The Yoga Trade Podcast

We are so excited to share with you our latest project: The Yoga Trade Podcast! Follow along as we travel around the world exploring spirituality, wellness, sustainability and more.

Our host, Audrey Billups, Yoga Trade’s vagabond filmmaker, will be capturing the inspiring stories of wellness practitioners, yoga teachers and change makers she meets along her travels. From Tibet to Bali to Los Angeles, every two weeks, we will share with you interviews and stories from all different corners of this Earth.

Listen to Episode 1 by clicking HERE

1: So the Adventure Begins

In this first episode, our host will tell you a bit about her spiritual journey and how she began her traveling lifestyle. From living in a tent on an organic farm in Hawaii to winning Yoga Trade’s photo competition and starting to work as their videographer, it has been quite a journey!

Theme Music, Sound Editing & Mixing:

Thomàs Young, Fine Crafted Sound

 

 

Want to take part? Please send us your Yoga Trade story and we may feature it on the podcast! It’s easy, just record yourself, snap a photo, and shoot us an email. Want us to advertise your retreat, training, or product on the podcast? Reach out to us! Email: audrey@yogatrade.com 

IG: @thenomadicfilmmaker

Redefining Freedom: An Empowering Change in Perspective

For a long time, there has been a calling in my heart that was not easy to hear, listen to, and answer. For many years, I have been on a journey of global travel and simultaneously an internal journey of self-discovery, personal growth, yoga, spiritual practices, and redefining freedom. This exploration of the world and myself was my entire lived experience for several years as I pursued life as a full-time nomad.

What initially sparked my interest in travel was personal growth. Whether this was a fully conscious decision or not, I knew at some level that I was not living in alignment with my most authentic self, and that I had some discovery to do. I knew from personal experience that pushing myself out of my comfort zone (and I mean FAR out) was always the fastest route to growth.

So I left the country and pushed myself into new and overwhelming experiences, jobs, places, and practices. I found a passion for yoga, and became a travelling yoga teacher, finding many amazing opportunities through Yoga Trade. I discovered permaculture, became a body worker, and found myself among communities of people who not only shared my passions, but made me feel at home in this world.

Life became an experience of absolute freedom, as I learned to trust the Universe and myself more and more, and learned to let go of plans and expectations. I often had no idea where I would be a month from now, and followed the inspirations and opportunities that presented themselves to me. The world became my oyster as I learned that I could literally do anything I wanted, and go anywhere I dreamed.

But after several years of living this way, something shifted. I no longer yearned for constant new and foreign experiences to delight my senses. I no longer sought to move my heart and my body every few months.

With the freedom of absolute choice, came an inner knowing of discernment. I began to learn about myself and my preferences, my passions, my goals and my dreams. I was no longer a lost girl who needed to experience everything to learn what life was about. I had clarity.

Suddenly, unlimited choice became burdensome rather than freeing. As I gained awareness of my authentic self and the things I was most passionate about, I wanted to create, cultivate, and build something. Moving every few months kept me in a state of constant readjustment, which was something I was well adapted to handle. I knew the practices, people, places, and experiences I needed to carve out to create a happy existence in each new place, and doing so was no longer out of my comfort zone.

Instead of making me free, constant movement was holding me back from expanding into a woman who could take all I had learned and apply it. I was being called to find stillness, to focus my energy on creating and building and honing in on my passions and purpose.

It was really difficult for me to accept this knowledge at first. I had confused my authentic identity, which I found through my inner and outer journey, with the act of travel. I had confused the concept of freedom with the act of being free of commitment to any single place or path.

Ultimately, listening to my heart has guided me to end my full time travels and commit to a particular path that feels in total alignment with my passions and purpose. The most empowering shift in perspective I have experienced throughout this transition has been shifting my relationship with the concept of freedom.

Freedom of choice provided me with the clarity to know who I am, what I love most, what my gifts and talents are, where my community is, how I want to feel, and how I want to exist and move through the world. I fully endorse anyone who is willing and courageous enough to walk into the unknowns of exploration that solo travel provides, and to truly discover themselves through the freedom of choice.

For me, now armed with the knowledge of clarity, freedom looks very different.

There is a new kind of freedom that comes from knowing yourself so deeply, and committing to the things, places, people, and paths that fully align with your soul.

Commitment and learning to stay still have opened up a whole new realm of creativity and opportunity. There is freedom that comes from knowing the difference between something that is right for me and something that is a beautiful idea for someone else. There is freedom in saying no to things that are not my passion. There is freedom in becoming so clear on what I want, that anything outside of that does not need to be experienced to know it isn’t right.

Remembering that I am free, even though I am no longer floating through life with no fixed address empowers me to embrace my experience. This transition is big and scary, and SO FAR out of my comfort zone. I still have a lot of work to do to cultivate the lifestyle, community, career, partnership, and home of my wildest dreams. Sometimes I feel daunted and overwhelmed, and my self-doubt has me asking myself “what the heck am I doing here?” and “why did I give up a life of total adventure for this?”

In these moments, I graciously remind myself that all of the lessons and growth of the road led me here. That those adventures, challenges, and new experiences taught me who I am, and what I am meant to do in this world. I am finding the discipline to dedicate myself to what I now know is right for me.

And now, freedom looks like consciously choosing and committing to walk the path that I have fully chosen. Freedom means I know myself and belong to myself so deeply, that I have the courage to do exactly what I am meant to do.

 

 

 

Hannah is a wild soul, nature lover, plant enthusiast, yogi, and community builder. She is passionate about facilitating healing through connecting humans with each other and the natural world. She is now pursuing full time studies as a Clinical Therapeutic Herbalist in Canada, and plans to begin offering re-wilding retreats for women in Costa Rica in 2020.

