• Interview with Angelique Sandas

     I practice to learn about who I am, why I am that way, and to become the best version of myself that I possibly can. I teach because this practice has been so significant for me and I believe it can also be beneficial for others, I have to share what I know! I feel obligated to help make the practice available to all who seek it, it is my duty and honor.

    Describe your personality in three words. 

    Task-master. Nurturer. Seeker.

    Where are you from and/or where do you live? 

    I grew up in the MidWest but have lived in South Florida for a while, now specifically West Palm Beach

    How long have you been practicing yoga and why did you start practicing yoga?

    My first experiences with yoga were whiles studying dance in college. I became a committed practitioner around 2002 when dealing with a deeply broken heart.

    What is yoga to you?

    Yoga is a method of developing self- awareness so that you can choose self-transformation.

    How did you feel after your first yoga class and how do you want students to feel after they practice with you?

    I took several yoga classes in different techniques with different teachers until I found the one that fit.  I truly believe there is a method, an environment, a teacher that is right for each of us and we only need to keep seeking until we find that match.  I want people who come to my class to feel inspired to find their practice, or if they find it with me, to feel supported, to feel like they found something special that works for them.

    What impact has yoga had on your life? Who were you before you started practicing and how have you changed, evolved and transformed?

    For me, the results we at first obvious – I saw myself becoming for thoughtful, more conscious of those around me and my actions. Then, as time moved and I continued to practice, the effect fas more subtle but no less profound. It’s one of those things you don’t realize is happening until you get some perspective to look back, or are tested in some way and see that you are behaving differently,  or are thinking differently about a thing. You ove through your world with more consideration, with more empathy and connection, with more strength and acceptance, with more awareness and intuition.

    Join Angelique’s LIVE classes on Omstars

    Why did you decide to start teaching yoga and what makes a good yoga teacher?

    I really do feel like this has been a sort of calling for me. My experience in dance, teaching dance and choreography, my natural interests in the body, psychology, etc – it all led to yoga. within a year of committing to my practice, I knew I would teach. I honestly can’t imagine any other path. What makes a good teacher? That is so hard to answer. I could dig in and it would take days to get all of my thoughts down on paper – and in the end it might not mean much to anyone but me. Generally a good teacher is also a student. Through our own practice we learn so much. We learn also from each student we interact with. A good teacher has to always be willing to adjust as they receive new data. We can’t know everything and we can’t possibly know what we don’t know. As soon as a teacher thinks they have nothing else to learn, they have lost something.

    What style of yoga do you practice and what makes that style most effective? Do you have a teacher in your style of yoga?

    I practice and teach Ashtanga Yoga. The Mysore method in particular is a very independent way of practice, while at the same time allows for a deeper teacher student relationship to develop. This relationship provides the basis of trust for a student to be willing to challenge themselves, to venture into new territory, to face unknowns. That is where the growth lies. I mostly self-practice these days but I do consider my teachers to be Kino MacGregor who I worked closely with for many years, and Paramaguru R Sharath Jois, the current head of the lineage, who I try to practice with as regularly as I can!

    What has been your biggest struggle and your biggest milestone in the practice? 

    My biggest struggle is also my biggest milestone. Becoming a mother. Motherhood was ego-annihilating. And that really what we are trying to do in yoga right? Become aware of the trappings of our ego-self, the limiting labels, the attachments and aversions, the boxes. Motherhood shatters all of it. All of the ways you identified to be “self” become distorted or cease to exist all-together. I navigated those early days of motherhood as I tried to regain some sense of self on the yoga matt and it all failed, over and over again, until I realized that I was trying to be something I no longer was. I had to surrender to a new way of being and this opened up so much by way of my yoga practice. While my physical capabilities seemed atrophied, my yoga became stronger.

    What is yoga favorite yoga pose and why? And what’s your least favorite yoga pose and why?

    Generally I enjoy deep back bends – they are intensely liberating. Strength postures are always challenging and I don’t enjoy them much – especially if they are new.

    What has been the most inspirational moment you’ve experienced as a yoga student?

    I am inspired by my teachers and fellow practitioners. This community of people is incredible.

    And how about as a teacher?

    I am constantly inspired by what I observe in my students, their experiences with this practice. I see people discovering themselves everyday – that’s amazing!

    Practice with Angelique on Omstars

    Why do you practice? Why do you teach?

    I practice to learn about who I am, why I am that way, and to become the best version of myself that I possibly can. I teach because this practice has been so significant for me and I believe it can also be beneficial for others, I have to share what I know! I feel obligated to help make the practice available to all who seek it, it is my duty and honor.

    What’s your favorite yoga quote or mantra?

    My favorite changes depending in what I am going though, where I am in my practice, or in life. One that has stayed with me for a long time and comes from a former teacher is “If it is challenging, growth is inevitable” Another comes from Nisargadatta Maharaj “I am that” So simple and so vast.

    What is the single most defining issue facing the global yoga community today?

