Aug
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Ahimsa

Satsang: Exploring the Yamas (Ethical Rules) and Niyamas (Personal Conduct Practices)
Ahimsa – by Mike McGhee

Ahimsa commonly translates as “non-violence”, it leads the list of Yamas. Himsa being the opposite of Ahmisa,  means violence. The Yoga Sutra of Patanjali states “all hostilities are given up in the presence of one who is firmly established in non-violence.” The interpretation goes on to say, “that if one attains perfection in non-violence anyone that even comes near that yogi becomes free from all fear. Although, the Bhagavad Gita tells us: knowingly or unknowingly a larger life form consumes a smaller life form, thence complete ahimsa is not possible. Also in this respect one must define right or justifiable himsa, and unjustifiable himsa; hostile thought.”

Artist: Caren Camblin

Ahimsa is the first of the Yamas and each of the other Yamas and Niyamas should be filtered through the lens of Ahimsa. To develop this lens we can ask ourselves three questions prior to making decisions: #1 Will the action be violent towards others? #2  Will the action be violent towards the planet? #3 Will the action be violent towards the self? Mahatma Gandhi said “Ahimsa means not to injure any creature by thought, word or deed. True ahimsa should mean a complete freedom from ill-will and anger and hate and an overflowing of love. Ahimsa is the attribute of the soul and therefore to be practiced by everybody in all the affairs of life.” This last sentence Gandhi is saying Ahimsa is at the core of who we are. So why all the violence?

According to Patanjali it’s due to negative thoughts that are caused by the three poisons: greed, anger and delusion which are byproducts of ignorance. Delusion refers to our wrong view of reality.

I think we all suffer from delusions to different degrees throughout our lives. These delusions could be so ingrained either to individuals or to a whole society, they become a paradigm, and we just accept them as “that is just how it is supposed to be”. December 1968, when I was nineteen years old, I got drafted into the Army, and to put it mildly I didn’t like the idea of being drafted at all, but thought that it was my obligation to fulfill my obligation to my country, since my Dad,  6 of my blood Uncles and older brother all served in the military.  My Dad was a bomber pilot in World War II, my brother is a Vietnam Vet, so you can see there is a pattern or paradigm that was in motion.  1968 was a very tumultuous time. The whole country was in chaos; Martin Luther King and Robert Kennedy were assassinated,  the Vietnam War was in full rage , people were protesting all over the country against the war, protestor were being labeled as cowards and traitors,  huge racial riots broke out in major cities across the country.  My induction into the Army was delayed but when Friday June the 13th, 1969 came and I was inducted. I was scared, confused, didn’t have a strong conviction one way or the other. I was a kid, 19 years old, I didn’t want to let anyone down and I didn’t want to kill anyone either. I figured I was going to get it over with and make the best of a bad situation. Well, I got through basic training actually with flying colors, they promoted me and I was awarded the outstanding training of my company of 180 soldiers. But during the first or second week of basic training when they were  issuing out our rifles one of the trainees refused  to take his, his life went from bad to really, really bad. The drill sergeants, lets say they probably didn’t graduate from Stanford, but were very good at breaking someone down and making them a soldier, were in his grill constantly. The humiliation and abuse they inflicted on him could probably be called a form of torture. He didn’t stay around too long, I don’t know what ever became of him. At the time I didn’t realize what a impact he made on me. But He was the shock that I needed to helped me wake up from my delusion, step out of this old paradigm and look deep inside myself  about what I was doing. Why do I want go harm someone that is probably in a similar situation as myself, who has very similar aspirations that I have, that was forced into harming me or made to believe he had to, because of powerful people’s greed and anger and the paradigms his society instilled on him. I had these thoughts before going into the Army as well. My fellow trainee just super charged these thoughts. I was really confused, didn’t know what to do. What would the Army do with me if I resisted, since I was already in? The rumor for resistors, was front line Medic. Also, what would my family think? So, after graduating basic training I got to go home for a week on leave, then had to go start Advance Training, for my military job,  they wanted me to be an image interpreter, an non combative position, basically I was to pin point bombing targets. I had about two weeks in a detail company before my school started and I was trying to figure out what I was going to do. My new buddy I made in detail co. was scrambling my brain even more, he was wanting me to go AWOL with him to Canada. Well I started my training and on the second day of class my decision erupted from me.  I kind of surprised myself, I stood up in the middle of class, the instructor was running a slide projector and I announced “I am not doing this anymore”. Now all eyes on me, the instructor asked what are you not doing?, I said “none of it, I am not going to participate in the Army anymore”, he said in disbelief “are you declaring CO status?” I said “yes”. This was the point of no return. For the next year I was pretty much if limbo, not knowing what the Army was going to do with me, the options were discharge,  prison or just keep me in a detail company.  During this period of limbo I was doing some reading, trying to find support for my stance, and I came across Leo Tolstoy. Tolstoy said,  The improvement of life was only accomplished to the extent to which it was based on a change of consciousness, that is, to the extent to which the law of violence was replaced in men’s consciousness by the law of love. Those words and other similar words gave me substance and support for my resistance.

