Mantra Yoga + Health: Issue 7

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mantra TEAM PUBLISHER / EDITOR-IN-CHIEF Maranda Pleasant

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EXECUTIVE Editor Karen Yin



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CREATIVE DIRECTOR Melody Tarver COPY EDITOR Ian Prichard Assistant Editor Ocean Pleasant CONTRIBUTING EDITOR Sarasvati Hewitt


NY Editors Sharon Pingitore Nancy Alder Yoga Philosophy Editor Bob Weisenberg

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Photographers Joe Longo Robert Sturman Drew Xeron



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EDITOR’S NOTE Two thousand and fifteen is our year. For those of us who now celebrate our strong bodies, who have found the strength to leave abusive relationships, who make peace with our scariest vulnerabilities, let’s celebrate ourselves and each other. For those with a heavy heart from the climate crisis, Keystone politics, and a general overwhelming feeling that things won’t change, your voice still matters. Now is not the time to be silent. Let’s not close our hearts and silently resign ourselves to old ways. Instead of more made-in-China crap, let’s teach new traditions of giving to humanitarian campaigns, artists for social good, and those in need.

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Let’s think bigger possibilities and less stuff. More love. More hot sex and self-care. We get to really shape this next year. Let’s create it together.


May we all lie in bed with our lovers, eat dark chocolate, drink champagne, and have the best winter season, like, ever.

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Maranda Pleasant Mantra Yoga + Health • ORIGIN Magazine • REAL Magazine • THRIVE Magazine Founder/Editor-in-Chief



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By Alberto Trujillo

Detoxification is probably the single most important daily process for maintaining or restoring health.

Daily Detoxification with a Traditional Native American Herbal Formula

Purify the body and place it back in balance Exposure to toxins is inevitable. There are toxins in the air, water, food, household cleaning products, and even the personalcare products we use to keep clean, or so we thought. According to a U.S. House of Representatives report, of the chemicals found in personal-care products, 884 are toxic and 784 cause acute toxicity. Over seventy-five thousand known toxic chemicals are registered with the EPA and CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention). The good news is that we are self-cleansing organisms. Nature gave us a system by which we can detoxify. Detoxification is a natural ongoing process the body uses to remove any chemical toxins that can harm it. It involves a system of organs that work together: the lungs, skin, kidneys, liver, colon, and circulatory system, which includes the lymphatic system. These organs are working continuously to gather and remove chemical waste and toxins faster than they accumulate so that we stay healthy. Detoxification is probFLORAHEALTH.COM



ably the single most important daily process for maintaining or restoring health. The Ojibwa Native Americans used a combination of eight herbs—burdock, sheep sorrel, Turkish rhubarb, slippery elm, blessed thistle, watercress, kelp, and red clover—to purify the body and place it back in balance. Let’s look at how this simple blend of eight herbs can support whole-body detoxification. Burdock, red clover, sheep sorrel, Turkish rhubarb, and watercress are all traditional blood purifiers and stimulate a mild diuretic effect so the body can flush out toxins and detoxify the kidneys. Bitter herbs like the blessed thistle, watercress, rhubarb, and burdock stimulate liver detoxification along with gallbladder and intestinal function to move food along and, ultimately, to move waste out of the body. Kelp and other soluble fiber, like the inulin from the burdock and mucilage from the slippery elm, act like sponges in the colon and absorb heavy metals along with toxins to remove them from the body.

As if that wasn’t amazing enough, blessed thistle, red clover, and burdock also help the skin detoxify by relaxing skin pores, which facilitates perspiration when we engage in any activity that creates circulation and deep breathing. So make sure you help along this important process of daily detoxification by engaging in meditation, yoga, and utilizing these eight herbs that have been used traditionally to support the detoxification process.

Alberto Trujillo, national educator, is part of Flora’s team of health experts. Flora manufactures and distributes premium health products prepared with botanicals from sustainable, organic farmlands. Its award-winning supplements blend traditional wisdom and modern science by incorporating full-spectrum plant constituents and utilizing certified organic, non-GMO, gluten-free, soy-free, and kosher materials whenever possible.



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Your Brain and Build New Pathways

How our brain functions is a mystery, even to scientists. This is very exciting and opens up many doors of possibility. One study on thinking said that ninety percent of our thoughts and perceptions are habitual and the same, day to day. Whew! That’s something to think on. We run the same old rackets every day, you know the ones: “I’m too stupid,” “I’m too old,” “I’m not good enough,” “I’m damaged,” “I must endure this,” “I’m unfixable.” Our people are plagued by depression, anxiety, and fear fueled by these hurtful thoughts. Fresh, creative problem-solving takes up a small part of our total thinking. Let’s do more of that! Discerning the Truth For many years, I suffered from epilepsy. I was given two choices: I could become dependent on Dilantin. (It made me clumsy and stupid and my life quality terrible.) Or I could have brain surgery to cut the dura (membrane) to separate the lobes. I was told there was no healing from epilepsy. I was told that brain cells could not regenerate. I refused to accept that. When I looked at the design of the human body and its brilliance, I couldn’t believe that the brain couldn’t regenerate. I began to quest for what would heal my brain. This was a long road of inquiry, success, and failure. Years later, science proved that building new neural pathways is possible. I’m free of seizures. I have more access to my brain and creativity than I’ve ever had.




I’ve learned to recognize when I light up my brain. It’s a joyous experience! Changing the Paradigm Dear reader, what do you accept as true but isn’t? I suggest you begin with the truth that you are enough. Be brave. Care enough to examine your habitual and self-mutilating thinking. If we change what we’re doing, we change our suffering. If we continue with the same behavior, we continue our suffering. If you drink alcohol when you’re depressed, you silence your inner problem-solver and, thus, can’t work your way out. The problem feels terminal, so you have another drink, lose hours to social media, smoke, or binge. These addictive patterns of numbing put us in a hopeless, depressed state. Grab hold of your life. Make it worth living. Stop pissing away the moments of your life with lousy coping mechanisms. Seven Ways to Retrain Your Brain (and Build New Neurological Pathways) Daily 1. Breathe deeply many times.

2. Choose differently.

3. Practice yoga.

4. Eat nutritious food.

5. Do things in a new way. Light up your brain

by brushing your teeth with your other hand, putting the other shoe on first, stepping into your pants with the other leg. These will feel weird; enjoy the novelty.

6. Do something that builds self-respect.

7. Breathe through the amygdalae. Part of the limbic system (the oldest part of the brain), the amygdalae are responsible for memoryprocessing, emotional reaction, holding on to old pain patterns, and decision-making based on these old patterns. Access the amygdalae by cradling the back and bottom of the skull with your hands. Lengthen the back of the neck and breathe into the back of the brain. Get friendly with your brain. After a few breaths, the amygdalae respond and relax. This helps them incorporate new and spacious patterns, replacing the ones that you keep getting stuck in. Build new life patterns that are supportive of the vibrant life you desire. I set my intent to light up my brain during yoga, then perceptions expand and change. This works. It’s fun and sexy to move out of entrenched ways of thinking and feeling. This builds self-respect. Freedom is exhilarating!

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. Her team is interested in collaborating with scientists to research and document brain use, regeneration, and changes.


By Ana T. Forrest

“Stop pissing away the moments of your life with lousy coping mechanisms.



“A lifetime of sugar consumption may damage collagen and elastin, the protein fibers within our skin that keep us looking more youthful.”

By Debra Rouse, ND

Aging and the Sugar Connection Must-dos for a more youthful glow For many Americans, the fast fix for a new facial wrinkle involves a trip to the dermatologist and an injection of Botox. For others, it’s about expensive facial cleansers, creams, and toners. We blame the sun, stress, and genetics, all of which do indeed contribute to the state of our complexion, but how often do we look at how much sugar we are eating? A study published in the British Journal of Dermatology says that a lifetime of sugar consumption may damage collagen and elastin, the protein fibers within our skin that keep us looking more youthful. When collagen and elastin become damaged, our skin loses its resilience and suppleness. This results in dryness, wrinkles, sagging, and loss of that lovely tone. The connection here is that sugar in the bloodstream attaches to proteins, forming what are called advanced glycation end products (AGEs). More sugar equals more AGEs; more AGEs leads to the damage we just described. AGEs also make us more vulnerable to sun damage.




We cannot undo the damage we did as kids, frying ourselves in the sun, but we can definitely take some proactive, preventive measures. Here is a short list of must-dos for a more youthful glow:

venting or reducing the wrinkle effect. Many dermatologists recommend lotions that contain vitamins C and E, green and white tea, and/or idebenone, a powerful manufactured antioxidant.

1. Add healthy fats to your weekly diet, and

4. Don’t overexfoliate. Exfoliation is great for

consider supplementing with ground flax, hemp, or chia. Omega-3 fatty acids, in particular, help decrease inflammation and can really show up in the hydration of your skin. They help defend against skin damage and may help boost the immune system.

2. Keep sugar intake to a minimum. Stick

to fresh fruits and vegetables when it comes to sugar, and steer clear of processed foods, especially processed sugars, including high fructose corn syrup.

3. Think of antioxidants when it comes

to your diet, internal and external. Green tea, along with a rainbow assortment of vegetables, will do the skin well. Vitamin C in foods, supplements, and facial creams has been shown to have a positive impact on pre-

improving the texture of skin, but if you do it more than once a week or every other week, you are at risk for stripping your skin of its own hydrating oils and drying it out.

5. Stay out of the sun during peak hours,

and keep your skin well hydrated and protected with sunscreen.

6. Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water throughout the day.

Debra Rouse, ND, is a mother of two daughters, researcher, writer, entrepreneur, problem solver, and healthy-lifestyle expert who empowers others to take charge of their health and discover their innate healing wisdom.

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“In a way, it’s the seeking and finding and sharing of beauty that motivates us to protect our earth and the magic it provides, both divinely crafted and human-made.

By Heidi Damata

Let Beauty Be Your Compass

Appreciating artistry without ignoring reality Finding your way as an artist can be like walking in the wilderness. There are so many trails to follow, so many peaks to conquer, and so many places to camp. Often, it’s an exhilarating quest, but at times, it can be exhausting and confusing. I’ve spent years trying to determine who I am as a creative being—performer, event designer, decorator, gallery owner, jewelry maker, painter, crafter, yoga teacher—attempting to find the one label I could slap on myself to make everything click. What I finally realized is that all of this exploration has been to celebrate the extraordinary world of form and color and texture, to connect with my version of beauty. A few years ago, I discovered Pinterest, a virtual feast for a visual junkie like me. I found it relevant and useful, a welcome alternative to the stacks of magazine clippings and congested bulletin boards in my studio. I quickly found myself transported into a world of beauty in its myriad forms, anything from amazingly executed yoga asanas to brilliant editorial fashion. When I began to accumulate followers, I felt the thrill of communicating imagery and having people “like” and share the things that spoke to me. After a while, however, I sometimes found myself getting frustrated that I would get dozens of “likes” and “repins” for a charming interior and hundreds for a gravity-defying yoga pose but close to none for the dangers posed by glyphosate in our food or the fracking of our land. Did my followers—or the Pinterest world at large—just want to see the pretty stuff? It triggered the underlying fear I’ve always had about residing, or even dabbling, in the world of beauty. How do we appreciate artistry without ignoring reality? For chasing beauty can become a trap. If we use it to avoid the gritty and difficult, if we no longer ask questions or strive to change what is wrong around us, it is no longer serving us. And we know what they say about “all that glitters”: it can be maya (illusion) and much of it is, in our strategically cropped and Photoshopped world. However, unwilling to give up my addiction to seeking beauty, I wondered, “Isn’t there a place for both? For beauty and reality?” I believe so. For me, looking at a photo of a dazzling sunset, an exquisite neckpiece, or a precious child’s face only inspires me to create more, to learn more, and to help more. And I’m certainly not alone. In a way, it’s the seeking and finding and sharing of beauty that motivates us to protect our earth and the magic it provides, both divinely crafted and human-made. On its highest level, beauty touches us in ways nothing else can; it fills our hearts and nourishes our souls. The appreciation of beauty is an essential part of our journey, yes, but its preservation should be our destination.

Heidi Damata is an artist, designer, and yogini living in Santa Monica, Calif., with her husband and son. ACOLORFULSOUL.COM



SAN FRANCISCO, calif. How do you stay fit?

Sonya Genel

Atosa Melody Babaoff

Stephanie Lucero

Yoga teacher

Yoga teacher

RYT 500

I take care of my body with a daily yoga practice in which I focus on alignment and strength. I take care of my mind and soul with daily meditation practice. But most important, I practice deep inner listening. I rest when I need to rest, I eat what is most nourishing, I forgive, and I love myself and others.

I stay fit by practicing yoga, walking everywhere in my awesome city, and going to dance class two to three times a week. I eat well and do not deprive myself. Also, I meditate regularly. The inner fitness is just as important to me as the outer!

I maintain my physical, mental, and spiritual health by doing activities that deepen my yoga practice and keep me in good shape. I teach and practice yoga daily. I also do meditation, dharma talks, and yoga trainings to improve my practice. I love to hike, walk, take spin classes, and bike around San Francisco.


Adam Lapierre Yoga instructor at Urban Flow Yoga I stay fit by observing a balanced and nutritious vegan diet (including plenty of chocolate), engaging in a vigorous asana practice six days a week, sitting quietly for some time every day, not taking myself too seriously, smiling and laughing a lot, and working to uplift those around me! ADAMLAPIERRE.COM


Saraswati Clere Yoga-studio founder and Yogawoman film producer Like most New Zealanders, I grew up surrounded by mountains and forests and loved any opportunity to be in nature. At a young age, I immersed myself in a yoga lifestyle. Nowadays, I own a yoga studio in Berkeley and spend as much time as I can exploring the wondrous beauty of Northern California. A perfect regimen. YOGAKULA.COM



The inner fitness is just as important to me as the outer! —ATOSA MELODY BABAOFF

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Love, to me, is seeing people as they are, without projections and idealization.”




Into healthy habits, buying organic, and food as medicine Maranda Pleasant: What makes you come most alive? Lexi Atkins: A lot of things. A good workout, eating a nutritious meal, getting lost in an amazing script, but I think that the one thing that tops it all would definitely have to be performing on a stage. I don’t get to as often as I used to, especially when I was younger and would compete nationally at dance competitions, but nothing makes me feel more alive than being on a stage, expressing myself in any way, shape, or form, be that dancing, singing, acting, or moving a crowd of people.

there, no matter how chaotic the situation. Just breathe, get still, and find your center. MP: What makes you feel vulnerable? LA: I feel most vulnerable whenever I let my guard down and put my trust in someone else. Truly trusting in someone else can be a scary feeling for me sometimes. MP: What issues or causes are you passionate about?

MP: If you could say something to everyone on the planet, what would it be? LA: “You’re not alone, be you, be kind, and love more.” MP: What’s your biggest passion or project right now? LA: I’ve always been very passionate about health and beauty. I am working with a certified all-organic skincare line called Zao. I have very sensitive skin, so makeup has always been very hard for me to wear. Zao has truly changed my view on makeup, and I’m so happy to now be representing such an amazing product. MP: What is love for you? LA: Love, to me, is seeing people as they are, without projections and idealization. Love is separation from our ego. It is truth, kindness, and acceptance. MP: How do you keep your center in the middle of chaos? LA: Meditation—my go-to for everything! Getting still and finding your center within yourself is essential. Our center is our home, and it’s always

LA: I feel strongly that every time I buy organic, I’m sending a message to farmers that the organic method is valuable and worth investing in. I believe that organic farms are better for the environment, better for the farm workers, and, in general, more nutrient-dense. Food is our medicine. As many leading nutritionists, holistic doctors, and I believe, food is the best way to prevent, treat, and even reverse illness. I am an ambassador for Essential Living Foods and am so happy to be working with them on helping supply superfoods for everyone! MP: What’s your health routine? How do you stay healthy and fit? LA: I’m always trying new healthy habits to add to my routine. Daily, I always try to fuel my body with good water and healthy food, make sure to get in some kind of workout or stretch, and make sure that I have time to myself to meditate. On a weekly basis, I always make sure to see my acupuncturist Robert Youngs to keep my body in alignment mentally, physically, and spiritually. Staying active combined with healthy eating habits is what keeps me healthy and fit. I also have cut out sugar, which has helped with my health immensely!




Hot Herbal Tea for Healthier Holidays

There is one simple thing that everyone can do to help reduce the negative impact of stress and strengthen immunity: sip a few cups of hot herbal tea every day!

Relieve stress, boost immunity, and become rejuvenated


ven with all the joy and merriment that the holidays bring, they can also come with a fair amount of stress. While coping with holiday stress may not seem like a big deal, it can have a pretty major impact on our overall health. Studies have shown that stress causes a host of health issues, such as decreased immunity, digestive trouble, and depression. Couple that with cold-and-flu season, and we might find ourselves sniffling our way through our holiday engagements with a bit less enjoyment than we’d hoped for. Luckily, there is one simple thing that everyone can do to help reduce the negative impact of stress and strengthen immunity: sip a few cups of hot herbal tea every day! It costs very little but has a big impact. When herbs are infused in hot water, their volatile oil content and medicinal constituents are released, allowing your body to absorb and utilize them quickly and effectively. In addition, the aroma of the steeped herbs has a soothing and restorative effect on your nervous system. As you inhale the steam with each sip, you are inducing an aromatherapeutic effect too. There are certain herbs which are particularly useful in reducing stress and increasing immunity, so make sure to choose herbal blends with chamomile, lavender, ginger, cardamom, and most especially an herb called “tulsi.” Tulsi has a deliciously rich flavor with hints of lemon balm and clove and is perfect




BY HOPI DARNELL for warming up on cold days. It is a fairly new herb in the West but has been used in India and parts of Asia for thousands of years. It is a variety of basil commonly known as “holy basil,” and while it is a cousin of culinary basil, it has many more applications. A nickname for it in India is Queen of Herbs; it is revered as a goddess in the form of a plant bestowed with healing powers. Modern research has confirmed many of tulsi’s healing benefits, and it has gained popularity for very noticeably and effectively reducing stress levels. It is classified as an adaptogen, meaning that it helps us to adapt to stress and actually reduces the negative impact that stress has on the body. Tulsi has also been shown to increase energy levels without stimulating the adrenals, and it

contains no caffeine or other stimulants. Its positive effect on energy is due to the adaptogenic properties, which nourish the nervous system, allowing it to produce the right balance of chemicals so energy is strong all day long and sleep is deeper and more restful at night. In addition, tulsi is a rich source of antioxidants and phytonutrients that strengthen digestion and immune-system function. We can all drink to that!

Hopi Darnell is a dedicated stay-at-home mom in Boulder, Colo., who occasionally takes time off to indulge her other passion: being an Ayurvedic wellness educator and herbalist. Before the birth of her four-year-old daughter, she spent seven years working for Organic India and as a private wellness consultant.

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of Dairy By Shushana Castle


nder scientific scrutiny, the support for the milk myth crumbles,” states scientist Dr. Amy Lanou. Dr. Justine Butler brings attention to the evidence from over three hundred scientific studies proving that cow’s milk is neither natural nor healthy. Dairy is directly linked to heart disease, diabetes, breast cancer, prostate cancer, osteoporosis, eczema, asthma, Crohn’s disease, colic, constipation, and teenage acne.

For starters, pus, the same kind that comes out of a zit, is allowed in our milk and dairy products. To make matters worse, feces is allowed by the USDA in our food, but that’s another subject. Pus is white blood cells fighting an infection. You might ask, why is pus (and blood) regular features in our food? The enormous physical demand placed on the modern dairy cow makes her susceptible to a range of ailments, including mastitis, or inflammation of the mammary glands, in which all or part of the udder suffers from infection. The generated pus is then passed into milk and other dairy products. Since pus cannot be boiled or removed, we consume it. Up to two million pus cells can be measured in one teaspoon of milk.

Studies worldwide have clearly found that milk does not do a body good.” RETHINKFOODBOOK.COM



Studies worldwide have clearly found that milk does not do a body good. Whether organic or free range, milk is usually laced with cells fighting infections, natural hormones, toxins, industrial pollutants, and artificial growth hormones. We should not be drinking milk or any dairy products for many reasons. Milk is produced only after a female gives birth, so why are we taking milk away from the mother? The food source is perfectly designed to feed the baby of that species. Cow milk does not belong to human babies. We actually lose the enzyme to digest milk at around the age of three, which is why most of us are lactose intolerant. We are the only mammal that continues to drink milk after we are weaned and from another species. Our blood becomes acidic from the consumption of milk and other dairy products (which include whey and casein), causing our pH balance to calibrate to our natural alkaline balance. Calcium is a neutralizer, and our body leeches calcium from our bones and then deposits it into our bloodstream in order to maintain the proper pH balance. Eventually, brittle bones result, which has been proven in every country which introduced dairy as a regular food by following the Western diet. Fortunately, we absorb calcium at a much greater rate from vegetables, legumes, fruits, and nuts, which provide us with a sufficient supply of calcium. There are enormous cultural and financial forces vested on the consumption of milk and animal products. Our health is in our hands, and we no longer need to be influenced by the massive bombardment of false advertising. According to the American Medical Association, eating fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts, and grains provides us with all of our calcium requirements for a healthy, strong body. The environmental reality of meat and dairy production also favors this outcome, which leads to much reduced levels of pollution, lower emissions, and even the opportunity to feed more people. Shushana Castle is coauthor of Rethink Food: 100+ Doctors Can’t Be Wrong and The Meaty Truth. She has produced and appeared on dozens of TV and radio shows, interviewing leading doctors and scientists. Before delving into health care, Shushana was a globally renowned fixed-income securities specialist for over twenty years and an equities specialist for five.

By Alina Z

What to Eat


The only advice you need to make the right food choice


ouldn’t it be wonderful if someone had all the answers to “What should I eat?” and “When should I eat it?” Well, someone does, and it is you!

Have you ever had a craving for, say, an orange after a workout, and then you began questioning your choice? “Do I really need it? Shouldn’t I have a power smoothie since fitness trainers suggest I eat something with protein? But wait, other fitness trainers say not to eat anything at all so my body can burn extra calories. Or is it the other way around—eat right away and then I will burn calories?” Ahhh!

