THE AWAKE ISSUE I YOGA I ART I MUSIC I WELLNESS
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EDITOR IN CHIEF & OWNER Iana Velez MARKETING DIRECTOR Veronica Beltran ART DIRECTOR Iana Velez PHOTO EDITOR Renee Choi FEATURES EDITOR Ko Im MUSIC EDITOR Tawny Lara YOGA EDITOR Lauren Cap ADVERTISING & SALES Ethel Kambourian SUBSCRIPTIONS firstname.lastname@example.org or visit nyyogalifemag.com to order a magazine online. ADVERTISING INQUIRIES email@example.com FOLLOW US ONLINE @nyyogalifemag and nyyogalifemag.com OPPORTUNITIES Contact our national office for affililate oppportunities firstname.lastname@example.org 2017 NY YOGA + Life™ All rights reserved. No portion may be duplicated, in whole or in part, without the written consent of NY YOGA + Life™. Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information contained in this publication. NY YOGA + Life™ assumes no responsibility for accuracy of information or omissions from the material provided. Company cannot be held liable for the quality or performance of goods and services rendered by the advertisers published in this magazine or content featured. The exercise instructions and advice presented in this magazine are designed for people who are in good health and are not intended to substitute for medical counseling. The creators, producers, participants, and distributors of NY YOGA + Life™ disclaim any liability for loss or injury in connection with the exercises shown or the instruction and advice expressed herein.
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Where contemporary minds meet the art and wisdom of the Himalayas
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Contents Issue 04 //Winter 2017
PROFILES TEAM // CITIES // LOCALS
Our editor, team, and contributors
12. PARTNER DIRECTORY
Where to pick up your copy of NY YOGA + Lifeâ„¢
16. TAO PORCHON LYNCH
and Robert Sturman
20. DEEPAK CHOPRA
and Sarah Platt-Finger
22. PUPPY LOVE
Yogis and their pups
27. LOCAL SPOTLIGHT
The team takes a trip to Astoria
PROFILES // PLAYLISTS
31. YOGA + MUSIC
32. CLAIRE MORTIFEE
Music, Reiki and yoga
Teacher playlist we love
Marching to the beat of their drums
HEALTH& LIFESTYLE PRODUCTS // PROFILES
Inside and Out
42. FLOWER ESSENCE
Lindsay Fauntleroy interview
45. STUFF WE LOVE
46. GIFT GUIDE
Holiday shopping with heart
PROFILES // THEORY
52. SHANTELL MARTIN
A meditation of lines
54. MEDITATION ON ART
A Mindful exercise
YOGA & MORE ASANA // FOOD // STORIES
60. YOGA 101
Kundalini Yoga for beginners
Exploring tarot, oracle and healing cards
68. ON TEACHING YOGA
Tips for new teachers
72. INDIAN CURRY
Vegan recipe from Diana Bezanski
87. TEACHERS WE LOVE
Team favorites in our community
88. TEAM FUN
Events with NY YOGA + Lifeâ„¢ team!
LETTER FROM THE
PHOTOS: PAUL UNDERSINGER
EDITOR “Awakening is not a thing. It is not a goal, not a concept. It is not something to be attained. It is a metamorphosis. If the caterpillar thinks about the butterfly it is to become, saying ‘And then I shall have wings and antennae,’ there will never be a butterfly. The caterpillar must accept its own disappearance in its transformation. When the marvelous butterfly takes wing, nothing of the caterpillar remains.” ― Alejandro Jodorowsky
Welcome to issue #4 of NY YOGA + Life™ magazine. The theme of this issue is AWAKE and was inspired by what I, and many around me, have experienced happening since the presidential elections. Regardless of who you voted for, it seems suddenly everyone is taking very clear decisive action. People are writing, organizing, protesting and marching. Everyone is wide awake. Like most big shifts, what happened last November was a reflection of something that had been building up for some time. In my own life, I have to be honest that most “awakenings” I experience are ususally the result of an accumulation of circumstances I
avoided because of fear, laziness, or naiveté. You can only live this way for so long. Shifts will happen, and we can’t stay asleep in our lives forever. I am still a work in progress, and thankful that my practice has helped me learn tools so these shifts in life are not as jarring. If I am informed, have faith, and most importantly, am honest—life is just a little bit smoother. This is what being AWAKE means to me.
our magazine family to share with us what the word AWAKE means to them. What an honor to learn from 99 years young Tao and her dear friend Robert about being AWAKE. How often do you get to witness Sarah and Deepak in conversation on the subject? I’ve learned so much from all these amazing people, this magazine is really a dream come true for me. Thank you for joining us again and being a part of this amazing journey. May our awakened lives bring us joy beyond our wildest dreams.
Join us for what is my favorite issue of our magazine (yes, I do say that about every issue!) as we ask
Iana Velez Editor in Chief & Owner NY YOGA + Life™
PHOTO: ROBERT STURMAN
PHOTOGRAPHER ROBERT STURMAN A dedicated yoga practitioner and photographer, Robert Sturman has increasingly focused on capturing the timeless grace and embodied mindfulness of asana in his work. His portraits, whether set in the lively streets of Manhattan, the expansive beaches and canyons of Malibu, the timeless elegance of Walden’s New England, or the bleakness of Marin County’s San Quentin Prison, remind us that there is beauty everywhere. In Sturman’s own words, “I often think of Rumi’s words ‘I can’t stop pointing to the beauty.’ That feels right to me.” Sturman’s honors include Official Artist of the 47th Annual Grammy Awards, 2010 FIFA World Cup Artist Representing America, and Official Artist 2007 United States Olympics. In 2012 and 2013, Sturman was the subject of two separate New York Times articles celebrating his photographs of yoga from around the world. Learn more at robertsturmanstudio.com
MODEL TAO PORCHON-LYNCH E-RYT 500, at 99 years young, Täo has studied with the masters Indra Devi, B. K. S. Iyengar, and Aurobindo, released an autobiography, “Dancing Light: The Spiritual Side of Being Through the Eyes of a Modern Yoga Master.” Täo won the Guinness World Record in 2012 for being the oldest, active yoga teacher in the world. Learn more at taoporchon-lynch.com
profiles / Team
PHOTO EDITOR @sfreneenyc
TEAM SUPERSTAR @sabrinamarienyc
YOGA EDITOR @laurenalannac
MARKETING GURU @verobel12
I think yoga has helped me feel more awake by opening my awareness of how the breath, body and mind are all joined. In focusing on the breath during asana, my mind becomes more clear - and that, in return, helps me with my own self-study. There’s a learning of selfkindness and self-awareness that accompanies practicing yoga which extends off the mat. In all honestly, I did not expect that outcome at all. I originally started yoga because I wanted to be more flexible. I think meeting the right teacher at the right time was life changing.
Yoga first awakened me by reminding me to breathe. Several people suggested yoga and meditation to help reduce the stress of city life. Reluctantly, I went to a class. After those 60 minutes, I realized that being aware of my breath and movement made me forget the to-do lists, so I kept going. Week after week, something I once dreaded became something I looked forward to. Yoga has made me feel awake by allowing me to be mindful of my breath and showing me that I have everything I need within me at times when I need the reminder.
I was first awakened mentally through yoga. From the first class I took, I knew that I needed to continue the exploration of mind, body, and soul. Years of practicing yoga and all the other facets of movement and body therapy has helped me transfer the body awareness I’ve learned over the years into my daily life. When I put my health first before anything else, that is when I feel truly awake.
Yoga awakened me to have a discerning view in areas of my life that were overused, underused, misused or abused. Through awareness of these areas, aka blind spots, yoga became a beautiful organizational tool to live with greater appreciation, joy and integrity in mind, body and spirit.
The theme of this issue is AWAKE. Meet the team behind NY YOGA + Life™ as we share how yoga has awakened us. We all come to yoga for different reasons – some of us to tap into a deeper connection to the self, some to gain flexibility, others to navigate through a difficult time in life. The paths that lead us to yoga maybe be varied, but the reasons we continue are similar. The practice of yoga often awakens a part of us we didn’t even know was dormant, a part of us that comes alive, giving us a sense of being reborn with a new lightness in our spirits. Sharing our stories can be uplifting and inspiring. How has yoga awakened you? Post and tag us @nyyogalifemag and tell us how yoga has made you feel awake. We’d love to hear your story! PHOTOS: PAUL UNDERSINGER
TEAM LEADER @corpyogi When I first found yoga, I had a strong need to add something more to my life’s journey. Gradually weaving it into my daily schedule, I found that I could tune into lost memories, confront internal flaws & felt empowered. It has made me conscious, spiritual and awakens my authenticity.
FEATURES EDITOR @konakafe Yoga, as for many of us, first awakens the muscular body. I still remember how sweaty I was after my first hot vinyasa when I was in college, and then how sore I was the next day. But I felt some relief and space leaving and entering. Everytime I step onto the mat I’m connected to my breath and body and not all the external distractions around us, no matter how strong the pull or how busy the day. I’m reminded of who I am.
MUSIC EDITOR @tawnymlara Yoga woke me up; sobriety keeps me awake. I was a yogi before I ditched booze, but my practice is more grounded now that I’m in recovery. The more I learn about the eight limbs of yoga, the more things begin to make sense - both on and off the mat.
JOIN US Thank you to K-DEER for supporting our team! Learn more about their amazing work, and visit them online. Check out their “Kristin Stripe” pant: with each purchase 5% of proceeds goes directly to Bent On Learning, an organization that brings yoga into NYC classrooms and teaches kids how to be healthier, happier and more focused, making them more prepared for learning and for academic and personal success: k-deer.com
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Contributors in this
LOULOU PISCATORE NY YOGA + Life™ BEAUTY & WELLNESS EDITOR @loulounyyogalife HOME TOWN: South Plainfield, NJ FIRST THING I DO WHEN I WAKE UP: “Organic fair trade coffee with grass fed butter and coconut oil.” LEARN MORE: louloulac.com
THE THEME OF THIS ISSUE IS AWAKE. WE ASKED OUR CONTRIBUTORS TO SHARE WITH US A LITTLE ABOUT THEMSELVES, AND THE FIRST THING THEY DO WHEN THEY WAKE UP.
REEM ABDOU NY YOGA Life™ TEAM @dreeemy HOME TOWN: New York, NY FIRST THING I DO WHEN I WAKE UP: “Setting an intention. How do I want to show up today?”
ALISSON MARIE WOOD @literarytswift HOME TOWN: Stratford, CT FIRST THING I DO WHEN I WAKE UP: “I always make a cup of coffee with lots of almond milk.” LEARN MORE: alissonwood.com
ANDREA RICE @doctordrea
CHAS KIMBRELL @chas_photoyogaphy
HOME TOWN: Edmonton, Canada
HOME TOWN: Gaffney, SC
FIRST THING I DO WHEN I WAKE UP: “I make coffee, freewrite for 30 minutes and then meditate.” LEARN MORE: andrearice.info
FIRST THING I DO WHEN I WAKE UP: “I weigh myself religiously upon rising.” LEARN MORE: shotbychas.com
HOME TOWN: Altadena, CA FIRST THING I DO WHEN I WAKE UP: “Exercise, coffee, sketch.” LEARN MORE: chickenpeepers.com
TULSI MEHTA CHASE @soma.yoga.poetry HOME TOWN: Mumbai, India FIRST THING I DO WHEN I WAKE UP: “I like to take a deep breath, smile at the sun, feel grateful to be alive, drink a glass of warm water, and do a 45 min practice of asana, pranayama and meditation.”
ALI CRAMER @ayurvedaali HOME TOWN: Westport, CT FIRST THING I DO WHEN I WAKE UP: “Pray, wake up Marty, scrape tongue, chug water.” LEARN MORE: alicramer.com
HOME TOWN: Pittsfield, MA FIRST THING I DO WHEN I WAKE UP: “Snuggling with my sons on the couch before school.” LEARN MORE: massmoca.org
LEARN MORE: reemabdou.com
CHELSEA HENEISE @chelseaheneise
LAURA DICKSTEIN THOMPSON @KidspaceMM
SHARI VILCHEZ-BLATT @karmakidsyoga
DIANA BEZANSKI @fogwoodandfig
HOME TOWN: Syosset, NY
HOME TOWN: Milford, PA
FIRST THING I DO WHEN I WAKE UP: “Brain Gym” to be energetically ready for whatever the day brings.
FIRST THING I DO WHEN I WAKE UP: “A cup of coffee on the couch with my dog.” LEARN MORE: fogwoodfig.com
LEARN MORE: karmakidsyoga.com
LEARN MORE: Facebook.com/soma. yoga.poetry
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MORE ABOUT US On March 16, 2009, MindBodySoul Yoga Studio opened the doors for a 7am Hatha class taught by Alyssa Snow. Our very first class had seven students, and it was the beginning of an amazing adventure. Over the next few months, teachers Stacey Linden (now General Manager!), Tom Weston, and Ola May joined the schedule (and are still on the schedule!). And so began our journey offering yoga and healing for the amazing community of Washington Heights. Founder and Owner Alyssa Snow has been practicing yoga for over 20 years, and teaching for over a decade. Alyssa has studied Kundalini, Hatha and Vinyasa yoga and is the lead teacher for MBSYâ€™s 200 hour teacher training course. Alyssa believes that running a business is a powerful spiritual teacher. She is a wife, a mom of three daughters, an author, a teacher, a yogi, a shaman and a spiritual business coach.
VISIT US We are a full-service home for healing in the heart of Washington Heights. In addition to yoga classes we offer educational and healing workshops, teacher training, a metaphysical boutique, a full service wellness center and wellness inspired shared workspace, because you canâ€™t do down dog in the coffee shop!
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THE YOGA COLLECTIVE
135 WEST 29TH STREET RM 603 NY NY, NY 10001 WHO ARE WE Started in 2011, as a cooperative for yoga teachers of Three Sisters Yoga teacher training school, The Yoga Collective is a fully stocked rental yoga studio in Chelsea. We host yoga, pilates and fitness classes as well as health and wellness workshops, corporate gatherings and photo shoots. TYC is for the entrepreneurial teacher who wants to flex their creativity and start their own business. www.yogacollectivenyc.com
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“EVERY MORNING I SAY, ‘THIS IS GOING TO BE THE BEST DAY OF MY LIFE.’ THE MOMENT YOU SAY THAT THIS IS GOING TO BE A GOOD DAY, THAT’S WHEN EVERYTHING OPENS UP TO YOU.” TAO PORCHON - LYNCH
PHOTO: JOYCE PINES 16 16
PROFILES / Locals
Täo Porchon-Lynch AND ROBERT STURMAN BY: ANDREA RICE
On a rainy spring afternoon in Manhattan, Täo Porchon-Lynch, the world’s oldest yoga teacher, walked into the Rubin Museum in a pair of high heels and asked for a glass of wine. She removed her black cape to reveal a Fendi scarf loosely draped around her neck, a stylistic emblem of her French heritage. A well-tailored knee-length skirt showed off an impressive pair of trim legs that only 90 years of yoga and a lifetime of dance could help shape. Perhaps the only visible evidence that the fashionable matriarch who had arrived was a yogi was the large silver amulet depicting Ganesh that hung over her heart and travels with her everywhere. She took a seat in the museum’s café next to her friend, the photographer Robert Sturman. They exchanged hugs and swapped stories as Malbec flowed generously.
“ Anyone can be filled with beautiful ideas, but we must put them into practice. That’s what you’ve materialized with your photographs: you bring in the beauty of the world everywhere.”
Täo, who turned 99 this past August, is no average yoga teacher, nor does she fit the mold of a soon-to-be centenarian. She became a competitive ballroom dancer at 87, and appeared on “America’s Got Talent” in 2015 with a partner 70 years her junior. They performed to “Fireball,” a racy number by the rapper Pitbull — a testament to her modern edge. Täo believes there is no such thing as age and that anything is possible; she also prefers wine over water. Her thirst for life might very well be her secret to the fountain of youth. Täo has been practicing yoga since her childhood in Pondicherry, a
French colonial settlement in India at the time. “When I was very young, I saw a lot of little boys playing a new game on the beach and I asked if they would let me join them,” she said in an interview. That game, according to her aunt and uncle who raised her, was yoga, and it was not normal for girls to partake. But the eight-year-old Täo was persistent, and she partook anyway. In 1930, when she was 11, she accompanied her uncle, a student of Swami Vivekananda and a friend of Mahatma Gandhi, to join Gandhi in a protest march.
Born Andrée Porchon, Täo was named by her nursemaid in India because she was always brimming with the energy of nature. During World War II, they left India together in an attempt to locate Täo’s father. They arrived at a family vineyard in the South of France, where her father’s sister, a member of the French Resistance in Marseille, lived, worked and hid expatriates. There, Täo was asked to shed her saris in exchange for Western clothes, out of fear that the Nazis were watching. When they were nearly caught they fled the vineyard; Täo and her ayah were put on a fishing boat to Paris and another boat to London, just prior to the Nazi bombing attacks. Täo got her first job as a dancer in a nightclub and then a cabaret, which led her to some of the top clubs in the city. Eventually she went
profiles / Locals
PHOTO: ROBERT STURMAN 18
PROFILES / Locals
back to France, becoming a model for brands like Chanel and Lanvin, which led her to New York City. Determined to break into show business, she took a bus to Hollywood with a list of contacts she’d met in the London nightclubs — one of which was the founder of M.G.M., where Täo came under contract and earned smaller parts in movies. With encouragement from Indra Devi, who knew Täo as a girl in India, she began teaching yoga to Golden Age actresses like Debbie Reynolds and Kathryn Grayson. Täo’s French-Indian accent prevented her from landing bigger roles and she became frustrated with acting, shifting her focus to screenplays and documentaries. For years, she continued writing, producing and modeling, but was also committed to her yogic studies, traveling to India to study with B.K.S. Iyengar and Pattabhi Jois. In Hollywood, Täo was under the tutelage of her guru, Swami Prabhavananda, with whom she studied meditation until his death in 1976. Meanwhile, she met and divorced the selfdescribed love of her life, Yvan Moynet, a French fighter pilot who relocated to Uruguay. It was heartbreak that steered Täo away from the glamour of Hollywood to focus on yoga and meditation. A journey that returned her to New York where she married her second husband, the late Bill Lynch, and settled in Westchester County where she teaches yoga to this day. Täo’s work has put her in front of some of the biggest spiritual thought leaders of her time. In 2011, Täo earned the respect of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, when she sat on the Panel for Peace. A year later, she was recognized by Guinness World Records as the “Oldest Living Yoga Teacher.” In 2015, she received an award from the United Nations for her leadership as a female entrepreneur. Her autobiography Dancing Light: The Spiritual Side of Being Through the Eyes of a Modern Yoga Master was published that same year. Though Täo did not bear any children of her own, Teresa Kay-Aba Kennedy, her biographer, said that Täo has hundreds of children around the world: her students. And one of those students gave her a very special gift a few years back — a photo shoot in Central
Park with Robert Sturman. “I’ve learned so much from Robert, because he goes out into the world and brings that oneness together,” Täo said with an indelible twinkle in her eyes. “I am truly lucky that he entered my life.” Since that first shoot, Täo and Robert meet in New York City once a year to make art together. This time at the Rubin Museum, it would be for an interview and to shoot the cover of NY YOGA + LIFE™ magazine. This would be her first magazine cover, despite the fact that she is known far and wide as a Grand Dame of Yoga. Reunited, they took the stage and discussed the many ways in which the essence of yoga lights up the world.
