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. 



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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. 

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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? 

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. 

Insiya Rasiwala-Finn: Honoring Diet and Ritual through Ayurveda

Living Ayurveda is a mindful approach to how we interact with the world around us—it’s about deciding to make time to pause and reflect on how we feel about each action we take. Ayurveda aligns with yoga, as each brings us closer to how we feel in our bodies; they create a space within to examine why we feel the way we feel in our bodies. Hopefully, as we delve deeper into our practice, we discover ways to shift how we feel through adapting our routine.

Food is one of the most significant contributors to disease; what, how, and when we eat drastically affects our gut health and digestion. To maintain optimal health and interact with the world positively and productively, eating foods that fuel the body and keep stoking the digestive fires is essential. When we don’t eat the right foods, we become sick. Illness may be mental, emotional, or physical, and the desired diet depends on the individual’s constitution and natural environment.

We sat down with fellow yogi and Ayurvedic Counsellor Insiya Rasiwala-Finn to discuss gut health and Ayurveda. Insiya has been an Ayurvedic practitioner for roughly fifteen years. Her roots in Ayurveda extend back to her childhood; born in India, Insiya was raised in a household that promoted Ayurvedic practices and yoga. From a very young age, Insiya was introduced to using food to heal and promote better health.

“Growing up, there were a lot of rules around food. There were lots of things like, oh, we don’t eat this food in this season, it’s not right. We only eat this young garlic, for example, in the winter, because the season allows us to digest the heat of the garlic. Food was always thought about in terms of the properties of that food and the effect it would have on the body during that specific season. When I’m feeling out of sorts, I crave the food of my childhood; perhaps that’s where the term comfort food comes from. The foods that offer us a wave of sustaining and nourishing memories from the past.” – Insiya Rasiwala-Finn. 

Read the highlights from our talk below; watch or listen to the full interview. 

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

Meet Ayurvedic Counselor Insiya Rasiwala-Finn

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

ISSometimes, I wish I’d been born in a time before technology. Right now, being in Bali, we’re doing so much of our work online, and I’m noticing how much it can wipe me out. A question I’ve been asking, what if we lived in a time before computers? What would that have been like? Do you think we would have related to each other with more presence? 

What’s your superpower? 

ISI create a ritual around things and bring beauty into things. It’s usually really simple things, like lighting a candle

when my son goes to bed. I take the time to make little moments precious. This is one reason I love yoga, being in a yoga class, and having this unique offering. Yoga makes time precious; we learn to appreciate the simplicity of ritual. 

What are three things you never leave the house without? 

ISThree physical things would be my phone, my lip balm, and jewelry. I always wear some jewelry. It makes me feel protected. Three abstract things would be present. Ever since I got in a motorbike accident a few weeks ago, I try to stay present every time I step out of the house and not replay events of the past. Lightness, because there’s so much heaviness in our world right now. I always look at the things that light me up and see how I might discover beauty here at this moment. The last one is focus. I tend to get pretty airy about a lot of things, so I need a list of what I’m doing and to focus on that task; otherwise, I get distracted. 

How has Ayurveda assisted you in your understanding of how to live? 

ISThe first step to self-healing is knowledge. People want to know about themselves; it’s exciting for people to learn about themselves. The doshas present a gateway into Ayurveda’s science, but it’s very different in India than in the West.

I grew up in India, and as a child, the doctor would never tell you that you have so much of each dosha, and that you have this sort of an imbalance, and that you need to do these things to heal. It wasn’t like that; there wasn’t as much of a focus on the doshas in that sense. I think there’s a danger in that as well, of people getting stuck on one perspective, of thinking they’re one dosha or a certain way, and then holding onto those tendencies. 

Whereas my perspective, in all these years of working with Ayurveda, I would compare my natural tendencies to the environment and the factors that can either exacerbate things or alleviate them. I examine the environment and external factors and say, here’s what I need to do to work with these things, to bring all the conditions into more balance.

At the same time, I have to remind myself that this is not necessarily who I am; there’s an essence of me that is separate and true and deeper and where everything is whole and connected, but life happens. Events occur, and we start to lose little bits of ourselves, and we lose energy. All of the things that we do should be to regain that energy to get it back. I can make choices to help bring myself more into balance. 

How did you arrive at Ayurveda? 

ISI studied Ayurvedic at the Mount Madonna Institute, but I was introduced to this practice as a child. I was fortunate to grow up in India in Bombay, and I grew up in a family where there was a real focus on what we ate. My mother was really into preparing hot foods and making foods from scratch, as did my grandmother. My father practiced a lot of yoga, so I was exposed to yoga and using food as a medicine at a very young age. 