    The desire/effort to define what yoga is. Can it be defined in a way that suits everyone’s understanding? I don’t know, can it?

    What’s the most embarrassing thing that has ever happened to you as a student and as a teacher?

    I’ve had so many falls and crashes and “fails” as a student that those events all blend together in my memory and no longer have the power to embarrass me. Same as a teacher – I have made many missteps, numerous. At this point I try to only learn from them and move on. There is no one major embarrassing thing that comes to mind.

    Do you have any recommended yoga reading?

    Specific suggestions would depend on the type of interest the reader has. First identify yourself as someone who is interested in philosophy, history, biographical stories, yoga as healing, anatomy and kinesiology, etc. There are so many branches of learning available within this practice and nowadays, there is so much material out there.

    What is your dharma, your life mission?

    Healing. I consider yoga to be a practice of healing, and as a teacher it is my purpose to facilitate that process and effort for my students.

    What advice would you give to someone who is just starting out on their yoga journey?

    There is a practice for everyone. If you are not sure where you fit, keep trying classes, teachers, studios, until you feel supported and inspired. There is a yoga for you, a practice that will feel right and there you will begin to receive the benefits.

    Are there any current projects you’re working on that you can tell us about?

    I’m currently excited about my new Live class on Plankk Studio App with Omstars! It is a beginner’s journey into Ashtanga Yoga Primary Series and I am having a lot of fun with it! I love breaking things down and looking deeply into the intelligence of the practice. I am also working with some fellow Mama yoga teachers in my community to establish supportive workshops and classes for new moms. Getting back into a yoga practice after having a children can be daunting – not to mention the challenges of simply adjusting to a life of motherhood! We are reaching out to support women – it takes a village! I am also going to be beginning a series of clinics with teachers working on asana adjustment training. I love working with other teachers so I’m really looking forward to it.

    Watch Seek Up interview with Kino and Angelique

    Aside from your fantastic course on Omstars, do you have a favorite class that you’d like to share?

    I actually really love some of the non-practice features of Omstars. The travel, food, fashion, and especially, the interviews. We all come to a yoga practice and yogic lifestyles with our own stories. Sharing these stories is a wonderful way to feel connected.

    By Angelique Sandas

  • I Felt the Power of Yoga

    Yika’al. It is possible. I decided to be more creative with my English activities.  One of the activities I came up with was teaching English through yoga.

    Sometime after graduating college, I decided I wanted to serve in the United States Peace Corps (pronounced “core” not “corpse”). Please note: Omstars is not affiliated with the United States Peace Corps or the United States Government. Serving in the Peace Corps means committing yourself to living two years in a community abroad, typically a developing country, building capacity and exchanging ideas and experiences. And of course, promoting peace.

    You integrate as best as you can by immersing yourself in the language and culture and make lifelong friends.  In May 2011, I stepped off the plane in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. After studying the northern language, Tigrinya, for several months and living with a host family, I was sent to a rural town of about 16,000 people to teach English and pedagogy at a college of teacher education.

    Over the course of my first year there, I ran around in so many directions trying to make things happen. There were times I held workshops and no one came. There were times I asked for colleagues to support me and no one did. There were times I put things on the schedule, only to learn there was a holiday I didn’t know about. It was hard, but with every failure, I learned how to improve. I learned how best to communicate to the students. I learned which people to work with. I learned which customs were most respected. Finally, the most important thing I learned was that, not everyone wants your help, and that’s completely fine.

    As I started my second year, I decided to be more creative with my English activities.  One of the activities I came up with was teaching English through yoga. I had dabbled in some yoga classes before I joined the Peace Corps, and felt confident I could at least talk about the shapes. I was still nervous to do the presentation, but one phrase that kept me going. Yichalal, spoken by the famous marathon runner Haile Gebrselassie, means, “It is possible.” There’s a sense of optimism among Ethiopians that’s contagious. The day I gave the presentation, we didn’t have yoga mats and I didn’t know how to really instruct students to flow, but it was fun to make the poses and laugh together. The presentation was so successful that my colleague Yikuno and I agreed we should repeat the yoga classes. He suggested we take it outside to the soccer field.

    I will never forget the day I led our students through the poses with the backdrop of the mighty mountains behind us. I think this is the first moment I felt the power of yoga. I realized it was greater than all of us. Suddenly the female students felt like they had a place among the male students. All students could make poses, let their breath guide them, and be a part of the beautiful practice of yoga. Yoga transcends language, geography, culture, and identity.

    By Ally Born

    Ally is a yogi, runner, Ironman triathlete, and a former competitive swimmer and water polo player. She started running after earning her bachelor’s degree and has now completed five marathons. She served in the U.S. Peace Corps in Ethiopia for two years and returned to the states to complete her master’s degree in international educational development. While job-hunting, she dabbled in yoga challenges on Instagram with Kino MacGregor and fell in love with the practice of Ashtanga yoga. During the following year, she earned her 200-hour level yoga teaching certification. Over the last couple years, she has been fortunate to have trained with several authorized Ashtanga instructors, including Kino and Harmony Slater. She truly believes that yoga is for everyone and loves teaching it. When she’s not on her mat, she can be found training for triathlons, traveling, and researching. Keep in touch with Ally on Instagram.

