Photo: Brian McDonnell
Everyday, people make assumptions of other things based solely on appearance. From simple things such as grocery items in a supermarket, to more complex decisions, such as choosing a person we want to spend our lives with, people make these decisions on the appearance of these things. We choose these things because, on the outside, they appear flawless. And some seem to think, if the outside is flawless, then the rest must be perfect as well.
But as with anything in life, what is on the outside isn’t always what is most important. A perfect can of vegetables in the supermarket may taste bad, a book with an exciting picture may be boring, and a woman with a cover on a big yoga magazine may have struggled with that pose for ages. In short, looks always have a story.
Since becoming a yoga teacher, I have began really tapping into my Manipura chakra, which is the energy chakra, located right in the solar plexus. This is the seat of your power in the world. When this centre is open and flowing, you are capable of translating your intentions and desires into manifestation, When this centre is blocked, you tend to feel frustration, envious and ineffectual.
The seeds of intentions and desires that you plant reside in your personal soul. Nourishing the seeds you wish to germinate with your attention will lead to their full expression. The process of manifesting your desires/wishes/hopes/dreams is first to bring them into consciousness, then expand your awareness through meditation, and finally releasing attachment to the outcome.
Being on the cover of a yoga magazine doesn't make me a fantastic yoga teacher/practitioner, just like getting my leg over my head doesn't make me reach enlightenment. What it does is this, it creates a sense of accomplishment, a sense of "if I keep trusting myself with my intentions and planting my seeds, I will simply watch it grow."
Of course you have to water your seeds with kindness, self-compassion and love. Dreams/hopes/desires doesn't happen by itself. As my fellow yogi Jen Pastilloff likes to say, manifesting simply means making shit happen.
I am truly honored to be on the cover of OM Yoga Magazine,
which hits newsstands everywhere in the UK today. Grab your copy and then have a peak on page 63... more stuff on kindness and self-compassion there.
Not in the UK? Get a glimpse of the mag HERE.
Yesterday was beaming with sunshine. I started my morning, or afternoon shall I say, by being in bed reading. A luxury that happens very rarely. I sat there with my windows open, inhaling the fresh smell of the wind, getting inspired by potent words. Shortly after, I met my lovely student who has become a very dear friend for tea in a British tea house. We were both jolly with excitement since we're both from London, and saw remembrances from home. We sat by the lake, sipped our tea and indulged in great conversation for hours and hours. Time seemed to slow down, we had nowhere to be, nowhere to go and we were exactly where we were supposed to be.
Jist of the story: when things in your life seem almost too much to handle, when 24 hours in a day is not enough; when you feel like you are running from studio to studio teaching your yoga classes, remember the story of the mayonnaise jar and three cups of tea.
A professor stood before his philosophy class and had some items in front of him. When the class began, wordlessly, he picked up a very large and empty mayonnaise jar and started to fill it with golf balls. He then asked the students if the jar was full. They agreed that it was.
The professor then picked up a box of pebbles and poured it into the jar. He shook the jar lightly. The pebbles rolled into the open areas between the golf balls. He then asked the students again if the jar was full. They agreed it was.
The professor next picked up a box of sand and poured it into the jar. Of course, the sand filled up everything else. He asked once more if the jar was full. The students responded with an unanimous "yes."
The professor then poured three cups of tea from under the table and poured the entire contents into the jar, effectively
filling the empty space between the sand. The students laughed.
"Now," said the professor, as the laughter subsided, "I want you to recognize that this jar represents your life. The golf balls are the important things – God, family, children, health, friends, and favorite passions. Things that if everything else was lost and only they remained, your life would still be full. The pebbles are the things that matter like your job, house, and car. The sand is everything else – the small stuff. If you put the sand into the jar first," he continued, "there is no room for the pebbles or the golf balls. The same goes for life. If you spend all your time and energy on the small stuff, you will never have room for the things that are important to you."
