Keep the Momentum Going 🧞‍♂️ Dancing Shiva

The soul reveals itself to itself
Through gesture, 
Energy-infused undulations and gestures
Of hand, foot, spine, face, and form. 
The invisible loves the visible. 

– The Radiance Sutras –



Hello, fellow friends on the path, 

We are almost midway through the 30-Day Virtual Yoga Challenge! It’s been wonderful connecting with you on the FB Group and  PWC App. Your support and motivation is inspiring—it reminds me of the yoga studio’s camaraderie. ☺️

One of my intentions for the challenge was to have a LIVE class each week so that we could come together across space/borders to practice at the same time.  
It was awesome to practice with over 130 of you on Friday January 1st. 🙌🏼

I’ll be doing it every Saturday this month at 11am PST on the Practice With Clara app.
 

Join me TODAY for a live vinyasa class at 11am PST,
for a back bending class working towards
👇🏼Dancing Shiva👇🏼

After the class, I’ll be staying on to answer any questions you have about the class and reading any feedback you want to share. 

You can ask me anything in the LIVE Chat Box on the class page.

If you aren’t able to make the class, we’ll be posting the recording in the New Release playlist 24-hours after the class has gone live. 

Here’s the info on today’s class:
 

Join me for a 60-minute vinyasa practice working towards Dancing Shiva. We’ll focus on backbends with front body opening and back body strengthening as we build to the peak pose.

Props needed: 2 blocks and 1 strap.

SPOTIFY MUSIC PLAYLIST 
for today’s class

For those of you participating in the challenge, I invite you to check in with how your body is feeling each day and practice accordingly. To complete the day of the challenge, all I ask is that you make it to your mat. This could mean you do a different yoga class, or rest in shavasana the whole class. Some participants look at the week’s class playlist and decide to mix up which classes they practice that week depending upon time constraints and energy levels. 


Sometimes my practice is focused, insightful, and inspiring. Other days, I just get a few moments of peace from the monkey mind. And sometimes, it’s just an opportunity to observe how uncomfortable I can be in stillness. 
 

So I invite you to make the practice your own. Honor how you feel and commit to 30-days of exploring your inner light and commitment to wellness. 🌿 

We LOVE seeing your comments in the Facebook Group! 

It’s never too late to join us on the challenge; sign-up for FREE with the coupon code until January 15th!:

✶ COMMUNITY2021 

Ignite the Fire Within is our third virtual yoga challenge.

 
We hosted the inaugural 30-day challenge in June 2020 to reconnect with the community during the pandemic.

For our second challenge, Feed Your Whole Self, we focused on all the ways we nourish our bodies, minds, and spirits. 
 

Read the evolution of the 30-day challenges to feel how we co-create the space and set the intention with our partners and community members. 

 

Sending love and a virtual hug, 💜
Clara & the Team.  

PS, one of the greatest gifts you can give is the gift of yoga.👇🏼
Send a yoga gift card to a friend OR invite them to the 30-day challenge! It’s never too late to join us.

What We Hope to Deliver in the New Year

You who have been seeking, 

Whatever path you are on,

A moment will come and grab you

And carries you into its dance.

– The Radiance Sutras –


Hello, fellow friends on the path, 

We kicked-off 2021 with a LIVE class, Revolved Triangleon January 1st and had over 100 participants! I’m so looking forward to practicing with you during the live classes each week; finding more ways to come together is one of my intentions for the New Year. 

LIVE classes are held Saturday’s at 11am PST for those of you who want to join me.  

In the weekly live class, we’ll be exploring a new peak pose for the next four weeks.

The classes I’ve planned to do with you are intermediate with plenty of modifications. The sequence leading up to a peak pose is a wonderful way to build strength, flexibility, and endurance as your body adapts to the practice. 

Revolved Triangle

Work up a sweat as you stretch your hampstrings and side waist with a fiery class that builds toward a peak pose with revolved triangle. 

 *On-Demand replays of the weekly live class will be in the New Release Playlist. 

It feels so good to sit with everyone in a shared experience. I miss being with you in public spaces to teach and am hopeful that things shift this year so we can meet in real life to practice!

One of the things I’ve discovered teaching online classes is the power of building intimacy through conversation. I’ve found that sharing my experience has been liberating and fosters togetherness online. 

For the 30-day challenge, I’m sharing my experience of each class each day on my Instagram account

I’d love to hear from those of you who are with us for the month of the challenge. Tag #practicewithclara on Instagram, or join us in the Facebook Group where we share the daily class.

Listen to our final podcast of 2020!

We’ve decided to put a pause on the podcast moving forwards to put our time and attention on yoga events and live classes. 

This final episode highlights our greatest lessons from hosting a podcast, including:
✺ How agility benefits small businesses. 
✺  Why we always invest in a backup plan.
PLUS
✺  Memorable moments with guests.

Watch / Listen / Read

Alejandro, Steph, and I sat down to discuss all the ways we delivered on our goals this year and how we wanted to better our processes moving forward. This week’s blog post captures some of our key lessons and the experiences that shaped our current offerings. 

A Year of Online Yoga and Powerful Conversations 

  1. Keep moving and roll with your mistakes. 

  2. Listen to your community.

  3. Honor process and create rituals to anchor specific tasks.

  4. Always have a backup plan. 

  5. Move in the direction that the data points. 

    Read the full post to review our biggest takeaways from 2020 and what we have planned for 2021! 

Sending love and a virtual hug, 
Clara & the Team.  

PS, one of the greatest gifts you can give is the gift of yoga.
Send a yoga gift card to a friend OR invite them to the 30-day challenge!

A Year of Online Yoga and Powerful Conversations

To wrap up the year, the team at Practice with Clara sat down to reflect on all that we’ve learned and achieved in 2020. We spent a day examining how Practice with Clara evolved and how we might refine our focus. We wrote down all the initiatives we tried and our community members’ responses in our recap session. This practice is one we plan to do at the end of each year to mark our progress, enhance productivity, and observe the areas to dedicate more time and effort than the places we might let go to create space.

In our final podcast episode of 2020, Clara and I shared some of our insights and reflections on the past year working together as we shifted to online yoga due to COVID. We discussed our key learnings around launching a podcast, some of our favorite interviews with guests, how we responded to a year of online yoga, and why Practice with Clara’s focus for 2021 is content that resonates with our community. 

This blog post contains the highlights from our discussion. You can watch the full episode or listen to it online.

Listen to a Podcast Interview to Gain Insight

Key Learnings from Starting a Podcast

  • Invest in the equipment.

The podcast was initially a 30-minute conversation on Instagram Stories two times a week. When COVID erupted in March 2020, we wanted a way to stay connected to the community and decided to host a series of philosophical talks on Instagram where people could join us to engage, ask questions, and participate in Clara’s live meditations. As we encountered technical issues (such as IG kicking us off the platform due to so many people using Instagram Stories to create and share content), we shifted over to Zoom and Riverside to host the podcast. Riverside is a great platform to use if you want to host a podcast as it takes care of many technicalities. 

  • Create boundaries around time.

We kept the podcast discussions under 60-minutes for several reasons. First and foremost, we wanted to keep the conversations short and sweet to maintain interest. Secondly, we wanted to post the full episode to Instagram Live, and sixty minutes is the maximum amount of time for each video to post. Finally, we capped the hours we allotted to pre-production, post-production, prepping, and editing each podcast.

  • Leave space for spontaneity. 

As we started bringing guests on the podcast and creating more of a formal container around the theme and how we wanted to present each guest, we discovered the value in leaving space for spontaneity and the element of surprise in the conversation. Often, the conversation would veer off into unplanned, albeit engaging themes that helped our guests shine as they expressed their passions. 

  • Always have a backup plan. 

As a backup, we recorded every podcast on an app on our iPhones and asked that guests do the same. No matter how advanced, technology still has its hiccups, and we lost audio several times while recording due to slight technical issues we didn’t pick-up on while in the heat of conversation. Having a backup audio file saved us in several discussions that we would have lost. 

  • Invest in quality over quantity. 

We selected simple themes to anchor the podcast discussions that aligned with the yoga classes released each week. Keeping the content strategy simple helped us learn a new skill, respond to mistakes, and keep moving forward as we produced an episode each week. 



Responding to a Year of Online Yoga

  • Keep moving and roll with the mistakes. 

Agility is an asset of any small business to keep trying new things and pivot swiftly as you learn and adapt from mistakes. Whenever we hit a roadblock, such as getting kicked off of Instagram, we shifted our plans to reframe the focus around our initial intention.  

  • Listen to your community.

