age gracefully: what you need to know about yoga for seniors

Yoga is for everybody, and everybody.

No matter your age, there is a yoga practice for you! Beginning a yoga practice can be intimidating for anyone, but it can be especially tricky for those with mature bodies. However, with the benefits that yoga for seniors provides, make it worth practicing.

Anti-Aging Benefits of Yoga

Practicing yoga does a lot for the body as you age, not to mention what it does for the mind. As a yoga teacher, I have noticed that some of my most dedicated students are over the age of 50. These same students tend to be the ones that tell me what a difference they feel in their bodies after just a few weeks of regular practice. It’s easy to feel the difference!

Retains youthful glow.

Read the full article I wrote for beYogi.com HERE! The article shares benefits of yoga as we age, contraindications, and poses to practice!

 

set yourself free.

So humbled.


One of my students today shared with me after my chair yoga class that she cries in closing meditation every time. She lost her son to a car accident in January and she takes care of her sick husband at home. She has nowhere to cry. She hasn't been able to grieve.


I could see her pain. I could see her confusion. She almost wanted to stop coming so that she wouldn't cry.


Two other women noticed her crying and came over to comfort her. These are the two self appointed "chairmen" of the class (it's chair yoga, get it?). And it just made me realize what an amazing little tribe I have. They support each other, they laugh together, and for many of them that class is the highlight of their week. And the three of us just talked with her about what was going on and reminded her that it's okay to cry, and why it's healthy to cry.


We release things when we cry. When we bottle up emotions they cause tension in the body, and sometimes they can cause some very real harm.


Crying sets your pain free.


Human beings are not meant to carry the heaviness of emotions with us. We're meant to feel them. Process them. And then, let them go.


And in doing so, we set ourselves free.

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sacral chakra & creativity

I've been wanting to write a blog about each of the chakras for a long time now, but not anything formal or even informative.  I just wanted to write the first thing that comes to mind about each. What I've written below actually wrote itself yesterday. It's about creativity. Which is exactly what I think about when I think about the second chakra. 

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But first, a little about the second chakra.

The second chakra is the sacral chakra, or svadisthana. The element of the sacral chakra is water.

Flow. Movement. Emotion.

 Amorgos Island, Greece  

Amorgos Island, Greece  

Imbalances here can show up as bottling emotions, or being overly emotional, intimacy issues, repressed sexuality, or issues with addiction. It can also show up as writer's block, loss of creativity, or a loss of authenticity

My svadisthana mantra is "Creativity flows through me like water." And some days it's, "I feel, I'm in touch with my emotions, I'm in touch with my sensuality."

So below is what I wrote yesterday about living a creative life. I felt like it was appropriate to share along with this. Hope you dig. :)

Writing can me to tears.

Reading about writers writing gives me butterflies. It's something that I know is mine. I can feel it in my blood. It rushes through my veins like words rush onto a page. 

I feel this way about teaching yoga. Sometimes I feel this way about painting too. 

You don't have to stick to one calling. You can have all the callings you care to. I nourish my inner creator every time I step on a yoga mat, every time I pick up a paint brush, every time I write.

Sometimes I feel like I don't do it enough but the truth is, I just do it when I feel inspired. And sometimes that's five times in one day and other times it's five times in one year. 

The reason I'm writing this is because it asked to be written. But also because I want you to know that you have permission to create whatever your heart desires. 

You have permission to become anyone or anything that you choose. You do not have to stick to the path you're on.  As human beings we are truly blessed with the ability to create. And we do it every day. We create style when we get dressed. We create culinary art when we cook. We create so much more than we give ourselves credit for.

 And that inner artist in you is begging to be recognized. Just to be acknowledged. Then maybe inspiration will flow to you too. And if it doesn't, just play. There is nothing wrong with making art that isn't "good", whatever that means. It's the process that counts, the journey if you will. The act of making the thing, not the thing itself that is important. 

This is our gift. 

To create. To be inspired. To play. To connect with our divine. Our inner creator. 

This is the magic that exists within each and every one of us. 

Whether you choose to accept the gift, or not is your choice.

This is a public promise to myself that I will write when I feel inspired. That I will paint when I need colour. I will move when my body asks me to move. I will live creatively, because it's the only way I can. This is my soul pledge. 

This is a formal invitation to join the movement. There is enough room for all of us. There is enough inspiration to go around for everyone. Will you come create with us? 

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how to let go: say goodbye to stress in seven days.

More and more people every day are experiencing stress. In fact I am constantly seeing articles online about the rise of stress related illness, and about the number of people who report feeling stressed at work or overwhelmed.

So what's causing this trend? And how do we start to reverse it? 

The top three common sources of stress are money, work, and family responsibilities in that order. These are all real things that we have to deal with to be a functioning part of this world. Neither money nor work can actually be avoided, and I'd be willing to bet the same people who say that their family responsibilities are a source of stress still love their families and wouldn't want to avoid them.

So if we can't avoid stress, what's the solution?

This is not the part where I prescribe a cure all or say some magic words and render you stress-free. Sorry.

This is the part where I offer you a solution that works - but it takes a little effort on your part. Consider this a seven day stress relieving challenge. 

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Day One: Where is your time going?

Do some soul searching. When was the last time that you felt truly free? It probably wasn't the other day when you got stuck in your Facebook news feed for 25 minutes when you meant to just go in and send one message. 

