Top 8 Reasons To Practice Yoga

#1 – Connect with others.  Yoga builds a sense of community, co-opportunity and collaboration as you meet and share your journey with others.

#2 – Connect with yourself. A yoga practice allows you to set aside some “you time”. Practice provides an opportunity to regulate your energy, emotions, intuition, and overall state of mind/soul/spirit.

#3 – Maintain a healthy happy state of physical well being.  Hatha yoga builds strength, flexibility, balance and prepares the body for the demands of everyday life. We all know physical exercise is good for us, and a spoon full of Asana makes the medicine go down in the most delightful way!

#4 – Breathe deeply.  Breath practices help to build present moment awareness of the life force within you and the spirit that surrounds you. Plus, breath work helps to strengthen the respiratory system, and regulate the nervous system.

#5 – Practice detachment. Modern life can be so full of unwanted stimuli, it can be difficult to sort out which elements are actually worthy of AshtangaButterflyour attention. Our yoga practice demands present moment attention, and as we practice this attentiveness we learn to let go of the past, weed out distraction, and detach from the future (which doesn’t even exist ;) ).

#6 – Learn to concentrate. Once we become well versed at detachment, it becomes easier to focus on the aspects of life that do matter to us. As we learn to concentrate, our mind sills and we find we have more time for study of self and study of Forces outside ourselves.

#7 – Meditation. The benefits of meditation are well documented. There are many techniques and paths towards meditation. Experiment and find a meditation practice that works for you and reap the benefits in your body, mind, and Spirit.

# 8 – Open to Bliss. Allow yourself to investigate what Pantanjali’s Yoga Sutras describe as freedom through surrender to God. Surrender yourself to a belief, a hope, and investigate the power of faith: faith in the effects of your yoga practice and faith in a Power greater than yourself.

Handstands in Paradise AKA: God is Good.

 
Embrace each of your senses in turn
Seeing as being touched by light
Hearing as immersion in an ocean of sound
Tasting as enlightening
Smelling as knowing
Touching as electrifying
Follow the subtle pulsations
Into the spaciousness of the heart
Intimate with the unknowable
-The Radience Sutras #9
as translated by Lorin Roache
 

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Over the past four years I have been making a concerted effort to re-define my understanding of God. Not an easy task as old ideas and sanskara run deep.

As I child I was very interested in religion and took it upon myself to walk to church and get to know Spirit. I loved Spirit! I remember reading the Psalms of David in my little pink Precious Moments Bible and mulling over “As the deer pants for the water brooks, So pants my soul for You, O God” (Psalm 42:1)

But somewhere along the way I started to develop a strange understanding of god. As I transitioned into adulthood and maturity, I somehow failed to grow in spiritual maturity. I came to know the god of my youth as a god of trials, and when I fell ill with Lupus and RA I came to believe that I must have these diseases because either, a)I did something wrong and deserved these trials, or, b) that god was using these diseases to “teach me a lesson”

These false ideas stayed with me throughout my 20′s. God was to be feared and suspected with a new “lesson” to  anticipate around each corner. Prayers became selfish bargaining sessions begging for an easy way out. I was simply incapable of seeing the Good and the Blessing in life because of this strange fear of god.

Letting go of these false beliefs has been very difficult. Basically, I had to get into enough spiritual pain to admit that my views just weren’t working.

With the help of yoga philosophy, 12-step programs, and amazing mentors, I have been SLOWLY turning over my ideas and am becoming open enough to accept the possibility that GOD IS GOOD.

Fast forward, and today the Shakti is SO BRIGHT I gotta wear shades! No longer do I believe that pain is the only touchstone of spiritual growth, No longer do I feel that God puts obstacles in my path as my only means of spiritual growth. What about love? What about selfless service, what about devotion, dance, energy, beauty, senses, joy, peace? Can I not be taught just as profound of lessons through blessing as I can through trial?