If that sounds familiar, you are not the only one who has been bombarded with information on when and what to eat. Nutrition experts everywhere seem to have the answers, yet so many are conflicting. For example, while some promote raw vegan foods for their plethora of enzymes and vitamins, others may suggest you eat only cooked, macrobiotic meals that are rich in minerals and have anxiety-relieving grounding properties. While some recommend eating three big meals a day, others promote five to six mini meals.

“I encourage you to pause every time you reach for a meal and check in with yourself to see what you truly crave.” If you want to know the truth, then I suggest you stop listening to the voices outside of yourself and listen to the voice inside. It is like getting dressed in the morning. No fashion designer can tell you what to wear today. Really. How does he or she know your mood right now? Will the designer know if it is below freezing in your hometown today or if it is hot and humid? No. Great designers make suggestions, introduce you to new fashions, and inspire you to try different styles on. Then it is up to you to choose what to wear and when to wear it. With that in mind, I encourage you to pause every time you reach for a meal and check in with yourself to see what you truly crave. Your body doesn’t skip a beat, and I am confident that when supplied with real (organic, non-GMO) food, it can tell you what it wants to eat. I have seen amazing changes happen when people start questioning their physical cravings, and I encourage you to have more faith in yourself. For those struggling with addictions or health issues, it is of course best to seek one-on-one professional help before trying something new. And emotional cravings need to be addressed on an emotional level. Nevertheless, don’t disregard the infinite wisdom that you and your body possess.

Alina Z is a board-certified health coach and Couture Nutrition chef. Her approach to food is based on the idea that creating a healthy diet is like choosing the fashions that fill your closet: to fit well, your diet has to reflect your unique personality and lifestyle. ALINAZ.COM





How do you stay healthy? S e at t l e , Wa s h .







“I stay healthy by staying connected to the energy of my heart.” —NATALIE CIELLE

Ki McGraw Codirector of Hatha Yoga Center (Seattle and Bali)


Jackie Elliott Owner of Jackies Yoga Seattle


I stay healthy by following the sage advice I learned in graduate school. In my doctoral program in healtheology, I came across “Dr. W. Safe.” This stands for “diet” (vegan), “rest” (conscious), “water,” “sunshine,” “attitude” (through meditation), “fresh air” (pranayama), and “exercise” (yoga asana). I stay sourced and resourced for all who grace our Hatha Yoga Center and its trainings.

My personal yoga practice, taking and teaching yoga classes full time, keeps me thriving. I love food; luckily, that much yoga really tunes you in to what makes you feel good, so I crave healthy, happy foods. My regular yoga/meditation practice, daily a.m. lemon/ ginger tea, tongue scraping, a gallon of water a day, and regular sleep are key in keeping my yoga glow.



Natalie Cielle Yoga teacher and cofounder of Yoga Behind Bars


I stay healthy by staying connected to the energy of my heart. It’s incredibly simple but not easy! When I eat pure food, choose honest thoughts, cultivate beautiful feelings, and connect with inspiring people, it makes the job easier. But no matter what I do externally, my heart only stays open with consistent awareness and regular spirit practice. NATALIECIELLE.COM | PHOTO: MAX ELMAN



Chiara Guerrieri Yoga and SoulMat teacher and wellness entrepreneur


For me, being healthy means practicing self-care. I practice yoga in studio classes at least three times a week plus daily home practice and work out with a trainer once a week for cross-training. Each Monday, I juice-fast to detox and reset my body. To slow down, I find stillness through meditation and occasionally indulge in a massage or facial. SHEFAYOGA.COM PHOTO: MARK MUNDEN / BB2 FILMS


I’m a fast mover with a big appetite for life. I stick to routines during times of high productivity, then break free with retreats and travel. Every day, I pause on my cushion, allowing my soul to catch up; I move in ways that feel good to my body. I’m good at asking for help, and I’ve never owned a TV. CHIARAYOGA.COM PHOTO: SACRED LIFE PHOTOGRAPHY

Leah Zaccaria Shefayoga Roosevelt and Hauteyoga Queen Anne owner/teacher

Bob Smith Codirector of Hatha Yoga Center (Seattle and Bali)


I stay healthy by living a life in which, each day, I practice yoga, meditation, prayer, teaching, interfacing with life, and interacting with loved ones. Each day is dedicated to a higher power. One day looks quite a lot like the next day in that each day calls for a full focus of attention on body, mind, heart, and soul. HATHAYOGACENTER.COM








Puja Boyd Hauteyoga Queen Anne yoga instructor

Like yoga itself, health is a connection to wholeness, inside and out. I stay healthy by acknowledging that many things offer completeness, including food, exercise, work, and connecting fully to awareness, moment to moment. I get outside, going on adventures with my dog and letting my body and practice be a conduit to the beauty of the world around me. PUJA-YOGA.COM | PHOTO: MARK MUNDEN / BB2 FILMS

Lance Westendarp Yoga teacher, naturopathic doctor, and LAc candidate


I eat fresh food and move my body every day. Most importantly, I make sure that for at least ten to twenty minutes, I allow time for complete stillness. In such a fast-paced world, that little bit of space gives me time to evaluate my attachments and make the changes necessary to show up to the world with greater integrity.


Sonia Weirich Viniyoga teacher

Allowing energy to freely flow in each moment is essential to staying healthy. For example, throughout my life, I have suppressed or dramatized anger. In feeling contemplation of my guru, I am discovering that if I release mind, tune in to breath and body, the quality of anger goes away, and there is a sense of well-being as energy flows freely. ONETOONEYOGA.ORG | PHOTO: BLANK ART STUDIOS


Marni Yamada


I stay healthy by moving my body every single day. Allowing my body to move, sweat, and get challenged is such a good way to feel alive. Drinking a few glasses of water each morning before anything else, eating at regular times, and adding in tons of organic goodness. Also, quiet time and meditation help with my sanity. NWDOULAS.COM

Silvia Mordini Happiness coach, yoga-teacher trainer, and healer


I wake up every day and meditate. I practice gratitude and set my daily intention. I am fortunate to hug and share laughter with the love of my life. Research shows that hugging, kissing, and laughing are excellent ways to stay healthy, with benefits including lower resting heart rate, blood pressure, and cortisol (the stress hormone). SILVIAMORDINI.COM PHOTO: MARK MUNDEN / BB2 FILMS

Leah Adams Yin-yang yoga teacher


Mornings start with Ayurvedic self-care to set the tone for making healthy choices throughout the day. My routine often includes drinking warm lemon water, applying Ayurvedic oils, practicing yin yoga, then meditating. I believe that the prescription for health is ever-changing, so my wellness practices are inspired by the rhythms of the seasons, my teachers, and tuning in to my body’s signals. SOMAYINYOGA.COM | PHOTO: STEPHEN BUSKEN





What are you excited about?

3 Bee Bosnak


1 2 34

Yoga teacher, meditation guide, and Reiki healer New York, N.Y.

The art of manifesting really gets me excited. For me, manifesting is the process of my conscious creation. It is the creation of the reality I live in by applying the universal law of attraction, which means that what I first create inside my mind will eventually become an outward reality. To practice manifesting, I use will, focus, and intent. BEEBOSNAK.COM PHOTO: NOELLE SOROKA



Travis Eliot

Alexandria Crow

Ryanne Cunningham

Yoga instructor and kirtan artist Santa Monica, Calif.

Yoga teacher and teacher trainer Venice, Calif.

Yoga instructor and owner of Flow Yoga Studio De Pere, Wisc.

I am very excited about music. Ever since I discovered yoga, I’ve been a huge fan of bhakti yoga and kirtan. I’ve always envisioned making an album that combined the power of mantra with the energy of “stadium rock ’n’ roll.” It’s been such an epic journey making The Meaning of Soul, and I can’t wait to share it with the world!

Right now, I’m excited by learning and trying new things as a way to keep myself present. Learning new things forces concentration, which brings me into the moment. The world is so full of things to learn and experience. I am driven by knowledge and understanding, and trying new things keeps me growing and engaged with life and all its wonders.



I am excited about helping all my students to take their individual yoga practices to the next level, whether they are beginners, experienced yogis, or accomplished athletes. I truly love finding out what my clients want to improve upon and then helping them on their journey. FLOWYOGA-STUDIO.COM PHOTO: GEOFFREY COOK / THE COOK PHOTOGRAPH COMPANY




By Kelly Morris


What matters in the end

Yoga is meant to heal you, not become another way you hate yourself while calling it self-care. ndorphins from pumping music, fast-paced asanas, and artificially heated rooms are not necessarily “yoga.” I should know. According to The New York Times, I was the first yoga teacher to dispense with sitar music in class and bust out with Average White Band, Gary Glitter, and Run-D.M.C. Twenty years ago, Russell Simmons made me these awesome rap CDs to play in class, and there was even a velvet rope. People cried when they didn’t get in. I made class hard, stacking pose after pose on one side, happy to cater to the student who wants to know exactly how long it will take to look great in her Malia Mills swimsuit. I was dangerous and often mean, but, oh, how very fun and ego-enhancing it was. I must be awesome. I mean, the hundred people in the room proves it, no? Like, how big is the narcissistic wound, anyway? Is it a nightclub? A bird? A plane? Kelly’s good ole days? Is that a disco ball I see?

Yoga as arcane Olympian feats of flesh is fun. But at the end of your life, you will wish you had made fast friends with your precious breath, the one leaving you now. You will wish you had sat silently and patiently day in and day out, being absorbed into the cosmos, so that when you actually are absorbed into it on your deathbed, you’re psyched instead of crapping your pants with fear. You will wish you had not been so caught up in what you look like in a pose, especially as you watch your body grow old, and the decay becomes more and more alarming. You will wish you had discovered who you really are and what you are really doing here. You will wish you had listened to your elders and not made your yoga your vanity and your chain.

Happily, I am a changing thing. I learned a thing or two, usually the hard way. Soreness does not comport with yoga. If you hear yourself say, “I was so sore after that yoga class,” know that the opposite of yoga happened. Yoga is meant to heal you, not become another way you hate yourself while calling it self-care as you pursue, pursue, pursue the latest and greatest Gordian Knot, like the Triple Axel Crow Twist, and make it your bitch. Don’t forget to document all of it on Instagram. It didn’t happen unless it happens there, right? Get your social-media shit together already. Yoga was never meant to “get you in shape.” There are gyms for that. I belong to the Y in Brooklyn. Let’s work out together and wear ’80s spandex we suss out on eBay. KELLYMORRIS.COM | CONQUERINGLIONYOGA.COM



Sit. Come into yourself. All is waiting for you. Everything you ever wanted is right inside you. Sit.

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

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Yoga against Domestic Violence By Eleonora Rachele Zampatti hink about what it means to wake up every day holding your breath, petrified, too scared to get out of bed because you do not know what is going to happen to you if you say or do something “wrong.” Imagine what it means to lose your voice, constantly hoping to disappear, become a shadow. You feel like a thin, invisible reflection of yourself. This is who I once was. I was lost in the darkness of an abusive relationship, blinded by the fear of being myself, because somebody convinced me I was horrible. I was constantly pretending that everything was OK, holding on to the idea of a picture-perfect life in order not to disappoint my family or my friends. I depended on a future to save me, when what I really needed was to change my present reality. I refused to admit that I was living in a nightmare. I thought I was not abused enough to complain until one day, one fight too late, I realized that there was no coming back anymore, that something needed to be changed or I would soon be dead. I survived the physical abuses, but a part of my soul died that day. It took me a long time to recover, to find the strength to smile again or simply the desire to get out of bed in the morning. I was carrying an endless sadness inside, and I could not live my life anymore. I left my family, my home, and my country to escape the pain and memories. When I arrived in the USA, I was a lost soul with a broken heart, and I struggled in silence, too ashamed not only to talk about my past but also to think about it. I pretended it never happened. I never mentioned it in order to forget. More than anything, I wanted to avoid judgment. I kept choosing partners who would hurt me, physically and mentally, because I did not think I deserved to be loved. I was miserable and scared. I was trying to convince myself that I was OK. I at-




tended a dance academy and started to work as a personal trainer. One day, I ended up in a vinyasa yoga class and something changed. I started to feel the need to go back to that class over and over again, and the physical benefits turned into emotional relief. Through the movements of my body, I started to establish a relationship with myself and I heard the voice of my soul. Eleonora the warrior allowed Eleonora the vulnerable to start talking. Soon, the two started to dance together. I entered a deep conversation with myself. Tears started to flow, and I allowed them to just fall. I had started my journey of forgiveness. My mat became my sanctuary and still is. My pain became my compassionate teacher, and I understood that if my practice is my sanctuary, then my body is my temple and my broken heart is the core of my strength. I understood that your physical practice has a lot to do with how you react when you fall, when you cannot get into the pose you want, when everything hurts, and when you have to deal with your limitations. Acceptance. Patience. Compassion. Breathing. Trying. Believing in yourself. These are the things that lead you into any asana. These are the things that lead you through anything in life. Today, I’m lucky enough to teach yoga for a living, to connect with a lot of students, to flow with them, and to share my story with them. Yoga helped me connect to my feminine power and accept, even embrace, the fragile part of me. I became aware of my dark side, and I was challenged to step into the light. From this vulnerable place, I teach and practice according to the moon cycle: the cycle of darkness and light, life and death, strength and surrender. I am committed to teach my students that yoga is much more than just asanas. I encourage them to recognize their strengths and overcome their fears and weaknesses. To let go of anything that is hurting them in their bodies and souls.

Because of my past, my teaching slowly moved into the need to use yoga to bring awareness to a topic that too often is kept in silence: domestic violence. This was the inception of the Ode to the Moon yoga series. I wanted people to have a place where they can feel safe and truly understand what it means to be vulnerable. A place free of judgments where we can all practice together and support each other with love and compassion. I have discovered that live music was vital in getting this feeling across, so I started to add live acoustic music during class. Music evokes connections with people, and when properly combined with the movements, the breath allowed us to really purge and let go of unnecessary attachments. The healing power of yoga taught me what it means to be loved, what it means to love, and, especially, that in your deepest darkness, you can find your real light. I’m no longer holding my breath. I enjoy every inhale and every exhale, every single moment on and off my mat. Yoga helped me realize that violence is never justified, silence is not the answer, and fear can only control you if you let it. I am practicing today as if my heart has never been broken, rising above all the fears and insecurities. I want to share this light with all of those that are still living under the overbearing shadow of an abusive relationship. It’s in your heart where you hold all the answers to your questions. You just have to find the courage to look right into it and not be scared of its beautiful light, not be scared to rewrite your story.

Eleonora Rachele Zampatti, a native of Milan, is a full-time yoga teacher in Monmouth County, N.J. She teaches Pilates, yoga, dance, and strength training. Using her passion for yoga and music, she created a series of fundraising events called Ode to the Moon to bring awareness to domestic violence.


I am practicing today as if my heart has never been broken, rising above all the fears and insecurities.



Transits Moving from Loss to Love By Mia Togo


ine years ago, my mother had a massive stroke and went into a coma. As I sat by her side, it became clear she was not waking up. My family and I had to make the painful decision to take her off feeding tubes, the most heart-wrenching experience I’ve had to face. It’s a slow death that gave me time to say goodbye but suspended me with the inner conflict of letting go of the person who gave me life.

Letting go is something I practice as a yogi and yoga teacher. When I was faced with this pain, I had to really grapple with what that means on a whole other level. I wasn’t just saying goodbye to my mom, it felt like I was saying goodbye to the one person who would be there for me no matter what, who would not judge me, who would love me unconditionally. I knew that I would have to learn to do this more honestly with myself. I wanted to understand how I judged myself so harshly and how I take that judgment into my life and block love and connection. Be careful of what you ask for; the universe will provide. A year later, my beloved dog got kidney failure and went through a painful decline in his health. I held him in my arms as he transitioned, and all I could feel was profound sadness and pure love. Everything fell away as I fell on my knees in grief and in gratitude for what had he taught me. As my life got back on track, I was derailed by the loss of my other dog. As I sat in this grief again, I realized that tomorrow is not promised and the only thing that was real was that moment. It was no longer a concept in a book; every fiber of my being felt it. What I also felt was that parts of my life had fallen asleep and my unhappiness





I realized that tomorrow is not promised and the only thing that was real was that moment. could no longer hide behind the busyness of my life. All my defenses were down. And it felt like do or die. A few months later, I left my marriage and disrupted the balance of my life, and that tipped me upside down. It hurt, but I knew I had to throw a stick of metaphorical dynamite into my life. As the pieces began to fall into place, I felt like the puzzle of my life began to have a clearer meaning. My teacher and mentor of fifteen years, the brilliant Mona Miller, was helping me and my ex-husband sort through the pain and loss we were both experiencing. I remember the call I got on Monday morning, letting me know Mona was killed in a car accident. I felt disbelief, and when I finally could comprehend what happened, I felt like my insides had been ripped out. I was in such a vulnerable place, and she held the mother energy that I was missing. I felt abandoned and so alone. Shortly after that, I ended up in the hospital with a kidney infection; my adrenals were flooded with fear and anxiety. I knew that this was a tipping point, and I had no choice for a couple of weeks but to be still—and heal. I had to sit in the grief, feel the pain, and allow myself time to be completely vulnerable. I

felt naked, scared, and stripped away of all my defenses and walls. I broke down, and I broke through my resistance to letting go, and in some weird way, I no longer felt broken but completely whole. There was a profound awakening to be present, to not squander my time, and to step up fully in my life.

The journey out of this dark hole made a radical shift in my path. I was able to make it out by reaching for the light and owning it like I had never done before. Mona used to say, “Find what you struggle with the most, understand it, love it, heal it, and you will find your gift and purpose in this life.” I now know my gift is to stand in my light, share it freely, and create a space for others to explore their challenges and own their brilliance. We are all meant to shine, and sometimes, it takes the dark night of the soul to remember our dreams and have the courage to step into the mystery of the unknown.

Mia Togo is a certified yoga instructor and certified life coach with a degree in psychology from UCLA. Formerly a professional dancer, she is currently a YogaWorks teacher trainer and mentor and has led classes at festivals such as Wanderlust.

Dating down

“Right now is the time to be sisters, to find value in each other, to celebrate each other, to really find our success with each other, and to be compassionate and patient with the men.

A conversation between Maranda Pleasant and her therapist, Debra Silverman, international author, astrologist, and psychologist. Maranda Pleasant: Why do conscious women get with men that are not our equals? In my last relationship, he always said, “I’m your plus-one.” One of my therapists said, “Dating is like a big table, and you bring the buffet, everything you can offer. They come, they feast on your social networks, your success, your creativity, your light energy, and they have nothing to bring but an empty plate.” So women, do you have to heal this low self-esteem or have a higher standard for men? What is this epidemic with women consistently dating beneath them? Debra Silverman: It’s an epidemic, without a question. Every day in my practice, I see the same thing. There was a time when men had all the power; women were told whom to marry and they were told they couldn’t work or be creative or put their name on anything. Well, the pendulum has swung the other way. Women now have the power, have the freedom, have the choice, have the creativity, have all the energy. The men, on the other hand, they’re feeling less than, inadequate, they can’t keep up, they can’t figure out why we need them, and secretly, we don’t. So there’s this huge pendulum swing from a time in history, when it was all about him, to herstory, where now it’s all about us. Look at the yoga classes, look at your magazine, look at every spiritual teacher. It’s like 10:1 women to men, and that’s a good thing. However, we must be very careDEBRASILVERMANASTROLOGY.COM


Debra Silverman

Interview: Maranda Pleasant


ful as women not to judge the men the way the men judge us. We were oppressed because we were less than. We must not give away our power just because the old story was that we were supposed to. Right now is the time to be sisters, to find value in each other, to celebrate each other, to really find our success with each other, and to be compassionate and patient with the men. Do not sacrifice your standard, but do not judge them. If you heard women talking about men right now, everywhere I go, they say the same thing: they can’t make decisions, they can’t commit, they don’t have the success, they don’t have the drive. It’s all true. But unless you can be patient and stand as an independent woman without being needy and without being judgmental and without playing out the old archetype, we’re not going to be able to create a new structure. We’ve never been at a more awkward time historically as far as men and women. It’s very exciting, but it’s up to the woman right now to stand still, hold her boundaries, not play the old story out, and believe and trust that men are coming and they’re going to rise up to be our equals.

Debra Silverman has a bachelor’s in psychology and dance from York University and a master’s in clinical psychology from Antioch University. Debra has developed a unique psychological-spiritual model combining her expertise in esoteric (soul-centered) astrology with her background in psychology to help those going through major life changes and crises.

Interview: Maranda Pleasant

People will disappoint you. Forgive them anyway.

MP: How do you handle emotional pain?

MC: I have some wonderful friends who have helped me through a lot. MP: How do you keep your center in the middle of chaos? MC: Traveling always helps me see things more clearly. Our shooting schedule is intense, so when we have time off, I usually try to get on a plane. A walk outside always calms me down too. MP: Do you have a daily routine?

Michaela Conlin Ending every day with laughter Maranda Pleasant: What makes you come alive or inspires you? Michaela Conlin: Seeing a great play, dancing to good music, talking with dear friends. MP: What makes you feel vulnerable? MC: Loving someone. And answering these questions! MP: If you could say something to everyone on the planet, what would it be? MC: Be kind. Laugh more. Forgive people.

MC: Exercise definitely keeps me sane, so I do it whenever I can. I also like to watch a few minutes of something funny on television before I go to bed. I like to laugh before I fall asleep. MP: What’s been one of your biggest lessons so far in life? MC: People will disappoint you. Forgive them anyway. MP: What truth do you know for sure? MC: The path is not straight. MP: What causes or organizations are you passionate about? MC: Kiva, UNICEF, and Remote Area Medical. MP: Tell me about your yoga practice. What influence has it had on your life? MC: I’ve been taking classes for years, but every time I get on the mat, I learn something new. We hold on to so much in our bodies. Yoga helps you let go of things, and it’s incredibly grounding. MP: Tell me about your latest projects. MC: I’m currently halfway through shooting the tenth season of Bones. I also recently finished a film called The Disappointments Room, out next September.

