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Tiffany Cruikshank: 5 Ways To Stoke Your Metabolism

















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eat POSITIVE ®, ™, © 2014 Kashi Company 36USC220506

True Wellness For All OUR VISION is to be a Vehicle of Consciousness in the global market by creating a holistic sustainable business modality, which inspires, promotes and supports True Wellness and respect for all beings and for Mother Nature.

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PUBLISHER / EDITOR-IN-CHIEF Maranda Pleasant MANAGING editor Meghan French Dunbar CREATIVE DIRECTOR Sami Lea Lipman

THIS SIDE 8 tiffany cruikshank 10 deepak chopra 12 Ana Forrest 14 shiva rea 24 tara stiles 26 bryan kest 34 briohny smyth 38 Richard freeman 56 les leventhal

14 22 19

Assistant EditorS Devon Craig Ocean Pleasant Mantra Online Griffin Byatt copy Editor Megan McDonald yoga philosophy editors Eric Shaw Bob Weisenberg NY Editors Nancy Alder Sharon Pingitore


dallas Editors Laura King Gina Marie Dunn LA Editors Andrea Marcum Jackie Carr Chicago Editor Mia Park d.c. Editor Faith Hunter


The other side 6 kathryn budig 10 colleen saidman yee 16 seane corn 18 samantha harris 19 KEITH HARRIS 26 rod stryker 30 janet stone 42 sri dharma mittra

contributing editors Michelle Berman Marchildon Dana Damara Karen Fabian


EDITOR’S NOTE We're a magazine/circus run by yogis, strong women, mothers and built by community. Thank you for creating this with us. We're building a movement of connected souls who care about our health, the planet, and protecting those without a voice. Let this be the year women come together to support each other instead of competing with each other. Let this be the year we experience deep love, for ourselves and the relationships that make us stronger. May this be the year that we let love in and allow ourselves to be deeply supported. We deserve it.

Photographers Joe Longo Robert Sturman Drew Xeron DJ Pierce

Cover image of Tiffany Cruikshank Photographed by Jasper Johal ©2014 Cover image of Kathryn Budig Photographed by Jasper Johal ©2014

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Let's shine. There's enough vanilla in this world. Let's grow more and shine brighter this year. With a high five and an open heart, Maranda Pleasant Founder/Editor-in-Chief Mantra Yoga + Health • ORIGIN Magazine


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5 Ways To Stoke Your Metabolism b y T I F FA N Y C R U I K S H A N K


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Are you eating well and exercising and seeing no changes in how you look or feel? With bikini season quickly approaching, what better time to start to shed some of your winter layers? It’s easy to hide out in our winter clothes and forget about those few extra pounds that have piled on with the cold winter weather – those extra cookies that kept you warm or those days that were just a little too cold to get out of bed to exercise in the morning. Well now that the weather is shifting, it’s a great time to hit refresh on your internal computer. And for those of you south of the equator, not to worry, any time is a good time for an overhaul. There are so many ways to stoke your metabolism, but there are 5 really important, foundational components of a healthy metabolism that need to be in place in order to make a shift. 1. Catch Your Z’s! Sleep is crucial to a healthy metabolism and is a critical time when our bodies not only detoxify harmful substances from the body but also rebuild and make the hormones essential to a healthy metabolism. If you think you’re getting enough sleep, think again. Research shows that those who get eight hours of sleep a night tend to have a lower body mass index than those who get less.

2. Never Underestimate the Power of STRESS! Nowadays, stress is probably one of the biggest hindrances for those failing to lose weight. The problem with stress is that not only does it change our lifestyle (eating differently, not exercising, etc), but it also affects your cortisol, which can change the way your body interprets and uses food. Cortisol directly affects the metabolism and causes fat to be stored in the abdomen. The blood sugar also affects the cortisol level, so it’s important to eat small regular meals with protein and fat to regulate the cortisol by maintaining a steady blood sugar. Cortisol should be at its peak in the morning, so never skip your breakfast and try to eat the majority of your food in the first half of your day. Since the cortisol should be low in the evening, don’t eat after eight in the evening - this is when your digestion should be winding down so that your body can repair and process while you are sleeping.

3. Don’t Pour Bleach in Your Body! One of my favorite analogies is about a plant. You never hear people say, “Wow, that plant is old.” In fact, you probably never pondered the idea of an old plant. However, if you took two plants and fed one bleach and one miracle grow, one of them would most certainly look a lot “older” than the other. There are several

specific substances that have a bleach-like effect and can hinder the metabolism; the biggest ones are alcohol, coffee, sugar, and gluten. I recommend limiting these as much as possible. In fact, try cutting them out completely for three to four weeks and you’ll probably notice a big difference in your metabolism.

4. Get Regular! Metabolically speaking, our bodies like to have a routine and our cortisol functions better when we have a regular sleeping and eating schedule. So set your clock, try to wake up and go to sleep at about the same time everyday. Also, try to eat your meals around the same time everyday so that your metabolism gets used to a routine and doesn’t have to store fat away in case you don’t feed it.

5. Get Moving! Besides the need for exercise, our bodies aren’t made to sit for hours on end. So, if you have a sedentary job, find a way to get moving. Try setting a timer to get up for at least a few minutes every hour. You can walk to the bathroom, get some water, or do some jumping jacks - it doesn’t matter, just get moving. This is helpful not only for the metabolism, but also for preventing repetitive use injuries from the computer like carpal tunnel syndrome.

Here are a few more hints to stimulate your metabolism: > Cut out processed foods. If you read the label and don’t know what it is or the list is long and full of big words, leave it behind. Start looking at your food like it’s your fuel, rather than eating because it tastes good. > Hydrate! You need to drink at least half your bodyweight in ounces every day, maybe even more if you sweat a lot. Fluid is an important

transporter in the body and the metabolic processes in the body require water to function. > Eat until you are 75% full so that your digestion can function optimally. > Chew your food well, this helps mix the food with the enzymes in your mouth to aid digestion. If you slow down and relax while you’re eating, your nervous system can shift into the parasympathetic mode where it can better digest and absorb nutrients.

When all else fails here are some other things to think about: If you still aren’t losing weight, talk to your holistic healthcare practitioner about running some tests to see if there’s something else not functioning properly, or check in with an acupuncturist - there are many acupuncture treatments aimed at stimulating the metabolism. Some common hindrances for weight loss are the adrenals, thyroid, and/or hormonal imbalances. There are so many symptoms associated with these issues that it would be difficult to describe in one article and is best assessed by a licensed healthcare practitioner. Some other common causes for a sluggish metabolism are food intolerances, poor digestion, and low stomach acid. Always remember, if you’re not getting the results you want, keep looking. Optimal health is just around the corner - you need only to continue looking.

Here’s to your health! Tiffany Cruikshank L.Ac, MAOM, E-RYT500 Internationally acclaimed due to her ability to combine over two decades of using yoga and holistic medicine with her patients to create Yoga Medicine. Yoga Medicine is a thorough, anatomically based training system developed by Tiffany that informs and trains teachers all over the world to work more powerfully with their students. PHOTO: JASPER JOHAL

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It may help to remember that in the cosmic design, pain is neutral. In the physical world, pain motivates us negatively, while pleasure motivates us positively. True freedom is letting go of our attachment to both.

1 2 Why Commit? 3 B y D e e pak C h o p ra

Commitment is the ultimate assertion of human freedom. It releases all the energy you possess and enables you to take quantum leaps in creativity. When you set a one-pointed intention and absolutely refuse to allow obstacles to dissipate the focused quality of your attention, you engage the infinite organizing power of the universe.


There is no limit to your ability to co-create with the universe, but to find that out, you must engage life with commitment. You must be willing to put yourself on the line because when you commit yourself to anything, you express every aspect of who you are. If you give everything you have to your chosen pursuit, your strengths and talents, as well as your weaknesses and shadows, will all be exposed. Commitment brings up everything.


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This unavoidable fact is the reason why many people fear or avoid commitment; they so dislike what they perceive as their negative characteristics that they hold back, acting in the belief that life will be safer. They may attain the illusion of security, but at the same time they severely limit their experience of what life can bring. Here are a few of the most common decisions that keep us from totally engaging in life – and suggestions for making new, more empowering choices:

1. 2. 3.

Your ego self may think that it can protect its vulnerability by gossiping or tearing down others, but in reality this only perpetuates a culture of shame.

I don’t want to look bad.

4. 5.

This decision is about self-image, which is only a superficial impression of who you are. Be willing to forget how you look. Olympic runners usually cross the finish line drenched in sweat, their faces contorted with the effort. In their passion to win, they don’t care how they look. If you are focused on your own passionate commitment and your inner feelings of satisfaction, you won’t worry about your appearance either.

I don’t want to fail.

Those who are afraid to fall down usually were ridiculed or humiliated in the past. They have a conditioned belief that failing means they are worthless. Their fear is so great that they walk away from new challenges rather than risking failure. If this is you, it’s important to be a good parent to your scared self, offering yourself lavish praise and encouragement. Set minor goals for yourself, such as jogging around the block or making an omelet. As you do this activity, feel what it’s like to succeed. If things go a bit wrong, tell yourself that it’s all right. Slowly develop your connection to the voice of encouragement.

I don’t want anyone to see me fail.

This decision stems from shame, which is the internalized fear of other people’s opinions. Their disapproval becomes your shame. You can counter this decision by realizing that what others think about you reflects their beliefs about what is good and bad – not yours. Also refrain from shaming others. Your ego self may think that it can protect its vulnerability by gossiping or tearing down others, but in reality this only perpetuates a culture of shame.

I don’t want any pain.

This decision has to do with a fear of psychological rather than physical pain. Those who have suffered in the past without being able to find healing may have a great aversion to any new possibilities of pain. They avoid commitment in an attempt to remain invulnerable. It may help to remember that in the cosmic design, pain is neutral. In the physical world, pain motivates us negatively, while pleasure motivates us positively. True freedom is letting go of our attachment to both. The best way to begin this process is developing a state of witness consciousness through practices such as meditation and mindful awareness.

I don’t want to use up all my energy.

In reality, the thing that drains energy most is the act of holding back. The more you try to conserve your energy, the more it dwindles. For example, people who are afraid to love may end up constricting love’s expression. They close their hearts and stop the flow of compassion from replenishing their lives. To expand your channels of energy, learn to give. Whenever you feel like you don’t have enough, give to someone in need, whether in the form of money, time, or attention. In addition, follow your passion. If you’ve ever committed yourself passionately to anything, you’ve no doubt noticed that the more energy you devote to it, the more you have.

Spirit responds to your vision of it, and the higher your vision, the more you will evolve. As you surrender to commitment, the entire field of potentiality opens to you, and fulfillment becomes your daily reality.

Those who have suffered in the past without being able to find healing may have a great aversion to any new possibilities of pain.

Deepak Chopra, M.D. is a best-selling author, physician, and the co-founder of the Chopra Center for Wellbeing in Carlsbad, California. The Chopra Center offers a variety of signature programs, events, and teacher training certifications, including the Seduction of Spirit meditation and yoga retreat, Journey into Healing (offering continuing education credits for healthcare practitioners), and the Perfect Health wellness program. To learn about upcoming events, please visit or call 888.736.6895.

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the art of

sequencing in life and on the mat

b y A na F o rr e st,

Medicine Woman, creatrix of Forrest Yoga and Author of Fierce Medicine 12

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You get the most out of yoga classes that are skillfully sequenced. When your physical and emotional body is warmed up in an intelligent way, you can quantum leap on your yoga mat. You don’t get injured and you can go deeper into the pleasure of the experience. Learning to intelligently sequence your day is no different. You’ll find many benefits! For example, how best to pace your lifestyle, how to tune into a healing rhythm and achieve a balance of giving and receiving, so that you don’t hit burn-out or have to turn to habitual crappy behaviors like putrid and sabotaging thoughts or binging on food, alcohol, or drugs.

Planning and preparation:

Preparation is key. In Forrest Yoga we start with warm-up poses that get your body and mind ready for the more advanced ones. If you’re about to give a presentation, give yourself time to prepare, so that you don’t shock yourself when it comes to the delivery moment. In yoga, that’s when injuries happen. For me, an example of an apex moment is doing an interview. How do I warm up for it? I do yoga, have a nibble so that my blood sugar is steady, review my notes, focus on what excites me about doing it, and ask myself what my intent is.

During the Apex moment:

Deep breathing is the most powerful way of feeling myself through the interview, my interviewers, and the audience. Breath keeps me connected, focused, flexible, and responsive to the changes and questions of the moment.

Warming down: This is the part that is so easy to miss out. Our circumstances frequently dictate that we jump straight to the ‘next thing.’ If I move straight onto the next project, I get fatigued and resentful because I don’t get to enjoy the feeling of my achievement. Instead, I make time to absorb what just happened...maybe go for a walk. More important than taking the time to critique my apex is taking the time to digest the sweetness of the moment. Then I become very nourished by what I do. Even if I do have another

Start sequencing your day: Set your intent and breathe deeply Warm up

Plan for the apex moment(s!). Maybe that’s an interview, presentation, important meeting, or even a date!

The hot part

Build your energy

Design the best strategy for ‘during the apex experience.’ How can you get the most delicious enjoyment from it?

Warm down Savasana

Recharge your energy

ect, I carve out time for that warm down — deliberately replenishing from the success of my apex experience.


Absorb your practice or day. Schedule quiet time in five minute increments. No phone, no TV.... just breathing, relaxing, absorbing, and letting the brain unwind. Before sleep, do warm down practices, i.e. take a warm bath instead of watching action TV, brainstorming, or fighting with your family. Always allow space for life’s surprises and magic! Even if your apex moment is scary — maybe you have that important interview — choose to make it an apex of your day... something to be excited about, rather than ‘OMG, OMG, Eeeek!!’ Sequencing is ALL. It can make or break your yoga practice and your day. Think about your next sexual experience. Things need to happen in a certain order!

Get more life tools from Ana in her book Fierce Medicine: Breakthrough Practices to Heal the Body and Ignite the Spirit. Now also available as an audio book, read by Ana, at To work with Ana in person, visit

Photos: Sophia Van Der Dys

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The Radical Act of Embodying Our Energetic Heart

the art of

sequencing Pa rt O n e

in life and on the mat

b y S hi va R e a


Our body mirrors our cultural evolution. How we see ourselves and the world limits or liberates our experience. We are still emerging from the damaging effects of a mechanistic view of the body, nature, and our “heart as a machine” from the last 350 years. As we move into the quantum age, each one of us is part of a revolutionary shift of consciousness as we re-embody our energetic heart and retrieve the fire from within. The great conductor of the body’s rhythms is the pulse of the heart. As the most powerful “rhythm maker” of the body, the heart has the ability to govern all of the body’s other rhythms. Our hearts begin pulsing in the womb around five weeks from conception without any signal from the brain, which is still in formation—a mystery that science still does not understand. The heart is the only organ made of specialized cells—cardiac cells—with the unique capacity to create a pulsing electrical charge. This charge in turn creates a vast electromagnetic field of energy. The heart’s pulse and more than 60% of neural cells radiate an electrical field that communicates with all other cells of the body. Its “language” is its oscillating rhythm present in tension or relaxation, in stress or joy, in conflict or love.


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The entire body, in fact, is held within the heart’s electromagnetic field, which can be measured as far as ten feet away with a magnetocardiogram, a device that shows fluctuations of the heart. This “heart field” strengthens and weakens according to the connection to our heart and the disconnecting effects of stress. Our heart field is strongest when there is inner entrainment with our brain waves bringing us into a optimal state of flow underlying meditative experience. Within yoga,“anahata chakra” is best understood as this electromagnetic field that we can feel within our bodies most often through the warmth that expands and radiates from the heart region when we are feeling love, passion, and compassion. We sense in ourselves and in others when the energetic field of the heart is dim from loss or stress. Only we can be the firekeepers of our heart finding the ways to strengthen our energy field. Any form of yoga and meditation can be ways to “tend the heartfire” of the electromagnetic field of the heart bringing us to an inner state of flow—from movement practice to mantra, prayer, chanting, dancing, helping others, making love in all forms. Saints, refugees, vets, activists, artists — you can find great hearts in your friends and family right next to you who are living examples of embodying the energetic heart that can radi-

ate the power of love regardless of external circumstances, in sickness and health, war and peace. The heart, like the sun, can stay connected to the power of love no matter what arises.

Shiva Rea is the founder of Samudra Global School for Living Yoga and www.samudraglobalonline. com, a grassroots worldwide online school offering meditation courses and Evolutionary Vinyasa Teacher Training including free meditation apps for transforming stress into flow for teens and teens with cancer. Adapted from Tending the Heart Fire: Living in Flow with the Pulse of Life by Shiva Rea. Copyright © 2014 by Shiva Rea. (Sounds True 2014).

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Krissy Moehl’s

Concoction B y kriss y m o e h l INGREDIENTS 1/2 cup Greek Yogurt (plain) 3-4 tbsp. 7 Sources Oil 1/2 tbsp. Maca Powder 1-2 tbsp. Udo’s Choice Wholesome Fast Food Honey or other sweetener to taste (fresh preserves are good) Once mixed, add the following till you reach desired quantity and consistency: About 1/4 - 1/2 cup dried fruit (I like craisins & raisins) and/or cut up fresh fruit (bananas, blueberries, etc.) About 1/2-1 cup granola


caesar dressing B y f l o ra h e a lth INGREDIENTS 2 tsp. Dijon Mustard 3 tsp. The Wizard’s Organic wheat free vegetarian Worcestershire sauce 3 tsp. Apple Cider Vinegar 4 tsp. Lemon Juice 2 Cloves crushed Garlic 1 tbsp. Lecithin or Parmesan Cheese Dash sea salt 3-4 tbsp. Flora Olive Oil 3 tbsp. 7 Sources Oil Mix together and pour over your favorite greens.


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Photo of krissy: Matt Trappe Photography



largest organ, first line of defense Other than looking esthetically beautiful, one of your skin’s major functions is to defend the body against things like UV exposure, chemical irritants, heavy metals, things called xenobiotics (carcinogens, drugs, and pesticides), and even external bacteria from the person who coughed on you in the grocery store (geez…cover your mouth, lady). Daily exposure to these elements often results in skin irritation, followed by decreased barrier function, and, ultimately, penetration of these harmful substances into the body. When this happens, your skin’s immune system is the first to respond. Among the many cells that help fend off foreign bodies, the Langerhans cells in our epidermal layers play a central role in the skin’s immune system and the body’s total defense. Originating in our bone marrow, they migrate to the epidermis where they form the furthest

White Horehound Plant Stem Cells Skin has its own complex detoxification system made of molecules and enzymes known as the Phase I and Phase II enzymes. White Horehound is the only plant stem cell proven to boost the immune response of the skin with multi-phase, free radical scavenging and maximization of Phase I and II enzymes for self-defensive systems.

“outpost” of the immune system. The problem is, after intensive exposure to the elements mentioned above, Langerhans cells retract and leave the epidermis, which suppresses the immune response that gives your skin cells the chance to heal, repair, and ward off further damage to the body. We all know immune-boosting foods, plenty of rest, and regular exercise keep your immune system healthy, but few realize it is also important to apply topical elements that not only protect your skin but also feed it the nutrients to boost its own immune response capabilities. So what are ingredients to look for in your skin care to support the body topically? Here are a few that do the trick nicely…

Resveratrol Probiotics

Olive Leaf

Produced through fermentation of resveratrol, this probiotic supports collagen IV and anti-inflammatory synthesis activity, which squelches micro-inflammation and supports structural integrity of the skin cells.

Commonly used to treat wounds as an antiseptic and to support skin vascularity, the phenolic compounds present have strong antioxidant activity, anti-inflammatory support, and demonstrate marked antimicrobial activity against bacteria from the respiratory system and intestinal tract.

CoQ10 Coenzyme Q10 and Vitamin E are the only oil-soluble antioxidants naturally present in the epidermis but readily depleted by UV-radiation. CoQ10 has been shown to protect your keratinocyte cells from UV light exposure and your body’s natural defense mechanisms from free radicals.

Great skin care is all about supporting your skin’s ability to perform optimally in the face of UV radiation, pollution, toxins, harsh cleansers, and other irritants. Feed your skin the nutrients it needs for optimal defense! Amy Halman is the President + Formulator for ACURE, a skin, body and hair care line based on scientific nutritional support to enhance the skin’s own ability to regenerate optimally. Clinically proven results without the use of gluten, synthetic preservatives or fragrances. No parabens, sulfates, phthalates, petrochemicals, or animal bi-products.

PHOTO BY Patricia Pena Photography

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Editor's Picks:


hail merry's carmel sea salt macaroons

Can’t. Stop. Eating! Hail Merry’s latest creation, Carmel Sea Salt Macaroons, feed your body royally with melt in your mouth snacks. Women owned and led, Hail Merry is doing wonders for the land of dehydrated snacks and fresh gluten-free desserts, and our tastebuds couldn’t be happier about it. Photo: Jill Broussard

Endangered Species Chocolate Filled Bars

Earth Balance’s Vegan Aged White Cheddar Flavor Puffs

Our whole team is absolutely loving these new Chocolate Filled Bars by Endangered Species! Premium chocolate bars filled with pillows of natural dairy-free crème make for a truly delicious combination. Even better, each bite is layered with a 10% Promise of supporting species, habitat, and humanity.

Earth Balance’s Vegan Aged White Cheddar Flavor Puffs are simply amazing. This gluten-free, vegan snack puff offers full aged white cheddar flavor only using plant-based ingredients. Made with navy beans and non-GMO corn, this mindful munch offers a kick of protein while delivering serious flavor!


Our team described this amazing yogurt as creamy, dreamy and totally spoonable! Made with wholesome soymilk, Silk® is now available in the yogurt section. It has live and active cultures —with absolutely no dairy, lactose, cholesterol, artificial flavors, or colors.

LUVO’s Steel-cut Oatmeal

We couldn’t stop eating LUVO’s Steel-cut Oatmeal. Healthy, easy to prepare, and made from high quality ingredients, they prove that delicious foods made with nutrient-dense ingredients can be affordable, convenient, and easily accessible.

Bob's Red Mill

We simply can’t get enough of Bob's Red Mill minimally processed hot cereals, proving simple pleasures really do exist. Made from healthy whole grains ground to perfection using old-world stone-milling methods, these cereals provide a hot, wholesome and satisfying start to the day.


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Timeless Rules for Healthy Eating Seven Criteria for Food Selection by Dr. Annemarie Colbin

founder Natural Gourmet Institute It seems that everyone has an opinion on what you should eat to be healthy. One scientific study will tell us that supplements are useless, the next that they are essential for optimum health – who do we believe? At Natural Gourmet Institute, we follow these seven simple, timeless criteria for food selection from Dr. Annemarie Colbin’s book Food and Healing:

1. Whole: As nature provides them, with all of their edible parts (grains with their bran and germ, apples with their skin); cooked or raw vegetables and fruits rather than juices or vitamin pills. Whole foods supply all of nature’s nutrients in a team, as well as providing us with the life energy of food.

2. Fresh, Real, Organically Grown: Not artificial, not heavily processed, not irradiated or genetically engineered; free of chemical additives, colorings and preservatives. The foods we choose should be the real thing, full of their life energy, not imitations.

3. Seasonal: To be in harmony with our environment, it is a good idea to choose summery foods in summer and wintery foods in the winter. Fruits and vegetables in season are more affordable and retain their nutrients better than foods that have been transported long distances. They also taste better.

4. Local: Local produce tastes better, costs less, and is more nutritious because it is picked riper and does not lose nutrients in travel.

Curried Apple Squash Bisque from Dr. Annemarie Colbin’s The Natural Gourmet

1 medium onion 1 tbsp unsalted butter or cold-pressed sunflower oil 1 tbsp curry powder 1 butternut squash 2 Granny Smith apples

5. In Harmony with Tradition: We should pay attention to what our ancestors ate and the foods that are indigenous to our local region and incorporate those foods into our diet whenever possible. 6. Balanced: It is important to make sure there is enough protein, carbohydrates, fat, and micronutrients in our diet as a whole. For sensory and aesthetic satisfaction, we also need to include foods with a variety of flavors, colors, and textures.

7. Delicious: There is no point in eating “healthy” food if it doesn’t taste good!

Dr. Annemarie Colbin is the founder of Natural Gourmet Institute (NGI), the international leader in healthsupportive culinary education. Natural Gourmet Institute’s Chef’s Training Program is a comprehensive and professional program that trains students to meet the growing demand for culinary professionals who are able to connect food and health. Natural Gourmet Institute also offers public intensives, hands-on instruction, demonstrations and lectures for the healthy cooking enthusiast.

5 cups light vegetable stock 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice 1 tsp sea salt

1. Chop the onion. In a 3- to 4- quart pot, heat the butter or oil and saute the onion and curry powder over medium heat, until the onion is translucent, about 10 minutes. 2. Meanwhile, peel and seed squash; cut into cubes. Peel and seed one of the apples; cut into cubes. When the onion is done cooking, add the squash, the cubed apple, and the stock to the pot, bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer, covered, for 20 to 30 minutes, or until the squash is tender. Add the salt and correct the seasoning. 3. Puree the soup in a blender. Peel the remaining apple, grate it and toss in the bowl with the lemon juice. Serve hot or cold with the freshly grated apple.

