mantra YOGA + HEALTH
ancient healing practices
the magic of
transforming anger feeLing your fear
tattooed yogis JOE LONGO
Saul David Raye with Harmony, Jai, Taj and Lila-Maya Bhakti Yogi & Kirtan Artist Lives: Topanga Canyon, Kauai & sacred sites around the planet Founder: Atma Yoga, Ritam School of Thai Yoga Massage Co- Founder: The original Sacred Movement Center Teaches: Atma Yoga, Thai Yoga Massage, Meditation, Tantra and Heart Consciousness at Exhale Center for Sacred Movement and around the world Teaching: Yoga is abiding in the heart at all times, the path of love over fear. Remember your power resides within you - reclaim it and use it for the good of All. This is an amazing time to be alive. Now is the time and we are the ones we have been waiting for. OM Mat: Jade
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PUBLISHER / EDITOR-IN-CHIEF Maranda Pleasant
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Seane Corn Elena Brower Shiva Rea Jason Mraz Ana T. Forrest Amy Ippoliti Sharon Gannon Danielle LaPorte LISSA DOHL
CREATIVE DIRECTOR Sami Lea Lipman SENIOR Editor Karen Yin COPY EDITOR Ian Prichard
Assistant Editor Ocean Pleasant NY Editors Sharon Pingitore Nancy Alder Yoga Philosophy Editor Bob Weisenberg Photographers Joe Longo Robert Sturman Drew Xeron
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REBELLE SOCIETY KHNUM “STIC” IBOMU JACOB HEMPHILL TREVOR HALL SINÉAD O’CONNOR JOE LONGO PHOTOGRAPHY AMY PUTNEY KOENIG
Jason: Jen RosensteiN SinÉad: donal moloney
EDITOR’S NOTE I’ve been on the road for the past forty days on our Soulshine tour with Michael Franti. Getting to meet our Soulshine city ambassadors and watching communities come together with so much love reminds me why I do this. It’s my deepest honor to have my heroine Sinéad O’Connor featured this issue. She taught me to tell the truth, even when the world may not be with you—even when it can cost you everything. She taught me to value strength and integrity more than my appearance or appeasing old systems or patriarchy. Breaking what needs to be broken to grow. Burning bright sometimes requires deep hurt, deep loss, and deep healing. Burn anyway. Shine even brighter. Even when we lose, we can say we loved well, with everything we have. May we love deeper and fuller with a rawness so tender that we astound ourselves. May we judge ourselves on how much we love instead of the size of our bodies or bank accounts. Let’s allow ourselves to be truly seen: vulnerable, transparent, and deeply real. Let’s be brave and stand together. Have the courage to leave, stay, or speak up when it’s hard. Love from the road, Maranda Pleasant Mantra Yoga + Health • ORIGIN Magazine • REAL Magazine • THRIVE Magazine Founder/Editor-in-Chief
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matters Tapping into your natural state of being t’s pre-dawn and you are startled awake. Not by a noise outside your window but by the voice in your head worrying whether you can make your 3 p.m. dentist appointment or if yet again you have double-booked yourself. As you reach for your smartphone to add a reminder and alarm for the morning, you wonder if there is a better way to keep up with your life. Isn’t there an app for that? In the most literal of terms, there is an application for your situation, but it is not the digital variety. It is simply the power of tapping into your natural state of being, which can be found in the exercise of mindfulness. Practices like meditation and yoga are wellknown avenues for quieting the mind and developing focus. Although on the fringes of contemporary society for most of Western history, they have become quite prominent in our popular culture in the last few decades. Scientists who are working to better understand human health and well-being have conducted several studies to measure the positive physiological, emotional, and behavioral effects of these practices. Some of the benefits found in studies of mindfulness practices, such as Sanford et al. (2009),
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is happening in public and private school curriculums across the country. Elementary and secondary schools that implemented these practices have seen a significant decrease in student absences, tardiness, and suspensions that result from negative emotional response and aggression. In addition, yoga and meditation in classrooms typically emphasize the positive characteristics and attributes of gratitude and compassion. Scientific studies are confirming what mindfulness practitioners already know: you truly are all you need. It just requires a little focus to catch up—or, more accurately, slow down— to find the peace and clarity you are seeking. Now when you are startled awake by that little voice in the early morning hours, instead of reaching for your smartphone, you may find restoring your sleep is as simple as focusing on your breath and your gratitude. No app required.
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On habits, healing, and the heart Interview Maranda Pleasant
“I have six nonnegotiable actions in my life: yoga, meditation, prayer, therapy, a mindful diet, and sleep.”
Seane Corn Maranda Pleasant: What makes you come alive or inspires you?
“Anger work teaches me how to respect the complexities of the human experience, shift perspective through self-understanding, and develop the empathy necessary to honor the respective paths of all souls, no matter what.”
Seane Corn: I come alive and am inspired when I get to facilitate transformational experiences for other people through teaching yoga. It is amazing to hold space for people on their journey and witness them in their vulnerability, heartbreak, loss, and fear, then guide them through a process that shifts their understanding and perspective from pain into empowerment, not in spite of their life experiences but because of them. It
“It is amazing to hold space for people on their journey and witness them in their vulnerability, heartbreak, loss, and fear, then guide them through a process that shifts their understanding and perspective from pain into empowerment.”
SC: That people you love—no matter how good they are, no matter how hard you pray, no matter how unfair it seems—will die. And when they do, the gifts they leave behind, if you choose to take them in, inspire massive shifts of consciousness that awaken the heart and mind to a greater sense of acceptance, understanding, and love. MP: What truth do you know for sure? SC: That [whenever] I think I know for certain, especially truth, I am already wrong. As long as I am motivated by my five senses, then my perception of truth is limited to my reason. MP: What causes or organizations are you passionate about?
is a privilege to be so present to the human experience, the light and shadowy aspects, and I honor the courage it takes to want to take spiritual and emotional responsibility for oneself and life. It makes me want to dig deeper, be braver, and surrender more in my own personal healing work, and it inspires me to continue trusting this process and everything that ultimately gets revealed as a necessary part of our human/spiritual, and therefore divine, development. MP: What makes you feel vulnerable? SC: Tapping into my big emotions. My survival skill has always been my ability to intellectualize and “overunderstand.” It is natural for me to bypass big feelings and shut them down. I can tell you how I feel but not actually connect with the emotion. I have to work hard to pull them up to the surface, and it can be overwhelming at times. The work I do on myself—and share with my students—proactively connects with the body/mind experience and invites deep inquiry and emotional release. I have been doing this work for many years, but it still can be scary, even though I know the outcome is truth and freedom. MP: If you could say something to everyone on the planet, what would it be? SC: “Thank you. This has been an amazing ride. I’m grateful to you all for sharing it with me. Now . . . can we stop with the violence, the oppression, the hatred, and all the ways in which we separate ourselves from each other? Can we find ways to work together that is mindful, meaningful, and motivated by good will and love? Can we just try this for a while as an experiment and see what the results are? If we don’t feel more connected, if peace isn’t the end result, if violence isn’t obsolete, if people aren’t thriving, if goodwill isn’t restored, then we can go back to our old, familiar greed and power-based destructive behaviors that alienate and create conflict, PHOTOS: DJ PIERCE
oppression, and pain. But can we at least rally together, just once, and give love, compassion, and equality a full and totally committed try? How about it?” MP: How do you handle emotional pain? SC: I do anger work. I do a process of emotional-release work that moves the repressed and “shadow” energy out of my body, with insight and understanding, so that I can experience truth and love within myself and within all beings everywhere. It is difficult to experience truth and love when there is trauma, emotional shutdown, and denial. Anger work is primal and shifts the energy, connects me to my vulnerability, helps me get out of my head and more into my heart so that I can communicate more effectively from a place of love and not fear. Anger work teaches me how to respect the complexities of the human experience, shift perspective through self-understanding, and develop the empathy necessary to honor the respective paths of all souls, no matter what. MP: How do you keep your center in the middle of chaos? Do you have a daily routine? SC: I breathe. I remember to let love lead. I listen rather than speak. I have six nonnegotiable actions in my life: yoga, meditation, prayer, therapy, a mindful diet, and sleep. If any of these things are off, then eventually I will fall back into old habits and patterns that are reactive and fear-based. My nature is to be aggressive and intense, especially when I am scared, which can feel threatening to people, even if that is not my intention. I do these nonnegotiable actions so that when I do get triggered, I can be present and make more grounded and heart-centered choices that are motivated by my—our—natural state of being, which is love. MP: What’s been one of your biggest lessons so far in life?
SC: My organization, Off the Mat, Into the World, just got back from Ecuador and partnered with some amazing organizations working hard to clean up the rain forest from oil drilling and help the indigenous people whose lives and health are impacted by the contamination. I fully support Clearwater in their efforts to bring clean water to the people and Amazon Watch for the advocacy they do to continue raising awareness, creating policy, and being proactive in creating environmental change not only for the Ecuadorian people but people worldwide, as environmental injustice impacts all of us and our planet. MP: Tell me about your latest projects. SC: I was the co-chair for Marianne Williamson’s run for Congress. I worked hard to inspire and encourage people to exercise their right and privilege to vote and make known Marianne’s platform to the broader yoga and wellness communities. Sadly, she did not make it to the general elections, but it was an amazing experience learning more about the government, the importance of civic engagement, and how deeply important it is as yogis to be involved in the decision and policy making that influences so many human beings worldwide. I am hopeful that Marianne will choose to run again in the future and that her run inspires more spirit-minded thought leaders to want to get involved in politics as well. MP: What is love for you? SC: My ability to articulate this will be inadequate. There is nothing more powerful, more potent, more elegant, more fragile, more elusive, more available than this remarkable emotion and expression of humanity. I haven’t even tapped into a fraction of its power yet am literally moved by it daily as it motivates and inspires all I do, say, and create as a human being, teacher, lover, parent, child, etc. So I don’t fully know what love is for me. I can only hope that I can simply “be” for love and receive all that it has to offer my soul. SEANECORN.COM
Elena Brower Cofounder of Virayoga and co-author of Art of Attention
“Addiction is surely one of my biggest struggles, and meditation is how I’ve transformed it. My practice has helped me love myself. Deep friendships and love relationships have taught me how to care for myself. And my teachers have shown me how to remember myself, no matter how many times I forget.” VIRAYOGA.COM | ARTOFATTENTION.COM
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by claudia azula altucher
These rituals always help me:
1. Silence and Gratitude
First thing in the morning, I take a moment to feel gratitude for all details, like being able to walk or having food on the table. Knowing that I am one of the lucky people that get to have a roof over my head puts things in perspective.
How to prepare a peaceful morning for practice I made a huge mistake yesterday: I checked social media before practice. That’s a big no! Whenever I deviate from what helps me get on the mat, I’m in trouble. Having a ritual sets clean boundaries on my motivation and helps me avoid the saboteur that is always too willing to have me skip on what brings me peace.
2. Asking a Question
I ask, “What do I need to understand today?” And then I release the mind. I trust that an answer will come. Sometimes it does, sometimes I hear nothing. But the question works because it points towards the void, the inner silence that feels sacred.
3. Limiting Social Media
I have tried not doing any social media at all in the mornings, but I can’t. I’m human. I like having coffee and talking, and eventually I feel like opening the computer. But I have limits. Before practice, it can only be to promote an article, like this one, but not to look at updates. The focus needs to be cared for, and it needs to go into the practice.
Good yoga literature helps me get inspired in the morning. I like to read the classics like the sutras or the Gita. But coming up with what to read is a trialand-error road. I learn from mistakes and keep improving.
5. Making Lists
The morning is the most fertile idea time for me. The brain is clear, and mind
M MAANNTTRRAAM MAAGG..CCO OM M
modifications are not yet at their peak. If inspiration strikes, I grab a pen and paper, start coming up with lists, and let inspiration flow.
6. Yoga-Room Setup
The practice begins with setting up the room and generating the energy and focus for it. I have found that this prepractice ritual makes all the difference. A room that is cared for exudes focus, silence, and the right environment.
Actual practice time is sacred space. It is the time to go in, shut off the thinking brain, and let the intelligence of the body lead. It is when I listen to the limits of the body for the day and also the areas where it can soar, try something new, retain for one more count, exhale slowly, even out the breath.
Claudia Azula Altucher is an author and teacher of yoga. Her second book, The Power of No, was co-authored with James Altucher, co-host of their weekly show on Hay House Radio.
“The morning is the most fertile idea time for me.”
B y M e l i s s a M o o n e y- L o p e z
Let’s Balance Your Body Using food as medicine
I will never stop feeling frustrated when people complain about the cost of eating well. I always answer, ‘What is the cost of being sick?’”
am passionate about my family, friends, career, community, and food. I am borderline obsessive about how food is grown, where it comes from, how it’s prepared, and what it can do for the body. Most importantly, I’m concerned that all humans are not able to access real, wholesome, organic, non-GMO foods. If all humans are created equally, it’s unfortunate that our food is not made equally and neither are our food budgets. I’ve always been saddened by the lack of fairness when it comes to the availability of quality food. It wasn’t until I myself became a mom that this issue resonated on a deeper, more personal level. Every mother wants the best for her child. The majority of moms in the world simply do not have the ability, or the education, to give their children the best of what food has to offer. For a greater part of my life, I have lived as a warrior for health. My friends call me “a guide to wellness.” I have my hippie parents to thank for that. Looking back, all I wanted was for my parents to be more like the other moms and dads. Now I am full of gratitude to have been introduced to words like “organic,” “macrobiotic,” “gluten-free,” and “farm to table.” All phrases we, thankfully, can readily hear these days. Unfortunately, as hip as we’ve gotten to these terms, food is still not economically accessible enough to the masses. When I cook, it doesn’t start in the kitchen. It starts at the farm or the markets I choose. We carefully shop and spend hard-earned money to have real ingredients. I know my local purveyors, I shop for fresh ingredients, I seek out sales to keep costs down, and I read the labels. We need to make it imperative to know what we are really ingesting. Our bodies are shrines, and what we put into them is what we get out of them. It’s a labor of love, especially considering it’s not all in one convenient, packaged discount store.
I wholeheartedly believe we have the ability to cure illness and keep our bodies clean and working correctly. Food is powerful and medicinal when used correctly. In my family, we juice and drink green smoothies daily, along with a well-balanced diet of nutrient-rich foods. We have fun reinventing classic comfort food to meet our dietary needs as well as our taste buds. We rarely get sick, and when we do, I have a natural arsenal in my kitchen, ready for battle. Eating clean food gives us energy to take on the world and to keep us well. I will never stop feeling frustrated when people complain about the cost of eating well. I always answer, “What is the cost of being sick?”
Melissa Mooney-Lopez began practicing yoga over a decade ago. The founder of Lets Balance Your Body, she teaches Bikram, restorative, partner, kids, and pre/postnatal yoga. Melissa is dedicated to spreading the message of wellness through transformational workshops and retreats and seeking ways to incorporate alternative approaches into her practice and teaching.
C o n n e c t w i t h yo u r n o n v e r b a l k n ow i n g
by shiva rea
body mudra awakening our instinctual body All bodily movements, created spontaneously from awakened consciousness, pure in essence, become sacred gestures or mudras. —Sahajayoginicinta, an eighth-century yogini oga helps reawaken our living intelligence—our connectedness to the natural flow of our body—the vibrating circuitry of our seventy-five trillion cells. I often describe this whole body thawing out as the awakening of our “instinctual body.” Our instinctual body is the experience of our primal aliveness, a kind of nonverbal knowing and connectedness and subtle inner power that emanates within as we begin to embody our life-force (prana). In Prana Flow, we describe this as the shift “from doing to being yoga” awakening our capacity to feel the current of the life-force as the flow of our movement and total embodiment.
solute presence. When you feel mudrasana come alive, your body finds alignment through these instinctual pathways—spine coiling, rising, heart breathing, arms reaching. Prana Flow namaskars and practices are movement meditations to find this inner flow.
and presence, rest in being. Experience the awakened presence emanating from your heart and the inner quietude of the whole body mudra. Allow the inner power experienced within the instinctual body—your body of intelligence—to radiate and vibrate your being in wholeness.
Heart Mudra Meditation
Aham viryam—I am potency, courage, wakefulness, verve.
If you meditate in your heart . . . the spark which will dissolve discursive thought will ignite . . . You will then melt into supreme consciousness. —Vijnanabhairava Tantra (translated by Daniel Odier)
Abhaya Hridaya Mudra (Courageous Heart Mudra)
This is the feeling we can access in mudras whether of hands (hasta) or the whole body (sharira). Just raise your arm with a fist in the sky or touch your heart with both hands across your center and experience the instantaneous inner shift that arises. Mudras, translated as “seals,” by their very form create a shift of consciousness, a receptivity, a way to tap into our inherent instinctual knowing.
When we feel out of alignment, we can simply bring our hands to our hearts and feel the centering process, with your instinctual knowing, begin. The abhaya (without fear) hridaya (awakened heart consciousness) mudra has assisted me and my student-friends in being able to navigate the often fragmenting waters of the urban world by pausing for a few moments to a long meditation at the end of one’s practice, anywhere or anytime.
To practice abhaya hridaya mudra, connect to your heart by grounding through your roots and becoming aware of the sensations in your whole body, focusing on the spine and heart regions. Cross your hands in front of your chest with the backs of your hands touching, right hand closest to your heart. Pause, breathe, and feel. Then patiently interlink your little fingers, then ring fingers, then middle fingers together. Finally, join the tips of your index finger and thumb of both hands to form two circular rings. Now drop into the inherent feeling inside your body. Open your inner ears, listen, and, in a state of relaxation
In Prana Flow, we dissolve the concept of “posture” to experience asana as “mudrasanas”—when the flow within a form activates the instinctual experience of our sublime intelligence. Mythic movements like “Virabhadrasana I” come alive when we excavate the intrinsic power—the rising with the core, the upraised arms, the arrow gaze. Natarajasana becomes a mudrasana when the bindu or source point of energy is realized beneath one’s feet and moves in circular flow through the heart with intensity, freedom, and ab-
Shiva Rea is the author of Tending the Heart Fire: Living in Flow with the Pulse of Life. She provides in-depth information on Prana Flow Energetic Vinyasa Flow–based practices, transformative global retreats, and Evolutionary Vinyasa Teacher Trainings at her school, Samudra Online Global School of Living Yoga.
“Allow the inner power experienced within the instinctual body— your body of intelligence—to radiate and vibrate your being in wholeness.”
from mat to stage: the boundless benefits of yoga
INterview: maranda Pleasant
by m ara nda plea san t
PHOTOs: BILL TIPPER
q. Maranda Pleasant: How has
yoga played a role in your life? Why is it important to you?
A. Jason Mraz: First, it’s about the
breathing. As a singer, if I breathe better, I sing better. It’s this amazing full-body passive workout, so I know I’m not going to sprain an ankle, I know I’m not going to dislocate anything, I know I’m not going to pull a muscle. It’s cleverly designed to take care of you, and I feel stronger—I feel like my posture has changed onstage.
dvancing a y B e m p l e h You can arts and g in t r o p p u s , y equalit ving this a s d n a , n io t a educ et. goddamn plan
All of the mental benefits that I get out of it are better than any other school or book I’ve ever read. What I get on a yoga mat, and from a yoga teacher, has been more beneficial onstage than any other workshop I’ve ever done. And it starts with that breath; it starts with getting out of my head and really just slowing the system down and being in a true present moment with each and every breath. That then allows me to be a more balanced and focused individual onstage.
When the chaos gets to be too much, is there a way that you stay grounded?
The thing that’s gotten deeper for me in the last two years, to the point where even if I feel a cold coming on, I know that if I do the right amount of, say, meditation and hot yoga or something, I can move the energy through my body and get rid of my cold within twenty-four hours. And the same if I’m having relentless thoughts, [and] I just won’t shut up in my head. I know that if I put myself on the mat and just focus on a flow that I will transmute or I will transform, transfer the energy into some other act or put my attention somewhere else, I’ll be back. I’ll feel stronger not only in my body but most certainly in my brain.
