October 22nd, 2013
In the past I always went through this journey of dieting like I was losing my best friend. It often began with the “taking away” of something, in my case delicious treats. I love food, I love to cook and I love to eat…but I also love being healthy. I started to find that every time I would diet or detox I went into this militant mode of “I WILL NOT EAT ANYTHING Bad” as my mantra. I would approach it almost as a punishment for “eating bad”. I thought that self-care would come naturally with dieting since it was in the best interest of your body. Right? Well, It took me a long while to figure out that was not entirely accurate. The energy we give to our food and to ourselves was a bigger culprit to your overall healthy then just eating salad.
I recently led a detox workshop, which I do four times a year seasonally. We all join together to clean and renew and find balance internally and externally. It is so much fun to do this as a group, to that the support of our sangha. I can’t stress enough how important it is during this time to be gentle and caring with our bodies and our thoughts.
A few days ago one of my students who is currently doing the detox came to my morning class, she was clearly very anxious and approached me right before we started. She was feeling terrible because she had a little sugar “slip up” during the detox. She proceeded telling me how she wanted to have a hard and sweaty class because she felt guilty. I stopped at that moment and thought, this sounds oddly familiar. So it’s not enough that she already feels guilty because of the minor slip up, but now she wants to make her body pay for it? Instantly being able to relate, we spoke about this briefly and instead decided to do some restorative asana postures instead of going into a vigorous practice. She realized how much more this benefited her body and her state of mind and she left feeling totally elated.
I’m not sure exactly what happens to us when we get into this mode of self-punishment when things go astray, especially when it comes to eating and food. I feel that with all the time that has gone by, and all the studying I have done… this is still a difficult habit break free from even for me. I have to constantly remind myself that IT IS OK to enjoy the things life has to offer, like chocolate and nut butter…in moderation of course. It isn’t the end of the world if there is a minor speed bump along the way. Self-punishment is clearly not the answer and it negates all the other work we do to make us pretty incredible human beings. Then there’s that!
Using our energy to feel good when you’re doing something great for your health like a detox. Taking care of yourself is a practice, being compassionate to yourself is a practice. Finding balance when your making a change in your life can be challenging but it does make it easier when you have the support of your community to help you. That being said, here is a truly delicious recipe for us to without feeling guilty.
Vegan Chocolate Ginger Orange Cupcakes (YUMMMM!)
Serves 12 Large Cupcakes
3 cups all purpose flour (organic unbleached if you have it)
2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups natural cane sugar
1 2/3 cups water (or cold freshly brewed coffee)
1 cup canola oil
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 tablespoons freshly grated ginger
4 tablespoons zested orange peel
1 tablespoon orange juice
4 tablespoons cider vinegar
Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Mix all dry ingredients and whisk to combine. Add water, oil, vanilla, orange juice, ginger and orange peel. Stir to combine. Add vinegar and stir quickly together. Once the mix turns slightly dark then you know you've incorporated all the vinegar and you're set to pour it into muffin tins or even two cake pans. Bake for 15 minutes for a medium sized cupcake. Allow sitting in pan for 5 minutes, removing and placing on wire rack until completely cool.
Ingredients (for frosting):
6 oz. vegan cream cheese
1/4 cup vegan butter
2-3 tbsp shortening
3 tbsp limoncello
1/2 tsp lemon extract
1 tsp lemon zest
3 cups powdered sugar
crystallized ginger, to taste, minced, to top
Recipe (for frosting):
Combine all ingredients but ginger and mix well. It shouldn't have a soupy consistency. If it does, add more sugar. I like to place it in the refrigerator to firm it up before I frost.
October 18th, 2013
This Fall is about returning to YOU, allowing yourself to indulge and provide that self care that you so greatly deserve. It’s about giving yourself permission to receive, taking in a quite moment and welcoming delicious and decadent goodness into your life, body and practice.
Over the past two weeks we’ve been lucky enough to receive a glimpse of how our yoga community embraces the moment, welcomes life with open arms and proudly accepts and embraces their uniqueness.
Thank you to all who opened their hearts and shared your inspiring stories with us.
Here is a photo of our winner, @Kaysqui embracing herself as a US soldier and yogi and a few of our other favorite #LetsGoThere Instagrams:
@Kaysqui - Winner!
