Yearly Archives: 2015

Good Karma Holiday Gift Guide

Tis the season and some of you may still be holiday shopping for the yogi in your life. If you are at a loss for ideas, I’ve created a list of good karma suggestions that will leave you with more time for yourself, for your loved ones, and having given meaningful gifts.

Everything on this list is something that I use and love, and some I have relations with through my ambassadorships for which we share the same values- chosen for their commitment to sustainable business practices,  charitable involvement, and quality. All products may be purchased online, leaving you with more time, stress-free, and happier knowing that you supported fabulous companies and organizations. 

Mary Bruce Yoga Nidra As the holidays approach, and the daylight lessons, the inevitable vibe of stress is common among everyone as holiday preparations are in full-effect. We make longs lists of things to do, see, and take care of, but the one thing that often times never makes it on the to-do list, is ourselves. What good are we to others if we don’t take care of ourselves? To be vibrant, self-care is a must. ParaYoga Teacher, Mary Bruce guides you through a  40 minute Yoga Nidra practice- a deeply relaxing practice set to reboot and rejuvenate, and equating to 3-4 hours of restful sleep. The class has 3 different rental options ranging from $1.99- $9.99, for 1 day to 1 month rentals. Shop: Mary Bruce Yoga Nidra

Yoga Rupa Rod Stryker

 

 

I am so honored to study under the tutelage of my teacher, Yoga Rupa Rod Stryker. In my trainings, I leave with a deeper sense of self and tools that empower curiosity and positive personal growth. I speak highly of these trainings and recommend them to curious yogis now ready to further explore the traditions of yoga, tantra, samkhya, and other philosophies. Yoga Rupa’s teachings are available online. This is the gift that will keep on giving. Shop: ParaYoga

 

RadRoller

 

Myofascial releasing awareness is increasing as we become more aware of the importance of overall well-being. When we work out, we strengthen our bodies, but we don’t always spend the proper time countering the effects of our workout, leading to smaller ranges of motion and dreaded tight muscles. Within our bodies, we have sheathing or wrapping that embraces a number of things like organs and muscles. The connective sheathing is directly linked to our ligaments and joints. When connective tissue has limited range, it may not matter how much we warm up, because proper preparation and release lies in addressing this system.

Using tools and props can help teach muscles to release, connective tissue to smooth in turn not only creating space in the saran-wrap-like matter, but also in our joint capsules. RadRoller has the state of the art mobility tools for all your myofascial and connective system needs. I suggest the RadRoller All In One Kit, offering tools for massage, point release, and muscle flushing. You can’t go wrong with this. Plus, this one you can share!
Shop: RADRoller 

Gina CucinaGina Stryker is the reason why I’m
well-nourished when I am training in Aspen, Colorado with my teacher (her husband), Yoga Rupa Rod Stryker. With a passion for her italian heritage, it was destiny that Gina would be a chef. She refined her culinary skills in Italy, eventually she began to cater Yoga Rupa’s trainings. Gina Cucina caters a variety of cuisines: soups, salads, hearty and healthy main dishes, and desserts custom-made for all dietary needs. Gina proudly sources all food from local sources and everything is organic and non-gmo. Her soups are fresh, delicious, and are infused with the secret ingredient = L-O-V-E.

The bad news is… she caters in the Aspen Valley. The good news… you can order her soups online through the Soup Of The Month club!

