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mantra YOGA + HEALTH sarah

mclachlan shine on forgivEness beyond survival

erykah

badu mother doula natural birth vegetarian

ram dass love everybody

of

spirituality

fitnesS

parenting

+ yoga shiva rea:

movement meditation

leaning into pain being with brokenness

Activism + Sustainability

NYC:

healing after 9/11

organic

eating

50

yogis over

seane corn:

robert sturman

art + yoga


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ORIGIN TEAM PUBLISHER / EDITOR-IN-CHIEF Maranda Pleasant

THIS SIDE

48

39

CREATIVE DIRECTOR Sami Lea Lipman

8 Colleen Saidman 10 Kino MacGregor 16 Sarah McLachlan 20 Shiva Rea 22 Sianna Sherman 30 ana forrest 44 Prison Yoga 46 Jamie Janover 48 Tao Porchon-Lynch

8

SENIOR Editor Ian Prichard Assistant Editor Ocean Pleasant

22

NY Editors Sharon Pingitore Nancy Alder Yoga Philosophy Editors Bob Weisenberg

The other side 6 Erykah Badu 28 don Miguel Ruiz 32 Ram Dass 34 9/11 Healing 42 Seane Corn 46 Robert Sturman IN NYC 50 Yoga & Sustainability 58 Christina Sell

6 42

EDITOR’S NOTE I AM ON THE BUS! I’ll be on the tour bus with Michael Franti for our Soulshine Yoga and Music Tour, hitting thirty-eight cities this summer. Between June 18 and August 2, Mantra and ORIGIN magazines will be traveling the country with Brett Dennen, Soja, and Trevor Hall. We’re bringing yoga to the people: all races, ages, body types, and income levels. Let’s build a community. I would love to meet you all. If you are near one of our cities, we are looking for more yoga studio ambassadors. Please e-mail us at ambassadors@ originmagazine.com. I love this issue so much. We’ve come here to shake it up. We’re bringing a wider range of voices, ideas and ethnicities to this table. It’s about time. Where have the men been in yoga magazines? And yogis over 50? Well, they’re here now, and we’ll continue to expand to fairly reflect this diverse community. What an honor having Erykah Badu and Sarah McLachlan offering us their hard-earned wisdom. I went deeper in embracing forgiveness, moving beyond survival, and realizing and challenging where I live in fear. Join me. With love and renewed eyes, Maranda Pleasant Ninja-In-Residence Mantra Yoga + Health // ORIGIN Magazine // Thrive Magazine

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Contributing editors Dana Damara Photographers Joe Longo Robert Sturman Drew Xeron

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BY C o lle en Sa i d m a n

Taking Time With As In Yoga, Transitions: So In Life 8

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“If we sleep through the transitions, we will spend most of our life asleep. It is funny how fast we can transition from savasana to road rage, from chanting lokah samasta sukinoh bhavantu to gossiping.”

n 2006, my husband Rodney and I had the privilege of taking a few classes with B.K.S. Iyengar. When it came time for headstand, I informed the yoga master that I didn’t do them – I have a seizure disorder that I always felt was aggravated by headstands. He told me, in no uncertain terms, to stand on my head now! And I did. I stayed up, and only came down when he said it was time.

There is the quiet transition every morning from dark to light as nature begins to stir. The residue of the night still hangs in the air, and the bright daylight is not yet here. The masters say that this is a perfect time to practice pranayama. Instead, though, we mindlessly drag ourselves out of bed, into the shower, and then onto a cup of coffee. We grab our keys and still don’t realize what a blessed gift this breath is.

By then, the rest of the class had moved on to supta virasana, and, trying to be a good student, I came down from headstand and sat right up to join the rest of the class. That’s the point at which Mr. Iyengar slapped my back and said, “That is your problem, not headstand: You transition too quickly and mindlessly. I am sure that you do this in your life as well. You never let anything settle in.” Wow, what an acute teaching for a chronic issue!

If we sleep through the transitions, we will spend most of our life asleep. It is funny how fast we can transition from savasana to road rage, from chanting lokah samasta sukinoh bhavantu to gossiping. Can we all hit the pause button and tune in during these precious in-between moments? These are practice for the “maha transitions.”

Needless to say, the post-headstand seizures have completely stopped. I now stay in child’s pose for the length of time that I have just spent in headstand, and I focus on my exhalation. I dwell and bask in the sweet residue of the pose, and when I move onto the next pose, I am fully there. I feel that loving slap every day when I come out of headstand. More importantly, I also feel that slap during other transitions, both large and small. We are all in such a hurry, but for what? We move from one thing to another so quickly that absorption is almost impossible. Roshi Joan Halifax says that the “residue” – what’s left just after one thing but before another – is a large part of our lives, and an amazing opportunity. In fact, it could be that it’s during the time of the residue that the mind is most free. But instead of free, we are usually simply mindless, and the moment is wasted.

In Sanskrit, maha means “great,” and thus maha transitions can be anything from marriage, to divorce, to menopause, to losing a loved one, to children leaving the house, to retirement, to becoming a mother and then a grandmother, to our own death. The list goes on. How can we transition with grace? How can we dwell mindfully in the residue? How can we use the in-between times to focus on our breath? How can we show up for our life instead of just speeding through it? I humbly bow at the feet of Mr. Iyengar, and thank him for the slap that created some awareness in me. I also bow to Roshi Joan Halifax for compassionately passing the same message along as she chants to us:

“Let me respectfully remind you, life and death are of supreme importance. Time swiftly passes by and opportunity is lost. Each of us should strive to awaken. . . . . . awaken. Take heed. Do not squander your life.”

M A N T R A M A G . C OM

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in THE

gratitude present MOMENT “Change only happens in the present moment. The past is already done. The future is just energy and intention.” by Kino MacGregor

hange is addictive. It is easy to turn your attention to goals, intentions, and a fresh start. Looking forward is sometimes so enticing that its appeal can almost be an escape from the troubles of the present. Sometimes the attraction towards the new can be more running away from the past than a truly clear urge for change. Before rushing into the future, it can be really useful to take a moment and be fully present where you are. Change only happens in the present moment. The past is already done. The future is just energy and intention. The simple and eternal present is what is “real,” and only by dropping down into this “now” will you be in perfect balance between past and future. Some people look at the past as a noose around their necks. Others cherish the past as their foundation. Still others hold onto the past and romanticize it as a long-lost paradise. Some people look towards the future with anxiety and stress. Others live for the future to escape the suffering of the past and present. But it is the magic of being fully present that allows you to experience freedom, peace, and relaxation.

kinoyoga.com

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Yoga is, in essence, a teaching on how to be fully engaged in the present moment in a peaceful state of acceptance. When you practice tuning in to your breath and body, and allow it to be exactly as it is without wanting anything other than what is your current experience, you build a direct link to the sensory experience of the present moment. When you simply feel whatever is

present in your body, through the vehicle of the asana practice, you practice the ability to accept whatever is in your life with the same equanimity. If your hip is tight and you allow your hip to be tight, without any judgement or need to change your practice, you practice accepting difficult situations without needing to fight against them or force them to change. Similarly, when you experience expansion and joy in your yoga practice and merely allow it to be cultivated without any attachment, you practice the peaceful attitude of acceptance in your life. This powerful connection to the present moment is the best freedom there is. Gratitude has its own magic and can help your mind drop into the present moment. Make a list of the ten things in your life that you are most thankful for. Be sure to include some aspects about yourself and your body. Count the blessings that you already have, and take a moment to relish them in the here and now. If you accomplished something major recently, stop and appreciate how far you have come, instead of just immediately orienting towards the next goal. Running for the next thing is easy. Pretending that you don’t care is even easier. Breathing in the present moment in a state of total acceptance and gratitude is the best way to embrace life fully.


ethics for yogis BY kristin mcgee

There are basically four ethical sys-

is human life and the purpose of valuing is one’s own happiness. It demands that you not sacrifice yourself to others, nor others to yourself. It is the morality of peace; its principle commandment is, “Thou shalt not initiate force (or any corollary of force such as fraud or slander) against any person.”

tems in the world: religious altruism, secular altruism, cynical egoism and rational egoism. Altruism literally means “otherism” and is not to be confused with benevolence or charity. In all altruistic philosophies, the standard of moral excellence is self-sacrifice. The huge problem is that humans are NOT sacrificial animals. Sacrifice is the abandonment of a greater value for a lesser value. Good parents do not sacrifice for their children. The child is a greater value than sleep or independence or money. Benevolence is not self-sacrificial. It simply implies the assumption that others are potential traders of values who do not intend to harm you. Benevolence means giving others the benefit of the doubt that they are good until proven otherwise. Charity is the voluntary trading of material values for the spiritual (and potentially material) value of helping others who deserve benevolence. I provide uncompensated hours of yoga to New York underprivileged children who may be future rational valuetraders. It is not a sacrifice! Religious altruism calls for sacrifice to God, or to other people in the name of God. An extreme example is a monk who takes a vow

Photo: behrensvisuals.com/Target

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of silence and chastity – actions which benefit no one. He makes a direct sacrifice to his “god.” Secular altruism calls for sacrifice to some secular “value,” like “the environment” or “the fatherland.” Of course, one should not wantonly trash the Earth, but the proper approach is to conserve and recycle natural resources for the benefit of human life, not to worship “the God of the Environment” at the expense (sacrifice) of individuals. This includes balancing the spiritual/aesthetic values of wilderness, diversity of species, etc., with the material values of food, shelter, and energy. Cynical egoism is the morality of Madoff or the Mob: sacrificing others to self. As such, it is still an ethics of sacrifice. The only difference is the identity of the sacrificers and the sacrificed. The only non-sacrificial ethics is rational egoism. It holds that the standard of value

In my opinion, rational egoism is the proper moral code for a yogi. I practice to achieve the integration of MY mind and body. I seek to control MY breath. I cherish MY right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of MY happiness. In selfish pursuit, I hope to achieve MY inner peace, and with it, the realization that all human beings have the right and capacity to achieve THEIR happiness, as long as their pursuit is peaceful. Namaste (which is basically the Eastern expression of the virtue of benevolence – look it up if you don’t believe it).

Kristin McGee is a regular contributor to Mantra. Visit her at kristinmcgee.com

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THINGS

THE

TOP

you neeD to know to 1.

start

YOGA

by erica mather

Many, many more people think about doing yoga than actually get around to starting. I’ve often pondered what is getting in the way. After talking to many an interested but nervous potential student, these are the most pressing three things that I have gleaned. You do not need to lose weight first. I know that all the people photographed doing yoga look really thin, but believe me, there are many, many people doing yoga who do not have the bodies that those models do, and they still benefit from yoga, and are still happy doing it. Moreover, many of those people with “regular” bodies come to appreciate the body that they have, instead of longing to live in someone else’s.

2.

You do not need to already be flexible. When I started yoga, my hamstrings were very tight. As I’ve done yoga, they’ve loosened up. Many an interested person will say, “Oh, I can’t do yoga. I’m not flexible enough!” I think adults often figure that if they don’t already show an aptitude for an activity, then they ought not to waste their time doing it. For instance, why learn to play the piano if you believe you have no musical talent? The point of yoga is not to excel, but to experience. When you allow yourself the space to do so, you might find that your hamstrings relax, and that you have an aptitude for flexibility that you didn’t anticipate.

3.

You do not need to have the right wardrobe. People who do yoga – especially in the coastal urban metropolises – have become their own kind of fashionistas. This can be a bit off-putting to the beginner. When I went to my teacher training – a 27-day immersion – I went with five sets of clothes. Five. It worked out: I washed my clothes in the shower. My experience of yoga was not improved or diminished by my clothing choices. As I’ve grown into a busy teaching career, my yoga wardrobe has expanded considerably, for two reasons: it is my professional attire, and I spend all day wearing it. I have more yoga clothes than street clothes. To start yoga, all you need is some comfortable clothes that you can move in. That’s it. Sweatpants and a tee-shirt will do quite nicely. Over time, you may choose to wear things that are more fitted, because you will discover that there is a fine line between comfortable clothes and too much fabric.

Once you overcome these common impediments, we can fine-tune your approach to yoga, like what style, teacher, level, and how often to go.

Above all, have fun! Erica Mather, M.A., E-RYT 200, is a lifelong teacher. She has been teaching yoga in New York City since 2006. Erica created “Adore Your Body,” a Signature System for addressing body image challenges, and is the Founder of The Yoga Clinic NYC. Check out her website and follow her on Twitter.

ericamather.com

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INTER V IE W: M ARAN D A P L EA S ANT

Sarah McLachlan INTERVIEW WITH MUSIC ARTIST:

Finding Serenity Through Forgiveness

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I feel like I can handle more and more. But there is always a breaking point, and I think what saves me is my kids and the steadiness of their needs and expectations. Their routines are very stable and ingrained, and they ground me. Yoga has also been a huge source of tranquility for me, as is being out in the woods or in the water, which I try and do as often as possible.

MP: What’s been one of your biggest lessons so far in your life?

SM: There have been many, but one of the most important ones is forgiveness. It is hard-won and takes a lot of practice but is very much worthwhile, because I believe that long-term negativity and anger eventually take root physically and make people sick.

MP: What truth do you know for sure?

SM: That there is nothing that will ever stop me from fiercely loving and protecting my kids, and that I will eventually die. This second simple and profound truth really only started dawning on me after my father died three years ago and I began to understand what that loss meant to me and how I wanted to live the rest of my life.

MP: Tell us about your new album, Shine On.

SM: It’s a snapshot of the arc of the last three years of my life – the losses, the mourning, the forgiveness, the awakenings and hope. It’s about not only surviving and enduring, but also taking all you know and have learned, and using that power to continue to grow and prosper and shine. We all have so much to give, and in shining our light as bright as we can, we get so much in return. That connection is powerful and hopeful. It’s what we all want – to be seen and heard and understood and loved for who we really are, be it whole and strong, wounded and insecure, angry and vengeful. We are all these things, these feelings, and to fully understand ourselves, we have to embrace it all and love ourselves through it all. A tall order, but a great thing to strive for.

Maranda Pleasant: What makes you come alive?

Sarah McLachlan: Lots of things. Singing, creating, connecting – with my kids, my friends, the world around me – surfing. Anything I do where I have to push myself.

MP: What makes you feel vulnerable?

SM: The safety and well-being of my kids make me feel the most vulnerable. I feel like I can handle most anything, but if anything ever happened to either of them, I don’t know if I could manage, and that is a very fragile, vulnerable feeling.

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

SM: We are all in this together, and the only way we will survive is to understand that concept at a cellular level. We have to move

away from short-sighted, self-involved motives and move towards long-term, positive social changes that will involve everyone in a meaningful, mindful way. Practice gratitude and empathy.

MP: How do you handle emotional pain?

SM: I do my best to lean into it and learn from it. I try to not blame myself, as pain and suffering are a natural, albeit unpleasant, side of life and happen to us all. That being said, exercise, running, yoga, surfing, and lots of talking help too.

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

SM: I feel like when things get very busy, they tend to ramp up day by day and I feel like I almost get more power from solving problems and moving forward. It charges me up and

“It’s about not only surviving and enduring, but also taking all you know and have learned, and using that power to continue to grow and prosper and shine.”

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by Jennifer Pastiloff

online or with the media. Almost everything we see on the Internet is a careful construct.

recently posted a picture from my Galapagos Retreat on my Facebook page. Under it I wrote, “Everyone should try and go to the Galapagos once in their life.” Under that, someone commented, “Look at your life, Jen. Must be nice. How many people do you think can realistically travel to the Galapagos?” First off, I had to resist writing back to the sarcastic poster with, “Should I not post about this magical place and urge people to visit because of all the people that may never be able to go there?” Or, “Everyone on my retreat saved up for a long time to come.” I posted nothing in retort. But the thing about this particular comment that got me was the idea that this person was making up a story about how awesome my life is. Don’t get me wrong. My life is awesome. Except when it’s not. Except when I am dealing with depression or anxiety. Or when I am at my sister’s and her son, who has Prader-Willi Syndrome, is trying to pull all of his hair out. Or when I can’t hear due to my hearing loss and I feel totally lost and helpless. I’m guilty of it too, sometimes. I’ll look on another writer’s Facebook and think, “Oh, they’re publishing their third book and I have published … zero.” Or, “Wow, I wish I had that kitchen. Look how big it is! That fridge!” Or, “They seem so happy all the time.” It’s easy to look on Instagram at the pictures of people in crazy arm balances and inversions and feel like you suck at yoga, and that their lives must be perfect. (Side note: being able to do crazy arm balances and inversions does not make a perfect life.) Comparing ourselves is dangerous business. Especially when we do it

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Be aware of when you’re making up stories about someone based on what you are reading/seeing/stalking. (Come on, we all stalk. That’s the nature of social media.) We never know what someone’s life is like behind closed doors. When they’re weeping, or in pain. Or when they just found out they have cancer. Is it really that easy to deem their life more perfect than ours by looking at the things they post? No. It’s a trap. Don’t wallow in your own suckery. That’s what happens when you start to compare yourself with people. I know this firsthand. I am writing this from years of wallowing-in-my -own-suckery experience. The grass is NOT always greener. Sometimes it’s brown. And needs watering. I love the Internet. I’m addicted to Facebook and Instagram and Twitter, but I have become very mindful to take everything with a grain (or a bottle) of salt and to notice when I start to play the “their life is better than mine” game. It’s a no-win situation. Be happy for people when being happy for them is called for. From the depths of your being, be happy for them. But don’t assume or compare or make it in any way about you. It’s kind of stupefying to stand where you are in your own life and be content. Perhaps even happy. So, in the name of the grass that’s NOT always greener, let’s all remember to look inward a little more, rather than looking out so much.

Jennifer Pastiloff is a writer living on an airplane. Her work has been featured in Origin, The Rumpus, The Nervous Breakdown, Jezebel, and Salon, among others. She’s the founder of the popular blog The Manifest-Station. Jen leads her Manifestation Workshop: On Being Human all over the world. She is currently writing her first book and tweets at @jenpastiloff.

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Melting into Motion:

Movement Meditation 20

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“Like this universe coming into existence, the lover wakes and flows in a dancing joy, then kneels down in praise.” –Rumi Movement meditation is a way of entering into a flow of consciousness often obstructed by everyday tensions. For many people who describe seated meditation as a form of torture, physically or internally, movement meditation is a surprisingly natural and immediate way into an “unbroken, natural state of flow.” There are, as the scholarturned-dancing poet Rumi described, “a hundred ways to kneel and kiss the ground.” My favorite form of movement meditation is a whole-body prostration, or pranam. It is one of the most universal and effective ways to shift from a fragmented mind to a receptive mind. I first got awakened to the flowing power of prostrations in Bodh Gaya, where “prostration boards” were set up for pilgrims under the living Bodhi tree at the site of the Buddha’s awakening. The boards have been polished by the flowing bodies of pilgrims from all over the world as they slide into the full-body moving prayer. Elders next to me were flowing like a river as a sea of arms reaching overhead released to the earth in total surrender, only to rise again and again. I also have experienced prostrations in Sufi (Rumi’s tomb in Konya, Turkey), Christian (the pilgrims crawl to the virgin of Guadalupe), and Hindu (the mother temple of Kamakya) holy sites, where a pilgrim goes for one slow-motion prostration and remains in prayer holding the feet of the infinite with devotion. I remember hiking the Na Pali coast and turning the last turn of a ten-hour hike to the Kalalau Valley. It was the first time that I have ever been spontaneously brought to my knees in praise of such beauty. In Prana Flow Energetic Vinyasa, we integrate pranams (“nam” bowing to “pra,” the life-force, as I prefer to call “prostration”) as a way to begin practice, particularly on retreat or special days during the month and season. Prostrations may be offered once, or in a continuous, moving

globalmala.org

prayer of 9, 18, 27, 54 or 108 rounds. They are the full-body expression of total release, intimacy, and surrender that connects your brain, heart, belly, and hands to the earth. As the roots of Surya Namaskar [Sun Salutations], we can find tremendous balance in prostrations. You can try it yourself or join us for the Global Mala on September 19-21, when we are practicing 108 rounds of prostrations all around the world to activate the power of movement meditation and positive change.

Shiva Rea, M.A. is the founder of the Global Mala Project, Samudra Global School for Living Yoga, Prana Flow Energetic Vinyasa, and Yoga Energy Activism – all ways to bring people together with the power of nature, yoga, art and adventure.

There are a hundred ways to kneel and kiss the ground.

pranaflowyoga.com

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sianna SHERMAN

Intimacy & Clear

Communication

1) Speaking with “I” Use “I” instead of “you” when speaking with another person. “I feel sad when I am yelled at,” versus, “You make me sad when you yell at me.” In speaking with the “I,” we no longer point the finger at the other person, and we accept responsibility for our own feelings.

2) Mirroring Reflect back what you hear the other person say, and then ask them if this is what they mean. “I hear that you feel sad when you are yelled at. Is this what you are saying to me?” Continue mirroring with each other until the communication is clear.

3) Validation Put yourself in the other person’s shoes and acknowledge their feelings. “I can understand feeling sad when being yelled at.” With validation, we begin to understand the other’s point of view, even if we don’t agree with it. This opens the pathway of trust and each person feels heard and seen without being made to feel wrong.

lear communication is one of the main cornerstones of any thriving relationship. We struggle in communication when we don’t feel heard, when we want to justify our point of view at all costs, and especially when we don’t listen to the other person. As the communication gate shuts down, our hearts close, our mindset hardens, and we find ourselves living in an isolated bubble defined by our limiting beliefs.

We must remember that everything in life is filtered through our own stories; hurts, wounds, vulnerabilities, desires and what matters most to us. In skillful communication, the bar is raised and we are challenged to own what we say rather than blame or shame another person. We learn to listen and reflect back to the other as a clear mirror, committed to growth and understanding. Together we craft our journey with conscious communication, and co-create safe boundaries for our love to deepen and flourish.

Sianna Sherman is an internationally celebrated yoga teacher of 20+ years. Widely known as the “story-telling” yogini, she is the author of Stories For Your Life and the founder of Mythic Yoga Flow. Sianna is currently setting up a 1008-hour school of yoga for a Modern Day Mystery School.

As yogis, we care about loving communication and wish for our presence to contribute to the greater whole of the world. Sometimes it’s easier to be more spacious and loving in our yoga community than it is to be present in our own relationships right at home. The yoga of intimate relationships can be one of our most challenging practices. Intimate partnerships demand of us real accountability, courage to reveal our vulnerability, and the willingness to see ourselves in the close-up mirror of the other person. Here are three essential skills that my husband, Theodore Kyriakos, and I practice in our own relationship. Theo is a transpersonal psychotherapist and teaches Shadow Work for Yogis in my teacher trainings.

photo: (bottom) robert sturman

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JOY

BY NIKKI COSTELLO

CHOOSE

“My mind was directed towards understanding a bigger, universal story...”

ver twenty years ago, I attended my first yoga class, on a Saturday morning in a New York City gym. On that day, I made a choice, a simple one: next week I will go back again. This singular choice continued for a few months and I looked forward to the arrival of each Saturday. What was happening? Why did I say, “YES” with wholehearted sincerity and anticipation each week? When I recall some of the feelings of those very first interactions with the practice of yoga, I can only remember the feeling of savasana and the impression it left on me as I strolled out of class. The New York streets moved in slow motion, the sky looked a little brighter, and as I walked home, I felt lighter, happier and connected to myself in a wordless, silent space. I soon noticed that I was getting to bed earlier on Friday nights so that I was fresh in the morning and had the energy to progress in my practice. One Saturday, the teacher was away and a substitute was sitting quietly in the front of the room. My initial disappointment dissolved as soon as she uttered the first “Om.” The sound struck my heart and consumed my reluctance to chant, and I heard my voice respond with great joy. This teacher taught her classes on Tuesday and Thursday nights at a yoga center.

nikkicostello.com

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Though I had a membership to the gym, only one yoga class was offered in those days. I decided to switch my dinner shifts at a restaurant to lunches. And my once-weekly practice tripled. One evening, I overheard the woman at the yoga center talking about karma yoga as she collected my fee for class. She described how she offered four hours a week performing tasks at the center and was able to attend classes in exchange. I was earning less money during the day shift, so I asked if karma yoga was something I could do. I was given a shift at the door signing people in and tending to

the bookstore. So I added four more hours of practice each week and a copy of The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali. Once I began to read the philosophy of yoga, my mind was engaging with the teachings as I moved through the activities of my day. I began thinking about yoga. Contemplation and self-inquiry closely resembled some of the questions I had learned to ask myself when I was in therapy, but my attention was no longer reaching into my stories of the past with emotional attachment. Instead, my mind was directed towards understanding a bigger, universal story that uplifted me and transcended the limitations I had placed on my future and myself. I can continue this step-by-step reflection spanning the past twenty years and recognize that it is rooted in one choice and one foundational teaching: “Choose joy!” Joy is a state of being centered in the heart, and joy guides, nurtures and protects all of life’s choices.

Nikki Costello is an Iyengar Yoga teacher with 20 years of teaching experience. Based in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, she teaches at Kula Yoga, Yoga Shanti and the Iyengar Yoga Institute of Brooklyn. She leads retreats and workshops all over the world and was honored to be a contributing editor at Yoga Journal, writing the magazine’s “Basics Column” for 2013-2014.


