidal, Depressed, and Fighting an Inner Battle Callie Waiters | As a young girl, I was no stranger to the word “struggle.� It was an inward struggle that turned into depression that often had the ability to show its face on the outside. I grappled with the decision to end my own life. I was angry, and not someone that I would consider a good person to have in my life today. I was fighting with myself—with who I was and who I should have been. Six years ago, I was introduced to yoga and the practice of meditation. I learned how to focus my anger and my hurt into physical strength. Soon that physical strength began to turn into inner strength, peace, and love. I learned to love myself and recognize when love was being given by people

"

Instagram: @black3dahlia who truly care. While I still have some growing to do, and some battles to fight, just getting out of bed every morning has become my gift to myself. I have learned how to fight those battles, and I have learned how to win them. As I continue to grow and learn, I hope to be an inspiration to those going through similar situations. We all have struggles. How we choose to get through them and the lessons we learn along the way are two of the most important parts of the journey itself. To be able to say that I am grateful for everything life has thrown at me is a gift. A gift that I cherish.

I g r a p p l e d wit h t he d e c i s i o n to e n d m y o w n l i fe . I was a ng ry, and n o t s o m e o n e t hat I w o u l d c o n s i d e r a g o o d p e r s o n to h a v e in m y l i f e t o d a y .

peaceloveshy.com

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A Restless Mind, My ADHD Diagnosis, and Being Drawn to the Intensity of Polarity Genevieve G. Gilbreath |

I’m restless. I find myself drawn to the intensity of polarity and have always had a hard time with moderation and focus. Things are constantly calling me away, driving me to skip from one thing to the next until I feel a spark. From as early as I can remember, I have had the nagging feeling that something is a little bit wrong with me, but I could never quite figure out what. I didn’t understand why I was so consistently restless, risk-hungry, and even emotionally disconnected. I’ve spent a lot of time feeling like I wasn’t good enough and worrying I’d never find my place in the world, even though, over the years, I’ve done some pretty kick-ass things. Thankfully, I was introduced to yoga at a young age and it stuck with me. It’s the only thing that has helped me find lingering moments of stillness. The ability to experience this kind of calm has allowed me the space to integrate all the facets of my mind that would otherwise be moving at light speed in a million fragmented directions. Last year, I was finally diagnosed with ADHD and everything seemed to make sense, especially why I gravitated to yoga early on. I don’t know where I would be without my practice. It is the singular thing that has allowed me to find a place, and a little bit of peace, in this world.

herbalzap.com

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Founder/CEO Herbal ZAP


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yoga heals series

Bulimia, Years of Hurting Myself, Kundalini, and the New Measure of Self - Worth Ramdesh Kaur

"

I thou g ht my abilit y to sex u a lly at t ract m en w a s the only wa y to measure my s e lf -w or t h . Bulimia felt as n e cessary to me as breat h ing.

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"


"

Littl e by l ittl e I was ab le , , to repl ace You re so fat with loving, supportive words. K u n dal in i yoga al so he lpe d me repair my rel ationshi p with my body, and it beca me a saf e pl ace again and one that I tru st to tak e care of me.

"

My eating disorders began after a life-threatening childhood illness. The drugs that doctors gave me to help heal my body resulted in sudden and severe weight gain just as I hit puberty. I felt like my body had betrayed me. It was a painful and unsafe place to be, and I felt like I emerged from a battle with a body that was deformed and hardly belonged to me. All I wanted was to be accepted by my peers, but the harder I pushed for it, the more elusive acceptance became, and a part of me began to seek outside approval at the expense of everything else.

As my practice deepened, when I would feel the urge to purge, I’d chant Aad Guray Nameh, a Kundalini mantra for protection, over and over in my head until I could drown out the thoughts and overcome them. Mantra became a talisman I could use against the negative thoughts that would come when I looked in the mirror. Little by little I was able to replace “You’re so fat” with loving, supportive words. Kundalini yoga also helped me repair my relationship with my body, and it became a safe place again and one that I trust to take care of me.

College was my worst time. I threw up about 40 times a day and exercised relentlessly to try to achieve a perfect figure. I thought my ability to sexually attract men was the only way to measure my self-worth. Bulimia felt as necessary to me as breathing. It was how I coped with all my feelings, and how I ensured that I had some measure of control over my life, although really the control didn’t exist at all, and I was deeply in the grip of an addiction.

I’m a hundred pounds heavier now than I was at my thinnest, but as my weight has grown, I’ve matched it ounce for ounce with self-love, and I feel more beautiful than ever. Now I treat my body as a temple, but even more than that, a friend. When I sat down to write my book about body acceptance, I hesitated, thinking I needed to lose a few pounds before writing on the subject. I caught my old patterns and smiled, thinking, “I’ll never let my weight be the source of my selfworth again.” And that thought feels free and limitless, too.

It took me years to stop hurting myself, and it was finding Kundalini yoga and meditation that helped me do it. Chanting mantra did something special for me. In the beginning, even when I thought it was a little strange to be singing words I didn’t understand, it felt like I was able to lay down the part of me that was in so much pain, step outside of my problems for a moment, and connect with my spirit. Chanting made me feel free and limitless, and all I wanted was to stay in that feeling forever.

ramdesh.com

Ramdesh Kaur is a yoga teacher and author of The Body Temple: Kundalini Yoga for Body Acceptance, Eating Disorders, and Radical Self-Love (Fall/Summer 2016).

photos: Gurusurya Khalsa

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Breast Cancer Survivors

Celebrate Your Scars We Honor the Thrivers and

Survivors

of Breast Cancer

Life has a way of bringing us the unexpected, breaking us open, and eventually transforming us. It forces us to go deeper within ourselves, to heal, to really challenge the cultural shame and the unrealistic and unnatural standards leveled at women and our femininity. As if recovering from cancer weren,t hard enough, we are then left with scars on our body that tell us we somehow no longer have value in a society that bases our worth solely on our appearance. These brave women share their stories. Can we now come together as a community and support women diagnosed, in treatment, and in recovery? We also honor and remember those whose bodies could not recover, the ones we lost. We are in this together.

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on Mastectomy scars

,,

They are my new sense of duty and honor, to myself and to resilient women everywhere.

,,

—Kyleanne Hunter

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Breast Cancer Survivors

Photography: Carol Sternkopf

Kyleanne Hunter

Survivor. Speaker. Former Combat Pilot For most of my life I was terrified of being weak, and scars are the manifestation of weakness. They mean that there was something beyond my control that harmed me. As a Marine, I had to portray strength. I was charged with protecting my country and its way of life. People looked to me for unwavering courage and steadfast devotion to honor and duty. I now need my mastectomy scars to serve as my new uniform of strength. They are not a sign of weakness, but the markers of resilience, and a choice to not let my life be dictated by fear. They are my new sense of duty and honor, to myself and to resilient women everywhere.

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,,

I now need my mastectomy scars to serve as my new uniform of strength. They are not a sign of weakness, but the markers of resilience, and a choice to not let my life be dictated by fear. ,, —Kyleanne Hunter MANTRAMAG.COM

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Breast Cancer Survivors

Yulady Saluti Cancer, Recovery, and Finding Your Inner Strength

Instagram: @yulady | PHOTOGRAPHY: SHERRY SUTTON As I opened my eyes, slowly waking from the anesthesia, I saw my husband standing over me like he always did when I had one of my surgeries. He held my hand and he was warm. He leaned down and kissed my face. When our eyes met, I knew something was terribly wrong. “How did it go?” I asked him, already knowing the answer. “Honey, you have breast cancer” were his words. “I do? Really?” I said, hoping I was still asleep. “Yes, my love, really.” It’s amazing the strength you can find when you must. At the age of 32, I was in for the fight of my life and I needed strength. Some of my strength came from the outside. My family and friends were all there for me, but everyone treats you differently when you

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have cancer. They whisper the word “cancer” like it only has four letters, thinking you can’t hear. When they look at you, they try to hide their fear, but their eyes betray them. As much as I would like to tell you I found my strength from their support, I cannot. I am married to the love of my life. Together we are raising six amazing children. I found my strength inside of me. I found my strength because I refused to allow cancer to change the way I loved. I found so much strength I didn’t know what to do. Of course, there were such terrible lows during the whole process of surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation. However, the worse I felt physically from the treatments, the stronger I felt mentally. When my body was so beaten that I could barely move without

excruciating pain, I grew even stronger. It felt as if I separated from my body during these times. I finally stopped avoiding it and allowed fear and doubt to wash over me. I opened my heart and let them cleanse me. I burned them in the fire of my soul and was born again stronger and more aware. I am no one special. I am just like you. I am a mother that loves her kids. I am a wife that loves her husband. I am a teacher that loves her students. This photo was taken after I was given a clean bill of health. The strength and love you see in my face did not come from knowing I had won for now, knowing that I had kicked cancer’s ass. It came the day I burned fear and doubt. It has never left.


,, The strength and love you see in my face did not come from knowing I had won for now, knowing that I had kicked cancer , s ass. It came the day I burned fear and doubt. It has never left.

,,

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Breast Cancer Survivors

,, I wanted to let

people know that loving your life can include loving the hard parts, the dark and twisty parts, the parts that society tells us are unlovable.

,,

katebartolotta.com

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A Cancer Diagnosis and Surrendering to Healing On

Kate Bartolotta Last year, I lost my hair, my ovaries, and a breast while fighting breast cancer. It was also one of the best years of my life. In March 2015, when I couldn’t shake the feeling that something was different or wrong with my left breast, I pushed until I got an appointment with a breast specialist. A few appointments later, and I was sitting in an oncologist’s office talking about PET scans and possible treatment plans. Not how I expected to be spending a typical Tuesday afternoon.

Instagram: @kate_bartolotta

when you’re waiting on biopsy results. I wanted a miracle. I wanted the results to be wrong. I wanted to go back and have them find that the tumor had miraculously gone. I did every good thing I could think of, and I prayed—without ceasing—for a miracle. And what I learned was this: When we open up, and we ask for a miracle, we always get a miracle. But while we hope or pray for our situation to change, sometimes the bigger miracle is that we change. And so I dove in.