  • Create a Soul Inspired Intention

    The first thing that we need to know is, that desire to fulfill our desires is part of the soul’s nature.

    In Sanskrit the word for intention, or resolve, is Sankalpa. We are going to be talking about Sankalpa Shakti, how to give power to our intentions. The first thing that we need to know is, that desire to fulfill our desires is part of the soul’s nature. According to the Vedic scriptures, your soul is born with four desires.

    Dharma
    The desire for dharma, or purpose. A destiny, to have a fulfilled life.

    Artha
    The desire for artha, or the means to fulfill your desires. And that doesn’t only include material wealth, but it also covers health and security of housing and everything that you need in order to fulfill your desires.

    Kama
    We also are born with the desire for kama, or pleasure in all of its forms, earthly and spiritual. And it’s for pleasure and enjoyment of everything that life has to offer.

    Moksha
    And then Moksha, the desire for liberation, to be free. And that includes freedom in the world and freedom from the world. The ultimate spiritual freedom.

    Let your heart tell you, which of these four desires will help me fulfill my purpose. Which of these four desires, in the next 6 to 12, or 18 months, move me closer toward the goal of who and what I am meant to be in this world. And without letting your daily functioning mind get in the way, just simply trust your heart. You might see that one of the four desires is shimmering, or brighter, or more attractive to you, and just trust that, that is the desire that needs to be focused on for the next 6 to 12, or 18 months.

    Continue this lesson with Inge on Omstars

    By Inge Sengelmann

    Inge Sengelmann, LCSW, SEP, RYT-500 is an embodiment specialist and integrative psychotherapist licensed in Florida and Colorado (Florida Lic. # SW9606; Colorado Lic. # CSW09923364). She delights in helping people connect with their intrinsic self-regulation and inherent inner wisdom through meditation practices and somatic psychology. As a Somatic Experiencing® practitioner, Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) specialist, and tantric hatha yoga teacher, she treats the effects of acute and chronic stress on psyche and body to restore the person’s innate capacity to heal. Weaving the latest developments in the field of neuroscience with the ancient wisdom of yoga, Inge develops skillful awareness practices that help people embody their lives in a more fulfilling way, renegotiating past trauma by reestablishing a strong relationship to safety in the present moment. http://www.embodyyourlife.org/

  • Moon Day – May 4th New Moon

    Sun in Taurus ~ Moon in Taurus 14º.  Saturday, May 4 at 6:45 pm EST. We’re kicking off the month of May with an astrological event that’s all about new beginnings: a new moon. Every New Moon is your opportunity to complete a chapter and start a new one. This New Moon is in Taurus, and Taurus is the producer of the zodiac that’s all about groundedness, pleasure, and indulgence.
    Taurus has this uncanny ability to turn something ephemeral like an idea, into something real. The New Moon in Taurus is a time to get focused and produce! It’s time to get real.

    Take this cycle to remind yourself of how deserving you are of feeling powerful and sensual and grounded and do whatever feels right for you. Anything that engages your senses and your physical body, like massage, aromatherapy, and indulgent food.  Reassessing what can be tweaked about your daily routine to make it more supportive and nourishing is a great thing to consider during this new moon. You may wish to perform a grounding exercise on this night to channel the restorative and stabilizing energies of this moon phase. Meditate on what pleasure means to you and how you might attract more of it to create more balance in your body and spirit.

    Now is a fertile time to set intentions around your commitment to become more aware, responsible, proactive and present. Work with the questions of who, where, what and with whom as an exercise to focus your awareness of where you are in your life right now. If you get clarity regarding a needed change, move into that change with ease and grace.  This new moon is unique because it occurs so close to May 1, the holiday of Beltane or May Day. It’s the midpoint between spring and summer, a time of fertility, abundance, and warmth. Taurus is a Venus-ruled Earth sign, the hedonist of the zodiac that’s all about the physical. This new moon, merging with the energy of Beltane especially, really gives us the chance to make pleasure and embodiment our priority.

    This new moon is grounded and offers a chance to accept change as the norm rather than a random act. As you become more aware of your process of growth, you have also become aware of a new sense of stability that comes from within instead of relying on the known and familiar aspects of your external environment.  The good news is that May is much more upbeat than April! It is not that May is less intense – with a Full Moon in Scorpio and with Mercury and Venus conjunct Uranus – we will for sure have our share of fun! May will be intense, but it will undoubtedly be less heavy.

    May also comes with some fantastic opportunities.  If there is one word to describe the month of May, that is opportunity. Why so?

    • In May we have Uranus and Venus (the father and the daughter) together in Taurus – for the first time in 80 years!
    • Mercury will also be conjunct Uranus in Taurus again, for the first time in 80 years.
    • We have an intense Full Moon in Scorpio opposite the fixed star Algol.
    • And we’re also in the middle of the Mercury cycle, with Sun conjunct Mercury at 0° Gemini. There is no better place for Mercury to be in; yes to Mercury!

