Category Archives: yoga off the mat

New Years Reflection, Intention & Manifesting

There is something incredibly sacred and nostalgic that the end of the year brings. It is a beautiful time to pause, reflect and steep deeply into all that we have experienced over the past 12 months. This time of year is unique with its beautiful, fresh energy of a new year and the perfect opportunity to re-focus and re-set our lives to living with intention and in our own unique truth and dharma, purpose, every day.

Below are 4 parts to New Years reflection, intentions and manifesting. Enjoy thoughtful, heart-felt journal prompts, as well as tips for bringing in the new year intentionally for the most beautiful and inspired year yet!

So light yourself some incense, brew a cup of tea, grab your journal and let’s get started!

GRATITUDE & CELEBRATE

Acknowledge the magic of the past year. Recognize yourself for all that you have done and all that you’ve learned. It is easy to notice everything you didn’t do; the should-haves, could-haves and what-ifs. But let’s take this opportunity to reflect with gratitude upon everything you did do and learn.

+ What are you most grateful for from this past year?

+ What were the best moments if the year? Top 3 moments?

+ What are some key triumphs, successes and achievements from the past year? Tip: To help prompt you, review month-by-month, or review on your Facebook to remind you. You can also Think of themes like relationships, business, self-care, travel, work or health.

+ In what ways have you grown or expanded as a person in the past year?

+ What challenges did you experience? Tip: Think of people, situations, experiences. Consider your relationships, family, friends, your health, your work, your home etc. What did you learn from these? How can you express gratitude towards these great teachers and lessons?

+ Describe 2016 in 3 words.

REFLECT & RELEASE

This is a prime time to let go of anything you ‘re ready to release the burdens of to not carry with you into the new year. When you complete journaling these, you can even ritualistically burn the paper to ceremoniously release them and help burn any karmic ties.

+ What are you ready to let go of that is no longer serving your greatest good? Think of: A self-limiting belief, a sabotaging behavior, an unhealthy situation, mental conditioning, a job or relationship etc.

+ Are there any burdens, grievances, hurts, fears or negative thought patterns that you are willing to acknowledge, heal, express gratitude towards the lessons within them, and release? What lessons can you learn from these?

+ Are there any physical or mental pains that you can acknowledge, surface, allow and dissolve? How can you heal and release those?

+ From the wisdom and experience you’ve gained from the past year, how can you do things differently this year?

INTEND & CREATE

Let’s put to rest the days of cagey goal-setting, bucket-lists, and vision boards. Let’s revolutionize these goals into crystal clear and powerful intentions built on the solid foundation of who you really are, you’re hearts true calling and your soul’s purpose.

Goals are discipline based; daily chores to eventually— hopefully, achieve a desired outcome. Discipline feels cagey, finite, external and quite frankly, exhausting.

But intention is in devotion; it is instant. It is internal and eternal. In creating a lifestyle that is aligned with your highest Self, you organically manifest that which you desire most. It is authentic and heart-centered. Intention feels open, receptive, flowy and magnetic.

You hold within you the ability to create your world; however you wish it to be. So why not make it deliberate, conscious and empowered choice?

+ How do you want to feel? What qualities, virtues and values do you wish to embody? Make a list of desired feelings. Ex: Joy, Health, Abundant, Inspired, Aligned, Connected, Bliss, Grounded, Inner Harmony, Self-Love, Wisdom, Peace, Stillness, Enlightenment, Oneness, Authentic, Energized, Contentment, Strength, Freedom, Unity, Infinite, Nourished, Beauty, Radiant, Love, Courage etc.

+ From that list, circle your top and most aligned three feelings that make your heart sing.

+ List 5 things for each feeling/intention that you can do to help you feel this way. What activities are you doing to help induce these feelings? Where are you? Who are you with? Ex: If I want to feel inspired, I know that I can a. Be with my teachers b. Go for a walk in nature c. Listen to my favorite music d. Meditate e. Spend time in silence and solitude.

+ Create heartfelt goals/intentions for 2017 to help you feel precisely how you want to feel from the above list. Ex: To feel inspired, I must be with my teachers. So my goal is to meet with my teachers 1x/week. Or go for an early morning walks in nature 2x/week. Or take 1 hour every day in total silence and solitude to nourish with inspiration.

Now, considering precisely how you want to feel, what are 3 goals you’d like to achieve in 2017 in the areas of:

+ Health (physical, mental, spiritual)
+ Relationship with yourself (Think self-love/self-care etc.)
+ Finances/Abundance
+ Social/Relationships (friends, family, romantic, cosmic etc.)
+ Work/Career
+ Education/Learning
+ Hobbies/Play
+ Environmental/Sustainability

+ Create a Self-Care menu— a list of daily, weekly & monthly activities and rituals you can do to inspire, nourish and recharge your body, mind & spirit.

Make these non-negotiable dates with yourself—mark your daytimer, set an alarm, close and lock the door so you can be undisturbed, and soak up in some quality time for yourself.

Ex: Daily = 1. Awaken in the morning and set an intention for the day. 2. Drink a tall glass of lemon or herbal water to start your day. 3. Meditation 4. Daily yoga or movement practice 5. 20 min of silence and solitude. Weekly = 1. Oil pulling 2. Have a weekly detox bath. 3. Dry brushing 4. Journaling 5. Adventure in Nature. Monthly = 1. Go for a massage 2. Go on a road trip 3. Do a new/full moon ritual to connect with your intentions 4. Have a gathering of like-minded friends in celebration

MAGNETIZE & MANIFEST

Feng Shui Your Life:

Before you can manifest and truly experience all your hearts true desires, it is important to first make space in your life by clearing out the old and making more room for the new. This is all about clearing the slate and laying new foundations to build upon.

