Off the Mat – Activated after Bhakti Fest

It was one of my very first yoga classes that my teacher spoke about practicing yoga “off the mat.” I initially came to yoga to get in shape, lose some weight, and start a new exercise routine, with no intentions to get in touch with myself or find any sort of spirituality in the process. I remember thinking to myself, “ of course you can practice yoga off the mat, you just do the poses on the ground anywhere else!” Easy peasy.

It wasn’t until that moment in savasana that my mind got quiet, I felt my body, and my breath became my own sacred white noise, that I realized that yoga is far more than a twisted posture in a peaceful room. Class after class I would reach that feeling I couldn’t describe and still barely can, that feeling of connection to myself and everything else around me. It started to come to me in different postures, and then in meditation, and then I started to feel it after class, when I’d stumble onto the bustling streets of NYC and still feel that sensation of deeper connection. The people or situations that once agitated me no longer carried so much weight. And there it was: I was practicing yoga off the mat.

This photo and cover photo by: Monique Feil

Thousands of downward dogs later and now I understand why practicing yoga off the mat is not only important, but necessary. My understanding for what yoga actually is has been completely transformed— I now know that yoga is a way of a life, a way of a service, and truly a way of activating our own lives to reach outside of ourselves and into the world. After attending Bhakti Fest in September, my beliefs were absolutely validated and certainly expanded, as this festival lives and breathes yoga off the mat.

As the mantras were being chanted and the mala-wearing yogis were saluting the sun as it spread its rays through the Joshua Trees, there was devastation happening around the world. Hurricanes destroyed the eastern side of our beautiful country and wildfires scorched the old growth forests of the West, while ice caps were simultaneously melting at rapid speed in the arctic. This, amongst the heavy political strife in ours and so many other countries around the world, pushed me to wonder how chanting and deep breathing in a Southern California desert could possibly contribute to this polarized world we are living in in a positive way. While I felt a shift inside myself, how could that reach outside of myself?

Photo by: Monique Feil

So many teachers, musicians and artists at Bhakti Fest were tuned into this same question, and addressed it quite directly. From MC Yogi’s lyrical genius, singing “love is righteous, and it might just save the whole world from this global crisis,” to Michael Brian Baker’s plea to protect our planet and its people by supporting Chase Iron Eyes to shut down the Dakota Access pipeline and drop all charges against water protectors. This festival is not just about feeling good, but also about being real with our own innate power and using it for good.

After taking a class with Sianna Sherman, focused on creating change off the mat and in the world, we spoke more in depth about how yoga can inspire compassionate activism. Sianna teaches Rasa Yoga, “an alchemical fusion of mantra, mudra, asana, Bhakti, tantra, soul alchemy and earth ceremony.” One of its goals she said is “to remember that we are a collective tribe and also earth guardians, and we are here to protect and serve the earth and each other.” She spoke about using yoga as a pathway to better understand our own shadows and the power of turning towards, rather than away, from our own pain and anger. These practices teach us how to work with our own emotions and stay centered so that when it’s time to be a voice of change and to be of true service to the world, we are not pulled out of ourselves, but rather grounded and activated from within. “If we use our power and really consciously work with our own emotional fluency and literacy, and emotional intelligence, then we can change all the energy inside, including all the anger and rage—so we can truly create positive change,” said Sherman. What we’ve seen happen far too often is that “rather than using our power consciously, we end up polarizing and dehumanizing the other point of view and righteously standing only in our own narrow perspective” she said.

Sherman’s sweetie and beautiful musician, Masood Ali Khan, also had a strong take on the matter of change-making. He shared about how the sustainability of our world “is coming closer and closer to its death if we don’t make a move. This is a call for us to rise up.” He went on to say that in order to create change we need to move as a family and a community, so we can expand fast. “We need to make changes now, because it’s going to be too late if we wait. And you know the way that the planet is going— a week, two weeks could be too late, who knows what the next storm might bring,” said Khan.

Photo by:  Simone Levine

Bhakti Fest was really a place to gather people together to open their hearts and minds in order to activate change off of the mat. And while we came together to chant the mantras and pray, a very important medicine for the self, according to Breathwork facilitator and founder of the The Breath Center, Michael Brian Baker, “it is not enough to actually create change in our world as we need it now.” He went on to say, “we’ve reached this critical mass where things are shaking and going on, and if you look at it from a spiritual standpoint, the right brain would tell you that spirit incarnated into this physical form in order to take action, because spirit without a container can not create change on a material plane.” The call is loud and clear: it’s time to take action now!

As I left Bhakti Fest on a high of feeling the good vibes and inner transformation, I knew there was much more for me to do. I signed some petitions for the Dakota Access Pipeline, and am honing in on what lights me up so I can practice my yoga off the mat from my own center, a center that is truly ignited.

Learn more and connect with Bhakti Fest:

bhaktifest.com

 

 

 

 

Simone is an experiential educator who’s passion for international travel, growth, and transformation take form through photography, practicing and teaching yoga, and communing with nature.

