One very cool thing we’ve witnessed is Jorgen Christiansson’s meditative approach to building a class. His sense of confidence (without a trace of arrogance) is infectious. From day one, he simply knew the right people would find him, and they have. I believed my awesome people would follow me up the block, but I have to admit it has been incredibly gratifying and a huge relief that they have. I cannot express the joy in my heart every time someone who has practiced with me for years comes walking through the door with a huge smile and a hug.
We’ve had some seriously fun parties including one of the best Halloween parties ever (”The Love Guru”, the “Green Fairy”, the glowing pregnant yogini who dressed as an oven complete with “bun”, and, of course, Satan). We are loving the opportunity to bring people together in regular clothes (well, except for Halloween, haha) and really start to build a community. It’s always bothered me that people don’t get a chance to hang out and get to know one another unless they go on a retreat together, especially since not everyone can afford to do that. I’ve watched friendships that began on retreats last for years, and it has been really cool to see the same thing happening through events at our space. Two of my all-time favorite students started chatting at our 2nd party, and now they are good girlfriends, hanging out on the weekends and having fun.
So there is the community happening at the studio, and then there is the larger community we are always looking for meaningful ways to serve. Our beautiful neighborhood in downtown Santa Monica is a tourist attraction but it is also the site of much suffering and hardship felt by Santa Monica’s large homeless population. In our effort to be a part of the solution to this problem we talked at length with city officials and met with local non-profits, and have decided to put our support behind OPCC, which is a network of shelters and services for the homeless on the west side of LA. On November 21, we’re hosting a fundraising event, “Karma Kirtan with Daniel Stewart and friends”, the proceeds of which will be donated to OPCC. One of the directors of the organization will be there to tell us about their work and how we as practitioners and citizens can get involved. We believe we have a responsibility and an opportunity as studio owners to help raise awareness and direct energy to worthy causes. We’ve placed a special emphasis on service in our own backyard, because there exists the possibility for a real and personal exchange of energy between the giver and receiver.
I would say that is the heart of where we are today. We have felt a tremendous outpouring of enthusiasm and support within the yoga community, and we’re so grateful. We are going to continue to do everything we can to create a place where all these incredible teachers and practitioners want to be. And I’m going to be very happy when I get 5 hours of sleep in a row
Please Enjoy Carlos Torres songs “Relaxation” and “Temptation” here
and here For more of his music visit http://www.charlietorres.com/lovepassfilter/
The goal is to raise $20,000, which will change the lives of these children forever. Each calendar retails for $14.99 with option of 5 and 10 packs. An excellent Holiday gift for sure!
Get this this now!
Does Yoga + Tantra = Sex? Read on!
‘Tantra’ is certainly one of the most misunderstood Yoga traditions in the West. It is a powerful tool for our times. It is a field that I started to explore 20 years ago. Tantra is practiced by householders living in the world, for people who do not renounce life. It is for those who choose to ride the wave of life’s constant currents and challenges, for those who show up day after day and who wish to learn to flow through change; stable, yet flexible, open and fulfilled. In Sanskrit, ‘Tan’ means ‘to stretch ‘and ‘Tra’ means ‘beyond’.
Tantra works with energy: Prana (the sustaining life force) and Kundalini Shakti (the evolutionary and creative snake-like power) which permeates all life. Our body is seen as a sacred temple where Kundalini Shakto lies dormant, waiting to awakened. This is a slow and gradual process where our consciousness rises, transforming our life’s perceptions, understanding and experiences.
The most striking effect on me is an inherent feeling of freedom with a sense of infinite possibilities. One of Tantra’s premises is that “everything is possible”. I feel more alive and vibrant. It also helped me face and overcome many obstacles and heartbreaks, including the passing of my beloved mother 6 years ago. Over the years, it has given me a road map for transformation.
What is Tantra?
Tantra Yoga is a 5000-7000 year old vast field of yoga wisdom, science, art and techniques. The ‘Maithuna ritual’ or spiritual love-making branch represents about 0.1% of Tantra teachings totality. Maithuna rituals aim at experiencing oneness and bliss between the individual and the universal through the worship of Shakti.
There are many other Tantric paths emphasizing oneness and bliss between the individual and the universal. The universe is regarded as the divine play of Shakti (feminine, dynamic and creative principle of existence) and Shiva (masculine static form of the divine or pure, undifferentiated consciousness). Tantra’s teachings describe the universe’s creation as a sacred dance. There is no separation between the mundane and the sacred/spiritual world. As energy follows thoughts, we aim at mastering our mind to master our energy. Quantum physics mirrors Tantra in that it identifies a pulsating living force. This Spanda or primordial vibration correlates to quantum physic’s description of the electron constantly flickering in and out of existence.