“I think there’s a way to experience life so deeply and so presently that when you photograph it, you just press the button once and walk away— and you don’t have to question whether you missed it or not. It’s effortless...” The following is an edited excerpt from that conversation. RS: I’m always looking for good stories. I knew in the moment that we met that yours was a story worth telling; one that gives us hope and makes us want to be here and live life to the fullest. In a time where there is so much darkness and trouble in the world, people are hungry for great stories like yours. TPL: I agree with you that there is so much anger around us for no reason. The mind always brings out the problems! Don’t spend
your time thinking what you cannot do. Don’t let your mind take over — let your heart take over. It’s something that everyone should learn: never procrastinate. One minute after midnight it’s already today, so don’t spend your time wasting it! This is a precious gift we’ve been given. Vivekananda said, ‘don’t say I’ll do it tomorrow. Never say that there’s only one religion. Know that within us is the open door to attaining oneness with the whole world.’ This was something I always believed in. People do a lot of talking, but it’s action that matters. Robert, you not only take action, but your photos represent what I believe in. You open up that door with photography, and it doesn’t matter where you’ve been in the world — it comes to life. RS: When I forget about everything and I’m just in the moment creating, that’s when that oneness just happens. It speaks through me, and there’s no thought about it — it just is. I think there’s a way to experience life so deeply and so presently that when you photograph it, you just press the button once and walk away — and you don’t have to question whether you missed it or not. It’s effortless — and that’s how it is whenever I’m working with you; it’s never a struggle to create something. When art is created, it’s just the natural expression of a life that’s being lived. TPL: Well you certainly help bring it to life! You inspire me all the time. Whenever we come together, we experience that oneness. It’s easy to look and see a beautiful scene of trees, but it helps when someone can point out the very essence behind it. The AmericanIndians used to put their arms around the trunk of a tree and feel the energy of the sap moving up in there. We have that same thing within us — if we are in tune and just listen to our hearts, it opens the door to our whole being; it makes everything come alive. I know that nothing’s impossible — that there’s nothing we can’t do in life. If in this world I can make a little bit of difference, that’s what’s important. Every morning I say, ‘this is going to be the best day of my life.’ That’s when everything opens up to you. Other people are looking for that, but they don’t always know how to find it. This is the jewel of life: to
(continued on page 78)
PROFILES / Locals
DEEPAK CHOPRA AND SARAH PLATT-FINGER
BY: IANA VELEZ PHOTOS: RENEE CHOI
At the end BY: ANDREA RICEof summer, we sat down with Dr. Deepak Chopra, M.D. and Sarah Platt-Finger at the beautiful Rubin Museum of Art. Dr. Chopra is a world-renowned pioneer in integrative medicine and personal transformation, Board Certified in Internal Medicine, Endocrinology and Metabolism. He is the author of more than 85 books including numerous New York Times best sellers. Sarah Platt-Finger is the co-founder of ISHTA Yoga, and the private yoga teacher of Dr. Chopra. Sarah is also on the Board of Directors for Exhale to Inhale, a non-profit organization that teaches yoga to survivors of domestic violence. This is an edited transcript from that conversation available at nyyogalifemag.com.
SF: We’re here to talk to you all about the theme of being AWAKE and are going to read through a little bit of Deepak’s most recent book “You Are The Universe” and integrate that with this theme. We’re also going to talk a little bit about being awake in the universe and being awake in our culture and our society. So, the first question is: Where did time come from? How does it exist? DC: Actually, time doesn’t exist because we only experience NOW. You can’t get out of now. If you have a thought about the past, that’s a thought you have now. If you have a thought about the future, that’s now. Now is not a moment in time; now is the awareness in which we construct the notion of time. Just like we construct the notion of space which is based on perceptual experience, which is a modification of awareness.
DC: The universe is made out of consciousness. The universe is an experience in consciousness. It is known in consciousness, and it is made out of consciousness in the form of perceptual experiences which are modifications of consciousness.
“To wake up to the conditioned mind is the first step. To observe yourself without judging yourself. To experience sensations, images, feelings, thoughts, sense perceptions, body, mind, mental states, relationship, as a silent witness, is the first step.”
SF: And I feel like it’s the aspect of time and attaching to something that was in the past or projecting to the future, that keeps us from actually being awakened to what is the present moment. DC: Yes. But the future is a construct. There is no such thing, because when the future arrives it will be now. Now never ends.
SF: Constant unbounded, unlimited potential in this moment. So, what is the universe made of?
SF: It’s interesting because in Tantra, which is the “T” in ISHTA that we practice together, they say that all matter exists because even sound exists so that we can use what is in our senses, in our sense’s world, to transform the senses. We need to actually experience matter in the physical world and connect to it fully and completely in order to understand what exists beyond that. So, to sort of negate it or think that it’s unimportant, right? It’s not something that we celebrate from a tantric non-dualistic perspective? DC: As long as we don’t forget that matter is the interpretation of perceptual experience, and perceptual experience is a modification of consciousness, then it’s okay to have these constructs. But if we use the word non-duality, and non-duality says there’s only one
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entity, it’s either all matter or all consciousness. You have to make a choice. If it’s all matter, then when you examine matter, it disappears into nothingness. When you examine consciousness, it begins with nothingness. SF: Do we live in a conscious universe? DC: Yes, and also partly no, because the universe is an experience in consciousness and the universe that humans experience is a human universe. What does the universe look like to an insect with 100 eyes? Who knows? Or to a bat that moves at night to the echo of ultrasound? Or to a chameleon whose eyeballs swirl on two different axes? The universe we experience is a human experience conceived in human consciousness, constructed in human consciousness, known in human consciousness, governed in human consciousness, and coming into existence in consciousness. The universe is made out of consciousness, but the universe itself is not conscious. You are a conscious being in who that is an experience. SF: So it sort of lends itself to say that we are literally creating our own universe. DC: That’s right. SF: Creating our own reality. DC: Absolutely. SF: And what we want to create of our reality is up to us. What we want to awaken to, what we want to open our eyes and ears and senses to experience. DC: Absolutely, absolutely. SF: I’m remembering a quote that you use often that I love by Carl Jung, which is “I close my eyes and I’m awake, I open my eyes and I sleep.”
DC: That’s right. When you open your eyes, what you’re experiencing is a dream world which is arising and subsiding in awareness in the form of sensations, images, feelings, thoughts, and sense perceptions, and it’s doing that arising, subsiding, in every now. The Buddha said this lifetime of ours is as transient as autumn clouds. To watch the birth and death of beings is like looking at the movements of a dance. A lifetime is like a flash of lightning in the sky rushing by like a torrent down a steep mountain. So this is a waking dream. An awakening is the awareness in which the dream is being projected. Or out of which the dream is being projected. SF: I’m just thinking to myself as we talk about this topic of AWAKE, and based on where we are right now in our world and in our political climate, there is an element of challenge or difficulty, possibly suffering and struggle, that comes with opening your eyes to really see the world clearly. It’s easy to stay asleep right? It’s easy to just kind of close your eyes and go back to that nothing state. But we have to be in reality. We have to be in what presents itself to us in this everyday life that we live. DC: I like the quote from the German philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein, he said, “We are asleep, all life is a dream, but once in awhile we wake up enough to know that we are dreaming.” So, what do we wake up to? That which is projecting the dream. Right now the waking dream is portraying insanity, social and economic injustice, war, terrorism, climate change – even though there are deniers – conflict all over the world. It’s not a peaceful, just, sustainable, healthy, happy, joyful world – which it would be if people were awake. And when you and I accept that as normal – I don’t and I know you don’t – but if we accept that as normal then we are basically declaring our own insanity. Just know that you are living in an insane asylum, and that you need to pick up your visitor’s badge. You can first watch the show and then (continued on page 79)
UNCONDITIONAL With Puppies
BY: VERONICA BELTRAN AND SABRINA MOSCOLA PHOTOS: RENEE CHOI
Having animals around benefits the mind, body and spirit, teaches us lessons about ourselves and life, and proves to be excellent for companionship both on and off the mat. Pets remind us to always have a sense of humor, be open to love, and that sometimes we need to slow down. We think that dogs of yoga are here to stay!
Scroll your social media feed, and you are bound to come across a picture of a yogi and their four-legged best friend. Whether the dogs are complete hams posing for the camera or sneak into the shot, it is hard not to look at the photos of these pups with joy and affection. People are incorporating their pooches into their practice like never before. How can they not, when there are numerous health benefits and lessons to be learned from their companions? There is a reason why founding yogis took cues from the animals around them. They named many poses after those with abilities and aptitudes they wanted to emulate so they could live healthier. When talking to different teachers about the relationships with their dogs and their practice, the common thread seems to be the lessons they embody from them â€” like love, joy, detachment, empathy and so much more. We also learned that many of the yoga teachers adopted their dogs from rescue centers as a better way to pay it forward on and off the mat. This past spring we attended the event Paws for Yoga at Pure Yoga East. Proceeds from the event went to the rescue organization, Muddy Paws, entirely made up of fosters and volunteers. Phoebe Rule, general manager at Pure East, brought this project to the studio to combine
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her love of yoga and puppies. A few years ago, she asked herself what made her happy. After coming up with three things: yoga, puppies, and babies, she began her career at Pure Yoga, adopted a dog on death row and started babysitting. Phoebe and her mom started fostering puppies through In Our Hands, where the founder of Muddy Paws was working at the time. Phoebe beautifully described: “At first it was heartbreaking when the pups found adopters. I would connect with the puppies when they lived with us. The first time I had to give a dog to their new forever parents I cried and then thought this is the lesson of non-attachment, that we love them while we can then we let them go.” She adds: “For me yoga and dogs align because they bring me into the present moment, they ease my anxieties and help put the important things into perspective. I’m not living in the fear of the future or replaying the past when I’m on my mat or with my pup. In that moment I’m able to be in the present, and when I’m in the present I’m at peace.” In the following pages we will meet a few of the Yogi community’s mascots.
FAITH HUNTER SEBASTIAN BREED: Shih Tzu AGE: 10 yrs.
HERE ARE A FEW BENEFITS OF HAVING PETS MIND They help to act as mental floss to raise our brain’s levels of dopamine and serotonin, the neurotransmitters associated with pleasure and tranquility. BODY Their presence lowers the heart rate and blood pressure. SPIRIT They help instill compassion, kindness, happiness, and contentment in our interactions with ourselves, our pups and others.
WHEN & WHY DID YOU GET SEBASTIAN? I’ve had Sebastian since he was 3 months old. At the time I was just getting over the death of my cat. I grew up around all kinds of animals. I figured it was time for a puppy, and it would be nice to have a loyal companion at my yoga studio. A friend introduced me to a Maryland family that had two extra puppies. The connection was instant.
WHAT LESSONS HAVE YOU LEARNED FROM SEBASTIAN ON AND OFF THE MAT? Sebastian has always been a sweet nugget of unconditional love, from
the gentle morning alarm licks to cuddling on the sofa at night. Seb is also a master at meditating and staying calm. He’s my guru of “staying cool in chaos.” Seb turns into an explorer in the park, forever reminding me to be open and dive in for some unexpected fun!
WHY DID YOU NAME HIM SEBASTIAN? His dad was named Sebastian, and Seb had his intense yet sweet side-eye gaze. Why not make him Sebastian Bach Hunter, Jr.
PROFILES / Locals
ALI CRAMER MARTY
BREED: Toy Australian Shepherd AGE: 1 yr.
WHEN & WHY DID YOU GET MARTY? I wanted a dog for a really, really long time but could not commit until my father said he would dog sit when I go out of the country to teach.
WHAT LESSONS HAVE YOU LEARNED FROM MARTY ON AND OFF THE MAT? I have learned to slow down, to snuggle on the couch instead of running off on another meaningless errand, and I learned that if he messes up, it’s because I messed up, and wasn’t conscientious of his needs.
WHY DID YOU NAME HIM MARTY?
Because my dad was going to be Marty’s primary dog sitter. When my father asked what we were naming him, I said “MARTY, of course!” There is a movie from the 50’s called “Marty,” where every Friday night he hangs out with his buddy and says, “Whaddaya wanna do tonight?” And his buddy says, “I dunno, Marty, whadda YOU wanna do?” When I used to go visit my dad, we would go through this same skit.
PROFILES / Local
JENN TARDIF MAYBE
BREED: Havanese Maltese AGE: 2 yrs.
WHEN & WHY DID YOU GET MAYBE? I grew up with dogs and have always felt a special connection to them. When my husband and I were ready to adopt a pup I became obsessed with Pet Finder, it was like Tinder for dogs, and we were finally approved to rescue Maybe from a shelter called “Hope for Hannah” a few years ago.
WHAT LESSONS HAVE YOU LEARNED FROM MAYBE ON AND OFF THE MAT? I think what’s really nice about having a dog and living with an animal is all of the ways in which they can be a teacher to you. She’s a teacher in patience in that she embodies this idea that things will take as long as they take. I’m able to take cues from her as she lives her life without inhibition. I also think she’s a really nice reminder to be empathetic. On the mat, she completely mirrors the practice. When we’re really focused, sitting up and doing pranayama, she’s often sitting up and looking everybody in the eye. Whenever there are moments where the energy drops down and people are mediating or in savasana, she sleeps. She’s like a little thermostat for our nervous systems.
WHY DID YOU NAME HER MAYBE? While training her everything was yes and no, so we decided to name her Maybe.
DAVID & ELIAN ZACH-SHEMESH SHAPIRO
BREED: We’re not entirely sure what breed he is, but we like to say that he’s part dog part deer AGE: 5 yrs.
WHEN & WHY DID YOU GET SHAPIRO? David got Shapiro at Socialties, a shelter in the East Village in November 2012. David and Shapiro united about 3 months before I joined the family. Why? That’s an easy one: Love. (continued on next page)
PROFILES / Locals
WHAT LESSONS HAVE YOU LEARNED FROM SHAPIRO ON AND OFF THE MAT? UNCONDITIONAL LOVE. He is a live testament to the fact that it is indeed possible to love and be loved unconditionally. The yoga practice is a great tool to reaffirm this, but our bewhiskered bundle of cuteness is the perfect constant reminder.
WHY DID YOU NAME HIM SHAPIRO? David used to be partner in a restaurant named Schapiro’s on the Lower East Side. In many ways, those were Shapiro’s first steps as the shrewd CEO he now is. The WOOM team would agree, he is a strict and fair boss.
BREED: Chihuahua AGE: 8 yrs.
WHEN & WHY DID YOU GET SPEEDY? I rescued Speedy, or perhaps, he rescued me almost seven years ago. I fell down a flight of stairs and suffered a traumatic brain injury. I had been experiencing a type of vertigo that made me feel like I was constantly on a boat rocking back and forth. However, when I held Speedy in my arms, it would counter the feeling of equilibrium imbalance that I was feeling. His shaking had the opposite effect and made me feel as though I wasn’t moving anymore.
WHAT LESSONS HAVE YOU LEARNED FROM SPEEDY ON AND OFF THE MAT? Had you asked me ten years ago if I ever would have considered bringing a dog with me to yoga, the answer most definitely would have been NO. I didn’t understand how people could even allow dogs in their homes. However, despite how much we think we are in control, sometimes the universe has other plans for us. Rescuing Speedy (or Speedy rescuing me), has opened my heart in a way that I didn’t know it could be opened. Animals are healers. I believe they are in tune, perhaps even more than humans. They love unconditionally. That is the real yoga.
WHY DID YOU NAME HIM SPEEDY? One day, early in my days of recovery, I saw Speedy running through a major intersection. He was almost struck by several oncoming cars. After chasing him for more than a mile through the streets, the name Speedy, shortened from Speedy Gonzales, seemed too perfect!
OUR PICKS FOR YOUR QUEENS ADVENTURE
BY: SABRINA MOSCOLA PHOTOS: RENEE CHOI
raditionally known for its Greek food and neighborhood vibe, Astoria, Queens has managed to simultaneously keep its roots while progressing with the demands of hip new renters in the area. Decades-old, familyrun businesses sit next to trendy, new shops. The neighborhood is a short, 30-minute subway ride from midtown Manhattan, and home to restaurants with a robust variety of cultures and flavors. But the biggest draw is the sense of community and support that even competing businesses in Astoria foster. Small businesses support each other through collaborative pop-up shops and selfless recommendations. Markets are held for local artisans to showcase their crafts. Neighbors become friendly through run-ins at parks and shops. One thing for sure is that the residents of Astoria really, truly love Astoria. Feeling the spirit of this neighborhood gave us a complete sense of awakening.
experience, where class packages and monthly memberships don’t exist, there is no prior sign up needed. Nestled on the second floor on the corner of 33rd Street and Broadway, the studio is equal parts In the heart of it all and above the hustle and bustle. With flowing, white curtains layered over tall, glass doors opening to Juliet balconies, the space is quite remarkable. The studio turns magical on Friday evenings, when the Yin class is accompanied by live music – a local cellist or pianist sits in the corner, playing soothing melodies to accompany the poses. After you breathe and flow, take a few steps next door to Lockwood Shop where you’ll find kitschy ornaments and accessories showing Astoria love and local support, like the Astoria Key Ring or Queens Coloring Book.
