Saturday, November 26, 2011

Cheers to Amazing Health - Thankful Detox Juice

So while many people are coming down from their food comas (post thanksgiving) there is more incentive to detox and get healthy. While it is important to be mindful of how we exercise our body, and it's obvious Yoga is one of my favorite methods to exercise the Mind-Body-Spirit, what we eat is also very important to be mindful of. Eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetable provides our body with phytonutrients, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, water, and oxygenation to our blood and organs.

In the tail end of summer I did a 4 week complete Raw Vegan Cleanse. With daily juicing and smoothies that left my body with more energy than I ever imagined. You can actually witness the transformation in my skin and hair in the videos on my youtube channel

In the past I have been blessed with amazing opportunities of doing detox challenges with Yoga Students, only to witness incredible transformations, and while I am no stranger to doing a juice cleanse or even multiple month long fasts myself, the inspiration behind this summers juicing detox, was to inspire my family to get healthier. Since the summer, family juice extravaganza my daddy who is already a healthy person, has kept my juicer, and joyfully makes juice 4-5 times a week (Yeaaa Daddy).

While the superficial benefits of doing a detox are amazing like a leaner body, glowing skin, healthier hair, the Spiritual benefits are amazing as well. Challenge yourself to cleanse your dietary habits and notice the shift in all areas of your life. Your meditation and yoga practice will be stronger, and you will feel a deeper sense of joy. Just a note, when embarking on any type of detox you may get initial hurdles like fatigue, and or headaches ...that is just the toxins leaving your body, it's very temporary, be patient and embrace the detox. Also, if your diet is not so clean/pure or "Sattvic" as they would say in Ayurveda, be mindful that the alkalinity of the fruits and veggies may be a taste that your acidic blood initially has to get used to.

"We must be the change we wish to see in the world" ~ Mahatma Gandhi

Today, I decided to try a new juice combo suggested by a friend.

The Thankful Detox Juice
4 Grapefruits
2 Gala Apples
4 Organic Carrots
1 bunch of Parsley


Thursday, November 24, 2011

New Moon - 11/25/11

While everyone is ripe with thankful thoughts and energy from the Thanksgiving Holiday, get ready and excited for the New Moon. What is a new moon? Well, when the sun and moon are aligned in the same sign, we have what is called a new moon. This is a time for transformation, to set intentions, create, cultivate, manifest, and make things happen. Waves are guided by the changes of the moon, as are the most intimate aspects of women, so we all have the opportunity to connect to the energies of this Universe.

The phases of the moon have an obvious affect on our energy. For instance the Full moon is related to the end of an inhalation, when prana is tremendous, which tends to increase energy and affect our sense of grounding. However, New Moon energy is related to the end of an exhalation, when apana is tremendous, which tends to make us feel grounded and calm.

Like the Farmer's Almanac encourages planting seeds on New Moon days, as it is supposed to be a time when rooting is strong, it is wonderful to set your intentions, plant our seeds. reflect and establish a heart of gratitude, it is a time to cultivate as well. Perhaps cultivate a personality or quality like forgiveness, courage, gratitude. For Yogis, we can do a Chandra Bheda Pranayama or practice a Lunar Yoga Flow, if you are a reiki practitioner you can do a Reiki ritual, or perhaps set up your Crystals on your altar, where you may want to have your intentions written. If you are an Ashatanga Yogi you observe Full moon and New moon days as Holidays. Set your intentions, solidify your visions, and embrace the energy of the new moon. ~ Namaste

Happy Thanksgiving...

While every day, and every breath is an opportunity to give thanks, today is a national day to give thanks for many Americans. Originally intended to be a chance to celebrate Harvest, it has been adopted as a wonderful opportunity for family & friends to get together and eat. Every year, my tradition has been to volunteer with the Missionaries of Charity, a place where I used to volunteer weekly. It is an organization started by Mother Teresa, continued on by the Brothers, Sisters and Lay people to house and feed the homeless. Since this is the week of my beloved Mother's Birthday, I have spent years volunteering with the Missionaries to celebrate her love, as she was the person who introduced me to the organization. Whatever is your venue to give back, remember each day is a chance to be grateful. The food banks run throughout the year. The words thank you can bring so much joy to another persons life.