My recent vacation to The Bahamas really sealed in this new assumption. Maybe, just maybe, God is beauty. Maybe God is love,  selfless service, devotion, dance, energy, beauty, senses, joy, peace. This is God. And yes, there is a lot of MYSTERY… maybe God is all the Confusion too, that is all part of the messy Mystery, but as long as I keep my eyes off of myself, and on the blessings of creation, hopefully I can keep seeing the Good and ENJOY my life. After all, I am in remission from my R.A. I am safe, sober, sound and doing handstands in paradise.bahamashandstands

 

Raw, Vegan, Salted Almond Chocolate Truffles

Before taking a raw “cooking” course, I had this perception that preparing raw food would be difficult, timely or tedious. Turns out, it is totally fast and easy (just think, there is only prep time, no COOKING time!).

I remember it was about a year ago that a client gave me the book The Raw Food Detox Diet by Natalia Rose. Although I had every confidence in the healthy benefits of raw food, and was very interested in it, I just couldn’t find my way toward preparation of any of the recipes.

Thank Goodness the wheels of progress turn, and everything happens as it is supposed to, because now after three easy days with the guidance of a Raw Food Teacher, I am preparing raw meals each day, and experimenting with new fun variations.

My first experimentation was with raw chocolates. Earlier in the week my husband had purchased a chocolate bar with almonds and sea salt. This flavor combination may sound strange, but the sea salt paired with the almonds is a convergent taste bud delight! I decided that this combination would be delicious with the dark flavor of the raw cacao truffles, so: voila!!!

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Raw, Vegan, Salted Almond Chocolate Truffles

Here is how it is done:

(Base recipe care of Grace Van Berkum)

Ingredients:

(All ingredients can be found at your local health food store, and when possible smaller amounts can be bought in the bulk section to save money)

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1/2 cup raw organic almonds

1/2 cup organic raw cacao powder

1 Teaspoon raw organic coconut oil or coconut butter (the butter has more flesh, so you may have to use more)

1&1/2 Tbsp (or more to taste) raw organic sweeter: honey, agave, maple syrup etc.

2 Tbsp warm purified water

1/4 Teaspoon pink Himalayan sea salt

OPTIONAL:

I also added 1 teaspoon chia seeds, 1 teaspoon flax, and some of my favorite greens powder.

Directions:

-In a food processor or bullet chopper, chop raw almonds to desired size.

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-In a bowl or food processor combine all other items EXCEPT sea salt and almonds. Coconut butter or oil may need to be heated or left in the sun for a moment to warm.

-Combine almonds and chocolate mix

-Powder hands with some extra cacao powder and roll mixture into little balls (makes about 12, for more simply double the recipe)

-Lightly sprinkle sea salt (and/or additional greens powder) on to top of truffle

-Store in fridge or freezer until hardened

Optional:

-Before cooling, try rolling the balls in coconut, sesame seeds, grated orange rind, finely chopped almonds, stick in one large almond, or try anything else that sounds good!

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Why Raw Chocolate?

All the great benefits of chocolate are mostly cooked and processed out by the time you buy a chocolate bar at the store. Here are just some benefits:

Serotonin!

Antioxidants: (oligomeric procynanidins, resveratrol and the polyphenols: catechin and epicatechin)

Iron

Magnesium (Great for PMS!)

Phenethylamine (PEA: the LOVE neurotransmitter)

Omega 6 fatty acids

Tryptophan

And Much More!

Raw Abundance

I just got back from a blissful trip to the Bahamas where I visited the Sivananda Ashram Yoga Retreat and took a course on raw food preparation. We prepared many beautiful recipes, learned the power of raw super foods, how the enzymes in raw food bless your body, and explored raw food techniques such as sprouting.

Sprouted Mung Beans

I will be writing more posts soon documenting my adventures in sprouting, dehydrating, processing and assembling, and I can’t wait to bring some of my creations to class to share <3.