The NY YOGA + Life™ team took a ride out to the borough to frolic. Here’s a taste of what a daytrip in Astoria looks like…but don’t limit yourself to the places where we played. Take your next “staycation” over the bridge and see how Astoria can awaken you! Start your day by getting off at the 30th Ave. subway stop. Just one block west you’ll find a quaint little coffee shop tucked off the main street. Astoria Coffee has a chill vibe, infamous dueling tip jars that change daily, and playlists that always seems to be just what you need at the moment. While the baristas fix you up a beautifully crafted beverage, you’ll be tempted to purchase a souvenir: coffee plants in mugs, logo totes, or merchandise for sale by local entrepreneurs. After caffeinating, a short walk will lead you to Astoria Park. This quiet oasis draws runners to the quarter mile track, families to the public pool, and dog-owners to walk along the river. Lay down for a picnic and nap on the main lawn, and feel free to spill your deepest darkest secret if you’re with a friend – without the crowds of Manhattan, having a private conversation on your blanket is totally possible. After lazily lying in the grass, bring some movement into your day. When it comes to yoga, there is one option that is rather special. You don’t often see a type of studio like Yoga Agora. A true drop-in
When you’ve worked up an appetite, Sek’end Sun just a block west will help you to continue the local pride. If you’re lucky enough to score a seat in their backyard, you’ll be transfixed. Queens: the big, bright neon sign reminds you exactly where you are, just in case the cocktails make your memory hazy. Feeling the spirit of this neighborhood gave us a complete sense of awakening. In a city that can sometimes be isolated, observing the sense of community in Astoria is the perfect elixir of nostalgia, comfort, and satisfaction. Take your next staycation or day trip over the bridge and see how Astoria can awaken you.
YOGA Yoga Agora yogaagora.com The Giving Tree thegivingtreeyogastudio.com The Yoga Room the-yoga-room.com
COFFEE Astoria Coffee astoriacoffeeny.com Gossip Coffee gossipcoffee.com Queens Room @queensroomnyc
SHOP Lockwood Shop lockwoodshop.com Brass Owl thebrassowl.com The Stonework stoneworkstore.com
EAT Sekend Sun sekendsun.com Kurry Qulture kurryqulture.com Ovelia ovelia-ny.com 28
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INSPIRE QED qedastoria.com Socrates Sculpture Park socratessculpturepark.org Noguchi Museum noguchi.org
Music / Profiles
BY: KO IM PHOTO: YELENA NESBIT
Hilaria Baldwin is trying to be present — you can sense some scurrying in the background. The author of “The Living Clearly Method,” mom of three young children and wife of Alec Baldwin is known to multitask as seen on Instagram while carrying one toddler and performing squats for her social media followers. But she seems like someone who does it in a way that doesn’t appear she’s all over the place. Hilaria seems centered, and clearly enjoying the moment. At the time of our phone conversation, babies (of course) and cute dogs are surrounding her on a playdate. Her daughter seems to be asking her a question, but Hilaria comes back to my questions each time with sincerity. Being awake, she says, is a daily practice to do exactly that — return to the present moment. “So much becomes routine, you put one foot in front of another, like a conveyor belt on whatever path we start off” Hilaria says. “A lot of times we’re not focusing on changes in our lives and what we want now.” In addition to running and taking barre classes, yoga helps — teaching as well as doing. She prefers a vigorous flow “that wakes up your muscles when you’re pretty aware of your physical form. The more you make your muscles burn, you create a strong sensation the mind has to focus on your body.” When she’s off the mat, she simply enjoys family time to the fullest — by putting the phone down and really listening to her ba-
bies. She explains: “Trying to be as clear as possible about family time is pretty important for us especially in this day and age of cellphones, more time focusing on screen than in front of us. They can develop life skills to lead an awake life.” With her husband it’s more of the same and not about getting stuck in a rut as their lives continue to change — on separate but parallel paths, staying side by side and being clear about each other’s needs. This summer Hilaria spent time off from teaching at YogaVida to focus on being a mom in the Hamptons while her kids are off from school. As fall starts to ramp up, she hopes to continue living clearly. “Being awake this time when their lives go by so quickly,” she adds. “Life’s formulaic about tying shoes so I’m going to try to put my energy into my children and help them start off on the right foot.”
YOGA BY: RENEE CHOI
When it comes to curating a yoga class, choosing the right music is just as important as creating the asana sequence. Music sets the tone for the class and can even make that last hold in chaturanga bearable. We interviewed NYC yoga instructor Beth Cooke to get her take on music and yoga, as well as a sample playlist.
What role does music play in your classes? At the end of the day, the yoga speaks for itself. The shapes we take, united with our breath, will reveal so much in time and practice. No music is required for a transformative practice. However, I love music and I love yoga and I enjoy listening to a playlist that makes me feel some type of way when I teach and practice. A playlist can enhance the experience by creating a journey with a beginning, middle and end: child’s pose (birth) to savasana (corpse pose).
Do you change your playlists based upon audience? My playlist can include artists and genres all across the board and I usually don’t censor too much for different audiences. I’ve played Marilyn Manson to Led Zeppelin to Lil’ Kim and I believe it’s another form of getting open on our mats. We gain compassion and awareness and flexibility through yoga. Flexibility of the mind is just as important as the flexibility in the body, if not more so.
Who is your favorite musician/artist on your playlist? At this moment in my life my favorite song on this playlist is “Alaska” NY YOGALIFEMAG.COM
by Maggie Rogers. The song feels light and fun and yet she’s speaking of letting something go and taking space to get to know herself better. I find that so fitting as a yogi. We are always seeking, looking for more, and learning more about ourselves.
Who is your favorite musician that is not on you playlist ? Too many!!! Britney Spears, Lil’ Kim, Fleetwood Mac, Tori Amos, Cam’ron, and SZA to name a few. No rhyme or reason why they are not on this playlist other than I ran out of time. Next issue ;)
Name other yoga teachers whose playlists inspire you. I love everybody’s playlists. I can get down to anything really because as I said before it’s the yoga, not the playlist. However, Kajuan Douglass, Yancy Schwartz, Alex Sharry, Krissy Jones and Chloe Kernaghan’s playlists really soothe my soul.
How do you find new music? I’ll find new music from interrogating all of my friends that are cooler than me, and Spotify.
Do you enjoy creating playlists? I love making playlists but sometimes I wonder how I could possibly outdo the last one?! Learn more about Beth online @bethcooke_flow 31
can touch it and I can tap into listening to how it functions in me and through me. It exists in everyone and it is everyone. We are all a part of this unified field of intelligence, this unified web, that is so zoomed out that it can see the long term. It can see the big picture behind everything that happens. This web offers us suffering and awakened states so that we can go deeper into ourselves, connecting deeper with our truths and why we feel discomfort. Connecting with that essence within myself is the greatest medicine that I have found to remedy emotional pain. It all ties into my main life goal, which is to evolve. When you’re saying “intelligence,” is that an all-encompassing phrase of God and the universe? It totally is. I was talking with my husband about this yesterday and it’s important for me to note here that the words we use can never define what we’re talking about, because what we’re talking about is something that can’t be described; it can only be known. But these are words that I use when I’m talking with myself and my partner about it because it helps me to connect with my knowing. How did you get into Reiki? I have been trained and passed on the Reiki master symbol from the Usui tradition. There are multiple different Japanese lineages of Reiki but I was trained in Usui. It’s a form of energy giving.
CLAIRE MORTIFEE BY: TAWNY LARA
Claire Mortifee wears many spiritual hats. She’s a twenty four year old musician, a Reiki practitioner, and a life coach. The spirituality gained from her other professions brings an element of soul to her powerful music. Lyrically, her latest album, “Medicines,” touches on issues that are relevant to our current social and political climate. Claire seemed like the perfect person to chat with in regards to today’s heightened social awakening. Musically, her Amy Winehouse and Erykah Badu influences shine through with a strong presence of r&b and jazz. She prioritizes self care and stays connected with what she calls a Unified Field of Intelligence. Mortifee is L.A. based and she loves any excuse to come play in New York City. What is your Unified Field of Intelligence? That’s such a beautiful phrase. Sometimes I say unified web of intelligence, it’s like an interconnected web of love. It’s an intelligence that is so vast in size, depth, and integrity that my human brain cannot even begin to fathom what that looks like. I
How do you balance it all - Reiki, life coaching, and your music career? Out of all of these, is music your baby? There was a time when I had recently gone off antidepressants that I was put on when I was fifteen. It was a difficult time for me to be adjusting with my brain chemistry. I thought, how can I cultivate a career that I don’t need a vacation from, and one that I’m able to do even when I am experiencing difficult emotional patterns? My Reiki master certification and life coach certification ended up being a good complimentary force in my life. It’s rewarding when I do have the opportunity to offer Reiki or a coaching to somebody. They’re both on the side at this point as I’ve been working a lot on the album. Your spiritual side definitely comes through in your music. That’s the greatest gift for me, that other people can connect with themselves and their spirit through what I’m offering. That is all of my dreams coming true. You have this great lyric in your song “True Power:” “I will not let you disrespect my fire.” Where did that line come from? That song was written after a man who I had been working with on some songs, out of the blue got emotionally abusive with me. I made a post on social media about self-love and struggling with low self-esteem – that’s a theme that has been regular in my life since I can remember. Explaining my journey with self-love, exemplifying my own practice
and journey was a very empowering thing for me. And this dude thought that the post was arrogant and thought that I was trying to seem famous. I think that there’s something going on inside him that is hurting and that’s why he lashed out at me that day. But this song was inspired by that incident. Instead of seeking revenge or wanting to bring him down, I gave way to this feeling of wanting to bless his soul and his spirit and remind him that he does have a true power that exists underneath what he was offering me that day. I was not going to let myself be brought down by this boy. Good for you. You turned it into art. That reminds me of that Carrie Fisher quote, “Take your broken heart, turn it into art”. Yeah. That’s always a good thing to do. Do you have any daily self-care practices, such as learning how to say no? Or something even simpler? I know I feel great when I have my nails painted and I’m rocking some new lipstick. Is there anything along those lines that help you feel empowered? That’s a beautiful question. I think for me it’s listening to my body. In my experience, the way that God communicates to me is through my body. That’s where my intuition speaks. Even something like, “am I hungry?” Making sure that I’m fed and nourished helps. Setting boundaries is something I’ve had trouble with in my story in my past. Definitely working to listen and trusting that the reason that I don’t want to do something is because God is communicating to me that that is not the path that they are intending for me to go down. I’ll ask myself “Do I actually want to do this?” And if not, I’ll say no. Just like you said. I know you’re L.A. based, but I have to ask you about New York. What does New York mean to you? I love New York. It’s such a special place. The sense of community in New York is really inspiring and welcoming. There’s beautiful people and they like to collaborate in a different way than in Los Angeles. In L.A., there’s some socioeconomic barriers to getting around. There’s lots of freeways that if you don’t have a car or you can’t pay for gas to get somewhere, then how are you going to get there? New York is awesome because of the accessibility of the city and the com-
munities. And the art scene is so rich and genuine. I think Los Angeles was built around the film industry and Hollywood, which is very white-washed and straight for the most part. Of course, things are changing slowly but surely. The sense of “anything goes” in New York in terms of the art scene creates a vibrant expression.
“Our pain is an offering for us to choose a different way or cultivate a different habit or a different way of thinking about something.” What is your yoga and/or meditation practice like? My mom, Melissa Halliday, is a yoga teacher in Vancouver. She’s really helped me get in touch with my yoga practice. My relationship with meditation goes up and down in terms of when I practice. As I said, I’m incorporating prayer a bit more into my devotional time. When I’m able to listen to my body, a lot of the time it’s asking for yoga. It’s asking to be stretched and to be moved and to be strengthened in these beautiful ancient ways that yoga asanas offer. I love to practice yoga in the comfort of my own home. Put on a video and do it with my husband beside me. Sometimes I’ll put my dog, Joplin, right at my face so when I come down to do the chaturangas I’ll kiss her. I’m grateful that there are so many different practices available online now. In person classes are such a gift. When I take time to go do it in a studio or with friends, it’s a whole other experience that is rewarding in different ways.
You’ve mentioned earlier that your life goal is to evolve. When do you know what still needs to evolve, and when do you accept “what is”? I know what needs to evolve when it’s causing me great pain, whether it’s shame or sadness or fear. Also being able to hold those emotions and listen to what they’re trying to teach me. Those emotions are often saying “this is not the way that Mother-Father-God is seeing the situation.” A lot of times for me it’s changing my perspective on something which goes hand in hand with accepting what’s going on. It’s trippy because what needs to change is usually more my perspective, and what I need to accept is exactly what’s happening. By “zooming out” I’m already able to accept what’s happening as divinely guided. You mean looking at things on more of a macro level to get a broader vision of what’s going on? Then you can distinguish “what is” from what can shift? And remembering that our pain is medicine too. Our pain is an offering for us to choose a different way or cultivate a different habit or a different way of thinking about something. Knowing that, how can I change how I think? How can I change how I act? How can I change how I identify or dis-identify with these issues to a way that feels more honest and true to me as a human being? Just listening to my emotions and letting them guide me, but always with a strong healthy dose of compassion. What does the word “AWAKE” mean to you? To be aware of the inescapable Divinity of literally every and anything I can think of. It’s my intention to remain awake to the Light of my being, and awake to the Divine Perfection of any experience I find my consciousness having. To be awake is to remember the “meant-to-be-ness” of it all.
“Medicines” is available on iTunes, Spotify, and SoundCloud. Follow Claire @clairemortifee
Music / Profiles
BATALA NY BY: TAWNY LARA PHOTO: CHRISTINA TSAO, FRAMED FORWARD PHOTOGRAPHY
People, predominantly women, are looking for some sort of outlet to express what they’re feeling and how they’re dealing with current events. Batalá New York is providing just that: a true awakening to the women playing the music and for the audiences lucky enough to see their shows. Batalá New York is part of a global arts project made up of over 30 bands around the world. The music of Batalá originated in Salvador, the capital of the state of Bahia, in northeastern Brazil. New York’s all women afro-brazilian samba reggae percussion chapter has performed at Brooklyn’s Curl Fest, NYC’s Women’s March, and Make Music New York, to name a few. Batalá New York’s directors, Deinya Phenix and Laura Torell, let us crash their rehearsal space in Williamsburg on a sunny Sunday afternoon. Over the course of two hours, we danced while they practiced, chatted with some of the musicians, and even got to play a few songs with them. Thanks for letting us crash your band practice! The energy in there was incredible. Everyone had a beautiful, genuine smile on their face. How would you describe your rehearsal? Deinya: I like to use the Brazilian Portuguese word axé coming from Ifá religion. It means divine, creative energy. Laura: Suingue, it means to swing. It means you’re not just playing the music – you’re feeling the music. You’re feeling the beat. That’s why we try to use less words and more demonstration. How long have you both been doing this? Deinya: Well, in this band since 2012. I used to do folkloric dance
including Afro-Brazilian dance and samba. And I’ve been doing that pretty much since 2006. Laura: I’ve been doing this since 2012. I’ve been playing Brazilian percussion since 2007. I started off with samba and I played with various samba bands. I’ve played a couple different genres in Brazilian music. I dipped into a little bit of Samba reggae during that time, which is why this transition felt really good. Batalá’s vibe is empowering women all over the world. Are the groups always women-based? Laura: Only in a few key cities: New York, Washington D.C., Mendoza, and Brasília.
Deinya: What’s interesting about all female bands is that only two of them are female led: New York and D.C. Drumming is often dominated by men. An all female Batalá group is focused on female energy that eclipsed in a mixed gender setting. It creates a positive space for women. Women tend to be braver in the context of other women. Take more risks creatively around other women. Half of us have traveled to play in other bands, some co-ed of course. What does the word “AWAKE” mean to each of you? Laura: In terms of what we’re doing here, a key thing is that we are bringing in people who have had perhaps no experience, or very little experience in playing music, or drumming. I would say more often than not people come in with no experience. It awakens a sense of creativity, that musicality that may have not existed before. That’s what happened to me when I first started playing Brazilian percussion with other groups. I hadn’t done it before at all. I didn’t think I could do it, and here I am ten years later leading this project. Deinya: I took a few percussion classes here and there but I never considered myself to be a percussionist until Batalá. So I’ve been waking up to a shift in identity. Batalá, more than any other project I’m involved with now, has connected me with my ancestors. Including those who have brought African religion, and traditions from the motherland to the Americas. I travel to Brazil often and one thing I’ve noticed since participating in Batalá is that the African traditions are expressed differently in each place where slaves were taken. Brazil happens to be one of the most conscious places as far as the African traditions of my ancestors. Connecting with this music has awakened a consciousness in me, a racial conscious that I didn’t have before. Batalá uses five different drums. Can you tell me a little bit about the significance of each drum? Why are there five? Laura: The five drums comprised of five different parts so that they all connect into one arrangement. We have the surdo 1 and 2 which provide the bass. I would say the surdos are the wheels and the caixa is the engine. Deinya: We also call the surdos the hearbeat.
It’s a single beat for the heartbeat. One, two, one, two. With that heartbeat going, the band feels like it has life. The dobro plays in between the heartbeat, almost like a breath. The repinique resembles the African djembe drum. It’s one of the hardest ones to play because it’s very loud. You need extra earplugs for that one? Deinya: You definitely need extra earplugs. But also for women, in general, being loud is difficult yet so necessary. Another form of awakening comes from women playing this repinique drum. It’s a master drum and here we are - women - playing it. Where the repique often calls and the dobra will respond or the other way around. They interact a lot. And this is the heartbeat of the engine going the whole time. It sounds like it all works together like a well-oiled machine.
“Connecting with this music has awakened a consciousness in me, a racial conscious that I didn’t have before.” Laura: It is also interesting when you go to Batalá worldwide you see that the repinique and the caixa are primarily played by men in co-ed environment, whereas the dobras are played primarily by women. Surdos are kind of a mix. I started playing dobra, because I used to play a similar drum in samba, and I wanted to learn the repinique because I wasn’t seeing a lot of women play this drum outside of the context of an all women band where by default all of the women play all of the drums. Deinya: I also feel like playing the repique I’m serving my space. Laura: Yeah. Because it’s a call thing. I love that in Rio style samba all the calls are done by repinique. It’s like you lead and then it responds. So, it’s nice to put yourself out there.