Photo: Robert Sturman robertsturmanstudio.com // Yogi: Laura Kasperzak


Photo: Robert Sturman robertsturmanstudio.com // Yogi: Dana Trixie Flynn


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Accessing the Intelligence of

Your Whole Body [Part 1]

by ana forrest Most of us have, if we dare to admit it, a deep heart and Spirit-yearning. To connect to what is truly precious, it’s essential to clean up our internal smog. It’s actually a very fun dharma dance to flush out the blockages that stop us from having a fulfilling life. I went through a long series of experimenting with certain poses and ways of guiding myself and my students on the yoga mat. I use poses as an arena to explore our mysterious inner-wilderness, to go on Vision Quest. This way of working is very different from “achieving” the pose. That has some value, but there’s so much more to get. Using Forrest Yoga to help a person evolve is way more exciting – for them and me!

Questing for Answers

I teach working with intent, focus and deep breath – putting breath into an area where there is pain or where energy is coagulating instead of moving freely. Sometimes the area we focus on is where the student realizes, “I don’t know much about myself here.” Great realization! This is the beginning of an exhilarating and mindful exploration. It’s really rich. It’s a very tasty way to work, and it can be really bloody scary! You’re going into cellular memories where the unresolved “stuff” in your life is archived in your cell tissue. Breathing in there – I call it hunting – and going directly after a problem area starts to release it. The fearfulness and whatever is unresolved begins to unwind and release. When you excavate something that has been buried a long time, you feel it, sense it, and get the story behind it. Forrest Yoga is a tool for working through the fear, pain, anxiety, trauma or whatever. The gorgeous part of all this? You earn your freedom.

Body Wisdom

Everywhere in the world I travel, I see that people have lost their intelligence in being able to gather and make sense out of kinaesthetic information. They don’t know what the hell they’re feeling. Feelings provide us with crucial information. We are raised to believe that thinking is the only way of gathering and working with information. Not true! As a result, we’re ripping ourselves off because we don’t gather full information. Therefore, we make harmful decisions. These poor decisions increase our own suffering. Here’s why recognizing that we need to learn to use all of our senses is exciting and very useful: • Tracking and making decisions based on what we’re feeling – whether physical or emotional ripples, for example – helps us recalibrate. • Checking in with our chakras – our Wisdom and Power Centers – is a great way to tap into our kinaesthetic intelligence. • Our chakras can be trained to communicate with each other. As we build our relationship with our chakras, they develop into our own Wisdom Counsel. Our brain needs counsel and information from all of our Power Centers. Stopping our internal wars, and building alliances between our Power Centers instead, helps us make decisions that are so much more fulfill-

ing and meaningful. Whether it’s a decision about how to move, how to love, our purpose in the world, or who to be in relationships with, we so benefit from having all of our chakras in communication. I ask each of you to do the work to gain back the parts of you that have been lost. Ally yourself with your awesome intellectual prowess and task your brain to connect to your whole body. Feel how this shifts your power. Apply these new insights and build new daily living patterns. Build ease into these new alliances. Practice “Walking in Beauty” with your power. It’s gorgeous work! [In the next issue, Ana will give you tools to access and train your Power Centers.]

Ana’s book Fierce Medicine is packed with practical ways to work with your chakras and connect to heart and Spirit. To work with Ana in person, visit forrestyoga.com

forrestyoga.com

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Breaking Down the Barriers

to a Home Yoga Practice BY K a r a - L e a h G r a n t ears of dedicated home yoga practice and teaching has taught me one thing: People want to practice at home. But despite unprecedented access to yoga information – think unlimited books, websites, and online classes – starting and maintaining a consistent home yoga practice is still elusive. This is the yoga of yoga. Where you learn that what keeps you off the mat is as important as what you do on the mat. Where learning to work with your mind begins when you first wake up, and ends only when you go to bed. Where a consistent daily practice teaches you far more about yourself than just whether you’re tight or flexible. Where you uncover yourself. Practicing yoga at home on a daily basis means you become your own yoga teacher and learn to watch and work with the fluctuations of your mind. We all have those reasons why we think we can’t practice – we don’t have enough time, we don’t have the right space, we have too many other important obligations, we don’t know what to do… Committing to regular practice cuts through all of those obstacles, replacing them with one overriding intention: I will practice yoga today, no matter what, and no matter how. Yes, “no matter how.” It’s easy to get caught up in the notion that yoga equals asana practice. However, once you broaden your definition of yoga practice to mean any kind of practice that brings you completely into the present moment, you realize that there are many practices you can do. Yes, you can practice asana, but you can also practice pranayama, meditation, chanting or karma yoga. You can bring your yoga into your relationships and you can bring your yoga into your parenting. You begin to understand that the way we approach every moment in our lives is an opportunity for yoga. Of course, it’s important to still maintain some type of regular foundation or touchstone. Call it an anchor practice. Something that is the same every day – five sun salutations, or ten minutes of meditation, or nine rounds of alternate nostril breathing. No matter what, you do this each day. But you also do other practices, as time and space arise. Sometimes you practice asana for an hour after those five sun salutations, or sometimes you do twenty minutes of restorative yoga before your meditation. The key is to anchor yourself to daily practice while allowing space for more to arise. In doing so, you liberate yourself from expectation while hitching yourself to commitment. Your yoga ceases to be a “have to do” and simply becomes a part of you. Yoga becomes something you live.

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Your yoga ceases to be a ‘have to do’ and simply becomes a part of you.“


BY CYN D I L EE

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t wasn’t easy to find the right spot for my Tibetan OM tattoo. My first choice was the little space between my inner ankle and heel. But my tattoo artist put the kibosh on that idea, telling me upfront that the skin in that area is tough; the tattoo wouldn’t heal well and in the end, I’d look like I had a jailhouse tattoo. Damian was a serious tattoo artist and he inspired my confidence. Like taking a waiter’s recommendation for the best meal on the menu, I let him advise me as to the best options near the inner ankle/heel. He suggested going just above the ankle or higher up toward the more fleshy part of the outer calf.

I put on my glasses to more carefully consider my options. This is the same body that I touch every day in the shower, that I stretch and twist every day on the yoga mat and that I usually dress in at least three different outfits before finally settling on the clothes for each day. But with my glasses on – whoa! My hands were looking way too much like my mom’s, and she’s 85. My upper arms were out of the question, looking strong but also squishy. And I wasn’t crazy about my calves, either.

I took off my glasses and told Damian to put the OM on the top of my right arch. It cracked a little bit during the healing process, especially where my foot bends as I stand in a fierce Warrior One Pose. But when I come out of that pose, the top of my foot smoothes out again, clearly exposing the symbol of Om, the union of body, speech, and mind. How perfect that my tattoo flexes, stretches, and changes, just like the rest of me.

Using a finger to keep my glasses on my face as I bent over, I took a closer look at the top of my feet. Even they were getting wrinkled

when I come out of that pose, the top of my foot smoothes out again, clearly exposing the symbol of OM; the union of Body, Speech, and Mind”

Or I could consider such popular sites such as the sacrum or back of the neck. These last suggestions received an immediate “no.” Feeling like I was mature enough at 58 years to finally get a permanent mark on my body, I wasn’t going for a secret tattoo only known to my lover or the other yoginis in my studio changing room. I wanted my tattoo to show!

and dry. For a moment, I thought, “Maybe I am just too old for this; my body is just too crinkly and blubby and flakey and wrong.” Then I got a grip. My feet have wrinkles because I’ve been articulating my phalanges and stretching my metatarsals all day for the last 40 years. And it’s winter and my feet are dry and so what?

Cyndi Lee is the first female Western yoga teacher to fully integrate yoga asana and Tibetan Buddhism in her practice and teaching. Cyndi is known for her dynamic and contemplative classes; creative, safe and sane sequencing; smart and soulful teachings – all offered in a non-competitive environment of goodness.

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A

“Scents” of

Balance Using Essential Oils to Balance Your Chakras

BY C h a r ly n n Av e ry ne approach to achieving balance in life is in working with our chakras, the seven energy centers of the etheric body that direct our life force and influence our overall wellness. Each of the seven main chakras corresponds with different aspects of our development through life – mental, emotional, physical and spiritual. It is believed that imbalance occurs when life’s challenges disrupt the flow of our vitality, resulting in blockages in these powerful centers. Yoga is one healing practice people have traditionally used to balance chakras, but there are many balancing methods, including the use of essential oils. Learning more about each chakra and using essential oils can help you create a “scents” of balance.

Root/Muladhara When in balance, Muladhara is related to our ability to ground ourselves, and influences our immunity, energy and basic survival instincts. When out of balance, we can find support with grounding and stability in the essential oils of myrrh and vetiver.

Sacral/Swadhisthana When in balance, Swadhisthana corresponds with the enjoyment of life, physical passion, creativity and connection. When out of balance, we can find support with oils that warm us and encourage passion. Ylang-ylang and sandalwood help us emotionally and romantically.

auracacia.com/chakras

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Solar Plexus/Manipura When in balance, Manipura corresponds with thriving vitality, good self-esteem and confidence.

When out of balance, we can support mental clarity and intuition with oils like rosemary and helichrysum.

Crown/Sahasrara

When out of balance, we can build confidence and empowerment with oils like jasmine or sandalwood.

The achievement of balance at the crown chakra isn’t easy. However, you can still find benefit from the influence of essential oils.

Heart/Anahata

Oils with long spiritual associations, like frankincense and lavender, help in meditation and the expansion of consciousness.

When Anahata is in balance, we are our most loving selves. We display the evolved emotional functions of compassion, trust, forgiveness and empathy. When out of balance, we can find support from floral oils that warm and open the heart, like rose or geranium.

To support each chakra with essential oils, diffuse the suggested oils in your home. You can also wear these oils diluted right behind the ears or around the base of the head for closer influence.

Throat/Vishuddha When Vishuddha is in balance, we display effective communication, truth and artistic expression. When out of balance, we can facilitate calm and easy communication with essential oils like lavender or roman chamomile.

Third Eye/Ajna When Ajna is in balance, we are able to use our intuitive ability and vision to help achieve our full potential.

Founded in 1981, Aura Cacia provides consumers with natural, organic personal-care products made with 100% pure essential oils. Aura Cacia fulfills consumers’ desires for comfort, health and safety by combining the benefits of aromatherapy with practical, everyday products. Aura Cacia is a registered brand of Frontier Natural Products Co-op™.


The Dark Side of Exfoliation by amy halman

Get a H ealth i er Glo w One of the most cherished items in a well-rounded skin care regimen is a great exfoliant. Scrubs, peels, enzyme treatments – anything to help us shed the old and bring on the new, more youthful “you.” As a matter of fact, people go so crazy for exfoliating that it can become an overzealous, sometimes even harmful, obsession. As an esthetician, I’ve seen the damage that scrubs can do. Abrasive products that have tiny particles with jagged edges can lead to overstimulation and redness, micro-tearing in the skin and the spread of bacteria, especially in the case of acne and blemish-prone skin conditions.

What can we do? Do your body and the planet a solid and get that healthy glow by passing up the products that contain ingredients listed as “polyethylene” or “polypropylene,” and instead search for natural, biodegradable alternatives like the following:

Lemon Peel Granules A mild exfoliant that also has natural astringent, antiseptic, and bacterial properties to help clear the complexion and soothe broken capillaries.

For a gentler approach to manual exfoliation, manufacturers often incorporate particles within their formulas that have smoother, more rounded edges to remove top dead skin cell layers without all the irritating damage that more jagged materials can create. The problem is, some of those “gentler” particles can have a much heavier impact on your health and the environment down the road.

Cocoa Bean

Many common brands, maybe even your own favorite facial scrub, body wash or toothpaste, contain thousands of micro-beads. These are polyethylene and polypropylene micro-plastic particles that measure less than five millimeters across (less than a grain of sand!). They are so tiny, they can easily slip through water treatment systems and end up in lakes and rivers. One individual tube of product can contain up to 300,000!

Jojoba Beads

According to 5Gyres.org, a dynamic, non-profit organization leading the campaign to ban micro-beads from manufacturing, micro-plastics are persistent organic compounds that attract other pollutants in the environment, like DDT, PCBs, flame-retardants, and other industrial chemicals. They’ve been found in fish, marine mammals and reptiles, and in the digestive and circulatory systems of mussels and worms. Fish that humans harvest for food have been known to eat microplastic particles, which means that micro-beads not only pollute our planet and wildlife, they’re polluting our bodies.

Provides a gentle and effective loofah to buff the epidermis and leave a brilliant glow without over-stimulating the skin.

Sea Kelp It is mild and re-mineralizes freshly exposed skin cells.

From jojoba wax, these beads are completely rounded for less scratching and a great alternative for those who have nut allergies.

In addition, learn more about the campaign to ban micro-beads from manufacturing at 5Gyres.org.

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 by-products.

acureorganics.com

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BY jessi andricks

detox your life

3 Keys to an Effective Detox

Have you ever felt like you just needed to hit the reboot button on your life? When the universe seems like it’s against you, a quick fix or magic pill feels like the only way to make it better again. Unfortunately, there is no perfect pill, magic potion, or reboot button that will make everything instantly better. But there is a way you can start fresh.

2. Exercise There’s no way to get around it: exercise is one of the keys to staying healthy. Exercise will help you balance your energy levels, lose excess weight, improve your digestion, and sleep better. Basically, it will reset your body so you function at your optimal level. Look for a workout that sounds appealing to you. The more excited you are about it, the more likely you are to stick with it long-term.

In a word: DETOX. Yes, a detox. A cleanse. However you name it, it can take your life from draining and dull to vibrant and inspirational. Look for programs with these three key pieces to pull you out of the mud and make you sparkle again.

1. Food/Drink

3. Stressful Habits This part is crucial. No matter how much you clean up your diet and exercise, there may be some habits in your life weighing you down mentally and stressing you out – e.g., depression, anxiety, and fears. Until you deal with these, you’re likely to go right back to your lackluster life when the program ends. For lasting changes, you’ve got to dig deep, uncover these habits, and release them.

Whether you focus on juicing or simply on clean eating, food is the backbone of any program. Why? Because what you put into your body affects how you feel, physically and mentally.

Look for programs that use daily meditations, journals, and stress-busting techniques to clear away mental clutter, letting you focus on exactly what has been holding you back from making healthy and inspirational choices.

If you are living on caffeine and surviving on a diet of prepackaged, processed foods, you are likely dehydrated and malnourished. Not only do these things downright stink, but they also make you tired, cranky, and bloated. Doesn’t sound too inspiring, does it? Programs that focus on eating real food, drinking juice, and sipping water will help you feel your best and let your body run efficiently.

To sum up: When you feel good physically and mentally, you are more likely to stick to healthy habits, and you live a little happier. Isn’t it time you lived the happy, healthy life you deserve?

thehouseofhealthy.com

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Jessi Andricks is an emerging leader in the field of healthy living. Through health coaching and yoga, she leads innovative programs, such as Detox Your Life, designed to help you live the happy, healthy life you deserve. For more information, visit thehouseofhealthy.com and look for her upcoming book, Detox 101.


Ginger refresher

Serving: 1 // Total Time: Five Minutes

By silk

Ingredients

Preparation

2 thin slices fresh ginger 3 oz Silk Vanilla Soymilk, Almondmilk, or Coconutmilk 1/2 Tbsp lemon juice 1 Tbsp agave nectar Angostura bitters* Fresh mint for garnish

1. Place fresh ginger in a cocktail shaker and muddle (or mash with the back of a spoon). 2. Add all other ingredients except Angostura bitters and mint. 3. Add 1 cup of ice and shake well. 4. Strain over crushed ice. 5. Sprinkle with bitters and garnish with mint.

* Adds a trace amount of alcohol

For a spirited drink, add 1/2 oz ginger liqueur and 1/2 oz rum.

Photos: Jeff Skeirik (bikini) Craig Cameron Olsen (blue dress)

rainbeaumarslifestyles.com

rainbeaumars.com silk.com

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overmedicated america: Why We Are The Sickest Nation BY q u e n t i n v e n n i e

I’m sure you’ve all heard the saying, “Take two of these and call me in the morning,” right? How about, “An apple a day keeps the doctor away?” Both of these statements are synonymous with American culture, yet both have entirely different meanings. One is reactive, while the other is preventive. These proclamations also describe the two sides of health, healing and well-being in this country: medicated vs. vegucated. Today, there is a diagnosis for every pain, twinge, cough and sprain, consequently leading to the development of a pill, powder or suppressant to counter each diagnosis. Given the scientific and medical advancements made in the last few decades, in addition to the countless prescription drugs that are readily available, a few questions remain. Why is America still the sickest nation of the developed world? Why are we overfed yet malnourished? Why are former chemical company executives regulating the administration of our food and drugs? Have you ever questioned why we are never urged to eat nutrientdense whole foods, but are bombarded with advertisements luring us to eat great-tasting chemicals, designed to evoke cravings and provide no nutrition? Could it be possible that the ones we entrust with our healthcare are the same ones responsible for keeping us sick? Let’s be honest, being healthy is plausible but not profitable. According to the World Health Organization, the global pharmaceutical industry generates approximately $300 billion dollars a year – mostly by providing temporary solutions to chronic problems. A few years ago I was diagnosed with Generalized Anxiety and Panic Disorder and battled an addiction to my medication. During the same time, I survived an accidental overdose of Vicodin, which was prescribed for migraines. One of my close friends almost died from kidney failure due to contaminated ketamine injections that were used as painrelief treatment associated with RSD [Reflex QUENTINVENNIE.COM

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Sympathetic Dystrophy]. This happened to both of us before we turned 30. As a society, we have disregarded the teachings of Hippocrates and adopted the practices of Conrad Murray. “Got Milk?” ads have been replaced with ABILIFY commercials. The side effects of these drugs are often more life-threatening than the illness you’re taking them for. Until we take back control of our health, our lives will continue to be in the hands of billion-dollar drug corporations, led by people who care more about wealth than health. Ask yourself, how much is your life worth?

Quentin is a New York City-based certified personal trainer and wellness coach. He believes in addressing the obstacles happening inside the body, allowing the external changes to occur as a direct result. For more information visit www.quentinvennie.com

Today, there is a diagnosis for every pain, twinge, cough and sprain, consequently leading to the development of a pill, powder or suppressant to counter each diagnosis.”


b y T o dd M c C u ll o u g h

would like to tell you that it was the Zen appeal that first got me to step into a yoga class, but that is far from the truth. It had more to do with girls wearing lululemon pants. I mean, why else would a guy go to yoga? I was a former college football player and the men I knew did not go to foo-foo yoga classes! I kept following the lululemon pants and it was not long before I found myself in a Vinnie Marino class. That is where my opinion on yoga changed forever. Vinnie’s class kicked my ass! I was shaking uncontrollably (of course not showing any pain) and could not do half of the poses. I left the class completely humbled, but my body felt great. I had a choice: swallow my pride and get out of my comfort zone or stick to the gym.

I needed to keep going and to help keep my mind clear during this new life transition. I have found the old saying “the only constant is change” to be true. The question becomes how do we handle the change? Do we ignore it and continue down a path that is comfortable but that we know does not lead to happiness? I get why people choose this. It is safer down that path. My question is, “Do you feel alive on the comfortable path?” The human spirit can only be suppressed so long before it says it’s had enough. Make no mistake about it – the other path is risky, even dangerous at times. You will be taken OUT OF YOUR COMFORT ZONE! But this path is where we GROW! This does not mean you lose your core values, but rather evolve into a better version of you.

I kept going to class. While this new yoga journey was unknowingly taking place, I was also in a big transition in my life. Previously I worked as a financial advisor at Merrill Lynch in Florida and had just moved to LA with the company. This was 2008. If you had a 401k, I hope you did not look at it that year. The market crashed and a lot of young brokers got laid off. Again I had the choice: move back home where life was “comfortable” or try and build a life in LA. I took the business suits to Goodwill, got some board shorts and started my fitness company, TMAC Fitness. To say the next two years were a struggle would be an understatement, but I kept being drawn to Vinnie’s class. I felt alive there. I was way out of my comfort zone but I just kept showing up. Yoga presented the challenge

You may be going through a transition as you read this. If so, I hope you embrace the change and own it! Remember growth only comes when we leave our comfort zones. “Two roads diverged in a wood, and I – I took the one less traveled by, And that has made all the difference.” –Robert Frost

Todd is a personal trainer in Santa Monica, CA, where he owns and operates TMAC FITNESS. Todd’s training philosophy is pretty simple: “Sweat and Eat Clean.” His programs incorporate cross training, boxing, and yoga. When Todd is not training his clients you can find him attempting to surf and barbecuing with friends.

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BY d av i d g a r r i g u e s

Establish a strong foundation by pressing the ground actively with “intelligent,” awake hands. Even out the pressure across the fingers, knuckles, and rim of the palm. Imagine that the center of the palm subtly sucks upwards in a counteraction of redirection (bandha). Position your spine perfectly between this clear upper body foundation.

Become weighted and then soar away from the ground. Do this by enjoying the weight of your body, by ‘“going with,” rather than resisting, the downward force of gravity. As you allow yourself to sink and drop down towards the earth, experience an unexpected lightness that comes to you. This lightness is a result of an acceptance of weight, a giving over of your body to the ground. There you will find a surprising upward counteraction, a buoyancy that lifts you away from the earth effortlessly.

Use inversions to strengthen your upper body. Befriend Sirsasana (headstand), Sarvangasana (shoulderstand), and handstand. Build stamina and strength in these positions by routinely using a timer to stay longer. Begin with 1 minute and then find your limit at 15, 20, 30 minutes or...?

Put yourself in positions where you have to risk falling. This will help you develop your balance and give you the requisite fearlessness. Learn to enjoy the feeling of being on the edge of imbalance and from that instability create total stability. Come to know that prized position as the rare, elusive Immoveable Spot.

In your arm balances, think of your arms as your legs when you are standing, as trustworthy pillars of strength that support you unstintingly. At the same time, they are also secretly finely-tuned to the earth, to help you with coordination and balance.

Learn to galvanize your center with the root lock (Mula Bandha) and the stomach lift (Uddiyana Bandha). Memorize this one and repeat it as you would a mantra, a magical utterance.

davidgarrigues.com

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Gazing matters. Steady your gaze, and focus on a spot that provides you with the most stability. Generally this is somewhere on the ground, down and in front of you.

Anticipate the event of coming into your arm balance. Get ready and then strike! Execute a bold, confident move that brings you all the way into position without hesitation or uncertainty. With an arm balance, the element of risk is ever-present. When you boldly gesture into a position, you will fall repeatedly while learning, so also learn to fall as a natural part of the process. Strategize, fall intelligently with cat-like agility and poise, and avoid harm. But remember that the gambling that leads to falling also leads to success – eventually. You can’t have the success without the falling. See the danger as part of the lure and the reward. Taking calculated risks is not only necessary to learn arm balances, it is also part of the thrill and satisfaction that comes with attempting to master them.

Study well the vinyasa transition between seated asanas, perfect your jump back, your Chaturanga Dandasana (Four Limbed Staff Posture), your Bakasana (Crane Posture) and every other posture whose foundation is the hands/arms. Do timed Navasana (Boat Pose) and variations such as Ardha Navasana (Half Boat Posture). Begin modestly with 1 minute and build up to 5 minutes a day.

Use food to get strong. Eat whole foods and less junk. Avoid sugar and unhealthy fats. Eat a light dinner and be bodily ready for practice each day.

David Garrigues is one of a few teachers in the US certified to teach Ashtanga Yoga. His internationally workshops feature Mysore intensives and in-depth studies. David is the author of three DVDs: Ashtanga Yoga: A Primary Series Guide; Vayu Siddhi: A Guide to Pranayama, Ashtanga Yoga’s Fourth Limb; and The Intermediate Series.

PHOTO: JOE LONGO


BY rocky heron

more, please! embracing a neverending journey TT

ime and again, life has shown me that new plateaus serve to provide me with a new vantage point from which I may look out and ask for, “More, please!”

Let me explain. Somewhere on my journey, I decided that the notion of achieving some coveted “place of enlightenment” is not coming anytime soon, and may, if I’m lucky, never arrive. In years past, when committing to a consistent relationship with yoga, I have hoped to arrive at a place of steady peace, clarity, and, um… supernatural abilities. So much of what is written in the name of yoga’s long-term results promise this sort of attainment: a liberation at the end of the tunnel for those that stay on the path. I have sometimes held the conviction that there is a point at which I will “arrive” at some “destination.” I’m calling the attainment model’s bluff. I can see that shiny carrot forever dangling just out of reach. (Don’t get me wrong, who doesn’t like shiny carrots?) After years of repeating this pattern of want, work, achieve, repeat (as my teacher’s teacher says: “lather, rinse, repeat”), it’s occurring to me that it will likely never end – and that, oddly, is okay.

Patience, presence, discipline, and playfulness are part of what makes life sweet and fierce, and I can thank my time on the mat for helping me to find and cultivate these, out of a gritty and raw desire for progress.

Yoga sparks my internal fire and from there I grow and reach. I’m in a limitless exploration of who I am and what I am made of. Today, I celebrate each new desire that bubbles up from within. I engage in this process. It is the clarification of these desires that summon the imaginary carrot.

Our universe is actually constantly expanding. I embrace this endless process. Several years into my practice I felt a strong desire to one day balance on my hands. After years of practice (translation: falling and flailing), I can now successfully invert and balance, and yet, I want more.

If I am continually never finished and not quite fully satisfied, then perhaps I will be forever pulled into infinite potential. I find the joy in who I have become through this process and embrace my insatiable hunger for unending progress – and more.

