Digital Detox: Yogis Need to Unplug Too

Digital Detox: Yogis Need to Unplug Too

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You don't need a supercomputer to recognize that huge chunks of our time are occupied by the stuff we do on our electronic devices. However, until I spent six internet and cellular free days in the mountains of northern New Mexico last week, I had not grasped precisely how much time I spend online. On a daily basis I’m answering hundreds of e-mails, posting updates and photos on social media, blogging (like right now), and texting with at least 10 different people. It’s no joke.

To fit it all in, I’m lucky if I create an hour a day to pause, be in the moment, do something outside, read a book, or sit to eat with family and friends.

Sometimes I want to throw away my phone, close my social media and email accounts, and turn back the clock to the 70’s and 80’s before these technologies existed and go camp in the woods, or hang out on the beach (without worrying about getting sand in my iPad). Can you relate?

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As much as I fantasize about throwing in the tech towel, I practice yoga, and as the name yoga (meaning union) suggests, we like to connect. Even if it’s through a screen. And this longing to connect is what keeps me on my iPhone and laptop.

Some on the retreat were surprised that I would be addicted to devices and technology. People often make the assumption that because I do yoga, that I’m immune.

The truth is that most everyone now grapples with their relationship to technology, and yogis are no exception.

That said, I do believe yogis, with their understanding of mindfulness and being present are ripe to lead the charge to explore ways in which to create boundaries with devices and schedule purposeful times of “unplugging” to simply be. But to do this this, we must start with ourselves.

The biggest realization I gained from six days off is that in the absence of transmitting electronic devices and social media I was truly free (as my younger self was) to do whatever my heart desired. Time opened up and I became obligated only to myself and to the people that mattered most.

There was space to relish nature, read books by a crackling fire, break bread with the artists and visionaries at the retreat, spend 5 hours hiking through the woods with no trail, and to rock climb for the first time in years. I enjoyed the better part of one day creating land art (see videos below!) practiced yoga, pampered and sauna'ed, sang, and played music!

Note: We agreed to use smartphones and cameras for the sole purpose of photography and creating imagery. Videos by Norman Johnson.

The whole idea of “Fear of Missing Out” (FOMO) is actually an illusion of sorts. Life goes on. It was OK not to “need” to know every detail of the feeds I regularly scroll through. Not having to be 100% on every minute of the day in order to stay on top of things was a massive relief to my spirit.

I'm still getting used to typing on my laptop again. And sure, I've got an overwhelming amount of work and emails to catch up on, but it was worth it.

Perhaps you’re saying, “Duh, why is this such a revelation?” but honestly, the most time I’ve given myself off the grid in the last few years has been a day, not six.

My new goal is to extend the time even longer on my next “unplugging”.

Based on what I learned during those seven days, here are some ways we can start creating a healthy relationship with technology:

  1. Realize that you’re not missing out. Not seeing every single post in your Instagram or Facebook feed is OK. If there is someone you really need to catch up with, pick up the phone. You can also check their individual page instead of scrolling through an entire feed so you are selectively choosing vs. being subjected to the blast of everyone and their mother’s updates. Just this choice alone will limit your time on social media and open up more time in your day.
  2. Unplug for at least an hour a day and unplug for one whole day per week. Give yourself the gift of being free to do what you enjoy most such as reading a book, cooking and eating a meal at the table with no distractions, taking a bath, hiking or walking outside. Tell your colleagues and friends that this is your time off and to not expect responses during that time.
  3. Build in at least 1-3 solid vacations (stay-cations count!) a year and purposely hit the off button on all technology! This can be a great time to recharge, reboot and prevent burnout. A “Digital Detox” helps you get back in tune with your own rhythms and nature’s rhythms vs. keeping up with the pace of the digital world. It’s such a joy to dictate how you spend your time rather than spending so much time responding to other people’s demands of you.
  4. Be in the moment and do one thing at a time. We’ve all too often been in a conversation with someone or in a meeting and one of us gets a text message or e-mail popping up on the phone. Don’t be that person who picks up the phone in the middle of the conversation to see who texted! Put the phone in airplane mode and out of sight and give your fullest attention to the moment.Here’s a trick I learned from Shannon, who recently joined our team at 90 Monkeys: When you’re out to eat with family and/or friends, put all of the phones in the middle of the table face down. The phones have to stay there for the entire meal (no exceptions!). Whoever touches their phone first buys everyone’s dinner. Not only is it a fun game, but it also lets you enjoy a meal together without any outside distractions.

These methods for digital detox will make you happier, more productive, and help you to gain more perspective on your life. The best proof of this is to try it yourself. Once you’ve done a full “unplugging”, chances are you’ll be longing to press the off button more often.

Have you done a digital detox? If so, please share your experience and methods for a healthy relationship to tech in the comments below.