I had to have interviews with my company commander up to the base commandant for a total of 5 interviews. They went from being pretty intense to almost out of control. At one interview I was  told to leave so they wouldn’t do something to me that they would regret. Along with the interviews I got family, friends, teachers, etc. to write letters attesting to my character. All this was put into a file for a decision to be made. Well wouldn’t you know, they lost the file and I had to do the interviews all over again and resubmit my whole file. Finally, I had to take the Army to Federal court and I won the case. Finally they discharged me.

The point of all this is, not making any judgements on others, I had to stand up and do what was right for me which I am very proud of. I can’t image being here right now talking about Ahimsa if I hadn’t resisted. I would feel hypocritical standing here knowing I had taken part in the same violent acts that are still happening around the world today and not following what my soul was telling me. I am not so naive to think that a military isn’t necessary in the world we live in today. But, I would like to think that as smart as we are we would be moving away from military and violence, rather making it stronger and more violent than ever.  I get upset when I see the military made to look so glamorous to young men and women, keeping them delusional for the need of violence, which often comes from people’s greed.

By doing violence to someone, you are also doing violence to yourself. For me, another paradigm that I’ve been taught to be acceptable is our treatment of the natural world through our consumption, agricultural practices and the constant need for more, which I see as violence that we are committing to the planet and environment that we live in. Committing  violence to the environment is doing violence to ourself. Rachel Carson in 1962 made a statement to this point. She said “We still haven’t become mature enough to think of ourselves as only a very tiny part of a vast and incredible universe. Now I truly believe that we in this generation must come to terms with nature, and I think we’re challenged, as mankind has never been challenged before, to prove our maturity and our mastery, not of nature but of ourselves.”

To practice ahimsa is to be constantly aware of our thoughts and intentions, with the understanding that what we think or say about others can be as powerful as any physical attempt to harm.

Sutra Monthly with Sherry Cassedy

A monthly sampling from Patanjali’s Yoga Sutra
Single-Tasking: Cultivating Mindfulness in a Multi-Tasking World
Tat pratishadartham eka tatva ‘bhyasah: practice on one principle.

Our attention is increasingly pulled in many directions. Multi-tasking is a survival skill. Beeps and buzzes. Alerts and alarms. Our world is filled with constant reminders meant to grab our attention, to distract us from what we are doing, to refocus our awareness on some urgent message.

I must admit that one of my favorite functions of my cell phone is the alarm. When I sit down for coffee with a friend, a business meeting with colleagues, or simply to meditate on my own breath, I can set the alarm and it will take care of keeping time for me. In that way I eliminate the distraction of concern about timing and am able to focus my attention. But do we manage our technology or does it manage us?

Attention is where we place our awareness, where we focus our consciousness. Intention is the choice, the intentional placement of our attention. First we must recognize that we have this choice, that it is up to us whether to attend to the distraction or remain in focus. Single-Tasking is that choice to remain with a singular focus. As Patanjali encourages us, admonishes us, to place our attention, to concentrate, to practice on one principle. This applies on many levels of awareness.