Growing up, there were a lot of rules around food. There were lots of things like, oh, we don’t eat this food in this season, it’s not right. We only eat this young garlic, for example, in the winter, because the season allows us to digest the heat of the garlic. Food was always thought about in terms of the properties of that food and the effect it would have on the body during that specific season. 

My mother used food as medicine; I had sinus issues as a child, and she wouldn’t allow me ice cream on cold days. She’d say, ‘maybe after lunch on a hot day, but not at dinner because it’s going to make you congested at night.’ So even as a young child, I was introduced to these little snippets of knowledge.

I didn’t think much of it until I moved to the US for university, and then I started to eat food that didn’t feel so good in my system. I would write to my mother and say things like, ‘I don’t feel so good,’ and ‘I’m kind of stressed out,’ and ‘I’m up all night working or studying.’ As a result, I would fall sick. This pattern repeated post-college when I moved to Chicago and took a job in advertising with intense hours and deadlines. I would stay up late and fall sick, and I knew something wasn’t right. 

This is how I started doing yoga, and yoga was helping, but it wasn’t enough. So I started looking at food as a healing source, and that was what really took me down the path to Ayurveda. 

When I’m feeling out of sorts, I crave the food of my childhood; perhaps that’s where the term comfort food comes from. The foods that offer us a wave of sustaining and nourishing memories from the past.

New class

Temper the Fire

A fluid and flowy class keep you moving through a Prana Flow style sequence to pacify Pitta dosha. This class offers a rhythmic and smooth vinyasa sequence to focus on the water element to balance Pitta’s fire. You’ll move through Sun Salutations, twists, lunges, dancing warriors, and hamstring lengthening as you build heat and release tension in the mind and body by focusing on deep breath that links to each movement. 

What is comfort food for you? What are the foods that are nourishing? 

ISIn India, family culture is more strong than it is in North America; the connections and ties are stronger, and things have passed down from generation to generation. India has more history that way. The contrast in North America is a feeling of liberation and freedom because you throw so much of what came before you out. This is what genuine sons of immigrants have done. 

And what happened when you think about comfort food in North America was a lot of the foods that came from the old countries that came to North America. Still, the recipes were metamorphosed into the richer, sweeter, more enticing variations, so it wasn’t the simple foods from home. Because there isn’t this emphasis on tradition, the wisdom that went with the food from those countries gets lost, and it gets muddy. For me, when I think of comfort food, I think of the foods I ate growing up and eating the foods at my mother’s table. The nourishment is the love of coming to the table and sitting with others. 

The other thing that I speak a lot about is how 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. It reminds me of a book, Like Water for Chocolate. It’s such a great book, the author, she talks about how you should put love into whatever you are doing. This is especially powerful when we’re preparing meals as we’re putting the emotions we have literally into the food we’re preparing and serving to eat. 

What Ayurveda tips do you have for healing postpartum? 

ISThe body changes a lot during pregnancy as you’re gaining more of the earth element, and more water and some more fluid in the body to keep the baby safe. Kapha dosha is earth and water, so Kapha grows, and that’s what allows the baby to be sustained and nourished because Kapha is love. 

It’s a big journey to come out into the world away from this watery, fluid, soft, protective space for the mama and the baby. Once the baby comes out, there’s this emptiness; there’s all this space. Whenever there are any quick changes, we shift into the ether element and Vata dosha. The feeling is more anxious, and the mind and nerves are tense, and the mental chatter starts. Postpartum is the body trying to process this transition, the new normal, and Ayurveda helps to safeguard and sustain the body. 

Postpartum depression and that anxiety that you feel is very normal in the transition. To keep the body and mind feeling warm, grounded, and nurtured, here are some things I recommend: 

  1. Abhyanga is perfect for postpartum. Using sesame oil would be nice in a colder climate, especially if you have colder hands and feet. 
  2. Eat nourishing foods like soups and stews.
  3. Make a cocoon for yourself. Be mindful of what you allow into your life. Distill all the people, conversations, smells, everything; be clear about what you are bringing into your life. 

The first six weeks after the baby is born are sacred. You want to be mindful as you regain your strength so that you and baby are feeling nurtured and nourished. 

What is a ritual you honor?

IS A word comes to mind for me, Dinacharya. It means to be or to have mastery over the day. It’s this really beautiful idea that in every single day that you live, you have the opportunity to live your best self and to master that day. 

What are some of the Ayurveda practices you do each day? 

IS The biggest thing you need in life is your health, and you need your health so that you can be here for whatever purpose you were put on earth to achieve and fulfill. If you don’t have good health, you’re going to be struggling all the time to try to achieve your goals. 

The formula is really simple. It’s very practical. Your physical body is here to help you manifest your ideas and wishes and goals. If your body isn’t working at its optimal level, you’re just going to create all sorts of different imbalances. So all these practices are ways of keeping the physiology functioning well. I also think of it, especially in these times now, is to strengthen your aura. Your aura is your first line of immunity. 