Fire We enjoyed this fire every day in an outdoor living room! RockclimbingAmyIppoliti Here I am bouldering up to a lava cave with my new friend Imran, founder of EmbarcChicago.org. Photo by Norman Johnson.

 

 

Vegan Cream of Delicata Squash Soup

Vegan Cream of Delicata Squash Soup

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On a brisk October day, I was doing some errands around Boulder and saw that the Farmer’s Market was having its final Wednesday of the season. On a whim, I bought a couple of delicata squash’s along with heaps of kale, broccoli, and other veggies. I have never tried making a puree of delicata squash for soup, but my experiment proved to be one of the tastiest (and simple!) soups I have ever made.

To make this soup you will need a food processor or high-powered blender (such as a Blendtec or Vitamix)*. This recipe uses a new product from Nutiva called Organic Refined Coconut Oil. I love this oil because it has all the nutritional and cooking benefits of coconut oil, without the coconut taste making it much more versatile.

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Now on to the recipe…

Ingredients: 2 medium sized delicata squash Approx. 2 cups unsweetened plain almond milk (depending on desired consistency) Sea salt to taste 1 Tbsp Nutiva refined coconut oil

Instructions: 1. Rinse and scrub the delicate squash. 2. Cut off the ends of the squash and slice the squash into quarters. 3. Place the quarters in a steamer. Steam until tender. 4. Scoop and remove seeds out of the quarters. 5. Combine all of the ingredients in the food processor or blender. 6. Blend until smooth and all the skin of the squash has been well blended. 7. Garnish with sautéed broccoli or kale if desired.

*If you only have a regular blender, make sure to skin the squash first.

 

Autumn Carrot Peanut Butter Smoothie

Autumn Carrot Peanut Butter Smoothie

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Are you one of those people who digs dipping carrot sticks into peanut butter? If so, you'll enjoy this refreshing new smoothie I came up with after a visit to the farmers' market where I found beautiful, succulent carrots, begging to be eaten.

The recipe uses Wild Jungle Peanuts from the Amazon so you don't have to worry about rancid peanut butter (which is usually the case with standard, even organic peanuts).

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In a Vitamix, Blendtec or other hi-powered blender mix the following:

8oz almond milk 1 scoop Vega vanilla protein powder 1 small raw carrot 1/4 cup Wild Jungle Peanuts 1 tsp Nutiva Coconut Manna Cinnamon and sea salt to taste 3 Ice cubes

Roughly 28 grams of protein. Pour into glass and enjoy!

 

 

 

 

Video: Thrilling Instead of Killing: Swimming with Whale Sharks & Manta Rays

Video: Thrilling Instead of Killing: Swimming with Whale Sharks & Manta Rays

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On one of my trips to experience marine animals with marine conservationists, Taro Smith, Ph.D and Shawn Heinrichs, we found a place where former shark fishermen are now "thrilling instead of killing" by taking people like me out into the ocean to swim and interact with whale sharks and manta rays.

It was an honor to support the eco-tourism efforts in Mexico and to witness how these fishermen are so protective of the whale sharks and manta rays!

Although there were many boats and people in the water (which may seem bothersome to the animals), the alternative (being fished for their fins) could mean much bigger problems for these creatures.

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My experience swimming near them is that they were aware enough to avoid collision with me, but they certainly were not threatened by my presence in any way. The animals were so focused on filtering for fish eggs, I might as well have been a floating log!

This video, shot by Taro Smith, Ph.D, showcases the beauty of these animals and how you can help protect sharks and manta rays, as well as our oceans.

 

Eating on the Wild Side

Eating on the Wild Side

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  We all know that a big part of a yoga lifestyle is to eat well and follow the latest research in nutrition so we can live more vibrantly while respecting the earth.

And when it comes to food and nutrition ideas, we've heard it all!

We try to eat more plant based organic. We've tried raw, cooked, BPA and Gluten Free. We eat more greens to keep the doctor away. The list goes on.

But this time my world got rocked by Jo Robinson, author of “Eating on the Wild Side: The Missing Link to Optimum Health".

Jo spent ten years researching the nutrient value in the most common and popular produce found in our super markets, even the organic markets. I always knew that wild foods and even weeds were extremely good for you, but it turns out we started breeding the nutrition out of food when we became farmers 10,000 years ago...Ack!

History geeks will love Jo's research, and foodies - you will get a kick out of revolutionizing your produce selection methods, learning best practices for storing your produce, and the various new creations you can make in your kitchen!

Here is just a little bit of what I learned:

Greens Dandelion greens, Purple kale, Raddichio, Arugula and Red Leaf lettuces are total phytonutrient superstars compared to standard green lettuce like Romaine or Butter leaf - seems obvious when you think about it, but I'd never given it that much thought.

