• 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

  • Conquering Pride: The Enemy Within.

    Life is full of obstacles. But most of them are external to us: Illness, death, divorce, job loss, and family troubles. You get the picture. But I want to examine an internal obstacle, one that is often difficult to see within us and very easy to see in others. Pride. But what is pride? Isn’t it a good thing? Let’s look a little closer.

    A lovely nearby school has a motto that has been bothering me.

    Their motto is: Friendship, Pride and Respect. It sounds innocent enough, but the use of the word “Pride” is what sits uneasy with me.

    We hear that it’s important to take pride in your work, and take pride in your appearance. Yet, pride is listed as one of the 7 deadly sins. Holy scriptures talk about how civilizations were lost and people fell because of pride. Prophets old and new warn of pride.

    “Hypocrisy, pride, self-conceit, wrath, arrogance and ignorance belong, O Partha, to him who is born to the heritage of the demons.” ~ The Gita, XVI. 4

    So just what is pride? Why do some people aspire to cultivate more of it, while wise sages warn us to stamp it out?

    Clearly we have a conflict of definitions.

    Some people use pride in a positive way. And for our purposes let’s replace that positive version of the word with ‘self respect’, ‘dignity’ or being conscientious. All good things.

    And let’s define the sinful side of pride as Ego. That is, comparing yourself to others, putting your self above others. Being boastful, arrogant or conceited. With those definitions sorted, let’s continue. Why am I so bothered?

    I’ve been thinking a lot about this topic because of a book I read,

    Ego is the Enemy” By Ryan Holiday.

    He says that Ego is a conscious separation from everything. We pit ourselves against others.

    Isn’t that interesting! The very purpose of yoga is connection to everything. Yoga seeks to connect our body to our spirit, and our consciousness to other people, and to God.

    Ego seeks validation and status. Ego wants likes, and followers, recognition. Ego and pride can make us un-teachable. You can’t learn if you think you already know it all.

    We need to be humble in order to learn. Be an eternal student. The one, who learns the most, grows the most. And growth is the hallmark of a happy and productive life. You will not find answers to improve if you are too conceited to ask the questions.

    Ego is defensive and tells us we don’t need to improve.

    Ego makes us hostile to feedback.

    Pride tells us we shouldn’t have to put up with this.

    C.S. Lewis warns, ‘Beware of pride. The proud man is always looking down and cannot see what is above him.’

    The proud man cannot effectively commune with God. Mere Christianity, New York: Macmillan, 1952

    Pride is essentially competitive in nature. We pit our will against God’s. When we direct our pride toward God, it is in the spirit of “my will and not thine be done.” As Paul said, they “…seek their own, not the things which are Jesus Christ’s.” (Philip. 2:21.)

    The central feature of pride is enmity— Enmity means “hatred toward, hostility to, or a state of opposition.”

    Our enmity toward God takes on many labels, such as rebellion, hard-heartedness, vain, puffed up, and easily offended. The proud wish God would agree with them. They aren’t interested in changing their opinions to agree with God’s.

    We can find warnings about Pride if we turn to the Bible.

    Proverbs 16:18-19

    “Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall. Better it is to be of an humble spirit with the lowly, than to divide the spoil with the proud.”

    Saul became an enemy to David through pride. He was jealous because the crowds of Israelite women were singing that “Saul hath slain his thousands, and David his ten thousands.” (1 Sam. 18:68.)

    The proud make every man their adversary by pitting their intellects, opinions, works, wealth, talents, or any other worldly measuring device against others.

    In the words of C. S. Lewis: “Pride gets no pleasure out of having something, only out of having more of it than the next man. … It is the comparison that makes you proud: the pleasure of being above the rest. Once the element of competition has gone, pride has gone.” (Mere Christianity, New York: Macmillan, 1952, pp. 109–10.)

    We see enmity toward our fellowmen everywhere. We see it in the parking lot, the office and even in our families.

    We see people daily trying to elevate themselves above others and diminish them.

    Here’s the tricky part. Pride is easy to spot in others but rarely admitted in ourselves. Most of us consider pride to be a sin of those on the top, such as the rich and the learned, looking down at the rest of us.