Maybe that was me. Oops. But maybe you've done the exact same thing. Or maybe you've spent six hours of your day binge watching Netflix. Recognize where your time is going. Ten minutes here and there, or a few hours a day may not seem like a lot right now but trust me the time adds up. This time is basically stolen from you.

Most people also don't feel particularly fulfilled after scrolling for half an hour or watching an entire season of something in a week. Usually once you finish that season, it's just like, what's next? 

Do you know what two things rarely seem to go together? Stress and fulfillment. More on that later.

For day one, your task is to recognize where your time is going. Be radically honest with yourself. Take notes all day. Write down every time you open social media and how long you spend on it. Write down what shows you watched and how long you sat in front of a screen - this gets fun when you time how long each commercial is and find out how much time you're being fed advertisements. 

Ideally you'll keep this time diary for the entire seven days. But getting one full day in will at least give you an idea of where your time goes. 

Day Two: What can you let go of?

Now that you have an idea of what is sucking up your time, it's time to make some decisions.

If you realize that over the course of one day, you spent an accumulated two hours of your time on the Facebook app, it may be time to delete the app. I'm not saying delete your account, just make it less easily accessible. Instead, give yourself 25 minutes at the end of the day to go through your news feed on your laptop or computer. Set a timer & stick to it. 

Let go of the things that steal your moments. 

The moments that make up your day are the moments that make up your life. Do you want to spend it scrolling? 

Release the things that aren't bringing you bliss to create space for happiness to grow. 

Day Three: What are you grateful for?

Create a gratitude practice. 

One really simple way to do this is to keep a gratitude journal by your bed and write in it morning and night. In the morning, write down three things that you feel grateful for. And at night, write down three things that you are grateful for that happened that day. 

Now I've already suggested that you keep a time diary for the week so if you're like, dude, I hate writing why are you making me write every day? Then another sweet way to practice gratitude is to do a daily gratitude meditation. 

You can totally find guided gratitude meditations on the Mindbliss app, or on YouTube, or any site that has meditation videos. One of my favourite gratitude meditations actually comes from the Tim Ferriss podcast. This meditation with Tony Robbins is super short, 11 minutes total. It's an excerpt from their full podcast. The full episode is amazing if you're into listening to podcasts, but if not just do the short meditation piece.

Eventually gratitude becomes a habit. It is literally a muscle that you build up. Once that muscle is strong, you'll begin to feel gratitude spontaneously throughout the day. Maybe you'll feel grateful every time you feel the warm sun on your skin, or every time you see a flower. These are moments of beauty. Look at you, getting those moments back!

Day Four: What jewels are you hiding?

This is where we get into fulfillment. Each and every one of us has something that lights our soul up. I love this quote from Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert, "The universe buries strange jewels deep within us all, and then stands back to see if we can find them." 

Today you're going on a treasure hunt.

Think back to the last time that you felt truly, blissfully, free. Maybe it was last month, maybe it was in childhood. We are all creative creatures. What was it that as a child you loved to do? Maybe you danced, or played sports, or ice skated, or made crafty things. Maybe you loved to tell elaborate stories, or sing, or color.

I was in love with art. I loved to sew Barbie clothes and draw and write poems. Now I know that as an adult I need to write and paint and make things to fulfill my inner creator. This is a non-negotiable. And when I neglect these needs, my inner creator turns into one of those hangry beasts from the Snickers commercials. Not cute.

Do you know what happens when you don't eat for a long time? At first there are regular signs of hunger like the stomach growling. But after some time those signs subside. It becomes a dull ache. Something that you learn to live with, to cope with. It becomes background noise. (Until eventually it becomes literally all you can think about)

Your jewels, your talents, your creative needs have always been there. But because the body doesn't physically need for you to create to survive, those needs become background noise. A dull ache, a feeling of emptiness. Something missing. 

Stress & fulfillment cannot co-exist. 

Find out what it is that would fulfill you. Maybe your jewel is listening to people. Beautiful, go volunteer at an elderly home and listen to the stories of their youth. Maybe your jewel is dancing. Beautiful, take a dance class once a week or make it a habit to go dancing once a week. Maybe your jewel is yoga. Beautiful, do it #everydamnday.

Make these things a priority. 

Day Five: What moves you?

What literally moves you? Movement is medicine. I've said it a thousand times and I'll say it another million. Movement is medicine

Your body is built to move. It is not built for this world that we've created. It is built to climb, to run, to crawl, to dance. Your body should move in every way, every day.

But not everyone has time for that. So make it a point to move in some way every day. And make it a point to change the way that you move as often as you can. 

Exercise releases endorphins. Simple. It relieves stress. But when we're stressed we don't think that we have time to exercise. When in reality, it would ease our suffering. 

Often the thing that you resist is the thing that you need most. 

If you are already a regular yoga practitioner, then change up your routine. If you're a dedicated Barkan method practitioner, then switch to a Budokon class instead. Just try something different - even Pilates or a bootcamp class. Nothing good grows from stagnation.

Overall, the most important thing here is to move. 

Day Six: Where is your mind?

Come back to the moment. 

When you're stressed, your mind is not here. Your mind is probably trying to juggle all of the things on your plate and spinning in a vortex of repeating negative thoughts and worries.

