Category Archives: Yogic Lifestyle

Rejuvinating Ayurvedic Oatmeal Recipe

Ayurveda is an ancient, holistic science of health, well-being and inner balance of body, mind and spirit—also known as the “sister science of yoga.” Ayurveda is a vast and remarkable knowledge base that offers us incredible wisdom to not only be free from disease, but to experience optimal health, vitality and longevity.

Ayurveda teaches us is that diet and lifestyle are considered  the most important forms of medicine.

So here is a delicious, deeply nourishing, comforting oatmeal recipe with great healing and nutritive properties to balance the Doshas, one’s individual elemental constitution, cultivate a calm, peaceful and clear state of mind, and increase Ojas, the vital life force energy responsible for vitality, longevity, energy immunity, softness and glow.

This recipe is great anytime of the day, or in any season, however, this bowl is particularly nourishing on rainy days, for yogis wanting great health and well-being body & mind to receive the most from their everyday practices, or for those needing some additional nourishment to aid recovery from mental or physical stress, illness, physical overexertion or fatigue.

Comforting and satisfying, yet light and fresh, grounding and easy to digest, this delicious recipe contains a the perfect blend of flavours and aromas. Aromatic rose and vanilla, combined with the creaminess of coconut and almond, and sweetness of dates and honey – your taste buds will be simply delighted!

SERVING: 1-2 (depending on hunger) 😉

INGREDIENTS

1 cup Rolled Oats
2 cups Water
4-6 Dates (Pitted & Chopped)
2 tbsp Shredded Coconut
1/2 Organic Ghee or Coconut Oil
1/8 tsp Cardamom (Ground)
1/8 tsp Vanilla Powder
1 tsp Dried rose petals (optional)
1 tsp Almond Butter (optional)
Dash of Salt (aids digestion)
Honey or Maple Syrup (to taste)

DIRECTIONS

  1. Boil the water then reduce the heat to low. Add the rolled oats and chopped dates.
  1. Cook the oats on low head for 5 minutes (covered – leaving a slight crack to avoid overflow.)
  1. Remove from heat and add the cardamom, vanilla, coconut, ghee/coconut oil, almond butter and rose petals. Stir until everything is mixed.
  1. Serve, and when the cooked oats are cooled a bit, add the honey or maple syrup to taste.
  2. Eat mindfully, enjoy nourish and revitalize!

ADDITIONAL NOTES TO BALANCE YOUR DOSHA

+ For Vata Dosha (people with an abundance of air & space elements in their constitution,) try adding a dash of nourishing organic milk, cashew or coconut milk, and adding a pinch of warming and grounding cinnamon, ginger and allspice!

+ For Pitta Dosha (people with an abundance of fire & water elements,) add some cooling herbs like fennel seed, and go heavy on the vanilla and coconut! Choose cooling maple syrup or agave nectar over honey to sweeten, and consider omitting the salt!

+ For Kapha Dosha, (people with an abundance of earth & water elements,) eat in moderation only, and omit the ghee & almond butter to avoid heaviness. Spice it up with some invigorating herbs like cinnamon, ginger and clove spice!

EXTRA TIPS

+ Cook when you’re in a calm, peaceful, quiet state of mind to infuse your food with these qualities. Bonus: Chant mantra over your food before you eat to supercharge your food with positive energy and divine qualities – turn your food into medicinal nectar for your body, mind & soul!
+ Buy organic when possible for the greatest healing and nutritive effect!
+ Avoid drinking too much with meals, especially cold drinks which dilute and distinguish our digestion fire. Consider drinking a small herbal tea instead best for balancing your Dosha.
+ For variety or preference, rolled oats can be swapped for white basmati rice – another very easily digestible grain known to increase life force, and promote a calm, peaceful or Sattvic mind. Another incredibly tasty dish!


Did you like this recipe? Check out these 5 Ayurvedic Eating Habits for Optimal Health & Vitality” to get the most from the food you eat here!

