• Activism and the Trajectory of Modern Yoga

    To a layperson, the phrase “modern yogi” often conjures an image of a physically fit and Instagram-friendly Caucasian person. And the phrase “ancient yogi” often conjures an image of an underweight Indian man in a white wrap sitting equanimously in meditation. But how can we add more layers to these images? How can we set a better blueprint for a modern yogi and hence improve the trajectory of modern yoga for the future generation of yogis?

    Mahatma Gandhi is a good example of a modern yogi of great stature who has hardly received the recognition they deserve within the yoga community. Gandhi in fact matches much of the description of an ancient yogi. He was the leader of the successful Nonviolent Resistance campaign that led to the end of 90 years of British colonialism in India. When it comes to ancient Sanskrit scriptures, Gandhi frequently referenced Bhagavad Gita as “the greatest single influence on his life”.

    Bhagavad Gita covers various yogic concepts, including Jñāna yoga (yoga of knowledge), Bhakti yoga (yoga of devotion), and Karma yoga (yoga of action), through the storytelling of a conversation between Arjuna and Krishna at the time of an imminent war. Krishna urges Arjuna, who is torn between fulfilling his warrior duties to follow his “Dharma” and upholding Ahimsa, to take an action and to do it with love and care, regardless of the outcome. He reminds Arjuna that not taking an action is indeed an action in itself:  “One who sees inaction in action, and action in inaction, is intelligent among men.” [Chapter 4, text 18]

    The Gita’s call for selfless action in the 2nd century BC is just as valid today in 2022 AD. But when it comes to deepening the image of a modern yogi, much like old religious books, we need to go beyond searching for answers in the past. And rather create a framework suitable to our current circumstances that redefines the superficial image of a so-called “modern yogi”. In the author’s opinion, the root cause of this shortcoming is the lack of fluidity between different roles and contexts as well as a peculiar obsession with self (not to be confused with the Self). The modern neo-spiritualist yogi seems to completely dismiss the importance of community in the process of hoping to commune with the Self. Gandhi was not sometimes a yogi and other times a lawyer and a leader; he simultaneously fulfilled those roles in a state of fluidity.

    These concerns manifest themselves, even more, when it comes to the human rights crisis in the world and the extent the yoga community is willing to be involved in them. Our advocacy for peace cannot be limited to closing our practice with the ‘OM shanti’ chant. Rather we need to complement this with more tangible actions that set an example for our students and the world. A recent example is the eerie silence of the online yoga community concerning Iran’s revolution. 9 weeks of protests, strikes, and numerous atrocities against the people of Iran got artists, athletes, politicians, journalists, lawyers, comedians, musicians, and just about any global community but the yoga community to use their voice and platform in solidarity with the people of Iran.

    As a community, we need to step up and live the example of the humanitarian change we want to see in our world. Yogis are the perfect candidates for being activists who are committed to working towards a better reality for mankind. While it’s much more comfortable and perhaps safer to stay in our yoga bubble, this bubble needs to burst. We need to keep chanting “OM shanti” not just on the mat with words but off the mat

    By Hasti Yavari

    Hasti Yavari is a Kurdish-Iranian-Swedish women and minority rights activist. She is an asana and pranayama teacher as well as a PhD candidate in Physics at University College Cork. Hasti teaches Hot yoga, Vinyasa, Yin, and Mobility classes and has studied yoga with schools in India, Sweden, and USA, and taught in Sweden, Iran and Ireland. Find her on Instagram and LinkedIn.

    Photo by Craig Melville on Unsplash

  • 4 Ways to Raise Your Vibration and Frequency

    The higher the frequency of your energy or vibration, the lighter you feel in your physical, emotional, and mental bodies. You experience greater personal power, clarity, peace, love, and joy. You have little, if any, discomfort or pain in your physical body, and your emotions are easily dealt with.