What is ‘Yoga Tantra Flow’?
Yoga Tantra Flow is an embodiment of Tantra’s energetic practices through vinyasa flow and meditation. It is a dance where Tantra meets Vinyasa Flow yoga. Some of the energetic practices include breathing or pranayama, bandhas or energy seals, kriyas or energy consciousness movement, mantras and sacred sounds, visualizations, purifications and meditations.
How can I experience Yoga Tantra?
There are 2 easy ways:
- In living in such a way where relationships are the catalysts and revealers of our karmic and dharmic patterns. We can see our shortcomings and resistances.
- In awareness of the spine in Yoga Tantra practices. By turning our attention there, we awaken, activate and balance our energy and psyche. It is recommended to work with an experienced teacher.
If you are interested in experiencing, tasting and learning more about Yoga Tantra Flow, I have an upcoming workshop:
‘Introduction to Yoga Tantra Flow: Exploring the Chakras. Saturday, 10th Octover 2009 2-5pm at Yogaglo in Santa Monica CA. Open to everyone from beginners to advanced.
Visit Yogaglo or my website for more information.
Be in the Flow until next time,
Isabelle du Soleil
You can download Yoga music here
What is the Shanti Generation? It is a movement to empower youth with peacemaking skills. What we do is produce educational media that bring together ancient and modern practices to young people, with the help of young people. We are a platform where their wisdom is heard.
How did you first become involved with yoga? I was in an Eastern Philosophy class at my freshman year at the University of South Alabama. One of the assigned readings was from the Upanishads, which I found enthralling. I found it matched my own innate sense of life. From that point onward I immersed myself in Eastern thought and traditions. I took my first yoga class in 1995 in Los Angeles and it is now part of my everyday existence.
When did you first want to teach yoga to kids and why? I first starting teaching dance to young children when I was 16 years old and continued to teach throughout my undergrad studies. I did my first yoga teacher training at the Sivananda Yoga Vendanta Center in India in 1997 and transitioned over to teaching yoga. In 1999, I was doing the Yoga Works teacher training and Maty Ezraty invited me to teach the children’s classes there.
I love working with children because they seem to have direct access to the spiritual aspects of yoga. I’ve worked with many youth who have faced major troubles and trauma and seen how yoga helps them to develop their resilience. It’s so inspiring. My hope is that they take these skills to adulthood and allow the consciousness of yoga to permeate everywhere - in the environment, politics, finance and relationships.
What is your biggest challenge? I would have to say the sustainability and depth of programs that teach yoga to kids. Some great programs have closed due to lack of funding or organizational structure. Also its really hard for institutions to find qualified teachers of yoga for children. Sometimes when a teacher leaves a program, it fades away until a replacement is found. Also many studios offer only one or two classes a week for kids and there’s a catch 22. It’s hard for studios to add more classes when those classes are often not full. Parents can place a higher priority on other things like soccer or dance. It’s understandable as kids’ activities that offer opportunities for community interaction are important for families. What’s good though is that there’s more all ages yoga events happening. Commitment will grow as the programs grow.
What inspires you? My students. I want to share yoga with as many young people as possible. I decided I could reach more youth this way than driving around LA like a maniac! With the DVD, we are offering yoga to kids who don’t have access to a yoga studio or in-school yoga programs. I also want to share this DVD with other yoga teachers of children. Ideally, this DVD is a ‘text-book’ so kids can practice at home.
What is your long term vision of the Shanti Generation? Ultimately, it is to contribute to social justice, equality and planetary healing by empowering youth to make choices steeped in consciousness. We have a Youth Peacemakers Training program that teaches young people how to teach yoga to their peers. We have an amazing list of guest teachers on board, including Dr Chris Chapple, Julie Kleinman, Felicia Tomasko, Hala Khouri with Yogaglo hosting. We also offer facilitator’s trainings to guide teachers and parents to create Youth Peacemaker Circles in their own communities. I jokingly say we want to be the Girl Scouts/Boy Scouts of the consciousness movement!
How can people get involved? There are a number of ways! Buy our DVD and pass it on to young people. If you don’t know any, buy it as a gift to a school or library. Inspire and mentor youth to get involved in a Youth Peacemakers Training. Be a participant in our Facilitator’s Training. Join our team as a volunteer in admin, legal consultation, promotions or outreach. And you can spread the word - our DVD is translated in Spanish and Japanese. Tell your friends and ask your yoga studio to carry it.
You can download Yoga music here
It’s that time of the year this weekend where yogis around the world ‘Rise Up’ and gather with others to practice sun salutes for a few hours together, as if one unit.
