No matter how long it’s been since you swore off hot dogs and leather boots, there’s an app to make your vegan lifestyle easy and full of community support.Read More
We all struggle with that little voice inside our brain that loves to downplay everything we do. We aren't good enough, pretty/handsome enough, we didn't succeed in what we wanted, etc. The list could go on for miles and miles, right?!
Here's the thing though, negative self talk may not even be true more than 95% of the time! So if the thoughts aren't true, how do we move forward?Read More
When I meet people who know about my lifestyle, I usually get a lot of "oh my god, I'm trying to do that too" followed by a ton of questions! I usually hear that some of you have a hard time letting go of possessions or that you're overwhelmed and don't know where to to start. Sound familiar?! I was there myself before I decided to make the leap and I'm here to tell you- GET OVER THE HUMP! To get anywhere in life, you have to take the first step. Here are a few tips on getting started.Read More
If you live in an ashram, mindfulness is everywhere. If you live in an urban city, mindfulness can seem like a foreign and unattainable concept! There are many tools out now that are meant to bring those who seek it into a state of balance and peace. I have played around with a few of these and here is my list of apps to try. Enjoy!Read More
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Back in the day I was a makeup artist trained in NYC and working for MAC, the ultimate in makeup artist land. I loved being an artist and found it so rewarding.... for the first 2 years at least. Then I started to feel like all I was getting were women who wanted to me take away their flaws, insecurities, and cover them up. I felt like the career I was in was telling women they weren't beautiful the way they were, but rather they had to look a certain way to be loved and feel confident. I no longer felt joy in my work and began to question the message and purpose of what I was doing. Starting a Yoga and Meditation practice really helped me to figure out what my actual purpose was. Fast forward several years and here we are!
I have not changed my stance, I do not believe women need to wear makeup in order to be beautiful. Not in a million years will I ever again send that as my message! However, there are many reasons why we would want to wear makeup or beautify ourselves, its called self care and it is very essential to our goddess nature as Shakti beings! I myself on any given day have worn makeup and give myself some pampering. I still paint my nails, wear concealer, and do a facial mask from time to time. Although the actions may be the same as before, my intentions now are very different. VERY different. Allow me to explain....
Now days I don't put makeup on to cover something up, I put it on to enhance my natural beauty. I have no problem wearing makeup and I certainly have no issues being seen without makeup, in fact I went an entire year without a drop of product on my face when I got out of the beauty industry. When I put on makeup now, its a conscious choice I make to enhance the beauty I feel from within to the external. I'm not doing it to hide or to feel more confident, I'm doing it out of a sense of empowerment. The difference now is that I already feel beautiful without it, therefor putting on makeup or nail polish is just an extension of that beauty I feel. Another difference is that I no longer feel some sense of ego driven confidence when I am done putting makeup on. I don't feel grandiose or that I am better than anyone else because I feel I look so good! It used to be that I got a grand sense of who I was with a full face of makeup on, like I really was something special, really better than everyone else. I no longer feel that at all, I have truly learned to not see myself as more special than anyone else. I don't think of people as being different than me, I see myself as part of the human collective and I don't use makeup or beauty to define my status in this community.
I am very conscious of my choices now, from what I eat to what I buy, nothing is overlooked. When I was younger and really into beauty I only cared about what looked good, I paid no attention to how it was made, by who, or if it hurt anything or anyone in the process. I didn't care about my environmental impact and I certainly didn't care if animals were being tested on. That couldn't be farther from the truth today, I have made every effort to make sure I only buy from a place of empathy and knowledge. I am learning everyday about new products and where they come from, if they test on animals or use animal in their products, if they are made ethically and who makes them. I am not perfect and don't always make perfect choices, sometimes I have to realize I may not have all the facts on something but I still make an effort to seek the information out. Why would I want to live my life constantly reading labels and only buying consciously, you ask? Well a better question would be why live in ignorance?
Ignorance might be bliss, but it sure doesn't make for a more beautiful world.
If I wanted to truly walk the talk then why would I continue contributing to the worlds problems and suffering? I am not hurting myself or anyone else by trying to find out more about a product. My lifestyle is about becoming the healthiest version of myself, and that means I read labels and I find out as much as I can about the item. Not only am I that much more educated about where my money goes but I can take the best steps to knowing what I put on my body and how healthy it might be.
My beauty routine used to mean I spent an hour and a half getting ready in front of a mirror before I stepped out of the house, these day's I may only take 30 minutes from start to finish, and thats on a really awesome day! I no longer stare at myself for hours making sure every hair is in place and every inch of my face is flawless. I am so much more grateful for my features and I can happily look in the mirror and see beauty in being minimal. Simplicity has become so gorgeous to me, that I actively seek out the simplest method to accentuate and highlight my features.