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Editor's Picks:

teas, herbs, supplements...

gaia herbs: turmeric supreme

We’re loving how we feel after using Turmeric Supreme, with Turmeric root that helps to modulate the body’s inflammatory pathways and dual extraction, which delivers the broadest spectrum of herbal constituents. What more could we ask for?

organic india: Organic ghee

yogi tea honey lavender stress relief

After trying Organic India’s Organic Ghee, made with 100% organic butter from grass-fed cows on small family farms in India, we’re sold! Silky smooth and luscious, their ghee is the real deal. With a very long shelf life, ghee has many uses both inside and outside the kitchen. Trust us on this one.

One taste of Yogi Tea’s Honey Lavender Stress Relief™ and we were in heaven. Every Yogi Tea® is made to do more than taste good. Rich in both flavor and healthful purpose, Honey Lavender Stress Relief promotes a sense of relaxation and calm in every cup and we couldn’t feel any better about that.

garden of life: raw fit

We can’t get enough RAW Fit. This USDA Certified Organic, raw, plantbased, vegan high-protein powder has a mild, slightly sweet flavor. It mixes wonderfully with food or beverages and contains clinically studied ingredients that help burn fat, maintain healthy blood sugar, boost energy, lose weight, and look great! What more could our team need?

cleanse more

After incorporating CleanseMORE from ReNew Life—a gentle laxative supplement made from pure ingredients found in nature—into our routine, regularity was comfortably restored. Natural magnesium and a blend of cleansing herbs promote non-cramping, non-urgent, healthy elimination with no harsh or artificial ingredients.


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Our Bodies are

Bombarded with Environmental

Poisons BY F LO R A

We are not separate from our environment In today’s world, the human body has to process more toxic chemicals than ever before. There have been a few studies that have tried to assess the effect environmental pollution could be having on our health. Air pollution from industry and motor vehicles, pesticides in farming, and hazardous chemicals from industry that end up in our soil, water, and food supply have all been linked to cardiovascular and respiratory diseases, endocrine disorders, and cancer. Pollution like this is often worse in the developing world, but a review in the British Medical Bulletin cautioned that Western nations may be worse off in some ways because, “increased reliance on road transport, increased use of chemicals in agriculture, and increased proportions of time spent in modern, hermetically sealed buildings surrounded by chemically-based fabrics and furnishings may actually increase exposures and exacerbate health risks.”

Toxicity doesn’t happen overnight As the levels of pollution and waste increase in our environment, they overwhelm our bodies’ ability to remove them. Wastes are deposited in cells and tissues, where they undermine the body’s ability to function effectively, leading to symptoms like fatigue, headaches, gas and bloating, body odor, constipation, skin irritations and rashes, and sleeplessness. These toxins and wastes sow the seeds of future chronic disease.

Daily detoxification Just as our bodies are bombarded by toxins daily, it is important to realize the detoxification should be part of our daily regimen. Taking simple steps, such as drinking a cup of tea, hydrating properly, eating organic whenever possible, adding probiotics to your diet, and exercising regularly, can enable your immune system to work more efficiently. In addition, these steps support your body's six major elimination processes (kidneys, lungs, liver, bowels and intestines, lymphatic system, and skin) allowing them to do what they were designed to do—eliminate accumulated toxins.

Herbs that heal The elimination process can be further supported by using cleansing and antioxidant herbs as part of a daily ritual of drinking tea. For example, burdock is an antioxidant and cleansing

herb that supports liver function. Sheep sorrel oxygenates tissues and supports immunity. Slippery elm is famous for soothing the digestive tract. Watercress is a heavy metal and hormone detoxifier. Turkish rhubarb normalizes bowel movements and detoxifies the colon. Kelp is a seaweed with minerals for healthy thyroid and immune function. Blessed thistle is a bitter herb that stimulates gastric juices to relieve indigestion. And red clover is a blood purifier that aids elimination of toxins.

A traditional, powerful cellular cleansing tea blend Flor•Essence® is a tea blend from Flora that uses these eight medicinal herbs. These herbs are grown organically and sustainably whenever possible. Unlike other cleanses that are harsh, aggressive, and essentially act like laxatives, Flor•Essence® is a gentle, deep-cleansing tea that detoxifies at the most basic level: your cells. Flor•Essence® ensures that vitality is restored from the most basic elements on upward.

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Grab n’ go bites… raw & vegan cookie balls to get you going! B y g w e n m ar z an o INGREDIENTS: 1 scoop Garden of Life Raw Fit Protein Powder 2 cups unsalted Cashews 1 tbsp. Garden of Life Coconut Oil 10 Medjool Dates, pitted and soaked in water for about 20 minutes ¼ cup dried Cranberries (Apple Juice sweetened if available) ½ cup dried Coconut Flakes 1 tsp. cinnamon Makes: 16-18 cookie balls

Preparation: In a bowl, combine coconut flakes and cinnamon and set aside. Place RAW Fit and cashews in food processor using the “s” blade. Process until well mixed, resembling a flour-like consistency. Remove dates from water. Add dates and cranberries to mixture in food processor and pulse until everything begins to stick (about 20 pulses). Roll cookie balls and coat in coconut flake/cinnamon mixture. Refrigerate to harden the texture of the cookies. Cookies last 10-14 days in refrigerator or 2 months in freezer.

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Balancing Act: Being Here, Now. By TARA STILES

When you are balancing perfectly in a tree pose, everything is easy; your breath is deep and relaxed, and your muscles are working for you just as you'd like. It's pure and simple. Efficient. When you are having a great day, the same things occur. Your breathing is relaxed, your body is working harmoniously with your mind; everything just feels easier because you are in a state of balance. //


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Each exhale allows us to let go of the moment that has just passed. Our attention to each breath keeps us in the now.


There is a big lesson in experiencing uncertainty and calamity with a sober focus— the most chaotic moments are the ones from which we can learn the most.

Why is balance important? From a life lesson standpoint, it's about learning to enjoy yourself without getting the ego involved. Say you're doing a headstand. The moment you think to yourself, "Wow, I'm doing this pose!" is usually the moment you'll topple out of it. You take yourself out of the moment and knock yourself off balance when you judge and think about what you are doing, rather than experiencing and enjoying what you are doing. That's what yoga teaches: how to be fully present now, no matter the circumstance. We focus on breathing because each inhale creates more space in our bodies. We focus on movement, as each movement reminds us that every moment invites a new opportunity for change. Each exhale allows us to let go of the moment that has just passed. Our attention to each breath keeps us in the now. Learning to savor the moment keeps us from living in constant worry and fear and tension over things that haven't happened yet and may never come to pass. Practicing yoga helps us to undo these bad mental habits and stress triggers that we often unknowingly pick up along the way. But you might be asking, "What if the now is crappy? How can living in the moment help with that?" When your life is not in balance and you're struggling to achieve stability, practicing observation without judgment gets really interesting and very useful. How? Because you can learn to distance yourself from the roller coaster ride of your emotions and circumstances but still enjoy the ride of life. External means of escape like alcohol, drug use, and even overeating are a means of pushing uncertainty away and covering it

up temporarily. And they may feel comforting for a moment, but I don't need to tell you that eventually they will cause more trouble than they ever solve. There is a big lesson in experiencing uncertainty and calamity with a sober focus—the most chaotic moments are the ones from which we can learn the most. Let's go back to tree pose. Your tree pose is going crazy and you're falling; and your leg is burning; and it feels impossible to maintain any sort of stability practice observing what's happening instead of getting wrapped up in the circumstance. If you can learn to be easy with your breath in these moments, your body and mind will follow. All the body's systems and processes—your nerves, your emotions—take instruction from what is going on with your breath. When your breathing is easy and deep, your body works efficiently and your mind settles. That doesn't mean that your balance (in tree pose or anywhere else) will be perfect and your life will be seamless, but you'll be better equipped to deal with the wobbles and earthquakes that get thrown into the mix. You can fall out of a tree pose with ease or with frustration and a sense of defeat. Just like you can take a spill in your life and decide to dust yourself off—with a chuckle or an annoyed grunt—and get back up, or you can stay down, lie there, and give up. It's entirely up to you. It's your life and your practice. And as I said before, what you practice on the mat is what you end up doing in your life. Any of the yoga poses could be substituted in this analogy. How you practice is much more meaningful than what yoga moves you can or cannot do. A successful tree pose probably won't change your life. Learning how to keep your breath easy, long, and deep no matter what the circumstance? That absolutely will. //

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Trusting our process By bryan kest


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There are certain yoga laws and principles that are, shall we say, less tangible than others. For example, the law of karma. Science has proven what goes up must come down, but that’s about as far as it’s gone. To believe that for every action, word, and thought, there is an equal consequence takes something more intuitive, more personal; it’s more metaphysical. Karma actually is not what I want to discuss here though. What I want to communicate is another concept which I find easy to grasp, yet I don’t know if you will. This is the concept that every experience we have is necessary and perfect. In other words, everything is perfect. Have you ever noticed the perfection of nature - the seasons and how one changes into the next, the falling leaves, composting soil, rains, new seedlings, sunshine, growth, blossoms, etc? Grass grows, deer eats grass, lion eats deer, deer population is stabilized so there is grass for other animals; sunrise and sunset, boy and girl, winter and summer. Unwittingly, every event and every microorganism—insect, fish, bird, animal, etc.—is playing a role that maintains a perfect balance to our ecosystem, which also includes our atmosphere. Have you ever considered that we, you and I, are also a part of that? Just as the seasons change and the honey bees pollinate the planet and make honey, we are also doing exactly what we are supposed to be doing. We also are a part of nature, certainly not separate from nature. Exactly like everything around us, we are made of the same elements of this earth and are totally dependent on this earth for our sustenance. We are creatures on this planet that have the capacity of self-awareness, playing out our role just the same as all else. Just because we can think does not mean we are separate from everything. From inanimate object, to microorganism, to plant, to insect, to animal, to human, there is an evolving level of intelligence. Because we are not separate and we are a strand in the web of this existence, there is nothing about us—which includes who we are and what we do—that is not happening perfectly.

lam, or indigenous beliefs, or pollution, crime, war, Bush, etc. When this understanding grows, we realize where we’re at now is just as perfect as wherever we could possibly get to. As a matter of fact, wherever I get to is a direct result of where I’m at now, which makes where I’m at now equally important. Everything is unfolding perfectly. As this perfection unfolds, I learn and grow and become all I’m becoming. See, one thing I have learned in my 46 years on this planet is that the greatest opportunity for growth and understanding comes through the challenges that we encounter. Without challenges, there would be no opportunity to evolve. The only reason that we humans and all creatures have made it thus far is because of the lessons learned consciously and unconsciously through the challenges we have been through. Without challenges, we would literally wither and die (which also would be perfect). So, when we start understanding that all challenges are really opportunities to learn and grow and become all that we are becoming, which is all being guided by nature and her desire to maintain perfect balance, then what could be wrong? If there is nothing wrong, then the burden of humanity has been lifted from my shoulders and I’m free to be me—to play, to cry, to laugh, to work, to explore, to serve, to unfold and grow. There is nowhere pressing to get to because there is absolutely nothing wrong with where I am. There is nothing wrong with what he said or she said or they did, even though it does not feel good. No reason to get angry at anybody for slapping you literally or figuratively. It’s just nature unfolding perfectly and obviously that slap is part of my process that is shaping me as I become all I’m becoming. I’m sure this understanding will be a big help to us in our yoga practice and also as teachers. More than anything though, it will affect the way we look at everything in our life, which affects how we respond to things. Hopefully, we can see the positive spin this puts on all events and experiences. Everything becomes an opportunity to evolve and grow. Everything is natural and nature is the whole of everything of which I am apart of and so are you.

"This is not a theory of passivity—it is one of acceptance and activity."

Even if we are destroying this planet, we are playing our role perfectly. If we do destroy most life on this planet, science says it won’t be the first time. Natural events have completely destroyed this planet on numerous occasions in the past, and, just like them, we are a natural event destroying this planet. I am not saying we have to like it or we should not attempt to veer off this path that this consumption beast we call humankind is on. I’m just saying there is nothing that exists that is not existing perfectly, which includes every thought we have, every word we speak, and every action we commit. Therefore, there is nothing wrong with me, with you, with them. There is no reason to not trust your process, no reason to get frustrated, no reason to criticize, or judge others, nothing wrong with getting old, or not being able to get pregnant, or being handicapped, or being short, or tall, or gay, or injured, or divorced, or married to an idiot, or with Christianity or Judaism or Is-

Please don’t misunderstand what I am suggesting here. This is not a theory of passivity—it is one of acceptance and activity. Simply because everything is perfect does not imply there is nothing to be done. Actually, it is pretty much the opposite. There is everything to be done. If all is happening perfectly then all that we are feeling is also perfect, which means if there is something happening that feels like it needs to be changed, then change it. If it feels right to recycle our waste, or purchase solar panels for our house, or rescue an animal, or adopt a child, or stop someone from hurting another, or donate our time, money, or goods to charity, then do it. We are acting on our desire; there is nothing wrong. Just remember if it does not pan out, if our desires go unfulfilled, it’s perfect! If we want to try again, then try again. The point is, we have free will to act and accomplish along with the peace of knowing whatever happens is what needs to happen in order for nature to fulfill its destiny, which we are part of. Isn’t there an old Christian prayer that goes something like, “God, grant me the power to change what I can change and the ability to accept what I cannot?”

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IT’S A WAY OF LIFE. Mar l e n Es par z a


he minute that statement became a reality is when I knew this is who I was, and this is the life I wanted. Boxing is much more than just a sport. For me, it’s a sense of serenity - a way to let all my emotions and thoughts drift and a way to truly develop myself as a person.

This lifestyle has not only helped me mature mentally, but it also has a huge effect on my health. It has taught me to be very conscious of what I put in my body and how to properly train my body. Your body is only as strong as you make it and boxing is a great way to keep up with all the core nutritional values and daily exercise to keep the body healthy. With all the health problems today like obesity, diabetes, and heart disease, it’s a blessing to be able to have this lifestyle. Now, it has become second nature to watch what I eat and prioritize exercising even when I’m not competing. Sometimes you get to that point when you feel like your body is going to collapse, but that extra 10 percent is the difference between good and great. The whole concept of a sport is to prove you have what it takes to pull through when it matters. I remember when I first started boxing; I had to beg my dad to let me try and after that I had to beg my trainer to train me. I started when I was 11 years old because my dad was a huge boxing fan, and I grew up around it.

I was the only one who believed I could make it in boxing, but instead of succumbing to everyone around me, I used that as motivation to pursue what I wanted. Once I started, no one could get me out of the gym. The gym is my home away from home. Everyone finds their outlet, whether it be music or going out, but mine is boxing. My decision to continue boxing has helped me in so many ways. It has given me a strong body as well as a strong mind. Remember, “If no one thinks you can, then you have to.” Boxing gave me that mindset inside and outside the ring.

Marlen Esparza is America’s first female medalist in Olympic boxing (Bronze, 2012) and currently trains at the U.S. Olympic Center in Colorado Springs in preparation for the 2016 games. Ranked #1 in the U. S., she is the reigning seven-time USA Boxing National Champion. Marlen recently released her first workout DVD, Power Boxing Workout, which features four high-intensity, total-body workouts.


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get powerful hips BY Laura C isn e r o s

Hunker Down! Bring the big boys (or girls) on line! Your glute complex is your largest most powerful muscle group. Once these puppies are fired up, hit them with some serious targeted strength work designed to teach those muscles to fire, fire sequentially, and fire well! This is a special kind of evil and walks can be done with band above either of the lower leg joints. Key points: With bands below the knee joint or above the ankle joint, maintaining tension, with stable, braced posture, commence walking forward such that there is no slack in the resistance walking heel to toe. Reverse walking toe to heel. When traveling sideways, maintain dorsiflexion and keep the heels and toes on the same parallel lines, and step out. Remember, maintain tension. 4X14 (Four sets of 14 each directions) Monster Walks: Forward-Backward, Left-Right Ladder Walks

Recently, I read a really simple but insightful bit from a blog. The piece was about saying “No.” The thing that hit me was the language of saying, “No, I can’t,” versus, “NO, I don’t.” This is a subtle but potent distinction. “I don’t,” has conviction and authority. So, here at the start of the New Year, I think we can all use a workout to stimulate the body with some authority and conviction to do what you need to do! And there is no better area to target then the power producing, mountain pose standing, chakra heating hips! TUNE IN!

Agility Training with ladder drills Warm your brain and your body with some ladder agility drills. A neurological, muscular freak show, ladder drills demand presence. You cannot be anywhere else when running through hopscotch drills, skaters, or hesitation drills. The point of the drills is to bring the nervous system, brain, and body together for the purpose of efficient and directed movement. Check out for their complete line of agility training equipment and instruction.

LOAD and Explode! Wall ball This is a beautiful movement and, when not overloaded, it can burn essential squat mechanics. Key points: select a medicine ball, soft touch, at a weight appropriate to your skill level. (This can vary from 6-14lbs for women and 10-20lbs for men.) What’s critical here is that the load is sufficient enough to load the glute complex, the core, and the shoulder girdle, but no so much that you lose the ability to produce power. With elbows back and chest high, hold the medicine ball to your sternum and squat as your scapulas retract. From the lowest position, push through the ground with your heels, accelerate through your hips, and thrust the ball vertically with full release and triple extension (toes pointed, hips open, arms extended). Catch and Repeat. 3 sets x 15

Key points: Stay loose; react to the ground like it is on fire! Be quick. When you lose the pattern, try to calmly get back on track. KEEP MOVING! 3 sets of 4 Drills · High Knees · Hopscotch · Skaters or Cha Cha · Hesitation

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kikkan randall, kashi ambassador

“Looking back on how I prepared for previous competitions, it’s amazing how my eating habits have evolved and become more progressive. I’ve learned from experience that you can’t out-train bad nutrition, and I hope to inspire others to fuel up with delicious, real food as they pursue the things they love.”

Photo: Sarah Brunson/U.S. Ski Team





The experience I’ve had growing up with my brother has given me an insight into life that I don’t think I would have gained if it weren’t for witnessing the challenges of my brother’s life.

I, the older, athletic sibling, had all the advantages and whatever I desired. He, on the other hand, struggled for survival. My brother, Tysen, was an emergency c- section. As a result of complications during his birth, he ended up being diagnosed with epilepsy and spastic quadriplegic cerebral palsy, which meant that he will never have normal use of his arms and legs and will always be confined to a wheelchair. Because of the effects of cerebral palsy, he is also unable to speak. He is totally dependent on someone for all his care. Tysen attended nearly all of my sporting events that I participated in. I knew that he wanted to be out there with me so badly. It hurt me deeply that with his disabilities he wasn’t able to feel the thrill of athletic participation. I eventually found something we could do together and signed us up for a 5K run where I would push him in his wheelchair. There it was - something that he could be a part of. He was so happy. Our first run was in 2008. Since then, we have participated in over twenty 5K races, 10K races, and half marathons together, calling ourselves “Team Lucas.”

In doing so, a whole new world of possibilities has opened up for a severely disabled young man who once just sat in his wheelchair, watching his brother doing what he wished he could. We also have become Ambassadors for Superhero Events.

Our Future: I would like to start a non-profit to help other people like us. Our Goal: I would like to inspire people to believe that no matter what your life challenges are, there is a way to “Live Above Adversity!”

Please help sponsor Team Lucas by visiting our Facebook page:

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The Nobility of Silence (or how I learned to shut the &!$*# up)



As a therapist, yoga teacher, and leader, I spend most days in dialogue­. The quiet moments I get to myself I often spend “catching up.” Emails, articles, blog, and program design are certainly far from quiet in my head. While I do meditate, I don’t do silence for long periods of time. As a mind/body specialist, I know that nonverbal communication is powerful. It encompasses more than two thirds of the way we communicate. I had, however, forgotten how powerful and bonding the experience of communal silence can be. I was reminded last fall when I attended a long weekend retreat with my beloved Buddhist teacher Pema Chodron.

What kind of teacher and therapist had I become? A well-intentioned, slightly off my own path do-gooder or, realistically, one that was about to crack? When we wear the badge of “I can do it all” and are reinforced for being busy (read: productive), the simple state of being might not seem so sexy. What did you do all weekend?


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I practiced Noble Silence…ummmm (radio silence). Noble Silence is a way to listen without the distraction of storylines that get in the way of who we actually are and, traditionally, begins with a vow to keep silent for a specific period of time. I wasn’t thrilled to be at the long awaited weekend to study with Pema only to be told we will be practicing Noble Silence for 24 hours! Wouldn’t it be nice to discuss all this learning with this like-minded and conscious community?

Connection, community, and belonging are possible, even in silence ­– perhaps more deeply because of silence.

What would I be missing?

them. We peered at one another and they continued to eat. I had never been so close to deer.

I wanted to honor my commitment to the community vow of Noble Silence, but I hadn’t met my cabin mate yet when we were given the instruction. What if my cabin mate wasn’t as serious about our common oath and considered me rude? Would this Noble Silence be more like awkward silence?

This final encounter was the moment that convinced me of what was already percolating inside. Connection, community, and belonging are possible, even in silence - perhaps more deeply because of silence. We can feel connected to people without knowing everything about them.

It turned out to be perfect. The entire retreat campus was calm and serene. I enjoyed wordless meals surrounded by hundreds of shuffling feet, clanging forks, and mindful bites.

We can grow and strengthen community just by being in each other’s presence and we can nurture a deep sense of belonging beyond the borders and boundaries of affiliation – even between species.

I was sad when the silence was over. Dinner following our full day of silence was a blur of boisterous chatter. It was difficult to find a place to sit. People lingered longer, indulging in the opportunity to socialize. My cabin mate and I got to get to know each other. She was great – it’s a Buddhist thing. Truly, I haven’t met a whole lot of Buddhist assholes – just saying. What was more awesome is that she thought I was in my early 20’s. When she learned I was married with children and have my own business, she had to ask my age (I’m *gasp 40). Maybe I should stay silent more often *wink.

I came home with a greater sense of calm. I am not saying I am going to run off to an extended silent retreat anytime real soon, but I am committed to saying less and simply being more for now.

On my last day, I hiked the grounds in my own Noble Silence. I encountered a couple of deer at the end of my hike. My presence didn’t startle

Meet me next September 26-28 at Omega Institute for Pema’s workshop on Basic Goodness.

Jill Wheeler, M.A., LPC, Therapist, Life Coach, Leadership Consultant, Writer, Yoga/SUPyoga Instructor, Adventurer, Athlete, lululemon Ambassador. Kitesurfs, Climbs, Breathes…Owner of the Wellfit Institute,

Photos: Erik Kellar

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tiny shorts trauma bonds


It may help to remember that in the cosmic design, pain is neutral. In the physical world, pain motivates us negatively, while pleasure motivates us positively. True freedom is letting go of our attachment to both.

A Conversation with Briohny Smyth B y andr e a m arcu m

If you’ve not seen Briohny Kate Smyth’s Equinox video yet, it’s likely you’re also still using a rotary phone. At nearly seven million views, it’s been the talk of Yogatown and beyond since its release. Yes, her scantily clad, gravity-defying handstands are impressive, but Briohny has defied even more impressive elements in her young life.

By age fourteen, she was hospitalized for an ulcer brought on by excessive partying and a debilitating eating disorder. Things were spinning out of control for Bri, “The crazier it got, the more concert tickets I sold because the crazier I’d do a show, and that sold.” A second hospitalization had Bri’s mom instigating a trip to Nepal and India to get her away from it all. It was there that Bri found yoga.

Born in Australia, Bri moved to L.A. and found her way onto the pageant circuit at age six. An angry Miss Pre-Teen California was then relocated to her mother’s native Thailand when she was in the fifth grade. Modeling replaced pageants, and her Biore commercial caught the eye of Thailand’s biggest record label. Eight months later, her first album was released, and she was on her way to pop stardom.

Overeaters Anonymous and yoga would see her through her ups and downs in the years to come. Then, at twenty-one, Bri got out of the Thai entertainment business and out of the clutches of her bulimia when she got pregnant with her daughter. She moved back to the States, where she began to teach yoga.


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When I first did the video, I didn’t think much about it. Then, I made the mistake of reading Youtube comments. But I realized, I’ve been through this before.