Michaela Conlin plays Angela Montenegro on the Fox series Bones. Her film credits include The Lincoln Lawyer and Baby, Baby, Baby. She is a graduate of NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts.



Sacred Sexuality a n d t h e D a r k G o d d e ss Reclaiming our power


By Sianna Sherman

I grew up Catholic. In the first two decades of my life, no one ever mentioned the Black Madonna. I knew of the Virgin Mary, who never had sex and raised the son of God. I loved her fully. I still love her, but I never knew the power of sacred sex through her. In fact, it was the opposite. I denied my sexuality, tortured my body with ridiculous dietary fads, and even learned to hate my sexual nature. It wasn’t until my early twenties when I began my gypsy travels throughout Europe that I came across a hidden form of the Mother called “The Black Madonna.” I fell in love with her at first sight. The Black Madonna is a face of the goddess with dark skin and black features. She is cryptic, sensual, alluring, and ever mysterious. She is blackened through paint, fire, and other ways unknown. There are 450 to 500 forms of her in Europe alone and more throughout the world. I go on regular pilgrimages to the Black Madonna, and every time is a revolutionary experience in which something seems to break open inside of me. The last time I was with her was in Einsiedeln, Switzerland, where she is associated with midnight-black ravens and intense transformation. I fell into a series of dreams where I was standing in front of my own head, which had been cut off, with my tongue sticking out at me—very Kali-esque and gruesome, yet somehow I couldn’t turn away.


dark. Radical freedom and true expression are her mottos. Her sheer presence cuts off the false ego and heals us with the elixir of our own sexy nature and the real power of love itself. Her magnetic dark force pulls us into the earth, into our roots, and into our lower chakras as sexual, instinctual beings. She is a profound embodiment of the sacred feminine and sacred sexuality. The dark goddess asks us if there is any place in our life where our body and spirit feel separate. Many of the religious imprints in our psyche separate our sexuality from spirit and divorce us from our rhythms of Eros. Women have been demonized for their sensuality and cast aside as prostitutes or harlots when in their sexual sovereignty. The Black Madonna seeks to heal this split within our psyche and demands our bravery as we face our own fears of inadequacy, low self-esteem, and distorted body image. We can learn to call on the power of the dark goddess within to heal the painful split from our sexual nature and reclaim our bodies as the chalice of Spirit. We are all sexy, sacred, and sensual beings.

Sianna Sherman is a global yoga teacher, a storyteller, and the visionary of Mythic Yoga Flow, dedicated to mythic consciousness and the art of yoga.

This archetypal goddess calls us into the darkness and asks us not to be deceived by looking for the light separate from the



“ W e a r e a l l s e x y, s a c r e d, a n d s e n s u a l b e i n gs .�

By Suzanna McGee

“Looking fit from the outside is fine, but work actively on being healthy from the inside.

Simple Nutrition

fo r Maximu m Hea lth a nd Ath l etic Perfo rma nce taying healthy and fit appears to be more complicated than it should be. Even though there are many factors involved, not many people understand the power of food in healing and performance. Most people don’t realize how important food choices are for their health even though they know that health is critical to performance. They don’t correlate what they eat to how sick they have become and that, with better decisions, they would thrive in health and energy. We are lucky to live in this civilization of knowledge and information, because we have the luxury of knowing the leading causes of death. We have to use this information wisely and proactively work on preventing heart disease or other chronic diseases. The easy way to do this is through nutrition, because you have total control over what you put in your body. Don’t rely on the excellent hands of surgeons to get you out of trouble later in life; rather, take the responsibility into your hands now and turn toward plant-based whole foods nutrition. Looking fit from the outside is fine, but work actively on being healthy from the inside. Taking care of your cardiovascular system should be your number-one priority. Without a strong and healthy heart, your life and athletic prowess get complicated. You may keep living, but the quality of your life will not be the same. You never will reach your maximum athletic potential and enjoyment of life. TENNISFITNESSLOVE.COM



Research suggests that approximately seventy percent of deaths in North America and about sixty-five percent in the entire world are directly connected to lifestyles, including food that we eat. Experts estimate that almost all diseases are entirely preventable by diet and lifestyle changes—up to ninety percent for type 2 diabetes, over eighty percent for heart disease, and at least sixty percent for cancers. People who already have the disease might be able to stop it or even reverse it by eating less and excluding all processed foods. Eat simple. Go back to basics and eat how our grandparents used to eat. Avoid all processed and nutritionally empty foods. Eat fresh, raw, organic fruits and vegetables as much as you can. Add some nuts and seeds and possibly even some grains, preferably sprouted rather than cooked. Make freshly squeezed juices or delicious smoothies from organic produce daily; they deliver tremendous amounts of nutrients to your body, which may be undernourished from all the processed foods. Snack on fresh fruits. When you eat simple, your life is going to be much simpler, and you will preserve your health for a long time.

Suzanna McGee, a former bodybuilding champion, is a competitive tennis player, athletic fitness trainer, and writer. Suzanna is certified by the National Academy of Sports Medicine as a Performance Enhancement Specialist and Corrective Exercise Specialist. She has two master’s degrees and speaks six languages.

B Y J O H N L E W I S , t he B A D A S S V E G A N

SHAKE SHIT UP! How to Find Happiness


We have to get to an uncomfortable place in order to progress,

because if we don’t, we will always stay in the same place.” know, I know. The first thing that popped into your head was “What language!,” but it seems that smiling in your face and patting you on the back is not working. So we are going to try a new tactic. We are going to be real. No more sugar-coating the truth only to make you feel comfortable. We have to get to an uncomfortable place in order to progress, because if we don’t, we will always stay in the same place.

It’s an internal need to sometimes go against the grain and do things that are not normal. Let’s be honest. Just because something is “normal” doesn’t make it right. We get so stuck in our normal day-to-day actions that we forget to do one major action: live a fulfilling life! Sure, you may have your nine-to-five, and you have your social-media connections, and, oh, let’s not forget your book club (that you actually hate but your friend dragged you to). But come on, is that living? I’ll wait for you to ponder that. OK, so after some ponderation (yes, I just made that word up), I am sure you have concluded that there is more to life than what you have been doing over and over like a broken record. Now, am I saying for you to quit your job, get rid of your social-media pages, or get rid of your friend who drug you to that book club? No. Well, not yet, at least. This is where f——g shit up happens. Your mentality has to totally change! You have to break free of the mental restraints that have been placed on you over the years. I know the first thing you thought: “I don’t have any mental restraints.” And that is the beauty of brainwashing; those that have been brainwashed don’t even

know it’s happened to them. We have all been brainwashed in some form or fashion—what foods to eat, what the best career is, who to love (race, gender, religion, etc.). It’s time to go against the grain and look for happiness. Sure, you are going to ruffle some feathers and you will get resistance, but anyone that goes against you bettering yourself can either get out of the way or get run over, because from now on, from this day forward, you are going to Shake Shit Up. You are not going to waste your life, living for others who only want to live in a box and not feel the euphoric energy of putting every ounce of love into something. Don’t worry if you are being selfish, because when you live for happiness, you show others that it is possible, and they start to embody the same awesome qualities! There is nothing selfish about that at all. So learn yoga, speak a new language, become more healthy, start a charity, devote more time to your family, start a business, travel the world, or whatever it is that keeps you up at night. When you start to really live life, you will see that the old, everyday things are just that: old.

John Lewis, a nationally certified fitness trainer, played Division I college basketball and has spent over eight years in the health and fitness industry. John’s love for his community brought forth his brainchild, Bad Ass Vegan, a foundation whose mission is to prevent obesity through education, physical activity, and plant-based nutrition.





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Why You’re Feeling Lonely Five Critical Self-Confidence Practices Even Smart Women Overlook By Emily Nolan I was twelve years old when I knew I needed fixing. Nowadays, girls as early as five will join this vicious cycle of self-hate and loneliness until someone bold enough throws their hands in the air and decides to offer a feasible option of sustainable beauty. Which most likely looks like self-acceptance. In twenty-eight years of life, I’ve been a size 0 and a size 16. I’ve had eating disorders for over ten years. I’ve had body dysmorphic disorder for as long as I can remember picking up a high-fashion magazine. I’ve experienced female athlete triad during Junior Olympic softball training. And I’ve had plastic surgery. Even though I’ve always been outgoing, deep down, I was always lonely. Without having a toolkit or solution for self-confidence, I let comparison keep me company. And that was my journey to rock bottom. Ever since I was ten, when a friend wanted to weigh me at a sleepover, I’ve been swimming in body shame. But you wouldn’t know that now, because I travel the world as a model. As the shame boiled to the brim, at age twenty-seven, in the mountains of Arizona, I broke down. I had to let the truth out, so I collapsed into a friend’s arms, trusted God, and let my very painful story pass through my lips and into the open air for the first time.

Combat loneliness with five critical self-confidence practices Employ radical honesty: Your family and friends will love you no matter what your truth is. Be honest, seek professional help, attend workshops, or go on a self-confidence retreat. Honesty takes courage, and that’s where transformation begins. Change your thoughts: Our bodies were built to be just the way they are. My body has a larger mass, so I can feel more sun on my skin, not so I can keep beating myself up about a number on the scale. In fact, ditch the scale. We’re perfect, just the way we are.

Daily meditation: Our bodies suppress the messages that we can’t deal with in our everyday life. Have you noticed that when you slow down your mind, the deep stuff starts to surface? Take ten silent minutes to yourself every day to excavate the underlying feelings that keep you up at 2 a.m. “I’m lonely. I haven’t found ‘the one.’ Will I ever be enough?”

What I learned is that pain is growth.

Build your community: Surround yourself with people that commend your journey, and open up to them about your trials. I have found the yoga studio to be the best place to meet like-minded people who lift me up and inspire me to continue on this healing journey.

In the darkest moments, the terrifying pain that I felt when admitting my truths to the world, that was growth. Being brave, speaking up, and throwing my hands up in surrender—that was crossing the threshold. A new chance at life, founded upon radical honesty and unfaltering goodness.

The body is a vehicle: Our body is just a vehicle, not a beauty equation. The skin our spirits inhabit is just an earth suit to gain physical experiences. Keep it simple and use it accordingly. I get on my yoga mat every day to remind myself that my physical is just a tool—just a vehicle for experiences. Emily Nolan is the author of the blog My Kind of Life, where she shares inspiration for kind people. She was honored as MindBodyGreen’s Top 100 of the World’s Most Influential Thought Leaders in Wellness in 2014.





“Even though I’ve always been outgoing, deep down, I was always lonely. Without having a toolkit or solution for self-confidence, I let comparison keep me company.”



By Tari Prinster

Yoga as the Anticancer Take control! Yoga detoxifies the body. Dumping toxins, rogue cancer cells, or other pathogens is a job of the lymphatic system—the body’s plumbing system. This process is key to boosting immunity and keeping the body healthy. Yoga increases lymphatic flow, using muscles and breath to “squeeze and massage” internal organs, guiding toxins into the lymphatic system and out of the body. Also, with research demonstrating that yoga and meditation increase our natural cancer-fighting immune cells and function, it is fact!

ou have cancer.” Forty percent of us will hear those words in your lifetime, like I did fifteen years ago. And most of us, if not all, will help family and friends through surgeries, radiation, chemotherapy, and many other treatments. Often, side effects of cancer and its treatments can be debilitating and long-term. Plus, the fear of recurrence never subsides.

“There is an ever-increasing body of research proving why yoga helps surviv ors heal and lowers cancer risk in everyone. Cancer is a chronic disease that requires ongoing management, but hoping is not a plan. Adding yoga to your daily routine—that’s a plan! And there is an ever-increasing body of research proving why yoga helps survivors heal and lowers cancer risk in everyone. There are many ways, but here are my top three. Y4C.COM



Yoga strengthens the body. Cancer treatments weaken the body in the act of eliminating cancer by weakening like bone cells. Our bones house bone marrow, where new red and white blood cells—cancer-fighting immune cells—are constantly being produced. Also, for cancer survivors, bone weakness (thus breaks) are common. Dr. Loren M. Fishman’s research shows an eighty-five percent improvement for yoga practitioners over control groups. Good reasons to keep our house strong. Yoga reduces stress. No one doubts that a cancer diagnosis causes stress. You are bombarded by frightening information, invasive procedures, and blank stares as you sort out this life-threatening situation. Yoga is well known for its powers of relaxation, and research proves it. One study showed that practicing yoga led to improvements in mood, stress factors, and health-related quality of life. Another study reported that yoga showed greater improvement in mood and a reduction in anxiety over the control walking group. These are just a few ways that yoga can be anyone’s anticancer plan. Of course, there are other steps to take—don’t smoke, wear sunblock, and eat healthy. But I would argue that yoga helps manage your cancer risks, external or internal, over a lifetime. Yoga helps you take active control over your life, health, and happiness. And potentially, it could save your life.

Tari Prinster, author of Yoga for Cancer, is a cancer survivor, master yoga teacher, and creator of Yoga4Cancer (y4c) methodology using contemporary research on cancer and yoga. She has worked with thousands of survivors, offers yoga teacher training programs, and runs a nonprofit.


By M a r i e - R o s e P h a n - L ê

{The Gift of Talking Story{ A Return to Intimate Connection

We need to know each other beyond social-media posts, to look each other in the eye, to extend a hand or offer a shoulder, and to be willing to not only give each other the time of day but the space of heart.


n Hawaii, when an invitation is extended, the host will say, “Come over and let’s talk story.” Talking story is about taking the time to linger over the details of the mundane, to ponder the realms of the profound, and to surrender any structure of time or agenda. It is practicing the art of listening and of being present.

As I began production of the Talking Story documentary project, traveling from Hawaii to the Himalayas, it wasn’t long before I realized that in order for me to access healing traditions and healers in remote areas of the world, I would have to practice talking story. There would be no hit-and-run interviews, no rigid film production schedules, no way to remain an anonymous gleaner of other people’s wisdom and experiences. In the years since I returned from traveling the world and spending hours talking story with spiritual teachers and healers, there have been many advances in technology that make some aspects of our lives easier, with

instant connectivity to information and individuals, while eroding our ability to connect deeply and intimately with the person next to us. I’ve sat in cafés, observing young men not speaking a word but, rather, showing each other the screens of their devices and responding with a nod, a chuckle, or a frown. I’ve witnessed women in public bathroom stalls doing their business while engaged (and I use this term loosely) in a conversation with someone on their cell phones. And I’ve had close friends start a compelling tale of their latest adventure, only to stop midsentence to respond to a text and then never return to our conversation to tell me how the story ended. We’ve been given greater access yet have become less accessible. Since my mission has been to preserve endangered traditions and practices, I’m here to raise the red flag and tell the world we are in danger of losing the tradition of talking story and the gifts that come with its practice. Sharing our narratives and feeling seen is one of the most powerful tools to help


us heal from disease, engage in transformation, and move through challenges. We are given courage when we feel supported by those around us—our sangha. We need to know each other beyond social-media posts, to look each other in the eye, to extend a hand or offer a shoulder, and to be willing to not only give each other the time of day but the space of heart. Let this call to action be to talk story until our bellies hurt from sharing laughs, our hearts break from sharing grief, and our spirits grow from sharing precious moments with the gift of our presence.

Marie-Rose Phan-Lê is the author of Talking Story: One Woman’s Quest to Preserve Ancient Spiritual and Healing Traditions, which chronicles the making of her award-winning film, Talking Story. A resident of Hawaii, she is the founder of Healing Planet Project, a nonprofit organization whose mission is the preservation and presentation of spiritual and healing traditions.




What IS SUCCESS to YOU? Jeanie Manchester

Jason Anderson

Shakti Rise Immersion teacher

Calmtivity Yoga Atlanta, Ga.

I’m living in success when I’m in my body, moving and expressing ancient wisdom for everyday life. Success means confronting my fears with a curiosity and a willingness to transform myself from the inside out. Success is daily meditation that helps me recognize my innate gifts and unleashes creativity and healing into the world.

Success is believing in yourself. Liberate your brighter self from fear-based issues so that possibilities and answers can be revealed. Your brighter self knows no doubt or timidity, but sometimes you get dusty from experience. Move the clouds that block your sun, and the sky opens up to show infinite possibilities that the sun or brighter self can manifest!


Elizabeth Plumb Sustainability specialist at Eco-Cycle Boulder, Colo. Prestige and affluence formerly defined my connotation of success, but now I realize that success emerges through living one’s soul’s purpose. My work is meaningful and impactful, draws from my unique gifts, and is aligned with my values. I choose to live in integrity and joy, empowering accomplishment with ease, grace, trust in serendipity, and a dose of determination. ECOCYCLE.ORG

Jennifer Siegel

Rebecca Saltman

Yoga coach for 10th Planet Portland Portland, Oreg.

Social entrepreneur Denver, Colo.

I roll as an equal with innovators, doing what we love. I practice yoga and jiujitsu with this team. Success for us is transcending “win or lose.” We evolve. We overcome. Always learning. Capable. Breathing better. Loving better. Thinking clearly. Making space. We create. We destroy. We do it again. Peacefully, fearlessly, completely. In the gym, in competition, in life.

True success to me is shaping a world where cooperation is rewarded over competition, thereby meeting some of our world’s most pressing social needs. When groups of people commit to inspiring community through collaboration—partnering across public and private sectors from academia to media, for-profit to nonprofit organizations—everyone succeeds!



Jodie Rogers Empowerment coach and speaker London, England It has nothing to do with money and everything to do with integrity. It’s the absence of ego and the presence of meaning. It’s about making a contribution, being part of a higher mission. When you strip everything back, all that’s left is love and fear. Success is the spread of love and the ability to take fulfillment from it. JODIEROGERS.COM | PHOTO: JOHNNY ROGERS



Karen Davis Executive coach at Karen Davis Coaching Louisville, Colo. I measure success by how deeply I touch the lives of people. I’m on a crusade to bring more love and meaning into the workplace. I believe that when we allow people to discover their gifts, develop their talents, share their innate value, and be recognized and appreciated along the way, both organizations and people will win in the long run. KARENDAVISCOACHING.COM

Kami Guildner

Karey Goebel

Life and leadership empowerment coach and Syzygy founder Evergreen, Colo.

President of Inner Waves Organics Denver, Colo. Success to me is the freedom to manage my own time. As a yoga-business owner, I work hard and my days can be long. But I decide how, when, and where I work. If I want to start my work day at 5 a.m. and go to a vinyasa class or meet my daughter for lunch, I do. That’s success to me.

Success is surrounding myself with people I love. It is doing work that feeds my soul, uplifting and empowering women to live into their passions so that they live into their full potential and leave a legacy that matters, creating a ripple effect that spreads around the world. Success is having the courage to live large.


Maggie Doyle CEO of Radical Honesty Enterprises Success, as I see it, is being completely out, willing to be completely myself with others, showing up with courage, even in the face of fear, shame, or guilt, and even when I’m a colorful, kinky, compassionate, queer, outrageous lover—and success is also being willing to experience the experience I’m having, even when it hurts. Especially when it hurts! RADICALHONESTY.COM PHOTO: SHANNA M. PHOTOGRAPHY

Amy Baglan Founder of MeetMindful Denver, Colo.

Noelle Leon-McQueen Noelle Yoga Rebel Allen and McKinney, Texas

My mission is to be a catalyst of outrageous love for my customers, my community, and especially those who are closest to me so that, together, we create a ripple effect of love around the world. If I can go to sleep knowing that I did something to fulfill my life’s mission that day, then it was a success.

Success to me is not measured in money, fame, or the type of abilities you develop. Success is in the gift of being able to give back, to share what I have learned, and to see how what I teach helps restore body awareness, personal power, and balance to those who ask for my help. It is why I am me.



I’m living in success when I’m in my body, moving and expressing ancient wisdom for everyday life.” —JEANIE MANCHESTER



Herbicides, genetically engineered crops, and our health The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author. During the Vietnam War in the 1960s, the U.S. deployed an herbicidal-warfare program called Agent Orange, which killed an estimated four hundred thousand people and caused five hundred thousand kids to be born with birth defects. Fast-forward approximately fifty years later, and shockingly, this lethal cocktail is back in the news. Why? The reason is “superweeds.” These are weeds that have become resistant to the ubiquitous chemical Roundup and are now growing out of control on approximately seventy million acres of U.S. farmland. The ag-biotech industry has successfully persuaded our government that a new breed of more toxic chemicals is the only way to deal with this problem—specifically, 2,4-D, which just happens to be the primary ingredient in Agent Orange.

Making matters worse, the USDA has acknowledged that 2,4-D use will skyrocket from 26 million pounds to as much as 176 million pounds per year by 2020. This is especially problematic given that 2,4-D will drift off target crops, potentially devastating nearby ecosystems, and Dow’s 2,4-D corn will contaminate nearby corn which is not genetically engineered. What is not widely known to the general public is that these two genetically engineered crops are just the beginning of a massive chemical arms race between Dow and Monsanto, because our government is expected to approve several other crops, equally as toxic, over the next few years. Led by the Center for Food Safety and Earthjustice, a lawsuit has been filed against the EPA to reverse the approval of these two crops for failing to analyze the impact of 2,4-D on human health and for violating the Endangered Species Act.

