a prayer

May you be happy

May I never be the one to stand in the way of your happiness

May you be healthy

May we walk on this journey together toward perfect health and ease in our lives

May you be free from suffering and may I never be the one to cause you suffering, may I ease your suffering with the work that I do, with my own practice.

May you have peace, and may all of the women, men, children and animals of this world have peace to which we are all entitled.

And may my practice, my actions, contribute to this. If there is any beauty, anything sacred in what I am doing may it be for the good of all people. May the lessons I learn and the wisdom I gain benefit my loved ones, my community, my Earth before they benefit me.

May the light of my heart shine first onto others so that it might be reflected back to me.

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interview with elena brower

I have never been shy about my love for Elena Brower. I first practiced with her at Wanderlust Vermont 2011, and have since been dedicated to taking workshops and attending events with her as often as possible. I take her classes on YogaGlo with regularity, have used her book as a reference and guide for my home practice, and her teaching inspires my own teaching in so many ways. 

It was an honor to include her perspective in my interviews from Wanderlust 2013, and an honor to practice with her as always. Her class with Kia Miller, Practice as Medicine, was profound. Sean and I both felt rich connection to ourselves, we were super engaged and excited throughout the practice which was the perfect blend of familiar and new for me. DJ Fabian provided an awesome soundtrack, and these things all together made this my favorite experience of Wanderlust 2013!

Here are Elena’s responses to my questions:

What were you most looking forward to this year at Wanderlust?

Seeing my friends and teaching with them is super nourishing for me. Some of my dearest friends and colleagues in the yoga world were there, and being together fills me up. The music, the teachers and the teachings were superb. I only wish I could’ve taken more classes…

When you are leading big events like this one, what is your preparation like? Is it different from how you would normally think about teaching?

Back when I’d titled and summarized what I’d teach months prior to the Wanderlust festival itself, I’d tried to create relevant and fun contexts for our classes together on the mountain. Based on those class descriptions, for a few weeks prior, I practice by myself, prowl around in my bookshelves, and I take YogaGlo classes with my colleagues – Tiffany Cruikshank, Jason Crandell, Darren Rhodes, Marc Holzman, Christina Sell – both for inspiration and refinement of what I’m hoping to convey during Wanderlust.

What is the most major “wow” moment of your career this far?

There were many, but two stand out. Teaching in front of the Eiffel Tower, and on the Great Lawn in Central Park. The energy coming through a crowd of thousands moving in unison is just beautiful.

What does a festival like Wanderlust mean for your practice and your teaching?

Inspires me to be creative and articulate, both in my own body and in my work.

How do you think festivals and conferences like this one fit into modern day yoga?

Back when I was learning how to teach, I got the most out of the times when I had a few days to just practice, learn and take notes on all the ways in which I could see myself and the whole world with more compassion. For many of the students who really want to dive in, this is a great chance to study with so many teachers from several practices and take in as much as they can.

What is on the horizon for you that you are really looking forward to?

The team we’re building with Pangea Organics has me motivated and paying attention in new ways, using different parts of my brain, which feels good and right. I’m most excited about the impact we’ll have on our ecology as we share Pangea across the country.

And very much looking forward to teaching with music by one of my favorites, East Forest, at the foot of Mont Tremblant for Wanderlust Montreal. Trevor (East Forest) is an incredibly gifted musician, i think of him as a shaman of sound – it’s a singular experience to work with him. This will be our first outdoor collaboration so I can’t wait.

And my annual retreat to Como Shambhala in Parrot Cay in November is pretty much paradise.

I feel so blessed and grateful for my experience at Wanderlust and to Elena for taking the time to answer my questions and support my journey.

Until next time, Namaste

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interview with gabrielle bernstein

Gabby Bernstein is a newer name in my vocabulary, but I’m not quite sure now how I ever missed her. A New York Times Bestselling Author of multiple books, I recently read her newest May Cause Miracles, and participated in the program it details, and loved it! Gabrielle is open about her own experience in a way that is easy for me to identify with. Add to this her love of Kundalini yoga (she recently was certified to teach and is now including Kundalini classes in her offerings!) and Gabby is certainly someone for dedicated yogis to keep up with.

I sat down with Gabby for delicious Vegan Gluten Free Pizza in the Wanderlust village. She was even gracious enough to share her lunch with me, and check my teeth for spinach after! She is cool and our conversation felt like a talk between two friends. I really admire her ability to include and connect with people she may not know as well as old friends of hers. 