IG :  @momomagical

Walking Here and There

So…about five months ago my car got hit and stopped being road worthy. Honestly, it was sort of a relief once the immediate crisis of the scenario settled in my mind. Although that car hauled me around for five years it was a lemon from the time of purchase. Often, it’s mechanical oddities stressed me out, and although I wanted to be all mindful and let it go, this question of whether or not I would actually get to where I was going always rested in my mind. Probably the best thing about the car was that I developed quite a Japa yoga practice chanting Om, Sohum and the Ganesh mantra while driving around and wondering if it would make it. So, rather joyfully, I sold it for parts and pocketed the money I received for damages.

At first, I went to the bank and started the uncomfortable process of financing and that entire intrusive dance. After the dismal investigation of exaggerated car costs and interest laden payments, I had second thoughts about the whole structure of our society and the cost of cars. I am not an eco-warrior and not trying to make a statement but after a rather heated conversation with a bank official and shady vibes from more than one car salesman I decided to put one foot in front of the other and begin walking since I am lucky enough to live only twenty five minutes from work by foot.

Now, remember, I live in Alaska and this all happened in October. Winter and cold were approaching but I was determined to make a change. I purchased a warm slick jacket then made sure I had toasty gloves and hat. Smart Wool socks and beat up Extra Toughs came next. I was ready. Yes, I walked through snow and cold then into the bursting spring of Alaska. Most of all, I started to use my legs, felt connected to my body on a deeper level and saw the world around me again with fresh eyes.

When one walks, a whole vision opens up! One starts to see. Of course, we always see, but do we see? The obvious images of the same old landscape that I saw everyday now began to take on a character and a depth. The nuances of sky at different times of day initiated awakening before me, the shifts in air and the subtleties of the atmospheric moisture made sense to my body. I started to see the beauty again of Anchorage, Alaska even in the midst of grimy streets, wandering street people and dirty snow. The never ending whirl of light and darkness in this frontier landscape became real again for me as I watched the sunshine diminish in winter then return again behind the mountains as spring came back.

Then, there were the people of the street. The wandering folk of Anchorage who one sees on corners or at cross walks making their way through the elements. Sometimes drunk , sometimes moody, sometimes just getting by but always friendly, there is a certain communal aspect that they share and I get to be part of it as one of the walkers. We greet each other, sometimes just a nod or at times a random conversation about weather while waiting for a red light so we can cross some raging road.

Walking clears the mind and focuses one on the here and now. I believe this completely and this experience has furthered my conviction on this point. I think I will continue to walk and keep this connection to myself and the greater world.

Take sometime and just walk here and there. Find a way to let your feet carry you and enjoy the journey.

Om Shanti…

 

 

 

David is a vinyasa style yoga teacher and lead indoor cycling instructor at Anchorage Yoga and Cycle way in up in Alaska, the land of ice and sun. He loves to find the connection of yoga to everyday life. Check out a one if his classes.

The Importance of Eco-Friendly Athletic Wear for Yoga and Beyond

Cover Photo:

Yoga Slackers: Sam Salwei and Raquel Cruz Hernandez

Photographer: Eric Ward

Many of us choose yoga as a form of exercise, not only because it’s low-impact and improves our overall health, but because we value a natural lifestyle. Thanks to athletic clothing produced with man-made materials like polyester and nylon though, microfibers have been leeching into our oceans. Yes you read that correctly.

Scientists studying our lakes and oceans, have discovered that man-made, plastic-based fibers in clothing are showing up at an alarming rate in our precious ecosystem. Whereas natural fibers, like organic cotton, are better at breaking down in the environment, without leaving harmful microscopic microfibers behind.

After extensive research and speaking to some Yoga professionals (thanks truecoretx.com and yogatrade.com), I found some retailers who value eco-friendly, sustainable, comfortable, and fashionable athletic wear for yoga and beyond.

Solid Sustainable Brands To Know

Anjali is a NYC based fashion retailer which broke out in 2006. Focusing on yoga wear, this company founded by married couple Julissa Carranza and Kristinn Sigridarson, creates stylish fair-trade, sustainable clothing made from organic cotton, soy, modal, and recycled polyester. The tout their clothing is sweat shop labor free, as the pieces are produced in NYC and LA. Both women and men can enjoy selecting comfortable garments from Anjali, when they plan on getting into their next downward dog or tree pose.

Earth Yoga is based in Malibu, California, and is another brand to check out. The founder has been practicing yoga for over ten years, so it is only fair to support a devoted yogi. Founder Noreen Austin offers reasonably priced yoga clothing, created from environmentally responsible polyester fibers from recycled bottles. You can choose from tops, bottoms, and comfortable hoodies.

Green Apple, based in Manhattan Beach, California, stands out as a sustainable choice. All of the clothing made by Green Apple is vegan and biodegradable. You can find tops, jackets, and bottoms made with chemical-free bamboo and organic cotton. The founder of Green Apple has a background of over two decades in the athletic apparel business.