Let your community tell you where to focus. We sent out a survey in November that received hundreds of responses. We very quickly saw where our efforts were valued and what content resonated most with our members from this survey.

  • Honor ritual and process. 

Thinking about the process around the task is much more valuable than focusing on the task itself. We created simple processes that kept our day-to-day tasks in-check to help synchronize each individual and the team’s work efforts. The PWC team works remotely, and having procedures in-place allows us to coordinate and communicate where we are at week over week. 

  • Move in the direction that the data points. 

Numbers do not lie. One thing we observed through analyzing data was how our numbers in the PWC FB Community Group were growing, whereas the PWC Instagram account was not. To keep refine and create more time to advance our efforts in other areas, we stopped posting on the branded IG account and moved everything over to Clara’s account and Facebook. 



Try Practice with Clara

7-days free for new members

Practice with Clara’s Focus for 2021 

  • Live yoga classes. 

On December 25th, we hosted the inaugural live yoga class on Practice with Clara and had 81-participants. 2021 aims to host weekly live classes available to all those who cannot make it in the New Releases category of the apps.

  • 30-Day Yoga Challenges.

The most useful feedback we received from the community this year is that the 30-day challenges are the preferred way to receive yoga classes and content. We plan to host several yoga challenges each year that focus on unique themes and yoga styles available to the community-at-large for free during the challenge and afterward in the PWC Apps. 

  • Make yoga accessible.  

At Practice with Clara, we feel that yoga should be accessible to everyone, no matter the financial circumstances. We currently have a Karma Yoga Program and offer the 30-day challenges to all non-members for free. Finding creative, sustainable methods to provide yoga to anyone who seeks a daily practice and cannot afford it is one of our goals for 2021. 

Join the conversation in the Practice with Clara 
Community Facebook Group!

We share the latest classes, podcast interviews, events, and content with members from all over the world.

Join Me to Ignite the Fire Within

ignite
My love letter to the winter solstice:

∾ 
You remind me of the importance of light,
More importantly, you remind me of all the work that goes unseen,
Within this domain of skin, bones and blood.
I have been excavating my secrets,
I have been hauling out old fears and patterns
Bringing them up to the light,
The light of my awareness,
warming them,
Inviting them to share their story.
I have learned to love them
To love you
To accept you
Again, and again
And again.
Each year, as the darkness returns,
I go back inside to excavate and remember
Remember those parts of me that live in the shadows
They try not to draw attention from others but instead try to lure me to them.
For in the darkness, I am easily lost.
When I find them,
I draw them close,
Kiss them,
Hold their hands
And beckon them to the light.
May we walk together….

Hello, fellow friends on the path, 

As we enter the final days of this year, I’ve been reflecting on ALL that has happened this year. It has been a practice in surrender as I let go of all that I thought I knew on a personal level AND been observing all the uncertainty of the changing global landscape. 

To honor my own practice and theme of the year, this week’s class, Hip Yinwill give you the opportunity to rest and surrender in each pose. 

Part of the magic of the short days, long nights is to encourage us to reflect on the lessons of the year. I hope you’re able to slow down and take time for yourself. I also hope you’re able to be with loved ones (virtually or physically) over the next few days.

New class

Hip Yin (80-mins)

A hip-focused yin class that takes you deep into the pelvis, groins, and legs. This class features pigeon pose, lizard pose, pyramid pose. and frog pose. Surrender to the deep quiet of your breath as you hold each posture. 

Hip Yin

Moving together and receiving nourishment from the community is our intention with the 30 day Challenges.

Join us for the next event starting January 1st, 2021. 

Ignite the Fire Within

For all our members, you don’t need to do anything. The 30 Day challenge playlist will be LIVE on December 30th on the apps.

For those who are new to Practice With Clara, you can join us for FREE using  the coupon code

✶ COMMUNITY2021 

This will give you access for the full 30 days!!

This challenge includes weekly LIVE yoga classes!

We’re launching a live-series of classes every Saturday to release the class-of-the-week with Clara guiding us through a vinyasa yoga sequence.

The virtual yoga challenges were born out of a desire to create an online community and cultivate positive and productive habits. 

When we take care of ourselves, we feel good. When we feel good, we tend to act with more consideration and compassion in our communities.

Last month, we sent out a survey and received hundreds of responses. One of the biggest feedback we received is to provide more ways to stay motivated, inspired, and held accountable for your yoga practice

Based on your requests, we’ve created three ways for you to stay motivated, connect and be inspired with each other. Choose the one that works best for you

  1. In the PWC App:  type ∾ YES ∾ in the comments after you finish the class to share that you’ve done your yoga.
  2. In the PWC FB Group: We will post the class daily, you can type ∾ YES ∾ in the comments to share that you’ve done your yoga.
  3. Daily notifications via the App – We will be sending a daily notification through the PWC app – you can opt-in through the app settings and you can also opt out if you’d prefer to not receive it.

We’ve also created a calendar and a PDF of the journaling questions to keep you inspired through the 30-day challenge which you can download here below or through the event page.

 

Download the Journaling Booklet.

Download the Calendar.

 

The commitment to a daily practice represents your promise to create healthy habits as you get stronger in mind, body, and spirit. 

If you have any questions or any suggestions on how we could support you through this journey please ensure to let us know either on the FB Group or by emailing us at [email protected]

If you’re not entirely convinced as to why a virtual yoga challenge is for you, here are 30 life-enriching reasons to dedicate yourself to a month of practice. 

10 Life-Enriching Reasons to Join a Virtual Yoga Challenge 

    1. Create a ritual to anchor the day. 
    2. Initiate a productive habit to enrich your lifestyle.
    3. Build strength and enhance flexibility. 
    4. Cultivate discipline.
    5. Witness the results of your effort.
    6. Refine and harness your focus. 
    7. Hold each other accountable. 
    8. Release destructive habits.
    9. Celebrate your heart.
    10. Connect to a community of like-minded practitioners. 

🙌🏼 Read the full post with 30 life-enriching reasons to join us on this journey. 

Sending love and a virtual hug, 💜
Clara & the Team.  

PS, one of the greatest gifts you can give is the gift of yoga.👇🏼

 

Andrea Freeman: Mindful Business Insights & Strategy

andrea freeman

The Practice with Clara online platform and apps were launched at the end of 2019. In the past year, there have been many challenges and steep learning curves with the company as we got to know each other as a team and tried various creative projects to build a community online. I joined the team in January of 2020, and Clara and I launched the #PracticeWithClara Podcast at the end of March when the world went into lockdown for COVID-19. 

Creating a virtual yoga community has shown us what can occur when people come together over a shared intention; 2020 has been quite the journey, and we are so grateful for all those who’ve joined us and contributed to the sangha online. 

Looking ahead to what we can do in 2021, we want to focus our efforts on the areas where we feel the most feedback from our community members. This past year, we had many different incentives for people to join us in the practice and contemplation of what it means to live yoga. In the coming months, we want to create more structure around the company’s bigger vision to deliver content that resonates in areas where we’ve seen the most engagement. 

“The biggest thing is to create and brainstorm to make the next step awesome and exciting. Not only for our community but usour team. I want our team to feel like a family and for that to spill out into our community so that even though we’re online, we feel like a family.” –  Clara Roberts Oss. 

To harness our ideas and get an outsider’s perspective on how we can optimize our time and efforts at Practice with Clara, Andrea Freeman joined us on the podcast to provide insight into how the Practice with Clara team can grow the community and business in 2021. 

“When we have a big vision, it’s constructive to reverse engineer so that we can make it measurable. When our goals are measurable, it takes a lot of the emotion out of it, and that will help you determine whether you’re hitting your goals or not.” – Andrea Freeman.

Watch or listen to the full episode. Highlights from our talk are provided below.

Interview with Andrea Freeman

AFI’m super excited to be here with you. I love helping female entrepreneurs build mindful businesses that work for all parts of their lives so that they can thrive in their business and their life.  

I want to start with an intention for the session and hear what you have going on in your business. Can you tell me what’s going on business-wise and what you’re hoping to look at to shift or evolve? 

CROAbout a year ago, we launched our online platform, where we have yoga classes and meditation and mantra. I’ve been running my own business for about 16 years but hadn’t put it online; I’d been teaching all live events. My husband and I launched Practice with Clara in 2019, and then Stephanie came on board to help us with copy and pretty much everything as startups go.

Stephanie joined us in January and then later became a full-time employee. Now we’re looking to build and grow our community; we’re essentially trying to take it to the next level.

AF—What’s the goal of growing the community? What does that make available for you guys personally and your businesses? 

