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M A N T R A

YOGA + HEALTH WEIGHT LOSS: THE MIND-BODY CONNECTION

KATHRYN

BUDIG TEACHING SELF-CARE, ​M ARRIAGE, AND LIFE OUTSIDE STRETCHY PANTS

HAVE A RADICAL LOVE AFFAIR TIFFANY CRUIKSHANK

PEACE WITH PERFECTIONISM

MEN

YOGA

SECRETS OF

FABULOUS

RELATIONSHIPS

+

THOUGHTFUL

PARENTING

GIVE UP SUGAR

​ FOR GOOD STOP HOLDING BACK RECLAIM YOUR POWER LEARN FROM PAIN RELEASE THE ​F EAR

INDIA

in PHOTOS


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Move to Be Healthy and Young Celebrity fitness trainer

What are you waiting for?

Our bodies are made to move. Activity literally activates our bodies to perform all of its functions. And yet we spend more and more time sitting, not moving.

The mechanisms of healing, of optimal health, of brain activation; the production of neurochemicals like serotonin and dopamine; proper sleep; and general outlook on life are all based in activity. We get energy from movement. If we don’t burn enough energy throughout the day, we aren’t tired at night, and then we turn to sleeping pills. If we don’t get enough sleep, we are tired during the day, and we turn to caffeine and energy drinks. It’s a vicious cycle. Chemical stimulants will fry our adrenals and create metabolic and hormonal imbalances. This results in a whole slew of other problems, like poor sleep, inflammation, and hypertension problems. All of this can be prevented by moving and using your body throughout the day. We lose a significant amount of our muscle mass if we don’t move or exercise. Working out is not like money in the bank. You don’t reap the benefits when you stop; use it or lose it. AUTUMNCALABRESE.COM

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The key to keeping up with your fitness routine is to make it fun! Make it a game, work out with a friend, take a class, compete even if it’s just with yourself. You have to find the fun in it so that you will want to continue doing it. Movement is a huge component to your health. Make time for it. Challenge yourself. Remember, your physical activity doesn’t have to take place in a gym. We are made to move, so get up, walk, run, bike, swim, climb, throw, play with friends—just move and move often.

Use it or lose it.

Physical activity lowers the long-term production of cortisol, the stress hormone. The stress of exercise on the body improves our muscle strength as well as our bone density. It makes our hearts and lungs stronger. The more we move, the more oxygen we take in; this enhances every system in our body on a cellular level. We recover and repair faster with more oxygen, and our blood flows more efficiently. The list goes on and on when it comes to the benefits of exercise and physical activity.

Autumn Calabrese is a celebrity fitness trainer, busy mom, and national-level bikini competitor. As creator of 21 Day Fix, the best-selling Beachbody fitness program of 2014, this rising star in the fitness community has made a name for herself by helping people lose weight and get the bodies they’ve always wanted.

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On again off again digestive issues can alter your living


“Pain is a signal, and rather than wish it (or drug it) away, we should listen and learn.”

Learning from Pain

The Mind-Body Connection

By Vicky Vlachonis

Pain is opportunity. Pain is potential. Pain is good. People are surprised to hear me say such a thing. But I truly believe that pain is a signal, and rather than wish it (or drug it) away, we should listen and learn. Sure, you might think that kink in your neck is from sitting in front of the computer all day. But if you look into that pain, truly see it, you uncover something bigger: the truth about your relationships, your work, your mind, and your life. While Eastern medicine has tapped into the mind-body connection for thousands of years, recently Western experts have proven that the mind and body are not just connected—they are one and the same. MRI scans have found that whether people experience a burn from hot water or a memory of heartbreak, the brain registers the exact same neural patterns. Trauma victims are fifty percent more likely to develop chronic pain conditions such as fibromyalgia, registering higher levels of inflammation for their entire lives. All those traumatic memories live on in our muscles or fascia. There’s no doubt: we have issues in our tissues! Many who endure chronic pain take drugs, drink, zone out—do everything they can to get away from pain. But our bodies are talking to us; we need to listen in order to heal and grow. My three-stage Reflect-ReleaseRadiate program has helped thousands of people use their pain as a tool for physical, mental, and spiritual growth. The first stage, Reflect, roots you in your body again. You’ll sketch the lifespan of your pain—When was it “born”? How has it changed? How have I changed? (And perhaps most important, Whom do I need to forgive?) I introduce my Morning Glory routine, a daily

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seven-step protocol that’s the foundation of all my work. Starting with warm water with lemon and the Tibetan Rites of Rejuvenation, this practice awakens awareness and is so powerful, I’m certain it alone is responsible for some of the biggest transformations among my patients. The second stage, Release, combines the wisdom you collected in Reflect with the most effective remedies I’ve used with my patients—foods, exercises, self-care rituals, skin treatments, meditations, affirmations, essential oils, teas, and self-healing trigger points—into a step-by-step program that reduces inflammation, increases oxygen and blood flow in blocked tissues, and washes toxins out of your system. You’ll add a skin treatment to the Morning Glory that increases lymphatic drainage and also speeds up collagen production (beauty bonus!). The 3-Day Liver Flush facilitates release in the liver meridian, where much of our anger and resentment (and pain) is stored. Self-healing trigger points relieve pain, stress, even constipation—but can also help you discreetly restore energy, balance, and focus anytime, anywhere. Glowing with newfound gains, in the final stage, Radiate, you’ll do a Radiant Deep Dive to reveal the passions that have been hiding under the surface of your pain. A few final tools will protect your “contentment system,” the now-toned nervous system that keeps you feeling safe and soothed each day. The same bravery that empowered you to face your pain now propels you forward. Develop a daily practice that helps you stretch a tiny bit further, day after day. You stride boldly into your future, free of pain and full of presence, connection, and opportunity.


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CARDIO


T H E MANTRA SERIES

PART ONE

Yogini and Dancer

Sarita Lou On being a yogi in New York, small actions of self-care, and taking control of her Vata Interview: Ava Taylor Ava Taylor: How do you stay grounded? Sarita Lou: You often hear stories of New Yorkers struggling for balance in the hectic city, and it’s no different for yogis except that we have our practice to rely on. The small things in the day can really add up to a life full of self-care, and most of my grounding practices are from the Ayurvedic tradition. I wake up and scrape my tongue and drink a glass of water, preferably with lemon, first thing. If this is all I have time for, I go on with my day. If I have a little more freedom in the morning, I do a guided meditation practice or reading, and if it’s a really amazing morning, I’ll add sun salutations. The most important thing is that I’m doing something that I know is good for me. In a busy world, it’s important that we care for ourselves, not just in an intangible way but in small actions every day. AT: Do you have a health secret? How do you stay healthy? SL: My health secrets during the cold and flu season are apple cider vinegar and oregano oil. And while I generally practice vegetarianism, chicken soup is my favorite thing to ease cold symptoms. For mental health and emotional well-being, I personally need to exercise at least every other day. Sweating is an amazing way to release toxins and feel good about your life, and it reminds you to be grateful for your health! AT: What’s one of the hardest things you’ve been through? What helped get you through it? SL: Taking the leap from the safety of a full-time job to working for myself led to one of the hardest years of my life. Becoming a full-time yoga

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and dance teacher in New York City is really competitive, and I found myself struggling to make ends meet, and it felt impossible to keep my creative fires lit. I sank into a mild, exhaustion-induced depression for about six months. I literally felt sad because I felt so depleted, but I couldn’t see a way out of it. Eventually, I found my way to Deepak Chopra’s book Perfect Health and read a short excerpt on Vata imbalance, and it read like a list of my symptoms. Relief flooded me as I realized this was something I was in complete control of and something I could change through lifestyle choices. And then life worked its magic. I was offered a really well-paying position teaching yoga at a local high school that would increase my income and allow me more free time.

“I believe that the universe is conspiring to support us.” I am grateful for the timing of these gifts, both the realization of what I needed and then the means to make it happen. I believe that the universe is conspiring to support us. It took me a while to realize something in my life needed to change, but as soon as that truth came into focus, so did the answer to my prayers.

Sarita Lou is a yogini, dancer, and educator. Having worked in film, television, and theater, she continually seeks ways to share her love of movement with the world. She loves long hugs, beach vacations, and Thanksgiving—the holiday and the practice of gratitude. PHOTO: ISABEL PARRA


Interview: Carrie Morgan

International yoga teacher

Yogi Nora

T H E MANTRA SERIES

On discovering yoga as a child, doing the artsy thing, and connecting with a teacher

Carrie Morgan: When did you discover yoga? Yogi Nora: When I was eight years old, my mom gave me a book. This book was very basic, to do twenty-eight consecutive days of yoga. And I liked it so much, I did it about ten times. I loved the message of feeling and emotions and spirituality. That really hooked me. I thought, “Wow, there is a whole other world out there.” CM: Did anything in that book really stick out for you? YN: The section on meditation. The book discussed how you sit in silence and you watch your breath. I always wanted to sit at the end so I could be blank in my head and connect. I didn’t really know what I was doing, but I loved it. CM: Let’s fast-forward to your twenties. What were you doing? YN: I was a music major in college. I was a classical flutist and a singer. So in my twenties, I was in L.A. playing clubs and orchestras, doing the artsy thing. I was around creative people, so yoga for me was just another artsy thing. I just connected with it easily. I was only taking classes here and there. I didn’t find a teacher that I really liked until later.

YOGINORA.COM | YOGA30.COM

CM: And then once you connected with a teacher, did that turn things around for you? YN: Yes! I found a lady that I really liked. She was teaching yin, and physically she was way beyond me. The yin caught me more than the hard physical stuff. But she did tell me that she’s never seen anybody who cannot backbend as much as me. And I thought, “Well, I guess I will never be able to do yoga poses.” [Giggles.] I guess I heard her, but I didn’t really listen. I think if I had really listened to her, it would have really discouraged me.

YN: Yes, I did. I was teaching about twenty classes a week, didn’t have time to sleep or shower. And I thought, “I need to get out of this!” I packed up and went to New York for two weeks. My practice shot through the roof. I probably advanced about five years in my practice in just those two weeks. It changed my life.

Yogi Nora is a gentle soul with a fierce yoga practice. She travels the world sharing her love and passion for a healthy lifestyle of yoga, veganism, and juicing. Her YouTube channel, Yogi Nora, has over one hundred videos, from juicing and diet tips to handstand and stretching.

CM: You studied briefly under Dharma Mittra, correct?

“I probably advanced about five years in my practice in just those two weeks.”

PHOTO: MARC PIRON

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Give Up Sugar Don’t Give Up Being Gorgeous By Sophie Uliano

T

here are so many times in our life when we are tempted to give up, to throw in the towel because we believe that we just can’t do it. Whether it’s running that extra mile, doing five more press-ups, sitting for one more minute in meditation, or giving up sugar for one more day, we have that little monkey who sits on one shoulder and prods us, screeching, “You can’t do it!” As I approach middle age—oh, gosh, “middle-aged” sounds so awful, right? But anyway, I am now at the middle point of my life if I’m to live to one hundred; it becomes alarmingly easier to give up. Many of us have very real life circumstances that serve as wonderful excuses for not doing what we need to do to get and stay gorgeous: kids, insane work hours, needy family members, tight finances. The list goes on and on, and I am the first to understand these “obstacles,” but I’m also someone who has got a handle on my in-built resistance and found a way of telling it to f—k off on a daily basis so that I can get on with being the glorious, gorgeous woman that I am supposed to be—and so are you!

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So giving up on yourself, whether you are twenty or sixty, is not a good thing, and I just won’t buy it. This is why I wrote my fourth book, Gorgeous for Good: A Simple 30-Day Program for Lasting Health—Inside and Out. I saw too many women just caving under the pressure of modern-day life and reaching for another diet soda or brownie. Let me be clear: my program is not a diet; it’s a life. Because it’s a series of lifestyle changes (which address every area of your life), which amounts to a complete transformation in the health-and-beauty department. I don’t ask you to give anything up without replacing it with something way better. Sure, the first week off sugar might be tough, but two weeks off sugar and your head clears, your skin clears, and an energy that you never knew existed begins to bubble up. In order to experience the full enchilada and if you really want to glow, I recommend giving up sugar, dairy, meat, refined grains/ gluten, and alcohol. Sound extreme? For some people, maybe, but I’m just asking you to do it for thirty days, and then if you don’t feel wonderful, you can go back to your old habits.

We can now live long lives—medical science has made that possible—and I want to have the energy and drive to be able to enjoy my life fully, all the way into my twilight years. I want to be able to look my best, be my best, and do my best.


“If you don’t feel wonderful, you can go back to your old habits.”

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T H E MANTRA SERIES

MacKenzie Miller Yo ga Instru ctor at Yo ga Medicine Interview: Ava Taylor

On her Instagram hobby, a daily obsession, and the event that got her to stop holding back

Ava Taylor: How do you stay grounded? MacKenzie Miller: I stay most grounded when I am consistently meditating and staying connected to my loved ones. When I’m on the road, I use Skype to stay in touch with the people closest to me. Seeing their faces makes me feel at home and grounded wherever I am in the world. AT: What are your biggest passions? MM: When I am off the mat, most of my time is spent learning more about photography and videography. I’ve turned taking pictures for Instagram into a hobby that I thoroughly enjoy. I also love shoe shopping but hate malls, which means it doesn’t happen often. Lastly, I love doing charity work. This summer, I’ll be involved in a couple of fun nonprofit projects. AT: What are some important lessons you’ve learned? MM: Life is short, so I live by these rules: One, take risks. Two, travel the world. Three, love everyone—which doesn’t mean you have to like them. AT: Do you have a health secret? How do you stay healthy?

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MM: I don’t have any life-altering health secrets; I just try to maintain balance. When I’m home, I prefer to start my day with warm lemon water before my yoga practice. I eat predominantly protein and healthy fats with veggies and exercise often, but I love ice cream. I try to meditate often, breathe slowly, and enjoy what comes my way. AT: What’s something we probably don’t know about you? MM: I have an obsession with hairspray. I use it every day. I probably wear it more than perfume. AT: What’s one of the hardest things you’ve been through? What helped get you through it? MM: In 2002, when I was eighteen, the father figure in my life committed suicide. It was the first of many hard deaths I’ve experienced in my life. At the time, I didn’t have the tools to grieve this death properly, so I did what felt easiest: I built up an icy front to keep everyone from getting close to me. This went on for years. Luckily, I found yoga in my early twenties, which started a slow thawing process of my icy demeanor. In 2013, one of my students got hit by a car while riding his bike and tragically

passed away. The moment I learned of his passing was the straw that broke the camel’s back. This particular student, named Jerry, had broken through my icy demeanor for unknown reasons to me, but when he died, that ice was shattered. I realized how quickly my life could end and that I had to stop holding myself back from deeply connecting to those around me. I did a lot of self-discovery, read all of Brené Brown’s books on authenticity and vulnerability, and started taking baby steps towards being openly vulnerable. There are some days that I still struggle with being truly open, but nonetheless, it continues to be one of the most important and eye-opening practices of my life. AT: If you could say something to everyone on the planet, what would it be? MM: “It’s never too late to love yourself.”

MacKenzie Miller is a Los Angeles–based yoga instructor. Her teaching combines a thorough understanding of alignment and anatomy with the joy of balance and movement. Her classes and workshops are available worldwide and on the app Cody and the websites Ekhart Yoga and Yoga30.

PHOTO: PAO SANCHEZ


“I still struggle with being truly open, but nonetheless, it continues to be one of the most important and eye-opening practices of my life.� MANTRAMAG.COM

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Yoga Legend FEATURE

Part Two

Global Prana Vinyasa teacher and founder of Samudra Global School for Living Yoga

Shiva Rea On self-massage, yoga after forty, and her dedication to renewable energy

Interview: Maranda Pleasant

YOGAENERGYACTIVISM.ORG | PRANAVINYASAFLOW.COM

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“Daily oil massage increases your flexibility, longevity, self-knowledge, body wisdom, and self-love and is even better when shared with your beloved, friends, and family.”

Maranda Pleasant: What helps you stay grounded?

MP: What are your passions right now? Current projects?

Shiva Rea: I am an Ayurvedic self-massage (abhyanga) freak and travel with oils as well as teach people how to integrate abhyanga into their daily lives on our yogadventure retreats and teacher trainings.

SR: I always laugh that I am a person of 108 passions, but for as long as I live, I am dedicated to the renewable energy revolution that will happen in our lifetime and has such a profound ripple effect. I am being one hundred percent focused on what we can all do to respond to climate change. I live in a solar home, drive a solar-powered electric car or cycle, eat a plant-based diet, and support the Solar Lantern Project “Be-a-Light” that supports people-to-people grassroots solar projects locally and in East Africa in partnership with d.light and SolarAid, who have spread solar lamps to over forty-seven million people worldwide.

I believe it is one of the radical daily acts of self-healing that can change the world one body at a time as we become more connected to our earth bodies and the intelligence, nourishing power we can bring into our lives through a simple ten-minute practice. Daily oil massage increases your flexibility, longevity, self-knowledge, body wisdom, and self-love and is even better when shared with your beloved, friends, and family. MP: How does yoga practice change after the age of forty? SR: Most men and women after forty want a deeper practice on all levels, not just a challenging workout. I know some people who are just coming into their embodied fullness at forty and others who are moving out of asana and more into meditation or lunar practice. I feel 108 percent sure that yoga is the flow of consciousness in every moment. It is about a connection to the power of meditation— transforming asana into movement meditation and experiencing a thousand different forms of meditation in everyday life. Yoga after forty is less about the doing and more about the mojo of being. Less about the length of the practice and more about the quality of the moment. Practice is refuge. Experiencing practice like a “slow dance with the One” helps practice not feel like duty.

Here in L.A., we are focusing on providing solar lamps to make a small dent and empower some fifteen thousand homeless youths who go to school in the L.A. Unified School District and often have to live without light at night to study or just feel safe. This is the same issue around the world where over 25 percent of the world’s population lives without electricity with the majority (1.3 billion) using toxic kerosene lamps instead of the nonpolluting, renewable solar lanterns. Living with kerosene lamps is a toxic fuel source that is the equivalent of four packs of cigarettes a day, often costing twenty to fifty percent of a family’s income. I lived with a kerosene lamp for six months in Kenya when there was no alternative available, and the black smoke was awful. Try living one night in your home without any form of light. We live in an abundance of solar energy, yet we choose toxic sources. Only one hour of the sun’s radiant energy upon the earth can power our energy needs for a whole year. I

believe yoga practitioners are natural energy activists for we can wake up through our bodies to the conscious shift towards renewable energy over toxic fuel. How can we value the resources of the earth—food, water, air, trees, animals, and energy—as our very own life-force? What can each person do to make the shift from limited toxic energy to abundant renewable energy? Thank you, Maranda, for all the focus you have brought to climate-change issues through Mantra and Origin. MP: This issue corresponds with Earth Day. Is there any way to be more involved? SR: I invite the yoga community and beyond to join us for ten days for an Earth Day Inspiration from April 17 to 25 to embody, shift, and be inspired by what is happening inside your home. Since it is the International Year of the Light, we are featuring the Solar Lamp Project, where one hundred percent of proceeds go to the solar lamps as well as to empowering anyone who wants to start a solar lamp project in their own community or a place in need. You can go to #yogaforlight or YogaEnergyActivism.org to find out more and get inspired to join us during those ten days. Just unplugging or using a solar lantern for a day and being conscious of water use can power a laptop for a year and save forty gallons of water. May we realize the power of the abundant energy, breath, life-intelligence, extraordinary force of love within us all.

Shiva Rea is a global Prana Vinyasa teacher, yogadventurer, wave rider, and founder of Samudra Global School for Living Yoga and Yoga Energy Activism for a green energy future for all.

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Couples FEATUREFEATURE Yog a Medicine

- Six Secrets for a -

Fabulous Relationship

Nurturi ng your partnership with love and l ight By Bhava Ram and Laura Plumb

Have you had those sumptuous times when your relationship was radiant with bliss and fulfillment? Have you then experienced arguments—entrenched in your position, pointing your finger at your beloved, delineating his or her faults, and feeling profound regret when it was over? Ahh, the dance. One moment you’re floating across the ballroom floor of love like Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers, then suddenly you’re stumbling over one another’s feet and falling flat on your faces. We all want to love and be truly loved. What bliss! Yet, all too often, we want love to come along, tap us with a magic wand, and suddenly we’re happy ever after. Of course, life never happens this way. A fabulous relationship takes work. Daily work. Conscious work. Spiritual work. The greatest “soul teacher” you will ever meet in your life is the partner with whom you enter a lasting intimate relationship. They see it all: your public persona and your private one, your amazing qualities and your unfortunate shortcomings, the magnificent ways you love and support them and the times you seem to be the opposite of the person they fell in love with. This is the dance of relationship, and it has been repeated throughout the ages.

Here are six secrets that we have developed and nurtured over time for a fabulous relationship. They have helped us work through the dark times and spend much more time dancing in the radiant light of one another’s hearts.

▼ 1. Treat your partner as a divinity: Imagine if a great saint or sage arrived at your home. It could be the Dalai Lama, Mother Teresa, the Pope, Mahatma Gandhi, Krishna, or Christ. How would you greet them and treat them every moment of their stay? Do your best to treat your beloved the very same way. Your partner truly is a divine being. 2. Say yes: All of us can get stuck in the tight little boxes of our egos. Anything outside the box gets a shout of “No!” When you feel that habituated no coming when your beloved suggests a plan of action or, more importantly, asks for a change in your behavior, pause a minute, make a shift, and choose yes. 3. Erase the scoreboard: Stop keeping tally of your beloved’s faults or mistakes. Erase that scoreboard right now. 4. Cultivate gratitude: Thank your sense of higher power in every breath for this beautiful person in your life.

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5. Forgive: Forgive your beloved again and again, just as you would seek forgiveness. 6. Be the change you seek: Want change? Be the change you seek rather than demand it of your partner . . . and see what happens. Soon, you might discover that you can tango, boogie, waltz, and rock to all the dazzling music the two of you create together!

Bhava Ram devotes himself to teaching worldwide through his Deep Yoga School of Healing Arts. Founder of Warriors for Healing, a foundation bringing yoga science to veterans facing PTSD, his new memoir, Warrior Pose: How Yoga (Literally) Saved My Life, is scheduled to be a feature film in 2016. Laura Plumb is an internationally recognized expert teacher of Ayurveda, yoga, and Jyotish. As cofounder of the Deep Yoga School of Healing Arts, she writes, teaches, and leads retreats and workshops on healing, wellness, and self-empowerment worldwide. Her blog, Food: A Love Story, offers body, mind, and spirit nourishment in the Vedic tradition.


A fabulous relationship takes work. Daily work. Conscious work. Spiritual work.”

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SPOTLIGHT How has yoga affected your parenting? 2

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Q + A Kelly Hanlin McCormick

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Nicki Corridori

Yoga teacher and life coach Kansas City, Missouri KELLYHANLINMCCORMICK.COM

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Yoga reminds me, every day, to surrender. I can’t control whether there will be tantrums or sweetness, illness or dance parties, frustration or laughter. I can just keep showing up and surrendering to what is. This kind of presence is the surest way I know to be a kind and supportive momma—and to practice my own authenticity on the way.

Yoga instructor, True Yoga Evergreen, Colorado TCEXPERIENCEYOGA.COM

After having children, I felt depleted physically, mentally, and spiritually. This changed after my first yoga class. I felt and behaved like a better parent. Patience and energy levels increased. My body became strong and my mind followed. My children keep me in the moment and on my mat. Yoga affects all aspects of life positively, especially parenting. PHOTO: TONJE WILLIAMS

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Yoga reminds me, every day, to surrender. I can’t control whether there will

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Sarah Kottke

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Wellness advocate and studio manager at Sanctuary Healing Center Wilmington, Delaware

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Marianne Williamson said something like, the greatest chance you have to be a spiritual teacher is to mother a child. That statement is yoga for me. My son is almost two, and I believe, as a student and teacher of Kundalini Yoga, we share an auric field for three years after his birth. I am grateful to have yoga teaching to guide my mothering. PHOTO: CHRISTINA D. VASSALLO

be tantrums or sweetness,

Kavita Kat Macmillan

illness or dance parties,

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frustration or laughter. —Kelly Hanlin McCormick

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Yoga instructor and musician Portland, Oregon

Through practice, I make space. Space for kindness, patience, and observation. Space to guide my son as he grows and changes and to encourage him to find his own feet on the ground. Practice allows me to be fully present and in appreciation of each day. Bowing down before the teacher in my son, I learn to let go. PHOTO: RAKU LOREN


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Chantel Dick

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Matt Nelson

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Fawn Williams

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Yoga instructor Rio Rancho, New Mexico

Yoga instructor Portland, Oregon

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The most significant result of yoga in parenting, for me, has been patience. I’ve learned that each child comes with a unique set of strengths and weaknesses. It requires patience to allow each child to grow and learn in their own way and time. Just as it requires patience to allow the body to open into each asana at its own pace.

Raising my children has given me even more opportunity to extend my yoga practice into my everyday activities, constantly practicing being loving, patient, and generous. I have found that parenting and yoga have a symbiotic relationship; the more I align my intention in parenting with my spiritual ideals, the sweeter and more meaningful my practice becomes.

Yoga makes me a better parent by connecting me to my body’s intelligence. With a strong mindfulness practice, I do not rush to react; instead, I breathe. Yoga makes me more present and flexible with the demands of parenthood. The physical benefits of asana give me the endurance and strength to look after my energetic toddler all day.