Here’s what Gabby had to say: 

What were you most looking forward to this year at Wanderlust?

I was most looking forward to my Speakeasy. I was so excited about it and didn’t know what to expect, a bigger group is where I do my best work, that energy matches well with me and that made me really excited. I’ve also been really excited about the Vegan Gluten Free Pizza from Pizza to the People. It’s bananas! I love being in environments where everyone has come together to go deeper and learn and to be around people who are like-minded. I like being live with people, that’s really exciting.

When you are leading big events like this one, what is your preparation like? Is it different from how you would normally think about teaching?

These days I just make an outline and speak over it. When I prepare for a talk I also do a meditation called “The Subtle Body Purifier,” it’s a Kundalini meditation that expands your energetic field and gives you a really big presence. I feel that and people can feel that and it sets me up really well.

What is the most major “wow” moment of your career this far?

I’m pretty wow-ed that I’m teaching yoga. I never really thought that was going to happen, but then I found my yoga and that is pretty major for me. I’m teaching all the time now, whenever possible I teach at Golden Bridge. I’m also teaching Kundalini meditations in all my talks.

It was also a big moment for me to sit next to Oprah Winfrey, it was a great culmination of a lot of things I had been holding and envisioning. To have that come to fruition, and to feel support from her and from the universe, it was like a jumpstart for me.

What does a festival like Wanderlust mean for your practice and your teaching?

For my practice, it means I get to practice with a lot of people I admire, like Seane Corn and Kia Miller. Before I was doing Kundalini I was practicing with Kia on YogaGlo, which was really Kundalini anyway, I’m about to take her class now and that’s pretty exciting!

How do you think festivals and conferences like this one fit into modern day yoga?

I think that anytime you have a chance to go to a conference, a festival or a retreat, it’s like a boost for your practice. It gives you more excitement, more energy, more passion. It’s great for anyone who has a regular practice.

What is on the horizon for you that you are really looking forward to?

I’m getting married in October! I also have a book coming out on April 14! It has lots of yoga but doesn’t yet have a title, so I’ll be excited for that to come too. And really to bring this work to even more of an audience. My intention is really to empower as many people as possible and wake them up to their capacity to heal, their capacity to serve others and to really give the goods where ever I can!

 Were you nervous about anything coming here?

Well, I don’t practice Vinyasa much anymore so I was a little nervous to take Seane’s class this morning! I was pleasantly surprised to see how strong I was. Kundalini is very different but it was interesting to me to see how I was able to do Vinyasa yoga differently now because of it. It was also interesting to see how I had so much more patience than I thought in some of the long poses. I can appreciate so many more styles of yoga now because of my Kundalini practice.

gabbyande

I can’t wait to see Gabby again, and read her new book in the spring. She is an inspiring woman who is making a difference in the lives of others all the time.

I’m so grateful to have had the chance to catch up with her!

Until next time, Namaste!

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interview with tiffany cruikshank

I’ve been a long time admirer of Tiffany Cruikshank via YogaGlo and social media. She’s an inspiring source of information for teachers and students, and is one of the clearest teachers of anatomy that I’ve met. I was so excited to see her on the lineup for Wanderlust Vermont 2013, and blown away that I would have the chance to sit with her and ask a few questions. I met up with Tiffany (and Lulu) on Thursday morning at the festival, and found her to be gracious and genuine. 

tiffande

Here’s what we talked about:

What are you most looking forward to this year at Wanderlust?

What I love most about Wanderlust is the community gathering. There are people here from all over, one of my assistants even came in from Finland to be here. These are people who don’t always get to see and practice with each other coming together and creating a community to support each other, even though we don’t know each other. I’ve been teaching here about the ability to show up and support, both directly and indirectly, just by showing up to our mats. There’s a connection of a community both locally and globally.

When you are leading big events like this one, what is your preparation like? Is it different from how you would normally think about teaching?

My preparation is not much different, but I think the biggest thing when you’re teaching a festival like this is that you have to be aware that people are practicing all day, all weekend. The content is going to be a little bit different. I compare it to running a marathon, each and every person at a festival is running a marathon this weekend, I’m not going to blow them out by teaching like I would teach an hour and a half home class. But my preparation is the same, I like writing out sequences, I enjoy that even if I don’t always follow them, it helps me have a clear purpose for my teaching, what am I hoping to get out of this.

