Thursday, December 30, 2010

The Beginning Anew Celebration

Starting small like a tiny seed, we are creating a new holiday tradition. We offer you the Beginning Anew Celebration- a week filled with special events to give closure to one year and begin the next consciously. Since so many people seem to have time off between after Christmas and New Years Day, we'd love to host a special week of offerings just for you.

Next year we will really begin with more special classes, events & workshops- including family events. I hope that we can even have a special yoga/meditation workshop on New Year's Eve, say 10:30p-12:30a, to ring in the new year consciously.

This year we are hosting three 1 hour poi spinning workshops with guest instructor Corey White from Oakland, California.

We hope to have Corey back next year, and we'll plan ahead so that you can attend her exclusive workshops.

We hope to include family yoga, advanced & beginner's yoga workshops, meditation classes, and yogic lifestyle workshops in addition to poi spinning, meditative drumming, art, and more.

If you have any wishes, questions or feedback, let me know!

Enjoy safe celebrations this New Year's Eve and may 2011 inspire you to new heights!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Living Beings Can Never Be "Trash"

c/o Farm Sanctuary-

Urgent Report from National Shelter Director Susie Coston 
When I entered the stockyard to witness the live animal auction, I knew it would be disturbing and a terrible reminder of what happens each and every day to innocent farm animals. 
But I wasn’t expecting to save three terribly sick newborn calves who were otherwise destined for a garbage heap or slaughterhouse rendering system. I couldn’t turn my back on them – and I know that after I tell their story, you won’t either.   
Please help Farm Sanctuary care for these newly rescued calves and stop the cruelty they endured with an emergency year-end gift. 
Within moments of entering the crowded facility, I was overwhelmed by the staggering number of animals at the sale. Trucks were driving up filled with calves, a by-product of the dairy industry. There were hundreds of these babies, some less than one day old, frantically looking for their mothers.  
Their cries and confusion were met with fierce blows from wooden canes on their backs as workers tried to force them into different pens. 
 One of the newborns was a “downer” too sick to make it to the sorting area. No more than a few days old, the poor little calf had collapsed near the loading dock, filthy and shivering. It was less than 20 degrees outside and the barn wasn’t heated. But no one helped him.
As I vowed to help this tiny downed calf, the auction began. You could see the terror in the animals’ eyes as each one was run through the pen, being pulled and shoved by the workers for better viewing by those who were bidding. That’s when I saw two other helpless, suffering calves that I would save from the industry that day. 
One was especially frantic. He was very sick and his weak legs kept buckling under him as he made his way into the auction pen. The stockyard workers prodded him to try to get him to stand, but he could not. The audience mocked him.   
The buyers laughed even louder when they saw the other calf I would soon rescue. At just 37 lbs, this little one is literally the smallest calf I have ever seen. But what you and I see as a helpless baby in need, agribusiness deems worthless. 
The bidding on both these calves went down to $0. 
The people called them “trash.” 
But, you and I know that these animals are not garbage. They are living, feeling individuals. So I claimed these “worthless” animals – as well as the downed calf still trembling at the bottom of the loading dock – and rushed them for urgent veterinary care. 
Please donate now to help Farm Sanctuary save these neglected newborn calves and work to stop this cruelty for those who are still suffering.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

natural yoga guided practice CD's

Coming soon, I will be offering guided natural yoga practices on CD. The idea was inspired by my students, who have asked over the years to record the practice for use at home. One of my students directly suggested recently that I offer these CD's. I hear the universe loud and clear!

Natural yoga is a yoga style that integrates mindfulness meditation within the practice of poses, bandhas, mudras & deep breathing. It emphasizes living in harmony with nature and the present moment to discover health, happiness and inner peace. It shares that the secret to our own peace and joy lies in our honest desire and efforts to bring peace and joy to others without exclusiveness.

I hope to have these guided practices ready for the Spring, or at least by the Fall, just in time for the holidays 2011! ;)

Guided practice cannot replace getting a good foundational practice under a qualified teacher. But for those who have established natural yoga practices at the studio with me, these CD's will be able to help them practice on their own at home on the days when they cannot be at the studio.

I would like to offer several different practices. I aim to complete a restorative practice, strength practice, and vinyasa wave- a gentle/moderate practice. In addition I'd like to create disc that offers two short practices: one suitable the morning and one for the evening.

If you have any interest, questions or feedback, please let me know!


Tuesday, December 14, 2010

The Oneness of All Life: holiday thoughts & wishes

I've been sharing alot of ideas about the material side of the Winter holiday season. I hope that the material aspects are understood as only a reflection of the deeper level of reality. There is so much meaning in every part of life, every smile, the change of every season, every moment enjoyed in presence.

In reflection of the cross-cultural sacredness of this season, I'd like to share my philisophical interpretation of the underlying oneness of all major religions and spiritual philosophies. I submit my ideas to the universe in a true intention of inspiring peace and freedom from suffering for all of existence.

We all are seeking to express the same truth, the same essence, the same depth and meaning of life, but we do so in our own subjective cultural and personal terms. Each religion and philosophy is like a hand pointing to the moon. There is only one moon, we are all pointing to the same light. Yet, over time, many influencial leaders and lay people from all groups have become distracted, loving their way so much that obsessively tout it as the only one possible way. They lose sight of the original purpose, which I believe some groups may call a form of idolatry or at least sin (which means "to mss the mark" as it translates).

There exist as many ways to point to the moon as their exist hands and more. But caught on the material, dogmatic or linguistic levels, the profundity of each tradition is flattened in the process. If we read a little bit about many different beliefs and worldviews, we can find that the original goals and teachings seem to overlap and really point to the same something meaningful.

Many ancient Indian philosophies, lumped into the catergory Hinduism, proposed an idea called monism. Monism means that all is one- that everything that is is part of one whole reality.

Monotheism is the term that refers to the belief in one God or Deity. Judaism, Christianity and Islam (and monism based Hinduism) are monotheistic belief systems. Many earth-based spiritualities believe in the male and female halves of a whole creative force, or a Creator that supercedes all other beings.

Buddhism refers to the "ground of Being", the source of consciousness, not as an entity, but as an experience we can access when we are fully present. Eckhart Tolle teaches religiously neutral spiritual teachings that refer to the importance of presence. Remembrance of God in each moment is an important Islamic and Sufi practice. Brother Lawrence, a Christian monk, found great peace through his "practice of the preence of God", remembering or being aware of the Divine in each moment.

Yoga teaches that all life is one on the deepest level. Quantum physics sees all of existence on the minute level as energy- no differentiation, just bits of energy.

The idea that this Creator, Source of life, ultimate reality, God, Allah, ground of being is an entity, a human-like figure is most likely a way people contrived to relate to this omniscient, omnipresent Reality. As Tom Porter, a local Mohawk leader, says, all beings see the Creator in their own likeness. To a bear, "he" looks like a bear. Thus to people, "he" looks like a person. But what if monism and monotheism are the same thing? What if we are all part of what is commonly referred to as God? What if all that is manifest is God, or Reality to call it by another name? So what if God isn't a person, but the ultimate underlying essence of all material life? What if what is commonly called God is the energy that forms everything in the material world? Could remembrance and mindfulness, the practice of being present and practicing the presence of God all be the same thing? Could we all be pointing to the moon together? Interpretting its light differently, calling it by different names, some seeing a face on it, others seeing it more abstractly?

During the darkest, longest nights of the year, many cultures celebrate with beautiful lights. We celebrate light, and the love that lights our hearts. We celebrate gratitude for those we love and the life we live. We celebrate light in all forms it may symbolize; wisdom, love, faith, gratitude, contentment, comfort, generosity and the world-view (religion, spirituality) that helps light our way.

May we all celebrate in our own way with love and peace in our hearts, respecting the different views and ways of others. May we love others as we love ourselves, do unto others as we would have them do unto us, harm none and celebrate the diversity and value of all life.

I wish nothing but peace, well-being and light for all of existence. Namaste! Happy Holidays to all!