PHOTO: ASHLEE HENSLEY / SWANKY SPARROW

PHOTO: ANNA HARRIS

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Portland, Oregon YOGAWITHFAWN.COM


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What brings you joy?

Q + A

3 Alicia Fife Owner, Hot Pepper Yoga Mesa, Arizona

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I find joy in continual personal growth and insight. I find joy in colorful organization and order. I find joy in a life full of infectious laughter spent with family and friends. I find joy in existence. PHOTO: MARY THORNE PHOTOGRAPHY

Sue Agee Yoga teacher, nurse, humble student Richmond, Virginia

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Letting my dogs run free on the beach. After all these years, still holding hands with my hubby. Watching my sons marry amazing women. Treasuring time spent with parents. Rejoicing in the warm sun. The magic of moonlight. Traveling and experiencing new cultures and people. Giving back to improve local and world communities. Giggling uncontrollably with friends.

Joy for me is found in life’s simple things. Time spent with family and friends. The moon, because she never gets old. The ocean, gathering shells and rocks. That unexpected visit from an eagle, heron, or hummingbird. Sharing an “aha” moment with a student. Joy for me is the connection I feel to the divine in all of these.

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3 Carrie Wallace Yoga teacher / studio owner of Yoga in the Center Mill Creek, Washington

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Heather Klawender Dance and yoga teacher Portland, Oregon

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For me, joy has both lightness and profundity. In joyful moments, I naturally pause long enough to notice and appreciate things authentically. My breath becomes grounded and deep. I reawaken to the abundance of this incredible universe. Joy is connection to another life, to source and self; being in my body; recognizing or experiencing growth; service work; experiencing true kindness. PHOTO: LAUREN BARRE PHOTOGRAPHY


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Joan White Director, The B. K. S. Iyengar Yoga School of Central Philadelphia Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

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Breaking through my fears. Teaching students to face their fears and find new frontiers. Teaching my students to heal themselves through yoga. Spending time with my family. Snuggling with my husband, Donald. Playing with my granddaughters Camille and Eloise. Studying with my teachers Prashant and Geeta Iyengar in India. PHOTO: SALLI MICKELBERG

Antoine Garth Austin, Texas

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In addition to being a yogi, I am also an astrologer and healer. I derive the greatest joy from using these modalities to intervene on behalf of the client to effect healing and transformation. I also teach yoga to youth in the juvenile justice program, and my general mission is to make yoga accessible to the underprivileged and marginalized. PHOTO: JAMES RAETZ

Kelly Kostecki Studio owner and yoga instructor, Om On Yoga Richmond, Virginia

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For me, joy is found in empowering others to lead an inspired and compassionate life, being continually amazed at the richness and vastness of the practice of yoga, and living in true harmony with nature. Of course, I must not forget continent/city hopping, Moroccan mint tea, acoustic guitar melodies, and my sassy Schnauzer, Gracie. PHOTO: KATE MAGEE PHOTOGRAPHY


Photographer Feature

Pamela Jones is a self-professed yogaholic with a severe case of Wanderlust and an award-winning photographer who creates powerful images that captivate and inspire. Her passionate interest in people, world cultures, and travel are guiding forces in her work. Her images celebrate the human spirit and explore the intricate fabric of spiritual life. These images are part of her new series, “Finding God,” and show how the sacred and spiritual are celebrated and expressed in everyday life in cultures around the world.

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INSPIRATION

IN INDIA

A Luxury, Wellness & Rejuvenation Retreat With Purpose November 1-7, 2015

Join us for this luxury trip of a lifetime set in Kerala, India amidst beautiful beaches, lush landscapes, and rich culture. What the retreat includes: · · · · · · · · · ·

Photography Workshop with Renowned Photographer Pamela Jones (pamelajonesphoto.com) Daily Yoga & Meditation with Pamela Jones RYT 200 “Directing Your Destiny” Transformational Group Coaching Sessions with Hay House Author Jennifer Grace (jennifergrace.com) Ayurvedic Lecture and 1 hour Massage Daylong community service program working with an NGO that contribute’s toward Women’s Empowerment in the region. Visit to Amritapuri, The Hugging Mother’s Ashram to participate in Ashram activities A cruise aboard a Kettuvallam, a traditional house boat to enjoy a serene afternoon drifting through the back waters of Kerala, lunch included Astrological Seminar Sacred Ceremony and Mala Making Half day tour of Kochi, a stunning city set between the Arabian sea and the Backwaters

5 Star Luxury accommodations, all breakfast, dinners and several lunches included

For rates and to register: www.omluxe.com


Master Teacher Feature

Interview: Ian Prichard Part One

International yoga teacher, animal activist, culinary alchemist, passionate skydiver, and author of The Women's Health Big Book of Yoga and the forthcoming Aim True

Kathryn Budig Friends for fifteen years, Kathryn and Mantra editor Ian Prichard recently chatted about settling down, how Kathryn’s worldview and values have evolved, and why unscripted classes are the best

“What’s really important to me is what message people take with them back into their lives and not so much whether they can do a really good Downward-Facing Dog.”

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have the knowledge or experience of what life is like. I find life to be very abundant, and there are constantly opportunities, and as a young teacher, I didn’t see that, and so when one good opportunity would present itself, I thought, “Oh, my God, I have to jump on this and do it perfectly.” As I’ve grown—older and as a teacher and as a person—I’ve realized that opportunities are abundant and that if something’s meant to be, you go for it, and if you really want something and it doesn’t work out, that simply means that it wasn’t for you. So that’s affected my teaching and made me—I don’t want to say “laid back” like I’m lazy, but more relaxed in my teaching style. In the beginning, that sense of urgency was applied to postures as well. I thought, “I need to teach you poses and I need to teach you how to do this challenging thing,” and now—obviously I still teach poses, that’s what you do as a yoga teacher, but what’s really important to me is what message people take with them back into their lives and not so much whether they can do a really good Downward-Facing Dog. I’m mostly concerned with how I can use vinyasa to get into people’s hearts and to get into people’s minds so that they might not even realize that they’re learning in that capacity but when they leave the room, they go, “Whoa, I’m not only feeling better in my physical body but I’m thinking clearer and making decisions that benefit me and the people around me.” IP: You’ve taught all over the world. Do people’s motivations for doing yoga differ from place to place?

Ian Prichard: Over the past couple of years, you’ve gone from being a perpetually mobile, internationally traveling yogi to buying a house, increasing the size of your pack, and getting married. How have these changes impacted your practice, your career, your life philosophy? Kathryn Budig: It’s all one big dance. It has to be. I’ve been practicing for something like fifteen years now and teaching for over a decade, and everything is bound to change. If it doesn’t, that’s a bad sign. I’m hoping to constantly be evolving and growing and changing, and I’ve been blessed to be able to travel to the extent that I have and meet the people that I’ve been able to meet and teach the people I have around the world. But yeah, it’s a big influence to have gotten married, and to own a home, and to live in a city [Charleston, South Carolina] that really feels like home, a place where I can come back and take that deep exhale and feel like all the troubles and worries and stresses can go away. In that sense, it’s directly affected my choices as far as work goes because I don’t need to work myself into the ground, I don’t need to travel to every nook and corner of the world to feel satisfied with my career. As yoga teachers, a huge part of our job is

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teaching people self-care, and you have to learn how to take care of yourself. We forget that sometimes because we’re so busy trying to take care of others. But the only way to teach anyone anything sustainable is to teach by example, so I’m trying to make a concerted effort to be the hard worker that I am, that’s in my blood, to thrive and grow and achieve, but knowing that I’ll be stronger with that if I can be home and share my life with my husband and my family and my friends, and read books that have nothing to do with yoga, and cook meals, and play video games, and do things that are just completely for me. IP: What are the differences between what you think about now when you’re teaching a class versus what you were thinking about when you first started? KB: Oh, gosh, trying not to wet my pants, basically. [Laughs.] In the beginning, I was in my early twenties, so my idea of the world was very different then, and there was almost this fear that it was all going to go away. It’s comical because you sort of think that the older you get, the stronger your sense of urgency is going to become because the clock is ticking, but for me, it was when I was younger because I didn’t

KB: Teaching and practicing in larger urban areas, you have a lot of . . . I guess the word I’m looking for is “pressure.” There seems to be more pressure in those kinds of environments, which will influence people to maybe use their yoga practice for a more physical or aesthetic purpose. I used to think that was a bad thing, but ultimately, I’m a believer in “to each their own,” and if you want to go to yoga because you want to look great or look better, I don’t think that’s a bad thing. If that’s what gets you on the mat, then that’s your tool that gets you there. Obviously it would be nice for someone to reap the much deeper benefits of a yoga practice than looking good in your stretchy pants, but it’s almost inevitable that if you practice enough yoga, you will get there. Around the world? Obviously we in America didn’t create yoga, but that’s where it’s booming the most right now, and London and Berlin are both hubs of yoga and it’s booming there, so they’re going to have some really strong practices, but places like France, for example, or Spain, it’s still not a very big deal. It’s kind of cool, though, because they’re excited to do it, but there’s also that attitude of “Well, shouldn’t we be taking a break and having a smoke or going on siesta?” The super laid-back mentality about it. I laugh about it, but at the same time, yeah, show up and do your asana, but also take the time to relax. Which is something that

photos: Under Armour

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Americans don’t conceptualize very well. We’re so go, go, go, and I think we could learn a thing or two from the laid-back approach. A little more balance. IP: Do you take those things into account when you’re putting classes together? KB: You have to teach to who shows up. You can have a whole entire fabulous, amazing game plan in your head, and then the people who show up, there’s no way they can do it, and you would kill people if you did the plan you originally wanted to. I always have a general concept, like what the theme of my class is going to be, whether we’re working on backbends or I want this to be a grounding class to teach people how to be balanced in their lives. And then I alter the class according to who shows up. Which I enjoy, because I’m not a very scripted person, and I teach much better when I can freestyle. It’s good for me as a teacher, too, because it keeps me fresh. I mean, no one wants to take a class from someone when you’re thinking, “Wow, she’s been telling that joke for ten years.” I certainly prep before class, but it’s so frequent for me to write out an outline and then do something completely different because of who shows up, or because we get worked up or excited about a certain topic and move in a completely different direction. I like the lack of predictability.

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KB “Obviously it would be nice for someone to reap the much deeper benefits of a yoga practice than looking good in your stretchy pants, but it’s almost inevitable that if you practice enough yoga, you will get there.”


“None of us will get there unless all of us get there.” —Marianne Williamson

Part Two

Reclaiming Our Power A c o n v e r s at i o n b e t w e e n t r a n s f o r m at i o n a l c o a c h A s h l e y T u r n e r a n d c h a n g e m a k e r M a r i a n n e W i l l i am s o n Ashley Turner: It’s so fascinating to me that the people I consider my greatest teachers and mentors—almost iconic, such as yourself—[are] really paving the way for me. Every time I reach out, every single one is so gracious and so generous and so openhearted and encouraging, and it brings me so much joy and so much competence to feel elders or people that are further down the road from me turning back or helping to lift up the next wave. Marianne Williamson: It’s how you move forward. If we had gotten to this point in our lives and we haven’t learned that, then we have learned very little. The divine feminine nourishes the young. To reach back to those behind you in any system, whether they’re ten years younger or twenty years younger or fifty years younger, and to help them move up the ladder, that’s how we ourselves move up the ladder in our own growth. And also, there is something else. At the ASHLEYTURNER.ORG | MARIANNE.COM

deepest level of spiritual companionship, you’re not any younger or any older than I; it’s just sisters helping sisters. So at the deepest level, I’m not an elder mentoring a younger woman, although that level is there and it’s beautiful. Sisters are here saluting sisters, and at an even deeper level, souls are simply here saluting souls and collaborating with other souls, which is the most important issue of all. AT: I think that’s the greatest teaching of so many of my mentors, including yourself, especially yourself, because as somebody coming up, I have fear and insecurity of reaching out to these people that I just so admire and people I want to be when I grow up, and to have them be so generous, it’s just really the greatest teaching of spirituality and empowerment, which is just collaboration over competition. There is no such thing as competition. The more of us that rise up, the better.

MW: That’s a primary issue of sisterhood that I think is sometimes overlooked: none of us will get there unless all of us get there. In a human body, cells that go off to do their own thing are called malignant, and that is the problem with the planet today—the malignant consciousness by which so many of us too often forget that we are not here to just go off and do our own thing at the highest level; we are here to contribute our own thing to the creative dance of life.

Ashley Turner is the creator of the popular Meditation 101 Virtual Conference and seven best-selling yoga DVDs and coauthor of Aroma Yoga. Details magazine named Ashley one of “The Trainers to Watch in 2014.” As an ordained priestess, she is known for her innovative fusion of neurobiology, Western psychotherapy, and yoga/ meditation. Marianne Williamson is a best-selling author and activist. LEFT PHOTO: AARON LANDMAN

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“The fear of losing security is never a reason not to reach for your dreams.

By Christina Zipperlen | Designer and founder of Ananda Soul Creations

Five Things I Learned from Running an Ethical Business in Bali

I

was a teenager when I watched my mother take her last breath. That was when I realized that the present moment is all we ever have. If we want to make changes, now is the time. The fear of losing security is never a reason not to reach for your dreams.

So my spiritual journey began. I studied yoga, quantum physics, fine arts, and jewelry design, and it all made sense when I founded Ananda Soul Creations, a jewelry label that works directly with the mothers of street children in Bali. I consider my work to be an offering to create smiles in the world and a reminder to always stay in an attitude of devotion and gratitude. Living my dream in Bali has taught me some powerful lessons:

1. Your actions matter. Every day, we can make honoring the people in our life a priority. It all starts in those small moments: during our weekly staff yoga sesANANDASOUL.COM

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sion or when our team sits with the mothers, weaving bracelets. The world is a smaller place than we think, and what we do in it matters.

2. You can make dreams come true if your heart knows them. I had never run a business before, but I stayed absolutely determined because my heart knew that designing and empowering women is my purpose.

3. Enjoy the journey. Everything shifts once you learn to be happy with where you are. There is much on the todo list, and you won’t ever get there, so start celebrating the wonders that have already appeared in your life!

4. Everything around you is a reflection of your own vibration. Relationships are the ultimate mirror. It

simply blows my mind how much my own attitude is reflected immediately in the team and the business in general. It is such an amazing reminder that we have to continuously practice love, positivity, and joy.

5. Stay open to even more magical things unfolding. I was convinced that I was going to share the blessings I had received in my role as a yoga teacher. How could I know that my soul’s yearning would be shared through my jewelry creations? Learn to be grateful and in awe of what the universe has in store for you. Christina Zipperlen lives in Bali where she runs Ananda Soul Creations. Her vision is to empower women, be a leader in conscious fashion, help Balinese street children go to school, and encourage women to celebrate themselves and their bodies. When she doesn’t travel for business, she is drawing, does yoga, and enjoys Balinese culture.


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By Silvia Mordini

Being Spiritually Ordinary Embrace the Gifts of Everyday-ness

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y yoga practice has become simpler, less exotic, and deeper. It is more meditative and solitary. This makes me more attentive to the extraordinary, quiet moments of the ordinary in daily life. Consequently, the big things fail to impress me.

I’ve come to realize that the type of life I want is one where I am responsible for my spiritual happiness. I don’t need flashy things to make me realize the depth of spirituality or aha enlightenment. I actually prefer ordinary happiness. Instead of an expensive dinner at a restaurant, I’d prefer to cook at home, enjoy a beautiful Tuscan wine, have friends over, watch the sunset over Puget Sound, ride a bike, be in nature. The simple things bring me small enlightenments that add up. This is the life I prefer. I am most enchanted when I simply follow Janet Marshal’s advice to notice “the power of the sacred in the life we have now.” My yoga looks less showy. My practice has fewer obvious goals. I calmly sit, move, and breathe in a way that brings me quiet joy. I often wear my pajamas, and I don’t need a perfect space. My most sacred practice happens in the most mundane places. Embracing this extraordinary philosophy of seeking the ordinary has changed my life. The most obvious changes include simplification, decluttering, and slowing down. The SILVIAMORDINI.COM

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adrenal rush no longer intrigues me; my addiction to adrenaline has been reformed. I find myself living more authentically with less effort. I don’t have to try so hard to be myself. I apologize less to the world for being who I am and for living on my terms. I’ve heard it said that our culture is afflicted with a “wanting to be special” disease. We see it every day on social media—this desperate need to define ourselves in the realms of remarkable rather than the gifts of everyday-ness.

“I find myself living more authentically with less effort. I don’t have to try so hard to be myself. I apologize less to the world for being who I am and for living on my terms.” Brené Brown writes in Daring Greatly that narcissism is simply the fear of being ordinary. In a world full of narcissism, I no longer strive to stand out. I’d rather live from my soul self-embraced with the mind of the universe instead of outside it.

I have, at times, been embarrassed that being an ordinary, good person is my goal. And yet, every day I ask myself, “Am I serving as an example or a warning?” I hope my life right now serves as an example, that no matter how difficult the challenges I might be facing, I am still—above all else—kind. Even simple, ordinary ways, like holding a door open for someone, picking up a piece of garbage, saying thank you, or simply smiling. Being spiritually ordinary means accepting responsibility to be a good person. We cannot sit back and wait for the world to get better. We are the world. Being even ten percent kinder can make an enormous difference. It may not be dramatic at first, but it can cause a shift. I choose to be happy moment by ordinary moment—that is enough. Join me! Love yourself, love your day, love your life.

Silvia Mordini, writer and happiness coach, owned a Chicagoland yoga studio for twelve years and has taught for over fifteen years. She is also founder of the ten-year-old international Alchemy of Yoga Teacher Training and cofounder of Alchemy Tours, through which she leads yoga retreats and trainings worldwide.


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Photographer Feature

Theodore Kyriakos

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Taking photos, to me, was always a quest to capture “beauty.� When I look into the eyes of the people I photograph or work with, it is a contemplation. I see Spirit reflected back to me. I see the divine manifesting in such a multitude of shapes and forms. Look into the eyes of another human being! That which is mirrored back to you is within you.

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Theodore Kyriakos

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RADIANT CORE RETREAT

with Anita Akhavan and Kimberly Miguel Mullen

JULY 4 - 11, 2015 SOULSHINE BALI VILLA & RETREAT OASIS IN UBUD, BALI, INDONESIA 7-Day replenishing retreat bringing together the practice of Pilates and Dance! Join internationally certified Pilates instructor Anita Akhavan and dance ethnologist Kimberly Miguel Mullen for an experience unlike any other. Deepen your understanding of your physical body and how to access your core, (the center of your being), alongside dance classes inspired by movement from Cuba and Brazil. Dance classes will be accompanied by live drumming! • 7 nights eco-luxury hotel including all taxes • Meals • Daily Pilates & AfroCaribe dance class • One 1-hour massage • Onsite kitchen staff offers 24-hour gluten-free, vegan, vegetarian, free range food options as well as beverage service of coffee, tea, water, and fresh juices through the day

• Swimming pool open 24 hours • Group excursion to Sanur Beach for Pilates class on the SUP • Visa fees • Airport transfers • Access to scooter rentals

Registration Deadline: May 15, 2015 / $700 non-refundable deposit due by April 20, 2015 Contact: radiantcoreretreat@gmail.com, anitaakhavan.com, kimberlymiguelmullen.com


T H E MANTRA SERIES

“ Try

to live with each other with acceptance and less judgment . . . like everybody everywhere is your family or friendly neighbor.”

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The Yoga Dealer

Michael Gannon On how having kids changes your practice, a memorable teaching experience, and trying to live like everybody is family Interview: Ava Taylor

Ava Taylor: How do you stay grounded? Michael Gannon: Parenting a two-year-old, five-year-old, and ten-year-old slams me back down to the earth anytime I mistakenly think there is something else I want or should be doing with my time or energy. AT: What are your biggest passions? MG: Music, travel, high-quality chocolate, three children. AT: What are some important lessons you’ve learned? MG: Number one, life and yoga practice are so easy if you don’t have children. Number two, having multiple children drastically changes your life and your yoga practice, and that’s OK. Number three, you can’t realize number one until experiencing number two. AT: Do you have a health secret? How do you stay healthy? MG: Yoga, pranayama, meditation, acupuncture, singing, dancing, fresh coconut water, cacao, green superfoods, maca, and great sex. AT: What’s something we probably don’t know about you?

MG: Many years ago, while teaching a Mysorestyle class in Miami, I was working with a young lady on her backbends. I then gave her a deep-seated-forward-bend adjustment by gently laying my torso out across the length of her back. After I eased away to adjust another student, I heard this funny breathing sound, then turned back to see her body hawking in a curious way. I reapproached her and placed my hand on her stomach to energetically support her in a calming way and asked if all was OK and what happened? Out of breath, she answered with one simple word, “Orgasm.” My eyes bugged out, and I think my jaw dropped a bit. Then, as she removed my hand from her stomach, she said, “Don’t touch me, or I may go again!” Or a less interesting story: I started working to pay my way, at age thirteen, with a newspaper route. In the ’80s, I was a DJ at the college radio station. In the early ’90s, I wore a closet full of expensive, stylish suits and ties—and suspenders—while based in Chicago. AT: What’s one of the hardest things you’ve been through?

AT: What helped get you through it? MG: Ask me when I get through it! AT: If you could say something to everyone on the planet, what would it be? MG: After traveling and teaching for almost twenty years in over forty countries, I’ve come to see that we are all “same, same, but different.” Even though we all have such different cultures, languages, ideas, and lifestyles, we all share the same planet as home. Try to live with each other with acceptance and less judgment—locally, regionally, internationally—like everybody everywhere is your family or friendly neighbor.

Michael Gannon began a yoga practice after ten years in the advertising and music business, and this awakened an ability to balancing that gradually changed his life path. The late Sri K. Pattabhi Jois authorized him in 2001 to teach. Since then, his teachings have touched forty-plus countries in four continents.

MG: So far, raising and being present for three children and a wife while maintaining an existing business, [continuing] international travel, and building a new business, Yogaloft Playa del Carmen.

YAMATALENT.COM | MICHAELGANNONYOGA.COM | YOGALOFTPLAYA.COM

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T H E

Yoga Teacher at Kula Yoga Project and Pure Yoga

Miles Borrero

MANTRA SERIES

On mentoring young yoga teachers,

a possible backup career,

and friends who can tell it to you straight

Interview: Ava Taylor Ava Taylor: How do you stay grounded? Miles Borrero: That really depends on how hectic life is, the season, lots of things. But my morning ritual is something that keeps my feet on the ground. I like to have time to wake up, even when I work early, which is most days, and I drink my chai in my chair while I listen to NPR. Knowing what is going on in the world at large keeps me rooted in reality. When it’s warm, I love to go and sit by the water. Especially if my day has been particularly rough, it can really take the edge off. And honestly, as far as I’m concerned, there’s nothing that nadi shodhana can’t fix. I do it at least once a day. Yum, pranayama! Nothing can top that. AT: What are your biggest passions? MB: That’s a funny question. I’m pretty much passionate about everything in my life except speaking to automated services—I’m Latin. But since we are narrowing it down, I’m passionate about offering a space where people can come home to themselves so they can be the best them they can be. It’s what I try to inspire in my people.

I’m happier when I have less.

were six brothers that looked like elves. They all looked identical and worked out of their tiny, tiny home deep in the city. And you’d go in there and they’d measure your arches and your feet, your ankles and your calves. I loved going there whenever I had to get new boots, because the smell was so unique and refreshing. I think that would have been a good job for me if I wasn’t teaching yoga. I don’t think many people know that.

Making real time to hang out with people I love is one of the most important things.

AT: What’s one of the hardest things you’ve been through? What helped get you through it?

Listening and your attention are some of the most wonderful things you can offer people you care about.

MB: Heartbreak. I know it sounds perhaps naive or something. There are so many tragedies that can happen in life. I’ve had my fair share and have lost people I have really loved to horrible illness and such. And it’s a sure thing that pain never leaves. But I can say for sure that the biggest pain I’ve ever felt was heartbreak.

ping into your truth, even when people can’t get on board with it. That’s their stuff, not yours. The universe likes it and it will support you in it. Sometimes in magical and mysterious ways. Love is a practice, like everything else. Sometimes you fall. A lot.

Just because someone doesn’t love you the way you want them to doesn’t mean they don’t love you with everything they’ve got.

To offer gratitude to my teachers.

My roommates at the time, who are amazing foodies, would knock on my door and tell me they had made too much food, and they’d make me sit with them and eat. I had lost a ton of weight because I couldn’t. And sometimes, they’d make me do small tasks, like peel a carrot. I was a crazy mess. They also were the ones that, when I was going on a date, were like, “Dude, you know we love you, but you should look into doing something about your hair. You look like a mountain man.” I laughed so hard, I cried. Sometimes, you just need someone to tell it to you straight up.

AT: Do you have a health secret? How do you stay healthy?

AT: If you could say something to everyone on the planet, what would it be?

MB: I take a nap during the day whenever I can; sleep is such a key. And I drink a ton of water. I also eat something sweet every day because it makes me happy. If I’m feeling steady, it’s much less likely that I’ll get sick. So I do little things to make my spirit happy throughout the day.

MB: “There’s a lot happening on our planet. I don’t claim to have any answers. I think we can just do better taking care of each other, our animals, and our earth.”

Thinking something doesn’t make it true. Your people are your home in the world. Be so good to them, and forgive them when they mess up. Forgive yourself when you mess up with them. Animals are sacred.