The New York event came about as a response to the events of 9/11. So much destruction, grief and paranoia had been created, a yoga teacher called Jacqueline Stolte felt that there must be some way to readdress the balance. What if people came together to create Peace, Coherence and Harmony? The event Yoga for Peace was born.
We were asked this year to supply the Yoga For Peace shirts by Michael Spitzer, organizer of the New York event.
I was curious about the history of the NYC event and what he faced as the main organizer of the event. Enjoy – and go this Sunday to an event near you!
What have been some of your biggest challenges? Getting people’s attention. There are so many things to do, and be involved with these days.
Some of your biggest triumphs? Hearing how much this event has impacted people’s lives and being. The feeling after each event is most blissful, and very memorable.
How do you carry things out logistically? Producing an event like this is huge. So many details, you can easily become overwhelmed. Having a team is critical, and there are some amazing people who have stepped forward in assisting me with this event.
Why do you think this event is still relevant? Peace is the greatest gift in life. If there is no peace in the body, heart, or mind, life becomes very hard, or sad, or unfulfilling. No amount of money can replace the feeling of inner peace.
If someone wanted to do something similar, what would be some key advice? Go for it, as the work is so rewarding. It makes a difference for both those that attend and for the world as a whole. contact local yoga studios and speak about creating a Global Mala Yoga for Peace event in your area. Find a location and the rest will fall in place, and mostly it’s about getting the word out!!!
You can download Yoga music here
You can download Yoga music here
1. Creating Community With Competitors: I had a cup of tea with Kasey Luber of www.yogamates.com a few days ago. We were talking about how each of our companies were evolving and she mentioned something about competition - that this was a great time to reach out to others in your market and create synergy, instead of battling it out along. That really inspired me.
2. Working Your Online Presence: When you’re focused on so many different things and things are going great off-line ie increased wholesale business, more clients or more popular public classes, it is incredibly easy to forget about your online presence. I found that out the hard way. One of the things my business mentor taught me was to really utilize list building and social media. You can start with creating a Facebook group and adding a blog to your site which you can then share using different social bookmarking sites. That would be a good start.
3, Not Monetizing Expertise: Most of us are unaware that we are a wealth of information. That information, packaged and marketed correctly, is a valuable resource that people will pay good money for. Especially if it is authentic and of high quality that can make a real difference to somebody else. James and I are creating an information based product on ‘How To Make Your Own Exercise DVD’. We are launching this at the end of next month. I’ll keep you updated on the progress. To find out more about how to uncover and choose your niche where you can sell information, I’d recommend checking out ‘Information Product Revolution’. The two young guys behind this, Hollis Carter and Marc Horne, really know their stuff.
Until next time my friends,
You can download Yoga music here
This is a”resourcing” meditation that shifts brain and nervous system, opening emotional awareness, well-being and a sense of deep letting go… The more we cultivate resources that are grounded in our real inner and outer lives, the more we can both a) do the shadow-work of turning to face what we are afraid of or have denied, avoided, judged, rationalized in the name of first stage spirituality and b) we can let go of the ungrounded fantasy resources that do not serve us as we move into a second stage or next level integrated spirituality…
Hmmmmm… doesn’t that feel good! If you want to fully rest and rejuvenate, Julian is leading an Earth and Sky Retreat October 8-11 2009 at the gorgeous Casa Beranca in Ojai, California. With deep, flowing yoga classes, meditation, Ecstatic Dance and other practices (and my favorite, lounging in Nature), this is not to be missed. Spaces are limited so treat yourself and book now!
You can download Yoga music here
The last few months have been very eventful for me and for my family. On July 14th, I had a baby girl, and on the same day construction began at our new donation-based yoga studio Yogis Anonymous . Two births at once. It’s funny in a way that it takes longer to grow a person than it does to build a studio. (Although the argument could be made that the studio has been years in the making). That journey began in the middle of April when we started looking at spaces. It might seem like a funny time to take on a project like that while six months pregnant and already a mommy to a 2.5 year old very active little dude AND teaching full-time.
I had such a clear picture of the kind of studio I wanted to create, and with the economy being the way it was, I kept seeing “For Lease” signs. Finally my curiosity got the better of me and I found myself pulling over in front of a space and calling the number. I made an appointment. I didn’t really think I was going to open a place, I just thought I’d educate myself a little bit. If I were to do it, I knew I was committed to the donation yoga studio model, so I knew we needed some decent square footage (we being myself and my husband, who is now also my business partner). This quickly became a situation where the right people started showing up at the right time.