If you are interested in interpretting various philosophies and religions for yourself to determine what you think, I recommend reading about Islam (especially Thomas Cleary's Essential Koran, Sufism (especially The Essential Rumi and Living Presence by Kabir Edmund Helminski), Advaita Vedanta philosophy, Judaism, Christianity (especially writings by Marcus Borg, Brother Lawrence and the Bible), Thich Nhat Hahn's The Heart of Buddha's Teachings, Sue Hamilton's A Very Short Introduction to Indian Philosophy. The Power of Now by Eckart Tolle is highly recommended too.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Baked With Love

Gifts from the Kitchen: Vegan Sweets Extravaganza!


Just because you don’t eat animal products doesn’t mean you have to play Scrooge when it comes to holiday baking and the giving of sweet treats for gifts. In fact, what better way to show your non-vegan friends how lovely vegan sweets can be? We’ve collected some of our favorite animal-free goodies from our recipe collection for you to roll up your sleeves and get baking! No animals involved–unless you’ve got some companion pets helping out in the kitchen, of course.

Read more:

Monday, December 6, 2010

Wrapping green & gorgeous

Most of the massive amount of extra trash generated during the holidays is due to wrapping paper and packaging. There are so many more sustainable options that are also a delight to behold.
Can't you just recycle the wrapping paper? No, not the vast majority of it. Wrapping paper contains metal, and not just the metalic looking ones. Gift bags as well, are not recyclable unless they are made of regular textured paper. However, some wrapping papers are recyclable- check the underside for the logo or a message indicating so. Our best option is to reuse as much as possible what comes our way or choose to buy more earth friendly wrappings.

Don't be shy to be that "paper saving tree-hugger" at each holiday gathering. You will never have to spend money on wrapping gifts again! People are usually glad that you'll take responsibility for the "mess"!
"Iron" out tissue paper flat with your hand. Sort it by color and fold it up. Save gift bags & boxes that aren't ripped or too worn. Even pieces of wrapping paper are useful, so iron with your hand, fold and save the non-damaged pieces. Ribbons and bows are reusable and useful too. Save old holiday cards as well.
Organize your salvaged treasures well at home. You can save wrappings all year to create a glorious gift-wrapping station. With scissors, tape, glue, glue sticks, and a hole punch you are prepared. You can even find fancy scissors or hole punches to really dress it up.

After wrapping your gift in elegantly and creatively coordinated wrappings. Using The blank part of the back of last year's holiday cards, use a glue stick to adhere a coordinating piece of wrapping paper to cover the inside. Cut it into any shape you wish, punch a hole for hanging, and you have a smart looking tag for your gifts.

The front of the card can be fashioned into a tag for another gift as well. Adding reused ribbons, ornaments, or tying another small gift to the outside dresses up your wrapping.
What if you want to (or need to) start fresh. How can you wrap without doing harm or giving shabby looking gifts?

For paper, choose 100% recycled brown paper, the kind you get for shipping. For bags, use pretty store bags or recycled natural paper. Use newspaper inside. A bit drab? The eco-chic beauty comes in on the finishing touches. Use pine cones cloth ribbons, ornaments, bells, a picture in a frame, a pendant or other beautiful and useful and eye-catching decorations. Seeds, nuts, beans or dried flowers can be glued onto packages or onto a ring cut from a toilet paper roll & fastened on. This can later be composted if not reused. Use hemp or jute twines as well for an earthy elegance.
When wrapping for kids, you can pull out some soy crayons and get to work. Have fun making pictures, patterns, or writing messages of love & joy. Use brighter ribbons and big wooden beads that can be reused. Using the color comics from the newspaper is another great option.
Another less conventional option is to use cloth circles, squares or rectangles of appropriate sizes, to wrap your gifts. Tying it up with twines, ribbons or contrasting strips of material, adding bells, pine cones or other flourishes with result in a unique and sharp-looking gift.

Choose sustainable materials such as hemp, recycled polyester or fleece, or organics. Less expensive options are to buy material at garage sales or thrifT stores. You can use a gift to wrap a gift- kitchen towels, cloth napkins, pillow cases, blankets or folded sheets can be used. Old T-shirts, sweaters, sheets, and other pieces of cloth can be repurposed for wrapping. Funky thrift store specimens can also be washed & cut into wrappings. Cloth is a great way to wrap odd shapes or gift baskets.

Reusable shopping bags can be a very useful way to contain gifts. Look for particularly lovely ones. Use newspaper or recycled packing paper to stuff and cover.
Many newspaper publishers may give away the ends of their rolls for free since they can't use them. Unprinted "newsprint" paper is great for stuffing gift bags, wrapping boxes (wrap with two layers for added durability), or used in shipping. Its also nice for sketching or making patterns!
We have so many options that are much kinder to the earth than the conventional routine trappings. Many of these options are less expensive than purchasing commercial wrappings. Mostly, what is required is just a little extra thought, a few more moments, and the care & creativity you infuse into your gifts as you wrap them with love.

Not only do we do a service to the earth as we wrap with care, but we make even the wrapping a part of the gift. Anyone can buy lots of coventional pizzaz & shine. Enjoying the act of creative & sustainable wrapping manifests another level of love and thoughtfulness, adding something deeper to each gift. The kind of something that is manifested through a little time, love and attention.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Who is Greener??? Real Tree vs. Fake Tree..

A brief article to end that debate...which is kinder to the earth? A real or fake tree..!!

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Peace on Earth: no-stress holiday thoughts

What can be more cheery & bright than the holiday season!? But for so many, November and December are chaotic, draining & unhealthy.
How can we practice peace and non-harm when the season of giving turns into the season of road rage, junk food and exhausting over-commitments? Here are some ideas...

BE HONEST- kindly say no to any commitments you can't comfortably make. Being open & honest in the first place eliminates the emotional breakdown or disappointing last minute cancellations.

BE PRESENT- take things one day, one moment at a time. We get overwhelmed when we think too far ahead. Being present helps us to keep a broader perspective- realize that rushing or frustration are not inevitable and that in this moment, you can take a deep breath and be okay.
A little bit of planning and a lot of just being here and now goes a long way towards maintaining inner peace, all year long. During this, the busiest season of the year, it goes even further. Being here and now is the best way to enjoy each moment with our loved ones, which is what the season is truly about.

BE DIFFERENT- don't like the mall vibe? Well, then don't go there! Gifts don't have to come from the mall! In fact, if you avoid the malls & bigger commercial centers, you avoid a great deal of what's not so nice about this season.
Shop at smaller, locally-owned shops and boutiques. Make creative, simple gifts. And if you need to shop from the big chain stores, save energy ( & gas) and shop online.
Look for fair-trade and sweatshop free gifts. Think of giving useful gifts instead of more knick-knacks. Gift baskets of gourmet & wholesome, organic, fair-trade foods can be delightful. Think of what your loved one enjoys most, and create a unique mix of items that will soothe, inspire or heal them. If you are splurging anyways, always consider the most eco-friendly option to assure none are harmed by your giving. Enjoy the process of choosing gifts, be creative, and you will be doing yourself a great kindness too.

BE PREPARED- what makes us feel like more of a grouch than eating too much white flour and sugar? Eat healthy meals and pack healthy lunches for work. Eat every 3-4 hours so that you are never starving (thats when we eat a plate of cookies- when we were way too hungry to begin with). Bring healthy foods when asked to contribute to holiday parties, such as butternut squash soup, whole wheat quick breads, crudites, low-sugar apple cobbler, or veggie pates. Eat before going to parties, never go starving. Drink plenty of water with all those dry, crunchy party snack. Nibble & sample, but focus on the people or ambiance, not just the food.

BE COMPASSIONATE- think about the less fortunate during the holidays. Much of the holiday stress comes the infusion of capitalistic materialism into an otherwise deeply meaningful, universally significant season. Consider some form of volunteerism once a week to give back and stay humble. Animal shelters, hospitals, soup kitchens or homeless shelters are always looking for helpers. Or get friends together to knit scarves for the homeless or bake nice things for the soup kitchen, or any other creative way to offer more joy to those less fortunate then ourselves. In this way we slow-down and connect to the greater meaning of the season.