When I talk about boundaries and protection, I’m really talking about how I can make sure that every energy field I carry around me is strengthened and happy. Even if I bumped into things, I don’t become fractured or lost. Learn more about my 300 hour yoga teacher training or 200 hour yoga teacher training courses. 

Things that I do every single morning:

  • I wake up and slash cool water in my eyes. 
  • I scrape my tongue as it takes away the previous day’s accumulation of toxins from the tongue and stimulates the digestive system.
  • I have a cup of warm water with lemon.
  • Light abhyanga with sesame oil. 
  • Yoga practice, even if it’s five sun salutations or seated poses, twists, something to get the energy moving. 

Ali Cramer: Discovering Balance through Ayurveda

ali cramer blog

Ayurveda is one of India’s oldest practices, dating back over 5,000 years to the Vedic period. Known as the Mother of Healing and the sister science to yoga, Ayurveda works with the elements to examine the energies we perceive in the world. The five elements are earth, air, fire, water, and ether. These five elements create the three unique doshas, or energies, that provide our constitution. 

Vata, Pitta, and Kapha are the three doshas that make up a person’s constitution. The doshas are reflected as Vata (movement), Pitta (digestion), and Kapha (stability) with unique characteristics and requirements to maintain equilibrium. Examining diet, movement patterns, work, relationships, environments, and habits—especially patterns that cause disease and imbalances—contribute to our overall constitution and lifestyle. 

Ayurveda’s philosophy strives for balance through reflection and asking questions; the practice is rooted in the philosophy, like attracts like and opposite heals

We sat down with Ayurvedic Counselor and author of Modern Ayurveda: Rituals, Recipes, and Remedies for Balance, Ali Cramer, to talk about how to live a life with more intention around Ayurvedic practices. 

“Ayurveda is about being in a relationship and working to stay in harmony with the conditions that we find ourselves in. It asks that we examine our raw materials and how they interact with others’ raw materials and the environment. Ayurveda is a unique plan for self-care that can carry us through our lives. We’re constantly changing, and the world around us is constantly changing; Ayurveda honors being in the flow and allows us to stay open to the flow. Nothing is fixed in the world, so we can’t be fixed either”. – Ali Cramer.

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

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

Meet Ayurvedic Counselor, Ali Cramer

What’s your superpower? 

ACI would say cooking. I’ve been cooking since I was little, and I’m good at it. Cooking is such a beautiful way to connect; it’s such a nourishing experience to share with others. I remember standing on a stepstool and making breakfast for my grandfather. I recall scrambled eggs and toast.  I progressed to making chocolate chip cookies for my dad; it was never complicated or fancy. 

Try these Cleansing Recipes by Ali Cramer for each dosha, including Tridoshic recipes if you’re cooking for multiple people!

ali cramer

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

ACI think it would have been very interesting to be around in the late 19th century when Krishnamacharya was teaching his students because he was one of the first official yoga teachers that shaped the practice as we see it today in the modern yoga world.

What do you never leave the house without? 

ACMarty, my dog. I keep essential oils next to my keys, so I kind of douse myself before leaving the house. That’s my little protection against New York City, dousing myself with some oils. And then I take my phone. Those are the three practical, concrete items. 

I’m in New York City; I’m going to be extremely truthful here and transparent and say being on my guard as a way of protection and being on my guard in terms of who needs help. The other two things I take with me are a generous frame of mind and an open and compassionate frame of mind with boundaries and attention. 

What is Ayurveda, and how do you practice? 

ACI come from a dance background, and dance gave me a lot of really great habits like discipline and work ethic, but it didn’t talk much about self-care. I think things have changed since then; the bulk of my career was in the ’90s, and we weren’t talking about self-care at that time.

I stumbled on a yoga class because I had some dance injuries, and someone said that I should try yoga because yoga is good to help heal injuries. I loved it so much that I decided to do yoga teacher training, and in teacher training, we had one day of Ayurveda, and something about it made the world make sense. The lens of Ayurveda gives me a lot of compassion for people and compassion for myself because I understand where others are coming from. 

Ayurveda was born in Southern India, and the whole system is based on the five great elements. The elements being earth, water, fire, air or wind, and ether. The five elements make up everything that we see and the world around us. They make up the food we eat, they make up the colors around us; they make up the sky. Ayurveda is about being in a relationship and working to stay in harmony with the conditions we find ourselves. For that to happen, we have to understand the conditions that we find ourselves in and understand the raw material that we’re working with to start. We also have to look at our raw materials and how they interact with others’ raw materials and the environment that we’re in, as they may be very different. Ayurveda is an individual and unique plan for self-care that can carry us literally through our lives.