Andrea Marcum: When the video went viral, did that kick up some of the Thai pop star dust and have you concerned, or did it confirm to you that you’d done the work and could handle it? Briohny Kate Smyth: A little bit of both. When I first did the video, I didn’t think much about it. Then, I made the mistake of reading Youtube comments. But I realized, I’ve been through this before. I need to be myself and try to have compassion for where other people are coming from, even when it’s hurtful. The opportunity to inspire other people when the spotlight is on you is there, so that’s where I put my focus. AM: Has the enormity of the video had an impact on the intimacy of your classroom? BKS: There’s even more camaraderie because we’ve been through something together. We have a “trauma bond” on a very mild level. AM: But no one expects you to show up in your underwear, right? BKS: What’s funny is that when companies send me clothes, which I’m very thankful for, they send me tiny shorts and bras. I never teach or practice in that. AM: There’s a lot of talk about the video being empowering. What aspect of it is most empowering for you? BKS: It’s basically that after years of body issues, I always struggled with how I looked. I even had someone suggest that I get a surgery to put extra plates in my knees to make me taller. AM: Certainly, getting comfortable in our skin is tough, but to me what’s empowering is what you’ve endured, not just as a young pop star, but later as a single mom, a music producer, and a fashion entrepreneur and that you’re so humble about it. When I spoke to Judith Lasater, she asked, “Why are we doing all these handstands and arm balances, unless our lives are shaped and changed?” BKS: I love arm balances and inversions because I feel so strong. It’s not your ego saying, “Yes, I can do this so everyone else can suck it.” It’s, “Yes, I can do this. I’m filling my heart with confidence. I feel good about myself.” One teacher whom I admire, who’s been very successful at marrying her passion for inversions with how they represent struggles and obstacles in life is Kathryn Budig. She inspires me. If I can inspire people through arm balances and inversions, I am happy to. Those things, no matter how petty they might seem, changed my life. They made me want to dedicate my life to yoga. They make me more and more present every day. Another way in which yoga has turned Bri’s life upside down is that it introduced her to her husband, Dice Ida Klein (aka “the guy in the bed in her video”) and they have recently welcomed their son Syd. After all she has been through, Bri has landed in a happy household, and evidently, in an abundance of tiny shorts and bras.

Andrea Marcum //

PHOTOS: David Young-Wolff

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The Benefits of Suspension Yoga b y OM G y m

Suspension Yoga emerged in 2005 as a playful enhancement of Hatha Yoga. Inspired by Iyengar’s therapeutic use of ropes and props, with Shiva Rea’s fluid approach to asana, and Cirque du Soleil’s aerial expressions of physical freedom, this rapidly blossoming practice is a must-try for the modern yogi. Suspension Yoga is performed on uniquely designed suspension systems. They are made of parachute material and include a cushioned yoga sling with 6 multi-tiered handles to help leverage the force of gravity as you move. The mobility of the equipment invites you to explore each asana in a multi-directional manner, easily shifting your postural orientation and weight distribution. The practice immediately enlivens as asanas are dynamically performed both on and off the ground. With your weight comfortably supported, you are able to use gravity to the body’s advantage in order to constructively adjust, modify, and delightfully enhance each pose. The benefits of yoga are rapidly cultivated when suspension is introduced. The spinal column is tractioned in almost every pose, especially in hanging inversion. The application of spinal/disc decompression offers added sophistication in a yoga practice because the decompressive force can be skillfully applied to back bends, forward bends, lateral bends, and twists throughout a class. For many, this can eradicate pain-causing nerve impingements and greatly reduce unnecessary strain on the joints. Additionally, when the muscles around the vertebrae have the opportunity to exercise and strengthen in an anatomically corrective fashion, individuals will likely see improvements in tension relief, posture, and body height. When oscillation or a swaying effect is subsequently introduced, there is a massage-like effect experienced throughout the internal body, including the organs and connective tissue. The gentle, rhythmic pulsation within each asana encourages blood to suffuse even deep ischemic tissue, where blood-flow is least present. The boosted hemodynamics offers accelerated health and healing to the affected areas. Strategically combined

bodyweight-support and directed oscillation makes expansion and deepening within the pose feel inviting and often effortless. Throughout a Suspension Yoga class, students are naturally inspired to attempt poses that might otherwise be, or appear to be, impossible. This induces newly coordinated movement that is performed in an empowering and joyful fashion. Science has demonstrated that learning new motor skills enhances neural connections in the brain, leading to more efficient processing of neuromuscular information. The result is a cerebral re-wiring in which the practitioner’s relationship with the body’s overall ability is naturally boosted, leading to feelings of greater aptitude and confidence, on both conscious and subconscious levels.

The benefits of Suspension Yoga are felt almost immediately. Classes encompass an ample variety of grounded and flying asana, with easy-to-perform inversions that have a profound impact on most, due to their wellknown rejuvenating and mentally stimulating effects. The magic happens, however, when the feeling of complete release and lightness brings all of your attention to the joy of the now.

Sarah Kellett, E-RYT-500 is the developer of Suspension Yoga and has personally immersed herself in a healing journey using Suspension Yoga techniques. She now works to help others to receive the great benefits that she has, through the offerings of OmGym International. Learn more about Suspension Yoga at Copyright 2013 OmGym International LLC

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Impermanence makes everyone

vulnerable because we know that this whole thing is crumbling.

interview with


Maranda Pleasant: What is at the very heart of your work and what you do?

Richard Freeman: The heart of my work is freedom. Freedom for myself and others. Because if others aren’t free, I’m not free. I feel free. MP: What do you do with pain, when pain comes in?

RF: You kind of hold it. When pain arises, you hold it. Say, if you had a child who was crying, you just hold them. With pain, you just hold it in the space of your awareness, so the awareness is both intelligent and compassionate. You’re holding pain. But if you turn away from it or reject it, it’ll come back. Guaranteed. It’ll come back in a way that can’t be rejected. The ability to deal with what most people would think were the unpleasant states of suffering is really the key to yoga practice. And when people finally get around to that, then the yoga really starts to work. MP: What is it that sustains you when everything else falls away?

RF: I’m sustained by other practitioners. Others. The traditions. The tradition of the traditions. And then whatever practice I’ve done, it has a residue. Just the samskaras of that are really helpful in difficult times, when I’m not around others. It’s just the practice of returning to raw mindfulness. Mindful-


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ness of breath, if there’s breath there, but we know that won’t last. So, it’s just that kind of gravity of that state. MP: What is it that makes you the most vulnerable?

RF: Impermanence. [laughing] Impermanence makes everyone vulnerable because we know that this whole thing is crumbling. So, whatever it is that we’re riding on that is our prop is going to dissolve eventually. And that’s the nature of impermanence. So facing that right away, rather than waiting until the time of death, is pretty much what the path is. MP: Why do you want to wake up in the morning? Besides coffee?

RF: That was my first choice, coffee. That’s my reward for getting up. [laughing] It’s the ongoing mystery. The life of the mind, navigating in the world — you can never quite figure it out. But it certainly is an interesting project. I like to wake up to just the simple, raw things: breathing, perception, the fact that the most astonishing, the most immediate things are the most incomprehensible.

MP: Besides that!

RF: I’ve become impatient. And impatience isn’t necessarily bad, but I want people to understand. It’s very rare that anyone understands. They don’t even understand that they don’t even understand. I’ve become rather impatient. Usually, if I am mindful of my own impatience, then I say, “Well, of course people don’t understand because that would be too miraculous!” But everybody understands a little bit. That’s the thing. It’s not an either/or thing. Most people are semi-brilliant. And it’s kind of just cultivating that semi-brilliance that’s already there in people. The mind would like to look at it [like], “Everyone is so hopeless, I give up!” But so many people, particularly in the yoga world, they’re like 95% on fire. They’ve got it. And it’s this little fine-tuning, paying closer attention, that’s going to bring it to fruition. That’s actually pretty exciting, to get the more compassionate view of the current yoga world. But I do go through periods [when] I’m astonished or aghast. It seems [like], “Oh my god, this is hopeless.” MP: We should not be hanging out because I would drive you crazy.

RF: Yeah. MP: Last question: what is it that you’ve struggled with the most?

RF: Besides ego?

MP: [laughing] He agrees!




Is there something regarding your body that you would like to change? Perhaps you are experiencing pain. Perhaps you are dealing with disease. Or maybe you would simply like to have more of an overall sense of wellness. What if healing was possible? What if change was possible and what if it could be easy?

Most of us are not taught about our bodies. We learn the basics in school about how bodies function, but little information is given about actually having a connection with our body. Typically, when something is off with our bodies, we look for the answer – the right answer. We read books and gather information. Based on this information, we try various things - diets, herbs, and healing modalities, to mention a few. We can spend a lot of time and money and often experience little, if any, results. Would you be willing to consider a slightly different perspective? What if your body knows what it requires? What if your body knows what it would take to create the change and the healing you are seeking? What if you began to talk to your body and ask it questions? Ask it to heal. Ask if there is a food, vitamin, etc. that would contribute to it.

Here’s a tip: Ask your body about everything that concerns it. Body, what would you like to wear? What would you like to eat? What would be fun for you? What kind of movement would you like to do (exercise?) Who would you like to have sex with? Here’s how this works. Let’s take clothes as an example. You walk into your closet. You

ask your body, “What would you like to wear today?” Something stands out. Go with that. When people begin to communicate with their bodies, the results are phenomenal. A lady wanted to lose weight. She had tried diet after diet with little success. She began to communicate with her body and to ask it questions. She said, “Body, we could stand to lose some weight. What do you require for this to happen?” Shortly after, she was walking in the park. She overheard some people talking about a particular diet. Her body was like, “Oh yeah! That’s what I’m talking about!” She literally leaped over a park bench to get to the people and asked about this diet. She went on the diet and quickly obtained her desired weight. Communion with your body is something you develop. Asking your body about everything that concerns it is extremely simple, but it’s as dynamic a change as learning a brand new language. It’s learning your body’s language. You ask a question with words. Your body responds with energy. As you continue to ask, you begin to know the language of your body and what it’s saying becomes clear. I invite you to play with asking your body questions and see what miracles you and your body can create!

Dr Dain Heer is an international speaker, advanced facilitator of Access Consciousness, and author of nine books – his latest Being You Changing the World has been translated into four languages.

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We constantly hear: “Life is lived in the moment.” Time is infinite there. We hear, too, that yoga brings us to the moment. Holding poses and feeling their discomfort trains our attenti strong, “If it’s in your family, it’s comin’ outta your horn.”

forgiveness journal. This brightened and balanced my energy, but made the clogs in my family pipes almost nauseatingly hard to bear. I was at a tipping point.

If you can build clear emotional structure in family, you can probably build it anywhere. Last month, I was tired of lying. I was sick of the half-truth of my identity with my brother and mother. I saw myself as a coward for living in silence around issues that required redress.

I confronted my brother first. Sitting in front of an NBA game with him, the moment buzzed. I could feel the new me in the vacuum of the next moment. The feeling of my mouth opening and saying the difficult thing felt like the edge of space. When I crossed that line and spoke to him, I made a new me.

Visualizing myself confronting these issues felt adult and alive. The three months before this visit, I had done a daily gratitude and

In the next hour, I did the same thing with my mother. I said things to her that had roiled me for 30 years. Perhaps because of

the preparatory journaling work, there was no shouting, denials, or counter-accusations. That conversation, too, was preceded by a fine sensitivity of the hairline between future and past. I hesitated less the second time. I’d improved my “yoga of family.” Modern yoga is a social form. Pre-modern yoga was solitary. Great Eastern teachers often tell us that - for modern folk - energy gets most stuck in relationships. Our enlightenment is stalled there. A swami once said, “Enlightenment is as easy as stepping off the limb of a tree.” I got that experience from my last visit home. The muscles of yoga got me to leap.

Eric Shaw, MA.RS, MA.SE, MA.AS, E-RYT 500, has spent 28 years studying and practicing the Eastern traditions and is devoted to freshly interpreting them for modern yogis. He is the creator of Prasana Yoga’s Alignment in Movement system and the teaching programs of Yoga Education Through Imagery. His writings and worldwide teaching schedule can be seen at


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PHOTOs: Jack Gesheidt,



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HOLISTIC HEALING: 3 natural ways to treat degenerative disc disease BY Brian H y m an In 2010, I suffered from intense pain in my lower back. I was unable to sleep, stand, walk, or sit without extreme discomfort. An orthopedic surgeon soon told me that I had Degenerative Disc Disease and arthritis. He said I needed to strengthen my core to support the affected areas if I wished to alleviate the pain. I strengthened my core as directed. I felt stronger, yet I still experienced pain. I wanted to be pain-free. I decided to treat the pain from a holistic perspective. I realized that healing is not only physical, but mental, emotional, and spiritual as well. I realized that healing is a thought, feeling, and state of being that comes from within. I read articles about natural ways to heal the body. I researched mantras. I read about the power of manifestation and positive thinking. I studied materials from yoga teacher training programs that I had completed. I got quiet. I meditated. I prayed. I chanted. I visualized a pain-free life. I wrote down what I wanted. I asked the universe to support my efforts. I committed to my healing. I then asked my body what it needed to heal. I listened for a response. Yoga, Ayurveda, and mindful walking were the answers that I heard. Brian Hyman is the creator of 12-Step Yoga. He is a yoga ambassador for lululemon and Manduka. He is currently writing a book about his path to wellness. More info:

The following suggestions are based on my personal experience as a yoga teacher and student.


YOGA – Locust and cobra poses strengthened my piriformis and psoas muscles. Crow and garland poses broadened my sacrum and created space in the lumbar region of my spine. Arm and leg extensions strengthened my abductor/adductor muscles and rectus/transverse abdominis. Bridge pose created length near my tailbone and space between the L-4/L-5 vertebrae. Shoulder stand took weight and pressure off my spine. Standing poses strengthened my legs, pelvis, and hips. Arm balances created upper body strength, which alleviated pressure from my back.


AYURVEDA – I changed my eating habits as outlined by this ancient life science. I removed inflammatory foods and liquids from my diet. I stopped ingesting stimulants. I stopped eating processed foods. I modified my diet to include healthy, colorful, natural, plant-based, organic, antiinflammatory, vegetarian, and raw foods appropriate to my dosha, or body type.


MINDFUL WALKING – When I examined how I walked, I noticed that the outer heel edges of my sneakers were worn out. I realized that my body weight was being improperly distributed into my lower back instead of my legs. I then trained myself to walk on all four corners of my feet. I went to a local park every afternoon. I connected my breath with each step. I mindfully set down all four corners of my feet with each step. My body weight was soon rightly supported by my legs instead of my lower back.

Photos: Tai Kerbs

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Yet another fabulous shoe from Olukai! Their Heleuma Canvas shoes, with naturally inspired color and style, feature a versatile Drop-In Heel™ for shoe or slide functionality, a moccasin hand-stitched toe, and seersucker inspired lining.

1.// 2. olukai's nohea perf We totally dig Olukai’s Nohea Perf. A breathable, slip-on that provides an all-day versatile silhouette, these shoes feature a Drop-In Heel™ for shoe or slide functionality, a moccasin hand-stitched toe, and perforations for incredible breathability.



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5. vivobarefoot's trail freak



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We love Vivobarefoot’s Trail Freak, which has an optimized barefoot feeling, structure, and breathability. The Trail Freak’s duo3M mesh and laminated structure gives a comfortable and secure ‘second skin’ fit. Our shoes and our feet moved as one, no matter what nature threw at them.

Editor's Picks:

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ahnu's serena

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nisolo: bolivar wedge

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juil: The Flat in Ocean

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Look At Her All You Want BY K ELLY MO R R I S


On a recent date in the industrial barrio that is Red Hook, NY an interesting demonstration occurred. My date is tall, handsome, and mysterious. The chemistry between us is reasonable if not earth shattering and as we pick off two seats, we congratulate ourselves on our outstanding bar stool karma.

A few minutes into the Bordeaux and stinky cheese a glitch occurs in a political back and forth and our conversation falters to a graceless halt. My date’s face is slowly going red and I ask what’s wrong but mystery precludes explanation and in dreadful silence we sit, examining our glasses, and feigning interest in passing entrees held aloft by grimy, bow-tied waiters.

‘Darwinian studies suggest that the only thing that neutralizes male aggression is female solidarity.’

Meanwhile, a young, attractive woman searches for a seat beside me, I smile at her moving my bag out of the way and return to the silent man next to me. I watch as he slowly, dramatically shifts his gaze to a spot beyond my head. I turn to the young woman and begin polite conversation. She looks into my eyes, her green meeting my blue and it’s a sacred place we create, off-the-grid and foreign but the place where I want all women to meet


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and join hands. In our long gaze, a silent understanding arises. She gets up, ignoring my date’s steady gaze, picks up her things and leaves. Not before we each murmur, ‘So nice to meet you,’ and embrace. The entire exchange took less than 30 seconds and then I too am out the dented, metal door and into the dark night. The tagline for my LionHyde clothing collection is ‘Darwinian studies suggest that the only thing that neutralizes male aggression is female solidarity.’ For a certain kind of man, flirting with a woman other than the woman in front of him is a fast, efficient way to engender amnesia that it was him that began the awful downward spiral. Make two women hate each other and they forget the catalyst. Neat hat trick.

Ladies, it was once a thriving matriarchy around here and everywhere. What do you think happened, exactly?

Kelly Morris, founder of the renowned Conquering Lion Yoga Teacher Training in New York City, is loved by celebrities, beginners and advanced students alike. She was named in New York Magazine’s “Best Of” list for three years in a row. The New York Times and Yoga Journal called her “one of NYC’s foremost teachers.”

Editor's Picks:

clothes we love


1. prana perla top We simply can’t get enough of Prana’s Perla Top. New to their Spring/Summer 2014 collection, it’s made with Chakara performance material and jacquard knit. This amazing top is Bluesign approved, quick drying, moisture wicking, and comfortable enough for a variety of activities.

2. prana clover capri


We’re thanking our lucky stars that Prana brought the Clover Capri into their Spring/ Summer 2014 line. Made with Chakara performance material, this pant features a gusset for added comfort and a back zipper pocket at the waist. Bluesign approved, quick drying, and made with comfortable stretch materials, what more could we ask for?

3. yoga heart tri-blend hoodIE by om shanti clothing



We heart Om Shanti Clothing's new long sleeve Tri-Blend hoodie. With a beautiful Yoga Heart design and soft and comfortable cotton/ rayon/poly material, none of us want to take it off.

4. organic skinny leggings & vinyasa sports bra by yogiiza These forest green and pink Organic Skinny Leggings and Vinyasa Sports Bra by YOGiiZA™ are not only breathable, but they are absolutely luxurious. The leggings are made with native Peruvian organic cotton and lycra, making them incredibly soft and making us incredibly happy! Model: Jennifer Pansa


5. be present agility pant We’re in love with Be Present’s Agility Pant. This lovely pant sits comfortably on the high hip and has darted knees. With back slits, two front patch pockets, and a drawstring waist, we couldn’t be happier. Model: Lisa Richard

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Editor's Picks:

clothes we love

sauvage contour shorts Our Managing Editor loves the way her husband looks in the Sauvage hot yoga-inspired contour shorts! With a collection entirely made in the USA, using only the finest materials, Sauvage Yoga has a stylish, functional, and sustainable solution for every man.

waverly maxi dress by aventura The Aventura Waverly Maxi Dress – 52% Organic Cotton / 48% Modal Slub Jersey – is a stylish, comfortable summer dress for the environmentally conscious woman. Its soft blend of organic cotton and modal slub jersey with jewel toned stripes and a rope belt is making our whole team swoon.

warrior tough cut t-back by kiragrace The Warrior Tough Cut T-Back by KiraGrace makes us feel in alignment with the company’s mission to celebrate women's beauty, strength and grace as they move through life's journeys. With a modest neckline and bold cut outs, this top is a new favorite for us all.

aziam's karma capri We’re thrilled about AZIAM’s ¾ length Karma Capris, with a waistband that rolls over – just like Karma! This is the ultimate bottom, with a super flattering fit and superior comfort. We’re grateful they’re made with premium supplex/lycra fabric so we can have them around for a long and beautiful life.


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the power of

Daily practice


Daily habits are difficult for anyone to cultivate. It takes a constant effort in creating time for yourself, which many of us often neglect as we get caught up in the grind of each day. A daily yoga practice requires a commitment and acknowledgement of the greater benefits from doing the work. Why do you practice? What do you need from your practice? When is the best time for you to practice? How would you like to practice? All these questions are simple, yet an answer is necessary if you want to set yourself up for success. A daily yoga practice can take many forms, but the key ingredient is finding what your body and mind need each day. This higher level of awareness comes from spending time on your mat to feel the different sensations of a moving meditation. Noticing the shifts of energy in your body, mood, and how you react to the work leads to a heightened level of awareness in the self. Just as I feel my hips shift over my shoulders as I move to


How would you like to practice?


handstand, I can also feel my mindset move when things off the mat affect me. As I work to understand what I’m feeling, coming back to my practice reminds me to breathe and be patient with the process of working through challenge. Patience in the process helps me to realize what is truly in my control and how I am positively or negatively influencing the situation. One of the best ways to learn to understand yourself is practicing in a group or class setting. Every person is slightly different as they take each pose. Some poses we do give challenge and frustration, while others give a sense of pride and power. Noticing those

times when you leave the present moment with joy or disappointment is where the work begins! Take the time to bring yourself back to the moment, back to center, taking away the label you put on the movement or action you are making and just letting it take form, to be what it is, nothing more and nothing less. The power of cultivating a daily practice extends far beyond the physical. We begin to discover our own motivators, our instincts, our knee-jerk reactions as we breathe into a 15 breath posture, venture upside-down, or sit quietly with thoughts we have been pushing aside, and everything comes together to create a space for self discovery.

Patrick is an international yoga teacher based out of Seattle. He is known for bringing a sense of calm confidence to his students. A handstand enthusiast who loves to be on his mat and listen to indie rock, Patrick still finds time to hang out with his kittens Zelda and Opie! You can find him on instagram @ patrickbeach or by visiting

PHOTO: Carling Harps

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BY Phi l i p G o l d b e rg


ing youth. As a result, curious scientists designed experiments to study the effects of meditation, and, before long, physicians and therapists were recommending it to stressed-out grownups. Now, hundreds of studies later, meditation and yoga are as mainstream as aerobics and vitamins. Would this have happened if the Beatles had not gone to India? Maybe, but certainly not as quickly. That’s not just my assessment. In 2008, when Newsweek commemorated the seminal year of 1968, one article was titled “What the Beatles Gave Science.” Why? Because the lads’ trip to India “popularized the notion that the spiritual East has something to teach the rational West.”

Forty-six years ago this month, the Beatles settled into the ashram of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, in Rishikesh, India. The media frenzy was non-stop, as it had been six months earlier when the lads took up Transcendental Meditation (TM) and the word mantra entered the global vocabulary. Why would rich, famous, fun-loving young men hunker down to meditate in an austere, vegetarian compound in the Himalayan foothills? What could an impoverished country, two decades removed from imperial rule, offer people who seemed to have everything? Such questions turned what might have been a brief media burst into a watershed moment in cultural history. It was as though the earth tilted on its axis, allowing India’s ancient wisdom to flow more easily to the West. The result would impact healthcare, psychology, neuroscience, religion, and spirituality. Like many in the counterculture of which they had become de facto leaders, the Beatles had come to see that drugs like LSD could open the door to higher consciousness but did not let you stay there, and were dangerous in the bargain. The search was on for safe, natural ways to attain inner peace and unified awareness. George Harrison, having spent time in


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India studying sitar with Ravi Shankar and reading spiritual literature, was among the more ardent seekers. When, in August of 1967, his wife Pattie heard that Maharishi Mahesh Yogi was lecturing on Transcendental Meditation at the London Hilton, it was only natural that George and his mates would make it to the jam-packed hotel ballroom. The Beatles took to meditation like they had to Chuck Berry and Little Richard, and they were not shy about singing its praises. Young people everywhere, always eager to emulate the Fab Four, flooded TM centers. The press coverage featured parents and cultural leaders who were impressed by the life changes they observed in meditat-

That’s reason enough to commemorate that eventful journey 46 years later. If you need another excuse, go listen to the Beatles’ “White Album.” Almost all the songs on that extraordinary double record were written or conceived in the ashram on the Ganges. Philip Goldberg (www. is the author of numerous books, including Roadsigns on the Spiritual Path and the award-winning American Veda: From Emerson and the Beatles to Yoga and Meditation, How Indian Spirituality Changed the West.

Reflections on Outer, Inner, and Secret Orientations of Practice B y gary K rafts o w


The outer orientation of asana is mastery of the physical structure, starting with the spine. This mastery includes goals such as alignment, stability, strength, and range of motion. The inner orientation of asana is to make the body a temple for the breath and prepare it for pranayama. The outer orientation of pranayama is mastery of the physiology, starting with the autonomic nervous system. This mastery includes regulation of digestion, respiration, cardiovascular rhythms, immune function, and hormonal balance. The inner orientation of pranayama is to make the breath a temple for the mind and prepare it for meditation.

The outer orientation of meditation is mastery of the mind, starting with the field of attention. This mastery includes overcoming distraction and being able to focus deeply and understand things as they are. The inner orientation of meditation is to make the mind a temple for the heart and prepare it for prayer.


"The inner orientation of pranayama is to make the breath a temple for the mind and prepare it for meditation."

The outer orientation of prayer is mastery of the personality, starting with attachments, aversions, and fears. This mastery includes overcoming issues of insecurity, inhibition, self-esteem, resentment, and delusion. The inner orientation of prayer is to make the heart a temple for the Divine and prepare it for Tantra. The outer orientation of Tantra is celebrating the presence of the Divine, starting with praising Divine qualities. These qualities include wisdom, compassion, courage, and manifestation. The inner orientation of Tantra is to embody those qualities, actualize our higher potentials, and prepare for silence. The secret orientation of silence is merging with the Indwelling Light that is the Living Presence of our true nature: our very own Self. Resting in that Presence is the fulfillment of practice.