I love young people and believe in mentoring them. When I was a young actor, there were so many of us, and it seemed hopeless. Nobody cared. There was a big disjointure even after going through a master’s program. Both acting and yoga are crafts, and they benefit from apprenticeships, in my opinion. I love to work with young yoga teachers, pick their brains, and challenge them to go deeper. They make me a better teacher. I like to give them space to grow. I’ve been working toward a scholarship for them so they can take time to study and to go on a retreat with me. By the beginning of March, I will have given out six of these scholarships. And of course, horses, my family, friends, and music. AT: What are some important lessons you’ve learned? MB: There’s a huge amount of energy in stepYAMATALENT.COM | MILESYOGA.COM

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It’s important to leave some days unscheduled and away from electronics.

AT: What’s something we probably don’t know about you? MB: I love the smell of leather and wood. I rode horses for fourteen years in Bogotá, Colombia, where I’m from. The guys who made my boots

Miles Borrero, based in NYC, is a yoga teacher, master of fine arts, skateboarder, horseback rider, former actor, ex-rocker, harmonium hugger and lover, shape-shifter, and peaceful warrior. Miles leads retreats and teacher trainings both nationally and internationally and has been featured in publications, including Om Yoga & Lifestyle.

PHOTO: JENNY GREENSTEIN


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“There’s a huge amount of energy in stepping into your truth, even when people can’t get on board with it. That’s their stuff, not yours.”


Master Teacher Feature

“ I f i n d t h at m y body n eeds rest days an d t h at an every day ag en da i s cou n t erprodu c t i ve for me psyc h olog i cally an d ph ysi cally. ”

LIVETHELIGHTOFYOGA.COM | CHRISTINASELLYOGACLASS.COM

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Founder and director of San Marcos School of Yoga and Live the Light of Yoga Trainings

Christina Sell

Interview: Maranda Pleasant

Part One

On embracing a flexible personal practice and a morning routine that grounds her

Maranda Pleasant: Few people know that you were my yoga teacher in Austin. I think you must have gotten tired of me asking you for arm balances and the glorious Scorpion. Tell me about your personal practice. Christina Sell: I mostly remember your open-heartedness and how excited you were to learn handstand! I always loved it when you and your daughter, Ocean, came to yoga together. I think it is very cool when families share yoga together. For starters, my primary practice is not asana. My primary practice is what my guru, Lee Lozowick, called “the cultivation of mood, or bhava”—most specifically, the mood of praise, adoration, and remembrance of the sacred. In that way, my primary practice is not so much a set of things that I always do as much as an intention to live from a context that holds my personal experience in the light of a larger unfolding of the heart and spirit. A huge part of what I consider to be “my practice” is very internal, contextual, and attention-based. Lee’s guru was an Indian saint named Yogi Ramsuratkumar, who gave his name as a mantra as a primary practice, so nama japa, or the repetition of the name, is a pillar of practice for me. That being said, I have some routines I do more or less daily. I generally wake up in the morning, scrape my tongue, swish my mouth with oil for about twenty minutes, while I do a simple abhyanga routine, which is basically an oil massage, which really helps me stay more grounded throughout the day. Then I take my shower and have a cup of tea, and I do some reading. Currently, I am reading a book my friend, Mary Young, wrote on the Baul path called The Baul Tradition: Sahaj Vision East and West. Tea finished, I take some time to practice meditation. I

practice a simple form of meditation called Sahaj meditation, which involves “being with what arises.” It is kind of a nontechnique technique that Lee taught. Some mornings, no oil; some mornings, no meditation. I like to do these things, but they are not rigid prescriptions or obligatory things for me. And obviously, if I had kids, I am sure my morning would be really different. After that, well, we are well into the day, and I am dealing with e-mails, appointments, and the details of living and working. I usually plan my day before I go to bed at night and look for windows of opportunity to practice asana. I do not practice asana every day, but I do practice most days. I find that my body needs rest days and that an everyday agenda is counterproductive for me psychologically and physically. I love to practice asana, so it is not so much about motivation for practice as it is about refraining from rigidity and trusting that regular and consistent efforts are good enough and perfection is not required for progress. My personal asana practice also varies in length, depending on my teaching schedule. I travel a lot for work. On the weekends that I am away teaching, I usually practice a basic routine of standing postures, basic backbends, forward bends, and inversions at my lunch break. Nothing major or tough, and nothing too far in any direction, so I stay balanced and grounded while I am working away from home. During the week I am home, I generally practice two hours a day. One of those days, I work on deeper backbends, and one of the days, I work on deeper forward bends. The other days, I usually take a sequence out of the back of Light on Yoga, or in conjunction

with one of my online courses, and practice that. I often lead a strong group practice with students and friends when I am home, which is fun and a way that I enjoy participating in yoga community. In terms of nitty-gritty details, I generally make a plan for practice and work with a sequence. Sometimes, I add to or subtract from my plan as I go, but I find that structure is helpful as a starting place. I always have a timer nearby, a copy of Light on Yoga as a reference, and I always have a pen with me to mark what changes I make to my sequence and to record what discoveries I make that I want to remember for later practices or classes. I am very spacious with myself about time and plans because every week is a little different for me. I use asana to help me adjust, recover, and prepare for my life’s demands. When I first started practicing asana, I practiced the same postural routine no matter what was happening or how I felt, but I find that that approach is not useful for me right now. I prefer to be more responsive to my varying needs. For instance, if it is summertime and I am out hiking and biking a lot, my asana practice is less athletic and more about undoing some of the muscular tightness I get from sports. During the winter or in the rainier seasons, I am more athletic in my asana practice since I am not sore or tired from bike riding, kayaking, and hiking.

Christina Sell is the director of the San Marcos School of Yoga and author of Yoga from the Inside Out: Making Peace with Your Body through Yoga and My Body Is a Temple: Yoga as a Path to Wholeness. She conducts yoga trainings online, locally, nationally, and internationally.

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““

Body FEATURE Yog a Image Medicine FEATURE

This Is What a Yogi Looks Like Portraits of Yogis from the Yoga and Body Image Coalition By Melanie Klein

We are diverse. Our bodies are diverse and unique. Our yoga practices are diverse, unique, and personal. The Yoga and Body Image Coalition’s “This Is What a Yogi Looks Like” campaign (#whatayogilookslike) is an ongoing media series dedicated to showcasing a diverse array of yogis—bodies and faces not normally portrayed in popular yoga media. It is about every body and everybody. We hope to share this commitment by dismantling stereotypes about what a yogi looks like, the fallacy of the “yoga body,” and widening the visual representation of “yoga practice” beyond acrobatics and gymnastics. We established this campaign as a way to diversify yoga media. Committed to conscious community, collaboration, and action, we choose to lead by example and be the media. We are ready for a paradigm shift.

“Yoga is for all bodies,” says Pia. “It has shown me what my body is capable of despite the fact that our thin-centric culture would have me believe I need to be a size 6 to be healthy. I love breaking down barriers and showing the world what this yogi looks like and what she can do!” In order to see more diversity in front of the lens, we need more diversity behind the lens. For these portraits, we worked with Tani Ikeda, a commercial and music-video director as well as an activist and educator. She cofounded the organization imMEDIAte Justice, which teaches girls filmmaking. Every age. Every race and ethnicity.

Chelsea Jackson is what a yogi looks like.

Every class and socioeconomic status.

Chelsea is a yoga teacher, a contributor in Yoga and Body Image: 25 Personal Stories about Beauty, Bravery & Loving Your Body as well as an active partner in the Yoga and Body Image Coalition. She obtained her PhD from Emory University’s Division of Educational Studies. She works within marginalized communities to understand the ways in which power and privilege impact lives at the intersection of race, class, and gender.

Every gender identity and sexual orientation.

“I’m excited to see the paradigm shift when we think about what a yogi is or how a yogi should look,” says Chelsea. “The celebration and inclusion of people who have been impacted by yoga is a powerful and revolutionary act that expands the definition of yoga.”

Pia Schiavo-Campo is what a yogi looks like. Pia, known as Mixed Fat Chick in online spaces, is a feminist, bodysize-acceptance activist, model, and yogi who encourages people to “love yourself without measure.”

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Every size, shape, height, weight, and dis/ability. This is what a yogi looks like. To learn more about the campaign, pick up your own “This Is What a Yogi Looks Like” tee, support the work of the Yoga and Body Image Coalition, and/or be featured in this series for Mantra Yoga + Health, visit ybicoalition.com.

Melanie Klein, MA, is a writer, speaker, and professor of sociology and women’s studies. She is a contributing author in 21st Century Yoga and is featured in Conversations with Modern Yogis. Melanie is the coeditor of Yoga and Body Image and cofounder of the Yoga and Body Image Coalition with Gigi Yogini.


The celebration and inclusion of people who have been impacted by yoga is a powerful and revolutionary act that expands the definition of yoga.” —Chelsea Jackson

I love breaking down barriers and showing the world what this yogi looks like and what she can do!” —Pia Schiavo-Campo

PHOTOS: TANI IKEDA, MODELS: CHELSEA JACKSON AND PIA SCHIAVO-CAMPO

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Everything Is Hard

Before It Is Easy By Hope Knosher

W

hen I began a yoga practice, it was hard. It wasn’t that I was doing anything remarkable, like pretzel poses or handstands. Actually, there wasn’t a whole heck of a lot I could do in the beginning except show up! My body had been ravaged by stress and a bout with breast cancer. It was hard to get to class every day. I kept going because I began to feel different. I couldn’t verbalize what was happening, but I knew deep within that something profound was occurring.

Yoga helped me to turn inward and become conscious in a way I had never experienced. Yoga helped me calm my mind, let go of fear, and trust my inner voice. In the beginning, it was simply about being able to breathe. With each deep breath, I continued to open and let go. As the physical and emotional layers melted away, I would sometimes sit in the middle of the room during class with tears streaming down my face. I felt more vulnerable than I had before, yet at the same time, I began to feel strong. With newfound strength, I began to let go of the many layers of emotions stored in my body. In retrospect, I realize that I had been building up to this time of letting go, experiencing a gradual heightening of consciousness which had begun to accelerate after my diagnosis of breast cancer. This was the beginning of the breakdown of the walls and the emotions I was holding in every place and space in my body—especially my chest. This physical and emotional cleansing opened me up to embrace the love and beauty inside and outside of me. I looked outward with a fresh perspective of wonder and awe on all I saw, heard, touched, and tasted. I looked inward and knew exactly who I was at my very essence, and that realization saturated my mind, body, and spirit. Over time, taking a deep breath became easy, and so did my practice. I began to look forward to stepping onto the mat. HOPESYOGA.COM

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I knew I was being called to do exactly what I am doing now—teaching and walking alongside others, fostering hope and joy, and sharing the healing qualities of yoga. Through a continued practice and opening to new possibilities—both on and off the mat—I continue to emerge to myself on this multidimensional journey, remembering to breathe deeply and live fully in each precious moment.

“I couldn’t verbalize what was happening, but I knew deep within that something profound was occurring.” PHOTO: BECCA KATZMANN

Hope Knosher’s practice centers on sharing the joy of yoga and its healing qualities with students at all capabilities. She speaks to groups about the life-changing benefits of yoga and the importance of hope. Her practice was chosen as one of the “Best of Atlanta” in 2014 by Atlanta Magazine.


Interview: Maranda Pleasant

Behind Natural Products An interview with Amy Halman, president and formulator for Acure Organics Maranda Pleasant: Why is it so important to use only natural products on our skin? Amy Halman: It’s literally your first line of defense, like a suit of armor, but it is also highly absorbent. This is why prescription topical medications and hormone therapies actually make a difference; the active ingredients can travel right into the bloodstream versus going through the digestive tract in a pill. MP: What are some harmful ingredients commonly found in body products? AH: Parabens, sulfates, silicones like trimethicone and dimethicone, propylene glycols (PEGs), petrochemicals, and even fragrances are commonly listed ingredients and can be found in some natural-based products. These things not only wreak havoc on the natural balance and health of the skin, they have a known link to irritation, disease, and tumor growth in the body because they cannot be easily metabolized or flushed from your system. Often, the manufacturing process generates a lot of known carcinogens as a by-product, which also go right into your product but never even get listed on your ingredient label. MP: What can we do to have great skin after forty? AH: It’s key to find ingredients that will assist with inflammation and dehydration. Ingredients like CoQ10, probiotics, and essentialfatty-acid-rich oils are great. You don’t have to go heavier with a moisturizer, another common misconception. Usually heavy moisturizers and creams have molecules that are too large to fit through the pores, so it just sits on the surface, feeding nothing to the live layers of skin below. MP: What ingredients really make a difference? AH: There are so many cutting-edge plantbased ingredients out there that are clinically proven to drive real change. It’s why we live by the motto that it’s not enough to be ACUREORGANICS.COM

“We live by the motto that it’s not enough to be natural; it also has to work.”

natural; it also has to work. Chlorella Growth Factor, for example, is a cornerstone ingredient in most of our formulas. Jon [Guerra, who founded the company with Kristy Guerra] worked with a team of doctors who were studying it for wound-site healing. What they discovered is that it had significant impact in increasing optimal cellular regeneration, boosting moisture retention, and feeding the body’s natural process of collagen regeneration. There are just endless possibilities for making affordable, effective, healthy products so that everyone can benefit.

Amy Halman is a licensed esthetician and the president and formulator for Acure Organics, a skin-, body-, and hair-care line based on scientific nutritional support to enhance the skin’s own ability to regenerate optimally, clinically proven without the use of gluten, synthetic preservatives, or fragrances. Products contain no parabens, sulfates, phthalates, petrochemicals, or animal by-products. PHOTO: LAUREN AMMERMAN PHOTOGRAPHY

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By R. R. Shakti

T

Cultivate a Radically Authentic Love Affair The Practice of Bhakt i

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he Sufi poet Rumi wrote, “Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it.” This is the challenge of the bhakti yogin: to remove the barriers to love.

Bhakti is love of another kind. It is deep and steadfast devotion. Bhakti is a beautiful mystery. It cannot be feigned, but it must be practiced. Since I was a little girl, I have written journals. As early as age eight, I kept spiralbound notebooks or beautifully designed diaries with scribbled love notes to God. I don’t really remember the first moment I fell in love with the infinite. What I do remember is the feeling of being completely enrapt in the experience of absolute awe and wonder. How and why I was alive, I could not fathom, but I reveled in the joy of it and adored whomever, whatever was responsible.


“Bhakti yoga is, essentially, courting love. It is removing all your barriers so that you are vulnerable to love’s transformational healing power.”

Life knows death. At some point, we humans realized that we are temporal beings. Since then, mortality has captivated our interest. Quests of all form—science, religion, and personal enterprise—hail from the underlying premise that life is fleeting. Death elicits emotional responses from terror to wonder. Mortality provides a psychospiritual playground where the dynamics of fear and love mature. The question becomes, “Are you afraid of death, or are you in love with life?” Abhinivesha klesha is the suffering—the fear and futility—that inevitably comes from clinging to life. Yoga teaches and provides practice in letting go of every grasp, grip, and clutch. It even helps us release attachment to this earthly and human experience. For me, this is the beginning of devotion: letting go of the illusion that I am in control of this whole thing, relaxing into the realization that there is something bigger than me which orchestrates life. Some people consider it chaos or chance. Others believe it is orderly and deliberate. But for the bhakti yogin, it simply is. It doesn’t matter what you call it: energy, uni-

hide. You can relax, revealing yourselves just as you are, with no pretense. When you lay your soul bare to openly and intimately communicate with God, God, in turn, is revealed to you. This is sakhya bhava. It may be cultivated through journaling, contemplation, or prayer.

verse, Brahman, chaos, the infinite, Source, consciousness, dynamism, Great Spirit, Yahweh, Devi, Krishna, God. It is creative power—the pure potentiality of continual unfoldment. It is ultimately responsible for your very existence. And how you relate to that grand mysterious force will inform how you relate to the world around you. You may deny it, resent it, or fear it. Perhaps your personal flavor of alienation has left you feeling unloving and unloved, just like any estranged relationship would. If you are interested in cultivating a radically authentic love affair, you’ll first want to get to know the beloved. Bhakti yoga is, essentially, courting love. It is removing all your barriers so that you are vulnerable to love’s transformational healing power.

Remove the barriers to love by being completely honest with yourself and others. In a journal or daily prayer, take time to express your thoughts, feelings, and heart’s deepest desires.

Bhakti is a beautiful mystery. It may appear slowly, over time. It may just show up one day at your heart’s doorstep with a fragrant bouquet of bliss. The Five Bhavas (or Moods) of Love Outlined in the Puranic Texts

1. Shanta bhava: the mood of peace. Have you ever witnessed the birth of a baby or perhaps seen beauty in the stars with a sense of awe-filled wonder? Have you had a visceral sensation of peace that shivers up your spine or blows your heart wide open? You can’t explain why you’re crying. You laugh in the pure delight of being alive, caught up in the dance of a moment’s bliss. This is shanta bhava, the peace that comes in those exquisite moments when love of life conquers fear of death. Remove the barriers to love by slowing down. Actively look for beauty in the world around you. Seek out the majesty in life. Listen for the harmonious melody in everyday experiences.

2. Dasya bhava: the mood of surrender. When you abandon the illusion that you are in control and trust in the Source of life to guide you, that is dasya bhava. It is the exquisite joy and comfort that comes from letting go. You find that magic happens in the pause, in the space of surrender while you wait, awake and listening, for the next realization of beauty. Remove the barriers to love by letting go. As you strive for your highest intentions and follow your bliss, remember that there is a force that sustains you. Give up the illusion of control.

3. Sakhya bhava: the mood of friendship. With your best friend, you have nothing to

4. Vatsalya bhava: the mood of nurturing. Children are authentic, natural, boundless in energy and unconditional love. Children are pure potentiality. When you adore the Source of life as a beloved child, that is vatsalya bhava. In this mood, you recognize the infinite as a boundless force of infinite potential. For love to be fully realized, you must serve, preserve, and nourish it. You must actively nurture love, every day. Remove the barriers to love by caring for the earth, animals, and everyone around you. Treat yourself and the whole world with compassion, and be an ambassador of love.

5. Madhurya bhava: the mood of communion. The lover becomes one with the beloved. You realize that life-force breathes you and that Infinite Source sustains your very existence. Any sense of separation is merely a cosmic game, a divine dance, and an opportunity to experience the radiant love between life and the source of life. Remove the barriers to love by being love. Imagine inhaling love and breathing love back out to the world around you. When you forget to love (because you will), resist the urge to judge yourself. Instead, remember love the very first moment you can. Celebrate the cosmic game of revelation and concealment—forgetting love only to experience the joys of remembering it once again. Bhakti is a practice, after all. We all thirst for the waters of boundless and unconditional love. Enjoyment of life is like bathing in those currents. Devotion to the Source of life is like taking a long and nourishing drink.

R. R. Shakti, MA, is founding director of Yoga Worldreach Seva School and a yoga therapist. She has taught “the blissipline” of Inner Power Yoga since 2000. A mythologist, storyteller, and teacher’s teacher, she combines ecological awareness, social service, and mind-body integration to offer a message of peace and personal empowerment.

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[ transformation in a tepee ]

Finding Truth + Releasing Fear

I

was sitting in a tepee, a strangely new tepee made with cream canvas and PVC joints. My floor was foam pads and a faux bearskin. I was supposed to be meditating, but all I could think of was how this felt nothing like I had dreamed in my childhood.

In my head, words passed through: “Find your seat, find your breath.” I took one more look at the brand-new canvas in front of me and vowed to release my judgment and open my mind. I could hear my teacher and teachers past reminding me that the things we hold in our life are nothing more than the intention brought to them. I took a deep breath, closed my eyes, and intended: Mother Earth’s womb. It is a funny thing, walking into our own selfawareness. In theory, it is something we all want—to be more connected, to know more about our selves and why we are the way we are. When we have a moment of coming into our selves, of seeing a piece of our true nature, it can be a magical and rejuvenating experience. The space within a tepee is powerful. It is perfectly balanced, leaving no room for ex-

By Renée Lamb tremes or lies. Whatever you feel will bounce around in the space until you’ve felt all sides of it and come to the center of that truth. But truth can be difficult. For me, it brought fears and regrets, memories of moments, and people I didn’t even know I had forgotten. I felt myself swing from giddy elation to sobbing in a matter of seconds. Eventually, my teacher came out and joined me. I felt numb and overwhelmed. Something had been tapped. All I could do was sit in my numbness and listen. That night, as I arrived home, I couldn’t go in. Instead, I walked out to the riverbank and stood under the stars. The light of the stars glistened on the mud. I pulled my scarf closer and sobbed a hysterical, breath-stealing sob that is usually reserved only for moments in childhood or mourning. The fear and sadness came pouring out and seemed to melt down into the sand. It was days later, as I sat on my apartment floor, staring at the brick wall, that I realized the change. A deep sorrow and fear were gone. In that tepee, I had found them, stared them in the face, and, by doing so, let them go. They say that if you meditate inside a tepee, anything is possible. The lack of corners

“They say that if you meditate inside a tepee, anything is possible. The lack of corners brings new energies to light, taking away all the darkness within which they would usually hide.” brings new energies to light, taking away all the darkness within which they would usually hide. In that new canvas tepee, I found my truth and my fear. That fear I had carried for so long was suddenly in my hands. Under that clear winter sky, it was released. I walked away lighter and ready for more.

Renée Lamb is a trained economist, yoga teacher, writer, and entrepreneur. In 2013, she founded Soulié, a social enterprise working with artisans to create one-of-a-kind, breathtakingly beautiful yoga and lifestyle products.

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by Neale Donald Walsch Auth or of t h e C o n v ers ati o n s w i th G o d s eri es

Are We after the “Wrong” Stuff? Yes. We don’t understand that we’re after the “wrong” stuff. Our opportunity now is to decide to change what we want, to seek what we actually came here to experience, rather than what we’ve been told by our culture that we are supposed to be experiencing. The soul has come to physicality—to what I call “the realm of the relative”—for a single purpose, and it’s not about “Get the guy, get the girl, get the car, get the job, get the spouse, get the kids, get the better job, get the better car, get the better house, get the better spouse, get the grandkids, get the retirement watch, get the cruise tickets, get the illness, and get the heck out.” That is what most people are doing, but that’s not what the soul came here to do. The soul has come to the physical realm to have a direct experience of itself as an “individuation of divinity.” We have taken a physical identity so that we may express our divine identity. And every moment in our life provides us with an opportunity to do that.

Replacing physical priorities with spiritual priorities can change everything There is little disagreement on our planet that the lives of most human beings could be improved immensely. Words pour out of lecturers, articles pour out of magazines, and books pour out of authors, all seeking to help us understand how we can have more peace, security, health, opportunity, happiness, fulfillment, abundance, and love. So why aren’t we getting there? Why is it that so many are still not experiencing the lives they say they wish to experience? Is there something we don’t understand about life, the understanding of which would change everything?

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When we use every moment in this way, we open the door to those other experiences that we say we want coming to us far more easily. Or as someone far more eloquent than I will ever be was known to have said, “Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and all these things will be added unto you.” I consider this the greatest insight of what some have called “the New Spirituality.” It is actually ancient wisdom, being brought forward again in this day and time of continual change and turmoil. For me, there is only one question to ask when I am thinking, saying, or doing anything: “What does this have to do with the agenda of my soul?” My moment-to-moment answer to that question has changed the direction of my life.

Neale Donald Walsch is the author of the Conversations with God series of books and twenty other titles, including seven New York Times best sellers. His most recent book is God’s Message to the World: You’ve Got Me All Wrong.

We have taken a physical identity so that we may express our divine identity. And every moment in our life provides us with an opportunity to do that.


SPOTLIGHTS What brought you to yoga, and why did you stay? Mark Stephens Author and yoga teacher Santa Cruz, California MARKSTEPHENSYOGA.COM

As a teenager fascinated by consciousness, I heard about yoga, played with it for two years, bailed, ran down twin rabbit holes of social change activist and scholar, resurfaced twenty-five years ago lost, stressed, and confused, remembered yoga, tiptoed into a class, and have practiced ever since. Why? It makes life better, for me, for all who breathe!

Sandra Ploszaj Yoga instructor / jewelry designer Gilbert, Arizona

I fell in love with the practice after my first hotyoga class. The peaceful feeling after a yoga session is what kept me coming back to the mat. The results of this practice have lead me to a healthy way of thinking and knowing I can breathe my way through stresses that may arise in my life. PHOTO: AMANDA MANFREDI YOGA AND PHOTOGRAPHY

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Lisa Acheson Owner, Lisa Acheson Yoga Des Moines, Iowa LISAACHESONYOGA.COM

Q + A

I find that my yoga practice has helped me be a more thoughtful consumer. I’ve learned to be present rather than in a hurry while making purchasing decisions, most noticeably when grocery shopping. While I used to think frugal purchases were most important, I’m now much more inclined to make purchases that are local and minimally processed and emphasize quality.

How has yoga affected you as a consumer?

Jonathan Gabriel Yoga instructor San Luis Obispo, California Adrian Mccavitt Yoga instructor Richmond, Virginia Yoga has affected me as a consumer in very subtle ways. I now choose to save my money for travel and continuing education and hopefully try to combine the two. Other than that, I am quite conservative with my money. Only splurging on high-quality produce and other nutritious foods and teas.