Eat Your Brussel Sprouts! Everyone knows that Brussel sprouts are ridiculously healthy but according to Jo, they are superfood ninjas:  “Brussels sprouts kill more human cancer cells than all other crucifers. In a 2009 test-tube study, extracts of the vegetable destroyed 100 percent of human cancer cells of the breast, pancreas, stomach, prostate, and lung.”

How You Prep and Store Your Produce Makes All the Difference In the pictures below I am doing the produce ritual I learned. Soak the greens for an hour in cold water, rinse well, and then spin the leafy greens.

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Once spinned well, place the greens into zip lock bags that have been perforated with a needle 10-20 times to allow for gas exchange. The Dandelion greens in the picture actually have red stems, so I'm sure they are even more incredibly healthy. (Dandelions also help feed our dwindling population of honey bees, so never spray them with weed killer!)

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Push all the air out before sealing the bag so it looks vacuum packed and store in your crisper drawer. According to Jo, “If you tear up the lettuce before you store it, you can double its antioxidant value. The living plant responds to the insult as if it were being gnawed by an insect or eaten by an animal: it produces a burst of phytonutrients to fend off the intruders.”

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Purple Carrots, Artichokes and Asparagus It turns out that purple carrots are higher in anthocyanins than regular carrots. And if you steam them whole and then slice them afterwards they taste sweeter and their ability to fight cancer increases. Who knew?

The information on Artichokes (one of my favorites) shocked me.  Jo throws it down: “Artichokes have a higher ORAC (oxygen radical absorbance capacity) value than all the other fruits and vegetables in the supermarket. You would have to eat eighteen servings of corn or thirty servings of carrots to get the same benefits.” Needless to say, I've been obsessed:

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Asparagus is very high in antioxidants, but I learned that purple asparagus has three times more antioxidants than the green varieties. I always assumed the purple ones did not taste as good. I was totally wrong! Asparagus, like Broccoli is best eaten no more than 2 days after harvest in order to actually get the incredible nutrients inside the plant, so it's almost impossible to shop for them in standard super markets where the produce typically arrives ten days after harvest. Getting Broccoli, Asparagus, Artichoke and Brussel sprouts at farmer's markets or growing them on your own is the best bet.

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Here is what my salads look like since reading the book:

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It has been so much fun applying Jo's wisdom to our kitchen!

I must thank the awesome yogini who told me about the book (I can't remember who you are, but please come forward so we can all give you a virtual hug!).

Please leave a comment with your experiences of "eating on the wild side", recipes, or comments on the book!

 

Ego Bashing and Yoga, Is it Helping?

Ego Bashing and Yoga, Is it Helping?

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Yogis want to eradicate the Ego. A select few, but prominent, schools of yoga will tell you that one of the goals of yoga is to extinguish the ego and instead be as modest and unassuming as possible. I beg to differ. I call this view of the ego "ego bashing".

In spite of all this work trying to quell the ego, modern yogis are often accused of being the most egotistic, self-obsessed, selfie-taking, navel gazers alive. So how’s that ego bashing working out? Here's a theory.

If anything, I believe that the pressure on yogis not to have an ego is creating an opposite, reactionary effect. Yogis are so tired of subduing their egos that they're actually craving the need to celebrate themselves a little with a selfie or two. (Not to mention, yogis are also subject to the same self-absorbed culture of social media as everyone else on the planet, but I digress...)

Ego bashing is not going to solve any problems. Here's why embracing your ego might even be a good thing:

If you believe that the Divine lives in everything, then the Divine must also be present in the ego!  It’s not a question of whether the ego is bad or good. It’s how you relate to the ego that matters.

Can having an ego be healthy?

Yes, when you use it to honor your assets and offer them to the world around you!  In fact, it would be a shame if your ego were so suppressed that you shied away from sharing your gifts with your community. If you've got something to share that will benefit others - please do so!

Conversely, your ego is also healthy when you are aware of when to be humble, when to take the back seat, when to let others have the spotlight, or when to defer if someone else is more capable of doing the job than you.

To me, good yoga is never about suppressing something natural that exists within us. Good yoga instead happens when we participate, seek to understand, and engage with the natural foibles and shortcomings we have as humans.

Keep sharing your gifts with the people around you. Do it with awareness and thoughtfulness. Keep others in mind and never forget that the life force moving through you is the source of your greatness.

Get Your ZEAL Back and Keep it This Time!

Happy New Year, dear friends! Like many of you, I took full advantage of the quiet solstice time to take a thorough look at my life.

I've been investigating how I want to feel in the coming years, what truly matters and how to make the most of the precious time I have on this planet - especially when life has become so busy and techno-centric.

What I've come to realize is that nothing I do has as much pizazz or passion if it's not connected to a higher personal purpose or reason why. There's got to be a higher reward.

Seems obvious, right?

But that is easier said than done.