You all wear red, black, and white when rehearsing and performing. What’s the significance in those colors? Deinya: Like I mentioned before, a lot of African traditions were brought to Brazil and the Americas. They’re often expressed and reinterpreted through popular music formats and aesthetics. The colors are often connected to the Orixas, which are deities of the African religion Candomble. White and red together are the colors of Iansa and Xango. Iansa is a female Orixa that is connected and syncretized with Santa Barbara that is the goddess of sacred thunder, lightning storms, and hurricanes. The red and white are also connected to Xango who is the god of thunder and lightning. The colors red, black, and white together are associated with Exu a trickster deity. So those colors are meaningful to us, but they’re also high contrast and energetic. If anybody wants to get involved in Batalá, how can they? Deinya: They should write us, our website is batalanewyork.love Dot love? Deinya: If you use “dot com” it will still connect, but we love to say “dot love.” What’s the audition process like? Every few months we are tentatively open to new members. It just depends on what we need. Some have little to no drumming experience, while others have been drumming for years. These women come from all walks of life. What’s the age range of your group? Deinya: Right now, we have about 45 women age 20-68. There was a time when we had someone as young as 11 in the band, my daughter. Most of the women involved in Batalá are middle class. I really want to expand our community to other cultures and classes. We’re doing workshops in the Bronx and the Lower East Side to branch out our membership. If I had been caught by a movement like Batalá when I was younger, I’d be so much better for it. I want to offer this opportunity to younger women, especially younger black women. Follow Batalá @batalanewyork. Check out their music on YouTube and ReverbNation.
inside and out
BY: LOULOU PISCATORE, WELLNESS & BEAUTY EDITOR PHOTOS: RENEE CHOI
Beauty truly does begin within. One of the best ways to cultivate ‘the glow” is diet and exercise. In addition, what you put on your body is just as important as what you put in it. Skincare products, hair care products, fragrance and makeup can be filled with toxins, preservatives, heavy metals, and endocrine disruptors. Your skin absorbs everything, so do your research. Shopping for skincare should be like shopping for groceries -- look for local, natural and organic ingredients Turns out nutrients long associated with inner health, are also great for outer “glow.” Superfood ingredients like kale, fruit, minerals, and probiotics are now showing up in skin care. At the same time things we have long been using on our skin, like charcoal and collagen, are showing up in food and supplements. We love this trend! Here are our suggestions for achieving that “inside out” glow.
Vitamins + Minerals
1. Hum Here Comes the Sun Vitamin D supplement 2. Juice Press Vitamin C water 3. Dirty Lemon Energy Drink With ashwaghanda and ginseng 4. Ren Vita Mineral Active 7 eye gel 5. Rejuva Mineral mega lash mascara 6. Moon Juice Beauty Dust 7. Apoterra Neroli toner with Vitamin C
9. Between You and the Moon Mineral mist 10. LivOn Lypo-spheric Vitamin C 11. Mad Hippie Vitamin A serum 12. Mad Hippie Vitamin C serum 13. Moondeli Calming adaptogen with ashwagandha 14. Pratima Rare earth mineral mask
8. Fat and the Moon Eye coal
We all know about the beauty benefits of vitamins. Now, we also have mineral mists, adaptogen juices, and beauty dusts made out of Chinese herbs— all of which aim to fight free radicals, balance hormones, and make your skin glow.
1. RenPure Argan Oil Conditioner Shea butter, coconut, olive, neem and almond oil 2. Frank Coconut Body Balm Squalene, coconut, jojoba, and coffee seed oil 3. EIR Tough Love Balm Shea butter, coconut, olive, neem and almond oil 4. Beauty Shaman Body Armour Made with coconut and avocado oil 5. Kari Gran Lip Whip Made with sunflower and calendula oil 6. Shea Moisture Finishing Oil Serum 100% Virgin coconut 7. Mun Body Toning Serum Olive oil 8. Shea Moisture Shampoo Argan oil and almond milk 9. SW Basics Cream Shea butter, coconut, and olive oil 10. Mullein and Sparrow 100% Argan oil 11. Limegreen Hair-Face-Body-Hand Oil Sunflower, sweet almond, and jojoba oil
One of the worst diet fads in recent history was the “low fat/no fat” craze. Your body needs fat — your brain runs on it, your hormones are made of it, and it’s the ultimate skin food.
Collagen 1. Kettle & Fire Chicken bone broth 2. ReserveAge Collagen keratin and elastin supplement 3. Amala Rejuvenating collagen mask 4. Primal Kitchen Chocolate & almond bar with grass fed collagen 5. Dirty Lemon Skin+Hair Drink With marine collagen 6. Pratima Amla collagen cream 7. ReserveAge Collagen replenish powder
Collagen is a part of our connective tissue and helps keep us strong and flexible. And yes, it’s amazing for your skin.
1. Cocos Organics Black magic face mask 2. Apotheke Charcoal shampoo and conditioner 3. Binchotan Charcoal face scrub towel 4. Say Yes To Tomatoes Detoxifying charcoal paper mask 5. Cocos Organics Dirty mouth tooth polish 6. Gleam Charcoal tooth whitening powder 7. Juice Press Dirty detox drink 8. Dirty Lemon Detox drink with activated charcoal 9. Soapwalla Charcoal and glycerin soap
Charcoal has long been used to clean your pores, but it can also be used to trap toxins and chemicals in the body allowing them to be flushed out before the body reabsorbs them. Ingestible charcoal products can be helpful for digestive issues, and hangovers.
Probiotics 1.Thrive Probiotic 2. Pacifica Coconut probiotic sunscreen 3. Biossance Squalene probiotic gel moisturizer 4. Hum Gut Instinct Probiotic blend 5. Mother Dirt Probiotic moisturizer 6. Glowbiotics Probiotic advanced anti-aging replenishing oil 7. Mother Dirt Probiotic cleanser 8. Pacifica Hot vegan probiotic and spice rehab mask 9. The Coconut Cult Coconut yogurt
Our overall health is closely tied to our gut health. Everything from digestion, to immune system issues, to mental health is connected to bacteria. Probiotic foods and supplements are helpful tools to help maintain this delicate balance. Theyâ€™re also great for balancing the pH of our skin and hair.
health / Beauty
2. Apotheke Rose body lotion 3. Mun Hydrating rose toner
1. Pratima Rose and sandalwood mask
4. Leven Rose Pure organic Moroccan rose water 5. Mullein and Sparrow Rose and frankincense facial serum 6. Apoterra Rose nourishing serum 7. Love and Sage Beach rose lip balm 8. Between You and the Moon Rose renewal masque 9. Meow Meow Tweet Pink rose clay facial soap
Ayurveda and Chinese medicine view aging as “drying out,” which explains why moisturizing is so important. Rose is an especially hydrating ingredient that’s effective when used both topically and when ingested.
2 Earth Science Creamy fruit oil cleanser 3. Earth Science Olive and avocado hair masque 4. Kale Water Micellar cleansing tonic 5. Leven Rose Pure organic pomegranate seed oil 6. Pacifica Kale brighten enzymatic overhaul mask 7. Funkless Natural tangerine and lime deodorant 8. Meow Meow Tweet Rosemary avocado shampoo bar 9. Leven Rose Pure organic carrot seed oil 10. Earth Science Fruit actives perfecting lotion
Fruits & Veggies
1. Shea Moisture Superfruit multivitamin renewal facial wipes
11. Say Yes to Cucumbers Soothing eye gel
Aim for products with plenty of fruits and veggies. Think: Kale, cucumber, avocado, carrot, pomegranate, and more. If it’s good for your insides, it’s likely great for your outsides, too.
Inspiring Positive Change
Watch Beth’s story at noteworthy.auracacia.com/journey
At Aura Cacia, we believe when women encourage each other, incredible things happen. No matter what your story is, your path toward the life you want isn’t meant to be walked alone. Aura Cacia’s roots are in top-quality essential oils and aromatherapy products, a heritage we maintain today through simple, effective, plant-based products and industry-leading aromatherapy expertise. With a higher mission to help women achieve the positive change they want in their lives, we’re committed to surrounding women everywhere with opportunities to grow, discover and build meaningful connections with others.
Building Noteworthy Community In pursuing this mission, we saw a need for a new kind of space for women to connect, share and support one another. That’s why we recently launched Noteworthy by Aura Cacia, an immersive online space for women seeking a transformative, natural wellness lifestyle. At noteworthy.auracacia.com, you’ll meet real people (like Beth, above) sharing stories, poems, essays, photos and videos. Community members can connect through message boards, and save your favorite essential oil recipes and other content. You also can join collective journeys, such as our 21-Day Noteworthy Journey, focused on wellnessoriented experiences.
Aura Cacia Positive Change Project For some women, creating positive change means overcoming seemingly overwhelming challenges. Each time you purchase an Aura Cacia product, you give back to women facing poverty, hunger, homelessness, abuse, addiction and prostitution through our Positive Change Project. In 2017, your purchases made it possible for us to fund $230,000 in grants to six organizations that give women of courage and determination the support they need to transform their lives. These include organizations like N Street Village in Washington, D.C., which helps homeless and low-income women achieve stability, and Girls Educational & Mentoring Services in New York City, which helps girls and young women who have experienced commercial sexual exploitation and domestic trafficking. Also, in our own backyard of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, the Catherine McCauley Center provides basic education, transitional housing and one-on-one tutoring specifically for women overcoming poverty and homelessness. Together, we can make a difference in our own lives and the world around us.
Learn more about the 2017 Aura Cacia Positive Change Project recipients at https://www.auracacia.com/community/positive-change-project.
THE POWERFUL BLOOM OF FLOWER ESSENCE BY: LOULOU PISCATORE ILLUSTRATIONS: CHELSEA HENEISE
I met Lindsay Fauntleroy in the middle of winter. We were both studying Five Element Chinese medicine and Alchemical Healing with Master Lorie Dechar, and had just started a year-long course of study. It was the largest snowstorm of the season, and we were tucked away at the Stony Point Center in upstate New York, working with the seasons and the elements-- examining nature’s ability to heal and awaken the spirit. Over the course of that weekend and the year, Lindsay introduced me to the magic of flower essences. Since then I have become both a patient and a student. I am constantly inspired by the way she works, and the soul healing that is possible with the use of flower essences, so I asked her to describe them and how they work. What are flower essences? Flower essences are vibrational plant remedies used to help us get out of our own way so that we can live fully and authentically. Often when I am speaking about flower essences, they get confused with essential oils, which are used in aromatherapy. Flower essences are like a sibling to essential oils, and they are taken internally very much like you would take an herbal supplement. I have a student who once brilliantly called flower essences “vitamins for the soul,” and I think that is spot on. How do they work? We often hear that at any given time, we are only using 10% of our brain. The other 90% is our subconscious mind. The analogy is like that of an iceberg. The tip of the iceberg that peaks above the water represents our conscious mind: what we can actively perceive with our five senses, study, memorize, and mentally process of at any given time. But beneath the surface? That’s where the magic is. Our habits, our instincts, our autonomic nervous system are all relegated to that 90% that we don’t have to think about. And it’s a good thing too, because imagine how difficult our lives would be if we had to remind ourselves to breathe or remind our hearts to beat. Can you imagine? Most of us wouldn’t make it. The problem is that our subconscious mind also contains an encyclopedia of conditioned responses and beliefs that were formed primarily as infants, in early childhood and in situations of high stress of trauma. In psychotherapy, these patterns are called maladaptive schemas; in yogic philosophy, these patterns are called samskaras. These emotional responses and beliefs, which are often in conflict to our stated (conscious) intentions, are accessed rapidly without us even being aware of it. This is where the magic of flower essences come in. They bring awareness to the subconscious habits, behaviors and beliefs that no longer serve us so that we can evolve into our fullest potential. It’s like taking a flashlight down deep under the water to look at “what’s down there?” beneath the waters. As we examine that part of the iceberg, that 90%, change begins to happen. We can start consciously creating new responses to situations, we can start embodying new truths. And as we do so, change starts happening around us.
How did you discover them/start using them? I was introduced to flower essences about fifteen years ago when I was trying to get pregnant. I had recently been diagnosed with premature ovarian failure, and was devastated. As any woman trying to conceive might tell you, the process can bring up literally every fear or insecurity you’ve ever had in your entire life! A close friend had Bach Flower remedies in her home medicine cabinet and started offering them to me. I was hooked. They are such a subtle and profound medicine, and I immediately started feeling shifts in my emotions, my mood, and the choices I was making. I felt incredibly aligned. I believe that the flower essences, combined with acupuncture, changed my life. After that, I began to study both flower essences and acupuncture with the intention of integrating the two in a clinical practice. How do they show up in your practice now? The majority of patients in my practice are prescribed flower essences as a tool for deepening the work we begin in our sessions together. In that way, patients can stay at the center of their own healing journey, and they are able to bring a little piece of magic home with them. I work with a repertory of over 500 flower essences, and my patients are often relieved to find that there’s a bit of plant medicine to help them get underneath mental or emotional blocks that they’ve been experiencing for years. I’ve also recently introduced a line of Five Element inspired flower essences, which makes it possible for my patients to share flower essences with their friends, family and loved ones. What is your go to flower essence right now? I’m using a lot of the flower essences that resonate with the fire element. In Chinese Medicine, the fire element corresponds to how we connect with others, as well as how we experience the emotions of joy and love. I personally love how this ancient philosophy really holds true in modern times! So many people coming into my clinic are concerned with their most important relationships, even if our work together began with their physical health or career. The energy of the fire element gifts us with the capacity to reflect on how we interact
Pretty Face (Flower Essence Services) Many women in my practice face challenges accepting the beauty of their bodies. Pretty Face helps us to accept our own unique beauty and confidently shine it out into the world. It’s really helpful for those who are trying to gain weight, lose weight, or desire to change any aspect of their appearance, because it helps us to accept the premise “I am fundamentally beautiful, no matter what.”
Indian Pink (Flower Essence Services) Life in the city tends to be very frenetic. There are always lots of activities, events, demands on our time. I offer Indian Pink (Flower Essence Services) to my patients who have a lot going on. Indian Pink supports them “in the midst of their crazy,” and helps them to effectively prioritize their to-do lists.
Deerbrush (Flower Essence Services)
with others, and the flower essences open us to new ways of seeing and being so that those relationships can evolve. I am prescribing a lot of OPEN, which is a blend for opening the heart and gaining insight into the ways we block our hearts with distrust or fear. I’m also prescribing WHOLEHEARTED, because it is such a great ally for broken-heartedness, and that feeling of disconnection and apathy that arises when we are disconnected from ourselves. And then of course, in this political climate, I’ve been working quite a bit with a formula I call QUEENDOM, which supports women as they step into positions of leadership with confidence and the ability to listen to their intuition. It’s like the “Wonder Woman” of my Elementals collection!
Lindsay Fauntleroy is a licensed acupuncturist, certified Flower Essence Therapist, Alchemical Transformation Coach, and a certified Yoga Alliance yoga instructor. She practices in Manhattan and Brooklyn and teaches certification courses in Flower Essences, business, and women’s leadership.
Deerbush is also one of my favorites these days. Deerbrush helps us to align our heart and mind. In our society, which is so focused on logic and reason, it is often easy to bypass the desires of the heart for something that seems to “make more sense.” We are often so used to doing this that we don’t even realize that deep down, we want something else. Deerbrush helps to bring that awareness to the surface, so that we can be more clear and honest in our interaction with life.
Holly (Bach Flower Essence) When we look at Holly, the plant itself, we see this tiny, delicate flower surrounded by thick, thorn-like leaves. In the same way, we often build a tough exterior to block the vulnerability of our hearts. Holly is a great heart balm -- it helps ease anger and distrust. I use it any time there is anger or jealousy, or any emotion, really, that gets in the way of connection.
White Chestnut (Bach Flower Essence) A go-to flower at any time of the year because it helps to still the mind! It’s a great tool for those who are developing a meditation or mindfulness practice because it helps to bring awareness to the repetitive thoughts that circle around in our heads. I find with White Chestnut, many of my patients are able to sleep better, meditate longer, or just simply be more present in their day without living “in their heads.”
Where to Buy Elementals Flower Essence blends: oceansandrivers.com FES Flower Essence Services: fesflowers.com Bach Flower Essences: bachflower.com, amazon.com, wholefoods.com
Yoga / Products
GIFTS that give back BY: LOULOU PISCATORE PHOTOS: RENEE CHOI
We’ve marched, we’ve donated, we’ve called our congresspeople. But what if the decisions we made every day could make a difference? What if we voted every time we chose an accessory? Or fed someone in need when we bought yoga pants? We have been inspired lately by brands that give back. As we head into this season of gift giving, why not make every dollar count? Here is our list of fave’s -- there is something for everyone on your list and every cause dear to your heart.
PEOPLE MATTER T-SHIRT: SEVENLY.ORG 7% OF EACH PURCHASE FUNDS SEVENLY’S PLEDGE TO WORLD RELIEF PROVIDING EMOTIONAL SUPPORT AND RESOURCES TO THOSE IN THE MILITARY WHO HAVE BEEN PHYSICALLY OR MENTALLY AFFECTED WHILE SERVING. SUPERHERO T-SHIRT: SUMMERSTUDIOAVALON.COM BY BRAINCHILD LLC MEANT TO “EMPOWER AND INSPIRE THE DREAMERS, BELIEVERS, DOERS, CREATORS, WONDERS AND WANDERERS” A PORTION OF THE PROCEEDS BENEFIT COMMUNITY ORGANIZATIONS IN SOUTH NJ. YOGA PANTS: SATVALIVING.COM ORGANIC NON-GMO COTTON, SUSTAINABLE AND ECO-CONSCIOUS, THIS APPAREL BRAND IS DEDICATED TO IMPROVING THE LIVELIHOOD AND ECONOMIC PROSPERITY OF SMALL AND MARGINAL ORGANIC FARMERS IN INDIA, SATVA AND SUMINTER’S “CREATIVE CAPITALISM” APPROACH ENSURES THAT A PORTION OF ALL PROCEEDS ARE INVESTED BACK INTO ITS LOCAL COMMUNITIES & AGRICULTURAL PROGRAMS.