Despite the objections of fifty members of Congress; a multitude of health, medical, and environmental experts; a group of Vietnam veterans; prominent chefs; and five hundred thousand citizens, the USDA and EPA just approved Dow Chemical’s genetically engineered corn and soy, which are resistant to Enlist Duo, a chemical comprised of 2,4-D and glyphosate. (The idea is to plant genetically engineered corn and soy and spray them with Enlist Duo, with the goal of killing the weeds that grow around the corn and soy but not kill the corn and soy themselves.) Not surprisingly, Dow Chemical sold the USDA and EPA on the notion that Enlist Duo is perfectly safe, yet the evidence says otherwise. The Pesticide Action Network and Journal of Pesticide Reform assert that


data has emerged, linking 2,4-D with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, leukemia, brain cancer, and gastric cancer;


in California, 2,4-D is listed as a reproductive and developmental toxicant, defined as a chemical that interferes with fetal or child development or reduces fertility;


laboratory studies have shown that 2,4-D has the ability to reduce the effectiveness of the immune system;


use of 2,4-D on lawns is linked to an increased risk of cancer in dogs; and


researchers have also found a link between 2,4-D exposure and birth defects of the heart and circulatory/respiratory systems. LIVINGMAXWELL.COM | PRESSEDJUICEDIRECTORY.COM



“This case will determine to a large extent the direction of U.S. agriculture in the coming years,” says Andrew Kimbrell, executive director of Center for Food Safety. “EPA and USDA have bowed to the chemical industry and rubber-stamped these genetically engineered crops, whose sole purpose is to promote even more herbicide use and fatten the bottom lines of Dow and Monsanto. Unless stopped, these crops will lead to a massive increase in the spraying of toxic chemicals and an increasing plague of herbicideresistant weeds that will choke America’s farmlands and threaten the livelihoods of our farmers.” The chemical 2,4-D has caused unimaginable devastation to Vietnam, and the U.S. will soon suffer its own damage for decades to come if this lawsuit does not hold up. History is getting ready to repeat itself.

Max Goldberg was called an “organic sensation” by The New York Times and named as “one of the nation’s leading organic food experts” by Shape. He is the founder of Living Maxwell, one of the most widely read organicfood blogs in the country, and Pressed Organic Juice Directory.





By Rod Stryker | photos: robert sturman

Attachment {

Life Lessons from the Fire of Practice

I came into this world restless despite many appearances to the contrary. Does that make me unique? I doubt it. But hear my tale and then decide.

and even forcing my body into positions ready for the covers of important yoga magazines—I pursued them all, some wholeheartedly, but none would satisfy my real longing.

Looking back, I see that I was born with the subtle sense that material treasures alone, no matter how grand, would never be enough to satisfy the longing in my heart to see the light, to know the truth. Indeed, much to my parents’ surprise, the first word I spoke in this lifetime was “light.” Prior to uttering its name, however, I was already searching for light—for my source. Yet despite my preternatural kinship with that spark that lights this and all worlds, for the first two or three decades of my life, I resisted it. I recall justifying my turning away from the path by telling myself that to fully abide in the place of the inner journey, I would have to give up too much. It would be too lonely, too improbable to achieve, and too . . . not sexy. After all, I had a life to live.

I moonlighted through the maze of worldly delights, maintaining a daily ritual devoted to unveiling Spirit’s blossom. I held practice ever close, just in case the outer pursuits left me dissatisfied and still restless in the end—just as that persistent tapping on my shoulder said they would.

Either way, at the time, it felt much more fluid to temper my heart’s call to bask in Spirit’s light. With fingers crossed, I hoped that collecting enough of the good things that you and I see, hear, touch, smell, and taste would cure my soul’s restlessness. So I set out in that direction in pursuit of that which was contrary to what my heart was asking me to seek unabashedly. Despite a persistent voice tapping me on my shoulder, telling me that resistance was futile, I chose instead to follow the path that it seemed everyone else was taking. Yes, the blind leading the blind. Beautiful women, wealth, sensations, celebrity, substances capable of distorting my perception,

Blessedly, my initial and growing dissatisfaction eventually led me to a teacher with sublime knowledge, one who embodied ancient wisdom and so much joy. It was through this connection, to a teacher, that I became fully infected with the germ with only one cure—one which, for those willing to follow it to its end, reveals pleasures not found in this world. The fire of practice would slowly burn away attachment after attachment, delusion after delusion, layer after layer of all but the essential. Adding fuel to this sacred fire were also many life lessons and the continued presence of the teacher, an intimidating, challenging, generous, kind, authentic, inspiring, real, laughing, and loving teacher. The real thing. All three—practice, life, and teacher—together became a roiling cauldron which would prove the forging that would eventually reveal me to me.


great and mysterious creator brought me into this world. In this sense, my journey was not unique: a life marked by a share of disappointments, heartache, and loss and by a ceaseless hunger to unravel the mystery that awaits not just in my heart but in the heart of every living being. The touchstone of the salvation that would eventually come was my willingness to learn, to practice, and to sit quietly every morning for thirty-five years. Today, decades later, I am grateful for the unending hunger to rest in the mind of Buddha, the heart of Krishna, a domain where all yogis, sages, and saints abide, waiting for those whose real self has emerged from the searing pilgrimage of Spirit’s flames. The hunger that admittedly would make me feel so alone at times and force me to see the bad and the precious good of who I was in such stark relief was the very thing that led me to the rewards, the gifts given only to the most intrepid and resolute soul seekers who say for all the world to hear: “Only the highest, only providence will do.” So thank you, restlessness, as challenging a traveling companion as there could be. In the end, my embrace of you was what sent me on the only search that really counts. Responding to you was the stirring that led me to sit every morning and to venture into that invisible terrain where seeker and sought merge and rest together, once and for all eternity.

Yes, much toil and much growth would have to happen before I could taste the soul satisfaction, the divine companionship for which, in part, the RODSTRYKER.COM | PARAYOGA.COM



Rod Stryker 52




Rod Stryker 54




By Kathleen Emmets

Conventional medicine helped to heal my body. Meditation healed my soul.”

R eleasing the Anger O n e

B r e a t h

itting in a café in Midtown Manhattan, enjoying a steaming-hot cup of coffee on a crisp fall day, I couldn’t help but overhear the conversation at the next table. A thirtysomething man with light-brown hair and a politician’s smile was talking to a friend about his wife, who is battling brain cancer. “She’s so amazing,” he said. “She doesn’t complain at all.” He stated this like it was the greatest compliment he could pay her. I wanted to turn around. I wanted to say that there is nothing amazing about keeping it all inside. I wanted to tell him the explosion was coming. But I said nothing. “He will find out on his own,” I thought. Like I did. In 2011, at thirty-five, I was diagnosed with stage IV colon cancer. Nothing in life can prepare you for a blow like that. Your thirties are supposed to be about growing comfortable in your skin, finding out how to balance life, work, relationships, family. They are not supposed to be about signing DNRs, worrying how your son will recover from losing his mother, or dealing with the guilt of leaving your husband to go it alone. I should have been hosting dinner parties and nursing wine hangovers. Instead, I was in a curtained cubicle at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center for three hours every other week, receiving chemotherapy. The treatment made me so sick, I CANCERISMYGURU.BLOGSPOT.COM



a t

wondered, at times, if it was worth it. The only way I could get through was to push the horror down. I assumed the persona of the “smiling warrior.” “Cancer can be a blessing,” I would say. “I’ve grown so much from this experience.” And that made everyone around me comfortable. Because, the truth is, few can deal with the realities of cancer. The fear, the illness, the horror that is this disease. I never once complained. People said I was amazing. After three years of chemotherapy and five surgeries, I got the green light to end treatment. Champagne toasts and celebrations followed. We all cheered and life returned to normal. At least, it did for everyone but me. My life was nothing like it had been precancer. My body was slower. My thoughts less organized. I had no job and lived with what I now realize was PTSD—fine one minute, then sobbing hysterically the next, unable to leave my house for days. The smell of an alcohol swab sent my body reeling into a fullthrottle panic attack, hands shaking with a racing heartbeat. I couldn’t piece myself back together. Why wasn’t I simply grateful to be alive? So many of the friends I’d made while undergoing treatment had died. How dare I not cherish every day? Layers of guilt and shame and anger became too much for me to carry. I began to crack under the weight of it all. I needed to let go of the anger I had been


T i m e

holding in for three years, maybe some anger I’d been holding in all my life. I found a therapist who ended each session with ten minutes of breath work. She showed me techniques that slowly lowered my heart rate when I felt anxious. I began to use them every day, finding five minutes each day to slow down and check in with myself. Conventional medicine helped to heal my body. Meditation healed my soul. When I meditate, the outside world disappears. I do not fear cancer. There’s nothing but me and my breath. On each inhale, I feel my body fill with life. Exhaling, I release all tension. My breathing is a soothing, steady reminder that I am alive. Sometimes, as I am breathing into the stillness, I cry. My chest begins to heave and my lip quivers. I don’t fight it. I allow whatever I need to feel in that moment to be. Even when I’m not consciously thinking of the past, my body is holding on to the trauma of cancer. Only when I acknowledge the pain can I release it. Every morning, I sit on my mat and honor the day that lies ahead of me. Inhaling and exhaling. Holding on and little by little, day by day, letting go.

How do you

teach? Bethany Eanes RYT 500 and founder of Yoga High Inc. Los Angeles, Calif. I care far more about helping you be the person you want to be than helping you do the pose you want to do. Innately, you already are that person, and you already know everything you need to know about yoga. I leave enough space in class—between words, poses, and instructions—for you to simply remember. YOGAHIGHINC.COM | PHOTO: TAI KERBS

How do you stay grounded? Day Christensen Ashtanga yoga teacher Miami Beach, Fla. More than anything, having my students every day keeps me grounded and focused. They give me a sense of responsibility and accountability that is far greater than I could provide for myself alone. DAY1YOGA.COM | PHOTO: CHRIS MCMULLAN



Nicolai Bachman

If you’re really excited about yoga, and it’s taking time away from your family, you might want to think about how to apply yoga to your family.” Interview: Melissa Smith

On the Yoga Sutras, service, and surrender Melissa Smith: According to the Yoga Sutras, how would you let go of ego? Nicolai Bachman: The primary practice is called Ishvara Pranidhana. It means “surrendering to something called Ishvara.” “Ishvara” can be something that you consider higher than yourself. It can be a mentor, it can be a divinity, it can be a deity—anything that you want, something you respect. This puts the ego in its place, in a way. For instance, if you’re in a situation where you’re getting a lot of flattery, it’s good to have something to do with that energy, because if it gets stuck in you, in your consciousness, then it can cause a problem. It can gradually build up and inflate the ego to the point where you think you’re better than someone else, everybody else. Yoga is really about everybody being exactly the same inside and everybody treating each other well, no matter who the other person is, everybody being positive toward each other. Controlling the ego is a huge practice and difficult practice sometimes, so having something like Ishvara in place for you is very, very important. Now, another way to control the ego is by doing selfless service, like doing volunteer work or working in a soup kitchen. You’re giving to other people in a selfless way; you’re not expecting anything in return. That could be considered Ishvara Pranidhana, actually. Those are the two main ways. They cultivate humility. They cultivate surrender and this idea of faith in something higher than you.




MS: Something we all struggle with is balance, and I find this especially pertinent for people who just discovered yoga. They usually get super excited about it, and there’s a disconnect between what you are newly excited about and family life. How do you address it? NB: Well, yoga is not just asana, remember. If you’re going to asana class, it’s great for your body and it’s a form of exercise. It keeps your body healthy, but yoga is so much broader, and the yoga practices and the sutras are totally applicable to family life. If you’re really excited about yoga, and it’s taking time away from your family, you might want to think about how to apply yoga to your family. Because yoga has a lot to offer as far as improving interpersonal relations. That’s actually the main power of yoga, because yoga is truly ultimately all about change. And the hardest change is changing your own individual negative patterns. A great testing ground for this is with people close to you, like your partner or your kids. By watching yourself, how you behave, any time you react negatively is information for you to possibly ask yourself why you did that and what way you could react differently in the future to make the interaction better. Nicolai Bachman, E-RYT 500, has taught Sanskrit, chanting, yoga philosophy, Ayurveda, and other related topics since 1994. He holds an MA in eastern philosophy and an MS in nutrition and has authored several books, including The Path of the Yoga Sutras: A Practical Guide to the Core of Yoga.

By Elizabeth Cappo Gallo

Gabriel Halpern

The founder of Chicago’s Yoga Circle on B. K. S. Iyengar, pranayama, and what yogis don’t want to hear

Elizabeth Cappo Gallo: You run a traditional yoga center in a bustling metropolis. How do you bridge the gap between the traditional practice and the modern practitioners who come to Yoga Circle? Gabriel Halpern: In every generation, new practitioners take the baton from the previous ones and carry on the tradition. B. K. S. Iyengar was both a traditionalist and revolutionary, so it was easy to follow his lead and not be concerned about how contemporary and ancient teachings would mesh. ECG: Tell me more about your experiences with Guruji. GH: Being in his presence was a most unforgettable experience. Being with him was an embodiment of living absorption. One could not have been more focused when with him. Nothing was more important than paying full attention to what was going on in that moment. His brilliance, genius, and idiosyncratic ways were unparalleled. Watching him in the medical classes in particular was an inspiration to last a lifetime. ECG: What does your personal practice look like nowadays? GH: As I have aged and sustained some injuries over the years, I have changed the way I practice to reflect what is healthy for my body. Now in my mid-sixties, pranayama, headstand, and shoulder stand make up the bulk of my daily routine.

follows depends upon the experience of the practitioner. I have followed the basic guidelines set out in Light on Pranayama for years and still have not exhausted everything. Why is pranayama so important? Asana gives health. Pranayama gives longevity. So if you want to practice for the rest of your life, breathe! ECG: Your dharma raps are legendary. You draw on a wide range of history, philosophy, and literature to inspire and illustrate your talks. How do you decide what to teach and when? GH: There is a lot of “me search” in research. I pick what resonates as true for myself and hope that if I am tapping something deep in my own humanity, it will appeal to that same place in others. I also chose mentors whose breadth of knowledge was extensive and comprehensive: Joseph Campbell, Carl Jung, Ram Dass, B. K. S. Iyengar. ECG: Give us the raw yogic truth: What needs to be said right now in yoga that people don’t want to hear? GH: Stop being so self-centered, and become a mentor for the next generation. Make young people see how magnificent they are, and power them up to take over as the leaders of tomorrow. Yoga is a completely nondenominational system, so no yogic apartheid—thinking we are better than other people who don’t do yoga, eat organically, or seem to have no recognizable spiritual practice. We all have one home, earth, and one family, the human one.

ECG: You are passionate about pranayama. How is the practice best developed? Why is it so important as we age? GH: From the Iyengar perspective, supine pranayama is taught for beginners until they have sufficient competence to sit without causing strain to the brain and the spine. Sitting pranayama comes next. What

Gabriel Halpern holds a BA in philosophy and an MA in health psychology and was trained at the Iyengar Yoga Institutes in San Francisco and Pune, India. He is the founder and director of the Yoga Circle in Chicago, Ill.




Five Element Qi Gong is based on the healing energies of nature itself, the elements at the root of Chinese philosophy and life: water, wood, fire, earth, and metal.

By Pat Gorman, LAc, MAc

Healing the Past, Present, and Future


Five Element Qi Gong

ong ago, I stood on the edge of a tiny island in Moosehead Lake, looking out at the floating dock, rocked by the whitecaps of a coming storm. What I saw fascinated me, and I fell in love.

I was twenty-five, and that love, that passion, has lasted a lifetime. On that auspicious day, I saw someone silhouetted on the moving dock, balancing gracefully on one leg, arms outstretched like the branches of a living tree. The figure yielded to each gust of wind, each wave slapping the dock, while balancing, never falling, as though part of nature itself. I had found qi gong, a two-thousand-year-old Chinese practice of breathing and postures for healing body, mind, and spirit.

Back in New York City, I found the extraordinary studio of Professor Cheng Man Ch’ing, the renowned Chinese medical doctor, master, and teacher of t’ai chi and qi gong, and began to study and learn all I could. “Qi”—pronounced “chee”—is “energy or life-force”; “gong” is “dedicated practice.” Five




Element Qi Gong is based on the healing energies of nature itself, the elements at the root of Chinese philosophy and life: water, wood, fire, earth, and metal. The world and our selves are seen as composed of these elements. Each element within us is experienced, and its energy is restored through the practice of simple, slow movements with names like Gate of Fire (which brings warmth, openness, and protection to the heart), Grow Bamboo (a “wood” posture which fosters regrowth from the cellular level to the spirit), and Embracing the Tao, or all of life. Over time, with dedicated practice, we can begin to affect our whole life: Unraveling the Past: Repetition of movements for damaged elements can undo the knots and scars in our physical and emotional history, restoring our energy to its youthful strength and vibrancy. Living in the Present: As we come into freedom and balance, our relationships and emotions clarify, conflict

diminishes, and internal damage and illness fades. The present becomes a wonderful place to be, full of possibilities. Envisioning the Future: Hope and vision enter with the free flow of energy, reclaiming our future, remaking our next chapter. In my own life, as acupuncturist and qi gong teacher, I also assign specific moves to my patients, as my professor did, carrying on the healing tradition.

Best of all, I am still in love with this art, experiencing my elemental self, connected to all of nature, qi, and spirit.

Pat Gorman, LAc, MAc, cofounder of T’ai Chi Foundation, has practiced and taught qi gong, t’ai chi, and acupuncture for over thirty years, a “legacy holder” in Professor Cheng Man Ch’ing’s lineage. The author of Roots and Branches, 5 Element Qi Gong (DVD), Pat is writing a book on qi gong and t’ai chi.

Women in the Military Yoga, Health, and Wellness By Pamela Stokes Eggleston


hile the beneficial effects of yoga for veterans and service members are well known, only recently have studies documented that yoga asanas, pranayama, and meditation can help release long-held tension and trauma. This increasing body of research supports the fact that yoga and meditation are viable healing modalities for specific types of trauma. Still, what I know for sure is that this equation often omits the diversity of the population it serves, with no regard for concerted cultural competency.

Using yoga and meditation to treat veterans’ issues like combat stress, military sexual trauma (MST), and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) has proven to be one of the most effective ways to foster good health and healing.

Enter one distinct population within the military and veteran communities: women who have served. Through my work with veterans and military families, I believe that taking care of all of our veterans is paramount when approaching these issues. Using yoga and meditation to treat veterans’ issues like combat stress, military sexual trauma (MST), and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) has proven to be one of the most effective ways to foster good health and healing. Some organizations I work with—like Women Veterans Interactive, an organization for female veterans by female veterans, and the Give Back Yoga Foundation— promote diversity and cultural compassion in terms of veterans, service members, and women in the military. When asked why civilians should care about holistic healing for female veterans, Ginger Miller, CEO of WVI, said: “Veterans are civilians, but we are a different breed of civilian—the group of civilians that once served and sacrificed to protect our country, and now some of us suffer from seen and unseen disabilities. Healing for veterans is a crucial component to ensure that our nation’s heroes can live up to their full potential and with continued positive contribution to our society.” On WVI’s role in the yoga-for-veterans movement, Ginger said, “We are taking a comprehensive holistic approach to health and wellness that includes mind, body, and spirit, specifically geared towards women veterans.” Indeed, yoga also helps when depression and PTSD mask other symptoms: insomnia, back pain, rheumatoid arthritis, and MST. “This yoga session really helped me relax,” said Kaye Jones, army veteran and WVI yoga practitioner. “It’s a great complement to the other services that I do at the V.A. I have PTSD, so this class calmed me.”

Pamela Stokes Eggleston is founder and CEO of Yoga2Sleep, which promotes relaxation and better sleep, and cofounder of Blue Star Families, a nonprofit for military families. Since 2004, she has been the caregiver to her husband, a wounded veteran. Pamela is a certified yoga instructor specializing in yoga for service members and veterans.





By Stephen Cope

GIFT Living a Life of Purpose and Meaning


hat is an extraordinary life? One of the central archetypes of the yoga tradition is the fully alive human being: the jiva mukti—the soul awake in this lifetime. Yogis constantly ask themselves the question, “What does it look like when a human being functions on all cylinders— body, mind, and spirit?” Early yogis believed that everyone is born with a special gift—a calling, vocation, or dharma. All of life was seen as an opportunity to fulfill this calling. The Kripalu Institute for Extraordinary Living (KIEL) works with musicians, athletes, artists, corporate executives—anyone interested in taking responsibility for their gift—and we’ve discovered several surprising and often counterintuitive truths.

Once you have an inkling of your gift, it’s your responsibility to create the conditions for it to flourish.




First, the gift requires practice. It seems as though it should be free; we should come out of the womb playing the violin brilliantly. But alas, no. The gift is only a possibility, a seed. In order to be fulfilled, it requires love, faith, nurturing, and systematic development. Two decades of research on so-called greatness shows that the greatest musicians are not the ones with the most facility (e.g., the kids who were playing violin at age six) but those who practiced skillfully and tenaciously over long periods of time. Once you have an inkling of your gift, it’s your responsibility to create the conditions for it to flourish. The second discovery is that we’ve noticed that the gift is often paired with a wound. Our greatest strength (and greatest possibility) often goes hand-in-hand with our greatest limitation. Many of us must discover our gift in the very heart of our struggle. Katherine, a successful poet with whom we’ve worked, found that her gift for poetry emerged from her suffering as a child in an abusive family and the early death of her mother. Through her faithfulness to her gift for words, she gradually transformed her suffering into wisdom. The third surprise? The flowering of the gift usually comes with a sacrifice of some kind. Fully choosing the gift might mean giving up something else, even something that seems very important, in order to focus our energy and passion in one direction. Take Walt Whitman, who put aside his poetry when he experienced the internal call to nurse the wounded soldiers of the Civil War. Can the devotion to the gift become selfish or self-centered? Our investigations at the KIEL reveal just the opposite. It turns out that the gift is our unique doorway into a connection with the whole. Consider Henry David Thoreau, whose gift called him to write the influential works that connected him with the universal strivings of humankind. What is your gift? My challenge to you is to look deeper. In our work at the KIEL, we have never encountered someone who was unable to find—often right under their nose—the power of the gift in their lives. And, having made that discovery, to find the possibility of truly living as a soul awake.





Miami, Fla.


What has been one of your biggest life lessons? 1

Learning to listen to my intuition, and being aware that my mind can rationalize everything and anything. This justifies my working with people who I sense I shouldn’t, giving them a chance, then finding out that just what my gut felt was correct after all.

Jennifer Pansa Yoga teacher at Ansa Yoga

Anything is possible

Rae Indigo E-RYT 500 and cofounder of United Yoga School

one hundred percent of the time!