How often have you found yourself just plodding along, doing your work, following your routine but with little zeal?

The fresh start of the New Year gives you the opportunity to reconnect to what you want and get your enthusiasm back!

To rediscover your zeal:

  1. Get out of your house and go somewhere fabulous to sit with your grand purpose. Close your eyes and wait for an image, a symbol or even a clear sentence that articulates why you are here and what you're meant to do.
  2. Write about what you want to feel, do, be and have in your life in the next 1-5 years. Go big!Go forth into everything you do with purpose, passion and ZEAL by always keeping your purpose and what you want in your mind. It can help to have it written out where you meditate each morning so you see it daily.
  3. Let's not allow the passion to fade until New Year's resolutions come around again next year!

My promise to you this year is to teach with more gusto and to devote every practice to reconnecting with our personal purpose so we can reach the stars with our dreams and visions.

All the love, Amy

On the Bright Side of Disaster: Lessons from the Colorado Flood

On the Bright Side of Disaster: Lessons from the Colorado Flood

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The rain has finally ceased, the sun is out and there has never been more love and caring energy in Boulder. Being a mecca for spirituality and consciousness Boulderites understand non-attachment and yet trauma and loss does not magically go away because one lives in the "Boulder bubble". Many lost everything. It will take time to move through the range of emotions our community is experiencing. It was scary - men and women went out in the storm in shoulder height water to take down fences to help divert water away from homes. Flash floods were raging in the pitch black of night while sirens sounded. Many yogis and neighbors worked around the clock digging trenches and putting up barricades to direct the relentless water out of harms way. Countless streets and roads are destroyed, totally washed out and the asphalt cracked in pieces.

Our house lucked out but others in our neighborhood, even next door to us did not fare so well.  Other than houses directly in the flood path (old seasonal creeks and drainages) it seemed entirely random which properties took in water and which did not.

Our friend who was house sitting for us was a champion because our neighborhood had rapids rushing through it and she evacuated with our cat yet still found a way to keep her watchful eye on the house. Even her dad came over and helped her open the hatch door to our cellar which was miraculously dry.

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We live on 6th St in Boulder and yet one block over (exactly parallel to our house) the street was destroyed. That's me in the picture above surveying the damage.

Many families are displaced.  Towns just adjacent to us like Jamestown and Lyons are all but destroyed. This video sums up how frightening it was in the mountain towns of Boulder:

Long after the rains our streets continue to be filled with the sounds of shovels, pumps, helicopters, saws, and mostly rushing water that never was audible before. There are piles and piles of debris and mounds of now bone dry river silt which gets stirred into the air we breathe the minute a car drives by.

On the bright side of disaster, human beings always seem to show up at their best with compassion, love and generosity to help others. We were out of town during the worst of the storms and were touched by the support we received not only from friends all over the world, but our friends at home who wrote us in Indonesia offering to check on our home despite being in the middle of their own mess and the danger of getting around town.

Everyone you talk to knows at least one person who is housing a flood refugee or two whether human or animal. Our 90 Monkeys team has been showering in our guest bathroom since their water is still contaminated up the canyon. Almost all the conversations I've heard in passing have been what I call "Flood talk" - ie. people checking in, comparing stories, offering to help, or giving advice on what to do about mold or debris.  Relief is desperately needed for those who are still homeless, who have no clean water to drink, and lost their possessions and homes.

In true Hanuman spirit, the Hanuman Festival has organized a huge benefit event for November 16th that I will be teaching at along with local Boulder teachers Richard Freeman and Gina Caputo. Also joining us will be Janet Stone and musicians DJ Drez and MC Yogi. 100% of the proceeds will go towards the Colorado Flood Relief Fund.  I feel grateful to the Hanuman Festival, these teachers and musicians - as well as Yoga Journal, Give Back Yoga Foundation and prAna for lending their support to this event! Hanuman Festival is also donating $20 from every Gratitude Pass for the 2014 festival sold until Oct 31st.

Visit www.HanumanFestival.com for more information.

Our community was so disappointed about the cancellation of the annual Estes Park Yoga Journal LIVE conference due to the roads to Estes Park being destroyed. Our community truly looks forward to that gathering and in some ways needed the yoga love more than ever. Though the flood was clearly out of our direct control, we still feel so sorry that so much destruction in our state created this problem for YJ LIVE.  :( We hope the Hanuman Festival benefit on the 16th will make up for it in some small way while raising much needed funds for our state.

If you can not be at the benefit, consider making a donation to the Colorado Relief Fund.