 

– Since 1992, retailer prAna made a commitment to produce clothes for yoga that are biodegradable, maintain a sustainable business model, and reduce their greenhouse emissions. This company not only offers yoga clothing, but accessories, jackets, dresses, and swimwear. Clothing from prAna is made from organic cotton, hemp, and Jacquard among other fabrics.

Inner Wave produces mainly organic and biodegradable yoga clothing. All their clothes are produced in LA, California, and the company believes that your inside should match your outside. Women and men can find tops, bottoms, and even jewelry. Sustainable and eco-friendly choices never felt this good.

Reflect Your Values Effortless

Sustainability is a major part of finding our balance and lessening our carbon footprint. We not only want to choose to sustain our bodies with exercise and diet, but we also want to choose sustainable actions that reflect our best selves.

When we support retailers that make clothing that reflect our care for our health and our planet, we send a resounding message to the world.

Thanks to the efforts of some awesome yoga practitioners, finding eco-friendly clothing that matches your values and meets your budget is easier than ever before. As yoga lovers and health-conscious individuals are becoming more mindful about their lifestyle choices, retailers are listening and acting in kind.

“We live in an age where we can not only bring meaningful change to our lives, but by our choices, we can make a meaningful impact on our world.”

A healthy lifestyle is not just about exercise and a healthy diet, but making conscious choices that make a better you inside and out. Choosing to wear eco-friendly clothing is a great way to make an impact on the planet and your workout.

 

 

Melanie Nathan is an environmentalist, entrepreneur, writer for Huffington Post and beginner yoga enthusiast. Connect with her on Twitter to learn more.

The Inner Spark

Letting go, moving on, closing a chapter, becoming a new person, starting from scratch, changing direction or starting down a new path. Whatever phrase fits you best…we will all at some point experience “it”.

We all have, at some point had to ‘let go’ in our lives and it is likely there will be many more to come, however it is the letting go part that truly scares us, as we are forced to trust what the future brings. We are fearful of the unknown and of making wrong decisions that may lead to ‘failure’. This often results in us clinging on to what we used to have and finding reasons to continue hanging on to it.

We seem to forget the saying that, “every time a door closes, another one opens”. When we are faced with a scary situation, we delve so deep into it, that we fail to see the bigger picture and so allow our emotions to take control and lead us blindly.

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Your emotions are the tears of your heart. Let them surface, allow them to flow but don’t let them take control. Consciously and mindfully tell yourself, “Sadness is running through me”. Be aware of the emotion, accept it and just as consciously, let it go again.

It•does•not•define•you•

When a scary “moving on” situation arises in your life, take a step back. Although it seems hard at this very moment,

It•Is•Not•The•End•
Right now, life is giving you the chance of starting over new, of recreating yourself and the life you are living. Peeling off all those outer layers and embracing the YOU, you have been from birth. The YOU that through all your life’s happenings has hidden in the deepest most sacred corner of your heart and is now breeching the surface like a free diver catching a breath of fresh air.

There is never really an end to anything…not even death can be called an ending. What is an ending anyways? Ever wondered? I ask myself that question every time I close a chapter. To me, it means change and yes, change can be scary but change can also be exciting. It depends how you wish to see it and how you let it into your life.

In fact, what you call an “ending” is in reality, a multicolored, sparkling, glittery, loud and clear, explosive ‘new years’ style firework wake up call; from you, to you.

So brush off the dust and move your sweet ass into gear and explore the vast wonderland hidden inside you. To be more precise; it is a blessing in disguise.

There is no other beautifully bittersweet way to make you realize that you’ve grown. Congratulations! BAM!! In reward, change is knocking at your door. You have become something bigger and now life wants you to take action according to your personal growth.

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Don’t go and cut your hair, move home, buy a cat or talk more spiritually. Sit•And•Listen. There will be a constant struggle with your emotions telling you otherwise, telling you to go back to who you used to be. That’s ok. These emotions are again, •just•running•through•you•not•defining•you•. What will define you are your actions. Whether you choose to listen to that inner ticking time bomb, that silent firework, that wake up call, or whether you will allow your emotions to take control again.

No matter what you choose, your emotions will always be there with you and that is the greatest gift we have.
Don’t get me wrong but that •Inner•Spark• though, will only arise occasionally, just once every so often, here and there…if you care to notice it.

Maybe it’s in that silent morning hour when the world is still asleep but your mind is wide awake, or when the sun disappears behind the ocean and contentment is running through you. Maybe it appears when the elevator door closes in front of you and you realize it is just you and the four walls around you or maybe it arrives when life just wants to tell you, it knows better than you do.

My question to you my friend is; will you listen? Will you trust? Will you have faith?

 

 

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Danae Borsani is a German/ Italian Yogi, lives on Mallorca and is a passionate Yoga teacher and Blogger, soulseekergirl.com about what she does best: The Art of Yoga, Food, Travel and Health. She inspires her readers toward a healthy and fulfilled lifestyle.

So, You Want To Make A DIFFERENCE??