BE CENTERED- most people drastically alter their routes this time of year. They stop going to yoga class or the gym, their usual sleep schedule is shoved aside, they stop that lunch-time walk or eat more take-out instead of cooking dinners at home like usual. Perhaps that may free an hour or two, but severing from grounding, nuturing routines leaves us feeling unfocused, adrift and anxious. It's likely that you will alter your schedules somehow during the holidays, but aim for some routine to keep you centered. Keep up your exercise routine, or create a shorter routine for the season. Maybe take ten minutes to meditate each morning- sit comfortably and just breathe. Feel the moment and be no where else. Indulge in that ten minutes of just being and you will set a peaceful, focused tone for your whole day.

BE SIMPLE- some of the stress of the holiday season arises from our desire to give gifts to everyone that we care about, and not feeling that we have enough money to do so. We want to give gifts that can make our friends & family happy and show them how much we care. Its hard to compete with all of those flashy, trendy presents we see advertised. Truly, most of us need less stuff & more substance anyways. Think of simple ways to use your skills (or learn new ones) to turn just a little bit of raw materials, some time, and lots of love into hearty homemade gifts. Store-bought flash can never express love like hand-made cards & gifts can. Bake artisinal loaves of bread, knit gloves, sew a simple throw pillow out of old t-shirts, make ornaments from natural found objects, write poems, paint, frame a photograph, make a collage from old magazines, give I.O.U's for massage, help with projects, walks, tea time visits, etc. If you have a big family, consider drawing names & each person only has to buy one gift, secret santa-style. Or perhaps decide that only the children receive gifts.

Truly, we have to remember why we are so driven to give this season- because we love. Nothing is more precious then the quality of attention given to our loved ones everyday. Stay present as much as possible to soak in the light of love, the joy of sharing and the warmth of being together. Do that and the true bliss and peace of the season will be yours.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Green Gifts: make old Tshirts into great gifts!!!

This holiday season, consider a little DIY gifting. Its easy on the earth, and your wallet. Plus putting a little time into crafting a gift shows that you care. The next blog will be more simple gift and wrapping ideas that are easy on the eyes, earth and wallet.    --Laura

8 Ways To Reuse an Old T-Shirt

We all have them in our dressers: a couple of t-shirts that are past their prime, but we just can’t get rid of them. Whether it’s from an awesome concert or a really special family reunion, you can give an old t-shirt a new life with some crafty skills!

1. Laptop Cozy

The folks at Make share a quickie tutorial for turning a t-shirt into a laptop case by simply folding the shirt in half with the wrong sides in, stitching up the sides, then flipping it back.

2. Pillow

Cut a straight line from shoulder to shoulder and from sleeves to the bottom hem. Trim as much off of the bottom of the shirt as you like, then stitch it up inside out, leaving a bit of room to flip and stuff. Once you’ve flipped and stuffed your pillow, close the seam with a whip stitch or a sneaky ladder stitch, and you’re ready to go!

t-shirt quilt

3. Quilt

Is that collection of shirts a little bit out of hand? You can turn a bunch of old t-shirts into a super-comfy memory quilt! Just cut your shirts into squares, piece them together, and sew it up! If you’re new to quilting, About has some great, quick tips for quilters to help you out.

Keep it eco-friendly with organic or recycled batting.

4. Skirt

Ready for the quickest refashion yet? Cute Circuit shows you how to turn an old shirt into a skirt in 30 seconds flat!

t-shirt necklace

5. Necklace

Dollar Store Crafts shows you how to make a simple, elegant t-shirt necklace. I like how she added decorative beads to spice things up.

grocery totes

6. Grocery Bag

A grocery bag is another super-quick t-shirt craft. The ever-fabulous Martha Stewart walks you through how to turn an old shirt into a reusable grocery bag.

7. Applique

Is a little spot, tear, or stain keeping your favorite shirt from being wearable? That’s easy as pie to fix up! Just cover that pesky spot with your very own applique. You can use something store bought, or cut shapes you like out of fabric or felt and stitch it right on. If you’re using a machine to stitch, you’ll want to put interfacing inside the shirt behind where you’ll be stitching, or the fabric could pucker around the stitches.

8. Undies

Over at SuperNaturale, Logan shows you how to transform an old tee into a comfy pair of undies.
undies <<

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Is getting to your roots getting in the way of your yoga?

Many of us find it an interesting & enriching process to study our family tree. We enjoy tracing our roots back as close to the source as we can. We get into our Irish-ness or Italian-ness or other-ness by practicing various traditions, purchasing cultural items or cooking traditional recipes. It helps us to feel more connected to our families, and to others of the same background. How can such a connecting practice limit us in regards to yoga and spiritual progress?
In and of itself, the sense of connectivity derived from studying our geneology isn't detrimental. That is, as long as we are mindful not to allow it to limit us. How would it limit us? If we begin to identify with our blood heritage, we may become too attached to it as a label, a limiting concept of "who we are". This can trap us in all sorts of limited ideas of what we can or can't do, what we are supposed to look like, act like, and so on.
In addition, while helping us to feel more connected to others, it creates a seperation between us and others of different roots. This is the same for all labels we may identify with and falsely take our sense of self from, mistaking them for some sort of permanent and abiding situation. Rich, poor, Jewish, Christian, pagan, male, female, artist, secretary, librarian, gay, straight, vegan, meat-eater, American, French; the more we repeat these labels to ourselves, the more entrenched in concepts we become.
Granted, rarely do people change genders, and we can't change our blood heritage. Yet, most labels can & will change over time as we grow. Spirituality may or may not change, but at least hopefully evolves. Labels can feed the ego by creating a false-sense of conflict, fragmentation and a false-self that is thought of as seperate from others. How do we deal with this in a yogic sense?
It is good to understand & learn about your family heritage, if it interests you. But watch that you don't develop a sense of judgement or seperation from others. Watch that you don't judge traditions as right or wrong, better or lesser.
Also, reflect on other pieces of your experience, such as spiritual lineage. The majority of the world can trace its spiritual heritage to the Middle East or Asia. As you study, keep an open mind & again watch out for any judgements of value.
As we try to trace our roots back to our source we can keep the ego in check by putting it all into a broader perspective. We can look at ourselves as a member of the human family. We can see the oneness in our smiles, tears, pain, and love. We can see that we are mammals, and contemplate our connection to all other mammals. We can look at ourselves as animals, and see our similarities as members of the animal kingdom. We could look at ourselves as earthlings- members of planet Earth, along with the other animals, trees, plants, rocks, and tiny, tiny creatures.
The majority of the world's people believe in one Source of life, one Universal Creative Intelligence. Can we accept that no one type of people has a monopoly on This? Can we believe that we all can connect in our own distinct way? In this way maybe we can enjoy our uniqueness & diversity, and at the same time see ourselves, and all of creation, as part of the same whole?
That is the ultimate goal of yoga. Union, oneness, universal perspective. So, from the yogic perspective, enjoy what you enjoy, but be on the lookout for any practice or concept that fosters the sense of seperateness within you. That false sense of seperation is the root of all craving & suffering.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Natural Yogis

Many people have shared with me over the years ways in which their draw to yoga and meditation was foreshadowed, especially in childhood.
I recall watching cartoons in my own special version of headstand, using the center of the couch, with my feet on the wall. I also had a great shoulderstand/fish variation: legs up the wall, back on the couch cushion and head hanging just over the edge of the cushion. during a few Summers, us kids tried to perfect handstand in the pool. I hear stories of similar "accidental" yoga poses all the time.
Many also have similar stories of meditative awareness arising in odd places, entering into a flow state while working in a fast-food drive thru, for example. Slipping into a meditative flow while cleaning the house or cooking is actually pretty common.
Babies naturally move into mudra-asanas. Young ones move into variations bound angle, tree, bridge, double-leg stretch & of course happy baby. Older babies find upward facing dog, down dog, cross-legged pose, chair and more.
The truth is that yoga, that is to say union with the present moment, is a natural state of being. Yoga is universal. Yoga is what we are, without all of the man-made stress & pretense. Yoga is what nature is in all her perfection.
Poses in yoga practice are ways of directing the flow of energy to bring health to the body, relax the mind and remove obstacles in the way of our natural state of yoga. They naturally feel good, so its not surprizing that children find them the way they do.
Present moment awareness is access to the depth of Life. The more we are present, the more we strengthen our ability to be present. It's no wonder that once we engage in regular yoga practice our mind begins to connect all of the instances where we touched that state of being.
Yoga is our natural state of being. The present moment is our home. We are all born as natural yogis.