GARY S. KRAFTSOW, MA, E-RYT 500, Founder, Director, Senior Teacher, American Viniyoga Institute. For more than 30 years, Gary Kraftsow has been a pioneer in the transmission of yoga for health, healing, and personal transformation. He is the author of Yoga for Wellness and Yoga for Transformation; and educational DVDs: Viniyoga Therapy for Low Back, Sacrum and Hips and Viniyoga Therapy for Upper Back, Neck and Shoulders, Viniyoga Therapy for Anxiety and Viniyoga Therapy for Depression.

PHOTO: Jennifer Szymaszek


get to s way TuCK UNS re u ost p a in

1) Muladhara, Root Support > Return to your foundation, connect to Prithvi, Mother Earth. Contemplate her as the giver of support nourisher from the roots upwards, the inexhaustible source of abundance. 2) Heed Krishna’s Advice > Adversity is your ally, your grinding stone. Relish in difficulty. Go inward into the battle and fight ardently to eliminate your internal and external obstacles. 3) Strike the Immovable Spot > Stop the body. Eliminate all movement. Your stance: solid, clear, well founded, unwavering, pure earth, immovable. 4) Throw the Dice > Weigh the odds, take a chance, calculate and leap, dare to lay your spiritual fire on the line. Seek the unknown, the new - consciously extend your physical, psychological, and spiritual limits. 5) Be the Tortoise > Radically stubborn, infinitely patient, religiously consistent, devotedly persistent. 6) A Love Supreme > Love your posture, even the asana that challenges you most. It is uniquely your own, rare, original, independent, singular, IT. 7) Bhuta Jaya! > Lose your personality. You are fire, air, earth, water, and space. Your asanas are simply expressions of pure elemental forces. 8) Eat…. > better, smarter, less, not at night. 9) Vayu Siddhi > No matter what, breathe. Breathe through struggle and bliss. Let breath live within you in its infinite variety - let it entirely express you now. Repeat this mantra, “whole body breath.” 10) Like Mahaveer > Ever ready to serve the Self, as dynamic, poised, confident, faithful, and humble as that great, loyal, devoted monkey.


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BY dav id garrigu e s

11) Crouch and …… > Anticipate, get ready, strategize, awaken, enjoy the crouch before the spring. 12) Blaze like 10 Million Moons > Arrange your bones, align your skeleton, light up the glorious axis in the middle. 13) Steps to Nirvana > Find the tiny step in the progression that leads to mastery. Drop ego, forget the distant endpoint, work where you are, neither ahead nor behind. 14) A Shiva half smile. > Be like Shiva meditating, sitting like stone utterly silent, still, impenetrable, except for a sly, Mona Lisa half smile across his lips, a hint of irony, a wink, a nonchalant aura of unshakable cool--no matter what. 15) Indriya Siddhi > Continuously watch, listen, feel, taste, and smell internally. Experience your inner world with lucid clarity. Your voice, hands, feet, loins, and bowels are instruments for awareness, and for confining prana inside the body. 16) Thy Will Not Mine > Drop resistance, trust in another source, let go of your will, break apart, loosen, soften, release, receive, become free. Asana vidya comes effortlessly.

David Garrigues is one of a few teachers in the US certified to teach Ashtanga Yoga. David’s mission is to help others flourish within the living, contemporary lineage of Ashtanga Yoga. He teaches workshops around the world featuring Mysore intensives and in-depth studies. David is also the author of following instructional materials: 1) a two disc DVD entitled Ashtanga Yoga: A Primary Series Guide 2) a two disc DVD/book set on the subject of breathing entitled Vayu Siddhi: A Guide to Pranayama, Ashtanga Yoga’s Fourth Limb. And also a DVD on Ashtanga’s second series called The Intermediate Series. David’s website and highly popular YouTube video channel each have a wealth of free, expert video and written yoga instructional materials to inspire progress in beginner through advanced practitioners.

PHOTo: Joe Longo

I’m a yogi, not a stereotype By quentin vennie

What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you think about yoga? Is it a feeling or a thought? Maybe it’s an image or a difficult pose. For many, the portrayal of yoga has been demonized by stereotypes and illegitimate presumptions. Contrary to popular belief, yoga is not a cult nor a religion. Yoga does not ostracize or pre-judge. Yoga is not contrived of vegans who only drink coconut water and peppermint tea. It is not predicated on wealth, gender, or ethnicity. Yogis and yoginis don’t spend their entire days sitting in half lotus pose reciting the yoga sutras, with intermittent breaks of the Om Shanti Mantra. Yoga is a daily practice. It can be your reaction to an uncomfortable situation or transcend into the way you appreciate nature. Yoga is peaceful, pure, non possessive, undisturbed, and honest. A few years ago, I was diagnosed with Generalized Anxiety and Panic Disorder. Within 6 months of my diagnosis, I became addicted to my anti-anxiety medication. I struggled with my addiction for more than two years before looking into an alternative solution. Through desperation, yoga discovered me!

Growing up in Baltimore, Maryland I didn’t know what yoga was. I didn’t have any yogi friends or family members. We didn’t have yoga mats or Kundalini garments. In fact, I had never heard the word yoga until my teenage years. My family was plagued by insolvency, alcoholism, and drug addiction. We were far removed from what many perceived as the American Dream. In spite of the emotional and economic hardships that I’ve experienced, every day I strive to become a better version of myself.

I’m a normal guy from one of the roughest cities in America. I was voted least likely to succeed in 9th grade. I have over 15 tattoos, I’m a former smoker, an avid weight lifter, and I enjoy an occasional glass of scotch or cognac. Does that disqualify me from being a yogi? Today, yoga is everywhere! It has moved outside the confines of local studios and has been welcomed into gyms, offices, community centers, and homes across the country. Organizations like UpRising Yoga in California have expanded yoga's reach into juvenile centers across Los Angeles. Yoga is a lifestyle! It has helped executives and CEO’s, as well as derelicts and felons. Don’t classify yoga by its stereotypes, instead praise it for its power. Namaste!

I’m proud to say that I am a yogi, but I am not a stereotype. I’m not a vegetarian or a vegan and flexibility does not come easily to me. I am not happy and gleeful everyday. I’m not a middle aged white woman and I don’t own nor have I ever purchased anything from Lululemon.

Quentin is a New York City-based Certified Personal Trainer and wellness expert. He believes in addressing the obstacles happening inside the body, allowing the external changes to occur as a direct result. For more information visit

PHOTo: d. taylor images

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Les Leventhal int e r v i e w BY ME G H A N PA PPE N H E I M F O U N D E R & dir e ct o r th e b a l is p irit gr o u p

MegHan Pappenheim: How and why did you first start your yoga? LES LEVENTHAL: I started yoga at a gym because I lifted lots of weights, had lots of injuries, and needed to stretch. I became instantly obsessed with the euphoric feeling it provided my body and mind. I was not really aware of my spirit or soul back then.

yet to see and desire to travel to. Desire is such a powerful force in my life even after all these years of practice.

MP: What obstacles has yoga helped you overcome? LL: Yoga has helped me to work through challenges with addictions, other people, acceptance of things that are none of my

MP: Who was your great mentor? LL: Every teacher has been such an amazing mentor – some show me what I want to see and be and some reflect things about myself that I don’t want to see or that provide guidance to cultivate awareness for change, but if I had to say one and only one, Ana Forrest.

Bali Spirit Festival // //


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MP: Why is the practice of yoga so important for the times we are living? LL: Social media is bringing us together in some ways but also separating us in others. We think that a post or a picture brings us together but, for me, it’s just a reminder. It’s face to face interactions, hugs, a conversation, looking someone in their eyes when they share the emotions about their post or picture that I want - relationships that see and feel the truth. I can write anything here and people would believe it, but when I speak and share the practice, people see, know, and feel the truth in and of this practice.

MP: Tell us a bit about your practice story and how you chose your yoga method. LL: I was working for a bank in sales at the time and one teacher said if you want more flexibility and strength on the mat, stop lifting weights everyday. I tried that and had great success – are we allowed to use the word success in yoga? Then, when traveling for the bank, I would google yoga for all the cities around the world I was traveling. I knew I was on to something. Then, I noticed that I did have a spirit and soul and it was getting smoked out (yes, I used to smoke a lot of different things too) by the kind of work I was doing. So, I quit and took a giant leap of faith. Now I live and teach in Bali and all over this amazing world and there are still so many places that I have

business, and to find a graciousness to allow people to be who they are and help them to blossom into someone amazing. When I lay out my mat, somedays my intention is to have a rigorous practice and play and have fun. Other days, I’m working with an emotion. Other days, I am focused on an injury area and want to work with poses that strengthen, support, and heal.

Ubud, Bali March 19-23, 2014

Les ( is one of Bali’s most beloved yoga teachers. Having trained with Ana Forrest, Tias Little, Seane Corn and Max Strom, Les’ vinyasa classes and workshops are steeped in the Forrest tradition and filled with technique and alignment cues for all levels. Variations and longer sequences will also challenge and inspire seasoned practitioners. You will have the opportunity to heal your heart, laugh, cry, dance, sweat and just let go. Les teaches at The Yoga Barn in Ubud, Bali (www.


SPIRITUAL PRACTICE: Because Shit’s Going to Inevitably Hit the Fan

Imagine you’re seated on a small stage in front of a room of a hundred people who’ve gathered to hear you talk about Buddhism. When you took the stage, you were calm and collected, however, as you prepare to begin, your mind goes blank. Not only that, but you now have no idea why you’re on that stage in the first place. You sit in a bewildered state for a moment before something deep inside of you—below your conscious, rational mind—begins to take over. It guides you to close your eyes, place your palms together in front of your heart, and to mindfully recite all of the thoughts and emotions that are arising for you in the moment, “afraid, embarrassed, confused, sense of dying, lost.” After a few minutes of doing this, your body begins to relax, your mind calms, and your senses return. You raise your head, slowly look around the room, and now remember why you are there in the first place.


While the preceding is a true story, it’s not my story. I read about “Jacob” — an elderly man and long time meditation practitioner who also suffers from Alzheimer’s disease—in Tara Brach’s book, Radical Acceptance. And while I don’t have Alzheimer’s myself, I still found this to be one of the most resonating accounts for me of why I embarked on a spiritual path in the first place - to cultivate a deeper connection with my internal wisdom and guidance. I’m a recovering addict and spent many years in active addiction. Blackouts, withdrawals, detoxes, jail cells, emergency rooms, psych hospitals, suicide attempts—I was a poster boy

for the hopeless. While Jacob’s second nature was to turn inward and mindfully pay attention when shit hit the fan, mine was to get high. It didn’t matter what the substance was – anything that kept me from having to face reality was fine because, during those years, I didn’t have any sort of spiritual reference to draw from. So, I did what I had to in order to survive and, truth be told, if it wasn’t for the relief those drugs provided me back then, I’d probably be dead today.

when the shit hits the fan, I now know there’s nothing any drug can offer me that one simple, conscious breath can’t get me through; because it’s in that one breath that the entire essence of my being—the good, bad, fear, hope, ad infinitum—exists. So, it’s thanks to spiritual practice that today, I know I’m always just a moment away from a new breath and the endless possibilities that come with it.

Grace, however, eventually entered my life in the form of a professor who turned me on to spirituality, and after years of cultivating various spiritual practices (and the twelve-step fellowship), I’m now able to navigate the difficult times in my life with greater composure and maturity. Life is still far from perfect, but

Chris Grosso is an independent culturist, freelance writer, spiritual aspirant, recovering addict, and musician. He created the popular hub for all things alternative, independent, and spiritual with and continues the exploration with his debut book, Indie Spiritualist available March 4, 2014 (Beyond Words/Atria Publishing).

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juil asks their ambassadors:

What is one mantra that is a remedy for your soul AMY LANDRY


“Om Namo Narayani” – Meaning, I surrender and humbly bow to the divine Goddess Narayani, who has the power of creation, preservation, and destruction. This is a short, but very sweet mantra, which I repeat to myself in times of struggle. I use it as a reminder to connect with a sense of trust, and to release resistance towards receiving the guidance I am being shown.


“True perfection seems imperfect. Yet, it is perfectly itself. True straightness seems crooked. True art seems artless.” ~ Tao Te Ching 45


“Let the energy move through you... detach, let go, see everyone and everything as a mirror.”

“So be sure when you step, step with care and great tact and remember that Life’s a Great Balance Act.”Dr. Suess

PHOTo: April Bennett with Souls Image

elizabeth rowan “Where you stumble and fall, there you will find gold.” – Joseph Campbell


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jennifer pastiloff “If you knew who walked beside you at all times, on the path that you have chosen, you could never experience fear or doubt again.” – Wayne Dyer

KIA MILLER EK ONG KAR SAT NAM SIRI WAHE GURU – Ek (One) Ong (Creator) Kar (Creation) Sat (Truth) Nam (Name or Identity) Siri (Great) Wahe (Beyond description, “Wow!”) Guru (Dispeller of darkness, Teacher) This mantra reminds me to tap into the great undying Truth, to remember that we are all part of the same Divine creation.

Sianna Sherman I offer it up, I offer it up, I offer it up. To Her, I offer it up. Salutations to the MahaShakti! I fully offer my triumphs and victories as much as my tears and confusion. Everything is the offering. This entire journey is the path of my own transformation.

Lockey Maisonneuve When you walk to the edge of all of the light you know and are about to drop off into the darkness of the unknown, Faith is knowing one of two things will happen: There will be something solid to land on, or you will be taught to fly.

tiffany cruikshank The simple mantra of the spaciousness of my breath is my instant remedy to bring me back to mindfulness in my life so that I can approach the obstacles with a greater sense of ease.

PHOTo: jasper johal

SAGE ROUNTREE Form and breath—it works on the mat, on the trail, in traffic.

Whakapaingia & Sara Luke Breathing in I calm my body, breathing out I smile, dwelling in the present moment, I know it is a wonderful moment. -Thich Nhat Hahn

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What routine keeps my mind and body healthy?

Nina Patel 1.

Stephanie Spett 2.

Kobi Carminati 3.

Practicing Mantra Yoga has been a very effective and practical method for maintaining a healthy body and mind in my life. As a busy working mother of three children, I am able to reap the calming and breathing benefits of meditation by chanting Sanskrit mantras while running errands or doing laundry. Teaching children- big and small- to incorporate this ancient wisdom into their modern lifestyle has become my purpose in life.

Exercising isn’t about sweating; it’s about doing something that makes you feel good, physically and spiritually. Yoga makes me feel good, and that’s how I want my students to feel when they leave my class, whether they’re 5 or 55. It’s the best part of my day and I want it to be yours, too!

I keep my body healthy through movement and meditation. I keep my mind healthy by always focusing on the present moment, practicing awareness, and helping others find their way.

Mantra Songbird, Mantra Mom Music

RYT200, Kids Yoga Instructor


Photo: Bella Carminati

Shamron Johnson ­

Dana Nicole Sweet



Besides the obvious asana and meditation practice, my daily practice is simple and can be described with 3 N’s; Nutrition, Nature, and Noticing! Infusing everything with Great Spirit, spending time in Nature with my toes in the dirt, and practicing mindfulness are the most effective day to day tools I have, and what’s even better is that they are free. Namaste.

I experience mind and body health most of all when I cultivate high quality rest, nourishment from a whole, plant-based diet, consistent asana practice with teachers who challenge me to find and dance along a new edge or a deeper depth, and by surrounding myself with beloved friends and family who make me laugh and help keep me grounded. Photo: Shannon Raske Photo: Frank Zendejas

I keep my mind and body healthy with a daily dose of four sets of Sun Salutes done early in the morning - an energetic way to welcome in the new day. I not only connect with my body and my breath, but I take the time to notice, observe, and check-in with myself. How is my breathing, balance, and am I centered? What comes up for me? It clears my mind from being chronically over stimulated to a place of strength and noticing.



Studio Director / Yoga Instructor

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Yoga Teacher, Director, & Co-Owner, YogaOne Heights (Houston, TX)

Marti Ewing





“Spend time in nature. Run wild, naked, covered in mud with your sisters.”


Stephanie Starnes

illinois: Laura Jane Mellencamp Yoga Among Friends Studio Owner


WATCH THE CLOUDS: I find myself looking up into the sky watching clouds pass, reminding me that life is a constant letting go. Exhaling and focusing attention on the space in my heart as I still the rush of my “doing” mind. Relax more and think less. My desire becomes to love more as I hold the future loosely. Looking up, I exhale a grateful,” Thank you,” for the beauty of the moment as the clouds move on.

Alie McManus Freedom Yoga


My advice to all women is – Trust Your Self. Be your own best friend and have fun! Enjoy life. Be guided by your inspiration, curiosity, and happiness. Honor all of your feelings and follow your deepest yearnings. Gentle persistence and bravery are required to accomplish your goals in life. Fearlessly love your self, have compassion for your self, and above all -- Be Your Self.


Lori Gaspar Director, Prairie Yoga Institute, Lisle, IL


Trust your gut. You can read or seek counseling from friends, but when it comes down to it you already know. Your gut will tell you everything. Picking a partner, birthing, raising a child, where to live are all choices I’ve received conflicting advice on, but, in the end, I’ve always trusted my gut and it hasn’t steered me wrong yet! Photo: Kristie Kahns Photography Photo: Dan Paz

Stephanie Starnes Musician/Yoga Teacher

Sara Strother Alignment-based Hatha Yoga Teacher


Spend time in nature. Run wild, naked, covered in mud with your sisters. Make time for ritual and self love. Spend sacred time with women who inspire you to be your greatest. Love ALL of yourself. Even the darkest parts serve a purpose. Follow the deepest longings of your heart. Offer your gifts to others. Travel. Love. Stay open.

Commit and master something you are passionate about. Then be fearless! Stop caring about what other people think. This will set you free! Stop thinking you aren’t good enough. Act like the person you want to be, rather than the person you think you are. Be happy when another woman becomes successful. When each woman rises, she lifts us all up.

“Be happy when another woman becomes successful. When each woman rises, she lifts us all up. – LORI GASPAR

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“My turban is an expression of a life committed to service and healing. Always in style, it tells the story of my crazy love for the experience of this life.” – Hari Kaur






Hari Kaur Kundalini Teacher, Hari NYC I put on a turban for love. I loved my teacher Yogi Bhajan and fell head over heels for the wisdom of kundalini energy. My turban is an expression of a life committed to service and healing. Always in style, it tells the story of my crazy love for the experience of this life. Photo: Zita Vasilisinova

4. J. Brown

Yoga Teacher, Writer, and Founder, Abhyasa Yoga center When I first got to NY, I bribed a doorman $75 to let me spend a night with a girl on a rooftop so we could watch the sunrise over the city. The girl eventually broke my heart something awful, but I’ll never forget the blinding light of dawn reflecting across the skyline and waking me in a giddy stupor. Photo: Natalie Hayes


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Susanna Harwood Rubin yogini.artist.writer. I worked feverishly one summer, earning enough to return to Paris and a complicated French musician boyfriend. I worked in an art gallery and briefly in a restaurant on a boat. An explosive argument in the street after too much wine taught me two things: I could seriously speak French and it was time to move to New York City. Photo: Jeremy Patlen Photography


Erica Mather Forrest Yoga Guardian, The Yoga Clinic NYC I’m unsure “crazy” and “love” belong together. That’s for the movies. Here’s what’s real and intriguing to me: what’s the most sane thing a person has done for love, the most compassionate, or courageous? The most sane: cutting off communication with a beloved ex. The most compassionate: putting down my beloved cat. The most courageous: loving in the first place.


Linden Schaffer Founder/Director Pravassa Bought a last minute plane and train ticket from NYC to Erlangen, Germany so my husband (then boyfriend) and I could attend a concert of one of his favorite German bands. I don’t like them and I don’t speak German. Photo: Abby Rose Photo


Gail Grossman Owner/Director, Om Sweet Om Yoga I haven’t really done anything crazy, romantically. I have known my husband since we were fifteen. Our love has evolved as we literally grew up. I never had to do anything crazy to prove my love. As a Bhakti yogi, I opened a yoga studio for love. I loved yoga enough to share it with others. Crazy, but for love! Photo: Leslie Kahan





What has been your biggest struggle and how did you overcome it?


Alexandra Shepherd Mind Body Manager, Core Fusion & Yoga Teacher. exhale Miami Teaching yoga and Core Fusion has helped me overcome my struggle to find a fulfilling life path. As a lifelong actress and dancer, I struggled when it came time to choose whether or not to continue my career as a performer. When I get in front of my “audience” to teach, I feel the excitement of getting on stage. The beauty for me is also in what my “performance” offers. I am guiding my students on a journey of transformation and possibility. Photo: Rickey Caitung

2. 3.

Kelly Green The Yoga Joint South

Day Christensen Ashtanga Yoga Teacher

The biggest struggle for me has been getting out of my own way. Sure, I had a major surgery on my knee (I was born with hypo-plastic patella) that has left me with a life-long challenge. But, it’s not the injury that was the biggest struggle. It was me switching what entity of myself I chose to feed. Using that internal dialogue to serve us is what makes the change. It was when I stopped focusing on what was wrong with my knee and started celebrating it that my practice on and off the mat began to take on another form.

I started yoga during one of the lowest periods in my life. Physically, I felt weak and disconnected from my body. Mentally, I was confused and directionless. Emotionally, I was drained and hopeless and spiritually void. After years and a solid foundation in the practice of yoga, I began to realize that every day we experience varying degrees of struggle, pain, and consequence. With that said, happiness is a choice based on how you see yourself in the face of obstacles.

4. 5. 6. 7.

Gabriel Axel MSc., E-RYT 500, Founder of Neural Active™

Meredith Feinberg Yoga Instructor & Owner of Yoga Svana

Terri Cooper Owner, 305 Yoga; Founder, Yoga Gangsters

Rob Mann Barkan Method of Hot Yoga Budokon University Instructor

When I was living in the Netherlands working on completing my Master’s Degree in Neuroscience, I had entered a deep depression. I had to confront the causal existential suffering at my core. Through presence and contemplation on the nature of Mind, I realized that life is not lived for oneself but for All That Is.

While I’ve been through many rough patches throughout my life, I think the biggest struggle is the daily one. Running a business, being the best parent, friend, partner, sibling, daughter, and person I can most of us, I have a lot of balls in the air. Staying grounded, present, consistent, making decisions from my heart, and living my yoga… those are the things that keep me moving forward.

My biggest struggle has always been finding the courage to just be myself. I was born with such passion, intensity, and drive. I’ve been told my whole life that I am too much. I played small for years and struggled with low self-esteem and poverty consciousness. Yoga and service gave me a positive channel for all of that energy.

My biggest physical struggle to date is constantly pulling my right hamstring. I believe it is a consequence of a meniscus (knee) surgery I had at 18. After a year or two of constant practice and no improvement in hip flexibility, I now continuously strengthen my right hamstring to allow my hip flexors and IT bands to relax. Photo: Redefine Productions &



6. Photo: Chris Hedlund, VengeMedia


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New Jersey:



What pushes your buttons how do you deal?

1. Jeffrey Posner

2. Danielle Diamond

3. Jason Zagaro

4. Joell Lanfrank

Yoga Instructor "Bend your right knee, bend your right knee"...projecting my voice directly at them. It makes me sad that people are always cheating the lunge! How do I deal? Back to basics. Yoga poses are built on strong foundations, strong foundations are built on solid shapes. "Work towards a right angle in the knee joint!"

Founder Xen Strength Yoga, ERYT- 500 Rudeness irritates me more than anything; especially when it’s unwarranted. I genuinely feel bad for those who don’t realize what jerks they are, but we never know what battle someone is fighting. So I say, “kill ‘em with kindness,” no matter what. My hope is that if I make them feel good, they’ll drop their attitude and make someone else smile that day.

Partner/Owner/Lead Yoga Instructor at Flow Yoga Studio Being closed minded towards everything in life including yoga class pushes my buttons. Having all these expectations about what “you” will get out of whatever you do instead of the experience itself. How I deal with it is I meditate on keeping my mind and heart open. “Open heart, no fear” is the mantra that I use.

Buying pets from breeders really breaks my heart. Every 11 seconds, healthy, adoptable, adorable, and loving cats and dogs are euthanized in shelters daily. What better way to practice Ahimsa (non-violence) than to save your furry best friend’s life and give them a loving home? Adopt don’t shop! Photo: Monika Broz

5. Danielle Hutchins

6. Amy Leonard

7. Amy Jean Pastore

8. Stavroula Grivas

Yoga Teacher, Handstand Fanatic Red Bank, NJ In moments of emotional distress, when I’m feeling criticized or misunderstood, I reflect upon my mother’s wisdom in pointing me to the question, “What is my role in this situation?” Taking responsibility for what shows up in my life allows me to gain self­awareness, detach from feeling victimized, and empowers me to accept or change what is in front of me.