It was unexpected, to say the least. Wellness has been a huge focus for me, for my entire adult life. At 39, I was too young for breast cancer. Right? This is what happened to other people. People who didn’t take care of themselves. This wasn’t for me. I remember walking around Target—crying— after one of the first few appointments before the diagnosis was official. I ended up buying some glitter and kombucha, because, you know, what else do you buy when you might have cancer? I remember those days waiting for the biopsy results to come back. I remember praying. And if you want to know the reality of praying without ceasing, it’s what happens

I started journaling my experience on Instagram, partly to keep friends and family in the loop, but also to demystify cancer a little. I found that so many people who wanted to talk to me about cancer and give advice were really just looking for a place to share their fears and how cancer had touched their lives. I shared pictures of my first day of chemo, shaving my head, playing with wigs, my first day post-mastectomy, first day of radiation. I wanted to let people know that loving your life can include loving the hard parts, the dark and twisty parts, the parts that society tells us are unlovable.

Each chemo day, I dressed up—sundress, my favorite earrings, and plenty of lip gloss— and made a day of it. I treated it like my date with cancer. And then I’d come home and let family and friends wait on me and take care of me. Post-surgery, I had to have help with nearly everything for a few weeks. And while radiation was one of the “easiest” parts of treatment, there were days when it took all the energy I had just to get dressed. And in a deeper way than I ever had before, I let people take care of me. My commitment to self-care as a spiritual practice went from an idea in my head to a bone-deep knowledge. If my life was going to be of any benefit to anyone, I had to take care of myself, first. People often talk about “battling” cancer, or cancer “warriors.” For me, this hasn’t been a big fight. It’s been a big learning to surrender. Surrender to healing. Surrender to being loved and taken care of by my family and friends. Surrender to rest, grace, and letting go of my need to control everything. When the things we fear the most happen— and we survive—we finally get to the end of caution. When we finally surrender to loving all of what comes, we can begin to live.

But perhaps the biggest gift of cancer was learning how to truly and deeply receive.

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the wisdom of sexual abuse

The Wisdom of

Alyson Atma Simms

Sexual Abuse The Story I,ve been Trying to Get on Paper For a Lifetime

T

onight, I watched the movie Spotlight with a group of friends. Afterwards, the conversation turned to statutes of limitations and questions about how long people have to report sexual abuse when they experienced it as a child. I shared my experience that when I was molested as a child in Oklahoma, the statute of limitations ran out between the time I was sexually abused to the time I told my parents and asked to see a therapist. The therapist was the one who told me I wasn’t able to press charges because the statute of limitations had ended. It had been five years in between. The other part of the story I told them was over 10 years later, while in college, I found out that my perpetrator got arrested for molesting another girl. My mother couldn’t sleep one night, got up, and turned on the TV to see my soccer coach being reported on the news for child molestation. She told my siblings, who in turn told me. When I found this out, I called the Oklahoma City Police Department and asked to talk to the officer covering the arrest. I left my name and number for him and he called me back within a few hours. I couldn’t file charges, but I could give my testimony. It was used against him in the case that was going on at the moment. He ended up getting five years in prison and served three. It felt really good to know I got to tell my story to the police and that may have helped him go to prison. It didn’t feel good to know there were countless numbers of girls getting sexually molested by him from the time I came out to the time he was arrested. It doesn’t feel good to know he might be continuing to molest children even after prison time.

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I’ve sat down to write this story numbers of times. Even as I sit here, I want to close my computer because I never feel I portray the story well enough. As I sit here, there is an owl out my bedroom window. Be wise, is what I hear. Share your wisdom, it’s telling me. I don’t know if I am supposed to tell you the details. So I will start with what I know.

I blacked out and don,t remember the rest. I left my body to keep my soul intact.

I’ve never forgotten being sexually abused as a child. It doesn’t just come into my field of awareness every now and then. It’s all the time. It’s every time I walk alone around town or from my car into my house at night. It’s any time soccer is mentioned. It’s every time a certain part of my leg is touched, even if it’s by me. It’s every time I see young girls under the age of 12. It’s every time I see a rape scene in a movie or hear about a child molester on the news. It’s every time I enter a new relationship. It’s been a constant companion, whether I want it or not.

I experienced a variety of abuses, molestations that were horrific on their own, but there was “that one time” that made it really official in my mind. There was no question or doubt that I had just been violated. I had even asked for him to stop. An 11-year-old girl asking a grown man to stop touching her. He said no, and he’d be done in a minute. I blacked out and don’t remember the rest. I left my body to keep my soul intact. That I do know. It was being held safely until I woke the next morning. What I want you to know is that I was never the same. I want you to know this is a common theme amongst sexual abuse survivors. Never feeling the same ever again. Never being the same. It’s not a cliché; all my innocence left. I was never a child again. Childhood ended the morning I woke up and saw all my clothes neatly folded at the end of the bed, panties on top. I’ve always wondered how other children outgrow their innocence and transition from childhood into adulthood. For me, it was like a light switch turning off. I immediately was consumed by insecurity, awkwardness, shock, and fear. A light went off inside of me. I can speak with other survivors and we can look at each other and immediately know that common experience of childhood ending abruptly. I also experienced a sudden ability of knowing, intuition, seeing beyond this world. I instantly knew other people’s insecurities, “elephants” in rooms, and when people were lying. It’s one of the gifts I received from the experience. Would I have those things without the experience? I have no idea. I didn’t tell my parents, but I told my two best friends at school that next Monday at the place on the playground where I felt the safest. It was a little area in the woods I called my home. By the end of that Monday, many of my classmates knew. Things are still fuzzy


around what happened. People were asking me if it was really true what had happened, if I had been molested by my soccer coach. I didn’t know why my friends told others, but the question still rings in my head: Why didn’t an adult find out and do something? After that day, I shut down. I don’t remember much from the next few years of my life. I have a few blurbs here and there of feeling isolated, alone, insecure, and anxious. The rest I don’t recall at all. When I turned 13, I changed schools and came out of my deep depression and confusion. I’ve really never had issues with telling my story around the details of what happened. Most of my closest friends knew in high school and beyond. The boyfriends I have had heard the story. When I was 15, I told a friend’s older brother what happened to me as a child. I had a sleepover with my friend and woke up in the middle of the night to that same older brother doing the same thing my soccer coach did. That was when I realized something was really wrong with our world and that perpetrators existed in numbers I hadn’t considered. If this happened to me twice by “legal” standards, by my father’s friends being abusive on the phone, by my own father in my parents’ bed, how many other children are sexually abused around the world? That moment with my friend’s older brother, I thought, how could he reenact the same horror on a younger girl who had just confided in him what had happened to her when she was little? My mind was blown. I was enraged and made him stop, told my parents, told his, and had an ultimatum: He goes to therapy or I press charges. He went. About a month later, I got a dozen roses from him with an apology letter. To this day, I refuse flowers from anyone as an apology. There are so many facets to this story, but I’m trying to stick with the bits I hope convey wisdom, growth, and helpfulness to others. I never got an apology from my parents when they were alive, even though they knew it was happening. My dad even tried to blame me. My mother eventually forgot and deluded herself to think, “Maybe something happened, but I don’t know.” They couldn’t handle any of it because then they would have to face the abuse they were giving to us children, to each other, from their families, and the abuse my father gave to all the women and prostitutes he was with besides my mother. At 16, I had an unsuccessful suicide attempt. Most people call those times a cry for help. It was definitely a cry to feel anything. When I presented my parents with my cut-up wrists that morning, my father packed his bags and left for good. It was more of a relief than anything. The divorce was a long time coming. My mother told me years later that sometimes the only attention she’d get from him was when they would fight, so she would. By this time, my sisters were living out of the house. That all ended when my dad left. One of our last conversations was him telling me how to be successful in killing myself if I really wanted to. ›

I want you to know this is a common theme amongst sexual abuse survivors. Never feeling the same ever again. Never being the same. It,s not a cliché; all my innocence left. I was never a child again.

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I had two sides of my personality going on as a teen. With friends and at school, I was happy and positive. At home or alone, I was full of anxiety and depression. I was kind of excited about getting out of the house for treatment, and because I have an adventurous spirit, trying something new.

— Alyson Atma Simms

Soon after, I went to drug and alcohol treatment. I wouldn’t say I had a problem any more than the other kids in my high school. I believe Spirit intervened. I think I was taken out of my home environment to save my sanity and again keep my soul intact. I had two sides of my personality going on as a teen. With friends and at school, I was happy and positive. At home or alone, I was full of anxiety and depression. I was kind of excited about getting out of the house for treatment, and because I have an adventurous spirit, trying something new. I ended up living in a halfway house for three months afterwards, and I have to say, I was really happy. I had my first experience with therapy, inquiry, and self-help. I liked it. I also liked not being at home. I had a bed in a long room with 12 other girls my age who had also gone through similar things as I had. We got to bond and help each other grow through the rest of our teen years. This story doesn’t feel totally complete, but it’s the closest I have come. My hope is that it helps me come more into my wisdom around this topic. My hope is

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that I feel seen. I hope that it helps people understand sexual abuse and its effects. But above all, I hope it helps children and those with children. My advice: Talk with them about safety when they are as young as five. I just know seven and eight are too late to start talking to them about body awareness and safety. I also really hope people understand the majority of sexual abuse is done by people we know, friends of family, and authority figures. The “boogieman” and “stranger danger” aren’t the real perpetrators to focus on. You must instill intuition in your children, especially the girls. You must instill respect for themselves and each other, especially the boys. Stop telling kids to be nice and give hugs to family members when they don’t want to. Teach them to say “don’t touch me,” even to family members. And heal with your own abuse you and your family have experienced. We can’t instill qualities in our children that we haven’t mastered. Make them memorize your phone numbers at age three or four. Look at your insecurities, awkwardness, and lack of intuition. Again, we can’t instill confidence and strength in our children if we

are lacking those in our lives. Lastly, the way you speak to, feel about, and treat your children’s father or mother is how they will expect to be treated by their intimate partners. So let’s get our relationships in order no matter what the consequences are if we want better for our children. I appreciate your reading and being my witness. My prayer: May we all strive towards a harmonious and loving world, ending war, abuse, and inequality. May we celebrate our differences while thriving on this planet together as one cohesive family. I donate 10% of proceeds from my online business, Atma’s Offerings, to an organization that works with children and teens from all walks of life to heal and become leaders for peace. They have similar ideas about composting life’s hardships into a life full of joy and service. You can read more about them here: http://atmasofferings. com/get-to-know-us/. I also donate 10% of proceeds from teaching to organizations that help empower children (Kid Power) and rescue sexually abused children (Operation Underground Rescue).


visit www.irest.us


MUSIC feature

Kenlyn Kolleen is on assignment in San Diego for Mantra Magazine. Kenlyn Kolleen: You’ve had such a varied career path as an artist, musician, fashion designer, and yogini; what makes you return to music and produce an album? Maya Fiennes: My new album is called Shift. It represents a shift in my own being—and if I’m going through this, I know others are too—in accepting my dark side, my shadow side. I used to always wear white and embrace the light, and as I come into myself more and more, I am now finding way more acceptance for all of me, for all of my humanity. So I wanted to do an album that speaks about this shift, combining music and yoga, electronica and mantra, the masses with yoga communities. For me, everything has come together and is one.