 

Tumeric Citrus Juice: Dr. Taro's Spring Wellness Boost

Tumeric Citrus Juice: Dr. Taro's Spring Wellness Boost

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Taro came back from photographing sailfish and bait balls in Mexico with a bit of a Spring cold. If anyone does the juicing in the family, it’s me, but I was filming for YogaGlo. So off he went to the store and low and behold, he concocted quite the elixir to soothe his bug! It's sweet, delicious and kicks inflammatory butt! The Recipe

4 inches of fresh crisp organic turmeric root 1 inch of organic ginger 1 organic Mikan (satsuma tangerine) 2 organic ruby grapefruits 1 organic granny smith apple 1 small organic lemon (optional)

Plunge all the ingredients through a juicer being mindful to keep the turmeric in the middle rather than last to go through. This will ensure you get every last drop of the healthy goodness and less stain on your juicer parts.

Turmeric is known for its antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties. While it is spicy and bitter, with a little sweetness from the grapefruit, tangerine and apple makes the turmeric flavor come alive! Be well, enjoy and let us know what you think of the juice in the comment section below!

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Exotic Citrus Green Juice

Exotic Citrus Green Juice

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With winter's citrus season booming, our organic produce delivery has been bursting with two of my favorites exotic citrus varieties: pomelos and meyer lemons. Pomelos, in case you have never heard of them, are pretty much my favorite fruit. They are similar to a grapefruit with a much thicker skin. What they lack in thin skins, they make up for in taste and texture. Pomelos are slightly sweeter and less bitter than their grapefruit friends. The texture is actually delicious. Pomelos come apart nice and dry, but are loaded with juice once you bite in.

To peel the pomelo, use a knife to score a line along the equator of the fruit. Dig your fingers into each side and peel the whole half off each side - usually you can do this in one piece each side. Then cut the fruit in quarters so it will fit in your juicer.  To read about the benefits of juicing and tips on what kind of juicer to get, read this article.

Meyer lemons are like regular lemons except they have a thinner more orange-yellow color, and their flavor is like a lemon perfume, which lends a signature taste to any food you prepare with this fruit.

Of course I had to try some juicing combinations in the kitchen with this kind of citrus on hand.  Here was the winner:

Exotic Citrus Green Juice

1 Small Meyer lemon

1 Pomelo, peeled

1 Anjou pear

2 Small cucumbers or one large

1 Head of Romaine lettuce

1 Large handful of baby spinach (optional)

Make sure all produce is organically grown. Wash carefully and push through your juicer.  The lemon can go in un-peeled. To make sure you maximize the juice in the spinach, put the cucumbers into the shute, then pack the spinach in around the cucumber before plunging.  Enjoy this refreshing, good for you libation!

Teaming Up With Boardworks for Some Stand Up Paddle Boarding Fun

Teaming Up With Boardworks for Some Stand Up Paddle Boarding Fun

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You may not know this about me, but growing up as a girl during summers in Vermont, I was an avid canoeing enthusiast. Through the guidance of my canoeing mentor, Elizabeth Smith (one of my first true teachers in life), I learned to paddle a canoe in a perfectly straight line in storm force winds, land the the boat - stopping on a dime with no movement, reverse a swamped canoe and get it back to shore with no paddle, and how to solo a canoe down white water rapids. After leading groups on wilderness lake trips, portaging canoes for miles, building a shelter out of an overturned canoe to sleep in, and countless other sailing & mountaineering skills acquired along the way, I achieved the highest rank in canoeing in my final year at the camp. It was a huge moment for me to have worked toward something so rigorous and succeed. In fact, it was that accomplishment that helped me get myself through intense yoga teacher certifications later in life.

It had been a long time since I had paddled, but three years ago I was introduced to Stand Up Paddling and instantly fell in love.

In August of 2012 I teamed up with Boardworks, a leading Surfboard/ Stand Up Paddle Board company to help define the relationship Yoga has with Stand Up Paddle boarding.

These are two of the fastest growing activities in the world, and have become a way of life for the those who practice or paddle. One child's pose floating on the water was all I needed to know that yoga on the board, while it would never replace what I do on the mat, is certainly heaven!

The combined benefits of the cardiovascular exercises, core stability and yoga on the water provide for an all body workout as well as access to nature in a watery environment.

Yoga on stand-up paddle boards, also known as Yoga SUP is an interesting niche, and there are a rapidly growing number of Yoga SUP classes being offered around the world in lakes, open water, waterways, reservoirs and more.

Boardworks believes there is a bigger connection between these sports, and that it is more of a mindset of the demographic that they share; health, wellness, nature, fresh air, and play.

I am very excited to partner with Boardworks to help connect two of my favorite passions…this is another way to expand on yoga and while taking my yoga practice outside.  We are seeing more and more Yoga SUP happening at yoga events around the world!

According to Boardworks National Sales Manager Ryan Guay, “We’ve seen organic growth of the Yoga SUP lifestyle and it's a natural extension of our brand. We have specific models that work perfectly for yoga applications and believe our products to be ideal for this purpose. Amy hosts retreats in beautiful places around the world. I am excited to get involved with these events and help expose people to SUP.”