Samantha Shakti Brown Boulder Creek, California SAMANTHASHAKTI.COM

OMNI-PRANA.COM

Yoga has brought me clarity of mind and the practice of contentment. This path helped me embrace myself fully and not buy into pressures around me. I’m a conscious consumer, passionate about sustainable energy, organic farming, equality, and fair trade. Since change is constant, I find beauty in self-care and relationship, not in the materialistic things.

Yoga has taught me that there are two basic elements of life: choice and acceptance. Yoga as a lifestyle trains us how to make healthy, balanced choices. However, there are situations that cannot be controlled, such as the words and actions of others. To this, yoga practice teaches us the power of balanced response rather than reaction. PHOTO: JACOBEYE & MURRAY / OM GAIA TREE

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How Do You Pray? By Celeste Yacoboni

Awareness beyond the boundaries of religion “How do you pray?” I asked Mary Ann, a beautiful, young woman, after a talk at a yoga center one evening. She said she was Catholic and had been asking herself that question for a while. Her being Catholic brought up so many images for me as I, too, was brought up in this religion. I officially walked out the door of the church when I was fourteen, never to return as part of the flock. Now, I love visiting churches, temples, mosques, and ashrams, and somehow, they all feel like home. I am welcomed by an interspiritual feast and celebration.

"It really isn’t about religion as much as it is about having an open heart full of love and compassion. This is the true spirit of religion, coming together in communion, praise, and gratitude." It isn’t that I don’t love Jesus, Mary, and all the saints. I do. It’s that I fell in love with all the other religions too and with my own personal relationship—yes, love affair—with all that is sacred. Now I can feel the sacred heart of Jesus inside my own heart and say the beautiful prayer “Hail Mary” as I honor the Blessed Mother of us all. It really isn’t about religion as much as it is about having an open heart full

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of love and compassion. This is the true spirit of religion, coming together in communion, praise, and gratitude. “How do I pray?” Mary Ann continued, “I like to talk to God, and I am always looking for answers. They may come in ways that I didn’t expect, like talking to you.” I agreed, there was a deep connection as we shared this inquiry. One thing that comes up is possibility, the possibility that we might have more in common than we thought. We realize in the asking that it isn’t just about how we pray but the contemplative state that we share—an awareness, a prayerness—that is beyond all boundaries of religion. It is personal and universal, the sacredness of all humanity and all life. We all long for meaning in our lives and connection to something greater than our separate selves. That makes us mystics. We all want our loved ones to be well and safe. That makes us human. Humanity is mystical. Mary Ann and I gazed into each other’s eyes, and all the questions and answers disappeared. We hung out in the vastness of the mystery, beyond any notion of separation. This is how I pray, as I fall in love over and over again. I continue to ask, and the responses bring us together in oneness. How do you pray?

Celeste Yacoboni, ordained as a minister of walking prayer by the Center for Sacred Studies, facilitates healing and transformation with her unique approach to spiritual direction and healing arts through workshops and a private practice in Santa Fe, New Mexico. How Do You Pray? is her first book.

PHOTOs: JENNIFER ESPERANZA


SPOTLIGHTS

do you teach?

HOW HAS MEDITATION CHANGED YOUR LIFE?

▼ Lynn Burgess Yoga from the Heart founder and director YOGAFROMTHEHEART.COM

I teach classes for people with Parkinson’s disease. Stiffness in the body’s core is one of the most debilitating symptoms of Parkinson’s. Using props, I focus on poses that reduce stiffness, improve mobility, and foster a sense of balance. Yoga visibly reduces tremors, improves the steadiness of gait, and gives participants the energy needed to counteract insomnia and the lethargy of Parkinson’s.

Krystyn Strother Program director, Hush Meditation

Jim Hopper, PhD Independent consultant and part-time instructor, Harvard Medical School

Portland, Oregon KRYSTYNSTROTHER.COM

Arlington, Massachusetts JIMHOPPER.COM

I have learned to sit with each emotion as it comes rather than finding a distraction. I have learned how to listen rather than hear and to act from a place of compassion and love rather than fear. Meditation has made me a better adventurer, teacher, lover, partner, friend, and daughter because I have learned to live in each moment.

Intensive practice has given me—a psychologist and trauma expert—insights into how minds and brains work, what brings suffering, and what brings genuine happiness. Daily meditation has helped me integrate those insights (and others) into my life and cultivate habits to become more loving and wise than I would be without meditation. Both have helped me accept my limitations.

LOVELIGHTYOGA.COM

My true yoga love is yin yoga and its ability to create powerful inner medicine through stillness and insight. Softness, space, and feeling are things that are not celebrated enough in this fast yang world. Yin is the feminine uprising, reconnecting to Mother Earth and our deep inner knowing. I teach yin teacher trainings and workshops internationally and community projects like Plastic Free Yogi. Photo: Leslie Kennah / Rhizome Media

Q + A

Photo: Krystle K, The Snap Mom

Danielle Hoogenboom Yogi, artist, activist

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Who do

Jennifer Reis, E-RYT 500 Kripalu YTT director, integrative yoga therapist Lenox, Massachusetts JENNIFERREISYOGA.COM

My passion is developing and teaching Divine Sleep Yoga Nidra, a guided savasana meditation that leads you through the five koshic levels of being, for deep rest and inner transformation; and Five Element Yoga, a celebration of yoga postures, pranic breathing, mudras, and self-massage that nurtures balance of the five elements within your being.

you teach? Marty Klein Woodstock, New York BLINDYOGA.NET

I am a yogi, author, counselor, screenwriter, musician, workshop leader, and visionary. I lead all those who wish to come out of the darkness and into the light. I will do whatever I can to help people grow. I love supporting and encouraging blind and visually impaired people toward more empowered lives.

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By Rebecca Rissman

Encou raging the Reluctant Get t ing Teens to Pract ice Yoga “If you’re concerned that your teen might be struggling with body-image issues, remind them that yoga is a great activity for all body types.”

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hile we already know about many of the benefits of a regular yoga practice, recent research is shedding light on how yoga can specifically help teens. One study showed that a regular yoga practice improved teenagers’ moods and helped them cope with stress. Another study showed that a focus on mindfulness and meditation actually improved teens’ memories and helped them perform better on exams. Yoga has even been implemented as a weapon against eating disorders in teens. With all of these perks, it should be a snap to get your teen doing yoga. But, as we all know, convincing teenagers often takes work. Try playing on these motivators to get your teen practicing yoga: Power Up Got an athlete on your hands? Emphasize that yoga is a great way to build muscle, bone strength, and flexibility. You might even mention that many professional athletes, like LeBron James and Victor Cruz, incorporate yoga into their training regimes. Straight-A Students Yoga classes that focus on mindfulness and meditation have been proven to improve

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students’ abilities to focus, remember, and perform on tests. The next time your teen is fretting about a looming exam, encourage them to hit the mat to recharge and refocus. Celebrity Sightings Know a teen who can’t tear away from the latest Us Weekly? Point out that many hot celebrities, like Adam Levine and Jennifer Aniston, practice yoga regularly for the physical, mental, and emotional benefits. Social Media Mania Yoga teachers are all over social media on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook. Encourage your teen to follow some of these amazing yogis, such as Yoga_girl or Patrickbeach, and participate in their pose challenges. You might even encourage them to post their own yoga-pose photos to share with their friends. Make It Social Practicing yoga at home doesn’t have to be a solo activity. Encourage your teen to have a friend or two over for yoga, healthy snacks, and a fun movie. If that doesn’t sound appealing, invite your teen to practice yoga with you. Seeing a parent or friend who has a regular practice can be an awesome inspiration.

De-stress Teenagers have a lot to cope with. School, friends, and extracurricular activities can all be wrought with tension and stress. Remind your teen that yoga is a great way to stay on top of their stresses. Body-Image Makeover If you’re concerned that your teen might be struggling with body-image issues, remind them that yoga is a great activity for all body types. Emphasizing that yoga is an accepting activity for people of all levels is a great way to engage a reluctant teen.

Rebecca Rissman, CYT 200, is the author of more than one hundred nonfiction books. Her new book, Yoga for Your Mind and Body (April 2015, Switch Press), introduces yoga to teenagers and explores the positive impact it can have on teens’ minds, bodies, and self-confidence.


Thoughtful Parenting

By T emple H ay es

Raising Children to Have Integrity and Self-Esteem

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walk the beach several times a week, and this morning, I was so taken by this beautiful setting of sand buckets and shovels awaiting the children to arrive. The buckets were empty and ready to be filled so that the children may create wonderful sand castles and sculptures. What came to mind for me was a metaphor of empty buckets and shovels representing the emptiness of a child’s possibilities. What is placed in the bucket will equal what the child can create and mold into shape for the rest of their life. We have a tremendous responsibility and opportunity as adults to fill the buckets and shovels for children with hope, optimism, and unconditional love. We can model this with our daily actions and choose not to teach them fear, judgment, and separation. Parents often reward “right action” from a child by saying, “This makes Mommy/Daddy proud.” A little boy will clean up his toys or a little girl will make her bed, waiting outside for approval in the words, “You make me proud.” The real way to teach a child selfesteem and inner connection is to say to your child or grandchild when they do good

deeds, “This must make you feel good about yourself.” Otherwise, we are constantly raising children who seek approval from others and continue this practice in adulthood. We are also able to impact them by teaching them the value of life and nature. We have our own experiences to teach them about life changes and grief and what really matters in a lifetime.

“We have a tremendous responsibility and opportunity as adults to fill the buckets and shovels for children with hope, optimism, and unconditional love. We can model this with our daily actions and choose not to teach them fear, judgment, and separation.” Children around us are listening and they are attentive. They need to see us express from our minds and our hearts that we have great expectations from the world we live in. We need to teach them that an occasional despair is real life, but real life is not to be in a constant state of hopelessness.

We can show them that language can be shared with class and dignity without profanity. There is a new language arising in our culture, and it is the language that our grandparents before us would have never mentioned out loud, let alone communicated. We can show them that challenges can be met and addressed without blame or victimization. We can prove to them that tough times lead to great times by revealing to them our own journey, not through words alone but through actions. We can reveal to them that how you do small things is how you do everything, and they do matter deeply to us as a major role in our hearts and in our society. We can show them that none of us are really in control, but the true place of arrival in life for real happiness is trust. They trust us to fill their sand buckets and shovels with possibilities. How will we do it?

TEMPLEHAYES.COM

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SPOTLIGHT:

How do you make the world more beautiful?

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Q + A

Elysabeth Williamson

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Art director and teacher, Charm City Yoga Baltimore, Maryland

Santa Barbara, California PARTNERYOGA.NET

Through sharing Partner Yoga. When people experience, or even witness, its beauty, it often touches them to tears. They feel the depth of intimacy that humans are capable of. It is a direct path to the essence of yoga: union. It cuts through the ways we separate ourselves and reveals our sameness and our immense capacity for love. PHOTO: David Goldman / Laya Bachs

Danny Arguetty

Justin Timothy Temple

Myra Lewin

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Founder of Hale Pule Ayurveda and Yoga Kauai, Hawaii HALEPULE.COM

JUSTINTEMPLEYOGA.COM

By helping others find beauty where they might not notice it. In the yoga practice, there is brilliance that exists in the most modest of asanas, and experiencing that can lead to a receptiveness to the beauty in unassuming aspects of this world. I think if more people can observe that low-key beauty, more will want to be better stewards.

The main goal in my work is to have people learn to like and love themselves from the inside out. Ayurveda and yoga have given this to me. With these vast sciences, I offer simple authentic solutions for transformation in daily living. Through consultations, retreats, and trainings, I guide others to cultivate peace and joy within. This is true beauty. PHOTO: MOLLY LEON STUDIOS

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Jada Fire

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Yoga teacher trainer San Diego, California

Cofounder, Barefoot Sanctuary Las Vegas, Nevada

DANNYARGUETTY.COM

BAREFOOTSANCTUARY.COM

I make the world more beautiful by first and foremost walking my talk, staying in constant inquiry, and continually refining and learning from my practice of living yoga. I love sharing with others the tools and techniques that support me in staying healthy, empowered, and vital as I navigate the majesty of this human experience day-to-day. I feel truly blessed!

I make the world more beautiful by creating an environment of love. We light candles in our home, play native flute music, paint, cook a divine meal, or get our hands in red clay. The spirit of yoga is often awake within me when I am creating and working in harmony with Earth Mother. Beauty is nature.

Jasmine Astra-Elle Grace

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Owner and CEO of Yoga on High, Grow Yoga, and Sekoia Columbus, Ohio YOGAONHIGH.COM

PHOTO: EPIC PHOTOJOURNALISM

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PHOTO: SERGE NIKOLICH

I am inspired by the beauty of the natural world, strength of the human spirit, and the journey to rediscover our true nature! Each day brings a new opportunity to awaken and share that; through self-care and self-study, we actually serve humanity. We are one, and by taking personal responsibility for our health, we are taking responsibility for our world. PHOTO: ALANA BECKER PHOTOGRAPHY


SPOTLIGHTs How do you use your passion to change the world?

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Beth Pearlman Studio owner/instructor Evergreen, Colorado TRUEYOGAEVERGREEN.COM

Rachel Gonzalez Owner at Body Alive Yoga and Movement Studio Wailuku, Hawaii BODYALIVEYOGA.COM

Have passion for cultivating balance between the soft and strong elements of myself. Hopefully this practice influences others to also find balance and not take life too seriously but still maintain a level of productivity. I believe incorporating these aspects of the practice is essential to discovering the full brilliance of who we are on and off the mat. PHOTO: CADENCIA PHOTOGRAPHY

During a period of change in my life, I saw yoga everywhere: places to improve, expand, reflect, and grow. Creating a studio in our beautiful mountain community of Evergreen began to evolve. Opening True Yoga was a leap, and I am living my passion every day. Guiding people in a space to connect, ground, and heal was my dream, now a reality. PHOTO: Paul Cohen Photography

“I believe incorporating these aspects of the practice is essential to discovering the full brilliance of who we are on and off the mat.”

Eric Paskel Founder of Yoga Shelter and certified yoga instructor Encino, California

Q + A

ERICPASKEL.COM

Twenty-nine years ago, I sought help for a drug addiction. My sights have continued to stay on making Eric a better person. Through that single mission, thousands have joined me to help themselves. The world does not change. People do, and when they do, a whole new world is created. I am grateful to be living in that world.

—Rachel Gonzalez

What has been one of your biggest life lessons?

Chrispy Bhagat Singh Operator, RockStarYoga Austin, Texas ROCKSTARYOGA.US

“Ask for nothing, receive it in abundance.” It works, both ways. If we don’t seek, we won’t find; but if we don’t dwell, we won’t settle. Works for me, all the time.

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SPOTLIGHT:

How do you relax?

Lauren Walker Yoga teacher and author of Energy Medicine Yoga Whitefish, Montana

Elizabeth O’Shea Owner of Yoga Bodhi Marblehead, Massachusetts ELIZABETHYOGA.COM

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Q + A

Jasmine Judson Yoga instructor Makawao, Maui MAUIJAZZYOGA.COM

Eighty percent of tension in the body is held in the eyes. When I want to deeply relax, I practice an Energy Medicine Yoga technique called “palming.” The heel of the hand is on the cheekbone, and the palm is over the eye cavity but not touching the eye. I hold here for several breaths and can literally feel the stress release from my body.

Restorative-yoga practice is the best way for me to relax my body, followed by a pranayama practice to calm my nervous system, then a seated meditation to dissolve any remaining tensions into a state of peace and oneness. The ideal is to deepen these practices by doing them on a beach with the soothing sounds of the ocean as a backdrop!

PHOTO: JOEL BERTI

PHOTO: M. K. RYNNE

Relaxing is a lifestyle in Hawaii. Playing in the ocean and soaking up sun help me to unwind from life’s stressors. But more than anything, my meditation practice has given me the most solace. To be able to withdraw into myself and emerge focused and refreshed, no matter where I am, is the greatest gift.

Ann Green Owner and director of Bliss Ann Green Yoga Barrie, Ontario, Canada ANNGREENYOGA.COM

My journey to relaxation begins with breath. Nature empowers this connection. I adventure into walks, melt into meditation, engage in the energy of a run or paddle. Seasonally, I float with the sublime of SUP. With every heartbeat and breath, tension releases as nature embraces me.

PHOTO: JEN SANTOS / ANTHOLOGY STUDIOS

PHOTO: NAT CARON

With every heartbeat and breath, tension releases as nature embraces me.

—Ann Green

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Mandy Ingber Wellness expert and author of Yogalosophy Santa Monica, California MANDYINGBER.COM

My favorite way to relax is taking a beach walk. I am a creative by nature, so the sound of the ocean and the salt air recalibrate me. Even the vision of the ocean waves puts me in a relaxed state. I’m active, so moving helps me to unwind. Add a tea with honey to that, and I’m in heaven. PHOTO: JAVIERA ESTRADA


SPOTLIGHTS

Frank Gjata Founder, Blississippi, Conscious Ink, My Naked Guru Bend, Oregon, and Los Angeles, California BLISSISSIPPI.COM

I believe everything in life conspires to connect us to the truth of who we really are, our divine nature. The problems we experience simply stem from us feeling disconnected to our truth and graciously show us where we’re “missing the mark.” So every problem is really just a gift, guiding us back to ourselves. How sweet is that?

What is love?

Love is cheering for and chaperoning a newly hatched sea turtle along its perilous journey to the sea, swatting away the horde of predatory birds while conscious that I am depriving them of breakfast. Love is doing what feels right in the moment with an awareness and appreciation that there are other equally valid, often opposing, viewpoints. PHOTO: SHADOW VAN HOUTEN / SIMPATIKA

Michael + Amy Caldwell Cofounders and instructors, Yoga One San Diego, California YOGAONESANDIEGO.COM

What is something few people know about you?

Jenny Finkel Yoga teacher Chicago, Illinois CHICAGOMYOGA.COM

Before I was a yoga teacher, I was an improvisational comedian. The transition between yoga and improv is seamless, as both are built on the same foundations: listen, adapt, stay present, release expectations. I’ve learned to fearlessly embrace surprises on my mat, on stage, and in front of a classroom. And remembering to laugh is never a bad thing! PHOTO: MARIA PONCE BERRE / MARIA PONCE PHOTOGRAPHY

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What is the truest thing you know (that has transformed your life)?

Q + A

Amber Gean Espelage Rocket Yoga Instructor, Yoga ah! Studio Cincinnati, Ohio YOGAAHSTUDIO.COM

Meeting my yoga guru Larry Schultz in the year 2000 transformed me from the inside out. I found my voice, the inner teacher, and my Rocket Yoga practice. Larry became my best friend, and the infinite love he showed me and everyone he knew inspires me to be a better, kinder person every day.

A friend said, “Love is an action of deeply paying attention to your life.” For me, conscientious love also means continually opening our hearts when life is easily flowing and amidst challenging circumstances. Love in the context of close personal relationships allows us to practice. Through our experiences of connection, hopefully we remember love is our true nature.

Photo: Brian Phillups

PHOTO: LOIS GREENFIELD

Bernardo Isacovici Yoga teacher and lawyer BERNIEYOGACHICAGO.COM

Accepting my body has been difficult for me. I lost over one hundred pounds over seven years by running, eating greens, and practicing yoga. My lifestyle allows me to remain fit, but I have still struggled with accepting myself. Yoga saved my life; every time I step on the mat is a reminder that I love the way I am and look. PHOTO: ROBERT STURMAN

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YogaSphere: Yogi Pro Kit First of all, we love Holly, the creator. A strong, focused, dedicated yogi committed to helping us deepen our practice. This system of circular straps enhances alignment, provides stability, and brings yoga bind within reach for all yogis! —MP mama-kuka.com

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By Shushana Castle

Peak Plant-Based performance at Any Time Every meal matters

For some of us, the greatest challenges are the goals we set for ourselves.

stiffening. TMAO is linked to severe inflammation and immunosuppression.

The evidence is clear: our dietary choices can make or break these goals. Everything we put into our body determines whether we, on one hand, clot our gastrointestinal and vascular systems, confuse our immune functions, and cause meta-inflammation or, on the other, create a balanced internal environment that will foster optimum physical and mental health and performance.

Fortunately, we also know that the good bacteria thrive on the soluble and insoluble fiber found exclusively in plant foods. Dr. Greenlaw notes that when plant fiber is metabolized in the gut, protective compounds such as butyric acid are formed, and this nourishes our probiotic bacteria, which in turn promote efficient digestion, healthy gut function, and immune protection. This is why fiber and plants are critical to removing excess toxins and fat from our bodies; in short, they fuel our immunity.

“Fiber and plants are critical to removing excess toxins and fat from our bodies; in short, they fuel our immunity.” We all know how hard super-athletes work to keep their diets in check. Alongside their grueling training regimens, most pros stick to and swear by a carefully planned diet and say that this makes all the difference between strength and super-strength, stardom and super-stardom, failure and triumph. Guys and gals, it’s telling that the athletes are onto something. The fact is, eating healthy is crucial for success, in whatever arena you’re competing in. Take immunity, for instance. Since about seventy percent of our immune system exists in the lining of our stomach, the saying “Go with your gut” takes on a whole new meaning. As Dr. Thomas Sult notes, we have billions of microbes in our stomachs and guts, some of which help to regulate our internal environment by producing vital hormones and enzymes, disease-fighting antioxidants, and other immune-boosting compounds. The problem is that these good bacteria are constantly battling against the bad bacteria that make you sick. We now know that the bad bacteria feed on animal products and overly processed foods and that specific compounds in these foods are metabolized in the gut and liver to form trimethylamine N-oxide. According to Drs. Zarin Azar, Jimmy H. Conway, and Roger Greenlaw, this byproduct, known as TMAO, is a direct cause of cholesterol deposition and arterial

Say you’re at work, you’ve got five deadlines the following day, and you find yourself falling asleep come 3 p.m. What’s that about? Food is first and foremost an energy source, so it stands to reason that it should be helping to power you mentally and physically throughout any highperformance day. As it turns out, energy is not always equal, as some foods are vastly more efficient at charging you for success. Whole, plant foods are great power providers, and this is central to the findings of Daniel D. Chartrand. Unprocessed fruits, vegetables, grains, nuts, seeds, and legumes keep you full, regulate energy release, and maintain stable blood-sugar levels—exactly what you need to perform at your peak throughout the day. On the contrary, processed junk foods actually drain your system, and while they may result in an initial energy release, you can count on an energy slump a couple of hours later. According to Drs. Jimmy H. Conway, Jay T. Sutliffe, and Juliet Gellatley, meat and dairy products put further stress on your system, causing oxidative stress, inflammation, a permanent state of “acid overload,” and raised cholesterol levels. The additives and preservatives found in much junk food help out with these things too. Foods like this actually give your body more work to do; there’s so much to clean up after a junkfood meal, it’s little wonder you’re exhausted by the afternoon. Now it’s bedtime. Your partner is making moony eyes at you, but your dietary choices unfortunately mean that both of you are facing

a passionless night ahead. If you’ve fought off that gas (so attractive!), and the heartburn, and the fatigue, how well is your love-stick working? Ladies, that goes for your entire reproductive package too. You’ve heard how cholesterol causes heart attacks and strokes, but how about erectile dysfunction? Think about it, guys; those blood vessels need taking care of too. Cholesterol makes its way into every artery, and the millions of micro-vessels in the penis are just as susceptible to blockage as those elsewhere. Numerous doctors (such as Sahara Adams LeSage, T. Campbell, Caldwell Esselstyn, and Robert Ostfield) have shown that diet is key here too, because cholesterol is found exclusively—and in large quantities—in animal foods. This means that each time you eat a steak or an egg, or drink a glass of milk, you’re lining your blood vessels with cholesterol and drastically reducing your body’s ability to perform. Plant foods, incidentally, contain absolutely no cholesterol and even contain compounds which help to lower your cholesterol levels. For instance, as Dr. Jay T. Sutliffe notes, soluble and insoluble plant fiber, such as the kind found in oatmeal, has actually been shown to bind with bile acids and dramatically reduce blood-cholesterol levels. These are just a few examples of the many ways in which food can powerfully affect our performance. The fact is that every meal really does matter to our bodies, and athlete or not, we can all help ourselves to reach our true physical and mental potential by making the right lifestyle choices. Simply by pledging to be mindful with food, to eat foods which nourish and protect us rather than harm and exhaust us, we can all empower ourselves to boost our successes and take real charge of our lives.

Shushana Castle is coauthor of Rethink Food: 100+ Doctors Can’t Be Wrong and The Meaty Truth. She has produced and appeared on dozens of TV and radio shows, interviewing leading doctors and scientists. Before delving into health care, Shushana was a globally renowned fixed-income securities specialist for over twenty years and an equities specialist for five.

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By Alex Pattakos and Elaine Dundon

OPA!

and money. It’s about the search for meaning. We discovered ageless wisdom that we summarized into a formula (O + P + A = Meaning) and practice called The OPA! Way:

Meaning is different for everyone. There is no one right answer; there is only the answer that is right for you. As you begin to understand what is meaningful, what really matters to you, you begin to transform and enter the process of becoming who you are really meant to be. When you understand and act from your “core of meaning,” you become more engaged and resilient, more energetic and healthy, more productive and creative.

O = Connect meaningfully with others P = Engage with deeper purpose A = Embrace life (all of life!) with attitude

So let today be the day you embrace OPA— others, purpose, attitude—as your mantra for living with meaning. OPA!

Mantra for Living with Meaning

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reece—birthplace of western civilization, home of the Olympics, origin of the Mediterranean Diet! It is also a place where the quest for the “good” life, or as we call it, the meaningful life, became known as a primary motivation of human beings.