As I ponder the baffling concept of endless expansion and “moreness,” I know this: the true gifts of this practice are not so much what it gives to me, but the qualities it requires and draws forth from me. Patience, presence, discipline, and playfulness are part of what makes life sweet and fierce, and I can thank my time on the mat for helping me to find and cultivate these traits, out of a gritty and raw desire for progress.

Rocky Heron, founder of Yoga with Rocky and YOGAMAZÉ Emissary, is a worldtraveling yoga teacher. Known for uncanny wisdom and skillful instruction, Rocky’s teaching is informed by years of study in nearly every yoga style. When on the road, Rocky works alongside Noah Mazé in formulating meaningful yoga curriculum. Rocky’s students deepen and inspire their practice, while consciously expanding in all directions.

yogawithrocky.com

Photos: Matt Gonzalez

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by Jeannie Page // PHOTOS: ROBERT STURMAN

Prison Yoga Healing Veterans Imagine for a moment that a soldier comes home from military service, deeply traumatized by the horrors of war. Now imagine that this same soldier is back in society, tormented by nightmares, haunted by horrific visions and memories. Then one day this soldier finds him/herself in a tense confrontation and the experiences of combat are triggered. It doesn’t take much of a leap to imagine how one’s mind can snap in that moment and how the person can act out in irrational, unconscious and dangerous ways. So often it is exactly this type of scenario that lands an otherwise “American hero” in a life of imprisonment. How can that be anything but tragic? These are the thoughts that are running through my head as I observe a class of incarcerated veterans who are participating in the Prison Yoga Project at San Quentin State Prison. Founded by James Fox in 2002, the Prison Yoga Project teaches yoga and mindfulness practices to male prisoners, rooted in the knowledge that most prisoners suffer from Complex Trauma caused by traumatic events (poverty, abandonment, physical or sexual abuse, domestic violence, etc.) experienced early in life. The objective of the Prison Yoga Project, according to PrisonYoga.com, is “to provide prisoners with mindfulness tools

Photos: robert sturman

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to draw on from their yoga practice when they’re not doing yoga.” This particular class is taught regularly in conjunction with the organization Veterans Healing Veterans from the Inside Out (VHVFTIO). In 2008, the Center for Mental Health Services (CMHS) National GAINS Center reported that of the 1.6 million inmates in state and federal prisons, close to 10% are veterans. On this Thursday morning, 15 veterans come to the mat, men of all different ages and races. As I read the words “CDCR Prisoner” imprinted on their pants, I see not only prisoners, but also fathers, brothers, sons, uncles, grandfathers. And yet one wrong choice, one single moment, changed the course of their lives forever. Instead of being with their loved ones, they are locked behind these thick walls, for decades, if not for a lifetime. How does one make peace with that? How does one not replay the offending moment over and over in one’s head? As the men move through their poses, my eyes fall on a fit, young Asian man to my left. I can see the ripple of his muscles under his worn tank top. He is covered with tattoos and I scan up and down his torso trying to make

out the images. On the back of his shoulder I see a drawing of an older man and woman who appear to be Caucasian. They look like Norman Rockwell’s version of grandparents. “Were those his victims?” I wonder. It is clear that his tattoos tell a story. I wonder what pieces of that story are playing through his mind as he moves through his yoga poses. After class, I have a chance to chat with Ron Self, a sturdy, strapping guy, who is the founder of the Veterans Healing Veterans from the Inside Out program. Ron tells me that he’s been in prison for 18 years (of a 25-life sentence) for attempted murder. Having served

“When I first started yoga with James they had prescribed me 60mg of morphine a day for the pain. I was able to completely stop taking the morphine because of the yoga.”


as a US Marine for 10 years, Ron is a veteran of the first Gulf War and was diagnosed with PTSD. He tells me that his PTSD has dissipated almost completely since yoga was brought into the program. This man, with multiple gunshot wounds and injuries from a broken back, practices yoga for an hour every day in his cell. He explains, “I am rated at 100% disability by the VA. If I didn’t do the yoga in the morning, I wouldn’t be able to walk. When I first started yoga with James they had prescribed me 60mg of morphine a day for the pain. I was able to completely stop taking the morphine because of the yoga.” “Hollis” (Gary Valentino Hollis), a veteran of the US Navy, has been in prison for 19 years for attempted murder, with one year remaining on his sentence. Hollis has been practicing yoga for the past year and when asked about it, he replies, “I love it. I wouldn’t do anything in the world to change it. It gives me

a way out of here, to escape, to get freedom and rejuvenate my soul.” Hollis plans to continue practicing yoga when he is released from prison next year. These men all came to prison from different walks of life, with different stories and for different crimes. They share a common history of having served in our armed forces and they share one other common thread – they are all searching for inner peace, and week after week they come to yoga class with Prison Yoga Project, in dedicated pursuit of that peace.

Jeannie Page is the founder of The Yoga Diaries™, a project dedicated to sharing stories of transformation through yoga. Because her yoga practice radically and powerfully shifted her own life, allowing her to journey from despair to joy, Jeannie wholeheartedly believes in the power of yoga to heal.

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interview: SAMI LEA LIPMAN

JAMIE JANOVER

an emiSsary

FOR THE

universE

Last year at Burning Man, members of our camp were headed to a four-hour-long presentation by Jamie Janover on the Unified Field Theory. I had never heard of him or the theory, but I decided that if this many Burners were interested in attending a lecture that long, in the scorching desert, after late nights, then it must be something worth hearing. I headed across the Playa for a talk that ended up completely shifting my perception about the universe. I was thrilled when Jamie agreed to sit down with me to share some of his work for the readers of Mantra.

Q:

Sami Lea Lipman: Tell me about the work you do for the Resonance Project for Nassim Haramein.

A: Jamie Janover: I discovered Nassim in

2002 at a festival. He was doing a presentation on the Unified Field Theory. When I saw him speak, it was a serious game-changer for me, a super aha moment. I had read a lot of background material related to physics and other subjects, but he was connecting all these different dots in a way that was really different than I had heard before. I eventually learned that Nassim was going to teach people to deliver his presentations for him, because he needed more time to stay in the lab and work on his physics. So, long story short, I got trained to deliver his talks in January in 2008 and I’ve been doing presentations for him and his research and educational foundation, The Resonance Project, for the past six years.

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Q:

Can you provide a simple explanation of the Unified Field Theory for Mantra readers?

A: That’s my job! Unified Field Theory is bringing together, or explaining, everything. And I mean everything, from the entire universe itself – billions of light years across – all the way down to quantum-sized objects that are billion of times smaller than an atom. The people doing this are physicists. They make observations about the universe, collect data, and then write down ideas about how the universe works using a very specific language known as mathematics [specifically, geometry], in order to explain everything in the universe. Einstein got close to that, and Nassim Haramein is one of the people committed to finding a Unified Field Theory. Nassim’s theory takes some of the great stuff that’s been discovered throughout science, and then adds

“This work is so powerful because science is now proving the stuff that LaoTzu, Jesus, Mohammed, Buddha, and everyone else down the line haVE been saying.”

a twist to it. Einstein talked about space-time curving, and Nassim talks about space-time curling – like water going down the drain. That starts to explain a lot of things that are currently hard to explain. Space is everywhere – even inside of an atom it’s 99.999999% space. No matter how big or small you go, space is there. Space is not just random blobs of particles flying around, willy-nilly, luckily combining a certain way to create our biological structure, our hundred-trillion atoms per cell and hundred-trillion cells. It’s not random! There’s serious organization and Nassim describes that underlying geometry.

Q:

When I hear that the big picture, infinity, can be boiled down to something as simple as geometry, it’s very comforting.

A:

It’s the same thing going up bigger and bigger, and going down smaller and smaller. It’s a fractal. And it’s also a hologram. Which means that inside of a sphere, all of the information of that sphere is projected onto the outside surface of the sphere. Nassim calls his theory a “holofractographic.” The structure of the vacuum of space, at all scales, is an infinite tetrahedron array. It’s an infinite, 3D, flower-of-life, fractal structure. Everyone has seen the flower-of-life shape. This is not just some image you see on a New Age store’s banner [laughs] – it’s actually a symbol that has been embedded into ancient


cultures for thousands of years. Those guys knew about it, and...well, that opens up a whole other discussion we won’t get into today.

Q:

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

A:

The biggest mistake made in the history of human thought is that it’s possible for something to be separate from something else. There’s no such thing as separation. At all. Period. Every single point is connected to another point. Therefore, everything you do affects everything else. We’re starting to figure this out in terms of climate change or racism, for example. But it’s more specific than that. Your mind and your body are not separate things. The separation of mind and body have led to some of the biggest problems in the history of the world. “Oh, you’re sick? What kind of sick? Are you going to go to a psychologist or a medical doctor?” That person should be the same person. We now know your thoughts affect your cells, and they affect the way your genes affect themselves. Everything is definitively connected by the structure of space. And you don’t just have to “have faith” that everything is connected. That’s why this work is so powerful, because science is now proving the stuff that Lao-Tzu, Jesus, Mohammed, Buddha, and everyone else down the line have been saying.

Nassim Haramein speaking with Jamie in rear

64 tetrahedron grid

Q: Tell me about your latest project. A: There’s a really cool project coming out by Nassim and the

Resonance Project, where we’re taking all this information and formatting it into an online collective learning environment called the Resonance Academy. I’m also producing an electronic music festival called Sonic Bloom in June, working on an album, and going on tour.

Q: What truth do you know for sure? A: I know that no matter what we think we know, there is more.

Pretty much anything we ever thought we knew turned out not to be true. We were pretty damn sure the earth was flat. We had pretty good scientific evidence to back it up, too, like observing the horizon when you’re standing on the beach, for example. It also seemed pretty clear that we were the center of the universe, since everything seemed to go around us.

Q: What inspires you? A: The wonder that comes when art and science meet, when spirit

and science meet. I’m inspired when worlds combine.

So, I wouldn’t be so sure about anything. I think the best we can do is get closer and closer approximations of truth, but we’ll never actually get there. Just like with phi and pi, and other mathematical and geometrical concepts. You can approach the infinite, you can approach perfection, and you can approach truth – but you’ll never get there.

Q:

Which makes it way more interesting and way more fun than, “Oh! We know ultimate truth. We figured it out. And now we’re done. I’m so bored.”

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

A:

Knowing logically how centering works – understanding what singularity is, understanding what the vortex is, understanding what the eye of the hurricane is – helps me to become centered. The biggest, strongest hurricane ever recorded had the largest, coldest, stillest eye. So go to that center of stillness in the center of your heart chakra, where there’s an extremely powerful electromagnetic force that can be measured from outside your body. Point your attention in. Instead of looking, searching, listening, and doing all this stuff outward, look in. Some people call that meditation, but it can happen through dance, or yoga, or playing music.

PHOTO: (ABove, OF Nassim) JAMIE SOJA

Jamie Janover is recognized as a true innovator. He is a renowned hammered dulcimer player and percussionist. He is involved in and touring with several musical groups. When not playing music, another one of Janover’s talents is as an emissary for scientist Nassim Haramein of the Resonance Project. Janover also produces music events including an annual electronic music festival in Colorado called Sonic Bloom.

SONIC BLOOM: The Unified Field • June 19-22, 2014 • South Park, CO • jamiejanover.com

resonance.is

sonicbloomfestival.com

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Photo: Robert Sturman robertsturmanstudio.com // Yogi: Tao Porchon-Lynch taoporchon-lynch.com

“Yoga is a dance within…and then something inside you grows so big, it spills out like champagne. That’s when you dance on the outside.” – Tao Porchon-Lynch 48

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Master Tao Porchon-Lynch is a yoga master, ballroom dancer, oenophile (lover of wine)​,​former actress, and, without a doubt, my favorite model/woman/yogi/person in the whole world. Tao surprised me last year by showing up for a shoot in New York City’s Central Park in a gorgeous red dress, shortly before she officially entered the Guinness Book of World Records as the oldest living yoga teacher. She is turning 9​6 this summer. I just wanted to wish her a Happy Birthday and show her off to you. I could go on about what an inspiring, bright and joyful human being she is, but my job is to tell people’s stories with images. And so, here are a few from our last three shoots, all taking place at different locations around New England. Enjoy! –Robert Sturman


Photo: Robert Sturman robertsturmanstudio.com // Yogi: Tao Porchon-Lynch taoporchon-lynch.com

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Photo: Robert Sturman robertsturmanstudio.com // Yogi: Tao Porchon-Lynch taoporchon-lynch.com

“I never say goodbye, I say au revoir. Goodbye is so final. Au revoir means ‘I will see you again.’” – Tao Porchon-Lynch


“Autumn is a reminder that while the leaves die and fall, there will always be spring, a chance to replenish and be reborn again. We all have the opportunity to replenish ourselves, to be reborn.� – Tao Porchon-Lynch Photo: Robert Sturman robertsturmanstudio.com // Yogi: Tao Porchon-Lynch taoporchon-lynch.com

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BY andrea marcum

I

mindful mermaids t’s never been a goal of mine to shoot a DVD. So when a director contacted me to meet with her, I was a bit surprised. She greeted me at her front door in a paisley purple housedress, large black-rimmed glasses, and was just the kind of New Yorker I appreciate.

She began with glowing praise for my experience and legitimacy. Then she suddenly threw things into reverse with: “Your hair… it’s a problem. We’d need to do extensions. And you have an edge we need to soften. I noticed you have a pinched look on your face in some of your online classes. We’d have to teach you how to smile all the time. You’ll be in pastels – none of this black you’re wearing – and you’ll need to lose 5-8 pounds, especially in this area [she gestured to my hips], so you’d really have to work it. The good news is your voice isn’t annoying like so many of them are.”

Once I was able to step away and get a breath, the yogic tenet satya hit me like a sonic boom. Satya speaks to truth and honesty, but has an element of personal accountability to it as well. I mean, I’d looked at the DVD company’s material and seen their pastel playground. It would be delusional to think there wouldn’t be conversation about my looks and style believe satya as I wandered in to play on it.

“I is the spiritual surfboard we need to save us from the undertow of fear and judgment.”

Silently I imagined Ana Forrest’s response to all of this. I completely anticipated the weight comment, but it was losing the rest of me that had me concerned. I envisioned the DVD cover with me, an unrecognizable mermaid sporting a creepy, ethereal grin before an ocean backdrop in the bargain bin at Costco, marked down for the third time. When I called my friend to tell her, a rabid “f*ck them” canister exploded. I could feel how easy it would be to leap into the lather with her and lick my wounds. But this DVD company was not the onerous monster she was suggesting. In fact, their list of teachers is ripe with integrity. They’re simply trying to sell units in a marketplace that’s over-saturated and becoming obsolete in a sea of online options. And they believe

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they have a tried-and-true recipe that works: “The one time we put a short-haired woman on the cover it didn’t sell.”

For the record, I’m neither a mermaid hater, nor am I a mermaid-creator hater. And no one forced me to take the meeting. My conundrum is that these compromises can be viewed as silly little esthetic alterations in order to take advantage of an opportunity, or major offenses against the notion that yoga is a celebration of our true self. I’m not even sure what my “edge” is, but I’m fairly certain it resides closer to Purusha than Pygmalion.

pu·ru·sha [poo r-uh-shuh] noun Hinduism. (in Sankhya and Yoga) one’s true self, regarded as eternal and unaffected by external happenings. We who teach yoga today find ourselves standing in the midst of a fitness and wellness business tidal wave. Swami Satchidananda famously said, “You can’t stop the waves, but you can learn to surf!” I believe satya is the spiritual surfboard we need to save us from the undertow of fear and judgment. And if we learn to find balance on our boards, we just might see that we’re actually all mindful mermaids… apparently some with better hair and others with better voices.


In defense of the “Yoga selfie” Becka Janse and Noah Mazé How hollow is your #hollowback pose? Do you #handstandeverydamnday? Are you a true #yoganerd? Welcome to the age of the “yoga selfie.” Photographs of yoga practitioners performing perfectly (and often mind-bogglingly) photogenic poses are all over Facebook, Instagram, and other social media. For many, they are a source of inspiration. For others, they spark feelings of inadequacy or intimidation.

1.

2.

4.

5.

Choose your pose. Rather than photographing your most eye-catching pose, choose a pose you struggle with and one you would like to improve. Even better, choose a “basic” pose you have practiced many times. Perhaps you may have started to take this pose for granted. (Tadasana, anyone?)

Compare your pose to the baseline. What is different? What could realistically be improved? What, if anything, is limiting your full expression of this pose? Be compassionate. The goal isn’t perfection. Give yourself honest feedback about your pose relative to your goals, not someone else’s. Create a practice strategy for pose improvement. What more can you do to deepen your pose? Be specific. What body parts need to be prepared? Consider creating a home-practice sequence that will help you work on your chosen pose. yogamaze.net

While the ubiquity of the yoga selfie has been a lightening rod for discussion and controversy, there is at least one upside: the relative ease with which we can now photograph ourselves gives us an opportunity to actually see our poses from different perspectives. The camera doesn’t lie. In fact, it can be an honest, objective source of feedback for your asana practice. Whether you love or loathe yoga selfies, try following the steps below, which we developed and honed in our YOGAMAZÉ online course called the Fundamentals of Yoga Poses & Practice 2.0, to transform this social media phenomenon into a powerful practice tool.

Choose your baseline. While there is no such thing as a perfect pose, we all need something to aim for. Study your chosen pose and compare it to the pose as it is photographed in Light On Yoga [by B.K.S. Iyengar]. You can also substitute Light On Yoga for the pose syllabus in whatever system of yoga you practice. This baseline will give you a place to start.

Photograph your pose again. Did your observations and practice help to improve, deepen or refine your pose? Post to social media – if that’s your thing. Share your new and improved pose with the world – but keep it real! Be open about your process with your students, friends, and followers. By all means, show us your fabulous pincha mayurasana – but show us how you got there, too. Let’s make the online yoga world a safer space for practice and process, not just perfection. #namasteyall

3.

Photograph your pose. Ask a friend to help you, or set up the timer on your camera so you can take a proper “selfie.” Try to photograph your pose from the same perspective as your baseline. For example, if you are using Light On Yoga, photograph yourself in all the stages and perspectives pictured there.

Becka Janse is a YOGAMAZÉ Emissary and has been teaching yoga in Minneapolis for a decade. She currently teaches public classes, leads teacher trainings, and actively continues her studentship under her primary teachers, William Prottengeier and Noah Mazé. Noah Mazé’s dedication to yoga holds space for students to journey deeper into body, heart, mind, and spirit than they ever could have imagined. Noah founded Noah Mazé Yoga in 2003 and YOGAMAZÉ in 2012. Noah teaches internationally and online.

yogaglo.com

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by gina Guarascio murdock

I Saw the Light and Then… e are all one. What if it’s true? Would you look at me differently? How about the brilliant concert pianist, the professor, the supermodel, or the rock star? Or, conversely, the drug addict, the homeless man, or the crippled child? What would you do differently today if that were true? Namaste: The light/soul in me greets and honors the light/soul in you. “Hello!” I recognize you in me; that’s so awesome! We are all one – breathing and beating together – and then again, so different, too. We are but individual waves in the same ocean of consciousness. Do you identify with the wave or the ocean? It’s one and the same. Remember the ocean even as you grow big and strong, for you are nothing without it. When you live as the ocean, you know the sun is always shining; it is brilliant and untarnished. It is divine. The individual “wave” tends to attach to limiting thoughts that are like clouds covering up that divine light. It gets blocked, hazy, soiled and gray like the smoggy LA skyline, but still, the sun is shining behind it all.

aspenyogasociety.org

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If only “we” could get out of the way. After all, we are divine, spiritual beings having a human experience, aren’t we? What would you do differently today if that were true? Early on in my yoga journey, I saw the light and it changed me. The light wasn’t coming from me, it was emanating from another being. We were all singing “om mani padme hum” over and over again and I saw a light pouring out of another woman’s mouth, literally, as if it were connecting directly to the heavens. The light was coming out of her and into the world. She wasn’t thinking – I could tell she was in the zone, the “ocean” – and it

“We are but individual waves in the same ocean of consciousness.”

was in that glorious not-doing, just-being that I saw her light. “The light in me recognizes the light in you,” I remember thinking with a profound sense of awe when I saw this. Seeing this light simply squelched the skepticism and sarcasm that I had toted around with me on my Self-Realization journey and taught me to just accept the magic and beauty of it all. I believe. I am. Namaste. “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us…” – Marianne Williamson

A resident of Aspen, CO, Gina Murdock is a certified yoga teacher and founder of The Aspen Yoga Society. Gina leads worldwide retreats and works with Off The Mat Into The World, the Aspen Institute, and Dr. Deepak Chopra to promote health, wellness, and social and environmental justice.

Photo: Kate Holstien Photography


b y b r o o k e dd y

“Risk taking, for me, has generated more creativity. It’s a cycle that rewards change.”

follow your bliss... right off that cliff

i

wish I could say I learned to take risks on a clear summer night with mushrooms as my guide, or traveling on the night train in India with a risk guru. But, in reality, it was business that forced me to drop the drug of risky behavior.

Business was my risk boot camp. Without a playbook in hand, I ventured towards the edge of the high dive as the kids in my head yelled, “Jump. Jump. Jump.” Launching a company wasn’t risky merely because I had $200 in savings and couldn’t secure a credit card, or because I didn’t have any beverage or manufacturing experience. For me, the nauseating risk was that I was the sole financial provider for my two children and there was nothing to fall back on. I do not speak of mindless risk taking or extreme-sport, thousand-dollar-poker-tablebuy-in behavior, but rather intuitive risk taking. Taking the leap of faith based on your gut. Knowing deep inside my dreams demanded that I take action and step off that cliff. Trusting. Trusting. Trusting. Sure, there were hecklers in the bleachers saying, “Not the right time! Not the right place! Not the right gender!” But instead of listening to the naysayers, I decided to listen

to my intuitive gut. It has now become a practice, as inherent to entrepreneurship as the lack of sleep. Just like my yoga practice, it needs attention, it needs to be fed – and then it will feed me. Risk taking, for me, has generated more creativity. It’s a cycle that rewards change. Each time I look into those dark waters below, the abyss of the unknown, I learn more about my resiliency and my creativity. Somehow, so far, I have come out unscathed into the warm, calm, turquoise waters of success and learned a little more about who I am and what I want. This isn’t just for entrepreneurs. Anyone in life who is feeling safe, wanting a little change, or needing to disrupt the status quo can get to know risk taking. Your bliss and your dreams on are on the other side. Take risk out for a spin and see how it can change the trajectory of your life. From moving, quitting a job, expressing your heart, ending that unfulfilling relationship, tackling that musical instrument, or writing the screenplay roaming around in your mind the last 10 years – your bliss will thank you.

then facilitate letting go when things don’t work. The quicker you see and feel it isn’t working, whether it’s an employee that needs to go or a marketing initiative falling flat, pull the Band-Aid off fast and know that being malleable and resilient will open you up to more opportunities. And yet, after thousands of jumps the fear still creeps in at times, whispering, “Go back home, little girl.” But risk takers don’t turn around. They don’t slump their shoulders and fold up into themselves in a corner. They stand up, look the unknown straight in the face and say, “Bring it.”

An interest in community development led Brook Eddy to India in 2002 to research a movement based on the principles of Bhakti, or “devotion through social action.” In 2006, Bhakti Chai was born, with the vision of creating social action within enterprise by using only sustainably sourced ingredients, zero waste manufacturing, and supporting organizations that work to serve and empower women and girls.

The other prong of risk taking is resiliency. Of course not every plunge will bring success. Not feeling attached to these outcomes can

bhaktichai.com

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BY KELLY SHARP

ARE YOU TRULY

CONNECTED? 56

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YOU’RE LOOKING WITHIN. BUT ARE YOU REACHING OUT?


“Giving women the tools to lift themselves and their families out of poverty allows them to move forward with dignity – and it allows us to help more women each year,”

onnection. The word is used a lot in yoga. But it doesn’t just mean connecting to our own bodies. It means connecting to the world around us. 1.2 billion people worldwide live in extreme poverty, defined by the World Bank as living on less than $1.25 a day – an amount that, let’s face it, covers about four minutes of a drop-in yoga class. So how do we connect meaningfully with something that feels so far away? BeadforLife, founded in 2004 by Devin Hibbard, Torkin Wakefield and Ginny Jordan, tackles this question head-on with its innovative approach to poverty eradication.

How It Works Ugandan women join BeadforLife as members in an 18-month program, where they generate short-term income as well as launch businesses that will sustain them long into the future. “BeadforLife is about opportunity, not handouts,” says Hibbard. “These women are incredibly capable and hard-working – they just need a chance.” Members roll paper beads, gather shea nuts, weave baskets and more. BeadforLife pays above-market prices for these products, enabling members to meet their immediate needs and save to start a small business. Members also receive entrepreneurial training, hands-on mentorship and support from staff and other group members.

“Giving women the tools to lift themselves and their families out of poverty allows them to move forward with dignity – and it allows us to help more women each year,” says Hibbard. The model is incredibly successful: 81% of women who start a business in a BeadforLife program still have that business two years after graduating. And it doesn’t stop in Uganda. BeadforLife products are sold largely through volunteer-hosted events in communities around the world. These events provide a forum for education and awareness about extreme poverty, as well as a chance for women all over the world to connect and take action in a meaningful way. They also allow the organization to remain 90% self-funded.