With respect to our Daily Habits, such as diet, exercise, even driving. For example, we might resolve to lose weight with a vague notion of eating less or differently, but then as we are distracted and drawn in by many images and invitations for food, we may lose that vague resolve. If we rather focus on one principle such as I will eat only salad for lunch, or I will not eat desserts, we are more likely to remember that single resolution and to follow through.image1(2)

In Relationships, when we spend time with people we care about, do we give them the gift of our attention? In conversation, do we truly listen or are we thinking of many other things and even checking or responding to texts as they talk. Some of the newer means of communication allow for much broader span of sharing but perhaps at a much more superficial level.

With our Yoga Practice, we may step onto the mat with a desire to strengthen our practice. At one moment we focus on breath, the next gaze, the next the music, then our legs and foundation, then the nice outfit of the person across from us. Patanjali tells us to practice one principle at a time. For one practice make your sole focus the breath, in every pose and let everything else follow. See if anchoring the attention in a single intention creates more calm and steadiness.

Similarly in Meditation, we set aside a place and time to focus our awareness, to be still even within the whirling world of stimulation, to retreat from the distractions of the outer world and to find a calm place within. This requires a diligent effort of returning the attention again and again to our single point of concentration.

The root of attention, intension, extension, intensity, is tens– similar to the Sanskrit tanu—meaning to stretch, to extend, to attenuate. We can concentrate inward with intention and intensity, or we can stretch outward in extension. As we extend we also thin and diffuse. Our broader attention is more superficial while our focused attention is sharp, clear and deep.

Rather than indulging a level of distraction that maintains a diffuse and superficial awareness, we can harness the incredible power of the mind, directing it with intention. The sword of Viveka Kyatir, of discriminating wisdom is that ability to pierce through with focus. In our multi-faceted world, there is tension between allowing ourselves to be distracted by constant stimulation and learning to focus on the essentials. Yoga teaches that we not only have the choice but the personal responsibility to direct our attention and our energy.

“Every day we set our small miracles against the world. Every time we hold our breath and intentionally pause.”

From “How Miraculous…” Poem by Mara Eve

Satsang: for community & truth.

By: Sherry Cassedy

Monday morning just after the sun has cleared the horizon, I make the short walk to the studio. I notice the sunrise, whether it is muted by heavy overcast or striated with brilliant color across the morning sky. I reflect on its constancy and variation and will bring that to our morning offering. I turn the key in the simple lock and step into the warmth and calm light of Pleasure Point Yoga. As I put on music, place flowers and light the candles, the spirit of PPY awakens, preparing to welcome the community to another week with intention and beauty.

The students begin to arrive with simple greetings, sharings or silence depending on their own moods and needs of the morning. We each prepare our places with blankets, blocks or bolsters to provide our personal support, and we begin.

12794457_10153873288555180_8278877132413820285_nStanding, grounding, opening with a round of Om, we chant the Gayatri Mantra, call and response, and then chant together, some referring to the page, some having memorized the ancient Sanskrit verse, a salutation to the sun as emanation of Spirit. As we chant, I light the aarti lamp bringing more light to our circle, attending to the ritual and then offering the light of purification to each student, as I also offer my own presence.

Closing with Om, Shanti, Shanti, Shanti, I loosely translate: “Blessings, as we gather on another beautiful morning, greeting the sun, and trusting that the same force that moves the sun, the moon, and the stars, that holds the planets in their orbit, that brings the seasons and the tides, is moving deep within each of us, slowly moving us toward the truth of who we are, revealing our own natural brilliance. Blessings, Peace, Peace, Peace.”

Now, we have created the space and the intention for our Satsang, and we dive in together. The circle of students expands and contracts, always welcoming of newcomers and seekers, and always trusting that each person is where he or she needs to be that very moment.

“Satsang” is a Sanskrit word derived from “sat”, meaning truth, and “sanga”, meaning community. In Satsang, we gather together, in community to seek truth or, more simply, to be with the truth. We create the space with chanting, light, and intention, gentle rituals that help us to dedicate this hour to our study and practice and to one another.

The Yoga Sutra of Patanjali is the foundational text of most yoga systems and is the primary text for our exploration. We chant and translate the sutra, building one upon the other. We then take one sutra, breaking it down in the original Sanskrit and applying it to our own experience. The Sutra describe three sources of valid truth or correct understanding: direct experience, deductive reasoning and reliance on an authoritative text or teacher. In Satsang we cross-reference all three, taking the Yoga Sutra as our text and breaking it open with examples from our personal life experience.