Many of us are on a search for more meaning in our lives and work. Often, this search begins with the acknowledgment that “something is missing” or with feelings of being overwhelmed, disconnected, unfulfilled, or just feeling out of sorts. Often, it’s not about the search for the meaning of life that is most important to us but, rather, the search for meaning in our own lives. Although our backgrounds included years of researching and writing about meaning, we, too, were searching for answers. So we went on an odyssey to Greece to walk in the footsteps of ancient Greek philosophers like Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle. We also visited traditional villages where we found that the people spoke and lived simply but were incredibly wise about life. Despite economic challenges, they still knew how to live with joy and meaning. While in Greece, we were reminded that life really isn’t about pursuing pleasure, power, THEOPAWAY.COM

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we go through life, as we search for our true nature, we may begin to realize that we are coming full circle, back to who we really were in the first place, before we were covered up with the fears and hardships (or “dirt”) of life!

Others, purpose, attitude—OPA!

“Often, it’s not about the search for the meaning of life that is most important to us but, rather, the search for meaning in our own lives.” One of our key insights under P (purpose) can be traced to the inscription at the entrance to the Temple of Apollo at Delphi, Greece: “Know thyself.” To know ourselves is a difficult challenge, for we have to acknowledge the masks we may be wearing and how we may be concealing our true nature. But in order to truly live a meaningful life, we have to be willing to remove these masks and take the time to reflect and ask the questions to better understand our true nature or core essence. As Euripides said years ago, “There is just one life for each of us: our own.” As

Alex Pattakos and Elaine Dundon are authors of The OPA! Way: Finding Joy and Meaning in Everyday Life and Work, a finalist in the 2014 USA Best Book Awards in the Self-Help: Motivational category. They are the leaders of the OPA! Meaning Movement and founders of The Meaning Group.


Interview: Mary Jo Cranmore

Sam J. Shelley Author of I Don’t Dwell

On changing our relationship with our thoughts

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ying in a hospital bed with thirteen prescriptions ruling his life each day, Sam J. Shelley finally said, “Enough!” His life had been a long series of illnesses, each more crippling than the last. At age six, an accident with a van nearly killed him. Since then, hospitalizations for depression and anxiety eventually morphed into bipolar disorder with suicidal tendencies and finally multiple sclerosis. One evening after meditation, Sam experienced a profound shift—an awakening—that forever changed his life. Eighteen months later, Sam slowly recovered and became symptom-free and drug-free. Mary Jo Cranmore: Sam, your story is amazing. How did you first realize that meditation would help? Sam J. Shelley: I didn’t know it would, but I began to read about meditation, and one of the benefits was “inner peace.” I desperately needed inner peace. After reading these pages about meditation, I began to sit at night for five minutes. After a few weeks, the mind chatter started to get very quiet, and over time, I began to see that the thoughts I was having weren’t “me”—they were separate entities. I continued to meditate and separate myself from the thoughts, and one day, I had a self-realization. A clarity that spoke the words “perfect spirit” to me. I then realized that my spirit—who I was—was pure. It was my thoughts that were not—and they were separate from me. I choose to believe that “perfect spirit” was truth, and the thoughts began to have less and less power. Slowly, the ill health that had been plaguing me for so long began to dissipate. I began following the inner wisdom from my perfect spirit, which became clearer each day as the mind chatter quieted. I now see this as an awakening, and I feel that I’m not special; this ability is available to each of us if we

choose to see our thoughts as separate and rewrite the stories we tell ourselves each day. MJC: What can we do today that will start to make an impact? SJS: Slow down, and make conscious choices. When we react quickly to a situation, we are depending on the subconscious mind to respond. The subconscious is filled with our default conditioning that we have acquired through life. When we make conscious choices, we force ourselves into the present moment. When I was trapped in the mind, believing all my thoughts to be the truth, I was stuck living out the past. When the mind became quiet, through meditation and mindfulness practices, I was in this exact moment. Everything is created in the mind, and it is how we react to the thoughts that create our reality.

“Shifting and taking control of your inner dialogue is the way out of a life of unhappiness, and the way to do that is to start a meditation practice today.”

MJC: So just by changing what I say to myself, I can effect real change in my life? SJS: Absolutely. Thoughts drive our decisions, our relationships with others, and how we feel about ourselves. Through my work, I have seen countless examples of people making themselves literally sick with worry. I’m a prime example of that. Shifting and taking control of your inner dialogue is the way out of a life of unhappiness, and the way to do that is to start a meditation practice today. Just sit, be quiet, and relax. It may be for a minute or five minutes; don’t be concerned with techniques at this point. The point of meditation is to understand that we can only control how we react or respond to thoughts.

Sam J. Shelley is an awakened spiritual teacher, healer, and author. He lives and works in the Philadelphia area and helps people to realize their true potential.

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EDITOR’S NOTE This is what I know. Only love works. We get so tired of carrying so much, being too strong, taking care of everyone else that we don’t seem to matter anymore. Here’s to a spring of asking for more support and finally letting love in. Deeply. Fully. Easily. We deserve more. Let’s fully nourish and nurture ourselves now and let go of the crumbs of love and illusion of safety.

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Master Kundalini Teacher Feature

“Let us seek to spread light and to uplift and elevate all those we come in contact with.”

Maranda Pleasant: What are things you try to do every day? Kia Miller: I find that disharmony comes when we isolate ourselves from those we love, harbor resentments, and become disconnected from the balance found in nature. Therefore, I create my day around connection—to self, to others, and to my inner source of power.

Part Two

Yoga and Meditation Teacher

Kia Miller On conscious connection, her spiritual awakening, and uplifting all those we come in contact with Interview: Maranda Pleasant

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My personal practice is number one. I tend to go to bed early and wake up early, preferably starting my practice before dawn. I wake up, do my breath work, meditation, and movement, in that order. I find this allows me to make a conscious connection with myself through my practice and elevate my energy before I meet the day. Therefore, rather than waking up and trying to roll with whatever life throws my way, I get to set my energy and intention and make better choices in alignment with my mission. If I miss it, I feel the difference in my focus and connection. Other important everyday practices include staying current with my husband and loved ones, eating healthy food, and spending time outdoors, connecting with nature, hiking, sitting at the beach, swimming, or riding my bike. MP: What’s one of the hardest things you’ve been through? What helped get you through it? KM: The death of my father when I

was fifteen profoundly affected my life. We were very close and had a mutual love of the land, farming, and animals. When I wasn’t at school, I spent as much time with him as I could. He got bowel cancer at the young age of forty-three. He survived long enough to get his affairs in order, and then passed away quite quickly. I was not there at the moment of his death, but he spoke to me clearly that night. He said, “It’s OK, I’m OK.” That was the beginning of my spiritual awakening. I knew there was more than what I could see. It was also a wake-up call to not take life for granted. I learned to move through life with faith; this has been enormously helpful, especially in those times where circumstances seem impossibly hard, just knowing that there is a way through. MP: If you could say something to everyone on the planet, what would it be? KM: “This life is such a precious experience. Let us not waste it in hatred and separation. Let us seek to spread light and to uplift and elevate all those we come in contact with.”

Kia Miller, one of the most well-known Kundalini teachers in the West, has an ability to translate the subtle teachings of Kundalini Yoga in a highly accessible way. She is certified in both Hatha and Kundalini Yoga and teaches workshops, retreats, and teacher trainings throughout the world.

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Yoga Legend FEATURE

Yoga Teacher and Creator of SmartFlow Yoga

Annie Carpenter On watching birds, studying ikebana, and an essential meditation for everyone Interview: Tiffany Russo Part Two Tiffany Russo: What is something we probably don’t know about you? Annie Carpenter: I’ve been a bird watcher for a long time. I really love watching birds and seeing their habitats and identifying their songs, so I’m a little bit of a geek that way with birds. I’m really inspired by birds metaphorically as well; they can transcend gravity and fly. It always reminds me of that. I think it comes from the Gita, that image that we really have to have two wings to fly well. The wing that’s beating so hard and going for it and the other wing that’s saying, “Hey, chill, that’s enough, don’t overdo.” In yoga, we call it the abhyasa/ vairagya. I love that, and birds always remind me of that because they beat their wings like crazy and then they just soar. They’re just a beautiful metaphor for us of how to live and how to be. The other little secret is that I’ve been studying this beautiful art form called ikebana, which is the old Japanese art form of arranging flowers. It’s considered a meditative art, it’s kind of strict, it’s got a lot of rules, but of course, like with all the great arts with highly developed and old rules, they’re designed to be learned vigorously, then practiced and studied, and then at some point released into full creativity, so that’s the meditation once again. TR: What is the hardest thing you’ve had to go through and what helps you get through it? AC: I’ve had a lot of important people in my life die. My parents died at a fairly normal age, but I’ve had a lot of death and sort of ANNIECARPENTER.COM

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sitting with people as they’re dying, and while it’s been immensely challenging and very hard, I feel like it’s taught me so much about what is lasting, what really matters, what life is, why are we here. All those questions have kind of been in my face in unpleasant, emotionally challenging ways, but I think, long term, the meditation that I believe is the most helpful for most of us is the meditation on “What will it be like when I take my last breath? Can I make peace with the fact that I will have a last breath?” So while that is certainly not an easy meditation for anyone at any time, I think that it is an essential one.

Annie Carpenter is known as a “teacher’s teacher,” and her teaching has evolved into an intelligent, organic SmartFlow, reflecting her love of both juicy movement and rigorous discipline. A former dancer, Annie has studied anatomy, kinesiology, and developmental movement; her classes are informed by the body’s structure and evolution.

“I’m really inspired by birds metaphorically . . . they can transcend gravity and fly.”


Punk Rock Yog i Feature—Core Strength Expert

Founder of Core Strength Vinyasa Yoga, Host of Rock Your Yoga on Z Living, and Author of The 21-Day Yoga Body

Sadie Nardini

part two

On choosing to help yourself, her career before yoga, and coming back from hard hits INTERVIEW: MARANDA PLEASANT

Maranda Pleasant: You help people transform their bodies and their lives. How do you do that? Sadie Nardini: It’s my opinion that I actually don’t help them; I merely offer them ideas and tools and videos and inspirations and road maps to their own success. Then they choose to help themselves, or not, using those tools. We are not “healers,” a term I think comes from the ego and not the soul. No one can heal another person; that person can only decide to heal themselves. MP: What’s something we probably don’t know about you? SN: Most people don’t know that before I was a yoga teacher, I owned three coffee shops and wine bars in Cedar Falls, Iowa. Being a barista is a creative pursuit for me as much as writing a song or singing it. If this yoga gig ever falls through, I can still make a mean triple cappuccino. MP: What’s one of the hardest things you’ve been through? SN: I’ve had a confrontational life of lessons. I’ve been raped and physically abused, and a longtime lover tried to kill himself in front of me. Also, I had a severe neck and spinal-cord injury when I was fifteen that left me incapable of moving or breathing well for two years and then extremely weak, dizzy, and sick for the next twenty. Every day until I was diagnosed and fixed last year was a supreme struggle, and still I’ve created miracles, inside and out. If I can come back from some of the hard hits I’ve taken, heart, body, and soul, then so can anyone else.

SN: “Know yourself. Once you know yourself, on a profound level, you come to love yourself. And from self-love springs every other behavior, every other yes and no we choose, every outside relationship and decision about how to view our daily situations, and take right action from there. This is the way to revolutionize a life—from the inside out.”

Sadie Nardini is a wellness and yoga expert and the founder of Core Strength Vinyasa Yoga. She is a biomechanics, physics, anatomy, and empowerment geek who travels internationally, bringing fierce new yoga and lifestyle tools to yoga teachers and students everywhere.

SADIENARDINI.COM

Once you know yourself, on a profound level, you come to love yourself.

MP: If you could say something to everyone on the planet, what would it be?

PHOTO: PAO SANCHEZ PHOTOGRAPHY

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T H E MANTRA SERIES

“I shop for clothing with one question in my mind, and that is, ‘Can I do a proper handstand in this?’”

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Yoga Instructor, Acrobat, Movement Specialist

Chelsey Korus Interview: Ava Taylor

On turning jealousy around, her secret to staying healthy, and the pain of moving away from her twin sister to travel and teach Ava Taylor: How do you stay grounded? Chelsey Korus: My family keeps me grounded—hands down! I grew up in the beautiful arctic country of Minnesota. My entire family still resides there to this day. I am half Norwegian and half Italian, and both sides of the family are well steeped in tradition and good ol’ Midwest values. No matter what crazy travel itinerary I’ve booked for myself or marathon teaching day I’ve had, when your mother is on the other end of the phone and drops something on her toe and she exclaims “Oh, fiddlesticks!” and means it, you’ve got to belly-laugh!

when I find myself truly wanting what someone else has—from my heart, not my ego—I see it as a divine moment that my teacher has arrived. I know that their light, their passion or skill, is helping me see where I should be spending my energy. They are no longer an enemy but a guide, and since I believe that we all have a well so far and wide within us filled to the top with potential and willpower, then I, too, can be that skilled one day. I ask questions, I study, I honor their hard work, and soon, jealousy turns into adoration, and I am no longer standing in opposition but humbly as a student. This shift in perspective truly was a life changer for me! As they say, when you know how to listen, everyone is a guru.

AT: What are your biggest passions? CK: I have a passion for people. Always have. When I stand on a subway platform, I notice the single mom struggle to get down the stairs and a stranger who walks up and takes the front end of her stroller and helps her to get down safely to make the next train. He could have walked right by, annoyed by her struggle, but he didn’t. What he knew and what he acted on is the truth that we are all just walking each other home. If you have the eyes to see it, people will surprise you with their kindness, their will to overcome impossible odds and to turn the other cheek. Sure, there are constant reminders out there to the contrary, but in my experience, human beings have the power to vibrate so powerfully that just because they showed up, the world is changed. I love that! AT: What are some important lessons you’ve learned? CK: One of the biggest lessons I learned was that to be jealous did not make me evil, or bad, or any less of a yogi. In fact, it is a natural emotion to occur when transforming oneself. It’s all in how you look at it. You see, most of us are good at many things, and the hardest part is figuring out where to spend your energy when we only have a certain amount of daylight to accomplish what we are after. So

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AT: Do you have a health secret? How do you stay healthy? CK: Yep, ginger and greens. Every day, I start with a smoothie that has a great deal of both ginger and greens, and I mean a lot of ginger, like hot, hot, hot! That combination is my secret to staying healthy even when my whole classroom is sick. That and sleep. Put yourself to bed early, my people. AT: What’s something we probably don’t know about you? CK: I shop for clothing with one question in my mind, and that is, “Can I do a proper handstand in this?” This is the truth. If I can’t go upside down in it, then it probably won’t be coming home with me. Needless to say, I do not have many dresses or tight jeans in my closet.

could say zero words out loud, and I felt everything she felt! There came a time in my life that I knew I would have to be the first one to leave our hometown so I could sit at dinner tables all over the world, listening to stories, learning and spreading the words of truth that I have been so generously given, and that meant that our lives were not going to look the same anymore. That thought alone terrified me, and a great sadness fell over both of us. It was like a divorce or a death to not have her in my daily life. I felt a kind of loneliness that’s indescribable. What helped me cope was to dive head first into my teaching and use my twin training—a deep level of intuition, a practice of compassion in its purest form. I listened to my students, saw from their eyes, and sometimes knelt down and hung out in the trenches if they needed company. That reminded me that this world is one big family, and even though there would be times that I was on the other side of the world from Haley, we were just one Skype call away, and no time or distance could separate us! She is the mother of three beautiful boys now, and I am a traveling performer and teacher, but it no longer scares me that we are not the same, because being different is pretty great too. Her presence now, even though mostly from afar, grounds me like no other, and I’m grateful for it. AT: If you could say something to everyone on the planet, what would it be? CK: “Don’t be afraid to be great!”

AT: What’s one of the hardest things you’ve been through? What helped get you through it? CK: Just like everybody, I’ve had a great deal of hard times in my life, but among the hardest was when I had moved away from my best friend, mentor, soul mate—my twin sister, Haley. We grew up attached at the hip. All of my memories as a child had her in them. She

Chelsey Korus, a renowned name in the AcroYoga world, brings aspects of martial arts, dance, gymnastics, and acrobatics to every class she teaches. Her clients include Wanderlust Festival, Mercedes-Benz, Under Armour, and Intel. In her fitness and modeling career, she has been featured in Prevention, Fitness, Shape, Women’s Health, and Yoga Journal.

PHOTO: NATHAN JOHNSON PHOTOGRAPHY

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Yoga Medicine FEATURE

PHOTO: PETE LONGWORTH PHOTOGRAPHY


part two

Founder of Yoga Medicine

Tiffany Cruikshank Maranda Pleasant: How do you stay healthy and fit? Tiffany Cruikshank: When it comes to staying healthy, my discipline comes from understanding my body and knowing what it’s like to feel really healthy. One of my goals when I work with patients to achieve long-term health is first to give them a glimpse of what it feels like to feel great. Once you feel what it really feels like to feel your best, it’s hard to fall off the wagon for long. I think there are very few people in this world that even get to experience that. For me, moderation is everything. Yoga is my mainstay, but without healthy eating and meditation, it’s flat. I also believe it’s important not to deprive yourself but that healthy living must come from wanting to feel good, which also involves allowing yourself to have fun and let loose at times. MP: What’s one of the hardest things you’ve been through? What helped get you through it? TC: I struggled a lot as a teenager, being teased a lot as a kid, and when I finally got past that, I was always the weirdo doing yoga and making strange herbal potions and things. It took a long time for me to break away and not care so much about what others think. Yoga really saved me as a teenager; it helped me start to feel comfortable in my skin.

My lesson as of late is in realizing that the imperfections are what make me whole and that those flaws are what make me lovable.

Interview: Maranda Pleasant

On what feeling great really feels like, how yoga saved her, and finding purpose

As an adult, I’d say I learned my greatest lessons from my intimate relationships. That’s probably

where I’ve struggled and grown the most. As a perfectionist, my insecurities are about feeling inadequate, and my lesson as of late is in realizing that the imperfections are what make me whole and that those flaws are what make me lovable. It’s a work in progress, anyway. Learning to let my guard down and trust that my vulnerability will be supported by my partner has been a great lesson for me. That and a good counselor! MP: If you could say something to everyone on the planet, what would it be? TC: That’s a tough one. I feel like, nowadays, everyone has their words of wisdom and advice or opinions, some broad inspirational cliché, and that’s not fair, because life is more complicated than that. Everyone’s circumstances are different, but ultimately, you must work hard, and all the inspirational statements tend to leave that out. I love that we have so many positive role models in the world right now; our world needs that. But I’m also a realist, and I don’t think life is always about leaving your job to live your dream. For me, even with yoga as my main job, I work really, really hard. Clearly, every job has a profound purpose, and that’s what makes the world go round. You can keep changing your job or your circumstances all you want, but if you don’t change your mindset, it’s really just the same thing over and over with different clothes. To me, our dharma isn’t so much about changing our job as much as it is about finding purpose in the mindfulness we live by, day to day, moment to moment. That’s what the practice is for me.

Tiffany Cruikshank, internationally acclaimed founder of Yoga Medicine, is a yoga teacher, author, and health and wellness expert. By combining over two decades of teaching yoga with over a decade of working with patients, she created Yoga Medicine, a thorough, anatomically based method, training teachers to use yoga as medicine.

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By Ri va Gdansk i

Po ses t o o p e n y o u r heart an d elevate your mood

Deepening the Bend and Strengthening the Back Opening the Chest

W

hile February may be the most appropriate month for heart-opening poses, it’s important to give your heart some love all year long. Sagging shoulders, strained neck muscles, and rounded backs are so common in young adults these days that the expressions “iPosture” and “Text Neck” are used to describe the physical toll of too much time spent on the smartphone. And these gadgets aren’t the only culprits; daily activities such as eating, driving, and reading are all performed leaning forward. Prolonged hours of hunching over leads to tightness in the chest, shoulders, and hips and increases the risk of back and neck pain. Heart-opening poses not only reverse these physical symptoms, but they are also emotionally beneficial and mood-elevating. Many heart-opening postures also happen to be backbends. Because the low back tends to be the most flexible part of the spine, it’s important to emphasize opening the heart by incorporating the bend into the upper and middle areas of the back. Repeated crunching in the lumbar region of the spine can result in injury over time. Below are some poses and pointers to help open your heart, lengthen your spine, and boost your mood. As always, those with injuries and limitations should speak to an instructor and move cautiously.

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Cat/Cow Stretch: Move with the breath, and try to visualize extending the spine from the top of the head all the way down to the tailbone. Bhujangasana (Cobra Pose): Emphasize rolling your shoulders down and firming the shoulder blades against the back in the pose. Setu Bandha Sarvangasana (Bridge Pose): Firm your outer arms, lengthen the tailbone, and tuck your shoulders underneath you to really open the heart here.

Salabhasana (Locust Pose): Clasp the hands behind you and press the scapulas into your back to open the chest and shoulders. Raise your arms, legs, and upper torso off of the floor to strengthen the spine. Opening the Hip Flexors and Quads to Stretch the Whole Front Body Anjaneyasana (Low Lunge Pose): Lift the chest and draw the tailbone down. Focus on incorporating the backbend into your upper back and avoid crunching in the lumbar as you reach up with the arms.

Stretching the Arms and Shoulders Urdhva Mukha Svanasana (Upward Facing Dog Pose): Roll your shoulders back and down before fully moving into this pose. Emphasize lifting the chest to avoid sinking in the low back. Dolphin Pose: Press the forearms actively into the floor. Firm and widen the shoulder blades away from the spine and down toward the tailbone to accentuate the shoulder stretch.

Riva Gdanski is a freelance writer, yoga model, and yoga creative director based just outside of New York City. She hopes to inspire and motivate others to adopt a healthier lifestyle by sharing her passion for yoga through articles and images.

“ P r o l o n g e d h o u rs of h u n c h i n g o v e r l e a ds t o t i g h t n e s s i n t h e c h est, s h o u l d e r s , a n d h i p s an d i n c r e a s e s t h e r i sk of b a c k a n d n e c k pain .”

PHOTO: JOHN F. COOPER PHOTOGRAPHY, WARDROBE: ALO YOGA


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diately connect down deep into the Mother (the only word in my mind for the being who affords us water, air, and food, not to mention butterflies and kangaroos), spreading your roots wide and thorough and feeling her welcome as clearly as a human hug. Imagine being able to see right to the heart of any circumstance and being able to dispense with superficiality, arguments, and selfinsecurity. Imagine no longer needing drugs, booze, vacations, or sabbaticals at Barneys. Imagine no longer feeling like a misplaced soul born here by some cruel cosmic joke but feeling beyond a shadow of doubt that the entire natural world is your kith and kin, with the mighty redwood your brother, the Colorado River your sister, the kingfisher your daughter, and the chrysanthemum your son.

Let me try to persuade you.

Imagine the feeling of belonging and peace such a sense of limitless family might afford you. Imagine thought ceasing. Not through repression/suppression/oppression or because you worked something out on the treadmill or because a shrink is leasing a Benz at your expense or because your hangover is so severe thought is impossible. Thought ceasing for the simple fact that you know how to meditate.

Imagine Meditation as Life By Kelly Morris

There will be days you won’t want to meditate. Five more minutes of sleep will feel crucial to your sanity, and the siren call of your pillow will win. However, every single one of those days, we will somehow find the time to stand in line in a smelly, dirty, way-loud Starbucks for our daily dose of “let’s stir our emotional/ mental infernal and internal shitstorm even more” with a GMO-laden twelve-dollar latte because, hey, you know what you need to get through the day in one piece. Let me try to persuade you. Imagine waking up at the exact time you want to without the aid of any alarm—to the minute. Imagine sitting up and being able to imme-

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Imagine being able to step out of the Bellevue of your mind into complete stillness that doesn’t feel scary or boring or like a colossal waste of time but instead feels like you are being dipped into the celestial waters of the yoniverse and emerging healed, whole, and ready. Meditation affords something very special. It takes you right to what is real and makes it your home, the place you know best.

Kelly Morris is founder of the renowned Conquering Lion Yoga Teacher Training Program in New York City. The New York Times and Yoga Journal call Kelly one of NYC’s foremost teachers. She has been teaching for over twenty-five years and is loved by celebrities, advanced students, and beginners alike.

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T H E MANTRA SERIES

Meditation is the highest form of self-care; we clean our hair, our teeth, the armpits, so why not our own minds?