Soup club subscriptions vary from 3, 6, or 12 month options for two 16 oz or 32 oz organic and gluten free soups per month. Packages ship the first week of the month. Shop: Gina Cucina

Happy Body ProgramSpeaking of zuppa!… My friend, Jackie Dominas, is here to help you hit the reset button for your health. As a nutritionist and health coach, and her work as a yoga teacher, Jackie understands first hand how optimal nutrition is the key to vibrant health.
For the month of December, Jackie kicked off a month-long free soup challenge to help keep some of the busy month’s focus on ourselves. The idea is to eat simple and light, replacing your dinner with a soup accompanied by a salad. She sends out encouraging tips, soup recipes, and also actively engages with participants on her FaceBook page. Jackie offers nutritional and health coaching programs. If the yogi in your life has been sharing they need a body reboot, the Happy Body Program is a one-stop shop, and get a head start your wellness goals next year! Shop: Jackie Dominas Embrace Well-Being 

plastic water bottles

image courtesy of Anthropology Of Water


There are 3 stand outs for me with plastic [water] bottles…

  1. Plastic bottle waste is one of the biggest global pollution offenders, not only utilizing petroleum and other toxic chemicals, but plastic water bottle pollution can be found in every part of the planet from land to waterways. Most bottles are not BPA free and when the bottles are exposed to heat or light, they break down and are ingested every time you wet your whistle. Yum…
  2.  We also know that reusing water bottles helps immensely with reducing plastic bottle litter, removing plastic bottles from the contamination cycle. Some waste disposal and recycling centers may not have the capacity or capability to recycle plastic bottles and hence end up in a landfill.
  3. I’ve had many different types of reusable water bottles. I was diligent about washing out my bottles according to the manufacturer’s directions being mindful of the top rack in the dishwasher to not using soap to wash out the inside due to the materials. Though different kinds, they all have one thing in common… the inevitable funk. I know you know what I’m talking about.

    alex bottleWell problem is now solved! Meet the ALEX bottle. ALEX = Always Live Extraordinarily, founded by dynamic duo, Chris Hotel and Gretchen Bleiler. Chris is the designer behind the clever concept including their CLEAN SEAM TECHNOLOGY™- allowing the bottle to unscrew at the middle for easy cleaning, as well as at the top. A solution to waste and hygiene- genius. Olympian and X-Games champ, Gretchen is Chris’s wife and wing-woman. She travels the globe advocating climate awareness through speaking engagements and events as Protect Our Winters, (POW), Riders Alliance ambassador and annual representation at the White House.Features: CLEAN SEAM TECHNOLOGY™, (easy to clean & share with a friend); BPA free; removable silicone band to protect against dents, and the ability to transport a full bottle of Avery IPA. Just sayin’.
    Shop: ALEX bottle for good karma!

Shawni_Only HereShawni is a yogi, DJ, and a very talented singer-song writer. I’ve spent many hours along-side Argentinian and Los Angeles resident, Shawni, as a peer/student studying ParaYoga and I never knew she had yet another talent. Why am I not shocked? This beautiful labor of love features Shawni’s sultry smooth vocals laid on beautiful ambient sound currents that peacefully transport the yoga posing practitioner to the music lover alike.

Shawni is donating all the album proceeds to support Kids coming out of foster homes- supporting a cause that her friend is directly involved with in L.A. and whom many of the kids Shawni has had the honor in meeting. Shawni’s goal is to sell 11 albums per day, benefiting ‘Fostering A Change’.
How to purchase your album:
1) If would prefer to purchase an actual c.d. ($15-$20 shipping included), directly message Shawni via Paypal at shawni.music@gmail.com.
Please include your name, shipping address, and email subject: ‘Foster Kids’.
2) If you would prefer to download the album, follow the link here to purchase and download, 
but please note that a percentage of proceeds from downloaded purchases go to Band Camp and less to ‘Fostering A Change’.
APD

I love Asha Patel Designs! I’ve been an APD ambassador for many years now and have also become great friends with the creator and designer herself, Asha Patel.
She mindfully designs every piece, infusing each one with specific intention and good energy.
adpAsha Patel Designs is also in partnership with a number of charity organizations, including She’s The First, the media campaign committed to promoting girl’s education for those who would not have access to it otherwise. 50% of proceeds from this bracelet go to She’s The First. Shop: Asha Patel Designs