"So, pay attention to the things that are critical to your happiness. Play with your children. Take time to practice yoga. Take your lover out to dinner. There will always be time to clean the house and fix the dripping tap. Take care of the golf balls first – the things that really matter. Set your intentions and your priorities... the rest is just sand."
One of the students raised her hand and asked "what does the tea represent?"
The professor smiled and said "I’m glad you asked. It just goes to show you that no matter how full your life may seem,
there’s always room for three cups of tea with a friend."
Based in NYC, 3 ashtanga practitioners came together to create this brand. Yogamat Boutique
is a line of ecologically conscious fair-trade activewear made from Hydrilux, a soft stretch fabric produced in France that's earned eco-tex environmentally friendly certification in Europe. The line of leggings, shorts and tops, are crafted in a sustainable, sweatshop-free facility offering UV protection and won't pil or collect lint or pet hair.
Co founder, Ananda Adams' biggest intention is to find a way to reduce their carbon footprint. She believes in staying away from foreign production and making clothes that don't last. In her recent interview she says "This whole trend towards poorly made clothing that is tossed aside for the next cheap garment has to stop."
Yogamat is truly developed for the modern woman. Their responsible production techniques along with stylish, non-disposable clothing truly makes this company stand out from the rest. This brand is definitely comfortable, flexible and super attractive clothing, not only for the mat but for every day living.
Their latest collection is vivacious and energetic. They feature bold, distinctive color palettes and innovatively constructed garments, high quality fabrics mixed with stunning cuts. Below, I'm wearing the purple pardi's and the red and purple top
For more information on this lovely and unique brand, follow them on TWITTER.
I am so proud and honored to be the face of Blooming Lotus Jewelry, a brand I truly believe in.
Blooming Lotus Jewelry's mission is to create beautiful and meaningful jewlery to inspire positivity and awareness in all of us. The woman behind the brand, Jennifer Ciraulo, is a self-taught jewelry designer and launched BLJ in early 2010. Jennifer is not only a jewelry designer and an avid yogi, but also a pediatric occupational therapist, who works with children with special needs.
Jenn uses her jewelry making skills to raise awareness and money for foundations such as Autism Speaks, and Yoga Bear, a project that we've both involved in through our bracelet "Bee Inspired." Yoga has brought endless things to Jennifer's life, but most of all an understanding that it's not just breathing through difficult postures on a sticky mat, but rather it's breathing through the difficult times off the mat. BLJ's creations are inspired through practice, traveling and immersing herself in different cultures. The jewels are made with love in Hoboken, NJ.
Above, I am wearing BLJ's signature recycled sari mala and a armful of colouful bracelets.
Get inspired here: Blooming Lotus Jewelry
Except for weekends, breakfast is often the meal that either gets ignored or rushed through. Perhaps grabbing a banana as you head out the door sounds familiar?! With such busy schedules nowadays, breakfast often becomes an afterthought, when it really should be a top priority in our morning routines.
We always hear that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, but why is this true? In a way, breakfast is "breaking the fast" because after sleeping for eight hours and being without food during the night, our brain and muscles need energy and fuel to function. And the glucose in food (as well as the vitamins, minerals, dietary fiber, and protein) is how we get this energy. With this rush of nutrients and glucose to our brains, we are better able to concentrate, focus, be productive, and be in better spirits. No more waking up on the wrong side of the bed!
Here are some tips to help you get the most out of breakfast time.
- Eat breakfast early. Aim to enjoy breakfast shortly after you wake up. If you're not into eating early, have your first meal within an hour of waking up. If you're practicing yoga first thing, make sure to eat something small like a piece of bagel with salmon or a hard-boiled egg. Then eat something a little more substantial after your practice.
- Eat a breakfast consisting of healthy carbs, protein, and fiber. Better yet, start the morning with green juice! It tastes better than it looks.
- Sit down and eat breakfast. Try to take at least half an hour each morning to sit down and eat. This way you can step back, savor your meal, and focus on your upcoming day.
