Happy March to you! I hope your enjoying the early Spring weather and feeding your spirit with nature.
This weeks recipe is from my favorite vegan cookbook, Oh She Glows, by Angela Liddon, who is a genius with food.
My husband says her book taught me to cook and he’s right! I”ve now become the cook in the family, which feels good after floundering in the kitchen for years. Toast anyone?
These vegan enchiladas, with avocado cilantro cream sauce, are a big hit for the the whole family! They are made with sweet potatoes, black beans and red peppers. If you don’t have the energy to make the sauce, just add slices of avocado.click here for recipe
The filmmakers set up plant pods in small communities and provided plant-based meals for 10 days. It’s amazing how quickly their cholesterol levels dropped in a short period of time.
Have you had your cholesterol checked recently? Cardiologist Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn, from Forks Over Knives, encourages people to get their TOTAL cholesterol below 150 to prevent the risk for heart disease.
Remember, a vegan diet has zero cholesterol and is high in fiber. Animal products are high in cholesterol and have zero fiber.
Cranberry Chickpea Salad: The PlantPure Nation Cookbook, by Kim Campbell
This chickpea salad uses tahini (sesame seed butter) instead of of vegan mayo. The cranberries, walnuts, celery and carrots give it a delicious flavor and crunch.You can eat it on a bed of kale with rice crackers or on your favorite bread. It’s a perfect lunch to take to work.
Keep nourishing yourself with plant powered foods! It’s wonderful for your health, the animals and the planet.
Are you in need of a sunny get away filled with self-care?
Swami’s Beach, Encinitas, CA
I’m excited to announce my Healthy Lifestyle VIP RETREAT!
I love sharing the beauty and spirituality of Encinitas, CA with you. I’ve designed a special retreat filled with private yoga, meditation and vegan cooking classes designed specially for YOU.
You will begin each day with a meditation and yoga class at my home. I will give you personalized instruction so you feel confident in establishing a daily practice.
Throughout the day we will meet up to make three delicious vegan meals, plus one dessert. I will also take you shopping and teach you how to stock your cupboards and refrigerator when you go home, so you can maintain a whole foods plant-based diet with ease.
The remainder of the day you are free to walk the beach, go to Yogananda’s temple, gardens, spiritual bookstore or Lemongrass Aveda Spa to pamper yourself with a massage or facial:Spa web site
Watch my video to experience where your retreat will take place:
Your retreat can be customized for 2-4 days and includes:
Valentine’s Day is fast approaching! How do you feel about it?
Whether you’re single or in a relationship know how much you are loved and appreciated by me, God, your friends, family and community.
Your presence on the planet at this particular point in time is intentional. You have a purpose to fulfill, something you can do that no one else can do in your own special way. Let your light shine and keep sharing your gifts with the world. We need you!
Treat yourself to some healthy chocolate this weekend:
This recipe is vegan and oil free. It uses unsweetened apple sauce instead of oil, so it cuts back on fat and calories.
It also uses Ener G egg replacer, which can be found in the Asian food section of the health food store. It is made from potato starch and tapioca flour. It’s a great for baking and won’t increase your cholesterol. A plant-based diet has ZERO cholesterol!
Dr Neal Barnard founder of the Physician’s Committee for Responsible medicine says there’s 215 mg of cholesterol in one egg. To lower cholesterol consider omitting eggs and other animal products out of your diet.
You can find non-dairy chocolate chips at Costco (Kirkland Brand) or the health food store.
I used Bob’s Red Mill Gluten-free All Purpose Baking Flour and topped them with powdered sugar. The recipe calls for regular flour.
Keep giving yourself the gift of self-love and be your own Valentine today and every day!
I love sharing plant-based recipes to help support you in sustaining a healthy lifestyle, while enjoying delicious food.
This Raise the Roof Sweet Potato Lasagna from The Engine 2 Diet, by Rip Esselstyn is one of my favorites! It is packed with nutrition and flavor for the whole family. It’s full of vibrant colors from sweet potatoes, spinach, broccoli, carrots, tomatoes, tofu and topped with blended cashews instead of parmesan cheese.
It makes A LOT OF food!
One 9 x 13 pan and a 8 x 8 pan, so you can freeze the leftovers.
When I started practicing Ashtanga Yoga in Kansas City in1997 I didn’t have a teacher and would study VHS tapes, if you can believe it. I would watch them over and over and take mental notes. These videos helped me greatly until I met my teacher Tim Miller in 2000 and did his Ashtanga Yoga Teacher Training in Encinitas, CA. I would visit him a few times a year from KC and then go back and practice on my own. I did this for 15 years and it taught me a lot about the practice, teaching and myself. Tim says, “The practice itself, when done consistently and accurately is the real teacher.” If you don’t have a local studio or your schedule won’t allow for you to attend live classes, home practice can be beneficial in numerous ways. It sets the tone for your day and helps you establish daily discipline on the mat and in all areas of your life. Be a master of your mind when it tries to talk you out of practicing with every excuse in the book, like cleaning your house and checking email. Practice anyway. Having a daily meditation practice will help give you more discipline as well, aligning your mind with Divine Mind and your soul, which always want the best for you. When possible, travel to attend live classes, workshops and trainings to get hands on adjustments and tune-ups with experienced teachers. This will help you grow immensely in your practice.
If you need a home practice tool, I have an Intro to Ashtanga Video streamed on my store page: click here
“As I began to tune into my body and provide it with what it really wanted – fresh, whole, real, unprocessed foods, sleep, relaxation, and the time to enjoy the life I had created for myself and my family – I was able to break up with coffee and make up with my health.”- Dr. Mark Hyman M.D.
I drank coffee for 20 years. I thought it was my best friend in times of joy and sadness. I was in denial that caffeine wasn’t my friend at all. It caused heart palpitations, increased blood pressure, stressed adrenals, blood sugar crashes, sugar cravings, dark circles under my eyes, acne, moodiness and disturbed sleep. Looking back, I realize I was more addicted to the ritual of something warm, sweet and nurturing in my mug, than the caffeine itself.