Jeska Brodbeck Yoga teacher and group facilitator


Anything is possible one hundred percent of the time! I worked in corporate America for six years, and I just exited last year to create the life of my dreams. I teach Kripalu-inspired vinyasa yoga and laughter yoga and also facilitate groups such as the Red Tent Women’s Circle. When I take committed action toward my vision, I help the world heal! photo: Imagreimy Salazar

Joan Varini Yoga instructor, channeler, and healer


Staying true to my heart has a direct relationship with trusting the flow of my soul’s needs and the uniqueness of my life’s journey. My heart has led me to powerful beauty and painful challenges, but my heart guide helps keep me connected to all of creation and is a reminder that I am exactly where I need to be. SUNWARRIORYOGA.COM PHOTO: HARMONY VIDES-VARINI


Imagine a baby eagle peering over a cliff. Pulsing with instinct and trusting its destiny of flight, it leaps out of the nest to find respite in the wind. Just as with the baby bird, one of life’s biggest lessons for me is how to feel comfort in trepidation and how to repeatedly take flight, tapping into my innate potential energy. ANSAYOGA.COM PHOTO: MICHAEL RAVENEY

Chira Cassel Yoga instructor and director of The Sacred Space Miami


My life is an ocean. I do not always choose the choppy, harsh waves, but I still have a choice: resist or surrender? When I remember impermanence—the truth that nothing lasts forever—I allow the universe to carry me through change. I remember. I trust. I float. And soon the waves are behind me, and I am transformed. THESACREDSPACEMIAMI.COM PHOTO: WORLD RED EYE



Healthy Flying Tips on hydration before, during, and after a flight

The average passenger can lose up to two pounds of water during a three-hour flight.

By Jayne McAllister


he holidays mean fun, feasting, and festivities with family. The potential flip side is having to fly cross-country to see loved ones, then feeling crummy after the journey. Most post-flight malaise is caused by dehydration. The average passenger can lose up to two pounds of water during a three-hour flight. Typically, the humidity in planes ranges from eight to twelve percent, but it can drop as low as two percent. And the longer the flight, the drier it gets. The paltry amount of humidity onboard is produced by the sweat and breath of fellow passengers.

HOW to stay hydrated during your flight

Dehydration causes your cells to become less efficient, contributing to fatigue and poor performance. It takes only one percent of fluid loss for your body to become dehydrated. As your cells dry out, they pull water from your blood, reducing your blood volume. Your heart has to work harder to circulate the smaller amount of blood to every part of your body, which means your muscles don’t get oxygen and nutrients, and it’s harder to eliminate waste. Hence post-flight bloating and jet lag.

Eat foods with a high water content before and during the flight. A big leafy salad before you fly will oxygenate the blood. Take fruit with a high water content onboard (e.g., melons and apples). Most airports sell containers of chopped fruit if you don’t have time to prepare your own.

• Avoid caffeine, alcohol, and salty snacks, which will worsen cellular imbalance. Watch out for salt in drinks like tomato juice and V8. Avoid soda and sparkling water. These can cause discomfort as gas expands in your body.

MAINTAIN your veggie intake if you’re on a long-haul flight by ordering a vegan in-flight meal. Drink at least one eight-ounce glass of water for every hour in flight. Manage electrolytes, minerals that are crucial to keeping the body balanced at a cellular level so you can function optimally. Electrolytes are expelled in dehydration. In time of need, grab a sachet of Emergen-C to mix with one of your glasses of water. Once you’re on terra firma, you can seek coconut water, which is a more natural source of electrolytes. Purchase a water bottle with a built-in filter (e.g., Bobble). You can take it through security empty, then fill it at a water fountain. Bon voyage!

Jayne McAllister combines over twenty years of business travel with her passion for teaching long-lasting healthy habits to frequent travelers. Jayne is the host and diet/exercise expert for the Healthy Travel Summit: International Expert Interview Series; creator of Dine Out Lose Weight; and an ambassador for




What is your everyday health ritual?





1. Zeny Ogrisseg

2. Chris Hoskins

E-RYT 500 Mililani, Hawaii

Yoga teacher Berkeley, Calif.

My everyday health ritual is to take a cold shower first thing in the morning. It’s refreshing and energizing and has tremendous health benefits, including boosting immunity and increasing mental alertness. I love the energy rush I get, and I hardly ever get sick.

Yoga practice is my daily health ritual. Savasana, the Corpse Pose, is at the heart of my yoga wellness. I began practicing yoga at sixteen; now, at fifty-six, I’ve practiced through all of the phases of my life. The underlying thread that is the root of continuity in yoga’s beneficial effect on my health and wellness is savasana.


The underlying thread that is the root of continuity in yoga’s beneficial effect on my health and wellness is savasana. —Lori Eanes Photo: Lori Eanes

3. Jack Cuneo Denver, Colo. Sitting on the floor! My fiancée and I got rid of the chairs in our house two years ago. We sit on cushions and yoga blocks and use coffee tables for desks. It makes a huge difference in my energy level, my mood, and the overall health of my knees, hips, back, and neck. Photo: Kelly Shroads Photography

4. Ame Onofrey

5. Amanda Serene Dozal

Creator of the Ono Method Edwards, Colo.

Owner/director of Wild Mountain Yoga Center Nevada City, Calif.

Each morning, I greet my loves—my other half and our ten-year-old pug named Stanley. We head out on our morning walk; Stanley cheerfully trots behind me. Our walks allow me time to see the Rocky Mountain seasons change and to visit with neighbors. My walks with him fill my heart with joy and calm my mind.

One of my everyday rituals that keeps me nourished and calm is drinking cucumber, mint, and lemon water, sometimes with hibiscus during the summer. It is a mandatory ritual that, when I come home from work, everyone in my family doesn’t say a word to me till I have gone outside for twenty minutes, totally alone, to ground and decompress. Photo: Kimberly Gavin Photography Photo: Graham Hayes



Adri Kyser International yoga teacher

Silvia Mordini Happiness coach

Shanti and Scott Medina Marketing director of Give Back Yoga Foundation (Shanti)

After a good cry, I surround myself with people I love who give me unconditional support. It shows me that even though people or situations may have caused me pain, I still have many things to be grateful for. Gratitude for the blessings in my life always makes a positive shift in my heart for forgiveness to take place.

I remember that there is always good news. As a spiritually happy person, I trust that blessings live even in tragedy. I have faith that the universe loves me, even if only part of me believes that at the peak of my hurt. I keep my heart open by appreciating the “Aham Prema” mantra in times of distress. I meditate: I am love, I offer love, I receive love.

Boulder, Colo.



We keep our hearts open through serving others. Whether we are feeding the homeless in our community or offering kirtan events around the country that give back to populations like veterans, first responders, and prisoners, it is in the sharing of our hearts and connecting with others through these ancient practices that helps us to keep our own hearts open. SCOTTANDSHANTI.COM BRYAN LOPEZ PHOTOGRAPHY

How do you keep your heart open when you’re hurt? “After a good cry, I surround myself with people I love who give me unconditional support. —Adri Kyser

Sarah McLean Founder and director of McLean Meditation Institute

Suzanne Bryant Yoga teacher, filmmaker, and Yoga Is wellness coach

Sedona, Ariz.

Los Angeles, Calif.

Silent mantra practice helps me respond rather than react. When I feel hurt, I fully experience my emotions (and don’t make them anyone else’s problem!). Then I question my thoughts, examining my belief system and meeting the reality of life. I practice loving-kindness meditation, which cultivates compassion and equanimity. I feel able to comfort myself emotionally, and this keeps my heart open.

The magic of life is much too beautiful to live with a closed heart. Through my heart, I experience the very reason why I am here: to love! When someone hurts me, I remind myself that those moments present an opportunity to grow, to look within and forgive. I nurture myself with yoga, nature, and those that fill my heart. YOGAIS.COM


Presenters in the Sedona Yog a Festival • Sedona, Ariz. 66


Danielle Dominique Vardakas Duszko Director and teacher trainer at Honest Yoga Burlington, Vt. To combat life’s heartaches, I increase my practice. I wake up early for longer meditation, practice japa of mantras at night in bed to settle the mind. I always practice heart openers in my asana method and work to stand tall in daily life. Once my mind is under control, I can understand more clearly this gift of human birth. HONESTYOGACENTER.COM

Music. All I need to do is put on some Stevie Wonder or Grateful Dead, and I’m sobbing with joy. ”

Pamela Quinn Author of The Elemental Cleanse Cincinnati, Ohio Keeping my heart open is a practice in mindfulness, especially when dealing with deeper emotions like hurt or grief. I allow myself time alone to process my emotions to intellectually, emotionally, and spiritually come to terms with how I really feel and the root cause of my suffering. I use meditation, prayer, and conscious communication to transcend. ELEMENTALOM.COM


Marguerite Baca Comedian and yoga teacher San Diego, Calif.

Sara Ivanhoe Loyola Marymount University MA candidate in yoga philosophy

Mas Vidal Director of Dancing Shiva Yoga & Ayurveda Los Angeles, Calif.

Santa Monica, Calif. Practicing svadhyaya, self-honesty, I identify the derogatory treatment. This indicates where I can deepen self-respect, which leads to discernment in relating. I feel gratitude for the awareness, the lesson, the person involved and forgive myself. I meditate and affirm with healing language. “Remove the mud from the gold,” says Paramahansa Yogananda. Daily, I am revealing the gold within.

Music. All I need to do is put on some Stevie Wonder or Grateful Dead, and I’m sobbing with joy. My heart cracks open with unconditional love for all things—even and especially the things I may be “hating” at that moment. It’s a sure-fire heart melter! YOGANATION.COM PHOTO: DAVID YOUNG-WOLFF

I’ve learned that what I feel and experience is a direct reflection of my own thoughts and consciousness. When I feel hurt, I keep my heart open through a consistent practice of introspection, accepting that this “hurt” is divine intelligence guiding me to look within to potentially discover another beautiful lesson of knowing that only the grandest love is what truly exists. DANCINGSHIVA.COM




How do you keep your heart open when you’re hurt? (continued)

Rama Jyoti Vernon Sedona, Ariz. A wise master once said when asked about the practice of unconditional love, “Meet everyone as if they have a broken heart.” When we have been hurt, our mind becomes turbulent. Either we repress the hurt or obsess about it. The essence of yoga is to calm “the turbulence of the mind,” even in the midst of the storms. RAMAJYOTIVERNON.COM

Sunny Dawn Johnston Author, speaker, and psychic medium

Becca Pati Lioness, yogi, and founder of Divine Health Studio

Glendale, Ariz.

St. Albert, Canada

I have found that keeping my heart open when I am hurting is critical to my well-being. When in pain, I invoke the archangels and ask for support and guidance for my highest good. This opens my heart to receive. I then put my hand on my heart and ask myself “What would love say?” and follow my heart!

Amidst my hurt and suffering, I take a deep breath and mindfully choose to keep an open heart in spite of my natural instinct to close off. I dig into my pain to create and hopefully inspire through writing and teaching. The more vulnerable I become, the more I am able to unlock the chains that threaten my freedom.



The key to staying open energetically is remembering that everything is perfect even when it doesn’t feel that way.” —DR. HENELE

Dr. Henele Executive community director for the Energetic Health Institute

Christy Burnette Executive director of Conscious Community Yoga Association

Los Angeles, Calif.

Phoenix, Ariz.

The key to staying open energetically is remembering that everything is perfect even when it doesn’t feel that way. I let it hurt all the way as the emotion pours out of me uncensored. Tears, coughing, snot—I let it all out. Life is supposed to hurt from time to time. It’s part of perfection, so I enjoy the ride.

I believe there are only two emotions: love and fear. Fear can also be expressed as hurt. Fear calls me to go deeper towards love. In order to keep my heart open, I remind myself that personal growth is never about focusing on someone else’s lesson, only my own.

Camella Nair Swami, author, and yoga teacher Mountain View, Calif. On a practical level, I chant. I have found this to be a great way to carve a path back into my heart. I am left with a feeling state where I know that I am loved. If I continue to hold pain on an emotional level for too long, it is self-destructive. Getting out in nature also helps. AQUAKRIYAYOGA.COM



Presenters in the Sedona Yog a Festival • Sedona, Ariz. 68


Julia Mikk Teacher, healer, and founder of Breath of Love Ojai, Calif. When I am hurt, I keep my heart open by cultivating gentleness and compassion towards the feeling of hurt. I embrace it as if I am embracing a little baby, with tenderness and sweetness, and I let it rest in my heart until it feels safe and cared for. It brings along a great sense of wholeness, clarity, and love. BREATHOFLOVE.ORG PHOTO: NORMAN CLAYTON

The more vulnerable I become, the more I am able to unlock the chains that threaten my freedom.”

Bhava Ram Founder of Deep Yoga School of Healing Arts San Diego, Calif. I remember it’s not my heart that’s wounded. It’s the mind that pulls me out of heart consciousness. I close my eyes; feel my breath, my body, the earth supporting me; and bring awareness back to my heart. Then I give the outcome of whatever I’m facing up to the divine. It works every time. BHAVARAM.COM PHOTO: MONIQUE FEIL PHOTOGRAPHY


Marc and Heather Titus Sedona Yoga Festival director and producer

Catie Foroughi CYoga creator and yogi mentor

Jenn Chiarelli Founder of Anahata Soul

Sedona, Ariz.

London, U.K.

Phoenix, Ariz.

I try to remember that my suffering is your suffering, that my pain is your pain. This remembering brings me into presence to realize you didn’t hurt me; rather, I am the only one who can hurt myself. From that place, only loving action seems appropriate to break the cycle of apparent suffering, to do no harm.

I love my destiny. It is lots of asanas, meditation, and handstands! Any moments of “ow” can create sensitivity and softness that is an artful and raw opener of the heart. So personally, I would keep up asana and handstand play if ever hurt and see how any feelings naturally create an ever-expanded heart.

When I get hurt, I immediately take a deep breath. I know that whenever I “feel” hurt, it is my small self (my ego) that is being hurt and not my deepest self. Sometimes, it takes just one deep breath to open my heart; other days, it may take a lot more! This shift connects me to the divinity within.






By Melanie Klein Photos: Sarit Z. Rogers

This Is What a

Atticus Meriweather-Klein

Bea Ammidown

Brigitte “Gigi Yogini” Kouba

Caleb Asch

Courtney Sauls

Dan Ward

De Jur Jones

Felicia Tomasko

Hala Khouri

Jazmine Pierre-Lys

Jennifer Oliver O’Connell

Joey Lugassy




Yogi Looks Like

Joni Yung

Kali Alexander

Lauren Eckstrom

Mark Miller

Marla Mattenson

Matt Sockolov

Melanie Klein

MIchelene Berry

Nita Rubio

Paul Eckstein

Pia Guerrero

Vytas Baskauskas



We are what a yogi looks like Every age. Every race and ethnicity. Every class and socioeconomic status. Every gender identity and sexual orientation. Every size, shape, height, weight, and dis/ability. This is what a yogi looks like. Caleb Asch: “A yogi is an ever-vigilant self-studier.” Micheline Berry: “A yogi transforms dharma into action.” Lauren Eckstrom: “A yogi lives one’s life rooted in the philosophy of yoga.” Kali Alexander: “There is no ‘yogi’ box or exclusionary definition. Come one, come all.” Courtney Sauls: “A yogi understands the limits of the body but understands the expansion of the soul.” Hala Khouri: “A yogi is a person using embodied practices for self-awareness, healing, and accountability.” Jennifer Oliver O’Connell: “A yogi is connected to one’s authentic self, enhanced through the practice of yoga.” Nita Rubio: “A yogin/yogi/yogini is one who has come into union with the ‘higher’ intelligence coursing through the nadis, or energy channels, of the body.”

This is what a yogi looks like. The “yoga body” is a stereotype, a fantasy, and a lie. The “yoga body” has been objectified and commodified.



The “yoga body” does not represent the full range of human diversity among yoga practitioners and the larger population. Kali Alexander: “A yoga body is one that strives to be in tune with itself.” Caleb Asch: “A yoga body is any body you practice yoga in.” Felicia Tomasko: “A yoga body is one that integrates body, mind, heart, and spirit.” Hala Khouri: “A yoga body is a body that practices yoga because yoga is a practice for any type of body.” Courtney Sauls: “A yoga body is every body, because the true practice of yoga is of the mind.” Micheline Berry: “A yoga body is a body that breathes, weeps, laughs. That yearns to love and be loved.” Bea Ammidown: “All bodies can be a yoga body—sick or well, young or old. It is about consciousness, awareness, and acceptance.” Looking at the world of yoga imagery, one might question the answers from the yoga practitioners and yoga teachers we included in the “This Is What a Yogi Looks Like” campaign. Not one person mentioned performing arm balances, deep back bends, or other physically challenging postures as the measure of a yogi. In fact, postures weren’t mentioned at all. Not one person mentioned a particular race/ ethnicity, age, size, weight, dis/ability, socioeconomic status, gender identity, or sexual orientation in describing a “yogi” or outlining the “yoga body.” Yet popular imagery of yogis and the corresponding yoga body presents us with something radically different. According to Dan Ward, the yogis and the yoga bodies that weave the tapestry of representation are similar to the professional athletes, fashion models, and celebrity bodies idealized in the popular culture. And as more corporate entities have jumped into the business of yoga, yoga has been transformed, with media spotlights shining most brightly on those that fall within the lines of the ideal type. And as Dan states, “Media exposure translates into credibility.”

The Yoga and Body Image Coalition is about every body and everybody. We’re committed to collaborating and creating conscious community. We’re committed to authentic representation, diversity, and equity. We’re not interested in token representations of diversity; we’re interested in shifting the yoga paradigm. We’re about shining a light on the voices, experiences, and work that communities of yogis are doing to do the same. We’re not about creating a brand; we’re about creating a movement. The “This Is What a Yogi Looks Like” campaign sprung from a conversation with community allies Lynann Politte and Marla Mattenson after the Yoga and Body Image Coalition’s debut as panelists on the “Practice of Leadership” series examining yoga and body image at Yoga Journal Live! in San Diego last summer. “This Is What a Yogi Looks Like” is a riff on the feminist campaign “This Is What a Feminist Looks Like,” designed to deconstruct stereotypes about feminists. Similarly, this campaign is about challenging stereotypes about yoga, yogis, and the yoga body. The Yoga and Body Image Coalition is committed to action. Similar to coalition cofounder Gigi Yogini’s intention behind launching Yogaudacious in January, this campaign is about diversifying yoga media. Instead of requesting and waiting for media that is authentic and diverse, we choose to lead by example and be the media. And in these images, you’ll see that “this is what a yogi looks like.” While there is a lot of beautiful and inspiring yoga imagery, if it doesn’t rely on lithe, lean, young bodies or feats of athletic prowess, it uses scenery, effect, and lighting to create a mood. I enjoy those images. But we rarely see anything that deviates from this pattern. And the unintentional cumulative effect is that it reinforces all the stereotypes our campaign seeks to challenge. We worked with Sarit Z. Rogers, a photographer and body-image activist, to create images that tell the truth about who we are as yogis and how we practice. As Sarit states, “This shoot was an opportunity to weave in my activist sensibilities with my love of photographing people.”

To accomplish our shared vision, Sarit made the images about the people being photographed rather than about the environment they were in, keeping the lighting and background simple. The images have been minimally altered and retain our humanity through the lines on our faces, the creases in our necks, and the folds of skin on our bodies. The yogis did not have their hair or makeup done by a team of professionals, nor did they choose from a garment rack of shiny, new “yoga clothes.” We did not reshoot images if their “alignment” was off, because every body is unique and no one should look or be like anyone else in a posture. We are diverse. Our bodies are diverse and unique. Our yoga practices are diverse, unique, and personal.

This is what a yogi looks like. You are what a yogi looks like. To learn more about the campaign, pick up your own “This Is What a Yogi Looks Like” tee, support the work of the Yoga and Body Image Coalition, and/or be featured in our upcoming series in Mantra Yoga + Health, visit

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









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The Battle to End

Human Trafficking and How Everyday People Are Making a Difference By Kelly Campbell





he United Nations’ definition of human trafficking is “the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harboring, or receipt of persons, by means of the threat or use of force or other forms of coercion, of abduction, of fraud, of deception, of the abuse of power or of a position of vulnerability or of the giving or receiving of payments or benefits . . . for the purpose of exploitation.”

Human trafficking is one of the fastest-growing organized crimes in the world, generating more than $32 billion each year. Estimates say that more than three million women and children are enslaved in the sex trade and that more than thirty percent of sex workers are believed to be children. And it’s not just happening “out there.” Officials say that each year, right in our own backyard, more than 50,000 people are trafficked into the U.S., and over 750,000 women and children have been trafficked into the U.S. over the past decade. Think of it this way: more women and children are coerced into brothels every year than the number of slaves shipped to plantations annually in the Americas in the eighteenth century. Victims of human trafficking are subject to gross human-rights violations, including rape, torture, forced abortions, starvation, and threats of torturing or murdering family members. Many are tricked into accepting “jobs” in the tourism industry or as domestic servants. Others are lured into false marriages. Many are sold by their families due to extreme poverty and lack of education, and still others are simply kidnapped and taken by traffickers. It is easy to get overwhelmed when taking in these chilling details and to feel as though there is little you can do to make a difference. But if every person educated themselves on the issue and made an effort to join in the battle to fight human trafficking and better support its victims, our world would be a much better place. One example of how everyday people can make a difference in this ongoing battle is the relationship between Off the Mat Into the World, Sanlaap, The Village Experience, and CorePower Yoga. Through OTM’s Global Seva Challenge in 2012, over one million dollars was raised to combat human

More women and children

are coerced into brothels every year than the number of slaves shipped to plantations

annually in the Americas in the eighteenth century.

trafficking. One manner in which this money was used was to build a vocational-skills training center at the Sanlaap Shelter Home in Kolkata, India. Through training provided by The Village Experience, more than forty young women have learned how to block print, batik, sew, and construct beautiful, handmade, fair-trade items such as scarves and handbags, and these items are now for sale at CorePower Yoga Studios throughout the country. Such sustainable, thoughtful, income-generating projects are crucial to removing the stigma associated with trafficking, rehabilitating these young girls, and empowering them to make a new life for themselves.