@rewildthesoul

How Fear Can Open New Doors

What is fear, how can we define it? Or, let’s ask this: Why do we fear? From what, when, and how do we fear and how can it open new doors?

Fear:

Noun: an unpleasant emotion caused by the threat of danger, pain, or harm.
Verb: being afraid of (someone or something) as likely to be dangerous, painful, or harmful.

”Fear is the cheapest room in the house,
I would like to see you in better conditions.”
-Hafiz

Basically, fear is a feeling that arises from a dangerous situation or threat and causes changes in the metabolism and eventually in behavior.

Fear is the natural and necessary reaction of the body to situations where it feels danger and wants to survive; which actually thanks to fear, the race of human being survived until today. But in our daily lives – let’s say ‘most of the time’, we do not deal with or confront the things that truly threaten our lives. At least for most of us, these situations are less than before. But we still deal with an unnecessary feeling of fear daily, and maybe sometimes we do not even understand where it comes from.

According to research, most common fears in society are; failure, being alone, rejection, flying, heights, spiders, clowns (I can relate to that) and death. Fear of the unknown. For example, why are we afraid of a spider? Probably, we do not know if it is going to harm us or not, so we react with fear. But for some of us, spiders are not a source of fear at all. But why?

Because most of our fears also depend on our lifestyle, country, family, traditions and so on. Seth Norrholm, a transnational neuroscientist at Emory University, states that; “You get evidence from your parents and your environment that you need to be scared of these things.” Drastic, isn’t it?

Sometimes, we can feel all the reactions of the body to fear. Even in a ‘normal’ moment without any special situation, we can feel like something serious is happening. Increase in heart rate, a butterfly effect in the stomach, sweating. These are the fight or flight responses of the body to deal with danger. I can easily write these down because I have been there before. I have even experienced fear of having fear. And this is where we tend to call these moments anxiety or panic attacks. But fear, this very basic human feeling, is it something that we really need to be afraid of?

If we let it affect our lives negatively, the answer is yes…

But we can use our fears as a source of change, as an opportunity to grow.

Can fears really open the doors to new paths?

My answer to this is: Yes!

Let’s look at what ancient yogic texts say about fear?

Patanjali says in Yoga Sutra 2.3 that; ”Ignorance, egoism, attraction and aversion, and fear of death are the afflictions which cause suffering.” (Interpretation by Swami Vishnu – Devananda).

Sutra 2.9 explains more about ‘abhinivesah’ which is translated as ‘blind clinging to life’ by Swami Venkatesananda and ‘attachment to life’ by Iyengar.

Iyengar interprets the Sutra 2.9 as follows: “Self – preservation or attachment to life is the subtlest of all afflictions. It is found even in wise men.” He continues, “While practicing asana (yoga poses), pranayama (breath) or dhyana (meditation), the person penetrates deep within itself. S/he experiences unity in the flow of intelligence, and the current of self-energy. In this state, s/he perceives that there is no difference between life and death, that they are simply two sides of the same coin. Through this understanding, s/he loses his attachment to life and conquers the fear of death.”

Can yoga, when practiced with all its limbs, be the way to deal with our fears? My answer to this also, yes…

But how?

In my past, I had a huge fear of death, which now I learned to deal with. The fear was coming from the unknown. Not knowing what’s going to happen after it. And without any awareness by my side, this fear restrained me from many things, affected my social life, and in the end came to a point of anxiety.

I cannot say to you that all fears come from this, and you can handle them the way I did (in my case, yoga and meditation were the tools to cope). But I firmly believe that attachment to life and obscurity of death hinder us from many things; especially using our full potential for life. Most of the time we may not even be aware of it. Isn’t it ironic that attachment to life makes us unable to fully live our lives?

Yoga practice brings us to the moment, to the here and now. Where there are no worries of tomorrow or resentment of yesterday.

Fear is such a personal feeling that it is not easy to define its reasons in general for every other person. Generalizing it might be dangerous and we ourselves need to get to the roots of our own fears. It is not an easy journey for sure. And there might not be short cuts.

Fear in yoga practice:

I remember my first yoga asana class. I stepped into the studio with fear, with the hope of finding a solution to my fears (ironic, isn’t it?). I lay down in my first Savasana, in the dark class, hearing the noise of my heart, beating with fear. But I knew that there was something special on that mat, at that moment that if I wouldn’t give up, would take me to another path. Which it did…

This doesn’t mean that now I have no fears. I still have, A LOT! But yoga taught me to look into its roots and how to deal with it. And only if I want to deal with it…

We can start by labeling the fears – do they come from survival instincts or are they irrational? And we need to keep in mind that one is not less important than the other one. If it affects our life, coming from a survival instinct or not, fear is fear!

And let’s remember. We are human beings that have all types of feelings, even if we tend to call them negative or positive, most of the time. But the important thing is; what that feeling tries to tell you, and are you brave or willing enough to look at it? That’s where the game changes.

 

 

Derya’s passion for lifelong learning and her curiosity about different cultures, different bodies and energy work brought her to Southeast Asia 3 years ago. She started her yoga and Thai yoga massage journey in Turkey and has been sharing her love for these two abroad in Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Cambodia. Once she found “home” within herself, all countries became her home. Derya’s passion is movement and her goal is to show the strength, gracefulness and beauty of being in a body when it is aligned inwardly and supported by a steady breath. She wants to inspire her students with the possibility of waking up every morning with an enthusiasm and thirst for learning new things.