We’re continually changing, and the world around us is constantly changing; Ayurveda honors being in the flow and allows us to stay open to the flow. Nothing is fixed in the world, so we can’t be fixed either.

What are the five elements, and how do they relate to the doshas?

ACThe doshas are a way of categorizing energies. Kapha dosha is associated with the elements of earth and water. So the kind of shorthand that I often give my students is if you think about putting together earth and water, what do you get? You get mud. We find mud in late winter and early spring when the ground starts to thaw, and water starts to come up out of the ground, and things get a little bit muddy, and we might even feel a little bit muddier, a little bit slower.

To balance earth and water, or Kapha dosha, Ayurveda uses the Traditional Chinese Medicine perspective that like attracts like, and opposite balances. If we already have earth and water, we need to incorporate fire, air, or ether to balance. We’re in the spring season, so we know we need to charge up and get a little bit more heat. We know we need to get a little bit more movement so we don’t feel so slow. We know that we need to get moving because the energy of Kapha is very slow. 

Pitta energy is water and fire, which would balance Kapha dosha and bring that movement and heat; we need to clear the mud. If you put water and fire together, you get steam. Usually, the season where we feel a little more steamy would be late spring into summer and perhaps early fall. Pitta energy can be very intense, but Pitta energy gives us focus and concentration and that laser-like ability to see through things. 

All the doses have positive and negative aspects to them. Finally, Vata dosha is air and ether. The season for Vata is fall through autumn and in early winter. Vata captures a period where there’s so much change: you’re going from a time that is very hot to a time where one day it’s cold, and one day it’s warmer, and then the next day it’s raining.

The name in Ayurveda for late fall, Vata season, is Yama Damstra. It’s late November and early December. It’s considered the most precarious time for our health. It’s when we’re meant to accentuate and affirm our self-care, and yoga is such an important part of that. 

New class

Strong Roots Strong Glutes

A quick core-strengthening class that fires up the gluteal muscles and deep core stabilizers to support the low back. You’ll build heat and break a sweat with repetitive poses to get the blood pumping to warm the body. Squats, sit-ups, chaturanga push-ups, and work with a resistant band to stimulate the inner heat and encourage the digestive fires to pacify Kapha dosha. This class is ideal for anyone who’s looking to strengthen and tone the body, specifically, the legs and glutes. 

How do we prepare for Vata season and Yama Dramstra? 

ACYama is the Lord of death, so Yama Damstra reflects the time of year when the veil between our world and the spirit world is very thin. Across so many traditions, this is a magical time of the year, an unearthly kind of time. Vata is part of this realm, being very imaginative and ethereal. 

In this season, the veil is very thin. So this is the time for creativity and spirituality. This is a time to journal, to meditate, to practice yoga, especially between the hours of 2-6 AM or PM, because that’s Vata’s time of the day. This is the peak port of the day where you want to create. It’s magical, and it is a time where keeping a meditation practice will help ground. When we ritualize a practice, it has a grounding effect. The yoga practice, or whatever it is you decide to do, is meant to keep us connected, to keep us grounded in something consistent.  

What are simple practices to start living Ayurveda?

ACThis is what I try to get across to my clients:

  1. Right sleep, 
  2. Right nutrition, 
  3. Right Hydration, 
  4. Right movement. 

Movement should be something that feels healthy and enjoyable. One of the things I usually ask my clients is, does your current lifestyle make you happy? 

How do you nourish the doshas?  

ACIn Vata season, what we’re all experiencing right now, there’s lots of energy moving very fast. It’s light as opposed to heavy, dry, and irregular. So if it’s fast, then we need to move a little bit slower. Give ourselves a little bit more time to do things. Vata tends to be cold, so we need to make sure that we stay warm.

Vata is dry, so we need to add a little bit more oil, which could look like adding another slice of avocado to your meal or incorporating some good fats.

Once we know the qualities of the season, we can observe the opposite side of what we’re currently experiencing to balance us out a little bit. That’s a universal tactic to balance the doshas. It requires self-reflection every day. Each day is different; self-reflection and accepting that we are unique beings and need different things at different times. 

CROThe center’s always moving; our point of reference is always shifting, which is so fun and entertaining and overwhelming all at the same time. I like to ask, how am I doing right now? Am I feeling good about what I’m doing right now? And if I am awesome, then I keep going. And if not, I need to pacify those particular things because I’m feeling out of balance with my constitution. 

What’s the difference between Vrikriti and Prakriti? 

CRO— Prakriti is what you are born with; it’s shaped by your parents’ constitutions and what was happening when you were conceived when you were in utero and the first two years of being on earth. Vikruti is where you are right now, what you deal with each and every day. Sometimes our Prakriti and Vrikriti are the same, and yet they don’t have to be. 

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. 