If you could say something to your younger self, or say something to teenagers, what would it be?
“Be nice to your parents.” When they made the decision to have a child, whether it was planned or not, they were changing their entire lives to do the best they could for this new human being. A lot of young people, we don’t understand that. We don’t come to understand that until we get to the stage of considering children ourselves. I thought I was the center of the world and that my parents had nothing to do with me, and I regret that. I wish I had been a little kinder to my family and been friends with them and let them into my life and shared with them the things I was doing rather than feel like I needed to do my life in secret. So I’m playing catch-up now. And then if I could also go back, I’d tell myself to just go for it. Don’t hold back so much. Just go for it. If you have a dream, this is your chance. We don’t always have to play it safe because people might think you’re weird.
photoS: Jen RosensteiN
q. How can we support your foundation or
the causes you believe in?
A. The thing about my foundation is I wanted to set up something where my spotlight and the money I make could be put into these cool projects that I’m connected to or have been a part of somehow. People can help me by just advancing equality. They can do that with their conversations, with supporting this movement to support gender equality, to support same-sex marriage. Just equality for all. That goes for all ages, races—it’s just in general being nice.
My foundation is also getting involved with arts and educational programs. Specifically, there’s a performing arts school that I went to in Virginia that I’m starting to put more of my attention into, supporting the educational programs so that they only have to fund-raise for the production. So you can help me by just helping your own local arts and educational programs.
“I want to celeBrate all that happens when you say yes. It’s our language version of God, proBaBly.” And then the environment. You don’t have to donate to the Jason Mraz Foundation to save the environment; you can just start a garden or you can join the community garden or—you know what? The best thing for you to do is shop at your local farmers market and support the organic growers who are there. Because those are the guys who are taking care of the soil that is ultimately going to take care of us. My foundation is there, but it’s not the end-all, be-all. It’s just something fun that I get to do with my money and my resources.
But you can help me by advancing equality, supporting arts and education, and saving this goddamn planet.
q. What are some of the things that
really make you feel alive? That make you feel inspired?
I love the feeling of putting my feet back on the sand after I’ve been out in the ocean for a while. I love that. I guess the adrenaline calms down when the sense of balance returns in a really grounded way. I love writing songs with people, which is about really taking risks, throwing yourself over the falls and really seeing what you’re made of and seeing how it sticks. Seeing how others react to it, and seeing also how it can become a melody and how it can really take off from your experience. It’s a way of seeing life unfold on the page before me. I love surfing and bodysurfing. I love getting slammed by the waves—that makes me feel alive. The waves are a good reminder that I’m small and fragile. There’s a great quote I heard recently: “You can’t stop the waves, but you can learn how to surf.”
What has been one of your greatest struggles in this life?
I struggle with time. And I struggle with the big picture of What do we do? I know, I know, we’re just trying to improve life for the next generation, and every choice we made wasn’t superb, and do we have enough time to come back and fix some of those mistakes? I love eating healthy and doing the yoga thing, because I think I’m going to live to a thousand doing so. And that’s because I don’t want to leave here so soon. I want to stick around as long as I can, but I know that’s not going to be the case. We’re all going.
q. When I saw that the title of your new al-
bum is Yes!, I was like, of course it is, of course he would pick that word. That’s the flow of everything that’s good and abundant in the world. What was the significance of that title for you?
It came to me in meditation. I was trying to fit all these little symbols and situations together to find the title, and then in meditation, one by one, each of my bandmates came to me and just said yes, yes, yes, all with this smile, and that’s really how we got to where we are. The power of yes: that’s what allows creativity to breathe and to come in. That’s what allows your ideas to become living, breathing, moving dreams in action. This album wouldn’t have been possible had not everyone involved said yes. And I want to celebrate that. I want to celebrate these artists; I want to celebrate all that happens when you say yes. It’s our language version of God, probably.
ORIGIN IS ON STANDS NOW
on vulnerability and “awakeness��� i n t e r v i e w: m a r a n d a p l e a s a n t
Openness offers me a vision that includes my life and death, so in some ways, my vulnerability in the face of everything makes me fear nothing.
Maranda Pleasant: What makes you come alive or inspires you? Janet Stone: Life. The simple fact that I’m here. That you’re here. I’m inspired by the basic
notion that we are all here on this adventure of life, that a system exists where breath comes in and animates my dreams, sadness, and hopes, and then breath goes out and empties me enough so I can start again in the next cycle. So here we are, breath exchanging, heart pumping, all alive, right now. Before us lived another set of beings, and before them, another set, and each carried with them what inspired them, frightened them, and moved them deeply. I’m in awe of what is happening without our doing and inspired by what is happening with our doing as we create and destroy things all the time: bridges, tall buildings, new hearts, airplanes, marriage systems, religions, and mantras. We can gather together with a few friends or hundreds of them, and we sing the Gayatri mantra, and half of us are crying or giggling or coming alive in new ways. This is simply amazing. This is not only inspiring—it’s awe-inspiring.
MP: What makes you feel vulnerable? JS: Everything: Mother Earth. Birth and death. Change. Lack of change. Mothering.
Being in charge. Not being in charge. Love. Lack of love. This is the state of “awakeness” to me: being vulnerable. Realizing that no matter how much we try to micro-manage the world that we are in, it’s unfolding at its own tempo. Vulnerability allows me to feel open, more receptive, and connected to life. With this openness, more love is possible. Openness offers me a vision that includes my life and death, so in some ways, my vulnerability in the face of everything makes me fear nothing.
MP: If you could say something to everyone on the planet, what would it be? JS: “It doesn’t last long—live it.” Oh, and “Thank you for keeping me company and making it so interesting.”
MP: How do you handle emotional pain? JS: By feeling it. By really feeling it. By not
masking it with spiritual words, drinks, excuses, cookies. OK, just a few cookies. I show up for whatever feeling has arrived and meet it as a warrior, hoping to use its charge for fuel. Also, svadhyaya, the journey of getting to know myself and the reasons I experience pain. This opens a window of understanding in this ocean of emotions and allows me for even a moment to hop into a boat and see more clearly what is creating those waves.
MP: How do you keep your center in the middle of chaos? Do you have a daily routine? JS: I practice becoming the observer, a wit-
ness of the swirl of change, shift, birth, and death. If I can open my aperture a little wider, I notice I keep my center more easily and feel less affected by the wild swings of highs and lows, likes and dislikes, hugs and tantrums. Also, I keep centered by not tripping out if I don’t keep centered. Routines are a focal point of the yogic practices, so, yes, I do have a daily routine. Through many years, fits and starts, changes of marital status, kids being born, countries visited,
PHOTOS: JENNIFER MACNIVEN PHOTOGRAPHY
studies of Ayurveda, martial arts, pranayamas, and so much more, I’ve landed on a basic daily rhythm that includes lighting a candle to honor the light, simple seven-step Ayurvedic routine, meditation, pranayama, asana, and then, throughout the day, acts of kindness toward myself and others.
MP: What is love for you? JS: Chocolate and peanut butter. A space re-
plete with a sense of wholeness, completeness. One of the verses from the Upanishads: “Purnam adah purnam idam purnat purnam udachyate,” which means “That is infinite, this is infinite; from that infinite this infinite comes.”
MP: What’s been one of your biggest lessons so far in life? JS: That it is temporary. MP: What truth do you know for sure? JS: That it is temporary. MP: What causes are you passionate about? JS: The Benih Kasih orphanage in Bali, and the Zen Hospice Project.
Tell me about your latest projects and why you’re passionate about them.
Space exploration. Distraction removal and living from the heart. Present mother. Clothing line offering items made with love. Streaming yoga that allows us to practice with depth and integrity to the teachings, even from afar. Immersions based on gathering together to simply practice and not so much motivated by getting something or collecting hours and ticking things off the list . . . just practice.
Janet Stone, since she was seventeen, studied with a teacher who had reverence for simplicity and joy in the rise and fall of life, and this teaching lives on in her practice and teaching today. Based in Bali and San Francisco, she leads immersions, retreats, and workshops.
I keep centered by not tripping out if I don’t keep centered.
ORIGIN Series: Different Artists // Same Questions // Powerful Answers
Find a way to move your body that you love.
why moderate workouts are the key to success set yourself up for success by nicole nichols
remember when fitness products were marketed as easy and effortless. These days, fitness DVDs are marketed as extreme, and popular reality TV shows depict people exercising to the point of hospitalization. This trend concerns me because these high-intensity workouts are risky and unsafe for the average Joe or Jane the workouts are targeting, and they lead us to believe that working out has to be sweaty, messy, painful, and breathless if it’s going to give you any results. When more than sixty percent of us are overweight or obese and a minority of people exercise, it’s no wonder people aren’t sticking with or even starting an exercise program. In truth, these programs and shows are designed to make money, not to help the average person. In fact, they set most people up for failure. You fail at the workout when you can’t keep up. You fail when you don’t have time for the full-length program. You fail when you’re too sore or tired to exercise. You fail when you don’t get the fast and amazing results you were promised. And you fail when all of these things combined make you dread working out. Here’s the secret they don’t want you to know: Exercise doesn’t have to be painful, and it should never make you puke. In fact, it can be fun—and even feel good! The best workout program will help you feel successful on day one, encouraged on day two, excited on day three, energized on day four, confident on day five, and so on.
These positive feelings are far more important than chiseled abs and calorie burn, because these are the things that will keep you coming back, making exercise a habit. Isn’t that the goal after all? By starting small and working at an intensity that feels good, you set yourself up for success. The beauty of this approach is that you can do anything—walk, dance, take up yoga, hula hoop in your backyard—regardless of whether it’s easy or hard, short or long, and even if it only burns two calories per hour. Those intense workouts only burn hundreds of calories if you actually do them regularly, which most people aren’t anyway. It’s time we stopped focusing so intently on the end result and started enjoying the process more. To achieve your goals, find a way to move your body that you love.
Nicole Nichols is editor-in-chief of SparkPeople, a popular diet and fitness website. In 2011, she was named “Personal Trainer to Watch” by Life Fitness and the American Council on Exercise. Nicole has created two workout DVDs—SparkPeople’s 28 Day Boot Camp and Total Body Sculpting—and hosts Acacia TV.
why handstand? by lara heimann f you get a chance to visit my studio, you will see a lot of students in various stages of handstands. I did not know how to do a handstand until I taught myself, using my physical-therapy knowledge about anatomy and body mechanics to get there with control, not momentum. When people ask why we practice handstands at my studio, I say, “Why not?” By nixing the opportunity to get on your hands, you lose out on so much. After all, your arms are half of your limbs! A handstand is known as “Adho Mukha Vrksasana,” the upside-down tree. Well, that makes it sound fun right from the start! Handstands are challenging and require courage but also tap into an invigorating and childlike sense of play. I have taught so many people and seen how this difficult, but doable, pose can uplift and inspire in profound ways. Even from the first stages of Down Dog on the wall, students feel the transformative power of this inversion. The benefits of handstands are numerous. Physically, they improve your balance,
photos: joe longo
strength, and flexibility. Physiologically, they energize your circulation and nervous system to clear and calm your brain. And mentally, they inspire you to be more courageous, present, and playful! When I spot people in a handstand for the first time, they inevitably come back to standing with a huge smile. One student could not help shouting gleefully, “I get it, Lara! I get it!” The play of the handstand and the subsequent flood of joy, confidence, and an “I can conquer the world” feeling are unparalleled. You must try it to “get it.” People find out more about themselves by working on their hands, embracing the playfulness, and discovering potential and possibility. Possibilities like making life changes, such as improving dietary or relationship choices—even going back to medical school at age thirty-eight, as one of my students has done.
“Handstands are challenging and require courage but also tap into an invigorating and childlike sense of play.”
By saying yes to the possibility of inverting yourself, shifting your perspective, challenging your mind and body to turn your tree upside down, you are saying yes to life, to play, to joy. Don’t miss out on that feeling. You will get it.
b y a n a T. f o R r e s t
Accessi n g t he w is d o m o f
Your Whole Body How to consult your chakras and live the life you desire
Chakras are power and information centers that run through our core from the top of the skull to the bottom of the pelvis. Most of us have chakras in conflict with each other. This is exhausting and disconnecting. There is a tool to help your power centers communicate better with each other. I share this technique as a way for you to consult with all your wisdom centers to solve your life problems. It’s like having your own wisdom counsel of elders inside of you. As you bring your chakras into alliance, begin to ask your chakras/wisdom keepers to contribute to your “Design of Energy”—designing the life you most want to live.
Chakra Process This is an extraordinary process to use when you want support in making a life decision, whether it is a good thing, a bad thing, or anything. It makes a huge difference when you honor the wisdom inside of you. The Chakra Process helps you go through your decisions and changes much more gracefully and efficiently so it doesn’t have to be so damn hard all the time!
1. Sit with your spine straight. Breathe deeply through your core. Quiet the mind. 2.
Do Bhramari breathing, two to three times through each chakra: Seventh chakra: Place your hands on the top of your head, the crown chakra. Breathe into the top of the brain and pituitary gland. Buzz it up. Feel for the vibration reaching this part of your brain. It’s a high-pitched buzz. Sixth chakra: Move your hands to your third eye, pineal gland, and amygdala. Place the palm of one hand over your eyes and the other hand at the back of your skull. Inhale into that area of your brain and buzz. Fifth chakra: Bring your hands to your throat, thyroid, neck, jaw, and mouth, your place of truth-speaking. Inhale into that area and buzz it up!
First chakra: Move your hands down to your genitals (yes, genitals!). Put one hand on your genitals and one hand on your perineum, anus, and tailbone. Inhale and bear down, feeling the genital, anal, and perineal muscles move on your hands. Buzz a deep pitch, and turn on the flames of your life-force.
Write down the issue or life decision you’re focusing on today, and date it.
Put the issue in front of you, focusing on every detail simultaneously. Get it as visceral as possible.
Breathe that issue into the first chakra, and ask your first chakra, “What do you feel about this issue?” Write down whatever information comes up, and don’t edit it!
Go through all seven chakras in this way. Write down each chakra’s response.
Go back to any area that had discomfort or was numbed out. Ask the area, “What do you need from me so this issue can be resolved/healed/created?”
Write down the action steps that you can do today to bring this life decision into being.
Use this process to bring your life decision into existence with integrity and without sabotage. How great is that! Ana T. Forrest, medicine woman and creatrix of Forrest Yoga, is the author of Fierce Medicine, a book about practical ways to work with chakras and connect to heart and Spirit.
“It’s like having your own wisdom counsel of elders inside of you.”
Fourth chakra: Bring your hands to your heart. Breathe into the front, back, and sides of your heart. Get buzzing. Feel for buzzing on all sides of the rib cage and heart area. This takes a while to master; start with feeling the buzz in any of these places. Third chakra: Place your hands on your solar plexus and belly. Fill the area with deep breath. Buzz in there—get your gut feelings activated. Second chakra: Put one hand on your intestines and one hand on your lower back. Send your deepest breath and buzz. You’ll need to deepen the tone of your buzz to really get in there! One fun aspect of the second chakra is that this is where we sort out what is worthwhile and nutritious—and what isn’t and needs to be moved out. It’s a great way to get rid of constipation.
How spirituality can bring people together t never ceases to amaze me how uncompromising some people are in their beliefs, especially when it comes to Spirit, God, and religion. Wars have been fought on battlefields over these beliefs as well as in many of our churches, meditation centers, and synagogues as the “Our way is the right way” rhetoric is preached from those believing they have definitive answers to life and its endless mysteries. There are, however, shining examples from religious people who understood what the core essence of their particular faith teaches, which is always love, no matter how you cut it. There’s the amazingly heart-centered example set tirelessly by the Dalai Lama in his joyous meetings with various religious leaders and politicians across the globe, honoring and celebrating their ways of life and lineages. There was Mother Teresa, who saw the face of Jesus in everyone she ever ministered to. Gandhi is also an obvious example of embodying love as were Christ Jesus and many others. When it comes to spirituality, we’re presented with a word, or a concept, that’s been used so many times, in so many ways, that if you ask twenty different people what spirituality is, it’s likely you’d have twenty different answers. The simplest “definition” of spirituality that I use is “waking up.” To elaborate, it is “waking up to that which is greater than just our finite material selves.” For some, spiritual awakening may be found in a church. For others, it may be experienced in meditation groups and sanghas, in nature, on a skateboard, playing sports, or making love. So spirituality (and sometimes religion) is a uniquely individual thing, yet at the same time, there are plenty of similarities: compassion, loving-kindness, the understanding and experience of who we are beyond just our material bodies, and so much more. And it’s these similarities that I believe can begin bringing people together in the spirit of unity and a greater good for all beings rather than fighting over whose God, or path, is better.
BY chris grosso
“ If you ask twenty different people what spirituality is, it’ s likely you’ d have twenty different answers.”
Chris Grosso is an independent culturist, speaker, freelance writer, and musician. He created the popular online hub The Indie Spiritualist for all things alternative, independent, and spiritual and continues the exploration with his best-selling debut book, Indie Spiritualist: A No Bullshit Exploration of Spirituality.
by tommy rosen
ta p p ing into a nat u ra l h ig h In 1991, I walked off the street and into Janet MacLeod’s Iyengar class in San Francisco. I had never seen a person move with so much freedom. It was an outward representation of something I greatly desired. I had a bit of a problem at first: most yoga classes are ninety minutes, and I was stuck in a difficult relationship with time. You might call it “severe impatience”! I’d be in those first yoga classes looking for the clock in the room. The postures were very difficult for me. I had so much tension and tightness in my body. I’d be at my edge after only five minutes, trying to find my breath and listen to the teacher’s instructions. I remember one teacher walking over
to me with considerable empathy, assuring me that someday soon Downward-Facing Dog would become a rest pose. All I could reply, as a waterfall of sweat poured off my head, was, “Well, not today.” Yoga was a thrilling challenge. I loved the athleticism and physicality of it. It made me feel something intense, and that’s what most recovering drug addicts are looking for. Yes, there is intensity to yoga. You are burning through old habits, opening up channels that may never have been open before. You are stretching connective tissue and adding powerful breath and prana (life-force) into the
mix. You have to focus, listen, and connect words with parts of your body. A teacher might say, “Press down into your feet in such a way that you feel the earth press back up.” So I would bring my attention to my feet, press down, and begin to feel the rebound of energy up through my body. I would sweat out of every pore, and the detox of that felt amazing. Ninety minutes later, having come through an intimate and powerful experience, I would be directed to lie down, relax completely, and let the full weight of my body rest upon the earth. This was savasana, or corpse pose. The feeling was electric—energy humming through my body. I felt like blood was pouring into tissue that it had not been able to reach for some time. It was relieving and healing. It was subtler than the feeling from getting off on drugs, but it was detectable and lovely, and there would be no hangover, just a feeling of more ease than I could remember. I felt a warmth come over me, similar to what I felt when I had done heroin, but far from the darkness of that insanity, this was pure light—a way through. One day many years later, classes started to go by without me noticing the clock. This was around the time when I no longer desired to use drugs and alcohol. A major shift had happened. My thinking had changed. My relationship to time had changed. I had changed. Twenty years have passed since that time. I am still in recovery and have never had to relapse. I still practice and now teach yoga. The combination of the 12 Steps and yoga has proven itself. I have not just survived addiction, I am living a life filled with meaning and purpose. If you struggle with addiction of any kind, hit a meeting, work the steps, and get on your yoga mat. If you do this, buckle up. The lessons and the blessings are forthcoming.
If you struggle with addiction of any kind, hit a meeting, work the steps, and get on your yoga mat.”
UPGRADE YOUR LIFE
Tommy Rosen is the author of Recovery 2.0: Move Beyond Addiction and Upgrade Your Life, due out from Hay House on October 21, 2014.
Interview: MARANDA PLEASANT
Amy Ippoliti Caring for the earth and its inhabitants
I highly recommend sponsoring a child in a disadvantaged country and watching them grow up.”