It is when we find the teachings resonating in our own lives that we recognize truth and can apply it to our personal growth.

The Sanskrit language can be challenging at first, but with some practice and repetition, we develop a level of comfort and a sense of play in rolling the syllables around in our mouths, as we also allow the words to play on our consciousness. Students often quickly find a seemingly random Sanskrit word or chant dancing around their minds or appearing in their dreams, inviting a deeper engagement.

Yoga is the intentional calming and quieting of the turbulent and stormy nature of our mind, knowing that only then can our true nature shine through. The path is laid out before us, as a step by step process of slowly becoming more aware of our own patterns and tendencies, so that we can move more intentionally. In Satsang, we explore the teachings as well as our own habits of mind and methods for becoming more aware and intentional, in a supportive circle of fellow seekers.

We conclude the morning with pranayama (breathing practices), and meditation including hand mudras before and after meditation. We allow the blessings and reflections of our morning practice to settle into the deeper layers of our awareness.

I chime the bells to signal the end of meditation and we close with a final Om. As we finish our weekly satsang, students begin to arrive for the asana class, the lights go up, the energy heightens, and the next week of activity at PPY begins supported by the deeper intention of all the students and teachers, to awaken to the truth of who we really are.

Blessings, Sherry Cassedy.

 

 

Pleasure Point’s Satsang is a unique (and free) opportunity to delve deeper into the esoteric teachings of Yoga in the company of one another. It is a great introduction for anyone who is curious to learn more, and a open invitation to revisit and share in the supported space of the Sangha as we deepen our practice.

As we approach another turn of seasons, Sherry will continue with Monday morning satsang and offer an additional evening Satsang celebration of the Spring Equinox on Monday evening April 4, 7:15 to 8:30 p.m. We hope this will allow students who are unable to join in the morning Satsang, the opportunity to come together in community to explore the natural connections between our experience, the world around us and the worlds within. Come dive in!

Nov
13
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Embracing Chores

Embracing Chores
By: Aimee Joy Nitzberg

The way I remember the Zen teaching, it goes like this:IMG_3362

Before Enlightenment, chop wood and carry water
After Enlightenment, chop wood and carry water

I’ve shortened this down to one of my (sort of) slang mantras: chopping wood and carrying water. It reminds me to be present. My yoga practice relies on many different tools to practice increased presence and awareness. Asana is what started it all for me. Coming from an athletic background allowed me to understand the language of the practice through the body, with breath and concentration. Now, finding discipline to spend more time meditating, saying mantras, sitting in stillness is often necessary to deepen my practice.

At the end of October, I was feeling very agitated in my mind. I had a lot of fear and anxiety coming up. I was applying all of my yoga powers to try to face it with wisdom and grace, but I was not feeling any relief from my stress. I couldn’t sleep at night, and my digestive system began acting up.

chopwoodAnd then on Halloween, the 31st, my boyfriend and I moved a whole bunch of firewood from a friend’s house to ours. A storm was coming on Sunday, so it was a good time to grab the wood while it was dry. We worked all day, in a steady and rhythmic groove, in a flow. At the end of the day our muscles were tired, we felt spent and ordered pizza and drank beer. The next morning we woke up and got back to work, this time we had a trailer to use and already had become more efficient in how we moved the piles. I was feeling the exhilaration of being back in my body and less in my head. There was finally relief to the drone of negative anxiety that had been plaguing me. I could breathe again. Moving stacks of wood. All day. Carrying. Loading. Unloading. Stacking. Chopping wood and carrying water. We stacked the very last bit of wood just as the raindrops began, before a big snow.

United in a common goal of staying warm for the winter and making our work as fun as possible, it was great way to spend time with my boyfriend. We even did some yoga along the way including: handstands against trees, downward dogs leaning on the truck’s tailgate, chest openers and shoulder stretches, deep breaths and even some belly-laughs. Yoga powers come in all shapes and forms. Deep and subtle spiritual healing can take place when we are open to the variety of opportunities that might present themselves like cleaning, washing dishes, laundry, chopping vegetables, conserving water, breathing and meditating with it all.FullSizeRender(2)

Now we start our mornings with a fire in the wood-burning stove, and it feels like a sun-salutation: a gesture of gratitude for another day, beginning with light and heat. There is deeper connection and appreciation for the wood, we remember touching it before. Yoga is a practice of remembering what you already know.

