• The Sacred Space Of Yoga

    There is no direct line to growth. It’s a curvy, twisted path through the heart. You might not think you can get any stronger, you might think you’re all alone, you might feel like you’re about to collapse but then you find it, the strength that was always there. Faith and hope lift you up. New friends appear where old wounds are still healing. The winding road is the spiritual path, the way towards the deepest truth of life.

    Practicing yoga doesn’t give you all the answers. Sometimes the practice gives you all the right questions.

    We all need sanctuary sometimes, a safe space where we are held and loved, where our bodies and most importantly our hearts have the chance to breathe and eventually heal.

    For over twenty years, yoga has been my sacred space, a place of worship and reverence. Every single person that continues to practice beyond the initial phase of fascination with the poses has tasted at least a drop of the elixir of true spiritual practice. Yoga is not a hobby, it’s lifestyle built on moral and ethical principles. But more than anything else yoga is a promise of deep and lasting peace — that promise is built on the principles of practice, not the size or shape of your body or perfect abs or the right clothes. As yogis we have the power to define what this community is all about. We can make it the true sanctuary that it’s meant to be or we can cede the moral compass of yoga to corporations that are yoga as a money-maker.

    Your voice as a yogi matters. I don’t believe that we should turn off our social media accounts or never buy another piece of yoga clothing. I also don’t believe we should drink the proverbial Kool-aid that is fed to us in sponsored posts. I don’t have the answers, but I believe we need to learn how to ask the right questions, how to dig deeply to find answers. Mindfulness isn’t a catch phrase to sell products. Mindfulness is a moral and ethical responsibility to do the research and be literally mindful of all your actions, personal, professional, emotional. Before you speak, be mindful of your words. Before you purchase anything, do the research and be sure that the companies you support with your dollars are ones that you truly support through and through. Before you give your attention to anything, including the algorithmicly induced social media feed, be mindful of where you are giving your attention and see if it’s worthy of your time and energy.

    The greatest gift you can give someone is your attention. It’s a discipline of the mind to carefully craft your point of focus. Life will throw you a series of curve balls that have the potential to take you off course. You have to choose to redirect your mind to your goals. Whether it’s a hater who just wont stop leaving annoying comments, a frenemy who puts up a show of love but truly burns with jealousy or a corporation that wants to cut you up and sell you like an object, there are so many distractions on the journey of life. Your heart wants to rant and rave about them. Your mind desperately wants to understand. You may find yourself spending time thinking, reflecting and even stalking the negativity. But you won’t gain any ground that way. You can’t talk reason to someone that doesn’t share the same basis of logic, respect and morality. You can’t play fair with someone who has been stacking the cards in their favor from day one. You just have to walk away. Turn your attention to your own path and leave the past where it belongs—in the past.

    There are an infinite amount of times during my daily yoga and meditation practice that my mind wanders. Whenever I notice it’s gone, I gently bring my mind back to the focal point of the breath and the body. In life, there is an endless onslaught of petty annoyances and big traps that can strand you in destructive way-stations along your journey. It’s up to you to constantly remind yourself of who you are and why you’re here.

    I know who I am and why I’m here: I am a keeper of the sacred fire of yoga, I am a torch-bearer of wisdom, I am here to walk the path that leads to the true light and every step I take lights the path a little bit for another. I am here to change the world and my gaze is set on the brilliance of the eternal, manifesting as light and love in every breath. I am here to burn with the holy vibration of love.

    Why are you here? What do you stand for?

    By Kino MacGregor

    Practice With Kino On OMstars

  • Blow your mind with Meditation

    To me, the popularity of the war-time phrase ‘Keep Calm and Carry On’ seems out of place in one of the most prosperous and war-free societies in the world. In our connected, fully wired 24-7 society, it can be hard to switch off.  Our normal rhythms are easily out of sync and ‘stress’ has become an everyday word.