The only disagreement I have with this Holiday is of course the massive murdering of the Turkeys. Just wanted to post a note to say thanks. I am filled with tremendous gratitude for all the abundance of love I have received from everyone & everything. Thank you. ~ Om Shanti

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Chakra Workshop - The Three Granthis

After a week of silence and transformation at the Magical Zendo, I was so happy to teach a Chakra Workshop the next day. The irony was after returning from silence and serenity, I made my way through literally the chaos of the NYC Marathon FINISH line crowd, to make my way downtown to The Lovely OM Factory, it was so fun. This workshop was particularly special as the "teaching" was energetically shared it with my Sensei/Friend/Student, Joseph. Actually, while I was away at the Zendo (away from internet and phone) Joseph took the lead to arrange and invite all the people to participate for the workshop, thank you so much Joseph!!! It was lovely to see some familiar faces at the workshop. Joseph being an amazing Yoga Instructor & Reiki Master, provided Reiki Hands On Adjustments, did a remarkable Crystal Grid of the Room, and brought his magical energy to the room. Some people were lucky enough to get some impromptu Psychic Readings from Joseph after the Workshop.

The energy in the room was absolutely magnificent. With Candles light in front of the Yoga mats arranged in a Circle (Chakra/Wheel). Our workshop worked its way through the Granthis (Knots), highlighting the power chakras: The Root, The Heart, and the Third Eye. With Yoga Asana work, Chanting, Meditation and even a Stomping where we transformed our bodies into drums to awaken the Kundalini at our Muladhara Chakra (Root Chakra). The reality is, our subtle body is so deeply connected to our development of our Yoga Asana Practice. The Subtle body connection illuminates a deeper understanding of our emotional, mental and spiritual connection to our physical bodies. We are limitless, and once we experience this reality in our body, we can soar.

While we had two amazing live musicians who were eager to play, they had prior gigs so were unable to play. Since we had promised Live Music, I played guitar with an original take on a chant "Om Namo Narayana", Narayana being a common name for Vishnu, the 8th avatar of Krishna, who is the Lord of the Heart Chakra. The chant led people into a candle lit Savasana.

It was a magical evening, and it was so lovely to be in the room with the Yantra for the Heart Chakra painted on the wall of the amazing Om Factory. Thank you to all who participated, sharing in the collective consciousness of the room, thank you to Joseph for sharing the incredible energy. For those of you who signed up and missed the magical energy, there will be more to come!!! ~ Om Shanti

Monday, November 14, 2011

All that we are is a result of all that we have thought ~ The Buddha

Recently, I was invited to spend a week at the Zendo to teach daily yoga, and immerse myself in the Harvest Session Zazen practice. The Zen Buddhist Practice is Zazen (sitting in meditation with the focus on the outbreath/exhalation). The days begin at 4am and go till 10pm with daily Samu (Cleaning assignments), up to 6 hours of daily Zazen Sitting, Teshio/Dharma talks by Shinge Roshi or Shokan Osho, Three amazing Vegetarian meals in Silence served in three bowls. Everything is systematic and organized. The only time we speak is while in Dokusan with the Roshi, Shinge Roshi. We literally sit in silence for more than half the day, and I had never even taken an intro course, totally dived in the deep end.

While the Catskill surroundings of the Zendo, with a magnificent lake, and the amazing architecture are magical, I learned the actual magic happens in the practice of Zazen sitting. Ironically, we who practice yoga, practice for the purpose of “Sitting” in meditation with God (Samadhi).

The first day was a snowstorm, and the Zendo was illuminated by Candle light and freezing cold. After two days my knees were burning during our marathon hour long sitting periods, the 51-degree temperature room was giving me chills, and random memories of recent extremely negative experiences that I had to endure would silently creep into my mind. I played with propping myself up on Zafu cushions, and adjusting my sitting position when we were aloud to move. I was disappointed that these thoughts were creeping in my mind, as I thought I had accepted the situations as lessons learned.

I sat counting my breath as I was told to do, and when I told Shinge Roshi during Dokusan that I lost count, she laughed and explained to come back to #1, the purpose is to count the exhalation till we become one with the breath. I later gravitated to unconsciously counting my blessings, allowing every breath to celebrate all the good stuff, in effort to alleviate the physical pain on my knees, and it worked. When I shared this with Shinge Roshi, she actually shared it in her Teshio Talk. Her Teshio talks were absolutely brilliant, weaving Buddhist Koan's with her own words of wisdom to inspire us all. The next Day, Shokan Osho spoke of the most powerful prayer being “Thank You”.

Back for more endless hours of sitting, and I realize the subtle body connection of Bladder, Kidney, Liver Meridians running through the legs, all related to letting go. And Louise Hay’s Book “ You Can Heal Your Life,” stating that issues with the legs is our reluctance to move forward. Also, our exhalation is “letting go”.