So, You Want To Make A DIFFERNENCE??

First of all, you are alive; accept it.

The absolute most important thing is to know is yourself.

Love yourself as a creation of supreme existence. Cherish and Love yourself and YOUR LIFE. It is a gift that you chose and are choosing to accept.

Live it.

Let change move you into higher grounds, and allow others to change.

Number two, some suggestions:

Quit smoking FOR THE AIR, let your body benefit.

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Never buy paper towels again FOR THE TREES. Use a towel. Or save and use your napkins that are otherwise getting tossed.

FOR THE OCEAN: Everything you touch that is plastic, THINK about whether you need that thing. Can you live with out it? If so, then you don’t need it!
that includes:
-Your daily starbucks coffee drink (bring your own cup)
-To go salads (make your own)
-The straw from lunch (just let your server know that you don’t use straws when you sit down)
-Plastic containers of detergent (you can buy powdered detergent in a cardboard box), etc, etc.

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Take a shower every other day, or at least take short showers — your body cleans itself naturally. Use essential oils like a victorian princess.

Make your own cleaning and beauty supplies: https://www.diynatural.com

Walk or ride a bike whenever you can — your transit might be the best part of your day and a beautiful way to spend time with yourself.

Eat wisely, you are what you eat. Consider and respect the animal on your plate. Consider and respect the extra box of organic spinach grown hydroponically and transported across three states. Consider and respect the tomatoes from your neighbor, from the hand of an immigrant farm worker, from a can. Consider your organic, processed health bar you bought on sale. Consider eating whole foods and growing your own.

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And how about new clothes? It is not unlikely that you never need to buy another article of clothing ever again, considering you can live naked from the moment you were conceived until your last breath.

The truth is we are not far removed from anything; not from the Great Depression Era that only a few generations ago forced every single individual in the U.S. to conserve and save everything, food, water, clothes, paper, and everything was a commodity, nothing was wasted. Ask your Grandma.

Nor are we removed from the indigenous peoples world wide that live traditionally to this day.

We are not far removed from the hunger, the happiness, the hate, the humanity.

Wether you choose to see it or not, we live with thousands of individuals and families who live on the streets, scraping their lives together;
and maybe in the past that was even you —
maybe it will be you in the future…

You are not separate from the animals.
You are not separate from the grasses, cactus, fruit trees.
You are not separate from the war, from the tsunami.

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Know this and grow with it. Feel it.

Sulking gets us no where. LOVE MOVES.

Let the shadow push you to the light.

Connect with others in GENUINE experiences. You are your greatest judge. Release from your culture and live through your heart.

Your heart is the culture of all beings. Open it. Relax and breathe into it.

I like to imagine the powerful energy field around my heart and visualize it connecting with people, even when I’m in a conversation with someone that I don’t agree with, even when I see or hear politicians that I don’t agree with, with my family members, with hate, with pain, because love is more powerful.

Open your heart to spread the connective energy. The planet needs it now.

The first, the last, the only step to make the REAL difference in the world today, in your friend group, in your family is to OPEN YOUR HEART TO YOURSELF.

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You don’t need to read a book, or take a class, or fight, or even think about a thing; you must look within. This is the absolute most important thing that has ever existed in yours or anybody’s life.

Make a difference and:

“Know Thyself”
–Socrates

 

 

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Abigail Tirabassi: writer, dreamer, believer, artist, ocean lover, finding joy daily.

IG: @scrambby

A Consolation to the Future

Many moons ago when I was about 14 years old, I was creating a collage in my room out of a (unbeknownst to me) relatively common Japanese print from a series that I had acquired from a garage sale. I had barely finished when my dad came to me and asked if I wanted to go to the Museum of Fine Art (in downtown St. Pete, Florida). It was Sunday funday, and of course I wouldn’t miss a chance to ride downtown and hang with pops. Well, upon entering the museum I noticed a girl wearing the same shorts as me (unusual and dorky pastel plaid hand-me-downs) and then being drawn to the nearest gallery room I immediately noticed on the wall, framed, and maybe even a part of the permanent collection there, a collage made from the exact same Japanese print that I had been cutting up in my room.

And I thought to myself, “Huh…huuuuuuuuuuuuuuuh…”

Coincidences. We can only stop to wonder the complexities and intricacies of telepathic and psychic connections. From knowing who’s on the other end of the line before you answer a phone call, to encountering an object or picture during the the day that you recall encountering in your dream the night before. Even if you don’t believe in it, coincidences happen to everyone at one point or another. It’s as if we are surrounded by the invisible coincidences but only sometimes notice. Like how sometimes we know when and where we’ll see our loved ones. Or even when one has passed.

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The “concept” of interconnectivity has recently been a major topic of discussion in technology and yet has been a reality since the beginning of time. One could argue (me being one, among countless Indigenous peoples, groups and beliefs; Tibetan monks; even the Bible talks about it) that in ancient times, and those who contemporarily practice the age old techniques have, can, and do psychically connect to people, places, animals, and things. Just like the internet.