Whats my makeup routine now?
Concealer, mineral powder (a highlight and contour), blush, liquid bronze illuminator, mascara, and eye brow filler. On a fancy day I wear some eyeshadow!
Thats my simple routine and it takes me less than 15minutes to do. Isn't it fantastic? I absolutely love my routine now! I love making my naturally long black lashes pop with some mascara, I adore how my olive skin shines with a little bit of powder, I love how the delicate contours of my face accentuate with some bronze shimmer. On a really special day I add some eye shadow to show off the maturity in my eyes. Wrinkles don't bother me, I welcome them! Blemishes are just there as a reminder of my humanness. Dark circles tell me a story about my sleep cycle! Its all gorgeous to me.
Being minimal and simple has taught me so much about my own inner worth and what truly is beautiful. Not allowing myself to get caught up in stories of lack and selfishness. I don't judge those who chose to beautify themselves on a daily basis nor do I condemn those who chose that as their lifestyle. I simply live by the principle of empowerment and health. I believe everyone's beauty shines from a deep inner space and the physical is just an extension of that.
Have questions for me? Write me in the comments below! More beauty articles to come in the future, stay tuned.
Follow me on Instagram @elianayogini and Facebook at /elianayogalife
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Theres a strong tradition in many cultures to honor loved ones that have passed on by celebrating their lives rather than weeping after their death. I have always been fascinated by this and have always admired peoples abilities to recognize the joyful aspect of life and death. Growing up as a Latina, I always had a sense that death was not a terrible thing. Most latin cultures have enthusiastic funerals that include music, dancing, and ritual. My mother loved celebrating Day De Los Muertos (Day of the Dead). She would create elaborate altars with pictures of her loved ones and skulls and flowers. It was a beautiful way to honor, not just the aspect of death, but that of a life well lived. Death is something most people fear, it is a fact of life that most wish wouldn't be. This fear tends to cause a lot of anxiety and makes for quite a stressed out body and mind. In my own yoga practice I have meditated a lot on this fear, particularly the fear of death and loss. On my 28th birthday I took a workshop on Death and Dying, with my mother and Godmother by my side, I chanted and danced and cried and released. It was one of the most profound experiences I had ever had. Letting go of the notion that death is a scary thing that must be avoided at all costs was powerful.
How can we begin to pass this fear from our cells? First, by recognizing the fear is there. I often think of the ritual of creating an altar for your loved ones, lighting a candle, and remembering that persons life. This is a magical tradition that can begin the practice of acknowledgment and allows for the releasing of fear. Most of us don't actually fear death itself but rather loss. Losing things is challenging, transitioning is uncomfortable. It makes us face the fact that we have become attached to someone or something and often its the biggest shock of our lives. Death in particular forces us to see nature, something our modern culture has stripped itself from, for what it truly is; ever changing and impermanent. In Nature things evolve in order to allow the ecosystem to thrive. For thousands of years our ancestors have celebrated the death and rebirth of the earth, "It appears that in every country the Day of the Dead occurs at the year's end, after the last harvests, when the barren earth is thought to give passage to the souls lying beneath it."- Yourcenar
After we recognize death and loss as a natural thing, we can begin to realize that our love was not for the physical form but that of an eternal essence, an essence that lingers long after someone passes. Like a fragrance from a flower or the smoke of incense, that energy lingers within and never truly goes away. The fear that we will somehow loose this is actually the ego gripping to something that was never in physical form to begin with.
"Energy can never be destroyed, it can only be changed from one form to another"- Einstein
As we move into the darker time of the year and begin to slow down with the season, its important to pay tribute to our ancestors. To remember their stories and pay homage to their triumphs and struggles. Chant their names and ask for their grace and comfort. Moving into a space of deep gratitude to all that has come and gone, to all that will rise and will disappear. Into the mist we follow the energy of our people, we ask that they show us the way, guide us into the light, and remind us to celebrate. Life is a celebration, a miracle that has gone from the formless into form. The gifts that we give each other in the short amount of time we are here is magical. When we move beyond the grief, which for a time is natural and understandable, we can begin to truly celebrate and heal.
This October 31st & November 1st, allow yourself to step into the shadow and remember those who have come and gone. Allow yourself to feel their presence and in so doing begin to step into grace. Dia de los Muertos is about feeling their energy and asking for their blessings. Stepping into our own courage to be guided by wisdom far beyond our own knowledge, but felt within our hearts. Celebrate and be celebrated!