KiraGraceKiraGrace is one of the few yoga clothing companies made in the United States and this is one of the reasons I am proud to be an KiraGrace Warrior Ambassador. Owner, Entrepreneur, and long-time yoga practitioner, Kira Karmazin had the vision to create a luxury line of yoga clothing with specific considerations around body types, styles, and also made women feel absolutely beautiful.
Warrior Tank KiraGrace supports a number of non-profit organizations, including Seane Corne’s, Off The Mat, Into The World- an organization dedicated to the awareness and training of leadership and spiritual activism. A portion of the proceeds from the Warrior T-Back Tank, (retails $78), supports Off The Mat, Into The World. Shop: KiraGrace 

 

Selfie Promo Yoga; Its The New [Yoga] Black. (Not Really!)

The following reposted article by Brian DeGregory is from a Facebook post that my friend and fellow yoga teacher collegue, Jane Green Battisson posted.
Jane, thank you for braving the critical Facebook world with this bold post as when posts like this show up, many recede and or get defensive, [because its the truth].

Please... Stop The YogaThis is a very good read about how yoga is being misinterpreted today– through social media and marketing.
I’m sure it will trigger the ones who do are marketing themselves in this way as we’ve all seen many defensive responses from yoga teachers who justify why they self-promote through displaying themselves doing challenging postures.
Yes, everyone is in a different place in their practice, BUT, there’s no denying this is happening– the dismantling of tradition with few who are resourcing back to the original teachings.

In the past 10 yrs, the commercialization of yoga has gotten out of control and become the new norm for how yoga is shared– from being purely physical and accented with elements of philosophy.

With the explosion of teacher training programs, new teachers leave with minimal guidance and great influence from their teachers/yoga community of how they shall navigate.

The typical formula: graduate > teach as much as one can and wherever > market on social media- most typical displaying an intense asana with a spiritual quote.

Now, I’m not ripping on anyone, just articulating observation- after all it’s put out there. The goal was attention, right?…

How To Properly Exploit Yourself & Yoga

Now, I can’t blame those who do this too much as they learned it from someone- their teachers, online, through magazines. All of this gives the impression that this is what yoga is and how it is being shared is the norm.

I began teaching yoga in the late 1990’s. Back then, the resources that exist today for self-promotion and marketing were non-existent. I also was a karma yogi (work-trade), and part of my responsibilities were distributing information for studio events at local cafes- back when it was common to have an event community board. Yes, it was a completely different time, but… what limited marketing resources encouraged teachers and studios to do was to be authentic and showcase their teaching skills and current level of experience– and it was never based off their physical ability.

It’s our job as veteran teachers to be an example. How? Start by practicing yoga and meditation. What I mean by this is, buck up to the discipline of making time for it; for yourself. Practicing in a studio is not the same thing. Many yoga teachers are in the habit of ‘doing their yoga practice’ in a studio. Often times they are taking from inexperienced teachers who themselves do not have the self-discipline of sva-sadhana (self/personal practice) and lead classes heavy on physical postures (asana) and seldom with some theme that is announced at the beginning and quickly forgotten about once the posturing begins. I can always tell when teachers don’t practice. They tend to be the ones who teach a ton of ‘yoga’ classes, spend time in their car racing from studio to studio. Many do so to make a living. I get this, but lets get real… The yoga industry is worth a billion dollars. There’s plenty of work to do and room to earn a decent living without exploiting one’s self or the ancient philosophical traditions that have survived over 5,000 years.

Yoga doesn’t happen in a studio; it begins with the individual & is expressed in our actions. And if we’re practicing, the effects of positive expansiveness will gleam in all aspects of our lives. Way more fulfilling for our hearts than a selfie promo advertising our physical skills. That’s the outside anyways. The path is within.

Do the work of creating sva-sadhana and supplement practice with studio classes. Yes- I said that out loud. Sorry, studio owners. Its true. Do this for yourself and for those you influence so that everything that we love and respect about the yoga traditions will carry forward. Keep the torch lit!