CRO—We want to grow, but a roadblock we’re hitting is that I’m a new mom, and it’s also on me to create all of the content. It’s me on the site. One of our learning curves is finding the right balance between me shooting content and taking care of the baby.

My husband, Alejandro, and Steph do a lot of the backend to maintain operations and keep everything moving forward. We want to grow, but in a way that honors sustainability and our lifestyle because there are only so many hours in a day. 

AFBefore we started recording, you were saying time management, sales, and delegation seem to be the three areas that you want to focus on, is that correct? 

CRO—Yes. The biggest thing for me is delegation. I’ve been running my own business for sixteen years, and I would work seven days a week for long hours. I have a very good work ethic, but now the issue is that I don’t have that much time because I’m taking care of my little one. I need to get better at delegating and handing off what needs to be done. My initial response is that I’ll take care of it, but the tasks don’t get done because I don’t have time. 

New Class – released every Friday 

Just Be: Restorative Yoga

The class you’ve been craving to unwind, a 70-minute restorative session with Clara to hit reset in different shapes. Move through five simple postures with props and hold each pose for 8-10 minutes to restore and drop into your body. Supported twists and heart-opening extend and release the spine to create more space for your breath.

AFIf you look at delegation, your efforts in delegating will spill over into the other two areas you want to focus on and affect everything in your business.

If you’re empowered in your delegation house, then you’re going to see growth, and you’re going to see movement in all the other spaces. 

When you think about delegating in your business, what is there for you? What, how does that feel for you, and what does it look like right now?

CROIt’s hard for me because I’m a control freak. Also, because I’m the brand and because it is the thing that I’ve been doing myself for so long that I feel like I have a hard time letting go. The biggest thing is I have a hard time letting go of all the tasks that need to be done when it comes to branding and the specific look and feel of how things are presented. 

What I’ve been working with is learning how to trust and to soften into it. I don’t want to let my community down; I would feel very disappointed if I let anyone down or didn’t feel like I was offering my fullest potential and expressing myself. 

AFI think it’s beneficial for your business to have some structure around delegation to look at how it will work in the day-to-day tasks that need to get done. This might be where you and Stephanie can look at how you work together. What would that look like?

What are you most excited to accept support about? 

CROThe biggest thing is to create and brainstorm to make the next step awesome and exciting. Not only for our community but us—our team. I want our team to feel like a family and for that to spill out into our community so that even though we’re online, we feel like a family.

AF—When we have a big vision, it’s constructive to reverse engineer so that we can make it measurable. When our goals are measurable, it takes a lot of the emotion out of it, and that will help you determine whether you’re hitting your goals or not.

How you would know that you were successful in brainstorming and creating this big vision that you have for your business?

CRO— It would be more on like the day-to-day things. The biggest ways of being actionable that Steph supports us with are writing most of the copy, the social media schedule, and keeping me on track. I’m the visionary, and I can go off and lose track of what needs to be done and when things are due. Steph keeps me on track and tethers me to the day-to-day, which is helpful.

The biggest way to support me is to hold me accountable, which Steph has been good at, and help me stay on track because I’m so used to working alone, and I just kind of do things when I remember to do them. 

AFYou would benefit from a structured schedule for micro and macro projects, like a calendar essentially, where you have dates or appointments to check in on. 

I would do a session each morning as a 10-minute check-in to your promises for the day. This task asks that every person on the team lives in the space of accountability. This task will keep you on track with the day-to-day list of things that need to get done, and it will help Steph because she’ll be more involved in the big picture and the running of the day-to-day. It will be more of a partnership, and it’s going to build trust.

Now, once you know how you feel about all the things that you’re doing and how you’ll support each other, next you look at the data, you look at the engagement, you look at where your audience is growing. From these numbers, you will see where you should focus. 

The decision is always in the data, and you use the data to align with your intuition and what’s feeling right for you and your business at that moment. When those two things come together, you show up in your most authentic form. Your most creative self-expression is where people will resonate with you most.

I love working with entrepreneurs who are trying to scale and trying to build a bigger vision because you want to go deep. That’s the thing when you’re concerned with building community; when that’s your passion, it’s because you like going deep with people. So you have to focus on that space where the data shows engagement, and you feel the most traction. 

CRO— This is something that Steph, Alejandro, and I are always talking about. Your actions don’t ever affect just one aspect of your life; it ripples out into all aspects of your life. In terms of using the word mindful in your coaching title, this is what we do; our whole thing is to be mindful and to ask the bigger questions of ourselves so that we can show up as the best humans for our community.

I’d love you to share a bit of your journey and how the mindful business coach showed up for you. 

AFWhen you’re fully yourself, it’s exactly how your ideal customer or client recognizes that you’re for them. It’s all about having a business that feels as good as it looks. I like to say, let your personal evolution fuel your business revolution.

More About Andrea Freeman

Hello there! I’m Andrea and I believe that transforming your life is the access to transforming your business.  As a mindful business coach and peak performance planner, I work with creative entrepreneurs to support them in their evolution.  I operate from the foundational principle that businesses develop alongside the individuals who run them.  Meaning the higher your consciousness the greater the impact you make in the world.  It’s my personal joy to work with business owners to help them align with who they are at their core – with their unique personal gifts and unstoppable power.  

Join the Uplevel Collective

A free group for successful, creative, female entrepreneurs who know the money is in their mindset and want to truly have it all – the thriving business, the impact, the money, the vitality!

Or visit Andrea’s Website.

Janet Stone: Sangha, Mantra, and Sadhana

Cultivating a community is a way to create a home no matter where you are in the world. Sangha means community in Sanskrit; we contribute and support each other whether we practice in a shared space or online. When we come together to express a shared intention—be it asana practice, mantra, or meditation—we enhance our ability to evolve through a shared and supportive experience. 

We interviewed renowned yoga teacher and bhakta Janet Stone on the power of mantra, Sangha, and Sadhana. Before COVID, Janet traveled worldwide, sharing her voice and practice as a means to create community.

“When I do mantra, my jealousy, fears, anxieties, and depression, whatever the things are, all of it falls away. Whatever’s coming up during this COVID time, whatever’s coming up in your life, when you’re willing to show up and churn and not just choose to go to sleep, Netflix, vices, all this stuff, it’s uncomfortable. So let’s do it together. My one voice mixed with all the voices. Everybody drops their story for a second.” – Janet Stone. 

To hear and discover more of Janet’s music and mantra, follow her on Spotify or Apple Music

Watch or listen to the full episode or read the highlights below.

Introducing Janet Stone

If you could be born in any era, what period would you choose and why? 

JS I would choose now because it’s ripe with knowledge. The speed at which things are evolving and growing and shifting is completely rapid fire. In every single moment, we have a choice to go forward, to enter the shadow space and the darker realms. We can pull back and see more of a context of where we are. So I’m just going to go with now.

What are three things you never leave home without? 

JSCompassion, empathy, and acts of kindness and maybe somewhere. I never leave without my intention. Intention helps me with those other three. I try to bring my kids when they’re willing to come with me, but sometimes they’re not. A snack, I’m weirdly always hungry, and turmeric, ginger, and warm water because it’s like my little security blanket. 

Janet Stone Yoga
@janetstoneyoga
What’s your superpower? 

JSMy superpower is my compassion for humanity and being able to see a larger view. I have this ability to go way out to see the macro view of things, and also really micro; I have a lens that can expand to take it all in, and I can be right here with you and see you as who you are, where you are and hold a context.

How did you come to yoga?

JS I was in the film industry, and I was there for a dozen years, and I was passionate about it. I worked with the company that did Seinfeld and worked with Larry David, who created it, and many other amazing people, and I loved it. I never meant to leave. 

My grandfather and three generations prior had been born and raised in India and what he brought back to my California childhood was enough to plant a seed for sure. Thanksgiving was curry and naan, and all the stories and something about it kind of hit me. I had that moment, you know, Saturn Return, vibes maybe. So I took a hiatus, as they call it in the film industry, and went traveling. One of the places that I stayed in was both India and Nepal, and both of those just were ripe with teachers. 

I found a teacher and took up meditation, and this is a whole new level that opened up to me. It was funny and fun and great. I returned to LA and went back to the film industry, but then there was this one moment where someone asked me to step in for them to teach.  So I taught the class, and every person in the room asked me where else and when I was teaching.

I felt like it kept going, calling me toward it. Till one day, I was at a dinner party, and I discovered that I wasn’t saying I was in the film industry. I was saying, I’m offering yoga. 

When did you start traveling? 

JS I had my babies, my little girls, with me initially. I was pretty young when I was on my own with them. It was just the three of us; I had one on my front, one on my back, and the world was just always like, come here, come here. Travel was an open invitation from the world. 