What is the most major “wow” moment of your career this far?

I feel like there have been a lot of those moments, I feel like they happen all the time. When someone shows up and tells me the story of how something changed their life, I don’t know if there is any one bigger than the other. It’s all been amazing, I still feel really grateful just to be able to do what I love.

What does a festival like Wanderlust mean for your practice and your teaching?

I love it because I can come here and teach and connect with people from different places, but then I’m also able to take classes. I feel just as exhausted as the students by the end because I’m taking classes all day long too and I love that. I love that pure exhausted bliss at the end of the weekend from taking four classes a day. I squeeze in as much as I can, it’s stimulating as a teacher and your mind is inspired to think in different ways, and come up with different things in your own practice. I love this time of year, it’s my time of year to fuel up, too, and to learn from the teachers around me. There are so many great teachers here, and many that are new to me that I get to meet for the first time.

How do you think festivals and conferences like this one fit into modern day yoga?

I think whether you are new or more experienced a festival is a great way to deepen your knowledge, and really immerse yourself. It’s a great way to sample out a lot of different teachers, and maybe find the teacher that you want to seek out and learn from. It’s one thing to go and study with just one person in a retreat setting, or to come to a festival and get overloads of tons of teachers. As long as you approach it with a mindset of having fun and take it at your level, I really think anyone can attend a festival. Yoga is growing so much, and it really becomes a lifestyle. And it’s so nice to be able to come to a festival and have vendors and people who will help support and inspire a healthy lifestyle.

What is on the horizon for you that you are really looking forward to?

That one is easy, I’m in the process of moving to Sydney, and moving Lulu, to be with my fiance, Duncan Peak. I’m starting to figure out how to juggle my schedule next year so I can still do all the fun things I love, so now it’s just trying to figure out how to schedule it all well. But; I’m excited just to be there! And Lulu is excited to be on the beach.

I was thrilled to have the chance to attend two of Tiffany’s workshops at Wanderlust. The first on the Anatomy of Hips, a workshop specifically for teachers that addressed the musculature of the hips and how they are worked or stretched in our practice. I am always happy to go over more anatomy, there is always so much to learn and remember again. Tiffany is so clear and a bit playful with her work, this was a fun chance to learn and meet other teachers at the festival.

Tiffany Inversions workshop

My boyfriend and I also made it to an 8 am Sunday morning Intermediate/Advanced Inversions practice with Tiffany. If you’re a yogi, I think you can identify with early morning Sunday practice after a long weekend of tons of yoga and late night dancing with MC Yogi! (if you can’t identify with this, you should come to Wanderlust 2014 and get the experience!), but I was completely happy to be in Tiffany’s class Sunday am and LOVED it. Lots of playing with handstand and headstand, and also lots of interesting arm balance practice. Tiffany has a way of teaching these advanced asana that make them accessible for me, and keep me engaged. I don’t consider myself an expert inversion practitioner, but I still got a TON out of this practice. I also met the lovely Alison Bernasco who was assisting Tiffany in this workshop, she was a great help and is a sweet soul who lives and teaches in Northern New Jersey.

A big thank you to Tiffany, and Lululemon Athletica who made this possible for me!
Until next time, Namaste!

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on consuming

Let me just say, I had a heck of a 2012, I think we all did. My life was full of dramas and difficulties that had me turning my focus away from my own health. And this happens sometimes. I was pleased to kiss the year good bye and welcome 2013 with open arms! And with it, my ability to return to my regular self-care routines.
In fact, I have not just made a return but I’ve explored, experimented and committed to my health & beauty regiment in a whole new way. I decided to no longer put things into or onto my body that are full of preservatives, chemicals and CRAP! I’ve overhauled my products and while I’m still fine tuning, here are the great successes I’ve had that I would love to share with you:

