Monday, April 22, 2013

Top 5 Simple Things to Celebrate Earth Day

Happy Earth Day to our beloved Planet!  Perhaps seeing the visual representation of this planet as seen from outer space will make us aware of how connected we are.  We breathe the same air, share the same water, and eat the food from the same EARTH.  When we grow in awareness of the reality of our interdependence, positive and conscious shifts will begin to flow.  Despite our common thread we create our invisible borders, boundaries, and division.  Let's make simple changes to create a ripple effect of positive tidal waves.  Happy EARTH DAY to all who share this beautiful planet.  While there are many things we can do that will be better for our environment from recycling to reduction of fuel emissions, here is a simple list of 5 things anyone can do.

Top 5 Simple things to Celebrate Earth Day: 

1. Walk or Ride a Bike rather than taking a vehicle (or organize a car pool)
2.  Re-use your Plastic Bags
3. Carry a Re-usable Water Bottle/Tea Mug
4. Donate your Clothes to a local shelter
5. Plant a Tree

All humanity is one undivided and indivisible family, and each one of us is responsible for the misdeeds of all the others. I cannot detach myself from the wickedest soul. ~ Mahatma Gandhi

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Energizing Delicious Smoothie

So While I am a huge fan of juicing, on occasion I love to make smoothies.  I am also a big fan of a company called Vega.  Vega was created by Brenden Brazier, a Vegan Professional Iron Man Triathlete.  It is a complete plant based protein, alkalizing, rich in fibre and omega 3, and awesomely healthy smoothie brand that I enjoy adding to my drinks.  In one scoop it has 2 servings of veggies! When we drink our body has the ability to absorb and break down nutrients, which is why many athletes rely on smoothies and shakes as part of their daily routine.  While we know Pineapples are rich in vit C & A, Bromelain, and Bananas are a great source of potassium, and Mixed Berries are rich in antioxidents, it is unlikely that we would eat all of these in one sitting.....but add them to the blender and we can all get the benefits in one delicious drink!!!

Anyways, back to my delicious recipe.


1/4 Pineapple (cut chunks)
1/2 Banana
1 Handful Frozen Berry Mix
1/2 Cup Coconut Milk
1 tsp Macca
1 Spoon of the Vega Energizing Smoothie in (Choc-a-lot flavor)
Sprinkle of Raw Cacao Nibs on top

Cheers to AMAZING Health!

Thursday, April 4, 2013

How a NY State Supreme Court Judge became a Yoga Teacher

This is a long overdue post about an incredible Yoga student of mine, Honorable Doris Gonzales and her journey to become a Yoga Teacher.  When I first met her, I had no idea what her profession was, she was a blank canvas for me.  I was only interested in facilitating an experience for her to grow in her yoga practice masterpiece.  She also has an awesome daughter who would take my Kids Yoga Class, (Milta).

Doris was receptive to the practice of yoga, and dedicated to come to class.  She would cheerfully enter the studio with beautifully straightened hair, fully aware that after class she would leave with a curly mess on her head.  This would happen 4 times a week, some days she would do 2 of my classes, one of which was often joyfully referred to as "the Torture class aka ZOGALATIES" because it combined high intensity abdominal work, some mild yelling on my part, and a whole lot of sweat.  At one point she was quick to say my Level 2 Yoga class was a Level 4, which it probably was, but it was lots of FUN, the collective consciousness we would all generate was amazing, and she like everyone else always came back.  For many people the studio in NYC was like a little family.

While I knew she loved to practice, I had no idea she wanted to enroll in Yoga Teacher Training.  While I am always open to suggest other options of Yoga TT, especially in NYC there is an array of excellent teachers who I respect, she had practiced with me, and was determined to study with me.

She contacted me while I was away teaching in India, telling me about wanting to do Yoga Teacher Training. Since there was interest from 6 other people, I thought perhaps to offer an intimate Yoga Teacher Training for some former students.

I come to NYC August 2012, and the 5 other students have conflicts.  Doris was so dedicated and determined, so I gave my first ever one to one Yoga Teacher Training. 