So come back. 

When you are at home or at work there is nothing stressful actually happening. You won't be eaten by a dinosaur. You won't be chased by a bear. It's all good. The problem is that it doesn't feel good in the mind. And your entire experience happens within the mind.

Try sitting or lying down and taking a slow scan of your body. Notice exactly how your body feels in this moment, starting from the bottoms of the feet and moving your way up to the scalp. Notice each and every muscle, every joint, notice the sensation of clothing on your skin, notice the surface that you're sitting or lying down on, notice the sensation of hunger or fullness in the belly. Get completely plugged in to your body. 

And breathe.

Bring your awareness to your breath. Breathe deeply. Even if it's only for five minutes. Coming back to the moment will significantly reduce, if not eradicate your stress. 

Do this every time you feel stressed. Every day if you have to. Until it becomes a reflex. 

Do not let stress steal your moments. Live in the here & now.

Day Seven: Who's in charge?

Who's in charge? You? Or your thoughts? How do you take back control?

Medicate. 

Just kidding. Meditate. 

Become the observer.  

Meditation helps you to train your brain to observe your thoughts, rather than attach to them.  So when your head starts spinning with stressful thoughts, instead of getting caught up in them you observe them and let them pass. 

Start a meditation practice. Start small, just five minutes a day. After five days, move up to six. And then add another minute every day until you make your way up to whatever amount of time you can set aside. Maybe that's 20 minutes once a day, or maybe that's an hour in the morning and an hour before bed.  

I use the Mindbliss app for guided meditation, but you can meditate on your breath as well. They have meditation journeys that you can do which usually start as shorter amounts of time and gradually add a little time. Find one for stress relief! 

 Ananda Yoga Shala - where we'll be practicing on my  Greece retreat!

Ananda Yoga Shala - where we'll be practicing on my Greece retreat!

It's time to break free from stress. Say goodbye!

I hope these stress relief lifestyle changes work for you! We will be going into all of these and more on my yoga retreat Awakening in Amorgos this August 19-26th! Pay your deposit by May 15th to save $200 off! Come ready to find true transformation and learn habits that you can take with you back home to lead a healthier, happier, stress-free life! I hope to see you on the island!

i believe in...

 Grand Canyon

Grand Canyon

I believe in challenging the status quo. I believe that we are meant to feel good all of the time. I believe our bodies are fucking magical and strong and made for so much more than just sitting at a desk. I believe inner strength should be developed just as much as outer strength. I believe a body that is nourished, taken care of, and balanced will heal itself. I believe in taking the time to imagine the life that you want to live and then doing the work to create it. I believe in people. And movement. And bliss. 

This is why I teach yoga. Because the things that I've received from this practice are too good not to share. Because I genuinely love people and I want to see them transform into the best versions of themselves. There is this spark in people. You can see it in their eyes when they're determined. You can see them light up from the inside. And yoga brings that out. You see it when people surprise themselves. When they do something for the first time or feel something for the first time. It's beautiful. 

Our world, this artificial environment that we've created, doesn't allow people to explore their bodies or their minds the way that we're meant to. We were made to move in every possible way. And yet so many people get stuck sitting for hours on end. We were made to imagine and dream and create. And yet so many people use their minds to think at work and then turn them off at night with the click of a remote. 

I believe that travel is necessary. This planet is too big and beautiful not to explore. Each time we experience a new culture, our worldview broadens just a bit more. We get to question what we've become used to. And that allows us to change. Travel gives us these moments of presence, and wonder, and bliss. It inspires us to live in the moment. To just be. 

I am so excited to be hosting a retreat this summer on the beautiful Greek island of Amorgos. The retreat is seven days of exploring both the outside world, and the world inside of our own hearts. I hope you'll join me on the island! Please don't hesitate to contact me with any questions! Click the link here to register for the retreat! Pay your deposit before April 1st and save $300 off!

 Amorgos Yoga Shala, Greece

Amorgos Yoga Shala, Greece

awakening in amorgos: a yoga retreat in greece

 Morning yoga in Amorgos  

Morning yoga in Amorgos  

I am so beyond excited to announce that I will be hosting a yoga retreat on the beautiful Greek island Amorgos! The retreat is this August 19th-26th, 7 nights! Each day will begin with an energizing yoga practice and end with a blissfully relaxing yin practice. The rest of the time will be spent soaking up the sun on the beach, exploring the island and getting immersed in Greek culture, relaxing in the spa, or taking excursions like cave exploration or boat tours. I am truly so grateful for this opportunity to share this transformational trip with you!  

 Amorgos, Greece

Amorgos, Greece

Join me on this week long journey of discovery. Explore the beauty of Greece, while diving deep into the depths of yourself. Leave behind your commitments, your schedule, your to-do lists, and all of the busy-ness of your daily life. Embark on a journey into your soul through your yoga practice, meditation, and allowing yourself to simply be.

 Amorgos, Greece

Amorgos, Greece


This retreat will include daily yoga, meditation, plenty of sunshine, clear blue waters, renewal in the spa, and free time to explore the beauty and the culture of the Greek island of Amorgos. Give yourself the gift of rejuvenation, self discovery, and peace. Take these things with you off of the island and learn to hold this peace within you during the chaos of daily life. 