    There is, however, a far more common ailment among us—and that is pride from the bottom looking up. It is manifest in so many ways, such as faultfinding, gossiping, backbiting, murmuring, living beyond our means, envying, coveting, withholding gratitude and praise that might lift another, and being unforgiving and jealous.

    Any time you think you are better than someone else or you are judging someone, that is pride. It’s not always relegated to the man who has the shiny car and is hoping for admiring glances. The person who knowingly scratches the car is being prideful, because they are comparing themselves.

    Pride does not have to be boastful. We can be proud even when looking at someone who we perceive has more than us. That man you see getting out of his flashy sports car, and you smugly think to yourself, ‘I bet he never spends time with his family.’ Or the woman with the perfect body, ‘I bet she’s had some work done.’ Or ‘That outfit is a bit skimpy.’

    Sometimes we are the most ego driven when we feel we have a lot to prove. Those that feel confident with their accomplishments and who they are can usually control their egos more masterfully.

    The proud are easily offended and hold grudges.

    Have you ever witnessed someone in a queue say, ‘Don’t you know who I am?’

    Real people of importance and those in real positions of power don’t need to say things like that.

    The proud withhold forgiveness to keep another in their debt and to justify their injured feelings.

    The proud do not receive counsel or correction easily. (See Prov. 15:10; Defensiveness is used by them to justify and rationalize their frailties and failures. (See Matt. 3:9; John 6:3059.)

    The proud are not easily taught. They won’t change their minds to accept truths, because to do so implies they have been wrong.

    Pride affects all of us at various times and in various degrees. Pride is the universal vice. So how do we overcome this weakness?

    The first step is becoming aware of when we are having prideful thoughts. An excess of pride may cause you to think you don’t need a daily yoga practice. It may cause you to compare yourself to other people in your yoga class. It may even cause you to avoid your practice altogether because you feel you’re not good enough and don’t want to embarrass yourself. Let go of all that. Allow yoga to provide that process of stripping away the natural man and getting back to your true self, your divine self.

    When we say the words ‘Namaste’ we are saluting the divine in others and in ourselves. May we strive to more fully see this divinity, and let go of the struggle. Be one with all.

    Next, let us choose to be humble. The antidote for pride is humility. Rejoice in your talents and accomplishments, but in a way that is modest. Either we can choose to be humble or we can be compelled to be humble.

    “Blessed are they who humble themselves without being compelled to be humble.” (Alma 32:16.)

    We can choose to humble ourselves by conquering enmity toward our brothers and sisters, valuing them as ourselves, and lifting them as high or higher than we are. We can choose to humble ourselves by receiving counsel and chastisement.

    We can choose to humble ourselves by forgiving those who have offended us.

    D&C 64:10. “I, the Lord, will forgive whom I will forgive, but of you it is required to forgive all men.”

    We choose to be humble when we see another person’s point of view. When we give someone the benefit of the doubt. When we allow people to make mistakes that are different to the ones we habitually make.

    There is a bumper sticker doing the rounds which says ‘Don’t judge me because I sin differently to you.’ We each have failings, let’s be more gracious towards each other.

    Thomas S Monson has said

    “Life is perfect for none of us. Rather than being judgmental and critical of each other, may we have the pure love of Christ for our fellow travelers in this journey through life. May we recognize that each one is doing her best to deal with the challenges, which come her way, and may we strive to do our best to help out.

    Charity has been defined as the highest, noblest, strongest kind of love, … and whoso is found possessed of it at the last day, it shall be well with [her].”

    The upside is that when we let go of all this comparing, judging, and criticizing. We feel connected to other humans. And it is in the times of greatest connection that our greatest happiness is found.

    By Natalie Prigoone

    Natalie Prigoone, the great uncooking

    See More From Natalie On OMstars

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  • Plant-based New Years Eve Appetizers

    We can’t believe 2017 is almost over! What will you be doing when the clock strikes 12? Maybe you’re having a relaxing night in by the warm fire, or perhaps you’re heading out for a night on the town, whatever your plans may be you’ll need to figure out what your going to be eating on the last night of the year! How about your spice up your night with delicious plant-based recipes by Naomi Seifter owner of Picnik Austin! She has pulled together two absolutely amazing dishes just for you and your nearest and dearest to enjoy- Butternut Squash Soup and a Holiday Platter full of incredible flavours with each bite!