The roots of one place were all of the nutrients I received. In Sadhana, we show up no matter the elements. Rain, shine, happy, sad, divorce, marriage, birth, death. We show up; it doesn’t matter. Every single practice is different, it’s not like today. We come together to sit in Sadhana, and then we all disappear and go back to our busy lives. 

Can you share a little about your practice of mantra? 

JSI think being in India and hearing chants in the temples and even up in Nepal, the resonance was what woke something up in me. It’s when I realized I’m not going to figure out enlightenment staying in my mind. 

Through mantra, the resonance, sound, and reverberation exist within the vibration. It’s where it all makes sense. The mind drops down into the heart. The heart gets bigger. In this place, I feel that it’s not about me. It’s not about you or me; we’re not telling our story. We’re not performing. I don’t perform. I don’t even sing. I chant. There’s zero performance in Bhakti yoga. Bhakti is devotion; it’s participation. Singing is performative, and there’s zero performance in Bhakti. Bhakti is participating. 

When I do mantra, it’s like my jealousy and my fears, anxieties, and depression, you know, whatever the things are, all of it falls away. Whatever’s coming up during this COVID time. Whatever’s coming up in your life, when you’re willing to show up and churn and not just choose to go to sleep, Netflix, vices, all this stuff, it’s uncomfortable. So let’s do it together. My one voice mixed with all the voices. Everybody drops their story even for a second, 

What does your practice look like right now? 

JSI’m so geeking out on slow flow and nourish. I’m out in the world, hiking. I offered the anatomy of emotion recently; it’s this course where we dive into where we hold emotions in these places in the body. So I thought, why not, while we’re sitting here, why not go into those places. We forget that we store certain things and places in our bodies.

CROI feel like all of my practices lately have been so much slower and so much more still because it feels like the right fit. It feels like the right thing to do. I can’t move quickly right now. 

New Class – released Friday, December 11th

Block Tutorial

Join Clara for a quick prop tutorial on how to use blocks to assist and enhance your practice to create more space and strength in the body. 

In every practice, ask yourself: Where am I supposed to feel the stretch in this pose, and how can I best create the shape to facilitate that sensation?

How do you manage your time? 

JSThank goodness for my film ministry experience. I think producing, and production has helped me understand how to prioritize what to let go of. It’s about cultivating a sense of fierce boundaries. 

I was able to take the eight limbs and see how the eight limbs are actually about containment of my life force energy and directing it where I want it to go. 

I had no social life. I’ve made choices, and you’ll have to make choices. I’m not special in any way, I don’t have a different time clock than anyone else, but the reason I’m able to do so much is that I know my priorities and my intentions. You’re not seeing me out at the birthday parties that much because I choose to contain and prioritize my energy. Mothering is way up there on my priorities, and sharing my offerings; is where I focus all of my efforts. 

I’ve had amazing people from the get-go, like Hanuman people, who come and want to lift this up and want to bring their PhDs and their hearts and their practice and love to this. So much of me feels like I’m on the mountain

being carried by the love and support of people bringing in their genius. And I give all that I can, I’m like, take it, you own it too.

 How can we support each other as a global community? 

JS All of the small businesses going out of business, everyone losing their leases, or the payroll, it’s just sort of endless. And I think that by holding a place of compassion for the grieving and letting go of what was, I think we can help each other by really just sitting together. We need to look at it all; it’s like we’ve got to clean the chalkboard, wipe the slate clean.

Staying in integrity with what the teachings are is how we support each other. That means staying to the heart, staying to the root of the teachings, and giving them to other people. I’m giving endless scholarships and telling people to join my offerings and pay whatever they can. Whether you’re a teacher or a student, it doesn’t matter. Be in studentship and arrive. 

In terms of coming together, I would encourage you to ask: What do we want to create? How do we want this to go?

What are a few of your online offerings? 

JSBecause of the concessions made by Yoga Alliance, we do have a full 300-hour and 200-hour yoga teacher training online. We have a lot of live sessions. We have many social activists and environmental activists, like a lot of special people joining us.  

I have a 40-day Sadhana, a daily practice coming up, meaning we all go together. We start, we commit, and we just pour our attention into the practice once a day for 40-days. It’s a powerful practice to be kind of held and show up together.  

It’s really about ritualizing. It’s about making a little moment in your day, a ritual. The practice is to make a ritual that alleviates stress instead of jacking up our adrenals with coffee, or picking up the phone, or taking care of everybody else’s needs, or the computer’s needs. 

Some rituals involve dry brushing, abhyanga, tongue scraping, or splashing cold water on the face. Every day we do sun salutations and move the body and the joints. It’s not complex. It’s not fancy. It’s simple, just show up for yourself, stay in it day in and day out, just show up for yourself. 

Bernie Clark: The Influence of Mythology in Yoga

bernie clark

The roots of yoga are firmly established in philosophy and myth. Yoga, as we know it today, is vastly different from the origins of the practice. Yoga is meditation, and the method has evolved to accommodate contemporary life, focusing on the asana postures to move the body and encourage physical health. In honoring yoga’s artistry, we need the influence of myth and philosophy to create a well-rounded practice and approach to reality. 

Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras explain the theory and approach to the practice of yoga through philosophy, and The Bhagavad Gita—a beloved text among yogis—shares the popular myth of Arjuna and Krishna to illustrate the concept of fate, devotion, non-harming, and other themes contemplated in the practice of yoga. 

Mythology is a powerful tool of evolution. Through others’ stories, we learn how to accept, integrate, and interact with others. Myth demonstrates a way to live and be in the world; our stories create communities, ecosystems, and the economy. 

This week, we had the pleasure of interviewing the West Coast yin yoga teacher and author of From the Gita to the Grail, Bernie Clark, to talk about the influence of mythology in yoga, the mystery of quantum physics, and how to access a yin mind to balance the yang energy of Western society. 

“When I first started teaching yin yoga, people were horrified because they thought I was exercising joints. Each practice has a different definition of exercise. A yang definition of exercise is a lot of repetitive, rhythmic movement. With yin yoga, we work with long-held static stress. Think of braces: people wear braces for years. That’s yin stress, and that’s what you need to affect the bones.” – Bernie Clark. 

Check out the movie mentioned in the podcast: The God Particle.

You can watch or listen to the full episode or read the highlights below.

Introducing Bernie Clark

If you could choose any era to be born in, what period would you choose, and why?

BCProbably the 22nd or the 23rd century, about a hundred years from now. I’m really curious to see what’s going to be happening then. If we’ve calmed down global warming or developed new forms of energy? I’m going to die before all that happens. I would like to see that. 

What’s your superpower? 

BCI remember reading Herman Hesse when I was a teenager, and in his book Siddartha, the superpower of Siddartha stuck with me. It was the ability to just sit, despite whatever happens around you, to be able to sit and be present and know that this too will pass. That’s the superpower I always tried to work on, just being able to sit and be with what’s happening. 

bernie clark blog

How did you come to yoga?

BCI  took up meditation in my early twenties to deal with stress in the business world. I was not in the high-tech industry selling, and the stress was just getting to me; and I asked my manager’s manager what he did to deal with stress, and he said he meditated.

I dove into Zen meditation when I was about twenty-two, and it wasn’t until twenty years later that I was looking for a Sanga to sit. I found a place that just opened up in Vancouver, and the owner at the time she kept saying, I should try yoga. I didn’t want to try yoga. I was just there for the Zen. I was only there for the meditation three times a week, but she convinced me by saying the magic words, she said, yoga will help your golf game. I thought, well, if it’s going to help my golf game, yeah. I’ll try it. And so I tried it, and she was right. It did help my golf game. 

I realized the point of yoga is to meditate. And so I’ve been doing yoga since my twenties. It wasn’t until my early forties that I added the asana, the physical part, to help my meditation part. So I guess I got into yoga over 40 years ago. But the asana is, I’ve been only doing those for just over 20 years. 

How do you define yin yoga, and what is a yin mindset?

BCOur culture is full of Yangsters, is what I like to say; we are very driven. If you think of New Year’s resolutions, it’s always to change something, and that’s a very yang energy. A yin mindset is more receptive and accepting, whereas the yang mindset is more controlled and directed.

The Ashtanga practice was my favorite, but I needed to balance, or I would have burned out. By the time I hit 50, I was stronger, but it was unrequited. I needed to find a balance. 

I came across yin yoga through the teachings of Sarah Powers. And through Sarah, I met Paul Grilley, and I just fell in love with what they offered. At first, I hated it because it was hard, but it was simple, and I realized I needed to balance my yang activities with more yin activities. Like everything in life, you need balance. 