What’s your favourite healthy or Ayurvedic breakfast recipe? Share it in the comments below!

5 Classical Yoga Books All Yogis Should Read

Here is a simple but mighty selection of 5 classical yoga books all yogis should read. These top recommended classical and dharmic yoga texts help guide both the brand new yogi and the seasoned spiritual seeker into the true essence of yoga, gain inspiration on the spiritual  journey, and deepen one’s understanding of this Timeless Wisdom Tradition.

1. Essential Teachings of Yoga – Shri Ramananda Mayi

The Essential Teachings of Yoga poetically, simply and perfectly outlines the four classical paths of yoga from the Upadesa Saram, one of the greatest treasures of yogic literature. It condenses within its instructions thousands of years of spiritual wisdom. The insight it offers clears many of the doubts and confusion that spiritual seekers encounter on their inner journey towards Truth.

This clear and lucid rendition into English, from the original work of Shri Ramana Maharshi, is sure to illuminate and inspire.

2. Autobiography of a Yogi – Paramahamsa Yogananda

Autobiography of a Yogi is at once a beautifully written account of an exceptional life and a profound introduction to the ancient science of Yoga and its time-honored tradition of meditation. Profoundly inspiring, it is at the same time vastly entertaining, warmly humorous and filled with extraordinary personages. A must read for all yogis!

3. Living With the Himalayan Masters – Swami Rama

In this classical spiritual autobiography, enjoy inspirational stories of Swama Rama’s, one of the greatest sages of the 20th century as he shares his personal quest for enlightenment and gives profound insight into the living wisdom that is the core of his spiritual mission and legacy.

Discover the rich experiences and lessons learned with the great teachers who guided his life including Sri Bengali Baba, Mahatma Gandhi, Tagore, and other spiritual luminaries— have a glimpse into the living tradition of the Himalayan Masters.

4. The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali – Sri Swami Satchitananda

This valuable classical text provides a complete manual for the study and practice of Raja Yoga, the path of self-discipline, concentration and meditation. These timeless teachings are a treasure to be read and referred to again and again by seekers treading the spiritual path. The ancient Sutras cover the yogic teachings on ethics, meditation, and physical postures, and provide directions for dealing with situations in daily life.

5. The Yoga of the Bhagavad Gita – Paramahamsa Yogananda

With penetrating insight, Paramahamsa Yogananda sheds a clarifying light on the deeper meaning of the Bhagavad Gita’s symbology, and the true intent of India’s timeless and universal scripture.

An inspiring and concise introduction to the spiritual truths of India’s most beloved scripture— the Bhagavad Gita explains the step-by-step methods of yoga meditation and right action to achieve union with Spirit and ultimate liberation.

CARING FOR DHARMA BOOKS

Dharma books contain the sacred yoga teachings of Great Sages and Awakened Ones and have the power to show the way towards total Freedom and Bliss. They contain deep and vast wisdom that help guide us Home on this journey of Life— to the Truth of who we Really Are.

As such, they should be treated with respect and reverence. To help preserve the sacred knowledge within these book and out of respect please:

+ Treat books with care, respect and mindfulness.
+ Never place them directly on the floor, step over them, point your feet at them or take them into the bathroom.
+ Keep in a clean place, and ideally should be covered by fabric when transported.
+ No other mundane objects should be placed on top of them (cell phones, keys, water bottles etc.)
+ If you should one day need to dispose of them, it is best to give them away to a library, or immerse them in a lake, river or ocean rather than throwing them in the trash.

Thank-you for your understanding, love and care of these classical yoga books.

How to Create an Altar or Sacred Space

Ultimately, the whole world is one’s altar. One’s sacred space is a place within, that we can tune into at any time to feel connected to our own True Self. However, there is something so nurturing and simply sacred about having a physical altar that we can turn to for daily inspiration and energy.

So here are some guidelines and inspiration to get you started on creating your own individual altar and sacred space!