Friday, November 12, 2010

And Enlighten yoga + community center is born

After 4 years in Amsterdam as Natural Method Yoga Studio, we are ready to grow. It is beyond just one person's offerings now. I have learned the true power of community, and that one person cannot create community alone.

A group becomes community by joining in striving for common goals and believing in the basic value + goodness of others. Let's join together to create the kind of world that we wish to see- kind, creative cooperative, healthy and happy. Let us model a heathy & compassionate lifestyle for the next generation to follow. It is every individuals responsibility to be the kind of neighbor they want to have, to be the example of what they want to see in others. In this way we slowly create a new world, the kind we had hoped for.

To this end , we have been evolving into a yoga AND community center. Lots of experience, input and inspiration has led to these changes. I believe that this is the start of something bigger and more beautiful than we could've imagined. That is how life unfolds when you don't fight it!

In the last several months we painted the studio. Now, in the next week, our new website, will be launched. We are welcoming a second yoga instructor on board. And we are going to do some beautiful construction: shelves, a bench outside, and some other littler improvements. We will aquire a few more props, and a couple other nice upgrades.

We are also offering some groups/clubs starting in the new year: so far we are forming a La Leche League group, a universal spiritual meditaton group, a meditative drum circle and we plan to hold a potluck once every season for the whole yoga community to come out, share, talk, relate, and inspire each other. This potluck will also be a time for people who are interested in trying yoga to check out the space and ask questions. It will also be a chance for local vegans to meet, and for folks to ask questions about veganism as well. Certainly, one needn't be vegan to attend.

We also aim in the next two years to increase our children's offerings, including some different classes and an Art + Yoga workshop. We also will add some personal exploration based art workshops.

We hope to host more events such as poetry readings and special speakers as well. We want to host more groups/clubs that benefit the community, so if you have an idea, please let me know! That is how strong community is created- speak up & take action to realize the kind of Amsterdam you wish to see!

The next year will see these changes, one after another manifested at our studio. Please support us through your regular attendance of one or two classes weekly. If you'd like to see us realize these canges sooner, please consider donating to our Transformation Fund when you are at the studio. What's most important is your attendance of yoga classes, both for your benefit & the entire community!

I am grateful to be part of this community! I am excited to see how it grows! Namaste!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Full Autumn Splendor: meditation

Breathe deeply, be outside as much as you can. Close your eyes, let go of expectations & time & FEEL each breath. Let go of bodily & mental tension, feel the aliveness in your body & in all things. When you are present & free of the constraints of physcological time, you are fully alive and one with all life.
Breathe deeply, smile gently from your heart.

Monday, October 25, 2010

the amazing process of Hatha Yoga

Hatha yoga is the beginning of yoga. The practice of hatha yoga techniques purify, prepare and transform the mind & body for the deeper spiritual journey to enlightenment.
These practices are physical and spiritual, but not religious. They are universal and meant to serve all people, everywhere on their path to manifesting their highest and deepest potential as human beings.
It is said that it takes 12 years of very regular hatha yoga practice to fully cleanse, balance & prepare the mind and body for deeper meditation and a vast expansion of the awareness.
Scientists say that we use 10% of our brains. The other 90% remains dormant. It is alongs these lines that we refer to as "reaching our highest potential", awakening & utilizing the 90% of our mind that lies dormant.
The practice of yoga asanas (poses) is the most common hatha technique taught and practiced outside of India. Other important practices are shatkarmas (cleansing actions), pranayama (breathing techniques to control prana or lifeforce), bandhas (muscular locks or contractions) and mudras (gestures).
Hatha yoga is not like taking an aerobics class, where it has little to nothing to do with the rest of your life. Hatha yoga is a lifestyle practice. It is a conscious journey through life. There is a goal, but each moment is equally important. The journey itself is the goal.
Since to practice hatha yoga is a cleansing process, it is prescribed that one that takes spiritual progress seriously must eat only a pure diet. The way that is interpreted in natural yoga is as a whole food, herbiverous diet. Traditionally it is a simple, plain vegetarian diet that includes dairy. It is important in our times to omit all animal product. Literally billions of animals suffer, and 1X billion are killed every year for American consumption. Egg laying hens & dairy cows in factory farms suffer egregiously, and their male offspring suffer particularly heinous treatment. Supporting that suffering with patronage and ingesting the products from that evil industry creates negative energy, bad karma, and adds more toxins to the body. It inhibits spiritual progress.
Besides a cleansing diet, shatkarmas, or cleansing exercises are recommended. Particulary, jala neti & kapalabhati are well-suited to Americans, and are recomended as part of natural yoga.
Jala neti is becoming more mainstream nowadays. It is an ancient practice of nasal irrigation with salt water. A small ceramic (or plastic) pot, called a neti pot, is used. These can be found at most healthfood stores & some pharmacies.
Kapalabhati is one of the shatkarmas, but it is also a breathing technique for the control of energy (pranayama). It is a cleansing, stimulating breathing technique. It uses alternating rounds of breath retention and forceful exhalation. It is one of the breathing techniques regularly offered in natural yoga.
Other pranayamas exist, in fact there are numerous yogic breathing techniques. Most used in natural yoga are alternate nostril breathing (anuloma viloma & nadi shodhana) and kapalabhati. In addition, and perhaps most importantly, deep rhythmic diaphramic breathing is utilized throughout classes. The slow & even inhalations & exhalations are harmonizing, and physiologically relaxing.
Asana practice at the right exertion is crucial. It cleanses, harmonizes, strengthens, and makes the body flexible. It tones muscles, organs and glands, increasing health. It helps to calm the mind as well, by relaxing the body. Some people are very tense & active and thus need very gentle releasing practices. Some people are very active and need to exert themselves deeply before they can relax. Moderate practice serves both active and placid people. All of the various poses have individual and sequential benefits.
A daily full practice of an hour is most beneficial, although any practice is better than none. Doing one to two classes each week is highly recommended, and adding 15-90 minute home practices on the other days is ideal. Asanas are amazing for really calming the mind while bringing the body into a state of deep wellness. They uncover inner peace and help the yogi to reflect it outwardly.
Bandhas, or locks, are used to direct & hold energy. We mainly emphasize uddhiyana bandha, the drawing of the navel inward towards he spine. It is crucial in stabilizing and realigning the spine and to increase vital energy.
Mudras are used in natural yoga classes less so, but in a few key places. The palms together (anjali mudra/prayer position) symbolizes yoga (union), equanimity. Whenever we bring the thumb & index fingertips together, it symbolizes the union of our individual energy with the whole of the universe. We are never seperate from the universe, but we tend to act like we are, causing ourself & others to suffer. Jnana mudra reminds us of that powerful truth.
It is quite a comitment to embrace a true hatha yoga practice. Yet the transformative & inspirational results are amazing. It is said that a yogi should keep his or her realizations & experiences secret. That is because they are deep and personal peak experiences to which words can do no justice. Yoga truly does unlock a level of awareness in us that frees us to go deeper & deeper into each moment in life.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