This delicious easy and simple breakfast I made this morning is high in fiber and protein.
apples, bananas, kiwis, mangoes and pineapple.
spirulina, chlorella, broccoli, spinach, blue green algae, garlic barley grass, wheat grass, ginger, parsley and kale.
The organic whole wheat everything bagel has 12g's of protein and the salmon consists of 18g's of protein. Add some onions, capers, salt and pepper to taste and perhaps a handful of berries on the side and you've got yourself a solid food to break your fast.
Remember: high protein / low carb / high fiber = heart healthy.
I turned 27 on Tuesday, and my blog turned 1. To celebrate, I took a getaway to the Columbia River, to a resort called Bonneville Hot Springs, which was surrounded amongst cascading waterfalls in the gorge. The property rests above natural, healing, mineral springs, with a picturesque landscape. The resort is all about health, wellness and rejuvenation. Exactly the type of getaway I needed.
When I'm not on my yoga mat either practicing or teaching, I'm usually on my phone taking pictures. I love photography and currently obsessed with Hipstamatic, which is a digital application on the iPhone that allows you to create artsy photos. When it comes to keeping onto memories, I truly believe that a picture tells a thousand words.
The hydra facial I had was beyond anything I had experiences. It included the most amazing products I've ever had on my skin, YonKa from Paris, France. Their philosophy is based on their name, which is a combination of two words:
Yon: a river with rapid purifying water. Ka: in ancient Egypt, Ka signifies the vital and eternal force that is inherent in each individual. YonKa: a name that is symbolic of natural and constant regeneration.
After a birthday full of balloons, handstands, champagne and a belly full of laughter, I was overwhelmed with so much joy and happiness that surrounded my heart.
Some of the gifts I was spoilt with: a cupcake bouquet from my dear friends from LA. A wonderful handmade soy candle called LOVE (if love could smell like anything, it would definitely smell like this), and gorgeous bangles all the way from India from one of my very special students.
I have realized that I am at my best when I am around water, music and my yoga mat. I am grateful for another day, another year and another opportunity to turn my dreams into reality. What a year!
I have been around nature quite a bit this week, especially since the weather in Portland has been nothing but jolly. When I am around nature, I feel oneness with other living things, such as the animals, the trees, the ocean, sun, moon, and the earth. Being around such serene beauty, I can feel the earth to be alive and conscious as she is "Mother" and I truly believe that we can connect, pray and communicate with her directly using trees, plants, animals, birds, crystals, streams, water, etc.
When I step outside and really listen to nature, I feel like we need to live on our Earth Mother in balance and with reverence towards all life. We need to tap into her creative abilities and power by aligning with her, loving her, and revering her. We must ensure that she can give us life, strength, and energy to grow and change as well as sustain future life. Mother can grant us serenity, balance and nurturance through creative and dynamic rituals that touch our personal visions and subconscious minds. We can use circle rituals, chants, visualizations, meditations, and speaking to her where she resides, in our own hearts.
“Being ‘spiritual’ simply means being willing to look into the nature of life, to ask questions and to wonder, and to listen. It also means seeing art everywhere.” ~ Quang Ho
I’m often asked by friends, family members, and my students who are new to yoga whether or not they can do yoga and still maintain their own religious beliefs.
My answer is always the same. Yes, there is a spiritual side to a yoga practice and yes, you can still keep your own religious beliefs. Just like nature, yoga respects and welcomes anyone and everyone, just as they are. With Quang Ho’s beautiful words in mind, yoga will ask us to check in, observe, ask questions and wait for the answers. There is no way to hurry the process of getting to know our true nature. It unfolds in its own time, on its own terms.
And if we can be both persistent and patient, we will find that our true nature is indeed a work of art.
This time last year, I was giddy with excitement to launch my blog. I was also contemplating the idea of going through yoga teacher training. Last summer I did just that. I spent two beautiful months with twenty something like-minded people in the coolest studio in Portland.
I took the training to deepen my knowledge of yoga. And the last few weeks of training I knew this was my path. Teaching. I am now teaching at a few studios around the city and very grateful for my private clients. My writing, teaching and growing is all happening right before my eyes and I feel like I am supposed to honour this with open arms.