Here are some tips to going caffeine-free to help you have that nurturing yummy experience, without the caffeine highs and lows.
Listen to your body, if it needs rest, take a nap or get more sleep at night. If you get sleepy at work and can’t lie die, try going for a quick walk around the office or preferably outside.
Teecino French Roast Herbal Coffee: My clients love these granules made from carob, barley and chicory root. You put in your coffee maker, just like real coffee! There are other flavors to chose from as well: click here for link
Gypsy Tea Fireside Chai: I order it by the case from Amazon!
“Meditation is like giving a hug to ourselves, getting in touch with that awesome reality in us. While meditating we feel a deep sense of intimacy with God, a love that is in explicable.” -Paramahansa Yogananda
When I was in 7th grade a boy I REALLY liked didn’t like me because I was too skinny. In 8th grade, my sister told me my thighs were growing together. What’s a girl to do?!
The second comment lead me to start compulsively exercising for years, running six miles a day, rain, snow or shine. My mind was wired tight, like a dictator, allowing no room for excuses. By the time I was 22 I had chronic knee pain. My physical therapist said everyone is born with an allotted number of miles in their knees and I had exhausted all of mine. Someone later in life I asked me, “Who were you running from?” Myself.
Instead of running, I switched to working out on cardio machines obsessively, such as the treadmill, the ellipitical, the stair master and the dreaded step mill gauntlet for 60 minutes a session, followed by another 60 minutes of weight training. This lead to a bulky body type and a ferocious appetite. I would work out for 2 hours and want to eat for the rest of the night! I saw this often when I was working as a personal trainer. People sweating for hours at the gym, but never losing weight, due to the excessive cardio and the unwillingness to look at their diet.
When yoga and meditation found me in my 20’s it was my saving grace! They helped me stop the insanity and find balance with movement, food and stillness. They gave me the consciousness to quit the gym, alcohol, caffeine and adopt a vegan diet. Meditation is a gift you give yourself. It is a recess for the mind from obsessive thinking. It restores the mind with hope and optimism for the future. It gives you discipline with food, exercise, dreams and goals. Most importantly, it helps you to know God better and to love yourself as God loves you, unconditionally. This will help you be more loving and compassionate towards yourself, others, your body and your life.
Make meditation a part of your daily sadhana, spiritual practice. It’s equally as important to exercise the mind in stillness as it is the body with physical activity. We need both to lead balanced, productive and peaceful lives.
“If your not making mistakes, you’re not taking risks, and that means your not going anywhere.” -John W. Holt Jr.
I wish I would have know about a vegan diet when I moved to San Diego after college. When I moved here in 1993 I came without a job, very little money and no credit card. After three weeks of desperate job searching, I landed a job, through the yellow pages, at The Center for Sports Medicine. The only catch was, I had to open the center at 5am, which translated to: “Wake up lazy college party girl, it’s time to WORK!” Since I was grateful to even have a J O B I set my 4am alarm and away I would go to work in the dark each morning in my white Nellie the Nova.
Unfortunately my morning shift was slow, so when the coffee cart would show up around 8am sporting large mocha drinks and big fat scones, I was the first in line. I was suffering from work boredom and food seemed exciting, which caused me to unconsciously eat and drink excessive calories. Sadly this lovely mocha/scone combo was probably around 700 calories. I continued this habit on a daily basis, along with drinking alcohol and late night munchies. I was also trying to keep a long distance relationship alive, which was dying a slow death and causing me anxiety.
In six months I packed on 20lbs, lickity split, even though I was still exercising 1-2 hours a day with cardio and weights. It didn’t matter. I was consuming WAY too many calories! The worst part was, I didn’t even see the weight creeping up on me until my friend came to visit and we weighed ourselves. I remember laughing with her, but secretly wanting to cry.
Thank goodness I soon met a tri-athlete at my job and he helped me get on track with food. He was vegetarian and didn’t drink alcohol and in a few months I lost 10 lbs. However, the last 10 lbs. clung to body for another 5 years, until I quit the gym and started doing ashtanga yoga and meditation daily. These practices combined with a vegan and gluten-free diet helped me lose the weight and keep it off permanently. Yoga and meditation helped me heal my relationship with myself and in turn helped me heal my relationship with food. I know they can do wonders for you as well!
“When you heal the soul, the body will automatically heal itself.” Paramahansa Yogananda
I worked in the fitness industry for 6 years as an Exercise Physiologist and a Personal Trainer, prior to becoming a yogastudio owner and teacher. Surprisingly, I have seen more people lose weight practicing yoga than I did when I was working in the fitness field. Over the years I have often asked myself the question, “Why does yoga help people lose weight more than any other form of exercise I have witnessed?” After teaching yoga since 1997, I finally feel I know some of the answers.
Weight loss is traditionally approached as a physical “issue” and tends to be addressed by only focusing on physical means, diet and exercise education, without attention to the individual’s emotional and spiritual needs. Diet and exercise are valuable information of course, but they do not get to the ROOT issue of why a person is overeating. I believe weight loss is an emotional and spiritual issue and needs to be approached with emotional and spiritual means. Otherwise, it is like putting a square key (diet and exercise education) into a round hole (emotional and spiritual void). The two just don’t fit together, at least not for long term permanent weight loss.
Yoga is an exercise that stimulates and fulfills people mentally, emotionally and spiritually, as well as physically. When individuals are feeling fulfilled on ALL these levels, it increases their sense of self worth, so they have less need to overeat or abuse their bodies as they might have in the past. Weight loss begins to occur naturally due to an increase in self-esteem and self-love that is cultivated on the yoga mat, especially during the silence in savasana and meditation.