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




Our very dear friend Michael Franti has demonstrated this sense of parampara in a modern way. He’s been a yoga student and dear family friend for twelve years now. We met him through another very dear family friend and yoga student, Woody Harrelson. They both share a commitment to activism, the environment, and yoga. Woody really wanted to connect us, and it so happened that we were in Upstate New York in the summer of 2002 when Michael was playing at the Gathering of the Vibes. Eddie Modestini and I showed up to teach Michael, and that was the beginning of a beautiful friendship and enduring yogic relationship.

Now go out and inspire someone today! Be kind to yourself and to one another.

Nicki Doane has been teaching yoga since 1992 at her home studio on Maui as well as workshops worldwide. She calls yoga a “life support system,” referring to her firm belief that yoga supports us in all the demands of modern life through the cultivation of awareness and integrity.

We have been out on tour with Michael many times over the years and have loved every second of it. I am a major music fan and am thrilled to be able to offer something to the musicians and the crews for the incredible gift of their music and creative inspiration. It’s a beautiful symbiosis of yoga, music, and creativity on all sides. So when Michael invited me to come teach on his Soulshine tour this summer and teach a yoga class to kick off the festival each day, I said, “Hell, yes!” I got to teach Michael and his band as well as his headliners, Trevor Hall and reggae band SOJA. They are all really nice young guys playing conscious music and keeping it real. They remind me of Michael with their inspired attitudes and lyrics, and now they have yoga to help them as well. I even got to teach yoga to Michael and Jay, his guitarist, last month before their Maui gig, and Woody even showed up to practice with us! The parampara continues.

“Life has always been an ongoing lineage of one person inspiring another.






As Rumi wrote, “That I am a part of the ploys of this game makes me immensely happy.” Eddie and I are blessed to be surrounded by inspirational people, and it feels so rewarding that I, too, have something to offer for inspiration. Don’t ever doubt the power of one person’s ability to create change. Life has always been an ongoing lineage of one person inspiring another.

The Lineage of Inspiration

have been thinking about the Sanskrit word “parampara” a lot lately. It means “lineage,” and it makes me think of how my yoga practice has been such an inspiration to me, how I can inspire others through my gift of teaching, and how my students can take those teachings and pass them on to inspire others.

Keeping the parampara going

By Nicki Doane

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By Shiva Rea

volving as a creative adult in a changing world is challenging. “Tending the fire” of all aspects of one’s life—our vitality, livelihood, love, family, relationships, creativity, personal activism, and spiritual connection—asks of us to show up in our life, fully. Our inner and outer fires can also grow dim, almost peter out, or blaze out of control. Tending our life-fire is like keeping a living flame steady, bringing us into greater awareness of what is needed. Our lives are a flash of light in cosmic time. There is nothing like the newyear fire to help us wake up and not be afraid to get real about what we want to change and what we want to live for. Within yoga, all the dimensions of our life, as well as the five elements, are all connected as our sama agni, or the balance of our personal fire. Yoga and Ayurveda view human beings as psycho-somatic-spiritual entities in which the interplay between thought impressions, emotions, body experiences, life actions, and macrocosmic forces all affect our life-fire and vitality. Cultivating sama agni gives us a healthy appetite for life as well as the capacity to initiate transformation within the world. When burned too quickly, excessive fire (tikshna agni) develops. When we neglect a fire, or our vitality wanes, we have dim fire (manda agni). When it is difficult to stabilize the fire, wavering fire (vishama agni) arises. Our focus is sama agni, the balanced fire that supports our life-force. As we head into the new year, we can reflect with compassion about the state of our life-fires so that we can support the dim fire, steady the wavering fire, and harmonize that which is burning intensely. SHIVAREA.COM



The Four Fires (adapted from Ayurveda) Dim fire (manda agni) can manifest as a lack of hunger for life, disconnection, low energy, and lethargy and is balanced by life practices which revitalize, rekindle, and nourish without depleting vital energy. Excessive fire (tikshna agni) manifests as insatiable hunger and a reactive nervous system—rarely satisfied, sharp, intense, ego-driven, and out of balance. Excessive fire is balanced by slowing down, relaxing, and bringing more meditative life activities and yoga practices into one’s life. Wavering fire (vishama agni) affects our ability to experience life without stress as the wavering fire expends energy through an irregular flow, erratic energy, and inability to sustain transformation. Balance the fire through grounding, fewer activities, and greater quality of presence. Balanced fire (sama agni) brings you into your authentic energy flow, vitality, inspiration, clarity, longevity, and passion—sustaining evolution in all forms. May we tend to the changes in our inner and outer fires. Blaze on and happy New Year!

Shiva Rea, founder of Samudra Online Global School of Living Yoga and the evolutionary form of Prana Vinyasa, offers yoga movement alchemy through retreats, trainings, festivals around the world, and online programs based on her latest book, Tending the Heart Fire: Living in Flow with the Pulse of Life.

There is nothing like the new-year fire to help us wake up and not be afraid to get real about what we want to change and what we want to live for.”




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Interview: Melanie Klein



redefining masculinity

Bryan Kest Melanie Klein: Most people think about women when discussing the

MK: And the rest is history. Not only did it help you reevaluate your life and

topic of body image. We all have a body image or psychological representation of ourselves based on our life experiences. What shaped your perception of what a man should look and act like?

discover the “fallibility of the tough-guy persona,” it literally directed the course of the rest of your life.

Bryan Kest: The media played a role from the time I was a little boy watching superheroes like The Incredible Hulk on Saturday-morning cartoons. Later, Clint Eastwood, Sylvester Stallone, Dolph Lundgren, and Arnold Schwarzenegger epitomized the ideal of the big, tall, ripped dude that could kick ass, because you couldn’t just be muscular; you had to be able to fight. They all perpetuated the stereotype of manhood that had been continuously jammed down my throat my whole life. And when I’d hit the gym with my friends, that was our motivation to grow our bodies: so we could emulate that physical ideal of a “real man.”

MK: While the media plays a pivotal role in shaping our expectations, these ideas are reinforced in other places.

BK: Yeah, it was undeniable. After I started practicing with my teacher, David Williams, the Western pioneer of Ashtanga yoga, I knew this was what I needed to be doing. I knew it was the path I needed to take. And my other teacher, Brad Ramsey, was espousing the spiritual teachings of yoga, highlighting them in addition to the physical practice. I was an aggressive kid but I wasn’t a stupid kid, and he inspired me to investigate yoga further. It was hard to deny its practicality and rationality. It just made sense to me, and I have been living and following my practice ever since I started in 1979 at age fourteen.

MK: Your dad was a big influence. Does he still influence you now that you’re a father of three?

MK: And he passed it on to you?

BK: My dad did the best he could with the limited set of tools he had from his own experiences with his parents. And that’s what I’m doing too, even though I’m doing things differently than he did. I may have a different perspective on parenting and what I prioritize as a father, but the crazy thing is, I know these things because of what my dad has given me. I mean, he’s the one who turned me on to yoga and opened me up to this whole world of seeing things in a new way. It has helped me raise my children differently.

BK: Yeah, he was my male role model. He was tall, strong, and aggres-

MK: How does this new way of experiencing and being in the world that he

sive. He’s the guy people came to when shit went down. He’d been in the army and had jumped out of airplanes. He was living up to that image of male culture—an image that has been passed down for generations, an image associated with bravery, honor, and aggression. I mean, he was like a real-live action hero to me. He was the first and biggest influence on me, and it was supported by everything I saw in the media.

opened you up to impact what you teach and practice with your children? What gifts are you passing on?

BK: Absolutely! Before Saturday-morning cartoons, my father had already begun influencing my sense of manhood. He was my biggest icon, and like most guys, he bought into all that “macho” crap. It’s what he’d learned his whole life too.

MK: What’s both interesting and beautiful about your essay [in Yoga and Body Image] about your father’s influence on your sense of masculinity is that he shaped your self-professed anger and aggressive tendencies, but he also gifted you with an introduction to yoga. And ultimately, yoga is what changed your trajectory in profound ways.

BK: After my dad left, all hell broke loose at home. By seventh grade, I was smoking in the bathroom, skipping school, and not doing any work. I’m not sure how I made it to ninth grade, but that was the last year I finished school in my life. My dad had moved to Maui and discovered yoga. After my mom called and told him he needed to take me because she couldn’t handle me any longer, he showed up and said I could live with him in Hawaii if I followed his one house rule: practice yoga every day.


BK: I partake in things that enrich my children’s spirituality. I want them to be as happy as they can be, because I know that translates into health as well. I maintain a house that is completely nonviolent. We don’t partake in violent books, games, or television, and I try not to raise my voice at them. In fact, I’ve never yelled at them except in the case of an emergency. We do a gratitude meditation every night where we all mention ten things we’re grateful for. We maintain a garden so they develop a connection to the earth and the source of food. In the end, my intention is in developing their consciousness and full humanity.

Bryan Kest, who coined the now-ubiquitous term “power yoga” and created donation-based yoga, is a world-renowned yoga teacher and owner of Santa Monica Power Yoga studios and the live-streaming video series Power Yoga Online. Melanie Klein, MA, is a writer, speaker, and professor of sociology and women’s studies. She is a contributing author in 21st Century Yoga and is featured in Conversations with Modern Yogis. She is the coeditor of Yoga and Body Image: 25 Personal Stories about Beauty, Bravery, and Loving Your Body.




My dad had moved to Maui and discovered yoga . . . . [He] said I could live with him in Hawaii if I followed his one house rule: practice yoga every day.�





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By Janet Bray Attwood and Chris Attwood, with Sylva Dvorak, PhD

Exploring the Power of Ritual

Reinforce your intention and stay focused on what you choose to create Many people think that rituals are religious practices or superstitions. Yet rituals are the “secret weapons” of the world’s most accomplished people—from sports stars to corporate executives to world-class performers. What most people have missed is that rituals are essential tools in today’s world to improve performance, to stay calm in stressful situations, and to maintain balance in an over-busy life. But what’s the difference between a habit and a ritual? We all have good habits and bad habits. In contrast, rituals are conscious, intentional acts we choose to make habitual.



When renowned soccer player Leighton Baines ties and unties his shoes every time he walks on a playing field to start a game, is that a good or bad habit? Neither. It’s a ritual he uses to get present, to set the game apart from the rest of his life so he is fully focused, and to get into a mental state where he can perform at his best. This worksheet will help you create your own meaningful ritual. We encourage you to use it every time you are about to begin an important activity in your life, e.g., your workday. Janet Bray Attwood, Chris Attwood, and Sylva Dvorak, PhD, are authors of Your Hidden Riches: Unleashing the Power of Ritual to Create a Life of Meaning and Purpose (Harmony, October 21, 2014).

Creating Your Personal

Three-Minute Daily Ritual

“Rituals like this will create specialness in your day and your work. You’ll find you’re more focused when you’re working, and you don’t obsess over your work when you’re not.”

There are seven aspects to ceremonial rituals—rituals that create a special feeling and experience when they are performed:

1 Intention:

One part of your daily ritual will involve reading out loud the intention you set for your work.

2 Preparation and Purification:

Create a special spot in your office or on your desk where you keep the elements for your ritual. Also, take a few moments before you start to clean up and wipe off your ritual space.

3 Use of Symbols:

In your ritual space, place symbols that are meaningful to you and will inspire you as you work. These could include photos of your family who will benefit from your work, special mentors or teachers you value, mementos, and anything else that will give personal meaning to your work on this project.

4 Activating the Senses:

Incorporate fruit, flowers, scented oils, or candles, and your ritual will have a deeper and more profound effect.

5 Prescribed Performance:

Create a specific order to what you’ll do during

your ritual.

An example would be: a) Prepare the space: take a moment to clean the area, light an aroma diffuser, arrange your fresh flowers or healthy snack, and put your scarf or cloth on.

b) Sit quietly in silence for thirty seconds. c) Open your eyes and read your intention for the day out loud.

d) If you’re beginning your work, write out three things you’d like to accomplish today on this project. If you’re ending, list three things you accomplished. e) Read a quote or passage from a book that is inspiring to you and reminds you of why you’re happy to be doing this work.

f) Quietly speak out one thing you’re grateful for. Find something you have not expressed on previous days.

g) Speak out one thing you appreciate about yourself. Again, find something you have not expressed before. h) Put out the incense and begin working on your project.

6 Repetition:

Repeating your ritual over and over will help to ground your intention and create new neural pathways so that your work will always be connected to the intention you set.

7 Invoking the Unseen:

This can be as simple as acknowledging that you need help to achieve the goals you’ve set for yourself and you’re willing to accept that help from wherever it may come. Using these seven aspects of ritual as a guide (and you do not have to include them in the order shown), take a few minutes now to design your personal three-minute ritual for this project. From our experience, rituals like this will create specialness in your day and your work. You’ll find you’re more focused when you’re working, and you don’t obsess over your work when you’re not. For now, commit to performing the simple, short ritual you’ve designed, at the beginning and end of each time you are working on this project. I hereby commit to performing my three-minute daily ritual at the start and end of my work each day.



You’ve done it! Congratulations!



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Afro Punk By Faith Hunter

A multicultural celebration of music and community






ubmerged in an ocean of masterful vibrations of rock, ska, metal, hip-hop, house, funk, soul, and blues, I twirled myself into a mystical trance infused by AfroPunk.

The concept and term “AfroPunk” was growing in the hearts and minds of African American youth prior to the 2003 documentary. Inspired by social nonconformity infused with music, Matthew Morgan and James Spooner not only collaborated on the movie but also created AfroPunk Fest in 2005. Since those days, the weekend music festival and other events throughout the year have become a safe haven for multicultural self-expression doused with passionate music, film, fashion, activism, art, and much more.




On the tenth anniversary of this two-day festival in Brooklyn, I experienced it as a writer. For some reason, I thought it would be different; however, from the moment the bass pierced my heart, I dropped into my “fire girl” spirit and began to dance. As I drifted from stage to stage, my soul collided with a beautiful assortment of beings. I was not only stirred by the people and music but also blessed to inhale the agile energy pouring across Commodore Barry Park. Peace, rebellion, love, pain, darkness, and brilliance—all moved to a cultural rhythm that is uniquely AfroPunk. I was blown away by the sultry voice of SZA, a St. Louis–born, New Jersey–raised vocalist that can soften the edge of any punk rocker while holding strong to her female power. In true Brooklyn form, Denitia and Sene delivered an electro-soul performance that washed away my worries and mesmerized

my ears. Blazing fiercely through the punkrock scene since the mid-’80s, the sounds of Fishbone ripped the audience like a knife and created a mosh pit of political hell-raisers. And like always, Meshell Ndegeocello layered my soul with erotic lyrics bent over pulsing beats that always seem to leave me naked and wanting more. It is one of the largest multicultural events in the United States, bringing together a spicy, vibrant, intoxicating, musical, and metaphorical cipher of tribal connection. In 2015, AfroPunk Fest takes place August 22 to 23.

Faith Hunter is a yoga instructor, lifestylist, and creator of Spiritually Fly, a philosophy that celebrates every moment of life and uses yoga’s tools of chanting, music, breath, and movement. Faith owns a studio named Embrace, a training and community center in Adams Morgan, Washington, D.C. PHOTOS: ERIK MOTTA



Harvest your

B y S a ra Iva nh o e

Moon Cultivate the ida nadi

Ever notice that we are always practicing on the right side of the body first instead of the left? Ever ask why we are taught to look up instead of down? Maybe it is because I’m left-handed, but I’ve always scratched my head at this incongruity and wondered why no one mentions it. The right side of the body is considered to be masculine. It is associated with sun energy and called by the yogis “pingala nadi.” The left side of the body, the moon (“ida nadi”), is associated with feminine energy. Most of the hatha yoga in America today was passed down through male teachers. Perhaps if the tradition had been passed down through women, we would all be practicing the left side of the body first and looking at Mother Earth instead of Father Sky. The word “hatha” is a reflection of how these two polarities were originally valued in the yoga system. The root “ha” translates as “sun,” while “tha” means “moon,” implying that the goal was to foster a balance.

Physical Sports physiologists tell us that whatever action we do on the first side, we do better. By the time we get to the second side, the body is already partially fatigued. This accumulates over time. The first side always getting a little stronger, the second side continuously getting short-changed. Using the right leg first in a series is the equivalent of always carrying your bag on one shoulder, holding a baby or groceries with one arm, writing with one hand, et cetera. These can all create asymmetrical repetitive-motion injuries.


Sun energy is how we radiate out into the world, while moon energy is how we draw radiance inward. If we are only “shining out,” we are in a constant state of giving—and this can be exhausting! The word “nadi” means “river,” or “stream,” as these channels are meant to flow. If the outward flow is overly strong, something would have to swim upstream to get in. It is impossible to manifest or call something new in if the energy is constantly blasting out.


It is impossible to manifest or call

something new in if the energy is constantly

blasting out. 32


Social media can become an addiction to external validation. While it can also be a way to connect with our friends and to build a business, it reinforces turning to an outside source for our happiness. Moon energy is the network within. Taken to the other extreme, one who is too internally focused can suffer from paranoia and depression. Whenever possible, we are looking for balance. Please don’t disrespect your teachers and practice the left side first in class! Instead, look to “harvest your moon” within all that you do. Turn your gaze to the earth, find stillness instead of wiggling, and see if you “Like” something instead of asking your friends to “Like” it for you. The Ashtanga system has what are called “moon days,” where there is no practice at all on both full and new moons. You are invited to join in this tradition or create your own ritual. On new-moon nights, set an intention for the new cycle. On full-moon nights, go outside by yourself—and howl. PHOTO: MURRAY HIDARY

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


Marni Sclaroff Yoga teacher | Reston, Va.

The truest thing that I know is the call of my own heart to be a blessing to this precious life. Also, each of us has a magnificent energy and beauty that lives beneath the surface of our lives, and our work here is to discover that and share it with the world in a way that uplifts those around us. MARNISCLAROFF.COM | PHOTO: JOE LONGO


Lila Heller Pilates/movement specialist | Oakland, Calif.

I have come to appreciate simply being alive and the wisdom to not take the days, hours, or minutes for granted. Through the journey of becoming a single mother, I have learned to value the precious time that I spend on things that fulfill my soul. This showing up, not taking life for granted, is the surest way I know to transformation. LILAHELLER.COM | PHOTO: BROOKE DUTHIE

Lisa Ferraro Sound yogi | Rahway, N.J.


We are all connected, part of the energy of vibration and stillness. Sound and silence. I had an experience listening to music that put me in touch with my expansive true nature. Since that time, I have been fueled by a passion to share music and sound as inspiring tools for opening to your inextricable connection to all things.


Anita Brown RYT 200 | Westmont, N.J.


At the intersection of deep suffering and deep love lies transformation. When God and you and I merge, everything makes sense. I continue to explore and be curious about our interconnectedness. Ultimately, there is nowhere I can hide where God does not find me, console me, caress me, and dry my tears in this body, now. Salvation is liberation. WWW.SMILINGHEARTYOGA.ORG | PHOTO: ROBERT STURMAN


Edica Pacha Owner and designer at Pacha Play Boulder, Colo.

Humbled through a challenging and addicted life, I was taken into the murky waters of hell to move through the alchemical experience of understanding the divine nature of existence. It is from this place that I began the “practice” of life—meditation, yoga, pranayama, journey work, creative process, relationship, motherhood, dance, etc.—and dove deep down into truth.



Tanya Witman Massage therapist and yoga instructor Tucson, Ariz.

The truest thing I know is that anything can change, whether it’s my body, my outlook, my beliefs, my opinions, my relationships, even my most core concepts of personal identity. They can and do change. Keeping my attention available for shifts in my internal weather helps me take these changes more in stride and give them a more open door, providing a welcoming environment over a resistant one. MANTRASSAGE.COM | PHOTO: JADE BEALL




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I have come to appreciate simply being alive and the wisdom to not take the days, hours, or minutes for granted.” —Lila Heller

Kristin Tone Writer/yoga teacher | Bend, Oreg.


The truest thing I know is that I know nothing for sure. Truth, in my experience, is a moment-tomoment encounter. The more I pay attention and stay present, the more I can feel what is true and move from this guided place. The moment I “know” that “they” are wrong/bad is the moment I choose violence and separation.


Mandy Eubanks Founder of EveryOne Yoga School | Tulsa, Okla.

When I think about truth, knowledge, and transformation, I remember two phases of my life: my first few years of practicing yoga and becoming a mother. If I could find one word that describes each of these times, it’s “love.” So love is the truest thing I know.




Mike Philson CEO and artist at MMP Guided Entertainment Los Angeles, Calif. / New York, N.Y. Love is the solution. Learning to love myself and love God has opened up the universe. Love of life, family, and community has directed me toward the intersection of mission, purpose, and calling. I didn’t always know what I was searching for, but listening to that inner voice and relentlessly pursuing love has facilitated the abundance of flow, hope, and joy. MIKEPHILSON.COM | PHOTO: JONATHAN PILLOT


Susan A. Lipshutz LCSW, integrative psychotherapist, and Everyday Medicine Woman founder Chicago, Ill.

The truest thing I know is that love is the most powerful force in the universe, that women are the carriers of these power seeds because we are the source of all life. Once my heart was awakened by this cosmic Mother Love, everything transformed within my life to align and serve that beautiful truth.



Aida, Vyda, Zara, and Siga Bielkus Sisters and cofounders of Health Yoga Life Boston, Mass.

Chay S. Prieto E-RYT 500, yogi, actor, and artist Tampa, Fla.

Stillness is the doorway to transformed living. Through stillness, we learn to engage the mindbody connection and observe our inner terrain. We use stillness to realign our deepest beliefs and empower the choices of our own lives. This process allows us to love our choices and give up the need to defend them. It’s ultimate liberation!