Age and what we’re experiencing profoundly affect our constitution, our body, and our overall energy. We’re always degrading once we’re born. One way to think of it is that the Virkriti is always changing as it represents what’s going on right now, so it may not be the same as it was some years beforehand. 

Why are we drawn to things that throw us out of balance?

ACI’ve had a bunch of incredible Ayurveda teachers. My primary teacher is Dr. Vassant Lad from the Ayurvedic Institute in Santa Fe, New Mexico. When I first started studying, I asked him, why are we drawn to the things that we know throw us out of balance? For myself, I love popcorn, and it’s not great for me because it’s light, and it’s dry and hard and brittle and all of those things that are not good for Vata. It’s also acidic, which is not good for Pitta, and I have a lot of Pitta in my constitution. I asked him why I was drawn to these things—to things that are not good for me. This is what he said:

The system is full of Ama, which are toxins in the body. The toxins could be from our food or the air we breathe, or even the toxins that we perceive on violent TV shows or media. Toxins could also be a fight we had with a friend or stress from work. The toxins build up in the body and clog the steady-state of flow; our bodies need to remain in harmony with the flow of the universe. When there’s a big buildup of Ama, we’re drawn to other things that bring us out of balance. Whereas once the Ama is cleared, we make better decisions. 

The thing I always think of is when I don’t get enough sleep, and when I wake up in the morning and make a poor breakfast choice because I’m fatigued and I can’t make as good of choices for myself. This leads to a slippery slope of degradation. However, we can always come back up by making small, simple choices toward living in better health. We can take many small actions that bring us back to harmony, such as drinking water, going to bed earlier, and not snacking between meals. 

The best advertisement for self-care is: when you take care of yourself, you’re better able to take care of the people around you.

Learn more about my 300 hour yoga teacher training OR 200 hour yoga teacher training courses. 

 

Ally Mazerolle: Girlvana Yoga and Community

ally mazerolle

If we’ve learned anything in the past eight months, it has to be the power and presence that occurs when we gather as a community. Through the loss of physical communities and the ongoing creation of organizations online, how we relate to each other and communicate continues to shift and evolve, be it for better or worse

This week on the podcast, we interviewed yoga teacher, writer, and entrepreneur, Ally Mazerolle, founder of Girlvana Yoga and Ladyvana Retreats. Ally started teaching yoga well over a decade ago and founded Girlvana to bring yoga and mindfulness practice to teens. 

“Today, we’re working with Gen Z, and it’s this new, emerging generation that’s so cool, and also terrifying. This generation sees the world in a way we never did because of social media. Gen Z has such a pulse on all things political because of social media and the internet; it’s more native for them to be online.” – Ally Mazerolle. 

Girlvana, like so many other studios and community-focused businesses, shifted classes and training online to continue connecting young women from all over the world as we continue to social distance. 

“My superpower is a vulnerability in my ability to share how I feel. My former business partner used to call me very emotionally agile. I think this aspect of who I am helps create a safe and conscious space for teens to share how they feel and who they are. This is what community means to me, the ability to come together and learn from our experiences.” – Ally Mazerolle.

Read the highlights from this week’s episode; watch or listen to the full discussion with Clara and Ally. 

Introducing Ally Maz and Girlvana Yoga

AMI’m so excited to have this conversation with you, particularly Clara because the idea for Girlvana was brewing inside me, but it wasn’t fully realized until I did one of your Morning Yoga Intensives. Girlvana was created in 2010, so almost a decade ago. The intention was for young women to feel seen and heard, and connected through the avenues of yoga, meditation, and real conversation.

I wanted to create a space for mindfulness for teens, and it also pertains to gender and sexuality and identity and consent and periods and all of the things that young people have to deal with as they come of age. 

Girlvana started with me teaching yoga in high schools; I was just knocking on the doors of principals and school counselors and anyone I could think of. At this time, I was already leading yoga retreats, and I thought, how cool would it be for this retreat to be all teenage girls and have sort of like a summer camp meets yoga retreat experience? 

We’ve trained over a hundred teachers globally to teach Girlvana Yoga to teens; you can find Girlvana in Scotland, Switzerland, Canada, and the US. Girlvana is also a book that will be published by Penguin Random House next year.

Today, we’re working with Gen Z, and it’s this new, emerging generation that’s so cool and terrifying. This generation sees the world in a way we never did because of social media. Gen Z has such a pulse on all things political because of social media and the internet; it’s more native for them to be online. 

Girlvana just wrapped a very ambitious digital summit for teens. We’ve created online offerings through Zoom to stay connected while we social distance. We had yoga, meditation, and keynote speakers. The girls had breakout sessions and were able to speak and be involved in conversations around allyship, mental health, yoga, and breathwork practices. I underestimated how profound digital offerings can be and how deep and vulnerable young people are willing to go. 