I began my yoga practice at a small studio in Indianapolis. I needed to learn how to heal and manage my depression and I knew medication was not going to be for me, I'd heard too many horror stories. So I walked in and looked at the prices, to my dismay it was incredibly unaffordable for me, I worked 2 part time jobs and had just enough money to pay my bills and had around $30 extra a month to spend on myself. The yoga classes cost nearly $20 just for one hour, and they were heavily advertising their packages which were over $120. Immediately I felt a sense of shame and disappointment.
Either yoga wasn't for me or yoga didn't want someone like me, was my thought.
I walked out and started looking up other options. I found out that the popular studio in my area offered a groupon that month and I was elated! I signed up for that month, went almost everyday, and met all the teachers and the studio owner who let me know about the work/trade program they had... and the rest is history!
Yoga studios are not fans of people like me, they need people who can pay that $100+ tab a month. There are many reasons for this but mostly because of the structure they use to pay their own studio bills, teachers, and staff- which if you practice at a corporate studio that includes a CEO. The yoga industry in general is facing quite a difficult time when teachers are struggling to pay their bills due to how the studios pay them, forcing them to quit teaching or work other jobs to help support them. When I became a teacher myself I had no idea this was the case, 95% of yoga teachers are afraid to talk about the financial difficulties they face mostly based from fear or criticism or loosing their teaching gigs. Only recently have articles surfaced on this issue and the topic is gaining more momentum as the industry becomes saturated with yoga teachers.
When I began teaching I got a taste of the sourness working for studios who paid very little and yet charged large amounts of money to their students. I always remembered where I started and came from, knowing the big picture of yoga is to make it accessible healing not luxury exercise. I began teaching donation classes and found a studio that worked with a different kind of financial model, a co-op for teachers. In Berkeley, CA, where I live and teach, the Berkeley Yoga Center has been a God send. They allow teachers to charge students whatever they want, allowing you to use the space at a small fee to make this possible. For the majority of my students, this is a blessing. For my heart, this is my motivation.
I teach classes that are accessible to all, prices start at $13 and get lower from there. My packages start at $60 and I charge a discount for students, while some students pay me what they can at the time or nothing at all. I am able to give my students what they need and be able to pay for my food as a bonus. Do I make CEO money? Of course not, and I don't want to. I didn't begin teaching because I wanted to make a killing and look good while doing it. I teach because I know from experience how much of a life line Yoga is for some people. People who work hard and yet have very little money to spare. People who need mental and community support in wellness based practices, tools for health and stability. To this day I practice with a mentor who allows me to take her classes free of charge, she herself knowing how much this practice and her teachings mean to me. Without that support I am certain I would not be teaching or practicing today.
We need more affordable Yoga, why? One major reason is not segregating yoga studios by economic class, those who have can practice and those that don't have are left in the dust. Class divide is the exact opposite of what yoga is about. It paves the road for other issues too, such as racial segregation and even outcasts the disabled who might already be struggling with their medical bills. We need affordable yoga mostly because we all want a peaceful nation.
When we unintentionally, or intentionally, exclude groups of people from a healing practice we reduce the ability for the nation as a whole to heal. We do ourselves the misfortune of creating spaces where there is a lack of hope and progress. We become permissive of violence, hatred, and trauma by telling ourselves theres nothing we can do. In reality, we can do a lot and we can change the current system.
By supporting teachers who offer donation classes or affordable classes you allow a new modality to take place. You not only support that teacher but the possibly hundreds of students who need him or her. You support the progress of those students who need Yoga as a lifeline, a way to balance the tight rope of this world. You support a peace mission that extends not just to those students but everyone who comes into contact with them, for their actions will truly become more noble, more wise, and more compassionate. Its the big picture. Its Yoga.
- To learn more about my classes at the Berkeley Yoga Center go to http://www.berkeleyyoga.com/
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Home Practice, its not always easy and not always serene! Essentially we would love to be practicing in a very romantic and spa like setting, but often we find ourselves in weird positions close to our couch with a puppy in our face! Knowing where or how to begin can seem exhausting but once you understand how to get started you will never regret it. But first a few myth busters:
1) Home Practice does not have to be hours long
2) Home practice does not have to be done alone (pets/kids are allowed)
3) Home practice does not look the same as it does in a studio
Now that our myths have been busted, lets move on to the good stuff!
When you decide to take on a yoga practice you figure out quickly that once a week is not nearly enough to sustain wellness. Yoga is like dance, you can't just do it an hour a week and expect to be amazing! You really have to commit a bit more time during the week to really feel like you are getting the benefits. No matter what you practice for, it is not sufficient to your progression or your mental stability to only practice once a week! So here are a few mindful tips to get started on your journey past the studio.