With the advent of the internet we take for granted that this “concrete” and “real” mechanism is actually the manifestation of the desire that humans have had throughout the millennia; which is to be connected.

And now it is taking us to bewildering places. Take for example artificial intelligence (A.I.): We only thought about these ideas of robots preforming surgeries as kids and now those thoughts are becoming a reality.

And we don’t even know how it works!

It is so perplexing that even the scientist and engineers who created the actual robots have absolutely no idea how in a split second A.I. can pull information from areas of the internet that no one even knew existed before. Or from up to date articles published in the exact same moment on the other side of the planet. Facial recognition, diagnosing disease, building other robots. The concerns and excitements stretch for miles across one’s imagination.

And to add to the overflowing mixed bag of emotionally loaded technological frontiers in our increasingly smaller and more intelligent world, is another childhood fantasy: traveling to Mars. Except now it’s not just for fun. It’s for survival.

We might never know the capabilities and extent of our own technology. It might expand just as our universe is doing constantly and into infinitum.

If you are like me and are felling overwhelmed and overloaded with all the happenings of the world and all the hate filled headlines in the news, there’s the catch to it all. The end of strife and worry for the concerned individual:

Aliens. That’s right; ALIENS. You don’t think there are aliens among us? You are correct in the literal sense; they don’t walk, they float. All around us, reproducing and communicating right before our very eyes. In fact, I ate them for lunch yesterday and love them on my pizza. They are invisible and are known on every continent, in every ecological zone on this planet, and most likely on other planets too since they are known to be able to survive in outer space. You know what i’m talking about!

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Mushrooms.

Mycology is the study of mushrooms, considered “the hidden kingdom” for not only their mysterious ways, but also the fact that what we see as little mushrooms, fun to eat and pick and look at, are actually apart of a huge network of underground mycelia (vegetative web-like branching hyphae). Like veins, mycelia connect across large areas underground (a few square miles and larger in a lot of instances), and surface as the many varieties we encounter. From portobellos to the psychotropic psilocybe cubensis (magic mushrooms) to aminita muscara (Super Mario brothers-looking poisonous red with white spots) to mold. They are everywhere. At one point we thought they couldn’t grow in Antarctica only to be stumped by the few species that appeared practically overnight in a research outpost. There are even species that eat plastic!

Mushrooms and mycelia are the connectors of life. They help things decay and most likely help everything to live! They are the actual telephone lines between trees and forests. Not a plant, and not quite an animal; they are alive, they are magic, they can survive in outer space, they are the bridge between plant and animal, life and death. They will be here long after we’re gone, cleaning up our mess that we didn’t have time to before we leave to Mars…

As exemplified by our co-inhabiters on this planet, life is complicated in this increasingly speedy world. Directing our attention inward is almost the last thing we want to do. In fact to some of the younger generations, we practically can’t. In lieu of peaceful meditative expanses of time spent in a park and in nature, we must hurry to the next event. In place of restful sleep, we’re barraged with stressors throughout the day that inhibit our relaxation. So much so that a solution among many, has been going away to “grounding camp” — actually attending an organized group where you and other humans who need the space to tune in do so by unplugging and doing things in real time, with your hands and feet and your mind, away from the screen. And these thing are helpful! In creating a beautiful world we must be that beautiful world. We must emit positivity, and the way to do so is by creating positivity inside of each and every single one of us.

Scary, exciting, daunting, confusing. Take a moment to understand the connectivity. Though this lifetime, if you are reading this, although you might not be lucky enough to be a mushroom, we can all turn to mushrooms as prime examples of connectivity, showing us the ropes of peacefully and joyfully existing among our neighbors as different as they may seem. Popping up when we’re needed and receding when our job is done. Appearing as an individual and yet sharing life and energy in an invisible network. With everything. All together. As one.

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I encourage everyone to read and learn more about the intensely interesting and connective hope that mushrooms bring to this planet, and also to consider this: Every single thought you have is connected to every single thing that we know of and more; micro or macro; visible or not. Your thoughts become your reality, hence A.I. and traveling to mars. So in your world, what would you like to see happen? Senseless killing, zombies, aggression? Or restoring harmony with all the visitors on this planet? Protecting environments, diversity of plants and animals, providing nourishment to the creatures that nourish us? Clean water, clear mind, creative future? Visualizing peace means actually visualizing (and making collages!), because we’re secretly and invisibly connected to everything.

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YOUR TURN…

“The only way to make sense out of change is to plunge into it, move with it, and join the dance.”
-Alan W. Watts (1915-1973)

 

 

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Abigail Tirabassi: writer, dreamer, believer, artist, ocean lover, finding joy daily.

IG: @scrambby

Heart Activism

 

It wasn’t clear to me at first but I was amongst great activists – humans utilizing this precious life and the power we all have to ignite change through positive action.

“Action is movement with intelligence.
The world is filled with movement.
What the world needs is more conscious movement, more action.”
– Iyengar

Ekuthuleni is an ecological retreat space set in the foothills of the Pyrenees of Southern France where people are doing just that- actively connecting the practice of inner work with outer action.