    Holiday Platter

    We played around with using yummy ingredients as the ‘bread.’  We used steamed butternut squash, steamed sweet potato, apple, red bell pepper, jicama and cucumber slices.  We also went the traditional route, using bread rounds for the crust.  We wanted to give loose instructions so that you to make this at home with your favorite fillings.  Take ours as a guide, but have fun and make it your own!

    ‘Crust’ Ingredients:

    • 1 large sweet potato

    • 1 butternut squash

    • 1 jicama

    • 1 red bell cucumber

    • 1 cucumber

    • 1 apple

    • Optional: gluten-free bread

    Directions:

    Step 1: Prepare “crust”

    Crust options are: cucumber rounds, gluten-free bread, steamed sweet potato rounds, apple rounds, jicama rounds, and red bell pepper. Mix and match to your heart’s desire! (see image below)

    1. Using a mandolin (or very sharp knife) cut the sweet potato and butternut squash into 1/8 inch thick slices length-wise (see below for reference).

    2.  Steam sweet potato for 5-7 minutes (dependent on how many you put in the steamer at once). You want the potato to be soft but not mushy. You want it to still hold it’s shape.

    3. Steam butternut squash for 5-10 minutes (dependent on how many you put in the steamer at once). You want the squash to be soft but not mushy. You want it to still hold it’s shape.

    4. Place both squash and sweet potato in fridge to cool.

    5. Using a 2 inch round cutter, make your “crust” rounds.

    *Repeat using 2 inch round cutter with other crust materials but do not steam apple, jicama, red bell pepper, or cucumber. These are best served raw! The bread can be toasted to make it crunchy.

    Step 2: Make Fillings

    Curried Chickpea “Chicken” Salad

    Ingredients:

    • 1 15 oz. canned organic chickpeas

    • 1 shallot bulb, minced

    • 1 celery stalk, small dice

    • 2/3 cup apple juice sweetened cranberries, rough chop

    • 1 tablespoon dijon mustard

    • 1 tsp. apple cider vinegar (or lemon juice)

    • 1 tsp. Himalayan sea salt

    • 1.5 cups avocado oil

    • 2 tsp. curry powder

    • 2 tbsp. pecans, finely chopped

    • 1 pinch cayenne

    • 2 pinches paprika

    • himalayan sea salt and pepper to taste

    Directions:

    1. Strain can of chickpeas. Place brine in Vitamix and chickpeas in a large mixing bowl.

    2. To the bowl, add minced shallot, chopped celery, cranberries

    3. To the blender, add mustard, apple cider vinegar, and sea salt. Turn Vitamix on low and slowly drizzle in avocado oil to create your homemade vegan mayonnaise (you can skip this blending step entirely by using the pre-made mayo of your choice).

    4. Add ¾ cup of blended mayo to the bowl.

    5. Using a wood spoon, fork, or potato masher, mash the chickpeas for several minutes until the chickpeas break apart and are well incorporated with the other ingredients. *If you prefer, you can use a food processor to speed the process up, although we did not demo this method.

    6. Add curry powder, cayenne, paprika, optional honey, and pecans.

    7. Add salt and pepper to taste.

    8. Place in fridge until ready to plate sandwiches.

    Other filling examples:

    Hummus

    Mix a 8 oz. container of hummus with ¼ cup finely chopped red bell pepper and ¼ cup finely chopped cucumber (reference photo) or other vegetables you prefer. Place on crust rounds of your choice.

    Nut Butter & Jelly 

    Combine equal parts almond butter (or peanut butter) with jelly. Mix together in a bowl. Try with apple or sweet potato crusts.

    Step 3: Arrange Tea Sandwiches

    Arrange tea sandwiches on a plate of your choice and top with any of the following:

    • Black sesame seeds

    • Hemp Seeds

    • Paprika

    • Flavored Salt

    • Garnish of choice

    Add fruit, herbs or decor to plate for extra color and sparkle!