As most of you know, I work as a full-time stylist/visual merchandiser. This takes about 35 hours of my week and I work overnight shifts once every 6 weeks to implement new collections and trends. I have decided to take the transition into being a full-time yoga teacher and keep with the styling to twice a week. This gives me more time to focus on my passion, teach more, and work on my upcoming book... stay tuned on that one.
Have you found yourself recently or presently in a state of transition? Perhaps you might be in the transition of becoming a parent, moving to a new place, transitioning out of the work force, quitting your day job to follow your passion, getting promoted and so on and so forth.... This transition could be easy or difficult, good or bad, who knows? Typically change is tough for most people, even if it is leading to a positive end state.
Life transitions are predictable changes in our lives associated with a discontinuity with the past. With each change we must give up the protective structures which have carried us through and then face the world anew with a sense of fragility and vulnerability. These times of disruption may force us to test the limits of our ability to adapt. However, with each transition we have the opportunity to learn a great deal about our inner coping resources and to ask ourselves what we really want out of life. This period of self-reflection can then lead to self-renewal and a new phase of stability and eventual equilibrium.
Times of life transitions offer you the chance to explore what your ideal life would look like. When things are in disarray, you can reflect on the hopes and dreams you once had but perhaps forgot about. Wherever you are, happy transitioning.
Not in his goals but in his transitions is a man great - Ralph Waldo Emerson
This weeks yoga story is about Lexi, a successful advertiser turned full-time yogi from Toronto, Canada.
A lot of people wonder how I got hooked on yoga and changed my life completely around. This all happened in a matter of months. It was quite an amazing journey that affected my life in so many ways. I was out with the old, and in the new, and loving it.
I thought I had found happiness, while I was working in Marketing and Advertising, which was my field of study, and what I was good at. My job description was to meet with business owners and sell them advertising packages to promote their business. I was on the road all day, and had to meet weekly, monthly, and quarterly quotas. I was highly motivated at the time, and loved meeting people, and being challenged to close large advertising deals. The money came pouring in and soon I thought I was living the good life.
It may sound perfect, but it’s not. Something was definitely missing. This took a few years to realize.
As the company grew and became more and more successful, there was more and more pressure on us, (the sales team) to reach higher and higher quotas. This brought on a lot of stress, and anxiety. It became like a game, like the stock market, you’re trying to reach numbers, and once you do, it’s just not enough. The company was never satisfied, and always wanted more and more.
This job affected my life in many negative ways. I was a slave to my job, had long hours, no social life, and was not fulfilled with all the money that I had accumulated.
I was working out a few nights a week, doing cardio classes and some weight training, as I’ve always had an active lifestyle.
I noticed that my gym was offering yoga classes twice a week, and I became curious about it. This was a time when there was a lot of hype going on about yoga, and how good and relaxing it was.
I decided to try it once, and I was hooked every since. It was the only hour during the week that my mind was quiet; there wasn’t any chitchat, worry, or negative thought. My body was stretched in so many ways, that I felt so light, calm and happy.
As I started to attend these yoga classes every week, I became more aware and confident of myself, and I was more sensitive to my needs. I realized that I couldn’t work at my job anymore, and had to pursue a more satisfying career that had so many positive effects on my body, mind and spirit.
I became healthier right away; I was glowing from the inside out; I slept better at night and I had more energy during the day.
As I began to practice inversions, I felt the fresh nourishment hit my brain, and my endorphins rise. As I learned to take deeper inhales and exhales, I started to feel more oxygen run through my body and mind. Everyone wondered about my new calm and relaxed mentality. People actually noticed.
That’s when I decided to take the Yoga Teacher Training Course at Tula Hot Yoga in Toronto. It was 250-hour part time training on evenings and weekends. It took a total of 5 months.
During those 5 months, I felt incredible. I was practicing hot yoga almost every night. I basically devoted most of my time to learning the postures, increasing my flexibility, strength and balance.