Over the next two weeks, we’d love to see how you pamper yourself and give into your indulgent dreams and wishes. Tag your Instagram photos with #LetsGoThere and @MandukaYoga so we can see your journey. We will be selecting a winner to receive a luxurious home yoga sanctuary of their own – The PRO Squared, two unBLOKs, and two eQua hand yoga towels.
#LetsGoThere and Practice On,
October 17th, 2013
By Manduka Ambassador, Dana Damara
I wrote about this in my book, “OMs from the Mat” and when I re-read it this past week, it made even more sense to me.
I said something like, “If commitment is such a strong word, I wonder why we sometimes use it so loosely.” And then I went on to say, “Even if you have to just pick one thing… pick it and be committed to it! No matter what it is.. .a yoga class, a person, your word, just do it!”
Since moving to California back in November 2012, nothing has rang more true to me in my life. Nothing.
Amidst the most AMAZING opportunities of this big move…(and I mean it… magic occurs every, single day) I have also experienced mass confusion, dead-ends, fearful situations, lonely times and deep pain.
Betcha didn’t know that did you? Well, it’s true.
What I have found through all of this is that I have one strong commitment that’s kept me going. There have been times when I have wanted to give up, run back to Portland and cuddle next to a fire with a friend…claiming “safe”.
That would be easy to do any day of the week, given that I have amazing friends in the Northwest. But I haven’t. I’ve been committed and dedicated to my practice. And I’m not talking about my practice on the mat. I’m not talking about my sequencing or playlists, although they do play an important role.
And oddly, I’m not talking about the commitment I made to my two amazing daughters either. No, that’s not the commitment I am talking about. I am talking about the commitment I made to myself to live my truth. Because I know, as well as you do that truth=freedom=love.
When we make a commitment to ourselves, we may THINK it’s about: making money for our family, showing up our best for our students, helping the planet, serving our employer… but it’s not any of that. It’s about YOU.
The evolution of YOU and how YOU grow and elevate your spiritual being.
It’s super easy to give up just before that breakthrough. You know what I am talking about right? It’s that last straw, that final argument, the repeating dead-end. It’s that moment when you scream and say, “Screw it! I give! That’s it! I’m done!”
Have you ever done that? My suggestion to you from personal experience, having said those words in my life more than I care to admit, is to instead… breathe and keep going. You are almost there.
Now I’m not saying keep on taking what isn’t working. What I am saying is notice. Observe what is happening in as many exchanges as possible.
When you feel that recurring uncomfortable knot in your stomach, or tightness in your throat, breathe. Maybe you just feel “off”. Use the element of the heart and breathe into the belly. Root into your feet and feel it all…if only for 5 breaths. Then ask, what can I do differently in this situation, instead of walking away. What can I commit to right now that will keep me on the path of self-evolution?
Is it patience? Compassion? Trust? Love? Self-love? Knowing what it is that YOU, your soul, is working on to grow is key here. Once you get that, oh my, you will see so many circumstances coming up for you that will assist in your dedication and commitment to moving past it. It might feel like you are getting a bit bombarded to be honest, but you will be okay…once you know it’s all there to help you.
We all have recurring issues or stories. Before you keep telling the same story over and over again, keep quiet and observe. Commit to rolling out your mat, look at yourself and really see what is happening off your mat. Commit to hanging with that challenging pose, that perplexing relationship, that “tough time” and roll through it differently… it’s showing up for a reason.
October 15th, 2013
By Manduka Ambassador Caleb Asch
I’ve been privileged to be teaching yoga since 1995. I do it because I love it. I love almost everything about it; everything except the numbers. Let’s face it, the numbers game is the bottom line for a yoga studio. If you don’t have the numbers then they get someone who can.
The student base determines a studio’s life. So how do you face your numbers and yet maintain your focus on what you’re teaching? I’ve been engaged in this paradox for a long time. I’ve seen what I thought to be really good teachers have really bad numbers, and give it up. I mean, at a certain point you have to self assess and look out into the world to see if what you’re doing (or being) has value for people. One way to determine that is to look to see who and how many are in your classes. Are the numbers growing? Is the feedback you’re getting positive? What adjustments could you make? All of these criteria are important but what do they mean?
I have wrestled with this for almost 20 years, and the truth for me wasn’t the truth at all! For me, the fewer people I had in my room meant the more I sucked at being a teacher. It didn’t matter that my feedback was brilliant and wonderful. I would get lavish praise, smile and say thank you while thinking; “if you REALLY liked my class then why don’t you come more often and even bring your friends.” The truth for me was that I sucked as a teacher, “I don’t deserve to have a following and I should just give up (what’s become my life’s work) and go back to post-production”.