     

    Butternut Squash Soup

    Before Naomi had a team to support her, she did all of the cooking out of her and Kevin’s house. This was a crucial time in our history because not only was Naomi creating the dishes, but she would then be at the trailer all day receiving feedback directly from our customers. That time laid a solid foundation of our food philosophy and helped us to discover exactly what kinds of food our regulars loved. This soup, was created during that precious time.  

    The coconut milk makes for a creamy and dairy-free base, while the spice mixture creates a unique, yet subtle, flavor profile; the ideal balance of sweet and spicy. Choose a veggie broth to make the soup vegan or a chicken broth if that is more your style. We hope you and your loved ones enjoy it as much as we do! Let’s get started…

    Ingredients

    Produce

    • 3 delicata squash

    • 3 apples

    • 3 cloves of garlic

    • 1 yellow onion

    • Olive Oil

    • Himalayan Sea Salt

    Liquid

    • 1/2 cup coconut milk

    • 1 cup apple cider

    • 3 tbsp maple syrup

    • 6 cups chicken or vegetable stock (we made a shiitake mushroom broth*, recipe below)

    Spices

    • 1/2 tsp turmeric

    • 1/2 tsp paprika

    • 1/2 tsp cayenne

    • 1/2 tsp ginger

    • 2 tsp cinnamon

    • 4 tsp himalayan sea salt

    • 2 tsp black pepper

    Directions

    1. Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees.

    2. Cut squash in half and remove the seeds.  Thick slice the delicata squash and large/rough chop apple and onion.  Peel garlic, and lay squash, apple, onion and garlic in a single layer on 2 baking sheets. Liberally apply olive oil and sprinkle with sea salt. Place in oven to roast for 1 hour at 400 degrees.

    3. When roasting is complete, add produce from your 1st baking sheet to your high-powered blender (Vitamix/Blendtec) with 1/2 of the liquid and 1/2 of the spices (everything except salt and pepper – this will be added at the end). Blend and transfer to a large stock pot.  Repeat the blend process for the second batch of produce, liquid and spices.  Transfer to the same pot.  

    4. At this point, soup can either be placed in fridge for later or it can be transferred to the stovetop and heated immediately.  I like to season this soup to taste with salt and pepper when I’m ready to serve it.  As the soup is thick, it can “pop” and make a mess as your heat it up, so it is recommended you use a lid.  An additional note:  If soup is too thick for your liking, feel free to add additional stock.

    5. Enjoy!

    Stock Recipe

    1. To make your own shiitake mushroom broth, add 1 oz. dried shiitake mushrooms to 8 cups of water and bring to a boil. Once water is boiling, turn down heat and let simmer for 45-60 minutes.  Final yield is about 6 cups of stock.

    By Naomi Seifter

    Follow Naomi on instagram at @picnikaustin 

    Discover more scrumptious plant based recipes on Omstars

  • Who needs Yoga?

    The imagery of modern yoga has an ethereal edge.  Wherever we look, we see lissome bodies bending into improbable forms, and balancing elegantly on the precipice of medical disaster.  This imagery can lend the impression that yoga is for people who live an ethereal existence, people who may be missing bones, who drift through the atmosphere, and rarely touch ground with their feet.  But these images are incidental.  They do not reflect the profile of the ordinary yoga practitioner.  On the contrary, they do something more interesting.  They reflect our fascination with the contortive potential of the human body, and in doing so, they symbolize, however imperfectly, our inherent admiration for resilience.

    Yogic imagery is remarkably old.  It provides the earliest evidence we have for yoga in the ancient world.  One of the earliest pieces is the Pashupati seal from the Mohenjo-Daro excavation site in present day Pakistan.  It features a humanlike figure with long horns seated in what appears to be Mulabandhasana.  The seal predates the current era by more than two millennia, and represents a civilization about which we understand very little.  The meaning of the seal is veiled in obscurity, and this is usual for artifacts that pertain to the ancient origins of yoga.  Sometimes we can decode their symbology enough to tell a coherent story about what they might mean, but we can only imagine the consciousness in which they were composed.