The Real Meaning of Yoga

Yoga is a deep and winding topic. It is a science of reaching the fullest potential and meaning of life. Along that path, the body & mind are both transformed into ideal health and harmony.
In America, the mainstream focus is purely on the effect of yoga on the body for exercise, flexibility & relaxation. The deeper meaning doesn't penetrate the thick shell of our hallow material culture.
There are many modern & traditional schools of yoga. There are lots of terms that are becoming yoga jargon that is widely used and not always clearly understood.
First of all, yoga is not meant to be used as an occaisional workout, a one hour break from a harmful lifestyle, or conforming to a particular image to identify oneself.
Yoga classes can be used for the myriad health benefits they provide. This is part of a much deep and more longterm practice.
Yoga classes in America fall under the heading of "hatha yoga". Hatha means sun and moon, & it implies the goal of union (yoga) and harmonizing of opposite energies. It is a practice of yoga designed to balance, purify and prepare the mind & body for the higher vibrational energies unleashed in more advanced yoga practices. This preparation is said to take twelve years.
Hatha techniques include poses, breathing techniques, locks, gestures, cleansing exercises & pure eating habits. In American yoga, only poses are offered widespread. Some teachers do offer a more rich sampling of breathing practices, gestures, and locks too. Although these practices are clearly meant to be part of a lifestyle and not random or intermittant practices, that is generally how they are offered & received.
After 12 or so years of hatha yoga practice, the aspirant is said to be ready to practice a "higher" path of yoga- a path that takes one deeper inside to explore the ground & meaning of life through firsthand experience. These paths traditionally are raja (scientific path) or jnana (scriptural study & meditation) yoga, but could be deep exploration of the true meaning of one's own religion as well. It could be an open, spiritual surrender to the present moment. It could be deep practice of ecstatic devotion to the divine (bhakti yoga). It could be serving the divine by serving others, seeing the Source of life everywhere and in everyone & everything (karma yoga). Truly there as many paths as there are beings on earth.
The ultimate goal of yoga is the realization of our fullest potential- full liberation from subjectivity, full union with each Present Moment, true reflection of the nature of our Source (love, truth, generosity, compassion). It is the activation of the other 90% of our brain (scientists say that we only actually use 10% of our brain capacity). It is creative, wise, knowingly interconnected humanity. That is enlightenment. It is the cessation of the false-self/ego and the mistaken mirage of separation. We life from a state of yoga, oneness with all life.
That is the ultimate goal of yoga.
The heathy, toned, flexible, youthful, disease-free body is a side-effect of the practices leading to that goal. The relaxation, inner peace, creativity, focus and mental clarity too are just benefits of the path to union.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

The future of our yoga community is very bright...

I am delighted to share with you all my vision of the future for our little yoga studio! It is bigger & more beautiful then I would have ever envisioned four years ago at its start. The ultimate unfolding of this plan will be subject to the evolution of the universe, as are all things.

We are going to acquire one of Amsterdam's empty homes, and bring it back to life through volunteer service. If we become a non-profit as I am almost positive we will, then all of the donated time, labor & materials will be tax deductale, as allowed by law.

The result will be a clean, simple, spacious sanctuary. The total contents are subject to the actual building we acquire, but the fundamental layout will contain: a large main studio, a children's studio, a small reception area, and a lounge area for reading, studying & relaxing. I intend on allowing use of the kitchen for folks to fix themselves a cup of tea, etc.

Besides offering an expanded schedule of yoga classes, I aim to offer a children's yoga program, art & music classes. I also want to build a strong sense of community. We will achieve this through hosting various groups or clubs ( a universal spiritual meditation group, a vegan group, a hiking club, a women's empowerment group...) and offering a large bulletin board space listing local opportunities for service, offerings of services such as tutoring, service travel opportunities worldwide and various workshops & studies for personal growth.

Our mission would be to share enlightening services with children & adults regardless of income, helping to share the power of present moment awareness through yoga, meditation, nature, art, music, learning, listening, movement & community service.

We would create positive, open-minded & compassionate community through our offerings, by hosting groups & by helping people to make friends through coming together for service, learning & sharing.

Other ideas would include the possibility of bedrooms for retreats & a special small space for private lessons. We may sell some basic eco-friendly and yoga products. It would be a dream down the road to offer a small vegan cafe as well! From the start I'd like to offer a weekly vegan soup kitchen or at least a once-monthly community vegan meal.

We will keep things simple staff wise, but we may in time employ 2 part-time receptionists, a person in charge of maintanence, and if the vegan cafe manifests, 4 or so cafe employees (at about 32 hrs each every week). This is not to mention myself, and 2-4 'independent contractors' to teach the children's classes & full schedule of yoga & meditation classes.

If you've read this much, I hope you are really excited! Please let me know your feelings, feedback, suggestions & requests! Also, I offer you the chance to help name this yoga, community & children's center.

Name ideas we like so far:

yoga, community & children's center

namaste center for mindfulness

one breath
yoga, community & children's center

one sky
yoga, community & children's center

the giving tree
yoga, community & children's center
(if I can get permission to use that name, I really love it & its a beautiful children's book by Shel Silverstein)

blissful nature
yoga, community & children's center

As always, your feedback is so valuable. This won't be a community center without community!

Be excited, and work towards future goals, but stay present as you do... That is our mindset.

If you have any services that you can add to this idea and you want to be a part of our community in that capacity, let me know!

If you know any yoga teachers that may want to be part of a growing studio, let them know!

Suggest that your friends Like us on facebook.

Commit to one class each week, maybe with a group of friends.

Let's not let habitual pessimism about what "can or can't exist in Amsterdam" get in our way. I believe it is up to each of us to create the kind of community we wish to see, here & now. We need to manifest it, not just imagine it. Join us as we embark on the next leg of our journey!


Friday, October 15, 2010

Vegan Autumn Treats- Family Favorites ;) (c/o

Sticky popcorn balls and gooey caramel apples: two classic treats that declare fall and Halloween are here. Typically, these delights are loaded with corn syrup, sugar, and/or butter. For a healthier alternative with a similar taste, experiment with the following recipes.
Vegan Popcorn Balls
Yields 12 balls
1/2 cup organic popcorn kernels
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 cup organic maple syrup
1/2 cup barley malt syrup
1 cup cold water, to prevent sticky hands
1. Pop popcorn, per instructions on package and place in a large bowl.
2. Mix maple and barley malt syrups in a small sauce pan, and bring to a boil.
3. Lower heat to medium-low, and stir constantly for 5-6 minutes.
4. Pour the hot syrup over the popcorn and mix thoroughly.
5. Slightly moisten your hands with cold water, and form balls by firmly packing the mixture in your hands. Be sure to moisten your hands before making each ball.
6. Place balls in a covered container or wrap in wax paper, then freeze until the syrup hardens.
Vegan Caramel Sauce with Apples
Yields 1 cup of sauce
1 cup of vanilla soy milk
3/4 cup brown rice syrup
1/3 cup maple syrup
3 tablespoons water
2 tablespoons arrowroot powder
1 tablespoon vegan margarine (A brand like Earth Balance has no hydrogenated oils, contains no GMO’s, and is gluten-free.)
2 tsp vanilla extract
Sliced apples
1. Combine soy milk, brown rice and maple syrups in a saucepan over medium heat until boiling (about 10 minutes.) Whisk continuously to prevent sticking.
2. Mix water and arrowroot in a small bowl.
3. When the boiling mixture lightly coats the back of a spoon, add the mixed water and arrowroot. Cook for 2 more minutes, whisking continuously.
4. Remove from heat and stir in vegan margarine and vanilla extract.
5. Cool and drizzle over apple slices.

Read more:

Thursday, October 7, 2010

New York Celebration FOR the Turkeys

Celebration FOR the Turkeys

New York Shelter ∙ Watkins Glen, NY ∙ November 20, 2010

Join us for the
Celebration FOR the Turkeys
A compassionate holiday benefit for our feathered friends

Begin your day at Farm Sanctuary’s New York Shelter in Watkins Glen with our beloved Feeding of the Turkeys Ceremony, where you can help feed our turkey friends all their fall favorites: stuffed squash, cranberries and pumpkin pie! You can also visit the other sanctuary residents at the New York Shelter, including the cows, pigs, sheep, and goats.

After shelter time, you and our other guests will gather at the beautiful Harbor Hotel overlooking Seneca Lake in downtown Watkins Glen for the evening portion of our program. Here, you can enjoy a delicious vegan feast, browse the silent auction and hear inspirational talks.

Farm Sanctuary’s charismatic National Shelter Director Susie Coston will delight us all with stories about the sanctuary residents. Check back soon for additional event speakers.

The New York Celebration costs $50 per person and includes the catered holiday feast. Reserve your spot today! You can also make a reservation by calling 607-583-2225 ext. 221.

If you are unable to attend the entire event, you are still welcome to attend farm time and the Feeding of the Turkeys Ceremony. Farm Time begins at 1:30 p.m. and the Turkey Feeding Ceremony begins at 2:30 p.m. Cost is $5 for adults and $3 for children 12 and under. Please check in at the People Barn upon arrival.

New York Celebration FOR the Turkeys

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Yoga Birthday Parties!!!!!

Introducing a fun, healthy way to celebrate your little yogi's birthday! And a great way to make it simple for you! Check out the details on our "children" page, on the left sidebar!