    Beautiful, steady Taurus, you teach us to enjoy the riches of the Earth plane, to be resourceful, to know what we value, to dig in and work for what we want, to use the fertility all around us to create abundance, and to value stability, consistency, and loyalty. A fixed, earth sign, Taurus with the ruler ship of Venus, Goddess of Love (and pleasure) is a fertile combination to begin a new cycle. In this midpoint between spring and summer in the North (fall and winter in the Southern Hemisphere). Plants and animals are busy growing and reproducing, and gratitude is strong for our beautiful home planet. It’s a time to celebrate and dance and sing our joy to be alive and in a body.

    It’s a luscious time this Taurus New Moon cycle ruled by Venus. Make some tangible goals for bringing enjoyment through the body and for bringing more beauty into your life. Receive the abundance you are offered and honor your havingness and the resources you have accumulated. Send love and gratitude to Mother Earth, Gaia, Pachamama for all her gifts.

    By Danielle Hicks

    Danielle Hicks is an adventurer, writer, creator, and explorer of the unknown. RYT-200hr and longtime yoga practitioner, she came to Ashtanga Yoga right before embarking on a year-long van-life journey two years ago. Danielle is on cloud nine as she is an apprentice, assisting, and guiding others in their Mysore style practice at The Yoga Shala in Orlando, Florida. A zany magnetic off-beat intuitive Danielle is learning to share and embrace her side of the inner world. Cultivation of her fruits will be gifts to share as she is on the verge of something new. To read more about Danielle’s journey visit, elfeatheryoga.com @el.feather.yoga

  • Creamy Tomato Pasta with Devyn Howard

    The dish that I am making for you guys today is inspired by something that I loved when I studied abroad in Florence, Italy.

    It was a gnocchi rosa.  It was this creamy tomato sauce, so beautiful and full of flavor, but it had cream in it. So, it’s definitely something that I wouldn’t want to eat now. I decided that I needed to recreate this beloved dish of mine, and that’s how this creamy tomato pasta was born. The dish gets its creaminess from soaked cashews.

    Ingredients

    • 1 12-Oz. Can Crushed Tomatoes
    • 2 Red Bell Peppers
    • ½ Red Onion
    • 1 Clove Garlic
    • 5 Tablespoons Italian Seasoning
    • 1 14-Oz. Box of Vegan Pasta
    • 3 Tablespoons EVOO Salt
    • Pepper to Taste
    • Fresh Basil to Garnish
    • 1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
    • 1 Cup Soaked (overnight) Cashews

     

    Method

    In a pan, heat up the olive oil, the sauté the red bell peppers, onion, and garlic until the onion is translucent and the peppers and garlic are tender. Pour in the crushed tomatoes and their juices, mix everything together and then let simmer. Start a pot of water boiling for the pasta. In a blender, blend together the soaked cashews and ¾ cup of water until smooth and creamy. Add the pasta to the boiling water. Season the tomato and pepper mixture with salt, pepper, and the Italian seasoning. Then, add the blended cashew mixture to the tomato and pepper sauce, and mix together well until it’s creamy. Using a strainer, drain the pasta. Then add it to the sauce mixture. Toss well and serve.

    Continue cooking with Devyn on Omstars

    By Devyn Howard

    My name is Devyn Howard, and I am a vegan food blogger from San Diego, CA. At 11-years-old, I realized that it didn’t morally make sense for me to continue eating meat as I made the connection that the animals on my plate were the same animals I adored when they were alive. From that point on, I dedicated much of my life to promoting vegetarianism, veganism, and cruelty-free living. I’m eager to show the world that veganism can be incredibly easy, fulfilling, and delicious, even while traveling the world. I share restaurant recommendations from around the globe, proving that a cruelty-free lifestyle need not inhibit one’s experience in a new culture. Traveling from Asia, to Australia, through Europe, and the U.S. is always an exciting foodie adventure…even as a vegan! I’m currently based in Los Angeles, CA, and have plans to take over the world one plant-based plate at a time. Join me on my adventure! Connect with Devyn on Instagram. 

  • How to find your niche

     In today’s day and age, with social media, people really want to be able to connect to you on a personal level.

    It’s really important when you’re coming into your own as a yoga teacher, is really finding your voice, and finding what it is that is authentic about you. In today’s day and age, with social media, people really want to be able to connect to you on a personal level.

    So, as you start to mirror, and you start to think about your favorite yoga teachers out there, even though they say imitation is the greatest form of flattery, you want to be able to make sure that you’re not imitating too much.  And that you’re not watering down your true essence and who you truly are.

    What I’d encourage all new yoga teachers, and even existing yoga teachers, who are maybe struggling a little bit in their practice, or in their business, is take some time to really find your niche and connect to who your favorite yoga teachers are.