    As a lawyer, I remember hearing stories about how – before email – documents took days, if not weeks, to be passed around by hand, typed and re-typed with corrections handwritten in different colours – now it takes seconds to ping an email to everyone and complex contracts can be marked up overnight with tracked changes. The pace of modern life is sometimes astounding. 

    It’s easy to lose ourselves in the rush and pressures of modern life.  Meditation is an antidote; a route to perspective and calm, to navigating the hectic traffic we experience in all areas of our lives. Meditation can change how we work, it can improve our health, and it can affect how we relate both to ourselves and to others.  Beyond a mechanism for coping with stress, mediation can be a vehicle towards finding more meaning, purpose, depth and connection in our lives.

    The mind is a surprising instrument. So powerful that science has yet to understand more than the basics of how it fully functions. But then, trying to understand ourselves has always been a tough, yet valuable pursuit.

    Our minds (along with our bodies) have developed over millions of years of evolution to give us the best chances of survival in a sometimes hostile world. Our brain is rewarded with pleasure – with substances such as dopamine, serotonin and oxytocin – when we do something that evolution would suggest is survival-enhancing. And, of course, the other side of the coin is pain when our survival is threatened.   When we sit in meditation and train our attention, we are acting against many of the reactionary tendencies that we have developed as a result of evolution.    

    Our evolutionary tendencies have helped us to survive so far, but some of them now lead us to overreact.  We have, for example, developed a bias towards negativity, giving far more weight and attention to negative events and emotions than positive ones.  And, particularly, under stress, we overestimate and ‘dial up’ the perceived ‘dangers’ around us. The evolutionary ‘down’ that we sometimes experience after the ‘high’ of being with a partner, is designed to draw us towards that person helping us to mate and procreate. But if that evolutionary tendency is too strong in us, our neediness may get activated and end up pushing the person away. Meditation helps us to temper the reactions that evolution has set in motion, so in that sense it is going against some of our evolutionary instincts.  But maybe, that’s what’s needed for us to evolve even further.

    Previously the purview of monks and lamas, meditation is now being used by the likes of Google, hedge fund managers  and MBA students to boost their performance. Scientific research supports many health benefits of meditation mainly associated with stress reduction, and ability to focus.  Cautiously promising research in its early stages even suggests that meditation may have some effect on a cellular level on patients in remission from cancer. Further evidence is needed to confirm that. So, maybe, in terms of health and focus, meditation is giving us an extra edge. 

    Meditation affects the quality of your attention and where you place it. And, as Stanford scholar and international meditation teacher B. Alan Wallace, PhD explains in his book The Attention Revolution, ‘Our perception of reality is tied closely to where we place our attention’. What we focus on shapes our experience and the things we ignore, pale into insignificance for us. In 2012, Usain Bolt says he won the 100 meters in 2012 by concentrating on his strength on “concentrating on his strengths” (execution) rather than his weaknesses (his poor start). Meditation allows us to choose where we place our attention.  That, in turn, gives us more control over how we shape our lives.

    Meditation also helps us to navigate our emotions. Neuroscientists debate whether regions of the brain perform specific functions or whether a more interconnected view is more accurate.  It is, however, established that the amygdala (emotional centres) play a huge role in the fear response. In order to deal with the fear-causing – at an evolutionary level read ‘life threatening’ – situation, we dissociate. We stop using the logical, decision-making functions of our brains. I interviewed Louann Brizendine, neuroscientist and author of bestseller, The Female Brain. She described this to me beautifully, using the analogy of a car with the clutch being pushed in. When we are in a state of stress and fear, the gears are unable to engage with the decision-making functions of our brains.

    Of course, modern day stressful situations are not always related to mortal danger. And, in a non-life-threatening situation such as work, most of the decisions we make would probably benefit from some logical engagement! Awareness developed through meditation can help break the cycle and get you back there. 

    Meditation helps us to press ‘pause’ on our reactive patterns. It gives us perspective and choice. This allows us to be cool under fire.  In this sense, it helps to blow the patterns that have been deeply ingrained in our minds out of the water, leaving us clearer, calmer and more available for genuine meaningful connection.  Any takers?