How Yogis Help The tie to yoga practice is beautifully intuitive. In fact, yogis have raised over $40,000 for the organization. “Holding a Bead Party at our yoga studio seemed completely natural,” says Katie Zonoff, a yogi and Bead Party host in Bainbridge, Washington. “People who do yoga are looking for a way to spread the peaceful energy that they create in class out into the world. BeadforLife made it easy for yogis at our studio to create a positive connection with these women in Uganda.”

beadforlife.org

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Oops, I Failed at Being Spiritual Chris Grosso: You made what ended up being one of the most successful spiritual movies of all time, What the BLEEP Do We Know!? Then what happened? Betsy Chasse: For a while I had it all. Spiritual know-it-all: check. Perfect husband, perfect marriage, kids, a house in the country: check. I would be spirited away to amazing places to tell knowledge seekers how this vapid, one-dimensional girl hit the enlightenment jackpot and how in just a few easy steps they too could have it all. And for a while that worked. But deep inside was a quiet voice that over time ended up screaming louder than a three-yearold mid-tantrum, saying, “LIAR!” And I was lying, not only to the world, but to myself too. The truth was I had no idea what being “spiritual” meant. I was busy pursuing happiness, seeking enlightenment and finding balance – and failing miserably at all of it. CG: How does one fail at being spiritual? BC: In my case [being spiritual] was just a job. It was something I could intellectually talk about, but because I was afraid of “not knowing the answer” I often avoided asking questions. Questions that ricocheted through my head about some of the ideas and concepts I was spouting, and their practicality in life – real life, like cleaning up the dog poop in the yard and stepping in it real life. I was shouting “I AM” from the mountaintops but underneath I wasn’t, and I knew it. So I quit trying to be anything. I was so exhausted and broken and lost, and in a rage one day, I threw away everything I thought I knew about anything. I realized that while I was pretending, I was searching for love and acceptance from others and myself, and it wasn’t there. The only thing left was the darkness. So I went there for a while. I hung out with fear and doubt and got to know them. CG: And what did they tell you? BC: They led me back to me, the authentic me. They showed me why they were there and what they needed so that they could move on and I could have myself back. In uncovering my shadow, I found my light. I had to dig deep into myself and find what living a meaningful and spiritual life meant to me and no one else. There are no rules in spirituality. There is no scoreboard. Living the right path is simply living your path as best you can.

Betsy Chasse is a filmmaker, author, speaker, and mother best known as the co-creator behind the film What the Bleep Do We Know?! Chasse is a featured blogger on IntentBlog.com, Huffington Post and Modern Mom. She has written three books, most recently Tipping Sacred Cows.

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INTERVIEW WITH

Betsy Chasse

BY c h r i s g r o ss o

Photo: 3cubestudios Mary Lou Sandler

Imagine your worst fear. Now see it happening Experience it with everything you’ve got. Taste the salty tears as they stream down your face your nose running and your mouth is wide open screaming as the tears and snot make their way into your mouth. Don’t stop now Hear the shouts of hatred flying at you like bullets the attacks against you ricochet off your heart which eventually breaks from the onslaught. Don’t stop Smell the burning of the paper your dreams were written on Experience every awful wretched emotion surrounding that fear. Until you can’t breath your insides are burning and you fall to the ground and sob until you sleep Sleep Wake up Look around you See the world upside down and crooked for a moment Observe every color so bright it blinds you Rise up slowly to your knees Eyes closed Smell the air How long has it been since you really smelled the air? Breath Smell the dirt in it smell the flowers all the way in your backyard as if they are right under your nose Feel that breath bring goose bumps to your arms Sense the coldness Feel the chills up your spine Hold your breath Now open your eyes You’re still here Now stand up And walk through that door Because you can

betsychasse.net

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by kiran MGC

a a n a a a s s a a v v a

a h h S S

About seven years ago my mind blew a fuse. Until

that exact moment things had meaning and definition. Then it got really quiet. There was a lot of still, quiet space. Instead of seeing the walls of my bedroom, all I could see was choice. I could see a choice to see all this space and energy as a “wall.” I became suddenly aware of the vast space and silence that is everything’s essence.

Space and silence became my world, and they still are, many years later. The filter that turns that space into forms, like walls and such, was no longer in operation. My mind blew a fuse. And there is no better way to know what exactly “mind” is than to have it suddenly shut off. It’s amazing to directly experience all this outside of an acid trip. My experience of being an “awakened being” simply means awareness is primarily aware of itself first, and identifies as form – this woman, this spiritual teacher, this body – in a very distant second. It’s a very odd sort of thing and very hard to describe. And for some time, when my mind first blew a fuse, the world was very still and space was all there was for me. This is not an exclusive experience for the awakened mind. And essentially, this is the heart of Shavasana practice. After the body is harmonized, stretched, and balanced through our practice, we take a moment to become aware of our body, our heart, our mind, and also to become aware of the room or studio. And then to become aware of the quiet stillness that is present in the studio and in our hearts.

mysticgirlinthecity.com

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Sometimes, if we really understand where to put our awareness, the stillness is blaring. Shavasana is a practice to let our awareness begin to notice there is more here than the chattering mind, or the buzz of the overhead lights. There is a stillness, a quietness. It’s quite obvious, because it’s the same quiet that is in every room you will ever enter. And the practice is to put your awareness on that quiet just for a minute and see what opens... Shavasana is not a practice to try and quiet our minds, it’s a place to begin to explore the quiet that is already here.

Kiran, Mystic Girl in the City, is an author and spiritual teacher. Kiran “died into bliss” at the age of 33 of a massive, spontaneous awakening into her true nature. She is an internationally renowned teacher and writer. She sees primarily from vast stillness, and because she spontaneously awoke, with no prior spiritual background, folks often call her teachings “fresh.”

to practice’s a a is not minds, it asana the v our “Sha d quietin to explore .” an here try to beg is already ace l p that quiet


YOGA

PHILOSOPHY 2.0 BY D a n n y A r g u e t t y Yoga has been a true gift, as it re-awakened love for my body, helped me realize the potency of my breath and opened the door to the practices of awareness. Yet, it is the philosophical discourse of the tradition that motivates me to live yoga every day. Philosophy is the love of wisdom – loving (philos), wisdom (sophia) – and has the potential to provide a road map for a rich inner and outer experience. It’s no surprise that although philosophy is often deemed too abstract, people still crave markers of wisdom to guide their path. I was introduced to yoga as a practice of inquiry and for that I am grateful. My first teachers always insisted that I needed to figure out if and how a specific teaching related to my personal journey. I love honoring the time-tested wisdom of tradition and also questioning teachings that don’t fully resonate. After deeper study of yoga philosophy from various points of views I hit several road bumps, particularly around Patanjali’s Eight Limb Path – one of the most well-renowned philosophy systems in the yoga world. Without going into 5,000 years of history, it is valuable to understand that the Eight Limbs Path originated in the classical era of yoga – a time invested in cultivating practices to liberate the soul from its imprisonment as human. Certain Tantric schools (not all Tantric views espouse the same ideals), which arrived later on, look at life as a gift and are invested in how to make the human experience richer. Reading Patanjali’s teachings from a Rajanaka Tantra viewpoint reawakened my desire to fully live these ideas. As you read the distinctions below between a classical take (denoted by a C) and a Tantric take (denoted by a T), get your journal out, write your thoughts, gather with friends, and explore how these revamped teachings inform your yoga on and off the mat.

Yamas & Niyamas C: Restraints and observances, ethical guidelines. T: Character-building inquires, not moral/ethical codes.

Asana C: Seat and posture to line up the body and support subsequent limbs. T: Seat and posture to tone, hone, and recalibrate our body instrument.

Pranayama C: Control the life force/breath. T: Channel, guide, and co-participate with the life force/breath.

Pratyahara C: Withdrawal and numbing out of the senses. T: Moving inside to recalibrate the senses from our over-stimulated world to step back into life with greater sensitivity.

Dharana C: Concentration practices to help still and quiet the mind. T: Concentration practices to build our ability to better direct attention.

Dhyana C: Deeper states of focus and meditation to support stillness and quiet. T: Deeper states of focus and meditation to cultivate more empowered choices of how we direct our attention and focus.

Samadhi C: Liberation, stanching the fluctuations of the mind, “flatline,” the gateway to permanently cross from matter to spirit. T: Full absorption in any experience, whether it be dance, time in nature, lovemaking, savoring food, connection with family, creative expression, seated meditation, singing, etc.

Danny Arguetty, M.A., E-RYT 500, leads basic and advanced yoga teacher trainings in California and India, works with private clients on life coaching and nutrition, and is the author of Nourishing the Teacher: Inquiries, Contemplations & Insights on the Path of Yoga.

nourishyourlight.com

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music & mantra

for healing An interview with Dr. Robert Mirshak

Robert Mirshak has a Doctorate of Musical Arts in Vocal Performance from The University of Michigan. He represents many of the world’s finest classical singers, conductors and stage directors. He is currently researching music and meditation, including rhythm, mantra and meditation practices. He also analyzes particular mantras, why they work and their effects in the brain.

Q [Mantra]: How did you develop your interest in researching music and mantra?

Q: And now Dr. Levry is applying these concepts to mantra music?

A [Dr. Robert Mirshak]: After receiving my Doctorate in music, I moved to New York City. My wife took me to my first Naam Yoga class. In that class, the founder of Naam Yoga, Dr. Joseph Michael Levry, led us in chanting Naam mantra. I was a total skeptic, but that night, after that class, my digestion improved literally overnight and I slept through the night for the first time in a year. The healing effects were so powerful that I’ve been analyzing the science behind it ever since (12 years).

A: The process of researching music and mantra helped me to understand why I was so drawn to Dr. Levry’s music. Each note of the diatonic scale, every pitch, frequency and rhythm, corresponds to a different part of the body, much in the same way the bottom of the foot contains reflex points for the entire body. This healing meditation music can be used as an audio version of reflexology therapy for the brain and body. The fact that Dr. Levry uses exact pitches, vowels and consonants that correspond to energetic frequencies is a revolutionary concept.

Q: What sets Dr. Levry’s development of this music apart from other mantra music? A: Dr. Levry follows a line of wisdom called psychotherapeutic mathematics used by great thinkers, such as the Greek philosopher, mathematician and mystic, Pythagoras. He believed the universe was comprised of sounds and numbers. There are many well-respected classical musicians who used the same philosophy when structuring their music. For example, Bach, Mozart and Beethoven used the diatonic scale of a piano keyboard and numerous applications of what is known as the Golden Section (aka, the Golden Ratio, or 1.618).

Q: What is Naam? A: The Naam (the “Word”) Dr. Levry uses is set to music with a precise mathematical formula. A strategically constructed vibration is produced with specific pitch, repetitive consonant use, vowel sounds and rhythm, and mixed with heart-opening music. It has an incredibly healing impact on the mind, body and spirit. Naam changes the cells of the body and the brain waves. It creates positive change, helping move our thoughts from duality to unity, from negativity to positivity. This is the power of Naam.

Q: What are some of the ways that Dr. Levry has applied this musical science for world healing? A: When 21,000 people came together this year [January 26] in Mexico for the Naam Yoga Superclass led by Dr. Levry, a massive healing vibration of love, peace and light was generated. The only intention was to do something positive and good for the earth and all human beings. The event has grown from 1,500 people in 2010 to 21,000 this year. I was there. It felt like a miracle. Q: What is the benefit of so many people participating together? A: The Institute of Noetic Sciences states, “There is data to suggest that it takes only the square root of one percent of a population to align their thinking for mass consciousness to change.” This means when 21,000 people meditate together, it affects approximately 17.5 billion people, which equates to the world population approximately 2 ½ times over.

Naam Yoga, headquartered in Los Angeles, CA, has facilities around the world teaching Naam Yoga and Dr. Levry’s methods. For more information, please visit www.naamyoga.com.

“Naam changes the cells of the body and the brain waves. It creates positive change, helping move our thoughts from duality to unity, from negativity to positivity.”

naamyoga.com

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By jeff bailey

Yoga that joins oga has been the backbone of my life for 28 years. Like many, I fell in love with yoga during my first class. I loved what yoga was doing for me, but I was left with one lingering question: Why does the word yoga mean “to join” or “yoke together,” when all we seem to do is pull ourselves apart? I continue to ask myself this question, and that has made all the difference. Want to deepen your practice? Ask yourself, “If yoga means to join, then what am I separate from?” Carry this question with you always and watch your practice and life take on new meaning! To find this deep inner answer, practice joining both physically and spiritually. Physically, you can join in the oneness of your own body, which leads to the spiritual aspect of joining in mind’s oneness. Because yoga’s principles are universal, the rewards of this kind of practice are available to everyone. Next time you step on your mat, use the principles of alignment as outer cues that guide you to a joined inner experience of your body’s oneness. That’s it. You knit the lower ribs in and lengthen through your tail to create a sense of oneness through your middle. You broaden the collar bones and reach through the fingertips while drawing the

shoulder blades back and down to create an active feeling of oneness through your upper body. Incidentally, this also makes for a safe practice that strengthens, balances and creates flexibility as byproducts of the overarching goal to join. This bodily awareness paves the way for the higher goal of yoga: to join in mind’s shared oneness. This is what Book One of The Yoga Sutras speaks to. Patanjali describes modifications of the mind, which represent your mind’s false belief that it can be separate from Source. The modifications of the mind make up the ego and any thought that upholds a sense of a separate self. These thoughts are always fearful because they represent some notion of loss (greed, envy, jealousy, anger, resentment, pity, pride, etcetera). They represent your false self and totally oppose the true Self, which is abstract,

unconditional Love. Contrary to your ego’s false pursuits, true Self always has your best interest in mind. Look back on your life and see how well your selfish, fearful thoughts (from your modified ego-mind) have served you. These thoughts uphold your separate false self quite well, but for what? They only delay your healing – your joining. Patanjali tells us to restrain these modified aspects of mind that separate, and join with citta instead. Citta is your whole, healed mind as a reflection of true Self. This is the practice of yoga that joins. Make it your practice and grow!

Jeff Bailey is co-owner of, and a teacher at, Yoga Loft in Boulder, CO. He just published his first book, The Yoga Mind. Learn more at www.thegift.org.

thegift.org

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by Susanna Harwood Rubin

MANTRA: Potency and Evocation

A mantra can make sense without making sense. This is to say that a mantra may consist of words that hold a particular meaning, or it may be built with sounds called bijas, or seeds, that contain not literal translatable meaning, but vibration. Often mantras are constructed out of a combination of these two. Think of the seed that, fertilized, expands into a tree: the bija activates itself, expanding your consciousness in the process. Scholar Dr. Douglas Brooks offers the analogy of zip file: a tiny condensed container of power that unfolds upon being uttered. Bijas are densely packed containers of vibratory power. Om Gam Ganapataye Namaha is a popular mantra composed of a collection of sounds and words that together indicate a specific meaning.

it is packed full of significance. At this point, we are all so familiar with Om in the yoga world that we accept it as an independent word. It has associative meaning as well as deep vibration. Gam is Ganesha’s bija, so when we say Gam, we evoke him. But the sound doesn’t merely represent him. Gam is Ganesha. When you chant Gam, you are chanting Ganesha: that part of you that is rooted yet transformative, powerful and wise yet still deeply sweet. The potency of Ganesha resides in his sound: how it feels in your mouth, how it vibrates in your body, how it resonates when uttered. Gam. Ganapataye names Ganesha, the sweet and steadfast elephant-headed son of Shiva.

It goes something like this: Om // Evoking everything that exists, Gam // specifically the deepest transformative vibratory potency of consciousness, Ganapataye // called Ganesha. Namaha // I bow down. Do you want to tap into your dense seed-like potency? Chant Gam. Do you want a more narrative and poetic mantra practice? Chant Om Gam Ganapataye Namaha.

Namaha means to bow down, to honor. Om is the bija of bijas: the vibratory power of consciousness itself. We begin in Om and we resolve into Om. Chanting Om to begin and end a yoga class is a way of participating more deeply in this process, like a surfer choosing to move along with a wave in the ocean. Because Om is made up of the letters A-U-M of the Sanskrit alphabet, sort of the alpha and the omega and everything in between, susannaharwoodrubin.com

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Namaste. Both are words or labels representing powerful concepts. This part of the mantra can be seen as an elaboration on the bija. The seed sprouts a powerful trunk, twists into branches, pushes into buds, and explodes into blossoms or fruit. Which of these mantras you decide to chant depends on the experience you want to have.

Susanna is known for her intense and poetic yoga classes in NYC and internationally. She writes for numerous publications, including the Huffington Post, elephant journal and YOGANONYMOUS, and created Writing Your Practice writing and yoga philosophy workshops and online classes. She also draws her heart out in her studio, sometimes while chanting mantra.


THIS IS MY YOGA DISCOVER YOUR YOGA MyYogaOnline.com

Janet Stone Bali Video Series

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GATHERING SUNLIGHT BY s at ya k . d u b ay

he sun, in many ways, is beyond our human capacity to comprehend. We are just beginning to access its energy in order to power our world, and we continue to discover more about its mysterious existence on almost a daily basis. While some of us have taken the initiative to harvest the sun’s power by placing solar panels on our roofs, all of us at least can benefit from its energy through the food that we take in. This time of year especially is full of amazing fruits and vegetables that are so colorful and delicious that we can literally taste the sun’s energy through them. Yet, did you know that you can also consciously gather energy directly from the sun, similar to how a plant soaks in the rays? Every cell on our skin receives solar energy directly, especially in our hands, which are natural collection sites, much like solar panels. A simple practice, called “Gathering Sunlight,” allows us to bring in the light of the sun directly, bypassing the process of eating

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to receive its energy. It is a very empowering practice, as we realize that we naturally have the ability to tap into the energy of the sun. I am in no way suggesting that we stop eating, but you may notice that using this practice will decrease your appetite a bit, since you are being fed in a different way. I welcome you to try it and let me know what you experience. To gather energy from the sun, stand or sit in a relaxed position, preferably in a natural setting outside. Hold your arms above your head, or at a comfortable position. Face your palms toward the sun. You may also tilt your head to face the sun more fully, yet be careful not to look directly at it. As you breathe in, imagine you are inhaling at the palms. Allow the breath to come in through the pores of the skin. The light of the sun is riding on the breath, so as you breathe in, the light is moving into your body. As you breathe out, notice that the energy is moving deeper into your body. You may feel it flow into the heart center, or into the lower abdomen, a potent collection and storage center, or into other areas that may be depleted.

“A simple practice, called ‘Gathering Sunlight,’ allows us to bring in the light of the sun directly, bypassing the process of eating to receive its energy.”


studio OWNERS 4.

1.

2.

3.

How do you build community?

1.

2. 3.

Shiva Reinhardt Owner, ERYT200Blue Lotus Healing Arts Center, Ruidoso, NM

Shari Bourque Goldstein Owner, Enlighten Yoga, Charlotte, NC

KATE TAYLOR Owner, Savannah Power Yoga, Savannah, GA

Some places require silence in the studio, but we chat before class starts. It helps everyone catch up and get to know each other. We donate to local charities like the NEST women’s shelter and Wild Earth Guardians. Mostly, I love every student and teacher and encourage them in class to accept themselves and each other, and to practice without competition. Photo: Daisy Yokley ruidosodayspa.com

A community is a place where all are welcome and supported, serving as a refuge and offering interpersonal connection and support. I believe community is a place of fellowship where we celebrate similarities and see past differences. I devoted myself to offering this supportive environment and I revel in my ability to share the magic of yoga. enlightenyogaclt.com

“If you don’t know your neighbor, say hi and introduce yourself.” This simple invitation at the beginning of class creates a connection between our students, dissolving the boundaries that can separate us as humans. We also make a point to greet everyone by name, acknowledging them as valued members of our community when they walk through our front door. Photo: Tammy McCurry savannahpoweryoga.com

Barbara Denowh

MALIA SCOTT

The heart of a yoga community is practicing together. How do you encourage others to practice? By making it as convenient as possible and taking away the excuses. I decided on $5 yoga…and what I ended up with is a lovely studio full of dedicated yogis. The more we practice together, the stronger our little community becomes. Photo: Jessi Bennion

Community is built on intention, action and authenticity. My definition of community has changed over the years, especially in building SAY OM YOGA from the ground up, with my partners, Stephany and Blake. If we commit and stay committed to these truths, therein lies radical possibility. Photo: Amelia Raun Photography

4. 5. 6. Owner/Teacher, BDY Studio Helena, MT

SAY OM YOGA Co-owner, e3 vinyasa Creator, Teacher, Guide, Austin, TX

Toni Clayton

Owner, Vital Yoga, Westville, NJ I believe shared laughter is a great way to build community in the yoga studio. When I’m teaching, many times there is some giggling or a little bit of laughter. I feel shared laughter is healthy during a yoga class because it builds a sense of unity, and isn’t that what yoga is all about? Photo: Kari Tumminia vitalyoganj.com

yogawithmalia.com

denowhyoga.com

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6.

“Community is built on intention, action and authenticity.” M A N T R A M A G . C OM

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1.

2.

3.

7.

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yogis over 50 Tao Porchon-Lynch Master Yoga Instructor, Westchester Institute of Yoga

1.

I don’t procrastinate. I don’t put off for tomorrow what I could do today. I don’t follow the crowd and do what everyone else does. I follow what I believe in. I no longer live in the past nor the future. I try to live today to the fullest of my ability. Photo: Robert Sturman taoporchonlynch.com

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Stephanie Spence

2.

Freedom from suffering is possible. Back pain brought me to my first yoga class thirty-four years ago. Pain is my greatest teacher. I live yoga. Daily practice, study and community are great gifts. I found Buddhism and cultivated a beginner’s mind. I’ve accepted suffering as a natural fact of human existence and I fearlessly face my challenges. Out of great pain has come great joy. Photo: Robert Sturman

Ben Wisch Yoga Teacher, Artist, Record Producer, Ben Wisch mPowerYoga

7.

Life isn’t happening to me, life is happening for me. The universe doesn’t necessarily give me what I want – it offers me exactly what I need. It’s in life’s most challenging moments that I find the greatest opportunity for transformation and growth. Photo: Robert Sturman benwisch.com

Ed Harrold

3.

Be Big, Not Small. My biggest life lesson is that my heart won’t allow me to show up “small.” One breath at a time, I surrender my ego’s need to be safe and small. I Breathe, I Perceive, and I Receive, expanding my comfort zone. I surrender all self-doubt and self-sabotage. I forgive. I breathe. Every moment is a fresh new moment. edharrold.com

Rob Schware Executive Director, Give Back Yoga Foundation; President, Yoga Service Council

What you resist persists. givebackyoga.org

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4.

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What’s been one of your biggest Life lessons? Debby Kaminsky Founder, Newark Yoga Movement

4.

Trust, baby! Yoga and maturity have made me receptive to meeting things exactly where they are and having things happen exactly as they should. I don’t worry about the hurdles associated with running an inner city non-profit. Trust helped me know my daughter would be ok during her recent serious medical issue. Trusting myself keeps me feeling great and lets me see the good in all. Photo: flowinglotus.com newarkyogamovement.org

Richard C. Miller, PhD President, Integrative Restoration Institute

9.

Life has helped me realize that everyone I gaze upon is not separate from myself. “Love and treat others as you would yourself” is no longer an adage, but a profound understanding that lives deeply in my heart. As a result, integrity, kindness, compassion, respect, and empathy are trusted friends who walk with me every moment of my life. iRest.us

Jodee Anello Model, Writer

5.

I’ve learned we navigate this thing called “life” alone. Sure, we need our people. We need love, support, and guidance, but you better be ready to take the bull by the horns when it charges you because nobody is going to jump in and do it for you. I’ve learned that I’m stronger than I ever thought I was. We all are. Photo: Paige Craig jodeeanello.com

“Life has helped me realize that everyone I gaze upon is not separate from myself.”

6.

Rita Trieger Yoga teacher, writer, editor

The life lesson that keeps coming up for me is to trust my instincts and believe in myself – in the teacher’s voice that comes from deep within. When you speak from your heart, your intrinsic wisdom and compassion become the guru, and somehow whomever you are teaching is able to hear exactly what they need. It’s the inexplicable magic of yoga. Photo: Robert Sturman ritatude.blogspot.com

10.

Beryl Bender Birch Director/Founder The Hard & The Soft Yoga Institute, and The Give Back Yoga Foundation The realization that serving others is what truly makes me happy has been a huge lesson, as has slowly learning that it is more beneficial to listen than to pontificate about what I think I know. Good, bad, or indifferent, now really is all there is – literally! Get your attention in present time! Don’t miss a moment of this precious life. Photo: Laura Berland

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overcoming How are you overcoming great obstacles, and what helps you cope?

1. danielle ORNER

2.