Connect:

deryadenizyoga.com

IG: @deryadenizyoga

 

What Does it Mean to Heal?

Heal the mind, body, and soul, yes, we’ve all heard that before. And if you’ve ever experienced heart ache, disease, or depression you know first-hand how impossible and nagging those words can sound. What do these words even mean? Is this a concept? Or could it be a process?

There is an absolute boat load of distractions today and every day. So much so that we pile pain on top of pain on top of disorder on top of dysfunction resulting in disorientation and confusion. Healing our internal wounds seems insurmountable in a world of endless contradictions. One might say, “How can I heal myself if the world is such a mess?” Even a daily yoga practice with spiritual intentions can be neatly stacked on top of the deep disillusionment that many yearn to unravel, leaving one relentlessly yearning.

And the truth is; healing is personal. Healing is slow and uncomfortable. Healing perpetually creates new steps to take, new roles to fill, new rules to follow; in a whirl-wind of self-care, protective measures, precautionary diets, exhausting exercises. Fortunately, and undoubtedly, no matter how daunting the issue may be, healing will above all push you to newer heights whether your responses realize it or not. Fabricated or strained, any slight recognition of needing to heal will set you on the path to living a more fulfilling life.

And this is the point, right? To live?

To live a FULFILLING life.

As I began to dip my pinky toe in the murky waters of my own existence, I have come to know that every human is a package of functional anomalies. How anyone is able to “hold it together” is absolutely and quite literally beyond me. Miraculous. And I myself am living the stigma of people thinking that I “have it together” and can tell you first hand that “having it together” is illusory; a subjective judgment. No individual knows the intricacies of the deck of cards that have been dealt to another. No one. Only you know how you feel and therefore only you can act consciously to heal yourself.

We have been taught so much dysfunction from the moment we were born, from family (or lack thereof), society, school, friends, loved ones, and have been expected to translate it into health and leadership. Success. Progress.

Are you kidding me?

Feeding into the external world without a solid internal foundation can be overwhelming and deadly. Society gives many options and expectations but only you can assess your needs; feel your true direction.

We are in critical times ALWAYS – and have always been! There is no mystery. There is no solution. “The end” is always near. Fear surrounding this is the ultimate external hang-up.

The only thing that existence needs from you is to truly be.

Science now shows what indigenous and traditional peoples have always known; that within us we carry the lives of our ancestors in our very DNA. So not only are we dealing with the child within us, the dysfunction of our upbringing and family life, but we also deal with the inherited damage that has traveled through space and time and now resides physiologically within us.

What?

Yeah, all the crappy feelings you have that bombard you from all sides and of which you never knew where, why, or how you felt this way; these are unseen forces, empathic resonances; basically, there is more to what you feel than what meets the eye. To accept this is the key, because there is no time to dwell on it.

Allow me to rephrase this; no longer are we burdened to deal with shortcomings or distress – we are graciously presented with the opportunity to complete the cycle, to conclude the damage, to evolve beyond survival and blossom into harmony; a thriving harmony that is so effortless, so genuine, so real.

This is what healing has to offer. It extends into the past and into the future. Lovingly addressing the suffering that humanity has perpetuated. Healing yourself first is necessary to healing the world. When the plane is going down, the clear instructions are to put your oxygen mask on first before trying to help anyone else. This is a strong reminder that until we heal ourselves, we cannot be expected to try to heal anyone or anything else.

I invite you to accept this responsibility. Within this vessel of a human body; these tissues, these issues, these differences, these grievances, there is only one truth. You are alive.

The healing potential is not solely limited to our own personal family timelines; there is no limit – this is EVERYTHING. Like mycelia of a forest, a network of communication is constantly buzzing and emanating from your every move. All of your thoughts and dreams and ideas are electric. Like a school of fish; a flock of birds – the entirety of existence is connected electrically. So, don’t be fooled to think that you can get away with plundering your own potential – you are infinitely connected, and eternally supported.

My heartfelt suggestion to every human is to meditate. Develop a daily practice and stick with it. Be responsible and compassionate to yourself which in turn extends to others. Your true-life potential lies within you.

Lay down the pipe, put down the drink, ditch the Prozac, skip the party and go within. Everyday spend time with yourself. Everyday!
I know it’s easy to get overwhelmed; Be patient.

Make the time to be responsible about the only thing you are responsible for: you. Taking care of yourself first is the most responsible thing you can do for anyone else, any animal, any forest- for the entire planet.

YOU are worth it.

With the teachings of those who have come before us, the sages, the gurus, our teachers, parents, grandparents, community leaders, the internet and any transfer of knowledge, we have the miracle of understanding. We have the human miracle of listening. We have the knowledge to know that we put one foot in front of the other. We know that the answers are not external, however the guidelines given to us are very useful. You are not alone. We all must begin from with-in. Every individual must Begin.

Begin to be aware.
Breathe.
Be.

A few links to help you on your journey:
https://www.wopg.org/

https://www.chakraboosters.com/

https://www.medicalmedium.com/

https://www.louisehay.com

https://www.drmorsesherbalhealthclub.com/

And in the wise words of Jimi Hendrix:

“There’s too much confusion
I can’t get no relief.
Businessmen, they drink my wine
Plowmen dig my earth
None of them along the line
Know what any of it is worth.”
“No reason to get excited,”
The thief, he kindly spoke.
“There are many here among us
Who feel that life is but a joke.
But you and I, we’ve been through that
And this is not our fate
So let us not talk falsely now
The hour’s getting late.”