The definition of yoga, according to Patanjali’s yoga sutras states: “Yoga is the cessation of the fluctuations of the mind.” Yoga uses postures (asanas), ujjayi breath and a gazing point (dristi) to train the mind to be still, so union (yoga) can occur between the mind, body and spirit and the union between you and your God. Notice how Patanjali doesn’t say, “He who does a handstand best wins!”
Yoga is a mental discipline first, because it is all about quieting the MIND. You learn to concentrate in the present moment without dwelling on the past or fearing the future. A Course in Miracles states, “We have undisciplined lives because we have undisciplined minds.” Yoga and meditation train your mind how to concentrate so you can bring discipline into your mind and into all areas of your life, especially your health.
Yoga helps cease the negative self talk that originated in early child hood. It helps liberate you from thought patterns that are keeping stuck in your mind and therefore stuck in your body and your life. Your thoughts aren’t just in your mind, they are permeating every cell in your body. However, YOU have the power to change them through continuous effort and awareness by creating new, positive, self-affirming thought pattern. It takes repeated practice, just like yoga.
Think of your mind as a cassette player and eject the old negative self talk tape and replace it with a new positive one with positive thoughts about yourself and your life. In Louise Hay’s brilliant book, You Can Heal Your Life, she suggests saying, “I love and accept myself exactly as I AM,” 100 times a day, especially while looking at yourself in the mirror with your finger on your throat chakra, which is the seed for transformation. In addition she suggests affirming, “I AM the perfect weight,” for weight loss. The words, “I AM”, represent the Divine within you, your Higher Self, so don’t use these words in a negative context such as, “I AM fat” and “I AM lazy.” Be careful not defame your “I AM”, because your body and life are listening. The law of attraction is always at work. Chose your thoughts and words wisely to create more of what you want in your life. Speak words of love and praise over yourself and make affirmation a part of your daily routine, like brushing your teeth. Keep loving yourself lean!
What makes yoga a spiritual practice is the breathing, otherwise it would just be physical exercise. The breath is the bridge or link between the body, mind, Spirit union. Every time you INHALE with awareness, you are drawing in higher states of consciousness thru the prana (life force), helping you to cultivate your Higher Self into being more prevalent in your life. Your Higher Self is the part of you that wants THE BEST for you and knows you are divine, perfect, whole and complete, just as you are in this moment. This is yoga’s greatest gift, Divine love, which is non-judgmental and unconditional. Yoga helps to teach you to love and know yourself as God loves and knows you. I
When you EXHALE with awareness, you are being liberated from tension, toxins and stress in the the body, along with fear based thoughts patterns, past experiences and behaviors that are no longer serving your highest good, such as addictions.
So the metaphor for yogic breathing can be summed up as follows: Inhale – drawing in new life force, healthy habits, new life experiences, new career opportunities, new relationships, improved self-esteem, a deeper connection to Spirit and the courage to live out your heart’s desires. Exhale- releasing and WILLING to let go of the following: fear, negative self talk, draining relationship, careers without passion and purpose, stress, unhealthy habits and addictions such as, overeating, not eating enough, drinking alcohol, obsessive exercise, compulsive shopping, smoking and drugs, just to name a few. There is a saying in yoga that states:”Your bad habits will lose you.” I have experienced this personally and have witnessed it in many of my students as well. More Divine love equals less bad habits.
Every time you walk out of a yoga class you are a different person than you were before you started the class, because a shift of consciousness has occurred in the mind. The body has also been infused with prana, changing you on a cellular level. In just 1-2 hours, a powerful rebirthing of sorts has taken place on your mat, leaving you feeling joyful, calm, content, connected with God and more clear about your purpose on the planet. Think of yourself as a chrysalis in a cocoon going thru the powerful process of metamorphosis, waiting to emerge and embrace the person you born to be. Yoga can help you facilitate this transformative process by helping you to shed the layers of your being and your life that are no longer serving your highest good.
Anais Nin said it best: “And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk to bloom.”
I wish you much success in your new lifestyle changes. It’s time to bloom!
“Practice and all is coming.” -Sri. K. Pattabhi Jois (Ashtanga Guru)
Ashtanga yoga is the closest feeling to being HOME that I have ever experienced. This challenging yet infinitely rewarding style of yoga has changed my life in so many unforeseen ways for the last eighteen years and continues to do so every time I step on my yoga mat.
I began ashtanga yoga while working as an exercise physiologist and a personal trainer in 1997. I had been practicing more gentle styles of yoga for two years previously and was making very little progress in my practice. Fifteen years of compulsive cardiovascular and weight training exercise had left my body and my being, in what I now feel was a crippled state of existence. I had created so many imbalances in my body from conventional exercise and was paying the price of tight muscles, injured knees and an unfulfilled sense of Self. Therefore, I took a great leap into the unknown and let go of my controlling mind, which had dictated my exercise behavior for half my life and decided to do a pilot study on myself, by just practicing Ashtanga yoga, without any other form of exercise for one month. After all, if I was going to exercise for two hours a day, I wanted to be doing something I enjoyed and was meaningful to my personal and spiritual growth. In that defining moment I was liberated from my previous gym mentality, which was the best choice I have ever made concerning my health and longevity. I haven’t been to a gym since 1999!
As a health professional, I whole-heartedly believe that Ashtanga yoga is the most effective and thorough form of yoga, exercise, weight management, addiction recovery, physical therapy and psychotherapy. It truly is magical! On the physical level, Ashtanga yoga has made me feel like a little kid again. I feel stronger and more flexible in my 40’s than I ever have in my life. Years of conventional exercise had left my body in a bulky shape, that made me unrecognizable to myself. Ashtanga yoga has reinstated my body to its’ natural shape, with longer, leaner and more flexible muscles. Oh the joy of being free from a tight body! Ashtanga yoga uses your body weight as resistance, very similar to gymnastics, so your entire body is working synergistically; using muscles you never knew you had, making you equally strong and flexible throughout your body.