I asked her what her goal is in Teacher Training and she said she wants to heal & also get back into shape.  Primarily she wanted to help herself, so ultimately she could help others.  She was already sharing some lunch time Yoga with some folks at the courthouse, but she wanted to officially be able to say she was a Yoga Teacher, and share with others.

We held the course in her home which began with a beautiful Puja ceremony.   Each day was dedicated to the correlated deity, and each morning we would begin with warm water and lemon.  We progressed to 7am Asana, then had regular Ayurveda meals and fresh juice that I prepared and tea for her dosha.  She was eager to learn about the Yoga Sutras and Bhagavad Gita with questions and enthusiasm to hand in assignments.  The Philosophy of Yoga was something she was so eager to understand for her own self development, which is always wonderful!  The way I teach Yoga Sutras and Bhagavad Gita is more in a way to relate to our own healing so we can ultimately be more compassionate to otherwise challenging memories or situations, and thus make us better teachers.

The Teacher training like most brought mind-body-spirit challenges, which I expected.  No Mud, No lotus.  It was designed to detoxify, and it did.  Some tears, sweat, pounds were all shed.

I feel like we both learned through the entire experience.  We would sprinkle in some more Yoga Asana classes, Subtle Body, Class Sequencing, Guided Meditation, and occasionally her incredible Spinx Cat, Cameo would join us.

We had an amazing guest teacher (professional nurse and PT Miguel) for anatomy, field trips to Boston and Upstate NYC to explore meditation and the subtle body.  Along with being a respected judge, an amazing Single mom, Yoga Teacher, she is also a Reiki Master and Crystal Healer.  So we were surrounded by some amazing crystals (both hers and mine).

By the 3rd week Doris was almost about to quit.  I will admit our days were long, and sometimes challenging, and she had a house and beautiful daughter to tend to after our full days.  But she was destermined, and by the end of the Training, Doris lost 13Lbs, had a huge smile and pep in her step that was not their before, she was able to do some asana work that she did not do before, and she was so excited to share with others.  The best part was she realized how the changes in her, attracted more positive change in her life.  People had noticed the transformation and she was loving it!

I had meant to write this post for many months, and had hoped to have a photo of Doris in some awesome Yoga Pose on her Judges Bench, or in Warrior Pose with her gavel in Hand, because that would be incredibly awesome and to show that this Yoga practice is for anyone!  I am still waiting for the picture Doris!  But I had an email from someone who is taking class from Doris, telling me what a wonderful Yoga Teacher she has become (not surprised) and that I should be very proud (I am).  Congratulations Doris on your completion and certification as a Yoga Teacher, I am ever grateful to have been part of your journey. 

For those of you who are curious about Yoga Teacher Training, it will happen when the time is right.  While it is best to have at least practiced Yoga for 3-6 months before embarking on a Teacher Training,  it does not matter what your job, your gender, your size, your ability in asana, only that you are present, humble and receptive to the awesome practice.  Also, you do not have to quit your day job or dress like a hippie, Doris is still busting balls on her judges bench.  The practice itself has a magical way of transforming the individual. 

For more information on upcoming Yoga Teacher Trainings please visit my website:

Some Awesome Dates to Consider:
July 1-26th in Ireland
November 1-26th - Kerala, India

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Was Jesus a Yogi?

After the weekend that marks one of the most celebrated weekends in the Christian Calendar (Easter), which commemorates the Death and Resurrection of Jesus Christ, some people wonder if Jesus was a Yogi.  Some people wonder why we call it Easter, when it is referring to the Pagan Goddess Ishtar goddess of fertility/love/war and sex who was often depicted with rabbits and eggs.  The purpose of this article is not to debunk the efforts of Constantine in 4th Century AD when he combined the 2 festivals of resurrection & Ishtar to draw more Pagans to the Christian movement, or to have people avoid eating chocolate eggs or bunnies, but rather to ponder if Jesus was a Yogi?

The question can arise from both Yogis and Non Yogis often creating division and emotional reactions. 