Maranda Pleasant: What causes or organizations are you passionate about? Amy Ippoliti: Taking care of the earth has always been my biggest passion. We are all dependent on the earth for our survival, not only in our own lifetime but for the generations that follow. I’ve always felt a deep compassion for the earth’s creatures because they cannot speak our language. Humans, on the other hand, are interesting: they are smart enough to subjugate animals and the natural world but often forget that with intelligence comes a responsibility not to annihilate but instead protect and care for the natural world in a sustainable way. My company, 90 Monkeys, donates yearly to WildAid, NRDC, Farm Sanctuary, ASPCA, The Humane Society, The Nature Conservancy, and others. I also patronize companies that are changing the way we do business in the Amazon rainforest by creating jobs that do not involve deforestation, including Sambazon, Amazon Herb Co., and Pacari Chocolate. I highly recommend sponsoring a child in a disadvantaged country and watching them grow up. I sponsor a little girl in Colombia through Children International. And of course, the Africa Yoga Project is an incredible organization we support since they are sharing yoga in a big way in Africa and training teachers there to spread the love.
PHOTO: TARO SMITH
MP: Tell me about your latest projects. AI: My latest project is to slow down! Busy is OK if what you’re doing feels natural and effortless. I’ve been actively choosing to do the things that come most easily to me, the stuff I know I am good at. Getting out of your comfort zone is great, but staying out there indefinitely is not sustainable. I’ve been playing around with stepping out of the comfort zone on occasion versus all the time, and it’s been awesome. I highly recommend it! My next rendezvous outside the comfort zone will be some underwater yoga, conservation work, and photography with a new species of marine life I’ve yet to encounter in an area of the globe I’ve never visited.
MP: What is love for you? AI: Love is the fragrance of a flower, the feeling inside an embrace, the heat of the sun, the breeze, the sound of the ocean, and the elegance of a smile.
Amy Ippoliti travels the world, presenting at conferences, festivals, and schools of yoga. She’s appeared on the cover of Yoga Journal and the front page of Yahoo.com. Amy cofounded 90 Monkeys, a school that has enhanced the teaching skills of more than 1,600 yoga teachers globally.
by sharon gannon
choose joy, eat vegan The cofounder of Jivamukti Yoga talks about the intention behind her new cookbook egan activism is one of the tenets of Jivamukti Yoga, so I felt it would be good to have a restaurant. In 2006, I opened the Jivamuktea Café in New York City—a seventy-seat café on Broadway where the ambiance is fun and whimsical, with antique chandeliers, pink and green walls, stainedglass windows, and velvet curtains—offering chakra smoothies, raw green soup, Indian kitchari, coconut green tea, and spirulina millet on the menu along with other delicious organic and vegan dishes and drinks. Simple Recipes for Joy: More than 200 Delicious Vegan Recipes contains all the dishes that are served at the Jivamuktea café and a whole lot more. Like most things in my life, the cookbook grew organically—meaning, I didn’t set out with a plan to write and publish a cookbook. Over the years, every time I would make something for dinner and it turned out to taste pretty good, I would try to remember to write down the recipe. About ten years ago, I realized that I had amassed lots of these recipes, so I started to organize them into a book, just a Word document that I bound at the copy shop for myself to use in my home kitchen and to provide recipes for the staff at the Jivamuktea Café. In my spare time, I would sit and work on the book, adding some personal history about myself, family, boyfriends, and then some facts about veganism and then some more stuff about the benefit of offering your food to God before you eat it—called prasad—and the book kept growing. A friend came over and took some lovely photos of me and David, dressed up and having tea in the garden, and one became the cover photo. The message of the cookbook is that being a vegan is not about restriction. It is a way of creating more happiness and joy in your life, in the lives of others, and in the planet. It is more than a healthcare approach or political statement; it is a means to spiritual enlightenment. When you get rid of the cruelty in your
PhotoS: Les Guzman
mind and body, you start to get a glimmer of what real happiness and joy might be like. As a teacher, I see my job as a communicator— an educator—so sharing information is important to me. I am not interested in proselytizing yoga or veganism. I feel strongly that if people are shown the truth, their own humanity will reveal to them how they should live. I believe that people, when given the chance and the education, will choose kindness over cruelty and violence. Why do I believe this? Because I have faith that the nature of each of us is goodness, that we are compassionate beings at heart. The violence we see in the world done by human beings to other human beings, animals, and the environment is a learned behavior. It is not hard-wired within us. That’s good news, because what is learned can be unlearned. The best way to uplift your own life is to do all you can to uplift the lives of others. If we ourselves want to be happy and free, then by enslaving and harming animals, we will not be able to achieve our goal. What we do to others will come back to us. You can’t expect to be happy by causing unhappiness to others. When we have a choice, it is always best
“The message of the cookbook is that being a vegan is not about restriction. It is a way of creating more happiness and joy in your life, in the lives of others, and in the planet.”
“When we have a choice, it is always best to choose kindness. Veganism is simply the kinder choice.”
to choose kindness. Veganism is simply the kinder choice. What you eat should not just be “good for you” but should contribute to happiness; it should make you a happier person. Everything we do should contribute to happiness, or why do it? Eating meat and dairy products is the SAD diet (Standard American Diet). The SAD diet can only make you sad. It causes heart disease, cancer, and diabetes and makes you fat. Raising animals for food destroys the environment. It is the biggest cause of global warming, species extinction, water pollution, and deforestation. And those animals are not happy. They are enslaved and live humiliating, fearful lives of abuse and tremendous suffering. Veganism turns sadness into joy. In the Yoga tradition, there is a practice of offering your food to God. Once offered, it be-
comes prasad, blessed food. Food offered to God should only be of the highest quality. It should be pure and free of negativity, so naturally it should be food that did not contribute to suffering. For me, this obviously means vegan. Eating prasad changes the actual cells and tissues of your body, resulting in a refined, lighter, joyful, more spiritual body. We live in a culture that has told us, “The earth belongs to us.” Most of us have believed this and have thought nothing about exploiting animals as well as the earth. It is accepted as normal and necessary. The practices of yoga provide us with the tools to dismantle our present culture—a culture based on slavery and exploitation. Traditionally, a yogi was someone who rejected culture and was trying to live in joyful, peaceful harmony with the earth and all other
beings. I like this idea and am trying, in my own way, to experiment with that possibility. This is why I’m a vegan, why I practice yoga, and what this book, Simple Recipes for Joy, is about. In so many of the old yogic scriptures, there are references to yogis who saw all of life as alive with the spirit of God. They saw every being as having a soul. In our present time, trees, rivers, nature, and other animals are viewed as nothing more than exploitable commodities. That makes for a very dull and un-magical world. I think it is possible to simply step through the looking glass into a wonderland of kindness and joy.
Sharon Gannon is the cofounder of Jivamukti Yoga and author of Simple Recipes for Joy: More than 200 Delicious Vegan Recipes.
On desire maps and permission slips
PHOTO: CATHERINE JUST
INTERVIEW: MARANDA PLEASANT
Author of The Desire Map and The Fire Starter Sessions
Maranda Pleasant: By now, you must have had hundreds of conversations with people about desire, lack of desire, “right” desire, “wrong” desire . . . desire. What’s the theme that keeps coming up whether you’re on stage or with readers? Danielle LaPorte: Permission. It’s universal. It’s this simple question, “Is it OK to want what I want?” And every time I hear this in one form or another, I want to throw myself at someone, like leap over chairs in my heels and grab them and say, “Sister . . . mister . . . yes! It’s OK to want what you want. In fact, if you don’t start there, with actually owning your desire, you are doomed. Own the wanting. Without apology. And all good things will start to flow from claiming the desire.” We can’t hedge with desire. MP: So you’re like a walking permission slip, then? DL: Kind of. I’m part cheerleader, part philosopher. Mostly, I’m interested in the truth and loving-kindness. And the loving thing for me to do is to grab the mic and tell that woman in the front row who wants to quit her soul-sucking corporate bullshit job so she can start an organic floral business because she is aching to feel free and surrounded by beauty—well, it’s my honor to say, “Chase the feeling, baby. It’s always about how you want to feel.” MP: And I quote, from The Desire Map, “Knowing how you want to feel is the most potent form of clarity you can have. And doing what it takes to feel that way is the most power-
PHOTO: ALLYSON STRIKE
fully creative thing you can do with your life.” Keep going.
soldiering on to be successful. “Pay your dues,” “be logical” kind of paradigm.
DL: Yep, that’s it. Here’s how it goes: you want it, and you want it bad. Aspiring, hoping, plotting, recurring, reaching—it’s bubbling beneath your surface. You crave it, and it craves you. So you make a plan to get it, a to-do list, a bucket list, quarterly objectives, strategy, accountability, the goal. Except you’re not chasing the goal itself; you’re actually chasing a feeling. I think that we have the procedures of achievement upside down and inside out. We go after the stuff we want to have and get and accomplish and those things that we want to experience outside of ourselves. And then we hope and we yearn. We pray that we’ll be fulfilled when we get there.
DL: Exactly. We have to pursue our desires in a way that is life-affirming rather than soul-depleting. Rigid goal-chasing is numbing us out to our intuition and [our] noticing the signals that life is always putting in front of us. Most life-planning tools focus on external attainment and results. And this is incredibly valuable. This is great. Getting results is what moves your life forward. Except that most goal-setting systems don’t harness the most powerful driver behind any aspiration, which is your preferred feelings. And most goalsetting and time management systems foster almost an uptight kind of determination, and that actually keeps us from the vitality that we’re craving.
But it’s backwards and it’s running us in circles—and burning us out. So what if, first, we got clear on how we actually wanted to feel in our life, and then we laid out our intentions? What if your most desired feelings—what I call your “core desired feelings”—consciously informed how you plan your day or your year, your career, your holidays, your life? You know what will happen when you have that kind of inner clarity attached to some outer action? You will feel the way you want to feel more often. Decisions will be easier to make. You’ll know what to say “No” to and what to say “Hell, yes” to. And I bet you’ll probably complain less. A lot less. MP: This is not how most of us have been taught to get ahead in the “American dream” system. There’s a lot of sucking it up and
MP: So are there positive cravings and negative cravings? Right desires and wrong desires? DL: I hear things like this: “I want to be incredibly wealthy—is that greedy?” “I want to feel loved—is that needy?” Well, the answer is “Maybe.” Maybe you’re being ruled by what the Buddhists would call “your hungry ghost.” The hungry ghost is this overly needful, almost ravenous part of your psyche, and it’s always demanding to be fed. It wants attention and gratification. It wants comfort. It really wants whatever that hot-spot emotion is for us. It’s usually scared, it’s chronically empty, and it’s never going to be pleased. So some desired feelings are coming from a hungryghost place.
Get clear Divergent Star on how you most want to feel—your core desired feelings—and create goals that are going to make you feel that way.”
However, maybe what you have labeled as needy or greedy is really an impulse to heal and take care of yourself. This is my point. Doing what it takes to get your needs met in a healthy way is part of a maturing spirit. Self-soothing is a great thing. Radical selfresponsibility can be pretty cool. This is about intentional creating. So until you can fully admit to yourself, almost proudly admit to yourself, and honor that you just want to feel the way you want to feel, then you can’t even begin to experience the satisfaction that’s on the other side of that. It gets back to the permission-slip phenomenon.
interview: the barbi twins
on Earthlings, Best Friends Animal Society, and No Kill
Let me give you a personal example. I was once in a working partnership where I almost obsessively craved freedom. I secretly wanted to have my own this and my own that and my own gigs and my own office. What I really wanted was freedom. And I was racked with guilt. I told myself that I was selfish; I told myself that I needed to get over it. I actually told myself it was just a personality flaw that I had from being an only child. I was driving myself crazy trying to talk myself out of who I really was and what I really wanted. And when finally freedom actually happened because the partner and I parted ways, I felt like I had stepped out of this B movie and I was back into my real life. And it was at that time that I vowed to myself that I would put my desire for freedom at the center of everything I did. How I wanted to feel became my driving priority. Permission granted!
Maggie Q is currently filming CBS’s untitled Kevin Williamson pilot and will next be seen in Red Flag, a limited series set in the 1800s. She will star MP: Core desired feelings. What are yours? opposite Francois Arnaud as a Chinese prostitute DL: Union. Shakti. Joy. Golden. Truth. I don’t who becomes one of history’s most powerful bust a move without asking myself if the business deal or my outfit or my plans for the day pirates. Maggie most recently starred in Summit make me feel these things. That’s the whole Entertainment’s Divergent and will start production point. on the second installment, Insurgent, this summer.
MP: And that’s what leads to “goals with soul,” as you put it? DL: Goals with soul! Get clear on how you most want to feel—your core desired feelings—and create goals that are going to make you feel that way. Do you want to feel vitality, connection, beauty, badass, creative, radiance? Awesome! Clarity rocks. Now . . . what do you need to do, have, and experience to create those feelings? Break it down, and those become your goals for the year and your plans for this weekend. And your future.
Danielle LaPorte is the author of The Desire Map: A Guide to Creating Goals with Soul and The Fire Starter Sessions: A Soulful + Practical Guide to Creating Success on Your Own Terms. DanielleLaPorte.com was named one of the Top 100 Websites for Women in 2012 by Forbes.
PHOTO: CATHERINE JUST
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he world is changing. An energetic shift is taking place, and we are each trying to find our place in it. The rules and conformity of generations past seem to be melting away. As yoga teachers, we have new technology to express ourselves and connect with students. Today’s successful teachers are those who push the boundaries of yogic expression, offering new and unique teachings to their students. These shifts signal the uprising of the divine feminine. The cosmic energy that gives way to life is evolving the practice of yoga, and we are able to forge that path. How do we evolve the practice of yoga while staying true to the beautiful and powerful yogic traditions? In this time of evolution, reflecting on ancient yogic texts remains the most important tool in the quiver of a yoga teacher. The new challenge is to reflect on these teachings with human evolution in mind. How can we adapt these practices and movements to fit the needs of the growing yoga community and help usher them into this moment of the divine feminine? In generations past, we turned to drugs and rock ’n’ roll to counteract life’s stressors. The Beat Generation, Woodstock, the disco era— each examples of humankind’s search for connection and escape from life’s stressors. Our generation has turned to yoga. With over fifteen million practicing yoga daily, 72.2 percent women, the rise of the divine feminine in the practice of yoga is inevitable.
How can we embrace this shift while honoring the tradition of yoga? Despite its flowing nature, yoga has long been dominated by male influence and rigidity. As our world moves away from its rigid, patriarchal beginnings and toward something free and feminine, it is up to the yoga teachers of the world to embody this shift in their teachings and practice. It’s our duty to expand on yogic philosophy to usher the practice into a new age. I propose that our shift as a yogic community is toward the feminine or shakti. Dynamic movements that work with the spirals in nature allow the body to move with the flow of the earth’s energy instead of against it. In the practice that I share with my students, we acknowledge this spiral of energy, tap into it, and let it transform our practice. Each day, we create something unique—speaking to the thrill of impermanence and experience in today’s society. Tradition is important and should always serve as the foundation for yogic movement, but the time has come to set our minds and bodies free and become catalysts for the divine feminine in the world.
Bizzie Gold is the founder of Buti Yoga, a shaktiawakening yoga practice that combines yoga, tribal dance, and primal movement. She is a mother of two, wife, and yogini who travels the world, teaching workshops and speaking on the topics of female expression and empowerment.
K.Deer Haute Yoga Wear: Leggings
K.Deer Haute Yoga Wear is a conscious, Americanmade active lifestyle brand. Appealing in fit, fabrication, and fashion, leggings come in exclusive prints and bold color combos which you can take off the mat and onto the runway of life. KDEERHAUTEYOGAWEAR.COM
Ananda Soul Creations: Jewelry
Ethically produced in Bali, this exquisite line of jewelry from Ananda Soul Creations gives back to local underprivileged Bali women and children. Each meaningful creation has been blessed with prayers for your highest potential. ANANDASOULCREATIONS.COM
Satva Living: Sadiva Mosaic Leggings
Made from GOTS-certified organic cotton, Satva Living’s Sadiva Mosaic leggings are the perfect pair of yoga leggings to take you from studio to street in eco-chic spring style. SATVALIVING.COM
GloryBee: Raw Honey
GloryBee raw honey is creamy, flavorful, and aromatic. Sourced from a variety of flowers, GloryBee’s pure raw honey is rich in bee pollen, natural vitamins, and enzymes. HONEY.GLORYBEE.COM
Silver & Sage: Bracelets, Earrings, and Mala
From Silver & Sage: lapis, pyrite, and turquoise bracelets with naturally inspired elements; simple, natural, and beautiful turquoise and sterling silver earrings; and a lapis mala as a wearable reflection of one’s spirit and a reminder of one’s life journey. SILVERANDSAGEJEWELRY.COM
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Danielle Rubio Yoga teacher and Jin Shin Do practitioner Oakland, Calif.
Lily Jaulima Russo
Yoga provided the means by which I recognized my true identity. It has been the strongest path in my life thus far that has encouraged strength, discipline, self-love, and possibly, most important, grace: grace in movement, grace in breath, grace in the true beauty that exists when I allow the yoga to unfold authentically with form, function, and presence. MUKTAYOGAANDMASSAGE.COM
Yoga teacher and mosaic artist Mancos, Colo.
Yoga instructor and owner of wellness center Gresham, Oreg.
Yoga has brought such grace to my life. Physically, I feel more aligned, strong, and graceful. But even more significant are the changes I feel inside—confidence, self-reflection, self-love, and a deep sense of gratitude for life as I truly integrate the meaning of “namaste”: to love and honor every other being as we flow as one, interconnected and inseparable.
Good health has never come easily to me. Through my thirties, the battle became more difficult, and following my fortieth birthday, I was diagnosed with spinocerebellar ataxia. Yoga is my daily medicine and soul comfort. As a studio owner and someone with health challenges, I am absorbed in every limb of yoga and owe my very existence to it.
LILYMOSAICS.COM PHOTO: OLIVER MUBIELI SCOTT-TOMLIN
Michael “Hobs” Shvartsman AcroYoga teacher Portland, Oreg.
Yoga taught me to let go of all the nonsense that we tend to fill our world with and connect to my inner self—physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Acro taught me to channel my playfulness and desire to connect with others into an incredibly joyful shared practice. YOGIHOBS.MOONFRUIT.COM PHOTO: ALEX PRICE
Mia Taylor Maui, Hawaii
Yoga changed my life by becoming my life: it changed the way I think, live, see, and be. Yoga, meditation, and the philosophical teachings provide the framework for me to live happily and simply—to unite with my highest self, let go of the past, and be in the moment while working toward a better future for all. MIATAYLORYOGA.COM
Eric Brown Yoga teacher and suburban mystic Baltimore, Md.
Yoga has helped me to feel more connected to myself and become more aware of a place of stillness inside even amid the stresses and complications of suburban life. It hasn’t made me more enlightened, but it’s made me more myself. I’ve learned to trust my inner wisdom and accept limitations and strengths without fear or ego-driven pride. PHOTO: GAYLE MANGAN KASSAL
bekki zalewski Registered nurse and ashtanga yoga teacher Jackson, Wyo.
By helping me let go of things that no longer serve me while embracing exactly where I am and trusting the unknown. I stopped listening to self-limiting tendencies created in my mind. I started practicing ahimsa (nonviolence) towards myself and stopped abusing my body. I realized that an effective way to change the world is to change myself, svadhyaya. AKASHAYOGAJH.COM PHOTO: JIM GRACE PHOTOGRAPHY
Matan Cohen-Citron Yoga and mindfulness teacher Fairfield, Conn.