DENIM JACKET: SPIRITUALGANGSTER.COM FOR EVERY ITEM SOLD THEY DONATE TO FEEDING AMERICA, WHICH PROVIDES MEALS TO THE OVER 48 MILLION PEOPLE STRUGGLING WITH HUNGER IN THE U.S. THEY HAVE PROVIDED OVER 2.5 MILLION MEALS TO DATE. SUNNIES: WARBYPARKER.COM FOR EVERY PAIR OF GLASSES PURCHASED, ONE IS DONATED TO SOMEONE IN NEED. MODELS PICTURED ( FROM LEFT TO RIGHT) ANA SARMIENTO, CHESTER BLAKE, CATHERINE CRAIG
Yoga / Products
GIFTS for her
1. CHARITY POT BODY LOTION: LUSHUSA.COM 100% OF THE PURCHASE PRICE GOES TOWARDS SUPPORTING LOCAL AND GLOBAL HUMANITARIAN, ENVIRONMENTAL AND ANIMAL RIGHTS. SINCE ITS LAUNCH, CHARITY POT HAS DONATED MORE THAN $18,000,000 TO 1400+ GRASSROOTS CHARITIES IN 42 COUNTRIES. 2. FEMINIST AS FUCK EARRINGS: THE-OUTRAGE.COM CREATED BY ARTIST LEAH BALL, 15% OF PROFITS ARE DONATED TO PLANNED PARENTHOOD. 3. WATCH: RUMBATIME.COM A WATCH WITH FOUR DIFFERENT STRAP OPTIONS THAT BENEFITS FOUR DIFFERENT CHARITIES! THIS STYLE BENEFITS SOCIAL TEES ANIMAL RESCUE, A NYC-BASED RESCUE GROUP THAT SAVES ANIMALS FROM KILL SHELTERS. 4. BAG: THEKINCOLLECTION.COM THIS FAIR TRADE COMPANY OFFERS SUPPORT TO MARGINALIZED COMMUNITIES ACROSS GUATEMALA. THEY CONNECT SKILLED ARTISANS WITH AN OPPORTUNITY TO SELL THEIR CRAFTS, ACTING AS BOTH A PRODUCT DEVELOPMENT ARM AND A TRADE ENABLER. 5. LOVE HEALS BODY BUTTER: THISTLEFARMS.ORG THISTLE FARMS’ MISSION IS TO HEAL, EMPOWER, AND EMPLOY WOMEN SURVIVORS OF TRAFFICKING, PROSTITUTION, AND ADDICTION. ALL SALES GO TOWARDS PROVIDING SAFE AND SUPPORTIVE HOUSING, AND THE OPPORTUNITY FOR ECONOMIC INDEPENDENCE. 6. TURKISH “FLYING CARPET” SLIDES: ARTEMISDESIGNCO.COM YOU DON’T EVEN HAVE TO BUY ANYTHING, ALL YOU HAVE TO DO IS SIGN UP FOR THEIR NEWSLETTER! FOR EVERY NEW SUBSCRIPTION, THEY DONATE $1.18 TO THE MALALA FUND, THE COST TO SEND ONE CHILD TO SCHOOL FOR ONE DAY. 7. NASTY NECKLACE: ADORNIA.COM 10% DONATED TO PLANNED PARENTHOOD FROM EACH SALE.
Yoga / Products
GIFTS for her
PEACOCK LEGGINGS: LINEAGEWEAR.COM ETHICALLY MADE AND BODY POSITIVE! LINEAGE ALSO DONATES A PORTION OF THEIR SALES TO VARIOUS CHARITIES SUCH AS BEND TO MEND, NEDA, PROJECT FIT AMERICA, TEAM FOR KIDS, AND AFSP.
YOGA PANTS AND TOPS (BELOW): SATVALIVING.COM
WARRIOR SWEATSHIRT: SPIRITUALGANGSTER.COM
HAREM PANTS (BELOW): THEELEPHANTPANTS.COM 10% OF ALL SALES GO TO THE INTERNATIONAL ELEPHANT FOUNDATION, TO HELP CREATE A SUSTAINABLE FUTURE WHERE ELEPHANTS THRIVE. THROUGH GLOBAL PROJECTS FOCUSING ON WILDLIFE/HABITAT PROTECTION, REDUCING HUMAN-ELEPHANT CONFLICT, AND ADVANCING KNOWLEDGE TO CURE ELEPHANT DISEASES.
KIMONO (FAR RIGHT): TENTHOUSANDVILLAGES.COM FAIR TRADE AND HAND CRAFTED DESIGNS FROM DEVELOPING COMMUNITIES ACROSS THE GLOBE. EVERY PURCHASE IMPROVES THE LIVES OF MAKERS BY SUPPORTING THEIR CRAFT AND PROVIDING A FAIR, STABLE INCOME.
SWIMSUIT TOP (RIGHT): NIBIMTK.COM FOR EVERY SWIMSUIT SOLD, NIBI DONATES $1 TO WATERAID.ORG WHICH WORKS TO PROVIDE CLEAN WATER, SANITATION AND HYGIENE TO THE WORLDâ€™S POOREST DEVELOPING COUNTRIES.
ACTIVIST T-SHIRTS: THE-OUTRAGE.COM FUTURE IS FEMALE: 15% OF PROFITS DONATED TO PLANNED PARENTHOOD RESIST: 15% OF PROFITS DONATED TO THE ACLU QUEER FOLK UNITE: 100% OF PROFITS ARE DONATED TO THE CAPITAL PRIDE ALLIANCE I BELIEVE IN SCIENCE: 15% OF PROFITS DONATED TO 350.ORG YOGA PANTS: SATVALIVING.COM
MODELS PICTURED: DANA AUSTN, CATHERINE CRAIG, DIANA COSEY-WALKER, ANA SARMIENTO
Yoga / Products
GIFTS for him
COMPASS FLASK: ORVIS.COM ORVIS DONATES 5% OF PRE-TAX PROFITS EVERY YEAR TO PROTECTING NATURE, SUPPORTING COMMUNITIES, AND ADVANCING CANINE HEALTH AND WELL-BEING. WITH A UNIQUE MATCHING GRANT PROGRAM, ORVIS AND ITS CUSTOMERS HAVE RAISED AND DONATED MORE THAN $20 MILLION TO PROTECTING NATURE OVER THE PAST TWENTY FIVE YEARS.
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“MAN CAN” CANDLES: BCCANDLE.COM WITH SCENTS LIKE DIRT, FRESH CUT GRASS, BACON, SAWDUST, CAMPFIRE, PIZZA, AND COFFEE. THESE CANDLES ARE HANDMADE IN OHIO BY PEOPLE WITH DEVELOPMENTAL DISABILITIES. THE WAX IS A 100% RENEWABLE RESOURCE, A SOY AND VEGETABLE WAX BLEND. PROCEEDS FROM THE CANDLES GO TO SUPPORT LOCAL SOUP KITCHENS AND THE CANDLE MAKERS. BASEBALL HAT: STANDUP2CANCER.ORG PROCEEDS GO TO FUND INNOVATIVE RESEARCH GRANTS WHICH SUPPORT GROUNDBREAKING CANCER RESEARCH PROJECTS THAT ARE HIGH-RISK BUT COULD ALSO BE HIGH-IMPACT, AND HAVE THE POTENTIAL TO SIGNIFICANTLY AFFECT PATIENT CARE. SWEATSHIRT: PARKSPROJECT.US EACH PURCHASE GOES TOWARDS SUPPORTING OUR NATIONAL PARKS! PROCEEDS FROM THIS SWEATSHIRT SUPPORT THE JOSHUA TREE NATIONAL PARK ASSOCIATION. EVERY 5 SOLD FUNDS THE PLANTING OF 2 ADDITIONAL JOSHUA TREES IN THE PARK.
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yoga / Products
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yoga / Products
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A SHANTELL MEDITATION OF LINES MARTIN WITH
BY: IANA VELEZ PHOTOS: ANTON & IRENE
riginally from London, Shantell Martin is an artist who currently resides in New York. Her work has been described as “a meditation of lines — a language of characters, creatures, and messages that invites her viewers to share in her creative process.” Her drawings have transformed everything from walls, found objects, and sneakers, to cars and circuit boards. In 2015, she became an artist in residence at the MIT Media Lab where she explored cross-disciplinary ways to express her art form, such as using drawing to visualize data. Martin’s diverse portfolio illustrates her gift of navigating many worlds. From her early days doing live performance drawing in the mega clubs of Tokyo, Shantell eventually made her way to New York where she pushed the limits of her trademark continuous line. Her artwork has appeared in the Brooklyn Museum, Museum of the Contemporary African Diaspora, Bata Show Museum and a number of private galleries. We caught up with Shantell to chat about art, awakening and identity. The theme of our current issue is AWAKE. Are there moments in your life that you can recall when you suddenly felt awakened? Moments of clarity or inspiration that created an impact on your life?
I’m not sure I’d use the word awakened for myself – for me the word seems like a far-away destination. There have definitely been profound moments in my life where I discovered that I have been shutting off huge percentages of my senses, like the first time I did a ten day silent meditation retreat in a remote town in Japan. I didn’t know what I was getting myself into, so I totally dove into the experience. I found that after about
eight days my hearing got so much better and I realized that I have dialed down my hearing just to survive. I thought wow, we suppress our senses that much to live in cities, and to get by. A phrase that appears repeatedly in your work “Are You You” sounds like an invitation to awaken. What does the phrase mean to you?
ARE YOU YOU comes originally from thinking about the words WHO ARE YOU a lot. The words can be intimidating and stop us in our path. But what if we start to see questions like “who are you” in a new light. For example, what are the first three letters of who are you? They are W.A.Y., so now let’s look at the question as: how do I find my way in life? how do I find my way today? what tools do I have at hand to find my way? What if I see myself going full cycle and seeing this question as ARE YOU...YOU?! Now this new phrase becomes a seed, an adventure, an inspiration. I love the description of your work as “a meditation of lines” can you say a bit more about that?
Drawing for me is meditating. You need to allow the lines to flow, it requires you to be focused and present, while at the same time taking a back seat to the work that is unfolding. Do you have a yoga or traditional meditation practice?
It’s interesting since that almost implies that drawing is not a traditional form of meditation. We have been drawing as long as we have been doing many other things in our time on our planet. We would benefit from seeing meditation as focus, and as a tradition that can branch into all areas of your life. That it can be integrated into work and play and practice. Meditation is EVERYWHERE, not just in yoga classes. Yoga means Union – make union and tradition and practice in the life you have, and let that lead you where it chooses to.
Learn more about Shantell: shantellmartin.art
Art / Theory
Meditation On ART
Everyday Experience BY: LAURA DICKSTEIN THOMPSON, EdD
his essay is a mindful exercise. Find one small edible object, like an M&M, raisin, or piece of an orange. Go ahead, I’ll wait…
Now, find a seat and sit up straight. Holding the object in your hand, take a few nice deep breaths. Get as comfortable as you can, and please pay attention to what you are experiencing as we go along. You may want to read over the next steps before you proceed with the meditation. If you lose your way or your mind becomes distracted, don’t worry, just go back to the breath, thinking about how it feels going in and out through your nostrils. With your eyes closed, hold the object in your hand and feel the sensation of it rolling around on your hand. Roll it just in the palm, and then roll it from one hand to the other. Clasp both hands and shake the object in front of you. Place it near your ears and see if you can hear anything. Bring your clasped hands with the object near your nose. How 54
does it smell? Now go back to holding the object in one hand and roll it around your palm using the other. Do you feel any textures? And stickiness? How would you describe this object to someone who has never seen your object or who cannot see?
“Anything can be art because art is the contemplative experience you have with anything and everything.” Now take another breath in, and out. Open your eyes and reexamine the object. Turn it over in your hand and check out all sides. Do
you notice anything that you didn’t see when your eyes were closed? Place the object up to your nose and take a whiff. Now the moment you have been waiting for: place the object on your tongue—but do not bite it. Notice what is happening to your tongue. Is saliva building up? Do you have the urge to bite it? Roll the object around in your mouth letting it go from side to side hitting your cheeks and teeth. Play with it a bit more in your mouth. Now bite and chew the object, trying to pay attention to how long it will take you to chew completely before you swallow it. Consider this: What was your experience with the object? Did your perception change when your eyes were open? Were any memories evoked, such as thoughts about the first time you had an M&M? And what does this all have to do with art and creativity? In this activity I hope you have seen that skills of mindfulness, attention, and close observation are necessary to bring deeper understandings of an object (which could be something in your everyday life, as mundane YOGALIFEMAGAZINES.COM
Art / Theory
as a raisin, or something intended for contemplation like an artwork). This focus also levels the playing field between the various objects that surround us because we can apply the same skills to build understandings and have deeper, perhaps even transformational, experiences with everything in life. Anything can be art because art is the contemplative experience you have with anything and everything. Art is an experience, not just a product. A painting is just that, a painting: it is the precise language to describe an actual thing that was created with paint, a product of the art experience. Art is a vague umbrella term that doesn’t give us the ability to distinguish all the possibilities for art materials and art-making techniques. Art can take on a broader, yet clearer meaning both as nouns (objects or products), and as verbs ( action as experience).
seums, only at certain times in our day, and only understood by certain people. Art is part of the everyday experience. It is not something that is done for forty five minutes once a week in the schools; it can be done all the time. It is a metaphysical exchange that sounds off like a gong, bringing us to the present and helping us to be sensitive to the influence of our past, and may help us to even alter our planning for the future. The great twentieth century philosopher John Dewey wrote in his seminal book “Art as Experience” (1934) that museums display art and artifacts with the “vulgarity of class exhibitionism,” or for purposes of establishing and maintaining economic and social status. He makes a case for the arts as part of our everyday experience. Dewey asserts the original intention of art and artifacts is to enhance the everyday. He also argues that art is not necessarily designed for, or required to take place in, an institution; rather it is a part of an organized community and can be a social tool for interactions among people and things, to create opportunities for conscious, active experiences. A Deweyan experience from a mindful perspective means to be fully present, to apply our contemplative skills, to be bold with our innate sense of curiosity and wonder, and to have the courage to genuinely engage with others and the objects that surround us. In contemporary times, we have created what I have termed “objects of distraction” (i.e., iPhones, Facebook, Internet), that though designed to bring people together, adds stress to our lives to the point that we become overwhelmed with images and data. As Dewey might contend, we must no longer look for ways to calm, dull, or silence the noises of our lives; rather, now we should rejoice in letting the arts ring loud and clear in celebration our extraordinary everyday experiences.
“...we must no longer look for ways to calm, dull, or silence the noises of our lives; rather, now we should rejoice in letting the arts ring loud and clear in celebration our extraordinary everday experiences.”
If we accept this definition that art is experience, it therefore does not necessarily require the creation of a tangible object; however, since the beginning of human history, we have made things, both utilitarian (spears and clothing), and creative (musical instruments and cave paintings). These things metaphorically become containers for holding histories and memories, symbols of thoughts and feelings, values and beliefs. They urge us to be alert to their embedded messages; to not ignore the lessons contained within the objects. Objects don’t necessary need to be made by humans, either, to be opportunities for artistic experience. They can just as well be the moon, sun, or the trees in our front yard. We need just to apply our contemplative skills to have a focused experience with whatever we are viewing, and the resulting exchange between object and person can be termed “art.”
Objects don’t have to exist at all to have an art experience. Art can be the images conjured up in your mind’s eye or in a dream. Art can be the sounds, senses and flavors of a memory; it can also be the pictures created in the mind while reading a good book, or as someone describes something to you. Art is experience because it is active; it is an action that you can apply in any context and with any object—or not. It is a way to experience life, to be in the present moment with the ordinary and the extraordinary. Another way to look at it is that the arts can come out of the so-called ivory tower, the grand marble monuments to history, the exclusivity of the gallery world and from those in the “know,” and given back to the people. In this way, we are liberated from thinking that artists are the only makers of art, and moreover, that art is only experienced in mu-
So on that note, reader, I hope you will realize your own potential as an ingenious communicator as well as an observer and appreciator of all things, seeking the creativity in them that makes you feel connected to other beings, such as cooking a good meal, reading a great book, or viewing a majestic work of art.
Laura Dickstein Thompson, EdD is MASS MoCA’s Director of Education. She has over 27 years experience in arts education and is a trained mindful practitioner.
NY YOGALIFEMAG.COM 55
yoga / Philosophy
THE POWER OF AWAKENING THE SPINE AND SUBCONSCIOUS BY: REEM ABDOU PHOTOS: RENEE CHOI
“Become un-numb. Recall being in your mother’s womb. The soft, warm, safe center where her heartbeat echoed from the inside out. The consistent pulsing bass of her being giving you life, fuel, space to grow…space for your spine to stretch and integrate, developing your own heartbeat…your own rhythm, your own sense of self. The newness, the rawness, the aliveness — the awakening.”
This act of waking up is the BASSyoga practice. It’s a primal reimagining of that source experience that happens each time the body moves up, out, and open — away from the embryonic rounding we begin our physical lives in. It’s a reimagining set time and time again to a soundscape that echoes that elemental pulsing bass. It’s an electric blanket of sound and sensation; a merging of music and movement; an unbinding of tension and a bonding back with The Source. BASSyoga is the combined experience of Nikki Ortiz’s intuitive instruction — and my live soundtracking. The BASSyoga experience itself is our meditation on the vibration from the sounds themselves, within our bodies, with one another. BASSyoga was a notion born amidst dancing ourselves free in the middle of an electronic bass music concert in Brooklyn. We watched and felt each other backbend while our 56
friends headbanged around us. We were touching it: the soft, warm, safe center. The Source. Almost immediately, we joined forces to offer my musical production in conjunction with Nikki’s expert instruction of backbending — what she calls “Spine Awakening.” The sequences Nikki designs are meant to ground, stretch, strengthen, expand, align, open and CONNECT you to your greatest self. The playlists I compose are made up of the music that moves you in that specific moment — organic, deep, tribal rhythms touched with ambient tones and powerful binaural beats to induce a natural, meditative state. It’s a merging of the science of yoga asana with the science of sound vibration. Together, we produce (continued on page 81)
BOOK / Review
BOOK REVIEW BY: LAUREN CAP
A life without chronic pain? Will connecting to our center of gravity ultimately lead us there? We get a glimpse into our body’s unique anatomy in “Your Body’s Brilliant Design: A Revolutionary Approach to Relieving Chronic Pain.” Author Karen M. Gabler sends the reader on a fascinating journey through fascia—the body’s seamless web of connective tissue weaving throughout muscles, bones, organs, cells, connecting us from head to toe and skin to bone. She explains the relationship between fascia and chronic pain and how to transform stiff and lifeless tissue to a more pliable and healthy state: “Since the body and everything in it is connected by tissue, it is important to look where fascia is pulled, strained, disconnected, and misaligned. When the fascia is strained or pulled out of alignment, it pulls muscles, bones, and joints out of alignment and causes symptoms of chronic pain.” (continued on page 67)
YOGA / Asana
You Can Sit With Us BY: SHARI VILCHEZ-BLATT PHOTO: PAUL UNDERSINGER
What if you could change the world one girl at a time? Sounds easy, right? In today’s culture, there are too many variables that we cannot control that influence our girls. Media, advertisements, books and magazines, adults, teachers, and of course peers - all of which tend to chip away at our self-worth. Let’s give a shout out to all the girls out there trying to love themselves in a world that is constantly telling them not to. I know how hard this is.