+ What can you do to create space in your life to manifest what you truly want in life?

Here are some examples of what you can try this year.
+ Clear out your wallet of bills or receipts and change your banking passwords to positive affirmations; create space in your life for financial abundance.
+ Clear off your desktop of old projects, ideas, files and unfinished creations to make room for the new.
+ Give your kitchen a cleanse and your pantry a detox; create room in your life for ease and health.
+ Buy a new day timer that you love to lay the foundation of organization, ease & flow.

Give Ritual a Try

Rituals root us in practice. They solidify our devotion to living a spirited life and enable us to embody all that we believe 
to be true.

Plus, let’s not ignore the fact that there’s something so divinely magical about an invocation whispered atop of candlelight, or the vital force that the moon, or oracle cards bring us.

Rituals amplify our manifestations, help us acknowledge and celebrate our efforts, and provide an environment in which we can accelerate through the challenges of life. It’s all about intention.

Use rituals to welcome in a new month, call upon your favorite deities, or as daily practices that remind you that you are loved, and connected, and supported.

+ Smudge with sage or incense, or buy a new crystal to energetically support you in a certain area.
+ Do an oracle card reading to provide some guidance for the year.
+ Moon ceremonies: every full moon practice releasing by taking your list of what you want to let go of and burn it, rip it up or bury it. And every new moon reconnect to or renew your intentions.
+ Have a Sunday detox bath with Epsom salts, lavender oil, and candles to cleanse your spirit.

Reflect

+ What rituals can you invite into your life to ignite and support the manifestation of your intentions and keep you rooted in your path of intention? List 3 daily, 3 weekly, and 3 monthly rituals.

+ How can you invest your resources of time, energy, thoughts, and money into nourishing and manifesting your intentions.

+ Create 3 positive affirmations/sacred mantras/personal prayers for yourself to nourish your intentions. Repeat these daily, and keep reminders of these with you always!

Extra Manifesting Tips

+ Master the art of receptivity; choose ease over effort, surrender before striving and openness over being attached to an outcome.
+ Use your focus wisely; like attracts like. It is the law of attraction. Keep your attention focused on what you do want to manifest, not on what you don’t want. Any time you notice something you don’t want, ask yourself “What lesson can I learn here, and what do I want instead?”
+ Passionately daydream with crystal clarity of exactly what you want; get excited! Talk about what you want and how you want to feel. Connect with people on the same path as you. This sends what you want out into the Universe and it will come back to you like a boomerang.
+Everything is energy. Where you invest your thoughts, time, energy and money, that is the direction you’ll head. Invest in how you want to feel.
+ Express infinite gratitude for what you receive and be open to the form in which things manifest.

May you experience the magic of yourself this year! May you rest in your True Nature— your Natural State of total joy, absolute bliss, boundless love, and infinite wisdom. May all beings everywhere be happy, free and at peace. Happy New Year!

Trust + Surrender: The Art of Letting Go

“Stop fighting and resisting. Try something different – surrender.” – Rumi

MY STORY ON SURRENDER

Four years ago, I found myself at an ashram in Thailand, studying yoga and meditation. I arrived disoriented from heartbreak, dizzy with confusion, incredibly lost and feeling alone. I had been practicing, and teaching yoga for years already, but recent life events left my mind turbulent, my heart shattered and my body locked up like a box.

At this training in the jungle on a foreign island, I held my sad, beaten heart in my hands and presented it to my teachers. They consoled me, and told me that even when I felt like I was suffocating in meditation, to just keep gently breathing into that tender spot in the center of my chest.

“It will open and heal,” they promised.

After a month of intense practice, Asana, (yoga postures,) Sadhana, (daily spiritual practice,) meditation and journaling, we sealed our time together with a closing ceremony. A fire homa they called it. It smelled like incense and the fire they created with palm leaves was warm and bright. Our teachers dotted the space between our eyebrows with sacred ash, red turmeric and sandalwood— or something like that.

At the end, we were given small slips of paper, and were asked to write our Sankalpa, our intention, that we would like to carry with us into the year ahead.

Almost instinctively, my heart traveled down my arm, through my hand and into my grip on the pen, and begged for surrender.

“I am opening up in sweet surrender,” it wrote.

At that time, I really didn’t know what it meant for me, or how this nine letter word would present itself in my life for a whole year.

I devoted myself, and my life to that intention. In times I found myself anxious and worried, tightening my grip on life, and structuring how things ought to be, I soothed myself with this word— surrender. This word dissolved my armor, it woke up my sleepy eyes, and finally, my heart broke open.

Literally, in meditation one day, a cracking sound thundered from the bones of my sternum followed by a flood of blissful tears flowing from my face.

Surrender unchained me from myself. I opened up to the whole Universe, and the Universe opened up to me.
img_1609SURRENDER IN YOGA

In Sanskrit, we call the concept of surrender Ishvara Pranidhana. Surrendering (Pranidhana) to a higher source; to the Divine (Ishvara.) Beautiful.

“Surrender is the intersection between acceptance, and change.” – Unknown

With all of my heart, I know that surrender is not submission. It is not backing down. It is not irresponsible, laziness, passivity or being unambitious. It does not mean ‘giving in’ nor does it mean ‘losing’ control or a battle.

The only thing you will lose by surrendering, is frustration, bondage and suffering.

The art of surrender is means to yielding to the flow of life with radical acceptance, ease and grace. Surrender is the opening of our hearts to the unknown, and trusting with faith in the Perfect unfolding of Now. Surrender is a process of letting go of the ‘small’ Self to the ‘big’ Self in each moment. Surrender is an opportunity to tune into the qualities of openness and receptivity to invite total freedom and peace into our lives. Surrender is Freedom.