Yoga pushes me to craft my reality with honesty, compassion, and humor instead of judgment and anger. My practice has helped me realize how wonderful life is and focus on what is truly important to me: being present and living my life with an open heart. YOGAWITHMATAN.COM PHOTO: MEGAN MOSS FREEMAN
Andrea Thomas Yoga instructor and Yoga Union board member Sitka, Alaska
I took my first yoga class series at seventeen, and I loved it but somehow forgot about it. I started back a decade later mostly for my body—flexibility, strength, and balance. What evolved was something subtle at first but transformative as the years passed: high-strung, emotional, and anxious turned into high-energy, more level and calm, patient and present. YOGAUNIONSITKA.ORG
Martina Oskarsson-Fassell Vinyasa yoga instructor Lund, Sweden
When I started practicing, I really fell deeply head over heels in love. The sensation from yoga became a deepening understanding of life, myself, and others. The expansion and gratitude for being alive started to seep into all things I was doing. So in short, it made life more exciting, more vibrant, and made me feel stronger and happier. CARGOCOLLECTIVE.COM/YOGAFLOWFREE PHOTO: NOAH VEIL
Gregory Jamiel Forrest Yoga teacher Portland, Oreg.
My Forrest Yoga practice has taught me to journey inwards to seek out and remove many truths that were not my own. I continue to ask what brightens my Spirit on a daily basis, then use my courage to quench those needs. My practice has taught me to live passionately, powerfully, honestly and to unleash my innermost hopes and dreams!
Freedom Ciavarello Wellness junkie and yoga teacher Portland, Oreg.
Yoga taught me that the cracks of a lived-in heart are nothing to fear but, instead, proof of a life lived courageously and with passion. Yoga has aligned me with my tribe, put the life back in my living, and exposed me to my purpose: teaching others how to heal from the scarring confines of a fearful, bruised heart. FREEDOMCIAVARELLOYOGA.COM PHOTO: MATT WONG PHOTOGRAPHY
Dana Perry Megan Donley
I found yoga at age fifteen while recovering from shattering my lower spine after a big fall. It was really one of the things that saved me. Yoga has made me kinder, stronger, more aware, peaceful. It has made me brave and able to be happy in my relationships, following my dreams as a musician and yoga studio owner.
My journey on this path of practice has helped me create more space physically, mentally, and emotionally so I can more fully embrace the beauty of each moment. Yoga has taught me that there is strength in vulnerability, and when I surrender my fear or doubt, I can truly feel my profound connection with the vibration of the universe.
LOTUSMOONYOGAYORK.COM PHOTO: TIFANI TRUELOVE / GOODSHIP PHOTOGRAPHY
“Yoga has transformed me. I’ve come to understand how there is no way—only your way. The practice helps me live my whole life artfully.”
Colleen Leonardi Yoga teacher and writer Columbus, Ohio
Yoga has transformed me. I’ve come to understand how there is no way—only your way. The practice helps me live my whole life artfully. I have more rigor, clarity, and compassion to hold space, move through uncertainty, live joyfully, and serve others. Yoga has given me the strength to meet life with an open heart. It brings me peace. COLLEENLEONARDI.COM PHOTO: JODI MILLER
what brings you
1. Casey J. Putschoegl
2. Reema Datta
3. Amy Wright and Courtney Hynum
Prenatal and vinyasa yoga instructor Portland, Maine
Yoga and Ayurvedic cooking instructor Portland, Oreg.
Yoga teachers and owners of Sunny Yoga Kitchen Bend, Oreg.
When I turn off my smartphone. When I sit in silence, observing ocean waves glistening in the sun. When there is nothing on the day’s agenda. At a summer afternoon picnic, enjoying lobster rolls with my family. At the end of a busy day, when my son lays his sleepy head on my shoulder. In these moments, I find peace.
Expressing myself brings me peace. Ayurveda teaches that the root cause of imbalance is repressing emotions. My practice is to allow whatever I am feeling to come forth and to open my mind to choose understanding over anger, joy for others over jealousy, acceptance over attachment. When my offerings come from a place of integrity, peace becomes a reality.
What brings us peace is being peace. We opened Sunny Yoga Kitchen to offer our two passions—tasty, healthy food and great yoga— under one roof as a way for people to nourish their entire being. Being able to hold this space in our community brings us so much joy and so much peace.
CASEYJYOGA.COM PHOTO: SHUTTERBUG SALLY PHOTOGRAPHY
SUNNYYOGAKITCHEN.COM REEMADATTA.COM PHOTO: TOM ROSENTHAL
5. Claire Ragozzino
6. Kelly Connor Sunrose
7. Rachel Esbjornson
Yoga instructor and holistic nutrition educator Oklahoma City, Okla.
Yoga and meditation instructor Portland, Oreg.
Yoga instructor and environmental educator Flagstaff, Ariz.
Setting aside schedules and to-do lists to consciously slow down, to move with intention, and to authentically connect with my community brings me deep peace and great joy. When I align my lifestyle and practice with the natural rhythms of the earth and moon cycles, I can ride in the peaceful pulse of life rather than swim against the flow.
I feel peace in my bones when I treat myself and others more tenderly. When I relax into the yoga that is already happening all the time, I embody peace. When I remind others that they can do the same and that peace is their birthright, tiny changes start to make a planetary impact. That is powerful peace.
First and foremost, I find peace in the natural world. She is the heartbeat I come back to again and again, when I need to reconnect to what is most important in my life. It is in connection that I find peace. Connection to the natural world, my breath, another, my community. That place where peace and wonder merge.
“When I stay connected to the stillness of eternity, the constant flux is just something to be observed rather than be overwhelmed by.” mandy l. kruger
How Do You Practice Yoga Mandy L. Kruger Yoga instructor Portland, Oreg.
Nina Be Codirector of Global Breath Studio Durham, N.C.
Manuka Wiggin Yoga teacher Portland, Oreg.
Underneath the changing tides of thoughts and emotions is a deeper well of something eternal. When I stay connected to the stillness of eternity, the constant flux is just something to be observed rather than be overwhelmed by. Trust and surrender, inherent in the conscious breath cycle, inform how I choose to respond to the world around and within.
My life of yoga is a gift, shared with amazing divine creations. Global Breath Studio supports building the Ingrid school in Nairobi, where home, for a child, is not a physical dwelling but inside the heart. Visiting baby elephants together, who have lost their families to the darkness of human suffering—love illuminated the sky that we all share.
My practice is synonymous on and off the mat. Patience, accountability, and self-acceptance are key resonances. I try not to look towards the end result but engage more intimately with life’s process. I get engaged, not busy. I don’t simplify or try to get rid of anything. I just make the right effort towards transcending what I’ve been handed.
MANDYKRUGER.COM PHOTO: BRIAN MCDONNELL / BMAC PHOTOGRAPHY
GLOBALBREATH.ORG PHOTO: BART WESTDORP
Amy Chu Yoga instructor Metuchen, N.J.
For me, practicing yoga off the mat is about living compassionately. It’s about seeing the good in everyone and in every situation. No matter how difficult something is, I always try to find something to smile about. That smile can change my entire attitude and the attitudes of those around me. SAKULAYOGA.COM PHOTO: TIM SHAHADY
“No matter how difficult something is, I always try to find something to smile about.” —amy chu
Garth Hewitt Yoga teacher Los Angeles, Calif.
I try to slow down, listen more, and make more space for others. I practice gratitude. I work on being more compassionate and more receptive in all of my relationships. I eat a plant-based diet and try to eat organic and local. I’m also working on a large fundraising project to help build a new orphanage in Mysore, India. GARTHHEWITTYOGA.COM
“My daughter is my altar. She is my daily practice.” 10
Off the Mat? Reanna Feinberg Yoga teacher Ashland, Oreg.
Maureen Gildersleeve Owner of Makawao Yoga Maui, Hawaii
When we’re in gravity (not sleeping or in savasana), we’re using something to hold us up; I pay attention to what that is. Noticing the origination of strength in everyday activities (hiking, showering, cooking, driving) builds deep awareness, skill, and grace by cultivating integrity, curiosity, play, and kindness toward my own body and the world around me.
As I embody the roles of a mother, wife, yoga studio owner, and teacher trainer, I use Patanjali’s eight-limbed path. Practicing the first limb, or yama—non-harming, truthfulness, non-stealing, appropriate use of vital energy, and loosening my grip on how things “should” be—has allowed me to integrate yoga seamlessly into all parts of my life.
FEINFORMYOGA.COM PHOTO: JOE LINDSAY
MAKAWAOYOGA.COM PHOTO: CHRISTOPHER POUGET
Alexander D’Agostino Yoga instructor Baltimore, Md.
Off the mat, my practice is chasing a thunderstorm to embody Nataraja and feel the sky pour down on the earth. The art of being human is that moment when I let my breath take me in and out of the undulations of this beautiful mess called life. ALEXANDERDAGOSTINO.COM PHOTO: ELLE PEREZ
Jasper Elliott Wolfe Owner of Conscious Body Yoga & Massage Birmingham, Ala.
Through my breath, I experience the peace of the present.”
—jasper elliott wolfe
Kate Smith Naturopathic doctor and yoga instructor Portland, Oreg.
I practice yoga when I play guitar, sing, cook for my family, listen to my child share her ideas, meditate, hold my husband close, teach, and open my heart to others. Through my breath, I experience the peace of the present. This is my purpose. To love, to connect, to be grateful, and to live authentically in every moment.
Motherhood is my yoga off the mat. I gave birth to my baby girl, Sunny May, four weeks ago. My daughter is my altar. She is my daily practice. Sunny May is my greatest teacher in being fully in service to another person. She is my reflection of devotion and unconditional love. This is the greatest yoga practice imaginable.
CONSCIOUSBODYHEALINGARTS.COM PHOTO: CARY JOBE
KATESMITHND.COM PHOTO: LISA SKAFF
jerseyâ€™s local mala project
A Garden State of Mindfulness BY bridget riepl
September 20, 2014: Pre-party at Porta in Asbury Park September 21, 2014: 108 Sun Salutations on the Asbury Park Boardwalk
n Sunday, September 21, 2014, Asbury Park will feel the vibration of the fifth annual Local Mala Project: A Garden State of Mindfulness. Thousands of people around the tri-state area will gather on the historic boardwalk to practice 108 Sun Salutations and celebrate the power of peace. It will undoubtedly be the largest Mala event New Jersey has ever seen. Composed of 108 beads, the mala is symbolic of the prayer for peace, hope, and charity. The first such Mala event, the Global Mala Yoga for Peace, founded by Shiva Rea, was conceived to help raise awareness and funding for some of our world’s biggest issues. The intention is to unite the yoga community from every continent, school, or approach to form “a mala around the earth” through collective practices based upon the sacred cycle of 108. In 2010, hundreds of Jersey Shore yogis gathered to flow, chant, and bliss out on the Asbury Park Boardwalk as part of the Local Mala Project founded by Regine Flimlin of Asbury’s Basin Bar. In 2013, she entrusted
the event to Christian Valeriani, owner and founder of EvenFlow Yoga in Red Bank, N.J. According to Christian, when he began practicing asana and meditation in 2000, there were only about three yoga studios in Monmouth County. Since then, the yoga scene has exploded, with a multitude of studios and healing modalities as well as teachers offering asana and meditation from street corners, patches of grass, and stretches of sand—basically, anywhere with enough space to roll out a mat. Christian stepped in as director with an intention of inclusivity, seeking to bridge the gaps between studios, teachers, lineages, and styles. “As yogis, we have a responsibility to take care of each other and act as energetic conduits to facilitate healing, well-being, growth, compassion, and love,” he said. “The practice is more than physical movement; it’s a philosophy founded on the dissolution of the sense of separateness, the realization of oneness in mind, body, and spirit.” The mission of this year’s Local Mala Project is to bring yoga into New Jersey schools. Proceeds from the event will go directly to the Newark Yoga Movement and the newly born Jersey Shore Yoga Movement. These worthy organizations are helping local youth reach their full potential through a new set of ABCs: awareness, alignment, balance, breath, compassion, and creative energy. Thus, the money raised through the Local Mala Project will ultimately empower students with a practice that simultaneously grounds and liberates them. September 20, 2014: Local Mala pre-party at Porta, Asbury Park, N.J., with vinyasa practice offered by Christian Valeriani to kick off an evening of laughter, love, light, and libations. September 21, 2014: 108 Sun Salutations on the Asbury Park Boardwalk, Asbury, N.J.
mindful style Guidelines for choosing a planet-friendly wardrobe by lissa dohl
Sustainable awareness has become part of our everyday lives. Recycling, using green household products, composting, and consuming organic foods all have become widely practiced. Now the fashion industry is stepping up, and there are more and more independent designers launching lines of eco and ethical clothing that you can feel good about supporting and look great wearing. Here are some basic guidelines to keep in mind when shopping mindfully:
Support humane working conditions by giving preference to designers who follow fair-trade principles of ensuring a fair living wage.
Spice up your wardrobe with some truly unique vintage pieces. If vintage clothes are not your style, try vintage accessories or the local consignment shop for “gently used” contemporary clothing. Keep these treasures in use and out of the landfills.
Don’t be a slave to fashion trends. Stand tall in your unique personal style, and support independent designers who adhere to sustainable production methods and are not driven by fashion trends. Put your money into quality and timeless items that will last for seasons to come. You will always make out as a winner and have clothes that never go out of fashion.
Fashion at the expense of people and the planet is just not chic. From luxury brands to Levi’s, apparel companies are changing the rules of one of the most polluting industries. There is hope for a promising future!
Choose fabrics that are made from natural fibers and renewable materials that are free of chemicals that cause harm to people and the planet. Look for pesticide-free organic cottons; fabrics made of bamboo, hemp, or the wood-based fiber lyocell (which you may find under the brand names Tencel and Modal); certified organic silk; and certified organic flax, used to make linen.
Your skin can absorb chemicals and toxins from heavy metals in petroleum-based conventional dyes. Look for clothing that use sustainable coloring methods, no-impact or low-impact dyes, and natural plant and earth dyes that are kind to the environment and your body.
“Made in the USA” is a better choice. Keeping it local keeps the carbon footprint of shipping
overseas down, and designers who manufacture locally have more assurance that their products are made in factories that uphold strict labor laws.
Quality and sustainability.
“Fashion at the expense of people and the planet is just not chic.” Lissa Dohl is the owner of Lissa the Shop, an online sustainable-fashion boutique for women. After working in the fashion industry for companies such as Barneys NY, Prada, and Vogue, Lissa launched her business to bring together a passion for fashion with a commitment to an ethical lifestyle and sustainable future.
breaking the myths of
hypnosis hypnosis by colin christopher or many, hypnosis is one of the most mysterious and misunderstood forms of mentalhealth therapy. Some simply dismiss it as superstitious trickery that only the weakminded fall for, while others have a fear of being controlled. Hypnosis is a safe, well-established, and proven method of therapy that can provide a wide variety of benefits, ranging from help with quitting smoking, losing weight, improving self-confidence, reducing stress, and more. Let’s take a look at some of the most common misconceptions. Myth: I will lose all control of my body and do crazy things. This is what many people fear most about hypnosis. Excellent stage hypnotists do their best to convince audiences that the volunteers have no choice over what they do and that they are being controlled. This is just part of the act. People under hypnosis have the choice to follow or reject a suggestion given by the hypnotist. Myth: I won’t know what’s happening and I won’t remember anything. It would be extremely rare for someone to not remember what happened during a hypnosis therapy session. The depth of hypnotic trance facilitates heightened awareness and vivid memory. The patient will often recall many more details than they normally would, as opposed to less. Myth: I can’t be hypnotized. My mind is too strong. Being voluntarily hypnotized has nothing to do with perceived strength of mind but, rather, the ability to understand the therapist and relax. There are three hypnotizability levels: high (fifteen percent of the population), mid (seventy percent of the population), and low (fifteen percent of the population).
Myth: Hypnosis is the “miracle cure.” Hypnosis is very effective at helping people make mental, emotional, and physical breakthroughs. Just like any form of therapy that helps people get better, it can seem like a miracle, but its effectiveness is dependent on a combination of a person’s hypnotizability level, the skill of the hypnotist, and the problem being worked on. It is not a switch that makes all problems go away but an excellent tool for discovering and harnessing the power of your own mind. Myth: I went to a doctor of hypnosis for help. There is no legitimate educational facility on the planet that awards doctorate degrees in hypnosis. “Doctor of hypnosis” is a fake title awarded by fake schools that print fake diplomas on the Internet. The American Council of Hypnotist Examiners is one orga-
nization offering an examination/certification program that is very reputable. Do your research when choosing a hypnotherapist. Much of what people fear or distrust about hypnosis can be chalked up to a lack of education. People should not fear trying hypnotherapy, as it is simply a deep state of relaxation. Basically, it involves bypassing the conscious mind and getting into the subconscious. Every year, more and more people discover how powerful hypnosis can be in helping make drastic improvements in their lives.
Colin Christopher is a clinical hypnotherapist certified by the American Council of Hypnotist Examiners. He is the author of Success through Manipulation: Subconscious Reactions that Will Make or Break You.
People under hypnosis have the choice to follow or reject a suggestion given by the hypnotist.”
on my yogi honor
Practicing satya on the mat by michelle marlahan
“Bring simple and honest attention to what it feels like to be you, know that as your truth, and respond in kind.”
s a yoga teacher, I often hear questions like “Am I doing this right?” and “Where should I feel this?” Aside from risky alignment or a specific focus in a pose, I am less likely to “correct” someone’s posture than I am to inquire about the truth of it for them. Asking “How does this feel for you?” or “Where do you feel it?” offer the possibility of insight, self-knowledge, and healing that are available only when we answer for ourselves. There’s value in skilled instruction and direction in poses that might refine alignment and create greater ease. But when we focus solely on doing the pose “right” or concede someone else’s opinion of right, especially if it conflicts with our own experience, we are giving away our personal satya. Satya is one of the yamas, which make up the first limb of yoga in the classical system and offer ethical restraints that support harmonious relationships with ourselves. Trans-
lated as non-lying, honesty, and truth, satya encompasses being truthful in our speech by not engaging in gossip or exaggeration, being honest about what our bodies need on the mat by observing when we need rest or when we’re holding ourselves back, and being present—as best we can—to each experience and moment.
wider stance in Warrior I. Or if you’re working with an injury, like I was last fall, you might do an alternate pose altogether. Rather than going with what is asked when it is not wise for your body, bring simple and honest attention to what it feels like to be you, know that as your truth, and respond in kind.
As teacher Mary Paffard says, “Not being in the present, being in the past or future, is a little bit of a lie.”
When we unravel the dishonesty of trying to fit a mold, we can relax into our own shape. If we stay tuned in to the truth of our experience on the mat rather than waiting for someone else to tell us what to do, we are practicing satya. We are practicing yoga.
But for all our self-reflection, consider how often you derive your truth from what someone else tells you. From media to our yoga teachers, we often look to others to tell us what we should think, feel, and do. Marching to your own drum is an act of courage. It asks us to take responsibility for our own choices and experience rather than asking for permission or approval. Finding your own way in a practice can be as simple as lowering to the back knee when everyone else is doing a high lunge or having a
Michelle Marlahan is a yoga teacher and the owner of It’s All Yoga in Sacramento, Calif. Her practice is inspired by poetry, nature, slowing down, and a fascination for the human body. As a teacher, she encourages curiosity and interest in the process rather than reaching a final destination.
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What makes your
Jacquie Michelle Hill
Yoga instructor // Portland, Oreg.
Lead yoga ambassador for SoulShine // Denver, Colo.
I love getting lost deep in the woods, sitting next to a flowing river, or at the coast, watching the waves roll in. Most days, I can be found wandering barefoot around my backyard, grazing from the many plants, or lying in the hammock, staring up at the trees. Nature truly makes my soul shine.
My soul shines with gratitude: for the abundance of love in my blessed life, for the light that always enters through the darkness, and for the mat that always catches me when I fall. It shines with passion: for my practice and for the honor and privilege of sharing it with others. So when life is good, enjoy it.
Don’t the words “the sound of sunshine” ring true, resonating with so much of what brings joy and richness to life? I hear that sound in the smiles on my wife and children’s faces, in the power of the ocean crashing around me, in the midst of a brilliant asana practice, and in the quiet and stillness of my heart.