Before enlightenment, chop wood and carry water
After enlightenment, chop wood and carry water

What is Yoga…Really?
by Ashlea Hartz, N.C., RYT

photo 2When your friend asks you to join them for a yoga class you might jump with joy searching for your mat, or cringe at the mere thought of contorting your body into odd shapes with a room full of strangers. The practice of yoga can take on many forms here in the US, most of which would be unrecognizable to the ancient gurus of India where the science was first born. So as I started to plan my upcoming beginner series at Pleasure Point Yoga, I remembered back to my first trials and explorations into the practice over a decade ago – leading me to dive back into my study and ask myself the question, “what is yoga….really?”

The first definition of yoga that I ever heard, and a very popular translation, is as follows: yoga means union. The root word in the ancient Indian language of Sanskrit is yuj, which can mean to yoke, to unite, to meet or to bring two things together. I like this meaning in reference to asana: our physical practice of yoga that happens on the mat. For this we use the 90 minute class to unite our body and breath.

The breath in yoga is known as prana, which means energy or life force. This makes sense scientifically since oxygen is needed to fuel our cells and create all the energy we use in the body to pump our heart and move our legs. As you bring attention to the breath when you first sit down, you may find that you haven’t even thought about it all day long. Our busy, modern days are full of meetings, smartphones and multitasking, and many of us have forgotten how to breathe consciously. As we practice yoga postures, our goal is to keep a long steady breath throughout the movements. This challenges us to be present in our body as we sync with our breath and allow the two to fall into a rhythmic dance that brings a sense of calm and ease to our often hectic days.

It was this rhythm and dance of body and breath that first drew me to the practice of yoga – and soon I was hooked. At the time I was in my early 20’s, just a kid, and all alone fighting photo 3my way into a career in New York City. I found that when I entered the studio, the music started and we began to flow, it was like I was being transformed. The noise that filled my head slowly started to fade. I felt at home in the space, and began to feel at home in my body.

Living in New York, I was able to attend some outstanding classes with teachers who opened my eyes to a new way of moving, breathing and thinking. These teachers left an impact on my soul, and pointed me in a direction that allowed me to explore and deepen my practice at my own pace. I quickly learned that yoga is not about stretching, it’s not about sweating, it’s not even about what happens on the mat. At the very essence, yoga is about the connection you have with your breath.

With nearly fifteen years of (often inconsistent and far from perfect) practice, yoga has taught me so much about myself and the world that connects us all. It wasn’t until just this year that a few words struck a deep chord as if they were words coming from a teacher of ancient yoga –  I was in a basic class, enjoying an easy flow but worrying about the pain in my hip or the work assignment I had to finish –  when the sweet teacher said,”all you have to do today is breathe, and take care of yourself.”

That’s it. That is yoga in its own true splendor. Stripping away the noise of the world and resting in the sound of your own breath as you sit inside a body that you care for every day. That’s what it’s all about, really.

Written by Kayla Copeland

How much do you love avocados? Well, this amazing little fruit just got about 10 times better. Before you throw away the seed of the next avocado you slice open for your midday snack… Did you know that the seed of the avocado is one of the most nutritious and often thrown out parts of this superfood? But how on earth, you ask, do you get to this nutrient packed center without completely sacrificing that glorious new blender. We’ll get to that I promise….but first this might amaze you:

Avocados themselves boast some pretty amazing superfood capabilities for our health. The seed however, may surprise you.

Over 70% of the total antioxidant capacity of avocados is found within the seed.

Pennsylvania State University recently launched a study on the benefits of avocado seeds and found the phonetic antioxidant compounds in the seeds may lower high cholesterol, high blood pressure, reduce inflammatory conditions, diabetes, and boost your immunity. The seeds even have insecticidal, fungicidal, and anti-microbial properties.