    Throughout its long and complicated history, yoga has formed countless alliances with  diverse alchemical and soteriological traditions.  In light of the diversity, many scholars now argue that there is no single thing called “yoga” whose tradition we can trace.  And so that may be.  But if we look at examples of yogic imagery throughout the ages—from the ancient seals of the Indus River Valley, to the medieval temple carvings of Tamil Nadu, to the Kalighat paintings of colonial Bengal, and to the crystalline images that stream through our social media channels today—there is always that ethereal edge.  There is always that evident longing to elevate consciousness above our limitations, and so to enrich and expand the human experience.

    This ethereal edge is the common thread to what we recognize as yogic imagery.  And if we can follow that thread through the ages, weaving through countless social and ritual contexts, this is arguably because of the way that what we recognize as yoga practice answers an archetypal human need—the need to be resilient, to be malleable, and to meet the persistent pressures to adapt to the ever changing circumstance of life.  That need has been understood in diverse and often opposing ways, as demonstrated by the Vedic, Tantric, and Advaitic approaches to the problem.  Arguably no single one of these is definitive, but neither can any one of them be discounted.  What is pertinent is the way that each of them answers our felt need to break up our inveterate patterns of conditioning, open our minds and evolve.

    Modern yoga does not cohere around any particular philosophy.  It exists more simply as an open set of practices and techniques for helping us overcome our psychological limitations.  Whatever the promises of yoga practice might be, the most pertinent and most compelling is that yoga allows us to relate more openly to otherness.  The practice teaches us to hold an open space of compassionate awareness for our own thoughts, emotions and memories to unfold, no matter how excessive or threatening they might seem.  Through this practice, we give ourselves space, and we allow our minds to breath, so that otherness can appear within our consciousness, and we can relate to it more openly, without being impeded by our fears and anxieties.  That is, we can receive otherness, and be impacted by otherness, adapting to its reality without having to reinforce any particular idea or image of ourselves in the process.

    The reception of otherness within ourselves helps break up our self images.  And in this sense, the practices of yoga are vehicles for psychical release.  They help us release ourselves from the tangles of thought, emotion and memory to which we so ardently cling.  They help us to let go of things, so that we do not congeal into the imprint of our experiences, but we can continue to change and adapt to our circumstances.  To put it simply, the techniques of yoga help us break ourselves up.  They help us break up the congestion of our delusions and conceits, piercing the armor by which we conceal and protect ourselves from the otherness of the world.  And in doing so, they help us liberate ourselves from the stagnation of our conditioning, so we can open ourselves to new relationships, and new possibilities of experience.

    The orphanage of modern yoga practices from the historical traditions from which they descend is often regarded as corrosive to their potency, but arguably the reverse is true.  However rich and compelling those traditions might be, it remains essential that we translate our experiences with yoga into our own living language, into words that bring those experiences home to us, and engage us as we are.  The elision of antiquated concepts from the language of yoga is therefore an essential and not entirely regrettable aspect of its adaptation to modern life.  Without imposing upon ourselves the arcane limitations of historically distant ideas, we can have a more authentic experience of ourselves through the practice.  The removal of those ideas means that we can give ourselves more room to breathe, more room to settle into ourselves, and more room to follow the currents of awakening that are already flowing through us.

    This is part of the intelligence of modern yoga.  As a global phenomenon, yoga is not bound too tightly to any particular philosophy, nor to any particular conception of the relationship between the human and the divine.  And for just that, it can focus on what is more compelling, namely, the process of breaking up the self, and creating more space for the natural processes of creativity to unfold.  There are, of course, people today who would argue endlessly about the relative credentials of dualism, non-dualism, monism and the like, but the modern yoga movement is largely agnostic on these speculative questions, and understandably so.  In these late modern times, we have no need for the kind of thinking that hangs so breathlessly on these delicate distinctions, and evidence abounds of the problems that arise when we allow that kind of thinking to congeal into certainty.  Moreover, the speculative questions that underlie these distinctions tend to lose their force under the softening influence of the yogic experience, and that experience is really the center of the attraction.