WHAT IS AN ALTAR

Altars are sacred, defined spaces used in wisdom traditions, world religions and in the personal homes of spiritual seekers of all backgrounds from around the world.

An altar is a space that one may go to daily to recharge with positivity, gain inspiration for living a spirited life. One’s altar acts as a mirror and outer manifestation of our own Divine inner world to help us stay connected with our own Highest Self and the Absolute Oneness that connects us all.

Altars are sacred spaces often devoted to spiritual practices such as yoga, meditation, reflection, prayer, chanting, introspection, ritual, worship, or enjoyed simply as a space of sheer beauty, embodying the peace and calm one may seek.

Personal altars may range from being very simple or quite elaborate, and are created with items and elements of personal inspiration based on ones own individual path or lineage, preferences and reminders of Divinity.

WHY YOU SHOULD HAVE AN ALTAR

Creating sacred space for yourself is a sure way to nourish your soul! Creating a peaceful, calm, nurturing external environment, naturally our inner world begins to make this shift also.

An altar space is a safe, inspiring, nourishing space we can go to daily for inspiration, peace, to connect with our own innate wisdom and indulge in introspection.

In time, we begin to build a relationship with our altar. As we sit before the altar in spiritual practices (sadhana,) we begin to charge our altar with positive and healing energy. In turn, the altar items build and contain that energy and reflect it back to us as we practice within its proximity.

In this way, the altar is a constant reflection of our practices, love and devotion towards living a spirited life, and we are benefited greatly from this exchange.

INSPIRATION FOR HOW TO CREATE AN ALTAR

The possibilities for your altar creation are endless— use your intuition and listen to your heart when desiring your own unique sacred space!

You can set up your altar anywhere, but ideally you might choose the most comfortable, quiet and peaceful area of your home— and preferably a space where you could close the door and not be disturbed.

The foundation of your altar can be anything from a small table, platform, plate or tray, piece of fabric or dharba mat on the floor or a shelf you have.

To adorn your altar, based on your own beliefs, traditions, inspiration and intentions, choose objects, images or substances that personally connect you to your own True Self and remind you of Divinity.

Here are some examples:

+ Images of your Beloveds— your teachers, people of inspiration, saints, deities/archetypes, your family, partner etc.
+ Idols (murthis) of your own personal form of God (Ishta Devata)— Jesus Christ, Krishna, Shiva, Buddha, Allah, Saraswati, Angels, totem animals etc.
+ Items of inspiration that you feel connected to such as a seashell or feather you brought back from a life-changing adventure, beautiful art, tarot cards, books etc.
+ Delight your senses with textures, sights, smells, sounds. For example, in your space you can have cozy pillows, blankets or fabrics you love or mala beads for touch, the smell of your favorite aromatherapy oils diffusing, nourishing sounds of nature or soothing music to bring you into harmony, and plants, beautiful things or art that feed your eyes!
+ Include colors that invoke positive feelings within you and help you to feel precisely how you want to feel in that space.
+ Words of wisdom. You may write down and include a personal prayer, intention, affirmation, favorite inspirational quote, gratitude list or favorite mantra.
+ Invite the 5 elements. For example, you may wish to include:

Water = fresh or holy water contained in a vessel, or a small water fountain
Earth = plants, flowers, gemstones, crystals, mala beads
Fire = candles, ghee/oil lamps
Air = burning incense, sage, palo santo
Ether/Space = burn camphor, the invisible scent of flowers, chant Om, singing bowl

BONUS ALTAR CREATION TIPS

+ Try to set up your altar in a way that allows you to sit facing East or North for spiritual practices— the most auspicious directions.

+ When possible, choose metals or combined metals like gold, silver, copper or brass for idols (murthis,) as they hold a charge more than substances like wood or stone.

+ Turn your personal space into a sanctuary by clearing out clutter, mess, or unnecessary items from the space around your altar.

+ Create and initiate your altar with a grateful heart and feed your altar with love and appreciation every time you see it.

ALTAR MAINTENANCE

Here are a few tips to help preserve and build the energy of your altar space so you can receive even more benefit from the altar!

