NPR Study Finds Yoga Can Help With Back Pain, But Keep It Gentle, With These Poses

A recent study confirms something that most of us yoga teachers have known for years - YOGA can help with back pain. I've witnessed hundreds of students, both privately and in public classes, benefit from a focused yoga practice. The key is to be mindful of the postures chosen, and always adapt to your own personal needs. For example, if you have fused discs in your lower back, then deep twists or anything that twists the lower lumbar/sacral area is NOT appropriate for you. For this alone, I always recommend finding a qualified yoga practitioner before beginning a personal practice.  

Full article and attached PDF links below...

Russian Sauerkraut Recipe (Kislaya Kapusta)

A few days ago, I posted my latest fermented food - Russian Sauerkraut. A friend asked for the recipe. Here ya go:

 

 

Ingredients:
2 medium to large green cabbage,  (I prefer lighter green cabbage to bright green cabbage for this recipe)
2-3 carrots, grated
2 Tbsp fine sea salt
1 Tbsp sugar
2 Bay leaves
1 tsp Coriander

Tools:
Mandolin
Large glass bowl
Ceramic or glass plate to cover the glass bowl
Something heavy that is not plastic or aluminum to weigh down the glass plate. I use a stone mortar. You could also have a glass jar and fill it with liquid. Or use a big rock. 
Towel to cover the bowl during fermentation
Large rubber band to secure the towel

Once fermented, you’ll need:
Sunflower oil
Brown or purple onion

How to Make Russian Sauerkraut
1. Remove the outer layers of the cabbage and grate finely. I use a mandolin. Discard the core. Or trim and save for a veggie soup stock.
2. In a large glass bowl, mix the grated cabbage, carrots, sea salt and sugar. Knead it together really well with clean hands for 5-8 minutes, or until super juicy. You want there to be enough liquid to cover the cabbage when you pack it down.
3. Mix in the coriander and the bay leaves. Scrunch the cabbage another 30 seconds or so to get it fully mixed.
4. Cover the cabbage with your plate and press the plate down firmly, until liquid completely covers the cabbage. 
5. Top with your “weight,” be it your rock, glass jar filled with liquid, or a stone mortar.
6. Cover it with a towel and secure the towel around the bowl with a rubber band, so as to prevent flies and airborne debris from settling in.
7. Store at room temp, out of direct sunlight, for 4 days. You may hear it bubble as it releases gas every once in awhile. This is normal. 
8. Store in fridge for up to a few weeks.
9. Serve by squeezing out the liquid. Add your chopped onion and sunflower oil. YUM!

Jai Uttal: The Journey from Disillusionment to Devotion

My latest article for LA YOGA magazine is a two-part interview with Jai Uttal, one of the world's most respected kirtan musicians. Jai was a pleasure to interview, warm-hearted and with a truly loving spirit. We chatted via Skype, which I find to be incredibly helpful for interviews. Rather than connecting to just a voice over the phone, Skype gave us the opportunity to react to body language, inflections in the voice, and even real-world changes in the atmosphere. 

Article link here. Also pasted below

Attending a Jai Uttal kirtan, or call-and-response devotional music event, feels like being led by the hand of your beloved into a communal celebration of the Divine. He gives unrestricted access to his heart. We feel a deep, exposed inner truth, rather than a mere performance. At one point, he encourages us to sing with him in this communal devotion. The result is phenomenal: we feel included as we are, without walls, barriers, or masks. Every mantra, every note echoes in our innermost of hearts and melts away any resistance.

I first saw Jai perform about 15 years ago during a kirtan evening at Sacred Movement in Venice. The second time I saw him live was in 2017 at Wanderlust Hollywood, where he shared songs from his new album, Roots, Rock, Rama! to a packed crowd. The energy completely blew me away. People young and old swayed, danced, smiled, laughed, sang along and hugged each other. The evening was saturated with devotion and bathed in tenderness.

When Jai and I connected via Skype, he smiled from across the screen as he sipped his latest concoction, bulletproof chai. “I was a little drowsy and didn’t have time for a walk, so I decided on chai instead. This is actually an experiment,” he laughs, “ginger, cardamom, goat’s milk, MCT oil and a little maple syrup.”

Laughter and lightness pepper our interview, which dives into Jai’s past, his journey into kirtan, how marriage and love brought sobriety into his life, and the uncertain future of being an independent artist in today’s digital world.

A Grammy-nominated performer, Jai has released 19 albums throughout his career as a kirtan artist. He describes the double CD Roots, Rock, Rama! as a culmination of “Fifty years of kirtan singing, not all of it public.” CD1, or Rama Sun, sounds like fun and energetic Jai, kirtan infused with Jamaican beats. CD2 is Rama Moon; an introspective compilation drawing on the mellower sounds of Brazil.