The difference between yang and yin yoga is for you to think of muscles versus fascia. Muscles are active; I have to make an effort to contract the muscles. Fascia is kind of springy like your Achilles tendon and plantar fascia. Fascial things are elastic, they stretch a little bit, and then they snap back.

You don’t have to will your Achilles tendon to retract. We have active movements. Then we have passive movements, things that we just allow to happen. We’re targeting these more passive tissues, the fascia, the ligaments, and the joint capsules with yin yoga.

When I first started teaching yin yoga, people were horrified because they thought I was exercising joints. You should never exercise joint capsules or stretch ligaments. Each practice has a different definition of exercise. A yang definition of exercise is a lot of repetitive, rhythmic movement.

We don’t apply the same movement in yin yoga as we do in a yang practice; with yin, we work with a long-held static stress. Think of braces: people wear braces for years. They don’t take them out every twenty minutes and put it back in again, that’s yin stress, and that’s what you need to affect the bones.

For our deeper connective tissues, we need a different form of exercise or load or stress. Our health needs both. You need to work the muscles you need that active, rhythmic yang movement. And when you work the deeper tissues, you need the long-held static stresses by tractioning those tissues through yin yoga.

New class

In My Own Ocean

Gentle, fluid, and slow-moving, this Hatha class lengthens the body and creates space through rhythmic flows and moving meditation. This class provides plenty of modifications to accommodate yogis of all levels and yogi mamas in their third trimester. Side waist lengthening, hamstring and inner thigh opening, and gentle twists create space and support the low back. 

What are your key components of physical health? 

BCIn my realization, there are three components to physical health. 

  1. Strength, you need to work on the strength. I’ve found when I first started doing power yoga; I couldn’t believe how hard it was. I remember getting a video of Rod Striker. It was a power yoga thing, and it kicked my ass. It was so hard, but after a year of doing Ashtanga Yoga, I went back, and I tried that video again. I couldn’t believe how easy it was. I found that through practice, I was getting stronger and stronger. But the strength plateaus because I could work with my body weight; that’s all you do in yoga. Today I also swing kettlebells and do other things to enhance my strength. 
  2. Endurance, there’s only so much the heart rate can go up in the yoga practice; it doesn’t provide high-intensity interval training. I will run sprints, or I’ll do stair climbing to get the heart going. 
  3. Mobility, I do a yin practice to keep the joints and everything very mobile. 

Is there a correlation between physics and the mystical? 

BC I always wanted to know why and how we do the things we do. I love studying mythology. I love studying comparative religions. Joseph Campbell, an American mythologist, very much influenced me; he influenced me a lot. I’ve always been fascinated by the mind and how it works. I also want to know how the universe works. 

There’s my interest in physics. I love to build the bridges between East and West because we have certain experiences in the East. You cannot deny an experience. It’s an anecdote, it’s a fact, and somehow we have to describe the scientific models for the maps. If you will, they have to accommodate these experiences. Some of the experiences don’t fit on our maps. It doesn’t mean that the experiences are wrong. That means the maps have to be improved.

I’m always looking at ways to explain what people in the East experienced with our current Western maps. In the West, we invoke things like quantum entanglement and spooky action at a distance that Einstein hated. Einstein spent the rest of his life trying to disprove quantum mechanics. This is one of the most robust findings of physics, this entanglement in the action at a distance. What we know is that it works in a certain way. We don’t understand how it can possibly work that way, but we know it works that way. 

The other side of the coin is a lot of new-age wellness. People have taken the buzzwords from quantum physics and misappropriated them and applied them in ways that quantum physicists have admitted that they don’t understand. Richard Freeman was one of the most brilliant minds in the world, and he didn’t understand it. 

There are things we can’t explain, like dark matter. We have no idea what that is or dark energy. So there’s a lot of God particles still out there. Things we don’t know. Only 5% of the universe is unknown to us, which is crazy. A small percent of the universe is just what we know as electrons, protons, neutrons. The rest of it we don’t know yet.

What are the components of mythology? 

BCJoseph Campbell said that there are four main functions of myth.

  1. The cosmological function explains why we are here, how we came to be, and all cultures that exist. 
  2. There’s the sociological function that serves to put you in your place in society. You are born to do a certain thing; that’s your Dharma. 
  3. Then you have your psychological function. This is going to describe how you deal with the arc of aging. The stories that you do when you’re a child, what you do when you become a teenager, a young adult. How to raise a family, what you do in your grandparent, going to the forest, becoming a guru, all that’s described by their cultures, myths, and how you relate to your life.
  4. And then the biggest, most important thing, is the mystical. What’s it all about? Why are we here? 

Ayurveda Solutions and Results from Our Quiz

In November 2020, we sent out an Ayurveda Quiz that received over 1,000 responses! We gathered some of the data from the quiz to explore how the Ayurvedic constitutions are present within our global community and examine the multifaceted ways we experience stress and celebrate emotions. 

The infographic captures the quiz results and the solutions to living a more harmonious lifestyle by understanding each of the doshas. Your constitution varies from moment to moment; what you’re working with today may be different from how you felt yesterday. Ayurveda teaches us to examine the internal and external factors contributing to our lifestyle—from what we eat to the weather outside and how we interact with those we love. 

The quiz and all results were gathered to shed insight on how to live an Ayurvedic lifestyle. Please consult an Ayurvedic Doctor to learn more about your constitution and how to work with your results. 

 

Your Guide to Ayurveda

Ayurveda is an ancient Vedic practice and one of India’s oldest medicines, originating more than 5,000 years ago. In Sanskrit, Ayurveda means ‘The Science of Life’ and is the sister science of yoga. Also called the Mother of Healing, Ayurveda’s practice is rooted in the prevention of illness through balance and reflection on the diet, thoughts, relationships, environment, and activities for each individual. 

The ultimate aim of Ayurveda is to seek, create, and maintain balance; when we’re in a state of equilibrium, inner harmony is achieved. Observing and attuning our sleep patterns, diet, exercise, relationships— all the ways we consume and come into contact with the world—in such a way that strives for balance maximizes our potential to feel good and take care of ourselves.

When we feel good about ourselves, we’re better able to take care of others and the world around us. 

Many factors contribute to the individual’s overall health, including environment, seasons, relationships, diet, exercise, habits, trauma, work, and stress. These factors affect our constitution and how we feel; they can create balance or disorder. Each constitution is unique based on the lifestyle and life choices of the individual. Balance and disorders depend based on the constitution of the person. A person’s constitution is made up of three unique energies: Vata, Pitta, and Kapha. 

Learn more about the energies and elements associated with each constitution, and the specific doshas imbalances with our Ayurveda Guides:

Vata Dosha 

Pitta Dosha 

Kapha Dosha

A person’s constitution is dynamic and changes depending on many variables, including age, environment, mood, diet, activities, and relationships. 

Energy needs to move; it cannot be created or destroyed. Understanding which of the three energies are present and how to balance them elevates our awareness of how to stay present and open to new life experiences. We want the energies to keep moving and flow to mimic the vibrant world around us. Ayurveda honors the very simple rule that life is always changing, and the way to celebrate the flux is to continually adapt the lifestyle and diet to the shifts we perceive. 

The right question to ask is, what am I feeling right now?

 

The final word: don’t get attached to what your dosha is.
 
Ayurveda Infographic

Just as everyone has a unique fingerprint, each person has a particular pattern of energy—an individual combination of physical, mental, and emotional characteristics—which comprises their constitution. This constitution is determined at conception by a number of factors and remains the same throughout one’s life.

– Dr. Vasant Lad, The Ayurvedic Institute. Tweet

Understanding the Ayurvedic Constitutions

Ayurveda focuses on three energies that make up everything we see and every living being. In Sanskrit, these energies are called Vata, Pitta, and Kapha. Each person has a unique blend of these three energies. The three energies are made up of the five great elements: air, ether, fire, water, and ether.

Vata: air and ether, governed by movement, creativity, flexibility, vision, space, and sound. In harmony, Vata is inspired and inclusive. Out of balance, Vata is anxious, fearful, and flighty. 

Pitta: air and fire, governed by digestion, metabolism, direction, absorption, assimilation, and intelligence. In harmony, Pitta is a leader and advocate. Out of balance, Pitta is angry, resistant, and jealous.

Kapha: earth and water, governed by structure, stability, patience, compassion, nurturance, and immunity. In harmony, Kapha is loving and vulnerable. Out of balance, Kapha is lethargic, withdrawn, and greedy. 