Ashtanga yoga continuously flows in a vinyasa style of movement, from one pose to the next, making the system a moving meditation, or prayer in motion. Once your body becomes familiar with the set series of sequential poses, you feel like you are truly channeling thru the Ashtanga system, instead of struggling. This is mainly due to the utilization of deep Ujjayi breath and the energy locks, called bandhas. The breath and bandhas help you connect to Spirit and tap into to your energy body, so you are working your practice, from the inside out. In time, your practice will appear more effortless than muscular; allowing you to do poses you never dreamed possible! In my yoga teaching I am a huge proponent of encouraging students to step out of the box of their comfort zone. My intention and hope is that they will then take the internal power cultivated on their yoga mat and apply it to their personal lives, allowing them to live their life with less fear and more courage and self-esteem.
On an emotional and spiritual level, Ashtanga yoga has helped deepen my connection to myself and to God which has given me the strength and insight to make the following positive changes in my life: opening Maya Yoga solo, after my first studio burned down, became vegan, lost 10 lbs, moved to Los Angeles to find my husband, thank goodness it worked (met him IN an asthanga class!), quit drinking alcohol and a 20 year coffee/caffeine addiction and initiated contact with my biological parents, whew! Most importantly, Ashtanga yoga helped give me absolute faith in God’s will for my life. It has also helped me deal with life’s challenges like the unexpected death of my father, who just didn’t wake up on Easter morning.
Ashtanga yoga has been a major life line in my life. I’m afraid of where I would be today without this transformative practice that continues to feed my soul and my life daily. I believe Ashtanga yoga was designed to be initially unattainable, with the positive intention of bringing you back to the mat daily, helping you to GROW in your practice and in your life. It is a discipline and commitment to getting honest with your Self and the GOD of your knowing.
“The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” – Albert Einstein
Think about this quote for a second and ask yourself, does this quote apply to the way you treat your body?
I get several questions from people asking if they can replace lifitng weights with yoga.
Before I give my thoughts on the subject, I like to ask people two important questions:
Do you enjoy lifting weights?
Does weight lifting give your body the shape you desire?
If the answer is an enthusiastic “no,” to both questions, which is usually the case for many people, especially women, then I love liberating people from pressing metal plates, by saying, “JUST DO YOGA!”
Before I was introduced to yoga, I lifted weights three times a week for fifteen years. My body was toned, but my muscles looked bulky, not lean, which had been my natural body type growing up. I was frustrated because it seemed the more I lifted weights, the bigger my muscles appeared, I just looked and felt thick, not good.
It didn’t help that I was also doing an hour of intense cardiovascular exercise every day, which sent my appetite through the roof, so my eating habits ended up countering all my hard work spent at the gym. Two hours at the gym, equaled three hours of eating the house down when I got home at night. Not Good! I see this in other people as well, who spend hours at the gym, but never lose weight, due to their diet.
However, when I got the opportunity to open my first yoga studio in 1999, I decided to do a pilot study with myself: I quit lifting weights and just practiced Ashtanga yoga, 6 days a week. I had been a personal trainer for the last six years, so it was a big deal for me to let go of something that had not only been a part of my personal life for so long, but had also been my professional life. I had been educating people on the benefits of lifting weights for years and now I was going to JUST do YOGA?! My personal trainer friends thought I was nuts! One guy said to me, “Shouldn’t you supplement your triceps with some tricep curls?” I said, I’m not sure, but I’m going to find out …
I want to make it clear, that I chose to do this study with myself, because I was very bored with lifting weights and loved my yoga practice way more than my gym routine. I didn’t switch to yoga, because I wanted to change the shape of my body. I switched to doing just yoga, because ii fulfill me on ALL levels, mentally, emotionally, spiritually, and physically. If I was going to work out 1-2 hours a day, I wanted to do something I loved, and not something that my mind and society told me that I needed to do to stay in “shape.”
After one month of just doing Ashtanga yoga daily, I felt stronger and leaner than I ever had in my life. I have never lifted a weight since. In the 16 years of just doing Ashtanga yoga, I have become vegan, quit drinking alcohol and caffeine and have lost ten pounds. My food portions are smaller for sure and I don’t crave sugar like I did in my gym years.
Ashtanga, Vinyasa and Power Yoga are all forms of weight bearing exercise. There is nothing more weight bearing than being able to press your own body weight! When I started yoga after lifting weights half of my life, I thought it was very interesting that I couldn’t do one chaturunga (tricep yoga push-up) to save my life! This really made me question my old workouts: “Why hadn’t the weights prepared me to press my entire body weight?” Well, if you think about it, most weight lifting exercises are isolated to individual muscle groups in the upper body, such as triceps, shoulders, lats, biceps, etc. They do not focus on pressing the body as a whole, which is the way yoga works the body.
When people tell me they are going to start lifting weights, in order to get stronger for yoga, I tell them if they want to get stronger for yoga, DO YOGA! Every form of exercise is sport specific, meaning tennis prepares one for tennis, and not for golf. If you want to improve in a certain style of yoga, practice that particular style of yoga, because even yoga can be “sport specific.” My ashtanga practice doesn’t necessarily mean I’m going to be good at a Bikram yoga practice, make sense?
If you enjoy your weight lifting routine and it is still fulfilling and giving you the results you desire, keep it up. However for those of you who are ready to make the transition from weights to yoga, here are my suggestions:
For four weeks, do Ashtanga and Vinyasa yoga, 3-6 times a week, without lifting a single weight.
I encourage you to walk briskly 30 minutes outside on your days off from yoga. Keep moving every day!
REMEMBER: Food is EVERYTHING, so be conscious of what you are eating, why you are eating and how much you are eating. Eating a vegan plant based diet, which means no animal-products, meat dairy, eggs or fish, is VERY effective for weight loss. Fill up on vegetables,especially greens, fruits, whole grains and beans. www.ohsheglows.com is my favorite vegan blog and is full of delicious recipes that will leave you feeling satisfied and happy, no deprivation! The Oh She GLows is my favorite cookbook as well, a must have for your kitchen.