JACQUIEMICHELLE.COM PHOTO: ALAN JOHN WASEM
UNFOLDPORTLAND.COM PHOTO: SARAH GORMLEY PHOTOGRAPHY
PHOTO: JANELLA THAXTON
Licensed counselor and yoga teacher trainee // Philadelphia, Pa.
Yoga teacher and owner of Fuse Fair Trade // Jacksonville, Fla.
Connection, community, and service work make my soul shine. I feel most alive when I am making connections with people and places around me. As a mental health therapist, I love listening to other people’s stories with curiosity and compassion. As a yogi, friend, mom, and wife, I feel happiest when I am present to the adventure and newness of any given moment.
Ah! The sun on my face, sand in my toes, and the wind through my fingers. My family, my friends (new, old, and unmet), jamming out in my car, music (all genres), traveling, giving back, cappuccinos, warm chocolate chip cookies, good wine, a good IPA, teaching and practicing yoga, the beach, the sky, hugs, and love.
ROOKIEMOMADVENTURES.COM PHOTO: SILVERTOWER STUDIOS
AcroYoga instructor // Portland, Oreg.
Clinical social worker // Conshohocken, Pa.
When I have the opportunity to connect with another person through touch, movement, breath, and play, it invariably sparks soul-shining explosions that radiate effortlessly throughout my being. PORTLANDACRO.ORG PHOTO: CHRISTOPHER PITCHER / FOOTPRINTS MEDIA
My soul shines in many ways, especially through connection and grounding. Connecting through a smile, a hug, or a high five to me is so palpable. Finding a moment of serenity in the midst of chaos grounds me. A pure soul-shining experience is acknowledging the past, hoping for the future, and finding peace in the present. JOURNEYOFGINGERSMILES.WORDPRESS.COM PHOTO: CHRIS KENDIG PHOTOGRAPHY
Beth Hannon Yoga teacher and adventure junkie // Chicago, Ill.
My soul shines brightest when I’m traveling the world and meeting people. I like to be thrown in the middle of a new adventure as often as possible. A day on a beach, doing yoga, and playing in the waves refreshes my spirit. If I could travel for the rest of my life, the light in my soul would be iridescent! TRAVELYOGIGIRL.COM PHOTO: MATT JONES
"Finding a moment of serenity in the midst of chaos grounds me. A pure soul-shining experience is acknowledging the past, hoping for the future, and finding peace in the present. -Erin Connolly
Shantel, Molly, Hobs & James Acroninjas // PORTLAND, OREG.
In a word, AcroYoga. It creates a dynamic connection with others. It fosters positive and healthy communication. It teaches us to trust. It’s spiritually enlightening and inspiring. It helps us reach our potential and achieve things we didn’t know were possible. It helps us gain body awareness. It gives us focus. And it makes us happy because it’s fun! PORTLANDACRO.ORG PHOTO: TONY DIMITRI PENICHE / NXT INDUSTRIES
What makes your soul shine?
Founder of Radiant Yoga Boston and Yoga for Single Moms
Yoga teacher at O2 Aspen and Vimana Yoga
Co-creating the sacred Bhav of transformative space with my students. When we practice together and spontaneous, joyful movement occurs through, breath, sweat, laughter and music, I light up inside. It’s then that I know this is what I’m meant to do.
Through Baptiste Yoga, I have discovered that my purpose in life is to inspire connection, love, and belief from the inside out of each and every person I encounter and in turn help co-create a more conscious, awakened, and courageous planet. When I am living and expressing my purpose, my soul shines.
CHANELYOGA.COM PHOTO: KADRI KURGAN
Holly Bennett Mama Kuka
My daily practice of writing in a gratitude journal keeps my soul shining bright. I have delighted in the way a tree sways, felt love as my students rest in savasana, and discovered silver linings when faced with disappointment. Practicing gratitude keeps me present, caring, giving, loving, and shining! It’s my way of positively impacting the world around me. MAMA-KUKA.COM
" I have delighted in the way a tree sways, felt love as my students rest in savasana, and discovered silver linings when faced with disappointment. -HOLLY BENNETT 56
H o w d o yo u d e a l w i t h
c h a l l e n g e ?
RYT and reiki master
Whatever challenge I am faced with is first dealt with from a place of love, not fear. Then comes pranayam, meditation, and reiki healing, which removes any limiting beliefs and behavior patterns. Once I’m grounded and connected to my higher self, I am able to speak more clearly and make decisions—move through the world—with positivity and clarity.
I’ve always faced things head on, dove straight in, even if they were scary. Part of life is the pursuit of continual growth and progression. With that often comes struggle, heartbreak, and pain. Knowing this gives us armor and tools to get through the mud, the shit. There’s beauty in the challenge. Just stay the course. Or just eat chocolate.
THEARTOFKI.COM PHOTO: PHIL SCHLIEDER
BETHSTUARTYOGA.COM PHOTO: ASHLEY NICOLE PHOTOGRAPHY
What keeps you
Springsteen tour photographer and yogi
Chef partner of Heartland Brewery
Knowing wherever in the world we are, my wife, Melissa, and daughter, Luciana, are always around for early-morning or late-night FaceTime. Let’s not forget my guitars—that’s a must. When I’m on the road, I rarely have time for a full practice, but I work on breathing, Down Dogs, Sun Salutations, and Chaturangas. Instant reset and repair.
Being the chef/restaurant partner of nine busy restaurants in New York City, what keeps me sane and grounded is my daily meditation and yoga practice. I started seven years ago. I became hooked on how I felt and continue to explore the spiritual teachings and eight limbs of yoga. I have the joy of sharing this practice with my wife.
JOLOPEZPHOTOGRAPHY.COM PHOTO: BEN HICKS / BOCA RATON PHOTOGRAPHY AND DESIGN
PHOTO: ROBERT STURMAN
I teach on four continents, serving teachers, therapists, immigrants, war and humantrafficking survivors, and children.” —Liz Gruenfeld
What Kind of Yoga Do You Teach? Dana Moore
Teacher of Kripalu Yoga Santa Fe, N.M.
Therapist and teacher of Kripalu Yoga Salem, Mass.
My yoga teaching is trauma-informed, culturally sensitive, and inspired by the creative arts. I use yoga’s eight limbs and include the arts as well as western and indigenous healing approaches to guide emotionally resonant, embodied experiences of deep connection to self, other, and the natural world. I teach on four continents, serving teachers, therapists, immigrants, war and human-trafficking survivors, and children.
Deaf yoga, hatha, and vinyasa flow. As the only Deaf RYT certifed yoga instructor in Minnesota, my practice embraces a variety of styles. I am often hired in other states as well as on the Deaf or interpreter cruises. I love that I am able to meet people from all walks of life by teaching yoga through ASL. JESSALYNFRANK.COM PHOTO: ART N FRAMES
PHOTO: RAY MATSUMIYA
Deaf yoga teacher Twin Cities, Minn.
I teach Kripalu Yoga heavily influenced by training in Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction, modern yoga scholarship, and traumatic stress studies. With graduate training in psychology and theology and a specialization in posttraumatic stress disorder, I understand the sensitivities of individuals who have experienced traumatic stress. I call my approach “trauma-informed modern yoga therapy.”
One of the special classes I teach in my yoga studio is prenatal/mom and baby yoga. I began teaching prenatal yoga twenty-six years ago after the birth of my first son. I found yoga to be my best tool during labor and delivery as well as early motherhood. In this class, I bring together women and children in a loving, supportive atmosphere while sharing the many benefits of yoga during the childbearing years. YOGASTUDIOGANESHA.COM
When I teach, I emphasize the importance of fostering selfawareness and acceptance to enhance personal growth.” —Michelle Helman
Owner/instructor at Yoga Studio Ganesha Sebastopol, Calif.
Adaptive hatha yoga teacher Portland, Oreg.
I teach adaptive hatha yoga in Spanish and English. Within my work, I aim to reduce existing health disparities in Latino communities by providing support and education in health and wellness initiatives. When I teach, I emphasize the importance of fostering self-awareness and acceptance to enhance personal growth. MICHELLEHELMAN.COM
HOW DO YOU STAY CENTERED?
Justin Kaliszewski Outlaw Yoga cofounder
I don’t try to quiet the chaos, just shape my choices around it—whether or not to contribute to it or be consumed by it. I try to remember that you don’t have to be serious to be spiritual, that it’s just a game, that there’s nothin’ fancy about mindfulness, but there’s something incredibly sexy about a powerful presence.
When faced with a chaotic situation, and feelings of stress or anxiety begin to arise, I always take a moment to step back and remove myself. Bringing awareness to the physical body, coming back to the breath, and remembering that everything always works out in the end can immediately bring a sense of calm and ease to my mind.
OUTLAWYOGA.COM PHOTO: XIREN
PHOTO: ROBERT STURMAN
Bethany Diddle Shaka Yoga founder and teacher
I stay centered by trusting the process and accepting what is. In my yoga practice, I go even deeper within. I relax more, breathe more, and tune in to my faith for what lies ahead. I also love to journey into nature—a long walk or yoga on the beach puts me right back in touch with a magnificent peace. SHAKAYOGA.COM PHOTO: ROBERT STURMAN
4 5 6 7 Meredith Cameron
Jordan Denae Macbeth
Yoga instructor and astrologist
My practice of ebb and flow. Learning to resist less, because when we resist, we cultivate stress and negative energy. When we try to control everything, we enjoy absolutely nothing. I practice awareness around my breath, the one thing that instantly allows me to find peace within the chaos and reminds me not to push against the river.
The practice of metta meditation, also known as loving-kindness, has helped me flow through chaos. The simple yet powerful act of wishing love for others, and myself, shifts my thinking and reactions away from fear when I am feeling stressed. I always flow with love. When I ground myself in love, what feels like chaos becomes comedy and I laugh.
Breath is what keeps me centered. Deep breathing in a slow and purposeful way helps me calm my mind and feel grounded in the moment. It literally changes everything. Vision becomes clearer, emotions neutralize, and I move into the role of the observer. I’m then able to see the situation before me in a less reactive state of mind.
What keeps me centered in the middle of chaos is my ability to remember that life ebbs and flows. Chaos will eventually give way to order. In moments when remaining present and peaceful is challenging, I know to turn to the steadiness of the breath as a reminder. Loving and supportive family and friends certainly help too.
FLOWINGLOTUS.COM PHOTO: JENNIFER PLESSNER
YOGADINA.COM PHOTO: CLAIRE SHEPROW
PHOTO: LEAH LIPSON PHOTOGRAPHY
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by Tanya Lee Markul of rebelLE society
to your practice? ust in case you find yourself off the yoga mat more than you’re on it this time of year, especially when the sun is shining and the temperature is too good to stay indoors, I’d like to offer a sweet reminder of the practices that can be done off the mat.
When catching yourself in the moment, while in transit or before you go to sleep, take a few minutes to deepen the breath or take a minimum of three inhalations and three exhalations. Inhale as deeply as you can and exhale completely. When finished, settle and feel the effects of this simple yet potent practice.
Take the time to sit quietly with yourself every single day. Sit next to an open window, on a quiet bench in the park, or under a tree. Set your alarm for just ten minutes. These meditations can change your life, but don’t take my word for it. Try it for yourself.
Become as conscious as you can about the life around you. How does it move? How does it smell? How does it make you feel? If it’s not working, change it and try offering what you’d like to receive. Becoming aware of our place in
Start by inquiring within. RebelleSociety.com
practices off the mat
the world can be accompanied by a sense of community and purpose.
Observe the moments when your magnificent mind takes you time-traveling to the long-lost past or the unpredictable future. How does this imagery and narration make you feel? Come back again and again to the freedom of the present moment, and while you do so, feel the tension in your muscles relax.
The ability to be patient in times of stress or when difficult effort is being asked of us can be an important part of self-evolution. Patience stems from a deeper wisdom: the faith and trust in life. Something that can benefit us all. Why do you practice yoga anyway? Chances are, sporting a pair of yoga pants or taking a seat on your yoga mat won’t make you any more enlightened than being a hermit in the woods, especially if we don’t learn to become aware of what’s happening within. If we learn to listen to what’s going on within ourselves—to observe objectively and compassionately without attachment—we can begin to discover not only the conditioning that keeps us constricted but the wisdom each and every one of us possesses that has the potential to set us free. Having a practice on and off the mat takes time. Start exactly as you are right now. Start by inquiring within.
Tanya Lee Markul is a yoga teacher, student, writer, cofounder of Rebelle Society and Rebelle Wellness, and owner of Thug Unicorn.
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the trouble with
On accepting what it means to be human by r. r. shakti
After the radiant blast of kaivalya, the toilet still needs to be cleaned. I, for one, am annoyed with the tendency for postmodern Western mysticism to overemphasize the psychospiritual quest toward transcendence. Since its arrival to the US in the mid nineteenth century, there has been a growing interest in the profound philosophy of Hindu traditions and the accompanying forms of spiritual practice. Western “isms”— industrialism, rationalism, materialism—sent the modern seeker eastward for a new interpretation of an old spirituality. The result is a supernatural surge, one that often calls for “rising above” the present situation—transcendence of the human state, transcendence of nature toward nirvana, transcendence of sadness toward a “secret” law of higher intention. Rise, people, rise! There is no need to remain bogged down in the unnecessary limitations of the human experience. Unless, of course, you are interested in staying human. I am. At least for now, while I am here on this planet. Being human is the best that I can be, and infinite wisdom may be gleaned through the everyday experiences of emotion and sensation, both delicious and disgusting. The trouble with transcendence comes when it denies the exquisitely raw realness of being human. We are essentially angel-monkeys— part infinite spirit, part stinky feet. When the human situation is valued as perfect, exactly as it is, with all of its beautiful blemishes, the body is no longer just a shell for the higher self. It is a dear and necessary aspect of the whole being. The earth is the sacred home for the soul, and ritual is equal to logic. Material possessions don’t have to distract you from your higher awareness but may deepen your experience of being fully alive. Each human relationship becomes an opportunity to witness the face of God. Every dark or dirty, grungy scene becomes an opportunity to be more present to love. Sadness is the root of compassion—not by lifting yourself up and out of life but by getting deep down in it.
“We are essentially angel-monkeys— part infinite spirit, part stinky feet.” I want to be radically, authentically human. I want to get dirty. I want to honor the uniqueness of each human animal as we work together to heal the planet. We are not solely the united pulsation of a dynamic organism of universal consciousness, collectively influencing the health and vitality of our ecosystem and social structure. We are more than the undivided image that satellites capture from space, more than a single and infinite awareness that transcendental theories of postmodern Western yoga advance from a lofty (and often hungry, Vata-provoked) ethereal state. We are each a unique human animal with fears, tears, and shadows. When I say “Namaste,” I bow to the part of you that is infinite and whole. Your divine beauty is only recognizable, however, because it lives within your human grit. Sacredness lies in the balance between the embodied digestion of gut-level experiences and taking yourself lightly enough to fly.
R. R. Shakti, MA, is founding director of Yoga Worldreach Seva School and a yoga therapist. She has taught “the blissipline” of Inner Power Yoga since 2000. A mythologist, storyteller, and teacher’s teacher, she combines ecological awareness, social service, and mind-body integration to offer a message of peace and personal empowerment.
PHOTO: THIRDEYE VISIONARIES
say what you
NEED TO SAY Emotional release, one letter at a time by linda buzogany I write letters. To celebrities. Musicians. Yoga teachers. I’ve had one-sided conversations with Dave Matthews and Stephen Cope. It is foolish, yes, but I can’t be held responsible for words I write after a long night of bad blood sugar in my son—the circumstance under which many of these letters have been written—all sleep-deprived and open. Just the other day, I wrote Ellen DeGeneres a letter, telling her how her book made me laugh against all odds while worrying and waiting out scary high blood sugar for hours, deep in the night. I haven’t always written letters to strangers, expressing a response to something I read, a song, or a movie, like the e-mail to Sean Penn after being moved by the beauty of Into the Wild. The open-book letterwriting started soon after my son’s diagnosis with type 1 (juvenile) diabetes when he was two, almost fourteen years ago.
“I know as I’m writing them that it’s really for myself.”
The first letter I remember writing of this nature was to Caroline Myss, author of Anatomy of the Spirit, whose words I inhaled on a plane ride to St. Louis on the way to a friend’s wedding not long after diagnosis. It was the first time I’d been alone to really absorb the past month. Her words pierced my fear and provided a symbolic view of what was going on—which has gotten me through to this day—that disease is full of spirit and is a yoga practice in its own right. She gave me a way to look beyond the pancreas to something bigger and more true. So I had to tell her. Most letters I fire off quick, raw—in the moment before I have time to become rational. I don’t expect them to be read by the intended or anyone in their camp (especially the ones to Obama—man, was I honest in those); in fact, given the emoting, I sometimes count on and hope for them not to be read. I know as I’m writing them that it’s really for myself. When I have something to say, now I just say it, because something about being so true feels amazing. No word back from Ellen. Dave or Sean, either. It’s OK. Disease broke open something truthful in me, a “visceral need for self-expression,” as Stephen Cope teaches, what crises have a way of doing. A way to penetrate the illusion.
Linda Buzogany is the author of The Superman Years: The Emotional Life of a Parent Caring for a Child with Type 1 Diabetes, about self-care during crises and illness. She is a licensed therapist and college professor of psychology in Colorado.
The repetitive practice of yoga is not done so that we can get good at yoga. It is done so that the tools we learn from yoga can help us navigate our individual, epic journey.”
a tool for focus and balance Where the eyes go, the energy flows s a practitioner of yoga, you will acquire many tools to aid you on your journey. A tool is only helpful if you know how to use it properly. It is our job to give you these tools, show you how to use them, and then allow you to decide for yourself how to use what you’ve learned to bring yourself into balance. One of these tools is called “dristi.” Dristi is most commonly known as the gazing point on which the eyes may focus. The word derives from the Sanskrit root “drsti,” where we get the English word “direct.” Dristi can refer to a focal point, but the reason to have a focal point is that it has a harnessing effect on our thoughts and energy. When we direct our gaze to just one spot, we are sending our energy to that spot. Imagine someone who is “all over the place.” They usually are literally looking all over the place, all over the room, and cannot rest their eyes on one thing. Even during an asana practice, some students are looking all over or busily fixing their bodies. They are looking “all over” the body and thus unable to drop into a state of equanimity. The opposite of being all over the place is being directed and focused, a goal efficiently achieved by the tool of dristi. Like all aspects of yoga, there are many ways to implement this tool and many conflicting pieces of advice. What is agreed upon, however, is an aphorism repeated by many teachers: “Where the eyes go, the energy flows.” Where do you think the idea of having superheroes shoot laser beams out of their eyes came from? It’s the power of dristi! Some strains of yoga suggest gently gazing at the tip of your nose whenever possible. It is said that this draws an internal focus and allows the outer world to soften and fade. Many practitioners find this extremely helpful. Another popular dristi point is gazing out over the fingertips in the various standing postures. This soft gaze can support the student in feeling expansive, as if shining out into their surroundings. It is great for empowerment and building confidence. Most often, it is taught that the student look upward whenever anatomically possible. There are many benefits to looking up. It is an energizing action: when I look up, my energy goes up. Upward movement is
BY Sara Elizabeth Ivanhoe
associated with sun energy and masculine energy, used to give yourself a boost when you are tired. On the other hand, many of us are already up! In our contemporary culture, many people are pretty wired and don’t need their energy to go up anymore; they need to settle down. If you want your energy to go down, simply direct your gaze downward. When I want to get grounded, I look at the ground! Gazing downward embodies all feminine aspects: Mother Nature, fixed energy, and a literal magnetic downward pull called gravity. Another option is what is called “atma dristi,” which could be translated as “soul-gazing.” Once the outer body is comfortable, there is an option of turning the gaze inward, done by closing the eyes. When the gaze is directed inward, there is an opportunity to “see” what is happening on the inside. Atma dristi is meant to ignite the Ajna Chakra, the Third Eye. The Third Eye, or Yogic Eye, is the eye that sees past the obvious. Practicing atma dristi can be like looking at your treasure map and all of a sudden being given special glasses that allow you to see the map in 3-D. There is more to us than meets the eye. If we don’t look, we’ll miss it. Most popular is the dristi that is emphasized during balancing postures. It is extremely helpful if the dristi is set first and the pose built around it. This “holds the space” of the pose. The point can be just about anywhere, up or down, as long as it is one spot that doesn’t move. (This is not the time to look at the teacher or another student, because they are moving.) Once the pose is complete, try sustaining the dristi point while coming out of the pose mindfully. Again, this “holds the space,” meaning that you do not stop doing yoga simply because one pose is ending and another one is beginning. Sustaining your dristi during balancing postures has the additional effect of helping us clarify our destination. At first glance, it would seem that the point of a balancing pose is to strengthen muscles, create flexibility, and enhance our agility. These are an important first step, but the ultimate goal is to teach us to focus our minds (our chitta vrttis) on command. The repetitive practice of yoga is not done so that we can get good at yoga. It is done so that the tools we learn from yoga can help us navigate our individual, epic journey.