SURRENDER VS CONTROL

+ Acceptance | Resistance
+ Being | Doing
+ Releasing | Grasping
+ Openness | Closedness
+ Softness | Security
+ Yielding | Resisting
+ Fluidity | Rigidity
+ Ease | Effort
+ Flow | Stagnation
+ Flexibility | Breakable

PRACTICE SURRENDER: ISHVARA PRANIDHANA

1. Release how you think things ought to be, and appreciate things as they are. Surrender the expectation that something is wrong if it doesn’t go according to your plan.

2. Steep in the Bliss of simply Being, instead of always doing.

3. Let go of ego, expectation, judgement and attachment- to outcomes, to things, to people, to ideas or concepts.

4. Surrender to the Truth of your Experience in every moment – whatever that is. In this moment there may be happiness, frustration, contentment, anger, joy, shame, gratitude or grief. There is nothing personal about your thoughts or emotions. They are simply phenomena passing through your awareness. Allow these experiences to come and go- without resisting displeasurable ones, or clinging to pleasurable ones.

5. Give yourself the permission to really feel what you feel, because what you feel, you heal. What we resist, persists. And while emotions and thoughts aren’t personal, they are valuable pieces of information. Pain informs Strength. Confusion informs Clarity. Failure informs Wisdom. Grief informs Compassion. And so on.

6. Open yourself up to the Perfect Bliss of Now, instead of resisting it or wishing life were any other way than it is. Wholeheartedly engage with each and every moment, as it is, and recognize the Absolute Perfection in it all.

7. Have faith and trust that you always have been, always are, and you always will be supported by Life. You are living proof that you’ve survived every moment of your life so far – and will continue to thrive. Life gives us precisely what we need in each and every moment for our hearts to open and souls to Awaken. Trust that you are exactly where you need to be. Surrender to the process and have faith that all is perfect.

8. Be open to the possibility that something may be greater than you alone and what you are able to control. Surrender your fear and pain, and witness something far greater than that which the fear was trying to protect.

You are not a salmon, so stop swimming up stream. Practice Ishvara Pranidhana. Go with the Perfect Flow of Life. Surrender to what is. Surrender in pigeon pose. Surrender to love. Surrender, and Be Free.

How can you surrender to move through life with peace, ease, grace and fluidity?

4 Key Aspects of Yogic Living (+ Tips for Staying True on the Path!)

We hold within us all infinite wisdom and endless knowledge. Already, we hold within all that we could ever need to come home to the remembrance of who we really are. Ultimately, we require nothing outside of what is here, now and within to remember Truth.

However, we live in an age that tends to have some distractions and confusion which clouds our perception of Reality. To help create ease on your journey, here are four key aspects of yoga to help maintain, inspire and encourage you on the path of awakening and enlightened living.

1) Spiritual Community (Sangha)

If you have even one person in your life on the same or a similar path as you, you’ve encountered a great blessing. In yoga, we call our spiritual community our Sangha. Sangha is a valuable part of our spirituality. Being immersed in a community of like-minded souls is inspiring, grounding, and uplifting. It is invaluable when it comes to living an inspired, conscious yogic life, and realizing the Truth of our own Divine Nature. Your Sangha is an endless source of love, support, inspiration, connection and a safe space to Be As You Are.

When possible, choose to surround yourself with positive, wise, peaceful, truth-seeking, love-embodying people, places and nature that encourage and inspire you on your spiritual journey— on the path to the remembrance of your True Nature.

2) Spiritual Practice (Sadhana)

Practice, practice, practice. Sadhana is our daily spiritual practice or discipline. To experience the true Bliss, Freedom and Peace that is our Natural State, we as yogis have incredibly valuable tools and practices available to us to help guide us into this state of Being.

Create a daily Sadhana that resonates with your heart. Your Sadhana may include yoga poses (Asana,) breathing techniques (Pranayama,) meditation (Dharana,) chanting mantra, kirtan, or self-reflection. Shorter, more frequent practices are more beneficial than longer practices done sporadically. A daily and consistent practice is the key to enlightened living.

3) Spiritual Texts (Svadhyaya)

On our spiritual journey, reading the sacred texts written by the enlightened sages and saints is an invaluable source of wisdom and inspiration. Svadhyaya means “self-study” and includes study of the classical texts of yoga—the authorities of classical yogic and vedic knowledge.

Some simple and inspiring texts to read are:
+ “Autobiography of a Yogi” by Paramahamsa Yogananda
+ “Living with the Himalayan Masters” by Swami Rama
+ “Yoga Sutras of Patanjali” commentary by Swami Durgananda
+ “Bhagavad Gita” commentary by Swami Sivananda
+ “Be As You Are” teachings of Sri Ramana Maharshi

4) Spiritual Teacher (Guru)

Ultimately, life is full of teachers— teachers come in many forms and the whole world is our classroom. However, it is a great gift to have a spiritual teacher whom we can connect with and receive knowledge and inspiration from.

The Sanskrit word guru means “gu” (darkness,) and “ru” (that which dispels.) The guru is a spiritual teacher who helps guide us from unreal to real, darkness to light, ignorance to knowledge. A Sattvic Guru is an embodiment of Love, Peace and Truth. In their presence, we are uplifted and humbly guided into our own awakening.

You must listen to your heart while searching for your teachers. Seek out a teacher for whom emanates Love, Truth and Peace. Choose a teacher who is devoted to their own practice and awakening, comes from a traditional lineage, and who follows ancient scriptures not only in words but in everyday life.