You could have some fundamental Christians who may condemn the practice of Yoga and therefore engage in the “judgment” or “biblical stone throwing” (John 8:7), towards those who practice yoga.  Then there are the super hippie Yogis of today (some may consider modern day Constantine’s) who cling to their yoga pants, cult worship of their favorite “style” of yoga/teacher, and chastise the thought of believing in Christ because it conflicts with their spirituality. 

Perhaps we should focus on the message of Jesus and the essence of Yoga (as highlighted in the Hatha Yoga Pradipika or Yoga Sutras)? One is the Prince of Peace, the other is the practice of Peace.....let's explore with that common thread in mind.

Some may point out that Jesus was prophesized in the Bhavishya Purana, which is considered to be one of 18 Puranas of the Vedic Canon.

Many refer to the teachings of the incredible Yogi Parahmansa Yogananda from his books “The Yoga of Jesus” or “The Second Coming of Christ” where he compares the Yogic Mindset to that of Christ Consciousness, he draws a parallel of the 7 seals in the book of Revelation to that of the Seven Chakra centers.  He like many scholars have brought to light their belief in the travels of Jesus that were unaccounted for in the Bible, as leading him to India, Tibet and immersing in the practice of Yoga.

So again the question arises, was Jesus a Yogi?

What is a Yogi – By definition a yogi is a practitioner of yoga.

What is Yoga – The Union of the mind, body, and spirit.  It takes its journey through 5 paths; Hatha (postures & pranayama), Bhakti (devotion), Karma (Selfless service), Jnana (knowledge through study), and Raja Yoga (royal path of meditation & control).

Within Raja Yoga, Patanjali refers to the 8 Limbed practice in order to achieve Samadhi.  All 8 Limbs can be achieved for those who abide by the Golden Rule that Jesus shared.

Luke 10:27 - "...Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’

Jesus never came to abolish the previous Laws (10 commandments), but to make a new one, an umbrella or summation of the previous laws.  The amazing connection is The Golden Rule is also a summation of the 8 Limbs of Yoga.  Here are some scriptural references for just the Yama’s & Niyamas (limbs 1 & 2) as related to the “Golden Rule”. 

We all can aspire to be “yogis” when we abide by these ethical rules, which are summed up in Jesus’s Golden Rule.

1)   The Yama’s:
a)    Ahimsa – Non Harming (Luke 10:27 – Golden Rule)
b)   Satya – Truthfulness (Matt 15: 19,20)
c)    Asteya – Non Stealing (Golden Rule)
d)   Bramacharya – Moderation or sexual restraint,  (Matt 5:28)
e)    Aparigraha – Non-greediness/non hoarding. (Matt 6:19)
2)   The Niyamas:
a)    Saucha – Cleanliness/purity (Matt 15: 16-20 – sermon on the mount)
b)   Santosha – Contentment (Matt 6:25)
c)    Tapas – discipline austerity (Golden Rule)
d)   Svadhyaya – Self study of sacred texts (Golden Rule)
e)    Ishvarapranidhana – Surrender to a higher power (Golden Rule)

While one could find a Biblical reference to point out in favor or against the concept of Jesus being a Yogi, all in all his message was Love & Forgiveness in order to achieve the Kingdom of God or Spiritual Liberation, which Jesus said is within us (Luke 17:21), is much like the goal of Yoga.

In the Yoga Sutras, Patanjali refers to this liberation or goal of yoga as: 

yogaś-citta-vṛtti-nirodhaḥ ||2||
When you are in a state of yoga, all misconceptions (vrittis) that can exist in the mutable aspect of human beings (chitta) disappear. ||2||

While we may not have proof of Jesus doing Scorpion Pose, and we know for sure he did not wear LuLu Lemon, we do know that his message was that of Love, forgiveness, peace, humility, compassion, discipline, faith, and ultimately Spiritual Liberation (the goal of yoga). 

To my Jewish sisters and brothers who celebrated Passover, and my Christian Sisters and Brothers who celebrate Resurrection/Easter Weekend, I send you all love.  Eat some chocolate, do some sun salutations and live a life with Love & compassion for all.  Namaste