I used to always wear white and embrace the light, and as I come into myself more and more, I am now finding way more acceptance for all of me, for all of my humanity.

KK: What was your inspiration to do the album?

MF: I love Kundalini Yoga (as taught by Yogi Bhajan) and I am inviting in more feminine or yin energy into the practice. I made a dance video for Gaiam (Yoga for Real Energy). Now I’m teaching classes that have a component of chi gong in them and my Sadhana album will have two songs at the end to get up and dance. Celebrate! I see how people feel when I teach, and I meet it with dance, music, and frequency. I’m also including the voices of other famous yoga teachers in the album, such as Elena Brower and Anand, the founder of Sattva yoga. KK: What about the inspiration for the remix dance version of the album? MF: I wanted to get mantra out to more people than just the yoga community. I believe that the vibration of the mantras and the love frequency will give listeners an experience they haven’t had yet. I seem to create what I think is missing.

Musical Mutations of International Yogini

Maya Fiennes W e L ove Inter v i ew : K enl y n K o l leen

KK: What plans do you have after the album is finished? MF: I want to take the album on the road and do some live shows where we dance! Of course. I’m also planning to get the yoga community together to make an album in support of our planet. We are a powerful community and I want to give back.

Macedonian born and internationally renowned Maya Fiennes may be better known in the yoga, holistic health, and fashion arenas, but it’s her music that is capturing the attention of the masses. She is a successful classical pianist and performer with an upbeat personality. Combining her love of yoga with her love of music, she is re-entering the music arena with a debut album fusing the sacred mantras of Kundalini Yoga (as taught by Yogi Bhajan) with electronica music to a special frequency of music that is found in the buzzing of bees or the swaying of leaves on a tree—called the love frequency (528 Hz). Two albums will emerge from her studio: one for yoginis to use during morning Sadhana and a dance remix for clubs. Leave it to Maya to connect seemingly opposite worlds through her music. She is debuting her single, “LOVE NOW,” to Mantra Magazine listeners at https://soundcloud.com/user-751115553/sets/maya-fiennes/s-adBx9.

mayaspace.com

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#ONEVOICEMANYSONGS LOVEFEARCOMPASSIONHATEUNITYDUALITYSELFISHNESS DIVERSITYRACISMSISTERHOODSEXISMHEALINGTERRORI SMWARPEACEONEVOICEMANYSONGSAMERICAWORLDUNIV ERSEGODCONSCIOUSNESSFUTUREPRESENTPASTTHE S O U L O U R S E L V E S E A C H O T H E R R E P U B L I C A N D E M O C R AT T H E P R E S I D E N T O U L E A D E R T H E P E O P L E ,

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Womb Wisdom – The Secret Happiness for Women

Womb Wisdom The Secret Happiness Shiva Rea

for

L

Women

ike many women, my whole yoga practice and teaching changed when I became pregnant. I had a preconceived notion that I would still practice third series Ashtanga, arm balances and all—the super woman.

What happened was the opposite—the miracle of making a heart, brain, all those little organs put me into a deep stillness as I surrendered to this life-initiation. It took the entire first trimester to let my belly relax after cultivating for so long the lifted “in and up” uddiyana bandha core, which is also valuable, but we need both. This is the first release of balance that is initiated by our womb—an unwinding that many women in the West struggle against as the pressures of a flat-belly conditioning give way to deeper womb wisdom. Our first invitation into being a mother is to learn to let go through love—a key, I believe, to women’s happiness. This potent shift of a relaxed belly has so many hidden benefits that we culturally deny. Let’s try it now for all beings:

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If we bring our hands to our lower belly, we can feel this shift of consciousness. Gaze inwardly into your heart and feel an intrinsic love streaming down into your womb (or prostate for men). As you relax your belly, feel a shift into a deeper knowing, an instinctual connection. As you exhale, let go of any emotional tension, shame, judgement. With a relaxed belly, feel this seat of natural happiness which decimates excessive thinking, worrying, and emotional constipation. A woman has this nine-month opportunity to retrieve this connection to womb wisdom for herself and the world. What brings such a change is love—pure love—for the little one that grows within. As women, we can continue to embody this womb wisdom after birth or at any phase of life. Now that my son is almost 18, I rely on this lower belly wisdom to help me be a better parent by listening to my instincts, being more present, and as my son becomes a young adult, to trust as he walks his path into this ever-changing world that we are always connected. This is the womb wisdom we can bring into our lives as parents and to make a difference in the world.


Like many women, my whole yoga practice and teaching changed when I became pregnant. I had a preconceived notion that I would still practice third series Ashtanga, arm balances and all— the super woman.

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WHY WE DEITY form of stories. In the non-dual tradition of yoga I study and practice, the Divine can only be recognized by us humans when we meet it in its many visible and worldly forms. Those forms may be other humans, the beings with whom we share this planet, or our own states of mind and feelings. As I developed a more personal connection to the deities and their many aspects, I too found a closer connection and compassion to my many states of being. I came to see that the body, mind, and emotions I call mine, which seem so limited and fallible, so separate from anything Divine, are really an expression of Consciousness, a me-sized version of the One. This reminds me of one of one of my favorite stories of Hanuman. As he’s speaking to Ram, Hanuman says, “When I forget who I am, I call your name: Ram Ram Ram Sita Ram Ram Ram. But when I remember who I am, I am you and you are me.” Since, from my experience, most of us are still fairly lost in the separation of self from ultimate reality, we create avenues, connection points, pathways to remembering. It may take the form of a murti, a figure infused with the essence of its Deity, which we keep as part of our altar at home or in the studio. By giving our attention to the murti, through meditation or rituals like puja, we take our fractured life force and narrow it toward the focal point of this particular Divine remembrance. We create a similar focal point with the ripple of sound when we, not unlike Hanuman, call the name of a particular aspect of the One through mantra. I’ve found that simply repeating these Divine names has the effect of making me feel less isolated.

The form of devotion is really less important than the activity of devotion itself.

Why we Deit y

I

​J anet Stone

f you’ve spent much time around the practice of yoga, even in the most sterilized version of what is called yoga, you will almost certainly have seen imagery or heard stories or chants invoking one of the many deities in the Hindu mythology.

Are we crazy? Chanting to these blue guys, the half-monkey man, the elephant-headed rotund one, the eye-bulging-bloody-tonguedskirt-of-arms-necklace-of-skulls lady? As for the crazy part, I can’t speak for anyone else, but I’ve had it checked out and nope, the diagnosis is: fairly sane. In fact, at least for me and many of those I practice with, there is something not only sane but potent and even resonant in directing my attention to these divine beings. In expressing reverence and devotion to these various and colorful figures, I find that I’m expressing reverence and devotion to the One that dwells in the all. Let me explain: Joseph Campbell’s The Hero with a Thousand Faces suggests that all mythology of all times work in similar ways and carry similar themes. Like the ancient Vedic texts called the Puranas, myths work by taking aspects of the One and turning them into characters in a story, whether that story is understood as history, literature, or scripture. The Ultimate Reality is revealed by being divided into many forms, which can then be presented to us in the JanetStoneyoga.com

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If we’re uncomfortable with notions of “Gods” and “Goddesses” or chanting in languages we don’t know, we can look to devotion of the divine through what to the untrained eye are inanimate objects: trees, mountains, rocks, and the like. The form of devotion is really less important than the activity of devotion itself. Murti, mantra, yantra (divine geometry), postures, tree-hugging: it really doesn’t matter. The point is that we use an external object or practice to connect back into the feeling of Oneness we often lose track of in our busy, over-full lives. That Oneness is always right there, waiting to be remembered. So here we are in the West, stretchy pants on, waiting to crush our chaturanga and maybe nail that cool arm balance we saw on Instagram. One day we come into the studio to be met by this image: a wild-haired man with a drum in his hand, who looks like he’s prancing with flames at the tips of his splayed dreadlocks and dancing on what appears to be—a baby?? Then the teacher (in this case, let’s just say, me) starts playing a depressing sounding organ/piano/accordion thingee and singing words we don’t know in a language we can’t understand. We have no idea what we’re saying and yet the folks around us seem to be weirdly into it and not running from the room, which (face it) may have been our first impulse. So we decide to stay and maybe we even start to hum along, and possibly we make up some words that sound like the ones everyone else is saying. And possibly for a moment we forget our dramas from the day, we forget our posturing in the world and attempting to make ourselves more important than others, more permanent and powerful. And we just repeat and repeat and repeat until we’re just breath and the ripple of sound all meeting on an equal ground. Possibly. We turn to the deities to remind ourselves when we’ve forgotten who we are. Our devotion to these figures can serve as an expression of our interconnectedness to all beings. Wow, that sounds great! But maybe that’s a little too much to ask. Maybe it’s enough that when I connect to the Deities, I find a way back to myself. I beat back a little of the separation I often feel not only from others but also from myself. I come home. PHOTO: JOE LONGO


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STREET ARTIST feature

WHAT LIFTS YOU Street Artist, Kelsey Montague Interview C hris Lucas

This inspiring female street artist/author, who harnessed the power of social media to create uplifting and interactive art for the digital age, wants to take you from being in the art to being in the moment. 16

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Chris Lucas: How did you first realize you were onto something with #WhatLiftsYou? Kelsey Montague: Watching the public reaction and response to my first #WhatLiftsYou mural in New York City was when I really knew people not only enjoyed the art but the message as a whole. At first, I wasn’t sure people would want to share something personal with others online. I’ve realized people are not given enough opportunity to be creative and share what inspires them with others. I aim to change that. CL: How did you go from street art to making coloring books for adults? KM: With street art, my focus has always been to create art that is highly interactive. I love giving people the opportunity to step into a piece, become part of the art, and share their own creativity. Coloring books for adults was a natural next step for my work; they are not only relaxing and fun, but you can take them anywhere and use them at any time. Whether you are trying to get through a creative block or taking a fiveminute break to decompress, it’s an easy way to slow everything down. CL: What is it about the act of coloring that you find meditative? KM: Coloring gives us the chance to focus completely on a task that’s enjoyable and relaxing. It provides an escape from the day-to-day grind and encourages exploring and revealing our natural creativity. It helps clear my head and reset my attitude when I’m feeling overwhelmed and stressed. Like my street art, it’s so important for me to give people a moment to pause and be in a moment. With coloring, that moment gets to last much longer. CL: MC Yogi once told me that when a street artist sees a wall, it’s like a big wave surfer seeing a huge set come in. How do you choose your spots? KM: Coming across a good wall with high foot traffic is like Christmas morning for me, whether it’s on a busy NYC street with cars honking, locals rushing to work, and tourists exploring, or a quiet corner in a smaller community. A good wall with a good community is the best thing a street artist could ask for. For all my street art pieces, I focus first on identifying and partnering with vibrant communities in different cities around the world. Meeting new people and exploring new cultures is a huge motivation for my work, and is also the ultimate reward.