Kirtan for Jai is, as he says, “The doorway to the Divine connection. It’s the way my spirit, my soul, my mind, [and] my heart, most easily and immediately connect with my Guru, with God, and with infinite Spirit. I know and trust that my Guru is always with me and God is always with me and in me, but in my consciousness I don’t feel that most of the time. Kirtan allows me to feel it a little more strongly. It allows me to get into a space where the walls are not so tightly shut. I started singing kirtan when I was about 16 or 17, not to say that I was leading kirtan, but I was part of a group and enjoying it a lot.”

Jai was introduced to kirtan at the age of 15. “I just happened to be in Central Park when I heard the Hare Krishnas singing kirtan. It was a great first look into kirtan and it really affected me.” Four years later, Jai traveled to India and kirtan became the background to his adventure. “The chanting of kirtans, prayers and Sanskrit mantras was everywhere. Indian music finally made sense to me.”

The time span between hearing the Hare Krishnas at Central Park, participating in devotional kirtan in India, and the creation of the 2017 release Roots, Rock, Rama! is a lifetime saturated with experience. The true spirit of this album lies not in the technical how-to’s, collaborations, or production, but in travel, adventure and soul searching.

Jai’s musical journey began long before India—or even that meaningful day in Central Park— in his childhood. He grew up in New York City with a dad who worked in the music business. “Every week, my dad, my sister, and I would sit down and with a stack of the top 20 top singles and analyze them.”

More than analyzing music, Jai began playing. First, the piano. A few years later, he discovered what he called “old-timey Appalachian music” and he took up the banjo, which he played as part of his admissions process to The High School of Music and Art in NYC. The banjo continues to make an appearance in nearly every CD Jai has released, including in “Madhava Mystic” on Roots, Rock, Rama! He says, “Then, during my psychedelic phase, I was heavily into Jimi Hendrix and The Beatles. I got into electric guitar, not acoustic, which is what I play now. I wanted to make the craziest sounds.”

Jai’s childhood did not offer a spiritual practice. “I was born into an alcoholic, artistic family. We were Jewish, but not devout. The gifts my parents gave me were equal to the difficulties and challenges.”

One of Jai’s deepest challenges—and most profound journeys – was his path to sobriety. “Sixteen years ago, I met Nubia and after a long distance relationship, we finally got married. Aside from everything else that she brought into my life, sobriety was one of the most important. At the time, I was in my late forties. I was embracing the Bhakti (devotional) path and sharing that music. There was no hypocrisy in my heart about singing devotional songs and using substances to get through the performances. I was drinking and taking a lot of substances just to make it to the stage. The levels of my being were completely out of sync. Nubia brought healing of that inner space. I don’t know if that healing came from her, or if suddenly I wanted to be sober because the love that we were experiencing was unlike anything else I felt in my life.”

It is a love that was delivered through devotion, through travels, through challenges as well as triumphs. Earlier in his life, Jai experienced a spiritual disillusionment that actually served as the catalyst for him to meet his lifelong Guru, the Indian Saint, Neem Karoli Baba, known as Maharaj-ji. Jai traveled to India at the age of 19 to meet another Guru he had been following, but the meeting never happened, and he became disillusioned with the idea of a Guru. “I was over the Guru thing. Been there, done that.”

Jai opened himself up to adventure instead. “I heard that Ram Dass was also in India and found him in the village of Vrindavan, where Ram Dass was meeting with his Guru, Neem Karoli Baba. At the time, I was open to experience, but wasn’t seeking a Guru anymore. I didn’t feel anything like, ‘Oh, this is my Guru and I made it.’”

“But I did feel very strongly that I had gotten to this place and there was nowhere else I wanted to go. I was so completely magnetized, intrigued, confused and just drawn to him and his energy.” Then one day, Maharaj-ji left, without word and without any notice of when he’d return.

“It was only then that I realized how incredibly attached I’d become to Maharaj-ji. I walked over to the Hanuman temple and just started singing. I recall this incredible outpouring of longing that I know was inside of me, probably since I was really little. It’s that longing that drew me to India.” He pauses, “In retrospect, Maharaj-ji drew me to India.”

After Maharaj-ji’s unexplained and sudden departure, Jai decided to stay in India until his funds ran out. He was living in a little village outside Benares (also known as Varanasi), when a friend from high school dropped by and offered to bring them bhang, an edible form of marijuana. The next morning at 4am they ate the bhang and walked over to the Buddhist pilgrimage site of Sarnath (outside of Varanasi proper) to climb up to the top of the Stupa.