    Start to ask yourself different questions:

    • What is it that you like about this particular yoga teacher?
    • Is it their cues, is it their sequence?
    • Is it the music, maybe it’s just a simple playlist?
    • Is there an emotion, or something, that is tied to the way that they speak in their classes that you connect to?

    This is a moment where you really need to start thinking about how you want to be able to incorporate that into your own practice and throughout your teaching. No matter which way it is that you try to find your niche, the most important advice that I can give any yoga teacher, and any new aspiring yoga teacher, is to be genuine, be sincere, and always be yourself.

    Continue this Business of Yoga lesson with Sandy on Omstars

    By Sandy Fernandez

    Sandy Fernandez is a Mother, certified yoga teacher, clairvoyant, Financial Advisor and author of Karmic Currency Chakras and Money. She is now the President and Founder of Karmic Currency.  Sandy combines her many years of financial experience, with her talent and love for yoga and spirituality. These soul renewing practices have been a part of her life for over 6 years and have played a major role in helping her get through some of life’s most difficult hurdles. Yoga has allowed Sandy to grow stronger physically, and most importantly, mentally.

  • Maintaining Peace, Equanimity, and Authenticity

    I want to talk with you about what it means to maintain peace, equanimity, and authenticity in your walk in the world.

    As a yogi, it’s traditionally understood that you are held to a higher standard, which means that, as a yogi, you constantly have to tune back into yourself.  Maintaining an equanimeous mind and a compassionate open heart that simultaneously maintains the dual vows of what’s called in Sanskrit, Ahimsa, which means non-violence and truthfulness, or Satya.

    These two together will help you walk in the world, and truly live the yogi’s life. For it is not enough to only be truthful but you must also be compassionate.  And it is not enough only to be compassionate, for you must always be truthful. So, as a yogi in the world, it’s inevitable that you will come into contact with difficult situations, but you always have the benchmark of your daily practice.

    If you get on your mat everyday it will bring you back into your center, and if you don’t know how to act because you have interacted in the world or been stimulated by negativity, then the yogi’s teaching, or the yogi’s path, is to not act in anger. To not act out of jealously. To not act out of negativity, but instead, to remain calm, to redirect your mind back into the inner body until your mind maintains a calm and equanimous center.

    And only after the mind maintains a calm and equanimous center then compassionate, rightful action, that is simultaneously truthful and compassionate will be presented to you. And it will unfold almost like light shining on the path ahead.

    Continue this lesson with Kino on Omstars

     

    By Kino MacGregor

    Kino MacGregor is a world renowned yoga teacher, the youngest ever teacher to be certified in Ashtanga Yoga by Sri K. Pattabhi Jois, author of several yoga books, and the founder of OMstars.com

     

  • Balancing a Career and a Yoga Practice

    “I wish I had enough time for yoga.” How many times have you heard those words, or said them yourself?

    Something that I get asked about on a regular basis is how I’m able to keep the balance between a demanding career and a dedicated yoga practice. These questions come from both people that I work with, and people that I practice with. I am a medical doctor, specializing in obstetrics & gynaecology (OB/GYN), and my Ashtanga practice has me learning Intermediate Series. One thing that often prevents people from dedicating themselves to a daily practice is the perceived impossibility of fitting it into their already-crammed schedule. Certainly, before I started practicing yoga, I wondered how people had time for work, physical activities, volunteering, and socializing. These super-human individuals seemed to have more hours in the day than the rest of us mere mortals. I added yoga to my life over three years ago, from a previously sedentary and unhealthy lifestyle. Having seen both sides of the coin, I can tell you that it’s not possible to invent more hours in the day. That said, it is completely possible to manage a busy career and a demanding practice.

    As the yoga practice took hold in my mind and soul, what had been a weekly exercise became a daily practice. This process evolved over the course of about a year. I noticed that the more time I committed to yoga, the less time I devoted to other things. This natural evolution in my priorities is something that is ongoing. Going out for a big night isn’t something that interests me much anymore. Neither does staying up to date on the latest episode of Queer Eye. Don’t get me wrong; I don’t think there’s anything wrong with these things. Rather, I moved them down my list of priorities so far that they rarely happen anymore. Other things became more important: yoga, work, and a small circle of loved ones. One of the benefits of starting a physical practice from a place of inactivity is the abundance of new energy that comes along with it. So, while you might not be able create more hours in the day, you might be able to do more in the hours that are given to us. Prior to committing to a daily practice, I would often feel sluggish after work. Now, I look forward to getting on the mat, be it at home or in the shala.

    Along with working long hours, I also work unusual, irregular hours. This is something that I have learned to embrace. I get to be quite creative in my practice schedule. An Ashtanga practice lends itself well to this sort of flexibility of schedule. Did I really just say that, about the style of yoga most known for its disciplined structure? In a word, yes. However, I am forced to veer away from what tradition dictates, which is early-morning practice, 6 days a week. Evening practice suits me better, and is more sustainable for me. I often swap around moon days, which are meant to be days of rest, for other days to accommodate my schedule. Most importantly, I have a sequence that I can do anytime and anywhere, and there is power in that. If I’m in work until 9 pm, I can come home and do as much of my practice as I’m able for. If I’m doing one of my 24-hour-long, in-hospital shifts, I might get a chance to do a Surya Namaskar or two in the on-call room. Working a night shift? Get on the mat at home or in the shala in the morning.