Artist/Yogini I find disharmony amongst people to be unsettling at times (e.g. witnessing arguments). To maintain balance, I connect to my heart center and assist in redirecting the conversation with love and kindness. If discussion is not available, I find it beneficial to offer prayers (e.g. reciting the Our Father, the Om Mani Padme Hum mantra, or sing the Hanuman Chalisa).

Yoga Artist/ Teacher It really pushes my buttons when people decide to look the other way rather than stepping up and taking action. It’s the, “What I do doesn’t matter, I don’t make a difference" attitude. Yoga teaches us that it is our duty to act when we see unjust cruelty and violence occurring. I deal with it by taking action whether it’s by speaking up and educating someone or simply leading by example. Ignorance is not bliss. Ignorance is complacency to injustice.

Mom, student, teacher, LOL (Lover of Life) The people I love and care about deeply are most capable of pushing my buttons. Occasionally, I deal by losing my shit; but more often, I take BIG inhales and even BIGGER exhales, go for a run, bust into a headstand, laugh out loud, dance, cuddle with my lil’ girl, or meditate. Most importantly, I always practice love and gratitude. Photo: Robert Sturman

Photo: Robert Sturman

Photo: Robert Sturman

Photo: Elizabeth Raduns

Photo: Robert Sturman

Photo: Joe Burns




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New Jersey:

What makes you come alive?

Laura Kasperzak

Kharyse ‘Reesie’ Tottingham

Nothing makes me feel more alive than my yoga practice and sharing it with my family and followers. I think it is extremely important to be a role model for my kids and to help build a healthy foundation in their lives. I also think it is very important to show others, especially women, that we can be healthy, beautiful, and STRONG at any age.

Yoga makes me come alive. It is a passion that has changed my life for the better – giving me the outlet I need to recharge and reconnect to the world. Yoga has centered me and allowed me to find the balance I need as a mother, a student, and a member of my community. It has broadened my horizons and connected me to a wonderful community of people, enriching my life. Photo Credit: Robert Sturman


Photo credit: Kharyse ‘Reesie’ Tottingham

What sets your heart on fire?


SARAH TRELEASE photo: Jainee Dial (set by Jeffrey Bale) Photo: Brian McDonnell,

Yoga Instructor What truly sets on my heart ablaze is honest and sincere desire. It is this focused form of attraction and inquiry that seems to summon powerful currents of life to move through me. When I find ways of flowing with and not against this current, I experience an exhilarating ride along the way to the solutions or manifestations I seek.

Teacher, Sarah Trelease Yoga I’m interested in being human. I want to dive in, find connections, and follow their pathways. To float down the rivers and tributaries of the blood and the heart, to know gravity, and listen to the constellations of energy and emotion that make our shapes, that make the amazing stories real, live people tell.

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5 Ways TO Stoke YOUR Metabolism



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kathryn budig:

LOVING YOUR BODY holistic healing conscious parenting

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ElENA BROWER • KAThRYN BUDig • Larissa Hall Carlson • Kay Kay Clivio • SEANE CORN Nikki Costello • Jason Crandell • Tiffany Cruikshank • DJ Drez • Dana Trixie Flynn • Bo Forbes ANA FORREST • RiChARD FREEMAN • Hilary Garivaltis • Matt Giordano • Julie Gudmestad Taylor Harkness • Lauren Imparato • Amy Ippolitti • Sandra Joseph • Alanna Kaivalya • Leslie Kaminoff Eric Kipp • Coby Kozlowski • gARY KRAFTSOW • Cyndi Lee • Chris Loebsack • ViNNiE MARiNO Claire Missingham • DhARMA MiTTRA • Sadie Nardini • Aadil Palkhivala • SARAh POWERS Raghunath • Shiva Rea • Natasha Rizopolous • David Romanelli • Sianna Sherman • Dana Slamp David Swenson • Seth Weisberg • James Wvinner • Colleen Saidman Yee • RODNEY YEE • Yogeswari


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fairy tales, yoga, and the “selfie�: An Interview with

Kathryn Budig

by Taylor James Harkness


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K b

I recently spoke to Kathryn Budig about staying motivated as a yoga teacher, the “selfie” overload, and the future of her personal life after a big move to Charleston, South Carolina. Her witty and magical, yet grounded demeanor left me feeling inspired. Here’s a look at our conversation.

Taylor: Kathryn, a quick Google search or a scan through some of the touching comments on your social media pages shows that you’re clearly a huge inspiration to so many people. Does it ever become challenging to find inspiration yourself? If so, who and what in your life rekindles that flame? Kathryn: Being a yoga teacher requires an enormous amount of giving, which can often run the well dry. That being said, yoga has taught me all about balancing my body and my life. Seeing the results makes it all worth it. Nothing compares to watching the light turn on in someone’s eyes when they finally achieve what they once thought impossible. I see people blossom and take ownership of their power and lives. Wit- //

nessing that stokes my flame and keeps me going.

Taylor: You recently wrote an article in which you pointed out that there are so many filters in Instagram, “Roger Rabbit can be made to look sexy”. While quite a comical observation, what kind of effects do you think that this new found societal obsession with the “selfie” coupled with photo editing tools at our fingertips has had on the way people view their bodies? In particular, do you think the inundation of unrealistic shots has any effect on body image issues? Kathryn: One of the most powerful quotes I’ve ever heard is, “Comparison is the thief of joy.” I find that the modern age of photo

sharing can instigate either a huge amount of inspiration or a painful dose of comparison. We’ll see gorgeous photos of beautiful (albeit filtered) people doing what appears to be unaccessible asana with perfect bodies shot at the ideal angle. Honestly, this isn’t any different than the pictures we get in magazines. While media could do more to promote positive body image, it’s really up to us as individuals to take control of our lives and how we view our bodies. Some of us are plump and curvy while others are petite and can’t put on weight. There isn’t a ‘better’ body or ideal type. The sooner we can understand that, the sooner we can get on and enjoy our lives instead of how we think we look in it. I’ve wasted time thinking I’m too short and curvy to be an inspir-


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What’s more important is that under those layers of filter you can admire your body exactly as it is; imperfectly perfect. May we all be content with who we are.

ing fitness model, but the truth is—that’s my body! I’ve never rocked the six-pack abs and, even at my strongest, I still have a ‘soft’ look, yet my body has been so good to me. I pledge to stop labeling myself and hope others can do the same. If a filter makes your picture more beautiful— awesome. What’s more important is that under those layers of filter you can admire your body exactly as it is; imperfectly perfect. May we all be content with who we are. Taylor: In your Aim True lecture, you discuss how Artemis, the huntress of the moon, changed your life. Albert Einstein said, “If you want your children to be intelligent, read them fairy tales. If you want them to be more intelligent, read them more fairy tales.” What is your favorite fairy tale, and how do you embody the lessons learned? //


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Kathryn: I have quite the collection of fairy tales and grew up on a steady diet of them! Cinderella was my all time favorite (the Hans Christian Anderson reads a bit bleaker than the Disney version), but, as an adult, I would say she taught me how to persevere. She planted her dream (or intention) firmly and didn’t let other’s opinions (nasty stepsisters and mother) get in the way. She didn’t lose her self-worth even though she was constantly degraded. I fully agree with the Einstein quote. This world lacks magic. Fairy tales fuel our brain with imagination and the belief that anything is possible. Time to crack my old books open again! Taylor: You’re finishing the process of closing on your new home in Charleston, SC., and you’re getting married next October. Congratulations! Why Charleston, what are

your plans there, and do you see little baby yogis in your future? Kathryn: My parents live there and I’ve established one of the best circles of friends throughout the years since they moved there. It’s one of my favorite cities in America—full of history, culture, amazing restaurants, farmer’s markets, and access to the beach. It’s the perfect blend of beach and city living. I can be inspired and unwind at the same time. My girlfriends are already planning an inspirational reading book club. I absolutely cannot wait to be surrounded by like-minded people who want to inspire each other and push one another to our full potential. We currently have three fluffy babies, but yes, a baby yogi is in our future once my travel schedule calms down.


JUNE 12 – 15, 2014 Yoga + Music + Boulder, CO

A yoga festival for the modern lifestyle

Photo By: TonyFelgueiras

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PHOTOS BY Theodore Kyriakos

interview with

Colleen Saidman Yee BY MARAN D A P LEASAN T 10

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"We are sadly in need of human touch. Reach out and touch. Cross over the boundary." MARANDA PLEASANT: What makes you come alive? Colleen Saidman Yee: I come alive when I feel like I’m being honest. I come alive when I don’t let fear hold me back. I come alive when I can see our kids figuring out who they are. Color and beauty make me feel alive. A good night’s sleep makes me feel alive. When I haven’t been living on junk food (which is hard on the road), I feel alive. A consistent practice is the backbone of my vitality and life. MP: What makes you feel vulnerable? CSY: I’m not that comfortable with feeling vulnerable, though I realize the importance of not covering it up with armor and habit. I don’t feel vulnerable teaching a class of thousands of students, but I can feel very vulnerable if I’m asked to make a toast at an intimate dinner party. Listening to country music brings out my vulnerability. I’m in the process of writing a book that is part memoir and part yoga, and I’m having all sorts of dreams about running around naked—so I guess that’s the height of vulnerability. Aging is funny, in that you feel physically more vulnerable than in your younger years, but emotionally less so. Backbends and twists and bright lights can make me feel vulnerable. MP: If you could say something to everyone on the planet, what would it be? CSY: Why can’t we stop fighting? We are sadly in need of human touch. Reach out and touch. Cross over the boundary. Life is too precious to waste on being angry. Gratitude and forgiveness are where it’s at. MP: How do you handle emotional pain? CSY: How I want to handle it and how I do handle it are two different things a lot of time. I wish that I could just sit with it, and know that it’s an opportunity, and a perfect teacher. But what actually happens is, I try to find comfort through distraction. What’s different from a few years ago is that I now realize that I’m running. In the past, I would have just run. So I feel like I’m making progress. MP: How do you keep your center in the middle of chaos? Do you have a daily routine? CSY: I do have a daily routine of doing pranayama, drinking strong, black tea, and practicing asana. I teach yoga most days, and that

keeps me honest and practicing, even in the midst of chaos. Since I was a little girl, I’ve repeated the Hail Mary over and over when I get upset, and, even though I’m no longer a practicing Catholic, I still find comfort in it. I attempt to stay away from sugar, which is like poison for me and yet is what I crave when things are falling apart. I call my father—who is 87, and lost his beautiful bride of 64 years two years ago next week—and he puts everything into perspective for me with four simple words: “This too shall pass.” MP: What’s been one of your biggest lessons so far in your life? CSY: By the time you get to 54, the lessons are innumerable; I’m not sure that I can narrow them down to one. The biggest lessons come from hurting someone you love. MP: What truth do you know for sure? CSY: I know that I am very lucky to know love in this life. Love is the answer to whatever the question is. MP: Tell me about your latest projects. CSY: As I said, I’m in the process of writing a book. The first draft is due in June, and I’m finding so many ways to procrastinate. (My house has never been cleaner.) Also, we’re opening up another Yoga Shanti in New York City at the end of February. On top of that, Urban Zen Integrative Therapy is a training that Rodney (Yee) and I are spreading across the country to bring self-care to the allied health-care professionals and comfort to patients through the modalities of yoga, essential oils, reiki, nutrition, and contemplative care. Our four kids are always an ongoing project. They are between the ages of 17 and 23. about colleen: Colleen was born in Corning, N.Y., and raised in Bluffton, Indiana. She moved to New York City when she was 19, and ended up with a thriving modeling career. Colleen took her first yoga class in 1987, worked in Calcutta with the Missionaries of Charity in 1988, took the Jivamukti teacher-training program in 1998, and opened Yoga Shanti, in Sag Harbor, in 1999. She is currently teaching both Yoga Shanti and Urban Zen teacher trainings nationwide, as well as workshops with her husband, Rodney Yee, all over the world. // //

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Improving your relationship with food and your body through yoga BY KR I S T I N M C G EE One of my favorite teachers, Nevine Michaan, teaches her style of Katonah Yoga and talks often about sacred geometry. Nevine has been very instrumental in my own journey. Last month, I shared my story about learning to love my body and the struggle I had with disordered eating. Now I want to share some yoga strategies to improve your relationship with food and your body. Nevine emphasizes that we are designed to fit ourselves. She often demonstrates a forward bend by cupping her armpits around her knees and her hands under her heels. When we find the natural origami folds in our body, we realize that we can rely upon our organic structure to support us. The more we practice yoga, the more we discover how fascinating our bodies are and how well structured and organized they are. Why would we want to punish or mistreat something so beautifully constructed? When we learn to respect our body in this way, we choose to feed it well. In the yoga practice, we never leave a single body part out. I remember a weeklong workshop with Kofi Busia. We could spend five minutes in one pose and go through every single body part right down to the pinky toe. This kind of intense concentration helps us to connect to what each part is doing and feeling. When we can exercise control over our pinky toe, it’s much easier to recognize our true physical hunger cues. When you practice any style of yoga, after a while you get so tuned in to your body that it becomes almost impossible to starve it or stuff it. Yoga is all about balance and avoiding extremes. As we get more balanced on our mat, our brains and bodies naturally respond and continue to look for balance in all aspects of our life. With respect to eating, yoga helps us find an inner contentedness, which keeps us from emotionally pigging out or restricting calories. We learn to exhibit control when it’s rational and not when it’s irrational. Eating is for pleasure and purpose. We need to eat well so we can have energy to move, breathe, and accomplish our daily tasks. We also learn to enjoy eating, satiety, and the pleasure of flavors, tastes, textures, and scents. When we practice yoga, we become more mindful, which makes a world of difference at the dinner table. We slow down, we savor our food, and we eat to a comfortable level. We also start to connect the dots. We eat well so we can practice yoga, play with our children, do well at our jobs, and have the energy to be there for ourselves and others.

Kristin McGee has been teaching yoga and Pilates in Manhattan and around the world since 1997. She has over 15 DVDs and an app, Yoga & Pilates with Kristin McGee. Her latest release is Yoga Slim. For more information visit and follow Kristin on twitter @thebendigirl.


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In the yoga practice, we never leave a single body part out.

Photo: Appcession

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It’s likely that you know of the Yoga Sutras. Whether you have heard them mentioned in a yoga class, read articles or books about them, or studied them through your Guru, you have probably already taken steps to familiarize yourself with these 196 strings of concise truths about the Yogic path. But what do these teachings ultimately have to do with our practice beyond being read about in a book? When the Sage Patanjali authored The Yoga Sutras over 2,000 years ago, he provided us with a characteristically concise definition: Chitta vritti nirodhah. What this text says is that Yoga is the act of restraining the fluctuations of the mind. By “fluctuations,” Patanjali was referring to how we typically perceive the world around us as being responsible for our happiness. When we think we’ll be happy when we get a certain job, make a certain amount of money, enter a relationship, or otherwise achieve some tangible goal, we’re relying on something beyond the Divine to experience fulfillment. This definition suggests that we suffer in life because our mind fluctuations compel us to look for the greener grass, even though it’s never actually greener

than the grass on which we currently stand. After exploring this definition in a more theoretical context, Patanjali provides a comprehensive blueprint for practice known as the Eightfold Path. Much like we see all sorts of self-help constructs involving a series of steps (“8 Simple and Easy Steps to the New You!”), Patanjali constructed the Eightfold Path as a linear way of teaching us how to move beyond our suffering and achieve a state of supreme joy. But, while many of these steps may be described by most people as simple, few of them are likely to be described as “easy.” For example, the very first step along the Eightfold Path is the collection of practices known as the Yamas. “Yama” means “abstention,” as in abstaining from behaviors that impede our progress along the spiritual path. The first of these yamas is ahimsa or nonviolence, the act of abstaining from inflicting harm onto oneself or others. Commonly, we think of nonviolence as refraining from physical assault. But it actually includes many other harmful behaviors, such as speaking to others in a mean-spirited way and eating unhealthy, inorganic foods. Is it simple to no longer eat processed foods and rich desserts? Yes. Is it easy? Most of us would agree that it absolutely is not.

The Yogic path exists as a journey we can take to alleviate our own personal suffering. All of the practices featured in Patanjali’s influential text help us to chip away at this state of being, and when we do we allow our spirit to emerge as our guide and inner Guru. When Patanjali taught us the definition of Yoga, he intended for us to no longer hold the outside world accountable for our happiness. Indeed, he showed us that supreme joy exists within ourselves.

Yogi Cameron Alborzian left the world of high fashion as a supermodel to pursue the study of Ayurveda and Yoga. The Guru in You, his first book, was published by HarperCollins in 2011 and his follow-up book, The One Plan, was published in 2013. He has starred in two seasons of his own television program “A Model Guru” on the wellness channel, Veria Living, and is a regular contributor to the Huffington Post, The Daily Love, and Sharecare. Yogi Cameron has brought Yoga and meditation in Afghanistan as part of the reintegration program to prepare the country for troop withdrawal and has worked with young girls rescued from sex trafficking practices in Cambodia in coordination with the Somaly Mam Foundation.

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I’ve got this one conscious lifetime and know that I have been given more opportunity and good fortune than many. For this I am grateful, but also feel, “How dare I not use the time I’m given, the opportunities I have, the abundance I’m allowed, etc. to be in the service of others?” I don’t expect all beings to feel motivated in the same way, but I am quite clear about my own karma and the intentions behind my actions. I feel driven to use my life and the gifts I’ve been given in a way that supports, uplifts, and most importantly offers love and fellowship to ALL beings. This is the calling of my soul.


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samantha harris i n t e r v i e w BY m a r a n d a p l e a s a n t

MARANDA PLEASANT: What makes you come most alive? SAMANTHA HARRIS: Two things, really. First, a hard-core, sweat-inducing workout! When I get a good burst of cardio, be it for 15 minutes or an hour, I feel alive. I feel strong. I feel powerful and confident. The other thing that truly makes me feel alive is performing on stage. I don’t get many opportunities, but whether it’s for a charity event or when I was on Broadway [in the musical Chicago playing the lead role of “Roxie Hart”], every synapse in my body fires with excitement, energy, and that incredible feeling of being alive! It is so visceral. Seriously, I love that feeling as there is nothing like it. MP: If you could say something to everyone on the planet, what would it be? SH: Just be nice! It really takes little effort to be kind and courteous. Maybe it’s the Minnesotan in me, but really, c’mon people -- have a little patience and let’s all play nicely. MP: What’s your biggest passion/project right now? SH: Well, not just right now but for many years it has been my work on the Entertainment Council for Feeding America (, the country’s largest hunger relief organization. When // @samanthaharris


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I became a first-time mom, I learned the statistic that one in five children here in the U.S. struggles with hunger. As a parent, to not be able to nourish your developing child’s body and mind is devastating. It’s a problem that we can solve. That is huge...the idea that ending hunger in America is attainable. The roadblocks are cultivation, access, and distribution. For those who can afford it, just a $1 donation will provide up to nine meals for a family in need. MP: How do you keep your center in the middle of chaos? SH: Yoga breathing - deep, slow, controlled inhales and exhales. That always helps me refocus and channel the anxious energy that chaos can bring with it. MP: What makes you vulnerable? SH: Being a parent. The constant worry about keeping our daughters safe, happy, healthy, and boo-boo free. MP: What are issues/causes that you are passionate about? SH: In concert with the work I do with Feeding America, I also volunteer a couple days a month at a food bank near my house. Being able to meet and talk with the wonderful people who are getting the support they need to make the paycheck

stretch or receive the only food they will have for that week or month is tremendously rewarding. The other organization that I work with is March Of Dimes, which aims to help all moms have healthy, full-term pregnancies and ensure that every baby is born healthy. You can learn more about ways to help at: MP: What’s your health routine? SH: My mantra is simple: Make healthy meal and snack choices; exercise three to five days per week for 30 minutes at the least, but ideally an hour; have dessert (in moderation but daily!). MP: How do you stay healthy/fit? SH: With exercise, I like to change it up and keep my body guessing. By doing different activities on any given day (from stair climbing to interval weight training and from spinning to yoga), the threat of injury is less. The same muscles are not overworked and I don’t get bored, therefore I stay motivated to continue. I am so passionate about health and fitness that last year I got certified as a personal trainer (CPT). My hosting career is still my priority, but I wanted to have more credibility when speaking about exercise and how to treat your body!

PhotoS: Darren Tieste

Who or what do you say that you are? Do you see yourself simply as the obvious? Recognizing how we see ourselves gives us more of an understanding of self-potential; I believe it also creates more of a clear consciousness of what we claim we love and also addresses the capacity in which we are able to receive love. How do we learn or better yet how have we been conditioned to learn? This question is equally important due to the fact that as our consciousness expands, we must address how we learned these conditioned patterns of thought. When I was introduced to yoga, I realized a lot of anger. I realized my frustration. Everything would be amazing in solitude, but in interactions with others, I realized there was a large amount of lingering residue. I began to inquire about everything and monitor the words coming in and going out. I began to observe myself and my thoughts before they would arise, and even when I slipped, I would check myself. If doubt would come to my mind, I would follow up with my mantra of choice. I began to nurture my practices - realizing that all are amazing tools, but we, the individual, must initiate and cultivate the intent.

For me, being a man, I realized I had built this armor - whether it be physically, economically, or emotionally, to mask the emptiness.

Is memorization truly learning? It seems to me that we’ve done just that. We’ve studied to test and that has become our practice. In self-inquiry, the memory doesn’t really apply. It’s more of feeling and reflecting - to be trapped in the mind, not realizing why there’s frustration and confusion; having family relationships solely on the surface, nothing of real significance, and speaking the word love out of habit; seeing myself in relationships simply coexisting, not realizing this too is a learned behavior first introduced during childhood by my parents; adopting success, pets, and children, thinking this would take me off the roller coaster of unhappiness.


Why is mediation and yoga so powerful to me? It allows me to bring the internal self to form and make it tangible. For me, being a man, I realized I had built this armor - whether it be physically, economically, or emotionally, to mask the emptiness. The tools of yoga allow those holes to be filled with acceptance and love. Knowledge is truly power because when you allow the knowledge to be yours, you become accountable and to be the victim is no longer possible. What I enjoy about my discovery is that my connections are real connections, my family is my family, and as I give love, I can equally receive love. The meanings of life and my words are my own. I am free.

Keith Mitchell was a Pro Bowl Linebacker in the National Football League. But his 7 year career ended on a paralyzing tackle. Keith was comatose for days before doctors could inform him of his spinal contusion. Yoga was the medicine that allowed him to regain full mobility. Keith is a yoga advocate and teacher that enjoys sharing the practice all over the world.

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“Our need for discipline is dynamic.”



Often during a yoga class, I invite my students to notice how their yoga practice is a reflection of their life, because how we show up on our mat is how we show up off our mat. I often have a moment of pause as I ask myself that same question. My answer is that in most areas of my life, I’m in this position- the position of teacher (or therapist, expert, parent). In most areas of my life, I’m in a position of control and power. Cringe…. As a teacher, I am often idealized by my students. I’m committed to NOT pretending to be more enlightened than my students and to modeling my humanity. Yet, we all idealize our teachers a little, even I do. As a clinician I am also committed to making sure my clients don’t hand over their power to me, yet by virtue of being in the position of holding space for them, I have the power. THEY are the ones being vulnerable, not me. And as a parent, it’s vital I maintain a sense of stability and consistency for my children; they need to be able to lean into me. Boy am I comfortable in these roles! I thrive when I’m with someone who needs me. In a crisis, you want me there; I’m calm and collected and can do what’s needed. I can tend to a sick child like an expert, I can speak to a room of hundreds about trauma and effective interventions, I can change a tire while counseling someone in crisis (actually I can’t change a tire). You know what I mean though. But when I sit in front of my therapist, in a space that’s all about me and my needs, I squirm. When I sit in front of my dear husband who wants me to be soft and receptive, I stop breathing for a moment. When someone asks me what I need, my impulse is to say, “Oh, nothing.” THIS is my edge. NOT being in charge. This is a place for which I have no map.


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This is a place that is dark, and I walk with my hands outstretched not knowing what comes ahead. This is a place that I yearn for so deeply, yet scares me so much. Attachment to feeling in control can be a shadow side of yoga. The discipline of breath and precise movement can turn into a prison of perfectionism if left unchecked. Yet, if the goal of discipline is freedom, if discipline is working, it should lead to less need for discipline, right? Childbirth taught me a lot about letting go. My yoga tools helped me a lot during the contractions, but when it came time to push and I was still doing my yogic breathing and visualizing my baby, my midwife asked me to stop. She told me I needed to bear down and push - no more controlled yoga breathing! She was asking me to let go of something that made me feel in control and go towards the intensity rather than try to manage it. Most of childbirth is about surrendering to the body’s natural instincts rather than resisting them. Our need for discipline is dynamic. Sometimes we have to use discipline to bring about more balance. Yet, it’s important to not get attached to the discipline because it gives the illusion of control. Look for opportunities to let go, chances to be vulnerable and less-than-perfect, and to ask for help. This is my deepest yoga practice.