    The end of 2021 is around the corner. Looking back, perhaps you feel like Bill Murray on Groundhog Day! Not too much of a difference from 2020. Everything seems uncertain, we realized that control is just an illusion of our mind and that everything that is outside of ourselves is being controlled by other forces. Seems that the cliché thought of “you only can control how you respond to situations” has been the mantra for many of us.

    Regardless of if these past two years have been a source of realizations and growth, or a source of desperate moments and pain, or perhaps both, we all can agree that we have experienced a great deal of stress and challenges.

    Stress is just a bundle of emotions rushing like a river, tearing everything in its way, and we all have different ways to cope with it. These emotions and how you deal with them will determine at what frequency your energy is vibrating. The higher the frequency of your energy or vibration, the lighter you feel in your physical, emotional, and mental bodies. You experience greater personal power, clarity, peace, love, and joy. You have little, if any, discomfort or pain in your physical body, and your emotions are easily dealt with.

    How can you raise your frequency and protect your energy? There are many ways you can do that. For instance, Ayurveda teaches us to live in harmony with nature, having a lifestyle that is aligned with our constitution, providing us with many tools to have a happier existence, but this is for our next blog!

    Let’s focus on some things that we can do right away.

    Be aware of your thoughts

    Our thoughts fuel our frequency, whatever thoughts you have will tint your reality. Think about your mind as a hotel and you are the owner, you choose who is going to be your guest, you have the power to open the gate of your mind for some thoughts and let them crash there for as long as you want, or simply say: “sorry we don’t have any openings.” Remember what Gautama Buddha said? “The mind is everything. What you think you become.” That doesn’t mean that we can never feel certain feelings or thoughts such as sadness, anger, frustration, jealousy, envy, guilt, shame, or fear but when we allow these thoughts or feelings to take all the space, then there is no room for high vibrational thoughts to be part of our mindset. All the space is already taken. So, it is ok to feel this way sometimes and as you process whatever is making you feel that way (most likely yourself and how you deal with external influences) take a deep breath in and out through your nose and know that everything, absolutely everything is temporary, including the situations that made you feel that way. Slowly create the habit to replace sadness for joy, anger for gratitude, frustration for patience, jealousy for self-acceptance, envy for generosity, guilt for accountability, shame for self-love, and fear for self-compassion.

    Start your day with gratitude

    Being in a human body is the most precious gift that your soul has received. Being human gives your soul the opportunity to grow, to be able to choose high consciousness, and to be aware of your actions. Only this way you can keep evolving until you achieve self-realization, perhaps it will take many lives, but nevertheless, you are on your way. Just acknowledging that, gives you a very important reason to be grateful, grateful for this human life. There are so many other things to be grateful for, your health, your loved ones, your wisdom, your teachers, being able to experience the sunrise, the sunset, the wind in your face, the music that you love, or simply being alive and being able to read this. Gratitude is not just a list of things and people, it’s a way of life, as you become aware of all the opportunities that you have in front of you and focus your attention on all those things that you have (rather than focusing on the ones that you don’t have), you are creating more opportunities and opening space to abundance in your life. You could open your day with a simple prayer or affirmation: “Thank you (insert here whatever resonate with you…God, Mother Earth, Divine Mother, Spirit, Universe, Krishna, Buddha, my Higher Self…) for allowing me to experience one more day in this human body. Thank you for providing me with everything that I need to evolve and fulfill my karma and dharma; thank you for abundance, for love, for health, wealth, teachings, and teachers; for the gift of appreciation. Thank you for making every encounter with every being an experience of love, kindness, and compassion.”