There’s a lot of girl-on-girl wrong doing that begins as young as seven years old. That’s only second grade! Too young in my opinion, but instead of curling into a ball, let’s teach our girls how to handle this if/when it comes up. Let’s teach our girls to love so fiercely that there is no other example to set. Love starts at home. We need to be careful with the words we use and the messages we send to our own daughters. As a momma, I never criticize my body or size in front of my daughter. I don’t gossip or put other women down in front of my daughter. I try to lead by example by talking to the person sitting alone or by offering a kind gesture to a stranger. I express empathy and compassion when it may not seem like the person deserves it. I eliminated unhealthy friendships and point out why good friends are the most powerful force in the universe. I encourage knowledge and intelligence every chance I can and with all of this, I model by example. Our girls watch our every move and hear every word. Every action you take, there is a message there for them. That said, I do make mistakes but I’m quick to rectify or even say, “that was wrong of me to gossip like that,” or “I shouldn’t have said that, my body is the greatest tool I’ll ever know and it’s amazing just as it is.” I’ve always taught my daughter to strive for healthy and strong versus skinny and helpless. All of this inspired me to create Girl Power Yoga, which teaches girls to lift each other up, be an important member in the community and love ourselves for who we really are. We focus on positive self-image, self-love, and kindness towards ourselves and others. And of course, being strong inside and out. This is our mantra, “Protect your girls. Believe in your girls. You are not in competition with your girls. Your girls are your team. Find your girls. Support your girls. Do not let them make you hate other girls. Girls who love girls are unstoppable. Intimate friendship is the most powerful force in the world.” Let’s help girls to love themselves and all other girls too, so that no one is ever sitting alone. Shari Vilchez-Blatt is the founder and director of Karma Kids Yoga karmakidsyoga.com
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YOGA / Asana
Kundalini 101 The Teacher:
your first KUNDALINI Yoga class BY: AMANBIR PHOTOS: CHAS KIMBRELL
undalini Yoga is an ancient yoga that helps practitioners thrive in modern times. With the incorporation of asana (postures), breath work, mantra, and meditation - it is a dynamic yoga that can challenge and uplift. It is a powerful yoga that works to strengthen clarity of mind, peace of heart, and physical vitality. Kundalini means ‘consciousness,’ which every class is designed to expand. Each class of Kundalini Yoga will be different depending on both the teacher’s style as well as the particular sequence of the day. Most of the exercises in Kundalini Yoga are done with the eyes closed. Closing your eyes offers the opportunity to connect with yourself at a deeper level. In Kundalini Yoga there are thousands of set sequences of asanas known as kriyas. Each kriya has a particular focus (ie. immune system, hormone balance, relieving grief, etc). All kriyas though are designed to create a balance between body, mind, and soul. Although many of the asanas will help with physical fitness there is a huge focus on the energetics of the practice. Most classes usually end with a meditation. Just as with kriyas, there are thousands of different meditations. The meditations will typically vary from 3-31 minutes in length. Before starting your first class, here are some guidelines to keep in mind:
If you are new, it is recommended to arrive early to class. Many teachers check in - with either the front desk or directly with the class - to inquire if it is anyone’s first time there. This may shape the language and cues the teacher may use in class with this awareness.
Every class of Kundalini Yoga is open to all levels of experience - including the beginner. As long as you follow the teacher’s guidance in the class, the work, works. Arriving late is typically not a problem, as long as there is space. Just be mindful to not disturb other students if coming in late.
DRESS TO BE FRESH
Wear clothes that you feel comfortable moving in. Every studio will be different, so depending on the temperature of the room bringing layers may help. In this particular tradition, it is recommended to wear a head covering and white natural fibers like cotton during practice. These recommendations are to expand the energetic quality of the practice, BUT as a student, wear any color/materials that suits you. (continued on page 62)
YOGA / Asana
MY first KUNdalini YOGA class BY: ALISSON MARIE WOOD
people had multiple bean-bag type bolsters, padded mats, multiple blankets, too. So I loaded up my arms and began yogi-nesting in the back of the class next to a wall of exposed brick. I had done no research in advance about Kundalini, although I remembered learning somewhere that the symbol for Kundalini was a snake, and it never appeared to be a class for the casual yogi. There was no specific “beginner” class, so I just signed up for one that was with a recommended instructor. Most other students in my class were dressed in the usual yoga casual outfits. I had not worn white, and had been slightly concerned that I would be the odd black sheep. I felt relieved already. The instructor, Amanbir, arrived right on time class began and things moved quickly. There were opening and closing chants in another language (Sanskrit?) that everyone else seemed to know the words to, and everyone in class was obviously ready for the experience. People were moving quickly and with purpose, almost like a coil that was finally allowed to spring. I could barely keep up. It seemed like, except for me, hiding in the back, everyone in my class was a regular practitioner. The class became a blur, and included breath of fire, a pose I was unfamiliar with called frog, and a Sat Nam moving meditation. Once class ended with a group song that I was unfamiliar with but seemed nice, I exhaled fully.
don’t om. In the dozens of yoga classes I take each year, I never join in the opening and closing om-ing of the class. I can’t really explain why; I have no traumatic history of oming. If anything as a former aspiring actress, I am very familiar with saying things in unison with a big group in a shared space. But I always feel uncomfortable joining in this specific step of the beginning and ending of class, so I often choose to listen. So when I was invited to take a Kundalini Yoga class, I had some reservations. I could not have been in better hands for my introduction to Kundalini. Golden Bridge Yoga in SoHo was beautiful and calming, with free tea for yogis. The room for our class was comfortable and open. When I came in, the first thing I noticed was how many props everyone had. I am usually a two-block, strap-just-in-case, blanket kind of girl, but
I signed up for another class in an effort to give Kundalini a fair shake, this time a gentle class and had a completely different experience. The instructor, Valerie, was engaging and kind. Since the class was gentle, there was time between poses to fully transition with explanations not only about the upcoming poses with broken-down demonstrations, but also some of the spiritual reasons for the movements. We did a moving meditation with a repeated swinging arm motion/ breath accompaniment for six minutes, but I saw other students take pauses at times so I felt comfortable doing the same. While there were a few chants and the same song at the end, it didn’t feel as pressured—I just hummed and felt like that was enough. At one point during class she even said that you didn’t need to speak out loud, just moving your mouth was able to activate the vagus nerve and shift energy. According to Valerie, “You don’t have to chant, just tune into the vibration of the experience and see how you feel after. And if you feel good, come back.” She further explained how the mantras are all about shifting energy, which is the point of Kundalini Yoga, as opposed to the specific physical goals of other types of yoga. When class ended, I specifically thought maybe this could work. I’m still unsure if Kundalini is the right yoga for me, but I can enthusiastically encourage taking a gentle or beginner class as your first one. Kundalini is very different from the typical yoga experience and can be intense. But if you come with an open mind and feel comfortable taking each part of the class as an experience, even the most jaded student can enjoy the energetic movement, both physical and spiritual, of a Kundalini class.
YOGA / Asana
(Kundalini 101 continued from page 60)
Eating within two hours before class may hinder your experience. If it’s necessary, eating a small snack like fruits or nuts beforehand is typically okay.
Unless the teacher needs to demonstrate - their role is to sit, give clear instruction, and carefully observe the students in practice. This style of teaching is known as “holding the space” which is both in the practical observation of students form and providing motivation when needed - but also the energetic sense of being present in a way that allows students a deep experience.
limits. The greatest teacher is your own experience, so allow yourself to follow the cues of the teacher, and approach the practice with commitment. As each class can vary drastically, if the first class you attend isn’t a great experience for you, try out at least two other classes.
Every Kundalini Yoga class ends with an uplifting song in english known as the “Long Time Sun Song” followed by chanting a drawn out “Saat” and short “Nam.” Sat Nam means “Truth is my Identity.”
Every Kundalini Yoga class begins with the teacher leading the class with a particular mantra, known as the Adi mantra. The words are “Ong Namo Guru Dev Namo.” This mantra is used to deepen your connection to the group as well as personal experience before practice.
OPEN THE MIND
The best thing to bring to every class is an open mind. Some of the kriyas will push your physical limits; others might push your mental
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yoga / Business
ILLUSTRATION BY: ANGIE SU
BY: VERONICA BELTRAN
Once looked upon with skepticism as trick-trading, divination and fortune telling, tarot and oracle cards are back in full force along with a modern spin-off: healing cards. Everyone from left to right side thinkers, politicians, artists, rock stars, fitness and wellness junkies are incorporating tarot, oracle, and healing cards as part of their everyday experiences. There are many spin-off card decks with personal touches, like the “Questions & Empathy” cards created to stimulate meaningful conversations, behaviors, relationships and memories by Sub Rosa, and the “Brown Girl Tarot” created by Fontaine Felisha Foxworth with a mission to uplift and empower marginalized women of color whilst emphasizing the importance of self-love, self-expression, and spirituality to all. Rumor on street is that there are no bad cards as they all are just a mirror and interpretation of the beholder. Whether your goal is to garner insights, answers, meditation, journaling inspiration, or entertainment kicks at your next social gathering, have fun taking your cards out for a shuffle spin!
7. 5. 6.
The traditional deck used for divination and finding insight to the past, present, and future. Structured with 78 cards divided into 22 Major Arcana Cards, 56 Minor Arcana Cards with four suits of 14 cards. Each typically including pentacles, swords, wands and cups.
An unstructured deck with varying number of cards and themes often used for personal guidance based on your intuition and interpretation.
Modern spin-off deck with any number of cards holding powerful messages encouraging positive thoughts to move your mind, body and spirit to manifest change, inspire meditation and spark journaling.
1. Mystic Mondays: mysticmondays.com 2. The Wild Unknown: thewildunknown.com 3. The Starchild: starchildtarot.com
4. Fuzzy Prism: hollysimplestudio.com 5. Animal Spirit : thewildunknown.com 6. The Little Sage: thelittlesage.com
7. May You Know Joy: mayyouknowjoy.com 8. Universe Has My Back: hayhouse.com 9. Art of Attention: artofattention.com
YOGA / Profile
MAY YOU KNOW
MEET FOUNDER ADRIENNE ENNS BY: IANA VELEZ
Adrienne Enns is a Life Coach and the creator of May You Know Joy and Seeds of Intention cards. These lovely cards are a beautiful way to cultivate mindfulness and live your life on purpose. We wanted to learn more about Adrienne and the inspiration to change her life. What was the inspiration to create the Joy and Intention cards? While I was checking off my socially acceptable list of accomplishments: married, kids, good job etc, I completely lost myself. Numbing myself with alcohol and riddled with anxiety and panic attacks, I completely broke down and decided to change my life. I wanted to create my own rules, and I wanted to live from a place of deep joy. I started to read daily, and had a set of cards that inspired me and found that daily intention setting helped me to reconnect with myself. I kept a list of words that were meaningful to me at the back of my journal for a long time, and I was inspired to create my own set of cards. While my head led me to believe no one would want to hear what I had to say, my heart quietly yet earnestly urged me on. I trust my heart a lot more these days than I used to. I created these cards because sometimes we need a gentle reminder to pull us out of a slump, or to get us back on track, and these cards are available to anyone at anytime. I want people to know that they are not alone, that they can make a meaningful change at any time, and I want them to connect with their joy. When we take care of ourselves and are mindful, we take our power back. We decide who we are, what makes us happy and how we want to show up in the world in a meaningful way. When we live this way, we are living intentionally and responding to the world in a thoughtful way - we aren’t anxiously reacting to everything the world throws at us. We are living from the inside out, and creating a greater ease and flow.
What is the best way to use the cards? The simplest way to use the cards is to draw one at random in the morning. They present a great opportunity to set your intentions and be mindful throughout the day. You will notice that opportunities will arise for you to consciously respond from this intentional place. It’s also important to add that there are NO rules! SOME WAYS TO ENJOY THE CARDS • Choose a specific card to remind yourself to accept certain truths and move forward in a conscious way. • Yoga teachers use the cards to theme their classes. • Inspiration for journalling. • As an ice-breaker, and to generate meaningful conversations with friends. • Coaches and healers use them with their clients. • Art workshops. Learn more about Adrienne online mayyouknowjoy.com
yoga / Profiles
WHEN YOU LOSE THE FEELING OF THE EARTH BENEATH YOUR FEET BY: LAUREN CAP PHOTO BY: DANIELLE STACK
An awakened body is conscious of what’s happening in space. It’s the feeling of connection to the earth and our body’s natural movements. Each day mirrors the next, without any awareness of how the senses truly operate. It just happens. It’s second nature. But what if that connection is lost? When you’re pulled from comfort and thrown into a warped sense of being. You experience life through a new set of vision… through the eyes of a person with constant chronic dizziness. I was dizzy for over a year, starting at the beginning of 2016. My symptoms were different than the spins of vertigo. I felt as though the world was seen through an unfocused lens. My body was no longer light and fearless; it was heavy and afraid with each step I made. The floor beneath me tilted to one side as if being pulled down into the ground. My head was “fuzzy” and my body weak with the feeling of weights on my ankles. Everything that was always stable and comfortable turned into something I associated with fear. When you suffer from vertigo or dizziness, there isn’t a moment of safety as it can come in many forms and pop up out of nowhere. For over a year, my dizziness came on daily with the fuzzy feeling constant for weeks on end. Visual stimulation such as movement (busy streets), smells (perfume or scented candles), sounds (loud music), and heat (hot yoga, warm weather) all triggered my symptoms. Teaching yoga, working out, building relationships, maintaining friendships, and going to work became stressful and challenging experiences. The frustration of endless doctor visits with no (continued on page 71)
YOGA / Lifestyle
How to Stay Awake by
Getting Better Sleep
COMPILED BY: KO IM
Getting good sleep is integral to being awake. Here are some insights and tips from some of the in-house experts at Modrn Sanctuary, a wellness center in NoMad. They created the 15MinPowerNap.com site and also offer hypnosis on-site!
NUTRITION According to Lorraine Kearney, the in-house nutritionist at Modrn Sanctuary, “lack of sleep can cause hormones that signal satiation and hunger to be out of balance.”
(Book Review continued from page 57)
“If you are a yoga, Pilates, fitness professional, body worker or an individual suffering with chronic pain, this book is for you. With each turn of the page, I felt a greater awareness of my body and was eager to begin the sequence.”
Often, people tend to go for a high sugary snack which will increase blood sugar temporarily; this slippery slope can cause a crash and a follow-up crave a short time later. Plus with all that excess sugar intake and weight gain, you could lose sleep worrying about obesity and diabetes.
CUPPING Lizz Smith, a holistic physical therapist, often hears patients report a good night’s sleep after an evening cupping session. There’s even a massage portion to the cupping. Smith says “the treatment is highly effective for increasing circulation and alerting the lymph to increase its attention to an area and detoxifying the surrounding tissue.”
NIGHTCAP Lifestyle and wellness consultant Lizz Smith recommends ayurveda at bedtime. Warming a few drops of organic sesame oil and gently applying to to the bottom of the feet and top of the head. You can also have soothing warm milk with saffron threads and a bit of natural sugar. Almond milk can be substituted for organic cow’s milk. Smith also warns against TVs or electronics in the bedroom. If you use your phone as an alarm, for example, put it on airplane mode at sleep time. In fact, she adds covering all the small lights in the room — with black tape.
Exclusive Code: NY YOGA + LIFE™ readers get a 20% discount on the Himalayan Salt Room and Crystal Light Bed Therapy. Use YOGALIFE20 through December 2017. Visit Modrn Sanctuary 12 W. 27th St. NYC
The heart of the book is Gabler’s own personal story of physical and mental transformation as well as many stories from clients who have also found relief. Gabler’s expertise in anatomy and body therapy gives her the knowledge to create the Sustainable Body Training Sequence. Appropriate for every level, she incorporates the innovative “core hug” technique, by combining deep breathing with simple movements. She explains how cultivating body awareness and the connection to our center sustains our body’s internal alignment on a daily basis. If you are a yoga, Pilates, fitness professional, body worker or an individual suffering with chronic pain, this book is for you. With each turn of the page, I felt a greater awareness of my body and was eager to begin the sequence. Although it was more challenging than expected, I felt a deeper connection and strength than if I had done abdominal exercises. Gabler’s techniques can bring your body back to balance through discovery of your deep inner core. Instead of looking for help outside of your body, Gabler says the answer lies within…the most empowering message of all.
Available online at skyhorsepublishing.com
ON TEACHING YOGA BY: ALI CRAMER ILLUSTRATIONS: LAUREN REBBECK
live in Manhattan where there are a million yoga centers. There are also a large number of yoga centers in all the boroughs and beyond, each with their own teacher training programs. One of the centers I teach at has four, 200 hour certification programs a year, with an average of around 30 people per program. This center also runs approximately fifteen, 50 hour advanced trainings per year, and those programs average between 20 and 25 people per program. And that's just one studio, in one year. Needless to say, there are a TON of yoga teachers here in New York. So now you have graduated from your first yoga teacher training, and after much networking, "showing up," a powerful mantra, and a perfect eka pada galavasana, you feel like now you're ready to be on the schedule, but cannot figure out why that's not happening after you've been teaching a bunch of community (i.e. free) classes. MAYBE you've been on the schedule for a year, and you're not sure why you have been passed over for a few classes that needed teachers at prime time. Or, MAYBE you've been teaching for three years, and you feel like you're ready to start doing workshops. MAYBE youâ€™re planning a retreat, and you want to ensure that people will sign up. Or MAYBE you've been teaching for five, seven or eight years, and sense that it's time to take your teaching to the next level. I have been teaching yoga part time for seventeen years, full time for fourteen, and I consider myself an eternal Student. Here's my take on it, and a list of advice I came up with for newer teachers.
this? "maybe grab your back foot, maybe don't. Maybe put a block under your hand, maybe not. Maybe look up at the left hand, maybe down at the floor." Holy Mother of Kali. Part of the reason most people come to class to practice instead of staying home and doing their own thing, is because they want someone to tell them what to do (some people don't REALLY want to be told, and come to class anyway, but more on how to deal with them later). I mean, isn't it a relief that our crazy lives don't come with "operating instructions" to quote Anne Lamott. Which leads us toâ€Ś
Stop overusing the word "maybe"
Giving people options and leaving room for modifications is great, that's good teaching. That being said, FUCKING COMMIT TO SOMETHING. Have you started to sound like
Read them, quote them, and don't forget to name your source. Don't read for too long or people's eyes glaze over unless it's really funny, obscene, or both.