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Nathan & Zohar, the facilitators of SanghaSeva Retreats, focus on how meditation can carry into making conscious actions in the world. This summer I participated in a Sustainability & Simplicity Retreat at Ekuthuleni. The first week we immersed in the practice of silent meditation and then in the second week we intentionally put our practice into action while using our bodies as tools to work with organic materials found on the land to build a straw bale sanctuary. We investigated how we can live a low-impact lifestyle in our environment – allowing nature’s needs to speak louder than human desires.

I slept in a tent on a wooden platform amongst the forest, showered my body under the rays of sunshine with solar-heated water and used composting toilets.

We nourished our bodies with the veggies from the garden.

We nourished our hearts and minds in meditation on a platform amongst the trees.

This simplistic way of living in nature allowed us to relax into the clarity of how supported we are by the Earth and how blissfully uncomplicated life can be when we can realize how much is already provided for us by nature.

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I learned that through the practice of listening we are able to become aware of opportunities we have in life to contribute – even if it’s by choosing not to participate in things that we view as destructive or counterproductive.

“When you have a pro-peace rally, I will be there.” – Mother Theresa

Activism is directing your energy towards the things you are FOR rather than against in this world.

Flash forward to yoga with women and children at the Refugee camp in Calais, France.

I intentionally do not watch the news and before the retreat I was not even aware that such a place existed just north of where I was standing – 10,000 human beings in need of support – that I now felt able to contribute to.

At the camp I often felt the temptation of my mind to comprehend the whys and hows of the perceived inequality and injustices of this world – but instead, with practice – I was able to bring my focus back to the precious human beings in front of me that I was fortunate enough to meet.

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This is my form of activism – union through human connection – regardless of what you call it – yoga, creativity, dance or play – embracing the joy that exists in the moments where we are able to let go of the mind’s stories of who we think we are.

The shared happiness that is not “mine” or “yours” but in the spaces in between that do not rely on the names on our passports or the stories we have bought into of who we are based on where we are from, what we do, or what we have.

Beyond acting to aim at the faraway destination of reaching solutions for the entirety of humanity and our planet – we can find the potential power that exists within us all to make choices that are coherent with the things we wish to see in the world right now.

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” – Margaret Mead

The practice of meditation allows us to see more clearly that we can be great activists by simply waking up to what is already right here and leading a life where we actively follow our heart.

 

 

 

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Sacha Bryce is a Toronto-based 500-RYT travelling yoga teacher and life enthusiast – with a mission to share the practice for the benefit of all beings!
Find her on instagram @sachabryceyoga

Embrace the Unknown

Location: Palmar Tent Lodge, Isla Bastimentos, Bocos Del Toro, Panamá

Living on a beach in the jungle for over a month in a rural, environmentally conscious setting proved to have its challenges. Sand is to the beach, as glitter is to arts and crafts. It sticks to you everywhere you go, you wake up to it in your bed feeling like sand paper between your sheets, and it doesn’t rid your body in the foot-pump shower of cold recycled rain water you’re allowed once per day. There is no AC, in fact the only air conditioned room I ever stepped foot in during my time in Bocas Del Toro was to use the ATM in town. There is constantly a layer of moisture or sweat (or both) on you at all times. Plus side to that is I never needed lotion for dry skin. And things don’t dry here, EVER. The first week I hand washed my clothes, hung them out to dry, and three days later they were holding the same amount of moisture, and therefore molded. Everything molds at some point, even my passport has turned an unappetizing shade of green. Thank goodness for the laundry service in town. For $4 they take a bag of your laundry and wash, dry and fold it for you. The only bad part is I lost my favorite shirt this way. It’s a risk I was willing to take though, all of my clothes smelled of mildew and sweat and salt water combined. There are trails of leaf cutter ants on nearly every path you step on. Although the thought of being bare foot all day seems luxurious, one wrong step and your toe will be stinging for days. Those ants are workaholics, and they show no mercy for disrupting their business. Speaking of bugs, I resided with bird spiders and tarantulas, cockroaches making themselves at home in the kitchen, bats sleeping over my head in the living room, and crabs greeting me every morning for my bathroom routine.

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And yet with all of your surroundings wanting to kill you, living on a beach in the jungle was surprisingly adaptable. I suppose the human kind can instinctively adapt to any environment, if given time and patience. The first two weeks I was really doubting the living arrangements, and the last three I learned to embrace it and the conditions actually made me so much more grateful for the luxuries we have in this world. I forgot what a warm bath felt like, and instead found joy in eating freshly chopped coconuts on the beach. I forgot about wearing makeup and the need to impress others with the right outfit, and instead gave up ‘looking good,’ and felt confident in my own sun-kissed skin and miss-matched outfit. Basically if any of your clothing items were dry it was a good day. During my time in Bocas I learned to not only let go of needing the material items of this world, but I also have a much greater appreciation for the little things most humans take for granted, such as a dishwasher or working Internet.