Here’s the article by Brian DeGregory. I hope this sparks critical thinking, reflection, and more positive conversation: Please… Stop The Yoga, by Brian DeGregory

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this! Leave your comments on my blog and I’m sure that Mr. DeGregory would love to hear your thoughts as well. If you read this and decide to comment on my feed or the author’s, please do so respectfully. This is one of many conversations that we can all have in a positive way.

Green With LOVE

The heart is the home base of everything. It is a source for the love- giving and receiving. Its energetic counterpart is the fourth chakra, the heart chakra (Anahata), all located at chest center partner to the heart and lungs. If there is a block or imbalance with the heart chakra, physical issues with the heart and lungs occur: hypertension, respiratory ailments, or upper back and shoulder pain, emotional insensitivity, depression, sadness, resentment, or dependency on outside stimuli may be a temptation to cope (drugs, alcohol, food, etc). When in balance, openly giving, receiving, and feeling love flourish. Compassion grows. Holding space for others can occur, without taking on their experience. Letting go of living in the past is released: sadness, resentment. We can live in the present- forgive, move forward from a place of emotional empowerment.
heart chakra
The Heart Chakra is the link between the first three chakras: 1st- Root (safety, security); 2nd- Sacral (creativity, sexuality); 3rd- Solar Plexus (personal power, identity); and the three higher chakras: 5th- Throat (expression); 6th- Third Eye (intuition); and the 7th- Crown, (relationship to spirit).

Heart health is vital for our physical well being. Without proper spiritual, emotional, mental, and physical health, everything becomes imbalances. Nutrition in specific plays a vital role. Chakras 1-3 are fueled by protein, fats, and carbohydrates. The heart thrives on macronutrients, especially those found in green vegetables. The vibrational energy from greens nourishes our growth, expansiveness, and ability to open in all directions. Parsley in particular, has the very high concentration of chlorophyl- a potent disease fighter. I eat it to reap the benefits of blood purification, blood vessel health, and antioxidant. It is an ingredient I incorporate into everything from smoothies, salads, soups, sauces, and of course, as a garnish that I love to eat. Something to consider next time you prepare a plate is that foods that share colors with the chakras, carry energy that activates or balances them. When I learned this, I looked at my meals in a whole new light.

Here are some ideas for green vegetables good for the heart. I’ve also included green fruits and herbs as they deliver heart goodness as well. Choose non-gmo and organic for your heart and for mother earth:
green veggie heartavocados, green apples, grapes, pears, kiwi, arugula, bok choy, broccoli, brussel sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, celery, chard, collards, dandelion greens, green onions, kale, leeks, lettuce, mustard greens, peas, peppers, snap peas, spinach, sprouts, watercress, and zucchini.

Below is a recipe that I make as my homage to mine and your heart. A little over two years ago, my dad had a massive heart attack, caused by stress and lifestyle choices. His heart was severely damaged. We were told that it would be a tough road ahead and survival after the incident was not in his favor. It has been everything but easy for my family and in specific, my dad. From the time it has happened, he has made huge choices that get credit for surviving. I dedicate this to my Pops and from my heart to yours. The recipe is vegan, dairy, and gluten-free, but the ingredients can easily be customized to include parmesean cheese and whole wheat pasta instead of nutritional yeast and rice pasta or soba noodles. I hope you enjoy this. Salud!

GREEN WITH LOVE KALE PARSLEY PESTO & PASTA

kale parsley pesto

 

Pesto:
Kale, 1 bunch (curly, lacinato, yogi’s choice), destemmed & prepped into smaller pieces.
Flat Leaf Parsley leaves, 1 bunch
Raw Walnuts, 1 cup
Garlic Cloves- 4
Nutritional Yeast, 1 cup
2 Lemons, juiced
Olive Oil, 1- 1.5 cups
Salt, 1/2 tsp
Pepper, 1 tsp
Red Pepper flakes, good pinch (optional)

 

kale parsley pesto & pasta

 