PHOTO: DAVID YOUNG-WOLFF
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B y B e t h St u a rt
Learning to live in the moment
fter I got divorced, I retreated to the mountains of Santa Fe, New Mexico, at Upaya Zen Center. The seven-day meditation was in noble silence: no talking, no reading, no writing, no eye contact. The more I thought about it on my way to the center, the more I realized what a truly special gift this was for myself, delving into the ocean of the mind. There were seventy of us in the retreat. We sat in meditation for about seven hours a day, broken only by walking meditation and service in the morning and at lunch. The regimented structure helped the mind to slowly let go and eventually just drop away. I was given an oryoki set when I arrived, which consists of three bowls, a spoon, chopsticks, and a napkin. You had to eat everything in your bowls—a good lesson in being conscious of the amount of food you actually wanted. Daily dharma talks emphasized the importance of living in the moment as if tomorrow might not come. Many people hold back in life. When you live your life in this way, you are not living. You can’t wait for things to change or be a certain way. Your life is right now—this moment is life. You must commit to each moment wholeheartedly as if it were the very purpose of your existence. The first day was brutal. I sat on my zafu and thought, You can do this. If you can give birth naturally and get tattooed for hours on your rib cage,
then surely you can sit for fifty minutes. It started well, but then my mind entered. I wanted to go home. I missed my son, Jack, terribly. But one of the first things they say to you is, just show up. So I did. That night, it snowed, as if the universe recognized our hard work. It was laying a blanket over the earth, helping us to settle into ourselves. On day five, things changed. I suddenly sunk into the most beautiful spaciousness and stillness. My mind was quieting down. I let thoughts go without judgment. I had found that sense of timelessness. We have all experienced this at some point, like when you are with someone for what feels like five minutes but really an hour has passed. One day, I was in my room, organizing my bag, and one of Jack’s socks fell out. Tears filled my eyes, and I wanted to call him, hear his little voice. Children are the greatest teachers of truly living in the moment. Staring at his sock, I knew I was there for a greater purpose. I was there for the benefit of him, myself, and all beings. The week was certainly a test of will power for me. If I could sit with myself for a week, then I could do anything. But this is true for all of us. If you love someone, be with them; if you want to travel, travel. Truly live as if tomorrow may never come.
Beth Stuart started teaching vinyasa flow yoga after discovering the transformative power of the practice while attending college in New York City.
“Commit to each moment wholeheartedly.”
PHOTOS: CHEATWOOD PHOTOGRAPHY
interview: maranda pleasant
staying grounded through yoga and good-night kisses Maranda Pleasant: What makes you come alive or inspires you? Andrea Marcum: Opportunities to witness the beauty of everyday courage in those who I brush up against.
MP: What truth do you know for sure? AM: There is no good reason to drink bad coffee. MP: What causes or organizations are you passionate about?
MP: What makes you feel vulnerable? AM: Miniskirts, math, and misgivings.
AM: Women for Women International. They provide tools and resources for survivors of
war, civil strife, and conflict to move from crisis and poverty to self-sufficiency and leadership. LoveMore Movement is a curator of selfless acts and a resource for people to look to for inspiration and ways to be of service. Off the Mat, Into the World—sustainable activism, grassroots social change, personal empowerment, boom! MP: Tell me about your latest projects.
MP: How do you handle emotional pain?
AM: I am thrilled to be leading teacher trainings for Wanderlust. Be on the lookout for our first this fall at my studio, U Studio Yoga. And I’m honored to be a part of Keith Mitchell and AltaMed’s Mindful Living Health Expo at the LA Coliseum January 31, 2015.
AM: With care.
MP: Why are these important to you?
MP: How do you keep your center in the middle of chaos? Do you have a daily routine?
AM: Our mats are magic carpets to look into our lives and to see the world.
AM: I lean into my meditation practice. Asana is part of such a galaxy of mindfulness. I make a steady dose of seated meditation and yoga a part of my day. And I make sure to kiss my husband good-night every night. When I don’t, I can feel myself unravel and lose my way.
MP: What is love for you?
MP: If you could say something to everyone on the planet, what would it be? AM: “Love more.”
MP: What’s been one of your biggest lessons so far in life? AM: Be brave enough to try. Especially if you’re pretty sure you’re going to suck.
AM: Love is everything. It is everywhere. And it’s what’s worth fighting for.
Our mats are magic carpets to look into our lives and to see the world.”
Andrea Marcum is a former gymnast originally from Santa Cruz, Calif. She opened U Studio Yoga in Los Angeles in 2006 and leads newbies to yoga and mindfulness and works with everyone from athletes to executives. Andrea is an ambassador for Lululemon and Manduka and writes for My Yoga Online.
bottom Photo: Ashley Streff
I t e m s t h at n o lo n g e r r e p r e s e n t yo u a r e b a d t e ac h e r s t h at h o l d yo u b ac k . G o o d t e ac h e r s r e m i n d yo u o f yo u r g oa l s , c a l m yo u r m i n d, a n d e n e r g i z e yo u .”
Teachers All Around At the Heart of Feng Shui
By Jenny Liu
B e c o n s c i o u s o f w h at yo u s u r r o u n d yo u r s e l f w i t h
s a feng shui consultant, writer, wife, and mother of two, I am constantly on the go, taking care of my clients and family. In my work, I find that many clients focus on the destination, result, or bottom line and have lost sight of who they are and the purpose of life’s journey. With my children, I see and hear how students are stressed out by test scores more than experiencing the joy of learning. For all of us who are feeling a bit disconnected and yearning for inspiration, I would like to share a story of what I learned from an unlikely teacher. One Saturday morning, I was peeling some steamed beets. I marveled at how the deep-red beet juice dyed my fingers pink. I couldn’t resist taking a bite. Time seemed to slow down as the intensely sweet, earthy sensation filled my mouth. In an instant, the beet’s life flashed through my mind: its humble beginnings as a seed planted in the moist earth, its roots siphoning water, its leaves catching sunlight, and its body growing fat and sweet. In this millisecond of time, I received a spontaneous message from the beet, reminding me that the sweetness of life is achieved when we connect with the earth and sun, our universal mother and father. I followed the beet’s guidance. I dug my toes and fingers into the dirt and let the sun shine on my face. I started planting my own vegetables from seeds, transplanting the sprouts into the womb of the earth, feeding them and watching their blossoms rise towards the sun,
transforming into squash, beans, and juicy tomatoes. It is impossible not to feel deeply loved, connected, and inspired when you are witness to Mother Nature’s miracles. The beet was the root reconnecting my mind and soul. Observe the teachers around you. This is exactly what we as feng shui masters do for you when we consult with you. We listen to the teachers in your home, garden, and office and interpret the lessons your environment has for you. Removing bad teachers and surrounding yourself with good teachers is crucial. Items that no longer represent you are bad teachers that hold you back. Good teachers remind you of your goals, calm your mind, and energize you. Figure out what it is you are meant to do in your life, then create a school through your environment’s feng shui with good teachers—like compatible orientations, colors, symbols, furniture, and art. This sets the stage for achieving your goals. Everything around you, every experience you have, every person you meet has a lesson or message to teach you.
Jenny Liu holds degrees in environmental design from UC Berkeley and architecture from UCLA and is a fourth-generation feng shui master, designer, author, and public speaker. Her mission is to empower people by encoding meaningful messages into their living spaces through seamlessly integrating feng shui into their homes and offices.
divorce, yoga, and heart Transformation through destruction
by elizabeth rowan
“We can be soft, vulnerable, grateful in every moment for the blessing of a do-over.”
remember the first time I said it, not quite believing myself, certain that things would reverse themselves before it was final. “I’m getting divorced.” Now when I explain My Life: The Redux, my eyes sparkle. I feel clear and light. I now embrace this life switcheroo, this bring-your-own-phoenix action as an uncharted path of new beginnings, growth, and hope. This perspective, however, was deeply earned. Turns out that wearing pajamas for days was only the beginning. I never learned, ached, cried, hoped, or grew as much in such a short period of time as in the year of my divorce. Yoga, with its wily ways, showed up for me when I was on my knees. Even though I couldn’t see it at the time, I showed up for myself too. With a clarity that was slow to reveal itself as my marriage ended, I came to cherish several realizations, even if I fought some with all my might. Guru Devo Maheshwara, the force of transformation via destruction, showed up. Big-time.
Divorce made me live in the present. Divorcing takes the rug out from under us so much that we truly only know today. My slate is now wiped so clean that the future is entirely unknown. It, finally, feels phenomenal. Devastation slowly gave way to exhilaration.
Divorce reminded me that I am not in control. I can’t count the unexpected twists and turns that accompany the process of ending a marriage: heartbreak, shock, surprises, new and deeper friendships, unexpected opportunities, and a greater belief in myself than ever before. Relinquishing a desire for control doesn’t absolve us from responsibility, but it does soften the human inclination of a “me against the world” struggle. We can be soft, vulnerable, grateful in every moment for the blessing of a do-over.
First, the body whispered. Of course it did. My world was being rocked in every possible way. My body and unconscious knew; chakras were the messengers. They had to scream for my head to finally listen. Our bodies and hearts hold everything we need to know long before our heads engage. Our challenge is to listen.
Divorce allowed me to rediscover and honor my true self every day. In relationships, we compromise, give, and take. An identity shift naturally occurs to merge a life with another. My divorce took me back to me in an instant. Straight up. The light in me sees the light in me again. And it’s pretty darn bright.
I would do it all again. Anais Nin wrote, “I am only responsible for my own heart, you offered yours up for the smashing, my darling. Only a fool would give out such a vital organ.” I did. And I fully plan to continue to do so as my newfound self. My very present controlrelinquishing, body-listening, true self—with an ever-hopeful heart.
Elizabeth Rowan has lived and studied yoga in the US, Europe, and Asia. She teaches The Kaivalya Yoga Method, a style in both the Ashtanga and Jivamukti lineages that emphasizes intelligent sequencing, precise hands-on adjustments, yoga philosophy, humor, and heart.
In later conversations with Tom, who is now a dear friend, I learned that the event which changed his life and body forever started during a yoga class on November 29, 2012. Tom felt unusual tightness on his chest, followed by pain and numbness in his left leg. Rushed to a nearby hospital, he was subjected to multiple surgeries to address the condition—an aortic type A dissection—and its many rippled effects, which included partial kidney and lung failure, lower extremity ischemia, and the eventual amputation of his left leg. Tom’s story, shaped by this abrupt event, is a testament that body parts are not what make us whole. Instead, it is the relationship we have with these parts as well as the relationship we have with our greater community. The physical and emotional pain that came with this new chapter in his life has not taken away Tom’s keen awareness that his survival is a true gift. It is a second chance and, more importantly, a chance to transform, grow, and teach. He says, “I did not survive this to go back to being who I was before or doing what I did before.” While Tom is seeking to learn what his next career will look like, he is sure of two things: one, to never stop appreciating life and all that life has to offer, and two, that he is here to help others. Tom believes that the loss of a limb has in fact created greater wholeness in his state of being. “Being whole,” he says, “is about recognizing I am connected to a larger community.” The loss of a limb has heightened his awareness and presence to the connectedness of all beings and with the universe at large. In his spirit of living in the moment, Tom is learning self-love and patience as he finds he cannot move at the same speed as he used to. He has increasingly embraced a new way of being and gone after things most of us would have shied away from given the same circumstances, such as completing a 200-hour yoga teacher training this past fall. Above all, Tom wakes up every morning to the recognition that he is not alone and that this is what makes him a whole being.
Karen Mozes is an executive and life coach, leadership expert, certified yoga teacher, writer, and speaker. She is the founder of Cinco Consulting Solutions and cofounder of Business of Yoga.
What Makes Us Whole
first met Tom Valencia a year ago as he gracefully moved in and out of a strong sequence of yoga poses in an advanced flow class. With an amputated left leg, he displayed precision, a peaceful expression, and an unbeatable concentration that were striking.
By Karen Mozes
Yogi Tom Valencia’s journey to greater wholeness
“Tom’s story, shaped by this abrupt event, is a testament that body parts are not what make us whole.” PHOTO: ROBERT STURMAN
ancient healing practices are key to healthy modern living
“Just remember to be consistent and always listen to your body and mind to find the right practices for you.”
b y g e n e v i e v e g i l b r e at h oth Ayurveda and Yoga are scientific systems that cultivate higher states of health. While the goal of both is similar, Ayurveda primarily focuses on correct diet, a healthy lifestyle, and the use of herbs. Yoga primarily emphasizes physical and mental practices. When used together, Yoga and Ayurveda keep you healthy and balanced.
Energy Ayurveda teaches that everyone has specific energies, or doshas, that influence vitality. The doshas include Vata, Pitta, and Kapha, each of which is a combination of the five elements. Ayurvedic medicine provides diet, lifestyle, and herbal practices for maintaining and restoring proper energy levels. When doshas are aggravated, herbs are one way to balance them. To restore harmony to Vata, try pippali and ashwaganda. Amalaki and coriander are ideal to balance Pitta. Kapha can be calmed with ginger and black pepper. Yoga provides specific postures (asanas) as well as breathwork (pranayama) and meditation practices to keep energy levels balanced. Regular daily practice that is soothing and gentle is ideal for those with a dominant Vata dosha. Pitta energy is stabilized through a challenging yoga practice at the cooler times of day. Kapha dosha benefits from a vigorous yoga practice at least five times a week.
Digestion According to Ayurveda, a powerful digestive fire, or agni (pronounced “ugh-nee”), transforms all that we ingest into useful energy. Using herbs such as ginger, black pepper, and long pepper, we can ignite a healthy digestive fire. Ayurveda also provides specific guidelines to help balance the doshas through diet. Yoga asana and relaxation practices can be beneficial to the digestive system by increasing blood flow to the vital organs and activating the parasympathetic nervous system. Easy yoga postures—like reclined knees-to-chest posture, seated or standing twist—help cleanse and ignite the digestive system.
Adjusting to Change Ayurveda teaches that we are all in a constant state of change. Changes due to age, fluctuations in digestion, mental and emotional states, relationships, and environment can cause imbalances in our health. By modifying diet, regulating lifestyle, and using appropriate herbs, Ayurveda can help regain balance. Keep in mind, it is not always your dominant dosha that may be out of balance.
Yoga is the practical science that gives us the tools to become conscious of changes in our body, mind, and spirit. Through awareness and meditation practices (like simple breath awareness or a mantra), we can keep changes from becoming as disruptive. Don’t wait until you are faced with a stressful situation to use these methods. The best way to deal with difficult change is to maintain a consistent practice. These are just three of thousands of ways that the sister sciences of Yoga and Ayurveda work together to create a strong and balanced state of being. Just remember to be consistent and always listen to your body and mind to find the right practices for you.
Genevieve Gilbreath, founder of Herbal Zap, is a longtime student and teacher of Yoga and student of Ayurveda. Her passion for learning led to Varanasi, India, where she studied in the traditional gurushishya method for five years. Genevieve creates healing products with Ayurvedic physicians in Sri Lanka.
Breakfast Mind for the
What gives Stic of Dead Prez an edge every day By Khnum “Stic” Ibomu
The greatest discovery of all time is that a person can change his future by merely changing his attitude. —Oprah Winfrey
to wake up and start your day ingesting negativity from the TV, radio, or Facebook. Mental nutrients nourish and empower us for the day ahead in the same way a well-balanced breakfast does for our bodies.
any studies agree that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. After a long night of sleep, the body has had time to rest and the digestive system has had a much-needed break. As we awaken in the morning, our body is ready to be rehydrated and nourished with nutritious foods to break the overnight fast; hence, our morning meal is aptly called “breakfast.” When mornings start with nourishment, productive energy lasts well into the day and the body is fueled to power itself without running out of gas. But what about our mental breakfast?
Mental Grocery List
The mind needs to be fed and nourished just as the body does. What we focus our minds on first thing in the morning can set the tone for the day. Mental breakfast is no less important than regular breakfast is and should be a part of our morning routine with the same sense of importance.
Feed Your Focus
A nourishing mental breakfast consists of things like meditation, affirmations, inspiring music, and listening to motivational speeches—or could even just be setting an optimistic daily intention or a simple prayer of gratitude. It’s a lot more nourishing to wake up and chew on a list of positive quotes you have been collecting or to rehydrate and clear the mind with a nice twenty-minute meditation than
Just as we stock the pantry and refrigerator with nutritious foods, we can take the time to research, collect, and stock our mental pantry as well. Some items to put on your mental grocery list: • Collecting books and audiobooks • Adding inspiring music to playlists • Bookmarking motivational websites and blogs • Clipping and saving motivational magazine articles • Keeping spiritual texts or a collection of positive quotes on the nightstand for a morning read • Compiling favorite motivational speakers’ videos, etc. Everyone’s mental pantry will be unique.
“Just as we stock the pantry and refrigerator with nutritious foods, we can take the time to research, collect, and stock our mental pantry as well.”
The Breakfast of Champions
Mental breakfast is our first and most important kind of meal of the day. Starting with the right mental attitude is key to creating positive momentum for your day from its onset. You will be proactive by getting a jump on the day and directing the kind of productive state of mind you want to experience. I know it works wonders in my life. Give yourself an edge by waking up to an inspiring start. Now, what’s for lunch?
Khnum “Stic” Ibomu of Dead Prez is the creator of The Workout, the groundbreaking hip-hop album with a holistic health and fitness theme. He is a runner, a meditator, and the founder of RBG Fit Club.
“Mental breakfast is our first and most important kind of meal of the day.”
BY Guinevere Hilton Teacher and founder, MRYB
My Real Yoga Body wants to promote the truth that there are no boundaries to what a yogi is. We just want to create a loving and accepting sangha. To this end, we start with joy. Spread joy by letting others know how fabulous they are. Yoga moves you closer to your higher self, a self that isn’t threatened by someone else’s gorgeous ekapada-whozits. A self that is taking care of your business and staying out of others’. Asana is one slice of the yoga pie, but for many of us, it is the doorway to the other limbs. So let’s do what we can to keep that door wide open, welcoming, and inclusive.
“Feeling supported by a community of yogis allows me to feel free enough to appreciate and accept my body’s strength and boundaries.” Julia Hilton
Equine therapist in training, Milton, N.H.
Feeling supported by a community of yogis allows me to feel free enough to appreciate and accept my body’s strength and boundaries. That freedom allows me to open myself up and offer support and encouragement to other people. (Pictured with Guinevere Hilton)
Instructor, Rasamaya Yoga, Newburyport, Mass.
My life changed after I discovered yoga. The biggest shift happened during a meditation at my yoga teacher training. We were told to draw forth a person who we needed to cut the cord from, forgive them for not being as we expected them to be. I visualized this person coming towards me. She was me. I released the perfect expectation I had of myself. I look at my imperfect body and thank it for the four beautiful daughters it gave me. I thank my breasts for feeding them during their infant years. I thank my thick calves and ankles because they remind me of my strong, loving grandmother. I thank yoga for the practice of presence that brings my ego in check when I need it most. It is my passion, and I will pass on that passion to my grown daughters and their daughters.