Laughing, Jai explains, “People walk around stupas. They don’t climb to the top of Stupas. We climb to the top of the Stupa and start meditating, because we were very yogic stoners. The bhang became very strong, almost like an LSD trip, and I’m meditating and sweating, and meditating and sweating, when I suddenly hear this sonic BOOM! inside of my head, and I hear Maharaj-ji’s voice, whispering, “Ram, Ram, Ram, Ram…”

“With each repetition of that word, I felt like all of the spiritualness of my rigid yoga practice just drained out of me. At the time, I was committed to doing this very complex meditation sadhana (personal practice), and I was filled with ego because the sadhana was like a mountain you had to climb. But all of the willfulness just drained out of me, and in its place was the word, RAM.  Maharaj-ji used to chant RAM all the time. He would fill books, just writing RAM. He used to say, ‘When you say RAM, the impossible becomes possible’.”

Roots, Rock, Rama! is dedicated to Rama (RAM) and created in a collaborative field that spanned several continents and musical styles.

Perhaps the most unusual aspect of this album is Jai’s collaboration with a cellist and music producer in India, who recorded a chamber orchestra in India in two formats: direct to digital, clean and pristine—as well as onto a tape. The tape was left out in the sun for three days to age. In the end, Jai received two versions of all the string parts, “One clean, digital recording, and one crazy, degraded one…it sounded like a very warped reel to reel from the 1920s. A few weeks later Ben Leinbach (the album’s co-producer as well as drums/percussion performer) and I are in the studio and we listen to the degraded tracks. I love the way they sound, except they make you a little seasick, because they are so warped, so extreme. So we made a blend of the two and I think it sounds awesome.”

Jai’s life adventure from artistic teen to devotional singer and father has taken many twists and turns. The overriding impetus for Jai has been to share and invite us into a ritual of devotion and journey to the Divine through music.

Roots, Rock, Rama! is available on all formats and platform. For every album sold, the nonprofit organization One Tree Planted will plant a tree. Become a patron of Jai in his mission and learn more about his album and to join his August kirtan camp, visit: jaiuttal.com/events

Read more about Jai and his prophetic dream about the Maharaj-ji here.

Jai Uttal will be headlining the Saturday night main stage at Shakti Fest in Joshua Tree Retreat Center May 12-14.

Aria Morgan

Aria Morgan is a yoga teacher, doula and music lover who finds inspiration in nature: ariamorgan.com.

http://www.ariamorgan.com

April Fools

For Aprils Fool's Day, my daughter changed the autocorrect on my phone, so that anytime I try to type "Love" it changes it to "HOLY HOT POTATO!" And if I try to type "OK," it changes it to "Look at your butt!" Waiting to find out what other surprises she has in store for me. (eye roll)

So, if you get a message from me that says, "HOLY HOT POTATO you...Look at your butt!" You'll know I was meaning to say, Love you.. OK...

When I asked her today how she found out about Auto-Correct and thought of this, she said she looked up April Fools' Day pranks online. 

 

Mantra as Medicine, A Conversation with White Sun's Gurujas

My full length interview with Gurujas of Grammy Winners White Sun is up online, at LA YOGA Magazine.

I fell in love with White Sun II after my first listen. I began using their album as a tool (mantra as medicine) to help shift my energy when fatigued, frustrated and generally worn down. Love this album so much!

Thank you, Julia Yang, for the beautiful photography!

Grammy photo by Jeff Kravitz

RIP Rob Stewart

The world lost an incredible human being this week.

Rob Stewart was a fearless environmentalist, dedicated yogi and documentary filmmaker whose film Sharkwater put shark finning on the map. I interviewed Rob soon after his second documentary,  Revolution screened in Santa Monica. My interview follows below...

 

Save The Humans Now

By Aria Mayland| July 15th, 2015

“What must we do in order to keep the human race alive and vibrant for the next generation?”

Beautifully shot and edited, Revolution is a remarkable documentary by Director Rob Stewart about the necessary personal and global transformation that must occur if we are to secure our future as a species on this planet.

Revolution details Stewart’s journey into ocean conservationism over a period of four years and through fifteen countries. Stewart chronicles five mass extinctions that have occurred in the last 3.7 billion years. He employs the lens of self-interest and self-preservation as an educational tool, warning us that unless we act soon and rapidly, a sixth mass extinction is imminent. Aimed at audiences of all ages and primed as an educator’s tool, Revolution’s simple, powerful and poignant message is, “What must we do in order to keep the human race alive and vibrant for the next generation?”