    Practice forgiveness

    Perhaps because English is not my first, nor even my second language, I tend to dissect the words. For-give, in my mind, means to give, to let go, to give it away. When you forgive, you are giving away your hurt, it doesn’t mean that you are justifying why someone hurt you or letting that person off the hook, you simply are letting go of the attachment created to that feeling of hurt that has been keeping you a prisoner of the action of that person who hurt you. When you give away the hurt, you start taking back your power. Forgiveness does not mean that you have to be buddy-buddy with the person or people who hurt you, you don’t even have to let them know, or create excuses for their behavior, it doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t have any more feelings about the situation or forget the incident; forgiving is accepting the reality of what happened and finding a way to live in a state of resolution, and that, my dear, it takes time. So, in the same way, that “you cannot rush your healing” (love that song from Trevor Hall) you cannot rush forgiveness. Forgiveness is a journey, and like every journey, we must start somewhere, and as you start walking through that path, remember to forgive yourself as well. This is an easy-to-remember affirmation to start with “I forgive you for any intentional or intentional hurt that you may cause me, in this life or in past lives. I forgive myself for any intentional or intentional hurt that I may cause myself, in this life or in past lives. Please forgive me for any intentional or intentional hurt that I may cause you, in this life or in past lives.” Forgiveness, like gratitude, is a way of life. You are part of this community, call humans, living in this beautiful and generous planet, Mother Earth. It is many of us here, so eventually we all will get hurt one way or another, by ourselves or others; so being aware of that allows you to understand that hurt and suffering is part of our human condition, as it is forgiveness.

    Be kind

    Kindness, like many other practices, starts from the self. Being kind to yourself is as important as being kind to others. Think for a moment the way that you speak to yourself, the thoughts that you have about yourself, the self-judgment, the self-criticism, I am sure that you do not talk like that to your loved ones, perhaps not even to a stranger. You are unique and precious, the gifts and skills that you brought into this life are exclusive to yourself. So next time that your mind wants to bring you down, allow your higher self to be kind to you.

    Being kind can make or break someone’s spirit, the truth is that you don’t know what internal battles others are fighting. Some people feel invisible, unheard, unwanted; you can be the one who makes a difference in their day, just a smile or a kind word can shift someone’s life. When we practice kindness to others or towards ourselves, we experience positive mental and physical changes, this rises the frequency in which we vibrate. Some of you are maybe familiar with the Metta Prayer or Love & Kindness meditation, here is another version: “May all beings, including myself, be happy, be safe, be free from harm. May all beings, including myself, be healthy, be connected, be whole. May all beings, including myself, experience ease, well-being, and inner peace.”

    Raising your vibration helps raise the collective. Your thoughts, your intentions, your actions, create energetic waves that help with the rising of collective consciousness. We all are responsible for what happens in the world, by changing our world, we can change the entire world.

    By Esther Rodriguez Brown

    Esther Rodriguez Brown was born and raised in Barcelona, Spain. Since a very young age, she showed her passion for helping others and got involved in several social justice organizations.
    She arrived in the United States in 2001 and in 2007 she founded The Embracing Project (TEP), a grass-roots non-profit organization that services children survivors of sex trafficking and gang violence. Until she opened TEP drop-in center, the first in Nevada for children survivors of trafficking, she served youth in the streets of Las Vegas using her car as her main office and many times opening the doors of her home for those youth who needed it. Esther traveled around the world to continue her service to humanity and in particular, children and women survivors of trauma, expanding services in several countries. In 2019, Esther merged TEP with a national organization to focus on her other passion, holistic healing, Yoga, Ayurveda, and Jyotish.

    Esther founded Ego Friendly Living in 2016, a company based on the principle of compassion, self-healing, and self-empowerment, focusing on body, mind, and soul, through the practices of self-care and self-love. Her experience working with vulnerable populations and survivors of complex trauma gives her a unique perspective to facilitate healing practices and to teach how trauma can affect our emotional and physiological bodies.
    Esther has a master’s degree in Psychology. She is an Ayurvedic Health Counselor, Vedic Astrologer, and a 200 YTT with studies in Yoga Nidra. Esther travels yearly to India to continue her studies related to body, mind, and soul to share that wisdom with others.

    She is the author of The Power of Your Hands. Mudras for your everyday life. Available in Amazon. She is a recognized national and international speaker and has been recognized in national and international media, documentaries, books, and film and has received many awards for her humanitarian work with children affected by violence.

    Find her on Instagram @Esther_Brown_Inspire
    and on her website, https://www.egofriendlyliving.com.