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

By Yulady Saluti

Mirror, mirror on the wall, show me my scars for they reveal all. Scar is a relatively ugly word. It means a mark left by the healing of injured tissue. When I got married 10 years ago, I was basically scar free. Two weeks later I was diagnosed with a recto-vaginal tumor. Let the scarring begin. Twenty plus surgeries later, including a double mastectomy, and I am covered in reminders of my various battles. Some I won and some I lost. Many of my surgeries were ineffective. All of them left scars. I love my scars. My husband doesn’t even blink when he sees them. They tell a story of survival. They tell a story of struggle. Ultimately, they tell a story of victory. My scars empower me in so many ways. Mostly, they remind me of healing. I know I can overcome anything the Universe offers me and I’m smart enough to be ever so grateful.

scars “

It’s interesting what empowers me. I am blessed and hope I empower other women to fight, whatever their fight may be. We women of this beautiful yoga world need to empower one another. We must not be silent in our support. My scars are easily seen. Most women’s scars are not so easily seen. Have a voice! Tell your story and release your pain so that we might all grow from your strength. Next time you encounter a woman with scars, be they physical or mental, let’s not act like

They tell a story of survival. They tell a story of struggle. Ultimately, they tell a story of victory.

we are back in school, whispering behind her back. Instead, step up and ask. Open your mouth and find out what, if anything, you can do to help. Examine the situation and see the opportunity for growth, both yours and theirs. I know one thing for absolutely sure - we are all better together than separate. Have you ever noticed that the less you think about yourself, and the more you think of helping others, the way life just lights up?

Yulady Saluti is a mother, wife, yogi, and former ostomate and breast cancer survivor. She is in love with life and everything that it has in store for her. When she is not hanging with her family she spends most of her time teaching and practicing Yoga.

PHOTOs: Robert Sturman

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charlene amoia interview by maranda pleasant

MARANDA PLEASANT: What makes you come alive? Charlene Amoia: Whenever I see good being done in the world. There’s no better feeling than doing something to help someone in need. It’s like seeing the beautiful human spirit in full flight.

MP: What makes you feel vulnerable?

CA: Publicity. Ha Ha. It’s something anyone in the spotlight needs to get comfortable with - having all eyes on you and anyone and everyone ready to judge you, but does one ever truly get one-hundred percent comfortable with marketing themselves? I don’t know. That’s something I struggle with at times. A testament to my modesty and down-to-earth nature too; I definitely haven’t got tickets on myself.

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

CA: Be who you are. Don’t try to change for anyone. What makes us special is that we’re all different, so maintain and honor that difference. There is no need to conform, change, or try and be someone or something other than what you are.

MP: How do you handle emotional pain?

CA: I swear by meditation and yoga - it clears the mind, puts the soul at ease, and makes


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CA: everything else dissolve into the background... at least for a little while. Meditation is terrific- a friend was telling me that his six- year-old daughter does it at school in the mornings - it’s part of the curriculum. Before school begins each morning, the class of six and seven year-olds (!) does fifteen minutes of meditation. I think that’s wonderful! All schools should do it.. all workplaces should do it! The world would be a much sweeter place!

MP: How has Yoga influenced your life?

CA: It has made me very aware of my breath and the quiet sensations in the body. It’s allowed me to come from a place of observation instead of reaction. With a steady practice of yoga and meditation, I have found myself handling life’s vicissitudes with equanimity and using the flexibility I now have with my body also with my mind.

MP: How do you keep your center in the middle of chaos? Do you have a daily routine?

CA: I do vipassana meditation every day. I actually just got back from my second 10 day silent meditation retreat with them. This has made such a huge difference when confronting life’s unexpected turns.

MP: What’s been one of youR biggest lessons so far in your life? CA: Not to expect everything to happen right away; some things take time, patience, and

a lot of work. Good things happen when you least expect it.

MP: What truth do you know for sure? CA: That good things do happen to good people.

Buffalo born-and-bred, Charlene Amoia made the transition into acting after spending some time modelling. Though best known for her role as ‘Wendy’ on the series How I Met Your Mother, she’s also appeared in such films as American Reunion, Seven Pounds and Fat. In 2014, you can see her in Vitals.

PHOTOS: Charlene Amoia

joe longo

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joe longo

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Your blossoming will need to be unlike anyone else’s; just as every double helix of DNA is unique, so is every person’s journey to become fully themself.

” No Courage, No Change

The physical practice of yoga is said to include some 840,000 postures, ranging from the simplest you can imagine to postures so extreme even the most advanced gymnast might find them out of reach. Every body is different, so no matter how flexible or strong you might be, some postures will be easier and more accessible for you than others. But after working with tens of thousands of individuals, I can tell you that the single hardest yoga practice is the same for everyone. It’s called change. I’ve taught multi-millionaires who in material terms could accomplish in a single day what many of us would be thrilled to do in a year, yet when it came to fulfilling their wish to work less so they could spend more time with their families, these immensely powerful individuals became practically powerless. I’ve worked with meditators who could sit for hours and access profound physical and mental stillness yet were unhappy and terribly frustrated with their lives, far from being at ease when it came to building a meaningful, inspired, creative life, a career, or financial security. Making a million dollars is not a big deal if you are a multimillionaire, yet learning to relax, find peace, and settle into your heart can be. On the other hand, stilling your mind is not a great accomplishment if you’ve been doing it for years, but learning to engage fully in the world in a way that is enriching and truly fulfilling may be difficult, even overwhelming, for you. This is why the journey of becoming a more whole person, of fulfilling the deep longings that you feel called to ful-


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fill, but that remain beyond reach, even after years of trying, may be the greatest challenge that any of us can ever face. It also may be the most rewarding and most meaningful. The point is that it is challenging to remain on the path of positive change, the path that will lead you to the new dreams that you aspire to achieve. Without a doubt, it will take courage and self-leadership. This is particularly true in the interim between starting to act on the change you seek and it coming to fruition. Fulfilling your potential and achieving your destiny will demand that you stand on your own and become your own guide, since no one other than you has ever had precisely the same dharma (destiny). Thus, while you may find others with whom to share your life and your love, ultimately true growth will require you to create your own path. Your blossoming will need to be unlike anyone else’s; just as every double helix of DNA is unique, so is every person’s journey to become fully themself. At some point you will need to be the light that leads you through the darkness of uncertainty and the difficulty of change. This means you must learn to be a singular force, committed to living your soul’s urge to be and become. There may be nothing as empowering and quite so liberating as exercising this capacity. Certainly nothing is as instrumental in helping you become who you were meant to be.

Rod Stryker is the founder of ParaYoga® and author of The Four Desires. Rod has taught Tantra, yoga and meditation for more than thirty years. He is considered one of the West’s true master teachers, whose capacity to clearly illumine the science of the ancient teachings and transmit the deepest experience of those teachings to students from all walks of life, make him a unique and invaluable voice in today’s yoga world.

PHOTO: DJ Pierce



The ancient yogic scriptures declare that God is sound and sound is God: Shabda Brahman. There is nothing but God. God is everything. God is real. God is reality. God is sound. All forms of reality are sound forms—music—their very substance composed of vibration. What we see as material existence, matter, is sound slowed down so that the eyes can see it, the ears can hear it, and all the other senses can cognize it. Sound gives birth to matter—in the beginning was the word.

Mantras are magical words of power with the potency to shift reality, or at least your perception of it, and that might in fact be the same thing. Mantras are designed to protect the mind from evil or destructive forms. The Sanskrit word mantra means “to cross over the mind.” Man means “mind,” and tra means “to cross over.” Our minds create the forms of our realty. If we feel bound or limited by that reality, if

But to utilize this magical potency of mantra, to shift our perception of reality, we must acknowledge that mantras are spells and like all spells, to be effective they must be uttered with sincere intention and pronounced correctly.

we don’t like what we see, a mantra allows us to change our perception of what is by giving us the means to cross over or to go beyond what appears as normal to us. But to utilize this magical potency of mantra, to shift our perception of reality, we must acknowledge that mantras are spells and like all spells, to be effective they must be uttered with sincere intention and pronounced correctly. Most of us must repeat a mantra many times for the desired effect to manifest. As the alchemists of old used to say with encouragement, “with repetition the magic will be forced to rise.” The most powerful mantras are composed of the names of God. All of our words spoken or said silently in our minds create the reality we live in. Most people unconsciously fill their minds and their world with words that manifest as mundane, destructive forms ensuring negativity and suffering. The wise, on the other hand, work to deconstruct a negative reality through chanting God’s holy names. Sound precedes form. His name (nama) creates His form (rupa). There is no difference between God’s name and God. If you want to dwell in the bhav of the Divine, then use the mantras of His holy name to lift your mind from conflict, fear, anger, despair, and all ordinary concerns and bring you into the reality of ananda—bliss, your true h(om)e.

Sharon Gannon is the co-founder of the Jivamukti Yoga method and the author of Yoga & Vegetarianism, the Diet of Enlightenment.

Photo: Guzman

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dance in darkness


As children we are taught to be afraid of the dark and praise the angel in the light.

We are told scary stories of ghosts and demons and how they will devour our souls if we are bad. Even Hollywood depicts the Dark Knight as the one to fear and that only the Golden Goddess can save our souls. But as a woman who spent years searching for the light in order to heal the pain that felt demonic, I soon realized the true healing occurs when I dance in darkness. We have all experienced some form of suffering caused by lost love, death, illness, or our own internal bullshit telling us that purity shows up in the light. My Southern Baptist upbringing taught me that Spirit lives, but the only True Spirit lives in the light. After being confronted by death at a very young age, I began to castaway the teachings of my youth.


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I questioned and pondered why we would experience both if only one was true. I soon realized that darkness is my true teacher that gives me the ability to celebrate the light. This realization didn’t fully evolve until my adulthood. In my twenties, I made the decision to simply sit with the pain and experience the grief. For years, I thought I could just ask God to take it away, but in my heart I knew I had to put in the work. I had to personally face the demons, welcome them in for a party, and dance like hell. Today when darkness knocks on my door, I call on Kali, the Dark Mother. I stand there with a sword in one hand, the head of a demon clenched in the other, and two hands extended without fear. I know I have to put in the work, so I am unafraid to wear a girdle of severed hands signifying the action of karma. I dance in her beauty, fall at her feet, and feel myself being freed from the cycle of pain.

Photo Credit: Drew Xeron, Lighting: Brandon S. Hunter

Then, suddenly, I heard the sound of my own voice. As if standing outside myself, in an instant, I was judging everything: the experience, my voice, the voices of those around me, the body odor of the fellow next to me. Still, I kept chanting--only a bit quieter. Five minutes later, I was at full throttle again, completely forgetting my “spiritual judgment” self. When the night was over, I was critical about the evening. I returned the next week, and then the week after.


Stepping on the crazy heart train BY JANET STONE

The more I chanted, the more the identity I had constructed around myself began to soften and even dissolve. In the dissolution, I found space to see myself and others more clearly, with a vision not dimmed by filters of protection. The place I would meet within myself on those evenings was unwavering, not relying on specific conditions to be met for me to feel love or express love. As I chanted, deep breaths of compassion for my human condition and the condition of those around me increased. By losing myself for even a short time, I found that we can know ourselves and all beings more fully by expressing devotion, or bhakti. This kind of devotion comes in many forms: mantra, poetry, art, prostration, carpooling, daily dishes. Bhakti is any action informed by gathering our energies, our prana, and directing it to the heart of the matter. A personal expression of devotion to God, bhakti is a way to integrate our sense of separateness. In bhakti, we turn our attention toward the rhythm and preciousness of one breath, one heartbeat cycle. We dance to the sacred pulse of our own heartbeat, expressing itself in perfect harmony with the divine drum beat. This is bhakti. Whether I’m in a temple high on a mountaintop in India chanting to Hanuman, or whispering mantras to my children as they fall asleep, or leading kirtan with hundreds of people, or paying my bills, this is where devotion lives: in the sacredness and tenderness of the heart.

I was practically drowning in tabla powder, flowy shirts, swaying people, closed eyes, and indecipherable words. And yet for at least a half a second, I had no judgments of these weirdos. For that flash, I was a weirdo myself. Immersed in some heart space I didn’t recognize, for a moment I stopped looking at the difference between the "me's" and the "them's." My head thrown back, my heart open in all directions but steady in the center, I encountered samavesha – the power to be immersed in something and have that something immersed in you. I was simultaneously in the center of it and around it, surrendering, saying words that meant nothing to me but seemed to speak to something unnamable within.


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Janet’s personal yoga journey began in 1996 when she travelled to India, the birthplace of her grandfather. She met a powerful Yogi and became devoted to the many practices yoga. She offers trainings, immersions, retreats, workshops, festivals, and conferences around the world in hatha, bhakti, and vinyasa, lineages all rooted in the heart of compassion. Currently, she is based in Bali with her two daughters. Find her at

PHOTO: Peggy Dyer

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Psychedelic Stillness and Grace A Conversation with Vinnie Marino By Andrea Marcum The New York Times called Vinnie Marino “The Unlikely Yoga King of L.A.” He enjoys many crowns, including: sardine-packed classes, deliciously–dry humor, rock and roll, uncluttered honesty, twenty-eight years clean and sober, and some of the most insanely loyal followers you’ll ever swap sweat with.

Where and when did you first bump into yoga? I had my first run-in with yoga in the ‘70s. I can’t remember if it was Lilias Folan on TV or if I started with my workbooks at home, but somehow I got turned on to yoga at fifteen years old. My brother was a hippie, and I went to a hippie high school where our gym class was yoga. And then I got off onto my whole drugs-wild-lifestyle and drifted away from yoga.

When did you know you wanted to teach? I moved to LA in 1990 and took a flow class with music and really liked it. I went to Bryan Kest all the time, and I found Seane [Corn] and YogaWorks. Then Grace Slick told me, because I had no idea what to do with my life, “You’ve got really strong legs, you dig this yoga stuff, try that. I’d rather take yoga from you than some weird guy in an orange robe.” And she gave me money to go to White Lotus and do my first teacher training. After taking the White Lotus and the YogaWorks trainings twice, I was still sure there was no way I was going to teach. One day I was at 24 Hour Fitness, the teacher didn’t show up, and the two other people in the room said, “Why don’t you teach the class?” Then things started to unfold, classes filled up, and Maty [Ezraty] hired me at YogaWorks. That was probably fifteen years ago.

How has your practicing and teaching changed over the years? Is your personal practice like the classes you teach? I started loving hardcore, kick-your-ass flow, and I still teach a strong flow. But now I’m in my mid-fifties. I have dealt with being on chemo for six months for hepatitis C, from intravenous drug use in the ‘70s and ‘80s. I also had back surgery. My health wasn’t there, and my yoga was restorative and yoga nidra. I don’t go to the level-five vinyasa


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When we practice, we come in with such mishigas, tumult, such stuff from the world, our worries, anxieties, all this free-floating frenetic energy – then we practice and, all of a sudden, something shifts.

classes seven days a week anymore. I like going to teachers who’ve been teaching for twenty or thirty years. My fire is different these days. I’ve done some cool stuff with my body, but to me the gymnastic stuff isn’t the key to freedom. It’s the intention behind it. Doing something extreme from an inversion to an arm balance is just a form of meditation. It doesn’t necessarily make you happier. These days, I’m more interested in what happens when you’re still.

You top my list of influential teachers. When I first stumbled into your classroom all those years ago, it was an epiphany for me. Here was this totally real guy who wasn’t impressed by bells and whistles and got right to the truth. You make it about the material, and aren’t afraid to use humor and disarming honesty to get there. I’ve always been about alignment. I was way more rigid when I first started teaching, but now I’ve softened a bit. As much of a psychedelic hippie person as I am, I’m definitely not an airy-fairy person when I teach. I really have a reverence and a respect for yoga teachers and a yoga class—that when you come, you do what the teacher’s saying. If you modify for an injury, that’s understood, but if you’re doing all these other variations—I just find it so rude when people do that. And

when the room’s really full, it’s distracting, and people can get hurt. But you never know what lurks beneath the surface. After teaching for so long, I’m aware that underneath a normal-looking person there’s divorce, there’s illness, fear, mental instability, financial issues. There’s so much. When people get to class, I’m just thinking, “I’m glad we all made it here.” When we practice, we come in with such mishigas, tumult, such stuff from the world, our worries, anxieties, all this free-floating frenetic energy – then we practice and, all of a sudden, something shifts. We get up out of savasana and think, “All right, I think I can deal with this.”

your healing? Did it make you see yoga in a different light? Getting sick makes you so grateful for health. Without it, everything just comes screeching to a halt. I don’t view yoga like the fountain of youth, like I don’t view being clean and sober as, “I’m not going to feel any pain.” We are these human bodies that have weaknesses, illnesses, and fragilities. We can strengthen them in certain ways, but ultimately we learn to live with this predicament. The days of thinking that one thing is your savior is just not real. Between zero and one hundred, you’re probably gonna die. The beauty of it is to take advantage of right now, really enjoy today, because there are no guarantees. The yoga is all about being present.

You also use fantastic music. I know that’s a great love of yours. I’ve loved music from birth, but especially from what I came through in the ‘60s and ‘70s. Psychedelic drug anthems were my spirituality. The latest album from Jefferson Airplane, The Stones, The Doors – they were like prophets for what was going on. They really spoke to me. Music is transcendent and, to me, otherworldly, so putting it with yoga just made sense.

In what ways has yoga contributed to

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Learning to be human BY Mary Clare Sweet

I did not believe in depression. After a year of epic travel, joy, and expansion, I was on top of the world. My friends were inspiring and creative. It was rainbows and butterflies and I felt like a unicorn. Sounds quite un-human right? In high school I struggled in depression. I saw a psychologist and tried medication, but I never felt connected to Western therapy. Then I deepened my yoga practice and began to study Eastern texts. After a few years, I felt I ‘grew out’ of depression. A month ago, it hit me like a tornado. I was paralyzed by fearful panic attacks. It was like spinning in a storm and I couldn’t catch my breath. It raged on for a week before I cried to God for help. Depression cannot be simplified into three steps, but this is how I got through the fire. BREATHE. Breathing brought me to the present moment. Taking deep inhales and slow exhales steadied me into the now. It made me look at facts instead of spiraling downward. Concentrated breathing demanded that I see only what was real. Anxiety and depression simply do not exist. The only thing that is real is the present. Simple breathing got me there. CALL IN HELP. I was scared to talk about my panic attacks. Describing my


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condition was impossible because I was bewildered and confused myself. An inner voice kept saying, "Buck up, you are fine, you can handle it on your own." Finally, I called my sisters, I talked to my mom, and I sat with my dad. I found huge relief in their compassion and love. It gave me the energy to meet with a therapist and bodyworker. I called an old friend and poured my heart out, finding that she experienced the same thing months earlier. As difficult as it was, talking about my depression broke the chains to it. I felt free for the first time in weeks. LAW OF IMPERMANENCE. During my depression, I felt like a robot. One day as I was teaching class I heard myself say, “Nothing is permanent!” BAM. This gem shone forth from my heart. It granted me a sense of clarity and guided me back to my meditation practice. I concentrated on the truth of impermanence. When I felt an attack coming on, my brain was trained to anchor to the knowledge that it wasn’t going to last forever. This experience brought me back to Earth. My soul asked me to practice what I preach and examine the authenticity in my teaching. I am balancing my work and home life with greater delicacy and un-

plugging from technology regularly. I have a brand new sense of compassion and empathy for myself and others. Throughout it all, I knew my inner light was still there. A thread was still connected to unity consciousness. To hold on to that thread took the most strength I have ever summoned. If you are walking through the storm, I promise you, there is another side. You will get through it, breathe, talk to someone, and know it will not last forever. Look for your light, even if it’s a tiny ember, it is truth and it can’t be snuffed out, even by the toughest storm.

I intend to play! Energetic vibrations of fun run deep in my veins. I own Lotus House of Yoga, a vinyasa studio in Omaha. The classes I lead are fun, challenging and filled with love. My godfather is ashtanga and my sister is rock and roll. Gracefully tip toe along the fierce edge of your practice, expect sweat, love, and OM.

PHOTO: Chris Mather

An ancient, Asian beauty secret for modern skincare Dew Puff Face and Body Cleansing Sponges are a new revolutionary way to cleanse the face! 100% plant- based, Dew Puff has only one ingredient - konjac root - the Asian secret discovered and used for hundreds of years for beautiful skin. This sustainable root makes these sponges exceptionally soft, while creating a perfect pH balance on the surface of the skin. Lasts for three months!











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the Ayurveda people

Auromère Ayurvedic Toothpaste & Mouthwash

F the Neem tree as a remarkably effective toothbrush to scrub their teeth to or thousands of years villagers throughout India have chewed on twigs of

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Along with Neem, the 26 botanical extracts and essential oils in Auromère Toothpaste and Mouthwash are prized in Ayurvedic science for helping to prevent plaque and tartar formation, ward off cavities, sooth gum inflammation and sensitivity, to freshen breath and leave teeth feeling squeaky clean.

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ade with Neem Bark extract and potent essential oils to stimulate gums, remove food particles and plaque between teeth, while freshening breath. M A N T R A M A G . C OM


Jessica Durivage-Kerridge

Remembering the inner guru:

Parenting from within

I came back, once again, to the truth that my highest teacher, the one that connects my soul to a boundless sea of love and possibility, lives deep within the cave of my own heart. My mother-in-law calls babies “time wasters” meaning that we spend hours upon hours just sitting around staring at the baby, playing with the baby, ooh’ing and ahhh’ing over the baby (you get my point). I have very easily, effortlessly, and willingly slipped into a long “time wasting” coma with my 9-week old, wanting to be present and in the moment with him as much as I can. Even in the wee hours of the morning, my eyelids heavy and body aching, he has the ability to send a sense of renewal into my heart with one little smile and I find myself gazing at him sleeping peacefully instead of drifting off into my own much needed slumber. I’ve been teaching yoga for twelve years and have built my practice and teaching around spreading the simple message that our highest teacher lives within our own hearts. I have sought out and sat at the feet of many “teachers,” but have never truly bought into the message of an “external guru.” It


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interests me more than anything to observe flocks of students following a teacher around, calling him/her “guru,” and then simultaneously getting hurt, disappointed, and downright angry or feeling betrayed when the teacher inevitably shows an imperfect human quality. I just couldn’t buy into the “guru” game, so I have made it my mission to awaken my own inner teacher and encourage others to do the same. Enter Ellis Roy Kerridge - my son and the absolute light of my life. All of a sudden, I am aware of the true meaning of teacher and guru. Day and night, I serve him selflessly, full of unconditional love and joy. Moment by moment, my happiness rides on whether he is comfortable and content. Day by day, we grow to know one another more and more, although no words are spoken between us, a strong harmony holds us together with a bond stronger than I ever thought possible. It’s the single most incredible experience of love that I have ever had. For the last several months, my meditation cushion has sat unoccupied, my yoga mat rolled up in the corner, and my mala beads hidden in their silk pouch. I have not given my practice a single consideration as I have been preparing, making way, and welcoming this new being into my life. It has consumed every ounce of my energy to step into the role of mother and while it has fed my heart and soul and given me back

so much, I did not realize that anything was missing until… Until I stepped back onto my yoga mat to teach a class on mindful communication and promotion for a group of yoga teacher trainees. As I sat down with the group of students, they started class by reciting the Hanuman Chalisa, one of my favorite and most beloved mantras. I closed my eyes, palms resting on my knees, and felt my body take that first sacred breath. My heart began to swell and tears filled my eyes. My body began to sway to the powerful words as a deep remembering of my own inner light began to warm my body from the inside out. The feeling was as powerful, yet different than, the love and connection I feel for my son. I came back, once again, to the truth that my highest teacher, the one that connects my soul to a boundless sea of love and possibility, lives deep within the cave of my own heart. I was overcome with gratitude to my son for the amazing gift he has been giving me daily that has now, in this moment, allowed me to appreciate even more what it feels like to come home.

Jessica Durivage-Kerridge is a new mother, writer, speaker, and teacher. She is the host of the Where is My Guru podcast, bringing awareness to the inherent light and wisdom we all carry within ourselves. She lives with her husband Carl, son Ellis Roy, and two cats, Suki and Spooky, in South Carolina.

PHOTO: Whitney Hempsey - Studio412 Imagery

BY d a n a d a m a r a

Concious Parenting:

A Wake Up Call for Single Parents

Whether you are widowed or divorced, single parenting is a full time job; get over it. Being married isn’t easy either! I haven’t been a single parent very long, but I do have a few truths that have come from my short ride on this “side of the fence.”

For Yourself

With Your Kids

In Relationships

• If you are hitting the ‘snooze’ button on your life, the same issues will follow you. So, wake up to who you are, regardless of your marital status. Be the best you can be. Ask your kids what they think about your behavior; they’ll tell you the truth.

• Be present. Stop what you are doing, really listen, look at them, and respond appropriately.

• Not everyone is going to understand you, don’t expect them to – it’s unrealistic. Instead, find a circle of friends who get it and reach out to them when you need to. Just make sure it becomes a karmic experience – believe it or not they need you too.