I ’ ve re al i ze d pe opl e are not gi ven enough oppor t unit y to be c re at ive and sha re what i ns pi re s t he m with ot he r s. I a im to c hange t hat .

CL: You’ve partnered with large companies like Facebook and American Greetings, and huge events like SXSW. How do you balance the goals of working with partners and your own goals as an artist? KM: Whether I’m working with a large brand or drawing in my studio, my goals as an artist are always focused on fun and interactivity. As long as I’m creating art as a tool for community engagement and interaction and I have a pen in hand, it’s easy for me to balance the goals of my partners and my own, because we are aligned from the start. CL: What goes into creating one of your pieces? KM: Each day working on a mural is always different, which is pretty exciting. Different cities, communities, and even the weather all play a big part in creating these pieces. I like to start drawing early in the morning and I usually won’t stop until the piece is finished. Sometimes it’s a window, and other times cranes and lifts are involved! No matter what, letting myself go and staying in a good flow is the most important part for me. Sometimes people interact with the piece while I’m still in the process of drawing it, which is an amazing feeling. CL: I notice you sometimes include a small set of wings in some of your murals. Who or what is that for? KM: I think everyone deserves a pair of wings, and that includes kids, babies, and dogs! It’s a fun way for everyone, big or small, to participate in #WhatLiftsYou!

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Solid. Sexy. Strong world and reaching their dreams and those that aren’t quite there yet? It comes from an ability to easily move through that space between fear and doing, to tap into their self-love in a way that creates an unfaltering faith in their abilities to manifest what they desire. Now, that being said, the path towards selflove is a tricky one. Research any successful person humble enough to share her true experiences, and you’ll hear a story about her fear. The path to self-love comes with unpredictable turns and crossroads, moments when you think you’re almost there, only to realize that there is another hill to climb. It is a lifelong marathon, but one that is worth the work. Once you’ve stepped into the space of self-love, you realize that anything is possible. You begin to see that you are even more powerful than you ever could have imagined. All you have to do is trust that you are enough, trust that you are worth it. This truth carries over into every other part of our lives. If you don’t believe that you can do a handstand, build a loving partnership, create a career that feeds your soul, or take that “huge” risk to move a bit closer towards your dreams, you won’t! It has to start with you. You must believe that you are worth it.

Listen. Open. Soften. Talk sweetly to yourself, even more sweetly than you would to your lover.

Solid. Sexy. Strong Why Self-Love is the Key to Everything You Desire Renée Lamb Do you remember your last experience of soul-shaking fear? Not because you were chased down a dark alleyway, but because you were about to do something big, brave, and authentic? It might have come as you stood up to share your opinion with a group, right before telling a profound truth or before putting something you created out into the world to be judged. Now, think back to what helped push you renee-soulie.com

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over that hump. I bet it was a deep breath, a comment from a friend, or a small prayer that reminded you of your own worth and abilities, something that brought you closer to your self-love, because in that moment between fear and doing is where your self-love resides. All of us have had profound moments of fear and self-doubt. So what’s the difference between the people that are changing the

And you can’t let your past stand in your way. We are all good people with complicated pasts. We have all made mistakes, big mistakes. We have dark histories and parts of ourselves that we would rather keep hidden—but those things are what make our lighter parts brighter. They make all of those good decisions, generous moments, and overcome challenges even more amazing.

We are, each and every one of us, already worthy, already good enough to deserve even the wildest things we can imagine. Forgive yourself for your past, let it go, and turn around to face the new you, unstoppable and radiant in her own self-love. Trust that everything you’ve experienced (and I mean everything!) has prepared you. Listen. Open. Soften. Talk sweetly to yourself, even more sweetly than you would to your lover. Forgive. Speak to others with love and let the rest unfold. Move into that space between fear and doing. Believe that you are worthy, that it can happen, and it will. All of those dreams and desires that before seemed so huge will suddenly and ever so easily drop into your lap. Tap into your self-love and you’ll have no other choice.


by C h r i s t i n e A l e x a n d r i a AngelChatter.com


c e l e b r at i n g

Moms Series

Celebrating

Mothers

{

We want to create a culture and community that supports, nurtures, and celebrates mothers. Mothers need our help, our time, and encouragement. Everyone talks about the sweetness of motherhood, but rarely about the real struggles that we face. Mothers today are up against so much judgment. Breastfeeding in public, not breastfeeding long enough or too long, what you feed your children, and the list goes on. Rarely do we have time for ourselves, giving almost everything to others. It’s time we get real about the realities that we as mothers face.

These amazing moms share their stories of challenges, love, and practices for a more whole parenting experience

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{


{

Karissa Becker

{

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c e l e b r at i n g

Moms Series

On

Meditation,

Motherhood and

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Angry Bedtimes

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{ Karissa Becker Instagram: @TheGivingMom

My son was having a hard time settling down at bedtime, and as he became angrier, I knew we would need to reset our intentions and emotions. I sat up in bed, “Ok, let’s meditate. I can see you’re out of control and we need to be in control to make good decisions.” I invited him to sit with me and said, “I’ll do it with you.” He said, “I’m still going to be angry.” And I said, “That’s ok, let’s try anyway.” And we sat in bed and started breathing. I could see in the darkness he still put his hands on his knees and the crying seemed to slow. I waited for a few breaths; I could feel my own self shift into heart-centered feelings of compassion. I put my hand on his shoulder and said, “I know you’re angry right now. You know what, though? There’s a voice inside your head and it’s telling you to be angry.... You don’t have to listen.” I waited another breath. Silence. I said, “You could even replace the voice inside your head with a new mantra. You could say to yourself, ‘I can be happy because I get to sleep next to my mom.’ Because you know I’m always here with you.” He had stopped crying and I waited for him to speak next. He looked down at the bed and slowly started to lie down. I took the cue from him and, lifting up the blankets, wrapped him in my arms and snuggled my face into his and kissed him. Another bedtime saved by meditation. thegivingmom.wix.com | #thegivingmOMents

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c e l e b r at i n g

Moms Series

On for

{

Pausing your Career

Your Kids

Gasya Gaukhar Akhmetova-Atherton Instagram: @Gasya The biggest struggle for me was to stop/pause my career. I decided to start a family and I always wanted to have kids close together in age. It’s been four years now and I have two kids. I’m blessed to have my angels, but a part of me is screaming to go back on stage. It was hard, but I did find a solution. I started to train at home, and my daughter saw me doing my routine so she decided she wanted to join me. So from now on, she’s my inspiration and motivation and we do train and work out together. My son is slowly starting to join us, too.

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C

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CM

MY

CY

CMY

K

YogaSphereâ„¢ Yogi Pro Kit

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c e l e b r at i n g

Moms Series

Setting the

On

Energy, Patience, and

{

Forgiving Yourself

Summer Perez Instagram: @SummerPerez

Many of the most important things that I have found in this journey through motherhood are about shifting mindset. As a mother, I have a big role in the energy of the home. I thought the whole “If mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy” thing was just something people said until I saw how my moods really affected the entire household. I learned that at any given moment, I can choose to see things differently, causing me to be more conscious of how I feel throughout the day. If I forget to do so, the kids will become mirrors and reflect it back to me. Being a mother to these two beautiful souls has opened my heart, mind, and soul in so many ways. Every moment presents itself as an opportunity to learn a new lesson or practice a previous one. And that’s one of those moments when patience is needed. With practice, patience becomes easier and easier. There will be a lot of repetition, some meltdowns, and messy homes, but having patience has helped make the meltdowns end quickly, the home get cleaned faster, and allowed me to really connect with my kids. And as for the onslaught of “but why” questions, I have learned that a long, scientific answer usually gets a stare and then a thoughtful “huh.” And no more questions. Which leads into learning to embrace the little things in life (because they really do matter). The morning hugs and the farewell greetings, the play times and mealtimes, all have an immense impact on our family. Being absolutely present for those moments

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allows us to really see each other and hear what the other has to say. Motherhood has brought me more into the present moment than ever before. And it has also had me giggling and playing so much that sometimes I feel as if I’m getting another chance at childhood. Perhaps one of the biggest lessons I have learned is to forgive myself. I won’t have all the answers, nor will I be able to make the best decision all the time, but I will try to do the best that I can with what I have and allow myself to start all over if need be without beating myself up about it. When things go south, and it’s getting hard to see the light, I remind myself to breathe and be love, and to keep moving forward. Everything will be alright. Life is no longer about me; it’s about what I can do to make this world a better place for my kids, her kids, your kids, and for you. And I believe that by supporting each other as we go through this immense transformation that parenthood brings, we can become the change that we wish to see in the world with our children following in our footsteps.

Perhaps one of the biggest lessons I have learned, is to forgive myself. I won t have all the answers, nor will I be able to make the best decision all the time, but I will try to do the best that I can with what I have and allow myself to start all over if need be without beating myself up about it.


c e l e b r at i n g

Moms Series

“

When I grab on and dig my talons in for control, I feel confined and hardened. When I give in to the sweet freedom of flowing with life, I find softness.

�

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Being a mother to a sweet and spirited boy has gifted me the biggest lesson of just BEING and LETTING GO. Motherhood isn’t easy. Some days it brings me adventures and amazing heart-filled moments, while other days it brings me to tears. Some days I know exactly what I need to do, and some days I just have no idea. There is always this challenge of surrendering to not really being in control.