 

What’s a belief that’s holding you back? 

AMI just started a new job, and I feel like my imposter syndrome is coming up a lot. Even though I’m 34 now, I still feel like I’m the youngest in the room. The belief that arises is that I don’t have enough experience to be teaching.

 

What book guides your philosophy of living? 

AMThe Woman Who Run With The Wolves by Clarissa Pinkola Estes. I love that it’s based on fairytales, and I like how it’s soaked in the female psyche and the experience of women being wild. That book was revolutionary for me.

What’s the superpower that you bring to your communities? 

AMMy superpower is a vulnerability in my ability to share how I feel. My former business partner used to call me very emotionally agile.

My ability to open up and share is a doorway for young people to feel safe to share. When I am open and vulnerable, I create a space or a brave space for other people to be open and vulnerable. That has created a really strong sense of community for me.

CROI feel like we go deep into our dark caves, and we’re in our own caves, but together. There’s a quiet and space for introspection, but we’re all in it together.

When I’m teaching, I go deep down into myself and kind of sit in the mud, this very dark and heavy space. When I meet myself in the mud, people come with me and enter their own mud; the darkness and the heaviness we all carry.  

What have you learned through the community that you could not have done alone? 

CROThe biggest gift that I’ve received being in the community is how much deeper I’ve gotten to know myself in the community. By simply showing up and being together, whether it’s a yoga class or dinner with friends, I feel like I get to know myself so much more by being around other people.

Through this interaction with others, I feel way more inspired by what I see around me and the amazingness that is in all of us. 

AMRight now, being in quarantine and not being directly in the community in the same way, I miss feeling reflected in others. I enjoy it when someone shares something beautiful or their joy or sadness. It gives me something to relate to. That’s what community gives me, relatability. 

The only word I have for it is humanity. We’re all on our journeys. We’re all trying to figure it out. No one has the answers. Coming together as a community shows us how we’re all just figuring it out. I miss being with people in that way. 

What does it mean to hold space for others? 

AM—Holding space means staying in your body and breathing for yourself. 

I don’t need to jump out of my own experience to make anyone feel safe. It’s so interesting because when someone cries, it’s like, oh, don’t cry, or here’s a tissue, or you want to run over and give them a big hug.

Especially with young girls, this is how they want to show up and support each other. I stay in my own body to set boundaries and let this young person have their emotional experience without trying to coddle or stifle it. 

I have the mentality of; I’ll sit here as long as you need me to just be present for you to move through this.

CROAll of my teachers are very strong with boundaries in doing the work stepping back to allow others to have their own experience. I used to get a lot of slack from yoga studios because they wanted me to be around before and after class to be with students. When I taught at this time, I felt like I would give my soul to the class as a way to hold space, and by the time I got home, I would be exhausted. 

I always have to remember when I’m teaching classes or workshops, or when I’m on retreat, that I need to take a lot of time for myself too.

Holding space takes up a lot of energy. In my younger days of teaching, I was so depleted from the work of being together. When I teach, I feel my breath and open my own heart to what I’m directly experiencing, what I feel, and hear. The gift of this practice is that it brings up your own experiences and emotions. The lesson is to sit with how you feel and not try to change what’s happening around you or change what’s happening within.

I learned early on from my teachers that when somebody’s sharing, you don’t go and rub their back or do anything that takes them out of their experience. You sit and observe and just be with them. You become the space for them to unload something; we all carry a burden that becomes lighter if we share it. 

What are some of the communication strategies you use in workshops or retreats? 

AMSomething we use in Girlvana is clarity, transparency, and brevity. This way, the intention, and communication are super transparent. We let everyone know at the beginning of the workshop or retreat that these are the three agreements, so people can self-correct if they start rambling. It’s a great way to bring everyone together in the circle. 

CROI use the four agreements taken from the book by Don Miguel Ruiz, and I add a fifth agreement that I’ve found helps.

The agreements are:

  1. Be impeccable with your word, 
  2. Don’t take anything personally, 
  3. Don’t make assumptions, 
  4. Always do your best,
  5. Be mindful.

I add in the fifth rule because we’re in a group, and it’s essential to be aware of how much you contribute versus how much you’re not contributing. When we come together as a collective, we can learn so much from each other. If you’re the type of person who’s always engaging and speaking, it’s an opportunity to step back to observe and listen. If you’re the type of person who’s quiet, it’s an opportunity to speak and see what you can learn through bringing your voice and opinion to the group. 

I’ve been to training where it’s the same three people talking the whole time, in a group of like twenty people. There’s so much more knowledge in the room that we could be sharing instead of just listening to three perspectives.