The truest thing I know is that there is a power greater than me and there is such a thing as divine timing. When living from a place of acceptance, gratitude, and love, the universe manifests. My experiences have shaped who I’ve become. I now graciously move forward, knowing there is a purpose to my life.






Interview: Eloise Nelson

for the Women

award-winning actor ROBIN WRIGHT and clothing

designer KAREN FOWLER launch a women’s sleepwear company to give back to Congolese women and girls Eloise Nelson: Why did you choose to support women in the Congo? Robin Wright: I was introduced to the crisis in the Congo eleven years ago. At the time, the U.N. stated that it was the worst place in the world to be a woman, and even today, it ranks in the top ten worst places for women.

gone to meetings with her and have been involved but always wanted to do more, to give more. Now PLF has given me a chance to get involved in a much bigger way. I feel like serendipity has allowed me to combine my work with social responsibility. I am grateful to be working with Robin and for the opportunity to support women who really need our help! EN: Why pajamas, Karen?

EN: Tell us about your company, Pour Les Femmes. RW and Karen Fowler: “Pour les femmes” means “for the women” in French. We felt it perfectly reflects our company’s value. Our company designs and sells comfortable, beautiful sleepwear.

KF: Robin and I wanted to create a line of pajamas that were both practical and sexy, something that we both enjoyed sleeping in ourselves. We both feel that sleepwear symbolizes the comfort and security that is a fundamental human right.

I felt that we, as consumers, had a responsibility to help spread awareness and advocate cleaning up the mineral trade and finally put an end to the suffering.

EN: How will this project benefit women in the Congo? RW: Pour Les Femmes sleepwear profit will go directly to Synergie des Femmes and Action Kivu. Synergie des Femmes and Action Kivu support the Congo by providing vocational training for women, health care for women and children, children’s education, and mental-health care for victims of violence.

—Robin Wright

EN: Tell me how you’ve been involved for the last eleven years. RW: I’ve been a spokesperson/advocate/activist for the “Raise Hope for Congo” campaign. Primarily to spread awareness for the plight of women in the Congo and to be their voice in the U.S. to encourage the U.S. Congress to take heed. EN: Karen, how long have you been aware of what’s going on for women in the Congo? KF: Robin has been passionate about helping Congolese women for over a decade. We’re close, so she told me about the project right away. I’ve

EN: What is PLF’s mission?

RW: To create a socially conscious company which designs sleepwear, symbolizing the comfort and security we believe is a basic human right. To educate people on the plight of women in conflict regions and to then empower these women so that they may live better lives. We invite you to join us in our mission to change the lives of Congolese women. At night, when you go to bed in the comfort and safety of your home, you can rest well with the unity and understanding that we’re all one, and together we dream bigger!




I learned that it’s a place where militias use rape as a weapon of war. I discovered that the cause of this crisis is due to the illicit mineral trade. Minerals that our electronics companies purchase to build the gadgets that we all use every single day, such as cell phones and computers. I felt that we, as consumers, had a responsibility to help spread awareness and advocate cleaning up the mineral trade and finally put an end to the suffering.



Amount = Resulting Action by Action Kivu and Synergie des Femmes

$200,000 = Build a school for marginalized women who have been unable to receive education due to being victims of violence.

$15,000 = Train and equip an entire community for agricultural sustainability and food security.

$2,000 = Pay for one full month of vocational-program trainers, adult-literacy teachers, and transportation to and from program sites and stations. $500 = Send a Congolese girl to a university for a year.

$250 = Offer business and financial training plus

a microloan to a vulnerable mature woman to start her own business.

$200 = Provide a sewing machine and accesso-

ries to a woman so she can work in her own community and earn a living using her skills.

$200 = Pay the tuition for a Congolese girl to attend secondary school.

$40 = Enroll an orphan from war or with HIV/AIDS in school, with fees paid, and give him or her a school kit at the beginning of every year.

$10 = Give access to health care for a vulnerable

child (war orphan, HIV/AIDS orphan, child of rape) for a whole year.





Living in Gratitude Never take what you have for granted

By Chris Grosso

I try to do my best to live each day from a place of gratitude—especially after almost losing my life a handful of times to drug addiction—but I still fall short sometimes, and that morning was one of them. I mean, there I was in my semi-blah mood for no real reason when, out of the blue, I was reminded of how utterly cruel life can be. Hearing about this man’s daughter and seeing that awful look on his face—one of complete brokenness—served as a gut-wrenching reminder of how important it is to be mindful of all that I’m blessed with in life. It’s no secret that we live in an extremely fast-paced world, one that can make it exceptionally easy to take life for granted and to overlook all of the things we truly have to be grateful for. Trying to juggle the myriad demands of life leaves little time for us to have fun and unwind, let alone THEINDIESPIRITUALIST.COM



make time each day to mindfully express gratitude. But it doesn’t have to be a formal practice like yoga, meditation, or prayer, though it can be in the form of daily gratitude journals. Saying thanks throughout the day is all it really takes, and it’s rather simple once you’re in the habit. Did you wake up this morning in a bed and with a roof over your head? Give thanks. Do you have a toilet and shower that work? Give thanks. Shoes on your feet? Give thanks. Family and friends? Give thanks. Food and fresh drinking water? Give thanks. Your health? Oh, definitely give thanks!

Saying thanks throughout the day is . . . rather simple once you’re in the habit.


t was a cold and rainy October morning in Ottawa, Ontario. The kind that makes it easy to be in a blah mood for no particular reason if one’s not mindful of that sort of thing, which, on this particular morning, I wasn’t. My wife and I stopped by a local coffee shop to get some much-needed caffeine into our systems before heading over to chaperone a field trip for my stepdaughter’s second-grade class. As we sat there, sipping our coffee, a man came over and introduced himself, mentioning that his youngest daughter was also in our little one’s class. My wife asked him if he was also chaperoning the field trip, to which he replied no, mentioning that his other daughter was home sick. I asked if she had a cold, and his eyes began welling up with tears as he told us that she was dying from brain cancer. My heart immediately began to sink as if a hundred-pound weight had been attached to it.

So why not make today the day to start practicing more gratitude in your life? It’s like the mystic Meister Eckhart once said, “If the only prayer you say in your entire life is ‘Thank you,’ it will be enough.” And no matter how busy life may get, that’s still doable, right?

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. PHOTO: SARIT Z. ROGERS



A YOGA JOINT ADVANCED TEACHER TRAINING PROGRAM Visit for details and application or email


Sofiah Thom

Jeff Ignatowski

Cofounder of Danyasa Yoga Arts and Eco-Retreat

RYT 200 and owner of Warrior Vacations

Dominical, Costa Rica

Cincinnati, Ohio

I believe we all possess an inner artist—a unique, individual creative spark that just needs to be allowed or inspired to show itself. Through learning to live our yoga, we nurture this creative spark within ourselves and access our creative potential to embody our most brilliant selves.

We all want to be happy, and the best way to find that happiness is through health. If we are healthy, we feel better and can live more fulfilling lives. This comprises what we eat, how we exercise, and how we feel emotionally; it is our whole being.



Pepper Monroe Traveling yoga teacher New York, N.Y. Explore many situations and align with the people that invite an enormous amount of laughter and curiosity. Seek experiences that spark some fear but also the possibility of falling in love. Be proximal to nature so the true essence of who you are as an individual is familiar. Listen well, travel, and take naps often. KINDREDYOGA.COM PHOTO: SIDNEY BENSIMON

If you could say something to everyone on the planet,

what would it be?

Whitney Ingram Yoga teacher and student Shepherdstown, W.Va. Find your yoga, your union. Let that feed your soul and nourish your ability to give. “If you seek to understand the whole universe, you will understand nothing at all. If you seek only to understand yourself, you will understand the whole universe” (Native American proverb). JALAYOGAFLOW.COM PHOTO: SETH FREEMAN PHOTOGRAPHY



I believe we all possess an inner artist—a unique, individual creative spark that just needs to be allowed or inspired to show itself. —Sofiah Thom

Chelsea Boug Yoga instructor at Hot Yoga Experience Sammamish, Wash. Each of us has an opportunity to contribute to making the world a better place simply by the personal choices we make on a daily basis. Part of yoga is the realization that everything is connected. We are connected. Simple kindness can cause an incredible shift in the state of our planet and within ourselves. PHOTO: BROOKE JACOBSON / LICORICE LANE PHOTOGRAPHY

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Sedona Yoga Festival a consciousness evolution conference . February 5-8, 2015 . Sedona, Arizona, USA

Photo: Robert Sturman, Model: Ashika Gogna




10% of all ticket sales donated to Give Back Yoga Foundation



few years ago, I was talking with Al Gore. (Yes, I’m name-dropping.) I asked him a very simple and pointed question: “Animal agriculture contributes about eighteen percent of the gases that cause climate change. Why didn’t you mention this in your book or movie?” His answer was disconcertingly honest. I’m paraphrasing, but he said, “For most people, the role of animal agriculture in climate change is too inconvenient of a truth.” We like our animal products. Well, you like your animal products. I’ve been a vegan for twenty-eight years, so to be honest, I don’t even remember what they taste like. But collectively, as a species, we seem to like animal products. A lot. To wit, each year, the U.S. grows and kills about ten billion livestock animals. Globally, we’re ORIGINAL PHOTOS: MELISSA DANIS

raising and slaughtering about fifty-six billion animals in animal agriculture each year. If you do the math, that means we’re killing 1,776 animals for food every second of every day. That doesn’t even include fish and other seafood.

gases than every car, boat, bus, truck, motorcycle, and airplane on the planet. Combined. But we like our animals—or, at least, growing and eating them. So we make the trade-off: animal products for climate change.

But even though I’m a vegan for ethical reasons, I don’t want to write about the animal ethics of animal agriculture. I want to write about the ways in which animal agriculture is killing us and ruining our planet.

Climate is complicated. And climate change is complicated. But the role of animal agriculture in climate change is simple.

I know, that sounds like left-wing hyperbole. “It’s killing our planet!” But sometimes, hyperbole isn’t hyperbole. Sometimes, hyperbole is just the clear-eyed truth. I’ll start with climate change.

And how about famine? There are over seven billion people on the planet, and many of them are very, very hungry. Article after article and book after book ask the question, “How will we feed a planet of seven or eight or nine or ten billion people?” The discussions turn to fertilizer and GMOs and arable land.

The U.N. released a conservative report wherein it stated that animal agriculture causes about eighteen percent of current greenhouse gas emissions.

But here’s a painfully simple idea: stop feeding human food to livestock.

To put it in perspective, animal agriculture is responsible for producing more climate-change

It takes around fifteen pounds of grain to make one pound of beef, which can feed a couple of people for a few hours. In comparison, thirteen






pounds of grain fed to humans directly can feed thirteen people for most of the day. Globally, we don’t have a famine problem; we have a livestock problem. Feeding food to animals and then eating the animals is kind of like heating your house during the winter by burning wood outside. Speaking of winters, a few years ago, tired of cold winters in New York, I moved to California. Last year in L.A., we had around 362 beautiful days of sunshine. It was eighty degrees on Christmas, and there wasn’t a cloud in the sky. Which is great, apart from the fact that California and most of the West are now experiencing the worst drought in recorded history. As Californians, we’ve been asked to take shorter showers and use less water on our lawns. Both are good ideas. But let’s put it in perspective: a long shower uses around forty gallons of water, whereas it takes four thousand to eighteen thousand gallons of water to create a one-third-pound hamburger. More than ninety percent of the water in California goes to agriculture. Some agriculture is very water-responsible. It takes about 216 gallons of water to make one pound of soybeans, for example. But other agriculture is egregiously waterintensive—including rice and cotton, but especially animal agriculture. Each pound of chicken requires about 500 gallons of water, and pork requires about 576 gallons of water. Personally, I’d like to make a deal with California. I’ll take much shorter showers if you stop subsidizing water use for livestock. If I just jumped in the shower and bathed quickly, I could even get it down to five gallons of water per shower. And after 132 showers, I would’ve used as much water as is needed to create one pound of beef. So we’ve established that having an estimated fifty-six billion livestock animals on the planet uses a lot of water and grain and creates a lot of methane and carbon dioxide. But these billions of animals also make waste. The really disgusting waste, not just invisible climate-warming gases. Let’s put this in perspective: the good people of Philadelphia create roughly one million tons of urine and feces per year. And one, only one, large pig farm will produce roughly 1.6 million tons of urine and feces per year. Our lakes and rivers are being fouled with algae blooms. Our groundwater is being polluted. And the main culprit is livestock.

The fifty-six billion livestock animals on the planet are making tons and tons of feces and urine every year—three times as much as humans. And, in addition to fouling our water supplies, it’s also fouling our homes. A University of Arizona study found more residual feces and waste in the average omnivore’s kitchen than in their toilet bowl. Largely due to meat in the home. The animals spend their lives in their own feces and urine, and when they’re killed and packaged, they bring their feces and urine with them. Into your home. They also bring pesticides, antibiotics, growth hormones, cholesterol, and saturated fat. To that end, if we collectively stopped eating animals and animal products tomorrow, studies suggest we’d see a drop in obesity, heart disease, diabetes, and some cancers. We don’t have a global health epidemic; we have a global livestock epidemic. Too much of the western world’s health-care budgets go to curing people of diseases caused by the consumption of animal products. And I’m not going to toot the vegan horn too much, but vegans have significantly lower rates of obesity, diabetes, and some cancers. When I talk to people about animal agriculture and meat-eating, people often say, “But meat is inexpensive.” And it is. But only because it’s so heavily subsidized by our tax dollars. In the United States, we spend billions of dollars every year in direct and indirect subsidies to the meat and dairy industries. Billions of dollars in our tax dollars subsidizing a product that ruins our environment and decimates our health. We subsidize the grain that’s fed to livestock. We subsidize the water that’s used in livestock production. We, the taxpayers, subsidize animal agriculture. And what do we get? We get climate-change gases. And we get trillions of pounds of animal waste that fouls our lakes and rivers and reservoirs. We get an end product that causes cancer, diabetes, heart disease, and obesity. And, saving the best for last, we also get zoonotic diseases. “Zoonotic” is a fun and fancy-sounding word. It sort of sounds like a very erudite part of a zoo where the animals read books and live on boats. But zoonotic diseases are not fun or fancy. Some zoonotic diseases you might be familiar with: E. coli, Salmonella, SARS, bird flu, Ebola, and even some old standards, like smallpox and the common cold.

Zoonotic diseases come from animals and, in many cases, from animal agriculture. Luckily, thus far, we’ve been able to treat most zoonotic diseases with antibiotics. But here’s the rub: animals on factory farms are so sick, and in such bad shape, that antibiotics are all that’s keeping them from dying before they’re slaughtered. The animals are fed obscene amounts of antibiotics while they’re alive, and these antibiotics are then found in their milk and their eggs and their meat. When you’re eating an animal, you’re eating the fat and the muscle, but you’re also eating all of the antibiotics the animal has been fed during its life. The double whammy of zoonotic diseases coming from animal agriculture is that animals are the source of the zoonotic diseases, but they’re also the source of antibiotic resistance. So the zoonotic diseases can kill us, especially as animal agriculture has created superbugs who don’t respond to conventional antibiotics. That’s the fun world of animal agriculture. As a species, we are faced with complicated and seemingly intractable problems. And then we’re faced with animal agriculture. So rather than focus on the hard, intractable problems (like curing baldness), let’s simply focus on something easy, with phenomenal benefit: ending animal agriculture. All we have to do is stop subsidizing it and stop buying animal products. Simple. And climate-change gases are reduced by about eighteen percent. Famine could end. Fresh water could become clean and more abundant. Deaths from cancer and heart disease and diabetes and obesity could be reduced. And zoonotic diseases could be largely reduced. It really is that simple. We’ve done hard things in the past. We’ve ended slavery. We’ve given everyone the right to vote. We’ve passed legislation prohibiting children from working in factories. We’re even moving towards a time when cigarette smoking will be seen as a foul, distant memory. We can do this. We have to. Our reliance on animal agriculture is literally killing us and ruining our climate and our planet. Originally published by The WorldPost



Readers’ Photos from Across the Globe Featuring the most awesome photos sent in by our Mantra Yoga + Health community of yogis, meditators, and athletes























Readers’ Photos from Across the Globe (continued)
























Readers’ Photos from Across the Globe (continued)



















How has your practice

changed over time?

Tamal Dodge

Owner of Yoga Salt | Los Angeles, Calif.



Koh Samui

Author, life coach, and yoga teacher | Detroit, Mich.

My yoga practice continually evolves, the physicality side as well as the lifestyle principles that mold who I am today. It is imperative for me to make not only the external changes of mastering yoga postures a primary focus but to work on incorporating meditation, diet, and conscious living into my everyday life. To walk the talk. To live yoga.

I spent many, many years doing all the asana series while being guided in advanced pranayama and internal mantra. At a point, these practices integrated within and caused a shift that made the meditation deep and experienced. Asana and pranayama continue, appropriate for my level of development, while inner practices continue as the priority, guided by my teacher naturally.



“My practice has become more self-loving over the years. I practice completely for myself, following what feels nurturing for me in the moment. —KATIE DALEBOUT

Katie Dalebout

Author, life coach, and yoga teacher | Detroit, Mich.


My practice has become more self-loving over the years. I practice completely for myself, following what feels nurturing for me in the moment. I stay really present when practicing to be able to figure out exactly what that is, because it constantly changes.

Eddie Modestini

Cofounder of Maya Yoga Studio | Haiku, Maui

My first eight years, I opened my hips with standing poses and hip openers; my next twelve years, I practiced Ashtanga yoga. For the first twenty years of my practice, I worked for the opening. Now, I’m open. Now, my practice has more to do with stillness and introspection than struggling to get inside. Being inside is a great joy.





By Eric Shaw

VISHNU Secret Badass Warrior

“T he daily g rind o f wo r k a nd o b l ig at io n s a n d civ ic d uty becomes a wa r r io r ’ s pat h.”


always thought Shiva was the cool one—hanging out in Burning Man grunge, playa dust all over his bod, a snake bejeweling his neck, and unshaken by Shakti’s seductress dance. That said, I’m trying to get away from him. Away from cool. Away from the ascetic stance of separation, destruction, weirdness, and bad attitude.

At the same time, I’ve been trying to love Vishnu—the everyday God-man, The Sustainer—married to the sexy queen of fertility, dame Lakshmi, and residing on the cloud in space’s far-off suburbs.

But I’ve a primal appetite for “Om Namah Shivaya” and the taste of sulfur in Shiva’s storm-bringer recklessness. Shiva is always unflinchingly different. Vishnu has always seemed normal and—I thought—useless. Dude’s too easy. Too much tie-and-suit. Orthodox. Status quo. Talking about ping-pong and the health of his lawn. (Yawn.) But just this morning, while practicing yoga in Shiva-like habitualness, it hit me that Vishnu is the brave one: the warrior and one superduper cool dude. Thinking about the Indian philosophy that social structures are godgiven, I realized that the daily grind of work and obligations and civic duty becomes a warrior’s path. Sustaining the universe ain’t for fools.

It’s a holy path and a noble one, like that of Atlas, who carries Earth. It’s as constant as the unending Purusha—the rank emptiness of Samkhya philosophy—and as Shiva himself. The Sisyphean task of holding up the world-boulder is an eternal effort of goodness that insists on boldness and being true. In ferocity, Vishnu is Shiva’s match. In the tradition, it’s said that Shiva is in love with Vishnu. Now I see it. Vishnu kicks ass ’cause he dares to be a part of things, to risk community, to throw his top-heavy hat into the ring. We could even say he’s Shiva’s guru. Shiva, king of yogis, needs Vishnu’s sustenance—his alms, his work for wages—so that Shiva can run away to mountain caves and act like a life-rejecting adolescent. Work sustains freedom. Vishnu is the good dad. Vishnu is The Man. So, one more step toward the householder’s life for me. One more affirmation of the unending round of daily work, daily love, and every-morning I-making. One more vote for the finite world. Move your padmasana ass over, Shiva. Relax your infinitude. Vishnu’s getting his rice bowl and offering. His big, blue arms now have a worthy place with Lakshmi’s great curves and Shiva’s lotus feet on my altar.






How’s abundance in yoga going for you? Are you finding that having a yoga studio on every corner hasn’t been as great as you thought it would be? I sympathize. I live in Colorado where there are more yoga studios than Starbucks coffeehouses. I know it might mean that teachers have competition, low numbers, and poor income. I know that studios struggle to stay in business. But, on the bright side, the offering in towns with lots of yoga is om-azing.




Competition means that everyone has to step up their game. I can count on one hand the number of truly awful experiences I’ve had in Colorado, and by “awful,” I mean when the teacher arrived unprepared, didn’t show up, or sobbed in class. (FYI, I have been guilty of all of the above.)



Good teachers go to other good teachers’ class-es. We learn from one another. We raise each other up. Yoga-teacher training never ends.

We have yoga for kids, teens, tweens, and older adults. We have yoga for women, women who are menstruating, women who are no longer menstruating, and dudes. We got it all.



When studios coordinate offerings, everyone benefits. On most weekends, I can choose from an inversion workshop, classes in mythology, and a yoga-nidra event.

Here is the thing about competition: good teachers survive. The bad ones will write for a living instead—haha!



In Denver, you can find AcroYoga, SUP yoga, bend-and-brews, Outlaw Yoga, and Wisdom Warriors. For the spinally curious, we even have Sridaiva.


Lots of yoga offerings means you can special-ize with classes at all temperatures for all kinds of people. You don’t have to go to the middle of the road to get more students. “Hot yoga” does not mean “no air conditioning” (an unfortunate discovery on a recent trip). “Hot” is hotter than Hades, and some of us like it that way.


I am able to choose from six studios within five miles of my house. I know that this is hard on teachers who teach, but for teachers who practice, this is joyful abundance.


Proliferation lets you discover new teachers and new styles of yoga. There is no one way to do it “right.”


