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:
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
“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.
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