    By Mia Forbes Pirie

    Watch Mia’s course, Intelligent Start, on Omstars

    Join Mia’s 5 day meditation challenge and see how meditating for as little as 5 minutes a day can make a difference to your day https://intelligentchange.life/five-day-challenge/ or be part of Mia’s small Facebook “Not too Perfect”  Yoga & Meditation community https://www.facebook.com/groups/379578869076090/

  • Ustrasana: the subtlety of heart-opening

    Not every yoga pose needs to bring you to edge of limits. Some poses lay the technical and anatomical foundation for deeper practice. It’s crucial that you apply healthy alignment principles in the foundational poses if you seek to maintain your practice over the course of your lifetime. If you jump in with all heart and zeal but forget to use wisdom and intelligence, chances are you’ll push too hard and miss out on the subtlety of your yoga practice.

    Backbending is a both challenging emotionally and physically. As such, it truly demands that you learn optimal technique from the beginning. If you try and force your backbends not only will you prevent your spine from opening but you may experience an entirely preventable injury. The beauty of backbends is that they energize the small micro-muscles of the back and stimulate the nervous system. Not to mention that in a healthy backend every single muscle of the entire body is involved.

    The process of backbending can be thought of as bending over backwards with the entire body. As the muscles of around your spine lift and create space around the vertebrae, the front body lengthen, the legs engage, the pelvic floor firms, and the shoulders and chest open. On a more internal level, the digestive system is cleansed, the cardio-vascular is stimulated and the nervous system is enervated. Finally on an energetic level, the vital life essence known as Prana is pushed upwards along the central channel, often bringing heat, emotions and rarefied states of consciousness to the surface. You will only progress to the deepest levels of realization within the inner body once the basics of alignment are set up well. Ustrasana, translated into English as the Camel Pose, is the perfect backbend to establish your awareness of anatomical and alignment.

    Starting off in Downward Facing Dog, step or jump your feet forward to a kneeling position. Place the knees hips’ width apart. If your backbend is relatively open leave the toes pointed, but if your backbend is relatively tighter then curl the toes under and use the strength of the feet for more foundation. Internally rotate the hip joints and gently activate the inner thigh muscles to adduct the femurs. A gentle internal rotation allows the sacrum to be free and helps keep the glutes soft. Activate the pelvic floor and send the hips forward, opening the fronts of the hip joints and releasing the psoas and hip flexors. Inhale as you draw the lower abdomen in and lift the rib cage away from the hips to maximize the space between the joints of the spine. Exhale bend each each of the joints of the spine in to extension and facilitate a soft arched back. Nutate the sacrum and distribute the bend equally throughout the entire spine. Place the heels of the hands on the heels of the feet, roll the shoulders forward to internally rotate the humerus and send the sternum up and forward. Allow the trapezius muscles to come up and support the neck pillow as you comfortably drop your head back and gaze towards the nose. Stay for five breaths. With each inhalation create space both physically and emotionally. With each exhalation surrender into that space in every way possible. Come out of the pose in the same methodical way that you entered, reversing the instructions and maintaining space and support for every joint of the body. Move with symmetry and awareness. Never force.

    By Kino MacGregor

    Watch Omstars Yoga Encyclopedia episode on Ustrasana

  • Epic stuffed ravioli lasagna with stretchy cashew mozzarella

    You guys, we did it. We had a dream, and we made that dream come true. Introducing our epic ravioli stuffed lasagna, that’s right, a lasagna stuffed with ravioli + a bunch of other goodies, and topped with a stretchy cashew mozzarella. This will not disappoint, we promise! This is one of those “vegan recipes to impress non-vegans”, and if those have a proper name please correct me haha.

    All of your dreams will come true with this ravioli stuffed lasagna!