Avocado Seeds:

Reduce Inflammation and Ease Joint Pain

Optimal for Digestive Health – Avocado seeds have been used for ages in South America to treat GI tract issues. Studies show that one avocado seeds contains more fiber per ounce than almost any other food on our planet – assisting in weight loss and boosting digestive health.

Destroys Cancer Cells – the University of Antioquia, in Medellin, Columbia found that extract of avocado seed (Haas variety) had a pro-apoptotic effect on leukemia cells. The extract caused cells to self destruct and left the normal cells healthy and stable. Avocado seeds contain flavonol, a powerful antioxidant that helps to prevent or reduce tumor growth.

Banish Cravings and Shed Fat – avocado seeds are packed with fiber which helps us feel fuller sooner and for longer amounts of time. These seeds also help to control blood sugar levels which can help you feel steady throughout the day without crashing from junk food snacks.

Radiant Glowing Skin – Avocados and their seeds work wonders for hair, skin, and nails. Their potent antioxidants actually rebuild collagen, repair cell damage, caused by free radicals, and actually improve the look and feel of your skin – making hair shinier and skin softer.

That, to me, is reason enough!

How to get to the Seed:

It is actually much easier than you would think. After you remove the seed from your lovely avocado, let the seed dry on the counter for 1-3 days (depending on climate), it will then begin to crack. When the seed is just dry enough, cut it in half along the crack using a sharp knife (be careful!) then cut each piece in half again so that your blender will have a much easier time. Avocado seeds are a really yummy addition to any smoothie and adds a nice creamy texture. Here is a recipe for you to play with! Have fun!

 

Summer Morning Avocado Seed Smoothie:

•1/2 banana

•1 avocado seed

•1/2 cup mixed berries (blueberries, strawberries, blackberries – always use what is in season when you can!)

•1/4 mango

•4 kale leaves

•mix with coconut milk and a little water

•top off with shelled hemp seeds for an added bonus!

sources:

Daily Super Food Love: A Superfood Locked within a Seed http://dailysuperfoodlove.com/4448/the-surprising-benefits-of-avocado-seeds/

FitFork: avocado image

delaney chef

Photo: Michelle Grambeau

As we move deeper into the core of summer, we often reflect on the past and are asked to shed light on the dormant spaces within. This is a crucial time for transition, a natural occurrence in life, and we might find ourselves feeling the need to enlighten these spaces within us with change. Change is a scary word, but transitions in life are vital and will happen especially if they are needed dramatically.

It is easy to get comfortable with a relative ritual that we practice everyday that is so important to our health yet we don’t always realize it, such as the simple yet complex act of eating foods. It is amazing how much easier these natural transitions in life can become when we eat properly.

Have you felt sluggish? Felt that something is out of balance, but you just cant put your finger on it? Confused about where to look for answers in terms of your health and energy? Feeling like you need a conscious change?

I am a recent graduate of Bauman College; I’ve obtained my Holistic Nutrition Consultant Certificate and have plans to help people answer these questions. This July, I will be teaching a Holistic Nutrition Seminar containing four FREE classes surrounding nutrition, how to bring mindfulness from the mat to the table with four subjects of topic:

  • The difference between healthy eating and eating for YOUR health
  • How to obtain optimal energy and feel great
  • Reduce inflammation with Allergy free eating
  • Sustainable nutrition: a healthy planet is a healthy you

We will begin with a short orientation, pranayama, some yoga asana and then the discussion topic. There will be a snack provided based on the topic for that day and there will be handouts to be completed for the purpose of reflection and so that I can get to know you on a personal, individual level. Come to one or two, if you cant make all, but the seminar I guarantee will benefit those who commit to all four classes. There will be weekly “Challenges” and we will discuss successes and difficulties surrounding these challenges.

Delaney Photo Set-4-June 09, 2015

Photo: Michelle Grambeau

One participant will have the opportunity to work with me one-on-one, and all participants will receive my contact information for future consultation opportunity.

What can you expect to receive from this seminar?

  • An enlightened reflection on our response to foods.
  • How mindfulness in our yoga practice reflects mindfulness when fulfilling our health through nutrition.
  • How to reduce the physical and mental stress of what to eat, why to eat, when to eat, and how much to eat.
  • What are SOUL foods, and why they benefit the earth and in turn, us.
  • Learn how to commit to health and release years of pain, suffering and regret.