New class 

Expand Meditation

A short meditation that asks you to connect to the wisdom and resilience of the heart space. This meditation taps into the expansiveness of the heart to bring more awareness to the breath, how you feel, and how you relate to the environments and individuals in your life. 

Irene Sanchez: Expressing Energy and Emotions

irene sanzhez

The subtle body, or energetic body, represents one of five body’s within each individual. Alignment within the five body’s creates harmony and unites the physical and energetic realms. The five bodies consist of the physical body, the prana (breath) body, the intuitive or wisdom body, the emotional or mental body, and the bliss body, which is also called the soul. The five bodies are known as koshas in Sanskrit—learn more about the koshas in this interview.

Yoga and other movement practices provide a means to engage the physical body. Breathwork, or pranayamas, is a way to ignite the pranic body. Healing modalities such as acupuncture, meditation, Chi Gong, and visualization provide a way to stimulate the intuition/wisdom body and the emotional/mind-body. The bliss body may be discovered through any of these techniques; tapping into the spiritual self or the soul depends on the practitioner and what brings you joy. 

In this week’s podcast episode, we interviewed Irene Sanchez of the AdiShakti Method. Irene is a TCM practitioner, Doula, and yogi who works with the energy flow to create a healing space for clients to discover a deeper connection to themselves and their bliss body. 

“Energy is everywhere; it’s all around us. In Chinese medicine, you’re working with meridians, which are energetic channels. The same can be said of Chi Gong, which is energy management. Meditation and yoga tap into different energies. All are ways of working with the energy we have and share with our environments.” – Irene Sanchez. 

Highlights from our discussion are noted below, or you can watch or listen to the full episode.

Your preferred treatment to receive? 

IS I love acupuncture for chronic pain, hormonal balancing, and managing stress. Acupuncture helps to boost my immune system. I love cranial sacral therapy. I love chiropractic sessions. Many people don’t like to be cracked, but I love being cracked because it creates a space of possibility for healing in the body. I love therapy. I love Watsu therapy, which is a form of massage in a body of water. 

The instrument that captures your soul?

IS I would say piano because it has a lyrical quality that brings me into this ethereal space, and I love living in the ether. I feel like I have a lot of earth energy, and I’m very grounded, but I love playing in the energy realm, which is the ether. 

I’m a psychonaut, exploring different states of consciousness to investigate the mind and the human experience. I use various tools to examine other states of consciousness; one of them is yoga. I also use meditation and Chi Gong. 

irene sanchez

What’s your relationship, or understanding, of energy?

CRO— Nine years ago, I taught a 200-hour teaching training that Irene attended, and on about day fifteen, the energy was really heavy. It felt like many people were going through a lot of their transformation and going deep into their journey. I chose to lead a Kundalini mantra for healing and asked everyone to come to sit in a circle. And then I say, if at any point you feel like you need some healing, you sit down in the center of the circle, and you receive the mantra from the group around you. A couple of people go into the center, and we start to sing this mantra. And as we’re singing the mantra, I’m starting to feel the energy, not only in the room but in the jungle around us. We were in a place on this beach in Ko Pen Yang Thailand, surrounded by the jungle. 

As we chant, I start to feel the jungle awakening, and as we’re chanting, I feel that we’re opening a portal of energy, and other energies start coming towards us. It was as if the jungle woke up energetically, and I could feel that there was all this outside energy trying to enter our circle. There were four of us in the circle who I could feel holding the energy down, almost like pillars representing the four directions. I felt that the four of us wrapped ourselves energetically around the circle so that these outside energies couldn’t come in. I remember feeling like I was being pushed; that’s how much energy was trying to enter.

When the chanting ended, it was so intense; many people cried, and we burned incense to clear the room and over each person to clear their energy fields. There are a lot of times when I don’t know. What’s going to happen, but I know that something needs to happen, that something needs to shift. I could feel that in the room that day when I chose the Kundalini mantra.

I have guides who work on different planes, teachers who work through me and tell me what to do. The guides don’t give me the why or how, or what’s going on; they’re just like, you need to do this. I trust that, and I trusted that what we did that day needed to happen for the energy to move. 

IS— Energy is everywhere; it’s all around us. In Chinese medicine, you’re working with meridians, which are energetic channels. The same can be said of Chi Gong, which is energy management. Meditation and yoga tap into different energies. All are ways of working with the energy we have and share with our environments. 

What I’ve found is that mainstream people are not very aware of yoga. They’re very aware of the physical world’s density, but they don’t have as much of an understanding of the subtle body, which is the energy we work with in acupuncture. We use a needle to move the energy around and direct the flow of energy. I love giving first-time clients or people who are unaware of the subtle realm the first glimpse into this dimension; that there’s more to the world than we can physically see.