• Stop playing the victim. There is inspiration in every frustrating, exhausting, prideful moment. You GET to do this! Infinite gratitude – that’s all. • Make a list, check it twice, and then let at least half of it go. • When you hear yourself say, “I can’t,” know that you can, you are, and your kids rely on you to keep going. You can’t just give up, sorry. Take a break but no quitting.

• Your kids want to support you when you are overwhelmed. Please don’t rely on them to help you. You are there to support them! Don’t ask them to take care of you – they can do that when you are old. • Kids don’t care about what the house looks like or what you own and neither should you. All they really want is undivided attention from you. I know it’s hard on some days, but it’s the most important thing you will ever do. Your work is important, true. Making money, equally important. But your most important job is being a conscious parent.

• Find something that fills you up and do it as often as you can. No justification necessary; just do it and claim that time as sacred for yourself.

This parenting thing is the best ride you will ever take! It offers you an insight into so much truth, it can actually blind you sometimes. Keep it real and find the funny in everything.

• No whining allowed, period. Everyone is dealing with their own struggles. Yours are no different than anyone else’s; regardless of marital status, we are One. • However, enlist a friend (or two) that can handle your periodic emotional vomit. It’s necessary to purge irrational thoughts and it’s best to do it with someone you trust who will hold space with no judgment. • For whatever reason, you may end up at the end of a relationship, a single parent. Use this time to find joy, authenticity, and true love. Let go of any “poor me” mentality.

“My passion on the mat is proper alignment, powerful breath, and effortless flow so you feel that off your mat. Your practice becomes sacred space where you arrive to find more meaning, depth, authenticity, and integrity in your life.” –Dana Damara: mother, coach, author, yoga instructor, speaker, and yogini.

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Michelle Marchildon

To be a better yogi,



The other day I was at my local coffee shop and ordered my usual skinny decaf, also known as a “Why Bother,” when the very helpful barista said to me, “Is that yogic?”

The week before I came in and bought an egg salad sandwich on wheat bread, to which he said, “That is not the best choice.” Most recently, I arrived at noon and bought, wait for it, a vegetarian protein platter, to which he said, “Finally, a healthy and yogic choice.”

I am not kidding. There are some strict interpretations of the yoga sutra Brahmacharya that include no nooky-nooky, which would probably be news to a whole lot of gurus judging by the yoga scandals. I know many yogis who are better than I am at being yogic. They eat their placenta, they do not touch a plant that has been killed in an unkind way on an industrial farm, and they practice six hours a day. They are raw, vegan, gluten-free and they do not drink wine even if it was from free-range grapes.

I am not that yogi. My interpretation of being yogic is to do my best not to flash the finger when someone cuts me off on the highway. If I practice six hours a week, I am thrilled because I also have a job. I am doing the best I can with a full life including two books, two teenagers, two dogs, and a husband. When I signed up to be a yoga teacher, it meant trying to inspire others to do just a little better on the path every day they practice. Just. A. Little. Better. I believe that once someone steps on the path, wherever they start is a good beginning. I would rather be a cheerleader for the smallest of accomplishments than to raise the bar to an impossible height.

This finally pissed me off. When you sign up to be a yoga teacher, I suppose there is an invisible contract you agreed to and that is to be always yogic. In some people’s minds, that means vegan, gluten-free, and celibate.

Pema Chodron would say, “Start where you are.” But these days, being yogic often means living to someone else’s standards. Like the barista. I usually fail at this and my critics let me know it. In the end, rather than setting standards high, I believe our good intentions will isolate the practice from all the human people who want to be on the path.

Pema Chodron would say, “Start where you are.”

Yoga is a path from the inside out. Being yogic and doing good in the world are individual goals. So when the barista says I am not making good choices, the fact that I did not flash him the finger makes me yogi of the year. It’s on a yogi adjusted-basis that we are yogic, one growth opportunity at a time. Now I think I’ll take that egg salad sandwich, with a “Why bother” to go. Thank you.

Inspiration brought to you by the Yogi Muse, a real voice in yoga. Michelle Marchildon is the Yogi Muse. She’s the author of “Finding More on the Mat” and “Theme Weaver: Connect the Power of Inspiration to Teaching Yoga.” She is an E-500 RYT based in Denver, Co. You can find her on


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Editor's Picks:

yoga accesories

para rubber mat

The rubber plantations of Malaysia and Indonesia provide the natural, renewable material for the Hugger Mugger Para Rubber Yoga Mats. These sturdy, stable, cushiony mats have a unique variegated patterned on one side with an equally grippy solid surface on the back. Our editor’s latest practice using this mat, simply amazing.

Hand Appliquéd Ribbon Yoga Bag

Our Editor literally screamed with delight when she first saw beautiful bag from Soulie. These stunning yoga bags are artisan made and handcrafted with love from start to finish. Each piece incorporates traditional artisan techniques and helps to support economic development initiatives, so you can feel good and look good.

cork block

Sustainable, long-lasting, and comfortable, say what?!? Made from fast-growing, renewable cork, the Hugger Mugger Cork Yoga Block’s natural texture provides traction, and the block's rounded edges make it comfortable in supported poses. This block is a great choice for ecominded yogis and a new favorite for us.

Hand Woven Yoga Strap

These amazing yoga straps are 100% cotton, hand dyed and woven with love by a women's cooperative in Nepal. The traditional artisan techniques used make it an entirely unique product and one that we absolutely love!

sigg elements


A sense of calm blanketed the office after these meditation Zafus from Hugger Mugger arrived. Lovingly handmade in the USA, they’re filled with organic buckwheat hulls that form to your contours and allow for easy height adjustments. The covers are made using beautiful, upholstery-grade fabrics and include a convenient handle.

We’re over the moon about the SIGG Elements collection. Dedicated to the elements in their simplicity, as a reflection of the fundamental powers upon which everything is built - water, earth, metal, fire and wood- this collection of 0.6L bottles in matte earthy hues is truly wonderful.

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the power

of Prayer T

There I was in the summer of 2012, on the floor, physically and emotionally. From the outside, I probably looked like everyone else attending yoga class that Monday morning, but to me, on the inside, especially within my heart, I was in shambles. During Savasana, the final resting pose at the end of class, there was a moment I had not expected. The waterworks came running down as my teacher said something along the lines of, “Sometimes, you feel as though you are swimming backwards. You feel like you are backtracking and heading in the wrong direction, but really what’s happening is contraction and release. The universe is preparing you for something much greater, you just have to swim backwards for a little bit.” And that was exactly what was happening. I was swimming backwards through what felt like a triathlon, and the life that I thought


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I wanted came crashing down like a ton of Jenga blocks. I wanted to trust that the wise words of my yoga teacher would come true, that the universe was indeed preparing me for something greater. And so I decided to do just that. I began to believe. I left my best friend, I left a home I created with my own hands, I left my precious animals, I left my life of comfort, and I dived straight into the deep sea. I moved across the coast to live in New York City. I finally began to let go of the need to control my life and began to put my faith into the universe – faith that everything that was happening was simply teaching me a lesson and guiding me to where I needed to be. Through this experience, I found the power of prayer – the simple, intention based prayer, because without this, my practice became meaningless. I had to believe that there was a higher power shifting me away from the old and into the new.

The more I began to believe, the more strength I was given. The deep sea no longer scared me. I had already sunk to the bottom; how much more could I have gone? We’ve all been through this type of experience. Some of us come out of it bolder with barriers, some of us softer with more of an open heart. Wherever you’re coming from, don’t wait to pray until you hit rock bottom on your knees. Pray every moment for strength. Pray for the ability to forgive. Pray to become the most healed and the most creative version of yourself. Pray to think outside of your box. Pray to always be impeccable with your words. But most importantly, pray for the courage to always believe in second firsts.

Turkish born, British bred, Bee is a yoga teacher and reiki healer living in NYC. Her classes are based on self-compassion, strength and courage. Visit for more info on her signature “Heal Yourself" workshops and retreats.

PHOTO: Drew Xeron

The Foundation of Yoga: Yama and Niyama

To really make progress in yoga, we need to surrender the ego. We need to let the finite, small self absorb and become one with everything. B y S r i D h a r m a Mitt r a

When asked to consider the essential elements of yoga practice, I always return to Yama (the Ethical Rules) and Niyama (the Yogic Observances) – the first and second steps of traditional yoga according to Maharishi Patanjali. All of practice has its foundation in the first Yama: Ahimsa. While Ahimsa is often translated as non-violence, I prefer to think of it as compassion. If we keep Ahimsa in word, thought and deed, this is yoga. Often people confuse putting legs behind their head or all these other fancy poses with yoga, but without Yama, all these poses are just exercises and stretches. True, these exercises will make the body strong, flexible, and healthy and some purification will occur if they are practiced with faith, but if we are still involved with violence on any level, then Asana is just physical exercise truly devoid of meaning or purpose.

Of the five Niyamas, I think the most important is the last: Ishvara Pranidhana – complete and total surrender to G-d. To really make progress in yoga, we need to surrender the ego. We need to let the finite, small self absorb and become one with everything. We have this basic misunderstanding that we are somehow separate, different, and unique in all the world. In reality, this belief is an illusion. What we really are in essence is G-d Himself. There are no differences between anyone or anything: just sameness everywhere.

As long as we hold onto and cling to the illusion of what and who we think we are, there is no chance of truly surrendering the ego. Go deep into compassion and go deep into the surrender. The compassion will help you to begin to recognize that you really are in everyone and everything. The surrender will allow you to eventually break the bubble of the personal self and become one with everything. In keeping Yama and Niyama, being obedient to your teacher and doing your practice without fail every day, you will surely achieve radiant success in yoga.

Legendary yoga teacher Sri Dharma Mittra first encountered yoga as a teenager before meeting his Guru in 1964 and beginning his training in earnest. Sri Dharma founded one of the early independent schools of yoga in New York City in 1975 and has taught hundreds of thousands the world over in the years since. Sri Dharma is the model and creator of the “Master Yoga Chart of 908 Postures”, the author of ASANAS: 608 Yoga Poses, has released two DVD’s to date – “Maha Sadhana” Levels I and II, and the Yoga Journal book Yoga was based on his famous Master Chart. Sri Dharma continues to disseminate the complete traditional science of yoga through daily classes, workshops and his “Life of a Yogi” Teacher Trainings at the Dharma Yoga New York Center and around the world. For more information on all things Dharma, please visit:


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Here ’ s h ow to ta k e t h e FI R S T s t ep i n to R E AL

by Mastin Kipp

Do expansion and growth feel scary?


So many times I get asked how to “get rid” of fear or how to not feel a negative feeling. Every time I give the same old answer. If we aren’t afraid most of the time, we aren’t growing. A lot of folks believe that being on a “spiritual” path will somehow banish all fear and negative emotions from a person’s life. Wrong!

If you are living a “spiritual” life,” you are probably going to come up against more fear than someone who is just coasting. When you’re on The Path, you are going to become MORE sensitive to the emotions you feel, not less. Being on The Path does not necessarily mean that you are happy ALL the time, never feel scared, and can turn off negative emotions like a light bulb.

This is not what having a human experience is all about - on the contrary! If we are on The Path, we are inviting fear to come because we are stepping outside of our comfort zone! We are inviting our emotions to rise because we are clearing away all the things that prevent us from feeling them. This is the path of the spiritual warrior – to be courageous enough to FEEL fear and keep going! Do not cut yourself off from feeling however you feel and know that there is nothing wrong with you for feeling a negative emotion! This is what it means to be a human being! Like my mom has said, “When you numb your pain, you numb your joy.” Being human, being open, being ALIVE means being ready to experience it all.

And as we do, instead of trying to always “be positive” and beating ourselves up when we don’t achieve that impossible goal, we accept that life is a series of ups and downs. So, while it’s true that we can’t always control life, we CAN give what happens an EMPOWERING meaning. By doing that, we start to take our power back. We also begin to see that it is by FACING our fears that we grow. Growth, by definition, means we are constantly expanding beyond our comfort zone. When we expand beyond our comfort zone – the natural experience is FEAR! This doesn’t make you wrong or un-spiritual, it makes you HUMAN! Can you allow yourself to feel the way you feel without judging it as wrong or un-spiritual? Self-acceptance is the first major step in transformation. Without self-acceptance, no amount of yoga, therapy, life coaching, or any other modality will really work. Without self-acceptance, all those things are just spiritual entertainment. So, how can you accept yourself even more today? Love, Mastin

Mastin Kipp is the CEO and founder of The Daily Love™, a website, daily email, and Twitter account serving up soulful inspiration to a new generation. Mastin’s mission is to connect people back to what makes them happy. Happy people make better choices, and better choices make for a better planet.

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The Secrets of Sticking Together Couples share their thoughts about maintaining a healthy relationship.


David & Chris 8 Years David: “I’m from a family full of love and caring and (that knows) the of importance of being together. My parents just celebrated their 55th wedding anniversary, so I have good role models about what it takes.” Chris: “He was very ‘Ultra A Type’ when we met and he’s let so much of that go because he knows he had to give a little and I had to give a little.” David: “I realized that I was never going to meet the person I was supposed to be with until I was really in love with being alone, by myself. And when I authentically was really, really happy, the ol’ ball-and-chain walked into my life.” Chris: “It’s pretty amazing to find someone who will let you be who you are, truly, with no expectation.”

JERMAINE & SHARON 20 yEArs Jermaine: “It’s pretty much a 24 hour job now that we have taken on the challenge of having a business together. Normally married couples don’t work too well together, but we’re starting to find out our strong points. She gives me my room, I give her her room.” Sharon: “We’re friends. You have to be friends before you become anything. Now we’re very close friends AND he’s my husband.” Jermaine: “I think (Hurricane) Katrina brought us a little bit closer. And it also proved what we had been saying to each other all of this time. We chose to stay. We chose to hang in.” Sharon: “People see us together a lot. When they see me alone they say, “Where’s Jermaine?” or when they see him alone they say, “Where’s Sharon?” Because he’s my shadow, and I’m his shadow.”

will & laurie 20 Years Laurie: “We really did grow up together. We were babies. But we knew we wanted a real relationship.” Will: “I was a college boy trying to explain to her who I was. But I didn’t know who I was.” Laurie: “I worked really hard on my evolution as a wife… I had to learn it and really mess up and nearly lose him before I could grow up myself, take care of my own happiness, and not make him responsible for my happiness.” Will: “I didn’t know that her weakness was my opportunity to grow. I thought it was her weakness. That’s my growth opportunity. She’s not my pain-in-the-ass, she’s my muse in that sense.”


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YOU can make

Love Happen Once upon a time, beautiful princesses simply had to wait for Prince Charming (on a requisite white horse) to trot by, sweep them off their feet, and take them to the land of happily ever after.

That still happens… fairy tales! For the rest of the real world, “making love happen” is an art, science, and skill that most people need to acquire before the magic occurs. I believe that meeting your soulmate does have a certain amount of “meant-tobe-ness” to it, AND it requires a big dose of “make-it-happen-ness.” It’s a combination of the two that is the winning ticket. Unless you are a master manifestor, just sitting on your couch waiting for the “one” to knock on your door is not going to work. The Law of Attraction states that we draw to us the people and experiences that match our state of being. In other words, if we are feeling good about ourselves and our life and trusting that good things are happening, often the outer world will match our inner world. If we are living in fear, anxiety, wanting, doubt, or other negative emotions, chances are we just pull in more of that. So, the very first step of manifesting love is about getting to belief. Do you believe you deserve love? If your heart desires love, then that is enough for you to be 100% certain that you do deserve love! But, if you said, “no, you don’t

BY Arielle Ford

believe it,” are you willing to invest a little time and energy into changing this belief? Do you believe your soulmate is out there (and also looking for you?). It’s true! There are MANY possible soulmates for all of us. Right now there are more than seven billion people alive on the planet. More than half of them are single. You only need one. Statistically, the odds are in your favor!!! Step number two is all about forgiveness. We must forgive ourselves for all the mistakes we have made in past relationships and then forgive the ones we are judging as “having done us wrong.” This is a key step. Don’t skip it. As Annie Lamott said in Traveling Mercies, “Not forgiving is like drinking rat poison and then waiting for the rat to die.” Step number three is getting to clarity. What are the heart traits and qualities you most desire in your soulmate? What does your life together feel like and look like? Every great relationship is a combination of great communication, chemistry, compatibility, and a shared vision for the future. Begin “making love happen” today with these three steps.

Arielle Ford has spent the past 25 years living and promoting consciousness through all forms of media. She is the author of THE SOULMATE SECRET: Manifest the Love of Your Life with the Law of Attraction (Harper One). She lives with her husband/ soulmate of 16 years, Brian Hilliard.

PHOTO: Carl Studna

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BY l i z a r ch

the power of



My mom lost her battle with cancer last year and we held her funeral three days after Christmas. I was back in the yoga studio teaching all my regular classes just two days after she died. My students commented on how “strong” I was, but in truth, I felt very little emotion. My mom deserved to be wept for, yet for months my eyes remained dry.

Six months after her death, the floodgates finally opened. I lay on my bed heaving under waves of grief. I thought I would feel better once the tears flowed, but the tears simply washed away the numbness and when the numbness wore off, guilt and regret hit me like a truck. I was plagued by so many “should haves.” On the surface, I had been the dutiful daughter, taking weeks off from work to fly home and be with my mom while she was sick. I fed her and sat at her bedside, but I was absent emotionally. At times, I couldn’t bear to be in the same room for more than a few minutes, so I


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would leave the room and close the door to lock out the pain. Instead of running from my discomfort, I should have held her hand and comforted her with my touch. I should have wrapped her tightly in my arms cradling her as she slept, so she wouldn’t have to face the darkness alone. Now, one year later, I am finally beginning to heal the scars of guilt by building layers of compassion and forgiveness. Whether intentional or unintentional, we have all caused hurt to others or been hurt ourselves. These hurts will haunt us as long as we hold on to past resentments or bear the burden of guilt, anger, or fear. My mom was a kind and compassionate woman. She surely would have forgiven me and would want me to forgive myself. Ask yourself if your pain serves you and choose to release unnecessary suffering by inviting forgiveness.

Liz Arch is the creator of Primal Yoga®, a dynamic yoga/martial arts fusion that merges Vinyasa yoga with the artistry of Kung Fu and grace of Tai Chi into a mindful flow. She is an athlete for Respect Your Universe ( and an advocate for A Window Between Worlds (

PHOTO: Robert Sturman

Forgiveness Meditation: Find a comfortable place and sit quietly with your body relaxed. Take a few moments to settle in and begin to sense your breath. Reflect on some of the ways you have been hurt or have hurt others. Acknowledge the hurt place inside of you that guided your actions. Invite forgiveness by repeating the following phrases mentally: “For anyone who I have knowingly or unknowingly harmed, please forgive me.” “For anyone who has knowingly or unknowingly harmed me, I forgive you.” “For the times when I have consciously or unconsciously harmed myself, I forgive myself.” You can shorten the phrases, simply repeating: Forgive me. I forgive you. I forgive myself. Observe and soften into whatever sensations and feelings arise. See yourself as a person who is deserving of forgiveness, compassion, and love. Close by offering yourself a moment of gratitude for practicing kindness and allowing forgiveness in.

yoga’s healing power

THROUGH GRIEF when tragedy crashes down



In August of 2005, I was on top of the world. Upon graduating from college before my 22nd birthday in May, I left my home and family in Idaho and promptly moved to New York City to embrace new opportunities and chase my ultimate dream of becoming a professional dancer. On a sunny Manhattan morning, I got a phone call from my mom. Her voice shaking on the phone, my mom informed me that the private airplane my brother Ben was flying to our Idaho family reunion had crashed, and the passengers on board were my brother, Andy, and father, Bill. In the blink of an eye, my family was gone. Alone, I crawled onto a plane that afternoon and flew home to meet my mom and the shattered pieces of my new and scary world. The only thing I remember from the five hour flight was the song ‘Just Breathe’ by Anna Nalick racing through my mind. A mantra that saved my life that day, and one that would change my life in the near future. A few months later, in an attempt to keep distracted at all costs, I stepped into my first

yoga class. With a full deep breath, it was the first time I felt back in my body since the horrific phone call, and it was enough to entice me to dive deeper. The very next weekend, I enrolled in a yoga teacher training program and started my journey of swimming through my sea of grief with yoga as my lifeline. The physical attraction of asana was enticing, feeding my dancer’s soul, but it was the spiritual qualities of yoga that kept me coming back for more. My time on the mat was sacred and it was a place for me to process, unravel, and make sense of my new, very painful and confusing life.

It’s a safe sanctuary that allows me to feel the waves of emotion, the pain, the love, and the raw sadness without judgment and without expectation. Grief is a lonely place to be, and I like to think that though it changed me profoundly, it has given me a whole new perspective and ultimately revealed who I am and how I show up in the world.

Here I am eight years later and there are still days that feel like the accident and loss was yesterday. In my yoga and meditation practice I have learned the ‘veil is thin’ and my family’s influence and memory is vibrant in my daily life. Grieving the loss of my dad and brothers is an ongoing process and when it is most overwhelming, yoga gives me the chance to face my grief one breath at a time.

Emily Potter lives in San Diego, CA where she teaches yoga and is a clinical nutritionist and holistic health counselor in her private practice NourishMint Wellness. Emily combines a variety of modalities including yoga, meditation, nutrition, energy work, and psychology to help others find optimal balance and wellness.

YOGA PHOTO: Ian Padraig O’Roarty, HEADSHOT: Epic Photo Journalism

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BY D r . ROB I N S a r a s wati M a r k u s

The Problem As professionals, mothers, and yogis, we try to balance our lives – multitasking, 24/7 lifestyles, technology swallowing us whole – but the price tag is high: decreased ovarian function. Under stress, ovarian blood supply is reduced and the ovaries are placed on hold. Women in their forties have only one fifth of the pelvic blood flow that they had in their twenties. That small trickle of nourishment to the reproductive organs accelerates aging and tips hormones off balance. Without healthy circulation through the pelvic bowl, essential hormone ratio is lost and we feel even more stressed - disconnected from self-care, our lives, and families. Rapid ovarian regression sets in and premature aging follows. Bottom line– we don’t feel good.

The Norm: Women Feeling Marginal Chinese medicine purports the ovaries are the body’s window into our fertile potential, our representatives of Kidney Essence (Jing), Rasa, and Ojas – the nectar of life and holders of genetic potential, ancestral wisdom, and the key to rejuvenation. The walnut sized ovaries store our nourishing hormones and drive almost everything meaningful throughout the female experience. Fatigue, feeling overwhelmed, PMS, short orgasms, weight gain, subfertility, and depression are common and women get used to feeling marginal.

The Solution The Self-Care movement is actually rooted in yoga, learning to move not only our body, but our energy too. Mental focus, deep breathing, and movement are clinically proven healing techniques that roll back the biological clock. Practicing yoga as medicine returns the


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ovaries to their receptive nature. Alternating sets of stimulation and relaxation tones and rewires the nervous system to become responsive and resilient. Brain regulation techniques release the body from a braced (Yang) expression and, combined with asana, kriya and pranayam, replenish (Yin) meridians and blood vessels that breathe life and blood flow back into the ovaries. The pelvic bowl is transformed into a verdant, life-giving rainforest for women of all life stages.

The Potency of Yin & Feminine Feminism Forget the myth, your ovaries are secreting hormones throughout your whole life, but they rely on blood flow. The overdoing that life often demands can change to a way of being that is more skillful and efficient when it is rooted in the Yin potency of the pause. The watery 2nd chakra, deep in the pelvic bowl, is the portal for life-force to come through in all life stages. The fertility of this chakra lies in its flow, like a vibrant river running through you. This doorway births all into being - an inspiration, a piece of music, a new version of yourself, or a baby. But it cannot be forced, it must be allowed. Have you ever tried to force inspiration? The next time you feel overwhelmed, place your hands on your low belly, breathe deeply, and wait for the silent voice of your wise grandmother within for clarity. Yin stillness gathers energy and wholesome life springs forth. Action that follows contemplation becomes dharmic. This is the feminine feminism. Dr. Saraswati Markus, Daoyogini, and Chinese medicine gynecologist, is a thought leader in natural hormonal balance and fertile health maintenance. Dao Flow Yoga for Women’s Health combines Chinese medicine with yoga to ignite self-healing and vitality naturally. Visit for information about DVD’s, immersions and teacher training programs.


THREE Rules to Make Everything Awesomely Okay In the thirteen years I’ve been teaching yoga, I’ve been around the block enough to witness people trying to fit themselves into a yoga box—one that tells them they “should” act or behave a certain way in order to be a yogi. Some fall prey to yoga dogma and force themselves into an inauthentic mode of self-expression that wears Lululemon pants and is stuffed with kale. Let’s cut the bullshit, get out of the box, and start living authentically. Here are some rules to follow:

1. Don’t get weird. If you’re already weird—in whatever way that might manifest itself—let your freak flag fly. And don’t go a changin’ simply because you get the impression that you “should” to fit in with yoga. There are few things that are a bigger bummer than leading an inauthentic life, like trying to fit yourself into a rainbow filled sparkling box of yoga sunshine if that ain’t your gig. No need to trade your motorcycle boots for hemp flip-flops or your bangles for a bindi...unless you sincerely feel moved to do so. Yoga can help you to feel more authentically you. Let yoga fit into your life, not the other way around.