Yoga celebrities want to come to places where there are a lot of yogis. I have had the oppor-tunity to experience the world’s most famous teachers, and I never had to leave my state. Lastly, because I live in a saturated area, I ab-solutely love my local teachers. They stand by me, through handstands and heartaches. My teachers rock, all 7,200 of them. Michelle Berman Marchildon is the Yogi Muse. She’s a contributing writer for Mantra Yoga + Health and the author of Theme Weaver: Connect the Power of Inspiration to Teaching Yoga.

MY TEACHERS ROCK, all of them.









How do you bring color and vibrancy to your life? Aaron Lind

Acrobatics and yoga instructor


I bring color and vibrancy to my everyday life by meeting challenges. Arm balancing and partner acrobatics make me feel alive and excited to be here. Also, living in New Orleans is a colorful and energetic experience. Our culture is all about loving your life by doing what you love!

Yoga instructor


The way I bring the color to more vibrant life is to practice meditation and yoga. Just about every day, I teach yoga; I receive so much liberation through helping people out with their practice. I believe that life is all about helping each other, and that brings the most vibrant color to your day-to-day life.

Mary Glackmeyer Jivamukti Yoga instructor


Making connections! Through yoga, kirtan, enjoying vegan potlucks, taking walks in nature, engaging in positive activism, volunteering at shelters, or having epic laughs with friends. I feel most vibrant when I’m not isolating myself as separate from everything but, instead, immersing myself in the flow with all things and dissolving the illusion of otherness. MARYCG.COM PHOTO: MYKL ROGERS


By keeping things analog, tactile, textured. No smartphone. Putting pen to paper; interfacing with the like-minded company I keep; driving around in my old Saturn, listening to cassette tapes from adolescence; dancing in the dark, dancing in the light! REYNSTUDIOS.COM/ANANDA-TINIO PHOTO: PATRICK NIDDRIE

Ashtanga yoga teacher



Ananda Tinio

Meredith Murphy

Thomas Q. Sims

I see that life is precious and everything I do affects everyone. —Thomas Q. Sims

Swan River Yoga teacher


Practicing yoga and finding support in that community, I went from the dullness of crystal-meth addiction to the vibrant awareness of interconnection. I see that life is precious and everything I do affects everyone. Kindness is an important part of my yoga practice. Now I feel that serving, playing with, and connecting with others is vital to being happy. PHOTO: JONGUNNAR GYLFASON



By Liz Tucker

The of Kind heartbreak that awakens you

On October 16, 2014, I was diagnosed with a brain tumor. In the words of poet Mary Oliver:

I tell you this to break your heart, by which I mean only that it break open and never close again to the rest of the world.

The fact of the matter is that at this point in our lives, we can sit around and talk about our stories of heartbreak all day long, the kind of heartbreak that country songs go on about, how stars aligned and lovers met, how it all went wrong, and how we have no choice but to turn this lead of betrayal into twenty-four-carat gold. The kind of heartbreak that lights my fire is the one about how we’re all going to die someday and that time’s a-wastin’. And how if we haven’t suffered the death of someone close to us or felt the fragility of our own bodies, we likely don’t think about these things very much. But that when we do, we awaken to the truth that while we all have a death sentence, we still choose to step into the same sinking boat together and row for our lives towards the very thing that brought us here . . . love. I imagine that no one enjoys hearing the words, “We found a small growth on your brain stem.” I certainly didn’t. My doctor was really very matter of fact about the whole thing, how it is the best type of tumor to get, likely benign, small and contained, but in a precarious position, and that a neurosurgical consult is in order. A second doctor echoed the prognosis.

While we all have a death sentence, we still choose to step into the same sinking boat together and row for our lives towards the very thing that brought us here . . . love.

Mitigate stress by telling boss and asking for help. Check. Call blood family. Check. Call circle-of-heart family. Take in how big it is. Check. Sit with Zen teacher. Hear him say, “Meditate on how you want it to go.” Check. Research only enough to be informed but not dangerous. Check. Go to neurosurgical consult. Hear doctor say, “I’m not convinced that you even have a tumor. Let’s wait and see in six months.” Check. Cry. Check. Allow heart to break open and feel the certainty of unpredictability, the vastness of love, the longing to be held by your mother, the fact that there is nothing to do but surrender, and how the only true medicine is to live. Fully. Sacredly. Preciously. Check.

In the hours and days that followed, I was fascinated by my organism’s innate wisdom on how to be with the news. It’s amazing what we do when we feel that our lives are at stake. Look into eyes of beloved and tell him you’re scared. Let him hold you. Check. LIZTUCKER.COM



Liz Tucker is a lover of movement, connection, nature, and creative expression. She believes that her life’s work is to share her passion for somatic experience as a potent catalyst for transformation. She holds her master’s in transpersonal psychology and is a published writer. PHOTO: MONICA BLOSSOM HOCHBERG



What has been your biggest struggle, and how have you overcome? Abigail Lauren


Prenatal and postpartum yoga teacher and doula My biggest struggle is managing my anxiety. Over the past year, the most compassionate response to my struggle has been to spend time outdoors, sing, dance, listen to music, surround myself with people and things that make me laugh, and maintain a daily practice of yoga nidra and nadi shodhana. ABEAUTIFULSHIFT.COM PHOTO: SUZANNE PLUNKETT

Katherine Ortiz


Dietetic intern and Village Yoga Chicago yoga teacher My biggest struggle has been patience with my body and mind. Through yoga, I’ve learned to move through life with steadiness and ease. There is no need to rush, and it’s OK to not have all the answers. Life will play out how it’s supposed to as long as I continue to work hard but know when to back off.


Kuniko Nakamura Erwin


Monica Cheung Stevens


Zen Vinyasa teacher

Yoga teacher

My biggest struggle has been about dealing with my ego. While I strive to be selfless, “me” keeps popping up. Practicing yoga has enhanced my mindfulness, and now I try even more to do the right thing without letting it be about me. A shift in perspective has helped too, and things bother me less than they used to.

My biggest struggle has been finding my dharma. It took two medical issues for me to finally listen to my body instead of my mind. Yoga, Ayurveda, and meditation have been the lifesaving tools that transformed me from a type AAA personality to a softer type A. “Appreciate the moment” is my daily mantra.



Morgan Lee —Katherine Ortiz

There is no need to rush, and it’s OK to not have all the answers.

Chicago, Ill.



Registered nurse and Ashtanga yoga teacher My biggest struggle is one that I work at daily, finding authenticity and trust within myself. I set an intention every morning to allow the practice to create space for me to step aside and let the inner light shine through, and sometimes even practice doing it . . . sometimes. YOGAMORGAN.COM PHOTO: DAVID LEEP




By Tonya Turrell

Living from the Heart Practice

as a

What it means to connect with your heart four simple steps to help you come back to your heart center 1. Observe yourself. Become a conscious observer of your thoughts, feelings, and actions. Just witness. How present are you? Could you be more present? Are you in judgment? Does perfectionism have a strong hold on you? What about scarcity consciousness? Are you feeling disconnected? Are you numbing? Feeling inferior or superior? Just notice where your consciousness is.


his morning, my body craved heart-opening poses. Bow, Camel, and—my favorite—Wild Thing. I’ve been hunched over my laptop constantly for days, putting the final touches on my book. My neck ached and shoulders were slumping. I was seeking physical relief. But like a trusted friend, my yoga practice gave me exactly what I really needed, which was connection with my own heart. I found myself in tears with this profound realization: living from the heart, like yoga, is a practice.

Living from the heart is about choosing love. Over and over again.” Living from the heart is about choosing love. Over and over again. It means being fully present in your body. It means letting go of the need to control, which comes from ego. It means opening your heart and having the courage to be who you really are. And letting go of what others think. Living from the heart means practicing self-love. It means disconnecting from judgment, self or otherwise. It requires stillness so that you can tune in to your inner voice, the voice of your heart. And it insists on the practice of gratitude. Living from the heart is a choice. Not a choice you make once, but a choice you have to make again and again. The more you do it, the more natural it becomes. It has to be practiced every day. Every moment, even.



2. Focus on your heart. Close your eyes. Put your hands on your heart, and tune in to the thump-thump, thump-thump of this profound organ pumping life-giving blood to your body. Feel the rhythm; this is your pulse of power. Come back to it anytime you feel out of sync. 3. Breathe deeply. Breath regulates the heart, bringing it into a steady rhythm. This, in turn, regulates your most powerful energy field and the information you are beaming out into the universe, which is just going to boomerang right back to you at some point in time and space. Breath is the link to awareness and transformation. Mindfully focusing on your breath brings you back into the present moment.

4. Choose consciously. You’ve witnessed your thoughts, focused your energy on your heart, and slowed down with breath work. Now choose. How do you want to respond in this moment? How does your ego want to respond? How about your heart? What will you choose? These tips will help you get into the practice of getting back into your heart. Consistent practice is all it takes. Like a muscle, if you work it, it gets stronger.

Tonya Turrell is a writer, entrepreneur, yogi, spiritual seeker, and mother. She is currently writing her first book on heart-centered living.

What kind of yoga do you teach?

Nancy Sinton

Lynn Jensen

E-RYT, yoga therapist, and yoga educator

E-RYT and RPYT Seattle, Wash.

Orlando, Fla.

Laura Kupperman E-RYT 500, yoga therapist, and business coach Boulder, Colo.

As a yoga therapist, I teach yoga to people with health issues such as chronic pain, anxiety, depression, and cancer. I teach from my heart, using yoga and mindfulness techniques that have research to back them up. The neuroscience of yoga is showing exciting results: the brain can change in positive ways. Proper breathing is the key! THREECIRCLEYOGA.COM PHOTO: NGO NGUYEN

I teach yoga for fertility to women and couples experiencing difficulty conceiving. Since 2002, the Yoga for Fertility program I developed has helped over 1,500 couples become parents. Simple yoga practices support fertility, reduce stress, and bolster the body’s natural healing forces. My teacher-training program prepares yoga teachers to help the fifteen percent of couples in the U.S. today who face fertility issues.

I specialize in yoga for cancer and yoga for fertility. As a yoga therapist, my guiding principle is always to try to reduce suffering and promote well-being and peace. It’s all too easy to practice in a manner that unwittingly exacerbates our imbalances, so I strive to help my students find balance. LAURAKUPPERMAN.COM PHOTO: CARY JOBE


What New Year’s resolution are you retrying this year?

Gentri Watson

Anton Brandt

Yoga instructor

Yoga teacher and founder of The Sacred Fig

Bellingham, Wash.

“When I lie down each night, I ask myself if I am living up to my highest potential. —GENTRI WATSON

New York, N.Y. When I lie down each night, I ask myself if I am living up to my highest potential. How can I be kinder? In what areas can I try harder? How can I have a more potent and positive impact on the world around me? I treat every day as an opportunity to make potentially life-changing resolutions to express my unique soul’s purpose. GENTRIWATSON.COM PHOTO: BECKY LINTON

What’s possibly more enjoyable than finishing the day with a glass of Malbec? If there’s one resolution I would (re)make, I might slow down on that delicious nectar. But this year, I’m not making any resolutions. Why would I wait all year to make such a personal choice, based on someone else’s holiday? I’ll do it on my time. THESACREDFIG.COM PHOTO: MELINDA BLANCHOT



Portland, Oreg.





How do you bring yoga into your everyday life? 1


Todd Vogt Yoga teacher and studio owner

Nikki Weaver Actor, yoga teacher, and education director

Yoga is my experiential reminder that I am a whole part of life’s complex web. I bring it into daily living by carrying the post-practice feeling that I am part of something larger (family, community, city, planet) and that I am hosting smaller parts within me (atoms, molecules, cells, organs). “I” am in the middle of something precious and meaningful.

My yoga balances the chaos in my life. It reminds me to pause and breathe. It challenges me to start again, and it reminds me that failure and success are both equally valuable. My practice renews my sense of courage in humanity. NIKKIMARIEWEAVER.COM




Chia Rafelson Yoga practitioner

Dina Lang E-RYT and owner of Santosha Yoga

When I wake up each morning, I ask myself, “What can I do to support and nourish my body, mind, and spirit?” and “How can I be helpful or useful?” My yoga practice has grown to include meditation, pranayama, organic fresh food, sleep, rest, keeping myself in a state of curiosity, being playful, and not taking myself too seriously.

Practicing yoga helps me create the best version of my self. I carry that version off the mat and into my relationships, work, interactions with others, and even the mundane tasks of daily life. With my best foot forward, I am able to approach all with greater enthusiasm, respect, humility, and gratitude. Service in action equals joy. Isn’t yoga great?!








“Yoga is my compass as I navigate the constant change and uncertainty of life. ” —KATE HOLLY



Kate Holly E-RYT and studio owner at Yoga Refuge

Emily Light Yoga therapist and holistic nutritionist

Yoga brings me strength, calm, and clarity, which I apply to everything, from running my own business to chasing around my two-year-old. Yoga is my compass as I navigate the constant change and uncertainty of life. When I get lost in the stories of my mind, I come back to my breath and I remember my true nature.

Each breath is an opportunity for the experience of yoga. It is a tether for the mind and only exists in the present moment. Connecting to my breath gives me a clear barometer of what’s happening in my nervous system. I can use my breath wherever I am to return to a state of clarity, ease, and connection.





Alex Cole Co-owner of YoYoYogi

Angelina Vasile Forrest Yoga teacher and Pilates instructor

Yoga is my life. It is my passion and my purpose. My life is about sharing yoga in a way that is inviting, easy to understand, and compelling. I practice, I study, I contemplate, and then teach what I discover. My hope is to inspire others to take the most excellent adventure of their life, one breath at a time.

Each morning, upon waking, I come into Child’s Pose. I deepen my breath and set intentions to continue breathing and feeling throughout my day. I know that practicing this profound breath and attention in everything I do, every “pose” I’m in, will help me to act from a place of truth, intelligence, and love. Breath and attention is yoga.




The What I Be Project Project + Photos: STEVE ROSENFIELD

Please sit with the following images and reflect on those you relate to most.”

TRIGGERS IN BLOOM By Ben Renschen In January 2014, images from the evocative What I Be Project flooded the Internet in its first wave of viral boom. By January 2015, the project’s founder, Steve Rosenfield, will have ushered more than two thousand privately shared insecurities into the scrutiny of the public eye. No small feat, considering that every participant endures a challenging conversation path into their darkest fears. This growing movement, affecting millions, has successfully hinged itself on helping participants regain control of their lives by letting go of their shit. “Building security through insecurities” is the project’s tagline. So naturally, the process begins with establishing just that—an insecurity. Each participant discusses their insecurity with Steve, in revealing detail, until the core of their being is on the line in front of a camera. Together, they decide what will be drawn on their skin, and as the participant’s vulnerability rises to its peak, Steve takes the photograph. Days later, it goes public on his Facebook page for the world to consume. Once an image is released, the applause for bravery pours in. Participants quickly realize that the sharing of their insecurity makes them a part WHATIBEPROJECT.COM



of something so much larger. Specifically, a transition occurs where a participant’s individual benefit makes way for public education regarding difficult-to-discuss topics: abuse, addiction, sexuality, depression, body image, age, race, religion, etc. This is where the magic of the What I Be Project community lies. Thanks to the courage of everyday participants, this powerful and compassionate community is discussing very touchy subjects, subjects that might otherwise go undiscussed. For a project that began by accident in 2010, it’s evolved into a snowball rolling down the mountain. Everyone from celebrities to students and athletes to older adults are participating. Between shooting for the project around the U.S. and handling requests to take the project abroad, Steve is also working hard on the What I Be Project book. Expect his image. In the end, we’re all just flesh and bones making our way through this wacky-ass roller coaster we call life. We might as well help each other along the way. Please sit with the following images and reflect on those you relate to most.

I am not my arrangement

I had to come to terms with my anger, the anger I had projected onto myself, the anger that made me hate my culture, the anger that left me confused in terms of where I stood with God.

I am not my scars

Even when I find someone to spend time with, even when I know they don’t care, I think I always will. I think it will always be at the back of my mind.





Thirty years after being diagnosed with what was once a terminal disease, I now realize I must have a purpose in life.

I am not my deterrent I want the possibility of being ugly and still having worth, not the reassurance that I’m pretty and don’t have to worry about it.

I am not my symmetry

I am not my build I often wonder what it would be like to be able to take off my shirt at the beach without the fear of people judging me.

I am not my disguise

I continued to think and pray over how I could fix myself until I realized that “perfect� is a completely opinionated term.





Through learning to embrace my gender identity in its entirety, I have learned that I am not a “freak,� like so many people tried to tell me growing up.

I am not my masculinity I know I need to have more faith in people and believe that when they say they care, they mean it.

I am not my inconvenience

I am not my gender I’m finally releasing this crazed monkey from my back, as it were, and saying I’m proud of who I am! I’ve overcome a lot of obstacles, and I am a better person for it.

I am not my eating disorder

Yes, I have an eating disorder. Yes, it’s an everyday battle. Yes, I hope that one day I can get better. But I’m not alone.





I am not my rejection

I’ve learned that by following my heart, I will find my way and prove myself. The most frustrating part of my procrastination is that I don’t understand why I do it.

I am not my procrastination

What have you been criticized for, and how have you transformed it?

Ashlee K. Thomas Somewhere in Kansas, I received a resignation e-mail from my manager: “Ashlee, you are a firecracker! Sometimes good, but mostly you burn people.” I began a fiery reply, stopped, and realized he was right. “Get bitter or better” came to mind. I aim for better. Breathing, yoga, running, thinking before speaking, graceful actions, bridling reactions, and deliberate self-control. ASHLEEKTHOMAS.COM | PHOTO: WALTER WHITE

Stephanie Newkirk Yoga teacher | Portland, Oreg. In the past, I always tried being what others said I should be or what society expected of me, but I still found myself unhappily unfulfilled. I decided, “No more!” Teaching yoga has given me the courage to stand out from the pack and to be myself. Confident in who I am and what I teach, I am forever transformed. STEPHANIENEWKIRKYOGA.COM

What is your

passion? Alyson Calagna DJ | Boulder, Colo.

Using music as a transformative tool. Sound has always helped us celebrate, meditate, and communicate. I’m dedicated to creating sound prescriptions that move us towards positive life change. My upcoming album, Omtronica, with Ash Ruiz, is an organic and electronic blend of sacred mantras. OMTRONICA.COM PHOTO: DALE STINE



“By concentrating on the sound and vibration of the om, you are symbolically concentrating on the part of you that is beyond your ego, mind, and mind-stuff.”

By Garth Hewitt

S urrender + connection + joy

Why We Om In traditional yoga, the om is the symbol and sound of Isvara, the name given to pure consciousness or pure awareness. The big shift of perspective we are after in traditional yoga is to have our awareness resting in itself, not caught up in the ego, mind, and mind-stuff. By concentrating on the sound and vibration of the om, you are symbolically concentrating on the part of you that is beyond your ego, mind, and mind-stuff.

From the Upanishads, we also have the description of the sound of the om, or aum, as representing the potential for all sounds. Within that expansive vibrational hum is everything—and by focusing on everything, you are also focusing on nothing. The om is often described as having a beginning, middle, and end and is representational of these forces in the universe. That’s why we sometimes think of om as aum. The A, U, and M represent the three forces of expansion, preservation, and dissolution, a process that plays out in our lives over and over again. Everything has a beginning, middle, and end.




I like to think of the om in a group class as a moment to connect in a tangible way with something beyond myself. It’s a moment when I literally surrender to the group. It’s a moment when we are all concentrating on the same thing. It’s a moment when we all inhale together and take a long exhale together as we reach out and touch each other with vibration. It’s a symbolic way for us to say that this time isn’t about me and my ego but about rising above, surrendering to the whole group, finding connection and union.

One of the nicknames for om is pranava. Dr. Lorin Roche, a wonderful yogic scholar and meditation teacher, defines “pranava” as “the roar of joy.” I think about this definition sometimes when I om. I think about the lifeforce moving through me as this roar of joy. The next time you om in your yoga class, take a moment and contemplate the meaning of the om. This is a moment to honor everyone and everything. Focus on everything and nothing at the same time. Take a deep breath and feel the connection to your

breath. When you sound the om, feel the vibration coming up from within you and feel the vibration all around you. Feel the connection to the others in the room with you. Take the focus off of your ego, mind, mind-stuff— the individual desires and distractions that are keeping you from being in the present moment. You might take a moment to think, “I am a microcosmic vibration, the roar of joy. I am a small part of the larger cosmic vibration, the roar of joy. I have a beginning, middle, and end. I am in the universe. The universe is in me. I am the universe. The universe is me.” Ooooommmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm!

Garth Hewitt, E-RYT 500, is a teacher trainer, yoga therapist, certified YogaWorks teacher, and certified Dharma Yoga teacher. He has led classes, workshops, retreats, and teacher trainings in Los Angeles and around the world. Garth has been featured in Men’s Health, Mantra Yoga + Health, and LA Yoga.

By G arth Hewitt

Amy Sullivan

Roberto Lim

Yoga teacher, teacher trainer, and yoga therapist Los Angeles, Calif.

Yoga teacher, designer, and event producer Boston, Mass.

I stay away from the things that drain my energy. I avoid comparing my life to others. I stay true to the rituals that keep me grounded during busy and changing times, like getting to my mat and meditation, and I put myself in preparation mode instead of survival mode. That usually keeps me sane through January 2.

I love holidays from all traditions and manage my stress by bringing more awareness to my choices and favoring simplicity over quantity, especially when it comes to choosing which gatherings or foods or drink will truly nourish me. Moderation carries over into my family: we only give one gift instead of several because we practice Secret Santa. | PHOTO: JENAY MARTIN | PHOTO: ALEX DUSTERFELD PHOTOGRAPHY

how do you deal with

holiday stress?

Co-owner of Kundalini Yoga Boston Boston, Mass. Breath exercises and pranayama are key! Slow down the breath: inhale five seconds, hold five, exhale five, and continue. To maintain a high vibration, I play Kundalini mantras 24/7 and walk in the sun or use a light-therapy lamp. I love weekend getaways! | PHOTO: KRISTIN CHALMERS PHOTOGRAPHY

Siri Bani Kaur

I stay away from the things that drain my energy. —AMY SULLIVAN



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