 

 

 

Abigail Tirabassi is a star-gazing artist, surfer, traveler, philosopher, drawn to elevating the human vibration through her own healing; St.Pete, FL/Pavones, CR. IG: @scrammby

Meditation As A Lifesaver

It was the day before my birthday (May 21st, 2019) and I decided to celebrate at Shipwreck Beach on Kaua’i. I didn’t expect to go cliff diving that day, but it ended up happening and meditation practices saved me. I remember looking at the cliff and saying to myself, “That shit is way too high, I’m not jumping off of that.” About five seconds after my thought, two guys walked by and were talking about jumping. So I went ahead and followed them. Before I got to the cliff, I read a warning sign:  Diving or Jumping May Lead to Serious Injury or Death. The first guy jumped and his friend looked at me and nervously chuckled as he said, “Well, I had to make sure he made it before I jump.”  He then jumped in, then I followed landing perfectly in the sea.

All was well, until I swam back to the surface and realized that both my contacts flew out of my eyes due to the impact. At that point I was blind. I could, however, make out a slight blur of the two guys swimming like torpedo dolphins for a split second before they were out of my sight. I began to swim back to what I believed was the shore. I swam like a turtle, because that’s how I swim. I began to notice that the strong waves and current were pulling me toward the cliff’s gigantic rocks. I wasn’t making any distance from the cliff. I then realized I was going into a panic. I was over exhausting my mind with fear. This was causing me to use an excessive amount of energy.

I knew I had to find a way back to a calmer state of mind, so I started focusing on my breath. I began to find myself in a meditative state of being fully present. I couldn’t see the beach, but I could feel the current of the waves pushing me toward the shore. I knew the currents were too strong to fight head-on. So, instead I swam sideways, parallel to the current. I thought to myself, “This is how people die and, if I’m going to die. I’m going to die in gratitude enjoying every moment I have left.” This time I swam like a dignified turtle. With every stroke, I started to use a simple breathing mantra I do when meditating – “Inhale Thank, Exhale You.” I began observing my thoughts changing. I would not allow myself to die here! I thought to myself, “I won’t die here! I will live to heal others.” My strokes became graceful and strong. I then began to see the beach. I made it back to land and felt a deep gratitude for being alive!

Shortly after the experience, I came up with the vision of guiding a 200hr Meditation & Yoga Teacher Training + Peruvian Shamanic Ceremony in Peru, January 4th-24th, 2020. I am inviting anyone who wants to take yoga beyond the mat and into the sea of life to come. The way I teach my students is based on the core philosophy of yoga, bringing the practice back to its roots. Yoga for me is not solely about the asanas, but the remaining seven limbs of the practice as well. The eight limbs of yoga will be discussed and practiced during this teacher training.

The first limb of yoga is Yama, which signifies the Golden Rule – “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” The five yamas are Ahimsa (non-violence), Satya (truthfulness), Asteya (non stealing), Brahmacharya (continence), and Aparigraha (noncovetousness). The second limb of yoga is Niyama, which emphasizes self- discipline. The five niyamas are Saucha (cleanliness), Santosha (contentment), Tapas
(spiritual austerities), Svadhyaya (study of one’s self), and Ishvara Pranidhana (surrendering to the source of creation).

The third limb of yoga is the most commonly known in Western society, Asana. Asanas are the physical postures of yoga. Yogic philosophy believes that the body is the temple, so taking care of the physical body is essential. Asanas, however, do not only assist with physical well-being, but they assist with developing concentration and discipline which is used in meditation. The fourth limb of yoga is one of my personal favorites, Pranayama. Pranayama is commonly known as “breath work”. These specific breathing techniques enable us to send prana or “life force” throughout the body. I am trained in many different breath work techniques and I enjoy sharing them with others.

The fifth limb is Pratyahara, meaning withdrawal or transcending the senses. Practicing Pratyahara allows us to see life from a larger perspective – to transcend beyond our emotional and mental stimulus. Each limb of yoga prepares us for the latter, therefore the next limb is Dharana. Dharana is the sixth limb of yoga and it means concentration. Pratyahara helps set us up for this deep concentration that Dharana teaches us. Dharana is used when we heal a specific energy center in the body, by giving all of our attention and awareness to it. When we are deeply concentrated on a particular mental object or energy, we can listen to the messages that it is trying to communicate with us. This brings us to our seventh limb of yoga – Dhyana, which is meditation. So, using Dharana, we are able to access Dhyana and a deep state of contemplation. Dhyana is more immersed in the everythingness and nothingness at the same time. It does not take much focus but more immersion and letting go. This is where you can see deeper aspects of the self, and your relationship to all. Last but not least, the eighth limb of yoga is Samadhi, meaning ecstasy or some people call it “nirvana”. The purpose of all of these practices encompassed as an ultimate state of bliss. The overall journey of yoga is to reach a state of divine peace.

After practicing yoga for over a decade, I have fallen in love with sharing this unique practice with the world. The reservoir of unlimited peace is within all of us, and it would be an honor to guide you into finding this peace within yourself. Yoga teacher trainings are great for anyone, regardless if you plan to teach yoga in the future or not. They help develop a consistent practice of yoga in all aspects of life, beyond the mat. I am looking forward to this teacher training in the Sacred Valley of Peru.

Aloha and Namaste. 

 

 

 

 

Wolf Kinsmen, the founder of HĀ Yoga, has over a decade of experience in yoga & meditation. He has taught and trained all over the world. In addition to his yoga training, he has studied Shamanic practices while in the Amazon of Peru and received the name ‘Smiling Wolf’ from Don Howard. He completed the Wim Hof Method Advanced Instructor Training and was told by Wim Hof that he is a ‘healer’. He considers himself a lifelong student of nature! He learns from teaching others. He does this through being himself and giving a genuine experience wherever he happens to be.