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I hope to see you on the island! Click this link to reserve your spot! If you have any questions, please don't hesitate to contact me at yogawithadriana@gmail.com! 

 Amorgos, Greece

Amorgos, Greece

how yoga teacher training changed my life.

One summer I started a journey that would change my life completely. I was 24, freshly divorced, and I had no clue what I was doing. I planned to go away for three months. I grossly over packed.

This was my first solo trip overseas. In fact it was my first solo trip anywhere. I wouldn't be alone the entire trip though, my sister was meeting me halfway through the trip in London.

 La Rambla, Barcelona 2014

La Rambla, Barcelona 2014

The first three days I spent wandering Barcelona in search of my soul. Enjoying this new freedom I'd never felt before. I walked the familiar streets I'd visited before, and some new streets I'd missed in previous trips. Streets where my grandfather grew up, where my mother spent so much of her youth, where I would put my pieces back together and learn to feel whole in solitude. And just as I had started to get my bearings and feel at home again in Barcelona, I flew off to Sevilla.

It was very hot waiting outside at the airport in Sevilla. The heat was dry, just like my home in the desert. I was sitting on a bench waiting to be picked up, listening to pieces of conversations in Spanish. I saw a girl in yoga pants, with a yoga mat. She looked like a hippie and was clearly doing the training with me. We started talking and became fast friends. We'd later discover we were roommates and our nickname throughout training would become "the twins".

 Kayaking in Tajo del Aguila  

Kayaking in Tajo del Aguila  

Each morning was spent in silence. We were up before the sun and silently we would make our way to the yoga shala for morning meditation. Meditation was difficult for me. I hadn't yet developed a sitting practice. I learned to listen. I would listen to the animals outside, the chickens, the cats, the dogs, the peacocks, the horses. I heard them all. I could hear sounds in the kitchen and the occasional buzzing of bees. The silence was never truly silent.  After meditation we would take a short break  and then come back to the room for an energizing yoga practice. Sometimes practice was an hour and a half, sometimes longer. Each day I grew stronger. Each day I learned a new pose I had never before attempted. Each day I was surprised.

 Suryalila Retreat Centre, Villamartin, Spain  

Suryalila Retreat Centre, Villamartin, Spain  

Finally we broke the silence in our breakfast groups. At first these groups felt like just a fun way to get to know people. But as training went on I understood that truly these groups were a form of therapy. Within a week I was sharing pieces of my soul with complete strangers over tea each morning. It was with this group of new friends that repressed memories from my youth came back to me. I pieced together a part of my story that I didn't understand with people who I had only just met. I know it sounds cheesy, but I found myself again. It was such a relief to finally understand why I had so much pain in my heart, why I had acted out and rebelled so much as a teenager. It all made sense. I gained a renewed sense of purpose and I finally began my healing journey. A journey that I am still on.

 Ruins near Suryalila  

Ruins near Suryalila  

I remember walking through the hills, hiking to the tallest peaks, climbing through untouched ruins overgrown with tall grass and wildflowers without ever knowing what used to stand there. I remember roaming through endless fields of sunflowers, exploring the countryside, and making connections that I still hold close in my heart. I remember cool mornings walking barefoot across the property in the dark. I remember the sweat that dripped onto my mat, and the feeling of tears streaming up my face into my hair in wheel pose.

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This training didn't just teach me the names of poses in Sanskrit, or the history of yoga, or anatomy, or how to meditate. I learned the truth of who I am. Parts of myself that had been hidden finally came to the surface. I discovered my own path. I began a healing process that I didn't quite know I needed. This was my beginning. This was my rebirth.

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the journey towards a vegan diet.

I’m about to disappoint a few people. And to be honest I’m a bit disappointed myself. But if I intend to live my yoga practice - I have to be authentic and share the pieces of me that I’m still working on.

Seven months ago I decided to make a lifestyle change and go vegan. It didn’t go so well. I really tried for awhile, I did. At first I was cooking a lot and meal prepping and finding tons of great vegan recipes. But as time went on, the busy-ness of life got in the way. I felt so overwhelmingly guilty every time I ate something with cheese, or something that probably had eggs or dairy in it. I was really hard on myself. And finally I realized that all of that self judgement and guilt was worse for me than my diet.

I’ve been vegetarian for seven years now and that has been a breeze. At this point I don’t even think that meat would taste good, nor would I want it anywhere near my plate. To me, it’s a carcass. Decaying flesh. And for me, that is totally unappetizing and I literally can’t stomach it. Not everyone feels this way and I’m not trying to change anyone’s mind, but it’s something that I feel very strongly about. My boyfriend and a good portion of my family are still omnivores and I love them regardless. It’s just something I can’t talk to them about. I’m so against eating meat, I don’t even like to bite my own tongue! ;)

When I decided to go vegan I was really hoping that with time, I would feel just as grossed out by cheese and eggs as I do by meat. That didn’t happen. I don’t think I gave it enough time. But to be honest, I didn’t have the time to meal prep. I didn’t have the time to check every label. I wasn’t willing to do the work. Someday I will be.

I feel that timing is everything. I tried to go vegetarian twice before it actually stuck. Technically three times if you count the time I declared to my mother at 12 years old that I was going vegetarian - she didn’t let me and I wasn’t equipped to grocery shop and cook for myself. My hope is that in the next year or two, I’ll create a schedule for myself that is less crazy but equally rewarding and that will be the right time.