2. Just try to be less of an asshole. Let’s be honest. We are all human. There are gonna be good days and there are going to be bad days. As much as we move around on our mat, life’s challenges will push us to the brink and occasionally kill our yoga buzz. Can we all just allow ourselves to be human and agree to try to be less of a jerk in those stressful times? It won’t always work, but it sure is more possible than trying to be a perfect ray of sunshine all the time. That’s a standard no one can achieve and will only result in greater frustration. Quit it. Do your best and keep on keepin’ on.

3. Always be ready. You never know when it’s going to happen. And, by it, I mean your life. Always be ready. Say yes to the opportunities that arise, because interestingly, everything that appears before you is meant just for you and is an opportunity to engage in and participate with your life. It’s like that quote by Joseph Campbell, “We are not looking for the meaning of life, so much as we are looking for the experience of being alive.” Well, this is it. Start saying a hearty "yes" to all the moments of your life – the good, the bad and the ugly, because they’re all yours. Engage in the experience, don’t shy away, and what you’ll find is that life will unfold itself as a perfect expression of your active participation.

These three rules reveal to us the number one gift of yoga, which is that everything is awesomely okay. We will come to know this through the active and authentic participation in every single moment of our lives without pushing anything away. Embrace and accept your life exactly as it is and let your authentic self thrive.

ART: Emma SegaL

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Yin yoga is now becoming a part of an ecosystem of healthy living.


PAUL GRILLEY BY N a n c y A l d e r

Nancy Alder: How did you come to practice yin yoga and what about it was appealing to you?

Paul Grilley: I learned the practice from Paulie Zink back in 1989. It was delightful to discover a practice that didn’t leave me tired and sore. Back in those days, I still didn’t know about skeletal variation and so I believed the mythology that all people can do all the poses if they work hard enough. But I had been practicing yoga very hard for eight years and couldn’t come close to doing many poses. Yin yoga was so different. I thought maybe it was the missing element that would finally open me up. I was mistaken about achieving any kind of photo-worthy flexibility, but I found the practice so soothing that I have continued it long after I abandoned my purely athletic ambitions. NA: Are you surprised by the popularity of yin yoga today?

PG: I think it is a natural balance to a yang lifestyle and yang health culture. It makes sense to me that a culture of physical health and exercise had to take root before it would be necessary to balance it out. Decades ago, there were not health clubs or yoga studios

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on every corner - this has been a huge cultural shift, and yin yoga is now becoming a part of an ecosystem of healthy living. NA: Your book was re-released in 2012 for the 10th anniversary. What is different about the new edition?

PG: The new book presents more detail on what a student will feel when doing yin yoga - more of it’s energetic, rather than merely physical, benefits. It also goes into much greater detail on the theories of chakra meditation.

NA: Can you elucidate the important connection between Yin Yoga and the Traditional Chinese Energy meridian system?

PG: All of yoga, not just yin yoga, is given an appealing theoretical foundation by the theory that meridians are structured channels of water in the fascia. This helps explain yoga’s mental and physical benefits. Stimulating fascia in yin and yang ways has healing effects beyond muscle and bone. The meridians influence the health of all tissues and are the link between mental and physical processes.

Paul Grilley helped to catapult the practice of yin yoga, a style pioneered in the United States by his teacher, Paulie Zink, to popularity. This practice of stretching connective tissue during longer holdings of poses is now common in yoga studios as a compliment or alternative to more yang-based classes. The incorporation of Traditional Chinese Medicine meridians and chakras has long been part of Grilley’s approach to yin yoga. His work on skeletal variation strongly influences his anatomy teachings and is considered an essential study for many teacher-training programs.

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Michelle Berman Marchildon – The Yogi Muse


The yoga world is rapidly changing.

What began as a sacred practice has turned into a $10 billion industry. Studies estimate that 8.7% of the American population practices yoga with that number increasing every day.

Studios are springing up faster than Starbucks. Classes are shorter and watered down in an effort to get more people in the door. Websites offering online content have become ubiquitous. And it is quite common to see people doing yoga in advertisements selling unrelated products such as cars. There are no two ways about it, this is big business and everyone wants a piece of the (likely, vegan) pie. If there is anything mankind needs it is more yoga, but do we lose the essence when it becomes about making money? Is yoga moving away from spirituality and becoming just another form of exercise? Scholars of the practice know that the physical postures, asanas, are a tiny sliver of the overall focus. They are a step along the path. The seminal text, Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras, states that, “Yoga is the stilling of the movements of the mind,” and among the 196 short statements that comprise the entire text, only 3 refer to asana. None mention Bikram or handstand.

OXYMORON? BY SARA H EZR I N becoming less important. Meditation and stillness just aren’t sexy. Instead, the music is getting louder, the classes are faster and harder, and it is all too common for students to skip savasana entirely as they rush back into the rat race of their lives. How can we regain the reverence this discipline warrants? To begin, remember the ultimate goal of the practice- to quiet the mind. Leave time for silence and stillness, whether it is a long final rest or a brief sit. And no, you cannot take savasana in the car on the way to your next appointment. Emphasize the breath. While it is fun to flow to music, it can be hard to hear your breathing. Our breath is our connection to life force and the main tool we use to calm the mind. Learn and practice the other limbs of yoga. Not causing harm to oneself or others, being truthful, and meditating are not bad skills to cultivate. Yoga is something one lives; it is not something one does. And though many may try, you actually cannot put a price tag on yoga.

Yet even the word “yoga” itself has become synonymous with the physical. And let’s be honest, yoga asana does a body good. But our bodies are impermanent- we get injured, we get sick, we age. Though subtle, it is the mental and energetic benefits that endure, but these appear to be


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Sarah Ezrin, E-RYT-500, is a yoga teacher and writer based out of Los Angeles. With a profound love of travel, she leads retreats, workshops, and trainings around the globe. For Sarah, yoga is not about the tricks or the postures; it is about maintaining one’s center amidst the challenges and chaos of the world.

Top Photo: Penywise, Bottom Photos: Fluid FramE

Abundance: Let it Flow BY KAT I E BRAUER


My nickname is the Golden Horseshoe. It was gifted to me by one of my oldest friends because, from the outside looking in, he views me as the luckiest girl in the world - always seeming to be in the right place at the right time, like a giant magnet, opportunities land in my lap. Don’t get me wrong, I experience my fair share of not-sogolden moments, and I embrace them. Living and engaging with the entire spectrum of life is something that I truly value and live for, but for the most part, I will own it, I am incredibly lucky and abundance does flow in my life - sometimes like a fire hydrant exploding, other times a slow dripping tap. I attribute it to two things; 1. A deep relationship to possibility. 2. Alignment - my words, actions, thoughts and feelings are coherent. (This takes work, is a constant practice, and to me this IS yoga) These two, like the greatest couple you have ever known, go hand in hand. Get set up for flow:

Where are you full of shit?

Someone did something that upset you, yet when you see them you smile and give them a hug. Inside you are pissed but your outward actions and words suggest everything is fine. More often than not, a lack of alignment exists because we are putting off a difficult conversation. Have the conversation, step into truth, it opens the portal of abundance.

Who are you when no one is watching?

Hold yourself accountable and take responsibility for past actions that had a negative impact and yielded a not so awesome outcome. Choose one place right now that you know you didn’t deliver what you said you would, that you screwed up and never apologized or took responsibility for, and make the call, send the email, and own it.

What is your relationship to possibility?

Connect to the deepest part of you that knows anything is possible. Reflect on your life, on times where a particular outcome defied logical explanation, when things lined up just right, when you achieved an extraordinary outcome. Atha Yoga Nushasanam; and now the inquiry of yoga. Use your life as an experiment. No need to make drastic changes at once, shifting the rudder one degree on a sailboat takes you to an entirely new destination. Commit to the one-degree and take action.

Katie Brauer is an Internationally celebrated Speaker, Yoga Teacher and Director of Yoga Six. Inspiring others to step into a life of empowered choice and conscious living, Katie shares her love of yoga on Gaiam TV and at festivals nationwide. She’s the go-to for Professional Athletes and leads Teacher Trainings around the world.

Who inspires you?

Identify someone that lights you up, inspires you, and brings out your best. Spend more time with them.

What are you doing when you’re happiest? Pinpoint activities and pastimes that fill you up. Commit to incorporating them into your daily/weekly ritual.

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tuning the student minD Exploring consciousness may just be the next great adventure of a generation. “I don’t know what this is yet, but I’m going to help you fight for it.” I uttered to my sociology professor, Molly Beauregard, after a lecture she organized on introducing a meditation program at my school, the College for Creative Studies (CCS). At this lecture, the head of our liberal arts department (who has since moved on), unexpectedly declared an all­-out war against meditation on campus, saying it was a “spiritual practice” and didn’t belong in an institution. It has been Molly’s deepest passion to bring the wisdom of meditation to her students and she’s been elbow deep in the ramifications of that wish for years. Incorporating meditation into college structure has been akin to moving a graveyard down the street. Why is incorporating a meditation practice within school grounds such a difficult task? How is it that we have let our education system become void of meaning for the sake of playing by the rules? Have students forgotten that they are the consumers of their own education? Do they not have a right to demand that their college experience be rich within a multitude of opportunities? “No one has taught them, ‘you need to take this time to relax, and here’s how you can do it.’ And I think we’ve reached that point, that it does have to be taught,” says Denise Dooley, Academic Advisor at CCS. And her sentiment matches the student experience. “We’re just in the flow of what we see and know to be


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true. No one has taught us that there is another way to celebrate life and just be happy with who we are,” said Cami Beauregard, who is a meditating student at Albion College in Michigan (as well as Molly’s daughter). When I was in high school, I was in the flow. The flow of prescribed Adderall to treat my diagnosed ADHD, the flow of skipping school with friends, the flow of feeling there was more out there but not knowing how to obtain it, so just staying in the flow. It was dangerous and unhealthy and they eventually shipped me off to an alternative school. Maybe that was just the lack of empathy I needed to realize that I could help fill the cup for other students going through what I and so many of my friends were going through. After finishing high school, I decided that I wouldn’t be beat by my education. It was all-­out revenge. I could hardly believe I even got accepted to college. And I certainly never imagined that my college experience could be so enriching. Receiving the gift of meditation in school changed my life.

Molly and Chelsea started the Tuning the Student Mind Foundation in an effort to bring meditation programs to college campuses nationwide. Molly is now beginning her 7th semester of “Consciousness, Creativity and Identity”, a sociology class that infuses meditation into the curriculum. To learn more please visit

Have students forgotten that they are the consumers of their own education?

BEWARE! Self-Awareness can REVERSE your EVOLUTION!



Guess what? It’s possible that all that ‘work’ you’ve been doing on yourself for all these years, cultivating the silent observer in you, training that inner-witness to be super-aware of all your moment-to-moment actions, strategies, and dysfunctions – that raising of awareness might have been sending you backwards! Unless that skillful noticing has been permanently coupled with your love and self-forgiveness - even affection for all your fallible, over-reactive, slightly mad behaviours – then there’s a good chance that each time you’ve noticed yourself being imperfect, you’ve been using that raised awareness to judge yourself harshly and entrench yourself even deeper in self-loathing, self-disempowering habits. That’s right – we could be going backwards here! Hold up a moment!

When I’m melting down or making a big fuss about something, either out loud or to myself, my inner psychiatric nurse, in a sympathetic, soothing tone, affectionately says, “Awwww…do you need a little lie down? Shall we put the kettle on?” like an old auntie who’s seen worse in the war. war. For me, it’s so much less violent to myself. Instead of the old, frustrated, ‘“Oh Jamie! When will you ever grow up?” voice, I place my palm affectionately on my chest, lighten up, and strive to be self-soothing. Because self-awareness without love leads to self-harming.


The key to useful self-awareness is LOVE. So now, every time I notice myself being an over-reactive diva (for instance), instead of kicking myself and saying, “Oh Jamie, such a brat, what’s the matter with you? When are you going to evolve?” and instead of talking to myself in the familiar voice of the slave-driver or the self-hating judge, I bring in the LOVE. In my case, these days, I bring it in the form of an affectionate and undramatic, psychiatric nurse who lives within me.

Cultivating my inner psychiatric nurse has been great for this, because selfawareness without affection for myself soon becomes self-judgement and selfloathing. How easy it is to descend into kicking myself with frustration when I witness myself failing again.

This is why foolishness and playfulness are central to my life, to diffuse any earnestness in me that thinks it has the right to judge and condemn. Whatever your technique for staying self aware, please don’t forget to include an equal amount of self-forgiving LOVE and even affection for your own unique fallibility. Without it we are just warring on ourselves, cultivating more seeds of violence, and regressing not progressing, in our evolution.

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BE SINCERE NOT SERIOUS Are your efforts at freedom actually putting you in lockdown?


When I look around the yoga room these days, I see a lot of solemn faces and furrowed brows. It seems, you see, that we are quite resolute in our efforts on the mat - in aspiring to evolution and enlightenment through increasingly complex asanas and precise alignment. The commitment and discipline are admirable! But are you having any fun at all? Is it possible you’ve just gotten too damn serious? Now, I’m not championing making hatha yoga classes more “fun” and mainstream making it more palatable by reducing them to kick-ass, sweaty workouts in a party atmosphere full of “Namaste, bitches!” and “I’ll kick your ass-ana!,” devoid of any illumination of what “body-mind connection” actually means and how to foster it because that part of it feels so serious. No, I’m talking about finding a way to walk the spiritual path in earnest while seeing the humor in it all, the good, the bad, and the ugly. In a culture like ours that values ambition, goal setting, and achievement, it’s essential for today’s yogis to maintain panoramic vision, the “big picture” so to speak. Are we exploring all aspects of ourselves in the spirit of holistic self-inquiry, self-awareness, and extraordinary consciousness? Or are we subconsciously applying culturally-influenced values to cultivate certain “ideals” in body and mind


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Sincerity offers us the space to be both entirely devoted but still light-hearted enough to see the humor in the journey.

while excluding other aspects of our lives not widely deemed useful, important, or spiritual? Must we be stern and somber about this evolutionary journey of awakening in order to explore it fully? Must we completely eschew silliness to make it all legit? By not embracing a certain amount of playfulness and light-heartedness on our mats, our practice can become more a way to narrow ourselves and less a practice of exploration and curiosity without attachment to outcome. Excessive seriousness can cause us to contract around certain aspects of our practice, our lives, and ourselves. And that contraction can cause blind spots, divisiveness, and regressive patterns - precisely that which we’re attempting to transcend by practicing yoga. The philosopher Alan Watts said, “I am always sincere, but never serious.” Perhaps therein lies the middle path. Not serious, not frivolous, but sincere. Sincerity offers

us the space to be both entirely devoted but still light-hearted enough to see the humor in the journey. Start by relaxing around your process - there’s no point in trying to rush it. Be sincere in your commitment to awakening. Be sincere in your exploration of what’s possible on any given day. And be sincere in your willingness to see the ridiculous and belly laugh out loud.

Gina Caputo - Yogini On The Loose Boulder, Colorado Gina’s passionate and inspirational style of teaching is a balanced fusion of informed, vinyasa yoga with attention to holistic alignment, personal evolution, and humor. She is an inspiring, empathetic teacher known for her clear and playful style of encouraging you to fearlessly navigate your edge, open your heart, and boldly dive in!

Photo: Meredith Moran for Be Present



I left Wall Street ten years ago. To be honest, I have no idea how I ended up on a trading floor. My economics degree and people skills got me the job, but it was obvious from day one that I did not fit in. Besides my insecurity around numbers, and the fact that I had no experience (life or otherwise), I lacked a fundamental survival skill necessary to thrive on Wall Street: the ability to take action under pressure. And the pressure was intense. Every morning at 9:30am we set sail through peaceful seas in search of a storm, and while I frantically sought shelter down below, everyone else smoked cigarettes and told dirty jokes up at the bow. They laughed in the face of 30-foot waves. I cried. They were street smart, possessing the capacity to react quickly and unemotionally to their surroundings, all while strategizing their next move. They seemed to live for the action and the higher the stakes, the better.

practice has helped me get clear about what’s really happening, so that rather than seeing something for what I want or hope it will be, I can see it for what it is. But I’m learning that too much self-study and selfreflection causes stagnation. Contemplation needs to be in service of action. Without action, nothing can change. When we stand at the precipice of action, our attachment to the outcome becomes a paralyzing obstacle. Overthinking allows me to drag my feet; it gives me a convenient out from having to face the music. Fear that it won’t turn out the way I want, or the way I expect, or that it won’t be perfect (that I won’t be perfect), is flat out debilitating. Instead of taking action, I’m inclined to stay safely trapped in my mind where I can run through drills and simulations without having to take any risk.

“Contemplation needs to be in service of action. Without action, nothing can change.”

This is not how I roll. I was never the kid on the playground who could come up with a zinger on the fly; I needed three days, counsel from my circle of trusted advisors, and hours of talking to myself in front of a mirror to really craft a decent comeback. I like to think things through. This takes time, and time is the one thing you don’t have on a trading floor. A customer wants to sell 50,000 shares of a stock now, and you have to examine the situation, implement a strategy, and then execute the order. No hesitation. You have to trust yourself and take action. You can’t obsess. There’s a fine line between contemplation and over-thinking. My yoga

We can talk a good game, but at some point we have to do something about it. We can strategize all we want, but ultimately we have to leave the shelter of our minds and walk bravely onto the battlefield. In the Bhagavad Gita, Krishna implores Arjuna to get off the sidelines and jump into action. “The wise man lets go of all results, whether good or bad, and is focused on the action alone. Yoga is skill in actions.”

My stint on Wall Street proved invaluable to my journey; it was in that big money, high stress world that I learned the value of taking action. Contemplation helps us get clear, but action is the power that manifests this clarity in our lives. As my beloved—a Wall Street man himself—often says to me, “Babe, problems don’t go away until you act.” Face the music. Apply your practice. Take action.


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Every night, I have a man (the same man) asleep in our bed snuggled next to a black and brown terrier mix rescue pup and a hint of a sugar cookie candle scent lingering in the bedroom. While he sleeps, I sit in the living room and stare at a computer screen. Be it writing or reading a book on an iPad, I find that in this computer connection I feel this nagging pull, this unfulfilled fear of missing out that is actually not towards my warm bed, but to the wonders of social media that are Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. What is that magnificent and powerful pull?

Is it my curiosity into the world that grants me permission to stare at a computer screen over laying next to a man I so madly love or snuggling next to a pup I radically adore? Is it the grand curiosity to learn more and see more? No, definitely not. I am not on CNN or watching a historical documentary on Netflix, I am on Facebook looking at my friends’ (whom I have not spoken to in at least 7.5 years) children and video updates.


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Real human interaction, as defined by me, is the truest connection within eye contact, the ecstasy in a high five, the act of listening, and the slowing of the heart beat in an embrace. It is actually irreplaceable. Nothing behind that computer screen will actually fill my soul like human touch.

what is that magnificent and powerful pull?

Is it the joy in the distraction from what I should be doing? When something that should take 22 minutes to complete, with social media clicks and intermittent visits, actually takes 67 minutes. I am sixteen years old again and dying to have any reason to rebel from doing my homework. I search for distraction and then my own phone line rings in the other room and I am free.

Or finally could it be my mind playing tricks on me, telling me that I am actually participating in a new form of human interaction? That ‘like’ on that page, that comment on that photo, and that retweet will keep me connected to this grand universe that is being created online - as if there is a sense of belonging I seek and, simultaneously, this fear that I cannot be left behind. In all honestly, it feels like an addiction.

And yet I sit, staring. The screen is glaring. And I lean into this pull.

Jacki Carr is the Founder of Goals on the Rocks, where she is a Goal Coach and Personal Brand Consultant. She is also the co-Founder of Rock Your Bliss, a holistic bliss movement bringing yoga and goals to the world. Her mission is to be a catalyst for a world where people get possible together. Find her in the Santa Monica Mountains and go for the high five.

Photo: Steve Brian, (foto) fatale West

Over 25 retreats to choose from in 2014.


Viniyoga practice is designed for each person’s unique body & mind.


TEACHING & YOGA THERAPY The foundational program for the highly acclaimed Viniyoga Therapist Training welcomes current yoga teachers pursuing a career as a Viniyoga Therapist, aspiring teachers, or anyone interested in deepening their personal practice. The program is taught by master Yoga Therapist and pioneer in the transmission of Viniyoga for health, healing and transformation, Gary Kraftsow. LEARN MORE Dona Robinson, AVI student advisor | 808-572-1414 |

The Power of Mantra Transformation From Ashes to Wings S I ANNA S H ERMAN


When things fall apart and burn to the ground, what happens next? How do we re-emerge when we feel defeated, lonely, betrayed, and confused? What tools do we have as yogis to transform our pain and suffering?

Here is a story about when the power of mantra helped me in a time of trauma. At the beginning of 2012, I was on pilgrimage in South India. I went to a temple devoted to Kali. Here the fierce mother stands in full power in a small cave with dark wet walls and very little light. I stood mesmerized by the ceremony of her ritual bathing. The sheer power of her form grabbed every part of me and drew me magnetically inward. I felt vulnerable, resilient, and intoxicated all at once. Something huge was stirring in my soul. Shortly after this pilgrimage, I was plunged into a series of nightmares for two intense weeks with a strong repulsion to return to the States. Upon my return, everything broke loose in my yoga community of 15 years. Anusara yoga was turned inside out and everyone was thrown into the fire. The dismantling of our community happened faster than any of us had time to process. Every issue was brought to the forefront: sex, money, fame, power, leadership, teacher-student relationship, integrity, honesty, and the politics of yoga in the contemporary world.

If you want to know the power of a mantra as your embodied experience, then chant it with your full attention. A structured way to begin is with a prayer necklace of 108 beads or seeds called a mala. Commit to chanting the mantra at least 108 times per day for 40 days, and the mantra will begin to take root inside you. Mantras work from deep within, building bridges between the subtle body, heart, mind, and outer physical form. Mantra is one of the most powerful tools in the entire yoga tradition. From the ashes, rises the phoenix. From a crumbled community, rises the diverse power of creativity. From ashes to wings, we all transform in the practices of yoga.

My own personal battle was trying to listen simultaneously to my heart’s truth and the collective truth in the midst of total chaos. Kali’s image standing bare and naked before me haunted me and excavated every remote hiding place within me. So when I found myself stripped naked and bare with a grieving heart, it was Kali’s mantra I turned to. I envisioned her swift sword cutting through my ego’s attachments, fears, and excuses. It was a continual 24/7 mantra download that became my life raft. This is the Kali mantra that was my refuge. It stands for the power of Kali’s sword to cut you free from illusion, ignorance, and ego. Om Aim Hrim Klim Chamundaye Vichey Svaha


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Photo: Theodore Kyriakos

BY Brigitte Kouba

the courage

TO PRACTICE 5 benefits to facing my fear

I used to swallow a big knot of fear every time I walked into a yoga studio. At the time, I was a size 14 and I often perceived myself as the largest girl in the room.

The idea of being watched by other students as I struggled through poses was discomforting. So I often found a place to practice in the back corner. I didn’t want to be seen.

To my surprise, every time I left yoga class I felt better. Something was shifting day by day. Despite the fear, I continued to show up. As a result, both my practice and life improved.

THE COURAGE to continue practicing yoga, in the face of feaR, helped me in five unique ways: 1. Structure Provides Freedom

5. Appreciating Vulnerability

Creating a routine to begin my day with yoga positively affected the remainder of my work day. It provided structure and gave me energy, resulting in better productivity and therefore more free time.

My daily practice reinforced taking steps to continually stretch myself. This included teacher trainings, speaking at conferences, and leading international retreats around the world. In surrendering to my practice, I learned to trust myself.

2. Consistency Creates Community Finding the studios and teachers I loved created consistency. In addition to learning from various teachers, I started to make friends with other students and my community grew.

3. Physical and Emotional Confidence Both on and off the mat, my physical and emotional confidence reached new heights. With a new sense of connection to my core and my body, I explored other activities including surfing, dance, and even started to run and cycle competitively.

4. Loving My Body Cultivating a positive relationship with my body helped me no longer feel ashamed and I realized that my truest beauty is within. I began to appreciate my form and learned how to use modifications to suit my body.

It can take a lot of courage to show up on the yoga mat and face yourself - especially on the days that we feel awkward or uncomfortable in our bodies. Yet, sometimes our greatest obstacles are the ones we place in front of ourselves. So, the opportunity is to take a deep breath, lovingly face our fears, and learn from them. There’s no need to be perfect, you just need to be you.

Brigitte Kouba, aka Gigi Yogini, inspires women of all shapes and sizes to love their bodies and cultivate confidence through yoga. She created YOGAudacious. com, celebrating courageous women in yoga. Join Gigi for a Nature & Nurture retreat to Costa Rica starting April 26th. For more, visit Photo: Patricia Pena Photography

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classic nudes of yogis, dancers and athletes

Jasper’s “The Body as Temple” calendar now available from Amazon

artwork you can frame


Mantra Magazine - Issue 2  
Mantra Magazine - Issue 2