Each person is born with a specific Prakriti, or constitution, based on the conditions when born. Prakriti translates from Sanskrit as true nature. 

A person’s constitution is dynamic and changes depending on many variables, including age, environment, mood, diet, activities, and relationships. Understanding the three energies and how they’re present in each person provides insight into how to take the appropriate action to come back into harmony with the self. 

To aid in your wellness process, we curated yoga & meditation playlists to accommodate each of the doshas. We also interviewed Ayurvedic Therapists who provided recipes, tools, and simple practices, and a Japanese Acupuncturist to learn more about the body’s physical and subtle energy systems. 

Imbalances of the Doshas

The doshas, or energies of Ayurveda, are governed by specific elements and activities. To create balance and come back to a state of equilibrium, Ayurveda holds: like attracts like, and opposite heals. If the person has an over-abundance of one of the doshas, activities, and diet opposite from the primary constitution create balance. 

Clara created dosha-balancing collections in the Ayurveda Playlist.

Playlists to attune to how you feel and play in the energies of the body. The guiding principle of Ayurveda is ‘like attracts like and opposite heals.’ 

Choose from one of three dosha balancing collections:
ayurveda

The main thing to understand is that we have all three of the doshas within us because we are all made up of the five great elements. Some of the elements and energies are more dominant than others, based on what we’re feeling on any given day.

- Ali Cramer, Ayurvedic Therapist Tweet
kapha
Classes to stimulate the inner flame and digestive fires to clear stagnant energy and lethargy, with powerful vinyasa and mantra classes.

 

Kapha Playlist

  • Ignite – Vinyasa
  • Fire Flow – Vinyasa
  • Shiva Mantra
  • Space through Strength – Slow Flow
  • Super Duper Power – Vinyasa
  • Pranayama Meditation
  • Unfurl Your Peacock Tail – Vinyasa
Classes to soothe the intensity of Pitta while gently stimulating the inner fire, with fluid vinyasa classes that are watery and dynamic, and grounding meditations. 

 

Pitta Playlist 

  • Beauty Within & Without – Vinyasa
  • Ocean Meditation
  • Fluid Power – Vinyasa
  • Creative Flow.- Vinyasa
  • Saraswati Mantra
  • Go with the Flow – Vinyasa
  • Keep it Moving – Vinyasa
vata playlist
Classes that ground the over-excitement and angst associated with Vata, with slow-flow vinyasa, yin/restorative, meditation, and body scan. 

 

Vata Playlist

  • Ganesha Mantra
  • Yoga Nidra
  • Quick Chill – Restorative Yoga
  • Back Release – Hatha Yoga
  • Get Ready for Bed – Yin Yoga
  • Stay Low – Hatha Yoga
  • Mudra Meditation

We should not cook when we’re unhappy. Don’t cook when you’re angry because you’re going to put that emotion into the food. This is especially powerful when we’re preparing meals for others as we’re putting the emotions we have into the food that we’re preparing and serving to eat.

- Insiya Rasiwala-Finn, Ayurvedic Therapist Tweet

Ayurveda Recipes & Nutrition Booklets

What we eat and how we eat contributes to how we feel and think. Food has a profound effect on the body and the brain, more so than the activities we choose. Switching up what we eat to suit our constitution is one of the fundamental attributes of leading an Ayurvedic lifestyle. 

We created three unique Nutrition Booklets to explore the diet for each of the doshas. Make yummy meals for yourself or your loved ones to satiate the flavor profiles associated with your constitution, and learn about the foods that stimulate or aggravate each of the doshas. 

Gut health is essential to maintaining proper health. By choosing the right foods and flavor profiles, you have the opportunity to boost your body’s immunity and give yourself all the essential nutrients you need.

Download Your Dosha Nutrition Booklet:

Kapha PittaVata

 
In each booklet, you’ll find:
  • Personality profiles
  • Activities to align and achieve balance
  • Foods to eat and foods to avoid
  • Dietary considerations

What you can do is favor more of those kinds of foods in the meal planning to stay in season, so it’s not going to throw anybody out of balance. Dinner is the most common meal that families eat together, and there’s no way you can drive your family out of balance with just one meal, which is dinner. You can cook your dinner using the fruits and vegetables that serve all the doshas; there are many Tridoshic foods, so you’re essentially cooking for someone who’s Tridoshic. 

- Maria Garre, Ayurvedic Therapist Tweet

Interviews with Ayurveda Therapists

We interviewed three Ayurveda Therapists to create the Quiz and provide resources for the results to help develop an understanding of the doshas and energies presented in each constitution, 

 

Ali Cramer

In this interview with yoga teacher, author, and Ayurveda Therapist Ali Cramer, you’ll discover more on: 

⟐ The five elements and how they relate to the doshas
⟐ How to nourish the doshas and rules for living Ayurveda
⟐ Aligning with the seasons and Yama Damstra
⟐ Why we seek things that throw us out of balance

 

Listen / Watch / Read 

Insiya Rasiwala-Finn

In this interview with yoga teacher and Ayurveda Therapist Insiya Finn, you’ll discover more on: 

⟐ Comfort foods versus nourishing foods
⟐ Ayurveda to heal from postpartum
⟐ Dinacharya; honoring ritual through Ayurveda
⟐ Simple practices to do every day to be in optimal health

 

Listen / Watch / Read 

insiya finn
maria garre podcast

Maria Garre

In this interview with yoga teacher and Ayurveda Therapist Maria Garre, you’ll discover more on: 

⟐ Tips to stay healthy during covid
⟐ Ways to strengthen our digestive fire and optimize gut health
⟐ Cooking for various constitutions; a Tridoshic perspective on meals
⟐ Teas to drink every day to pacify each dosha

Listen / Watch / Read 

We also interviewed Japanese Acupuncturist and TCM practitioner Alix Jean on the subtle and physical energy systems of the body to understand how the chakra system and fascia lines contribute to our overall health. 

With Hara diagnosis within the abdomen, we literally feel how there is a blockage in one of the organs or meridians. I like the immediate feedback used in the Hara diagnosis. Hara is listening to our guts; your body will give you little signs from the subconscious that you may or may not be aware of consciously.

- Alix Jean, Japanese Acupuncturist Tweet

Alix Jean

In this interview with TCM Practitioner and Japanese Acupuncturist Alix Jean, you’ll discover more on: 

⟐ Traditional Chinese versus Japanese Acupuncture
⟐ Fascia; what it is and why it’s important
⟐ How emotions correspond to the body’s organs
⟐ Common injuries related to stress

Listen / Watch / Read 

Additional Resources:

  1. Cleansing Recipes by Ali Cramer, including Tridoshic recipes if you’re cooking for multiple people!

  2. Maria Garre’s Nasya technique. Nasya is an Ayurvedic practice of massaging oil inside of the nose. Nasya also supports mucosal immunity.

  3. Maria Garre’s recipe for Trikatu with equal amounts of dried ginger, black pepper, and long pepper.
    Combine those three ingredients in equal proportions and make a mixture.
    Take a little Trikatu with honey on a spoon during the rainy season and put it in your mouth with a bit of warm weather to wash it down. It’s great to take after you eat as a little dessert, which will burn anything in the GI tract.

  4. Insiya’s simple practices to start the day:
  • Splash the face with cold water.
  • Scrape the tongue to remove the previous day’s accumulation of toxins from the tongue and stimulate the digestive system.
  • Drink a cup of warm water with lemon.
  • Light abhyanga massage with sesame oil. 
  • Yoga practice, even if it’s five sun salutations or seated poses, twists, something to get the energy moving. 

Clara’s Morning Chai Recipe

Ingredients:
  • 5 black tea bags
  • 5 cardamom pods
  • 10 whole cloves
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 2 tbsp whole black pepper
  • 2 tbsp chopped ginger
  • 3 tbsp maple syrup/honey
  • 2 cups of (almond) milk
Preparation:
  • Grind up the spices with a spoon.
  • Bring 6 cups of water to a boil and add spices and ginger.
  • Set to medium heat and boil for 10-min.
  • Turn off heat and add tea bags and steep for 5 min
  • Add milk and sweetener

I love this tea for not only heating my body but also for stimulating my agni, spiritual and digestive fire.

Join the conversation in the Practice with Clara 
Community Facebook Group!

We share the latest classes, podcast interviews, events, and content with members from all over the world.

Alix Jean: Energy and Emotions that Live in the Body

alix jean

One of the greatest gifts is discovering how to welcome the body’s messages, and one of the surest paths to moderation is observing the body’s requests and sensations. Excess pleasure and pain lead to discomfort and disease; the idea of yoga and many alternative practices is to bring the body back to neutral. 