 

Pasta:
Rice noodle pasta, or Soba Noodles
Sun Dried Tomatoes in Olive Oil, drained & chopped
Broccoli crowns + stems, 2 Cups, chopped
Lg Carrots, 2 (peeled)
Olives (yogis choice), rough chopped
Pasta water or chicken broth, 1/4 Cup

Equipment:
Blendtec, Vitamix, Food processor, or strong blender*
Large pot
Pasta strainer
Small size prep bowl (for carrots)
Tongs

 

INSTRUCTIONS:

Pesto:
1) In a blender, add in this order: kale, parsley, walnuts, garlic, nutritional yeast, lemon juice about a 1/2 cup of the olive oil, salt, pepper, and optional red pepper flakes. Pulse this together a few times to break down all the roughage.

2) Use a spatula to scrape down the sides of blender jar [while the blender is off].

3) Add in the remainder of the olive oil. I use the ‘Sauces’ setting on my Blendtec. Allow Blendtec to run its course. For regular blenders, refer to the manufacturer’s instructions to find the equivalent.

4) Pour into mason jar. Enjoy right away or store in the fridge. It will keep for some time. Each time you use some from the jar, pour olive oil on top to prevent the pesto from turning brown from exposure to air. You will need about 1 cup of pesto for the pasta recipe.

Pasta:
1) Prepare pasta according to package instructions.

2) While pasta is cooking, shave carrots with a vegetable peeler into a prep bowl and set aside.

3) Drain and rinse pasta. Reserve some of the water used to cook pasta.

4) In the pot used to prepare pasta, add in a olive oil or coconut oil. Add in broccoli and lightly heat through for a few minutes. Cook longer if you prefer it not so raw.
Remove the broccoli from the heat to your bowl of carrots you have set aside.
Remove the pot off the hot burner you just cooked on.

5) Add the pasta, carrots, broccoli, sun-dried tomatoes, and olives to the pasta. Add the reserved pasta water or broth to the pasta to help pull apart the pesto. Toss gently with a tongs until the pesto has become saucy and the veggies are dispersed evenly. Serve and eat right away!

Tip: I almost always add in extra greens to this dish. I usually take about a cup of chopped greens: arugula (fav!) or spinach and fold that into my personal plate of of pasta.

I measure my pasta portion according to an ayurvedic eating tip I learned from my friend, Melina Meza. Take your hands to prayer (anjali mudra or palm to palm), then open your hands and make a bowl shape. This is the portion I use as a guideline. I don’t include the additional greens I added, only because they are so small in terms of volume, but so nutritionally potent.

 

 

GONG baby GONG!

Every new year, goals, weight-loss, and becoming healthier are the buzz conversations that circulate. We are motivated by the beginning of a new year as it is symbolic of a clean slate. We get a chance to start a-new, rekindle old goals, and set new ones. For most, this motivation dies off by month two for many reasons. The most common is we allow our lives to become busy, jaded by the excuses of our commitments when in reality we have full control over everything in our life. Its called the power of choice. We all have the ability to determine what we want to do and when- even when we think we aren’t able to. We create made up limitations that create real-life obstacles that block what could possibly flourish.

Setting goals need to be realistic. Setting goals that are huge are great!! Goals are supposed to be big and challenge us to step up and take ourselves to the next level. When they are big or outside of what we are comfortable with, it can be really exciting. But… the problem is that too often, the goals fall flat. They are way too big! Beyond that, we have habits that hinder and goals aren’t set up so that they are in support of the final result. In other words, there is no process and we get locked into being really comfortable. If you want to run a marathon, you must plan better than buying kick-ass running shoes, marking a date on a calendar, and training in when its convenient. Good luck with that!