    • Author: Sweet Simple Vegan

    • Prep Time: 25 minutes

    • Cook Time: 45 minutes

    • Total Time: 1 hour 10 minutes

    • Yield: 9

    • Category: Entree

    • Cuisine: Italian

    INGREDIENTS

    VEGAN RAVIOLI LASAGNA

    • 18-24 vegan raviolis (We used Rising Moon Organic Garlic & Roasted Veggie Ravioli), cooked

    • 6 no-boil uncooked lasagna noodles

    • 1/2 package vegan ricotta (we used Kite Hill)

    • 1 jar oil-free marina (we used Engine 2)

    • 1 large zucchini (for about 32 1/4″ thick rounds)

    • 1 recipe vegan mozzarella* (below)

    • 3-4 leaves fresh basil, chopped small

    • Casserole baking dish (ours was 8 x 8 x 2.75″)

    STRETCHY VEGAN CASHEW MOZZARELLA

    • 1 cup water

    • ½ cup raw cashews

    • 3 1/2 tablespoons tapioca starch (also known as tapioca flour)

    • 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast

    • 1 teaspoon lemon or apple cider vinegar

    • ½ teaspoon salt

    • ¼ teaspoon garlic powder

    • 1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika

    • 1/2 teaspoon liquid smoke

    INSTRUCTIONS

    VEGAN RAVIOLI LASAGNA

    1. Cook raviolis according to package directions, then preheat oven to 350 F and grab your casserole dish.

    2. Add sauce to the bottom of the pan, then top with 2 lasagna noodles, ricotta, about 9 raviolis, about 16 zucchini rounds, and repeat until you have formed 2 layers, or as fits in your pan. Top with the vegan mozzarella, followed by more ricotta (if any remains) and fresh basil.

    3. Cover the baking pan with aluminum foil, and bake for 35-40 minutes, or until top is slightly browned and noodles are cooked through.

    4. Remove from oven and cool for 10-15 minutes, then slice into 4 and serve!

    STRETCHY VEGAN CASHEW MOZZARELLA

    1. Soak cashews overnight, or about 8 hours, then drain and rinse.

    2. Add the cashews plus the remaining ingredients into a blender and blend until smooth.

    3. Pour into a medium pan over medium-high heat, and continually stir for about 5 minutes until gooey. Cook and stir for another minute to make sure it’s at the right consistency, then add atop the uncooked lasagna while warm.

    Want to make this delicious recipe alongside Jasmine and Chris? Check out their Youtube channel for more! Sweet Simple Vegan

    NOTES

    Mozzarella inspired by Vedged Out and itdoesnttastelikechicken.

    • If you don’t want to make your own mozzarella, we recommend Miyoko’s!

    By Jasmine & Chris founders of Sweet Simple Vegan

    Follow these vegan recipe creating legends on instagram @sweetsimplevegan, and get over to their website www.sweetsimplevegan.com to check out  loads of articles about veganism, recipes, nutrition and more! We couldn’t be happier to have Jasmine joining us here at Omstars, we’ll be releasing a much anticipated course with her in the new year!

    Check out our Wellness channel for more plant-based recipes

  • Your body is not a car, it’s a living vehicle

    The key to unlocking flexibility is not just practice, it’s about understanding how to speak the language of the inner body. If you practice the wrong technique over and over, chances are that you will not get the desired result. Practicing a flawed method is like driving in the wrong direction. Hitting it faster and harder will only take you that much further away from the goal. Slowing down and checking the roadmap gives you time to recalibrate your course for the right target. In yoga it’s important to remember that the target is always about the inner state. The yoga of yoga is never the pose itself. The pose is the method of experience, but it’s not meant to be your final destination.