Like these Raw Chocolate Power Balls:

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And everyone loves raw banana pudding (even The Gods):

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My Teacher Grace Van Berkum making raw applesauce. Check out her website for more info on class offerings and retreats: http://www.gracevanberkum.com/

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A wonderful and blessed experience!!!! <3 <3 <3

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Plastic Planet

It is January, month of intention, resolution and perhaps life changing Sankalpa. As I understand Sankalpa, the purpose is to make a change that is positive and life-affirming, not one we will feel guilty about if we do not follow through, NOT AN EXERCISE IN SELF LOATHING!

With this in mind, please do not become overwhelmed when watching the movie trailer below (I become overwhelmed by these types of documentaries). Obviously, with the state of plastic in our world, we can no way avoid it all together. However, we can certainly take simple steps to cut down on our plastic usage and stop our waste of time, money, precious resources and of the planet.

Perhaps after watching this trailer you will want to join me in my resolution to cut down as best I can. Please post any ideas you have for cutting down on plastic usage, and check out the suggestions I have listed underneath the trailer<3

Shanti,

Beth

Plastic Planet

Ideas for cutting plastic usage:

-refill old soap dispensers/shampoo/conditioner bottles at your local health food stores (The usually have liquids such as EO or Dr. Bronners in bulk)

-choose to buy grocery items with the least packaging possible. Avoid tiny plastic bags/packaged foods within a big plastic bag, all of which could be avoided from buying from the bulk bins at your local health food store)

-choose to buy products such as flour, grains, nuts and snacks from bulk bins. Bring your own paper or cornstarch bags to use if not available.

-bring your own bags to the grocery store (duh)

-when bags are needed (trash, etc) choose to buy those made of starches, such as corn based Bio Bags for trash and Pooch Pickups for dog waste and small items.

-reuse glass jars as to-go cups

-bring to-go mugs and cups with you to work, meetings, etc

-bring reused cups/jars/sigg/kleen kanteen, type bottles/cups with you to work-out

-in the moment, think about what you are buying/using, brainstorm and see if there is a less trash based choice :)

-Have some culinary adventures and cook for your family, friends and self with local fresh ingredients (farmer’s market time).

-bake some extra delicious home made cookies to avoid the packaging

-For some hard-core inspiration check out this zero waste family I read about in Sunset Magazine

Let me know of any other ideas you have!!!!!

Free Yoga

Complementary Yoga Class At Lululemon Brentwood

This Sunday Only

October 24th, 9:30am

Location: Lululemon Athletica Brentwood
11920 San Vicente Blvd, 90049

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Every Sunday Lululemon Brentwood hosts a complimentary Yoga class with the greatest instructors in West LA. All levels are welcome perfect for beginner, intermediate or advanced practitioners. During the month of October YogisAnonymous is the STUDIO OF THE MONTH and I am representing this Sunday October 24th :)I hope to see you there!

Water, water, everywhere, but how much do I drink?

As I continually strive, and fail, to give up caffeine, I have made a mini-goal to at least hydrate properly. I did some quick research about exactly how much water I should be drinking and found that the general consensus is, we should be taking in about 64oz of fluids a day, water being the ideal fluid. A trick to help you drink this much water is is known to many as the 8×8 rule: Drink an 8oz glass of water eight times a day for optimal hydration.

According to the Mayo Clinic website:

“The average urine output for adults is about 1.5 liters (6.3 cups) a day. You lose close to an additional liter (about 4 cups) of water a day through breathing, sweating and bowel movements. Food usually accounts for 20 percent of your total fluid intake, so if you consume 2 liters of water or other beverages a day (a little more than 8 oz) along with your normal diet, you will typically replace your lost fluids”

In the book “The Chakra Energy Plan” by Anna Selby, the following schedule is suggested as you practice the 8×8 rule:

7:00 am

Your body loses water during the night, so drink a large glass of water as soon as you wake up. This will also help detoxify your kidneys and liver. Wait at least ½ hour to eat after drinking.

9:00 am

Drink your second glass of water. If you travel a long distance to work, bike, walk, or have a hot summer commute, carry a bottle of water with you and sip as you commute, in addition to your 9:00 am glass.