Finally, during a conversation with an old friend, (who goes way back with me to the earlier days of the “EST” consciousness movements) who asked me; “Let me get this straight; who you are as a teacher, with all these 20 years of experience, is TOTALLY dependent on the number of people in your room?”
At this point we both burst into laughter because my answer was a resounding “YES! That is EXACTLY what I’m saying!”
Finally it was funny. Finally, I could see how I had made it all up in my head. I had made up a belief that some outside, physical result determines who I am. That, if I had a certain amount of people show up then I am a winner, if not then I am a loser! They say that awareness is, in itself, curative, and in this case, hilarious. I could finally see and laugh at the corner I had painted myself into.
Since that conversation I have observed in myself an un-attachment to my numbers, and therefore freedom from them. Gone is the stress of measuring up. Gone is the anxiety of new schedules! Gone is the anger and frustration of helpless victimhood to the numbers! Gone is the desperate struggle to control what I have absolutely no control over.
What remains is my love for the work. What remains is the confidence I have in what I do and, and for the first time, the way that I do it! I am back to being in love with what I do, how I do it, and the people who come to share in that with me.
Oh yeah, and my numbers are thriving…
October 10th, 2013
By Manduka Ambassador, Dana Damara
I have the privilege to step on a yoga mat every, single day. Not only that but I GET to lead classes, workshops, trainings and retreats and call that my “job”.
Every time I step on my mat I bow to what an amazing life I have created for myself this time around.
Just this past weekend I took a group of 10 incredible women to Sonoma County for a yoga retreat. I advertised it as a blissful weekend of connection and empowerment. These women didn’t really know each other, in fact most of them were strangers to each other. Some had been attending my classes for a long time, while others had never been to my class but just needed to get away.
I planned nothing for them, that’s right, nothing. I rented a home in the hills of Glen Ellen ( that had remarkable views, infinite quiet space, a pool and hiking trails). I brought a DJ to play live music in class and a friend who does body work, so they could indulge and unwind. We did two yoga classes a day and I made organic, vegan meals.
But in between those yoga classes there was nothing. And I mean, nothing. It was so fun to observe these women as they struggled with the reality that no one needed them, they couldn’t check their email and they had nothing planned or scheduled. Our theme with the New Moon in Libra was to set intentions around balance, justice, love and cooperation.
Every woman there was astounded with the spaciousness of the weekend. They kept saying, “It’s only noon? Really? It’s only 2pm? Really?” Time slowed down, literally! And they didn’t really know how to handle it, at first. But once they warmed up to it, this thing called infinite space and time, the abundance began to flow.
What I witnessed was friendships forming, emotions flowing, naps happening and people connecting. They were given the space to really experience who they were. Beyond the weekly calendar, the kids academics, the work deadlines, the responsibilities of their real life, they remembered who they were.
The land where we stayed was special – you could feel the vibrational pull of peace and oneness once you stepped onto the property. The home itself, adorned with Hindu Dieties and beautiful tapestry, naturally smelled like incense. The sunrise and sunset were spectacular… breathtaking really.
Practice started on Friday, at the New Moon, and we began with an invocation of cooperation and balance, letting go of what was not serving us anymore, allowing space for a creative birth, both within ourselves and in alignment with the planet. On Saturday emotions ran a bit higher when we were pressed into truly making our dreams a reality by empowering ourselves through movement and breath. Saturday night we practiced yoga nidra while the sun set over the hills, manifesting our desires.
I have been on retreats where every minute is filled with something; something to do or explore. And while I do enjoy that aspect, I find that when there is nothing, we find everything. And in that space of nothing we experience emotions that have been waiting to be surfaced. The vision of our life becomes so transparent when we stop moving… especially when we are surrounded by the natural elements God designed.
When we take the time to rejuvenate and really realign, emotions flow, true connection becomes easy because there isn’t all the “stuff” happening around us every second. We aren’t beeping from our phones, reminding us that we are forgetting something. We may even laugh out loud or shed a tear because we have witnessed, again, that familiar place within ourselves that we call home. And that is where true connection begins.
With clarity comes a creative birth of emotions – when was the last time you took a pause in your life? Can you make time today to allow that opportunity to surface? And when it does can you receive it?
Say yes … find yourself a little spot, get on our mat or your cushion and take it in: the abundance of nothing.
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