A vegan diet is a win for your health, the animals and the environment! It’s simple and no was has to be harmed for food.
I lead 21 Day Vegan Cleanses to help you jump-start your diet! See my Cleanse and Coaching page.
Please watch the movies “Forks Over Knives” and “Cowspiracy” to learn more about the benefits of a plant-based diet.
“Mankind is engaged in an eternal quest for that “something else” he hopes will bring him happiness. Complete and unending, for those individual souls who have sought and found God, the search is over. He is that something else.”
– Paramahansa Yogananda
I used to be a full-time personal trainer in the 90’s and would moonlight at night, teaching yoga. I soon realized my yoga students were losing more weight than my personal training clients. More importantly, not only were my yoga students going through a physical metamorphosis, their lives were transforming as well. Their self-esteem was also improving and they had more peace of mind and seemed happier about life in general.
My students have been a real inspiration to me! Here are just a few people who have made major life changes once they caught the yoga bug:
Lauren started taking my yoga class when she was 20 years old, diabetic, and weighed 280 pounds. However, she didn’t let her weight stop her. She was extremely fit, disciplined and STRONG-WILLED, like a bull! She did ashtanga yoga with me daily for one year, sometimes even twice a day, and lost 100 pounds! Her weight loss, combined with her yoga practice, also allowed her to stop taking her diabetes medicine.
During that transformative year, Lauren also became a vegetarian, which greatly contributed to her weight loss. Most importantly, her self -esteem grew leaps and bounds and she gained confidence, on the mat and in her personal life.
Lauren is now married with a baby boy and has several degrees. She never lets fear or perceived limitations get in her way and is always ready and willing to take on life’s challenges.
One of my old students had a major chain-smoking addiction when she began yoga. One night, after an intense yoga class and a deep savasana, she drove her usual 30- minute drive home and realized that she had forgotten to light up, as she always had done in her long rides in her car.
“I made my entire drive home without my usual smoke,” she said. The silence of her deep savasana had registered in her mind and body, so she had no longer felt the need for the nicotine. She felt fulfilled from WITHIN and during her long drive home, she didn’t need her usual nicotine fix, this is the power of Spirit.
“IT’S NEVER TOO LATE”
An 81-year old MD, from my hometown, read an article about the benefits of deep breathing and weight loss. He followed the guidelines in the article and began to sit daily, doing deep breathing 15 minutes a day, in thru the nose and out thru the mouth. Over the course of two years, he went from 250 pounds to 204 pounds. He lost fifty pounds just breathing 15 minutes a day! He also reduced his meat intake to just one or two times a week, because he said his appetite had decreased greatly due to his breathing practice, he just wasn’t very hungry anymore.
I suspect the prana, life force in breath, was fulfilling his appetite, like the story of Giri Bala, told by Paramahansa Yogananda in “Autobiography of a Yogi.” When Yogananda met her, she was 68 and had not eaten nor taken fluids for over 56 years! Chastised as a young girl for her hearty appetite, she prayed to God for help and he provided her Kriya yoga breathing and meditation techniques, which allowed her to sustain her life force for many years, without food and drink, miraculous!
SO WHAT ABOUT YOU AND ME?
The doctor’s weight loss made perfect sense to me, because as he exhaled consciously, he was releasing toxins and ALL that was not serving him. This included self-limiting and addictive thought patterns, emotional blockages and negative life experiences, not just calories. (Releasing childhood memories and a lifetime of resentment and pain, can create a sense of lightness and peace throughout the mind body connection and do wonders for your personal life as well.)
Thru the deep breathing he was aligning his mind with Divine Mind, which is what happens during a yoga class.
Yogic breathing is very powerful, but many of the benefits go unseen to the human eye, because there is so much going on behind the scenes of the physical body, when we practice yoga. This is due to the magic of Spirit!
I was once addicted to exercise, caffeine, sugar, alcohol, cigs and shopping, thank goodness, not all at once, oh my. I was attempting to fulfill feelings of unworthiness with external substances. As Emmylou Harris sings so poignantly in one of her songs, “Addictions hold on tight like a glove.” This is the perfect way to describe how our addictions hold on to our minds, like a vise grip. I’m grateful to say, yoga and mediation have liberated me from the above addictions, by shifting my consciousness about the way I perceive my myself and my life. God has healed my mind, bottom line, which has helped me heal my life.
There’s a saying in yoga, “Your bad habits will lose you.” How do we work on our bad habits losing us? My Ashtanga yoga teacher, Tim Miller, once said, “Every time you breathe you are doing a dance with Spirit.” During yoga, you are infusing your mind, body and life, with higher consciousness from God/The Universe. This heals your thought patterns, especially about addictions, self-worth and body perception. Addictions begin in the mind not the body. Do our lungs really want another cigarette? Do our livers really want more alcohol? Do our arteries want more meat in them? No, our minds want these things, not our physical bodies.
With daily time spent in the silence of a quiet mind, you will begin to see yourself as God sees you, as divine perfection. Your need to self destruct will begin to lose it’s power over you and you will begin to treat yourself in a more loving and healthy manner.
Weight loss mogul, Jenny Craig, has been quoted as saying, “Self love is the best form of weight loss.” Yoga’s greatest gift is that it helps you to love and accept yourself, as you are in the moment, not when you lose 10 lbs, get married, or get a new job. This kind of self- love cannot be found on a Stairmaster. It can be found through conscious breathing, yoga postures and time spent in silence with God in meditation, filling the internal void with Divine love, not addictions. You are worthy.