Silvia Mordini Writer, Happiness Coach, Retreat Leader, Teacher Trainer Alchemy of Yoga, Alchemy Tours

Yoga really is for everybody. My body was a war zone. A ten-year battle with bone cancer left my ribs and the remainder of my leg numb. I distrusted my body as a place of disease and pain. Yoga taught me to feel again and to find the peace of being enough. As a teacher, I remind my students that yoga is not a practice of perfection but of acceptance. danielleorner.com

It wasn’t until I began to take responsibility for myself that my old pain stopped breeding new pain and drama. Yoga helped me let go of my victim identity and opened my eyes to see that I am accountable for my happiness. Time in quiet contemplation allows me to reflect on what I’ve learned and harness the power of future possibility. silviamordini.com alchemytours.com

3. Rebekah “Bex” Borucki

A troubled childhood and more than one abusive relationship left me clinically depressed, and feeling out of control and anxious. I turned to drugs – both prescription and illegal – to manage the symptoms, but nothing worked. Then I realized that I already had access to the “medicine” I needed. I discovered yoga and created my own four-minute daily meditation practice. I was hooked and my whole life began to change rapidly. Now I’m able to teach self-healing to people all over the world, and I have the career, family, and life I want... all thanks to a practice of self-love. Photo: Justin Borucki Photography BexLife.com

On January 9, my life’s most challenging obstacle was revealed: a brain tumor. My yoga practice helped me meet this challenge holistically. Now more than ever, I awaken each day with gratitude, and choose to remember that life isn’t happening to me, but is happening for me. No matter what challenges come my way, I stop, breathe, and move forward with an open heart and an inner knowledge that a gift is waiting to be revealed. My mantra: Live with Love. Step into every moment with an open heart to allow greater possibilities. Photo: Ivan Pelaez Breathe Artistic Photography and Cinematography JodyDomerstad.com

BexLife

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4. Jody Domerstad

Yoga Teacher


1.

2.

3.

what’s your

“My Mantra is, ‘This is good because…’”

Mantra? 1.

Jessica Thompson Co-Founder, YOGO Larkspur, CA My favorite mantra is simply, “I am full of gratitude.” Gratitude is a magical word that instantly makes me aware of the abundance in my life. Pairing this with a little chocolate makes everything more wonderful. yogo.net

2.

Amber Gean Espelage Creator of Yoga ah! Studio, Cincinnati, OH Sometimes I say, “Moola bandha, moola bandha, moola bandha, thank you!” as my feet touch the floor in the morning and I take a big breath. I immediately feel more centered and closer to my spirit. I love the mantra, “I have all that I need and feel no loss.” It makes me feel content where I am, knowing that the universe has a bigger plan for me. Most recently I find myself saying, “Everything is happening,” because everything is, even if we don’t see it. It reminds me to feel joy and embrace the energy of the ever-evolving present. yogaahstudio.com Photo: Jennifer Hunter

3.

Jill Abraham Owner/Director, Power Yoga Of Cape Cod Chatham, MA My mantra is, “This is good because…” No matter what is happening in my life, I know that there is something for me to learn, from any given situation, whether it’s one that I would say I desire or not. I trust everything is serving my evolution. poweryogaofcapecod.com Photo Credit: Ashley Bilodeau

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portland

What kind of yoga do you teach

and why is it important?

PRENATAL YOGA

Yoga for Anxiety & Depression

Eden Swartz

E.B. Ferdig

Yoga Instructor, Photographer, Blogger, Visual Artist

Yoga Therapist/Studio Owner, unfold studios

I love when my students arrive. I buzz around the room, excited to see everyone. I welcome them warmly, eager to check in with all of them. As the room fills with new and familiar faces, we begin. I ask my students to introduce themselves, to say their names, to tell us how far along they are, to please ask any questions, voice any worries, to cry, to brag – whatever they need in that moment. Everyone shares and we get to know each other. This is the ritual, the way we begin each and every time. This beginning is significant; it lays the groundwork for building trust, connection and community. We stand up together, we learn to breathe together. I tell them, “Breathe into your belly; notice your powerful body, the love and kindness in your heart.” I remind them, “After baby comes, trust your boobs. They are brilliant.” yoga.edenswartz.com edenswartz.com

I teach Samarya Yoga, which is rooted in Integrated Movement Therapy, a yoga therapy modality created by Molly Lannon Kenny. I am passionate about this way of working with people because it emphasizes partnership and equality. We don’t come into a class or session with a list of postures or methods that are good for anxiety or depression. Rather, we ask questions and we listen. We let our students’ strengths, habits and preferences inform the work. And then we bring in our own gifts, knowledge and experience and in doing so, we enter into real partnership – true yoga – and that is what creates a healing opportunity that can be truly owned by the student. It’s this approach that has helped me personally with my own struggles with anxiety and depression. It’s not just yoga that has created more ease in my life – it has been my ownership of the process. unfoldportland.com Photo: Brenda Bergreen

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Iyengar & Anusara Inspired Hatha Yoga & Meditation

Troy R. Mitchell The greatest moment in my life came while sitting, literally, in a maximum-security penitentiary on the first day of a 17-year prison sentence. I was 34 years old, suicidally depressed and I felt that my life was over. I felt like I couldn’t breathe, and then an instruction from my first yoga teacher popped into my head: “Breathe deeply.” I did, and I found the strength I needed to surrender to the moment and the situation I had created. Things changed more as I practice hatha yoga and meditation on a daily basis. Prison became my ashram, and I practiced every day for the next 17 years. Today I know a deep peace and no longer need drugs or alcohol. I’m no longer a taker of things and a user of people. Now I give back what was given to me: hatha yoga, and the ability to breathe deeply and sit quietly. What a gift!

“The greatest moment in my life came while sitting, literally, in a maximum-security penitentiary.”


Kids and Teens Yoga & Mindfulness

Yoga for Kids and the Disabled

Sweethome Teacup I have offered yoga instruction in my daughters’ classrooms since they were in preschool, so have touched upon every age group. I have worked with cognitively, mentally and physically disabled adults through the StreetYoga program, as well as at-risk youth. Sound and vibration have a huge influence in my classes, which are formatted through a vinyasa practice. I play the harmonium at the beginning and end of class as we chant mantras. This practice invites absorption, the state of yoga, and assists us in finding our voices, which is essential in these times to cultivate compassion and loving kindness as an individual and a group force for the benefit of all beings.

Elissa Cirignotta Co-founder of Happy Mindful People, Owner of Happy Mindful Kids I teach kids and teens yoga, specializing in special needs yoga. My mission is to live a life of pure and abundant love. I offer gratitude each day for this platform to inspire change, kindness, and healing. My intention is to empower today’s youth to live their best life as they simultaneously reap the healing benefits of an imaginative yoga practice. My classes include breathing techniques intended to both invigorate and calm the body, positive self-talk, and inspired movement. I believe that we are all creative beings who can live happy, productive, and abundant lives. As we practice self-acceptance and offer compassion in each moment we begin to experience inner harmony. My hope is for all children, all teens, and all adults to have increased control of their bodies, awareness of their breath, and gratitude for their magnificent lives. happymindfulpeople.com Photo Credit: K Summer Photography

“As we practice self-acceptance and offer compassion in each moment we begin to experience inner harmony. ”

teacupyoga.com

Amrita Yoga, Adaptive Yoga, Yoga for Recovery

Sarahjoy Marsh For 12+ years, I’ve specialized in yoga for recovery, specifically women with disordered eating patterns, and students with addiction, anxiety or depression. I integrate the tools of yoga – asana, pranayama, chanting, and meditation – and the psychology and life skills of yoga, mindfulness, and interpersonal neurobiology. I’m passionate about creating safe and potent opportunities for students to experience relief from the shame, isolation, and self-harm of behaviors that begin as survival strategies and then become painful and debilitating. I know from direct personal experience that the human journey is one that requires courage, community, and essential life skills – skills many aren’t exposed to in early life. I’m committed to the potential of the human spirit, when taught these life skills, to recover its capacity to thrive. As such, I also teach in prisons, hospitals, schools, and drug/alcohol rehab centers. We all deserve opportunities that catalyze our capacity to awaken. dayafoundation.org

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portland

What kind of yoga do you teach

and why is it important? restorative YOGA

yoga for teens and young adults

Cassie Goodluck-Johnson

Holiday Johnson

Owner/Filmmaker/Photographer of Goodluck Productions and Designs

CYT 500+, Owner and Lead Teacher of Holiday’s Health & Fitness Yoga

The healing process, self-acceptance, and a deepening relationship to one’s own breath and life force is most important to me. I am one-half Navajo and feel yoga has connected me back to my Native American roots as well as to my creative path as a filmmaker and photographer, because yoga connects you to your heart’s truest beat. I have realized we are all deeply connected as one and I feel yoga’s holistic and spiritual approach to life aligns perfectly with creating a life of meaning, joy and love! I am passionate about bringing yoga to everyone, especially those who need it most. I am currently working to bring yoga to Native American reservations as well as mentoring on the next Superfly Filmmaking Experience, which brings many Native American youths together to make several short films, screened at Seattle International Film Festival.

I offer personal yoga instruction for all ages and abilities, including weekly classes, monthly workshops, annual retreats, and a teen-specific class. I am passionate about encouraging and developing the potential of young people through yoga, as yoga helped me find my inner wisdom through difficult challenges I faced in my own childhood and with early motherhood responsibilities.

cassiegoodluck.com Photo: Jainee Dial www.jaineedial.com

My teens’ yoga program, for ages 12-19, emphasizes fitness with awareness, personal development, self-esteem, and building life-long habits. Teens learn to teach yoga to peers, gaining a practical job skill as part of the practice. Strength-building poses will build courage and invite confidence to face challenges including school, parents, body image, friends, or social activities that can seem overwhelming. Yoga is a fun and adventurous way to learn the skills needed to navigate life, combining physical fitness and flexibility with balance of perspective. holidaysyogacenter.com standingonyourowntwofeet.org

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Momma t Ac g

in nc

ala B ogini Y Great e Th

by Dana Damara

s a mother of two young girls, I observe a lot, curse a lot, sleep in small doses and eat when I can. I love a good cup coffee and enjoy wine with friends. I do my best and my kids will tell you that my best is far from perfect. I like tie-dye pants and Lululemon gear. I scream at sporting events and chant at drumming circles. Given the choice, my girls would listen to MC Yogi rap about Ganesh over Justin Beiber any day. We operate as a team and there’s no hiding anything. When we’re upset, we say why, and, to be honest, we argue a lot. They have their own minds and voices and I try to listen up instead of talking over them. But I have my doubts. I wonder if I’m doing it right, if I’m messing them up or if I made a huge mistake. I watch for negative patterns and breathe before I speak. I wonder if I’m neglecting them at the expense of my career. I worry that I am neglecting myself while guiding their lives. But here are a few rules that seem to work: Respect each other’s space. You know what’s yours and what isn’t: no games. Notice if someone needs love and just give it. We are a team. When one is falling, pick up the slack. When one is rising, celebrate. There’s time for play and time for work. I will listen to every story about boys, popstars, books and movie – after your homework is done. You can have your phone back when you have a B+ in Math. Everyone has a job. Just do it without whining. No one is to blame

danadamara.com

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but you when your job isn’t complete. No pointing fingers. Tell the truth, all the time. There is no excuse for lying. I might be upset or angry, but the truth always wins. I ask them what they are afraid of, so I know. And I cuddle them at night. I will protect them with my sword and heart, but it’s the letting go that’s most important. I love my daughters something fierce. And I know many mommas who understand what I mean. The love we feel is deep and we want to protect them from it all. At the same time, they must know how to protect themselves, live their passion, love others and function at a high vibration on this planet. Our presence is what they want. It’s how they thrive. But guess what? We can’t give it to them every single second, because we have to be present for other things too.

Break it down, be honest, be real and love them in as many fleeting moments as possible. At the same time, love yourself, because that’s the best lesson. They see right through the bullshit – they really do. Show them, lead by example, be there, but keep pulling away. They will love you later. Or so I’m told.

Dana Damara has embraced yoga as a lifestyle on and off her mat. She radiates powerful soulfulness and awakening in everything she does. Author, yoga instructor, community leader, and mother of two young girls, Dana embodies strength and grace, encouraging others to find that sweet spot within themselves. She is based out of San Francisco but travels nationally for workshops and trainings.

Photos: Kelly James


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Tips to Ditch Distraction by Justin Michael Williams All yogis have heard the golden rule, “Be in the present moment.” But let’s be real. It’s not that easy… We spend so much of our lives with one foot in the door and the other foot out – driving while talking on the phone, eating dinner while checking emails, hanging with friends while texting. Unless we’re inside of a yoga class, it can be hard to remember what “being in the moment” even means. Being in the moment has nothing to do with concentration. It is not about making eye contact, focusing, or getting things done. Being in the moment is about giving the full power of our Self to everything we do. When we put forth our true authentic Self without distraction, life begins to shift. The truth is, distraction is usually a symptom of fear. Fear of not being worthy, fear of letting yourself shine, or fear of stepping into your full creative power. The list is endless. But when we drop the distraction and live with the total power of our hearts, we open to the miracles of life.

Here are five simple tips to ditch distraction and “be fully present” within the madness of the modern day. 1. Check your email; don’t let your email check you! Turn off your phone’s email alerts. There is no reason to be notified every time a new email arrives in your inbox.

2. Silence your social media notifications. Trust me, your Facebook friends will survive… even if you take a little longer to “like” their posts.

3. Get a real alarm clock instead of using your phone. Avoid your phone in the morning until after you have done something uplifting to set the tone for the day.

4. Pick a no-tech day. Choose one day each week to spend at least five hours without technology. Close your computer, leave your phone at home, and work on something that feeds your soul.

5. Meditate every morning. Starting your day with meditation is like fine-tuning an instrument before a concert – you will experience more clarity, vibrancy, and fullness in every interaction.

By committing to these practices, I created space to manifest many of my deepest longings. My friendships and relationships became more meaningful through unwavering presence and deep listening. I doubled my income because I was more inspired at work. And most importantly, I uncovered my life’s passion by embracing the creative expression yearning to press through me. Make these simple changes today. Drop the distractions and give your best Self to everything you do. It is only by stepping into this power that we can experience the richness life has to offer. The time is now. justinmichaelwilliams.com

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Justin Michael Williams is a vibrant public speaker, musician, and successful entrepreneur who ditched corporate America to start his own yoga-centric social media marketing agency. He travels the globe training yoga instructors and studios to thrive in marketing and business.


Enjoy

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There are only four delicious ingredients in our gluten-free cereal. That adds up to a tasty bowl of goodness, which will help get you on a path of positive eating. And who knows where that may take you.

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an i nter view with LE G EN D

ery

kah

Doula, Yogi, Mother, Artist, Badass, Goddess. mcyogi.com

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BAD

U

by m ara nda plea san t

PHOTOs: Photo: Phil BILLKnott TIPPER


r is ssel. Whateve e v y t p m e n a A doula is sent - for the e r p e r a e w , s required of u the family. r o f , r e h t a f e mother, for th

q. Maranda Pleasant: Last time I

interviewed you for ORIGIN, you were on our cover, about a year and a half ago.

A. erykah badu: I do remember.

q. Yeah, I was so nervous. You actually did

a meditation, so I would relax! [Laughter.]

So, let’s jump in. I know you’re with your babies. Let’s talk about your passion and commitment to being a doula. I had a doula when I had my daughter. I had a midwife, and I had a doula, and I delivered her at home in our bathtub. I don’t know if a lot of people even understand what a doula is. I think of it as someone who mothers the mother. They really nurture you through the process, because a partner is not always equipped to do that. What’s a doula to you?

A. Well, let’s see. A doula is an empty vessel. Whatever is required of us, we are present—for the mother, for the father, for the family. In my opinion a doula is like a vessel. She is an empty container that can be filled up with anything the mother needs or the father needs or the family needs. Her love is an invisible force of service. A doula is also a welcoming committee for the new souls coming in, and an ushering committee for those

erykahbadu.com

who are going out, because I also sit by the bedsides of people who are dying.

q.

Wow. How has that experience been for you? I don’t even know how you would emotionally prepare for that.

A. I don’t really know if you can, because I don’t have a way that I prepare. I became a doula because a girlfriend of mine, Afya, was in labor, and I was just there for her. She’s a good friend of mine. Her husband happens to be stic.man from Dead Prez.

q. Do you know that he’s a columnist for

Seven, and I knew how it was. I had total empathy for the thing, and it was easy for me. I wasn’t sleepy or tired, and I figured, wow, maybe this is a calling. Their son, Etwela, is the first baby I caught.

q.

Do you know I had to catch my own baby? [Laughter.]

A. You had to what?

q. I had to deliver my own daughter because their gloves weren’t on.

A. Girl…

q.

us? His feature is right after your interview in this issue. [Laughter.]

I’m like, Do I have to do every damn thing by myself? [Laughter.]

A. That’s exactly how it works. You see how it

A. If I have another baby, I’m catching my

works, Maranda?

q. I see how it works! A. Actually, I was on a plane home from a very long tour, and Afya went into labor. I happened to have a layover in Chicago, and instead of going on home I went to New York. They’re my best friends. Afya’s labor was fiftytwo hours.

q. Oh my god. A. No anesthesia. I stayed awake with her the whole time. I was just there for her, because I had gone through this with my first son,

own baby. Everybody, move! Move! Move! [Laughter.]

q. Oh my goodness. Okay, I interrupted you. A. It’s okay. Yeah, I figured this was something that was very natural that I could do, and my wish as a spiritual being or a human being here is to be of service. You know, that’s my wish. My wish is to have no need or identity. I’m moving towards that. It’s a little bit difficult in my field, where I have to continue to create one. But my services and the work that I do for others, I don’t charge for at all.

q. Amazing. Photos: (above) baron walton

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7


EB: This music affords it, and that’s my wish, just to be of service and to be of no need or identity.

q.

How do you balance—and I don’t believe in balance, first of all—but how do you manage being a mother and your career? When my daughter was younger, I felt stretched all the time between mothering and work or my vision and what I needed for me. How do you juggle everything? [Laughter.]

A. You know what? I don’t even know career without children, without babies. My first single came out January 1997. My first album came out in February 1997. I got pregnant in March 1997, the day Biggie got shot. My second album came out on November 18, 1997, and my son the same day. Seven came out on the same day that my album came out. So I was promoting “Baduism,” but I did all the tours pregnant! [Laughter.] I did the interviews pregnant, all the photo shoots pregnant. I mean, I’m on a tour bus pregnant. I came home with just enough time to have my son and to watch the news of my album being shipped platinum. So I worked extra hard with the baby in my belly. And like I said, I don’t know this life without children. Immediately after that, I took a little time off, but I was hosting the Soul Train Awards—let’s see, I was doing shows breast-feeding. I was in a limousine breast-feeding. I was on a plane breast-feeding. I was in court breast-feeding. And then, I raised my son to this music. His life became my life. He came into my life, I didn’t come into his, so he had to adapt to what was going on. By the time Seven was two years old, I had realized that I would be a very slow-burn in this music industry, meaning that I realized it was not a race and that I could not juggle a home, motherhood, and music—I had to do it all. And I would do it at my pace. That’s what I continue to do. Six years later, his sister was born into the same world, into the same routine. Then five years later, another one came. Ha, ha. And the album—I’ve had three babies in fifteen years and six albums, so that’s kind of like nine babies. [Laughter.]

q.

Do you have a routine? You’re so healthy and radiant, and I’m like, man, is she drinking 150 ounces of green juice a day?

A. Not 150, but my medicine is being in love. You know, I’m in love. And when I’m in love I glow, and my face is happy, and my heart is light and happy. And my children are happy. I’ve been a vegetarian for twenty-five years. I’ve eaten like a vegan, you know, subtracting the meat and dairy and sugar and eggs and starches and those things. I’ve eaten like a vegan for twenty years. I subscribe to an alkaline diet. That’s a diet that is very high in alkaline in lieu of acidic nutrients. The body breaks down alkaline in the very best way; it’s the very best thing for a body. And that means foods with pH 8 and higher. I do that because, while I’m not trying to win an award for being the best vegetarian, I do know that I do juggle a lot. Not only am I a mother and

erykahbadu.com

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“Forgiveness is freedom. It frees you of the burden of q. A. your mind.”

aged in any meditation or any yoga or any form of spiritual, transcendental work. When my breathing is shallow, Maranda, it means that my nerves are upset. It means that I’m thinking about too many things. And it means that I’m not out here with you.

an artist and a caregiver or healer, I’m also a director and a producer and a visual artist and a hairstylist and a wardrobe mistress and an accountant! [Laughter.] A manager and a teacher and a doctor. So, all these things have to be managed. I’m not in a rush. It’s not a race to do anything, but I am in a rush to make sure I have the best things in my life.

q. That’s really beautiful. A. I take a shot of wheatgrass every day.

q.

Last time we talked you said you have a movement meditation practice that you do sometimes. Do you still do a form of meditation, and do you do any yoga at all?

A. Let me tell you what’s awesome. I’ve become a yogi since we’ve talked.

q. What? A. I love yoga. I started taking yoga at a gym and I met the most wonderful instructor who teaches you in Sanskrit as well as in English. She repeats everything in Sanskrit. There’s something about the vibration of this language that really resonates with me and helps me to focus more on the breathing and not so much on the stretching.

q. Oh, that is beautiful. A. Yes, and also I’ve adapted a new meditation. Before I was telling you about walking meditation. To reiterate, walking meditation is just breathing as I walk. In through the nose, and out through the nose. And if I want to do a cleansing breath, it’ll be in through the nose and out through the mouth. That’s a cleansing breath. That’s like, when you want to get rid of some stress. And what I’ve learned is that when you breath in through the nose and out through the mouth, it shoots the brain a signal or the body a signal that there’s something urgent or that your body is at flight. So I’ve learned to breathe in through the nose and out through the nose during the walking meditation. And walking meditation is when I’m focused outside of my mind. I’m looking at everything around me. I’m looking at the tree. I’m noticing the colors. I’m noticing the bark. I’m noticing the sidewalk. I’m noticing the stones. I’m noticing the people and the baby carriages and the mothers’ faces and the stoplights. You know, I’m outside of my mind, and that’s walking meditation. It helps us to kind of keep our breathing very even. It’s the breathing that has to be man-

Lord, I know it. [Laughter.]

I met a friend who taught me a mantra to go along with my meditation, like right before my meditation, and I consider it stating my intention. Intent is everything. This mantra, I will share it with you. I can text it to you, or I can send it to you, however you want.

q. I would love that. A. This meditation has helped me immensely. It’s just stating my intention. And the first line is, I am one with the All-Expanding, and the All is part of me. I can be all that I wish and be all-expanding as long as my wish is to stay inside of the All-Expanding. And it just gives me a powerful feeling. It makes me know that I’m not alone. There are other people who feel like me. It almost makes me see everything as photons and neutrons. Like everything is one thing. And saying this mantra has really helped me go to a place where—I don’t know where it is. It just helps me to expand along with everything else in the universe. And everything is everexpanding, all the time. And I can feel it after I state this intention through this mantra. And I am one with the All-Expanding. And I continue to write the thing down. I write it on everything—on my journals, my books. It’s a working title for my album, and from time to time I tweet it on social networks. When I’m constantly reminding myself of this, the cells obey. And you become what you desire.

q.

I’m writing this down, too. I’m recording it, but I’m writing this down for my personal journal. “You become what you desire.” I feel like I’m getting a twenty-minute-long therapy meditation session!

A. Me too!

q.

I went to the acupuncturist today, and he said, “I don’t think you’re breathing.” And I said, “I don’t think I’m breathing either.” I mean, it’s so simple.

A. Oh yeah, breathing is it. When you notice yourself shallow it means you’re thinking about stuff that is not really here.

q.

I’m sitting outside talking to you right now, and you’re talking about breathing, and I’m looking at the mountains. And you know what? Everything is going to be okay. It’s so crazy when we’ve been through so much shit and we still get nervous. Doesn’t it all work out? Is there something in your life that you have learned about the power of forgiveness? Not to forgive is total poison.

A. Forgiveness is freedom. It frees you of the burden of your mind. It frees you from the

Photo: lionwolf


my me di when cine is being I’m in l i ove I g n love. You heart know low, a is ligh , I’m in nd my t and lo face i happy s happ ve. And . And m y y chil dren a , and my re hap py.

M A N T R A M A G . C OM

9


le: ic t r a e h t in t a Please put th ds. Women are go

burdens of your mind. Forgiving yourself is the first step.

q.

That’s a big step right there. [Laughter.] Okay.

A. Forgiveness is a friend. That’s what it is. It’s so freeing.

q. Thank you so much for being so un-

apologetically beautiful and so badass. You’re not afraid, and you don’t follow anybody else’s rules, and you find what works for you. In doing that, you push the right buttons, not because you mean to, but because you live it the way you need to, and it just gives millions of us permission to do it as well. I ask myself, what would Badu do right now? [Laughter.]

A. Thank you. You are me. You are me. And you have so much power with that pen. You know, you are me. We’re doing this together. You’re giving me a platform through your art and your creativity and your thought process, how your mind works. How you’re going to erykahbadu.com

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breathe while you’re writing it, how the frequency will resonate as people read it. They’ll feel us and the love we have between each other. And that’s just the way it works.

q. You are so wonderful, and if I ever have

another baby, I will not be delivering it myself. I’m going to call you up in Dallas, Texas! [Laughter.]

A. We’ll do it together.

q. I know that I could not have made it

through my birth without my doula. It was a near-painless birth, only because my doula was there chanting and meditating, and we had practiced beforehand. I welcomed the pain. She said, “your body is opening up, baby. Get your mind out of the way, because your body can do this without you. Don’t make it hard!” [Laughter.]

A. Right. My doula was very helpful too, but it still felt like I was being run over by a train and survived. [Laughter.] You know what I found out after that? I was surrounded by

women in the room. I looked at myself and what was going on, and I said, “women are gods.”

q. Total gods. A. We’re gods.

q. Totally. A. Please put that in the article: Women are gods.

q.

I’m going to leave it at that. Women are gods. The amount of love that we hold, the amount of pain we can hold. I’ve just never seen anything like it.

A. And I’m so very grateful, I don’t take it for granted at all. You know, it’s wonderful to give this kindness to people. You know what I mean?

q.