Interview: Ava Taylor

The Sonima Foundation / The Path

Jai Sugrim On surviving a flesh-eating parasite, giving love to everyone, and the importance of cooking your own food

Ava Taylor: How do you stay grounded? Jai Sugrim: My number-one tool is meditation practice. I sit every morning for twenty minutes and shoot for a second round right before bed. The pace and speed of New York City plus teaching yoga to high school kids would drive me mad were it not for mindfulness. For me, meditation is the highest form of self-care; we clean our hair, our teeth, the armpits, so why not our own minds? It gets me in touch with the core of my own self. AT: What are some important lessons you’ve learned? JS: Never, ever take your health for granted. And always give love to everyone; it will come back when you are down. I battled a rare tropical disease called leishmaniasis for all of 2014. While traveling deep in the Amazon jungle of Peru, I got bitten by an insect that caused a flesh-eating parasite to infect my blood. The parasite started eating my flesh from inside out. It spread to different parts of my body and was found in preliminary stages in my face. The CDC handled my case and, after analyzing the DNA of the protozoa to understand which form of the disease I had, sent a really intense medicine to my doctors so they could treat me. The treatment was a living hell. For two months, I could barely walk, I was in bed all day, just leaving the apartment to travel to the hospital for daily infusions and then coming back home. During this time, the absolute lowest and scariest point in my life, I was cared for and held up by those who I had expressed kindness and love to in the past. They were there for me because we were connected by love. Leading the way was my amazing partner,

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who stood by my side through the darkest moments. It’s true that karma is a boomerang: what goes around comes around. There is a huge scar on my left leg, but I am glad to say I have beaten the disease and healed. AT: Do you have a health secret? How do you stay healthy? JS: My number-one health secret is, cook your own food. This is something I did while in college just to save money but reverted back to it when I needed to heal and learned about macrobiotics. It is extremely powerful on an energetic level to prepare what you ingest. I practiced soaking all my grains before cooking them, eating fermented foods, and going one hundred percent organic. The veggies I use are locally grown; my gal and I are regulars at the farmers market. AT: What are your biggest passions? JS: I’m a born teacher because I love people! I know that any one of us can get down on ourselves, feel inadequate and guilty. I was raised with spiritual knowledge, and as a practicing yogi, I have the tools in my back pocket that can help an individual become aligned. I light up when I see another person becoming more peaceful, more relaxed, more in touch with themselves because of the teachings embedded in yoga practice. Also, call me a nutbag, but I totally love motorcycles. They bring out the kid in me, and I usually rent one in every country I visit. I learn the people, the food, the terrain of a region—all on two wheels, behind a bike. AT: What’s something we probably don’t know about you? JS: I’m a huge klutz, a borderline hazard to be around! People see me playing basketball,

practicing yoga, or tearing it up on the dance floor and assume I’m all-around graceful— but not so. At home, I trip up the stairs to the bedroom; in the kitchen, I knock pots off the stove; on the streets, I bump into other people. You get the point. AT: What’s one of the hardest things you’ve been through? What helped get you through it? JS: A long time ago, when I was twenty-seven, my younger brother, Anil-Christopher, died in a motorcycle accident at the age of twentythree. We were total pals, roommates in New York City, living life to the max, and having fun. It was so sudden and totally shocking to have him torn away from me. I tried everything to heal and get away from the reality of it—running two marathons, hard drinking, drugs—but it wasn’t until I surrendered to yoga that I found peace. My practice showed me the truth of who I was, and from that point, I understood clearly that my bro was in a good place. The energy transformed, and I settled down, deeper inside of myself. AT: If you could say something to everyone on the planet, what would it be? JS: “Our time in this body is precious. We never know which day will be our last. Devote a portion of every day to explore the truth within your own self. This is the highest accomplishment—to know the truth of who we are. This is peace.”

Jai Sugrim, creator of the television show Yoga Sutra Now, is a spiritual teacher devoted to serving the awakening of all beings. He invites his students to put aside competition and cooperate to create a brighter world. Jai’s teachings are fueled by devotion to yoga in its purest, most authentic form.

PHOTO: CONNIE GUZMAN

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By Psalm Isadora

Are You Having Sex or Making Love? Two Ways to Tell the Difference

How do you know if your partner is interested in engaging your heart and soul or just wants to have sex with your body? What are the clues? Is it the kind of music they play in the bedroom? Is it whether the sex is soft or hard? Looking to shed some light on the subject, I did a survey of male and female friends to see where they drew the lines. He said: “Sex means my heart isn’t open. When I make love, there is a softer quality to the eyes and heart; I want to become one with her; I have less ego involved. I want to spend time with her when we aren’t having sex. I want to know her.” “Sex is like scratching an itch. Making love, I pay more attention to her.” “Sex is what you have learned through porn, movies, and romance novels. Making love is the capacity you have to give and receive.” She said:

Casual sex can be an exchange of love to some capacity, but the heart connection isn’t there. You don’t really know the person, so it’s difficult to surrender and be vulnerable and completely open. But making love, even when I’m getting f—ked hard, I consider it making love because my intention is to be intimate, vulnerable, and to trust.”

contact during sex lets you see deep inside the other person and lets them see deep inside you. Eye gazing can be a kind of soul penetration. When I close my eyes during sex, I focus on my own pleasure. When I have eye contact with my partner during sex, my focus is on our connection. Try to hold eye contact during climax; it forms an especially deep connection.

“Try to hold eye contact during climax; it forms an especially deep connection.”

2. Breathing together. This is a tantric technique that makes you feel much closer to your partner. The ego disappears, and the two of you can feel you are becoming one. You can inhale and exhale together to the speed and rhythm of your lovemaking, sometimes fast, and then slowing down to ride the edge of climax longer. This technique also increases sensation and pleasure.

According to these answers, the intention behind the sexual connection and the attention to your partner during the sex act are two major factors differentiating between just having sex and making love.

The next time you are intimate, try these two secrets and see how sex becomes a deeper and more magical experience.

Two Secrets to Turn Sex into Making Love

“I pay more attention when I’m making love.” “The difference between having sex and making love is whether it’s casual or not. PSALMISADORA.COM

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1. Eye contact. You can be naked during sex but still be hiding from intimacy. Eyes are the mirrors to the soul, and having prolonged eye

Psalm Isadora is a sex coach, author, and yoga teacher based in Los Angeles. She has taught thousands of workshops internationally and specializes in helping people have better sex and intimacy. Psalm has created a Tantric-massage video series, Sex Coach: Unlocking Orgasm for Women and Couples. PHOTO: NINA DUNCAN PHOTOGRAPHY


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T H E MANTRA SERIES

Interview: Ava Taylor Yoga Teacher, Musician, Ritualist, Founder of Voice of Change, and Cofounder of Off the Mat Into the World

Suzanne Sterling On nonnegotiables, conspiring with those who live their truths, and what helps her get through moments of despair Ava Taylor: How do you stay grounded? Suzanne Sterling: I have a lot of nervous and kinesthetic energy, so I have had to create a strong and active daily physical practice that includes yoga, running, dancing, and singing. This is one of my nonnegotiables—especially while on the road, even though that is when it is most challenging to stick with. I also have my “life-support team” that includes coaches and friends who keep me sane and grounded, and believe me, I utilize them often. But I think that the absolute most grounding practice for me is simply walking slowly in nature. This is becoming more and more crucial for me as the world speeds up. AT: What are your biggest passions? SS: I love evolutionary artists and activists in search of new ways to engage fully with life. I seek out those who speak and live their truths beyond dogma and hype. So conspiring with those folks—whether through deep conversation or through collaborations—has been a lifelong passion. I am interested in waking up to the immortal/eternal realms in a way that enhances our daily lives, so I am passionate about creating ritual for our modern times. I am passionate about becoming a voice of change, which means knowing, speaking, and living my truth and art and then guiding others to do the same. I am passionate about social and environmental justice, empowerment from within, and creating real social change, which includes radical self-responsibility, creativity, and risktaking. Last but not least, I am passionate about singing!

AT: What are some important lessons you’ve learned? SS: The truth will set you free. Look beneath the surface, as most things are not what they seem. Trust your intuition and set strong intentions. We are not in control! Everyone has a voice and is dying to be seen and heard. Love is fierce and vulnerable at the same time. Serve the suffering, but also have a good time and play. Life is sacred, all of it. AT: Do you have a health secret? How do you stay healthy? SS: Strong daily practice is key for me. I try to eat well and laugh a lot. But I would say that having strong support systems, feeling all of my emotions, and singing are the keys to my health and well-being. AT: What’s something we probably don’t know about you? SS: I started acting when I was six years old and had a whole life in the theater before becoming a musician and yoga teacher. I’ve lived on my own since I was sixteen. I went to an amazing alternative school. My family are longtime kickass progressives. I still struggle with finding my voice sometimes. I am queer. I am both terrified and excited about my upcoming album and book. I love elephants. AT: What’s one of the hardest things you’ve been through? What helped get you through it?

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AT: If you could say something to everyone on the planet, what would it be? SS: I love what Buckminster Fuller, one of my heroes, said: “It is now highly feasible to take care of everybody on Earth at a higher standard of living than any have ever known. It no longer has to be you or me. Selfishness is unnecessary. War is obsolete. It is a matter of converting the high technology from weaponry to livingry.” So I would urge everyone to create livingry through song, meaningful action, and community. In other words, my life work is this: to remind us that we are hardwired for self-expression in community!

Suzanne Sterling is a dedicated yogi, activist, social innovator, and award-winning musician who has been performing and teaching transformational workshops for over twenty years. She is founder of Voice of Change, cofounder of Off the Mat Into the World, and director of the Global Seva Challenge.

SS: I have been through quite a bit of personal

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heartbreak and have some stories that would curl folks’ toes. What has helped me to get through it has been a visceral experience of the sacred and a personal relationship with the mystery. Even in my most despairing times, I am in a deep and intimate conversation with the divine, imminence, that which cannot be named. Sometimes, it is a sweet conversation, and sometimes, we are arguing, but it is constant. Also calling on my wise friends, dancing the pain, and trusting that I cannot see the whole picture, and therefore, I am not in control.

PHOTO: FLUID FRAME PHOTOGRAPHY


“

I think that the absolute most grounding practice for me is simply walking slowly in nature. This is becoming more and more crucial for me as the world speeds up.�

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How Many “Likes” Does It Take?

H

By Janet Stone

ow many “likes” does it take to make a yoga teacher? Zero.

It’s awe-inspiring to witness and even take part in the current culture of social media with its ability to draw attention and admiration and create longing in the hearts and minds of so many. I’m not saying that it’s wrong or bad or should stop. Or that it’s great, and more, please. This is just the start of a conversation, an observation of what we’re all agreeing to when we decide that “likes” equal value. It’s a little ironic, the “likes” thing. Yoga defines itself as a place between the fluctuation of likes (raga) and dislikes (dvesha), yet we’re bombarded with tuning in to or helping cocreate a culture that accords value based on a thumbsup cartoon. “Acceptance” is based on affirming little symbols on all the various market channels of media that are supposed to be social but have become a direct link to self-worth or lack of self-worth. I know some wildly potent teachers who are nowhere near this medium of social media, and therefore, people don’t know about them, don’t know where to find them, don’t have access to them. These teachers, wearing average clothing (no special bling or mala) show up again and again and offer their teachings, the dharma, through direct contact. No photos of them in skimpy bathing suits, posing in Natarajasana at sunset. Just plain and simple teachings. No filters, Photoshop, apps, personal photographer, media consultant. Their message does not come dressed up with a persona or a brand, so they have no “likes.” Does this make them less valued teachers? The answer is twofold: yes, sadly, in the market of yoga; no, delightedly, when what we’re basing value on is a deeply potent voice.

Photo: ALEX WANG PHOTOGRAPHY

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Still, for new and established teachers alike, there’s endless pressure to “brand.” So, if yoga at its root is union, what are we doing with this never-ending need to differentiate? Who are we selling? What are we burning into our skin in order to become a more valuable asset? Do we need more workshops on “the business of yoga” that promise headshots, a Twitter account, an Instagram account, etc.—essentially, a yoga image/brand to head out the door with to sell yourself and your teachings? Maybe. However, we may want to remember that we are temporary and that these are not “your” teachings; these are the teachings. They’ve been handed down orally and practiced with no promise from the ancestors of paying your bills from this endeavor. Now we walk out of a workshop with our own personal image to package and sell. To be sure, the student of yoga who decides to become a businessperson of yoga has a lot riding on it: their well-being, food, rents, bills, ego. Like, how can one justify giving up a dependable job and choosing this? You’ve got to at least try to make a living. You must do what you must do, with a myriad of justifications for doing it. Yet, as you go along and get more hungry, the savings dwindle and/or the other yogi in the training begins to do really well. Desperation sets in, leading to saying yes to things that you really know in your heart are a no. It leads to looking over your shoulder at your companions on the path and wondering, “How are they doing, and how am I doing in comparison?” It leads to checking social media upon waking and just before going to bed. Suddenly, you don’t remember those practice tips in any of the texts, but comparative living becomes the norm.

practice. For many years of my teaching life, I didn’t rely on it as a place for income; it was pure, inexplicable passion to be in the teachings. So I showed up. I offered things that didn’t shine, that reflected where I was in my own studentship. Back then, even websites for a yoga teacher were relatively unheard of. Many years later, my life circumstances changed, and I had to take care of some pretty real-life householder needs, and people had flashy websites and kept telling me I needed one. And a business card. And a head shot. A head shot? Did I not remove myself from the film industry because I was tired of selling images? Nope, it raced in at light speed, and now, as I look out, I see an image of yoga, or something that uses its postures and words, all too often in the service of selling something or someone someplace. Is there a way, amidst this system that we all take part in, to stay deeply mindful of what we’re buying and what we’re selling and also who owns whom? Do the “likes” own you? So, yes, I “like” your image; it is beautiful and reminds me of the great beauty expressed in this world and what it can look like when someone gives their body to the physical rigors of practice. But does it also show us, without accolades of any kind, what it is to be quiet, still, and assured that the teachings are enough? Would I like to see what you are looking out at, who’s taking your photo? What it looks like when your joints are sore, your breath is shallow, you can’t find a parking spot, you’re not posed in an otherworldly place? I don’t know. Mostly, I want to know: What would allow us all to feel more whole, not more separated? Now, “like” this article, dammit!

This is a new era, for sure, and I’m a part of it. For nearly fourteen years, as I transitioned from my work in the film industry, I tried to integrate and honor the yoga I had encountered in India in humble meditation centers where everyone was average-looking—and so human. The radiance of these people came not from an Instagram filter but from tejas, a luminosity born from plain old simple

Janet Stone practices and teaches yoga in San Francisco and around the world. Through her teaching, writing, training, and online offerings, she shares the message of yoga as a lifelong practice of healing, kindness, community, and waking up to the profound gift of this life.

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“When we all find that we are meant to live in love and love is ultimately who we are at the core, we will see a world where all live in peace.”

T H E MANTRA SERIES

Owner and Founder of Sid Yoga and Member of True North Yoga’s Board of Directors

On retreating to nature to regain his power, helping people transform their reality, and going blind for three days Interview: Ava Taylor

Ava Taylor: How do you stay grounded? Sid McNairy: I stay grounded by retreating to the ocean or to the mountains. Sitting in either place reconnects me to the earth and allows me to ground back into my center. I find that there are times I want to regain my power, and being one with the earth allows me to fully connect so that I can lift back up and land connected with spirit in my heart. AT: What are your biggest passions? SM: My passion is helping and inspiring others. I have been through a large range of challenges that have lead to spiritual bankruptcy. All of these moments have allowed me to have more compassion for others and help them see what is possible if they transform their reality. When someone truly finds peace and the difference can be seen, I am filled in my heart with a deep state of love. This is the miracle I love seeing every time someone transforms. My other passion has become music. I have found that singing is giving me space to spread my message of peace and love while allowing people to live a new way. Our music has impacted our lives when we least

expected it. When I write a new song, I have a chance to lift the world to its highest. I love that through music, I can reach so many and help create healing on a global level. AT: What are some important lessons you’ve learned? SM: Sometimes, it is better to be liked than to be great. In life, you can be right or be happy. What we dislike in others are hidden holes in our own healing. Birds sing because they are happy, fly because they are free. When we live in fear, we can find bliss by being open to operating from love. AT: Do you have a health secret? How do you stay healthy? SM: My secret to being healthy is, I know that my mind has more power than I can ever imagine. I sit and watch where my thoughts go and allow my thoughts to program how I am in my body. The secret is that I allow my mind to create my reality. From there, I watch how my body reacts to the thoughts I have in regards to my health. Get into the flow, and allow your mind to take you to a healthy life. Meditate, meditate, meditate.

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AT: What’s something we probably don’t know about you? SM: Having played football, coached football, loved every player I have ever coached, I want to own a professional football team. I know that owning a football team will allow me to help men be men and reach our highest potential. It is an opportunity to have all see what is possible when a powerful man truly understands living in peace in the midst of accessing their fullest power. AT: What’s one of the hardest things you’ve been through? What helped get you through it? SM: When I was fifteen years of age, I went to England to play soccer. While there, I had an allergic reaction to pollen in the air. The reaction for me was that I went blind for three days. The doctors said I may or may not be able to see again, as they had never seen allergies to this extent. I had to lean on my faith that God had me in every way and that I could see again. What came to be for me is that my faith developed in that moment. My faith has fueled me to sit in silence for ten days, allowed me to sit in the mountains to open up to my life vision; it is my faith that was birthed and has guided me ever since. AT: If you could say something to everyone on the planet, what would it be? SM: “We are living a collective dream. It is up to each of us to shift this dream for the greater good of all mankind. Martin Luther King had a dream, and I have been ‘living the dream.’ We must first understand that the world is living a dream based in fear. When we all find that we are meant to live in love and love is ultimately who we are at the core, we will see a world where all live in peace.”

Sid McNairy is a collegiate football coach as well as a yogi, healer, mentor, and life coach with twenty-plus years of inspiring others to reach their dreams. He has ventured into music, where he continues to inspire the world to reach greatness with Walk with Love.

PHOTO: KRISTIN AND KEN O’CONNELL


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weight-loss

By Dianne Bischoff James

“Weight loss can begin when you become acutely aware of your true feelings—the stomach growl and gentle sense of satiation.”

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I’ve struggled with obesity since childhood but ballooned to 192 pounds after delivering my third baby. Not a fan of calorie counting, self-control, or overt food deprivation, I developed these simple rules to put a lid on overeating, restore a healthy inner guidance system, and lose fifty-five stubborn pounds for good. Rule #1: Reboot Your Relationship with Food One minute, food was a tantalizing reward, friend, and lover, and the next, a villainous perpetrator. In order to get healthy and begin a journey toward weight loss, I first had to change my core beliefs. A pint of Ben & Jerry’s Chocolate Therapy is not a pacifier, a friendly hug, or compassionate ear. Food is not love; food is fuel. Rule #2: Your Body Is Talking . . . Are You Listening? Weight loss can begin when you engage your innate hungry/full meter and become acutely aware of your true feelings—the stomach growl and gentle sense of satiation. Ask yourself a simple question, “Are you physically hungry right now?” Be honest. If the answer is no, grab a glass of water or piece of gum. Wait until your stomach talks before you feed it, and stop the minute you feel full. Rule #3: Eat Like a Toddler Despite what our society promotes, three full meals a day is too much of a good thing. When we’re young, food consumption is directly related to activity levels and natural

cravings. As we age, our metabolism decreases and less food is required to function. To get lean, focus on eating two significant meals per day, and make the third meal a medley of light, healthy snacks. Rule #4: Lock the Fridge after Dark Since we are more active during daylight hours, a hearty egg breakfast and hamburger for lunch is readily metabolized as functional calories. Conversely, a heavy dinner gets stored in the hips and stomach as body fat. To lose weight quickly and easily, lock the refrigerator figuratively after 6 p.m. If you get hungry later in the evening, eat a heaping of fresh fruits and steamed vegetables. The pounds will simply fall off. Rule #5: When You Love What You Do, Everything Becomes Easy When I was at the top of my weight class, I was fortuitously cast in a local musicaltheater production of Oliver! and joyfully danced and sang in preparation for opening night. Miraculously, thirty pounds of fat melted away and stayed away. It never fails: when you are feeling emotionally happy, eating less, and being physically active, losing weight happens all by itself.

Dianne Bischoff James, MS, is a life reboot specialist who encourages audiences to create a reality that is prosperous, deliberate, and meaningful. She’s the author of the award-winning book The Real Brass Ring, a SAG actor, a consultant, and the founder of the Live Your Everything website, a sanctuary for life-enhancing transformation.


You’re not Stuck A Letter to Yoga Teachers

“Dreams shouldn’t be dreamt; they should be lived.”

S

everal months ago, my husband and I decided it was time to shake things up and head three thousand miles west. When I announced that we were moving to the sunny beaches of San Diego, people were stunned. What’s it like to be an established yoga instructor who picks up and starts all over again? You are what you create, and I was looking at being reborn.

The truth is, leaping without a net into this new life was not an overnight decision. I’d been considering this move since 2012 and even wrote it down and hung it on my refrigerator. Before I could finalize the decision, I had to accept that the well-oiled professional machine I’d spent so many years building and maintaining would need to be scrapped, with a new one built upon its frame. Dreams of moving are often colored by the fear that we won’t be able to rebuild or flourish in the manner we once did. This self-created fear enables us to form a story in which we are content with the mundane. Once I decided to overcome this and get excited about a new stage in life, I was able to move forward with my fantasy. After all, dreams shouldn’t be dreamt; they should be lived.

By Goldie Graham I’ve been a San Diego resident since December 30, 2014, and despite the enchanting life of seventy-degree weather, tacos, and sunsets, I’ve had to focus on adapting. For an independent contractor, there’s no such thing as free time. While it sounds obvious, the self-employed only work as much as we create. I can’t just sit in my Chair Pose waiting for opportunities to find me. While I may have once been the community figure known as “Goldie Graham from Boston,” here in San Diego, I am something new. This presents me both with an opportunity to reinvent my identity and a challenge of finding a firm foothold in a community in which I am a relative unknown. I will thrive here in my new digs because I’m inspired by the hustle that a life shake-up often requires. As much as I reminisce about Boston and fantasize about the what-ifs, I believe in myself and in what I’m teaching, and I’m not looking back.

Goldie Graham, based in San Diego, is a traveling yoga instructor who leads workshops, teacher trainings, and retreats globally. She has been featured at Wanderlust and in Yoga Journal, Runner’s World, Shape, and The Huffington Post. Goldie is known for her ability and creativity to combine playfulness with precision and alignment.

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By N i c k i D oa n e a n d E dd i e M od e st i n i

Taking the Time to Look Within tremendous amount of grief in our lives. However, the truth just is; it’s not embellished by any story. Through the practice of yoga, we take the time to polish the lens of our being so we can see more clearly and let our personal story evaporate. Most of us are rather good at being constantly full of chatter, mainly because we are engaged by a million distractions. This is why the idea of reflection and looking inside yourself can be very challenging. What does it really mean to contemplate something? Take the time to quiet yourself and pay attention to what’s right in front of you. Contemplation is a skill that will help you in any aspect of your life. Being more conscious and aware can only make your life experiences more profound. We look for fulfillment in every direction, but the treasure is inside you. We learn that over time from being let down by all the distractions around us, because they are embellished by our personal story and our expectations. Expectations are the root of all suffering, and by relieving yourself of expectations, you can bypass a tremendous amount of pain. Take the time to get to know yourself better by looking within. There is a gem there, and all the facets of it reflect and shine brilliantly.

“Expectations are the root of all suffering, and by relieving yourself of expectations, you can bypass a tremendous amount of pain.”

Clarity through yoga

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W

e all have a personal story, right? We embellish everything with our personal story and see things through a lens that is clouded by that story.

There are always three sides to every story—your side, my side, and the truth. Your side and my side have a lot to do with our story, and the truth doesn’t have anything to do with our story. Our story can get us in trouble and help us make decisions that can cause a

No matter where you go in life, you will always be with yourself; you can’t run far enough away. It’s important as a human being to become comfortable with yourself. In the practice of yoga, we start by creating comfort and ease in the physical body, because that is your temple. Your body is your vessel in this life, so why not take the best care of it you possibly can? As we get through the physical, asana part of the practice, we begin to tap into the emotional aspects of who we are, and that’s where the personal story and our suffering resides. The more we get to know ourselves and the more tolerant we are of ourselves, the more we can love ourselves. Cultivating that is so worth it, because what we share with others is what we feel inside.

Nicki Doane and Eddie Modestini are the founders and owners of Maya Yoga Studio on Maui, Hawaii. Their unique Maya Yoga system evolved from the traditions of Ashtanga and Iyengar yoga into a practice that acts as an intelligent and sustainable life-support system.


Tony Felgueiras

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Photographer Feature


I’m passionate about using photography to help people capture and express their truest essence in an image. As a yoga teacher and student, I’m inspired to merge my love for the practice with my passion for photography. I thrive behind the lens when collaborating with yogis, creating timeless and artful expressions of their practice through my vision and perspective, and sharing my fullest expression as an artist and what the yogi is feeling and expressing through asana.

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SPOTLIGHT:

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When or where do you feel most at peace?

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READERS

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Q + A

Betsy Ullstrup E-RYT 500 Portland, Oregon

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Sandy Callender Body Alive Studio Wailuku, Hawaii

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I feel the most at peace where there are no mirrors and no outside influences. I love the local forests in Portland where I can quickly retreat from the city and be in the company of moss, trees, banana slugs, and birds. It allows me to naturally breathe deep and relish in the prana of the universe.

Peace permeates me as the sun begins to change black into light. Birds celebrate the sunrise. I am aware that nurturing and change are constants in nature’s dance. The day is a blank slate of possibility. My body, mind, and spirit absorb the quiet, and I breathe peace into my new day. Stillness prevails.

PHOTO: CHRISTOPHER BRENEMAN

PHOTO: ALI JONES-CARTER PHOTOGRAPHY

Linda Keith Anderson Yoga teacher Richmond, Virginia

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I am most at peace when exploring the great outdoors. Nothing beats an early-morning run before the sun comes up, just basking in the calm stillness of a new day. I also love the beach, just smelling the salt water and listening to the waves crash (especially at night). I find so much peace and beauty in nature. PHOTO: CHRISTOPHER BRENEMAN

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“I feel the most at peace where there are no mirrors and no outside influences.”