At this point I still lean towards vegan. I still aspire to eat that way as much as possible.  When I get to choose the restaurant, it’s always a vegan restaurant. I love LA because practically everywhere has vegan options and there are so many good vegan spots. I think in the future it will be even easier everywhere else in the world. This is the direction we are moving towards. And I’m moving that way too - just not as quickly as I had hoped.

So there you have it. This is a big piece of my work. Someday I’d love to be vegan, gluten free, soy free, sugar free, and alcohol free. But this isn’t the moment for that. I’m pouring my heart and soul into different endeavors. And I love wine and cheese. I’m finding my balance and staying true to myself - without beating myself up. This is a journey, and not as easy of a journey as I thought it would be. But of course, nothing worthwhile is easy.


I’d love to hear about your journey and your experience with trying a vegan or vegetarian diet! Leave something in the comments if you feel so inclined! Namaste <3

 

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make noise.

You know what's really healing? Music.

And also hitting things with drum sticks.  

I've always loved music. Can't say that I've met someone who doesn't. What you're listening to at each stage of your life is an indicator of what you're feeling. Who you perceive yourself to be. And who you'd like to believe you are. Sometimes music gets us through some heavy shit. Sometimes it says the words we can't. Sometimes music speaks to our souls in ways nothing else does. And rocking out just makes you feel better.  

I don't consider myself a musical person - like at all. But I definitely went through a stage where I idolized Meg White and wanted to become a drummer. And today that dream came true (kind of).  

I just became a certified POUND Pro. And if you don't know what that means, that's cool, three months ago neither did I. Pound is like tapping into all of your teenage rock star dreams and just setting them free. It's a work out that uses lightly weighted drum sticks. It has some elements of Pilates, strength training, and cardio. Honestly I did not for one second feel like I was working out. It was fun and flew by. But now I'm sore and actually sort of dreading how sore I'm going to be tomorrow (just kidding I love that feeling). 

Back to the music. Music does strange things to our brains. In a good way. Singing and speaking are not processed the same in the brain - which is why people who speak with an accent are able to sing without one.  "Numerous studies have proven the powerful brain boosting, stress-relieving effects of drumming. The rhythm of drumming permeates the entire brain to improve focus, increase higher-level thinking and decision-making skills, boost the immune system, lower blood pressure, decrease chronic pain, anxiety, and fatigue." Drumming has also shown positive effects on people with Parkinson's and ADD. 

If you happen to see a POUND class near you I definitely encourage you to check it out! Unleash you inner rockstar! Get out there and make some noise!

the best damn smoothie I've ever made.

Hey guys!  

It's almost Thanksgiving, which means the season of pumpkin everything is nearing the end! Some of you may be sick of pumpkin by now but I don't belong in that camp. I love pumpkin. Judge me or join me I don't care. I'd proclaim it from mountain tops if Florida wasn't so damn flat. Anyway the other day I made a super delicious and not vegan or healthy in any way layered pumpkin cheesecake and I had some leftover pumpkin purée. So I did what any self respecting human would do and I put it in my protein shake. Usually my protein shakes are just a blend of everything in my house. Sometimes they taste like vinegar, and sometimes they taste like kale, because they're mostly kale. But this time I actually paid attention to what went into it and it was pretty magical. So that's a really long intro for a smoothie recipe but I hope you enjoy it! 

• 2/3 cup pumpkin purée  

• 1 frozen banana (peel your almost overripe bananas and coat them in lemon, or any other citrus juice then put them in a ziploc bag or other container & freeze. This prevents them from going brown) 

• 1 generous handful of kale, spinach, or your preferred greens

• 1 cup plain unsweetened almond milk 

• 1 scoop protein powder (I used Naturade Vegan Smart Chai, I also love Vega) 

• 1 (or 2) dates, or sub 1 tablespoon of Grade B maple syrup  

• cinnamon (to taste, about 1/4 teaspoon) 

• 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger

• 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg (or sub pumpkin pie spice) 

• 1-2 tablespoons of chia seeds (or hemp)

Blend everything until smooth, creamy, and delicious and enjoy! 

a little spark of divine light.

I'm currently participating in a writing course and this came from a writing prompt that asked me to write about a "lifegiving activity". So I wrote about yoga. 