To learn more about Stand Up Paddle Boarding and get a board of your own, visit Boardwork's Website.

Join me and a bunch of great yogis in Costa Rica to practice therapeutic yoga and get in the water on SUP boards every day! Visit the retreat page.

大変なとき、私たちにも何かができる

ヨガは私たちに、人生の中でどんな状況やチャレンジにあってもそれを美しいものに変えて行くことを教えてくれます。アメリカではハリケーン「サンディ」からの回復作業が進む中、日本では津波の被害にあった地域でヨガの生徒さん達がどのように大きな損失に対応し、それぞれのコミュニティーで貢献しているか、私が知ったことを共有したいと思います。 岩手県で教えた際、仙台をはじめ、2011年の津波で大被害を受けた地域に住む生徒さんと知り合うチャンスがありました。

前年、この災害で多くの人々が影響を受けました。ワークショップの後、津波被害の写真集を見せてくれた方がいました。その中の一枚は彼女の住んでいた町で、 津波が来る前の彼女の家も写っていました。次のぺージにはまったく破壊された同じ土地の写真がありました。彼女の家は大きな穴と残骸と化していました。

彼女自身は内陸にいたので助かりましたが、お母さんとお婆さんは自宅にいて、大混乱の中で離ればなれになってしまったそうです。お婆さんはかすかに息をしている状態で見つかり、病院に運ばれましたが、いっぱいで手当をしてもらえないまま病院の外でなくなりました。お母さんは未だに見つかっていないそうです。彼女はヨガをやることによってこの辛い出来事に何らかの意味を見いだそうとしています。

災害以来、家を失った多くの方々が無味乾燥なプレハブ仮設住宅に住んでいます。木や草や花もなく、自然の美しさとは無関係な環境の で、まるで駐車場に倉庫が並んだような感じです。ここに住んでおられる方々は家を失ったばかりではなく、家族、友人、そして「通常」の感覚を失ってしまっています。言うまでもなく、これらの住宅施設では臨床的鬱病の発生率が高いということは言うまでもありません。

破壊された家の中には、400年以上も大事に手入れされ新しい世代に継がれてきた伝統的な日本家屋もありました。そのような家は、単なる住宅ではなく、ひとつの文化の歴史と伝統を伝える重要な陸標として大切にされていました。

このような家屋の最大の特徴は、野草が茂っている茅葺きの屋根です。その美しさも当然ながら、このような屋根は何百年にも渡り(何千年も前に遡るとさえ言われています)自然と共存して来た重要な建築デザインの象徴として、家のオーナーばかりか日本全国で崇拝されて来ました。

ワークショップの出席者のひとりにシダ・アヤコさんという方がいました。彼女は400年「生きてきた」これらの家の歴史を調査してきてとても刺激されていました。そして津波の後、地域の経済復興を願って災害地の植木屋さんから鉢植えの花を買い始めました。そしてボランティアの力を借りて家を失った人たちの仮設住宅にその花を植えるというプロジェクトを開始しました。名前は「花咲プロジェクト」です。

本当の自分の家を持てるのがいつになるのか分からない被害者の方々の生活環境を向上させ、明るい環境を作ってあげたい、そして皆が応援しているという気持ちを伝えることによって心を癒してあげたいという思いでした。 東京でも何人かのヨガティーチャーがこの活動を応援するために資金集めのクラスを開催しました。私はその活動に感動し、ワークショップの収益の一部を寄付する約束をしました。

皆が応援している気持ちを伝え、ちょっぴりでも美しさを散りばめていくだけでも、再び希望の灯をともすことにつながっていくのです。

花咲プロジェクトへのご協力をお願いいたします。

500円以上ご協力いただいた方に「いわて芝棟ものがたり」を1部差し上げます。

《協力金送付先》

岩手銀行県庁支店 普通口座 0101011

社団法人岩手県建築士会 会長 小川惇

〒020-0887 岩手県盛岡市上ノ橋町1-50 Tel/Fax 019-654-5777

ジンベイザメとファッションが手を組んでフカヒレ採取撤廃に挑戦

私のパートナーのタローが最近フィリピンから帰りました。アーティストのクリスチャン・シュミットとカメラマンで海洋環境保護者のショーン・ハインリックスと共に、アート、ファッション、環境保護意識向上の3つの要素を合わせるという革新的な冒険撮影をして来たのです。被写体は、プロのモデル/人魚のハンナ・フレーザーさん、エクストリーム・スポーツ選手で近接飛行ベース・ジャンパーとして世界のトップの座にいるロバータ・マンチーノさん、そしてもちろん雄大で優しいジンベイザメたちです.彼らの背中は夜空がプリントされているかのように美しいのです。

サメは殺すより生きてる方が貴重であることをより多くの人が知れば知るほど、 海洋環境や私たちの吸う空気を守るチャンスも高まりす。

ほんの1年前までこの地域のジンベイザメはヒレを獲るために殺されていました。海底撮影とフカヒレ採取の害を暴露する意識向上活動のおかげで、この村では今やサメを見学するエコ・ツアーを開催しています。それだけでも嬉しいことなのに、今こうしてサメがアートの一部となりました!