11:00 am

Drink your third glass of water, more if you are in a hot climate, or in the midst of a hot weather spell.

Mid-day

Have a glass a half hour before you eat lunch

2:00 pm

Drink your fifth glass of water to ensure clear afternoon thinking. At this time of day many people experience a dip in their energy and concentration levels.

4:00 pm

Instead of having your afternoon glass of coffee or tea, try a cup of hot water or herbal tea.

6:00 pm

Drink another glass of water as you leave work, or right when you get home. At least 1/2 hour before dinner

9:00 pm

Drink your last glass of water here to prevent nighttime dehydration. However, make sure you don’t drink too close to your bedtime, lest you have to wake up in the night to use the restroom!

Good Luck, and don’t forget to cut back on buying plastic by keeping some extra cups or reusable bottles in your purse or bag :)

Namaste,

Beth

Sarveshaam Peace Invocation

I am teaching this beautiful chant in my classes this month, and some students asked me to post with audio and translation. Please enjoy the chant.

Text:

Om sarveshaam swastir bhavatu
Sarveshaam shantir bhavatu

Sarveshaam poornam bhavatu
Sarveshaam mangalam bhavatu

Loka Samasta Sukino Bhavantu!

Translation(s):

1. Auspiciousness (swasti) be unto all; peace (shanti) be unto all;
fullness (poornam) be unto all; prosperity (mangalam) be unto all.

May the whole world be blessed with eternal peace and goodwill (sukhinah).

2. May good befall all

May there be peace for all

May all find fulfillment

May all beings be blessed!

Audio:

sarvesham_peace_invocation

Free Lululemon Class

Complimentary Yoga Class At Lululemon Beverly Hills

This Sunday only//April 18th//9:30am – 10:45am

334 North Beverly Drive
Beverly Hills, CA 90210
tel: 310.858.8339

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Every Sunday Lululemon Beverly Hills hosts a complimentary Yoga class with the greatest instructors in our community. All levels are welcome – perfect for beginner, intermediate or advanced practitioners. During the month of April 2010, JK Zen Fitness is the STUDIO of the MONTH! I am the JK Zen Fitness Teacher this Sunday April 18th :)

I hope to see you there!

Marathon as Tapas?

Kaya Indriya Siddhih Ashuddhi Kshayat Tapasah

Yoga Sutra 2.43

“Through ascesis or training of the senses (tapas), there comes a destruction of mental impurities, and an ensuing mastery or perfection over the body and the mental organs of senses and actions”

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I suppose I wasn’t finding enough discipline in my yoga and meditation practices, as I saw it necessary to train for and run The Los Angeles Marathon this year.

The whole time I was training people would ask me why I was doing this. Had I ever run a marathon before? – No. Was I in Cross Country in High School? – No. Did I even like running? – No, not particularly.

It was leading me though, this strange desire to run. I knew somehow that training myself to run a marathon would have untold benefits.

The first month I found myself angry. Angry all the time, angry for no reason. Was the added adrenaline making me this aggressive?

The second month saw bouts of crying replacing anger.  Tears, either of intense gratitude, or hidden sorrow, would pour out of me after each long weekend run.

The third month brought processing. I noticed that the held emotions from the first two months had been peeling off of me. I spent time on long runs uncovering, discovering, and attempting to discard old beliefs behind me on the path as I ran ahead.

As marathon time approached I notice a new sense of levelness and calm. Long runs were peaceful. I noticed a change in myself not only on runs, but in my every day life. I was also so proud of myself for following through with the discipline of getting up to run no matter what. In the cold, in the rain, when I just didn’t want to run – I got up, laced my shoes and did it anyway.

The marathon day was an amazing experience. Slowly and steadily, overcoming my emotional obstacles, I finished the task with joy and ease. I am not at all lying when I say that the marathon was FUN. I had a blast, and a  smile on my face the majority of the race.

I am blessed to have explored the destruction of mental impurities in this way, and look forward to the ensuing mastery over the body and mind, Marathon as tapas or not :)