    In addition to learning to be flexible with the times that I practice, I’ve expanded my definition of what practice is. Working in my career, I am regularly expected to be awake (and functioning!) for 24 hours in a go. This usually involves long hours standing, and doing physical work on my feet. These things naturally take a toll on my body. Some days my body is only able for the Surya Namaskar and the finishing postures. Other days, a full-power, long practice is what I need. Most days, it’s somewhere in between. In my early days of practicing Ashtanga, I would beat myself up if I didn’t have the capacity for a full practice everyday. I pushed and pushed, often to the point of injury. My type-A personality and need to achieve were something I had to confront on the mat. Learning to accept my limitations, and accept where I am any given day, has brought me a lot of peace. There will always be ebbs and flows of busy times at work and softer practices, to balance with less busy times and more energetic practices. It’s all practice!

    I’ve talked a lot about the physical practices of yoga, but that’s not all there is to yoga. Within the 8 limbs of yoga, we also have codes of conduct and personal disciplines, the yamas and niyamas. Applying these ethical guidelines to our day-to-day life is another important way of practicing yoga. I also like to think of my work as a form of karma yoga. That is, good work, done unselfishly, to benefit another, is a form of prayer. While I’ve written mostly on navigating the often-negative impact that a busy career can have on a yoga practice, there is a lot to be said for the impact that the practice has on career. In yoga practice, we are continuously being confronted by difficult situations, and are asked to sit with them. This brings up our stuff, whatever that may be. This can have manifold benefits. By unpacking our own demons, and challenging our habitual patterns of thinking, it’s natural to become more compassionate towards others. That pose that challenges us immensely might bring up anger, frustration, or sadness. We can now see that when someone at works acts in an unpleasant manner, they are really reacting to something within themselves. In knowing that, it is easier to address the negative behavior, and forgive the person. This way of thinking has changed the way I interact with colleagues and patients alike, for the better.

    I’ve also learned to extend this kindness and compassion, and what is essentially ahimsa, to myself too. Being more in tune with the body and mind has made me realize how badly I was – and often still am – abusing both in the name of work. Inadequate sleep, poor diet, less than ideal posture, negative self talk. All these things can easily happen when we put career first. However, the yoga practice continuously brings my awareness back to these habits, and challenges me to change them. Through the yoga practice, we become more resilient, and able to recover from failures. How many times have we failed on that difficult posture, only to try again tomorrow? Difficult situations arise in my line of work frequently, and being resilient is essential. Being present, empathetic, and kind in stressful situations are skills that can be learned. Being able to not become attached to the situation is often more difficult, but yoga helps us practice that. My way of approaching the yoga practice won’t work for everyone or every job. They are simply the things that I have learned over time. Hopefully something I’ve shared can help someone out there struggling to find time for the mat.

    Namaste.

    By Alison DeMaio

    Alison is a medical doctor, specialising in obstetrics and gynaecology in one of Ireland’s leading maternity hospitals. Originally from the Bluegrass state of Kentucky, she earned a bachelor’s degree in Biological Sciences in 2007. The following year she moved to Dublin where she completed a graduate medical degree at the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland. In her early years of working as a  doctor, Alison experienced a great deal of back pain and stress.  Yoga became a deeply transformative tool in both her physical and emotional healing. Alison is committed to her daily Ashtanga Mysore practice, despite the demands of a busy job. She has been fortunate to practice with some world-renowned teachers, and she is currently learning the Ashtanga Intermediate Series in the traditional method. Keep in touch with Alison (@ashtangi_ali) on Instagram.

     

  • Moon Day – April 5th New Moon

    The New Moon in Aries on April 5th,  at 15°, marks the beginning of a new cycle and is especially ripe with opportunity for new beginnings. The square to Saturn means you have to try hard and really want it. There can be no short cuts to success with this new moon. This new moon will help you identify any sadness, fears, or inhibitions that stand in your way of professional success or companionship.

    One of the traditional rules of interpreting new and full moons is to analyze the ruler of the sun in the new moon, or the moon in the full moon. For the Aries new moon, first, we go to the ruler of Aries, which is, Mars in Gemini. Multi-tasking is the first key to success. Then we look to Mercury, as Mars is in Gemini and is ruled by Mercury. Mercury is in Pisces; therefore, bring your imagination when pondering the how-to of any situation. Last, we look towards Jupiter in Sagittarius (The traditional ruler of Pisces is Sagittarius). Confidence and faith, along with moving outside of your comfort zone and expanding your knowledge, are the other components to manifesting this new moon cycle.