“Everything else can wait, but your search for God cannot wait.” -Paramahansa Yogananda
The great yogic philosopher, Patanjalim defined yoga as: “yogas citta vrtti nirodaha”, yoga is the cessation of the fluctuations of the mind. Notice he didn’t say, “He who does handstand best is the most enlightened!” However, instead of adopting a regular meditation practice, we spend hours on the mat doing MORE asana (postures), in search of clarity, self -acceptance, and a deeper meaning to our lives. Because the ego mind can be preoccupied with fear, worry, and doubt, it is threatened by meditation and therefore encourages us to do MORE physical activity, whether it be asana, jogging, cleaning our house, checking our email, or anything to distract us from our meditation practice.
As yogis, many times we forget that being strong and flexible isn’t the cure all to a happy and peaceful life. In fact, sometimes we feel even more lost and confused after a strong asana practice, because all kinds of questions begin to surface from the depths of our being and we need more time in savasana and meditation to get quiet and clear. This is one of the many reasons why it is important to practice the seventh limb, dhyana (meditation), of Patajalim’s eight limb path.
My first yoga teacher once said, her greatest goal in life was to know God better. I remember thinking what she said was very commendable, but I definitely didn’t understand the magnitude of what she was saying at the time, because I was more interested in sweating and working out unfortunately. However, seventeen years later, I think I am beginning to understand what she was seeking in her relationship with God. (Interestingly enough she passed in her 30’s and is now in full communion with God as she desired, bless you Trish.)
When we cease the chatter of the mind through meditation, we create space for the Divine to connect with us. God is always trying to communicate with us, but are we listening, or are we too busy trying to get somewhere on the mat, or in our lives? Many times we are reluctant to sit down to meditate, due to a perceived lack of time, or maybe the fear of the unknown; the fear that maybe God has something to tell us that we aren’t ready to face, like the end of a relationship or a career that is not aligned with our highest good anymore. So in turn, we resist being still and miss an opportunity to change our lives for the better. We would rather stay feeling confused, frustrated, and physically “fit,” instead of seeking personal growth through connecting with God in the silence.
The habit of jumping out of bed in the morning, turning on the computer, radio, tv, coffee maker, and reading the newspaper, only creates more vrttis (chatter) in the mind. I suggest doing your meditation practice first thing upon waking and spend some quality quiet time deepening your connection with God first, before you go about your morning routine, otherwise it is very easy to run out of time, before you need to leave the house. I like to sit facing east to feel the sun on my face. Yogananda suggests getting 10 minutes of daily sunshine,”sun baths,” to charge body with the life force of the sun. I also suggest meditating before you go to sleep, so you can give gratitude for the day’s events and clear your mind of any worry, so you can sleep peacefully.
Quiet time in the morning will help you be more kind and patient with yourself and everyone you come into contact with throughout your day, such as your partner, children, pets, co-workers, strangers, people in traffic, etc. Every time you meditate you are helping to align your mind with Divine Mind, Universal Intelligence, which are thoughts based on love, patience, forgiveness, gratitude and service to the planet. You will have a greater ability to make more conscious choices in your life, with less stress and drama! Meditation will also help you to stop repeating self-destructive patterns and addictions in your life that aren’t serving your highest good. As you deepen your meditation practice, your need to self-destruct will begin to diminish greatly and eventually all together, because you will begin to love and respect yourself more fully.
Meditation, like asana, just takes PRACTICE and dedication. The effects are accumulative, so even 5 minutes, two times a day, morning and night, can help you to have a more peaceful and purposeful life.
The use of mantra in meditation can be very helpful to cease the mind “chatties.” . The sanskrit word “mantra”, means “instrument for the mind,” and the first mantra ever given to me was by a very hip Presbyterian female minister from San Fran, whom I met in a yoga training at Mount Madona Ashram in CA many years ago.
The mantra is: ”Be Still and Know.”
This mantra comes from Psalm 46, “Be still and know that I am God.”
On the inhalation, say silently to yourself, “Be still,” and on the exhalation say, “And know.”
It is as if God is saying to our minds, “Be still and know that I AM GOD, and that I am taking care of all the details of you life, if you would just be willing to surrender them to me.”
If you do an inventory of your past, hopefully you will realize how life’s challenges always seem to have a way of working themselves out over time, maybe not the way you planned, but they usually work out for the highest good for your soul’s learning and for the highest good of all involved. We must remember this during times of deep despair and crisis-God ALWAYS has a plan. Meditation helps us to get clear on the divine plan for our lives.
I encourage you to make time daily for the most important relationship in your life, the one with God, and experience the unconditional love, acceptance and guidance that resides within you, in every moment.
Meditate for yourself and as an offering to peace for ALL beings everywhere.
“In the final analysis, it is all between you and God.” -Mother Teresa.
“If slaughterhouses had glass walls, we would all be vegetarian.” -Paul McCartney
I loved and cherished animals as a young child, even though I was raised in a meat eating family in the middle of Kansas, which is known as a “beef state.” I remember getting violently ill after eating a bite of roast when I was 6 years old, which lead me to stop eating beef and pork forever. Unfortunately, I continued to eat chicken until my 20′s.
However, my 22- year old cat, Samantha, helped me see the light. She was dying from kidney failure and I made the choice to end her suffering, by having my vet put her out of her toxic misery. As I held her precious body in my arms, I watched as the vet pricked her frail frame with the needle and in an instant I felt her soul release. In that defining moment, I felt in my heart the deepest connection to all animal souls and that I had no right to be eating any of them. I made the conscious decision to stop eating all forms of meat, including fish.
In 2002, I shifted from being vegetarian to vegan and my body began to heal itself of acne, allergies and asthma. Why my doctors never asked me about my diet, is beyond me? Instead they gave me lots of prescriptions for these conditions, when all I really needed to do was change my diet! Once I learned about the cruelty of the dairy, veal and egg industry, I was done eating animal products for life.