Additionally, look to the yoga masters for inspiration— the great sages, spiritual masters and realized beings for guidance— teachers like Sri Ramana Maharshi, Amma Sri Karunamayi, Swami Saraswati Sivananda, Swami Vivekananda, Swami Rama, Swami Satyananda Saraswati, the Buddha, Jesus Christ and many other enlightened souls who have devoted their lives to the path of Realization have passed down the ancient traditions of yoga generation after generation.

Immerse yourself in the greatness of Sangha (Spiritual Community,) Sadhana (Spiritual Practice,) Svadhyaya (Self-Study + Spiritual Texts,) and in Wisdom from the Guru (Spiritual Teacher) to inspire you on your journey of Awakening and Yogic living. May we all be blessed as we come Home.

The Ultimate Guide to Eating a Kind Diet

It’s been over 10 years since I made the switch to a vegetarian lifestyle (and 2 years later a vegan life.) I first went veg for health reasons to recover from illness, but over the years, my motivation for this lifestyle has become decreasingly about me, and increasingly about WE. I live this lifestyle to be kind to all Beings. The earth, the animals in human form, and of course, the non-human animals.

So today, I share with you the “Kind Diet/Lifestyle” that I live. Beyond just going vegan – here are a few tips to eat and live more compassionate, kind, and sustainable lives.

In our daily lives, we encounter many ways to be the love which is our true nature. Everyday, we can allow the love and kindness that exists in our hearts to be our compass as we navigate through life, steering our actions and encounters. How and what we eat is one of the greatest ways we can share kindness and compassion in our world.

A kind diet is simple— it is an approach to eating that chooses the path of least harm for the people, planet, animals, and of course— yourself! Eating a kind diet is based on the principles of non-violence, non-stealing, non-harming, responsibility, moderation, sustainability and purity for the health and wellness of all beings everywhere.

When deciding what to eat, where to eat, and what to shop for, consider these “6 Steps to Eat a Kind Diet!”
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1. First, choose plant based.

Go plant-based— be kind to yourself and your body, the animals, and the planet. A diet rich in fruits, vegetables, beans, legumes, seeds and nuts is scientifically proven to reduce the risk of many diseases and ailments compared to a typical western diet.

Did you know…

+ Going vegan brings greater environmental benefits than buying a hybrid vehicle or eschewing showers for 6 months.
+ It takes 2,400 gallons of water to produce one pound of beef, but only 25 gallons to produce a pound of wheat.
+ Raising animals for food uses 30 percent of the Earth’s land mass – or an area about the size of Asia.
+ 7 football fields of land are bulldozed every minute to create more room for farmed animals.

Eating a complete to primarily plant based diet is the greatest thing you can do to reduce your carbon footprint, express kindness and love to all animals and the planet, and become healthier.

2. Second, choose natural or organic.

Choosing natural and organic means that you are investing in food and products that have not been genetically modified, chemically grown or produced, are minimally processed and do not contain any added hormones, artificial colors or flavors etc.

It also means that the earth is not being polluted with toxic pesticides and chemicals, so the soil, water, air, overall ecosystems and wildlife are preserved and healthy.

And you’ll be supporting farmers and companies that go through great efforts to protect our planet and animals while producing incredibly healthy and chemical free food for us.

Going organic is a great act of kindness for your own health, for the health of the planet and animals, and these amazing farmers!

3. Third, choose sustainable.

According to the US Environmental Protection Agency, the definition of “sustainability” is: “the study of how natural systems function, remain diverse and produce everything it needs for the ecology to remain in balance. It also acknowledges that human civilization takes resources to sustain our modern way of life. Sustainability takes into account how we might live in harmony with the natural world around us, protecting it from damage and destruction.”

Eating primarily plant-based foods and eating organics are two great ways to eat a sustainable diet. Additionally, choose foods and ingredients that are: 1) Abundant in nature in relation to demand, 2) Are easily grown with minimal environmental impact, and 3) Are edible with minimal preparation.

For example, choose olive oil over palm oil, as a large amount of rainforests worldwide are being cut down to grow more palm trees to sustain the supply demand for its oil. Or choose sunflowers or pecans over almonds, as almonds require an immense amount of water to produce.

Try permaculture! “Permaculture is modeled on the relationships found in nature. More specifically it is the design of agriculturally productive ecosystems, which have diversity and stability while considering the existing environment and natural ecosystems. True permaculture, is not just organic farming – the ideology should in practice means harmonious integration of environment and people — providing their food, shelter, and energy in a sustainable way.” – Sustainable Earth Technologies.

4. Next, choose local.

Going local and right to the source of your food significantly reduces the extra fuel, packaging, and costs that it requires to transport your food and ingredients from farmer, to (sometimes) a manufacturer, to distributor, to store and finally—to you.

Go to your local farmers market or go directly meet with farmers in your area to buy your food directly. Choose food and ingredients that are local to your area and in season.

5. Then, choose package-free.

This is so simple— when possible, choose package free. If you have a choice between buying apples that are individually wrapped in styrofoam, in a plastic bag, which will be put in an additional plastic bag at the checkout, or buying apples in bulk, choose the latter.

As a general rule, skip the “middle aisles” of the grocery store which tend to contain heaps of unnecessary plastics, cans, boxes and bags— head straight from the produce area, to the bakery, to the bulk section.

When you shop, bring your own reusable cloth grocery bags and bulk bags to minimize waste.

By reducing single time use plastics and packaging, you greatly reduce your eco-footprint and save SO much waste from entering our landfill, and chemicals in the earth, air and water.