1) Set a time based on your schedule.
You can chose between 15-45 minutes daily for your practice, and it doesn't always have to be the same amount of time each day. When I practice it could be 20 min one day and 45min the next, and so on. It depends on what I have going on and how loud or in my face my puppies decide to be! If you have children this too will determine how long you practice. Whatever the time might be, don't be frustrated about it, the last thing you want to do is yoga while frustrated! Instead, allow yourself to be flexible and enjoy your allocated time to yourself.
2) Pick a spot that is the least interrupted.
This might mean the living room is out of bounds! It might also mean you will be practicing in a smaller part of the house or outdoors. Personally I get very distracted practicing asana outside but love to sit in silence or savasana outdoors, so you need to know what will be more conducive mentally to what you wish to gain. If you are going for a restorative practice then you definitely don't want to pick a time when everyone is home! If you are practicing and loud noises are bothering you try putting on music to drown it out, or better yet learn to be accepting of it and transform your practice to one of equanimity. For a long time my dogs bothered me to the point of absolute irritation! Then one day I learned that I needed to be more accepting of them and now include them in my practice. Now, ironically enough, they nap next to my mat when they see me on it and only occasionally join me!
3) Make it as calm a setting as possible
If you like candles, light some. If you have an altar, put it in front of your mat. If you need soothing music, turn it on. I often light my dry sage or palo santo and wave it around the space as a sign that my practice is beginning, its in ritual to clear the air of any negativity or loudness that I might feel is hanging around. This doesn't mean it will always be calm at all! It means the intention is there to set aside a space that is as tranquil as possible. In the times when I am feeling emotional I allow myself to feel like its a safe enough place to cry or laugh or be silly. That wouldn't be possible though if I felt like I hadn't initiated that to be the case in the first place. Your mat alone should bring a sense of calm mentally and then you adjust your surroundings to match what is already inside.
4) Plan your asanas or wing it!
You can deliberately pick what you want to practice or do whatever comes to your head at the moment. I don't personally have a preference, sometimes one method works better than the other. Sometimes you can plan and then change your mind depending on how the body is reacting. The beauty of home practice is that no one is there to tell you what to do! However you do need to pick things that you are able to accomplish without injury. For example if you have never done a headstand or shoulder stand with proper alignment instruction, your house is not the place to start! Only do a practice you feel 100% secure about and can safely accomplish. If you find yourself really wanting to practice something in particular that you don't know how to do then pull up a video tutorial on youtube or another service and have yourself a guided practice. I sometimes use YogaGlo for their experienced teachers, and meditation and philosophy options as well.
5) Always start and end in meditation
Yoga is not yoga without Yoga! What I mean is if you are not practicing mindfully and meditatively then it is not a yoga practice, it is a workout. Even if the practice time itself is short, always allow at least 2 min of reflection and intention before and after. Thats only 4 min, even the busiest person has 4 min to spare! I often meditate for 5-10min at the beginning and 15min at the end. This I find works for me, but for you it might be the opposite, shorter or longer. Whatever the case, don't sell your practice short by skipping the most important part. Yoga is a meditation, anything other than that is a poor translation ;)
I hope this helps to open the door to your daily practice. Remember it is totally yours and is as diverse as the flowers in a shop! Do it with the intent to be more mindful, less irritated, and more open hearted. Happy practicing!
Fear is a tricky little monster. It can make us feel trapped and hopeless. It makes the body submit to weakness or anger. Some of us might react by lashing out at others, or staying stuck in your own heads paralyzed. Theres mental fear which is all stories about the past or future, and then theres physical fear which is in real time and in your face. Either way it all feels very deep and very real, sometimes even isolating. I was recently reading Pema Chodron's book "When Things Fall Apart" and I was totally struck by one of the stories she told. It was about a man who was on spiritual retreat in India and had been sent to a hut to meditate in solitude. When night came he lit a few candles and noticed a snake sitting in the corner of the room. Understandably he was afraid and couldn't go to sleep with a snake in his hut! One by one each candle began burning out and the snake stayed in its corner upright and looking at the man. The man and the snake continued all night this way, and the man could not sleep. Just as the last candle began to burn out the man experienced something deep and he began to cry. With tears of compassion streaming down his face, he accepted his fear and began to have compassion for himself and the snake as well. This really struck me as a profound moment. How many of us have been in a situation where we have allowed ourselves to feel fear? To be stuck in a room with something so awful, like grief or near death experience, and truly felt every inch of that fear in our bones. How many times have you sat and been willing to experience the intensity without running away?