On

{

Letting go

Just Being

Amanda Jo Heller Instagram: @jo_mamma

skyespirit.com

and

I want to be part of the growth of a human being who is able to express himself and able to problem-solve and not feel confined or muted. In order to do this, I cannot grab onto the reins all the time. Freedom to be is so necessary for growth. I have found that this theme is universal, not just in my motherhood, but in my yoga, my life. When I grab on and dig my talons in for control, I feel confined and hardened. When I give in to the sweet freedom of flowing with life, I find softness. When we allow life to flow, and allow our moments to be as they are, we can cultivate more love and a greater fullness of living. Motherhood is yoga in itself, and the big topic for me is just being. Letting Go and JUST BEING.

Photo (top left): Victoria Grey Hess | photo (bottom left): Neil Gandhi

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c e l e b r at i n g

Moms Series

{ On

Premature Labor and

Depression Omshantimom.com

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Jasmine Rose Instagram: @OmShantiMomYoga

Much like yoga, motherhood has a way of stripping us down to our most vulnerable selves, revealing our brilliant light, compassion, unconditional love, as well as our less flattering features. My first lessons in motherhood were of struggle. I felt I had been thrust into a world I wasn’t yet ready for; at 36 weeks pregnant my daughter was born and carried away in a stranger’s arms, and I had to go home without her for two weeks. The moments after her birth would be a blur of heart-aching numbness, and the months after that would be covered in a thick fog of depression and confusion. Through self-love and a daily yoga practice, I began to see that period of my life for what it really was: a time of renewal, regrowth, and the very thing that shaped me to become the woman that I am today. I began to see the strength, not only in myself, but in all women. I learned to surrender to moments of struggle and embrace the growth that comes with it: on and off the mat. I try to no longer resist difficulties, and for that I am forever grateful to my tiny gurus who continue to teach me every day!


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c e l e b r at i n g

Moms Series

On

How Pregnancy Changes our Practice and the

Emotional Challenges of Motherhood

{

I’ve been doing yoga since 2008. I remember a girlfriend dragging me to a class kicking and screaming, saying I would just absolutely love it! After an hour and a half of what felt like torture, I left feeling refreshed, strong, and inspired. Yoga filled a void that I didn’t know even existed. I became addicted, wanting to calm my mind, along with strengthening my body. It was such a natural fit for me and the emotional and physical workout was what I had been seeking and didn’t even know. I’ve been an avid yogi ever since! Before I got pregnant, I would go to class probably five times a week and challenge myself to continually grow. After I got pregnant, my doctor asked me to slow down. He recommended not going upside down. I really struggled with that at first. Classes became boring, and I was frustrated. I know this sounds silly, but I felt like I lost a little bit of myself during that time period. Then I started to feel the baby kick, and truly

Amy Davidson Instagram: @amy_davidson

nothing else mattered. There was a shift. I was pregnant, and the baby was in class with me! I cannot think of anything more special. We meditated together. I was able to slow down my mind once again, which I know relaxed the baby. It was our break from the busy day. I had found my “yoga” again. After I gave birth to Lennox, a whole new set of emotional challenges began. He was born nine weeks ago, and I have been back to class maybe once or twice a week. Although my practice is starting to grow again, my first couple classes back felt like they were missing something. My yoga buddy wasn’t kicking me and hanging out, while I was doing something I was so passionate about. My first time back, I cried almost the entire class. I felt empty. Something like a handstand that used to make me so excited felt so meaningless without him inside my belly. It’s amazing the perspective motherhood brings.

Now that I’m two months postpartum, everything has gotten so much better. Yoga has become something that fills me up again, instead of making me melancholy. I’m really focused on what the practice of yoga continues to teach me. I take the time to go within, focus on my breath, and remember why I fell in love with this practice in the first place. I am blown away by the female body and what we go through during pregnancy, birth, and afterwards. Yoga prepared me for birth and keeps me strong as I continue to practice postpartum. Through yoga I have found a way to quiet my mind and settle into my body. When I go too long without going to class, my mind starts to race and my body locks up. It’s extraordinary to me that having a practice and staying true to it keeps my mind and body healthy. I encourage everyone to go to yoga.

Photo (ABOVE): Louis Fisher | photo (right): Lu Tapp

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“

I take the time to go within, focus on my breath, and remember why I fell in love with this practice in the first place.

�

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Is Teaching Yoga Your Destiny?

Amy I pp o l i t i

Is Teaching Yoga your Destiny? Ask

“

yourself

these Questions

Many students go through yoga immersions, boot camps, and even teacher trainings with no intention of teaching, simply to go deeper into their practice and delve more fully into their own process of self-discovery.

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�


c

hances are if you’ve been at a yoga practice for a while, you’ve found that it lessens pain in the body, eases stress in the soul, and increases your overall sense of well-being.

You may have noticed that you’re less likely to fly off the handle than you used to be, you’re generally happier, and you’re loving life in ways you never imagined. In a world dominated by non-stop activity, endless social media feeds, and the proliferation of high-tech devices, yoga is one of the few popular endeavors that require only a sticky mat and a commitment to practice. No technology is needed. As a yoga practitioner, you know that yoga practice is sometimes the only time of day when someone truly unplugs, enters a state of calm, moves their body, and simply breathes. Studies now prove what we’ve always suspected—that yoga practitioners are much more likely to be concerned with social causes, living green, and volunteering in their communities than those who do not practice yoga. Being a part of such a positive, uplifting, and life-changing practice makes many yoga fans want to give up the nine-to-five grind in favor of teaching yoga and helping others awaken, too! If that urge to let it all go and enroll in a yoga teacher training sounds familiar and you eventually become a teacher, you will have the honor and privilege of guiding people through their own self-discovery—a process that can be challenging, but also joyous and rewarding. If you are considering making the leap from yoga practitioner to yoga teacher, ask yourself these two questions: What if I got a lot of no’s? • Am I ready to learn to teach yoga? • Will I be a natural at teaching well?

And then ask... Do You Have These Qualities?

9

Yoga Teacher

Take a look inside and ask whether these are characters you possess. Then go back to carefully contemplate the questions above.

Do you...

1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9.

Identify as a student of yoga in all areas of your life—not just on the mat?

Not to worry! You can still deepen your understanding of yoga. Many students go through yoga immersions, boot camps, and even teacher trainings with no intention of teaching, simply to go deeper into their practice and delve more fully into their own process of self-discovery.

Consider attending longer format programs, workshops, retreats, teacher trainings, and week- to month-long courses, giving yourself no pressure to teach, simply giving yourself the gift of learning.

Embrace an attitude of being continually open to learning and being able to admit when you don’t know something? Possess a fundamental understanding of your own energy and a sensitivity to other people’s boundaries?

As rewarding as a 60- or 90-minute class can be, the mysteries and layers of yoga are vast. Consider attending longer format programs, workshops, retreats, teacher trainings, and week- to month-long courses, giving yourself no pressure to teach, simply giving yourself the gift of learning.

Have a daily practice? And if you got a lot of yes’s...

Work to cultivate a vibrant body, a sharp mind, and a soft heart?

Consider yourself psychologically minded with a certain level of emotional stability?

Buckle up! Take that teacher training. And mostly be ready to see your teaching as a professional career rather than a hobby. You will go far and you’ll touch more lives than you can imagine.

Enjoy academics, studying, and scholarly pursuits?

Have a spiritual practice, even if that’s simply an appreciation of nature, art, or anything beautiful? Not worry about being too physically adept at the practice?

Once you’ve gone back and considered the first two questions again, you should know your answer.

amyippoliti.com | YogaGlo.com

Amy Ippoliti is the co-author of the new book, The Art and Business of Teaching Yoga. Learn more at amyippoliti.com. She is known for bringing yoga to modern-day life in a genuine way through her intelligent sequencing, clear instruction, and engaging sense of humor. She shares her passion for yoga, health, and earth conservation through her writings and underwater imagery with marine animals. A teacher on YogaGlo.com, she is a pioneer of advanced yoga education, cofounding 90 Monkeys, an online and in-person school that has enhanced the skills of yoga teachers and studios in 65 countries.

Photos: Taro Smith

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g r mE e

EMERGENCE

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en ce Sianna Sherman


No matter how much we try to escape our pain by numbing out, turning to addictions, or shutting down our hearts, there’s really no way out except to go in through the portals of change, death, and rebirth.

O

nce upon a time, a long, long time ago…

There was a mythic firebird who sang wholeheartedly to the blazing sun all day and night with his tail feathers shimmering in red, orange, yellow, and every shade of gold. The song of the phoenix resonated in the hearts of all and gave life to the Universe. When the vitality of the phoenix began to wane after hundreds of years, he turned to fly back to his indigenous soul tree and made a great nest of cinnamon bark, fragrant leaves, and an egg of myrrh. The phoenix climbed into the nest and sang his song as brilliantly and boldly to the Sun as the world had ever heard. His old form burst into flames, burned into ash, and resurrected anew in full glow. The phoenix scooped up his silvery ashes and placed them in the egg of myrrh, then carried this egg as an offering to the city of the Sun and placed it on the Altar of Love. Love is the Highest Force. It is invincible, indefatigable, and truly boundless. Love always calls us home. No matter how far in exile we have cast ourselves away, love never fails us and forever lights the way.

Every struggle I have ever known ultimately dissolves in the ocean of love when I truly turn my heart and attention to the matter. My early teen years were fraught with substance abuse, eating disorders, and too many self-destructive patterns to name. I left everything for yoga when I hit rock bottom. I turned my life upside down and inside out to shake out all the negativity and traveled the gypsy road with shamans, priestesses, and yogic masters to remember my own indigenous soul. I needed a total revamp and a cosmic recalibration. Twenty-eight years later, I have learned how to bless every part of my quest and honor my heroine’s journey. I recognize how I separated myself from my own feminine grace and power and overly identified with the way of achievement and goal-oriented success. With compassion, I am learning to acknowledge both the wounded feminine and masculine within me. I understand the necessity to plunge, descend, and re-ascend siannasherman.com | @SIANNASHERMAN

from the depths. There’s no way to transcend the inner work nor go around it. It requires radical honesty and the willingness to get downright messy and gutsy too. We all go through it. No matter how much we try to escape our pain by numbing out, turning to addictions, or shutting down our hearts, there’s really no way out except to go in through the portals of change, death, and rebirth. Life continues to test us no matter how long we’ve been on a spiritual path, and for me it’s about making the encounter as meaningful as I can. Can I undergo these challenges with style? Phoenix style! Sing my song more beautifully through every ordeal I encounter and release the struggle inside the journey. In the last four years, there have been many fierce ordeals: the loss of my yoga community of 15 years, followed by marriage and divorce, selling my home, tearing cartilage in my knee, letting go of my online yoga family, and in the last few weeks accepting my mother’s dementia and that she no longer remembers I am her daughter. I am discovering the way of breathing into life and how to release the struggle in a genuine way. Each initiatory fire that comes along holds the key to my transformation and a possible new me with greater authenticity, gentleness, kindness, humility, and attunement with love that sets me free. The way of the phoenix teaches me to sing boldly and blaze brightly, to never give up and keep carrying each new pile of ashes to the Altar of Love in the center of my Being. May All Beings Be Free. Sianna Sherman is a storyteller and creator of Mythic Yoga Flow, where asana comes to life through myth, mantra, mudra, and magic. photo (left): tania cappelluti | photo (above): DJ Pierce

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Back to My Self

Back my self to

on

Miscarriages, a

Dead Marriage,

Rheumatoid Arthritis,

Divorce,

No money, and a Plan

Making a Commitment to Live Authentically, and from a Place of Choice Instead of Reaction

Jen n y P ar u m D al l as , T ex as

W

hat did you want to be when you grew up? Do you even remember?