I am a vegan first and foremost for the animals, for their protection and safety, to help them live their lives free of pain and suffering. I do not feel God put them on the planet to live a life of confinement, fear and being slaughtered, so that people can get their “protein” fix for the day. There are numerous forms of plant based proteins, including green leafy vegetables, beans, nuts, tofu and even brown rice. Plus the human body doesn’t need as much protein as the media would like to convince us. Excess animal protein in your diet can contribute to cancer, kidney stones, gall stones, high cholesterol, diabetes, high blood pressure, constipation and obesity.
Going vegan is great for your health, the animals and the environment. If going 100% vegan sounds too over whelming, begin by having one or two vegan meals a day and start retraining your taste buds, to the joys of a plant based diet. In time, you will begin to crave foods with more prana/ life force, instead of meat which is devoid of prana. Adding daily yoga and meditation into your life will also help shift your consciousness to be more compassionate to all beings.
Fill up on vegetables, fruits, whole grains, peas, lentils and beans. Www.ohsheglows.com is my favorite vegan blog and cookbook. It is full of delicious recipes that will leave you feeling satisfied and happy, no deprivation.
A vegan diet is simple and satisfying and no was has to be harmed for food. Watch the movies “Forks Over Knives,” “Earthlings” and “Cowspiracy” to learn more about the benefits of going vegan for your health, animal compassion and environmental sustainability.
I lead 21-Day Vegan Cleanses to help you jump-start your vegan diet:click here
The next time you sit down for a meal, pause and ask your soul, not your mind, what it would like to eat and really listen to the answers.
What is more important, to satisfy your appetite or to save a life?
Namaste’ – the divine in me, honors the divine within you and in all beings.
The question is not, “Can animals reason?” nor, “Can they talk?” but rather, “Can they suffer?” ~Jeremy Bentham ( British social reformer)
“Our lives begin to end the day we remain silent about the things that matter.” -Dr Martin Luther King
Ahimsa (non-harming) is one of the first limbs (The Yamas) of the Ashtanga yoga eight -limbed path. Ahimsa can be practiced in many ways on and off the mat, beginning with the way you treat yourself. How can you be kinder to yourself during yoga when you can’t do a pose or are having a low energy practice? Every yoga practice can be very different, depending on our energy level, emotional state, what we are eating and drinking, hours of sleep and stress levels, so it’s a good reminder to keep all these things in balance on a daily basis and to not take one of them for granted. Wade’s former teacher, Larry Schultz use to say, “Honor your body, but don’t be lazy!” I love this quote, because we can over do and under do our practice, so it’s good to always do your best and let go of the rest, because as Asthanga Yoga Guru, Pattabhi Jois use to say, “Practice and all is coming!”
Ahimsa towards your health: By eating a plant based vegan diet filled with vegetables, fruits, grains, nuts and legumes we can greatly improve our health and be internally lighter for our yoga practice. A vegan diet is full of fiber, digests easily and will not clog your arteries and compact your colon and intestines with plaque and cholesterol. It’s great for weight loss, lowering cholesterol, blood pressure and preventing cancer and heart disease. Eliminating or reducing alcohol and caffeine in your diet, can help improve liver and kidney function, as well as heighten your true mental/emotional state, instead of depending on chemicals to “boost” your mood. With the reduction of these chemicals (drugs) in our minds, we can also deepen our connection with our loved ones and God.
Ahimsa in our lives: How can you be kinder to yourself when life throws you a curve ball off the mat, such as losing a job or home, gaining weight, illness, acne, financial debt, death of a family member or the end of a relationship? Ahimsa to me, also means giving ourselves a break and cutting ourselves some serious slack, when life is less than we expected for ourselves. This can be a test of faith, so remember to focus on faith and not fear, when these unexpected events occur and to trust that God always has a plan for our lives, so keep praying and asking for guidance and remember, “This too shall pass.” Your yoga and meditation practice can give you the discipline to take care of yourself, no matter your life circumstances, so continue to make it a priority and put God first in your life.
Ahimsa towards the animals: Shockingly 10 BILLION farm animals are slaughtered in the U.S each year, which is heart breaking. From my experience with trying to educate and convert my meat eating Kansas raised family, I have learned that trying to change someone’s eating habits can be like taking away a Linus blanket, not pretty, with a few temper tantrums thrown in, UGH! However, when faced with the question of whether or not to eat meat, if we could all just remember it’s not about satisfying our taste buds, it’s about saving a life and having reverence for all God’s creatures, not just people, cats and dogs. Bottom line, it’s not about us, it’s about them, the 10 billion cows, pigs, chickens and turkeys, who are innocently slaughtered, many times tortured, for human appetite and capital gain. They deserve more and we have the power to give them more by easing their suffering and making more conscious choices about the foods we choose to buy and ingest. There are literally thousands of delicious, healthy food choices that don’t include meat, fish, dairy and eggs. It can take a little more work on our part initially, but it’s worth the effort, knowing an animal’s life was spared, due to our decision to eat a vegan diet. (The Engine 2 Diet www.engine2diet.com, and Skinny Bitch in the Kitch, are two easy and delicious vegan cookbooks to help you get started on the vegan path.)
We can also practice ahimsa towards the animals by getting our pets from animal shelters and rescue groups, instead of buying them from breeders. When people buy their pets from breeders, it means an animal sitting in a shelter somewhere waiting for its’ Forever Home, has a greater chance of being put to sleep.
Animal Testing is unfortunately still occurring with many of the leading drug store products, such as Cover Girl, Dove, Aveeno, Johnson and Johnson, Neutrogena, L’Oreal, Coppertone, Max Factor, Mabelline, Pantene, Redken and Girgio Armani. By not buying these products and putting your money and consumer support towards companies who do not test on animals, you are also helping to ease the suffering of the animal kingdom. Here is a list of companies who DO and DO NOT animal test: http://www.beautyfool.net/which-beauty-brands-companies-do-not-test-on-animals/.