With all goals, everything must be in alignment. Having proper alignment involves digging deeper into what you are working towards. If I want to run a marathon, aside from training, I’m going to not just need to create a training schedule, but I will need smaller marker goals to chip away at- 5k, 10k, and so on. In addition to this, I will have to look at my nutrition. If I’m eating garbage all day, my performance will illustrate this. Having support is also key. We can’t go at it alone. Enroll others who have your back. Share your desires so you can be held accountable. Trust me, when you put it something out there that you want to happen, people will remember… especially if your goal was big enough.

Mi familia

The second point I’ll make is that most goals are set from a limited mind-set tinged with deprivation and or negativity. Food and weight-loss are big goals for many and often focus on what can’t be had versus what can. It creates a sense of loss and can leave a feeling of punishment or exclusion that sets up failure.

Last, envision what you want. Live everyday from the perspective that you have met your goal. A positive plan plus proper alignment is the meaning of manifestation. Without this, its just an illusion in disguise of a goal. This crowds out distractions and helps promote positive behavior, achieving a goal, and often times a bonus of integrating a new habit. Win!

(How adorable are my niece & nephew?!!)

One of my best friends introduced me to the GONG concept, created by the magnificent Drs. Pedram Shojai of the Health Bridge Show. The GONG is a 100 day commitment that helps change habits. Changing habits is the catalyst to shifting behavior to help goals take shape. It doesn’t cost anything, no magic pills, nothing like that.

The way it works… You commit to a list of [positive] things that are in alignment with you- your nature, interests, life, body, mind, and spirit. The list can be anything- sleep, nutrition, self-care routine, reading, cooking, exercising, meditation, massage, drinking water. Sounds simple, right? Here’s the challenge… If you miss any of commitments, you start the GONG over! The reason is because this interferes with the commitment you’ve made to yourself. Too often we aren’t a priority. We pack in full days of work and obligations, but most times, the things we overwhelm ourselves really have nothing to do with taking care of ourselves. This changes that.

I have to say that I am really good with my own self-care routine. I’ve learned over the years through trial and error what works and what doesn’t. Now, my daily life has space for personal time, self care, and a healthy balance of work. That said, there is always room for growth. This year, I am raising the ceiling on my self-care and I’ll share with you my own GONG. Some things on the list are not anything crazy, but are worth it to list as way to help me stay on track and crowd out any detractions. I’m on day 21 with 79 to go. So far, so good!

I hope this inspires you to create realistic goals that through the process, crowd out habits that hold you back. Please leave your comments in below. I’d love to hear from you.

Isabelle Casey

My GONG:

1) Drink 2L Water

2) Stimulants- Coffee and Vino- Weekends only. I find that when I do drink a glass of vino during the week, I am completely thrown off and coffee dehydrates me and I forget to drink water.

3) Meditate first thing. I have a daily practice, but so often I would get caught up doing other things- dog walk, email check in, laundry. Now its first thing as my head is clear pallette.

4) Creative daily exercise [outside of daily yoga asana practice]. Walking, hiking, body weight exercises, and even doing old skool Jane Fonda calisthenics.

5) Read an inspirational blog or article everyday

6) 10 minutes of sunshine daily. When its not, I pretend it is and go out anyway.

7) Read 1 book a month

8) Floss daily

9) Body oiling- morning and night. Before, I only did this at night or after a shower.

10) Monthly massage, colonics, facials, nail and [as needed] hair appointments. I schedule all of these in advance so I stay on track… including the colonics!

11) In bed by 10pm, except Friday nights. I stay up as late as 12am sometimes. I know, I know… I’m cRaZy!!

12) No processed food: I mostly make everything from scratch, with the exception of my rice chips. I think I’ll live without them. :)

13) Probiotics everyday: raw sauerkraut. Super easy to make and way better than a supplement!

​14) Be 10 minutes early to appointments​

​15) End yoga classes on time. I’ve fallen into a trap of going 5 minutes over. My excuse is that students come in late, so I end up starting late. Times are a-changing!

16) An apple a day

 

Update: even though it’s hard- I am sticking with my GONG, and if I fall down- I pick myself right back up!