I got married way too young. I was 19. That was also the year I got really, really sick with Rheumatoid Arthritis. Life moved my new husband and me halfway across the US for our first real job. I had hoped for a new adventurous life in the Pacific Northwest, but instead experienced such unbelievable pain in my hands and feet, and what I later realized was my first miscarriage to add to an already rocky marriage. Rough first year. The RA was diagnosed at 21, and I was prescribed a cocktail of drugs to slow the process, but my body was attacking itself and the inflammation was rampant. The doctors thought it was optimistic to give me 20 years of quality life, but told me to prepare to be wheelchair-bound by age 40. Children were likely out of the picture due to the complications of the drugs and weakness of my body and immune system. I struggled to crawl to the shower each morning to find relief in warm water.

My feet and hands would swell and crack. By 25, my hands were like those of a crippled 85-year-old woman. I couldn’t open doors or bottles, and I completely broke down one day when I struggled to wrap my fingers around a pen to sign my name on a receipt. My days of running were over. I took a handful of pain relievers to try to stay active. Everything hurt. This wasn’t how it was supposed to be. Deep down, I believed there was another way. I felt that our bodies were meant to heal if given the proper resources, and I believed that happy was my natural state. I was on a mission to manage the inflammation naturally, but resources were slim. When I fired my rheumatologist, I was told I was naïve and irresponsible. I was called a “hippie chick” and “granola” for trying to use vitamins, herbs, and natural remedies. The loneliness of navigating this disease and of living just a little different added to my pain. No one understood. After another miscarriage, I did have a child (and later two more). The pregnancy was a joy, and the RA symptoms faded temporarily.

jennyparum.com | yogamovementdallas.com | @JPARUM

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Then the pain returned stronger than ever. The small things were a chore. Changing diapers and picking up or holding the baby took all I had. I moved back “home” to Texas with a dead marriage, a nine-month-old baby, and a cat. Now what? I pouted for three years, bitter that I now lived in the suburbs of Dallas instead of the beautiful Pacific Northwest where I felt I was just starting to find my way. I was starting from scratch with friends and had no job outside the home. Isolated and lonely and lost. I had affairs because I didn’t want to be in the situation I was in. I was angry because we were broke. I felt trapped. And I hurt. Every day. My body and my soul were deteriorating rapidly. I was far from home. And hobbling down the path to self-destruction. Then I found yoga. Or yoga found me. Either way, I found my true Love. I hope I never grow up, but I have grown stronger in my body and mind. Yoga returned my health and my heart. It returned my vision and my hope. I rediscovered my Self! ›

Photo: Matthew Freed


The doctors thought it was optimistic to give me 20 years of quality life, but told me to prepare to be wheelchairbound by age 40.

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Back to My Self

Jen n y Pa r u m Clarity At first, I didn’t understand when my teacher said, “Set your intention for your practice.” I just knew I was grateful for the break from a noisy home and for one hour I could take care of myself. Gratitude became my intention. Each time I came to the mat, I said, “Thank you.” That gratitude grew like a prolific vine, turning what would seem like the greatest challenges in my life into moments to practice gratitude. My yoga was moving off of the mat and changing the way I did life. I stepped to the front of my mat with gratitude—for what I had and all that was coming. Life continued to dish out heaping amounts of hurt, disappointment, and pain, but with it were also moments of complete joy, clarity, and hope. Hope The first class I took was hard. I had to modify everything. My hands and wrists couldn’t open enough to hold my weight. My tiny Filipina yoga teacher would say, “It’s ok, we just try.” She was so patient and encouraging. I felt ridiculous and embarrassed and cried. A lot. But after that first class, I could feel

circulation in my fingers! They were pink and warm and didn’t hurt! Due to Raynaud’s, a condition that commonly tags along with autoimmune diseases like RA, my fingers and toes had been either numb and white from lack of blood flow or so sensitive that the lightest touch or bump was excruciating. Every time I returned to my mat, I felt change. Little by little, I felt hope return. Freedom “Release judgement and expectations.” During my first several months, another teacher would repeat this over and over again. In my head, I understood to release judgements and expectations I had of others. Step one. Nailed it, so I thought. But what I came to realize was I was still letting others’ thoughts and opinions of me influence my actions and reactions. I was living everyone else’s version of my life, not mine. Through my practice, I became more aware of my stories, my excuses, my pride, my fear. I also became very aware of my resilience, my determination, my strength, and my gifts. The more I released, the more I could grow into my better Self.

Live Well Three kids. A failing marriage. No money. I needed a plan. I had made a commitment to myself to live authentically, and from a place of choice instead of reaction. I scraped up $350 and filed for divorce, moved my kids and me into the city, and started from scratch… teaching yoga. I was terrified and exhilarated—on my own for the first time ever at age 35. It was a huge transition for my kids, but they had a happy mother now. During the transition, I lived in a way that I suspect is similar to college students just being free from the rules of their parents’ home, but I kept returning to the mat. And the mat kept returning me to my Self. And the more I refined myself, the more I would shine. The physical body mended from the RA, and I’ve been relatively symptom-free for over five years. But the biggest repair was my Spirit. Life continues to dish out challenges and surprises, but the way I view them has changed. The joy is permanent. The circumstances change by the minute. With a thriving yoga studio, three active kids, and a beautiful community of friends, life is abundant! Every day is a celebration of new possibilities.

PhotoS: Ashley Woods

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Yoga teaches us to cure what need not be endured and endure what cannot be cured.

—BKS Iyengar

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photographer feature

+

Austin Yogis and Teachers Neil Gandhi

Instagram: @LifeInAnImage

These images have been taken in Austin at various stages of my journey as a photographer. This city has an incredible collection of yogis, teachers, and yoga studios that create space to encourage practice, acceptance, and a sense of community. A fantastic Canadian photographer, Christine Hewitt, based in South India, ignited my passion in photographing yogic movement. Her emphasis on capturing the beauty of human lines, and alignment of pose (or asana) while amalgamating everyday life and color are some of the many principles I cherish and carry in my arsenal today. Yoga for me personally is much like my journey with photography. As Pattabhi Jois, the father of Ashtanga Yoga, says, “Practice and All is Coming.” I constantly strive to get better at yoga and photography, and they both enable me to lead a more balanced and productive lifestyle.

lifeinanimage.com

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“

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+

Austin Yogis and Teachers Neil Gandhi lifeinanimage.com

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“

photographer feature

+

Austin Yogis and Teachers Neil Gandhi

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The Danger of Driftnets + Our Dying Oceans

The Danger of Driftnets + Our Dying Oceans How Our Individual Actions are Killing Our Oceans and Contributing to the Extinction of Dolphins, Whales, and Sea Turtles and how a group of yogis based out of Southern California, Kurmalliance, are making a difference Article: Aria Morgan

i

t’s easy to forget the implications of our modern life. Everything is available at a moment’s notice, whenever we want it, however we want it. This overabundance of immediate satisfaction rarely encourages us to drift behind the scenes of various industries to see how our products—be they food, textile, or agriculture—are made. In many ways, everything but the final product remains out of sight, out of mind. As yogis, we are often asked to walk the non-convenient path, to examine our habits. We strive to do more than what is called of us. Instead of merely holding a posture, we strive to maintain an awareness of our alignment, our breath, the pacings of our mind. Our intention is to be in the moment, and simultaneously free from attachment to it. Meet Kurmalliance, a group of yogis based out of Southern California whose attention is drawn to the seafood industry and how it affects the ocean, the planet, and ourselves. As a whole, seafood remains a popular choice for many yogis and conscious eaters who prefer fish over meat because it’s marketed as a healthier choice. The ocean seems so vast and teeming with life, reproducing constantly. What’s a few fish in comparison with the pollution created by, and the horrible living conditions endured in, the animal agriculture industry, especially for those animals bred on factory farms? This demand created, however, is unsustainable and is depleting our oceans faster than the fish in it can reproduce. At our current rate of consumption, our oceans’ fisheries will be nearly extinct by 2050. Kurmalliance.org | SeaTurtles.org

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This is shocking, and yet, very few people have actually processed what this information means—near extinction of fish within our lifetime. Additionally, because the ocean produces over 70 percent of the earth’s oxygen and it is rapidly acidifying, our world is experiencing the effects of climate change even faster than we imagined. Just this March, the average temperature in North America breached two degrees Celsius above normal for the first time in recorded history. Adding insult to this is the practice of driftnet fishing, which is banned by the U.N. and outlawed in many countries and throughout the United States, except in the State of California. The California Driftnet Fishery is comprised of fewer than 20 vessels that use driftnets. These mega nets are about the size of the Golden Gate Bridge. Driftnets are set out overnight to catch anything and everything that happens to swim into them. The fishery’s intended catch is swordfish, but sharks, whales, dolphins, and sea turtles are also caught in the driftnet and labeled “bycatch.” Ironically, only one in eight creatures caught is actually swordfish, which is not even a desirable fish to eat. Swordfish is high in mercury and has been labeled “toxic” by the Environmental Working Group. The FDA and EPA warn women of childbearing age and children never to eat swordfish and shark. These precious animals labeled “bycatch” can’t just be saved and set free in the morning, when the shipping vessels come out to check their catch, because many need movement or air to survive. Whales and dolphins need to surface every 20 minutes to breathe. Sea turtles need to surface every four to seven hours to breathe. And sharks, which depend on constant movement, suffocate in driftnets.