+ Never point your feet towards the altar.
+ Only items that are new and clean should be put on the altar (new incense, candles, even clean the altar with new paper towel each time, or have a special cloth used only for cleaning altar.)
+ Never place sacred objects directly on the floor— you may use a cloth underneath as a barrier if necessary.
+ Avoid moving your altar or altar objects around unnecessarily. Keeping your altar fixed helps to prevent dissipating the energy preserved within it.
+ Keep it clean— regularly wipe any incense remnants, dust, candle wax drips.
+ Avoid placing mundane objects on the altar such as cups, phones, lighters, pens etc.
+ The fragrance and beauty of elements of nature such as flowers, are given as offerings to the Divine and are not meant to be intentionally smelled.
+ Put nature back into nature— altar objects absorb the energy of offerings such as flowers and give energy back to the flower – in this way, the flowers given to the altar are considered sacred and should be put back into nature, not thrown in the garbage.

Now it’s time to get started on creating your own personal altar and sacred space! What will you include on your altar?

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!

Yogi Tips & Etiquette for Yoga Studios, Spiritual Centers & Sacred Spaces

Whether you’re new to the realms of yoga studios, spiritual centers and sacred spaces, or an advanced yogi, here are the founding principles of yoga etiquette and tips for your own wisdom (or as a humble reminder,) to create the greatest possible experience in these sacred spaces for yourself, and others!

Based on the Yamas and Niyamas— an ethical and moral code of the yogic tradition, below are some simple principles such as non-violence, truthfulness, non-stealing, preservation of vital energy, non-greed, purity, contentment, self-discipline, self-study and devotion. These ancient principles are an incredible code of etiquette, a source of inspiration, and can act as an inner compass for simple practices to follow in sacred spaces for the greatest good of all!

YAMAS – ETHICAL PRACTICES

1. Non-Violence (Ahimsa):
+ Express kindness, compassion, acceptance and respect to fellow students, teachers and the space in thought, word and deed.
+ Be kind and gentle with yourself during movement and spiritual practices.
+ Think kind thoughts, speak kind words, act from kindness only—Practice tolerance and patience.

2. Truthfulness (Satya):
+ Be honest with yourself and your teacher about the reality of your experience.
+ If you have an injury, recent or past surgery, illness, disease, pregnancy or unique challenge – physical, emotional or mental – be open and honest with your teacher about it.
+ Don’t push yourself beyond your boundaries in an asana or meditation practice.
+ If something doesn’t feel right in your body or mind, don’t be afraid to ask for help.

3. Non-Stealing (Asteya):
+ Avoid taking away the peace of others by being mindful of how your presence— and sounds, scents, sights you invite may affect others in quiet spaces. Enter, set up, practice and be in the space as quietly as possible.
+ Turn your devices on silent so their sound doesn’t take away from the silence.
+ Avoid getting up during the practice and moving around, or leaving class early to prevent disrupting fellow students.
+ Arrive early so you don’t accidentally take the attention of fellow students from their practice or the teacher as you set up— 15-20 minutes before class is great!
+ Avoid pointing your feet at the teacher, altar, shrine, or sacred texts to preserve their energy for everyone to experience.
+ Ensure an appropriate energy exchange— when appropriate pay the studio/teacher for the class, make a donation or offer something in exchange.

4. Preservation of Vital Energy (Brahmacharya):
+ Take responsibility for the energy and attitude that you bring with you into the space and preserve your life force energy for yourself.
+ Let go of any judgments towards the teacher, teaching or fellow students.
+ Conserve your energy for spiritual practices, and be intentional in how you exert your energy.
+ Help others to also contain their energy during spiritual practices by giving your neighbours personal space— spreading your yoga mat or meditation cushion out evenly so everyone has comfortable space.
+ Yoga mats/meditation cushions are someone’s personal sacred space. Avoid stepping or touching people’s mats, props or meditation tools such as dharba mats, meditation beads or meditation slings or cushions without permission.
+ Wear practical, appropriate clothing for the setting your in.