I called a number on a space that looked promising and began talking to a broker who happens to have his name on almost every building in Santa Monica. He immediately told me of two locations he thought would be perfect and we went to look. One of the locations was ideal, ground-floor in the back of a courtyard, (so it’s also quiet), right next to a big public parking structure. As soon as we walked in. I thought, “This is it.” I could see in my mind’s eye exactly how it would be. My main premise is that I want to have the teacher-friendliest studio in town. I think that’s the way to attract the best, most experienced teachers. (So far this theory has proved true–our schedule includes Ashley Turner, David Romanelli, Annmarie Solo, Brock and Krista Cahill, John Sahakian, Felicia Marie Tomasko, Tommy Rosen, Jorgen Christiansson, Daniel Stewart for monthly kirtan…and me:)). I also think if a teacher feels appreciated, supported, promoted and celebrated, s/he is going to be very psyched to walk in the door to teach, and I think practitioners will also feel that energy and feed off of it, plus they will benefit from a teacher’s years of experience in the room. It’s a win/win.
I’m also excited about having an impact on the community, both locally and globally. Most Saturday nights have been blocked out for fundraising events ( aka awesome parties), where we can raise money for local non-profits like Heal the Bay, or global causes. In October we’ll host an event for the Africa Yoga Project. In addition to using the power of yoga for good, this also creates an environment for practitioners to meet each other in regular clothes and have a chance to talk and hang out. I want our studio to be a beacon of positive energy, something you can feel when you walk through the door, and take with you when you walk out. I think the possibilities are limitless and I couldn’t be more excited.
Yogis Anonymous is located at 1221 2nd Street right next to a large public parking structure. We open September 1st with a full schedule. All classes are run on donation, the suggested donation is $14. Our website www.yogisanonymous.com will be live on August 25th, in the meantime, please find us on Facebook.
You can download Yoga music here
Yoga and Beauty may not necessarily be the first thing you think about putting together. Since yoga is all about non-attachment to the world and today beauty seems to be a lot about how few wrinkles we have and what we look like in the mirror. However, joining old ancient yoga techniques with beauty is exactly what we have decided to do. We think that beauty is a vital component of yoga, or rather a happy by product. We, that would be Camilla Davenport and Alexandra Aitken, founded Stepping into Goddess to elevate, empower and uplift women. However, lately we’ve also been including some handsome Goddess worshippers, also known and men, to our events. We regularly teach what we call joy shops on all kinds of topics.
We believe that yogic teachings can spill into your daily life and be very useful. Here are some specific tips on yoga beauty that we love.
If you can breathe longer and deeper you will not only live longer and stay younger for longer but it will also make you calmer, relaxed and more beautiful!
Start by filling the abdomen, this is the most important part. Many women walk around sucking their tummies in hoping to appear thinner, which creates a shallow breathing pattern that can bring on anxiety and depression. If you can breathe heavily from your navel point, you can actually get out of mild depression! But back to the breathing, once you’ve filled your abdomen, then expand the chest and finally lift the upper ribs and widen the collar bones and up through your neck and out through the top of the head. On the exhale reverse the order, first empty the upper centers, then the middle and lastly the belly.
On your inhale - expand wide and exhale feeling your whole body lengthen. This will make you feel taller and make you a more joyfully magnetic person to be around.
What we say carry vibrations – be aware of what you say to others and yourself. Lets say you meet someone where the old you would have immediately begun to judge that person, instead find the best thing about that person or at least give them a compliment. And mean it! If you say lovely things you naturally vibrate on a higher caliber. Find the most beautiful thing in everyone; your energy field expands by uplifting others. This is a fun one to practice on complete random strangers. For instance notice and comment on a pretty hairpin on a lady in the checkout line, a great smile from a parking attendant or the phenomenal eye color on the postman. And by the way, did you know that YOU look fabulous in that!
Stop for a minute and take note of a flower, the rainbow colors in the dishwashing bubbles, a golden sky at dusk and it will instantly elevate you. Notice that whenever you see a bright and beautiful color, you are witnessing your own love for your surroundings. Whenever you hear a sweet sound, you are hearing your own love.
Next up we’re teaching how to open up to your psychic powers at the Mystic Bookstore on Abbot Kinney in Venice CA, 12 August 2009 between 7-9pm. At that event we will be working on the beauty of good communication by harnessing the planet Mercury. A Kundalini yogi believes that by meditating what is written in our stars can be arranged in our favor. Our next event will be at Yogaglo September 3rd 2009. Check out our website Stepping Into Goddess and sign up for our newsletter for more information.
You are most welcome to come and join us to have the stars serve you and light your way on!
Ally & Camilla
PS From Carmena - Camilla is probably one of the most stylish yoginis out there and most of her wardrobe is YTC! The pants in particular…!
You can download Yoga music here