6. Always choose love.

Invest in kindness: Invest your dollars in companies, stores and farms that prioritize kindness and compassion to all beings everywhere with their products and production methods. Choose fair-trade. Choose cruelty-free. Choose sustainable. Choose companies that operate waste-free or emission free in their manufacturing and methods. Choose to support companies that give back to communities and the environment.

Moderation: As a general rule, take only what is offered and use only what is needed.

Generosity: Be generous in sharing food. If you have an abundance of food in your fridge or garden, be sure to share it and nourish other people and animals! Or when it’s gone rotten, give it back to the earth in a compost.

Gratitude: Be grateful for the food you have. Be grateful to the earth that grew your food. The animals and insects that fertilized and pollinated the food to grow. The rain and sun for it’s nourishment. For the hard-work that helped grow it, and the hands that prepared it and put it on your plate.

Eat a kind diet; choose plant based, natural and organic, sustainable, local, package-free and always choose LOVE. As a general rule, always choose the path of least harm – for the health and wellbeing of the people, the planet, the animals and YOU!

7 Sacred Mantras for Spiritual Illumination

Mantras are powerful sacred sound vibrations from the ancient Sanskrit language that are traditionally chanted during spiritual practices in the yogic tradition.

Mantras are composed of Sanskrit letters, each infused with unique frequencies— much like scientific formulas of sound vibration known to have unique qualities, effects and energies. Similarly, Mantras act like a secret password to various aspects of our inner dimension. They are said to hold subtle knowledge in their vibration, and cleanse the body, mind and spirit.

Repetition of a Mantra is proven to have incredible benefits for the body, mind, and spirit. They are scientifically proven to help calm the mind, balance the nervous system, evoke knowledge, assist in healing the body and mind, increase physiological alertness and synchronicity of certain biorhythms, increase health and well-being and create a single-pointed, concentrated awareness in the mind.

Choose one of the following Mantras that resonates with your heart for your highest good and for the greater good of all Beings everywhere.

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Om Namah Shivaya
 (Aum Na-mah She-vai-yah)
Rebirth. Letting go. Healing. Surrender. Strength. Compassion.

Om Gam Ganapatayae Namaha
 (Aum Gah-mm Gah-na-pat-eye-aye Na-ma-ha)
Overcoming Obstacles. Inner Wisdom. Ease. Supreme Knowledge. Awakening.

Om Hrim Dhum Durga Devai Namaha (Aum Hreem Doom Dur-gah Dev-yay Na-ma-ha)
Protection. Truth. Courage. Power. Purity. Fearlessness. Forgiveness.

Om Lokah Samastah Sukhino Bhavantu (Aum Low-kah Some-ah-sta Sook-ee-no Bah-van-too)
Peace Prayer: May all beings everywhere be happy and free of suffering.

Om Shring Hring Kleeng Mahalakshmi Namaha (Aum Shh-ring H-ring Cling Mahah-Luck-shh-mee Na-ma-ha)
Abundance. Dharma – Purpose. Beauty. Freedom. Success.

Om Aim Shrim Hrim Saraswati Devyai Namaha (Aum I’m Shreem Hreem Sara-swat-ee Dave-yay Na-ma-ha)
Creativity. Highest Knowledge. Arts. Intelligence. Beauty. Truth. Expression.

Om Aim Klim Somaya Namaha (Aum I’m Kleem Soma-Ya Na-ma-ha
Secret Knowledge of the Moon. Surrender. Peace. Receptivity. Divine Feminine.

With love, practice, and intention invite the secret power of mantras into your daily practice and life and witness great benefit for yourself and all beings everywhere.

The Yogi Code: The Yamas

The Yamas are the founding principles of the 8 Limbs of Yoga outlined in the Yoga Sutras summarized by Patanjali. They are the foundation of living a conscious and yogic life. The Yamas are external disciplines— a sum of ethical practices, values and virtues available to us so we may interact, relate and co-exist peacefully with all beings and with the planet.

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The Yamas can be broken down into 5 specific areas; Ahimsa (non-harming,) Satya (truthfulness,) Asteya (non-stealing,) Brahmachara (continence,) Aparigraha (non-possessiveness.)

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Lets further explore the qualities of the Yamas, these values and virtues to live more peaceful lives both on and off the mat.

1.AHIMSA: non-harming, non-violence, non-aggression, compassion, forgiveness, kindness— love.

2. SATYA: truthfulness, honesty, sincerity. Being truthful in thought, word and deed. Living one’s truth; sacred purpose or dharma.

3. ASTEYA: non-stealing. Take only what is offered and use only what is needed.

4. BRAHMACHARYA: moderation and continence. Preservation of vital energy. Exerting one’s energy wisely. Sexual responsibility or celibacy.

5. APARIGRAHA: non-possessiveness, non-greed, non-hoarding, non-collection, non-gluttony, non-attachment.

By practicing the Yamas, you can advance your yoga to the next level by transforming yoga from a simple practice, into your way of life. May these ethical practices of yoga guide you deeper into the essence of yoga and transform your yoga practice both on the mat, and off the mat into the world.

How do you practice the Yamas – on the mat and off the mat? We’d love to hear about it in the comments below. <3

4 Ways to Create a Peaceful Life (And World!)

Perhaps you’ve noticed – there is suffering in the world we live in. As compassionate, loving people of the planet, we can easily empathize and sometimes even feel the pain and suffering of other beings. Sometimes, it may make us feel sadness, sometimes we grieve, sometimes we become angry, bitter or even hateful. But we cannot create a world of peace from a place of hatred. When we hate in the name of love, I’m afraid we’ve missed something very important.