5. Non-Greed (Aparigraha):
+ Take only what is given and using only what is needed in regards to teachers time, props, supplies, tea, water etc.
+ When setting up, consider giving your neighbours on all sides personal space, when possible, stagger your mat/meditation cushion slightly so you everyone has arm room, and everyone has
a view of the altar/teacher/mirror if there is one.

NIYAMAS – INTERNAL MORAL CODE

1. Purity (Saucha):
+ Come to class physically clean and free of any strong scents.
+ Try to wear fresh clean clothes, and it’s very beneficial to shower before all spiritual practices to receive the greatest benefit.
+ Clean up after yourself – don’t leave garbage in the space, wipe up any sweat, and clean/put away any props you used.
+ Please avoid wearing shoes into sacred spaces to preserve the purity of the space.
+ Avoid bringing extra, unnecessary and mundane things into sacred spaces— keys, extra clothes, purses etc. If possible, leave things out of the space, or to the sides to not clutter the area. Bring only what you need.
+ Many wisdom traditions prefer to wear white clothes during spiritual practices as a Sattvic colour, which reflects purity and receptivity of the teachings.
+ If you are sick, better you stay at home for your own comfort, and comfort of others.

2. Contentment (Santosha):
+ Express gratitude to fellow students, teachers and spaces, and connecting which the absolute joy, which is your Natural State.
+ Have an open mind and be present with what is in every moment without judgment or expectation. Trust the process!

3. Self-Discipline
(Tapas):
+ Spiritual practices are personal practices. Be disciplined and focused on yourself only.
+ Keeping your eyes on yourself, eyes closed and awareness inside is helpful to focus the mind and preserve your energy inside.
+ Draw your awareness from the external world, to your internal experience. Breathe mindfully. Concentrate. Meditate.
+ Practice mindfulness and moment-to-moment self-awareness.

4. Self-Study (Svadhyaya):
+ Take time in silence and stillness before or after class for self-reflection and self-inquiry.
+ Connect inside to your inner experience of the breath, and the beating heart– and hold space in silence and stillness for others to do the same.

5. Devotion to Divinity (Ishvara Pranidhana):
+ Take time in these spaces to connect within to the Beauty, Light and Paradise of your Heart.
+ Open the practice with chanting the mantra Om— the primordial sound, attuning your individual energy to their Natural State of Love, Peace, and Oneness only.
+ See the good in one another. Practices are often closed with the Sanskrit word Namaste— which means that you witness the Divinity, Love, Light and Wisdom within yourself, which is the same Divinity that exists in All Beings.

Namaste and Om Shanti, Shanti, Shantih! May there be Peace within, in the world, and in all beings everywhere.

5 Ayurvedic Eating Habits for Optimal Health

Ayurveda is an ancient, holistic science of health, well-being and inner balance of body, mind and spirit—also known as the “sister science of yoga.” Ayurveda is a vast and remarkable knowledge base that offers us incredible wisdom to not only be free from disease, but to experience optimal health, vitality and longevity.

One of the primary principles that Ayurveda teaches us is that diet is considered one of the most important medicines to bring an individual into optimal health and balance.

So here are 5 simple eating habits including what, where, when, why and how to eat for greater health, balance, and vitality— body, mind and spirit!

WHAT TO EAT?

Ayurveda teaches us that every individual is composed of a unique combination of the 5 elements: fire, water, earth, air and space, in varying proportions. This individual elemental constitution is also called one’s Prakruti— and is as unique as your fingerprints or DNA.

This is why— “One man’s food is another man’s poison.”

Ideally, one would eat certain foods that encourage bringing the inner elements into balance, and avoid certain foods that will aggravate one’s constitution and take their inner elements further out of balance.

In the teachings of Ayurveda, not only is what you eat important for bringing the body, mind and spirit into harmony and health, but also where, when, why and how you eat.

WHERE TO EAT?