    Photo by Eye for Ebony on Unsplash

  • The Body Shop’s New, Cruelty-Free Body Yogurt Product Review

    I don’t know about you, but, no matter what I do, with every year that passes, I keep getting older… And the older I get, the more I start to worry about what’s happening to my skin. These days, I find myself wanting to give my skin the best care possible; but, as a tree hugging, animal loving, chemical avoiding yogi, I have to take extra care in selecting which products I use. No chemically-laced, animal-tested, un-environmentally friendly products for me, thank you. Just a lightweight vegan moisturizer that I can use every day please!

    Back in my teen and tween years, I always loved using scented lotions, body scrubs, and sprays. Then, as I reached my 20s, picked up my yoga practice, and started living more consciously, things changed. I stopped wanting to use those types of products. Now I prefer more natural options – vegan moisturizers, soaps, body mists, shampoos and conditioners that are all cruelty-free and made with natural ingredients.

    Many people like me choose to make their own vegan skin care products. And while I did dabble with the whole DIY thing for a while, I have to be honest, that got old pretty quick. Fortunately, there are a few, good quality, highly effective, pretty affordable and completely VEGAN skin care products out there.

    Recently, I’ve had the very good fortune of being introduced to a few products from The Body Shop®, including a vegan moisturizer than I am OBSESSED with. If you’re not familiar with The Body Shop, they are a global beauty brand that offers cruelty-free skincare, hair and makeup products that are made with the finest, ethically-sourced ingredients you can find.

    Aside from the amazing products they provide, I love this company because of the work that they have been doing to put an end to animal testing around the world. They were the first international beauty brand to campaign against animal testing in cosmetics, and they have spent decades fighting for this cause.

    The best part is that their products are all amazing, and I have to say, their Almond Milk Body Yogurt is my new favorite thing. I’ve only been using this product for about a week, and in that time, it has easily become a must-have for my bathroom vanity. The Body Yogurt is a 100% vegan moisturizer that is super lightweight, and it absorbs into my skin almost immediately. It’s perfect for summer time, especially here in Florida, where most moisturizers, vegan or not, melt off your body the second you step outside.

    Of course, this product comes in a variety of scents, but I personally love the Almond Milk option for it’s subtle, yet fresh and powdery scent. After application, it always leaves my skin smelling sweet and feeling soft, yet it never seems to feel oily. I personally trend toward dry skin, so naturally, I love how the Body Yogurt basically transforms my skin into something that is silky, soft, and smooth. But, most importantly, this particular scent is specifically designed for sensitive skin, which is perfect for me. I’ve always had sensitive skin and it’s really nice to know that there are vegan products like this that I can invest in.

    The Body Yogurt is a perfect complement to the Almond Milk and Honey Cleansing Bar soap, (which is also designed for sensitive skin). In fact, my favorite time to apply the Body Yogurt is right after a shower. It’s also really nice to apply just before bed so that when I wake up, my skin still smells sweet. More often than not, however, I find myself using the Body Yogurt in the morning before taking on the day. In this case, I like to top it off with a spritz of The Body Shop’s Coconut Body Mist.

    All of these products remind me of the lotions, scrubs and body sprays I used to use all the time; the only difference is, I feel really good about using them. They say that conscious living is both a blessing and a curse, and I can certainly attest to that; but knowing that these products are all ethically tested, made with nature’s best ingredients, and completely vegan, means I can enjoy them all the more.

    So, if you’re looking for some top-quality, cruelty-free, 100% vegan products that won’t break the bank, I recommend checking out everything the body shop has to offer. And if a sweetly scented, lightweight, full-body vegan moisturizer sounds like your kind of thing (or even if it doesn’t) I highly recommend the Body Yogurt. Trust me – you’re going to love it.

    By Alex Wilson

    Sign The Petition To End Animal Testing

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    Alex Wilson is a writer, a 200 hour certified yoga instructor, and the content manager for OMstars – The Yoga Network.