    What holds the attention of most modern yoga practitioners is not any particular view of reality that may or not be encouraged by the practice, but the immediate experience of psychical release that is so warmly invited by each and every breath.  The most intriguing thing about yoga practice is that it works—when we undertake the practice assiduously, without pause, for a reasonable amount of time, we find that we can break into ourselves, creating space within our minds to relate to otherness in a more open and authentic way.  And here is the point—it is only by relating openly and authentically to otherness that we can evolve, for it is precisely in relation to otherness that we express creativity, awareness, compassion, and resilience.

    So the process of breaking into ourselves, and creating space for otherness, is crucial for our psychological development.  And we all could use some kind of internal practice to help make that process unfold, for we all tend to stagnate into our own psychological patterns.  This is perhaps the fundamental problem that yoga practice has always been called upon to solve, the problem of pulling us from the mire of our own conditioning.  This problem is arguably more pressing now then ever.  Modern life, after all, draws us into extremes of isolation, where we shun our collective problems with dangerous apathy.  It is perhaps no coincidence, then, that an unprecedented collective effort is the only chance that we have to reverse our destructive patterns today and resolve the colossal problems of our time.  At this pivotal moment in history, when we have nuclear weapons pointed all over the globe, and our patterns of extraction and consumption are quickly destroying the conditions of human life on our planet, our survival depends on our ability to break our conditioned patterns of thinking and acting, to come out of ourselves, to recognize the stark reality of our crises, and then to join together, with the rest of humanity, to take radical and immediate measures to cope intelligently with our nearly apocalyptic problems.

    Today, we can no longer afford to limit yoga to spiritual purposes.  Yoga is perhaps the most powerful instrument that we have for breaking out of ourselves and overcoming the paralyzing effects of our psychological conditioning.  On the same account, we can no long afford to restrict access to yoga, or create divisions within yoga that reinforce that archaic and destructive “us-versus-them” mentality.  What we think of as “real” yoga might not be for everyone (or anyone living now for that matter) but everyone today needs the kind of provocation to openness and change that even the more popular forms of yoga can inspire.  The real yoga is not the one that comes down to us through this or that authority, but the one that rattles us out of our delusions, draws us out ourselves, and exposes us to the fact that we are not isolated from one another, but bound together inextricably, and tasked to find ways of living together that express our basic resilience, kindness and generosity.

    The popularization of yoga, whatever its drawbacks might be, can help to inspire this kind of realization, by giving us simple and compelling methods for breaking up our mental congestions and our practical stagnations, and dissolving the individual and collective delusions that obscure our deeper and more loving nature.  This is something that we can all support without reservation, if we can only set ourselves aside, and look at the bigger picture.  Instead of creating more divisive hierarchies, more elitist obscurations, or more structures of restricted access and protected privilege, we should work together to churn the collective mind, uncover the potent essence of yoga, and then allow it to flow, so we can share it with absolutely everyone.

    By Ty Landrum

    Have you tried Ty’s Ashtanga course on Omstars? He explores techniques and tips for jumping through and jumping back, the energies of prana and apana in practice and also teaches a full primary series practice as well! Stay tuned for more articles and courses from Ty on omstars, but in the meantime you can read more of Ty’s brilliant articles on his website tylandrum.com!

    Practice Ashtanga with Ty Landrum today on Omstars

  • 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

  • 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/

  • Femininity, perseverance & gentleness- Magnolias- Omstars new print by Liquido

    Everyone is going Magnolias with Omstars! Check out our NEW Limited edition print: Gold Magnolias yoga clothing line! Omstars have partnered up with Liquido and have our first beautiful print ready for you to wear. The new Magnolias print is available in Om leggings, Shine shorts and our Twisted bra

    With so many different Yoga clothing lines out there sometimes it can be challenging to wade through them all to find what works best for you. Well look no further! Kino has helped to design our new Magnolias line which features extra long leggings with a high waist band, shine shorts, which are perfect for those hot practices and summer days, and our ever popular twisted bra top. All of these items have been created using Liquido’s Freedom fit fabric technology, which is a super soft material with lots of stretch capability for even the most pretzel like of postures! This lightweight, breathable material has been created for yogis of all shapes and to fit as uniquely as the human being that wears them. Whether you wear these items for Yoga, running or any activity for that matter, you’ll feel comfortable, confident and capable of fluid movement in all directions.