    Every pose requires you to embark on a journey to the innermost regions of your body, mind and soul. There are subtle cues to encourage you along the right path and warning signs to discourage you from making a wrong turn. Yoga is more about learning the language that your body’s own navigation provides than it is about forcing your body into a shape. The first step in yoga is more about listening than it is about telling. You have to “meet” your body and bring your full awareness into the quite space of user the surface of the skin. Only then will be able to really hear the messages that your body sends you. There is a natural intelligence in the body and yoga has the ability to tune you into that ancient and powerful wisdom. I like to think of the body like a car that has been designed by a master engineer. Your body has its own GPS and it comes equipped with everything it needs to accomplish its mission. It has been perfectly formed, but it requires care and the right type of sustenance. Flexibility is evidence of a well-oiled and cared-for machine. At the same time, the body is so much more than just a car. The vehicle of the body is alive itself, so it’s more like a partner on the journey than a static piece of machinery. In order to truly find freedom in the practice you and your body have to walk together in unity as friends and learn to speak the same language.

    So often we treat the body as an adversary and blame it for all our problems. We think our vehicle is flawed because of its size, shape or age. And truly, yoga poses can frustrating, sometimes painful and even lead to injury if performed wrong. The deeper work of the yoga practice is about finding a way to practice while avoiding all the damaging pitfalls of unnecessary pain and traumatic injury. But despite our best efforts it’s not always possible to travel the inner roads with absolute ease and flow. Sometimes you hit a traffic jam. Tightness and stiffness in the body feel like congestion. Everything is blocked and there’s no way forward. Sometimes you can find an alternate route, but most often you just have to sit there and be patient. Honking your horn is a fruitless endeavor only certain to annoy everyone around you, just like getting mad at your body for it’s lack of flexibility is a dead-end. Ramming your car into the car ahead of you is criminal and injurious, just like jamming your body into a pose that your body isn’t ready for is also a kind of assault that leads to pain and suffering. So, what can do you? Sit there. Observe. Practice patience, kindness and tolerance. Focus on the breath. Remain equanimous. Breathe. Surrender. Have faith. When the traffic jam is over it will be over. When body is ready to open it will. Sometimes there are good reasons for traffic just like sometimes there are good reasons that the body isn’t full released. All you can really do is make friends with your body and accept where you are on the journey today.

    By Kino MacGregor

    Join Kino for Heart centered meditations on Omstars

     

  • Omstars New Yoga Challenge Course! Pssst…it’s free!

    The Omstars #30dayyogaliving challenge course has been created to inspire, empower, and get you started on your yoga journey. After the holiday season busyness, returning to work, and family life can be challenging enough, let along to think about movement, practice or anything other than napping. That’s where we come in!

    Start your new year, not with a resolution that may or may not stick around, but by joining the Omstars yoga challenge community this January 2018 and you will kickstart the beginning of a yoga lifestyle. Throughout the #30dayyogaliving course you will be supported by your peers and your teachers, challenged to trust and know your inner strength and be motivated by each new day, each new class and each new experience.

    What you need to know:

    1.) For the entire month of January Omstars will be releasing a new video everyday featuring a variety of teachers, styles and approaches to the practice, which have all been curated by world-renown teacher Kino MacGregor. This course is designed for EVERYONE- there is no right body type, yoga pose, or style of practice, all you need to get started on this journey is the desire to do so.

    2.) To join, click here. No payment details are required, signing up allows you access to the Omstars January #30dayyogaliving challenge course. You’ll also receive a daily email letting you know about the latest video release!

    3.) Then, to win some awesome prizes share you journey on Instagram! Re-post the #30dayyogaliving collage on your instagram, tag @Omstarsofficial along with all of the sponsors and the hashtag #30dayyogaliving. Everyday there will be one new yoga posture that will be posted on Instagram taken from the corresponding day of the video challenge course. To help keep you on track participants will be required to post their own photo of that day’s posture to qualify for prizes. But you can also still do the challenge without sharing your journey on IG—just practice every day for the month of January with us!

    5.) Post for the whole month and you’ll have the chance to win one of 10 prize packs which include;  Liforme yoga mats, a variety of different gift cards and apparel from Sankalpa, Jala, Run & Relax, Liquido, Ohmme, a signed copy of Kino’s book “Yogi Assignment”, one of 50 limited edition Omstars January Challenge Tanks and much more!