I honor you so much. Thank you for today.

A. Okay, Beloved.

Photo: lionwolf


Clothing for people who live fully, play long and travel well

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The spirituality of fitness khnum "stic" ibomu Of DEAD PREZ pirituality can come in many forms and means different things to different people. I don’t view Spirit as something spooky or superstitious. I think Spirit refers to the principle of Life within each of us; the purpose or inspiration that we each have to live. Over many years of martial arts practice, distance running, yoga, weight lifting and the humbling inner growth I continue to experience, I’ve come to see that my physical training is very much a spiritual path as well. This may not seem like an intuitive combination for many of us in the Western world. However, eastern religions and spiritual practices have taught the benefits of the mind, body, and spirit connection for centuries.

A WAY OF LIFE Fitness and spirituality are a part of one whole. The one informs and nourishes the other, so that one is stronger, more flexible, more resilient today than yesterday, outwardly and inwardly. Whether on the mat, in the squat cage, on the open road or wherever and however we get it in, there is plenty of inspiration to be found by living a lifestyle of well-rounded well-being.

Khnum “Stic” Ibomu, of rap duo dead prez, is the founder of www.rbgfitclub.com. He lives in Atlanta with his wife, holistic nutritionist and author Afya Ibomu, and son, Itwela. He’s currently producing his “fit hop” LP, The Workout Vol.2. Follow Stic at Facebook.com/sticrbg.

“Temples are structures designed for devotional practices and rituals. The body temple is no different.”

THE BODY IS A TEMPLE What makes any temple a temple is the purpose and use for which it is designed. Temples are structures designed for devotional practices and rituals. The body temple is no different. Physical fitness requires devotion to cultivating and maintaining strength, flexibility, endurance and overall health. Regular rituals of exercise are the rites that help us realize our limitless potential. The uplifting lessons I am learning lifting iron are not just sweaty sessions – they are like discovering sacred scriptures of inner strength. The endorphin rush that I experienced running my first marathon, transcending fatigue and exhaustion, was a deeply religious experience for me, a kind of self-realization. I believe that once I made the commitment to a healthier lifestyle, the universe conspired to help. I became re-born in a sense. Renewed. TRUE RELIGION What we do religiously is our True Religion. Fitness demands that kind of authenticity. It is to be lived, not just believed. The prayer is the practice. The offering is commitment. Tithes are paid in sweat. Cultivation of spiritual values is not limited to reading scriptures or visiting sacred buildings. Our very own bodies are temples. Every rep, every set, every asana, every step, every breath, every drop of sweat is sacred. Devotion to my daily rituals of training helps to harmonize my mind, body and spirit with the present moment. Keeping the body healthy and fit is the greatest gratitude that I can express for the Great Indwelling Spirit of Life that animates my being.

PhotoS: Tiffany Janay

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rbgfitclub.com


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Running, Dogs and Wine: How the Star of Sleepy Hollow Stays Sane Interview with Lyndie Greenwood

Q. MP: What makes you come most alive?

A. LG: Physical exertion in the open

the ones I love here in Toronto (Hi Gramma!). We only have so much time to enjoy each other in this life.

air. I love to go for a run, and then sit under a tree to stretch and cool down. Staring up into the sky through the leaves is one of my favorite things in this world.

Q. What is love to you? A. Forgiveness.

Q. If you could say something to every-

Q. How do you keep your center in the

one on the planet, what would it be?

middle of chaos?

A. Beware your ideals; none of us

A. Truth be told, sometimes I don’t. But

Q. What’s your biggest passion or proj-

Q. What makes you vulnerable? A. People. Including myself.

knows anything for sure.

ect right now?

A. I’m really passionate about my

work, and I’m very excited to get back to it in a couple weeks. But, being home for only a little while at a time, I’m very passionate about spending as much time as I can with

Twitter: @lyndiegreenwood

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I get it back by exercising, and writing, and spending time with my dog.

Q. What are some issues or causes that you are passionate about?

Instagram: @lyndieloohoo

by Maranda Pleasant

A. It’s horrifying how many animals

are killed each year in the U.S. simply because they can’t find homes. Best Friends Animal Society is a no-kill organization that facilitates the adoption of shelter animals. They do amazing work!

Q. What’s your health routine? How do you stay healthy and fit?

A. I have always loved being physically active. When I was younger, I did dance and martial arts. I still dabble in both, but I mostly love to run. I eat healthily for the most part, but I also love to eat out and drink wine (which probably contributes to my mental health).

“Beware your ideals; none of us knows anything for sure.”

Photo: Gilles Toucas


LOVE IS

(not a feeling) BY ALEX WOODARD

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Most of us don’t need a healing – we need a resurrection born of small things.

I live in the epicenter of everything yoga. Right down the street is a surf break called Swami’s, where perfect waves crash against the bluff holding up the famous Self-Realization Fellowship. Yoga studios are on almost every corner, the Chopra Center is literally right up the canyon, and the largest publisher of self-empowerment and awareness books in the world (including mine) is headquartered two exits up the freeway.

in front of the shooter as the young man reloaded his gun. Another was from a woman who works at a ranch where disabled kids can experience freedom on the backs of horses, and who sent me a letter she had written to her horse, thanking him for the selfless act of carrying an autistic child who sometimes lashes out violently.

And “love.”

I also got a letter from a man who lost his best friend to ALS, but not before carrying his friend’s weakening body over the rocks so they could watch the sun go down at their favorite fishing lake. And another from Dr. Wayne Dyer’s daughter, who was so grateful to her dad for teaching her to ride a bike, and coming to her plays, and showing her how to live.

Like one morning at breakfast, when a woman was talking about how at the end of her chanting session this feeling of “love” washed over her and lifted her into some sort of cosmic consciousness. Then she stood up, checked her phone, and left the table without paying her bill. I can still see the check sitting there, lonesome next to her crumpled napkin and picked-over plate of food.

These letters are about selfless acts of kindness, not about feelings that sometimes change with the wind. Most of us don’t need a healing – we need a resurrection born of small things. These small things are what we do for each other, actions that make ordinary moments extraordinary, service that makes others’ lives more beautiful and our own lives more significant.

That’s a different kind of love than I wrote about in For The Sender: Love Is (Not a Feeling). For the past few years, I’ve been writing songs about letters and weaving both my own story and those of the letter writers together to create book and album packages under the For The Sender title. The theme of my most recent book is love as an action rather than a feeling, which was sparked initially by a letter from a woman whose six-year-old son took a bullet for his classmates in the tragic shootings at Sandy Hook, encouraging them to escape while he stood

Love.

So a lot of words get thrown around this area, like “manifesting” and “holding space” and “mother center.”

shorefire.com/client/alex-woodard

Alex Woodard is an award-winning singer-songwriter who released five albums before a series of events transformed how he viewed his music. Since then, he’s produced two records as part of For The Sender, a book and album series based on letters, which Dr. Wayne Dyer calls “an inspiring, thought-provoking, and lifechanging work.”

PHOTOs: Lee Sammartino

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by chris grosso

meditation Turning Violence & Broken Bones into Inspired Living

editation can be extremely brutal sometimes. I don’t mean brutal in the physical sense, like when our knees hurt from sitting for extended periods of time, but rather in the mental and emotional sense: the place that holds our greatest potential for experiencing pain and where things can get really dark. I recently experienced one of these brutal mediations, one which left me asking myself, “Is this really worth it?!” Of course, once the intense feelings subsided the answer was unquestionably yes, but the truth is that for many of us with a checkered past, our experiences on the cushion can at times be unpleasant enough to make us question why we practice in the first place. The most difficult times I experience in meditation are those that bring up the wreckage of my past actions from my days in active addiction. It never ceases to amaze me that some of the awful things I did years ago are still crystal clear in my mind, as if they happened just yesterday. Violence, blood, broken bones, DUIs, blackouts – that’s just the tip of the iceberg of these memories, and along with those bitter visions comes the pain. My chest tightens, stomach turns, fists clench, and of course there’s the accompanying mental dis-ease.

theindiespiritualist.com

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So why do I, and many others like me, do it? Why do we stay present with these experiences in meditation when we could just as easily escape through any number of the limitless distractions that life has to offer? Well, I think that for many of us, it’s because no matter how uncomfortable our meditation can get at times, deep down we know that our only other option is to revert back to our old ways of living – the days when we were plugged into the proverbial Matrix, content with living a life of just getting by because that’s all we knew. It was comfortable, it felt safe, but it was also highly uninspired, and now that we’ve touched these places within ourselves of true depth and wisdom, there really is no going back, is there?

“The discomfort we experience at times in meditation isn’t ‘fun.’ In comparison to the alternative, however, it’s a walk in the park.”

And so it’s through learning to sit that we find the strength to face pain when it arises, to walk through it rather than running away from it and numbing ourselves with drugs, alcohol, food and so on. Don’t get me wrong; those temptations will still arise at times. There are some days that can suck so incredibly bad that the idea of just dropping out sounds like a great idea, but these times can be the catalysts that remind us of how great it is that today we’re living inspired spiritual lives. The discomfort we experience at times in meditation isn’t “fun.” In comparison to the alternative, however, it’s a walk in the park. And it’s through keeping an open heart to these difficult times that we cultivate an evergrowing amount of compassion for ourselves, others, and the incredibly difficult shit storms life will inevitably send our way from time to time. Thanks to meditation practice, our cultivated equanimity and compassion are no longer resigned strictly to the cushion, but rather, come with us to the office, school, our family lives and so on. That is inspired living.

Chris Grosso is an independent culturist, speaker, freelance writer and musician. He created the popular hub for all things alternative, independent, and spiritual with TheIndieSpiritualist.com, and continues the exploration with his bestselling debut book, Indie Spiritualist: A No Bullshit Exploration of Spirituality.


WORLD

ENVIRONMENT

DAY

UNITED NATIONS AMBASSADORS: GISELE BÜNDCHEN DON CHEADLE IAN SOMERHALDER

DAVID LYNCH: M E D I TAT I O N + C O N S C I O U S N E S S

PAUL McCARTNEY: ORIGIN IS ON STANDS NOW VEGETARIAN CLIMATE CHANGE NEW TOUR

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YOGA TEACHERS CHANGING LIVES

WILDERNESS FEATURE ECO ROCKSTARS

PROTECTING ANIMALS: MAGGIE Q ALICIA SILVERSTONE BO DEREK LINKIN PARK: HAITI

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TOP

MUSICIANS HUMANITARIANS CLIMATE LEADERS

CAN WE SAVE THE

ELEPHANTS?

MINDFUL LEADERS

BLACKFISH


interview: sami lea lipman

JT Nero of Birds of Chicago Sami lea Lipman: What makes you come alive? JT Nero: The hiss of a record on the turntable before the first note plays. SLL: What makes you feel vulnerable? JTN: Having our first child, Ida Maeve. Loving another being so incredibly much is, of course, completely incomprehensible until your own is there, wriggling in your arms. It’s as good as it gets on this earth – and as terrifying as it gets. SLL: If you could say something to everyone on the planet, what would it be? JTN: Tura lura lural, tura lural li. SL: How do you handle emotional pain? JTN: I write it out on a piece of paper and I sing it again and again and again. SLL: Tell me about your latest project. JTN: Birds of Chicago’s new record is a sad and joyful rock‘n’roll record, made by a group of people who love each other a lot, and who love making music together. SLL: How do you keep your center in the middle of chaos? Do you have a daily routine? JTN: Well, I don’t always – that’s the first true answer. Acknowledging that I have been knocked for a loop, or let my perception of things become skewed, or just generally lost my moorings temporarily, is an important part of day-to-day life for me. That’s a big part of yoga for me. The “center” can be a slippery fish, and there’s no shame in acknowledging that, but if you know you’ve been knocked off the sunny path, so to speak, then you already know the way back. SLL: What truth do you know for sure? JTN: As ol’ Neil Young says, “It won’t be long, won’t be long, won’t be long, won’t be long.”

birdsofchicago.com

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Photos: (TOP TWO) Natalie Ginele Miller (BOTTOM) Chris Hamilton


jimmy eat world’s zach lind

INTERVIEW: CHRIS GROSSO

On Being a Christian, Teachings of Mystics, Testing What is Good, Women and Gender Roles

Chris Grosso: I read a conversation you had on Twitter regarding the Bible and scripture, where you said, “I approach Scripture scientifically, testing what is good, based on my experience, and leaving the rest behind.” I’d love for you to elaborate a bit on that. Zach Lind: Sure. As a Christian, I still feel that the Bible is important, but I feel it’s often misused. I like to allow my direct experience to be guided and inspired by what scripture says, but if there’s something written that’s different from what my own experience is telling me, I honor my experience. For example, of course I believe it’s okay for women to speak in church and to teach men because my experience with women in my life – my wife, my mom, my female friends – is one that tells me they can obviously teach and lead. So I don’t need to base my ideas of gender roles, especially in relation to the church, on a text that’s thousands of years old. CG: Are you open to insights from other traditions besides Christianity? For example, the teachings of mystics like Thomas Merton and Rumi make it clear that while they’re rooted in

different faiths, at their core, they have more in common than not. ZL: Oh yeah, absolutely. Thomas Merton and Rumi are two of my all time favorites. Ultimately, the reason I’m Christian isn’t because I scoured all of the traditions and that’s what made the most sense. The reason I’m Christian is probably because my parents are Christian, and their parents were Christian, and I was raised in America, which is predominantly a Christian nation. So it’s a setting that’s been my foothold, but I resonate with guys like Thomas Merton, who’s a mystic, and all of the other mystics from various religions who can hang out together, learn together, and teach each other. It’s not a zero sum game, but rather a way for them to see the good in all traditions and mix it up. CG: Do you ever feel like you have a spiritual connection to music while performing? ZL: Occasionally. A lot of the time I’m focused on just playing the best I can, but there are definitely those moments when I feel the connection with the audience and my bandmates

in a special way. There are moments when the separation between the audience and performers dissolves and I experience myself as an audience member, in a way. It’s hard to put into words. CG: I actually had a transcendent spiritual experience while listening to your song “Goodbye Sky Harbor” years ago. ZL: Yeah, playing “Goodbye Sky Harbor” has done it for me. We have two live versions, one’s short and one’s long (similar to the album version), and sometimes when we’re doing the longer version, I’ll feel a bit dazed, but in a contemplative sort of way. CG: What’s on the horizon for Jimmy Eat World in 2014 and beyond? ZL: We’ll be touring in Australia and Europe in the spring/summer, and then some touring in the U.S. in the fall. This is Jimmy Eat World’s twenty-year anniversary, so we’re working on something cool for that. We’re also spending some time at home working on new music, so we’re keeping busy.

jimmyeatworld.com

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discover your passion and go change the world with it

by Nadine McNeil

Twelve years ago, when I began practicing yoga, it never occurred to me that I’d one day become a teacher. Lately, I find myself asking, “What am I teaching and practicing?” and of greatest importance, “Why?” My guiding principle as both student and teacher is simply this: Practice what you teach. Being a teacher carries tremendous responsibility. Through our guidance, we plant the seeds of the possibility of change. Envision a world where we all breathed consciously and contemplated the consequences of our actions before we acted. What would that look and feel like? As a humanitarian at heart, the power of the practice to heal and unite is what makes me reaffirm my commitment daily. I have witnessed the profound impact of practice across varying demographics, from the affluent to the impoverished. I still vividly recall being in India and observing a group of Iranian women engaging in

universalempress.com

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dialogue with a group of Israeli men. I was struck by how normal yet surreal this scene seemed, when years of political debate had failed to bring these two nationalities together amicably. In an instant, I knew that as an advocate for world peace, yoga would be my tool of choice. Like a smile, breath is universal. It is the prana, or life force, that flows through every being, without discrimination. Through yoga, we realize that we’re more alike than we are different. In the words of Bob Marley, “If my life is for me alone, then I don’t want it.” Being of African descent and having traveled across the continent, I’ve had the fortune to witness how my life might have been. Feeling the weight of my blessings, how could I not be compelled to act and give back? This is the essence of consciousness rising. Yoga has helped me to maintain groundedness, so that in the name of peace and service, I reciprocate from a place of centered compassion. Like me, many aid workers suffer from trauma and burnout as a result

of witnessing atrocities of epic proportions with frightening regularity. A fellow UN staff member told me how one human rights lawyer said that he knew it was time to leave when, while a woman was sharing with him how her children had been killed and dismembered, he was thinking about what to make for dinner. Nowadays, numbing out is not an option. Invite your yoga practice to help you uncover your passion and then, without hesitation, dive deeply into it. The world needs you, ignited by your passion, to aid in its transformation.

Nadine McNeil: Universal Empress, Yogini, Humanitarian, Storyteller. In sum, an evolutionary catalyst committed to global transformation. Her twenty-odd year career within the United Nations, serving at locations across the globe, is what guided her towards yoga, primarily as a necessary tool for self-care while serving in volatile, conflict scenarios.


Photo: Robert Sturman robertsturmanstudio.com // Yogi: Camacha Jones


Photo: Robert Sturman robertsturmanstudio.com // Yogi: Justin Wolfer


look in the mirror every morning, stare into my own eyes and say, “I love you. I forgive you. You are beautiful inside and out.” When I attempted this years ago I actually could not even say the words, or really look at myself. I was flooded with emotions of shame and selfhatred. I would start to cry. I remember my mom taking me to the Diet Center, as she needed to weigh in for the week. For some reason I can picture the card that her meal plan and weight were recorded on perfectly. She weighed 113 pounds and thought she was fat. I was 10 years old the first time I was called “fat.” I was an elite-level gymnast training six to eight hours a day with aspirations of being the next Mary Lou Retton. I was hand-picked to train with an Olympic coach. On day one he said to us, “Pinch your forehead. You feel that? You should not be able to pinch more than that on any part of your body.” I started pinching everywhere and (of course!) found some spots where you could pinch more than that little bit of skin, even though I was only 4’ 6” and 68 pounds. I was extremely driven and wanted to be the best, so I went on my first diet. My gymnastic career came to an end when I fractured a vertebra in my spine. During my recovery, I quickly grew four inches and put on weight. I weighed 113 pounds, and knew I was fat! My mom, as a “helpful” incentive, offered me $500 to lose 10 pounds. I pretty much stopped eating by age 16 and got down to 88 pounds. I moved away from home to train with the Junior Olympic National Team for springboard and platform diving. Being lighter allowed me to jump higher, spin faster, and get into the water with less splash. So, for a while, it did serve me to follow through with this f*cked-up perspective. My anorexia turned to bulimia, where I would binge and purge like crazy. This was an escape from my extremely disciplined life and I thrived off the feeling of being out of control. For nearly a decade, I somehow managed to keep my disease a secret. I was painfully ashamed of my behavior and the thought of anyone ever finding out horrified me. I have always been the bright, vibrant one, the one who is perennially smiling. I never wanted anyone to know my wounded side. Twenty years have passed and I have never once admitted to anyone that I suffered from these diseases. My call for healing and freedom now outweighs my fears of what others will think. Releasing this secret is helping me better accept myself, embrace myself, and celebrate the beautiful, strong body and heart that make the real me. Even though I still have days when I feel fat or ugly, when that darkness creeps up from my past, I remind myself that I am happy to be alive!

by cristi christensen

I can say now when I look in the mirror that I do truly love myself, I do see my beauty, and I continue to forgive myself every day.

cristichristensen.com

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Your light. Reflected.

Out of the beauty of the lotus We offer our hands in prayer

To find peace and give thanks Creating authentic connection With the light of the Divine

Shop Online.


JILL V. MANGINO

Interview by

master, mystic & mirror

Making new agreements for your life interview with don miguel ruiz Photo: behrensvisuals.com/Target

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kristinmcgee.com


Every prayer is an agreement with yourself. The mind is asking the real you, which is life, to guide your decisions for every single choice that you make.

Jill V. Mangino: As a world-renowned spiritual teacher, what are you the most proud of? don Miguel Ruiz: I am grateful for the 30 years of my work and the way it has influenced humanity, especially all the books that became international bestsellers and were translated into 37 different languages, which means they have gone all around the world. JVM: Of all the international, bestselling books you have written, do you have a favorite? dMR: All my book are my favorites. However, I really like Prayers: A Communion with Our Creator because it leads me step by step through the most important relationship, which is with myself. I am the love of my life, the marriage between my mind and my body. JVM: How do you pray? Is there a secret to praying? dMR: Every prayer is an agreement with yourself. The mind is asking the real you, which is life, to guide your decisions for every single choice that you make. My personal prayer is simply my joy to be alive, and to live in gratitude and generosity. For me personally, I don’t pray using words – it is just with my intent. Why do I need to pray with “words,” to something external, when I know what I want? For many years, I used to pray as an act of power, but that was before I had 100% faith in myself. JVM: Do you have a daily ritual or practice? dMR: I live every day full of gratitude for the body in which I live, treating it with great love and respect. It allows me to enjoy life,

MIguelruiz.com

experiencing everything that I perceive, exploring the events that hook my attention, modifying what I can change, and letting go of whatever I cannot. JVM: Can you tell me about your latest project, The Agreements for Life? dMR: It is a program to help people become more and more authentic. I created the program because most people say the Five Agreements are very simple, but difficult to apply. So The Agreements for Life takes everyone step by step to their own authenticity. It consists of 30 short videos, with a prayer and homework assignments. JVM: How do you define “authentic”? dMR: Everything that is true is authentic. When we were born, we did not have knowledge. As soon as we have language, we learn to describe everything through that language and we learn to be like our family, our parents, those at school, etc. Society teaches us conditional love; i.e., “I love you if you are the way I want you to be.” Then we love ourselves with conditions. We need opinions, we need approval, we create an image of ourselves that is not what we are. This how we lose our authenticity and create masks – how we become “domesticated.” To be authentic is to stop pretending to be what think you are, because you are not. Practice makes the Master. You can reconcile what you are and what you want to be. The Agreements for Life takes you through practices to help you discover the authenticity you were born with and reclaim the unconditional love expressed through you as life.

JVM: Is this like Unity Consciousness? dMR: Unity Consciousness is the experience of the 7 billion plus people on the planet being moved by the same force, which is God. It is the awareness to see what we really are: One Living Being. However, this is a truth that really can’t be explained with words; the minute you say it, it is no longer truth. If you hold a beautiful flower in your hand, you can write a whole book about it. However, you are still just you perceiving and experiencing it from your own point of view. JVM: What makes you happy? dMR: What makes me the happiest are the times I get together with my family, those times when I am with my children, grandchildren, my brothers and sisters and my very close friends, as well as when I am with my extended family in each one of my lectures and power journeys. My greatest joy is just to be alive!

don Miguel Ruiz, M.D. is author of The Four Agreements. Published in 1997, it was a New York Times bestseller for more than seven years and the 36th best-selling book of the decade. His other internationally bestselling books include The Mastery of Love, The Voice of Knowledge, Prayers, and The Fifth Agreement, a collaboration with his son don Jose Ruiz. His highly anticipated new online program, The Agreements for Life, is now available at miguelruiz.com Jill V. Mangino is a freelance writer, President of Circle 3 Media and a Creatrix in the Matrix. www. circle3media.com

circle3media.com

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ORIGIN Series: Different Artists // Same Questions // Powerful Answers

The Secret of the Yoga Sutra A Q&A with Pandit Rajmani Tigunait INTERVIE W: m a n t r a m a g a z i n e

Q: What exactly is The Yoga Sutra? Pandit Rajmani Tigunait, PhD, is a modern-day master and living link to the unbroken Himalayan Tradition. He is the successor of Sri Swami Rama of the Himalayas and the spiritual head of the Himalayan Institute. As a leading voice of YogaInternational.com and the author of 15 books, his teachings offer practical guidance on applying yogic and tantric wisdom to modern life. After 35 years of teaching in the West, Tigunait has published a long-awaited commentary on The Yoga Sutra, the seminal text on yoga practice and philosophy. His new release, The Secret of the Yoga Sutra, is the first practitioneroriented commentary that is fully grounded in the living tradition of the Himalayan masters. Tigunait, who is embarking on a 71-city lecture and book tour this month, recently welcomed our inquiry into the deeper dimensions of yoga and how to apply its ancient wisdom to your modern life.

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Pandit Rajmani Tigunait: The Yoga Sutra is a book of yoga philosophy. It is a book of practice. And it is a book of self-realization. It was written 2,200 years ago, when a great master named Patanjali gathered the best aspects of yoga and delineated, in a step-by-step fashion, exactly what yoga is and how to practice it.

Q: What can modern students learn from The Yoga Sutra? PRT: When you practice the kind of yoga described in Patanjali’s Yoga

Sutra, you will experience what it’s like to be healthy, happy, peaceful, confident, and energetic. The literal meaning of “yoga” is “union,” “integration,” “reconnection.” But in the context of practice, yoga is a way of gaining access to your own inner luminosity and becoming established in your essential self. By studying The Yoga Sutra, you will learn how to cultivate a clear, calm, and tranquil mind; how to expand the immense power of your mind; and how to begin unveiling, layer after layer, the mysteries of the universe within you and outside you.

Q: Why are its teachings so crucial today? PRT: Because the human mind is scattered. We have become negli-

gent about our distractions, inertia, confusion, doubt, fear, and anger. But humans have been riding a roller coaster of ups and downs for thousands of years. The yoga tradition, which started at least 5,000 years ago and has continued without interruption, has recorded all of the problems that humans face, and the methods and techniques to overcome those problems. The Yoga Sutra contains the solutions.