上:ロバータ・マンチーノ。イタリア人スカイダイバー、ベース・ジャンパー、ウィングスーツ・フライヤー、国際モデル。7000回のスカイダイビングの経験を持つ。

フカヒレ採取は良くないことです。

毎年8800万から1億匹のサメがヒレ採取のために殺されています。すべて中華料理のフカヒレスープのためです。ヒレ採取は残酷なばかりでなく、まったく無意味なことです。サメのヒレは無味で、栄養価値も医療価値もありません。単に富の象徴として価値があるだけです。中国の経済力が高まるに連れ、フカヒレスープの需要も増加しています。

漁師はふつうサメをいったん船に揚げ、ヒレを切り落としてから海に投げ返します。ヒレをとられたサメは3週間くらいかかって窒息死します。でも、問題はこの残酷な行為以上に大きいのです。

上: サメとポーズをとるハンナ・フレーザー。プロの人魚、海洋環境保護活動家、パフォーマンス・アーティスト、モデル。海底でもプロです!

サメがいなくなったら困ります。

なぜなら、サメは食物連鎖系の頂点に位置し、捕食者がほとんどいないので、獲られ過ぎて数が減ってもそれを補充するには大変な時間がかかります。今のような状況が続くと、 10〜20年後にはサメは絶滅してしまうでしょう。頂点にいる捕食者として、サメは食物連鎖系のバランスを保つのに大きく貢献しています。病気や怪我などで弱っているものを食べ、他の魚介、水産動物の数をちょうど良く保つことにより、全体として魚介人口が強く健康でいるために、サメの存在は欠かせないのです。サメがいなくなったら海洋食物連鎖系は崩れてしまうでしょう。魚が増え過ぎて海草を食べ尽してしまったら、水面の酸素生産量はグンと減ってしまいます。これも気候変動につながるのです。

私たちに出来ること:

  • フカヒレスープを出すレストランを避けましょう。友人や家族にも訴えてください。サメを救うために優れた活動をしているWildAid などの団体に寄付をしてください。
  • 2013年の夏、私とタローとショーン・ハインリックスと一緒に一生一度の Seva (サンスクリット語で奉仕、つながり、という意味)旅行に行きませんか?メキシコのムヘレス島でジンベイザメと泳ぎ、WildAid  団体の資金集めのお手伝いをします。この旅行に関する e-メール情報はこちらから

上:左側、スクーバスーツ姿がタロー。ハンナ・フレーザーは人魚のように泳ぎたいという子供の時からの夢をキャリアとして実現しました。びっくりするほど長い間息を止めていられます!

上:クリスチャン・シュミットとモデルのロバータ・マンチーノ。陸や海底でモデルをしていない時は飛行機から飛び降りてモデルをしています!

上:ハンナ・フレーザー。後ろでこの一瞬をキャッチしようとしているのはクリスチャン・シュミット。

以下のビデオで海洋環境保護の第一人者であるショーン・ハインリックスによる調査を見て下さい。フカヒレ採取の真相を明かすために、ショーンとタローはアジア中をドキュメントして廻りました。

Holiday Raw Food Salad Platter (Warning: Kale Food Porn!)

Holiday Raw Food Salad Platter (Warning: Kale Food Porn!)

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This raw massaged kale and pomegranate salad platter on butter leaf lettuce cups has been a huge hit at my holiday parties.  The vibrant green mixed with the bright red of the pomegranate seeds make this totally festive. For those friends who shutter when thinking of eating raw kale, the shredded texture of the kale chiffonade, the creamy avocado and the sweetness of the pomegranate make this salad much more palatable!

I get very artistic arranging all the ingredients and always enjoy putting it together, so if you have children in the house, be sure to ask them to help out - they'll have a blast.

Ingredients (Makes 3 large servings)

Salad:

1 bunch red butter leaf lettuce

1 bunch curly kale

Seeds from ½ pomegranate

½ large avocado or 1 small avocado

A handful of chopped raw almonds

Dressing:

3 tablespoons Olive oil

Juice from a lemon

Himalayan sea salt to taste

Instructions:

Whisk dressing ingredients in small bowl and set aside. On a serving dish, place 3 large butter lettuce leaves in a circular formation face up.  Then place 3 smaller leaves inside the large ones.  These will be “lettuce cups”.

Remove stems from the kale and chiffonade the leaves. (Google how to chiffonade and watch a how-to video - it's worth it!)