    Consider acting on a constructive impulse and following a hunch, or taking a risk. It’s time to take action. Try something new and innovative, and go at it with enthusiasm and confidence. Be assertive without being abrasive, taking charge of our lives. Start a brand new project, and discover our courage. Aries learns through experience and action so that we might treat ourselves to a little adventure.

    During this time we learn how to discriminate between what seems essential, and what is actually necessary. Through potent Aries energy, we re-evaluate our relationship to ourselves as we have the chance to make powerful changes in our lives. This is an excellent opportunity to re-examine the truth of how we’re living, what our intentions have been, and where they need to change, or remain the same. If something seems urgent, it doesn’t mean it is important. Make solid, yet, realistic plans to set the stage for reaping the rewards from our new beginnings, as little or big as they may be.

    We can also discover the benefits of expressing ourselves with authenticity, expressing as we are, without putting on airs. We might even find ways to learn how to rely on ourselves and to be happy about doing so.  It will go a long way towards finding inner happiness when we know that we can be self-sufficient without blaming others for not helping us out. It’s a time to revitalize ourselves through the experiences that dissolve routine and involve doing something different. The new moon in Aries is about taking a risk in something that you’ve wanted to try or do.

    Mars is in Gemini, and that relates to communication with the other. Whether that’s through conversation, networking, adventures, taking pictures, or creating art together, this is the perfect time of connection. Neptune (spiritual divine love) is in Venus (earthly love), and both of these elements combine beautifully.

    It is a first-quarter square to the planets of Saturn and Pluto. These two planets have a big reputation of pushing through obstacles and demanding that we let go of what no longer serves us. Aries is square (self-assertion) to Cancer (family) and Capricorn (professional life), and it’s opposite Mars in Gemini (partnership). These aspects of the Aries new moon can also challenge our relationship dynamic with family, partnerships, and career. You might find the need to create healthy boundaries for time and space this weekend, even though initially it may be hard to speak up for yourself.

    Our other aspect is the moon square to Saturn. With this, there may be some roadblocks surrounding our new beginnings. Our visions may not get off the ground as quickly as we’d like. It could be an external authority figure, overbearing partner, a boss, kids, parents, a police officer, etc. that wants to rain on your parade. You can relax knowing that it’s just the old school patriarchal system at play that says, you have to do this, think this way, and you cannot have your way. This will pass as we are in a rare window when none of the major planets/bodies are retrograde, and things may very well swim along after this check-in with reality.

    You will see that it’s a dance of push and pull with the north node of the moon in Cancer saying, I need to have my own rules, boundaries, space, and time. The energy of Capricorn in the south node of the moon says, I have to do what someone else wants, what someone else says, and complete prior commitments.

    To bring some release, Mars in Gemini is the right place to speak your truth and have that awkward conversation. Be clear in knowing yourself, trust your instincts, and honor the direction you are being called. It could be a time of breaking old traditions, commitments, contracts, jobs, laws, rules, and to make new commitments, jobs, laws, regulations that have more room for your creative self-expression of who you are now.

    You may find that April is very busy in your world and to be productive, you need to choose what is most meaningful to do with the time and energy that you have now. Aries is a cardinal sign, and that means to put yourself first. Be sure the initiatives you start now are in alignment with who you sincerely are, and with your sense of integrity.

    As we give and take we mold and shape a new reality. It doesn’t just fall into our laps, but it’s up to us to assert, trust, speak, listen, and cooperate. Mars in Gemini is where we figure out what we want and can do for others, but also learning how to say no with kindness. Aries is asking us to trust our instinct by connection to our solar plexus chakra through right action, intention, self-identity, and vitality. Sabian Symbol (words that correspond with each of the 360 degrees of the wheel of the zodiac) for the 16th degree of Aries: Nature Spirits are seen at work in the light of sunset. 

    Keynote: Attunement to the potency of invisible forces of nature. In the light of personal fulfillment (symbol of sunset and wisdom), man may be able to establish a life-giving contact with natural forces. When this Sabian symbol reaches into the consciousness of a man seeking meaning, it should be seen as an invitation to open his mind to the possibility of approaching life in a holistic and non-rational, intuitive manner. This is the first stage of the fourth five-fold sequence of cyclic phases. It implies a call to repotentialization. What this means is, the process of, becoming like a little child. Protect the inner child so that it stays open to the magical mystery.

    Be conscious and aware of becoming familiar with your frequency. Check in with yourself throughout the day and reset when you need. See if you can raise it by thinking of something that makes you happy, look at the sky, trees, a person, or love an animal. By choosing love we not only evolve individually, but collectively and this is where we’re going, but we have to be very conscious about it. Remember the inner child as you set your intentions this day.

    Happy new moon!