Here are 4 ways to peacefully navigate through a world of suffering to create a life and world of peace. May peace and love be our compass, and may all beings be happy and free.

1. Start with yourself.

Perhaps, the greatest thing we can do for well-being, empowerment and peace among all beings is to do the inner work so that we may be at peace with ourselves and, actively participate in creating the peace we wish to see in the world. Be kind, be gentle, be compassionate with yourself first.

By filling our own cup with unwavering self-love and radical inner peace, we have more to give, we are better able to serve others, and we become a bright light in the world that emanates love and peace everywhere we go so that more people can be impacted by the peace we share, and one day, the whole world may live in peace.

2. Make peace your path.

Make peace, love, and compassion your path. Transform peace from being something you do into who you are. Doing acts of peace is powerful, but being peace will change the world.

To be peaceful, or a peace activist, you don’t have to stand outside of building chanting what is wrong with the world, you don’t have to aggressively comment on social media what you believe to be wrong or unethical, and you don’t have to donate heaps of money to humanitarian organizations.

Try practicing what I like to call micro activism in your daily life; small acts of compassion that create massive waves of peace in our world. As best as you can, try to eat, shop, exist compassionately with as little negative impact to other beings and this planet as possible. By you living a peaceful life, there is more peace in the world.

3. Choose love.

Please—stop hating in the name of love. It is easy to become angry and bitter when we see the injustice and suffering in the world, and from this place of anger, we may want to scream hatred and aggression in the name of love. Our intentions our good, but the method is not always compassionate, peaceful, or effective. To fight in the name of love is to forget what love really is. Don’t allow the suffering of the world to stain your heart of it’s true essence—unconditional love.

Ask yourself in every moment; in every interaction, in how you shop, in what you eat— how can I choose love? How may I serve in the most compassionate way? What is the most loving thing I can do here? How can I share peace? Choose the path of least harm— and when you can, always choose love

4. Do what you can to alleviate others suffering, but don’t make yourself suffer in the process.

When you cross paths with someone you can serve, do what you can. It is our highest duty to do what we can to alleviate the suffering of other beings— but that doesn’t mean we must carry the weight of the world on our shoulders. You don’t need to go searching for suffering.

We have infinite resources to offer each other; from time and money, to a loving hug or words of compassion. If you cross paths with a hungry cat or thirsty dog, do what you can to nourish them. If you can share money or food with someone less fortunate, do so. If you notice a shelter could use a volunteer, show up. If you feel called to offer words of compassion or a hug to someone in emotional pain, do it. If you see suffering, do what you can to help, to serve, for the greater good of humanity.

But that doesn’t mean you need to go looking for suffering. In a world where every catastrophe on the planet, large or small, shows up on our newsfeeds on several devices in an instant, we need to give ourselves a break from the suffering of the world. It’s important to know what is happening in our world, but our constant connection to world events can take a toll on our state of being, and move us into a state of fear and anger.

Take time away from the news, social media etc every so often to recharge your heart with inner peace and love— we can offer more to the world from that state of Being.

BONUS YOGA TECHNIQUES FOR PEACE

1. Chant the mantras:
Lokah Samastah Sukhino Bhavantu

(Low-Kah Sum-A-Sta Sook-ee-no Buh-Vun-Too)
May all beings be happy and free of suffering and may the thoughts, words, and actions of my own life contribute to that happiness freedom for all.
Om Shanti Om
(Aum, Shun-tee, Aum)
May there be universal peace.

2. Meditate
Silence and stillness allows us to settle into the experience of peace that exists within us all, and we can live and act from this place of peace.

3. Practice Ahimsa
Ahimsa in yoga is the first of the Yamas, the moral code written in the ancient texts of yoga. Ahimsa teaches us to live a life of non-violence, non-aggression, love and peace with one another. Do no harm.

May we up the ante on the shanti— start by creating peace in your own life, make peace your path, alleviate the suffering of other beings that cross your path as best you can, and always choose love. Ps. Shanti means peace in Sanskrit, which makes this a funny, cute peace rhyme because the world needs more smiles, too.

But for real, may all beings be happy, and free of suffering.

How do you live peace? How do you choose love? I’d love to hear in the comments below! x

om_shanti

Peace comes from within. Do not seek it without.” – Buddha.

How to Develop a Daily Yoga Practice

There are endless benefits to developing a daily yoga practice or spiritual practice. Many people know these benefits and want to create a daily practice, but perhaps don’t know what to do, how to do it, or how to maintain a daily practice long term.

This is a common challenge I hear from students and one that I myself have experienced through years of practice. In yoga, we call our daily yoga or spiritual pratice, sadhana. Here are four ways to overcome challenges on the path of sadhana so you can develop a daily practice and experience greater degrees of love, freedom, peace, and bliss in your life

1. Take the conditions out of your practice.

Sometimes, we are perfectionists in life and how we approach our practice is no different. We think that in order to be a yogi or develop a sadhana, we must have several hours a day, be stress free with little or no responsibility, endless energy, and have a tranquil, well decorated yoga room dedicated to practice. We place so much emphasis on perfection that we may fluctuate between practicing intensely for a short period of time, to then not practicing at all for a few days, weeks or months.