Photos: Courtesy of Turtle Island Restoration Network from NOAA Observer Program


Driftnets are not only a thing of the past, but an ugly secret still being maintained as a sustainable fishing practice by the Pacific Fishery Management Council, which injures seven times more whales and dolphins than all the other fisheries in California, Alaska, Oregon, and Washington combined, and thirteen times more than any other single California fishery! Kurmalliance is committed to educating the public about the dangers of driftnets, and demonstrating alternative ways to live a sustainable future that benefits the planet and humanity. Five years ago, Kurmalliance teamed up with the Turtle Island Restoration Network to help the plight of sea turtles across the world, which are dying in record numbers due to pollution, driftnets, and illegal fishing. More recently, Kurmalliance has focused on local means of action by actively protesting the use of these nets at key meetings and supporting Senator Ben Allen’s (D-Santa Monica) proposed legislation to phase out this deadly fishing gear. Allen’s bill, SB 1114, would ensure that driftnets become a thing of the past, so that marine wildlife are no longer accepted as part of a fisherman’s catch. Last fall, members of Kurmalliance and the Turtle Island Restoration

Network traveled to the Southern California meeting of the Pacific Fishery Management Council (PFMC) to protest driftnet fishing. This past February, 2016, Kurmalliance members appeared in turtle costume at a local Los Angeles farmers market to help educate the public about the use of driftnets. Brock Cahill, founder of Kurmalliance, calls the driftnets, “a floating wall of death that drowns countless dolphins, whales, turtles, sharks, and seabirds in its wake,” and reminds us that these threatened and endangered migratory species labeled “bycatch” “are not our local seafood.” In March, Turtle Island Restoration Network, with the support of Kurmalliance, headed to Sacramento to help educate lawmakers about the consequences of allowing this outdated fishing practice to continue. Join the efforts of Kurmalliance and the Turtle Island Restoration Network by reaching out to Kurmalliance.org and SeaTurtles.org.

Aria Morgan is a writer, yoga teacher, and birth coach who loves handstands and the ocean.

These mega nets are about the size of the Golden Gate Bridge. Driftnets are set out overnight to catch anything and everything that happens to swim into them.

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photographer feature

Kristi Knupp One of the things I love about being a photographer is working with people. I’ve been fortunate enough to work with a lot of talented musicians and artists who devote much of their craft towards making a change. My interactions with those around me are what inspire me as a photographer and, more importantly, a human being. Evoke Emotion Photography is about more than just photography; it’s about connecting with people and inspiring one another to make this world a better place.

evoke-emotion.com | Instagram: @Evoke_Emotion

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kathryn budig Recipes

Zucchini Pasta Almond Basil P est o w ith

{

MAKES

2

TO

4

SERVINGS

}

Raw cuisine isn’t always my favorite (my digestion has seen better days), but I’ve always been impressed with veggie pasta. It’s a sponge for flavor and the perfect canvas for sauce. I took a spin on the classic basil pesto by replacing pine nuts with almonds. The result is a simple, fast, refreshing lunch.

Ingredients

2 zucchini ¼ cup raw almonds 2 large handfuls fresh basil ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil 2 garlic cloves, peeled 2 teaspoons pink salt 1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved

1.

Spiralize or peel the zucchini into noodle-like ribbons. Pat them with paper towels to remove excess liquid.

2.

Place the almonds, basil, oil, garlic, and salt into a food processor and blend until the pesto is the desired consistency (I like a chunky texture). Gently fold the pesto into the zucchini noodles and toss with the cherry tomatoes.

From Aim True by Kathryn Budig. Copyright © 2016 by Kathryn Budig. Reprinted by permission of William Morrow Books, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers. kathrynbudig.com

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PHOTOs: Cheyenne Ellis


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kathryn budig Recipes

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Secre t Garden

Farro Salad {

MAKES

2 to 3 SERVINGS

}

I’ve never met a farro I didn’t like. The nutty Italian grain brings an instant smile to my face. It can be served warm or at room temperature. This is a refreshing salad, with flavors reminiscent of a vibrant spring garden.

Ingredients

4 cups vegetable broth 1 cup dry farro pinch of sea salt ¼ cup walnut oil ¼ cup fig balsamic vinegar juice of 1 lemon handful flat-leaf parsley roughly chopped smoked sea salt ¼ cup dried cherries 1 cup golden cherry tomatoes 4 cups arugula 5 radishes, sliced ½ yellow beet, thinly sliced and quartered

1.

Combine the broth, farro, and salt in a saucepan over high heat and bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce the heat to maintain a simmer and cook for 30 minutes, or until al dente. Drain the farro using a fine-mesh sieve and transfer it to a large bowl to cool.

2.

Whisk together the oil, vinegar, lemon juice, and parsley in a medium bowl and season with smoked salt to taste. In a large serving bowl, combine the cherries, tomatoes, arugula, radishes, and beet. Stir in the cooled farro, pour the dressing over the salad, and toss to combine.

From Aim True by Kathryn Budig. Copyright © 2016 by Kathryn Budig. Reprinted by permission of William Morrow Books, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers.

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kathryn budig Recipes

vegan ranch {

MAKES

1 CUP

}

Ranch dressing is just one of those things that you hate to admit you love. This creamy dressing is a classic guilty pleasure. My lackluster affair with dairy led me to whipping up a simple dairy-free version. Go crazy with your fresh herbs. This dressing works when you want to dunk your pizza. That’s right, I learned so much in college.

Ingredients

1 cup soy-free vegan mayo 2 tablespoons unsweetened almond milk 1 tablespoon sweet onion, diced 1 small garlic clove 1 teaspoon sea salt 1 teaspoon chopped chives 1 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary 1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme 1 teaspoon chopped fresh sage 1 teaspoon chopped fresh basil

1.

Place the mayo, almond milk, onion, garlic, and salt into a blender and puree until smooth. Fold in all the herbs. (If you’re not a purist who likes your ranch to be white flecked with green, you can go ahead and blend everything all at once.)

2.

Store in the refrigerator for up to a week.

From Aim True by Kathryn Budig. Copyright © 2016 by Kathryn Budig. Reprinted by permission of William Morrow Books, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers.

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Dealing Bliss

Dealing Bliss

On Being Arrested for Dealing Drugs, Building Our Own Cages, and the Day that Changed Everything

Drew Xeron 58

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If there’s anything you get good at while in jail, it’s thinking. They really give you a lot of time to sit there and think. It’s here where I came to the personal epiphany that despite the fact that having to sit in a cage was a direct result of my ‘perfect’ lifestyle, I had really been sitting in a cage the whole time.

m

arch 28, 2001, came and went for a lot of people. So many things happened on that fateful day. Babies were born, traffic was bad, birds flew through the sky. Everything seemed to be going pretty normally until the moment men in blue windbreakers burst through my door. It was all over... I was a second-generation Greek immigrant living in a suburban palace out in Maryland and doing pretty well for myself. We’re talking black leather couches, big screen TVs, wall-to-wall white marble, secret compartments full of cash, and drugs... lots and lots of drugs. Up until this point, I had thought that the life I was leading was the best it could get. Money, women, cars, etc. I was in the middle of DC’s vibrant 90s nightlife scene, and it made me feel invincible. One million. The DEA charged me with conspiracy to distribute one million ecstasy pills. I guess when you say it out loud, maybe it was a little to the excess. It was weird that my homeland of Greece had just celebrated its Independence Day, because I was about to lose mine. The events that followed ultimately sent me on a harrowing personal journey that could have easily lead to my permanent demise. It would cause the most devastating ripples and challenges in my life that I had ever faced. And believe me, I was scared. Growing up in the suburbs of Washington, DC, was not that different from the suburbs of Anywhere, USA. My folks were hard-working first-generation Greek immigrants who spoke with a heavy accent and had to pretty much learn everything the hard way when they decided to move to the States. Four kids, a couple of suitcases, and no real knowledge or ‘how-to’ guide on surviving in the US. Somehow they managed to keep food on the table and ultimately live the ‘American Dream.’ At one point, my pop’s hard work paid off so well that he was even able to start his own successful business. The Xeron family did not have to prove anything to anyone... and maybe that’s where it really all went awry for me. If there’s anything you get good at while in jail, it’s thinking. They really give you a lot of time to sit there and think. It’s here where I came to the personal epiphany that despite the fact that having to sit in a cage was a direct result of my ‘perfect’ lifestyle, I had really been sitting in a cage the whole time. Watching movies like Scarface and Goodfellas growing up made it look so cool to be a gangster. Right? I had convinced myself early on that some way, somehow, that was going to be me at the hottest DrewXeron.com

table, in the hottest club, with the hottest girl. Now, of course, one could never forget how all those movies ended, but they were the least of my concerns. I wanted the light. I guess what I’m trying to say is that I got too caught up in the hype of trying to be somebody I wasn’t, and in turn, through intense personal hardship, somehow in the end became the person that I always wanted to be deep down. Even as a child, while my older brother helped my dad work on cars like a tag team of grease monkeys, I could usually be found in the corner, engrossed in twisting various pieces of scrap metal into small, intricate sculptures. My father would always shake his head and call me a dreamer. My parents didn’t have any idea how to spot my artistic side, much less develop it. I feel that I’ve had an eye for things that were beautiful my whole life; whether art, dance, music, or photography, it was only when I finally got honest with myself that the path become clear. In that regard, you can say my true artistic side was subdued till I became a professional photographer at the ripe age of forty, and since that day, I have not yet been able to put down the camera. My time spent these days, I swear, is the most fulfilling anyone out there could ever have. I make money doing what I love and capturing sides of people they never knew they had. I have not one, but two celebrity Shih-Tzus living under my roof. I also recently got lucky enough to marry one of the most compassionate, caring, and amazing women I have ever beheld. And, of course, she’s as beautiful as Aphrodite herself. Life is good. My message is to follow your heart. Your gifts and talents will show up early in life. Don’t allow anyone to deter you from following your dreams. Drew Xeron is a kickass commercial photographer/filmmaker based in New York City and Washington, DC. left photo: Chelsea Xeron | top photo: Brandon S. Hunter

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MUSIC feature

{

NEW ALBUM: My Heart Bows Down to You ou t n ow

}

Brenda

McMorrow Her Songs are a Bridge between the Worldly and the Infinite In s t a gram : @ m c m or row b