I set down the little piece of burning wood in an incense holder. Its fragrant smoke fills the air and fills me with serenity. I roll out my mat and sit down. Before closing my eyes I catch a sparkle from a piece of amethyst, one of the crystals I set out for today. I sit with palms facing up, to receive. The music is soft, melodic, and the words in a language I don’t fully understand. I feel my spine stack and my shoulders soften away from my ears. I feel the weight of my hips releasing into the mat. Letting go. I need this. After some time has passed, my hands come to my heart in prayer, anjali mudra. There is this rush of emotion, this connection. I reach my arms to the sky, sending out my intention to the universe. Hoping. Wishing. Being. My body starts to move. Twisting, turning, folding, opening. I leave my eyes closed to feel. Every muscle, every joint, every part of me. Parts of me that before were numb or sleepy, are now alive with sensation. I breathe into it. My breaths are deep, slow, intentional. It feels so good to breathe. It feels so good to move. Gratitude swells in my heart. I let my body decide where to go and let my mind rest. No need for planning. No need for analyzing. There is medicine in each and every movement. There is healing happening within my heart. This is connection. Real connection. I feel rooted into my own body. Grounded in the postures. As if this is what my body was created for. Like these postures are some ancient code I’ve punched in to unlock...something. I’m not sure what I’ve unlocked. But I know whatever it is, it’s changed me. And I can’t imagine being without it. Finally, my practice has come to an end. I lie down in savasana, corpse pose. I don’t feel like a corpse. My body tingles and I feel blood pulsing through my body. But there is stillness. My body is deeply at rest, yet so alive. I realize what I’m feeling is my soul. Slowly I bring my body back to life. I move into fetal position. Rebirth. I come back to where I began, seated with hands at my heart. I bow to my practice, to myself. Recognizing my connection to the divine, my connection to the Earth, recognizing my own mortality. Then I get up. I roll up my mat, turn off the music. And I take with me only a little spark of divine light.

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transform.

Today someone asked me about hot yoga. He didn't see how it could be meditative or spiritual. Thought it was just exercise.

This is what I told him - We live a life of comfort. We are constantly changing the temperature in our cars and homes to be more comfortable, we listen to the music we like, watch whatever we want, even our social media/news source is tailored to be more interesting to us. We rarely experience discomfort, and when we do we usually run from it or change our surroundings. Hot yoga is not comfortable. First of all, it's hot. And when you're moving and getting sweat in your eyes, or trying to hold a balancing posture but there's sweat running down your face, all the while being reminded to stay aware of the breath - this allows you to experience discomfort. Learning to be present through it, I feel, can be truly transformative.

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healthy & happy.

Lately I've been on a little health kick (and by lately I mean on and off for pretty much my whole life). I just made the switch to a plant based diet and I've been feeling pretty amazing. It's gotten me thinking about the way health care is handled - or not handled - in the states. For the most part, western medicine treats diseases, not patients. We go to the doctor when we're sick, not to keep us healthy or prevent us from getting sick. We have all of the information about health and wellness we could possibly need at our fingertips. There have been incredible technological advancements in the medical field that are constantly getting better. And we spend an immense amount of money on health care each year, possibly more than any other country. So you would think we would be one of the healthiest countries on the planet. But on the contrary, we're one of the sickest. Everyone has to die someday, but why do we live lifestyles and eat diets that send us into an early grave?

I think there's a huge disconnect between the health care system and actual human beings. This is a for profit system with making money as its number one goal, and that may not be changing any time soon. So who is responsible for our health? In my opinion it's the responsibility of the individual to educate themselves about what they're putting into their bodies. We have endless resources in the form of documentaries, books, and articles online that can give us great information as long as we use our discernment when taking it in.

So if we're not sick yet, why do we have to worry about our health? If it's not broken, why fix it? If you put shampoo in the gas tank of your car, will it run? Not for long. And if you just top it off with a little scotch instead of changing the oil, will the engine last very long? Of course not. Cars are simple. So is the body - however we have the added benefit of adaptability and our bodies do their best to adapt to their environments and they work with what they're given, until they can't. 

So let's stick with the analogy of the car and let's pretend that your body is the vehicle of your soul for this life. You want this vehicle to last you a long time, and you also want it to run well so it can drive you to exciting new places. You also need to take care of your car to avoid expensive trips to the mechanic every couple of years. So what do you do to optimize the health of your vehicle? Well, that's up to you. You know you need nourishment to keep it running. You also know you can't just stay sedentary or your battery will die. You have to take care of all parts of this body - including mind and soul - because nothing in the body functions separately from anything else. It all works together in perfect harmony - or dissonance depending on how it's being treated.

I don't have an answer for what's right for any one person's body. But I can tell you what fuels mine and I can speak from my experience. I know I feel best when I do yoga or practice some type of movement every day. I know I need lots of fresh fruits and vegetables every day to feel energized. I need human connection, not just small talk but actual connection. I also know I need to get some rest. I know when I'm feeling stressed, I need a few hours of self care and I have that ritual down to a science - I make myself some tea, use my neti pot, and spend about 15-20 minutes doing abyangha which is the Ayurvedic practice of self massage - I use coconut oil with essential oils, then I lay around in some restorative yoga poses for maybe another 20 minutes. That's pretty much my cure all, repeat daily until stress free. And whatever can't be resolved with that ritual, I treat with a heavy dose of nature.

I think it's important to find out what you need. What fuels your body? Find out what will make you feel healthy and happy. What does optimum health look and feel like to you? What habits do you think you need to break and what habits do you want to cultivate in order to achieve your version of optimum health? I think it's important to find out what that is and do it.

 Astavakrasana at Red Rock Canyon

Astavakrasana at Red Rock Canyon

make a change.

I recently made a small change in my life. I recommitted myself to care for my planet, my world, by choosing not to support animal agriculture. Over 6 years ago, in an environmental studies class in college I learned about the destruction caused by animal agriculture. And I committed to becoming a vegetarian. I know this is a touchy subject. People are very attached to their habits and to their food. If this is going to offend you, stop reading and come back to it if/when you're ready to hear it. My aim is not to change anyone's mind or persuade anyone to start eating a plant based diet, I just think there's a lot of misinformation out there - mostly perpetuated by the meat and dairy industries. So I only aim to bring a bit of light and awareness to it. 