As a cinematic narrative, Revolution opens somewhat timidly through a series of out-takes and highlights from his highly successful first documentary,  Sharkwater, which succeeded in banning the sale of shark fins worldwide. Revolution’s opening scenes show a young, optimistic Stewart filled with an unstoppable energy. We get to know the young, camera-new Stewart as he fumbles line after line, as he tours to cheering crowds worldwide and speaks at environmental rallies. We fear for his life in a dramatic moment, when he is nearly lost hundreds of miles at sea with just one friend and one camera. The film’s doesn’t quite hook us, however, until a Sharkwater Q&A in Hong Kong, when an audience member prods Stewart with a life-shifting question, “What is the point of saving the sharks if the U.N. estimates that the world’s fisheries will collapse by 2048?”

Stewart nearly falters and the more researchers and scientists Stewart meets with, the more urgent his message grows:

“It became really clear to me that it wasn’t really about the sharks. The message is Save The Humans Now, and I thought that the public really didn’t know that, yet. They thought it was rising sea levels in Bangladesh or a hurricane in the Philippines, or a panda in China that we needed to save.”

 

LA Yoga sat down to chat with Rob Stewart before the screening Revolution on the Santa Monica Pier. The free outdoor Earth Day Weekend event was organized by local yogi activists, Brock and Krista Cahill. Brock Cahill opened the evening with a family friendly yoga class, followed by an introduction by Rob Stewart, a blessing of Mother Ocean and the post-sunset screening of Revolution.

Stewart is well spoken, armed with facts and driven with an intoxicating optimism that powerfully draws people in. Naming the conservation movement, “the largest movement that has ever existed,” Stewart emphasizes collaboration and unity of all environmentally-minded organizations and is convinced that children are humanity’s biggest hope because they will fight the hardest for their rights. He is distributing Revolution for free and has created an educator’s online platform at TheRevolutionMovie.com.

LA Yoga asked Stewart to tell us more:

Stewart:  Creating a revolution is the task of the young generation. We need to change the educational system entirely so kids are taught what’s going on in the world and they can tackle this with everything they’ve got. The more they understand, the more they know, the more rewarding it’s going to be because they are going to get better at changing the world. The situation’s getting more dire, but the conservation movement is a great filter for amazing people coming into your life by working for good. I’m sure you know that karma: if you start working for good, the Universe aligns behind you. Young people get this right away. They don’t have to deal with the baggage that adults have to deal with, like ‘Really? This is working out so beautifully for me?’

LA Yoga: What do you say to people that feel, “I can’t possibly make a difference. Look at all that pollution in China, look at all that trash in the sea, what is one more plastic lid or plastic water bottle going to do?

Stewart:  It’s always been individuals that are going to change the world and 7 billion individual actions is a lot of plastic bottles. You’re going to incur karmic debt by doing destructive s*** and knowing it morally, so start pushing your world and your actions in the right direction.

LA Yoga: You emphasize creating a unified eco-activism that approaches conservation differently. How do we unite all the different groups out there?

Stewart: I started an organization called United Conservationists. I figured, it’s the biggest movement that’s ever existed. All we have to do is bring everyone together and we will crush the oil and consumptive industries, but it’s so hard to get these organizations to work together. They’re like children in sand boxes, protecting their own little castles.

I think that the reason the environmental movement has failed is because our ambitions are so small. Talk to your kid that by the middle of the century there will be no fish, no rainforests and that people will be fighting over what remains and yet the government and the adults will celebrate a 10% reduction in emissions.

Any child is going to realize that that this small victory will buy you half a percent more time in a hugely degraded world. It’s like Einstein said, “You can’t solve a problem by using the same thinking that created it.”

By fighting against our problems, we are just stooping to the level that the oil industry and the consumptive industry. We need to be immediately radical. You can’t be the biggest conservation group in the world and go up against a $20 billion company and not be radical. They’re funding our governments. They’re entrenched in everything. Fighting against our problems is the main reason why we’re failing.

What if humanity came together and imagined what the world could look like, if we designed it to be beautiful for us and all species? That might be exciting enough for kids to go, “Wow, what could happen if we could have bears on our roofs and grow food locally and all the rivers and lakes were teeming with fish and that’s where we got food from.”

What if pollution were illegal and we weren’t negotiating over what quantity of toxic contaminants corporations could put into our food water air and bodies? Doing it right, I think, would be inspiring enough to people to fight for it. Moving towards that goal would immediately make pollution illegal and we’d unleash the genius of corporation to do what it needed to do to make its product without destroying the world we depend on for survival. We wouldn’t have to get down in the trenches with Exxon or whatever. We would just chart our pathway where we wanted to go.