— Betsy Ullstrup

Karyn Stillwell Yoga teacher and Thai-massage therapist Port Townsend, Washington

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I feel at peace walking in nature. I feel at peace while teaching yoga. I feel at peace holding my son in my arms. I feel at peace in my sunny garden. I feel at peace moving through an asana practice. I feel at peace when I’m surrounded by love. PHOTO: JONATHAN SAFIR

Lauren Rubenstein, PsyD, RYT Go Give Yoga board member, psychologist, Visiting Feelings author Chevy Chase, Maryland

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The biggest surprise of my first trip (of seven) to Haiti with Go Give Yoga was how at peace I felt there. Despite crushing post-earthquake conditions, I knew I was in the right place, doing what I was meant to do. I feel most at peace when my work embraces the true meaning of seva: giving without attachment to results.


When or where do you feel most at peace?

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Carolyn Drake Yoga instructor Mesa, Arizona

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Alvin Tam Cofounder, Barefoot Sanctuary Las Vegas, Nevada

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Jennean Everett Yoga instructor and psychologist Baltimore, Maryland

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I feel most at peace when I am living my yoga practice both on and off the mat, creating opportunities for others to experience freedom and peace through the breath and the practice. It can happen anywhere!

I feel most at peace when I’m rooted in the core of my artistic essence. My greatest joy and peace arises when I know I am expressing my truest self, living deeply in my purpose. The serenity surfaces despite circumstantial turbulence; I am happy knowing that I am giving my greatest gift to the world. That, for me, is peace.

I feel most at peace when I’m able to sense the wondrous interconnectedness shared by all beings everywhere. This awareness often comes when I’m on my mat, moving, breathing, and in touch with deeper places within me, where wisdom and intuition reside. In those moments, I feel a deep sense of peace that comes from knowing we are all connected.

PHOTO: MARYLENE HICKOK

PHOTO: ERIC SMALLWOOD


Readers’ Photos

from Across

the Globe

Featuring the most awesome photos sent in by our Mantra Yoga + Health community of yogis, meditators, and athletes

Anjili Russell: Keene, NH • Photo: Taylor Lenord

Alyssa Kuzins • Photo: Abie Livesay

Lisa Crouse: Haleakalā National Park, HI

Buddhi Mat Power Yoga Studio: Ridgefield, CT • Photo: Matt Dewkett Photography

ALEXIS NOVAK: LOS ANGELES, Megan Lawing: CA • PHOTO: BRITANY Lincolnton, NC ANNETTE IMAGES

Linda Petursdottir: Chevy Chase, MD • Photo: Johnathan M Photography

Autumn Benedetti: Northampton, MA / Bozeman, MT

Eleonora Rachele Zampatti: Red Bank, NJ • Photo: Claire Sheprow / Findorion Photography

Kayleigh Miller • Photo: Kate Lemmon One Yoga Saskatoon: Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada

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Diana Vanessa Acidera: Berkeley, CA • Photo: I Komang Indra Perhana

Cathy Collins Rosenberg: Boca Raton, FL • Photo: Kiki Baxter Photography


Katherine McFadden: Cleveland, OH • Photo: Jason Kiser

Lisa J. Laird: Bozeman, MT • Photo: Jennie Lynn Photo

Letty Madrigal: Wiltshire, England • Photo: Matt Madrigal

Aubry Wiltcher: San Diego, CA • Photo: Jake Spencer

Christine Lovejoy: Coeur d’Alene, ID • Photo: Lance Ross

Melanie Calma: San Diego, CA • Photo: Jessica Hang Photography

Elizabeth Haberer Lamson: Houston, TX • Photo: Levana Melamed Photography

Adam Sewell and Mary Mccormick: San Francisco Peninsula • Photo: Bonnie Rae Mills

Derina Katia Wilson • Photo: David Tufino

Johns Creek Yoga Studio: Johns Creek, GA

Thalia González: Venice, CA • Photo: Patty TolsonGonzález

Ashley Cottrell and Mathew Micheletti • Photo: Ashley Myers


By Lara Heimann

This Year’s Mantra Has Got to Be a “Hell, Yes!”

After turning over the crisp page of a brandnew calendar and running down our lists of resolutions, we can ask, “What now?” By just whetting the appetite of possibility and change in the new year, our minds and spirits are ready for a mantra, a tag line, an inspiring quote to help us be clear with our goals and intentions. A good friend and yoga student said something that I am using as my mantra this year: “If it’s not a ‘Hell, yes,’ then it’s a ‘No.’” When I heard this, my heart beat with excitement. LARAHEIMANN.COM | YOGASTREAM.NET

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Something resonated deeply. Perhaps it’s the Southern vibe—“Well, hell, yeah!”—that appeals to my North Carolina roots. More likely, I think it’s just that the meaning is so clear, involving just a few words (including a token swear word). So how do I put this mantra into action? I already have, with a few actions and decisions. Last Friday, I was shopping for clothes, trying to fill up a few hours, while my daughter was at a birthday party in the shopping area. After trying on some pants that looked pretty

good, with a pretty great price tag on them, I was leaning toward purchasing them. But I stopped and asked myself, “Are these a ‘Hell, yes’?” My answer had me walking right out the store without a second thought. The clarity was so liberating! I have found myself asking it about business decisions, food choices, and the way in which I spend my “free” time; so far, this mantra has been like a little genie from a mystical television show, sitting on my shoulder and bringing to light answers that I already sort of know.

PHOTO: JOE LONGO


Four Things to Think About when Assessing How this Mantra, “If It’s Not a ‘Hell, Yes,’ then It’s a ‘No,’” Will Help You

“ This mantra has been like a little genie from a mystical television show, sitting on my shoulder and bringing to light answers that I already sort of know.”

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It should be good for you. Your instincts about what is good for you—body, mind, and spirit—are probably pretty spot-on; it’s just the radio interference from our culture, habits, jobs, other people, and expectations that dulls the voice of intuition. Whatever you do, be excited about it! Feel the “Hell, yes!” in your heartbeat, and let that guide you, even if it’s with something as mundane as “Should I eat this dark-chocolate truffle?” Enjoy the vibrancy of clarity, and let it serve you. And it should not be harmful to others. Your resounding “Yes!” is only going to brighten you if it doesn’t dim others in the process. So when you frame the question, keep in mind how your decision will affect others. That said, sometimes your choices might not be the same as someone else’s, leading to disappointment on his or her part. How many times have we accepted a date, coffee meetup, or job opportunity out of obligation or been talked into some task or event that we really did not want to go to? That ho-hum attitude probably shows up in our behavior. In the end, when we feel enthusiastic with our “Yes!” by staying true to our desires and goals, all will benefit. It doesn’t just pertain to the fun stuff. Realistically, we can’t sashay through life with a big, fat grin, saying “Hell, yes!” to pure fun and fantasy. Lots of daily work and chores must get done to keep the machinery going. I am a master procrastinator when it comes to the boring tasks like filing and organizing my desk. But I am greeting these necessary and extremely helpful chores with my enthusiastic mantra because—guess what?—the worst part of anything you don’t enjoy is the anticipating and thinking about it. Once you get going at a task, it’s often much less awful than you have made it out to be (even a colonoscopy, so make that appointment now—hell, yes!). Our brains are magnificent organs of perception that can literally be influenced by our attitude. Give it a try: button up your H-Y pants, and tackle some long-awaited to-do lists. But fun stuff is necessary! How many times have you been invited to a crazy adventure, and you came up with all the logical reasons why you shouldn’t go? I had several chances to go to a Madonna concert but always delayed making a decision until the tickets were not available. Next time, I am going to buy premium seats, close enough to see her garters shaking. I might be wearing earplugs, but I will also be wearing a “Hell, yes!” smile on my face. Life can be long, but when you truly think about all the wasted opportunities and time spent doing things we half-heartedly signed on for, life is really quite short. If you don’t feel the “Hell, yes,” then let the “No” land confidently and move along. Let this year’s mantra feed your conviction to seize the day, balls to the wall, and be excited, awake, and clear.

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By Gail Grossman

Restorative Yoga Why This Practice Is So Needed in Our Lives

Everyone needs to have downtime

and to take time to restore energy; otherwise, we are living on future energy.

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n the world we live in, the pace we are expected to maintain just to keep up with everyday goings-on will cause the average person to be depleted pretty quickly.

The thing is, we don’t know we are depleted until things start happening to us. Sometimes, it’s a little warning sign. We get sick, and then we get sick again, and we can’t seem to get rid of that cold. Sometimes, it’s a bigger warning sign, one that involves adrenal fatigue. Adrenal fatigue is most commonly associated with prolonged stress. It can start out with feeling tired or down all the time, but it never goes away. Many people use stimulants such as tea, coffee, or caffeinated sodas to help them get going, but it doesn’t address the underlying issue. Ultimately, we need to unplug. Everyone needs to have downtime and to take time to restore energy; otherwise, we are living on future energy. Restorative yoga can help. Restorative yoga provides the practitioner with the same benefits as many “nonrestorative” postures. There are inversions, twists, backbends, and forward bends in restorative yoga; they are just practiced with less effort than the more active postures. Postures are held for five to twenty minutes. When you are in these pos-

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tures, you are supported by blankets, blocks, or bolsters. You are held in the “shape” of the pose and, thus, derive the benefits of these postures. The good news is, everyone can do it even if you are injured, recovering from surgery, or have other issues that preclude you from practicing a more active variety of yoga. The even better news is that everyone should do it, even the most active people. Actually, the most active people probably need this practice more than anyone! It’s a great adjunct to an active lifestyle. A well-balanced restorative practice will have a forward bend, a backbend, an inversion, and a twist as well as savasana to seal in the practice. If you’ve never tried restorative yoga, it may take some getting used to. It’s hard at first for the mind to quiet down, but you will eventually find that the body and mind get more in sync and that it feels good to experience being rather than doing. This practice takes you through all the layers, in the same way as the active practice; here, you are able to truly watch the mind and witness how you transcend to a state of bliss. This practice helps everyone access the benefits of yoga.

Gail Grossman, E-RYT 500, CYKT, owner of Om Sweet Om Yoga (Port Washington, New York) and author of Yoga Journal Presents Restorative Yoga for Life, has taught yoga since 2000. A graduate of YogaKids and a current trainer, she has studied with Alan Finger, Janice Ventresca, and Cora Wen, among others.


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By Kelly Campbell

l u o S e h t r o f l T rave at en -p at h be eth fof e es th of e on ry “T yo ur so ul , sp ot s th at ar e su re to fe ed d st re ng th en re en er gi ze yo ur sp ir it , an yo ur fa ith in hu m an ity.”

The places we choose to travel are a reflection of the adventure and inspiration we are looking for in the world. Forget about traditional vacation destinations, and try one of these off-the-beaten-path spots that are sure to feed your soul, reenergize your spirit, and strengthen your faith in humanity. Antigua, Guatemala

the British Raj, haggle with Kashmiri vendors in the New Market, mingle at the many bars and restaurants on Park Street, visit a variety of temples throughout the city, or spoil themselves with an Ayurveda treatment. Phnom Penh, Cambodia

Cobblestone streets, mystical volcanoes, and small artisanal markets give this UNESCO World Heritage City old-world charm that you could get lost in for weeks. We suggest grabbing a cup of fair-trade coffee, taking a walking tour of the city, and dining on Fifth Avenue at one of the many specialty restaurants before heading back to your boutique hotel lined with bougainvillea and white candles.

This is one place in the world where all the elements of your trip can be related to a worthy social-justice issue relevant throughout the country. Be it landmine removal, fighting human-trafficking, or protecting street children, you can make a difference by simply taking the time to support hotels, shops, and restaurants with a mission. Be sure to grab a meal and a drink at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club (FCC) where travelers from all over, expats, and locals alike partake in interesting conversations and make plans to save the world.

Lamu, Kenya

Jacmel, Haiti

The Lamu Archipelago is a chain of islands located in the Indian Ocean, off the Eastern Coast of Kenya. Crystal-clear waters, long stretches of white-sand beaches, and untouched mangrove forests keep people coming back to this exotic locale year after year. The best thing about Lamu is that no cars are allowed. Locals and tourists alike walk, hire a dhow, or ride on a donkey to get to their destination, making the breeze coming off the ocean as clean and pure as it gets in the oldest living Swahili settlement in the world. We suggest taking yoga classes at Fatuma’s Tower or Banana House to stretch and relax after a long day of sailing.

Jacmel is a city steeped in history and culture, located on the southern shores of Haiti. It is reminiscent of New Orleans in its architecture and vibrant colors and is known for its thriving art scene—from artisans lining the streets, creating papier-mâché masks for upcoming carnival parades, to beautiful art galleries displaying Vodou paintings that will capture the imagination and tell stories of struggle, resilience, and hope. Don’t miss the natural wonder of Bassin-Bleu, consisting of three clear pools of water, a beautiful gushing waterfall, and miles of local flora and fauna.

Kolkata, India

Kelly Campbell is cofounder of The Village Experience and the executive director of The Village Cooperative. She has led over one hundred socially responsible trips around the world and has been the logistical leader for Off the Mat Into the World’s Global Seva Challenge for the past four years.

Kolkata is often regarded as the intellectual and cultural capital of the country, hosting the largest and most attended book fair in the world each year. Tourists can take in the colonial architecture from the time of EXPERIENCETHEVILLAGE.COM

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ACOLORFULSOUL.COM

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READERS

SPOTLIGHT:

Q + A

Brian Aganad E-RYT 500 Palo Alto, California THEASANAACADEMY.COM

Who or what inspires you?

Natasha Rizopoulos Yoga teacher Boston, Massachusetts

Abbie Galvin Yoga instructor New York, New York

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I am inspired by my beloved mother, who consistently models that our perspective is always a choice, that our experience can be informed by our attitude, and that our circumstances do not need to dictate our life trajectory. She teaches and lives yoga without ever having practiced a single asana.

My muse is Trudy, a dwarf. She surpasses her nature and champions a whole town in Ursula Hegi’s Stones from the River. She inspires me to have a staring contest with my pettiness, to be audacious when compliance is more comfortable. When I feel meek, I conjure Trudy—homely, stalwart, beastly brave in her honesty. My yoga practice, my teaching, my truest self inhale her.

PHOTO: RICK BERN

I’m inspired by people who consistently live outside their comfort zone and take bold action. One person in particular, Pat Flynn, is the single influence for me starting my own podcast, The Asana Academy Podcast. I love the acronym “FOCUS”: follow one course until success. Anything is possible with consistency.

Petra Büte Managing director of Heavenly Yoga and Funtasticretreats Morrison, Colorado HEAVENLYYOGA.US

I’m inspired by my students; even my ninety-yearold yogis in wheelchairs at the nursing home are still improving. Yoga, breathing, and meditation are the tools to create a strong body and healthy mind no matter how old you are and what levels or abilities you have. There are no limitations, just in your mind. Happiness is a choice!

PHOTO: THOMAS BUI

PHOTO: PAUL COHEN PHOTOGRAPHY

There are no limitations, just in your mind.

—Petra Büte

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Sandy Walters Yoga instructor/owner of Namaste North Yoga Studio Anchorage, Alaska NAMASTENORTHAK.COM

Anyone who is moved by their passions and works hard towards achieving their dreams inspires me. However, what inspires me the most is nature. Sunrises, sunsets, and fullmoon nights where the mountains are brilliantly lit make me feel I am part of this miracle. As the yoga practice reminds us, we are all a part of this grand universe. PHOTO: TIM GRAMS PHOTOGRAPHY


Who or what inspires you?

Allison Candelaria Owner and E-RYT 200 instructor at Soul Yoga Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

Scotta Brady Owner of Butterfly Yoga Jackson, Mississippi BUTTERFLYYOGA.NET

SOULYOGAOKC.COM

Family is the greatest inspiration to me. My parents’ constant support encouraged me to choose an unconventional path. The drive and determination my husband maintains helped to create my business. My children’s unconditional love keeps me going when life seems full. The yoga family I’m surrounded by inspires my creativity and keeps me grounded, always wanting to learn more.

My twelve-year-old son is currently my greatest inspiration as he navigates the sometimes harrowing passage from childhood to adolescence. He inspires me to be a better mother, a more compassionate person, an attentive listener, and a clear communicator. PHOTO: TATE K. NATIONS

Susie Borchardt Yoga Bliss Studios and The Happy Yogi yoga teacher Gaithersburg, Maryland LIVE-BLISSFULLY.COM

PHOTO: BETH JANSEN PHOTOGRAPHY

Annie Adamson Yoga instructor / studio owner at Yoga Union Portland, Oregon YOGAUNIONCWC.COM

My community is my greatest inspiration. I can’t choose any one person who inspires me most. They are students, friends, teachers, family, coworkers . . . all at once. Each person is unique, interesting, and intelligent, with equal value to share. So we show up for each other, do relationships right, even when it’s difficult. I am honored to be in it.

Yoga is an immensely rich practice offering endless inspiration that can be felt both on and off the mat. As an instructor, I’m continually impressed by my students’ dedication to the practice and openness to embrace the unknown. I’m personally inspired to unroll my mat knowing that, each time I do, it creates the nourishing space of starting anew. PHOTO: LARKIN GOFF ANTHOLOGY STUDIOS

PHOTO: MIRIFOTO

Yoga is an immensely rich practice offering endless inspiration that can be felt both on and off the mat.

Veronica Clark Yoga instructor and founder of The Healthy Nut Tempe, Arizona HEALTHYNUTAZ.COM

My mom inspires me to no end. She clawed her way out of the grave and conquered a twenty-five-year drug addiction that nearly stole her life. Today, she spreads her light and helps others heal as they overcome their addictions. To see that woman fills my heart with pride. I bow to the light and warrior within her.

PHOTO: PHOTOGRAPHY BY LEANNA

—Susie Borchardt

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A Community of Yogi Brothers and Sisters Text by Emmanuel U. Obi Photography by Omar Ramos

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R

ecently, I caught up with my good friend Omar Ramos for coffee and conversation. Our discussion soon turned to the social unrest engulfing our nation as we witness the tragic loss of young black lives amid troubling circumstances. As two black men in America, we each have our own perspectives. We shared how we deal with these realities in our lives and in society in general. For us, like many, the situations we face and events we witness trigger an internal spirit of faithful perseverance—one that always leads to a basic reality: through God’s grace, we were born to fly.

We then highlighted those people and practices that have helped us find our wings. For Omar, it was his wife, whose support led him to finally take the leap into full-time photography. For me, faith, family, friends have always been an unwavering source of support in all of my pursuits—academic, professional, and otherwise. As we talked, these realizations ultimately gave birth to a unique creative collaboration: the book Born to Fly: Reflections on Faith, Social Justice, and Love. A part of yoga’s beauty is its interesting dichotomy: an individual experience in a communal space. Each time we practice, we come

together as a group of individuals to engage in the process of physical conditioning, meditative introspection, and, for some, spiritual rejuvenation. When we step onto our mats, we unite in our pursuit of peace, love, and happiness. All of the yogis featured in Born to Fly are incredible people, and I thank each and every one of them for what they’ve poured into me. But, as we all know, to whom much is given, much is expected. As blessed as I’ve been to be a part of such a dynamic yoga community and reap the benefits of self-discovery that this fertile communal soil provides, I have an obligation to pay my blessings forward. That’s why a portion of the proceeds generated from sales of Born to Fly will be donated to organizations like Man Up who are actively working to positively impact the lives of young black men. Make no mistake about it: Born to Fly is not premised on vanity or narcissism. It is a mantra that finds its roots in God’s grace and manifests itself in personal humility and unwavering resilience. It also is a call to action and community engagement. Not only must we search for opportunities to stretch our own wings, but we must also take time out to help others find their wings as well—both on and off the mat.

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BORN TO FLY (continued)

“Not only must we search for opportunities to stretch our own wings, but we must also take time out to help others find their wings as well—both on and off the mat.”

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“

Art is meditating deeply on yourself and observing how you think, feel, and act and then transforming that into a masterpiece.�

T H E MANTRA SERIES

Founder of Kabalah Yoga

Audi Gozlan

On how the body must interrelate with the soul and how art allows us to see inside Interview: Ava Taylor | PART ONE

Ava Taylor: How do you stay grounded?

AT: What are your biggest passions?

Audi Gozlan: To be grounded requires an effort on our part to be rooted physically and spiritually. I find time each day to care for my soul and body. I pray, practice yoga, and try to fill my day with acts of kindness and compassion.

AG: I have been drawing ever since the day I learned to use a pencil in nursery school. I imagine that most, if not all of us, drew and colored as children. Drawing is the stepping stone that eventually teaches us how to form letters, which becomes writing and leads to reading. For me, drawing has stayed with me all my life. Drawing is not just a gift of talent. Whatever wisdom I have gained from drawing has positively influenced everything I do. At its essence, it is an opportunity to uncover the inner creator and express myself from the inside out.

Everything that exists within the soul also exists within the body. The divine exists in our bones, blood. In our emotional and mental makeup. The body and the soul together carry the best qualities that make us both physically and spiritually special. To be grounded, your body must therefore interrelate with your soul, as in a dance. To flow with coordination, moving together with rhythm and skill. Every thought we conceive, every word we say, and every act we perform has the potential to be carried out with your soul and body together, drawing a balanced energy into our lives.

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Art is meditating deeply on yourself and observing how you think, feel, and act and then transforming that into a masterpiece. When I draw, I shut myself in my study to be alone. I search for mental freedom, sometimes through silence and other times through music or melodies playing in the background. I reflect on finding a flow of energy that stems from my heart and passes through my mind

and soul and into my hands, the channels which create the art. I meditate on embracing new life and envision the final picture of my imagination. What will be understood from my drawing? Will it be inspiring? Will it reveal my soul? The feelings of my heart? Art is just one way of realizing the art of your soul. We are all a soul encased within a body that can touch and feel every thought we think, each word we say, and each thing we do. Anything that allows us to see inside, that wakes us up from spiritual slumber and encourages us to think about who we are, where we are going, and the soul we have been blessed with should be part of our habits. My heartfelt message to you: discover the artist within by reaching into your soul. Find your passion, create your life, and live your vision!

Audi Gozlan is the founder of Kabalah Yoga, a unique style of hatha flow yoga that fuses the ancient wisdom of Kabalah with the practice of yoga.

PHOTO: KAREN GOZLAN

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T H E MANTRA SERIES

Interview: Ava Taylor

College Football Analyst for CBS Sports and CBS Sports Network,

Cohost on CBS Sports Radio’s Gio and Jones, Founder of Yoga Is My Gym

Brian “B. J.” Jones On his mother figures growing up, being a huge animal lover, and discussing his traumatic childhood on national television

Brian “B. J.” Jones: Each morning, I read Our Daily Bread, and I practice yoga at least four times a week. That, along with reminding myself of my journey to this point, assists in keeping me humble and grounded. I was raised by my grandmother, never knew my father, and my biological mother was never around. However, in addition to my grandmother, there was a lady from the neighborhood that filled the “motherly” role. Stephanie Hill and Grandma provided tough love, which kept me motivated and determined to succeed. AT: What are your biggest passions? BJ: My biggest passions are sports, acting, and traveling. My current employment allows me to fulfill all three of these obsessions. On my TV and radio show, I pontificate about numerous sports and their participants. My manner in doing this usually takes on a humorous, comedic tack. Hence, the acting! As for traveling, I grew up in West Texas—Lubbock, to be exact. Wasn’t much to see there. Excelling in sports at a very young age afforded me the opportunity to travel and witness other cultures. AT: What are some important lessons you’ve learned? BJ: My high school football coach, Jerry Lee, taught me that tough times don’t last, tough people do. I live by that motto. I’ve also learned that it takes teamwork to reach your individual goals. Some have bigger roles than YAMATALENT.COM | YOGAISMYGYM.COM

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others, yet everyone is important. The more profound lesson is to treat everyone with respect. AT: Do you have a health secret? How do you stay healthy? BJ: I stay healthy by practicing yoga and attempting to eat healthy. The latter, at times, has been more of a challenge. Over the past few years, I’ve made a conscious effort to decrease my sugar intake. The results have been tremendous. My current weight is well below my NFL and college playing weight. AT: What’s something we probably don’t know about you? BJ: You probably didn’t know that I’m really Caucasian! No, you won’t believe how huge an animal lover I am. From dogs and horses to lions and orcas. I love animals! AT: What’s one of the hardest things you’ve been through? What helped get you through it? BJ: The most excruciating thing I’ve been through is discussing on national television that I was a victim of sexual abuse as a child. What helped me navigate this time period was, unbeknownst to me, there were coworkers and close friends dealing with their own traumatic abuse episodes. We shared tears and laughs and openly discussed our feelings. This newfound support system allowed each of us to confront our demons and ultimately move forward.

It takes teamwork to reach your individual goals. Some have bigger roles than others, yet everyone is important. The more profound lesson is to treat everyone with respect.

Ava Taylor: How do you stay grounded?

AT: If you could say something to everyone on the planet, what would it be? BJ: I would share two of my favorite quotes: “To avoid criticism, say nothing, do nothing and be nothing.” “The unexamined life is not worth living.”

Brian “B. J.” Jones, a former NFL linebacker, serves as a college football analyst for CBS Sports and CBS Sports Network and a host on CBS Sports Radio. He began his yoga journey in 2006, and Yoga Is My Gym is his brain child.


Finding Balance through Pratyahara

“Learning to let go removes future

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suffering. We cause ourselves a tremendous amount of pain by not letting go of the things that don’t belong in our lives anymore.”