Go get all books and articles by Anne Lamott
“It's not about us. aside and change the plan. Keep it simple, that goes with any new room you might Teaching yoga is and find yourself in. Even the most "advanced" yogi can benefit from a thorough teaching of karma yoga, the basics. whether you get paid or not, if we LESSON 5 Mind your lingo look at it as an Another thing about playing to the room you opportunity to have, be mindful of the lingo of each new studio you teach in. There are a lot of different serve.” interpretations of certain teaching cues. Low I know I do it as well, but the "yoga teacher" voice? Let it go. Talk like you! I had a student once with the most beautiful British accent who told me she felt embarrassed by her voice when teaching in the States. I couldn't believe it, she sounded (and was) so elegant and lovely! I have also taken class with a very popular teacher in L.A. who has a delightful Brooklyn accent. It made everything he said sound more real, more raw. Look, we want our students to feel they have a safe and sacred space to be themselves, not their idea of themselves, so we need to do the same. Our teaching will be more interesting if we let our uniqueness and honesty come through. That means our voice, our sense of humor, our perspective, all of it.
LESSON 4 LESSON 3
Play to the room you have
If you have less than ten people in class, don't use your best play-to-the-back-of-thehouse voice and personality. I was in a class the other day and the teacher was E-NUNCIA-TING and speaking way too loudly for what the room needed. The class was small, and most of the students were new to yoga. While we are on the subject, please use your “own voice.” We all have a tendency to fall into "IIIIINNNNNNHHAALLLEEEE upward facing, EEEEXXXHALLLEE downward facing." The “sing song” rhythm can happen, I get it,
Be willing to shift the plan and meet your students where they are
lunge to some means hands down in a lunge, but back knee up. To others, it means back knee down but arms up. The third category is back knee down and hands down. So best to be more specific, as it can confuse a class and break the flow if a lot of people are doing different things, or you need them to be in a specific preparation for the next pose. An alternative might be to say something like, "inhale the right leg up, exhale, step forward into a lunge, keep your hands down and drop your back knee." Also keep in mind language barriers and cultural differences. You can't say "three inches from the wall" in most of the world, they use the Metric System. Learn it. And you might have to be more direct, I like to say "lengthen the leg" instead of "straighten" the leg into trikonasana, but in foreign countries I have found that ends up confusing people so I say "straighten the leg, and come into Triangle."
It's not about us. Teaching yoga is karma yoga, whether you get paid or not, if we look at it as an opportunity to serve. That means if you came in to teach ready to go with the most brilliant back bending class in the Herstory of Yoga, you spent time and effort sequencing to Kapinjalasana, and you are ready to espouse on the long form Gayatri, ready to drop some TRUTH, and you are SO STOKED...buttttt, your regular advanced crowd is off at the latest yoga festival and you have a room of six people, four of whom have taken a few classes, one is pregnant, and one just coming back from a shoulder injury, it's time to put ego
Yoga / Asana
LESSON 6 Teach vs. Give
There's a difference between giving a class and teaching a class. Giving a class is coming in with a playlist, a sequence, and some standard cues like, "roll your way up, one vertebra at a time" (and while we are at it, it's one vertebra, not one vertebrae. Vertabra is singular, vertebrae is plural). Another example is "feel one long line of energy from the outside edge of the left heel all the way up through the left arm" (in extended side angle). The minute I hear those cues I think, "new teacher." It's much more interesting to really observe our students and discover new ways of cuing. That's not to say the "standard" cues don't work. I just think it's so fun to hone in on students and really identify what needs more awareness, what could shift from the right adjective or verb or tone of voice or hands-on assist. It is so rewarding to see a shift that makes a student have that internal "ahhhhh…"
an absolutely beautiful sequence but if you don't teach it well, students can feel awkward and lost.
Don't be afraid to arrange the room If you come in and there are two people set up in the front row, twelve in the back row
LESSON 9 Be the Boss
Back to the folks who don't want to be told what to do (see lesson #1): don't let them be the boss of you. There is a way for students to have their "own practice" in a group setting, and I encourage that. The most oft-repeated motto at Laughing Lotus Yoga Studio is "move like yourself!" and we mean it. If you need to go a little slower than the teacher, or skip the bind, or the inversions and do legs up the wall, or the backbends, and opt for a restorative half wheel with a block, great! I am happy to suggest modifications or let you decide them if you prefer.
LESSON 7 Cue
Cuing is SO difficult, there are so many different things to focus on. Alignment, anatomy, an energetic perspective, a poetic perspective, the breath instructions…here are a few pointers. 1. Don't be afraid of silence. A few choice instructions is better than a barrage of information. People can only absorb so much, and a bit of silence from us gives students room to listen to their breath, to just move and find their practice. 2. Another mistake is to blow your load of info on the right side, and then get to the left and either repeat exactly what you said. Or, say nothing at all and rush through the poses because you feel weird about saying nothing. Give a couple pointers on the feet and legs on the right side? Great, then give some cues about the torso, arms, and neck on the left side. 3. Transitions: teach them. When a teacher guides students well, pretty much anything can go smoothly. Conversely, you can have
forward) they will have no one to follow. I usually ask if there is anyone new to the studio, and if so, I will say something like, "I just want to make sure you have people all around you to keep an eye on in case we do something weird. Do you mind switching places to the middle of the second row, or with the person right next to you away from the wall ? Cool, thanks so much!" We want our students to feel taken care of and to trust us so they can let go and have an experience. We don’t want them worrying about what's coming next, or what an "OMG Pose" is!
and one on the left side, keep it brief and quick, and ask them to shift. I usually keep it light and say something like, "Let's feng shui the room please. Let's have some of you come out of the back row and fill in the middle a bit. Thanks so much!" It will even out the energy, and makes the class feel more unified. Also make sure you check your front row and the left side row closest to the wall, and make sure there are no newbies there. If they are in the front row, they have no one to follow. If they are on the left side, when you cue a turn to the side from the first side (right leg
That being said, there is a way to do it respectfully. One of my favorite stories about this involves one of my best friends, who LOVES to be upside down. One day I was teaching a first chakra class, very grounded and low, and he was in class and kept popping up into handstand before up dog in the vinyasa. I said, "Hey, all you fly birds, just for today, let's keep the feet on the ground and stick to regular vinyasa." He kept doing it. I mentioned something one more time, there was no change so I said, "I don't know what else I have to say to get you to do chaturanga!!!" We laugh about it now, but now if I say something like "let's keep the legs together in vasisthasana for today" he knows I have a reason for saying that. In other words, don't be afraid to speak up. That was an extreme case. Another example is I might just walk over to someone who is doing sit ups after wheels and whisper, "we're not doing that right now." We do not want
YOGA / Asana
to "call someone out" or shame them, but It's not fair if someone is doing something that is disruptive to the class just to satisfy their own idea of what the class should be today. Find a nice way of not making a big deal out of it, just quickly and quietly asking them to refrain.
LESSON 10 Keep studying
Thankfully, the world of yoga is so vast and there are so many branches, styles, offshoots, complimentary modalities, etc, that we can be students for life! And get with teachers who have been teaching longer than you have. It is also always important to support your fellow yoga school graduates. Take their classes when you can, support their growing voice, and also make sure you drop in on a regular basis with some masters. Become an enthusiast of alignment, of philosophy, of meridians, of restorative yoga, just keep growing! Do it for yourself, for your students, and as a way of paying tribute to those who have forged incredible breakthroughs in the World of Yoga. New York is full of opportunity! We all have our favorite teachers, sure, also try to get out there and try something new, whether it's the Kundalini class you've been meaning to get to or the Acro Yoga that has always made you feel nervous. You might get inspired in a whole new way! Good luck with all of it. It's such an honor to be a yoga teacher, we are entrusted with people's bodies, minds, and souls. Let's do the best we can to guide with compassion, clarity, and love. Namaste, Ali
(Lose the Feeling continued from page 66)
answers in sight drained the life right out of me. I felt like I was living in someone else’s body, scared that I would never feel normal again. But, I refused to accept that constant chronic dizziness was my fate. After dozens of doctor visits, tests, medications and thousands of dollars later, I was diagnosed with Migraine Associated Vertigo. I never
“Awakening to me,
is clarity and a new perspective. It’s a sigh of relief for the healthy moments I no longer take for granted.” experienced migraines before, so this diagnosis was a bit puzzling to me at first. I soon learned that although MAV is dizziness associated with a headache condition, headaches are not required for diagnosis. According to medical expert Dr. Timothy C. Hain, about 14% of the adult population of the United States have migraines. Women of childbearing age have a much higher prevalence, jumping up to roughly 10% at the onset of menstruation, and increasing to nearly 30% at the peak age of 35 years. In practices focused on treating migraines, 27-42% of patients report episodic vertigo. A large number (about 36%) of these patients experienced vertigo during headache-free periods. The remainder experienced vertigo either just before or during the headache. Thankfully, after a few months of medication, vitamins, and exercise, I am significantly better. I can go for walks outside and enjoy time with my friends. I can teach and practice yoga again. I feel hopeful and less fearful of what lies ahead. If you are in a similar situation, talk to your doctor and ask questions. Speak with a therapist who can give you coping skills. Keep a daily journal of your symptoms and pay attention to the weather, food reactions, and sleep patterns. Be your own advocate and keep going until you get answers. Explore alternative medicine and therapies. Continue living. Trust. Don’t give up. Awakening to me, is clarity and a new perspective. It’s a sigh of relief for the healthy moments I no longer take for granted. It’s as if I was asleep for 34 years and now I’m finally and truly awake.
INDIAN CURRY WITH CHICKPEAS AND SWEET POTATOES
RECIPES AND PHOTOS BY: DIANA BEZANSKI
Cook a cup of rice then start the curry. Try basmati, jasmine or brown rice. Brown rice cooks the longest, about 35-40 minutes while basmati and jasmine about 10. Set aside until curry is finished.
CURRY ½ medium onion, chopped Large pinch of red pepper flakes Large pinch of sea salt 2 large cloves garlic, minced 1 inch ginger, minced 2 tsp turmeric powder 1 tsp cumin powder 1 tsp coriander powder ¾ tsp cardamom powder ¼ tsp clove powder ¼ tsp cinnamon powder 1 tsp chili powder 14 oz crushed tomatoes 1 can full fat coconut milk 1 ½ cup veggie broth 2 tbsp maple syrup or coconut sugar 2 cups fresh chickpeas or one can rinsed 1 tbsp lemon juice 1.5 cups sweet potato peeled and cubed (or carrots, butternut or cauliflower)
Sauteé onion and red chili flakes in oil and sea salt until tender about 4 minutes. Add the garlic, ginger and the spices and cook until fragrant about 2 minutes. Add the sweet potato and stir followed by the coconut milk and stir, add the tomatoes, and stir again. Add the broth, maple syrup, and chickpea, bring to a boil then simmer covered on low until potato is fork tender about 8-10 minutes. Season with more sea salt and add the lemon juice. If using cauliflower instead of butternut squash, cook for just 5 minutes after combining all other ingredients. Serve with rice and finish with herbs and fresh ground black pepper.
Learn more about Diana and her recipes online @fogwoodandfig and fogwoodfig.com
“To be captivated, in awe and wonder of every single moment is to be truly awake. Keep both eyes wide open so that you don’t miss a moment!” - Honza
Honza Lafond sharing with us what AWAKE means to him. Pictured here with Claudine and baby Sofie photographed in NYC by Renee Choi
YOGA / Lifestyle
to the World Within BY: TULSI MEHTA CHASE
“To put an end to outward war, you must begin to put an end to war in yourself. Some of you will nod your heads and say, 'I agree,' and go outside and do exactly the same as you have been doing for the last ten or twenty years. Your agreement is merely verbal and has no significance, for the world's miseries and wars are not going to be stopped by your casual assent...If you realize the suffering, if you see the urgency of immediate action and do not postpone, then you will transform yourself. Peace will come only when you yourself are peaceful, when you yourself are at peace with your neighbor.” - J. Krishnamurti, The First and Last Freedom
elcome to America’s modern existential crisis. We are in the thick of it. We know all too well from the angst of adolescence, how frustrating, vulnerable, and simply confusing it can be to figure out your own identity while everything is changing at a rapid pace. Many of us have organized and participated in marches, mass calls, and community events to raise awareness and come together. Though these often create a short-term experience of solidarity, many also misuse these platforms to denigrate individuals and express their own frustrations, instead of focusing on clear actionable solutions. I often wonder what greater purpose these deprecating actions ultimately serve. Isn’t creating more hate for leaders we don’t believe in, only perpetuating the hate these leaders may represent to us in the first place? Clearly, many of us have the fuel of emotion, the pain of discontentment, and the passion for positive change driving us. All we need is the right channel to awaken that adrenaline into a stream of sustainable action. Yoga offers us a clear, time-tested solution to existential crises of all varieties and scales. With its goal of Chitta Vritti Nirodha: the ces-
sation of mental modifications, yoga is about focusing our energy on tangible actions that we can take right now and every day, regardless of any person or event. In fact, it reminds us the solution is not dependent on outside events or other people, but lies within us. If we want to truly change the world, or even our own community, we must first begin to change ourselves. With this self-transformation, we can begin to deepen our awareness of who we are and what we are capable of doing. Metamorphosis begins within individuals of communities. Yoga is not merely a series of poses, a philosophy, or a meditation practice. Yoga is the experience of our natural union, and through its eight-limbed approach of training our minds, bodies, breath, senses and relationships, every human being is capable of this experience. Yoga, which comes from yuj (meaning ‘to yolk or unite’ in Sanskrit) is the process of awakening into who we are so we may truly live every moment of our lives to the fullest. Through the limbs of Yamas and Niyamas (the do’s and don'ts of yoga), we are enabled to both question and choose how we want to experience life: How might we consider challenges as opportunities to learn about the nature of all beings? How might we
transform negative patterns (individual or societal) into mirrors for our own areas of growth? The limbs of Asana and Pranayama are opportunities to physically and mentally align, via energy and breath, with the joyful, peaceful, and connected nature of our true selves. How may we find ease through complex movement, and find gratitude within discomfort? How can we explore the everexpanding awareness that finds momentary containment within body and mind? The limb of Pratyahara teaches us how to loosen the grip of our sense perception from its identification with the outer physical world and instead allow it to flow within the inner world. Dharana and Dhyana help us focus the mind and energies on our ultimate goal of union with our highest Self. Finally Samadhi is the experience of dissolving into and truly becoming this fully awakened Self; simultaneously the very definition and goal of Yoga. If each of us realizes that we have these tools available to us, and that self-transformation is really possible, there may be no need to march on the street to publicly oppose anything. We will be more prepared to view a situation with clarity and compassion, without needing to judge it as positive or negative, or having to react with anger and sorrow. We will be able to instead take responsibility for the challenges that arise, respond in a relaxed way, and put all our effort into the work. 75
SOBER AWAKENING BY: TAWNY LARA ART: JACQUELINE STUBBS PHOTO: MARK WINSLET
My last sip of alcohol was on a Sunday afternoon with two friends on November 29th, 2015. We went out for drinks at Fanelli’s, our favorite SoHo pub. We talked about life, New York City, and goals we wanted to accomplish — typical conversation matter. Throughout our discussion, I remember emphasizing I didn’t “have enough time” to go after said goals. 76
Three hours and several beers later, we left the bar. I had a good buzz going as I walked through Washington Square Park to catch the PATH train home to Jersey City. I started thinking about the fact that I just spent three hours sitting in a bar complaining about how I didn’t have enough time. I thought about what I could cut out of my life to reevaluate my priorities. Maybe I’d cut back on my yoga practice. Maybe I’d watch fewer Parks & Rec reruns. Maybe I’d even - gasp! - drink less. The next morning I woke up feeling blah. As a heavy social drinker, this was an unfortunate, common feeling I had gotten used to. A typical night out included shots, whiskey, and on top of that, bad decisions. This happened several nights a week but last night’s drinking was pretty tame for me.
YOGA / Lifestyle
Once I finally got out of bed, I thought, I’m not drinking this week. And I didn’t. The next week I told myself the same thing. And I didn’t. Two weeks turned into three. Three turned into a month. My thirtieth birthday was coming up, and I decided to give up alcohol for a full year. And I committed to documenting my experience throughout the year. That’s how my blog, SobrieTeaParty.com, was born. Pretty quickly into sobriety, I started experiencing something called “life.” I spent so many years running away from life. Being clean from alcohol gives me the gift and what used to be seen as a curse of truly being present all the time. This presence allows me to experience some beautiful things I’d taken for granted, like the beauty of the Empire State Building at night and quality conversations with my mom. This presence also introduced me to some pretty scary things that I’d hidden, like mental health issues and traumatic experiences from my childhood. I chose to explore these scary topics in my blog. I wrote about everything from epiphanies to hindsight points of view to soberfriendly activities in New York City. People started reaching out to me, sharing their personal stories. My writing left an impact on people. I felt like I was finally figuring out my purpose: to publicly discuss my past experiences to help break stigmas about addiction and mental health. I started seeing a therapist weekly, nine months into my journey. Opening up to a professional has helped me understand why I chose a life of substance abuse in the first place: I have agitated depression and high functioning anxiety. When I was using, I lived in a bubble of ignorance and denial because it was easier than dealing with reality. Though I no longer drink, I still catch myself slipping into denial by staying as busy as I possibly can to avoid feeling my depression, and sometimes crippling anxiety. Therapy also helped me transition from sobriety to recovery. I learned that sobriety is simply the act of not using. Recovery requires someone to dig deeper than just abstaining from behaviors. For me, recovery means figuring about why I chose a life of self-destruction.