LA Yoga: Your website says “Revolution won’t stop until a sustainable human population is reached?”  What does that mean to you? Does that mean we should be having less kids? How do we monitor consumption?

Stewart: We need to decide as a species what our population should be, what level of living we want to live at. Knowing the technology that we have now and the technology that we’re using, we’re moving towards having too many people on this planet. If we did things right, we could probably burn fossil fuels and still capture carbon and soil in the atmosphere.

I think that we should have less kids because more than eating meat or driving a car, putting a whole new human in this world consumes a lot. You might be able to say that my kid is going to be a revolutionary and change the world and save everything. That would be amazing, but right now, we’re in a massive predicament. In putting out another person, we take away from someone else’s ability to survive in an [impoverished] country.

We know that we have a massively consumptive life and we are so privileged in North America to live the way we live. We live like kings and queens. We have to slow down and have a look at what it means to be a civilized human and think about sustainability.

Sustainability means you can perpetuate into the future. But we’ve gone so far past sustainability that for us to reach sustainability we have to become beneficial. We need to exist in a world where we make nature better, where we put more carbon into the soil, where we put more life into world, where we put more water out there where we make more energy than we use…so how do we do that? If we keep growing our population and destroying s*** everywhere, we can’t.

LA Yoga concluded our interview with Stewart just minutes before the screening of Revolution with this question, “What about those people who are jaded, who don’t believe that we can do it?

He answered, “Just get out of the way.”

Rob Stewart is distributing Revolution for free and has developed an educator’s online platform.  For more information visit: TheRevolutuionMovie.com

-------

Aria Mayland is a writer, yoga teacher, doula and parent.  ariamayland.com

Santiago is a Surfer, conservationist, yogi and ocean lover.  A Portrait, lifestyle and surf photographer from Lima, Peru; based in Venice beach. His first short film about Yoga its out now “The Walk of Life” SantiagoBisso.com

 

 

Just a music share...

Happy New Year! This year blasted off with lots of outdoor fun - hiking, hanging out near the ocean, and dancing with friends. I like to balance my social activities with creating space for quiet, internal reflection. These long ambients by Moby are perfect for resting, relaxing, and more. Enjoy! 

Healthier Options: An Allergen-free Chocolate Chip Cookie

OK. So if you're expecting Toll House, this ain't it.  But it's a damn fine allergen-free cookie that is GF, DF, soy-free, nut-free, egg-free and sweetened with coconut sugar. And it's vegan, too. Modified from another recipe:

JOY = when your 8YO steals two GF, DF, egg-free and coconut sugar sweetened cookies.#HealthyChristmasMagic #HealthyDesserts

JOY = when your 8YO steals two GF, DF, egg-free and coconut sugar sweetened cookies.#HealthyChristmasMagic #HealthyDesserts

PREHEAT OVEN TO 375º

Combine, in a Vitamix or blender:

          2 1/2 C. Coconut oil

          1 TBSP Sunflower Oil (or any mild-tasting oil)

          3/4 C Organic Coconut Sugar (use brown sugar if you want a more classic chewy cookie. Add          up to 1/2 C more sugar if you need more sweetness. Original recipe called for 1 1/2 C Sugar.)

          1/4 C  Maple Syrup (or Honey)

          1 T  Pure Vanilla Extract

          1/4 C water

BLEND all of the above until creamy.

In a separate bowl, mix:

          2 1/4 C Bob's Red Mill GF flour

          1 tsp  Salt

          1 tsp Xantham Gum* (skip Xantham Gum if you use "one for one" GF flour)

         1 1/2 tsp Baking Soda

         1/2 tsp Baking Powder

Mix well. Add to creamed mixture and beat until smooth.  If more liquid is needed, add 1 T water at a time. Stir in -

          10 oz Chocolate chips*  (less if you prefer)

*I use the Enjoy Life brand, which is where the original recipe came from. Enjoy Life is dairy, nut soy and GMO free, but heads up: they use evaporated cane juice as a sweetener. 

LET THE MIXTURE SIT FOR AT LEAST 10 MINUTES.

Drop by Tablespoonfuls, onto parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake for 9 minutes,. Cool on baking sheet for 15+ minutes.

YUM!

 

 

 

 

In the flow...

When things are meant to flow, they will. This is perhaps the biggest lesson of life.

In the case of our chosen career, it usually takes years of hard work before things just magically flow, but at some point, they will. Trust that that your destined path will make itself known. And when it does, be prepared.

I believe that Life is generous and gives us more than one chance to shine. If we're fighting Life and not ready, time and time again, those chances and that inner voice begin to fade.