I hope to see you this July. Please sign up ahead of time!

Our wonderful Lisa Krigsman of Pleasure Point Yoga connects with Wanderlust Events to bring you a local yoga event this weekend at Hallcrest Winery in Felton, Ca – Saturday June 20th. Aimee Joy Nitzberg will lead us through a sweet yoga flow from 11am to 12noon. Event includes light fare, wine, and raffle (including a free 4 day pass to Wanderlust -a $495 value). All proceeds go to One Heart World-Wide and Seva benefiting Nepal! Here Lisa writes of her inspiration:

As a Wayfarer for Wanderlust I was tasked to host a yoga, pre-Wanderlust themed event. At first this task seemed extremely daunting because I am not a yoga teacher and an unknown in the Santa Cruz yoga community. However, I am person who is passionate about yoga and have enjoyed my time up in Squaw at past Wanderlust Festivals. What is a girl to do? Then, I went down to LA for a Wanderlust 108 5k, yoga, meditation event. This is where things really got put into motion. MC Yogi was one of the teachers and he spoke of a movement within the yoga community to unite and raise funds for the earthquake victims of Nepal.

This really spoke to me because I am also very active in a local chapter of an organization called Dining for Women. Dining for Women (https://diningforwomen.org/) is a global giving circle that funds grassroots programs working in developing countries inspiring, educating and engaging people to invest in grassroots programs who are making a meaningful difference for women and girls living in extreme poverty in developing countries.

Now, how do I get people to come together to do yoga and raise funds for Nepal when, again, I am not a yoga teacher? I also wondered how I could reach out to yogis and non-yogis alike for a successful event.  I was contemplating this quandary with a friend one weekend while wine tasting and the biggest light bulb went off: yoga, wine, fundraising- brilliant! Now I had to find a yoga teacher and a winery. Since finding Pleasure Point Yoga, via Janet Stone at my first Wanderlust Festival, I have spent my early mornings with Aimee Joy Nitzberg. She has opened up a new path of yoga to me and I am forever grateful.  The beauty and space at Hallcrest Vineyards was the first place that came to mind when this idea occurred. The generosity and support from the owners Lorraine and John helped seal this event into place.

For those who do not know, Wanderlust Festivals bring together a remarkable group of yoga and meditation instructors, musical performers, speakers, artists and chefs for transformational retreats in the world’s most awe-inspiring places. This is an experience that gets into your mind, body and soul. The core mission ofWanderlust is to create community around mindful living which is a conscious, value-based approach to leading a sane & healthy life. This event will focus on a few of Wanderlust simple principles: Practice Yoga – Practicing yoga helps clear the mind, tone the body, and heal the spirit. Aimee Joy Nitzberg will lead us through an outdoor yoga experience in the beautiful Santa Cruz Mountains. Eat (and Drink) Well – We are what we eat.  The best way to support local community is to support local farms and purchase organic, sustainably grown products whenever possible. Plan to come for the yoga but stay for the wonderful Hallcrest and Organic Wine Works wine. Create Awareness – There are many challenges facing us today, but none as big as those faced by the people currently living in Nepal. On April 25th 2015, a 7.8 magnitude earthquake struck Nepal with a 7.3 magnitude aftershock on May 12.  While the media has come and gone, there is still a lot of needed help. All proceeds from this event will be donated to One Heart World-Wide (www.oneheartworld-wide.org) and Seva (www.seva.org), two mindful organizations doing amazing things for the people of Nepal.

Part of this fundraiser is due to the generosity of the community. There will be great raffle prizes at this event from local businesses, including a four day pass to Wanderlust Squaw, July 16 – 19, 2015 (a $495 value).

Eastern Insights: Oil Pulling
Written by: Kayla Copeland

There’s a lot of talk about oil pulling these days. It seems this age-old practice is making a come back & for good reason! Oil pulling is an oral hygiene technique which first originated over 3,000 years ago in India. The process is done by using a tablespoon of coconut oil (sesame and olive oil are also fine too) and swishing it in the mouth for 15-20 minutes (a minimum of 5 mins) pulling it between the teeth. Sounds kinda funny, huh? I know but keep reading. The benefits range from healthier gums & whiter teeth all the way to weight loss and increased energy.