    By Danielle Hicks

    Danielle Hicks is an adventurer, writer, creator, and explorer of the unknown. RYT-200hr and longtime yoga practitioner, she came to Ashtanga Yoga right before embarking on a year-long van-life journey two years ago. Danielle is on cloud nine as she is an apprentice, assisting, and guiding others in their Mysore style practice at The Yoga Shala in Orlando, Florida. A zany magnetic off-beat intuitive Danielle is learning to share and embrace her side of the inner world. Cultivation of her fruits will be gifts to share as she is on the verge of something new. To read more about Danielle’s journey go here: elfeatheryoga.com @el.feather.yoga

  • Plant-based recipes for the holiday season

    Preparing a warm and delicious meal with family and loved ones this holiday season can be a wonderful time to reconnect, spend quality time together and to catch up on the year gone past. Although this time of year can one of indulgence, there are always ways to include healthy and equally scrumptious food options! Nourishing ourselves with consciousness made food during busy times can help to ensure we stay energized and balanced. We’ve teamed up with the incredible Lee Holmes to offer you some amazing plant-based recipes for the upcoming holiday season!

    Pistachio Minted Cranberry Quinoa

    Serves 4-6

    INGREDIENTS

    • 1 zucchini (courgette), sliced

    • 1 eggplant (aubergine), cut into bite-sized pieces

    • 4 garlic cloves, whole

    • 80 ml (21/2 fl oz/1/3 cup) cold-pressed extra virgin olive oil, plus extra, for drizzling

    • Celtic sea salt

    • 270 g (91/2 oz/1 cup) cooked quinoa

    • juice of 2 lemons

    • 1 tablespoon grated lemon zest

    • 1 bunch of mint, leaves only, plus extra, to serve

    • 1 bunch of coriander (cilantro), leaves only, plus extra, to serve

    • 1 pomegranate, seeds only

    • 2 avocados, peeled, stones removed and sliced into wedges

    • 4 small spring onions (scallions), chopped 125 g (41/2 oz/1 cup) slivered almonds

    METHOD

    Preheat the oven to 200°C (400°F/Gas 6).

    Place the zucchini, eggplant and garlic on a baking tray, drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and roast for about 35 minutes.

    Remove from the oven and set aside to cool.

    Meanwhile, place the quinoa in a bowl with the lemon juice and zest and the olive oil. Combine well.

    Place in a salad bowl with all the other ingredients and serve topped with extra mint and coriander leaves.

     

    Kale, Strawberry and Avocado Salad with Speedy Jam Jar Dressing

    Serves 2-3

    INGREDIENTS

    • 1 bunch kale, chopped into slices

    • 1 whole lemon

    • 2 TBS Extra Virgin Olive Oil

    • Pinch of CelticSea Salt

    • 1 Avocado Pitted

    • ¼ cup pine nuts

    • 1 cup strawberries washed and quartered

    Speedy Jam Jar Dressing

    • ¼ cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil

    • 2 TBS Apple Cider Vinegar

    • 1 tsp. sugar free mustard

    • ½ shallot, diced

    • Pinch Celtic Sea Salt

    • 1 TBS wheat free tamari

    METHOD

    • In a large bowl place lemon juice and olive oil and stir then massage it into kale leaves adding a pinch or two of sea salt. Keep massaging until leaves are soft and dark green

    • Add remaining ingredients and toss

    • To make the dressing whisk all ingredients together

    This recipe can be stored in the fridge in a covered container for up to 4 days.

     

    Layered Quinoa Trifle Recipe

    Serves 4

    Ingredients

    • 100 g (31/2 oz/1/2 cup) quinoa

    • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

    • pinch of Celtic sea salt

    • 60 ml (2 fl oz/1/4 cup) unsweetened almond milk

    • 1/2 teaspoon alcohol-free vanilla extract

    • 6 drops stevia liquid, or 1 tablespoon rice malt syrup

    • 1 tablespoon slivered almonds

    • 2 bananas, sliced

    • 130 g (43/4 oz/1/2 cup) coconut yoghurt

    • 4 tablespoons coconut flakes 110 g (33/4 oz/1/2 cup) mixed berries

    • 1 teaspoon almond butter, melted

    • 1 tablespoon chia seeds, for sprinkling

    Method

    • Place the quinoa in a fine-mesh sieve. Rinse with cold running water for 2–3 minutes, moving the seeds around with your hand to ensure that the seeds are well rinsed and any residue is removed.

    • Bring 250 ml (9 fl oz/1 cup) water to the boil in a large saucepan.

    • Add the quinoa, return to the boil, cover and reduce the heat to low for 12–15 minutes or until all the water has been absorbed.

    • Remove from the heat and set aside to cool.

    • Place the quinoa in a bowl and stir through the cinnamon and salt.

    • In a saucepan over medium–low heat, warm the almond milk for 3–4 minutes.

    • Stir in the vanilla and stevia or rice malt syrup.

    • Add a couple of spoons of quinoa to four glass jars, or glasses.

    • Mix through the almond milk and follow with layers of slivered almonds, banana slices, yoghurt, coconut flakes and berries. Repeat until the jars are full, with berries as the top layer.

    • Top with the melted almond butter and chia seeds.

    By Lee Holmes

    Follower her on instagram @leesupercharged 

    Check out Lee’s website superchargedfoods.com

    Check out more plant based recipes on our Wellness channel