    The #30dayyogaliving one month challenge course with Omstars is an opportunity to kickstart the new year by inspiring you to get on your mat and practice! You will create more peace, get established in healthy living, increase mindfulness, and embark on living the yogi life. Starting something new can be a time to let go of unhelpful habits, thought patterns and cycles. It doesn’t mean that the month will be easy, or that it won’t be challenging to continue on after January, but by committing to #30dayyogaliving  and joining Omstars you will firmly establish yourself in a routine of healthy, positive and transformative practices. You will become a part of not only a community but of a movement, inviting Yoga into your everyday life, bringing peace into your body, into your mind and into your spirit. 

    Get excited, get involved and join us for our January Challenge!

    By Anna Wechsel

    Join the Omstars January Yoga Challenge Today!

  • #upsidedowniscomingtotown with Holly Fiske

    December is an exciting month for many reasons; spending time with family, enjoying the holiday season, the arrival of cooler weather and the ending of the year. Sometimes these can be challenging times when we have lots of obligations, events and plans, which can make getting on our mats or cushions a struggle. Here at Omstars, we’re always thinking of ways to inspire, motivate and bring you new courses, content and challenges!

    Enter Holly Fiske, aka upsidedownmama, mama of 2, yoga teacher, inversion master extraordinaire and eco-yoga clothes designer! Join Holly and Omstars starting December 3rd for her Instagram challenge #upsidedowniscomingtotown. She’ll be counting you down to the holidays, sharing practices to help you stay focused, challenging you to find your inner strength, as well as offering you insight into her upcoming course that releases Dec 4th, Upside Down Yoga, exclusively on Omstars.

    Meet Holly…

    What were your ideas and intention around hosting your upcoming challenge #upsidedowniscomingtotown?

    Challenges via social media reach people in an outstanding way.  People who are seeking inspiration, guidance and community.  I know, because I was one of them.  Finding fitness and yoga challenges on instagram created a physical, mental and social outlet I was struggling to find when my children were babies. Here I found camaraderie, support, knowledge and inspiration that helped me get to where I’m at today.  When I host a challenge, I know that I’m speaking to many people just like me and I want to make them find health and happiness and know that they can be and do whatever they set their mind to.  A lot of times we can look at what others are doing, their abilities and how they look and wish we were more like them.  I want people to get motivated and look at themselves, believing in themselves and conquering their wishes, happy in their own skin. Let that be the cycle. 

    What would you like participants to know about it that are thinking of joining?

    All of the poses in this challenge are designed to compliment, build or further explore an inversion practice.  Not every pose is upside down, but every pose will be supportive towards that endeavor.  This challenge is equal parts strength and flexibility, equal parts building blocks and exploring capabilities and equal parts serious and fun.  Upside down people or those seeking to explore this world…this challenge is for you!

    What can participants expect and what outcomes are you hoping to offer?

    I hope to provide a quality challenge where intentions are pure and hosts, sponsors and participants are present, challenging ourselves and supporting one another.  I expect people to be inspired, pleasantly surprised, eager to try more and be a little sore.  At the end of the day, I hope that everyone walks away taking something with them and preferably joining me some more via my online classes with Omstars!

    How does the challenge connect with or relate to your upcoming course release?

    My upcoming course series is all about being upside down but not limited to handstands.  I truly believe in my building block series and think that those who are already capable of standing on their hands could benefit from it as much as complete beginners.  I believe the winning recipe is the balance of strength, flexibility, alignment, muscle memory, perseverance and release.  The result is breaking barriers and preventing injuries.  Technicalities aside, my creative and fun side is very excited to also offer the Upside Down Yoga series.  Each vinyasa is centered around a specific inversion, incorporating progression, strength, flexibility, counter balance and of course a lot of creative good times.  You’ll find a couple poses in the challenge that represent the mini workshops I’m offering in my online class series on upside down backhanding and also my personal inversion favorite, the hollow back.  Well rounded, all levels, vinyasas and workshops!