Implementing a consistent meditation practice has become a necessary, homeopathic preventative to manage my anxiety. I can no longer throw back a few whiskeys to physically check out, but I can give my brain a mental break for twenty minutes every morning. This practice helps me set myself up for success by gathering my thoughts. It reminds me that I can have complete control of myself and my reactions. Moreover, the mindful practice awoke my desire to get in touch with my spiritual side. I’d been an avid yogi for several years, but mostly because of the poses (Asanas). I thought doing yoga meant pushing myself as hard as possible to hold chaturanga, headstands, or crow for an impressive amount of
“Pretty quickly into sobriety, I started experiencing something called ‘life.’ I spent so many years running away from life. Being clean from alcohol gives me the gift and what used to be seen as a curse of truly being present all the time.” time. I sacrificed both breath and form for the sake of a “likeable” Instagram pic. It wasn’t until sobriety cognitively woke me up that I could finally grasp some of the more spiritual limbs of yoga like meditation (Dhyana), breath (Pranayama), and stillness. As my “year of sobriety” came to an end, I wondered if a full year of not drinking was enough to change my relationship with alcohol. I reflected over the previous 365 days: I ran a half marathon. I interviewed some awesome people. I traveled. I wrote more than I’d
ever written in my entire life. And perhaps most importantly, my words resonated with people. I’d grown to love the sober version of myself. I didn’t want to go back to the party girl lifestyle. I initially thought I missed beer, but I realized I didn’t want to actively try to have a healthy relationship with booze. I was done. I still go out to bars and parties. I do my best not to project my unhealthy relationship with alcohol onto my friends that drink. If someone can have a healthy relationship with booze, more power to them. I’m not someone that can have “just one,” but I’m finally OK with that. Goal-setting catapulted my recovery. But over time I realized that my relationship with goal-setting and self-help books were as unhealthy as my relationship with drugs and alcohol. Even though I ditched the partying, my self-destructive nature still maintained a tight hold on me. I’d overdose on setting unrealistic goals. Then I’d beat myself up for not achieving them. I’d read dozens of self-help books then try to change multiple aspects of my personality, and it was exhausting. I finally woke up to see the beauty of setting realistic goals. I now have periods of time when my sole intention is just to finish reading a book versus implementing countless life lessons to my daily routine. Sobriety taught me that acceptance is essential to survival. I’m happy to add that my blog is still going strong. What started out as a year long social experiment helped me find my voice as a writer. And it’s grown into more than just a blog. I’ve led a few sober accountability groups. I’ve connected with other sober folks all over the world. I’ve even organized a few sober social events aka SobrieTea Parties. The awakening I get from sobriety can be potentially exhausting, but I can’t imagine my life any other way. Without sobriety, I honestly don’t know where I’d be. I guess I’d still be asleep.
(Tao and Robert continued from page 19)
awaken and know that nothing is impossible. RS: To me, being awake is knowing that we’re only going to be here for a brief moment, and being present to every person I work with because it could be the last moment that we have. Sometimes I’ll work with somebody and it will be their last picture — they’ll die the next week, making me realize that it is all just going to expire. Being awake is just being so grateful for what we have now, and knowing that working through your heart and being in touch with your heart is the most sophisticated tool we have. TPL: I don’t spend my time thinking of how I’m going to do something, because if I just sit around thinking then nothing is ever going
to come. When I tune in and listen, I can feel that connection, that oneness — particularly with children. Children open up that the door to people — they don’t spend their time getting angry that they can’t do something. If I can’t do something, I’ll just decide that there is another way to do it. My uncle taught me to never look down on anybody — that there is always something good inside of them and you should try to draw it out. Don’t waste your time on things that are negative — open your heart to positive things and the whole world will come together. RS: Whenever I think of you I just know that things are going to be okay. There’s something about you that makes life worth living, and that’s the story that I want to tell in all the work that we do together. We are so blessed to share our story with NY YOGA + Life™, and celebrate you on the cover of the magazine.
TPL: Thank you, that’s very special. I just hope I can live up to what you believe in. RS: And how long are you going to live? TPL: Oh at least 100... I have to live to 100! I have a lot of things I still want to accomplish, and so I better start working at it now — no words, just action. Every morning when I get up, I look outside and I witness the beauty of the birds flying around. Everything has energy within it, and all we have to do is bring that into play. I’m just spending my time making sure I’m doing everything that I believe in. Anyone can be filled with beautiful ideas, but we must put them into practice. That’s what you’ve materialized with your photographs: you bring in the beauty of the world everywhere. RS: As Rumi said, ‘I can’t stop pointing to the beauty.’
PHOTO: ROBERT STURMAN
(Deepak and Sarah continued from page 21)
states, relationship, as a silent witness, is the first step. Krishnamurti used to say, “The highest intelligence is the ability to watch yourself, observe yourself, without judging yourself.” And that’s why I actually started learning yoga and doing yoga asanas and pranayama and understanding the principles of pratyahara, dhyana, dharma, samadhi, understanding the priyas and the bandhas. This all helps us to wake up to the awareness in which everything else is an experience. The word yoga “asana” means seat of awareness. When we do our yoga practice, we are basically aware of a focal point in which that asana is an activity. And it ultimately, along with the other eight limbs of yoga, including what we call the yamas, and all the other eight limbs that I just mentioned, the goal of that is to get to the source of thought. And the source of thought is pure consciousness, which is also the source of all perception, source of all experience, source of all knowing. Therefore, yoga is not a system of thought, it actually is transcending thought.
you can start to create a new show, a new production. But unless you realize that what we call everyday reality is the hypnosis of social conditioning, and it’s totally insane. How can we call people killing each other sane? How can we call murder, rape, war, terrorism sanity? How can we call the exploitation of other human beings sanity? Today I read that an iceberg, a glacier that is seven trillion tons broke off the Antarctic. That is going to cause a huge impact globally, and it’s happening right now. This is the insanity that we take for normal. It’s the psychopathology of the average that we call normal. First of all, you have to realize that you, and society in general, have created a prison of their own conditioning. Rumi has a poem, he says, “Why do you stay in prison when the door is wide open?” The reason people stay in prison is that they don’t even know that they are conditioned. To wake up to the conditioned mind is the first step. To observe yourself without judging yourself. To experience sensations, images, feelings, thoughts, sense perceptions, body, mind, mental
SF: It’s a practice, and that’s what I love so much about this practice, it requires you to take action. Nobody else can do tadasana for you, or warrior two, or align your spine in the way that you are meant to. A teacher can facilitate that, but it asks the practitioner to actually take action to rearrange their body, their reality, in the present moment to make it so that it is in alignment with your highest good, and ultimately alignment with the universal forces. When we’re able to really take action in our physical practice in a way that is serving and empowering us, hopefully we can do the same thing in everyday life. In our family, in our community, in our circles where we feel we can make a difference. DC: Yoga actually helps us wake up from the waking dream. A lot of people who practice yoga don’t go beyond the physical aspect of yoga, which is okay, because at the moment that’s where they are. As you know the word yoga means union with the source. It’s the same as the English word “yoke.” When Jesus says, “My yoke is easy and my burden is light,” in a way I think he’s talking about yoga because that’s connecting
to the source, and waking up to the source in which all experience happens. The experience is a flash but the awareness is timeless, eternal, always now. That’s the true essence of all yogic practice, whether it’s raja yoga or meditation, mindfulness, yoga asanas, prana or pratyahara, dhyana, dharma, or samadhi, that’s all yoga. And then there’s bhakti yoga and yang yoga and karma yoga. Put all together, if you don’t wake up, then you don’t deserve to exist. SF: And it requires discipline. It’s not the kind of thing where you do it once and then you’re like, “I got it, I have all the answers to the universe.” Maybe you do, but not most people, right?
“When we’re able to really take action in our physical practice in a way that is serving and empowering us, hopefully we can do the same thing in everyday life.” DC: Not me as a person, because the person is also a process in awareness. When you get to awareness, then everyone knows the answers. SF: And it’s something you have to continually come back to, because it’s easy to get lost back in the illusion, and in the sleep of this feeling like we don’t really understand or know who we really are. When we awaken, when we come to our mat, or come to our practice, whatever, in whichever way we do, it enables us to experience all that is in that moment. And it might not, as you mentioned, all be beautiful and blissful and joyful and freeing. Sometimes it’s challenging and frustrating and irritating, but we do it because
(Deepak and Sarah continued on page 81)
(Deepak and Sarah continued from page 79)
ultimately we know that that’s not the identify of who we are. Because actually, as you mentioned, when you go back to the source of thought you can experience all things and know that you are consciousness experiencing that. DC: We can upgrade the illusion. Right now it’s a downgrade of the illusion. We’re living in hell, I think, personally. But we can upgrade the illusion and call it heaven, as long as we don’t forget that we are the consciousness that is collectively projecting this reality. And if you have a critical mass of consciousness that’s aligned with yoga, if we have, then it would be possible to awaken to a world that is more peaceful, just, sustainable, healthier, and joyful. We can do that.
(BASSyoga continued from page 56)
a transformative and nourishing experience intended to facilitate real and positive shifts at all of our levels of existence — particularly the brainwave state. Reem: What is spinal awakening? In all the senses - anatomically, emotionally, energetically, etc. Nikki: Spinal awakening is becoming aware of your spine. Learning to move it but with the purpose of learning how to feel it. When you move one body, all bodies move: physical, spiritual, emotional bodies. The spine is the center of you, holding you together, giving you your length, connecting your skull to the rest of your system — it’s an extension of your brain and the central channel by which your energetic centers (chakras) exist, holding important emotional and energetic information. By moving your spine you begin to deal with physical, emotional, and energetic blockages and you can pay attention to what is going on in your being so you can start to untangle it, grow from it, and
continue to evolve. It’s a practice in getting to really know yourself, all the nuances and all the micro feelings. It’s powerful. Reem: How does spinal awakening relate to BASSyoga? What is the connection between these projects? How do you/we integrate them? Nikki: The bass moves you at a very primate level, helping you get back to the center and the source; the place where all movement originates. The power of sound vibration can be felt at the center of the chest, which is such an important energetic center. With BASSyoga, we want to help people use music and movement to dive deeper into the mysteries of themselves. With spinal awakening it’s the same, just with a deeper focus on the spine. Reem: How does music (especially bass music) lead to awakening? Nikki: Music touches you at subconscious level. Sound is very powerful, especially the low frequencies of bass music. It’s the first thing we hear and mostly feel in the womb: the heartbeat. The bass. It is so primal, so engraved in your bones, it moves and shakes and wakes up your being.
Learn more about Nikki @nikki_ortiz and andreanicoleortiz.com
SF: So, what’s a good first step? DC: First step is get rid of your habitual certainties about everything, because your habitual certainties are nothing other than the conditioned mind. Second, realize that in every moment that which you’re experiencing – that includes situations, circumstances, people, events, objects, the weather, New York City – all of that is a projection of your conditioned mind. Third, is realize that the real you was never born and therefore is not subject to birth or death. And fourth is that if you can see it, can touch it and taste it, and smell it, and think about it, conceptualize it, imagine it, then it’s not really real. The real reality is the invisible awareness without which you can have none of those experiences. So, the real you cannot be squeezed into the volume of a body or the span of a lifetime. And then after that, practice yoga in all its aspects so that you can wake up to reality.
Visit ISHTA Yoga in NYC to take Sarah’s class ishtayoga.com. Learn more about Deepak Chopra’s book deepakchopra.com
Yoga / Profiles
YOGA / National Content
Awaken to Nature
The lesser known reality
BY: JULI RATHKE
A Flower. A Tree. The Clouds. The Rain. Whether you are in the gridlocked cities of the east, the wide open plains of the Midwest, or atop the peaks of the Rockies to the western redwoods of the California coast, nature abounds all around you. I need my daily dose of nature just like the rest of you…a connection to something greater than myself to reset my perspective, my intentions and to align with my own authenticity…but to what extent should we do this at the expense of mother nature? Please read on. It’s no secret that this world has an ever growing population problem. The last time I was in Bali, Indonesia, leading a yoga retreat, the population had grown from 4.1 million to just over 5 million in less than 2 years. Even us yogis are affecting tourism, environmental and socioeconomic impact in countries that may not have the infrastructure to be sustainable. The current census in LA is 3.79 million, and New York City is booming at 8.17 million people. What is this exponential growth doing to not just our cities, but also all of our natural surroundings that inspire so many of us? In Colorado, where I reside, in the past 5 years it has become so popular to climb our state’s 14’ers (14,000 feet+ mountains) that you either have to get up at 2am to avoid the crowds in the parking lots at the various trailheads or choose to be pushed up the mountain like a herd of mountain goats. Quite honestly, the “locals” have turned to climbing some of the lesser-known peaks to avoid this overcrowding. But how long before those are overcrowded as well? A few years back, the state of Oregon and their tourism office conducted one of the industries most successful “get outside” campaigns, and to even their own surprise, their “8 wonders of Oregon” was so successful their parks and tourism offices had to start issuing maximums due to overcrowding in their parks, and you now have to
take a number and wait your turn to get in much like a popular night club in Manhattan - red rope and all. Like many of you, I too have traveled all over. Growing up in the 1970’s it seemed it was just the adventurous families you would see in their VW Vanagons setting out on the interstates of America to fill their sticker charts of hitting all of the lower 48 parks and natural phenomena. Now it is trending and everyone is in search of a quick glimpse of some of the wonders of our world. The more I travel, the more I realize the current impact isn’t sustainable, and the luster is wearing off for me and responsibility is setting in as I engage in dialogue with conservationists who live and breath trying to undo all that we have done. I have witnessed ruthless animal population control for fear of introducing predatory balance (the wolf) in places like the Dakotas, Wyoming and Colorado where ranchers’ voices seem to speak louder than the ecosystem’s. “It’s not all rainbows and unicorns,” as the national park service at Theodore Roosevelt National Park in North Dakota put it, as they are involved in an extension genetic inbreeding study with Colorado State University of their park’s feral and bison populations. There is an ever-looming problem that spirals into multi-faceted issues that I can only scratch the surface on, but like anything, awareness is everything. The trending idea that to find true inspiration in nature one needs to travel to our nation’s parks and wildlife refuges is insanely untrue. Don’t get me wrong, your park fees are more than needed after the current administration decided to cut these exact resources - but would a national park donation serve the greater good as we look for more ways to support nature in our own backyards and create more awareness around some of the issues.
Mother nature is always working miracles. From the postage stamp of grass in the inner city to the flowerboxes in the windows, it is all what you pay attention to that truly creates inspiration. Can we as responsible and conscious consumers of this planet find our inspirations on a daily basis by paying more attention to the little things? Can you lead or attend a yoga retreat that also serves the local community or helps educate on clean water or teaches recycling to the locals like one of our favorite places EnTres Amigos in San Pancho, Mexico? I challenge you to think and do things differently. Plant a flower or herb garden, or maybe sit in the park and learn the songs of the native birds. The littlest connection to this amazing power of nature inspires our own inner flow as it syncs with the rhythms around us. So get out daily and go for a walk, look up, not at your phone or your feet. Look around and find that your nature – our nature - is everywhere. And let’s conspire to help the Mother of all mothers heal and catch up…and while we are here on this earth be reminded it is our unique responsibility to take care of it as we would our own children. We are but just visitors passing through. So please, leave no trace – just love. Juli Rathke is a multi-passionate entrepreneur and the founder of YOGA + Life™ Magazines. Connect with her at julirathke.com
“The littlest connection to this amazing power of nature inspires our own inner flow as it syncs with the rhythms around us.” YOGALIFEMAGAZINES.COM
YOGA / National Content
The National Park Foundation
BY: JULI RATHKE
Over 400 national parks preserve 84 million acres of the world’s most treasured landscapes, ecosystems, and historical sites. Your gift will help the National Park Foundation protect these treasured landscapes for generations to come. National Park friends groups and other partners sometimes take on major projects with parks that require widespread public support to achieve extraordinary results. Recent projects include:
Yosemite Conservancy Is raising $20 million to restore Yosemite National Park’s Mariposa Grove. This project will preserve the trees and the extraordinary experiences they make possible, as well as the unique wildlife that call the Mariposa Grove home.
Grand Teton National Park Foundation Has joined Grand Teton National Park in a $17 million, multiyear partnership project honoring the NPS centennial.This project will transform Jenny Lake’s trails, bridges, key destinations, and visitor complex creating an inviting trail system and captivating experience for the 21st century visitor. With your support, we enrich the park experience for more that 275 million visitors every year and enhance our care of more than 400 national parks. Donate now at www.nationalparks.org
The paper content of this publication has been certifiably reforested via PrintReleaf – the world’s first platform to measure paper consumption and automate reforestation across a global network of reforestation projects. LEARN MORE AT PRINTRELEAF.COM
photo: flickr.com/nicholas_t | CC BY
A life changing experience awaits you at Kalani Honua. Recharge your mind, body and spirit, and experience the transformative energy of Hawaii Island. Breathe the world’s cleanest air, immerse yourself in nature, and eat fresh, locally-sourced meals. Access to our on-site wellness center and over 40+ classes and workshops in yoga, dance and Hawaiian culture each week provide countless opportunities to learn and rejuvenate.
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– LATASHA AMOS New York, NY
TEACHERS WE LOVE CLOCKWISE FROM LEFT TO RIGHT
CAT MCCARTHY (PHOTO: ROBERT STURMAN) CHLOE KERNAGHAN (PHOTO: RENEE CHOI) DJUNA PASSMAN (PHOTO: RENEE CHOI) JUDI CHECO (PHOTO: PAUL UNDERSINGER) PATRICIA PINTO (PHOTO: MORTEN SOLVSTROM)
Tao Porchon-Lynch Lives: New York The World’s Oldest Yoga Teacher - Born: August 13, 1918
Buy a Mat, Plant a Tree
Competitive Ballroom Dancer Author: Dancing Light: The Spiritual Side of Being Through the Eyes of a Modern Yoga Master. Reflections: The Yogic Journey of Life Philosophy: There Is Nothing You Cannot Do. Yoga can heal the world Mat: Jade
Nature’s Best Yoga Mat
Great grip. Earth friendly.
Shot with “Lumen” by Jenny Sabin Studio for The Museum of Modern Art and MoMA PS1’s Young Architects Program 2017, on view at MoMA PS1 from June 29 to September 4, 2017. Jenny E. Sabin, Principal and Architectural Designer.
New York YOGA + Life™ Magazine | Winter - Spring 17-18 Issue #4