Instructor, Rasamaya Yoga, Newburyport, Mass.
The exhilaration and beauty found in life make it worth living. The sweaty, heart-pumping, lung-burning joy of running. The beauty of ocean kayaking. The strength and balance of rock climbing and yoga. My body has allowed me to experience all these wondrous activities and more. And I will be forever grateful.
“I am most grateful to my body because of how strong it is!” Jennifer Sullivan
Instructor, Rasamaya Yoga, Newburyport, Mass.
I truly appreciate and love my body for all of the incredible things that it has allowed me to do. I am most grateful to my body because of how strong it is!
I came to yoga from the world of dance with a list of body-image issues as long as this page. Yoga’s greatest gift was teaching me to celebrate my body and not war against it. Now I tell my bold, beautiful, bodacious thighs, affectionately named Bessie and Gertie, that they are strong. I tell my arm flaps that they crack me up. I tell my spider veins that they are my body’s special unique tattoo and my crow’s-feet that they are a sign of a happy life. I love this body, which is good, since it’s the only one I’ve got.
PHOTO: SIRI BLANCHETTE
Founder, Rasamaya Yoga, Newburyport, Mass.
PHOTO: SIRI BLANCHETTE
Jacob Hemphill of Interview: Maranda Pleasant
n i h t i w s r e eking answ
On the back of my bus on the Soulshine tour . . . Maranda Pleasant: Can you tell me what makes you come alive?
It’s kind of weird that we’re getting more and more famous, because we’re able to do less and less things. So I guess an answer to the question is, the bigger we get, the less things we can do personally, but the more we can do involving other people. I see everybody at these shows, picking up on a vibe that they can take with them, because we try to sing music that can be applied to the rest of your life outside of the concert. So I think seeing these people start to think of the stuff we’re talking about makes me come alive a little bit. MP: Do you remember those lyrics you told me one morning at breakfast?
JH: Yeah, it’s for a song called “Shadow.” It’s like a toast. It says,
“Here’s to you who don’t settle and never separate. You’ll never be quiet because the words you say you’ll never go back on and you’ll never turn around. You never judge another because of how stupid it sounds, because when you see others, you know they’re all brothers, you know they’re all sisters, you see the big picture. And if they’re not with you, they’re against, but we’re here now, they’re way back when.” The chorus says, “I’m not a shadow, and I’m not the ground under your feet.” Trevor, my buddy the guitar player, wrote the chorus. We were in Spain and we were walking around. I heard this singing and I stopped him.
I lived in Africa when I was a kid, and I was, like, “Dude, that’s African church music.” It was coming from inside this building, and I was, like, “Dude, let’s go find it.” So we just ran in this building in Madrid and we find this little room. For some reason, I don’t know why I did this, but I opened the door. And it was them rehearsing for this sermon, and they just were, like, “Sit down.” I don’t think they spoke English, but they made the motion. We watched them and it was really beautiful. A lot of memories started coming back to me. So I started telling Trevor [how] when I was seven years old, I would look at these other seven-year-old African kids, and they didn’t have video games, they didn’t have Nikes—they didn’t have all this stuff that I was convinced it took to be happy. And they had, like, a pair of shorts and pair of flip-flops, and that was it. They had the biggest smiles on their faces. They were the happiest children I’d ever seen. People my age. I think that’s when I started to think about a lot of this stuff. Why are they so happy? Why do I not feel that? So I was telling Trevor about all that stuff after we got out of the church. I was, like, “You know, humans are humans, and when they work together, it’s really beautiful, and when they fight each other, it’s really horrible.” And he said, “I got this song I’ve been working on. It goes, ‘I’m not a shadow, I’m not the ground under your feet. When you look down, you won’t see me. I stand up and I stand tall, and I don’t follow anyone, because I’m not a shadow, something just follows what they’re told to do by the body.’” I was, like, “Man, that’s genius.” So we had this little writing session when we got off tour, and we put this song down.
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N AN PHOTOS: ERIC RYA SOJAMUSIC.COM
3 STEPS TO CHANGE THE WORLD
E GAM GERS
WAYS TO MAKE THE WORLD SUCK LESS THIS SUMMER
real IS ON STANDS NOW
ENDING THE FOSSIL FUEL ADDICTION
ON HIS INSPIRATION, TRUE LOVE AND COMING ALIVE
DISCUSS: ENVIRONMENT ACTIVISM INNOVATION
INTERVIEWS WITH: JASON MRAZ + JAKE T. AUSTIN + PETE CASHMORE + SIR RICHARD BRANSON RUSSELL SIMMONS + BIRDY + CHRIS SHARMA + GREGG SULKIN MANTRAMAG.COM
trevor hall interview: maranda pleasant photos: emory hall
On being inspired by ancient cultures, Indian saints, and forests
Maranda Pleasant: Your music feels ancient to me. I feel like the ancestors are coming from the ground. It’s like a meditation, and it’s artistic and beautiful, but there’s something where I just sit there in the grass by myself with my eyes closed and almost cry every time I hear you play. I feel like that’s my meditation. What makes you feel fully alive? Trevor Hall: Music is that thing that gives me that life-force, that feeling. Something happens, especially when it first comes out. I think it’s because, at that time, I really feel like something is moving through me. The greater life-force is moving through me, and my individual life-force has kind of stepped aside. MP: Do you think you channel? TH: Yes. I mean, I don’t want to be, like, “Oh, yeah, God comes through me,” but at the same time, I know that it’s not me. Something definitely flows through, because when I’m in those spaces, I find that I’m a listener rather than a player. I’m on the other side. I’m listening with everybody else. So, it’s something. MP: What inspires you? TH: I think my biggest inspiration, honestly, is sacred cultures all over the earth. I love learning and seeing how different people and tribes communicate with the Great Spirit. It’s so beautiful to me. I love customs and ceremonies and things that have been going on for thousands and thousands of years. I love witnessing that and witnessing how different people artistically play with God. That really inspires me in my life, in my own practice, and also in my music. A lot of my music is inspired by culture, ancient culture. MP: What is your spiritual practice? TH: In high school, I became really influenced by this one Indian saint, Neem Karoli Baba, and I just felt this instant connection and love for him. So whatever he loved, I wanted to love. A lot of people say, “What’s your religion?” Those words kind of make me freak out. I’m, like, “Ahhh, I don’t know,” you know? I just know that my spiritual path opened because of my love for this one being, and whatever this being loved and said, I wanted to love and I wanted to try to walk with. So I don’t really know what I am or what my spiritual path is, but it’s mostly been inspired by the saints of India and the sadhus and yogis of that part of the world. MP: How do you stay centered every day in the middle of chaos or in the middle of touring? Is there a practice you have, to stay centered and grounded every day? TH: When I wake up, I usually sit for a little bit, no matter what, even if it’s ten minutes or an hour. Being on the road, it’s a little
photos: emory hall
more difficult. I find that my priorities are switched around. On the road, my first thought is, Breakfast. When does breakfast end? Is there a World Cup game on right now? One thing that I said to one of my mentors in India was, “Hey, I can’t do this. I can’t get up and sit for an hour in solitude and all this.” He said, “When you wake up, you remember the Great Spirit. All day, you live in the Great Spirit, and when you go to bed, you go to bed in the Great Spirit.” I find that just that remembrance has been my foundation and the way that I stay centered. The way I remember is through repetition of my mantra, because you can really do that at any time of day. Mentally—you don’t have to do it out loud. So it always keeps that divine remembrance going. I find that no matter what tradition you’re from, especially with the Indian traditions, all of the great teachers, no matter where they’re from or what school they’re from, they all talk about the benefits of chanting the divine names. I feel like it’s a very unifying thing. So I usually try to keep up with my mantra. The gurus, when they give you a mantra, say you’re not supposed to speak it to anyone. Because it’s the seed, you know, and when you speak it to anyone, it’s like the seed coming out of the ground, and it won’t have any effect. It’s your personal intimate relationship. MP: Tell me the name of your new album and what’s special about this one. TH: This new album is super, super special to me, because I got really burnt out from touring so much a year and a half ago. It was really kind of scary for me because I’d never really taken a break and I didn’t know, am I even going to come back after this? I was really down and out. One teacher, Sri Ramakrishna, said, “It’s necessary for one to retire into solitude every now and then. Whether it’s in the corner of a room or whether it’s in the forest or wherever, and it could be an hour, a day, a month, a year.” So I took that really literally. My wife and I went up into the forests of Maine and Vermont and spent a lot of time up there, really letting our systems come down, reading, meditating, all these things. Slowly, after time, I began to pick up the guitar again and write some songs. Not like, “Oh, I’m going to write a new album,” but just for the love of music, which I was missing so much. We were reading all these poems and stuff of ancient sages about being in solitude and the forest and all this stuff, and this idea of the forest took strong root in me. I believe that everything is kind of a sacred reflection: all this world around us is really a sacred reflection of our internal selves. The forest is a special place—it’s quiet and full of life and green. A lot of saints and sadhus and yogis, they go into the forest to practice their meditation. So that says
something. I found that all these songs were coming up, being inspired by the forest. And then all these experiences that I had in forests around the world—in India and Nepal—they started to come up too. It’s just this meditation on the simplicity of life and sound. The album Chapter of the Forest slowly came into form. It has been really wonderful for me, because for this album, I wasn’t trying to go after this hit song. It wasn’t, I wonder if everybody is going to like this. I really tried to come from a super pure place and make a record from the heart, and it’s been really healing for me. My prayer is that some of the healing I got, I hope it spreads to other folks. MP: There’s something about you that makes you so special. There’s something very ancient and sacred. And your spirit, your energy is so good. Everybody is, like, “Trevor’s just special.” You’re kissed by God, you and your wife. The way you interact with the world and yourself is totally different than most anyone I’ve seen. I’m encouraging people to come to your concerts and buy your music. Especially when you do that native thing—it’s so heartfelt and artistic. It’s special. It’s super special.
TH: That means a lot. I grew up in a super wealthy atmosphere, but I saw that a lot of my parents’ friends had all this stuff in these big houses, playing golf all day and having dinner parties and stuff—there was this empty hole. I’m thankful for growing up in that environment. I was privileged but I was also, like, “This can’t be it. This can’t be the goal of life.” Ever since I was a little kid, I just remember being so fascinated with ancient culture, and I think my longing for that connection is what comes through when I play or in the songs. That longing is the divine syrup on the songs. I can’t help it; even if I write a pop song or something, it always ends up being spiritual. MP: I can’t see you writing a song about Jay Z. TH: It doesn’t work. Music has always been a spiritual thing for me. Like Bob Marley, all the reggae artists, Indian music. I just love, love, love how music connects me with the Spirit. That’s my thing, and maybe that’s what comes through when you hear it—my longing to connect with . . . I don’t even know what it is. That’s the beauty of it.
MP: Whenever I hear you, I feel like I need to be in nature. When I listen to your music, it reminds me of my deepest self. Sometimes we’re so disconnected from it that it’s like this old, beautiful friend that you bring back. TH: That’s special. Music is like the seat. It’s the throne for that self to come. But that supreme self—the funny thing is, it’s always present within everything and it’s within us all the time. It’s just that we forget. We get distracted by life. It’s a natural thing, but music is that thing that helps me come into myself. When I’m coming into myself, I’m really coming into the self of everything and everyone, because everything is everywhere. When I play live, that’s when I have the best show: when I feel like there’s no more singer and no more audience. There’s no distinction anymore. We’re just listening and sitting in this seat of music. It’s a special thing. MP: How can we support you? TH: It’s TrevorHallMusic.com. Chapter of the Forest is out. It’s on iTunes and you can get it on the website, and all our tour dates are up there too. It’s really pretty. My wife just made it.
When I play live, that’s when I have the best show: when I feel like there’s no more singer and no more audience. There’s no distinction anymore. We’re just listening and sitting in this seat of music.”
Divinity within N at u r e : L essons from a N epali V illage B y E m o ry H a l l P h oto g r a ph y b y E m o ry H a l l
The gift of a new perspective As I stood resting one afternoon on a cliff overlooking Samagaun, a village of the ethnically Buddhist Nubri people in Nepal, a local man stood beside me and told a story. He said that many years ago, an avalanche hit a monastery that is tucked away on the eastern side of Manaslu, killing all of the inhabitants. The avalanche had occurred shortly after a group of climbers attempted to summit the mountain, which was regarded as sacred. After the tragedy struck, the villagers quickly concluded that the mountain god, Kambung, had become angry at the endeavor to traverse the holy sanctuary and hurled the avalanche down in his fury. That was the story that was widely known and told around the village, serving as a reminder to locals and visitors alike to pay heed to the power of the mountains and their divine counterparts. Never had I heard of mountains spoken of in such a wayâ€”a way that wove them, and the entire natural world, into the fabric of the divine realm. My curiosity lead me deeper, and I soon came to understand that the mountains are, to those who lived beside them, the ethereal abodes of gods; the rivers are, to those who lived on their banks, the bodies of divine beings. All of nature, which is not separate from human beings, is filled with spiritual power and purpose. This fact, once internalized, dissolved the lines that I had previously drawn between the sacred and the profane, religion and daily life, humanity and nature. Many of us, especially those raised in the West, have been taught to perceive and understand the divine as something separate from ourselves. This fragmented perception of the world has all but annihilated our sense of wholeness and greatly depleted the presence of interdependent communities where human beings live in harmony with one another and with nature.
When I first stepped foot in the country of Nepal, I found people who had not only kept their relationship with nature intact but also revered this relationship daily through informal and formal ritual. What was a simple story told to me by a villager in Nepal sparked a personal journey of unwinding my own culturally structured worldview and of moving toward a more holistic understanding of the relationship between humans and nature. This is the true value of experiencing other cultures, for it is through travel that we lift open the windows of our ingrained perceptions and nurture new understandings and perspectives. To unlearn and to relearn is perhaps one of the greatest practices that traveling offers, because we become more compassionate, humble, and well-rounded in the process.
All of n atu re, whi ch i s n ot separate from h u man bei n gs, i s fi lled wi th spi ri tua l power an d pu rpose .
To unl ear n an d to relearn i s p er hap s one of th e greatest p rac tic es that traveli n g offers.
BY: d e s i b a rtl e tt
Jai Ma! The blessings of yoga during pregnancy s the mother of two beautiful, healthy boys, I am very thankful for the gift of yoga during both of my pregnancies. My first pregnancy was five years ago, and I had some complications. I was thirty-seven at the time and was told that because I was of “advanced maternal age,” I had some additional risk factors to consider. I was advised to slow down from my usual health-and-wellness routine and focus more on “gentler” activities. Yoga has been part of my life since I was a little girl, and I knew that the time for restorative poses, deep breathing, and mantra was at hand. I am not so great at sitting still, so walking meditation is a wonderful alternative. Each morning, I would set out with my headphones, listening to Girish singing “Ma.” “Ma” is the name for the divine feminine. It is also the root syllable for the word for mother in many of the world’s languages. “Ma” became the mantra that I would breathe in each morning. Most recently, during my second pregnancy, at forty-two years of age, I was told I had a “geriatric pregnancy.” The names for these pregnancies make me sound ancient. My soul might be ancient, but my body is youthful and vibrant, and this second pregnancy brought with it a tremendous amount of energy. I was able to enjoy a stronger vinyasa practice, and I taught pre- and post-natal yoga
until ten days before I gave birth. During the second pregnancy, I was able to sit still because I had removed the fight from the body. After a vigorous practice including forty squats (for the forty weeks of pregnancy), I was happy to sit still and meditate on the mantra “jai ma.” “Jai ma” means “victory to the mother.” Sometimes the translations of certain mantras sound a little odd, but for me, I really was feeling victorious. I felt strength bubbling up inside of me, allowing me to expand my family with love and excitement. My age was not a concern but rather an asset, because I was now able to trust myself as an experienced mom. I have a beautiful family, and I live with my husband and our two boys. I look at the strength that my yoga practice has given me, not just through asana (poses) but through meditation and mantra as well. I am feeling stronger and more alive than ever, and I am passionate about sharing this in my classes and my fitness, yoga, and dance DVDs. My dream is to empower women and share the sense of strength and joy that has been the gift of my practice. Jai ma!
Desi Bartlett, MS, CPT, is the star of seven health and fitness DVDs, including Prenatal Yoga and Yoga for Beginners. Desi lives and works in LA and offers weekly classes at Exhale. She is currently working on a prenatal fitness book.
Sinéad O’Connor Sinéad O’Connor 38
inspiration. Truth-teller. survivor. #boss. Interview: Maranda Pleasant
I think we’re all secretly in love with each other, but we don’t realize it.”
Maranda Pleasant: Do you realize how huge of an impact you’ve made on women globally? Sinéad O’Connor: I really don’t, actually. Usually, the people who think you’re a complete wanker are the only ones who ever say much. You usually wouldn’t know, because you’re used to being portrayed as something awful. MP: In my experience, women who are dedicated to telling the truth are generally attacked, pretty enthusiastically. You’ve gone ahead of the rest of us and been dedicated to the truth. Has it been hard walking ahead and telling the truth and calling shit like it is? SO: It’s not something that I really think about. I was just in the business of being me, and it never crossed my mind to be anything other than me, and I couldn’t understand what everybody’s problem was. Having said that, there’s no smoke without fire. I wouldn’t by a long shot claim to be a person that anyone should be influenced by necessarily. That’s not why I ever did anything. I’m just a human being, so I’m a bit of an asshole as well. Perhaps with the benefit of age, I might review certain decisions or certain things, but that has nothing to do with tearing up pictures of the pope—that’s a matter of pride. I think the object of my game is almost like a game of chess or a board game: my object is to get to the other side still being me despite all the temptation to be like another. So if you’re just being you and you’re not doing it for any reason, you wouldn’t be conscious of whether you’re influencing some people or not, because you weren’t meaning to be anything but yourself. MP: As a woman, I want you to know that you’ve made such a huge difference. The strength that you gave me, you offered me something else: that I could be strong and smart and outspoken as opposed to being solely appearance-oriented. And not only appearance—I didn’t have to be just this sweet, pretty, quiet thing, this patriarchal norm. Seane Corn came on this [Soulshine] tour with us, and she said, “If you have the opportunity to put that woman on any cover and get more words out of her, you do it.” I was just thinking, Here’s one of the strongest women I know. You’ve made a huge impact on all of us. I will stop with the gushing, but it’s important you know that. SO: That’s amazing. It’s really nice to hear, because really, genuinely, all you really ever hear is what a complete asshole you’ve been, so it’s really great to hear something nice. I’m glad you used the word “strength,” because that’s really what music is. You know what I mean? That’s what music can be. I think that’s why people love music so much—because it gives you strength. I’m glad that
PHOTOS: donal moloney
seems to be the thing that people, perhaps, pick up. MP: Once, when I had to make a hard call, my mom said, “Do you remember the time Sinéad O’Connor stood up and told the truth? This is what happens to women, and you still f—king get up and you tell the truth.” She said, “It’s not you, it’s them. Be scared to death, but tell the truth anyway.” You raised the bar for all the women in my family. SO: A person who’s a singer, it’s their nature to open up and be honest and direct about things even though the first step is being an asshole sometimes. We’re in the business of being emotionally honest, so it’s not something I actually deserve a medal for or anything; it’s simply in the nature of being a singer. It’s kind of verbal, emotional diarrhea. That’s what it really is. MP: I love that you said that: “We’re in the business of being emotionally honest.” SO: That’s what singers have to do, isn’t it? That’s why people like singers: they say everything. MP: How do you maintain your center in chaos? Is there a way that you ground yourself? SO: In which chaos? There’s all different chaoses—which one do you mean? MP: I don’t know about you, but sometimes my mind gets the better of me and I feel like it’s coming at me from all sides—my mind just won’t quiet. Is there a way that you quiet your mind or that you ground yourself? SO: Actually, I have some very good friends that all happen to be male. They are possibly the three best friends of mine that are men, and having conversations with them would be how I center myself. It’s kind of like having a man for every night of the week with different qualities for each one. I mean, there’s only three, unfortunately; I’m working on four more. [Laughs.] I’m lucky to have people very close to me who happen to love me for me. I have around me and working with me some brilliant fellows. Conversations with them and their attitudes toward things, their view of things would be something that centers me. MP: I’d love to have seven men. [Laughs.] To be a strong woman without that level of constant support, I think it would be impossible. Have you ever meditated? Do you have your own form of meditation? SO: I spent some years in training as a medium. We did a lot of visualized meditations, and I loved those. I love guided meditations, but I can’t do it unless there’s someone guiding me through it.