So, how does this happen? What is the oil doing exactly? When we swish the oil around in the mouth – or, pull oil rather – the plaque and and millions of bacteria, fungi, viruses and other toxins get pulled out by the oil, leaving before they even get a chance to spread throughout the body. Neat! When combined with flossing regularly there will be no need to worry about cavities or gum diseases. Plus, oil pulling works as natural teeth whitening removing stains in the process.

About a week ago, I went to visit my dentist for a routine teeth cleaning and they asked me what on earth I was doing. Oil pulling is such a part of my daily routine that it took me a while until they asked me if I had ever heard of it. There it is – I guess it really does work. No cavities, healthy gums, and white teeth. Sounds good to me. The fact of it is is that I actually feel like it’s working. I can tell the extra energy boost it gives me throughout my day, healthier & overall cleaner teeth, and the detoxifying that is going on.

With yoga, we are always becoming more efficient, more alive, and more radiant in our bodies and minds. Like yoga, this practice is a gateway to health and well being. Why not give it a try.

To safely practice oil pulling:

  • use 1 tablespoon of oil (sesame, coconut, or olive oil) I use coconut
  • swish for 15-20 minutes or however long possible
  • be cautious NOT to swallow any of the oil by accident as it contains harmful bacteria
  • do 3-5 days a week if possible or even everyday. if this is difficult, begin with 1 day a week and gradually build up to 2

Here are some of the TOP REASONS for making oil pulling part of your daily routine:

  1. A brighter and whiter smile
  2. Healthier teeth and gums
  3. Increases energy
  4. Clear skin
  5. Improves digestion
  6. Weight loss
  7. Promotes normal sleep patterns
  8. Beneficial to liver & kidneys

So, I encourage you to give it a try! Notice the days that you do it and the days that you don’t – whether there is a difference at all in how you feel. Write it down. Check in with yourself after a month and see how you feel!

Enjoy!

HANDMADE ☼ ORGANIC ☼ HEALING SALVE ☼
written by: Shar’ron Strasser

love bug

photo: shindig photography

This is my Love Bug Salve!

It’s a great salve for all of you highly active and outdoor adventurers, Whom Will be Camping and Spending much time Around Bugs.

It is has multiple uses and has sure come in handy in my first aid kit and household and car. We spend much of our time as a family Camping and outdoors exposing our family to many mosquitoes and bugs. My daughter has major skin reactions Mosquitoes. So I wanting to protect her while keeping her exploring what we all love most: NATURE – I created this salve we all Call LOVE BUG. It has a beeswax and Calendula olive oil Base. Calendula is used in everything from lip balms, tinctures, wound washes and oils because of it is safe for children and animals. It is wonderfully gentle and powerful. If I am dealing with a skin issue, calendula is one of my go-to herbs. Even minor irrationals such as tomatoes rashes, or even your baby’s Diaper Rash.

This affinity for the sun shows us that calendula embodies certain qualities. It shines light and warmth where it is needed. Energetically, it is warm and both dry and moisturizing (being neutral in regards to moisture). Therefore, calendula has a special use for swollen, hot, painful and pus-filled tissue. Great for Blemishes and old Scaring.

calendula flower hand

photo: shindig photography

Generally, the flowers are recommended for use, though I’ve experienced medicinal properties in the leaves as well. If you can grow calendula, investigate the leaves. They are resinous and almost sticky in texture and have a strong aroma, indicating that they hold valuable medicine.

This salve can be used on the flowing: It has antiseptic, antibacterial and antiviral properties making it ideal for cuts, wounds and for healing piercings. Any other lacerations, hang nails, bedsores, irritated rashes will benefit from using calendula. It’s Great for prevention of Mosquito’s or on there bites.

All my salves are made in very small batches, with the highest quality ingredients. This salve is made with organic homegrown calendula from my own yard, that has been hand harvested by me (and my six year old)

As always the herbs used have been all been proceed by my working hands. The beeswax is from five houses up my road. As written before: All very Local and There is loads of love in this medicine.

Thank you for looking, be well! Thank you and supporting handmade.

**These statements have not been evaluated by the Drug administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, cure or treat any disease**