There are so many different reasons that people choose to eat plant based. Whether it's compassion for animals, care for the environment, or for health reasons - you inevitably reap the benefits of all three reasons. Your health dramatically benefits, the planet benefits, and of course animals benefit.

I grew up, like most people, eating plenty of meat and dairy and believing that it was healthy. Necessary even.  My grandmother is from Cuba and my grandfather was from Spain. Both cultures definitely eat meat and dairy. My dad's side of the family is American and live mostly in the South. They also eat lots of meat and dairy, and also believe this is healthy. It definitely took some time for my family to get used to me being a vegetarian, and it's taking time for them to get used to me being vegan. Food is a big part of people getting together, but it's not the important part. The important part is the connection you have, the conversations you have. Food is secondary. And to me, it wasn't worth risking my planet or my health for.

I honestly think most people who eat meat don't have all of the information. I don't think that people would continue to eat meat in such high quantities once they understand the consequences. But with so much bad information out there, how are we supposed to unveil the truth? How do we unwrite a lifetime of marketing from the meat and dairy industries? 

I encourage you to watch the documentary Cowspiracy. It's on Netflix and it's one of the best documentaries I've seen. If you're interested in learning about the health benefits of a plant based diet, I encourage you to watch Forks Over Knives, also on Netflix. These two films correct some of the misconceptions about eating plant based, and they explain what the risks and repercussions are for eating animal products. Once you know the facts, then you can make your own educated decision.

Leave me a comment if you've watched either of these and let me know how it impacted you! 

say aaa-ommm!

You've heard the sound "om". You've seen the om symbol plastered on the walls of yoga studios, in sticker form all over your yogi friend's cars, all over your favourite celebri-teacher's instagram page, maybe even tattooed on bodies. But what does it mean? According to Google, it's "a mystic syllable, considered the most sacred mantra. It appears at the beginning and end of most Sanskrit recitations, prayers, and texts." And it comes from Hinduism and Tibetan Buddhism. 

To go into a bit more depth, OM is a sound vibration. It is said to be the sound of the Universe being created. To chant OM brings you into harmony with the Universe, with all that is. Chanting OM in a group fosters a sense of community, togetherness, because it actually synchronizes the brain waves of everyone in the room. It makes you feel at hOMe. Beginning a yoga class by chanting OM gets everyone on the same frequency and produces a powerful, spiritual tone for the class. Ending class with OM lets you leave the class on that same high frequency. It has also been proven to produce a state of mental calmness, serenity and euphoria. 

But let's break it down a little bit more. OM is technically a four syllable sound. A-U-M-silence. The first part, the "aah" sound, represents the beginning or creation. The majority of the world's languages begin with the "ah" sound. It resonates in your lower abdomen, stimulating the lower chakras. The root (Muladhara) and sacral (Svadisthana) chakras. Grounding and connecting you to the Earth, and opening you up to the flow of universal creation. The "ah" sound is also said to symbolize the physical realm of existence.

The second part, the U "ooh" sound, represents the realm of thought or consciousness. The dream state, the imagination. This sound travels up the abdomen, resonating in the upper abdomen, chest, and throat. The "oh" sound activates the solar plexus (Manipura), heart (Anahata), and throat (Vishuddha) chakras. It connects your physical and esoteric worlds. Inspiring truth, clarity, and balance in your life. 

The third sound, the "mmm" sound, represents unmanifest potential. This is your experience during deep, dreamless sleep. It represents the void before the universe came into being. The "mmm" sound resonates in the head, the third eye (or Ajna) chakra. This is the home of your intuition, the pineal gland in your brain. It stimulates your inner sense of knowing. It inspires.

Silence. The final sound in "om" brings about a state of bliss and a feeling of oneness with all that is. It is experienced in your crown chakra (Sahashrara), which is your connection to cosmic consciousness. 

OM represents the waking state, the dream state, the sleep state. It encompasses past, present, and future. Physical, thought, and unmanifest. Essentially OM means everything

Now try it! Aaaaauuuuuuuuummmmm......

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for the next seven generations.

Live with the intention to leave the world better than how you found it...for the next seven generations.  

There is a beautiful Iroquois law that states,  "In every deliberation, we must consider the impact on the seventh generation... even if it requires having skin as thick as the bark of a pine." 

This is The Great Law of the Iroquois. Everything you do, everything you create, everything you say - you must first consider the effect that it will have on the seventh generation. This law asks you to look about 140 years or more into the future. Look at everything you do...the car you drive, the food you eat, the materials you buy, the way you treat people... and weigh the effects of your choices. Always keeping in mind what it will mean, not only for you and your children, but for the children who are not even a thought yet.

I wish this law had been a universal law for the past 140 years. If we all lived with the next seven generations in mind, would climate change be an issue?

Many of us are good, kind people. Yet we make choices without getting all of the information first and without considering how it will affect even just the next generation. We consume things that destroy rainforests but we do it blindly. Even though we're aware of how awful industrial factory farms are for the environment, we consume. This blind consumption doesn't make us bad people, but it does make us selfish. What if we cared enough about the welfare of those who haven't been born yet to make ALL of our deliberations carefully and with them in mind? What if we truly wanted the best for our grandchildren's grandchildren, and their's after that? 