Meditation By Eddie Modestini

Moving in the direction of our inner being

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ratyahara, withdrawal from the sensory world or the practice of turning inward, is about moving toward the core of your being. Rather than attempting to shut off the sensory world, and your reaction to it, yoga encourages you to move in the direction of our inner being, setting a quiet and receptive perspective so that you can begin to look at yourself with greater understanding. In this stillness, you notice whatever it is that bubbles up from the content of your being. Noticing what arises, we learn to pay attention to our inner being so we can help facilitate the evolution of who we are. The process of meditation is not to be mindless. Instead, you are focalizing the mind in one direction. This is one way we get to know ourselves better. To be mindful in meditation is to focus on something. The thing that brings us into the present moment more profoundly than anything else is the breath. You can’t breathe later, you can only breathe right now. Pranayama is a practice that facilitates the opportunity for you to be still in the presence of tremendous challenge. This builds the muscle of the mind. The definition of yoga is to still and calm the mind. In order to calm the mind, you need to concentrate on something. Through the practice of scanning the body, we develop the sensitivity to find the subtle layers of tension that remain and turn into stress in our lives. Scanning your body and looking for any tension that might remain gives you another opportunity to build the muscle of the mind. This leads to the practice of letting go. Learning to let go removes future suffering. We cause ourselves a tremendous amount of pain by not letting go of the things that don’t belong in our lives anymore. We have an amazing opportunity to practice learning how to watch ourselves.

A lot of times, we express energy without even realizing the way we are expressing it, and that’s mostly because we are not used to watching and observing ourselves. We are trained to watch everything around us and react to what we think we are seeing. Mostly what we are seeing is a projected reality, which is a combination of many things. Sometimes, it takes turning and facing the shadow, shedding light, which dissolves the shadow immediately. This shadow self is the

combination of our parents, where we live, our friends, our interests, and the psychology that is present through all of these things. Everything we do in yoga aims to balance our foundation so that we can realign the temple of our being. If the temple is misaligned, it’s very difficult to be still in the mind. We take the time to align the temple, allowing our mind to stay centered, and then soften and release by paying attention to our breath.

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they are, then who we and they really are is able to shine through. So who are we, really? We are the loving awareness that is ever present. It underlies who we think we, and others, are. Spiritual teacher Ram Dass talks about deepening our experience of this by repeating the mantra “I am loving awareness” to ourselves as we go about our days. With practice, we come to embody this place of witnessing that is nothing but loving awareness. And being rooted in that place of loving awareness allows anything that enters into our awareness to be loved.

Yes, this is easier said than done. I am certainly aware of that. Even Ram Dass has talked about his own struggles with this when he was younger while living in India. However, his guru, Maharaj-ji, gave him some rather sound advice to help remedy it by saying, “Love everyone, there is only one. Sub ek—it’s all one, just love everyone. See God everywhere. Just love everyone. Don’t get angry. Ram Dass, don’t get angry. Love everyone, tell the truth, love everyone, don’t get angry.” So, in my own case, whether I’m watching KRS-One drop knowledge on the mic or Sarah Palin in one of her rants, I do my best to try to look deeper, seeing and experiencing the interconnectedness, the oneness, of all beings and of all things—or, as Maharaj-ji put it, to “see God everywhere.”

K, before we get started, here’s an extremely quick refresher on Spirituality 101: the ego. The ego is all about separation, differences, judgments, and opinions. When we’re looking at life through that lens, the things we don’t like about others—appearances, musical tastes, speech, mannerisms, ad infinitum—are all blatantly obvious, thus creating an imaginary boundary that closes them off from us. Got it? Good. Now, when we let go of being who we think we are, and stop placing labels and judgments on others regarding who we think THEINDIESPIRITUALIST.COM

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“Love everyone, there is only one.” And we do our best to do just that, but not in some lovey-dovey, eating-rainbows-and-shittingunicorns kind of way. Just because we’re working with a practice like loving awareness, it doesn’t mean we’re always going to feel that way. In the Suicidal Tendencies song You Can’t Bring Me Down, Mike Muir sings, “Yea, maybe sometimes I do feel like shit. I ain’t happy ’bout it, but I’d rather feel like shit than be full of shit.” It’s not that feeling like shit is something to be glorified, but it is just as real a part of the process as the loving-awareness aspect, and that’s OK. It doesn’t make you any less spiritual if you’re feeling like shit. Actually, if you’re aware that you’re feeling like shit and doing something constructive to work through it, it doesn’t get much more spiritual than that. Just be completely real with yourself in the process, and you’ll be fine.

Chris Grosso is an independent culturist, speaker, freelance writer, and musician. He created a popular online hub, The Indie Spiritualist, for all things alternative, independent, and spiritual and continues the exploration with his best-selling debut book, Indie Spiritualist: A No Bullshit Exploration of Spirituality. PHOTO: BREEZE FLOYD


Why Every Superhero Should Try Hot Yoga Performance + Mood + Immunity By Khnum “Holistic” Ibomu of Dead Prez MANTRA YOGA + HEALTH COLUMNIST

If you are the type who thinks that all relaxing activities have to be boring, think again. I’ve found the sixty-to-ninety-minute yoga session in a room heated to 105 degrees to be just the right balance of intensity and relaxation.

H

ey, Clark Kent, I see you. I know who you are. You’re out here every day saving the world. You carry a lot of weight on your shoulders. You’re about business. You work hard to make a difference. You sacrifice sleep and comfort to go above and beyond. You are the everyday superhero in all of us. Helping others. Running errands like a locomotive. Organizing new endeavors. Replying to e-mails faster than a speeding bullet. Leaping from one job to the next in a single bound.

As a hip-hop artist and producer, writer, entrepreneur, runner, husband, and father, I have come to understand the value and necessity of balance. Gratefully, a few years ago, through an invite to a Bikram Yoga class, I found hot yoga to be an amazing practice that helps recharge my superpowers.

But every Superman or Superwoman has kryptonite.

Hot yoga is especially ideal for anyone who has a high-stress lifestyle. If you are the type who thinks that all relaxing activities have to be boring, think again. I’ve found the sixty-toninety-minute yoga session in a room heated to 105 degrees to be just the right balance of intensity and relaxation.

Stress: The Other S on Your Chest

Hot Yoga’s Superpowers

Even superheroes can start to feel like the walls are caving in on them. Stress is a silent killer that depletes our energy and becomes like kryptonite in our lives. Stress is stored in our bodies in various ways that can cause chronic suffering when we aren’t balancing our lives with rejuvenating activities. How do I know? I’m a recovering workaholic superhero too.

› Calorie-melting. The heat combined with the postures increases sweating and raises the heart rate, providing a detoxifying strength, flexibility, tone, and cardiovascular workout all in one.

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› X-Ray Focus. To adapt to the heat, you learn to practice X-ray focus on the breath so that distracting thoughts and anxieties melt away on their own.

› Performance Enhancement. Great for cross-training. Benefits overall athletic performance and is great for injury prevention and rehab for runners, lifters, cyclists, etc. › Your Body the Gym. You don’t need any expensive equipment or fancy red capes, just a mat, water, and a towel—or maybe two. › Mood Enhancement. For cool, calm alertness. Sessions induce a natural high that feels better than flying. › Supercharging Your Immune System. Increase your “Man of Steel” resistance to sickness. Hot yoga can help you de-stress, reenergize, and live to fight the good fight another day. We superheroes have to be able to rescue ourselves as well, right? May the force of balance be with you.

Khnum “Holistic” Ibomu is a hip-hop artist, wellness advocate, and author with a passion for distance running and world culture. His new book, Eat Plants, Lift Iron, shares how he gained twenty pounds on a gluten-free, plant-based diet. PHOTO: AFYA IBOMU

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By J. J. Cook

“Saying ‘I’m not flexible enough for yoga’ is like saying ‘I’m too dirty to take a shower.’”

Real Men Practice Yoga Yoga benefits every body

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physical fitness, strength, and mobility—in both men and women.

serve the people that we love. Wise men do yoga.

For all of you tough guys, let’s take a moment to get on the same page. This five-thousandyear-old practice was designed by Indian men and originally intended for men. Real men practice yoga.

So you’re not flexible. Saying “I’m not flexible enough for yoga” is like saying “I’m too dirty to take a shower.” Yoga isn’t about tying yourself in knots. It’s about understanding how your body works and allowing it to function in the most efficient way. The less flexible you are, the less you have to stretch to feel the benefits of the practice. Yoga is not easy by any means, but with a consistent practice, your life will become easier.

So you like sports. Yoga is the perfect complement. The best athletes in the world practice yoga. Chris Paul and LeBron James have jumped on the yoga bandwagon. Professional franchises such as the L.A. Lakers and the German World Cup soccer champions are hip to the benefits of yoga. Yoga will prepare you for every sport, but nothing will prepare you for yoga.

Since it hit the mainstream in the U.S., the yoga industry has chosen to represent yoga in the media with images of thin, Photoshopped goddesses twisting themselves into pretzel shapes. Naturally, us guys then think of yoga as a feminine practice. But yoga lowers the heart rate and blood pressure; helps relieve anxiety, depression, and insomnia; increases sex drive; and improves overall

This physical practice (asana) is just one limb on the eight-limbed path of yoga. The asanas we practice are used as a tool to help you gain access to the untapped potential of your mind. The lessons that yoga imparts stretch way past your tight hamstring, permeating your life off the mat. Yoga challenges us day in and day out to be the best person we can be when it matters most so we can better

recent survey found that only 18.4 percent of the 20.4 million people who practice yoga in the United States are dudes. Because yoga’s countless life-changing benefits apply to both men and women, I ask, “Why aren’t more men stepping onto mats?”

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So drop the tough-guy act and open up your mind to the infinite possibilities this lifechanging practice has to offer.

J. J. Cook, E-RYT 200, gave up his hoop dreams as a semiprofessional small forward with the Wilmington Sea Dawgs to pursue his passion for yoga. He studied under Tamal Dodge and has been mentored by Kristin Cooper at the Wilmington Yoga Center, where he is a full-time faculty member.


By John Lewis The Bad Ass Vegan

You Want It? Go Get It! Working toward success

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ave you ever admired someone or something they have but thought that there was no way you could reach their status? I mean, they must be someone special or born into a certain status, right? Because, it has been stated over and over that genetics is what gives you a healthy body and the only way to be a millionaire is to be born into money. Or how about the good old saying, “They are so talented, they were born to do this.” Well, what if I were to tell you that all of that was pure bullshit? Most, if not all, of these beliefs are ideas of people too afraid, too lazy, and too scared to achieve their goals. Since misery loves company, they will tell you that you can’t be successful either. So today, we will throw away the old teachings and start

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to live up to the great abilities that we are born with. We are all born with greatness, but it is going to take work. Hell, sometimes even blood, sweat, and tears, but if you are willing to do the work, the success will follow. To achieve great health, you are going to have to make better food choices, become more active, increase your water intake, and—one of the most underrated health necessities— rest! So you want to have more wealth? Buying two-hundred-dollar shoes that only cost thirty-five cents to make is not an investment. If you want something, you will find a way to get it. Sure, not all of us have six hundred dollars to invest up front, but that two hundred dollars for shoes can be saved up for three months, and damn, would you look at that. Yes, we all have our vices, and those vices won’t expire. If we prepare for our future, we can enjoy those vices and enjoy life in a more stable setting. Put down the alcohol, cigarettes, and fast food; these can add up to at least twenty to two hundred fifty dollars a week! Start taking half and putting it into savings and then half into investments. Maybe do this for three months, and then reward yourself with a vice after you reach that goal. Next time, try four months.

And keep increasing your time frame to save. If you want to get better at something—like learning to walk, talk, read, and write—it’s going to take practice. To excel in something, you have to really focus and practice even more than usual. No one learned how to play an instrument without practice. No one became an all-star athlete without outworking all the people who want that spot. Last, but not least, don’t ever think for a second that you are too young or too old to reach any and all of your goals, because there are examples of successful individuals from all walks of life. Now, it is your turn. So if you want it, go get it!

“We are all born with greatness, but it is going to take work.” John Lewis, a nationally certified fitness trainer, played Division I college basketball and has spent over eight years in the health and fitness industry. John’s love for his community brought forth his brainchild, Bad Ass Vegan, a foundation whose mission is to prevent obesity through education, physical activity, and plant-based nutrition.

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What we thought was distraction is all part of the meditation. What we thought was meditation—striving to control or exclude— is the distraction. Natural meditation means opening to the completeness that is bigger than the ego’s little preferences.”

By Dean Sluyter

Two Baptisms The cave of Vasishtha, fourteen kilometers above Rishikesh, was the northernmost point of our pilgrimage. Here, in the foothills of the Himalayas (anywhere else, they would be called mountains), the Ganges runs clean, and nervous Westerners can take the full-immersion baptism. We picked our way along the rocks that line the bank. I stripped down to a bathing suit and T-shirt, while Yaffa, observing Indian standards of female modesty, kept on her cotton punjabi suit. We stepped in. It was icy cold. Working our way across the rocky bottom with feet and hands, we moved as far offshore as we could without being swept downstream. I faced north, toward the Himalayas, the river’s source. Hanging on to a submerged rock with one hand, I leaned back and raised my legs to the surface. The cold, pure water felt like it was streaming straight into my feet and scrotum. Laughing, I shouted, “Ma Ganga! Bring it!” A few weeks earlier, we’d been in Varanasi, the ancient city of temples and crumbling streets jammed with pedestrians, motorcycles, tuk-tuks (little three-wheeled autoNATURALMEDITATION.US

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Examples of embracing distraction in natural meditation

rickshaws), monkeys, dogs, lolling cows, and the ever-to-be-watched-out-for cowshit. One rainy day, we were riding with a few friends in a tuk-tuk. I was in front with the driver. He inched across a flooded intersection, doing fine—till a rare passenger car came barreling past, splashing us in an impressive plume of water and stalling out our engine. Our driver, who spoke no English, tried his key a few times, sighed once deeply, and—without missing a beat—bent toward me and started rolling up my pant legs. The expectation was clear: I was to get out and push. I did, which meant that now I was up to my calves in cowshit soup. No more watching out. And, as if to make sure I didn’t miss the point, now a big, white dog directly upstream from us squatted and shat. Here, too, I had to laugh. Here, too, I shouted, “Bring it!” As with everything in India (or anywhere

else), the external expresses the internal. The real Ganga—the pure stream of silent awareness, timeless being—is within us, our own deepest nature, where it’s encountered in meditative practice. The real cowshit is encountered there too: the thoughts and feelings we avoid or suppress, all the so-called impurities and trivialities and distractions. The teachers I’ve been blessed with have taught me to embrace both and shout, “Bring it!” What we thought was distraction is all part of the meditation. What we thought was meditation—striving to control or exclude— is the distraction. Natural meditation means opening to the completeness that is bigger than the ego’s little preferences. Bring in da light, bring in da funk.

Dean Sluyter has taught meditation throughout the U.S. for an embarrassingly long time. His latest book is Natural Meditation: A Guide to Effortless Meditative Practice.


Ron and Mary Hulnick Founding faculty of the University of Santa Monica

Interview: Gina Murdock

“ We encourage people to dare to live into their future, and the place to begin is by having the courage to take one hundred percent personal responsibility for all the upsets and disturbance they feel inside rather than blaming others.” Gina Murdock: Ron and Mary, it’s truly inspiring what you’ve accomplished with the University of Santa Monica. Can you explain the essence of spiritual psychology? Ron and Mary Hulnick: Spiritual psychology is a unique system or discipline that results in the experience of what we refer to as “awakening.” We’ve found a way of utilizing everyday emotional disturbances and upsets—such as anger and hurt—as opportunities to let go of the roots of these upsets within the consciousness of the person having that experience. The result is learning experientially how most, if not all, emotional suffering can be alleviated. The benefit of this education is that every time a person dissolves one of these disturbances, that person often experiences what mystics and sages throughout history have referred to as an “enlightening.”

the notion of quantity is less valuable than experiences best described as concerned with quality of life. People learn that how much you earn or status is far less important than the quality of relationships you have with everyone in your life. Further, and this was a huge awareness, it turns out that the quality of those relationships are predicated one hundred percent upon the quality of the relationship one has with themselves. There is an incredible amount of emotional freedom from blame and upset with this work. Our students learn to look at the opportunities present in every perceived challenge. An added bonus is that it certainly makes life a lot more fun! We’ve seen thousands of people’s lives change in this direction over the past thirty-plus years, and it thrills us each and every time. GM: What gives you hope?

GM: I know you have been teaching these principles for over thirty years, tirelessly. What is it that drives you and your work? R+MH: We love seeing people step into experiences of their inherent loving nature. And we love seeing them shift into what we refer to as a “learning orientation to life,” which is different from a “goals orientation to life”— which is the orientation of the majority of people alive today. In a learning orientation,

R+MH: From our perspective, as a species, the human race is at a time of enormous change. Many systems, institutions, and values are crumbling, while their replacements are being born. It’s a challenging time for many people. What’s important to keep in mind is that evolution has always worked this way. It’s often described as an ascending circle that goes from chaos to stability, back to chaos, etc. Each completion of the circle

leaves us at a higher level of organization for the highest benefit of all. From what we see in our work, it is evident that ever-increasing numbers of people are “awakening” all over the planet. The more people that opt into this way of learning, the easier it will be for everyone. GM: Helen Keller’s quote “Life is either a daring adventure or nothing” comes to mind when you say that. It is very freeing to get out of the blame game and start living! Do you have any final words of wisdom to share with us? R+MH: We encourage people to dare to live into their future, and the place to begin is by having the courage to take one hundred percent personal responsibility for all the upsets and disturbance they feel inside rather than blaming others. Then, learn how to let go of these upsets. By so doing, what they will amazingly find is that they have joined the ranks of those throughout history who discovered that all that remains is the experience of infinite love.

Ron and Mary Hulnick are the codirectors and founding faculty of the University of Santa Monica. The university’s mission is communicating the principles and practices of spiritual psychology worldwide.

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By Chandresh Bhardwaj

Four Things You May Not Know about

Tantra

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he East believes Tantra to be a paranormal phenomenon, while the West considers it a science of sex drive. These misunderstandings about Tantra have distanced us from its powerful definition. Tantra is a technique or technology that can be used to attain self-realization. Tantra can also be defined as a doctrine or set of teachings that help a seeker reach enlightenment, with sects in Buddhism, in Hinduism, and independent of religion too. Here are four things that you may not know about Tantra: Tantra does not judge. There is no right or wrong in Tantra. Everything happens naturally, and we are the ones who add meaning or suffering to it. Tantra looks at the world as Shudh Chaitnya, which means Pure Consciousness. It teaches us to witness the divine in everything that we come across. Tantra seekers are asked to break the norms associated with God and begin an effortless journey toward the attainment of divinity. Tantra is not just all about sex. Tantra looks at all of our emotions as part of our life’s process, encouraging meditation on kaam (sexual desires), krodh (anger), lobh (greed), moh (attachment), and ahankaar (ego). If we repress these parts of our personality, they will bounce back with an even more powerful force. Tantra asks its seekers to be friends with all of these elements. Marketing gurus picked up on only the sexual aspect of Tantra. Tantra worships feminine energy. From art to storytelling to the day-to-day workplace, women are often objectified. Even the god in all

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religions is a he and not a she. Tantra takes a clear stand against this and makes women the major mode of worship in its rituals. Feminine energy is a significant part of the Dus Mahavidya (Ten Goddesses) of Tantra and the mantras mentioned in Tantric texts. One of the most common symbols of Tantra is Lord Shiva lying on the floor with goddess Kaali’s foot upon his chest. Women have never been considered this important in any other spiritual doctrine. Tantra is a complete package of enlightenment. Tantra approaches the path to enlightenment as a playful one. It does not take life seriously. The teachings of Tantra focus on releasing repression from oneself. The Vigyan Bhairov Tantra text mentions 112 meditations that take into consideration all aspects of our physical being. Tantra traditions also include an army of powerful mantras that completely shift the lives of its seekers. In addition, Tantra uses yantra—a geometric diagram, metal object, or paper that deepens the meditation ritual. The combination of mantra, meditation, and yantra makes Tantra a powerful, one-of-a-kind enlightenment package. Tantra takes you out of the physical dimensions and connects you to the cosmic dimensions. Tantra is less about talk and more about experience. I suggest starting a guided Tantra practice and getting ready to take an interesting turn in your life.

“Women have never been considered this important in any other spiritual doctrine."


“Each time you have a cup of your beloved coffee, you are initiating the ‘fight or flight’ response. With constant stimulation over time, your adrenal glands become fatigued due to overuse. . . . In reality, after the initial energy ‘boost’ hits you from the coffee, you end up feeling more tired than before.”

Breathwork Is My Barista Let Conscious Breathwork Replace Your Coffee By Bob Sima

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onsidering that a latte is $4.50 and air is free (at least for now), isn’t this a conversation indeed worth pursuing?

Start right here: inhale slowly with the belly expanding for a count of five, take a slight pause, then slowly exhale, squeezing the navel in toward the spine for a count of five. Repeat this three times.

“fight or flight” response. With constant stimulation over time, your adrenal glands become fatigued due to overuse. This leads to a myriad of stress-related issues. In reality, after the initial energy “boost” hits you from the coffee, you end up feeling more tired than before and in a looping state of jolts followed by exhaustion. So how do you break an age-old pattern of coffee consumption with simple, conscious breathwork? It takes practice and devotion. The word for breath is “spirit” in any language, so this is a spiritual practice. Just as it took devotion to stand in line at your favorite coffee shop, this practice will develop over time with the same devotion. The simple plan is to reach for substance (the breath) instead of substances like coffee to fulfill a need. When the urge comes for a coffee, stop and take three conscious breaths. Trust the process, and over time, the craving will pass. First thing in the morning is the perfect time to start your practice of conscious breathwork. Try this: As you stand at the coffee maker, stand tall and practice the Breath of Fire for activating energy. In its simplest form, this breath is rapidly breathing in and out of your nose with short breath bursts. It should make a loud sound, the air moving rapidly in and out of your nose, and your belly should be “bouncing.” Try this for thirty seconds for a few days, then move to a minute, and add duration from there. I assure that when you reach three minutes, you will walk away from your coffee maker feeling energized and empowered!

How do you feel? It feels good, really good. In fact, it feels blissful. Isn’t feeling good the point of this human experience? The reason it feels so blissful is that you have affected the parasympathetic nervous system with your conscious, focused breath, which literally invokes the “relaxation response.” On the flip side, coffee affects the sympathetic nervous system by stimulating the adrenal glands. So each time you have a cup of your beloved coffee, you are initiating the

Bob Sima is a singer-songwriter, performer, speaker, workshop/retreat leader, meditation/breathwork facilitator, and creative collaborator, often weaving all these elements into a single event. Bob has a gift for creating twenty-firstcentury songs infused with universal truths of ancient wisdom and modern spiritual teachers. His newest album, putalittlemoreloveintheworld, has earned rave reviews.

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By Sherianna Boyle

How Finding Balance May Be Only a Heartbeat Away

Breathe deeply and your heart will respond

“To foster more harmony in your life, consider tuning in to your heart space.

SHERIANNABOYLE.COM

Take a moment and bring an image of balance into your mind. What do you see? Perhaps you imagine a scale, stack of rocks, or a balance beam. You may see it as an action—a juggling act, multitasking, or walking a tight rope. There is no right or wrong to how you perceive balance; however, recent research on the heart may widen your viewpoint. It turns out that creating harmony has much more to do with your heart than your head. According to the Institute of HeartMath, when you experience an emotion such as anger or anxiety, your heart rhythms become more erratic and disordered. This causes your nervous system to go off-kilter. It is similar to when you go on vacation and it takes a few days to begin to relax and enjoy it. On the other hand, emotions such as love and compassion, measured by the institute, reflected coherent patterns which synchronized the parts of the nervous system. Similar to a choir singing, each person (in this case, bodily function) works together to create a range of high and low notes. Balance is a range, a blend of ups and downs—a cohesive, rhythmic pattern of ebb and flow. When you take slow, deep breaths, you are directly influencing the patterns and

rhythms of your heart. Positive emotions create smooth peaks and valleys in your heart rhythms, while negative ones create sharp, jagged lines. The more peaks and valleys, the more resilient and balanced you feel. Rather than try to control the flow of life, you experience it. One way to do this is to consciously lengthen your breath, stretch it out, and really feel it expand your abdomen on inhale from beginning, middle, to end. On exhale, pull your navel in slowly, tugging it inward as you squeeze out the air. Do this three to four times. Notice how balance has little to do with achieving and is more connected to being. To foster more harmony in your life, consider tuning in to your heart space. Allow yourself to pause more frequently. Incorporate practices such as gratitude, forgiveness (particularly of yourself), and connection (e.g., smile more). Broaden your images of balance; see it as a long, curvy road, rolling hills, or the ocean tide. Give life to these images by breathing into them. Inhale as you travel up the hill and exhale as you go down. Notice how your heart responds. Finally, stop trying so hard. Similar to a roller-coaster ride, drop into your body, let go of the reins, and let your heart (as opposed to your head) lead the way.

Sherianna Boyle is the author of three books, including the recent The Four Gifts of Anxiety. She is cohost of the television show Thriving from Anxiety. Her background includes working as a school psychologist, adjunct psychology professor, stress-therapy practitioner, parent educator, seasoned yoga/meditation teacher, professional speaker, and mother of three children. PHOTO: JASON PETERSON

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