Troubleshoot common challenges to creating a daily practice:

+ “I don’t have time to practice.” | Do what you can, 5 or 10 minutes is enough.
+ “My house is too messy.” | Clean it up or don’t worry about it. Yoga is a practice of our inner experience, so the outer world isn’t too important for the practice.
+ “I’m too busy.” | Do your best to carve out time to practice. And practice mindfulness as you go through your busy day.
+ “I don’t have enough money to go to a class.” | Develop a home practice for free.
+ “I don’t know what to do.” | Go to a class at your local studio or do a free online yoga video or guided meditation.
+ “I’m too tired or lazy to practice.” | Great, honor how you feel, and try a more gently practice like yin yoga, restorative, yoga nidra or meditate to restore you. You may feel more energized after!
+ “I prefer to practice in the morning/evening and I was busy during that time.” | Creating a routine is valuable, but it’s important to also be flexible with your practice. Practicing at a different time of the day is better than not practicing at all. 

2. Make yoga your path.

Transform your practice into your path. Make yoga not only something you do, but how you live your life. Invite mindfulness, peace, and breath into all that you do and even the most mundane of tasks become sacred acts of devotion and union, which is the meaning of the word yoga in Sanskrit.

While asana, the physical poses of yoga, and meditation are important and valuable pieces of the yoga puzzle, there is more to yoga than these alone. In Patanjali’s 8 Limbs of Yoga in the Yoga Sutras, the two founding limbs of yoga, the Yamas and Niyamas, are a code of morals and ethics which allow us to interact peacefully with the outer world, and with our inner experience. The Yamas teach us a path of non-violence, honesty, non-stealing, moderation, and non-attachment. The Niyamas encourage us to live a life of purity, contentment, self-discipline, self-study and surrender. As Dharma Mittra says, “no Yama, no yoga.” If all you do is practice non-violence, ahimsa, the first of the Yamas as your spiritual practice— you are already a great yogi.

Transform your practice from an act of discipline into an act of devotion and your practice becomes an empowering, sacred infinite opportunity and choice to connect with yourself, and unite with Divinity.

3. Create ease in your practice.

Life, yoga and meditation can be challenging enough, no need to make things harder than they need to be. The practice of yoga is powerful, but subtle. Give yourself the permission to be gentle with yourself and your practice. When we push ourselves too hard with our practice, we may exhaust ourselves and then feel resistance to practicing. Practice as much as possible— but consistent, shorter, more frequent practices will benefit you more than longer, more intense practices done less frequently.

Create a practice that is simple, peaceful and that you enjoy doing and you may feel more drawn to practicing regularly. If slowing down your practice helps—do it. If using props or sitting in a chair while you meditate allows you to feel more comfortable—allow it to be. If doing less yoga postures and more meditation, chanting, or breathing exercises feels good— do this. If you prefer meditating in the morning/evening/before/after asana, yoga postures— do as you wish.

4. Develop a ritual.

 As much as possible, try to create a daily routine – or better yet, make it a ritual. Sculpt out time every day to practice, even if it’s only five or ten minutes. And as best as you can, try to make it consistent. Developing a routine time to practice gives instructions to your subconscious and may allow you to go deeper with practice.

Explore the infinity of yoga— There is an infinite depth to yoga that extends far beyond the physical postures. Yoga is the Yamas and Niyamas, the ethical and more code of yoga, yoga is Bhakthi— a path of love and devotion, Karma— a path of selfless service, Raja— a path of self-discipline, and Jnana— a path of self-inquiry and realization. Yoga is chanting mantra, meditation, prayer, pranayama, mindfulness, and union.

Having a sadhana sequence that you follow is very helpful in creating a routine. Through practice, your subconscious will begin to memorize what your practice guides you to find within yourself and you will be able to reveal it with more ease, depth and clarity.

Consistency is key. You will benefit more from shorter, more frequent practices, than longer and more intense sessions practiced less frequently.

Here is a beginner-friendly Sadhana practice that you may practice every day. Modify it as you wish and for what your schedule allows to make it your own.

how_to_do_sadhana

Create space | Enter Practice
+ Set up/clean altar. + Light candle and incense. + Get mat and props for meditation and asana.
+ Come into meditation seat. Ground, centre, withdraw inwardly (Pratyahara)
+ Open practice with Om x 3 + Set intention (Sankalpa) | Say Prayer | Gratitude
+ Chin Mudra: hands are palms facing up in the lap in with the thumbs and index finger connected.

Pranayama
+ Watch the breath + Ujjayi Pranayama + Nadi Shodhana Pranayama

Concentration | Meditation
+ Drishti: navel, heart, space between the eyebrows
+ Watch the gap between the breaths
+ Mantra repetition: Om Namah Shivaya, Om Gam Ganapataye Namaha, Lokah Samastah Sukhino Bhavantu
+ Steep in the Bliss of simply Being

Yoga Postures (Asana) | Preferred Poses of the Day
+ Ground | Centre | Repeat Intention
+ Warm-Up
+ Standing | Strengthening | Balancing
+ Core work | Inversions
+ Backbending | Hip Openers | Twists
+ Savasana

Return | Close Practice
+ Om x 3 | Restate intention | Gratitude | Return

Creating a daily yoga practice or spiritual practice is one of the greatest gifts you can offer yourself to experience greater degrees of peace, freedom, love, bliss and truth in your life. Take the conditions out of your practice, make your yoga your path, create a practice you love to do, and make a daily ritual of if. Develop a daily yoga practice today!

the_pose_is_not_the_point

The Pose is Not the Point

The pose is not the point. In the west, yoga is often confused, diluted, and hybridized into something which is often quite accessible to all people and profitable for businesses, but lost it’s authenticity from the tradition of yoga from it’s roots in India.

          In the west, we’ve placed great emphasis on the physical postures of yoga. Asana, the physical yoga poses, are only one small limb of the 8 limbs of yoga which is aimed solely towards opening the body so one can sit comfortably in meditation for an extended period of time. In modern times, there is great importance placed on mastering the physical postures of yoga, as though that is the objective of the practice. Yoga has been advertised as a method to weight loss, relaxation, building strength, improving focus, or rehabilitating the body—while these may be outcomes and valuable benefits of developing a yoga practice, traditionally, these outcomes are not the objective.