  • Clean Eating – This is probably the biggest change I’ve made. I’ve been an organic eater for a long time, but that doesn’t mean a good eater. Especially when I’m under stress I would grab a frozen meal or take-out. Who knows what you’re eating in take-out! And frozen meals? Loaded with salts and additives that bloat your waistline and leave you feeling unsatisfied and under-nourished.  I can’t take full credit for the changes I’ve made in my diet, Katie Braja greatly helped me fine tune the instinct I had started and get my diet under control. She turned me on to gems like Raw Fermented Sauerkraut (a probiotic you can scoop onto most veggie dishes, it’s delicious!) and the morning spinach smoothie.
  • Favorite benefit: I could say that I’m happiest about losing belly fat, but really it’s that I feel amazing, full of energy and actually sated with what I’m eating.
quinoa and adzuki beans, roasted beets and sweet potatoes, sautéed kale and garlic over raw lettuce, with sauerkraut!
  • Juicing – I’ve always loved juices, but after pulling the plug on buying a Breville Juicer in November, this occasional treat has become a regular addition to my diet. Drinking a juice is like giving yourself a booster shot of vitamins and nutrients. Juicers everywhere tout the benefits, energy boost, better skin, improved immunity, etc. etc. I do find that especially during high pollen season juices help me clear my sinuses (thanks to a healthy dose of ginger and lemon). I also just generally feel better when I am juicing regularly than when I’m not, I sometimes add a juice instead of a snack or on special occasions use fresh juice as a base to my smoothie for a sweeter more delicious treat.
  • Favorite benefit: pick your own! Juicing has so many awesome effects.
cabbage, cucumber, turmeric, ginger, lemon, kiwi, pear and kale!
  • The Oil Cleansing Method – After reading this article on Elena (I really love her!) Brower’s site, I decided to try the Oil Cleansing Method. I’ve now been using it about six months and have no intention of switching back. My skin is softer and healthier. I’ve always been prone to occasional break-outs and while I can’t say they are eliminated, blemishes are less noticeable and last far less time than they used to. I also love that I know exactly what I’m putting on my face and not absorbing all of the who-knows-what that is ingredients of other face washes. (Seriously check out your labels, what’s all that stuff?) I did need to do a little playing around with the oil combinations to make this work. My favorite combination? Castor oil, Apricot oil, Jojoba oil with a few drops of Lavender.
  • Favorite Benefit: my face is soft and never greasy, I don’t feel dry or raw the way many washes left my sensitive skin.
for more information, try googling “oil cleansing method” there are dozens of helpful articles.
  • Coconut Oil – I use coconut oil for many purposes, it’s my main choice for cooking (although I do use Olive Oil and Sesame Oil as well). I also keep another jar of the stuff in my shower. I rub it into my hair and let it soak in before shampooing, I lather it onto my body either during the shower, or after as a moisturizer (after the shower lends more moisture but requires more time to let it absorb before you get dressed and go about your day). I also use coconut oil as a base to make hair and face masks in my kitchen (seriously, try it with an egg, a banana and a scoop of honey, blended, for hair or face, super rich and delicious results!). If you have the budget and desire to use expensive organic beauty products I think that’s awesome, I have gotten the same (maybe better!) results for super cheap with my last two routines!
  • Favorite benefit: Coconut oil feels silky, cool and amazing when applied to your skin, it makes me feel like a million bucks and has helped me treat and prevent my usual warm weather eczema!
Costs ten dollars at whole foods, feels like a $100 facial.
Costs ten dollars at whole foods, feels like a $100 facial.
  • Mindfulness – Of course, yoga, meditation and mindful hiking/running have been part of my practice for years, but bringing awareness into the way I eat, cook and care for myself in all aspects is a little more new. My own opinions mean that I have slowly cleansed my cabinets of processed and pre-prepared products, you may feel differently and I think that’s cool. I do think taking some time to consider what you believe is okay for consumption (through mouth or skin) is important. And starting to apply those beliefs to your shopping is uncomfortable at first (what do you mean I’m not reaching for the frozen gyoza!), but really pays off in the end. It might mean getting a farm share, going to local farmer’s markets, or just paying more attention to the labels at your own grocery store. Being mindful of what you put into your body means your body will start giving you what you’re asking of it in terms of both performance and appearance. My self-judgement (more like self-abuse!) has gone out the window as I’ve given my body love in the form of consumption, I am feeling love back.
  • Favorite Benefit: How many people can actually say that they buy in accordance with their ethics? You could be one of them!

I hope you’ve enjoyed, and I am always on the look out for tips, tricks and brands in line with my philosophy, what are some of your favorites? If you’ve got a tip, or if you’d like to hear more in this category leave a comment below!

Until next time, eat well, live well, be well.

Namaste.

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