So joyful to be #InTheFlow

Native American Prayer

This prayer came into my inbox this morning, and I wanted to share it:

Oh Great Spirit,

Whose voice I hear in the winds,

And whose breath gives life to all the world,

Hear me!  I am small and weak, 

I need your strength and wisdom.

 

Let me walk in beauty, 

and make my eyes ever behold

the red and purple sunset.

 

 

Make my hands respect the things

you have made, and my ears sharp

to hear your voice.

 

Make me wise so that I may understand

the things you have taught my people.

 

Let me learn the lessons you have

hidden in every leaf and rock.

 

I seek strength, not to be greater than my brothers and sisters,

but to fight my greatest enemy – myself.

 

So when life fades, as the fading sunset,

my spirit may come to you without shame.

Happy Earth Day

It's Earth Day, it's a Full Moon, and for those who celebrate, it's Passover. Big day out in the cosmos.  Enjoy this video...it has nothing whatsoever to do with yoga. This clip below is my favorite...

 

The entire video is here:

The Story of the Chandelier

Once upon a time, there was a girl who liked chandeliers, not the sparkly pretty kind, but the kind that looked like they belonged in a castle --  Gothic chandeliers, candles dripping wax down the sides, wrought iron and spirals, spinning to the sky. There weren’t many of those around, but whenever she saw one, she gravitated towards it like a kid to sugar: oooooohhh….yummy, she thought, as she dreamed about having one exactly like that, one day. 

One day, the girl, now grown up, was gifted a chandelier. A beautiful, Goth-inspired, wrought iron chandelier with electric candles that didn’t drip wax, but in the dark looked like they might. Mysterious blue beads enveloped the chandelier in helix-like spirals. And the woman was happy. Very happy.

The woman was in the process of moving, and the chandelier sat in a garage until she found a new place to live. Once she moved in, life took over, and the chandelier sat out on the patio balcony for another few months. Eventually, she cleared permission with her landlord to install the chandelier in the apartment: he required that a licensed, bonded electrician install it. She found one who came highly recommended, but after sending him photos of the chandelier, he said it looked like it had gotten water damage and probably didn’t work anymore. It would cost $175 for him to come over and take a look at it and let her know if it works for not. He guessed that she might need to spend an additional few hundred dollars rewiring the chandelier. The woman tallied up the approximate total cost and hesitated....

The beautiful chandelier hung on her balcony, and although it brought her joy, it wasn't the same amount of joy as a chandelier hanging above her dining room table. Every day, the woman gazed lovingly at the chandelier with longing, but with an internal state of resistance. She got upset at herself for leaving it out on the balcony where it probably had become damaged by water. She emailed photos to other licensed electricians, but fell into a cycle of flaky, busy, expensive electricians. More resistance.

Then one day, the hesitation faded. She felt her old fearless self come back and decided to leap and just see what happens. She signed up for NextDoor and contacted a local licensed electrician with great reviews. He seemed hopeful that the chandelier was not water damaged. Worst case scenario, she thought, if the chandelier doesn’t work, I keep it out on the balcony as a really cool art piece unit I can budget to have it rewired and reinstalled. The electrician came over and installed the chandelier in just under an hour. No water damage. The chandelier works beautifully. 

The story of the chandelier, like so many truths, is a metaphor for an our inner state of being. Like anything in our lives, how we do one thing is how we do everything. When there is resistance, the Universe seems to conspire against us. More and more resistance builds. When that resistance is cleared because we are no longer attached to the outcome, the pathway opens up like broad daylight. But even when it doesn’t, clearing the resistance allows for a greater sense of flow within our lives. 

Now, every morning when I wake up, I eat breakfast under my amazing chandelier. And every night when I sit on my couch and catch up on work, or watch a movie, or read a book, I am thankful for the light from my chandelier.

Thanks to Jennie, for my awesome chandelier!

 

 

KonMari Method + Shivratri + Solar Eclipse!

I've been remiss about my Blog primarily because I was sick, off and on, for almost the entire month of February. I started to feel much better about a week and a half ago, and just last week, I dove back into teaching a reduced schedule of classes.

It's humbling how illness can weaken the system, and with a system like mine, that already lacks certain immune functions, I am seeing for the first time in years how careful I really must be. I guess I'd gotten a bit cocky about my health.  So I began supplementing with all kinds of heomepathic, naturopathic and herbal concoctions...like my Evening Wellness Shot you see below.