Ahimsa towards the environment: According to the U.S Department of Agriculture, animal agriculture is contributing to more green house gases than cars, trains, planes, and ships combined! It is one of the major causes of the world’s environmental problem such as global warming, air pollution and water and soil contamination. Therefore, eating a vegan diet is also helping to save the environment, in addition to the animals and your health, it’s an ahimsa diet where everyone wins! Recycling, reusing, composting, walking, bicycling, carpooling and carrying your own water bottle are other great ways to practice ahimsa towards the environment and honoring Mother Earth.
Ahimsa in Social Justice: Gandi and Dr. Martin Luther King practiced ahimsa in their homelands by using peaceful means to produce peaceful ends, instead of justifying using violent means to produce a peaceful end. Their means and ends were congruent. These great social reformers lead by example, by walking their talk, without caving into the social pressure of anger and violence.
The people in our lives who are angry, inpatient and upset with us, can many times be our greatest teachers, by giving us an opportunity to practice ahimsa, by being more patient and compassionate towards them. (Maybe God put them in our path to teach us a lesson, not just to piss us off?) These people, many times strangers, are also usually the ones who are needing the most love and attention and their negative behavior towards us, is really on a deeper level, a cry out for more love, not more conflict. Therefore, we always have a choice in life when faced with conflict. If we truly want to experience and witness more peace on the planet, please remember, “PEACE BEGINS WITH ME, “and practice kindness and compassion towards yourself, other people, animals and the planet.
As Gandi so brilliantly said, “”We must BE the change we want to see in the world.”
– See more at: http://www.mayayoga.com/ahimsa-non-harming/#sthash.yaYE56Ca.dpuf
Styles of Yoga:
Hatha – Physical (Ashtanga, Vinyasa, Bikram, Iyengar, Sivananda, Viniyoga, Kripalu)
Raja – Mental
Bhakti – Devotional
Kundalini – Energy
Karma – Selfless Service
Jana – Knowledge
Ashtanga and Vinyasa yoga continuously flow from one posture to the next, in a vinyasa style of movement. This style of movement helps increase the efficiency of the cardiovascular and respiratory system, giving the practice an “aerobic” quality.Other styles of hatha yoga, like Iyengar yoga and Bikram Yoga (Hot yoga), traditionally do not flow from one pose to the next, and use more of a stop start form of movement. Ashtanga yoga holds most postures 5-7 deep breaths, with the exception of a few postures, which are held longer.Other styles of hatha yoga tend to hold postures longer than 5-7 breaths.
Ashtanga yoga primarily focuses on the invisible or internal aspect of the practice, the deep ujjayi breath and energy locks called bandhas, adding a strong element of kundalini yoga (energy) to the practice.Keep in mind that one of the many definitions of yoga states: “Yoga is the CESSATION of the fluctuations of the mind.” -Patajali’s Yoga Sutras.
Therefore, yoga is not about adding more chatter to the mind.
Ashtanga and Vinyasa yoga produce an INTERNAL heat thru the utilization of vinyasa movement, ujjayi breath and the bandhas, which help to detoxify the body from the inside out. This internal fire (agni) purifies the internal organs and increases metabolism, thyroid function and muscular strength, flexibility and endurance. This fire also acts as a spiritual fire to help clear the mind and body of any stress, tension and fear based thought patterns, allowing for a more peaceful sense of well-being, on and off the mat.Bikram yoga (Hot Yoga) uses EXTERNAL heat in its’ system of yoga.
Ashtanga and Vinyasa yoga have a strong emphasis on increasing upper body and core strength continuously throughout the class, more than other styles of hatha yoga.
Ashtanga, Sivananda and Bikram Yoga are all SYSTEMS of yoga, which utilize a SET series of postures in a sequential order. Vinyasa yoga does not use a set series of postures, therefore the practitioner does not know which pose is next in the sequence, which can add a sense of variety to the practice.
– See more at: http://www.mayayoga.com/ashtanga-yoga-compared-to-other-styles-of-yoga/#sthash.wiaL06mu.dpuf
“We accept the love we think we deserve.”
-The Perks of Being a Wallflower.
As Valentine’s Day approaches once again, I am reminded of the gratitude I have towards my relationship with God and for my husband Wade. I didn’t get married until I was 39, which was unusual for a girl from a small town in Kansas. However, I am grateful I waited until I was older because I had A LOT to learn about myself and life first.
Through the years of dating, I did accept the love I thought I deserved, which many times left me brokenhearted and asking, “What did I do this time?!”
Looking back now, I realize my former boyfriends were all a perfect part of the Divine plan for me to learn the lessons I needed, before meeting Wade. Even though many of the lessons were painful, I’m sure God was rolling his eyes at me a few times, I do believe the Universe put these men in my path, to help me fine tune what I wanted in a life partnership. Once I made the decision to not settle for less than I desired, God brought me Wade.
Many times we think we are waiting on God to fulfill an area of our lives, “tick tock!”, but in reality, God is waiting for us to recognize our worthiness.
I believe through the law of attraction, we attract people and experiences into our lives according to the self-esteem we have in that particular area. Once we realize we are WORTHY of our heart’s desires, whether it be a soul mate, a new career, a healthy body or increased prosperity, we begin to attract the things in our lives we FEEL we deserve.
If you are vibrating at a high level, filled will self-esteem, than the right partner is going to align with your vibration and the two of you will collide in divine timing. If you are vibrating at a lower level and the partner who is yours by divine right is vibrating at a higher level, you could easily miss each other, like two planes passing over each other in the night.
So when it comes to accepting the love you think you deserve, I hope you will let go of the non-committal partners, the untrustworthy partners, the out of town”sometime” partners and announce to the Universe, that you only want to date people who match your high vibration of self-respect and relationship commitment level. No more “throw a dog a bone” relationships, where you are satisfied to have just a shred of a someone, because that is all they are willing to give you.
If you know you deserve the best, the BEST will find you! Self-love, self-love, self-love……the magnet for all things good.