    Well, are you ready to join or what? Download the collage above or follow Holly and Omstars on instagram @upsidedownmama @omstarsoffical. Join for 15 days of upside down inspiration and a chance to win an eco and ethical outfit from Um Stuff, Holly’s personally designed eco-yoga clothing line, as well as a 6 month membership to Omstars !!!

    To learn more about Holly, her clothing line and more visit her website www.upsidedownmama.com

    By Anna Wechsel

    Check out Omstars Feature courses for all of our newest releases

  • Yoga for Kids with Lexi Hidalgo

    Welcome Lexi Hidalgo to the Omstars family as she releases her 11 episode course, Yoga for Kids. At 16-years-old, Lexi is Florida’s youngest certified yoga teacher, who found her passion for sharing yoga with kids at a young age. Through her course Lexi shares her excitement for teaching, practicing and getting your whole family involved in the practice of Yoga. Yoga has so many benefits to offer kids of all ages and through Lexi’s course she shares her own personal insight and experience through a variety of different classes. From introductory yoga flow, to motivating meditation practices, yoga flows for young athletes and so much more. Lexi draws on her own experiences as a teacher and truly understands the physical and emotional benefits that yoga offers to young people as they transition through different stages of life. Lexi’s course shares this knowledge and makes sure everyone is having fun at the same time! 

    Meet Lexi…

    What impact has Yoga had on your life?

    Yoga has changed my life. I found yoga 3 1/2 years ago and I didn’t know it would lead me where I am now! Before Yoga came into my life I spent years involved in competitive cheerleading, and I needed change- I just didn’t know what that change might be. All through my middle school years I felt lost and had zero self confidence because I believed everything people told me. After practicing yoga consistently during the end of middle school, I finally felt a connection and love for myself that didn’t exist before.

    How did you feel after your first Yoga class?

    The first time I did yoga, I was completely in love with everything about it. Not just physically but mentally. It inspired me to become my own person and at that moment I felt that I wanted other people to have the same opportunity to experience this powerful practice, one that I knew could help people discover themselves. It was then that I decided I wanted to become a yoga teacher, at only thirteen it wasn’t something my family, friends, or anyone expected to hear from me. I was okay with it, okay with doing something different, something unexpected. After 8 years I left all star cheerleading and continued on with 7 months of yoga teacher training. The experience of teacher training was incredibly transformative for me and in those 7 months, this experience created a new and a better me.

    What was it like being on a teacher training at 13?

    Yoga teacher training not only taught me about yoga it taught me to see the perfection in people, the perfection in myself and completely disregard anything else. Being 16 I feel like I’ve discovered who I am and I know that as the years go by I will only discover and learn more about myself. Since my certification I’ve continued to have accomplishments and I don’t plan to stop anytime soon. Overall, my point in this story is that you can never be to too young or too old to chase your dreams, to reach your maximum potential. We can all change this world and I know we’re going to do it. 

    We’re so excited to have Lexi as one of our newest hosts on Omstars offering classes for your whole family. Not only is Lexi teaching young people about yoga and the physical benefits, she also invites a deeper purpose of taking the lessons they learn in class off the mat and into the rest of their day.

    To learn more about Lexi you can follow her on Instagram @lexxyoga and check out her website for upcoming events and classes at www.lexxyoga.com.

    By Anna Wechsel

    Watch Yoga for Kids with Lexi on Omstars

     

  • Sweet Potato Chili

    For everyone around the world experiencing the arrival of cooler weather, you’re probably craving something warm and filling to cozy you up on those rainy or snowy grey evenings. That’s where this Sweet Potato Chili recipe comes in handy.

    Sydney’s currently in this weird half winter/half spring state where somedays are so warm your only option is to wear a swim suit, and other days are so cold you wouldn’t even dream of going outside. On one of those freezing days in Bondi as I watched the palm trees bend and sway dangerously in the insane wind, I got a craving for a big bowl of chili.