I gave up all of the comforts of life back home in the United States to witness the natural beauty of our planet, and to search for my contribution to this world, doing all that I know and love to do: teach yoga and write. Somehow traveling and living in the elements really sheds the layers, clears the smoke and allows you to get to the root of your being. It’s not over, heck no, this is only the beginning of what I’m out to discover. Social media and articles may perceive the adventure I’m undertaking to be a walk in the park, every second of every day being some extravagant exploration and constantly undergoing life-altering experiences. But in reality it’s the opposite. What I’ve discovered so far during my long-term travel is that it does have its ups and downs, situations of hard decision making, days of doing nothing and then feeling bad about it. It’s exactly the same struggles I face living back home, but it’s heightened at a much greater scale. And if you don’t fight against it, you have the ability to learn the lessons of life very quickly, and that life is so much more beautiful.

You make close friends in a matter of days or weeks and then you have to let them go, let their own journey unfold. A lesson in non attachment. Back home you maintain the same friendships for years and then something happens where you don’t see that person, and you can’t handle it. There have been a couple of casualties of items that were dear to me, including my beloved 40 ounce HydroFlask that I used not only to keep me hydrated, but as a weapon when full of water. That bottle also served as a reminder of my yoga home in Houston, Texas, BIG Power Yoga. I got the water bottle when I first became a member, and bedazzled it with stickers along the years of my time there, from yoga teacher training to full-time manager, representing a different era of my journey. This deep loss has really struck a chord and has allowed me to practice this life lesson in non attachment more than ever. I have to trust that water bottle served its purpose for me in my life, and now it’s time for it to move on to its next purpose.

I’ve learned a huge lesson in embracing the unknown. The first couple of weeks my type A personality got the best of me. I woke up in fear of what the day would bring, because my only plan was to teach yoga at 5 o’clock. With a few days of depriving myself of having a schedule, I transformed from the need of keeping a calendar to control my every waking moment, to rising out of bed and thinking “I wonder what today will bring.” Seriously, the moment I realized I was saying that to myself, I finally realized what living actually is.

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I soon discovered that if you learn to let go of controlling what your day is going to look like or should look like, then the universe has the opportunity to step in and guide you in the direction you’re meant to go. By doing this I’ve had the opportunity to do so many things I never could have planned for. Yacht parties, driving an ATV through the rainforest, eating next to a deep sea speargun fisherman whose catch of the morning was on my plate, hanging in a hammock on a catamaran, stand up paddle boarding around the perimeter of a tiny island, staying up late around a bon fire and then letting it burn out to be in awe of the Milky Way constellation and the millions of stars scattered like confetti in the sky. Not one of those things were planned, were ever an agenda or something I checked off my list. And yet they are now a part of me, and I was in the experience of belonging in those moments as if they were always meant to happen.

That feeling of letting go cleaned the slate of my need to know what’s going to happen next. I still have no idea of what I’m supposed to fulfill during my time traveling or what it’s supposed to look like on the other side. But what I’ve gained is so much more valuable. I’ve learned a lesson in trusting the process. I’ve always known to do that, but now I know what it actually feels like in my body. It literally feels like a weight lifted off of me, that I’m not supposed to know what I’m supposed to do, and that’s ok. I believe that I am supposed to be right here for a reason, and leave it at that. I can allow myself to be with that truth and then let the universe take charge of guiding me by listening, feeling the sensations in my body when opportunities arise.

I’ve gone completely yoga teacher on you by this point, but the lessons I learned on my mat before this trip, the lessons I’m teaching to my students during this trip, and the lessons I’m allowing to sink in as I write this article, are all boomeranging back to me and showing me their effectiveness each day. These lessons are what have gotten me to this point in my journey, and I know they are what will carry me through all of the difficult situations, beautiful moments, and leaps of faith I have only tapped the surface of thus far.

It’s becoming clear to me, how I’m experiencing all of this life exploration is more important than what I’m experiencing. You can keep pictures to commemorate memories and great experiences in your life, or you can hold on to what you felt, what you learned from that experience and implement it throughout your entire life until your very last breath.

 

 

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Steph is a yoga teacher from Houston, Texas. Currently she is traveling through Central America teaching yoga wherever her heart is led to. Steph teaches vinyasa and yin-style classes and is committed to her students feeling rinsed out and restored!

Give Your Face to Sunshine

Give your face to the sunshine and you will not see the shadows’, is an Aboriginal proverb I learned as a kid and always kept with me, but do I actually agree with this statement?

 

Without the shadows you could not step into sunshine, without the dark there will be no light, without the bad how can you really see and appreciate what is good?

 

It is not wise to continuously chase the shinning sequined tail of the fire dragon of good times. Being able to deal with and move through the dips and lows, helps bring balance to life.

 

There are things to be gained from negative feelings and moments, there is energy to be shifted, it is as much of a part of life’s practice as anything else.

 

When you feel low you close yourself off to the world and your loved ones; this is a downward spiral, allowing no light in to nurture and love the demon that needs attention.