Singer -songwriter Brenda McMorrow on Wonder, Love, and Inspiration and the Q: Where do you find inspiration? A: Inspiration comes when I’m quiet enough to listen. I’m fascinated by the magnificence of creation and the ineffable Source of it all. Recently, I was inspired to write a song called “Falling Away” when I was gazing at the huge frozen snow drifts on a beach on Lake Huron and observing how they will eventually be worn away by the waves and the warmer temperatures. I realized this is the case for us as well: our identities, our beliefs about ourselves, our misconceptions about who we are will slowly be worn away, too—especially if we’re walking on the path of awakening. If we are willing to let go of all of that “stuff,” we can see who we really are at our core. For me, inspiration comes from the knowing that what we are at our Source is infinite, that we are God incarnate, and that there is only One, but with many forms. As this realization deepens in me, the inspiration to write songs about it just seems to happen. Those songs

BrendaMcMorrow.COM

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Benefits

of

Chanting

become ways to bridge my human, worldly experience with the infinite Source of me that is connected to everything. I get swept up in the wonder of it all and then the music just comes from that open space all on its own. I used to “work” at writing songs. Now they come when they’re ready. Q: The title track on your latest album, My Heart Bows Down to You, has resonated with listeners around the world. What inspired you to write such intimate, devotional lyrics? A: “My Heart Bows Down to You” expresses my absolute reverence, awe, and deep love for the Source of all that is. It’s a deeply felt love song. There is a great and beautiful paradox: when we bow down with humility and awe to God, or the Absolute, or Emptiness—whatever name we want to give It—we are, in fact, bowing down to the very core of who we are. It is Love loving itself. “My Heart Bows Down to You” just touches the tip of the iceberg of my gratitude for this.

Q: What are the benefits of chanting? A: Chanting is beneficial on many levels: physically, mentally, socially, spiritually, energetically, and emotionally. When we chant, our breathing slows down and deepens, which improves heart and lung function; our thinking mind slows down, giving us muchneeded relaxation and a break from mental chatter; it enables us to rest deeply and fully in Presence, tapping into the very Source of our being; it satisfies a primal human need to connect with and create sound with others. The mantras are ancient formulas that have great transformational benefits, and they have been uttered countless times over millennia, so we are tapping into a powerful energy field. And it just feels good!

The acclaimed Canadian devotional chant artist Brenda McMorrow has released four solo albums, including her latest, My Heart Bows Down to You.

PHOTOS: JEREMIAH HILL


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readers’ photos

Readers’ Photos from

Across Globe the

F e at u r i n g the most awesome photos sent in by our Mantra Yoga + Health community of yogis, meditators, and athletes

GOLI GABBAY • LOS ANGELES, CA • @GOLIGABBAY • Photo: MICHEL ANDREO


Sasha Nelson • Williamsburg, Brooklyn @sfreneenyc • Photo: Renee Choi

Marin Gordon • Big Island, Hawaii • @marinjayden

Maired Florez • NYC • @mai.red photo: Chris Oliva


Readers’ Photos

Grace Millsap Pisgah National Forest, North Carolina @gracemillsapyoga • Photo: Christa Turski

Eleonora Rachele Zampatti Casa Om, Mexico Photo: Brooke Michelle

Renee Serrichio • Palm Beach, FL Photo: robert sturman

Daisy Monticelli • Bend, OR @Daisy2280

Bernie Isacovici (with Sofia + Ethan) • Chicago, Il @Bernie_yoga • Photo: robert sturman

Jess Blake • Tulum, Mexico @sfreneenyc • Photo: Renee Choi

Molly Weintraub • Fort Lauderdale, FL Photo: Kate Oakley


from

Across Globe

Cory DeGregorio • @NamasteInSF • Photo: tri nguyen photography

Lauren Plagens

Sonia Wolf • Denver, Co • soniawolf.com photo: Jim Campbell

Jess Ray • Boston, MA • @jessrayyoga photo: kadri kurgun

the

Mary Clare Sweet • Omaha, Ne @mcsweetyogi • photo: Bill Sitzman

Carrington Jackson • Raleigh, NC carringtonjacksonyoga.com Photo: Jakob Lagerstedt

Susanna Harwood Rubin • NYC • @susannaharwoodrubin photo: Roxxe NYC Photography


Readers’ Photos

Kellen Williams Charlotte, NC @kellenwilli Photo: Julie Corder

Su Chun • Jiquilillo Beach, Nicaragua • @schun

Genevieve Larocque Saramento, CA @genlarocque Photo: Tavio Valencia

Carly Hayden • Seattle, WA • @catalystyoganw Photo: @Sukha_Yoga_Photos

Lara Herbst Ederer Issaquah, WA • @laraliam PHOTO: @Sukha_Yoga_Photos

Lily Russo lilymosaics.com Photo: Oliver Scott-Tomlin

Kevin Ng • Seattle, WA @kevinngyoga PHOTO: @Sukha_Yoga_Photos

lin houtman Netherlands @Ourobourosyoga

Laurel Attanasio AnaCapri, Italy @laurelattanasio photo: Joshua Attanasio

Jennifer Hepton Seattle, WA • @jenn_hepton_ PHOTO: @Sukha_Yoga_Photos


from

Across Globe the

Jenny Yarborough • Wilmington, NC jennyfromtheyogablock.com

Hannah Lipman • Hilo, HI @hilogirl9789 • Photo: Eric Leifer

Alison Olt Kerr • Tacoma, WA @Pranavismedicine Photo: @Sukha_Yoga_Photos

Chicago, Il Photo: Gina Bell

Clarissa Thompson • india photo: Tiago D’Oliveira

Veronica Aguirre-Dutton Carpinteria, CA @veronicalovergirl

Christian Allaire • Corte Madera, Ca @christianallaire • Photo: Tom Whitaker

Lauren Grogan • Red Bank, NJ @centeryourhealth photo: dana stanley

Erin Smith • Winchester, Ky @theOMplace photo: Tina Carter

Nina Reis • Boston, MA • @reis.nina • Photo: Rick Bern

Libby McAvoy • Eugene, Or @LibbyMcAvoy photo: Paul Garrett

Jillian Fiore + Lisa Weinert • costa rica @sfreneenyc • photo: renee choi


Readers’ Photos

Joanna Neher Albany, NY

David Henault Greenville, SC @DavidBruceYoga

Valerie Costello • Portland, Me @valeriecostelloyoga photo: Makenna pope

Kandis Tagliabue Santa Monica, CA @Kandistag

Katie Menz Saratoga Springs

MANDALAY YOGA mandalay-yoga.de

Lori Tindall • Boise, ID • @Lori_Tindall Photo: Forrest Tindall

Amy Sowul • Brielle, NJ • @asowul Photo: Parker Sowul

Erin Flockhart Aspen, CO Photo: Scott Flockhart

Amber Hamzeh Monterey, CA @Fancy_piece

lisa rueff schneider Sausalito, Ca

Emma Knoke Bellingham, WA @emmaknoke

Alexandra Shepherd • Los Angeles, CA @alexandrashepherd_acts Photo: Vince Tula


from

Feggi Ferreira • Mumbai, Maharashtra, India • @feggiyoga photo: @akarimages

Stacy + Seth Newfeld Philadelphia, PA @art_of_partnering Photo: Joe Longo

Shawn Chereskin Sedona, Az • Photo: Phyllis Carpenter

Tim Moore • Los Angeles, CA @VeganFatKid • Photo: Jackie Sobon

Kim Cavagnaro Marathon, Fl @oceanvayuyoga

Anna Sugarman • Koh Samui, Thailand @annasugarmanyoga Photo: Erin Jones

the

Angela Beaver • ATLanta, ga @angelabeaveryoga Photo: Heidi Geldhauser

Helen Sprengel PORTLAND, Or photo: @helen.sprengel

Elaine Oyang • San Francisco, CA @elaine_yoganutrition PHOTO: Matt Champoux

Lauren Prindiville cabo rojo, Puerto rico @travelingtula

Across Globe

Mj Pratt

Rachel Martel • Clark, NJ @rachelann1116

Rashila Amin • Hoboken, NJ Photo: Chris Lettiere


Readers’ Photos

Keely Johnson Manhattan Beach, CA @keelyjohnson Photo: Alicia Johnson

Yoga Beyond • Wanderlust Sunshine Coast, Australia @Omandlove_ PHOTO: ALI Kaukas

Milly Diaz Ramos + Liz Alvarez • Hamilton, NJ @milarox1 • @yogaptliz

cheyenne ravarino Casterino, France @cheyenneyoga

Rajni Tripathi Chicago, IL • @rajniOYoga photo: Eugene Parechyn

Kristi Cox • Temecula, CA @Krisandboys2

Brittany Rattinger West Palm Beach, FL

J.J. Cook • Taj Mahal, India @NamasJay Photo: Martina Osicka

Cazoshay Ward Portland, Or @yogawithcazoshay Photo: Nate Ward

Catherine Webb Lynch Hudson Valley, NY Photo: @wkgmom1

Ning Fecher Washington, DC @ningbadabing

Tara McMurray Glennallen, Ak @alaskayoga Photo: Nick Brunger

Ciry Deissl-Gibbs @sunshineandkale

Mary • Chicago, Il

Kimberly Sutphin Tampa, FL @swagmomjamz11

Maribeth Woodford Manasquan, NJ @maribeth_w_sukha Photo: Matt O’Boyle


from

Debi Fossati Carmel, NY superty.org

Mangala Misiorowski San Luis Obispo, CA @bohostella

Sukha • Palos Verdes, CA @sukhatheband Photo: Robin Lambert

Jessamy Otteson Pendleton, OR @jessamy44

Victor Chaves • NYC jaiwarrioryoga.com

Sabrina Sanz • Nyack, NY @Talk_That_Talk_ Yogini_Brini body art: Jamie Baldwin Gaviola

the

Faith Price Green Bay, WI

Johanna Goodwin • Ko’Olina, HI @Yogijos

Stacey Vespaziani • Lake Erie, Oh @StaceyVespaziani PHOTO: Paul Wetzel

Across Globe

Magdalena Hurtado Brentwood, Ca @Magdalenaah PHOTO: @Vblock

Cheyanne Abolt PHOTO: Jason Neitzke

Morgan Mazza White Sands National Monument, NM @Moryogi • Photo: Jackie Lamb

Kelly Newman Burnham Lake Placid, NY @Kellynburnham Photo: Bethany Burnham

Regina Malabago Alona Beach, Panglao, Bohol, Philippines


Mantra Summer Issue 13