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Articles

Does “Spiritual” Have to Mean “Frumpy”!?

Picture this: It’s 1967, the year paisley becomes mainstream, Elvis gets married and Flower Power is in full swing! The Summer of Love, Baby! Some fashion from that time has endured and became reworked in later decades. But even now there is an undeniable “cringe factor” with the words “Hippie Fashion”. It’s a shame that with a flowering of consciousness, there seems to be a corresponding disappearance of stylishness. It’s more fashionable for designers to be concerned with decay, darkness and nihilism than to embrace love, awareness and acceptance. Note also the incredible pressure people in the fashion world have to be thin and impeccably chic at all times! (That’s a shout-out to you, Karl Lagerfeld!)

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On the other hand, who has not seen (and secretly wishes they hadn’t) the individuals who’ve found ‘enlightenment’ and are now wearing whatever they please? Washed-out, shapeless kafkans accessorized with the de riguer mala beads and other assorted items? Or a T-Shirt with yet another chakra graphic? Clothing in the yoga/spiritual world is generally pretty boring. It is no wonder that in this age where spiritual practices such as yoga, meditation, Buddhism, etc. have become mainstream, the young, the cool and the influential would rather wear something anarchic or ironic instead of something that actually means something. Perhaps there is no quick fix in sight. But the times are changing rapidly. Economies are contracting and the old practices and ways of relating are failing. There will be another re-emergence of heightened consciousness. It will shake the foundations of human culture. And the girl wearing her “Self is the Guru” T-shirt with her skinny jeans and Louboutin heels will be ready.

How to Reach Out and Build a Vibrant Yoga Community

Yoga studios have become our “new social cafes” What is your social playground? I grew up in Europe where neighborhood communities build organically around parks, cafes, and small dinners with friends at home but also by sharing before and after work metro rides in Paris. In the metro, is it being close or just packed like sardines in a can?! Now living in Venice, California where driving is required to get anywhere on the other side of town, we may feel isolated and lonely. As I had just moved to L.A. some years ago, I first found and built my community at UCLA studying then painting with other artists and practicing Yoga in the Yoga world. That was the jackpot!

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When we sweat, breathe and immerse ourselves together for 1.5 hours several times a week, we feel open and connected to others forging new bonds. Friendships develop with like-minded people. We sip an acai smoothie after class. We take a walk on the beach. A friend of mine used to say how wonderful and connecting it is to walk with friends and family. I do agree indeed. As our conversation flows at our steps’ rhythm, we share our life’s experiences and adventures. Yoga classes bring us closer together. The Yoga studios and schools have become our “Yogic Social Cafes”. Two nights ago, we celebrated the summer at Yogaglo and LA Yoga Magazine Summer Kick Off Festival. It was a blast with number of non-profit organizations and vendors such as Yoga, Tribe and Culture organic and inspiring Yoga apparel and numerous others. We have gathered as a community that shares a common vision for conscious living and social change. I estimated that there were 500 people gathered on this warm summer night in Santa Monica at the festival at Yogaglo Studio.

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As a Yoga and meditation teacher, I encourage community building in my classes. I love to see how friendships are born and how community is interwoven class after class, particularly in Yoga retreats. A month ago, we were in Hawaii on the big island at Kalani Oceanside Retreat for my annual spring Rejuvenation and Empowerment Yoga retreat. We enjoyed living, eating and moving in Yoga together. All those shared moments on the mat or at the Kilauea Volcano are unforgettable. We can’t wait to meeting again on our next year May 9-16, 2010 Kalani Hawaiian Retreat Adventures. Whatever you fancy be it biking, cooking, playing sports, music, book clubs, there is a community of wonderful people you can reach out to, waiting to be discovered. All it takes is to carve out some time each week to play, be social and enjoy life.

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