As I sat in silence with my breath, I realized these “recent” negative situations and past experiences with people who every so often invading my meditation time, are representations of patterns that stem from an experience that I suppressed. I prayed and begged to JC (Jesus, my personal Savior) to help me to forgive, sending them love & light. Sometimes, these patterns are ones we unconsciously repeat from watching our parents. I decided to break the cycle and dive right in.

In my hours of silence I realized, I enabled a pattern, allowing people to take advantage because unconsciously I did not believe I was worth more, and all this stemmed back from experiences long ago that I suppressed. Making excuses for behavior done to me that was egregious and actually unlawful. WOW! No wonder I felt like certain aspects of my life and health were like a revolving door. Once my forgiveness went to a place of compassion, understanding and love for those who clearly disrespected me, and most importantly for myself for enabling this…my heart chakra finally felt liberated. My legs felt illuminated, strong, like a kid on the carpet in Kindergarten, and I thought I could sit forever, all pain ceased.

Was this easy? Of course not, we all spend a lifetime with our unconscious thoughts, repeating patterns, justifying our patterns, and revisiting injuries/illness etc. Just because we go through the motions of “moving on” our subconscious mind carries the scars of pain we endured, which later manifests in illness, injury, scattered thoughts, apathy, anger, repeated patterns in relationships, and many other ways that are far from liberation and peace, with deep roots in our childhood experiences. If you ever catch yourself saying to yourself, this always happens to me....I challenge you to sit, till you are so united with your breath only peace remains.

Up until the 3rd day, a family of deer would frolic outside my window, and after that day I did not see them. The deer is the animal related to the heart chakra. I was healed. The next day I sat in silence and a stream of tears poured from my eyes, purification tears, no sounds, sniffles just and hour of Liberation.

We live in a society with distractions all around, excuses all around, and fingers to point as to why we cannot be at peace. Mainstream media uses all forms of entertainment to hypnotize us to mask our real issues. We create ways to be busy to avoid stillness, even people who do yoga. Trust me, I spent 2 years teaching every day, taking Master level classes, so I know how easy it is to stay busy instead of being still.

For me, I had no choice but to sit in stillness for the entire week, nothing to do but face my own “issues”, and I wanted to. I even had quartz and rose quartz crystals all over me (Amplifying stones) to fully surrender to the healing process.

Call it Buddha, Krishna, Jesus, Allah, Yahweh, Shiva, Love…whatever you want to call it, it is a Source of Unconditional love, where no memory lives, no pain exists, only understanding, and love. Challenge yourself to sit in SILENCE, focusing on your breath and observe where your mind wanders. We are our thoughts.

Like the lotus that silently blooms, growing through the murkiest waters, striving for the light, we too are meant to bloom without a drop of dirt that reminds us of the murky waters from where we came. Only beauty.

Finally, when I said that the memory would surface about negative situations & I forgave them....does this mean that if a person stalks/harasses you, or an establishment refrains from paying you for nearly 70 hours of services rendered, or plagiarizes your work (hypothetically speaking)...that that behavior is ok? NOT AT ALL. When someone wrongs us, they have a Karmic Debt to pay, and while we cannot control the actions of others, we have the ability to control our reactions which is POWER. Peace is Power.

This was the most Yogic experience I could have ever experienced, and I am profoundly grateful. Thank you Shinge Roshi, Shokan, Jodo, Joshi, Jo Kei (the most amazing chef EVER), Yu Sen, Andrew, Matthew, Cynthia, E Kyo, Yoko, Yuko, Bill, Gen No, Carlos, Kimpu, Kaity, Larry, and Dai Bo Satsu Zendo for sharing in one of the most profund experiences of my life. While doing yoga with you daily was awesome, the Buddhist chants was amazing, the daily Vegetarian Meals were the best I have ever had, it was actually the practice of Sitting that changed my life!!! Thank you to my friend and fellow Ohashiatsu Alumni, Mark, for driving me to and from the Zendo, and for making this new relationship with Zendo possible! I now sit everyday with so much peace.

I returned to NYC, to teach yoga the next morning and a Chakra Workshop the night. Since I was in a week of silence, thank you Joseph for handling the organizing and inviting for that amazing event in my absence and helping make the workshop magical!

For those interested in experiencing Zen Buddhist Practice of Zazen please visit the link below:

For those interested in Zoga Yoga Retreats and 200 Hr Teacher Trainings that incorporate the experiences of Zazen and the breathtaking location of the Zendo please visit:

Photos: Shinge Roshi & I, Myself in my monks Robe & the Lovely Deer that played outside my window.