T-shirts, nail clippings, pencil shavings, + dryer lint: 75 Things You didn't Know You Could Compost (c/o

By Colleen Vanderlinden, Planet Green
The basics of composting are simple. Most people know they can compost fruit and vegetable peels, leaves, and grass clippings. But what about that tea bag you used this morning? Or the fur that collects in the brush when you groom your cat?
The following list is meant to get you thinking about your compost possibilities. Not every item on the list is for everyone, and that’s fine. Imagine how much trash we could prevent from going into the landfills if each of us just decided to compost a few more things. Here are 75 ideas to get you started.

From the Kitchen

  1. Coffee grounds and filters
  2. Tea bags
  3. Used paper napkins
  4. Pizza boxes, ripped into smaller pieces
  5. Paper bags, either ripped or balled up
  6. The crumbs you sweep off of the counters and floors
  7. Plain cooked pasta
  8. Plain cooked rice
  9. Stale bread
  10. Paper towel rolls
  11. Stale saltine crackers
  12. Stale cereal
  13. Used paper plates (as long as they don’t have a waxy coating)
  14. Cellophane bags (be sure it’s really Cellophane and not just clear plastic—there’s a difference.)
  15. Nut shells (except for walnut shells, which can be toxic to plants)
  16. Old herbs and spices
  17. Stale pretzels
  18. Pizza crusts
  19. Cereal boxes (tear them into smaller pieces first)
  20. Wine corks
  21. Moldy cheese
  22. Melted ice cream
  23. Old jelly, jam, or preserves
  24. Stale beer and wine
  25. Paper egg cartons
  26. Toothpicks
  27. Bamboo skewers
  28. Paper cupcake or muffin cups

From the Bathroom

  1. Used facial tissues
  2. Hair from your hairbrush
  3. Toilet paper rolls
  4. Old loofahs
  5. Nail clippings
  6. Urine
  7. 100% cotton cotton balls
  8. Cotton swabs made from 100% cotton and cardboard (not plastic) sticks

Personal Items

It might be a good idea to bury these items in your pile. Just sayin’.
  1. Cardboard tampon applicators
  2. Latex condoms

From the Laundry Room

  1. Dryer lint
  2. Old/stained cotton clothing—rip or cut it into smaller pieces
  3. Old wool clothing—rip or cut it into smaller pieces

From the Office

  1. Bills and other documents you’ve shredded
  2. Envelopes (minus the plastic window)
  3. Pencil shavings
  4. Sticky notes
  5. Business cards (as long as they’re not glossy)
  6. Receipts

Around the House

  1. Contents of your vacuum cleaner bag or canister
  2. Newspapers (shredded or torn into smaller pieces)
  3. Subscription cards from magazines
  4. Leaves trimmed from houseplants
  5. Dead houseplants and their soil
  6. Flowers from floral arrangements
  7. Natural potpourri
  8. Used matches
  9. Ashes from the fireplace, barbecue grill, or outdoor fire pit

Party and Holiday Supplies

  1. Wrapping paper rolls
  2. Paper table cloths
  3. Crepe paper streamers
  4. Latex balloons
  5. Raffia
  6. Excelsior
  7. Jack o’ Lanterns
  8. Those hay bales you used as part of your outdoor fall decor
  9. Natural holiday wreaths
  10. Your Christmas tree. Chop it up with some pruners first (or use a wood chipper, if you have one…)
  11. Evergreen garlands


  1. Fur from the dog or cat brush
  2. Droppings and bedding from your rabbit/gerbil/hamsters, etc.
  3. Newspaper/droppings from the bottom of the bird cage
  4. Feathers
  5. Alfalfa hay or pellets (usually fed to rabbits)
  6. Rawhide dog chews
  7. Fish food
  8. Dry dog or cat food
I know that the longer I’ve had a compost pile, the more likely I’ve been to take a second look at something I was preparing to throw in the trash. “Hmm. Can I compost this?” is a frequent question in my house. And, as you can see, it’s surprising how often you can answer “Yes!”

Read more:

Saturday, October 2, 2010


Celebrating our 5th Walk For Farm Animals + 4th anniversary, we are offering you a challenge...
A challenge is an opportunity for growth. This challenge is an opportunity to detoxify your body & mind, to lose weight, heal your body, spare animals from terrible suffering and maybe change your life!
Our Compassion Challenge is to go vegan for 1 month. You could go vegan for one day, one meal, or one week too. But after 2 weeks, you'll crave less junk, you'll begin to cleanse, lose unwanted weight, feel lighter and healthier. One month will give you a fresh start in life. Why go back to a diet of unhealthy, addictive, toxin-filled, cruelty-ridden food?
There is a resource on our website to help you understand why, what & how to eat a whole-food plant-based diet and feel great- mind, body & heart. Visit it at .

We'd love to hear your stories, how you feel, what you experience during the challenge. Reading "The China Study" by T. Colin Campbell will help inspire you! Let this month be a spiritual journey into deeper truth & compassion. View Earthlings or read Meat Market by Erik Marcus to understand the truth of what we support when we buy meat, milk, eggs (& wool, leather..).
I deeply hope that you'll rise to the challenge. Let it open your heart, improve your health & deepen your peace!

Monday, September 27, 2010

Celebrate Compassion Week at the studio

Here at the natural method yoga studio, we are celebrating compassion this week (and always). This is the week leading up to our Walk for Farm Animals & anniversary celebration on October 2nd.

Please make it a point, if you've been waiting to try yoga, to come this week! At the same time, please make even a small donation to help support Farm Sanctuary's work in the name of compassion for all living beings.

Our anniversary celebration follows the walk. From 1:30-3:00 we will share delicious vegan foods (including lucious brownies!), share our hopes for our community & you can sign our special poster with a statement about what yoga means to you.

Take our vegan challenge! Go vegan for one month. You will improve your health, lose weight, feel energetically more harmonious, cleanse toxins from your body, & not be funding the cycles of suffering for millions of animals in factory farms anymore.

Learn more on our website's vegan resource:

DON'T FORGET that to have a yoga & community center last, it needs participation! Carpe Diem! Sieze the opportunity to practice peace & be part of a yoga community! Once a week is all it takes to start!

This week we are hoping to launch the NEW WEBSITE, same address, new look. It will be neater, filled with more peace, more information, more mindfulness than ever! It will lauch next week at the latest!


Saturday, September 25, 2010

World Peace Day Celebration

I wanted to say thanks to the 5 yogis that came to celebrate peace at the studio. Together we raised our vibrations, and $57 for UNICEF!

Next year, we'll make it even bigger!


Saturday, September 11, 2010

exciting events, tools to help

I'm very excited to unveil the new index page of the website.. It has links so that you can print flyers for your favorite studio events & post them along your travels! Also, there's a going vegan resource too!

Will you take the Compassion Challenge? Go vegan for one month to celebrate our 4th anniversary!

If you have weight to lose, any ailments such as diabetes, high blood pressure, heart problems or others, going vegan can save your life! It also saves many animals lives & helps the earth too!

October 2nd is our 5th Walk for Farm Animals! Register at 10, walk 11-1.

At 1:30 we welcome the community to a potluck vegan tasting and we ask our yoga community to sign our "wall". We will share a little meditation, and be wrapping up around 3pm.

Don't forget: Wednesday the 22nd, two special sessions to celebrate International Peace Day & raise money for UNICEF. $15 Suggested donation for each. come for one or both...

5:00Pm 108 rounds sun salutations (take breaks as needed) and deep relaxation dedicated to peace & understanding.

6:30Pm Share readings on peace & understanding and 54 minutes of silent meditation/prayer.

Looking ahead to Spring.. we will host a clothing swap so keep it in mind!


Tuesday, August 31, 2010

The Benefits of Yoga


At the outset, we must understand what we can gain out of this wonderful practice

At the physical level, yoga and its cleansing practices have proven to be extremely effective for various disorders.

More importantly, yoga is extremely effective in:

Increasing Flexibility – yoga has positions that act upon the various joints of the body including those joints that are never really on the ‘radar screen’ let alone exercised.

Increasing lubrication of the joints, ligaments and tendons – likewise, the well-researched yoga positions exercise the different tendons and ligaments of the body.