    I enjoyed this healthy, protein packed meal so much that I obviously had to share it with you all! It’s not very spicy and has a mild, tomatoey flavor. If you prefer your chili to have more of a punch, add in an extra table spoon of the chili powder and paprika. This recipe makes a HUGE amount–be aware!! You’ll have leftovers for days! It’s best shared with a friend or loved one under a warm blanket 🙂

    Sweet Potato Chili

    -two sweet potatoes, diced

    -four Yukon gold potatoes or two Russet potatoes

    -one can (~14 oz) whole corn kernels, drained

    -one can (~14 oz) kidney beans, drained

    -one can (~14 oz) black beans

    -4 carrots, cut into dimes

    -2 28 oz cans crushed tomatoes

    -2 tbs chili powder

    -1.5 tbs paprika

    -1 tbs sugar

    -1 tbs salt (plus more if you need it after taste testing

    -1 tbs garlic

    -1 tbs cumin

    -1 tbs cracked black pepper

    -.5 tbs vegan cocoa powder

    Optional

    -2 cups rice, cooked

    Raw Vegan Cashew Cheese, for garnish

    -fresh lemon

    -fresh spinach

    After you’ve prepped your veggies, toss them in a large pot. Pour in the cans of crushed tomato, kidney beans, black beans, and corn. Add in your spices and seasonings. Mix together until the spices have been evenly distributed throughout the chili. Make sure the potatoes and carrots are covered by the liquid. Cover and let simmer for about thirty minutes. The chili is done when it smells fragrant and aromatic, and the potatoes and carrots are fork tender. Enjoy on top of rice and fresh spinach with a squeeze of fresh lemon and a dollop of my easy Raw Vegan Cashew Cheese!

    Devyn Howard

    Follow her on instagram for more plant-based inspiration, @diningwithdevyn and check out her website to learn more about all things vegan www.diningwithdevyn.com

    Watch the latest episode of Seek Up: Vegan For Life with Devyn & Kino

  • Navasana: it’s all about balance

    Navasana gets me every time in a Led Ashtanga Yoga class. No matter how much I practice or how many extra breaths I take on my own, I always suffer when I get to this point in the practice. Since Navasana is traditionally repeated five times it gets increasingly more intense. The first round usually ignites a mild burning sensation in the core. The last round culminates in shaking, burning and emotional anguish. Each time I jump back I feel like a survivor.

    But, you probably wouldn’t see that from watching me practice. The hidden secret of the practice is that often times what looks equanimous and peaceful from the outside corresponds with a great deal of effort and grit on the inside. Knowing how to distribute your effort most efficiently means that you will be able to maintain a balanced state of mind regardless of the challenge. Finding that sweet spot in Navasana begins by changing your focus from lifting the legs to the inner work of the pelvic floor.

    The key to finding good balance in Navasana is to orient both your effort and attention to the pelvic floor. Not only do you need a strong core but you need to distribute your weight between your sitting bones in order to feel comfortable in this asana. Translated into English as the Boat Pose, in Navasana you have to focus on building a firm hull so that your ship won’t sink.

    Start off in a seated position, then bend your knees, place the soles of the feet on the floor and keep the legs together. Root the heads of your femurs into their sockets and begin activating the pelvic floor. Allow a gentle roundedness in the base of the pelvis, in the space between the sitting bones and the tailbone. Contract the anus and the pelvic muscles and draw the lower abdomen inwards. Avoid trying to balance on the tips of your sitting bones. Use a subtle rounding of the base of the pelvis to be your connection into the ground. Especially if you have a bony protrusion around your tailbone, you will find t useful to soften into a more rounded root. Next, lengthen the torso, relax the next and straighten the arms. Then, to enter Navasana, shift your chest back  just to counterbalance the weight of your legs, come up onto the tips of your toes and inhale as your lift and straight the legs. Gaze towards the toes and stay for five breaths.

    By Kino MacGregor

    Practice with Kino and watch the Navasana episode of Yoga Encyclopedia

    Watch Yoga Encyclopedia for more asana tips & breakdowns