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The beauty of the day is turquoise with diamonds sparkling in the sea and sand, butterflies floating of a soft breeze, the warmth of the sun gives life and creative flare. Night draws in and the days nature sleeps, out come the bugs, the spiders and creepy crawlies, the frantic flapping bat, the moths and roaches all drawn to the artificial lights of porch and street bulbs.


Why are we scared of the dark? Why does the black of the unknown fill us with fear? What if you look through this black and acclimatize your eyes to the shades of the deep colors and silhouettes, what else can you see?

The yin moon beams giving guidance to dark places.….on the other side of panic I know there is calm and beauty.

So yes, give yourself to sunshine and you will not see the shadows but know that they are there and even if you turn around it will be okay to look into them while feeling the sun on your back.

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Hannah Goodman is a yoga teacher from Cornwall.  She is currently traveling in Indonesia. 

“Not all those who wander are lost.”
– J.R.R. Tolkien
“Not all those who are lost wander.”
– Hannah Goodman

http://www.yogagrounded.uk/

Movement, Evolution and the Unveiling of Dharma

When I first stepped up to the mat upon my mother’s request five years ago, I never ever expected my life to drastically change the way it did. That room full of 30 women and no men, scared the hell out of me, but with my mother by my side I fought with my body for the next 90 minutes until my ego was battered and bruised, until finally Savasana came and saved my soul. For the first time in my 18 years of existence I started to breathe, and with that the first stillness I had ever really experienced washed over me, I was both fascinated and hooked. It took me 3 years of practice to understand how much of an impact yoga was having on my evolution. My whole perspective upon existence was both simplified and enhanced by the healing yoga brought me, my Dharma began to be unveiled. Every time I lived outside my truth it brought me friction whereas when I was openly expressing and enjoying my expression, my life would flow freely and synchronicities would be more frequent. Yoga continues to ripen my existence and has unveiled purpose within my life. It has re-gifted me my profound connection with nature, not to mention to my higher self. Best of all, I have unveiled that my duty here is to share this beautiful tool of consciousness with the world.

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Fast forward five years and I am living in Guatemala, teaching my own open air yoga class in the mountains above Antigua. Yoga has helped me in the manifestation of a living paradise both internally and externally. It has taken me from the deepest depths of my consciousness to the most spiritually saturated pockets of India. The reason I feel so drawn to helping people find the true essence of the path of yoga is that it gifts me the opportunity to change people’s lives and helps in adding rungs to the ladder of a positive evolution. I praise people encouraging any sort of movement and connection with the human body out there in the world, as I believe they are going to be the pioneers of the new world.

Quantum physics theorizes that your external world is a projection of your inner world. This means that when we look at things collectively, the world is a reflection of the majority’s state of consciousness and to me that signifies an immense amount of suffering eminent within the human race. That means that every time I get the opportunity to connect somebody to themselves or something higher during a yoga practice, I do it as though the survival of the planet depends on it. If we humans continue our fascination with external sensory stimuli and the over-indulgence in the Muladhara chakra our future looks bleak. That is why being able to give someone tools for the cultivation of peace and the alleviation of suffering within themselves is so incredibly satisfying for the soul not to mention crucial for our evolution.

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I am quite new to teaching, having graduated Yoga school in early 2015, yet already I am beginning to look at yoga from a new perspective. I now see yoga as a stepping stone onto the path back to the unconditioned self, call it a tool for awakening. I am able to lift my head and peer beyond the structured and sometimes monotonous western Asana practice, shifting my focus more to the emphasis of movement as a whole. Bringing the deeply suppressed primitive energy into expression and converting darkness into light. I am looking to bring yoga out of the studio and into the world. This is why I feel such gratitude and burning Tapas towards the Yoga project here in Antigua. Practicing up on the mountain amid the clouds, active volcanoes, and old growth forests offers me something more than a regular structured studio practice. We are able to offer our energy straight back into nature for interconversion, we establish an entheogenic bond with the earth that just cannot be felt within anything other than nature. My Dharma is to assist in humanities cohesion with nature and I feel like more and more people are being called forward for this duty.

This is one of the most exciting times in history to have incarnated onto the earthly plain, and those being called forward to assist with the reconnection of man with himself and nature have a vital role to play in our evolution as a species. I thank everybody doing the work both on themselves and within the world from the bottom of my heart. May the path of Yoga guide us forward and shine light upon your Dharma. I implore you to begin practicing in Nature and to assist in breaking down the barriers of segregation between what is fundamentally movement. We all have our divine path awaiting us and I have Yoga to thank for unveiling mine. Keep moving, breathing, and connecting on all planes of existence.

Om Namah Shivaya

 

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Lewis is a Travelling Yogi and Entrepreneur from the Margaret River region of Western Australia. He teaches an organic infusion of Hatha Flow and Power Vinyasa at the Hobbitenango Community in Antigua, Guatemala.

Find him on FACEBOOK ~ or Email ~ yogawithlewis@gmail.com