Surprisingly it has been found that the body which may have been quite rigid starts experiencing a remarkable flexibility in even those parts which have not been consciously work upon. Why? It is here that the remarkable research behind yoga positions proves its mettle. Seemingly unrelated “non strenuous” yoga positions act upon certain parts of the body in an interrelated manner. When done together, they work in harmony to create a situation where flexibility is attained relatively easily.

Massaging of ALL Organs of the Body – Yoga is perhaps the only form of activity which massages all the internal glands and organs of the body in a thorough manner, including those – such as the prostate - that hardly get externally stimulated during our entire lifetime. Yoga acts in a wholesome manner on the various body parts. This stimulation and massage of the organs in turn benefits us by keeping away disease and providing a forewarning at the first possible instance of a likely onset of disease or disorder.

One of the far-reaching benefits of yoga is the uncanny sense of awareness that it develops in the practitioner of an impending health disorder or infection. This in turn enables the person to take pre-emptive corrective action

Complete Detoxification – By gently stretching muscles and joints as well as massaging the various organs, yoga ensures the optimum blood supply to various parts of the body. This helps in the flushing out of toxins from every nook and cranny as well as providing nourishment up to the last point. This leads to benefits such as delayed ageing, energy and a remarkable zest for life.

Excellent toning of the muscles – Muscles that have become flaccid, weak or slothy are stimulated repeatedly to shed excess flab and flaccidity.

But these enormous physical benefits are just a “side effect” of this powerful practice. What yoga does is harmonize the mind with the body and this results in real quantum benefits. It is now an open secret that the will of the mind has enabled people to achieve extraordinary physical feats, which proves beyond doubtthe mind and body connection.

Yoga through meditation works remarkably to achieve this harmony and helps the mind work in sync with the body. How often do we find that we are unable to perform our activities properly and in a satisfying manner because of the confusions and conflicts in our mind weigh down heavily upon us? Moreover, stress which in reality is the #1 killer affecting all parts of our physical, endocrinal and emotional systems can be corrected through the wonderful yoga practice of meditation.

In fact yoga = meditation, because both work together in achieving the common goal of unity of mind, body and spirit – a state of eternal bliss.

The meditative practices through yoga help in achieving an emotional balance through detachment. What it means is that meditation creates conditions, where you are not affected by the happenings around you. This in turn creates a remarkable calmness and a positive outlook, which also has tremendous benefits on the physical health of the body.

These are just some of the tangible benefits that can be achieved through yoga.


Physiological Benefits of Yoga

  • Stable autonomic nervous system equilibrium
  • Pulse rate decreases
  • Respiratory rate decreases
  • Blood Pressure decreases (of special significance for hyporeactors)
  • Galvanic Skin Response (GSR) increases
  • EEG - alpha waves increase (theta, delta, and beta waves also increase during various stages of meditation)
  • EMG activity decreases
  • Cardiovascular efficiency increases
  • Respiratory efficiency increases
  • Gastrointestinal function normalizes
  • Endocrine function normalizes
  • Excretory functions improve
  • Musculoskeletal flexibility and joint range of motion increase
  • Breath-holding time increases
  • Joint range of motion increase
  • Grip strength increases
  • Eye-hand coordination improves
  • Dexterity skills improve
  • Reaction time improves
  • Posture improves
  • Strength and resiliency increase
  • Endurance increases
  • Energy level increases
  • Weight normalizes
  • Sleep improves
  • Immunity increases
  • Pain decreases
  • Steadiness improves
  • Depth perception improves
  • Balance improves
  • Integrated functioning of body parts improves

Psychological Benefits of Yoga

  • Somatic and kinesthetic awareness increase
  • Mood improves and subjective well-being increases
  • Self-acceptance and self-actualization increase
  • Social adjustment increases
  • Anxiety and Depression decrease
  • Hostility decreases
  • Concentration improves
  • Memory improves
  • Attention improves
  • Learning efficiency improves
  • Mood improves
  • Self-actualization increase
  • Social skills increases
  • Well-being increases
  • Somatic and kinesthetic awareness increase
  • Self-acceptance increase
  • Attention improves
  • Concentration improves
  • Memory improves
  • Learning efficiency improves
  • Symbol coding improves
  • Depth perception improves
  • Flicker fusion frequency improves

Biochemical Benefits of Yoga

  • Glucose decreases
  • Sodium decreases
  • Total cholesterol decreases
  • Triglycerides decrease
  • HDL cholesterol increases
  • LDL cholesterol decreases
  • VLDL cholesterol decreases
  • Cholinesterase increases
  • Catecholamines decrease
  • ATPase increases
  • Hematocrit increases
  • Hemoglobin increases
  • Lymphocyte count increases
  • Total white blood cell count decreases
  • Thyroxin increases
  • Vitamin C increases
  • Total serum protein increases

Yoga Health Benefits versus Regular Exercise Benefits

  • Yoga Benefits
    • Parasympathetic Nervous System dominates
    • Subcortical regions of brain dominate
    • Slow dynamic and static movements
    • Normalization of muscle tone
    • Low risk of injuring muscles and ligaments
    • Energizing, not draining
    • Effort is balanced with relaxation
    • Energizing (breathing is natural or controlled)
    • Balanced activity of opposing muscle groups
    • Noncompetitive, process-oriented
    • Awareness is internal (focus is on breath and the Infinite)
    • Limitless possibilities for growth in self-awareness

  • Exercise Benefits
    • Sympathetic Nervous System dominates ("Fight or Flight" stress response)
    • Cortical regions of brain dominate
    • Rapid forceful movements
    • Increased muscle tension
    • Higher risk of injury
    • Effort is maximized
    • Fatiguing (breathing is taxed)
    • Imbalance activity of opposing groups
    • Competitive, goal-oriented
    • Awareness is external (focus is on reaching the toes, reaching the finish line, etc.)

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Quietness, by Rumi

Here the poet Rumi speaks of awakening as a death to the old ideas, materialistic ways & confusion of symbols with The Way. Quietness is the Presence, wordless, labeless Being in the now, pure existence.


Inside this new love, die.
Your way begins on the other side.
Become the sky.
Take an axe to the prison wall.
Walk out like someone born into color.
Do it now.
You're covered with a thick cloud.
Slide out the side. Die,
and be quiet. Quietness is the surest sign
that you've died.
Your old life was a frantic running
from silence.

The speechless full moon
comes out now.

taken from "The Essential Rumi", by Coleman Barks

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

What are we waiting for?

Why does it seem like we wait for health and harmony to come to us? Can we just get out of our own way on the path to well being?

With thoughts of good intent, we let the narrator in our mind tell us that we are too tired to try, too busy to participate, too old to learn. Don't let the ego block you from living fully!!!

The truth is that we shouldn't wait for the next exciting event to be happy, nor should we wait for life to slow down to present us with an easy time to learn yoga & meditation.

Why do we wait until the future to try and be present? It'll never be in that way.

It is all human nature, our bad habits when unconditioned with self-control; the light of awareness and strength of will power. Will you waste more prescious moments whining and moaning about all the prescious moments lost?

Let us begin anew, each time we are lost to the compulsive thoughts, stuck in our own minds, half-deaf, half-blind, half-numb to the intense, vivid, startling, luscious, raw sublimity of Reality. This is the most important reason that it is worth one hour a day for yoga & meditation practice. It helps us to be Awake when we are awake, Alive when we are alive, to be an active participant in Life.

No longer a zombie, rewinding old footage, filled with regrets & imaginary confrontations and to-do's of past and potential future...not so trapped in one's own subjectivity that all of life is pure distortion...

Notice, when you get lost in your thoughts, the moment of stillness when you catch yourself and wake up, a moment of enlightenment, did you see the colors brighten? Did you witness your senses awakening?

Can we take advantage of the present moment fully? Can we learn to be free from suffering in this lifetime? I can honestly say that while I experience the full gamut of human emotions, I rarely suffer at all, even in pain. That's after five years of regular, but imperfect, practice.

We can do it, we just need to start. And start again. Begin anew each time you fall and soon you will be refreshed, transformed, amazed.