The truth is, we are responsible for the state of the planet for generations to come. Once we accept this responsibility and choose to honestly do our best I believe we'll take our time and think things through. Maybe the age of convenience will die. Maybe our grocery shopping trips will take longer because we would check the ingredients to make sure we weren't buying anything with palm oil or any other ingredient that could be destructive to the environment. Maybe we would pay closer attention to politics and the state of the world, in hopes that the next seven generations could enjoy peace in their lifetimes. Maybe we'll look ahead. Maybe, just maybe, our thoughts will create a better future for these children who won't exist until long after we are gone. 

 "A society grows great when old men plant trees whose shade they know they shall never sit in. " - Greek Proverb 

 

 

higher vibes.

Why do we talk about "vibes"? What does that mean? Vibe is short for vibration - which you probably could have guessed. Everything is made up of atoms. Atoms are roughly 95% empty space. Therefore, everything  is mostly empty space. We see things as solid because our eyes can only process electromagnetic vibrations. Electrons are constantly circling the nucleus of the atom, constantly moving, vibrating. This is what we, and everything else in this world are made of. Constant vibration. Energy. Energy which cannot be created, nor destroyed. What is consciousness? Energy. We can feel energy. We feel vibes. The heart generates an electromagnetic field that can be measured several feet away from the person's body. An aura. When two people are in close proximity, within each other's heart space, there is an undeniable exchange of energy. So what does it mean to "raise your vibration"? It means to be a source of positive energy. To me it means to let your heart radiate an aura of loving kindness. In order to raise your vibration, you first have to let go of fear and fear based emotions - like anger, jealousy, guilt, laziness, and selfishness. Replace those with love, and love based emotions - like forgiveness, generosity, peace, bliss, and unity. Meditate on the visceral sensation of love within the body. Radiate that energy out into this world. Vibrate higher, friends. 

 Painting by Alex Grey,&nbsp;Yogi &amp; Mobius Sphere

Painting by Alex Grey, Yogi & Mobius Sphere

Be love.

The truth is, we are more alike than we are different. We are more united than we care to recognize. We can't be separated. Not by religion, not by race, not by country, or whatever senseless border we choose to create in our little minds. We are stuck here together on this tiny planet hurling through the vastness of the universe. When one of us is hurt, we all hurt. When wars are waged over petty stories about what God we subscribe to or what chunk of land we think is ours, the whole of humanity feels it. The truth is, we are one people, one love. The sooner we recognize that truth the better. We may not be able to change the world, but we can treat each other with compassion, respect, and love. If the only thing you accomplish within this lifetime is learning to treat others with compassion then I'd say you lived a successful life. Fuck religion, fuck money, fuck what country you came from or what career you had. Just be love. Infinite love. 

 Reflection at Cathedral Rock in Sedona, AZ.&nbsp;

Reflection at Cathedral Rock in Sedona, AZ. 

just breathe.

Inhale. Pause. Exhale. Pause. Inhale.

It always comes back to this, the gentle flow of breath. Exhale. Pause. This natural rhythm that keeps us going, gives us life force energy. Inhale. Peace. Exhale. Simplicity. When we turn our attention to the breath, we are immediately brought into the present moment. Inhale. Now. We are brought into this very moment. Where everything is happening, always. Exhale. Surrender. Let go of the need to chase thoughts. Let go of worry and struggle. So often our thoughts can turn into a wild goose chase of what ifs and then whats. Breathe in. Be here instead. Why allow the mind to run in all directions? This moment isn't so bad. And by the time you've had a chance to over analyze and critique this moment, guess what? It's gone. On to the next. Exhale. Enjoy the ride. This life has plenty of chaos. Why live in chaotic thoughts? Let it be. Half the struggle happens in your own mind. Inhale. Peace comes from within. So does happiness, and love. Take a deep breath and just be with that breath every now and then. Exhale. Be grateful for each and every breath that graces your lungs. Someday there will be no more breath. And that's okay too. It all comes full circle. But for now, while you can, pause and enjoy what happens when you inhale. Notice the chest rise, notice the way it feels. Exhale. Feel the chest fall. Notice the way you feel when you exhale slowly. The way your heart beat gently slows and relaxes you. Pause. Inhale. There is so much beauty in the simplicity of the breath. So much to discover about yourself by simply quieting the mind. When you strip away the layers and layers of mindless chatter, the stories, the thoughts, the nonsense...what you have left is you. Not the story you tell to describe you. Not what's happened to you that makes you the way you are. Not your name, not your profession, not your hobbies or skills or fears or insecurities. Not your hopes or dreams. Just you. Exhale. That's where you'll find yourself. In that innermost space that's always been there and will always be there. That tranquil place that we forget exists because we are just so busy thinking and thinking and thinking and. Inhale. If you look into a mirror that's been covered with mud you won't see yourself. You'll see mud. That doesn't mean that YOU are mud. Strip away the layers. Wipe away the mud. And there you are. Exhale. Some call it spirit. Others call it the soul. Some call it atman. Why bother with names? A rose by any other name would smell as sweet. It's you. Inhale. Peace comes from within, do not seek it outside of yourself. The more frequently you go back to the breath, the easier it is to find that inner space of serenity. The easier it is to find yourself. Exhale.

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