The most ideal environments to eat in are those that are quiet, peaceful, clean atmospheres where you feel relaxed and at ease.

Here’s why: The process of digestion is regulated by a portion of the nervous system called the Autonomic Nervous System (ANS,) which governs the involuntary functions of the body, such as heart beat, secretions/hormone production, and digestion.

The ANS is divided into two parts: the Sympathetic Nervous System (SNS,) and the Parasympathetic Nervous System (PNS.) The SNS is related to our stress states— directing the bodies energy reserves to “flight or fight” responses in the body. While the role of the PNS is “rest and digest,” bringing our body back into a state of balance, or homeostasis after period of stress.

Now, have you ever experienced indigestion, bloating, gas or a feeling of heaviness after eating a meal on the go, while working or in stressful, busy environments? It’s because your body’s energy reserves were being directed elsewhere in the body— not to the digestive system and process!

So, eat in environments where you feel relaxed, calm, and peaceful to increase your ability to digest, assimilate and absorb the nutrients from what you eat!

WHEN TO EAT?

Ayurveda teaches us to follow both the body’s and nature’s rhythmic cycles, which are accustomed to our digestive secretion patterns, to determine the most ideal times to eat.

As a foundational rule, eat when you are hungry— when hungry, the body’s digestive fire, or Agni, is very active, and digestive power is high.

Additionally, Ayurveda teaches us to eat our largest and most dense meal midday, at around 12 o’clock. We are very attuned to the cycles of nature, and both the sun and the moon— like the sun, our digestive fire is biologically programmed to be strongest midday. We can also benefit from eating our lighter meals for breakfast and dinner when Agni isn’t as strong, and avoid eating after sundown or a few hours before bed.

Secret Ayurveda Tip: Eat when your right nostril is predominantly open, and drink when your left nostril is primarily open. This is a special teaching of Swara Yoga—a vast science that deals primarily with how the breathing rhythms are capable of affecting all other biological rhythms.

In our subtle energy body, when the left nostril is primarily open, the Ida Nadi (the current of the moon,) is most dominant. This has a cooling effect in the body, and has its counterpart in the SNS— “flight or fight” stress responses.

And when the right nostril is more dominate, the Pingala Nadi, (the solar channel,) is most active. This has a heating effect in the body and has its counterpart in the PNS – “rest and digest” homeostatic states.

Ideally, solid foods are taken when Pingala is more active, when the right nostril is open; this aids in digestion. Ps. It’s usually most dominant in midday— the best time to take the major meal of the day. And ideally, liquids are taken when Ida is more predominant, when the left nostril is open.

WHY EAT?

Know why we eat– to nourish and fuel our precious bodies, to sustain our physical health, to facilitate the healing and repair of our bodily tissues to remain free of pain and disease, to satisfy our hunger and to power our continued existence. Enjoy your food, but avoid emotional eating, snacking out of boredom, or obligatory social consumption of food to be “polite.”

HOW TO EAT?

  1. Express gratitude, pray or chant mantra before eating. Infuse your food with positive energy!
  2.  Include all 6 tastes in your meal— sweet, salty, astringent, sour, pungent, and bitter to feel truly satisfied.
  3. Sit down when you eat, and sit with a straight spine. Ps. If you can face east/north when you eat even better.
  4. Eat with love & awareness.
  5. Chew with your mouth closed to preserve your Agni.
  6. Eat at a moderate pace— not to slow or to fast.
  7. Eat until satisfied, not full.
  8. Be present when you eat. Minimize distractions. If possible, eat in silence. Make eating a mindful meditation while engaging all the senses— sight, smell, taste, sound and touch.
  9. Avoid drinking too much with meals, especially cold drinks which dilute and distinguish our digestion fire.
  10. Enjoy a gentle walk after meals to help stimulate digestion.

Try these 5 simple Ayurvedic eating habits to help you choose what, where, when, why and how you eat to experience optimal health, vitality, balance and longevity— body, mind and spirit!

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.