Alix Jean, TCM practitioner and Japanese Acupuncturist, joined us on the podcast to share how she treats the body and witnesses the transformation of healing through Hara diagnosis; the treatment used in Japanese acupuncture to assess through abdominal palpitations.

“With Hara diagnosis within the abdomen, we literally feel how there is a blockage in one of the organs or meridians. I like the immediate feedback used in the Hara diagnosis. Hara is listening to our guts; your body will give you little signs from the subconscious that you may or may not be aware of consciously.” – Alix Jean.

Our focus for the entire month of November featured Ayurveda and all the ways we treat our bodies to better care for ourselves. Through Ali Cramer, we learned about the doshas and the elements of each constitution; Insiya Rasiwala-Finn spoke to proper nourishment, diet, and ritual; and Maria Garre provided tips and tactile takeaways to stimulate the digestive fires to bolster the immune system during periods of disease. 

Our interview with Alix concludes our month of navigating the spectrum of wellness, discussing the body’s subconscious messages and how to treat physical, emotional, and mental stress through Japanese acupuncture. 

Read the highlights from our talk; listen or watch the full episode. 

Take our Living Ayurveda Quiz and discover your dosha
to see how you can implement Ayurveda into your routine.

Introducing Alix Jean

If you could choose any era to live in, what period would you choose? 

AJAncient China is one, and I’ve always been drawn to medieval Scotland as it’s part of my heritage. 

What are some of the items you always have with you? 

AJMy triad of cell phone, wallet, and keys. I also always have a deodorant in my bag. I always forget to use it in the morning. I always have three things in my heart: this ability to pause; an openness to holding space without judgment at all times. Appreciation of beauty. I feel like I’ve always been a daydreamer. 

What is the style of acupuncture that you teach? 

AJAcupuncture defines points in the body to stimulate healing. The style I teach in Japanese acupuncture, it’s unique from TCM in several ways. Traditional Chinese Medicine is what all acupuncturists are trained in, in the West. TCM is our governing body. Japanese acupuncture provides a few extra techniques on top of TCM is how I like to think of it. 

Through additional training, I’ve learned techniques that are more focused on palpitations and Japanese Meridian therapy. In Chinese medicine, we have the meridians, which are energy lines in the body. There are twelve main meridians with the corresponding internal organs. In Western Medicine, we might relate the energy lines to the fascia. Fascia is the connective tissue that encases the muscles and organs and essential everything in the body. 

Each meridian corresponds to an internal organ; for example, the lungs are in my chest, but the lung Meridian goes along the arm. When I’m looking at a person, I might assess that some lung symptoms are happening and then check the Meridian for tight or tender points or the nodules or changes within that connective tissue. Those are points that I would work on in the acupuncture session. In TCM, we learned about the meridians; it’s something we focus on, but sometimes the diagnosis goes straight to what’s going on in the organ, and then there’s a point prescription. 

In Japanese acupuncture, there’s a lot more space to check the person through touch. The practice of Japanese acupuncture is more tactile. A lot of traditional Chinese medicine acupuncturists will pop the pins in and leave the room and wait. With Japanese acupuncture, I’m in the room the whole time as I’m checking and rechecking the body and the pins. I’m assessing based on the abdomen; it’s called Hara diagnosis. That’s a system of reflexes, which tells me which points to do. 

Through Hara diagnosis through the abdomen, we literally feel a blockage in the organs or meridians. I like that immediate feedback. Hara is listening to our guts. Your body will give you little signs from the subconscious you may or may not be aware of. 

The beautiful part about Hara diagnosis is that there’s a moment of feedback where the patient on the table and I feel a difference: what had been tight or tender finally releases. That’s the key difference for me as an acupuncture practitioner; there’s so much feedback and information presented right away that’s useful in reading the body’s response.  We assess based not only on touch but also on observation. You might evaluate the color in their cheeks or see the person breathing deeper. 

What’s the most common injury or ailment you treat? 

AJThe most common is stress-related things, and then hormone-related issues, and chronic injuries. Back pain, mental and emotional distress, hormones are all prevalent. 

A classic part of Chinese and Japanese acupuncture is examining the root branch. We take a look at the root of the issue. If the roots are strong, the roots will nourish the branches. If Hara, the center route is clear, we’ll look at the branches. Sometimes local treatment is needed, say if your shoulder is sore, we work on that specific area, but it depends. Sometimes the branch is so loud; only that area needs relief. Someone might come in with neck pain, and I’ll work on their feet because that’s where the meridian’s root needs to be nourished and treated. The roots of the meridians typically start at the feet and work up to the head. The yang, the deep inner meridians, generally work from the ground upwards.

The other thing to keep in mind is posture, to ask what the spine is doing and see how the poster is affecting the injury. There are so many ways we create imbalances from improper posture, from walking to sitting; it’s all about the placement of the heel strike and where the toes land. Gait issues tend to throw off the hips and shoulders up to the neck because the neck is the lightest point. We have the most mobility in our cervical spine. So pain in the neck could be linked to an issue at the roots, which would be the placement of the feet. 

New class

We Are Energy

Treat the energy body through various yoga pranayams, circular movements for the joints, and breathwork from Chien Lunge. The subtle body, also known as the energy body, lives below the skin where Prana flows. Prana is the life force, or energy according to Ayurveda, which we work with primarily through the breath. Boa’s Breath, White Leopard, Brahmari, and Bastrika Breath to strengthen your body’s Prana. 

How did you become interested in acupuncture? 

AJIn my late teenage years, I was in a car accident that was a big kind of life changer for me. It was kind of intense. I was also studying psychology at the time, health psychology in particular, so I was already interested in that area. Through my injuries and my healing experience and not healing and what that felt like, I discovered a link between physical and mental health and emotional health. I felt that all aspects were not being addressed, I had been through a shock, and when I tried acupuncture, it provided the relief that I needed. 

What’s your favorite part about treating people?

AJIt’s so rewarding to see people getting better; it’s the most gratifying thing in the world. In Japanese acupuncture, you can see the moment when it occurs. I feel it’s humbling to honor the process of someone else healing and be witness to these aha moments.  

CROI feel the same way in terms of teaching. It’s like those moments when you see and feel people drop into their bodies. I find that it takes 15-20 minutes for people to fully arrive because they’re thinking about all of the things that happened that day, and it takes time to drop in and be present in the moment. When the shift occurs, there’s almost like this energetic hum. One of my favorite parts of teaching is watching this process and witnessing what occurs when we are aware and in our bodies. 

How would you achieve balance through TCM? 

AJWith Chinese medicine, it’s based on observations of nature. Therefore every day is different, and it would depend on the season. You would see what’s occurring in nature to decide whether it’s a yin season and go more inwards, such as winter, or a more yang season and spend more time outwards, such as summer. It’s always about balancing the constitution based on the environment and what you’re dealing with on that particular day. 

How do the emotions correspond to the body and its organs? 

AJIn Japanese and Chinese acupuncture, we work with the elements and yin and yang concepts. The yang energy is all things solar and active and typically associated with the masculine. The element for yang is fire. The yin energy is more receptive and contracting and is commonly associated with the feminine. The element for yin is water and earth. We’re always moving through the phases of the elements within the body. 

The liver and gallbladder are related to springtime. For spring, the element is wood. With wood, everything moves up and outward. Wood is represented as growth and leadership. The emotion that corresponds with the liver is anger, and the idea is that the energy moves upward and outward for growth. It can be a positive thing because it’s progressive. When checking the liver and gallbladder meridians, there’s this energy of up and out, this sense of drive, growth, and goals. 

Spring moves into summer, and with summer, we have the element of fire. Summer is joyful and open-hearted. It’s represented as love and passion. The pathology of joy is this idea of over excitement and doing too much, as in chasing joy or almost like you would chase a drug addiction. It would mean you have too much fire, too much of a good thing. The organ associated with these ideas and elements is the heart.

From summer, we shift into autumn, where we discover the earth element. The earth element doesn’t have one direction; it comes back to the center. It’s the grounding and stabilizing source of nourishment. It’s the digestive organ that brings us back to our center. The emotion we have in this area is worry and overthinking. So we want to balance this energy by taking care of ourselves as much as we are others. The imbalance would be over-giving to others and not taking care of the self. 

Maria Garre: Bettering Digestion and Immunity through Ayurveda

maria garre

One of the most fundamental benefits of incorporating Ayurveda’s principles into our lifestyle is bolstering the immune system, especially when we need it the most when dealing with covid. In a previous interview with Ayurvedic Counselor Insiya Rasiwala-Finn, we discussed protecting and strengthening the body’s aura using food and physical exercise. A person’s aura represents the energy field and vibrancy; as we come into contact with our environment and others, we want our aura to be strong to ward off threats and disease. 