Traditionally, yoga is a method that aims towards Samadhi— yoga is a path to liberation.

The pose is not the point. While yoga poses are valuable tools for opening, strengthening and balancing the body and mind, and many of us enjoy how yoga poses allow us to feel, and it is said that a certain level of bliss may be experienced through holding a pose in alignment for an extended period of time, mastering a yoga pose will not set you free. The pose is just a method, it alone cannot liberate you.

The realizations on the journey into the pose are far more valuable than the mastery of the posture alone.

What do you realize about yourself on your way into a yoga pose? What does the journey into the posture reveal to you about your True Self? What do you learn along the way on the pathway into the pose? What is laying underneath the surface of the posture that is waiting to bloom? What does the posture awaken in you?

If you yearn for the achievement of a pose, once you arrive into that posture, you’re still the same person— you’ve just touched your toes or balanced on your hands. But the journey into the pose gifts us with the opportunity to realize a deeper essence of your being. The Truth within you may be revealed. And you may realize that the pose was never the point.

The pose is not the point– when we think it is, we cheat ourselves of some of the greatest gifts yoga has to offer us. The pose itself becomes the least interesting— it’s the realizations, lessons, moments of surrender and strength on the journey into the pose that are the greatest gifts of yoga.

8_limbs_of_yoga

The Yogi Code | The 8 Limbs of Yoga

The 8 Limbs of Yoga are outlined in detail in the roughly two thousand year old texts, the Yoga Sutras by Patanjali. These ancient texts are much like a yogis’ handbook; an instruction manual on how to live a happy, fulfilling, spiritual and peaceful life.

There is so much more to yoga than the familiar physical practice of yoga poses. There is a whole system to it, a yogi’s code, full of observances, ethics, practices and restraints to inspire you to embrace yoga as a lifestyle and help you navigate through life with ease.

1. Yama: Ethical practices to interact with the outer world.

The Yamas and Niyamas are the foundation of the 8 limbs of yoga, and are valuable steps to living a conscious life. They are a sum of values and virtues available to us, so we may relate with and co-exist peacefully with all beings, ourselves and with the planet. They can be broken down into 5 specific areas each:

a. Ahimsa: non-violence, non-aggression, compassion, forgiveness, kindness— love.
b. Satya: truth, honesty, sincerity, living your truth; your sacred purpose or dharma.
c. Asteya: non-stealing, take only what is offered – use only what is needed.
d. Brahmacharya: preservation of vital life force energy.
e. Aparigraha: non-greed, non-hoarding, non-collection, non-gluttony.

2. Niyama: A moral code of observances to cultivate a positive relationship with ones self and inner world.

a. Saucha: purity, cleanliness
b. Santosha: contentment, the art of being happy for no particular reason
c. Tapas: austerity, self-discipline, passion
d. Svhadyaya: Self-study, awareness of the Self, study of texts.
e. Isvara Pranidhana: devotion to divinity, celebrating the divinity and oneness within all beings, surrender to faith, contemplation of a higher power.

3. Asana: Yoga Poses

This is what we tend to think of yoga as in the west; people twisting their body into unique shapes. The physical yoga postures are only one limb of the 8 limbs of yoga which is the entire system and practice of yoga. Yoga poses, asanas’, care for our physical bodies; the vessel that our spirit resides in throughout this lifetime. Yoga poses strengthen and open our bodies, so we can be comfortable and healthy in our bodies, and so we are able to sit for periods of time in meditation.

4. Pranayama: Breathing Practices

The breath is critical for sustaining life. In yoga, we perform breathing exercises and techniques to circulate and direct our prana, the life force energy within all living beings and to calm and balance the mind and body.

5. Pratyahara: Withdrawal from senses.

After practicing yoga for a period of time, we naturally begin to withdraw from our sensory experience, meaning from the experiences of our 5 outward senses, and our attention is drawn inward, focusing on our inner experience.

6. Dharana: Concentration

When we concentrate, we free the mind of senseless chatter. We experience mental clarity. In yoga, we practice focus, observation and concentration. Our focus can be directed either inwardly (like in yoga nidra on various parts of the body, or outwardly, by finding our drishti, a single point of focus to gaze upon, to help us balance in yoga poses.

7. Dhyana: Meditation

Meditation is a state of being; it is an experience of nothingness and infinity simultaneously, without effort or thought. It is zen. It is absorption into pure silence and stillness. Everyone experiences meditation in many different ways. For some of us, it’s gazing into the heart of a setting sun, for others it is through dance, or through art. It is the experience of being so deeply absorbed into what is happening. It is thoughtless, and timeless.

8. Samadhi: Bliss | Enlightenment

Bliss, or enlightenment, is the ultimate goal of yoga. Bliss occurs through the transcendence of the ego. Upon the divine realization of the ultimate oneness of all. It is the purest state of being.

Your Yogi Challenge:

I invite you to practice the 8 limbs of yoga. Begin with the Yamas. Study them. Learn them. Memorize them. And practice them every day for a week, both on and off the mat. Master them. And the following week, move on to the Niyamas. Then asana. And so on, until you yourself, experience Divine Bliss.

These 8 Limbs of Yoga, from the Yamas to Samadhi, are like a pyramid or stepping stones to living a happy, fulfilling, peaceful and spiritual life. Allow the 8 Limbs of Yoga, this Yogi Code, to be your compass as you navigate through life.