    Magnolias have long been regarded as a symbol of femininity, perseverance, and gentleness. Often found in nature to be subtle in colour but strong in appearance, these flowers capture the essence of practice and truly living the yogi life.

    Twist Bra Top:

    The Omstars twist bra top has been a winning item in our online shop and now you can go bold with this strappy bra featuring a keyhole design in our new Magnolia print! Perfect under a loose tank, or worn by itself, this bra makes a statement, and is anything but boring! It’s great for yoga, pilates, dancing, just about any activity, with its moisture-wicking lycra based fabric and open back.

    Shine Shorts:

    The Omstars shine shorts in Magnolia by Liquido are the perfect alternative to our leggings for the summer months, heated class and basically any activity where you’ll be sweating. These gorgeous shorts feature a super short fit, sit below the navel and feature side ties. Made from Liquido’s classic stretchy and soft Freedom fabric, you won’t want to wear anything else! Every Liquido short is unique so your pair may vary from the picture you see on the Omstars shop page.

    Om Legging:

    These super comfortable, extra long leggings have been constructed with a custom Poly-Lycra blend fabric that combines exceptional performance with a flattering and softened fit. Sitting snugly above the hips, the elastic-free higher sitting waistband is sinfully comfortable for all fits, athletic to curvy.

    Each of our new Omstars Magnolia pieces are constructed of 90% Polyamide and 10% Spandex, silky soft fabric and with a stretch that will never let you down, allowing you full freedom of movement for your yoga practice and beyond! If you’re practicing outdoors your skin will be protected by 50+UVA/UVB built into the fabric. Even in the sweatiest of practices, your new yoga gear is quick-drying and durable and you’ll be happy to know that each item has been made with love in Brazil, sweatshop free.

    What are you waiting for? Log on to shop our new print — Start shopping now Omstars Shop. You can then post your pics in our new print for a chance to be featured on our Instagram page!. Use #OSMagnolia.

    By Anna Wechsel

    Learn more about Liquido

    Visit our Omstars Shop for new leggings, shorts, tops and so much more

  • 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

  • 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!

  • Raw Vegan Chocolate Banana Protein Smoothie

    This was so good I think it was almost criminal. Left over chocolate has never been a problem for me. But if you’ve been wondering what to do with the little bit of left over chocolate, say  from my peanut butter protein balls, then this here, is the ticket.  A simple, healthy, protein enriched chocolate smoothie that will knock your socks off and make you want to drink both of them immediately.

    Recipe for Raw Vegan Chocolate Protein shake

    No cows were squeezed, no sugar was imbibed and no diet rules broken in the making of this quick breakfast to go.

    Ingredients

    • 2 cups cold filtered water

    • 2 -2 1/2 frozen bananas

    • 2 scoops vanilla or chocolate raw vegan protein powder (I used Sunwarrier)

    • 1 tbs raw cacao powder

    • 1 cup coconut yoghurt (make your own using the recipe from my course on omstars)

    • Ice cubes

    • 3 tbs Homemade chocolate warmed to liquid (to serve)

    Method

    Blend all ingredients except the chocolate sauce. The quantity should measure 4 cups on the side of your jug. Add ice cubes to make up the difference in volume. Blend until slushy, stopping to mix with a wooden spoon. Pour a little chocolate down the sides of the mason jars for garnish but reserve most of the chocolate sauce for the top. Pour the frapped smoothies into the mason jars and drizzle on the chocolate sauce. Because the chocolate has been made with cacao butter it will harden into a nice top which you can crack off and eat.

    So delicious. Seriously, stop everything and savour this smoothie to make the moment last.

    By Natalie Prigoone

    Follow her on instagram @thegreatuncooking and visit her website thegreatuncooking.com for more raw food recipes or create incredible dishes, smoothies, dips, snacks and more alongside Natalie on Omstars.

    Learn more recipes with Natalie on Omstars