As my yoga training ended, I quit my job and decided to make instructional yoga videos, and teach the benefits of yoga to the online world.
On April 3, 2009, LexiYoga.com was launched. It is a fun and informative website that focuses on the healing benefits of yoga and healthy living.
I’ve been devoting all my time and energy to make it grow. I write articles, post videos and have yoga music, games and product reviews. I also have writers who contribute content on a regular basis.
I have been extremely lucky that my yoga passion has turned into a successful online business. I love being self-employed, as I can let my own creativity shine.
Yoga is my passion, my happiness and my joy. I feel so alive as I practice, especially during stressful and challenging times. I would never go back to my life before I found yoga. I have found my purpose, and I feel completely balanced, body, mind and soul.
To find out more about Lexi, visit her YouTube Channel
of follow her on TWITTER.
Creativity steams from a flow of universal force, or life energy. We are all naturally creative beings. When we have a conscious movement practice such as yoga we are able to keep our natural flow of energy moving in our bodies. Yoga also works to unblock areas of the body and mind which may have stagnated as a result of life choices or merely undiscovered and unexplored potential. As a result, creativity is a natural result of becoming consciously aware of moving energy through your body. Creativity and inspiration work hand in hand, you cannot have one without the other. When you are creative you are inspired, when you are inspired you are creative.
This retreat is all about finding inspiration and breathing deeply in the Tuscan hills. You'll get to wander among tranquil terraces, secret gardens and bubbling fountains. Sway gently under a tree in a cotton hammock reading a book, or sit and listen to the chirping birds.
Join me for a rejuvenating week of yoga, meditation and pranayama. Enjoy twice daily yoga, delicious local & regional cuisine, guided scenic walks, indulge in a gelato, relax by the swimming pool, and simply enjoy life.
Open to ALL levels. Come as you are!
The week long retreat will be held at Villa Benvenuti in Lucca, Tuscany. Located just thirty minutes from Pisa, one hour from Florence. The villa sits high on a hillside overlooking a panorama of mountains, olive groves, fruit trees and vineyards. With 28 hectares of unspoilt nature to explore, the natural surroundings and secluded setting create an atmosphere of calm and stillness, making it ideal for yoga and meditative practices. Wine, olive oil, herbs, vegetables & fruit are all produced in abundance on the estate and provide the essential ingredients for our delicious and healthy meals, cleansing juices and herbal teas. The retreat menu is vegetarian based on what is in season and the region’s specialities. As we are in Tuscany, we will indulge in organic cheeses, pasta, breads, wines and other delights, and so this retreat is not a strict cleanse but offers plenty of healthy choices.
Optional Excursions & Activities:
- Visit the beautiful medieval city of Lucca, a lively historic town still encircled by an imposing 16th century wall and full of cafes, shops and bicycles. Explore the narrow streets lined with palazzos and churches and learn about the city and its many hidden treasures.
- Hike along ancient pilgrimage routes and trails exploring local villages with wonderful vistas an enjoy lunch out at a hilltop village.
- Follow the “Strada del Vino” (the Wine Road) into the hills of Lucca and Montecarlo. Enjoy the beauty of century old villas perched on hills rimmed by olives and hundred year-old vineyards and taste some of the best wines in Tuscany.
1150 euro per person per week (approx $1,535 - £962) in a twin room with shared bathroom (4 rooms - 2 bathrooms - 8 places available)
1350 euro per person per week (approx $1,800 - £1,130) in a twin room with private bathroom (3 rooms - 3 bathrooms - 6 places available)
Single rooms are subject to availability and incur an additional supplement of 300 euro.
Rooms are allocated on a first come first served basis. A non-refundable, non-transferable deposit of 300 euro is due for each person upon registration and full payment is required 6 weeks prior to the start of the retreat.
This will be an incredible 7 night experience in one of the most beautiful locations in the world! The retreat is limited to 14 places so book early to ensure your place. For more information and bookings, please email firstname.lastname@example.org