Connect:

https://hayogallc.com/

IG: @hayogallc

 

Regenerative Practice: Pixie Lighthorse

Nature knows best. As we observe the natural world as being regenerative, we begin to realize that it is essential for us to mimic this mindfulness into our own daily existence. It can be easy to become repetitive and ‘mono-culture’ like in our yoga practice and other daily doings. This is one of the reasons I love attending gatherings that spark inspiration and cultivate positive change.

Being seasonally summer based in South Lake Tahoe, California makes it quite a joy to journey north to Wanderlust Squaw every July. This year was the most beloved Wanderlust experience yet! Could be a coincidence that they were also celebrating their 10 year anniversary with this ever evolving event. I was fortunate to participate in many beautiful classes and workshops, but the stand out this time around for myself was the speakeasy talk with Pixie Lighthorse. She touched on topics dear to my own heart, and engaged the community in important conversations. Her written and spoken words are wonderful resources for healers who wish to advance in their fields of study and for individuals in the self-healing process. Here, we catch up with Pixie as she shares a glimpse into her own creative and regenerative process…..

Can you briefly tell us a bit about your Earth journey thus far?

My Earth journey has had a lot of bumps and sharp turns! But I suspect not more than the average 48 year old living in the western world. What I find most exciting about living on Earth is how relationships are grown and how we strengthen them with healing and bonding. 

How has yoga influenced your life?

I practice a form called Primal Vinyasa, created by Annie Adamson of Yoga Union in Portland, OR. It integrates functional mobility training with barefoot theory, nature awareness, and some foundational principles of asana that work really well for strengthening the front of my body for daily life and ordinary moving. We call it “no more achy sounds movement practice” because it’s the antidote to cranky restricted movement—very playful and FUN. I came late to practice, and yoga has always been a little bit out of my wheelhouse. It’s changed the way I move each day and brought a lot of joy into moving and being on Earth. I was becoming a complainer with chronic stuck bits and pains. Traditional asana was too much like a competitive sport for me, my body was hurting trying to do it. 

Article Photos by: Heaven McArthur

What does a ‘regenerative practice’ mean to you?

Regenerative practice is an agricultural term (I’m also a part time rancher) that asks us to look to the soil to learn how to be. It calls for diversity on all measures: gut biome, range of motion, expansiveness, inclusive friendships with all kinds of people. It calls for honoring all of our bodies: emotional, spiritual, mental, physical in order to be fully engaged with the process of life.

How did you get into public speaking and presenting at events such as Wanderlust? 

Elena Brower connected me to Wanderlust, having read my books of prayers at gatherings around the world and seeing a positive response. In the world of yoga, just as in other communities, there is potential to heal spiritual and religious trauma. My books in the Prayers of Honoring series are that call-to-action.

What are some techniques you use to tend to your internal waters and soil?

Allowing emotions to have a place in my life has freed up a lot for me. As an adult child of an alcoholic, there is a secret ethic of “Don’t talk. Don’t trust. Don’t feel.”  This is toxic, and to me, it’s the Round-Up of the soul. Emotional repression is the signature of post-WWII America, and it’s tendrils have made intimate relationship increasingly sufferable the more intelligent we’ve become about what it feels like to be human. I’m deeply fed by the relationships I can count on. Inner healing for people and soil ravaged by chemicals, pesticides, and desertification bear similar results.

How do you balance nurturing yourself while designing beneficial relationships with others and nature?

I take a lot of time and space for myself. One example is that my partner and I deconstructed our co-habitation patterns so we both could have time to down-regulate our nervous systems. We stopped living in the same house and now claim quality interaction together when we have something to give. This is unconventional, but I think people are learning that it’s okay to do what works and gives life. Being with people all the time doesn’t give me life. When I tell that part of my story it’s alarming for some! It’s made a huge difference to us—the time we spend together isn’t about tolerating one another, it’s about building really great moments together.

How can we create more diversity and vitality within our daily yoga practices and life? 

Play and have fun. Life is too chaotic and too short to make movement another chore full of drudgery. Just this morning, my daughter and I made an impromptu stop at a park with a rock climbing feature before school drop off. We both got stuck up high and laughed our heads off while we navigated down. I like to make friends at the grocery store and our family pulls over to help people stranded on the road. I’m at my best when I have some room for spontaneous awesomeness. And gardening, of course. Lots of permaculture anywhere I can make a bed. 

Any tips on how to tap into creative brilliance?

Let the creative brilliance use you to tell its story. We have the most fragile aspects of our egos all tied up in our creativity, where it has no business trying to run things. I honor Creator when I sit down to write or paint and say, “Do what you will with these hands today.”  And I have to promise not to complain about what I make. We can have fun learning new skills, but our obsession with perfection is ruining all the fun. It’s making for an intellectual climate that to me, is boring and arrogant. Imagine if soil was so picky about the leaf litter that fed its worms. We must learn to do what we can with what we have and find joy in it.

What inspires you most right now?

I can’t get enough of marginalized voices. We are seeing the next major Civil Rights Movement! It shifts something so profound to center others. I’m getting tired of my own voice and tired of white males dominating the conversation about…just about everything. The inherent sagacity of black, brown, and indigenous peoples gives me life. Also, Autumn. I love the inward turning season—it’s my new year.

If you could say one sentence that everyone in the world would hear, what would it be?

Trade in your repetitive habits, forms, and mono-cultures to restore land, bodies, and vitality with diversity.