"He accepted that he was angry and jealous, that he resisted and struggled, and that he was afraid. He accepted that he was also precious beyond measure- wise and foolish, rich and poor, and totally unfathomable. He felt so much gratitude that in total darkness he stood up, walked toward the snake, and bowed".
The man was so humbled by the experience that he recognized the snake finally as his teacher. Can you imagine what an amazing freedom the man must have felt?! Free of the burden, free of the chains that clung him to a fleeting experience, free to be free in every sense of the word! To experience life not as he sees it but as it truly is. The man fell asleep and when he woke up the snake was gone, never knowing if it was a delusion or reality but being forever changed as a result. And what an incredible transformation! As long as we are human, there will always be something to be afraid of. There will always be a little monster on our backs telling us we should fear this and that. For that very reason we should make it our friend.
My favorite line from a John Mayer song says "Fear is a friend that you misunderstood". Allow it to be, allow yourself to face it head on. Don't miss one moment of its purity. The greatest teachers of this world are the ones who make you uncomfortable and challenge you so that you begin to see the truth. In yoga asana we have Sivasana which in its tradition is a meditation on death. Why meditate on death? Because it is humans ultimate greatest fear. To sit still and truly contemplate death is a hard thing to do, it brings up the greatest kinds of emotions, might make you feel dark and uncomfortable.
Once, I meditated on the death of my senior dog Lilu, who is still alive, and I burst into tears. I cried for 20 minutes until I stopped and felt a deep compassion for her and the greatest sense of appreciation. How wonderful that I got to experience life with her, that I got to watch her grow and receive her unconditional love. How blessed am I that I get to experience her presence for years and years. In that moment my fear resolved and I no longer wanted to "own" her but allow her to be as she was, without fear of loss. There are many things we can meditate on and no matter what it is for you see if you can allow it to become a deep experience, one that will elevate you past the chains of your fear. Feel it and allow freedom to come, this is true Letting Go.
I went to a workshop not too long ago that asked "why do you go to yoga classes?" and I found that simple question to be a more profound answer for me. So I wanted to know from you guys...
We cannot in all good conscience obey your unjust laws because noncooperation with evil is as much a moral obligation as is cooperation with good. Throw us in jail and we shall still love you. Bomb our homes and threaten our children, and we shall still love you. Send your hooded perpetrators of violence into our community at the midnight hour and beat us and leave us half dead, and we shall still love you. But be ye assured that we will wear you down by our capacity to suffer. One day we shall win freedom but not only for ourselves. We shall so appeal to your heart and conscience that we shall win you in the process and our victory will be a double victory. - Martin Luther King, December 1957
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Theres a story behind everything we do in life. The first car you ever bought, the coffee table in the living room, the dog you rescued from the shelter. Not much floats through life without gaining a history along the way.
There is a park not too far from my house that I like taking the dogs to. Its not a very exciting park, theres the usual grass and weeds, the random dry dog poop someone didn't pick up, the metal fence that people can see through. I wasn't feeling particularly sunny that day, some days you just wake up in a funk. I figured spending quality time outdoors would do the trick. As I looked around at the dogs playing and sniffing the ground I noticed the flowers that had grown in small patches around the park. I walked over and inspected their long stems and bright colored petals. On instinct I began to pull them out and collected myself a nice stack. Naturally I wanted to do something with the flowers and without hesitation I began to tie them at the stems. I figured if I couldn't feel like sunshine, I could at least wear it! A flower crown was born that day, I put flowers in my dogs hair too! I noticed my mood got lighter and suddenly I didn't feel like poop. My creative juices got flowing and I had a rush of happiness fill my body.
"All plants are our brothers and sisters. They talk to us and if we listen, we can hear them." - Arapaho
When I got home I thought to myself I would really like to make one that lasts! So I got in the car and headed to the crafts store. I picked the flowers that spoke to me the most and brought me a sense of joy and peace. The daisy has always been one of my favorite flowers. As soon as I saw it I was immediately drawn to it. When I began working on my flower crown, I took great care to make it as perfect as I could. When I finished I placed it gently on my head, looked in the mirror, and again felt the same brightness I felt at the park. There is something very natural and powerful about wearing flowers on your head. It must be primitive and engrained in our DNA to feel a certain kind of special once we adorn ourselves with anything from nature.
Every crown made has this feeling of natural serenity to it. Nothing is an accident. Nothing is as beautiful as the simplicity and grace that nature gives us. It is a gift that I wish to extend to as many people as I can.
You can find the Daisy crown on my Etsy shop HippiesAndGranola
Find us on Instagram @hippiesandgranola