“the human mind is scattered. We have become negligent about our distractions, inertia, confusion, doubt, fear, and anger. The yoga tradition has recorded all of the problems that humans face, and the methods and techniques to overcome those problems.”

Q: What role does asana play in yoga practice? PRT: Asana is a very important part of life. It keeps you healthy,

strong, and energetic. And it enables you to discover and reclaim the innate wisdom of your body. But it is only after you rediscover the self-luminous nature of your own mind that you will begin to experience the true power of asana. That discovery comes from the meditative aspect of yoga.

Q: What inspired you to publish a commentary on The Yoga Sutra

Q: What do you hope to accomplish through your Secret of The Yoga Sutra book tour and courses?

PRT: My wish is that The Yoga Sutra brings the same level of trans-

formation to other people as it did to me. In order to make that wish become a reality, my vision is to bring The Yoga Sutra to people’s doorsteps, making this knowledge available to them on many levels and from many perspectives [through a summer lecture and book tour, online study groups, and a four-part master course on The Yoga Sutra that students can take in person or online].

after 35 years of teaching in the West?

PRT: The Yoga Sutra is a compendium of a vast field of knowledge

and wisdom, techniques and methodologies for discovering our multi-dimensional life. It is the source of wisdom for all schools and traditions of yoga. We need to bring the spiritual dimension back into yoga and encourage students to look for teachings and practices that will take them to the next level. That’s why I have realized that I should share whatever I have learned in the last 35 years through this commentary, The Secret of the Yoga Sutra, and by teaching and interacting with students.

My vision is that the yoga community, the scientific community, the medical community, and the health community take from The Yoga Sutra what is useful for them, conduct more research, assimilate the knowledge into their existing practice, and take their own field of knowledge to the next level. My interest is to demonstrate and support how you can embrace the teachings of The Yoga Sutra in your own personal practice for self-improvement and self-empowerment, and how you can accelerate your quest for total well-being and spiritual unfoldment.

youngthegiant.com

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Maranda Pleasant interviews

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Loving Pain Radiating Peace Maranda Pleasant: What is it that makes you feel most alive? Ram Dass: Being with my guru. Nature. Going swimming in the ocean. The wind. I like walking in the pool. That isn’t what makes me feel spiritual, but alive. I think it’s nature and my guru. The presence. MP: Does your guru, Neem Karoli Baba, still speak to you now? If so, do you get a message from him? Is there a memory that’s so alive it feels timeless? RD: That’s a couple of questions, isn’t it? [Laughs] When I feel he’s present, when I feel his presence in the environment, he and I converse in my imagination. A man said to me, “You talk to your dead guru?” I said, “Yeah.” He said, “That’s in your imagination.” And I said, “Yeah!” Because my guru is in my imagination anywhere. Anywhere. I remember things. He came to me and said, “Ram Dass, love everybody.” I said, “I can’t do that.” And he said, “Love everybody.”

When your guru gives you a command, you better listen to it. I love everybody. Even George Bush. MP: [laughs] That’s not an easy one! RD: That means I’ve got to love the souls of people. Because I can’t love every incarnation. To love their souls, I have to identify with my own soul. Then I see their souls, and then I can have such compassion for that soul who has an incarnation like George Bush. I feel compassion. Compassion and love, that’s all. Everyone – he said everyone. MP: I’ll work on that one! It ain’t going to happen today, but it’ll happen. RD: Yes, maybe today. Maybe today. MP: What is it that makes you feel vulnerable? RD: I feel vulnerable because of my mind. Because of the stroke, my mind doesn’t focus. And then I feel vulnerable because I don’t understand the world around me. MP: How do you deal with emotional pain? RD: Pain is the thoughts of the mind. I get rid of the thoughts, and I get in my witness, which is down in my spiritual heart. The witness that witnesses being. Then those particular thoughts that are painful – I love them. I love them to death! MP: That’s a lot of love! How do you maintain your center? Do you have a daily practice? RD: No! MP: Do you meditate every day or anything? RD: Oh no, no, no! I hang out with my guru in my heart. And I love every thing in the universe. That’s all I do all day. MP: You must not be in publishing! I know you have so many beautiful moments, but can you remember one thing that utterly shifted you as a being, where you felt that utter connection with spirit? RD: Well, I remember my first visit with my guru. He had shown that he read my mind. So I looked at the grass and I thought, “My god, he’s going to know all the things I don’t want people to know.” I was really embarrassed. Then I looked up and he was looking directly at me with unconditional love. Unconditional love. He saw all that in me and he loved me. And that – that was the moment. MP: In my own heart, and in this community of yogis and conscious people, I see that we struggle so much with attachment to people and unhealthy relationships. What would you say to someone who is struggling so much with attachment? How can we man-

age breakups and shifts and letting people go? RD: I think the question is, “How do we live with change?” Change in our friends, change in our lovers. There’s change in me and change in my body, from the stroke. Things have changed this plane of consciousness. We try to keep things the same and it causes suffering. This suffering is another step in your spiritual life, in your spiritual journey, because that suffering shows how much you hold on. It’s just the river of thoughts: “Oh, I like him, I’m suffering. I can’t stand change. It’s all changing too fast.” The suffering is in the mind. Witness it from your spiritual heart. Your thoughts are attachments. Witnessing your thoughts is a way of getting out of that. Because I’m witnessing my own attachments, I’m not identified with the attachment. I’m identified with the witness. If you go down into the witness, that has the spiritual being. Down there, in your soul, you’ll get far more love than you ever got out here. MP: If you could say something to everyone on this planet, what would that message be? RD: Many of us are fearful of this cultural moment. There are wars and poverty and so on. It’s based on fear. You can cure that by not being afraid. If you’re afraid, you will just keep making the fear. If you want to change it, change from your soul. The soul is love. Joy. Peace. Wisdom. I went to a peace rally, and they said, “Peace! Peace!” They could go inside to the peace in their souls and radiate peace from their souls, and they could bring peace to the world.

“Down there, in your soul, you’ll get far more love than you ever got out here.”

ramdass.org

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World Trade Center, 9/11 and Rebirth b y E r i c a N u e va A l m a / / R o b e rt S t u r m a n P h o t o g r a p h y I never know who’s going to show up for a shoot, and every once in a while an extraordinary story presents itself. This image is from Trinity Park Cemetery in New York City, with the Freedom Tower in the background. The day of the shoot, I had no idea I would be walking through the Financial District with a 9/11 survivor who hadn’t been back to the area in the 12 years since. –Robert Sturman I was working on the 45th floor of 7 World Trade Center and saw the first plane heading south from the office window. It looked like the shadow of a huge bird. The plane was too low and would have hit us, but we were not the true target. The plane immediately turned upward to hit the first tower. The impact was so close it literally knocked me out of my seat. We ran to the opposite side of our office and saw the flames coming towards our windows. We could already see the papers and debris falling. We all gathered our belongings and ran down the stairs. When we got the ground floor, they tried holding us in the building. When the second plane hit, we all screamed to be allowed to leave because we knew the tenants in the buildings and knew if there was going to be a third plane, we would be next. We were let out via the loading dock in the back. It was at that point that I got out and received a call on my cell phone from my brother, a police officer, who was screaming, “Please tell me you are running late for work! Please tell me you are not in the buildings!” I replied that I’d just gotten out. He said, “Erica, stay on the yellow lines in the middle of the

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street! Run! Run north! Keep running and do not look back! Whatever you need to see, you will see on the news tonight! Run!” As he was saying this, I was already looking up, seeing the images, hearing the horrific noises. I asked him how he knew and where he was. He said, “Now that I know you are safe, keep running. I am headed down now. I’m almost there. I have to run in!” So, as I ran north, my brother was risking his life to run in. My mom suffered several hours of not knowing whether her two children were even alive. By the time I got to Midtown, both of the Twin Towers had fallen. My building was already in flames. It imploded by the end of the day. I always used to stop in Trinity Church to pray. I always found it to be sacred. That’s not something you share with too many people or even think to share, unless it comes up in a conversation. I loved this photo so much that I shared it with my brother. Since 2001, we have always spent 9/11 with each other. It’s “our” day. We consider it our second birthday. I mentioned how remarkable the shot was and how even more special it was because of the precise location. My brother’s response was, “Erica, that was the same church and graveyard where I used to take my naps and where the Red Cross would feed us when we were doing search and recovery. I have A LOT of memories at that exact same place!” This picture captured more than I realized for my family. I might even present one to my mom, because both her children find that spot to be so special in our rebirth.


Photo: Robert Sturman robertsturmanstudio.com // Yogi: Erica Nueva Alma

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ANT S A E L P A D MARAN Y B r e k l son ho i l l a H T I W INTERVIEW

, d n i m f o y t clari of intention, y t i r a cl g n i e b f o y t clari es, and ormanc , and perf helmed rk o rw w e r v o characte r en I feel a h le w c s a e h tim true. Wit in those n. e it to be ity back er perso l I believ tt g positiv ti e n in b u a rc e fo in re ble to a is t fuel to b m a a . mind th nd t project y craft, I you ur lates t hand a lf and m o s a y e se t k y sk a u m ta o m b e t to a a th e in h n m o W ll y t: e n MP: T y energ d day. a Pleasa een focus m Marand ences an ct has b ? y experi nt proje e s e m v e c li y ri a re jo se e n st e lesmo com VH1’s TV ngs biggest AH: My project ance bri ncing on of your a D n e d . n e fu d c o n y n n a ll a l e a D acting me fee at’s be and been a re Holker: MP: Wh d makes ur life? loor. It’s Allison an actor in me an Hit the F far in yo wing as e express st o w ro e d s , g b n w s a e o m n x I’ th o sh . s la n e e re c o out th n e a rk n m d o O s s, ce and k. to w It help ead. Plu er an f patien ery wee infinite. in rtance o ars my h rmer ev ce numb t o o n le and fi p a c rf e d d e n it im il p e e e d b n ch s o e e an a AH: Th at least e. le Having nt them myself, en a hug . m e re n rm b f o o fe o ’s ti if rf d a It rt s d e a u p re ictab p nic all e fit! it keeps razy unp commu ver be a hey are keeps m orking c yles and to teach will fore pisode. T w st g it e r, n e e d d c li b n n e n u a a v a x husb rent d and tra my life ow is e life a bit le? and diffe r shows, es. The sh n make ulnerab ne in times fo uerica ca on our to ndal. Tu ou feel v m a y y A ll sc s o d e f ra c o n k te a u to mm ll li at m ance aro to learn g, and fu . d fe d d in li a MP: Wh it te h y c ic e x a m v d e g d ant, l. I ha ached to u’ll get a m playin stressfu Even ryone att alknow yo never I a e s. I e re v e h e c d y n n h e W a m a . it th g st n use nter in nicate w e circum AH: Acti d to myself to p your ce daily on the r what th ys I nee r, I allow you kee o matte puts me a o n h e d me of da v ic characte a w so h d h o w re n H 00% of u a ti 1 : s, o d P e y d st c o o n M o o n a g D e m ri ? sb e ose on th life expe of chaos r and hu nd in t me of th middle daughte at love a living so n you pu give my serve th e ve: whe line of re d use ? g lo a e y n c e e n e ti k h ti c b li T u A y. ro es. It’s energy onfuforever. my energ bad tim fuels my amidst c ey are ight last g ly lf n th m n li o t se it e e y , it h Y fe . m g re d t u e w ha the en en I find oing it out th es to gro that thro that’s w AH: Wh continu w I am d is member risk, and our love they kno se there ress, I re s ri love requires a st a y e r t il o a m m n th h sio ble is. r just roblems m. Our fa tient wit fo p e a p r lf th o e se vulnera s ry d v y o e a v is ue m all ch and I lo ing to e ing elieve it separate my best I truly b y someth eans zon on. So I d a muniti m s ? n t e a m lu a b o ld l, c so u it th ia a c to lk ld er ou co is so spe little wa dication t, wheth hat wou e a n MP: If y d w g e d t, in m e n k o a n am ork even ta e to the pla to our w e out or one on e this tim ence. ard. everyon air. I tak and pati the to be he n sh ss o ch e e u ti fr a ss m c e a ? m re so d so ’s n t re a e e g e for sure h e to ath ten. T nd I hav ou know ead, bre y A ? . h o g AH: Lis y in d n a li m p th e r l a clea at tru I’m fe emotion lped MP: Wh and how handle t has he problem know do you es. I own tha w y m o ti m H f : f o P o u need to c a M d passion re all, yo a mantr st chaoti ve in an o fo e ry e li e m B e v e b : a u th e o AH tional through pen to b want to , what y o p e u re a m o a m h e y t: I u l a , o e w ll y o th t fe who myself AH: We for. Be h hen I firs remind u stand ore than on, so w what yo best, ate pers ard. I’ll m e h w th fe ry e m . a v Ia ed ke it own for be receiv e best, pain I ta d breakd those I have th ve a mil e best. lf to feel th se e y rv m se likely ha w allo and I de use that ts, but I lf in the em, and momen to myse lease th Through . s, re e g s, n n a o out loud ch r is audition fo th emoti re t th a fo g e I repe rning, b my stren on to be o ss m le ry a e v hurt as ri ere is mirror e all expe ships th can take all hard e and eve you g li e d b le I . w o d n learne em as k d use th ences an

onnit.com

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dancedirect.com

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“Be ho w to be r you want eceived .”

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LEANING INTO KULA it takes a village to get out of the maze By Coby Kozlowski

any years ago, I took a workshop during which we were all blindfolded and put into a maze. The goal of the exercise was to find your way out. As soon as you made it, one of the facilitators would announce it to everybody else: “Bob is out of the maze” or “Susan is out of the maze.” I was pretty competitive at that time in my life, so I immediately decided that I was going to get out of that maze first. We put our blindfolds on, we were put into the maze, and within less than a minute, I heard the announcement, “Barbara is out of the maze.” How had she gotten out that fast? I took a breath and got refocused. Time went on, and I didn’t seem any closer to getting out of the maze. One by one, I heard, “Mark is out of the maze.” “Bob is out of the maze.” “Karen is out of the maze.” Facilitators came up to me once in a while and asked, “How are you doing?” It started frustrating me after a while, and I told them, “Please go away. I’m trying to get out of the maze. Please go away.” At this point, I was getting extremely frustrated. I was working hard and I wasn’t giving up, but somehow I couldn’t figure out why I was not getting out of this maze, and why everyone else had gotten out so easily. Twenty minutes went by, thirty minutes, an hour. At this point, everybody in the group was cheering me on, because I was the only person left in the maze. Finally, one of the facilitators came up to me and said, “Coby, how’s it going?”

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I turned to him and said, “I don’t know. I guess I need help.” And the next second, I heard, “Coby is out of the maze.” The point of the game was that there was no way out of the maze. It was a totally roped-off course with no “real” exit unless you asked for help. In that moment, I realized how often I’d been stuck in the maze, stuck in the riptide of life, stuck in a rut, not getting anywhere – and I’d forgotten to ask for help. Just because you can do everything yourself doesn’t mean you need to do everything yourself. Is going it alone the best use of your energy? See what happens when you let yourself lean into community, lean into family, lean into your tribe. Your kula (Sanskrit for “community of the heart”) is an essential resource on the path to becoming more authentically yourself. And, when you lean into the kula, you also give others the opportunity to offer their unique gifts and talents. Where in your life are you blindfolded and stuck, trying to figure it all out yourself? Where could you allow others to support you, and what might you create together when you tap into this resource? You are not alone in the maze.

Coby Kozlowski, MA, E-RYT, is a faculty member at Kripalu Center for Yoga & Health, where she regularly teaches her program Quarter-Life Calling: Creating an Extraordinary Life in Your 20s. She directs teacher training programs for the Kripalu School of Yoga, is the founder of Souluna Life Coach Certification™, and is the founder of Karma Yoga Leadership Intensive: A One-Degree Revolution.


Your kula is an essential resource on the path to becoming more authentically yourself.

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miND BLoWiNG FACTS aBout yoga BY Claudia Azula Altucher

oga is more than just the poses. It’s a lifetransforming system. 1. Measuring Life Span in Breaths, Not Years. Yogis count age in breaths rather than years. When we count age in breaths, our focus is forever changed as we begin to notice the effect they have on our mental states. Yogis are connoisseurs of the breath. Go ahead! Savor each breath. Yoga is a breathing practice.

Then I realized: the first resistance to achieving a pose is the body. Don’t hurt yourself! But the second resistance is the mind. The barrier shows up in every aspect of our lives. Go ahead, touch your toes and see. 4. It’s A 24/7 Practice. The eight limbs of yoga go from cleanliness of body, to cleanliness (kindness) of mind, to physical yoga, to self-actualization. The yogi practices all eight limbs all day long. 5. The Real Question Is...

2. Lungs: The Most Important Vital Organ. Yogis put their focus on the lungs. The workings of the heart are beyond our control, but the workings of our lungs (oxygen’s highway system) are greatly improved with both yoga and the practice of pranayama.

The real question for a yogi is not how many unusual positions you can do. The first word of the most important book of yoga starts with the word “NOW.” How deep can we go into the present moment? is the point that brings us home. 6. Turning Dust Into Gold.

Master Yogi T. Krishnamacharya is the one that opened my eyes to this. You can read more in his book, Yoga Makaranda. 3. Flexibility Is Of The Mind, Not the Body.

With every body transformation comes an inner transformation. You will see this in your own body and mind when you practice.

The first time I heard Pattabhi Jois say those words I was stunned.

The result is magic. The magic enhances all of your senses.

claudiayoga.com

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7. Inversions As Anti-Aging Agents. Not only does the skin ultimately sag with age, but so do the internal organs. Yogis use gravity to set the odds of longevity in their favor. Head and shoulder stands with deep breathing help the internal organs return to their original position. Gravity defeated! 8. Lotus Pose As Enlightenment Ship. The lotus pose is the best balancing foundation for meditation. We don’t need to get into the lotus all at once (it’s hard!) and there are easier poses in which to meditate. The key is to sit in stillness daily. The rest will come. 9. How Long Should We Rest After Practice? Rest for five minutes for every thirty of asana practiced. We have to calm the nervous system. In this rushed world, how many of us will respect it? It is important to treat our bodies and minds with kindness, because love is the key to return home to this moment. We are here. We’ve arrived. Welcome.

Claudia Azula Altucher is an author and teacher of yoga. Her second book, coauthored with James Altucher, The Power Of No, will be released by Hay House in July, 2014. Her website is claudiayoga.com


1. Ask your teacher what they want beforehand. Some teachers would like you to touch students; others may only want verbal cues. Do what they request; you are there to serve.

How to be a great yoga assistant

3. Listen for instructions. If the teacher is cuing core engagement, do not fix a student’s feet. Only attend to the body part being addressed, otherwise it takes the student out of the moment.

by Michelle Marchildon As the yoga festival season comes upon us, I want to make one thing perfectly clear: My phone line is open. Yoo hoo? Really, I’m available. My bags are packed and I’m ready to go. Aspen sounds good. So does Paris. However, you probably won’t see me teaching this summer. That’s because I prefer assisting rather than teaching at the big events. Assisting is a chance to change someone’s life. And that’s what yoga’s really about. I have had a taste of headlining big events. I’ve taught at festivals, filmed videos and led workshops. But while you are wandering around with a headphone on your head, there is always someone nearby who has no idea

2. Scan the room quickly to make sure everyone is in the right pose. One student on the wrong side will throw off the teacher and the rest of the class.

what the heck to do. And I can’t help it. I’m a fixer. I am drawn to that person. Assistants are change agents. We are the hands that rock the cradle. We put the teacher’s cues into action. The assistant can make a difference with every touch. “You changed my practice, forever,” a student once told me. That’s why I teach. We don’t get paid as much, if at all, but we can create real and lasting transformation. While there are a thousand articles on how to be a great yoga teacher, I have not seen anything on how to be a great assistant. Like teaching, assisting is a practice too. So here it is: A guide to adjusting and assisting for success.

“Assisting is a chance to change someone’s life. And that’s what yoga’s really about.”

4. Adjust what you see. Do not walk around like a zombie doing some standard adjustments. Attend to the students’ needs. If someone needs help balancing, help them. Be aware. Be connected. 5. Likewise, do not lurk. The best thing you can be is invisible. If students are flowing, it is often difficult to adjust them. Stand still and to the side to observe who may need help in the future. 6. Be sensitive. Everyone brings a story to the mat. Before you enter someone’s space, try to assess if they want modification. If a student resists, move on. There are others who need you. 7. Limit talk. It is a distraction. 8. Do not impress. Be invisible. Assisting is an exercise in humility. You are the hand of the teacher. If you do a good job, your moment will come after class when students thank you. 9. Have your teacher’s back. If they need something, get it. Be the teacher’s eyes and ears. Do what you can to help them be successful too. 10. Remember to praise. If a student makes a change, reward them with a compliment. Notice their effort, not just their result. 11. Study your students. Pick one thing in their practice that will make the most difference, and then stay with it. Adjusting every little thing is overwhelming. But if you find something that will change their practice, then they can focus on it and transform themselves. 12. Adjust everyone. Every student can grow. Have a happy yoga festival season and remember to thank your assistant. They worked hard for you too. Namaste.

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what’s the cost OF GAS?

Ecuador and Off The Mat’s Global Seva Challenge Seane Corn and Suzanne Sterling

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“people are sick and they are dying, and it is because of the greed, selfishness, unconsciousness, and arguably, criminal business practices by oil companies.”

In 2008, we were invited to attend the premiere of Crude, a documentary exploring the lawsuit between the indigenous people of Ecuador and Texaco-Chevron. As we sat in the darkened theatre learning about some of the practices of this multinational organization and the impact that oil drilling has had on the rainforest and surrounding communities of indigenous families, we felt an overwhelming sense of outrage and sadness. Even though this devastation is happening in Ecuador, a country “over there,” a place seemingly distant and separate from us here in America, we were aware that this gross corporate irresponsibility is practiced worldwide and affects all of us. I did not grow up “over there,” but I did experience first hand the devastating effects of corporate injustice. I grew up in Pompton Lakes, NJ, a small town about 40 minutes northwest of NYC. In 1902 the DuPont Corporation built a factory at the edge of our town and for years dumped highly carcinogenic chemicals, including lead and mercury, into the soil and groundwater both on and off site. By the late ’70s, the lakes that surrounded the town were severely polluted and we were no longer allowed to swim. But for some strange reason, we could water ski, and catch and eat the trout and catfish that were stocked seasonally.

small towns, big cities, isolated forests, and open seas worldwide. The planet and all her inhabitants are affected as a result. What went down in Ecuador is pretty straight forward: the land was exploited for oil and wells were drilled in ways that created billions of gallons of toxic runoff, which contaminated the soil, water and air. As a result, the health and wellness of the ecosystem and the indigenous communities who depend on the land and water for survival has been seriously compromised. The people are sick and they are dying, and it is because of the greed, selfishness, unconsciousness, and arguably, criminal business practices by oil companies. The indigenous people are fighting to have Chevron (who bought out Texaco and therefore carries the culpability of Texaco’s past actions) clean it up and take responsibility. Finally, in 2011, after 20 years of costly legal battles, Chevron lost and was ordered to pay the Ecuadorian people $19 billion. Many court appeals ensued, bringing the payment amount down to $9 billion. And then, just last month the suit was overturned and Chevron is now off the hook. They, so the U.S. courts declared, are responsible for nothing.

In 1994 DuPont closed, and it seemed as if every family I knew had a member with cancer, including my own. After extensive water and soil testing, it was discovered that the source of much of this illness was the contamination left behind by DuPont. A class-action lawsuit against DuPont was filed and won (with many others to follow), and they were forced to come back and attempt a cleanup. Although they have taken a certain amount of responsibility, so many lives have been lost – including my own father’s – and the local environment and much of its direct ecosystem have been compromised, perhaps permanently.

For the past seven years, Off The Mat (OTM), Into The World, the non-profit organization we co-founded, has raised money for projects in Cambodia, Uganda, South Africa, Haiti and India. We have accomplished this through a fundraising program called the Global Seva Challenge, which invites people to raise significant money ($20k) for the opportunity to fund projects and, if they complete the challenge, visit the country in question. We have raised about $4 million and have contributed to the building of an eco birthing center, a halfway house, a transitional home, a library, a sustainable bakery, a medical center, micro financing and loans, advocacy, and education, to name only a few of our projects.

Sadly, my story is not unique. There is no “over there.” This kind of drilling and chemical dumping, burying, burning, etc., happens in

After watching Crude we decided that the 2013 Global Seva Challenge would be focused on exploring the most profound challenges to

PhotoS: Alex Newell Taylor

otmseva.fundraise.com/seva-legacy

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(continued) protecting the Amazon rainforest and upholding the rights of its people, both of which are being threatened by deforestation and oil production. Funds raised have helped to support our partners in Ecuador, who are strongly defending rainforest ecosystems, standing up for environmental justice, and reclaiming indigenous rights. The Amazon, Earth’s greatest biological treasure, once covered 14% of the Earth’s surface. Now it covers only 6 percent. The last remaining rainforests could be consumed in less than forty years. Nearly half the world’s species of plants, animals and microorganisms will then be destroyed or severely threatened: the result of deforestation by multinational corporations and landowners. Lost will be many possible cures for life-threatening diseases. Five centuries ago, ten million indigenous people lived in the Amazon rain forest. Today, there are less than two hundred thousand left. Gone are thousands of years of irreplaceable knowledge about the medicinal properties of plants. It is said that each time a shaman or medicine person dies, it is as if a whole library burns down. Our partners this year included Amazon Watch, Timmy Foundation, The Cofan Survival Fund, and Clearwater, and we got to experience directly the amazing work they are doing in Ecuador. We worked closely with them on the following projects made possible by the fundraising efforts of this year’s participants. • Provide access to clean drinking water for indigenous and farmer communities directly affected by oil contamination in Ecuador’s northern Amazon.