                              Elderberry + Lemon + Oregano OIl + Manduka Honey Wellness Shot

                              Elderberry + Lemon + Oregano OIl + Manduka Honey Wellness Shot

Last weekend, I suddenly felt an extremely strong urge to purge clothes which don't serve me anymore. I had heard of the KonMari method, and began AudioBooking The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanes Art of Decluttering and Organizing, and dove into my clothing with such vigor that over the weekend, I disposed of 4 huge bags of clothes, and still have one category to go through (dresses I bought as a Bridesmaid that I've held onto for how many years, and why??...and old Jackets). I've also kept two bags of really cute really nice in almost new condition clothes for friends/clothing swaps. Because really, even if they don't bring me joy, they are far too cute to just give away without offering up to people I love, first. 

The KonMari Method feels GREAT. I'm totally hooked. There really is a sense of magic in only holding onto an item that truly brings me joy, and letting go of all the "but one day I might still need it," "But I can use it for something, some day."  or, "But it was a gift.."  

I still have Books, Papers, Bathroom Items, Kitchen Items, Utlility/Laundry Rom Items, Storage Space Items, and Random Knick-Knacks and Photos to Kon Mari. Still a lot to do and so excited to do it!

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Yesterday afternoon as I picked up my daughter from school, my normally upbeat spirit sunk like a paper boat in the bath tub and I wasn't sure why. It was bugging me and bugging me, until after her bedtime, I logged into Facebook and noticed this following post about the Solar Eclipse.  Now it makes sense. Things that I don't need are being purged. Just like I felt an urge to purge my clothes, so is my inner self experiencing a purging of its own. Add to that the Indian festival of Shivratri which just ended, and it all makes perfect sense. 

Eclipse is happening in 4 hours... enjoy the transformation. 

Solar Eclipse + the Night of Lord Shiva (Vedic Astrology) - from YOGANONYMOUS

 

by Anandashree Kari Field, Vedic Astrology

March 7, 2016

Brace yourself for change, because the solar eclipse of March 8, 2016 has the power to transform karmic patterns and liberate you from toxic entanglements. If you’ve been clinging to false hope, or can’t seem to cut the cord with someone who’s been draining your energy, this powerful eclipse, which takes place at 5:54 p.m. PST, will burn up old stories and attachments that no longer serve you, leaving room for a new book to be written.

The sun and moon will join with Ketu, the planet known to be the most spiritual and detached of all nine planets in Vedic Astrology, to light the cleansing fires of liberation. Symbolized by a headless serpent, the shadow demon Ketu will whip its mighty tail through the nakshatra—or area of the sky—known as Purva Bhadrapada, which represents endings and exits.

In order to press forward, we must release the binds of the past and start with a clean slate. This process is not always easy or comfortable, but the influence of Purva Bhadrapada will ensure that it is swift. Symbolized by the front legs of a stretcher or coffin as it carries a body to the cremation grounds, Purva Bhadrapada heralds death and rebirth. This fiery nakshatra may demand that you reassess what is truly important in life and rearrange your priorities accordingly.

The Hindu holiday of Maha Shivaratri—or “The great night of Shiva”—falls prior to the eclipse, on the evening of March 7 (if you live on the West Coast, it will fall on March 6). On this night, the thin sliver of waning moon, which he wears in his matted hair—the Shiva Moon—will be seen rising before dawn from 4:00–5:30 a.m. (depending on your location).

In India, it is customary to stay up all night, fasting and singing mantras to Lord Shiva, who is known as the destroyer. Often depicted in a wild dance of destruction, Shiva is also seen as a yogi seated quietly on a Himalayan mountainside, deep in contemplation.

It is said that when Shiva leaves the Himalayas, he makes his home in the cremation ground and smears his body with the ashes of the dead. Around the time of this eclipse, it would be wise to take a cue from Lord Shiva, and take the time to sift through the heavy baggage you may have been carting around for decades—or, in some cases, lifetimes—and let it go. This is an eclipse that can liberate you from the shackles of old karmic patterns, if you are willing to cut the cords.

Although this solar eclipse will only be visible in totality in areas of the Pacific Ocean, Indonesia, and Malaysia, it will be partially visible in India and Hawaii. Whether it is seen or not, its influence will still be felt, especially by people who have critical natal points in sidereal Aquarius and in the nakshatra of Purva Bhadrapada. To find out how this eclipse affects you personally, book a reading with me.

One of the primary Hindu deities, Lord Shiva is known as the consummate yogi, and is said to have wandered naked through the land with no wealth, family, or worldly possessions. His contemplative influence provides a much-needed antidote to this fiery eclipse, which will occur in a rare alignment of all nine planets in three fixed signs, an event that could stir up quite a bit of tension and moodiness, and may even cause people to behave erratically. Moreover, Saturn’s influence could amplify feelings of insecurity and fan the flames of dissatisfaction, while an exact aspect from Jupiter could throw gasoline on the fire with some dangerous arrogance and unrealistic expectations. Be wary, because false teachers and bad advice may cloud our judgment and cause unnecessary confusion around this time.