Do you have any upcoming projects or events you would like to tell us about?

Work! I am putting the final touches on my fifth book, Goldmining the Shadows, available in early October. It’s the sister to Boundaries & Protection and will make navigating the inner darkness much easier to talk about, and normalize.

Anything else you would like to share?

Yes, the Earth is a mirror for our bodies and lives. Every plant is a medicine, every animal a messenger, every direction a teacher. When the Earth suffers, we suffer. We can start healing right now, by tending our bodies’ needs and any soil that we can steward back to health.

 

 

Pixie Lighthorse is the author of five books centered on self-healing through intimate relationship with the natural world. She is an enrolled member of the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma. She writes to honor the unheard voices of her ancestors.

www.pixielighthorse.com

Insta @pixielighthorse

Yoga Journal: Live Be Yoga Tour

Just as Yoga continues to evolve itself, Yoga Journal has surely come a long way since it’s creation in 1975 by the California Yoga Teachers Association. In 2016, Yoga Journal created the Live Be Yoga Tour. The aim of the tour is to send out ambassadors to shine a light on the real talk, real issues, real work, and real fun taking place in yoga’s diverse communities, large and small, across the United States. In April of this year, Lauren Cohen and Brandon Spratt embarked on the cross-country journey together to forge new conversations in yoga. We had already connected with Brandon thru Yoga Trade and wanted to learn more about this inspiring journey! Here, we catch up with both Lauren and Brandon to get an insight to what life is really like on the road, to catch a glimpse of their experience, and to hear the modern day yoga wisdom they are learning along the way. May we all continue to show up for every part of the voyage with open hearts!

Can you briefly tell us about your yoga background?

Lauren: I started practicing yoga during college in Cleveland, Ohio during an extremely challenging time in my life. I grew up as a competitive figure skater and when I stopped skating I had a major identity crisis at the age of 17, wondering who I was without the sport. When I walked into the yoga studio that day, I was at an ultimate low – emotionally, mentally and physically. Over time, the mat became my savior and the practice brought me home to myself. To this day it continues to do that very thing.

Brandon: Yoga truly found me – in every way possible. When I was very young, my mom would take me to meditation gardens and yoga classes. Looking back on my life I can see that this seed that was planted would be paramount for my journey ahead. Yoga and meditation was always something I practiced here and there, until my entire life felt like it had an atom bomb dropped onto it. In the midst of incredible challenges, yoga found me again and asked for its deepening and devotion. Over the past couple years I have worked towards integrating a daily practice, which has now become my anchor and rock in this world. Incredible healing took place when I took on this commitment and as a result, all I cared about and wanted to do was share these tools to help repair people’s spirits and bring them back hOMe. Over the past couple years, I have lived nomadically sharing yoga wherever I may be. Most recently, I have become a brand ambassador, alongside Lauren Cohen, for Yoga Journal magazine and have embarked upon a 6 month yoga tour exploring the state of yoga in America today. 

How did you connect to the Live Be Yoga Tour and what is the mission?

Lauren: I had a friend that did the tour last year and got to hear about his experience. The idea of combining three of my greatest  loves – yoga, travel and writing – seemed like an amazing opportunity. My mission with the tour is to provide meaningful and inspiring content about how yoga is impacting various communities around the country.

Brandon: It had been a while since I was on Yoga Trade’s website and I went to go explore some opportunities. I had just gotten back traveling internationally for a while, was visiting my family and figuring out what was next for me. Also, after living with your parents for a while reminds you of how much you love them and then why you left home in the first place! I was starting to get antsy and ready to embark upon the next adventure. I saw an opportunity on Yoga Trade for the Live Be Yoga Tour by Yoga Journal Magazine and I immediately lit up inside and just knew that this was going to be that “next thing” for me. So, I went through the application process and after quite an extensive interview procedure, I got the gig! The mission of the tour is about building community and having important, relevant conversations within the yoga community today. It is a very general intention and mission, however, it gives us freedom to really explore a variety of topics as we travel from city to city. 

How do you define seva and why do you feel it is important on the path of yoga?

Lauren: I think of seva as selfless service and I view it as a huge component of yoga. The deeper we get into our personal practice the more we begin to care for and know ourselves, which then allows us to more readily and powerfully be there for others. In this way, yoga truly has a ripple effect. We are all connected and yoga is about union in every sense of the word.

Brandon: Seva is when you serve through the heart selflessly. You take such great care of your Self that your cup is overflowing. When that happens, your heart is open, without effort. You effortlessly want to just help, give and share whatever you can with others. It is a humble act of kindness and can be done in many ways – offering to clean a yoga studio for free, giving your lunch to a homeless person, just doing any kind of good deed without expecting any kind of reward or return. Simply doing it because it’s the right thing to do.

What have been some of the most inspirational tour experiences yet? 

Lauren: For me, so much of the tour has been about the relationships I’ve been able to cultivate. Meeting Brandon and finding a close friend and support system in him has been such a gift. As far as actual tour content goes, my favorite interview was our very first interview with Richard Freeman and Mary Taylor – they set the bar quite high in our conversation about what it means to really “live” yoga and to take the practice off the mat. 

Brandon: Getting to sit down with Santosh Manikur when we were in Salt Lake City was refreshing and helped Lauren and I to feel jovial again. The tour has its challenges and we were at a bit of a low point before meeting Santosh. I wrote an article here about our experience with why meeting him was so inspiring. 

What are some of the challenges you face while on the road?

Lauren: Being away from those I love and not teaching much!