PhotoS: Alex Newell Taylor

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• Construct and staff a ranger station to help the Cofan Nation patrol and protect their ancestral land from illegal logging, mining, and oil exploration. • Empower frontline, indigenous health care workers to promote public health education and provide care to their communities. • Construct a rural medical care facility and overnight residence for families living in remote areas of the rainforest. • Support advocacy efforts on behalf of indigenous and environmental organizations demanding justice in the northern Amazon (regarding the 30-year lawsuit against Texaco-Chevron) and protesting Ecuador’s 11th Round of oil licensing in Ecuador’s southern Amazon. The Global Seva Challenge also serves to build leaders, whose impacts will extend far beyond this year’s project. Through mentoring and training, Seva participants cultivate realworld skills, as well as those learned on the yoga mat, to become a leading force in their communities and abroad. Environmental exploitation happens worldwide. Although it is necessary to hold our multinational corporations responsible for their actions, we must also hold ourselves responsible. We must recognize the ways that we are complicit in this devastation by our own actions, or inactions, and commit to being more conscious about the way we live our lives and the effects it has on the planet. We want to thank those on the front line of environmental justice, including the organi-

“We must recognize the ways that we are complicit in this devastation by our own actions, or inactions, and commit to being more conscious about the way we live our lives and the effects it has on the planet.”

zations we worked with in Ecuador, for their commitment to protecting Mother Earth. We at OTM are committed to continuing to work with organizations here in the US and overseas that put the sustainability of the planet and her people first. We look to them to see the ways in which they continue to challenge our perspective, provide tools for conscious action, and raise the bar on environmental respect and responsibility. If you would like to learn more or fund any of these projects, please go to otmseva.fundraise.com. The additional money we raise will be split evenly between our partners. With so much love, Seane, Suzanne, Hala and the whole OTM team

otmseva.fundraise.com/seva-legacy


S P TI fo r

a

by Hawah Kasat

g

in dd

i g Yo

Bu

Important things to keep in mind and remember as you progress on your path

1. Yoga Is Ancient. The practice dates back more than 2,500 years.

It encompasses deep philosophy and a science to personality development. If you want to gain the full benefits, don’t reduce it to getting your butt looking tight or flexing your six pack.

2. Health Is As Much Mental As Physical. You may be accessing yoga at an aerobic/cardio workout level, but remember yoga is MUCH more than this. In order to progress, you’ll have to explore the science of the mind and spirit.

3. Stick With It! You may be aching for days. You might want to

throw the towel in, but give the practice time to work its magic. If you’re serious about growing, create a regular schedule. Go three to five times a week for about three months and then re-assess.

4.

Find A Teacher That Speaks Your Language. For the first couple weeks, visit a variety of classes with different teachers. See what and who is out there. After you find your “favorite,” you can move into the next step.

5.

Be Committed To That Teacher. Once you find a teacher that you enjoy, stick with him/her for a few months. This is important because you’ll grow familiar with their style and vocabulary. With time you’ll develop trust, an essential component to your progress.

Hawah has released four books, two musical CDs, and three documentary films. Join him on his 2014 international yoga retreat and pilgrimage to Nepal by visiting YogaNepal.com.

6. Ask Questions. If you think you’re doing something wrong and

are not sure, ask! Don’t spend months doubting yourself, but instead find out early the proper ways to do things. This will proactively help prevent injuries from occurring in the future.

7.

Start Exploring Again. If you make it this far, then give the body new movements and positions to challenge routine. Remain dedicated to your initial teacher and also visit classes with new instructors. Enroll in special workshops/retreats where components of the practice are explored deeper.

8. It’s About An Entire Lifestyle Change. Going to class a few times a week is great. However, if you want to shake things up, start examining the food you put in your body, the number of hours you spend in front of the television, and the way you drive your car.

9.

Read Introductory Yoga Books And Articles. By reading just a few pages of an ancient yoga text before stepping on the mat, your experience in class will shift dramatically. Make it a point to read books and articles about yoga philosophy. It will exponentially expedite your progress!

10. Take It Easy And Have Fun! We take ourselves way too seriously, way too much of the time. Enjoy yourself in class. This is the main ingredient to establishing yourself for the long haul.

“If you want to gain the full benefits, don’t reduce it to getting your butt looking tight or flexing your six pack.”

naamyoga.com

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Mantra Ambassadors Light Up NYC Robert Sturman Photography // robertsturmanstudio.com Our awesome ambassadors gathered in Central Park and the streets of New York City to share their beautiful practices and favorite poses with the readers of Mantra.

Photos: Robert Sturman robertsturmanstudio.com

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Photos: Robert Sturman robertsturmanstudio.com M A N T R A M A G . C OM

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Photos: Robert Sturman robertsturmanstudio.com

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San Francisco’s Premiere Yoga Studios

Susan Hauser

photo credit: Russ Eddy

200 Hour & 500 Hour Teacher Training Because Yoga Tree is home to some of the most highly regarded teachers in the world, students in our teacher training programs have the opportunity to train with some of the leading contemporary voices in yoga. •

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TEACHERS INCLUDE:

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Valencia l Stanyan l Hayes l Castro l Mission l Potrero l 6th Avenue l Telegraph Madera M A NlTCorte RAMAG.C OM 49


by Bidyut K. Bose, PhD, Matthew Wilburn King, PhD, and Rob Schware, PhD

an yoga and mindfulness really reverse climate change? If you are rolling your eyes just reading the question, read on! It is no longer a matter of scientific dispute that climate change poses real challenges for current and future generations. Impacts of the changing climate are already evident in most regions of the globe. Nearly 100% of climate scientists agree that climate-warming trends over the past century can be attributed to human activity. Increased demand on available resources is expected to be severe in regions with populations that are most vulnerable to climate change and prone to conflict. We often rush to blame greedy corporations and self-centered nations for climate change, forgetting that individuals design systems, build organizations, and constitute nations. We are the corporations and self-centered nations. We are equally quick to look outside ourselves for solutions to climate change, but we often forget that our efforts to change our external environment need to be balanced by our efforts to change our internal environments: ourselves. Humans possess a highly advanced capacity for mental “time travel�; we can recall past events and we can imagine multiple, complex outcomes, and we act accordingly in the present to achieve desired outcomes in the future. Yet, human-induced climate change has put the long-term sustainability of Earth’s

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ecosystems in a vulnerable position. How do we resolve this paradox?

Personal Transformation and Global Sustainability We have learned a lot by asking how humans contribute to climate change, but we rarely ask why we leave a larger-than-necessary carbon footprint. Why do we confuse wants with needs? Why do we choose what is

pleasant in the short term and not what is good in the long term? If we are serious about avoiding the worst effects of climate change, we must question economic growth itself and shift our emphasis away from materialistic values. The eight steps of Raja Yoga, which are an optimal approach for personal transformation, can create these shifts. The first step is the practice of ten powerful and interrelated moral and ethical principles (yamas


Imagine the possibilities if most of the one billion people in the developed world, where consumption is most rampant, were acting through emotional regulation and self-mastery most of the time, striving to be mindful of future generations.”

A Dissemination Model We simply don’t have time to rely on governments or institutions to take actions on our behalf or to encourage everyone to become yoga teachers and practitioners. Instead, we need to extract the essence of yoga and distill it down to a few minutes of practice that can be done regularly by anyone, anytime, anywhere. Niroga Institute, a nonprofit based in Northern California, has done precisely that. Niroga has developed a series of twenty-minute sequences of yoga poses, breathing techniques, and meditation. These practices are known as Transformative Life Skills (TLS). Multiple studies of TLS with children have found that TLS decreases stress and increases emotional regulation when done regularly.

and niyamas). Acting in accordance with these principles – in particular, noncoveting, discipline, and self-surrender – encourages a sense of inner abundance and an embrace of simplicity. This leads to sustainable living and a reduction in our carbon footprint. The next two steps are yoga postures (asana) and breathing techniques (pranayama). Asana provides us control of our bodies, through stress resilience and the healing of trauma, while pranayama creates connection between breath and emotion. These transformative skills literally rewire our brains and change behavior. The next three steps are a progressive inward journey consisting of introspection (pratyahara), which deepens into concentration (dharana), which in turn deepens into meditation (dhyana). Meditation enables our minds to become calmer, less frenetic. As we build our capability to regulate our emotions, it affects everything we do – what and how much we eat and drink, what/when/why we buy, and how we work, live, and play – in short, it determines our carbon footprint!

The Yoga Wheel We can think of the yoga practice as a wheel, where yoga starts out providing us with optimal tools for stress management. As we develop stress resilience, we develop self-awareness, and we begin to recognize

the chasm of difference between “I am sad/ mad/stressed” and “I am feeling sad/mad/ stressed.” As we develop self-awareness, we gain greater ability to regulate emotion, to act rather than react, and to resist the impulse to acquire something we may want but do not need. These three capabilities translate into healthier, more empathetic relationships with everyone and everything around us. As we continue to traverse this wheel, we spiral toward an evolution of our consciousness. This spiral leads us toward the eighth step of yoga, self-realization (samadhi), which is the awareness that we are all intimately interconnected and interdependent. As we move around the wheel, aligning our thoughts with actions, we can adaptively reduce our individual carbon footprints and even curtail desires that lead to larger carbon footprints.

With a potent universal practice that anyone can do anytime and anywhere, we can keep traversing the yoga wheel, getting better and better at it. We can then share it with everincreasing confidence and authenticity. Imagine the possibilities if most of the one billion people in the developed world, where consumption is most rampant, were acting through emotional regulation and self-mastery most of the time, striving to be mindful of future generations. Imagine the possibilities if every child in the West could learn these transformative life skills from childhood. We might mitigate the adverse effects of climate change – or possibly even avert the change in a single generation.

Bidyut “B. K.” Bose, PhD, is the founder and executive director of Niroga Institute, where he studies the scientific application of TLS and develops cost-effective architectures for lasting social transformation. Matthew Wilburn King, PhD, has nearly two decades of experience as an entrepreneur, government employee, and nonprofit leader in the field of environment and sustainable development. He is president and chairman of the Living GREEN Foundation™. Rob Schware, PhD, is the executive director of the Give Back Yoga Foundation, president of the Yoga Service Council, and seva advisor to Hanuman Festival. He co-authored Climate Change and Society: Consequences of Increasing Atmospheric Carbon Dioxide.

photos: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration/Department of Commerce (photographers: bottom left: Ralph F. Kresge, top right: Bob Williams)

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BY S A M I L E A L I P M A N

Sustainability, Free Trade and Educating Our Future INTERVIEW WITH:

Beth Doane

Founder of Raintees Sami Lea Lipman: What inspired you to start Raintees?

Beth Doane: I founded a fashion company in my early twenties, and at first it seemed like the best job ever. I had an arsenal of designer heels and handbags and I was flying to New York, Milan and Paris for private parties and fashion weeks. But there is a dark side of fashion most people never see, and as I began working more closely on the manufacturing side of the business I saw how toxic and destructive the industry can be. There are millions of garment workers around the globe who have very little or no rights and are threatened, beaten and even killed for demanding safe working conditions or fair wages. There are also children working in apparel factories, and they are exposed to the multitude of toxic chemicals and dyes used to make our clothes. I knew there had to be a better way to make apparel, and that idea led me to design a clothing brand that is made ethically and gives back. I called the company Raintees because we plant a tree in an endangered rainforest for every item we sell. We also work with fair trade factories that pay above a living wage, donate school supplies to children around the world, and feature their artwork on our Raintees apparel and accessories.

SLL: What are some ways Mantra readers can make more conscious choices when shopping? BD: It starts with buying local as much as possible, reading labels and buying from manufactures that are transparent about where they produce their products and how.

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

raintees.com

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BD: Be kind to each other. We are all in this together.

SLL: How do you keep your center in the midst of chaos? Do you have a daily routine? BD: My career involves a lot of traveling, so a routine is challenging. I have found, however, that I am most focused and calm when I get enough sleep and stick to a plant-based diet.

SLL: Tell me about your latest project. BD: We are expanding our Raintees Pen Pal Program because it is a completely free way for our fans to have a positive experience with a child or teen from a different culture. You can sign up on our web site, www.raintees.com. Look for the Pen Pals section.

SLL: What truth do you know for sure? BD: Education changes lives and an educated youth population can redefine our world’s future. It’s the single most powerful thing we can focus on right now.


There are millions of garment workers around the globe who have very little or no rights and are threatened, beaten and even killed for demanding safe working conditions or fair wages.


FALL IN LOVE With Your Body

3 Leaps Toward Self-Acceptance, Regardless of Size or Shape by Tanya Lee Markul

y self-talk used to be a ruthless, relentless broken record of negative magnitudes. “Why can’t I lose weight?” “I’m not good enough!” “I feel disgusting!” I can’t count the opportunities wasted because I felt uncomfortable, shameful or guilty about my body, nor the amount of time I’ve spent not living in the present moment. After ending one regime, I’d spend all my mind-space conjuring up the next big “get-perfect” scheme. Despite my goals, I never truly felt worthy of any achievement. My accomplishments felt undeserved. I’d end up self-sabotaging and I’d land right back where I began. That wasn’t all. The repulsion I carried for myself was projected onto others. I’d become jealous of those who carried the ideals I desired. I’d hide from those who challenged me to step into the spotlight. I’d discredit the ones that seemed to have the confidence I longed for.

RebelleSociety.com

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It has taken me nearly a lifetime to realize that what I was longing for wasn’t the perfect body shape or weight, but self-acceptance. A negative body image is a poisonous ripple that can affect every aspect of your life, from your career to your ability to nourish yourself when all scapegoats have disappeared. On the contrary, the practice of self-acceptance invites a sincere relationship with your body and every facet of your existence. So where do we begin? Here are three leaps that have helped me to ignite an inner transformation. I invite you to make them your own. 1. Choose optimal health. Instead of obsessing over some restrictive diet program, weight goal or superficial shape, make choices that are deeply nourishing. Every opportunity you have, make the healthy choice. Relax into it and focus on how it makes you feel mentally and physically. Grow from there. And get moving! Make your diet and exercise lifeenhancing attributes instead of punishments for unhealthy choices.

ThugUnicorn.com

2. Love yourself first and foremost. Be gentle, be kind and as a rule of thumb, speak to yourself as if you’re speaking to the love of your life. Re-training your habitual negative selftalk via positive repetition gives you the best chance possible. When you catch yourself in the self-hate trap, carefully and lovingly pull yourself out of it. 3. Stay present & positive. Don’t waste time dreaming of the body you had 15 years ago or the body you will have in the future. Focus on the goodness that your body brings you right now, every day. Be grateful for it as it has helped you take each step on your journey of self-discovery. There is no reason to give up. You cannot fail – not now, not ever.

Tanya Lee Markul is a devoted student to the sacred art of Self-Discovery, Authentic Creative Expression and Wellness Alchemy. She’s also a yoga teacher, student, writer and Co-Founder of RebelleSociety. com, RebelleWellness.com and the owner of ThugUnicorn.com.


ABOUT MICHAEL: I’m a social change enthusiast who loves creating learning opportunities with amazing people. I teach psychology, facilitate workplace culture change, present keynotes about positive living, blog, write, and am so grateful for it all. Please connect with me @michaelbarata.

michaelbarata.com

PHOTOS: MICHAEL BARATA

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BY Peter Sklivas

How do you like your sweat: With or Without Devotion? Keeping vigorous yoga authentic to the values of yoga.

I

n the last twenty years, yoga practice in America has trended toward emphasizing a sweat-infused, heart-pounding, cardio-challenging workout. Believe it or not, that’s not how yoga used to be. Before sticky mats and stretchy, skin-tight gear, the emphasis of yoga was about removing impurities as the veils of illusion in order to uncover the atman (soul). Back in the early ’90s, I lived in a celibate ashram where yogis woke up at 6 a.m. to two hours of hatha yoga, prayamana and meditation as a standard way to greet the day. Our evenings ended with kirtan, teachings and aarti (light ceremony of surrender to God and guru) as a standard way to complete the day. Now, I confess to loving hot yoga so much that I created my own style: HotCore Yoga. Yet sometimes I ask myself, “Have I abandoned the essence of yoga in order to attract customers to my yoga studio? Is HotCore Yoga just a workout with slow-breathing techniques?” Personally I find the answer in the same place I found it back in the early ’90s: on my own yoga mat. Actually, back then, I rolled out a Mexican blanket because yoga mats didn’t exist. But you know what I mean. In my own practice I discovered a yearning to merge the me who is human with the me who is eternal. In my sadhana, I fuel the yearning with my breath and the emotions of fury, wrath, sadness, fear, shame and whatever else collects in my subconscious mind. I move my body in ways to harness my physicality as a vehicle of devotion. In my studio, we have floor-to-ceiling mirrors, which I like because my facial expressions reveal so much about my present state of consciousness. In other words, I can’t hide. Again and again… there I am. And I see the opportunity to peel away the vestiges of self-identity, which remind me of my humanity and yet fail to capture the fullness of who I am.

Recently I phoned fellow yogi Beryl Bender Birch to ask her to read my yoga romance novel, The Secret of Enduring Love, and she was reminiscing about the days when yogis would sit around wood stoves and read yogic scriptures and stories. Now, all the yogis are writing their own books, creating DVDs and fancy workshops. She and I laughed about it, because it’s true; those of us who have been in the game are extremely busy. But it’s a wonderful state of busy. The devotion is real when we discover it in our practice, and the yoga remains true to its roots when we devote our bodies, hearts, and minds to the one eternal essence. Meet me there. It’ll be super sweaty…fiercely challenging…and playfully wild!

Peter Sklivas is the creator of HotCore Yoga and the author of the novel The Secret of Enduring Love: Yoga Romance of Damayanti & Nala. Located in Beverly Farms, MA, Peter teaches classes in his yoga studio & leads workshops on Tantra and HotCore Yoga.

In my sadhana, I fuel the yearning with my breath and the emotions of fury, wrath, sadness, fear, shame and whatever else collects in my subconscious mind.” hotcoreyoga.com

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ss, e n i p hap e le k i ilab Unl a v a ent s m i o joy ry m e. e v n in e ryo e v to e

don’t worry

by Wendy Colonna

be happy joyful ate it because it simply isn’t there. And the more we measure things against something that doesn’t exist, the more we perpetuate the sense of disease within ourselves and with each other. don’t believe in “happiness” any longer. It may be the best thing that’s ever happened to me. A few years ago, while struggling to maintain a life as an artist, performer, entrepreneur, employer, teacher and community organizer, I realized I was a very unhappy person. While on the surface it seemed to others that I was wildly successful at wearing all these hats, I had dozens of projects hanging in the balance. Each was continually on the brink of “success” or “failure” and somehow my sense of worth was tied up with all these projects. What a mess. I remember how everyone remarked regularly that they admired my ability to do so much for so many, travel so widely, touch so many hearts with my gifts, give so freely of myself, and live my dreams. I snickered silently to myself about the deep, dark costs of “living my dreams” and didn’t have the courage to share what I was truly feeling – which was lonely, heartbroken and afraid I would never find happiness or see my dreams come true. And my life fell apart. Then my dreams did begin to come true. It’s not an unfamiliar story. It’s as old as storytelling itself, and it’s your story and it’s mine. Nobody is exempt, yet few are courageous enough to admit it and even fewer are courageous enough to surrender to the gifts of their mess. You see, happiness does not exist. It simply doesn’t. There is no amount of seeking, searching, productivity or acquisition that will cre-

However, one can live their dreams by simply being awake and aware of each moment and its gifts. Unlike happiness, joy is available in every moment to everyone. It exists now, not “back when” or “maybe when.” It is available when we eat an apple. It is available when we take a breath. It is available when we fall in love. It is available when we grieve; for what is grief but a direct reflection of our capacity to love? Joy can happen spontaneously, anywhere, to anyone. And in my book, joy is a continual dream-come-true and dream-worth-living. When I was in the process of finishing the tracks on my most recent album, Nectar, people would say to me, “I hope this album brings you happiness and success,” to which I would reply simply, “Thank you.” In my heart, this album is already wildly successful. It was created with love, hard work, risk and community. There were challenges, but where we perceived obstacles, we chose instead to see opportunity. The joy of creating it, from the writing of each song, to the intense and magical sessions, to the budgeting and artwork, was all true success. What if we all simply changed out our lens from a “happiness” filter to a “joy” filter, just for a brief stint? My guess is that we’d all be “living our dreams” a little more authentically.

Wendy Colonna is a dreamy singer-songwriter. She was a Wall Street Journal “Best Music Acts” pick at 2014’s SXSW. Listen for her music at Starbucks, where her music was recently licensed, or own it from wendycolonna.com.

wendycolonna.com

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BY christina sell

the fine print of

praүer or over ten years, I began every yoga class I taught with an invocation to Shiva. The particular chant I opened my classes with invoked the power of Grace as the true teacher, affirming the teacher was embodied, conscious and essentially blissful. The invocation went on to assert that Grace was ever-present, full of peace, and existed no matter what was happening, as the essence of Spiritual Light. As you can see, this was no ordinary prayer. Asking to know that the essence of Light and the spiritual authority of one’s deepest self is untouched by what is happening is no simple request. And the thing about prayer is that it works. In my experience, prayer works very well. I have experienced miracles, synchronicities, revelations and healings that I can attribute only to the power of prayer. I have been lifted up, made able by unseen forces, and carried in the arms of angels. But more often than not, I live in what I call the “Fine Print of Prayer,” where a wildcard

christinasellyogaclass.com

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aspect is involved in my transformation. I prayed for patience and got stuck in traffic jams. I prayed for compassion and found myself walking through the dark hallways of my pain to come face-to-face with what it means to long for a helping hand in the midst of suffering. I prayed for humility, and I landed in the middle of my personal shortcomings. I prayed to know the Light that doesn’t fade regardless of circumstance and to know the true teacher of my heart, only to face the dissolution of long-held beliefs and cherished icons of outer authority. I don’t confuse the “Fine Print of Prayer” with new-age notions of “creating my own reality” or with an inflated sense of responsibility for what happens in my life, nor do I think life is all that personal. However, when faced with life’s inevitable ups and downs, I do ask myself what my situation is teaching me that no other circumstance could. I look at the ways my outer destruction or loss might be an opportunity for inner gain and understanding. I cry my tears, I express my anger, I rant and I rave. But when that part is done, these deeper inquiries are what usher me to lasting insight, discerning clarity and hard-won wisdom.

Asking to know that the essence of Light and the spiritual authority of one’s deepest self is untouched by what is happening is no simple request.” And truthfully, I know of no other way for God to answer my prayers than to give me a chance to live my own answers directly.

Christina Sell has been practicing yoga since 1991. Known for her clarity, precision and inspiring teaching style, Christina teaches seminars, workshops and trainings internationally. She is the founder of the San Marcos School of Yoga and Christina Sell Yoga Programs. Find out more about her or take classes with her online at www.christinasellyogaclass.com.


Karma & Compassion, Yoga & Activism b y C h r i s C o u rt n e y a n d M aya D e v i G e o r G photo: drew xeron

“The opposite of love is not hate, it’s indifference.” -Elie Wiesel

veryone is familiar with the word “karma,” and most understand it as the simple consequences of our actions. But, by simply living in this world, we also share karma with our families, our communities, our nations, and our planet.

who renounce every desire for personal reward go beyond the reach of karma.” Stated simply, do what you do because it must be done, and do it without any expectation. No “thank you” or “job well done.” Our expectations create new karma, regardless of whether our desires are met or thwarted.

In yogic philosophy, this world we inhabit is one wherein we must repay our karmic debts. This is seen as suffering. The whole point of yoga is more than just enlightenment; it is an end to all suffering, not just your own.

Sharing karma means we share in our suffering. So, we are obligated to help expire all karmas in order to alleviate all suffering. Compassion literally means “to suffer with.” Biting your tongue and turning a blind eye when you bear witness to suffering, especially when you know the cause, is not an example of compassion. As Elie Wiesel said, “The opposite of love is not hate, it’s indifference.” This refusal to act simply allows the suffering of others to continue. This indifference is irresponsible. Love and compassion are active, not passive.

Paying off our karmic debts would be far easier if we were also not continually racking up more of them. As Krishna told Arjuna in the Bhagavad Gita: “Those who are attached to personal reward will reap the consequences of their actions: some pleasant, some unpleasant, some mixed. But those

Yogi Gupta would often say, “Yoga is doing anything to make the world better.” The practice of yoga is actually activism. Activism is an expression of love and compassion. We do it because it is right, and because it must be done to end suffering in this world. It is our Dharma, our duty, as yogis and residents of this world, to take action against inequity, hunger, and illness. Yoga is not a selfish practice. Yes, it makes us feel good, but we need to remember what we practice for. It’s not about a better-looking butt, or seeing how flexible we can become. It is about how we can become vessels of compassion and bringers of mercy, how we can love the whole world as we love ourselves and how we can expire our karmas together. If we share karma, we can never be free, never attain any liberation, so long as a single soul suffers.


New Jersey Mantra Ambassadors Robert Sturman Photography

Photos: Robert Sturman robertsturmanstudio.com

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