When it comes to supporting the immune system and the overall health of the mind, body, and spirit, stimulating the digestive system, known as Agni in Sanskrit, works to keep the body strong, safe, and healthy. Toxins, which are called Ama in Sanskrit, are presented in many forms, such as food, intense emotions, or unnecessary violence we witness in the media. Healthy digestion offers an opportunity to prevent toxins from amassing and causing illness and imbalances.  

We welcomed yoga teacher and Ayurvedic Therapist, Maria Garre, to learn more about gut health and how to prevent disease and better digestion through Ayurveda practices.

“Ayurveda treats the body first, and when we follow the basic principles, we take care of ourselves, and in this way, we take care of the environment. We would never hunt or eat a sick animal. We make sure that we’re eating and hunting the proper food. If the plant looks like it’s falling apart, we leave it alone and don’t eat it. That means we’re taking care of the environment; we’re all in it together.” – Maria Garre. 

Listen or watch the full episode, or read the highlights from our discussion below.

 

Take our Living Ayurveda Quiz and discover your dosha
to see how you can implement Ayurveda into your routine.

Introducing Maria Garre

What are the three things you always bring when you leave home? 

MG—A tongue scraper. I try to never leave home without my dog Raja. I would never leave home with some form of oil. I can survive without a lot of things, but I can’t survive without oil. Whether it’s something easy, like almond oil or sesame oil, I feel it fixes all things.

I never leave without a sense of the ocean; the ocean is my happy place. The Himalayas live in my heart all the time, and faith is something I always have with me when I leave home. 

What’s your superpower?

MGI believe my superpower is organization. I can take chaos and organize it.

maria garre

How would you define Ayurveda? 

MG—Ayurveda is, first and foremost, a medical science that comes from the great land of India. So it’s an Indian medicine. It was popular in the Himalayan region way back, over 5,000 years ago, and developed into a system of medicine to keep the population healthy. Ayurveda is a system of medicine that translates to the knowledge of life, the wisdom of experience. 

Ayurveda’s premise is to understand how to live in balance and recognize how to live in flow with your entire environment. When we’re in flow, we’re in optimal health. When there isn’t health, that means something got out of balance; We identify with that imbalance, and we bring the body back to balance, which means back to health.

How did you discover Ayurveda? 

MGAyurveda found me through my studies of yoga, but science found me first. My love of science as a university student took me to medical school and led me through a biomedical degree in viruses and virology.

My dad is a famous virologist; it was discussed at my dinner table growing up, discussions about viruses and bacteria.

I medicine never met me where I needed it to meet me in my heart. I love science, but it didn’t meet me in a place where I was fulfilled. I was fulfilled in my head academically, but it wasn’t until Ayurveda that I was fulfilled in my head and heart.

What are three things you would advise listeners to do to stay healthy during covid? 

MG—I recommend gargling with salt, warm water, and turmeric. What we know about covid and the virus is that it’s always changing and that it seems to be more bloodborne, but it’s still getting in your juices and rasa, the fluids of the body. It’s also been found to live a long time in your GI tract. The GI tract is a long tube extending from the mouth, esophagus, stomach, small intestine, large intestine, and anus. When I discovered this, immediately I went to the throat and ways to keep the throat and nasal passages to the throat clear. Just take salt and turmeric and make yourself a little concoction to gargle mixed with warm water. 

The other thing I recommend is to protect the nasal passages by using oils inside of the nose. Nasya is an Ayurvedic practice of massaging oil inside of the nose. Nasaya also supports mucosal immunity. 

The last thing I would say is to keep your digestive fire strong. It’s essential because if your gut is strong, your gut also will kill the virus.

Trikatu is really easy to make it home because it’s equal amounts of dried ginger, black pepper, and long pepper. You combine those three ingredients in equal proportions, and you make a mixture. I made my little Trikatu mixture, and I have it in my tin container. I take a little Trikatu with honey on a spoon during any rainy season and put it in my mouth with a bit of warm weather to wash it down. It’s great to take after you eat as a little dessert, which will burn anything in the GI tract.

New class

Tethered to the Earth

A slow-moving hatha yoga class stays low to the ground to bring you closer to the earth element. This class asks that you bring your awareness to your body and envision that you’re tethered to the earth. Vata dosha is associated with faster-paced movement and over-thinking; the poses and visualization in this class work to bring Vata back into the body to create a space and quiet in the mind.

What are the ama (toxins) that create disease? 

MG—There’s mental ama and physical ama. If we take care of our Agni and take care of our gut health and digestion, we don’t have to worry about ama. We focus on the positive, on creating strong Agni. 

One way to create good Agni is to cleanse; you want to cleanse to get rid of ama twice a year in the fall and the spring. You cleanse and detox when the sun and moon are balanced. You don’t cleanse during other times of the year; you want to cleanse closest to the equinoxes. During detox, you’re purging the physical and also the mental ama. Mental fear comes out during a detox. It can be very emotional and well as physical. 

We all accumulate ama throughout the year. Fall is a great time to clear and spring; spring is a time to celebrate renewal. Cleanses are a time to reset our mind, body, and spirit. 

Ayurveda treats the body first, and when we follow the basic principles, we take care of ourselves, and in this way, we take care of the environment. We would never hunt or eat a sick animal. We make sure that we’re eating and hunting the proper food. If the plant looks like it’s falling apart, we leave it alone and don’t eat it. That means we’re taking care of the environment; we’re all in it together. 

If the planet is sick, we’re going to be sick. When I look at the coronavirus and what it means in terms of hidden messages, if you look at the history of the virus from the SARS family, this is not the first time we’ve been hit. So what was the underlying factor? It’s China; China needs to take responsibility for their practices; we’re here because of human greed. We’re here from human greed of eating exotic animals because greed leads some to think that it’s fancy. The inhumane treatment of living beings because of greed, the Great Mother will teach you a lesson. From an Ayurvedic point of view, we’re here because of greed. 

How can we work on greed? 

MGThe teachings we know are what we teach is yoga; we keep trying to fill ourselves with everything outside, but the answers come from within. What’s outside is useless; it’s temporary. I love things. I’m a material girl all the waythank you, Madonna. She’s still like one of my heroines. But the true teaching is to enjoy it, the material possessions, but don’t be attached to it.

Working with greed is realizing when enough is enough. Just be satisfied. Greed is just a substitute for feeling something up. We’re always going to have some greed, but what we need to do is we have to have less greed. 

Self-reflection only comes, I believe, when we practice meditation for some time. Meditation can look so many ways; it could be sitting by the ocean or painting or whatever it is for you. Deep clarity comes in, and it teaches you to be mindful of your living place. 

Self-reflection at the end of the day, it’s just exercising your mind. If we just worked on exercising our minds, as much as we did our bodies, the world would be in a better place. Anytime we pause and self-reflect, even if it’s something small like not buying too many coconuts or avocados—developing basic awareness around what we are disposing of and what we are consuming. If you control your trash, you control your greed.

How do you cook for a family with varied constitutions?  

MGIf you’re living in the same location, this means you’re all living in the same environment. The reality is, the foods you take should be the foods that are available based upon the season. So it would be absurd for anybody in Canada to be eating coconut anything right now, or even cooking with coconut oil.

If you cook seasonally, no matter your constitution or the imbalance, Ayurveda says to eat for what’s the most seasonal; the best seasonal things you can eat based on your constitution will create balance. 

What you can do is favor more of those kinds of foods in the meal planning to stay in season, so it’s not going to throw anybody out of balance. Dinner is the most common meal that families eat together, and there’s no way you can drive your family out of balance with just one meal, which is dinner. You can cook your dinner using the fruits and vegetables that serve all the doshas; there are many Tridoshic foods, so you’re essentially cooking for someone who’s Tridoshic. 

What you need to do to take care of your imbalances for yourself is mind what you’re eating for your breakfast and lunch. That’s where you should address any imbalances in the diet. You take care of your imbalance with good teas and drink the right herbal teas for your dosha all day long.

What are the teas that each dosha should drink to balance?

MG—For Vata, it’s really good to have some black pepper, cinnamon, cardamom, nutmeg, like those kinds of things. Vata is cold, so teas that are spicy and warm serve Vata dosha to address any imbalances. 

For Pitta, use fennel and lemongrass, even pomegranate; teas that are cooling are best for Pitta because Pitta has so much heat. Kapha would do well with cinnamon and a licorice tea. So warming teas but also teas that stimulate the digestive fires.