I was just in the business of being me, and it never crossed my mind to be anything other than me, and I couldn’t understand what everybody’s problem was.” MP: Did you realize then that you were ahead of your time? Just now we’re starting to have some of the conversations globally as women that you were having twenty years ago. SO: I suppose, in a way, I had the benefit of being Irish, and I suppose, in an Irish context, I was aware that I was not so much ahead of my time but that I was introducing conversations about a subject that was enormous and which was a great hot potato in that time period until myself and, I believe, Kurt Cobain and Roseanne Barr spoke publicly about child abuse. Until those times, anyone who was a victim or survivor of child abuse was interviewed in the shadows. So when people like us came along, people got very, very uncomfortable. That brought us so ahead of its time that we were the first people to be identifiable as survivors of something which people really didn’t want to hear about. So I knew that I was starting a conversation in Ireland, and that was important in an Irish context. Outside an Irish context, I didn’t really think about it, but I did see it as part of my calling as an Irish female Catholic survivor of child abuse that had been raised in the ’70s, and we all know what Ireland was like in the ’70s. MP: I’ve never acknowledged this publicly, but I pretty much had the shit beaten out of me the first fifteen years of my life, and sometimes I think the woman I am now and the rivers of compassion and the depth that I have probably come from that level of pain. Do you think that you were shaped in some way from that, that you transformed that pain into some way to help heal yourself and other people?
ge to me: a chan it represents g in nn That’s what gi be a t er and kind of it’s going to ge as a songwrit w I’d like to go tell you this, I’m d andard of ho an st SO: When I a ct fa ng l that, tti fu se in of pa a is is It’ . Th er s more on therapeutic. u, but I think as a songwrit d yo ar on rw it fo p m r. to du being a singe sorry to have at we want to almost, than really is is th e th in more what it en be e feel slightly user wrong. I’v your albums prove the ab in not guilty. It MP: Do all of here you are ing that I am w ov on pr d of se s te ba es na u io busin you compass different to yo e ak m , se ur does, of co r people, and your life? ic. You care fo d you and empathet an g, rin ffe su ned to a people’s was year, I’ve liste you care for the street that O: In the last in S ues, which er Bl ng o ra ag st ic a would hug hat’s called Ch have anyone t w n’ of ld t lo ou w t the sad u no s e yo ppy blues; it’ lt. But at crying becaus is a funky, ha wlin’ Wolf that you’ve fe Ho in d pa an of y pe Gu g y ty in dd feel the ore about prov uff. It’s like Bu m st . I went s at it’ th y, e da lik e I ople the end of th agic Sam, pe e things that M th d of ch I’m an e hi On w . y, rong repeat, whole journe the abuser w ing these through this ing up was to ch ow at gr w st do ju to of e , was mad g,” as I was ssed with still have to in se th ey ob no th ng am I hi yt g, probably “I am nothin studying ever ’s d at an th this k ys gh in gu ou th I up. en th s of ngwriting. Ev getting bashed in the busines quality of say about so e I’m th , so m e, bu m al h a blues stuck with ing. I can laug album is not l did for the re I’m not noth ing that we al rit proving that w I’m ng . so at e th d. th by d thank Go very influence about it now, being a cord has been rd in terms of , co ng re ki is in th th of r I’m g, de in ou lk pr ta re . you’ an any record MP: Even as still trying to songwriter th we as women g to in try How much are ill st re g over? e lovable? We’ you’re startin prove that we’r we’re not es it feel like at Do th : , P th M or w e have prove that w s ly, what it feel andonment. s of artistical worthy of ab songa SO: In term as ly, ite g over, defin w. You’re like is startin ly represents el that way no rfu cord definite t re ge SO: I don’t fe is u Th yo . n er whe writ t bu writer, and e, ng m so an a younger th l leave you. It a beginning as al e m es to do it for myself e, e lin now establish e jourther down th I would like to going along th writer, not ep ng ke u so a Yo . as es ex reer you really do real strong ca u as long as a yo ople. I’m e pe av r le he ill r ot ney, and it w myself but fo d thy a way as r al fo he st ju as in ht s rig now, an ings e things t about song press those th th. Often learning a lo el any of thos pa fe t at n’ th do n I w So u do inue possible. other side, yo le’s I want to cont u get out the siness is, peop now. When yo the music bu it you would ay sh w d you of e t an th lo an le a who at. n you’re a wom can laugh at u could laugh jaws drop whe It’s really a yo s. t ng gh so ou te th ro r you w have neve idered, tell them that ten not cons album, orld. You’re of w w an, ne ’s om an ur w m yo a t lk abou think if you’re this MP: Let’s ta is is cause people ss. What does Th be Bo s. e ng th so n I’m y, e your ow I’m Not Boss you don’t writ terms of my ent for you? ing for me in album repres really a beginn riter, a very w ng so a pre f as pes for mysel things that it y ho an m so e rwriter. SO: There ar e most impo capable song ere to pick on growth s resents. If I w it’ e, m r fo love reprerepresents ? What does tant thing it a great song: What is love as P w M e er Th . er as a songwrit . A lot of good sent for you? on this record band writing team d I ha a great . thing? er th ge to e define such a things cam John Reynolds How do you : ed O ud S g quickly? I cl in in th ch a hi answer such e drums u at the time, w th le yo as do w w hn Ho Jo e Hindu peop Kearns. ay an represents. Th and Graham visible itar. I don’t pl in know what it gu e an th by as ed w e all attach and Graham palways write say that we’r n’t see it. I su ell enough to e songs rd, but we ca instrument w ar co e al er lic Th bi s. um cord and song at to th — rts ve pa lo ic that is the mus f with guitar, seeing pose, for me, ten by mysel d that way of that I’ve writ these guys e tachment an at ith w at s th ng so . I think we’r so le al op e pe ar e ith er st w ju n but th r, but we the music. It our connectio n he te ot rit ch w ea ’ve ith t love w where they te some grea bond all secretly in at we all wro think it’s that so happens th ize it. Yeah, I th of this alal ng re re t st n’ e. e do se th n’t at was e us that we ca songs, and th would give m between all of writing. They e rit w d bum, the song an f of ic, and I’d go ther. a piece of mus put it all toge e’d w en th d lyrics an
A person who’s a singer, it’s their nature to open up and be honest and direct about things even though the first step is being an asshole sometimes.”
Changing the World . . . One Girl at a Time A photo diary by Sherry Sutton of the women and children of Surkhet, Nepal
When photographer Sherry Sutton first visited the BlinkNow website, she spent hours watching every video, reading every word, and sobbing at the stories of abandoned girls in Nepal. She was immediately moved to help and felt called to go to Nepal to document what was happening. Sherry reached out to BlinkNow founder Maggie Doyne, and a collaboration was born.
In March 2014, Sherry traveled eight thousand miles to visit Surkhet. There she saw socially vulnerable girls and women being empowered through education and job training that will lead to more self-sufficiency. The girls and women being helped by BlinkNow were inspired to pioneer their own ways to break the cycle of poverty and inequality for future generations. She also captured images of women and girls who were suffering in poverty on a daily basis. All of these women are beautiful, and all of their lives are meaningful. Her photo diary shows the beauty of the women of Nepal— those who are actively pushing the change through education and those who are still left behind. Prints from her trip are being sold to raise funds for the school and women’s center. Things are shifting in Nepal. Its vast cultural history of gender and socioeconomic inequality cannot change overnight, but it can change one girl at a time.
PHOTOS: SHERRY SUTTON
n Nepal, social distances are great, especially along caste and gender lines. The BlinkNow Foundation’s mission is to provide an education and a loving, caring home for orphaned, impoverished, and at-risk children. It also provides community outreach to reduce poverty, empower women, improve health, and encourage sustainability and social justice. The foundation fulfills its mission by providing financial support and management oversight to the Children’s Home and to Kopila Valley School in Surkhet, Nepal.
“All of these women are beautiful, and all of their lives are meaningful.”
Meet photographer Sherry Sutton (left) and BlinkNow founder Maggie Doyne (right).
laura king On love, communication, and growing the yoga community interview: maranda pleasant
“Stop valuing doing more. Take a nap. Rest. Kiss your loved ones. Enjoy this moment.”
Maranda Pleasant: What makes you come alive or inspires you? Laura King: My family. They are so accepting and patient with my crazy schedule, and they show me complete love and acceptance. They inspire me to share that same love and acceptance with others. MP: What makes you feel vulnerable? LK: I feel vulnerable when I open my heart up to others, but I’ve become accepting of that. We have to open ourselves up and get raw to create change in others and ourselves. MP: If you could say something to everyone on the planet, what would it be? LK: Stop valuing doing more. Take a nap. Rest. Kiss your loved ones. Enjoy this moment. MP: How do you handle emotional pain? LK: I’ve recently been working with my mentor on being open to all my emotions. Instead of wallowing, I ask myself where these feelings are coming from and what they’re really about. This helps me to communicate clearly to others and myself what I’m feeling in that moment. For me, it’s all about communication. MP: How do you keep your center in the middle of chaos? Do you have a daily routine? LK: My daily routine keeps me focused and grounded. No matter what insanity is thrown my way, I know that every day I’m going to wake up, meditate, do a little pranayama, wake my little girl up, and start my day. As
long as I can make time for myself, I know I’ll be fine. It is so important to take care of ourselves first so that we can be fully present with everyone else in our lives. MP: What’s been one of your biggest lessons so far in life? LK: Give up attachment to what you want things to be. I used to live my life completely attached to my vision of what perfection was. When I gave that up, I realized that everything is already perfect. That realization gave me so much freedom in my mind and my schedule!
MP: What truth do you know for sure? LK: We are all love. We are all peace. We are all divine. MP: What causes or organizations are you passionate about? LK: I’m passionate about creating positive change in the world. The past few years, I’ve been channeling my charitable efforts into projects supporting the end of child slavery and the sex trade. MP: Tell me about your latest projects. LK: I’m really excited about the ability to combine my previous corporate experience with my knowledge of the yoga industry. I’m currently consulting with new yoga studios on start-up practices. I love that I’m able to take all those years of knowledge and apply them to what I truly love. MP: Why are these important to you? LK: I want our yoga community to grow. Helping fledgling studios take flight means that there are more opportunities for us to create a larger community.
Laura King, RYT 500, RCYT, is the owner and director of training of North Texas Yoga. She first found yoga fifteen years ago after a debilitating accident left her body forever changed. Today she leads yoga classes, retreats, and teacher trainings in the US and beyond.
PHOTOs: SANDY FOSTER / YOGA BLISS PHOTO
Mother Earth Root Lessons in Love and Benevolence By Ric Scalzo The founder and CEO of Gaia Herbs talks about the connection between people, plants, and planet
’ve been an
organic farmer and herbalist for over thirty years, and one thing I know for certain is that the earth is a mother to us all. Gaia, the primordial earth goddess from Greek mythology, symbolizes the most potent and nurturing force of creation, which is the source of all that grows and enriches the planet. I named my company after this dynamic, sustaining principle with a true sense of reverence and awe for the abundance that she endlessly bestows day after day—whether we perceive it, acknowledge it, support it, or not—and without asking anything in return. This is the ultimate expression of motherhood: limitless giving. With this in mind, we must ask: How did life on earth get so sideways? Ayurveda, the age-old indigenous science of natural health from India, identifies pragya paradh as the root cause. Literally, the term means “mistake of the intellect”—or simply, forgetting who we truly are and, consequently, what role we’re meant to play in the larger scheme of things. Our bad environmental choices, made from a state of relative ignorance, create an endless cascade of undesirable consequences that feed the destructive and chaotic aspects of nature while overshadowing the productive side.
“This is the ultimate expression of motherhood: limitless giving.” The remedy, in my opinion, is found through “meetings and awakenings.” There’s an immutable symbiosis between people, plants, and planet. To participate in that relationship in a way that’s beneficial to all the Ps requires an ongoing process of meet-and-greet. We need real face-time with Gaia to get to know her, because how can you value, respect, and ultimately love something you don’t personally know or understand? Gaia has always shown up. Now it’s our turn to be present and meet the herb kingdom face to face, heart to heart. I’ve had the benefit of working the land, planting seeds, and then seeing the magic happen as seeds grow into sprouts, plants, fruits, and flowers, finally culminating in the seasonal harvest. At that point, it’s impossible to deny the miracle of life itself and the loving-kindness of Mother Nature. If everyone had this experience, their lives would be changed forever. That’s why we bring guests to the Gaia Herbs certified organic farm every summer to share the experience and open their eyes to what’s really going on here on planet earth, literally at the ground level!
A brilliant, award-winning slam poet, Dominique Ashaheed, visited the farm recently. It stirred up powerful memories of her grandfather, who introduced her to the mysteries of the soil when she was a little girl. “He taught me how to genuflect in a garden . . . We wore dirty knuckles and wide smiles,” she wrote during her visit in the touching poem/prayer, “How To Meet The Mother.” Here’s another excerpt that captures the flow of intelligence and healing between people, plants, and planet:
The super-terrestrial otherworldly algorithm of plant and people We can never be born enough Gaia you show us how to stretch our own skin To grow with intent To leap into our galloping want To recognize the nectar inside To use the raw material of possible Gaia we know to live more than one life How to aim for the air in our lungs How to distill every honey’d cell to star-shine How to pull the wind over our shoulders How to ride the night sky like children who have not forgotten their magic For my own coliseum heart let me grow up to be a yellow dahlia To dance the brush fire in my body To celebrate the wildlife in these bones Nothing that grows purposefully asks the sun why she shines or the petals that open and close Let me grow like that Let us grow like that Let the music of our own becoming be familiar Let us walk right up to the thing that can heal us Stretch out our hand and say Old Friend, it’s been a long time.
May we all learn to show up, celebrate, and cherish the bounty with which we’ve been blessed. Thank you, Mother. Amen!
What started as a small group of friends getting together for a photo shoot quickly evolved within days to thirty-eight yogis coming from multiple states to create the Tattooed Yoga Project. This special body of work is not about how many tattoos you have or where your tattoos are. This project is a combination of multiple art forms coming together to celebrate the beauty of life. This project has taken on a life of its own, growing and evolving in such a beautiful way. We will be exhibiting the Tattooed Yoga Project throughout the Philadelphia area August through October 2014. The goal is to take the project on the road.
By Joe Longo Photography
If you know a tribe of tattooed yogis in your city that would like to be part of the project, contact Joe Longo at email@example.com.
photos: Joe Longo Photography
Joe Longo Photography
THE TATTOOED YOGA PROJECT (continued)
Joe Longo Photography
THE TATTOOED YOGA PROJECT (continued)
Joe Longo Photography
THE TATTOOED YOGA PROJECT (continued)
Flip Your Switch Karmic Lessons from a Rocker Yogi B y Am y P u t n e y K o e n i g
â€œConsider your body and your presence a gift, like a loaner. It is not yours to think bad thoughts about or poison with drugs, booze, and negativity.â€?
“Be your awesome and fine and damn self.”
arrived at yoga and Alcoholics Anonymous via selfloathing, alcoholism, violence, and idiocy. I was trying to live tough and cool, yet really I was afraid of everything, especially love. (That is another story for later, though.) Here’s what I want you to know from my experience struggling in this world and searching for my place in it: what worked for me was to flip the switch from a life that was happening to me to a life I participate in and am of service to. Consider your body and your presence a gift, like a loaner. It is not yours to think bad thoughts about or poison with drugs, booze, and negativity. Your body is also not yours to engage in unhealthy relationships with. It is your temple, and your temple belongs to the universe, or Great Spirit, or God, or Divine Mother—whatever you choose to call it. Your job is to love and grow and shine. Think kindly about who you are. Try acceptance. Be your awesome and fine and damn self. Take
care of yourself, inside and out. Eat well, drink water, practice, stretch, open your heart. Do not poison your precious gift of life, spirit, and soul with doubt, fear, worry, judgment, or negative people. I take better care of borrowed stuff than my own because I am a crazy rock-’n’-roll artist type. If I am not mine to wreck and poison and be a dumbass to, that means I get to love myself and love you and inspire others to keep moving forward in what Ben Spellman of Good Vibes Yoga calls the revolution! Be yourself. Be amazing. Bring your best for others. Be a badass. The world needs you to be authentically you so you can help others do the same. My mantra is “Let yourself be loved.” I love you.
Amy Putney Koenig is an artist and a yoga teacher.
PHOTOS: JOE CRIMMINGS, MAKEUP: LINDSEY RITLAND
Readers’ Photos from Across the Globe Featuring the most creative photos sent in by our Mantra Yoga + Health community of yogis, meditators, and athletes
Cameron O’Steen: Lancaster, Calif. • Photo: Cameron O’Steen / Yogatography
Jen Warakomski: Lucca, Italy • Photo: Laura Casotti
Greg Wieting: San Francisco, Calif. • Photo: Cameron
Gwen Lawrence: Portchester, N.Y. • Photo: Stefan Radtke
O’Steen / Yogatography
Lyn Gerfin Kehoe: Ridgefield, Conn.
Amanda Bonfiglio: Florence, Ky. • Photo: Jenn Montibon
Lisa and Richard Ware
Send in your most creative high-res images to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Jacquie Falcone: Howell, N.J.
Bianca Rodriguez: Dallas, Tex. • Photo: Danielle Doby
Laura Sheppard: Dallas, Tex. • Photo: Danielle Doby
Kel Clement: Simi Valley, Calif. • Photo: Mitch Holloway
Sat Kriya Kaur: Troy, N.Y. • Photo: A. Hedges
Kim Stetz: New York, N.Y. • Photo: Robert Sturman
Bruce Sutherland: Pasadena, Calif. • Photo: Dennis J. Hare
Nancy Taylor: Marina del Rey, Calif. • Photo: Leila Brewster Photography
Natasja Payne: Cambridge, ON, Canada Joy Bernstein • Photo: Joy Bernstein / Curvy Yogi
Amy Leonard: Red Bank, N.J.
Readers’ Photos from Across the Globe
Melissa and Aidan Gall: Chicago, Ill. • Photo: Ewan Gall
Elizabeth Rowan: Atlanta, Ga. •
Leonie Vernassal and Heather Shoopman: Los Angeles, Calif.
Photo: Raftermen Photography
Silvia Mordini: Seattle, Wash. • Photo: Jacob Young
Peg Mulqueen: Washington, D.C. • Photo: Meghan Powell
Lissa and Johannes Dohl • Photo: Frank Dohl
Trina Curry • Photo: Genevieve Ruth Photography
Sage Annen: Dallas, Tex. • Photo: Danielle Doby
Miyuki Baker • Photo: Sandra ten Zijthoff
Norma Mejia Boccabella: Sleepy Hollow, N.Y.
Stacey Rosenberg: San Francisco, Calif • Photo: Wari Om
Susan Cole: Boise, Idaho
Lisa Ripa: Richmond Hill, Ga. • Photo: Caroline Ripa
Terry Wolverton: Los Angeles, Calif. • Photo: Yvonne M.
Stephanie Deleon: Escondido, Calif
Toyah Thomson and Alexandra Grimm: Dallas, Tex. • Photo: Danielle Doby
Cami Cote: Missoula, Mont. • Photo: Kathyrn Hayes
Vanessa Van Noy: Sea Bright, N.J. • Photo: Roman Hatori
Jennifer Pahl and Mark: Hood River, Oreg.