"The journey of 1000 miles begins with a single step" - Lao Tzu


Wednesday, August 18, 2010

World Peace Day event

Wednesday September 22nd
Join us as part of the Global Mala Project

Practicing for World Peace

108 Sun Salutations with deep relaxation and meditation on peace (take breaks as desired!)

Begin together with guided relaxation, then share 54 minutes of silent meditation/prayer for peace

Suggested donation is $15 per session,
all proceeds go to UNICEF, helping alleviate the suffering of kids in Pakistan in the recent floods.

Come to one or both sessions!

Tell your friends, please!

World Peace starts with Inner Peace!

Friday, August 13, 2010

The Foundation of Yoga

natural method yoga studio, Amsterdam NY

The foundation of Yoga is built on diligence, lovingkindness, equanimity, sharing joy, and compassionate service to others. These practices transform us and others around us, creating a better world. They also create good karma.

The underlying tool used to change old, negative habit energy and to embody our values deeply is mindfulness. It can be called mindfulness, attentiveness, Presence, Remembrance, open observation or being present.

Practice mindfulness in all you do, everyday. It is the catalyst for all great transformations.

The foundation of goodness and purity that Yoga is built upon is rooted in ten moral precepts. All Yogis & Yoginis use mindfulness to practice these basic aims, everyday to the best of their ability.


Ahimsa- non-harm: non-violence, non-harm in any way to all life forms & the natural world. Protect life, seek to live in harmony with nature. Let none of your thoughts, intentions, or actions cause harm to any others. Eat a plant-based, whole food diet to prevent disease and to minimize harm to all others.

Satya- truthfulness: deep honesty, don’t mislead others in any way. Don’t gossip, spread rumors, or pretend to know more than you do. Don’t complain a lot or chatter just to fill the quiet, let your words be meaningful & elevating.

Bramacharya- sexual-purity & respect: if you have a vow of chastity, joyfully honor it. If you are in a committed relationship, honor your vow, respecting yourself & your loved one, remain faithful. Never commit or allow sexual abuse.

Asteya- non-stealing: don’t take, vandalize or abuse what is not yours. This includes not harming the Earth, because we all share her resources- to harm the environment is to steal from All.

Apraigraha- non-covetousness: Don’t covet or become overly attached to material things. Don’t become attached to people in a selfish way. Acquire only simple, necessary possessions.


Saucha- purity/cleanliness: keep a simple, uncluttered, neat home; keep your body clean, and even more importantly, clear your mind of clutter- think, act, speak purely.

Santosha- contentment: be satisfied with your experiences and with what you have or are given. Aim to live simply but deeply.

Tapas- heat/diligence: strive in your practice. Don’t practice extreme austerities, but do exercise self-control. Avoid wantonly stimulating the senses- thoroughly enjoy the TV or radio with all of your attention, then shut it off before it becomes background noise; don’t use the phone, computer or other technology just as a distraction; don’t eat without mindfulness or because of sadness or boredom, and only eat foods that create lightness, energy, harmony & health.

Swadyaya- Self-study: study of the Essential Self, the Spirit. Read on Yoga philosophy, spiritual topics and dive deeply into studying your own faith, or exploring the faiths of the world. There is a universal Source of all of the world’s major religions- Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Hinduism & Buddhism. Read to learn, practice what resonates with you. Maybe seek out a qualified spiritual teacher- one with lots of peace, wisdom and who embodies what they teach. Remember that an ounce of practice equals a pound of theory, so for all that you study, make sure to practice that much more.

Ishwara-pranidhana surrender to the will of God or surrender to the flow of the Universe: Think of this as it feels comfortable to you, but the two are one Truth. Ishwara-pranidhana means going with the flow, not living passively, but instead staying receptive & responsive to the unfolding of Reality. Don’t try to fit the square peg into the round hole. Let your expectations and plans be shattered by Life, only to find the outcome inevitably more perfect. Don’t stress trying to control what is beyond your control. Surrender deeply to your spiritual beliefs and honor them with all your heart and soul. Trust in the benevolence of the Universe. Live as an example of your highest beliefs. Surrender the ego to make room for Truth.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Toxicity of Perfumes, Air Fresheners etc

Please follow the link and read up on "fragrance". It can mean any combination of up to 500 dangerous chemicals! Its in so many soaps, cleaners, shampoos, other cosmetics, air fresheners and of course cologne and perfumes!

Use 100% pure, natural essential oils instead, and buy only 100% natural products for home & body.

My family uses Biokleen All-purpose Cleaner concentrate at various strengths as dish soap, hand soap, well-diluted with essential oils for shampoo, and we use Biokleen's laundry detergent. We are very healthy and happy! We also sometimes use Dr. Bronner's Magic Soap, especially in addition to Biokleen in our shampoo mix, ust a few drops. Dr. B's is a great hand & body soap, gentle and soothing on the skin!

Thursday, July 8, 2010

4 Questions about your milk...

FROM Please check out, an amazing place to quickly sign petitions, glean info on subjects that matter to your heart and soul and do a little good in the world while you are online..........


With many people now buying milk, cheese and other dairy products at local farmers' markets -- directly from the farmers themselves -- it is easy to be misled into believing that the animals who produced the milk are free of the pain and suffering inherent in factory farming.

Simply because the cows were fed organic feed or allowed to graze on grass without pesticides or weren't forced to ingest hormones or antibiotics like their sisters on conventional farms, does not mean they weren't abused.

Below is a list of questions to ask your local dairy farmer, or seller, about their operation. These questions will allow you to make more informed decisions on where, or how, you spend your money.

Do your cows eat grass or are they fed organic feed?

Cows have evolved over millions of years to eat almost nothing but grass. Farmers feed cows grains in order for them to gain weight or so they produce more and/or sweeter milk. Grains are hard for cows to digest and lead to chronic digestive problems.

Another reason a farmer might feed their cows grains is because the cows are confined and have no access to fields or grass. Have you ever driven past feed lots with cows crammed together, standing in their own waste, with no grass in sight? Well that could easily be an organic dairy farm.

Do you separate the baby calves from their mothers?

Virtually all commercial dairy farms take the baby calves away from their mothers within a few days of giving birth. Separating a mother and her baby is an extremely traumatizing experience for the mother and her newborn. The reason farmers take the baby away is so they can steal the mother's milk that was intended for her child.

Many times a mother cow will call out for days trying to find her stolen calf. The sound of a grief stricken mother cow for her calf is heart breaking. Perhaps ask the farmer about that?

If the farmer claims that they don't separate the mother and calf, I'd be skeptical. Ask how it is financially feasible to run a dairy farm that way?

What do you do with all the male calves born on your farm?

Because male animals don't produce milk, they are virtually worthless to dairy farmers. Only one bull is needed at a time in most dairy farms, but since almost half of all calves born will be male, what happens to them? Most dairy farms sell male calves to crated veal farms where the calf will be chained or tied up, placed usually in a dark wooden crate or another tight spot to restrict movement, and fed an iron-deficient liquid diet so that when he is slaughtered several months later, his meat is pale in color.

If they aren't sold to a crated veal operation, they more than likely will be sold or raised as Rose-veal. Rose-veal only differs from crated veal in that the calves aren't restricted as much (although they usually remain tethered) and have access to sunlight.

What do you do when a cow's milk production slows down?

Most dairy farmers will slaughter cows after four years, or when their milk production begins to drop. Farmers want the most profitable animals possible and therefore don't wish to keep around cows that produce less milk. Dairy cows are usually sold to slaughterhouses and are ground up into hamburger meat at four years old, even though many can easily live longer than 20 years. If a farmer claims they keep all their older cows and/or bulls, they must have a tremendous amount of money and land, since keeping nonproductive animals is extremely costly, as any farm sanctuary can confirm.

Ultimately what it comes down to is the fact that cows don't produce milk for humans to drink; they make milk for their babies, just as every other mammal does. Dairy farming is inherently an abusive industry because it imprisons animals and forcibly takes what does not belong to us.

Drinking cows' milk is also a rather perverse act when thought about. Drinking the lactation of another species is strange enough. But to drink the milk of a 1,000 lb, non-primate animal, completely covered in hair and who eats grass, is even stranger. Any claim that drinking cows' milk is "natural" should be met with great suspicion.

To make your life simpler and spare the lives of dairy cows, skip the cows' milk, cheese and butter and eat plant-based "milks" instead.