It is said that Lord Shiva can reduce the bonds of negative habits and beliefs to ashes with a single glance, and that prayers and offerings to him have the power to alter the laws of destiny and break our karmic ties. By offering your prayers to Lord Shiva, and by repeating the mantra Om Namah Shivaya, you can accelerate the transformative process sparked by this eclipse and clear away all negative karma. Also, be sure to wear light colors and to avoid leather in the days surrounding this potent eclipse.

This is a revolutionary eclipse that promises to free us from attachments and incinerate the karmic patterns that have kept us from reaching our highest potential. With a brave heart, take your troubles and throw them in the fire of Purva Bhadrapada, knowing that infinite potential will rise from the ashes.

- See more at: http://yoganonymous.com/solar-eclipse-the-night-of-lord-shiva-vedic-astrology#sthash.h2JXtN4q.dpuf



Wise Words...

I am so inspired by this video with the amazing Jane Goodall. Inspiring words from a woman of strength, integrity and passion for life. 

Video Embed function seems to be awry on squarespace,. please click the video itself to be linked directly to the facebook page that posted the video. thanks!!

Video Embed function seems to be awry on squarespace,. please click the video itself to be linked directly to the facebook page that posted the video. thanks!!

Feeling #Grateful yet? How about #Blessed?

#Grateful and #Blessed seem to dominate social media these days, captioning selfies across the globe. Seems like more than half of these hashtags fall into either the Remote Travel Shot or The Life is Grand because I am chilling by this Amazing Pool/Beach/Tub shot.

How do you express your Gratitude?

How do you express your Gratitude?

How do you express your gratitude? 

I have much to be grateful for. I came to this country as a young 2yr old immigrant. My parents left countries where both had experienced religious harassment and where neither faced the kind of opportunities present here in the U.S. My parents never let me forget why they came here and how lucky we are to live here. Though I am grateful for my Russian and Egyptian heritage, I am immensely grateful for the opportunities I have been gifted in the United States.

Twelve years after arriving in the States, I nearly died in a car accident. I have my life to be grateful for. 

Bizarrely, with so much to be grateful for, every time I peer out into my world through its ever-present digital filter. I lack gratitude. Instead, I focus on all the things that are wrong with our world: The acidifying oceans and rapidly diminishing fisheries; The scarcity of water worldwide;  Mentally unwell people who go on shooting sprees. The fact that these days, people live in fear of each other. Children are not allowed to play freely in their neighborhood. Climate change is affecting the planet. We are going through the sixth major extinction. Terrorism is affecting us all. 

When this happens, I stop what I'm doing. Shut off the screen, close my eyes and take 5 deep breaths. I visualize energy moving in and out of my body. By the end of those 5 deep breaths, I am in an empowered rather than a disempowered state.

It's not secret that the more we dive into a train of thought, the deeper we are sucked into that particular pattern. I have to remind myself that my energetic state is entirely up to me. When I do, #GratitudeIsEverywhere.

Look, I'm no angel. Gratitude doesn't come automatically. Like yoga, Gratitude is a #Practice.

I remind myself daily to bring Gratitude to the present: Gratitude for being able to wake up and see my world; for my arms and legs and fingers and toes; for my brain which has the ability to process information; for the Sun and the MagnificentOcean. Gratitude for my family and friends.

Think about it. Compared to so many throughout the history of humankind, we are incredibly lucky. Few Americans in our day and age have lost a family member to starvation, malnutrition or dehydration. Our women and children are not in widespread danger of physical violation and slavery. We aren't ruled by a mentally unstable dictator. We're allowed to drive/fly/walk/bike across the United States without permission from the Federal Government. We don't live in a state where religion faces blatant discrimination. 

I also have to remind myself daily to put up the good fight, to live with the courage and decency to stand up  for what I believe in. Because it's all to easy to "Like" the important causes on Facebook, sign a few online petitions and yet do no more. 

Get Up Stand Up never rang truer than before. 

That's what I'm working on.  

How about you?

Remember, #Gratitude depends on your #Perspective.

Your perspective is marred by #Polarity.

#Polarity is the gift of being human and on this planet. Polarity forces us to reconnect with our core beliefs, which reawakens our sense of #Power, which in turn, reignites our #Purpose and sense of #Gratitude.

May you have a #BlessedThanksgiving