Brandon: Being on the road sounds like a lot of fun – and it definitely is! But there is another side to the coin. Traveling constantly takes its toll on you, mentally, emotionally and physically. There are also new kinds of pressures having to be “on” all the time for events. Plus, being in a new city every week is very ungrounding. We have had to learn to simplify our lives as much as possible so when we pack and unpack every week it’s not completely overwhelming. While it has been challenging at times, it’s also taught us to compartmentalize our emotions in a way that is healthy. We’ve learned to put our own issues aside and focus of service and doing the best we can.

Who are the yoga teachers and what are the practices that spark you up right now?

Lauren: I have done quite a bit of training with Jason Crandell and Janet Stone. Right now, I am most excited about Tias Little and diving more into the subtle body and meditation.

What types of big and important conversations are you hearing currently from the U.S. yoga community? 

Lauren: 

*How to make yoga feel more inclusive and accessible to all. 

*What it means to take the practice off the mat and make it a life practice.

*How yoga brings people together in community and why that is such a powerful and important thing.

*Skepticism around where yoga is going; that it’s all about the physical practice and part of a trendy workout. 

What does ‘with great privilege comes great responsibility’ mean to you? 

Lauren: Know your impact, be in integrity and stay humble – we must take responsibility for ourselves and know that what we say and do has great impact, even if we can’t see it at first. And, the more we are in a leadership role, the more impact we can have.

If you could express one sentence to every new yoga teacher, what would it be?

Lauren: Remain a student above all else. Stay curious and humble and trust the teachings to guide you.

How can people get involved with y’all and the tour?

Feel free to follow us on social @livebeyoga or check it out online at: 

https://www.yogajournal.com/livebeyoga

To connect directly:

www.laurencohenyoga.com

@lc_yoga

www.brandonspratt.com

@brandonspratt

 

The Power of Forgiveness

Forgiveness is about as multi-faceted as a diamond. It is as valuable too. It is so much more than an accepted apology. In forgiveness lies freedom. Freedom from past experiences and from expectations we have on the people and events in our lives. Forgiveness offers liberation as we open up a narrowed perspective and reclaim our power.

Perhaps one of the most surprising “facets” of forgiveness is the type directed at oneself. I hadn’t spent much time thinking about it because it always came easy to me. Being of the people pleasing nature and not wanting to confront the uncomfortable parts of my life are aspects of my patterning that adopted forgiveness with ease. Forgiveness allowed me to brush things under the rug that I didn’t want to face – hurt feelings, sadness, loneliness, disappointment. “It’s okay. Apology accepted.” This process served me very well for quite awhile, until the metaphorical rug burst open in a slew of ugly crying and intense ache. It ripped open so widely that forgiveness begged to be examined. Self forgiveness was at the top of the list.

I am coming to learn, as with most things, that forgiveness is an opportunity. One of the stories my teacher, Scott Nanamura of Diamond Heart Yoga, used to tell us is one about a hot burning coal. Holding onto anger (or anything for that matter) is like holding onto a hot burning coal – you get burned. All you have to do is let go. And as with most yoga antidotes, easier said than done!

I was talking with a friend about an experience she had in deciding to bravely face some traumas she wanted to release. In the process of confronting her experiences, she told me how surprised she was that her anger in the situation landed on herself. In this experience, where she was undoubtedly the “victim,” she found it overwhelming how much anger she had toward herself for allowing her power to be taken from her. She had allowed it to be taken in the form of fear that had marked her life for over 20 years. In this realization, she saw that the only way she could reclaim her power was to forgive.

Photos: @michaelvidoli

Herein lies the opportunity – if we choose forgiveness, we have a chance to discover deep healing. We will never be able to change the actions of outside circumstances. By going inward and really being with the traumas of our lives, we can uncover the hurt and fear, the sadness and pain. We can look at our past perspectives with the lens of this now moment – offer comfort and let go.

Quite often forgiveness needs to be directed at oneself. We hold ourselves at such a high standard – I know I do. Some of the best advice I ever received was to “be gentle with yourself”. I can sit in disappointment over my actions in the past, or I can look a little deeper and remember exactly how I was feeling in that moment many years ago. Quite often, the woman dealing with whatever problem was afoot was rather scared and uncertain and really was just doing the best she could at that moment in time.

It is important to be clear that intricately woven into the fabric of forgiveness are necessary boundaries. Forgiveness is not allowing behavior that does not serve your highest good. Boundaries teach us how to honor ourselves and allow others to see the light in us. Each and every time I entered into the space of “auto-forgive”, I was stepping out of alignment and I felt the consequence. It came in the form of resentment, distrust, anger, and many other negative thought patterns. Today I am learning to sit before I forgive. I realize forgiveness, not bitterness, is where I would like to be. I also realize it takes time. I cultivate awareness around my part and the pain. I accept the very real hurt that exists. And then, I take action in a way that allows me to own my journey toward freedom. I move into a space where my personal power is paramount – protected by divine boundaries of honesty and trust.

This practice takes a tremendous amount of courage. It takes facing the darkest parts of ourselves. What made it worth it for me was realizing that when I cling onto the metaphorical hot burning coal, I do not allow myself the opportunity to collapse that which doesn’t serve me. My antiquated pattern of easily forgiving was not really forgiveness at all, but fear of acknowledging hurt. This habit forced me to give some of my power away. I am learning to bravely acknowledge the opportunity in the pain and suffering. By acknowledging a hurt, I am able to bring awareness and validation to my feelings. I can accept the reality of a situation. Then, I can make a choice. These days, my choice is to find forgiveness, let go of the hot burning coal and anything else that keeps me from standing in my full power.