  • How Eating Vegan Can Make A Positive Impact On The Planet

    Ever wonder why so many yogis choose to become vegan or vegetarian? Or why there seems to be a natural correlation between practicing yoga and living consciously? Usually, the more and more a person practices yoga and self-awareness, the more and more they begin to desire conscious living. But what does it mean to live consciously?

    A person who lives a conscious lifestyle is someone who spends time evaluating all of their activities, decisions and options. A person who lives consciously makes deliberate choices based on their own values, morals and priorities. More than that, they are the kind of person who’s actions often take the well-being of the entire world into consideration.

    This is part of the reason why so many yogis choose to become vegans, or at the very least vegetarians.

    Often times, making the decision not to eat animals comes from a place of compassion for other living creatures; but in many cases, those of us who choose not to eat meat do so because we know how bad the livestock industry is for our planet. Human beings only make up about 0.001% of living creatures on Earth, but we are responsible for more damage than any other creature known to man.

    Over time, the industry of industrialized agriculture has taken precedence over so many of our planets most important assets – think rainforests, endangered species, or clean air & water. These are valuable assets that are either vital to our existence or could provide answers and solutions to many of the problems we face in our world. Yet, somehow, we have destroyed much of these resources in order to create more space for livestock.

    As human beings, living unconsciously is part of our natural state of being, and in order to live more consciously, we have to actively decide to do so. I don’t believe that anyone intended for things to turn out the way they are, but these days, we’re left living on a planet that is more livestock than anything else. An astounding 83% of all wildlife, and approximately 60% of all mammals on Earth can be counted within our livestock populations.

    Fortunately, there is hope. A recent study published in the journal, Science, found that if people stopped consuming meat and dairy products all together, we could reduce global farmland use by over 75% while still successfully feeding the worlds ever-growing population. All we have to do is choose to live more consciously.

    When we do not choose to live consciously, we easily turn our heads to the problems that we are facing in the world. We often think that if an issue doesn’t directly affect us, it’s not something we have to worry about. It’s easy to turn a blind eye to the things that are going wrong in the world around us when they don’t appear to impact us directly. Like I said before, conscious living is something we have to actively choose to do, every day.

    We should all actively choose to think about the well-being of our future selves, our children, and our children’s children. We should think about the well-being of our friends and neighbors. The well-being of our fellow humans, and the many other living organisms that take up space on this Earth. We only have one, and if we hope to see human kind living on for countless more generations, it might be in our best interests to start paying attention, start thinking, and start living more consciously. Choosing a vegan or vegetarian lifestyle is only one potential solution to one problem, but the difference it could make for us, our future generations, and our planet could be monumental. I’m in. How about you?

    Choosing to live a vegan lifestyle is easy. Knowing where to begin… maybe not so much. Thankfully, OMstars – The Yoga Network – offers plenty of courses that can help you get started. With recipes from Devyn Howard, Jasmine Briones, Natalie Prigoone, and others, OMstars makes transitioning into the vegan lifestyle easy and effective.

    Devyn offers easy-to-make vegan versions of your favorite non-vegan foods on Everyday Vegan. Natalie Prigoone shows us how to make the most delicious, raw vegan meals, all sugar-free, and gluten-free. Plus, Jasmine’s series, 10 Steps to Living The Sweet Simple Vegan Life will show you just how you can get started.

    I myself made the transition into a plant-based diet by using recipes from Natalie Prigoone’s The Great Uncooking. And some of my favorite go-to recipes come from both Devyn and Jasmine. But, before I finally made the decision to actually transition into a plant-based lifestyle, it was something I had been wanting to do for years. I just never did because I thought it would be too hard. I was wrong. Very wrong. And if I could do it, so can you.

    By Alex Wilson

    Get Vegan Recipes on OMstars

    Alex Wilson is a writer, a 200 hour certified yoga instructor, and the content manager for OMstars – The Yoga Network.

    Alex Wilson, writer, yoga teacher and content manager at OMstars - The Yoga Network