Bliss Mantra & Meditation

A short mantra and meditation to experience the bliss body, this class invites you to experience joy as a felt sensation. As you take your seat, ask yourself, what does joy feel like in the body? How do I experience joy? You’ll join Clara to chant a mantra for bliss, Om Shri Anandaye Namaha. This mantra translates to the idea of recognizing and honoring the bliss we carry within. 

Om = primordial sound
Shri = blessings and salutations
Anandaye = bliss
Namaha = I bow to thee

How do the vayus work with energy?

CROThe values are how prana moves through the body. There are five directions of the vayus in terms of how energy moves.

Prana Vayu is the most vital direction of energy as prana represents the body’s life force. Prana refers to the inhalation, so its direction moves inward. We take in prana through our nose and mouth in the air we breathe, but prana is contained in all things. It’s in the water and food we consume, and prana is contained in how we see, hear, and feel the world around us. 

Samana Vayu is the assimilation of prana; its location is at the stomach and intestines as this vayus function is primarily digestion. It’s often associated with the solar plexus, Manipura chakra, and Agni—the digestive fire. 

Vyana Vayu moves energy outwards to the peripheries of the body; it moves in all directions to distribute the prana to all parts. It moves upwards and downwards, from side-to-side, and is centralized around the heart chakra to stimulate the lungs and respiration of breath. 

Apana Vayu moves downwards and is responsible for the exhalation and all down and outward movement of energy. Digestion, elimination, menstruation, ejaculation, and childbirth are all influenced by Apana.  

Udana Vayu moves upwards and is responsible for the inspiration; the inhale of the breath. Udana influences speech, song, and communication. 

ISThere are different levels of anatomy in the body; we have the physical body, and then we have the energy body. The energy body is more subtle, whereas the physical body is denser. The acupuncture meridians are connected to the physical body, while the chakras are connected to the subtle body. The energy moves differently through different systems and in different channels. 

We have the 12 main meridians with the acupuncture channels, and then we have the eight extra meridians. The 12 main meridians are related to our internal organs. The 12 standard meridians are divided into the Yin and the Yang groups. The Yin meridians are the lung, heart, pericardium, spleen, kidney, and liver. The Yang meridians are the large intestine, small intestine, triple burner, stomach, bladder, and gallbladder.

It’s cool because our bodies keep an internal clock where each organ and meridian has a two-hour time period where the energy is at its peak at that specific area. The energy, we call it qi in acupuncture, moves through the body in two-hour windows over the full 24-hour time period and shifts between the Yin and Yang energies. The organ functions best when the power is flowing and focuses on that point. In acupuncture, we tap into the energy flow and where the energy is focused to benefit the individual’s overall health.

How do you prepare to receive energy?

CROTo prepare, this means living my life with as much integrity as possible, because as we said, this energy shift can happen at any time. To the best of my ability, I take care of myself to get enough sleep, ensure I’m eating correctly, and stay hydrated. That’s what living with integrity looks like, on a fundamental level. 

When I’m healthy and feel good, it’s going to put me in a better state of mind to navigate anything that comes towards me or anything that shows up in my path. 

Other ways I take care of myself is to include some sort of daily mindful practice. Navel-gazing, meditation, yoga, playing with my little one; all are ways I take care of myself. 

ISI’m an introverted extrovert, meaning I can be very social, and I love connecting with people, but I can get zapped by all the energetic output. So I need to make space to retreat, to settle and ground in my own space. Or I go out into nature and spend time in the trees. 

Sitting and meditating, talking to plants, being in the stillness of nature, I am so blessed that I can live with this beautiful playground on the Squamish nations’ sacred ancestral land. Being in nature is one of the things that fill me up so that I can show up for people. 

What’s the AdiShakti Method?

ISThe AdiShakti Method integrates all the different modalities that I have studied for the past 20-years. It bridges Western Medicine with Eastern practices and traditional Chinese Medicine, with body-mind therapy. My focus of study has been primarily yoga and tantra. I merge a lot of tantric meditation with practices like yoga and Chi Gong. I also use a lot of herbal medicines, and I work a lot with plants. 

My goal is always to open the flow of energy for the person. We all create defense patterns to cope with our experience that may show up as blockages in the physical body. I believe that healing occurs on many levels, not only the physical body but also the emotional and spiritual body. I believe in integrating all the parts of the self, that this integration is necessary to heal. 

AdiShakti is a beautiful combination of all these different modalities. Depending on what the person arrives with, I have a toolkit of methods and practices to choose from based on my intuition, which will assist in the healing experience.  

Learn more about energy transformations and relaxing your body and mind through our vinyasa flow yoga, online yoga classes, or try out the 30 day yoga challenge and try something new.  Learn more about Clara’s 300 hour yoga teacher training OR 200 hour yoga teacher training courses.

I want people to remember their one true nature, to remember their divinity in this body, in this reality.