 

 

Writer. Yogi. Forest Wanderer. Solo Mama. Stephanie has been practicing yoga for over 10 years and teaching yoga since 2017. She blends yogic wisdom with her writing and has been featured several times on Teach.Yoga. Along with her 200hr YTT, she holds a teaching certification for children’s yoga. Stephanie is also a forest school teacher and co-owner of The Creative Wild Forest School in South Lake Tahoe. She is a Cedarsong certified teacher. @writeyoga

5 Ways My Yoga Trade Experience Made Me a Better Yoga Teacher

One of the most rewarding, fulfilling, and altering experiences I have had in my journey as a yoga teacher has been the time I spent teaching abroad. For years I dreamed of the opportunity to combine my two favorite things: travel and yoga. This past year I made my dreams into a reality, thanks to a platform called Yoga Trade. In reflection, my time spent teaching abroad was one of the most influential and expanding experiences. It was a catalyst for me to become the teacher I am today. Here are 5 ways my Yoga Trade experience offered me the space to flourish and grow.

Practicing with Yoga Teachers from Different Backgrounds

There are many travel destinations all over the world that offer a strong yoga community. These communities are filled with yoga teachers and practitioners from all different countries, lineages, languages, etc. Each teacher came from a different training or framework. This allowed me to look at yoga from new angles, to hear different backgrounds of connection to this practice, and to open me up to other dogmas.

I live and teach in an average American city. I feel there is little diversity within the yoga community. Most people have been trained between the same few studios, under the same teachers, and practice within the same circles. Being able to get out of my bubble expanded my relationship and understanding of yoga.

Freedom to Try New Things

Teaching yoga in a tourist location made for an influx of students everyday. There were only a few people in the area that came regularly to my classes. Most of the students were on holiday, therefore they were only in that location for a few days. This gave me the chance to constantly try something new. I found when teaching in a hometown studio you seem to get the same clientele. It can sometimes feel like they have more rigid expectations and ideas of what your teaching style offers. Tourists that come to class are looking for an experience and probably do not have any preconceived ideas of what you offer. You can try out different breathing techniques, cueing, meditation styles that you may not normally have the confidence to try in your home teaching spot. I think we grow the most from those times when we feel uncomfortable and go for something new. If you fall flat on your face chances are those students may be moving onto the new destination the next day anyway. Learn from your mistakes, recalibrate, and keep going.

More Time to Work on Your Craft

Many yoga teachers can relate on the desire to want to have more time to spend in our own sadhana or improving our teaching techniques. In Western culture, it can be challenging to financially support ourselves while only teaching yoga. We juggle many different jobs or roles to make it all work, and the energy left over can go into our personal growth and practice. My Yoga Trade gig allowed me to financially support myself while abroad so I could shift all my attention to yoga.

In my experience I was receiving accommodation for free and a little money per class. This money was enough to feed me and indulge every once in awhile. I was actually able to slow down and focus on just teaching yoga. My list of responsibilities abroad greatly diminished. I wasn’t constantly pulled in so many places, so I had extensive time to spend becoming a better student and teacher.

Exposure to New Styles of Yoga and Modalities Healing

Living in a diverse yoga community creates a wide range of spirituality offerings, workshops, lineages of yoga, modalities of healing, etc. People from all over the world sharing their personal knowledge, truth, and practice. There is ample opportunity to try something you have never even heard of before. From these experiences you will gain a more open heart and mind. You may even find your new calling.

Teaching People from Different Cultures

As a yoga teacher, you probably can relate what works for you at one studio, may not work for you in another. We are constantly working to give our best offerings, but even in your hometown it can be different based on age, demographics, locations, etc. Teaching people from different cultures can be another learning curve. Will your cueing make sense to someone who’s second language is English? How can you get really clear and intentional with your message so a wide range of people can receive it? Being able to work through these types of questions and scenarios only sharpens your teaching skills and makes you more accessible to a wider range of people.

 

 

 

Colleen is a 500RYT, lifestyle blogger, wellness warrior, jetsetter, bohemian fashionista and soul searcher. She has traveled to 37 different countries and has studied or taught yoga in 8 of them. She is always looking for a new adventure, a challenge for personal growth, and a hip outfit. You can find her at www.mindbodycolleen.com or IG: @mindbodycolleen

Wander to Find Your True North: Squaw Valley 2019

Join in July 18-21, 2019 at Squaw Valley, California for the 10th Anniversary of Wanderlust Festivals.

The time is now to WANDER MORE!

Photography credit: Wanderlust

With one of the founders of Yoga Trade being from the Tahoe area, we have been attending this amazing Lake Tahoe festival since it’s inception and are grateful for the positive effects it has had on our journey of yoga. How do you continue your education and stay inspired as a yoga teacher and student?

Squaw is a highlight of the summer season for Wanderlust. The festival is spread across six peaks in the dramatic Sierra Nevada mountain range, overlooking the pristine lake. There is an energy here that transcends its natural beauty and a vibrancy that radiates from the people who make the gathering what it is. Feel-good FUN is a simple way to describe this event.

The community at Wanderlust Squaw is a colorful family with open minds and open hearts. Come find your crew at Squaw in a mid-mountain meditation, a pool party at 8,200 feet, or a late-night concert under the stars. Plug in to the energy and connect to what’s beyond.

This year some exciting additions and presenters include; Full Day Immersions, Heart-Pumping HIIT Classes, Silent Disco, MC Yogi, the Yoga Slackers, Seane Corn, Elena Brower, and Thievery Corporation, to name a few!

Check out the EVENT SITE for TICKETS and lineup and hope to see you there!!!

IG: @wanderlustfest