Place chiffonaded (is that a word?) kale in a medium sized bowl and pour dressing on top.  Wash your hands well and massage dressing into kale until the leaves are tender. The dressing will "cook" the kale much like ceviche.

Spoon the kale mixture into each of the butter lettuce “cups”.  Spoon pomegranate seeds and almonds on top of the kale mixture (or you could also mix them into the kale after massaging and then spoon into the cups). Drizzle the whole platter with balsamic vinegar (optional).

You should be able to lift each large leaf cup (with its contents) right off the platter to serve on a someone's lucky plate.  Enjoy!

ヨガティーチャーのストレス疲労? こんな兆候には要注意!

ヨガティーチャーの疲労は馬鹿にできません。事実、私はヨガを始めた頃、先生が私の隣にいた生徒にいきなりかっとなった言い方をしたのにびっくりして、そのクラスに行くのを止めたことがあります。

それは、ストレス疲労は正しくマネージしたら単なる変化(発達)の1段階にすぎないということを身をもって知る前のことでした。初期の兆候を自分で認識出来たら、生活や指導のキー・エリアにおいて的確なアクションを起こすことで、ストレス疲労を阻止することが出来ます。

私たちは皆、ヨガのプラクティスが本当に好きになって先生になります。ヨガは満足感を持たらし、周りの人と貴重な経験を共有することを可能とし、人生の救いとなることすらあります。ヨガを教えること自体が自分のヨガに対する愛情の延長となるのです。

けれども、多くのヨガティーチャーが、指導に疲れたり、飽きてしまったりすることを経験しています。

ヨガティーチャーはそれだけでは生活が出来ず、他の仕事も掛け持ちでやっているケースがほとんどで、自分自身のプラクティスの時間は作れないというのが現実であることもしばしばです。

ロボットのように毎日を切り抜け、別のキャリアを見つけた方がいいのではないかと悩んでいます。

そうなったら、授業の準備に身を入れ、心から指導し、生徒と繋がり合うことがどれだけすばらしいかを忘れてしまうのです。

ヨガティーチャーのストレス疲労の兆候:

 

  • ハンズオンのアジャストをほとんどしない。
  • 指示が理解されないとかっとする。
  • プレゼンテーションが異例に厳しく、冷たく、思いやりがなくなる。
  • 教室で誰よりも不健康で最もストレスが溜まっている人であるかのよう...ヨガティーチャーなのに。
  • もうヨガを教えるだけで実践しない。
  • 美しいけれども空虚にしか聞こえない言葉の羅列に頼る。
  • アジャストをして自分が腰を痛めたり、故障が頻発になる(自分のプラクティスをしていないから)。
  • 子供や旦那様などにあたる。
  • 自分が教えられないときに代理の先生を手配するのを「忘れた」り、全クラスを代理に任せるようになる。
  • 愚痴っぽい。とげとげしい。機嫌が悪い。怒りっぽい。いらだっている。意地悪になる。威張り散らす。

私も経験あるのです。ティーチャー仲間にもその兆候を目撃しています。完璧な人はいないのです。

 

 もちろん、大変なとき(身近な人の死、病気、離婚、など)でも頑張って教えなければならない時のことを言っているのではありませんー人生の中には皆それぞれ辛い時があります。私が言いたいのは、バランスのとれたライフスタイルを実践するお手本となり、自分を大切にするために知っている限りのツールを上手に使うことで、ヨガティーチャーとしての責任を果たすということです。

幸いなことに、このような兆候はティーチャーとして駄目だということではありません。ストレス疲労は目覚めの機会であり、チャンスと成り得るのです。

 

ヨガティーチャーのストレス疲労を即回復するアクションステップ: 

  • 近くの他の先生のクラスに行ってみる

毎週少なくとも2回、仲間やお気に入りの先生の教えるクラスに行くことで、元気や刺激をもらうことができます。

  • 関わりの場を持つ

たまには生徒さんたちと教室外でも関わりの場を持っていると自然に彼らの生活にもより密接なつながりが生まれ、それが教える意欲にもつながります。

  • 休止時間をスケジュールに入れる

家でプラクティスしたり、マッサージに行ったり、散歩に行ったりということを、時間が出来るまで待つことはやめましょう。仕事と同様にスケジュールに入れて実行するのがポイントです。

  • 指導スケジュールの最適化

6ヶ月間どうがんばってもクラスが一杯にならなかったら、時間帯を変えた方がいいのかも知れません。通勤、駐車、家族への迷惑など、ストレスの原因になっている他の要素も考えてみましょう。

  • 基本を見直し、再度勉強する

ヨガ哲学や人体、ハタヨガなどに対する理解を深めることで指導者としての意欲も高まります。1日10分でもいいので、もっと強くなりたい分野の勉強をするだけでも強壮剤として即効果があります。

 

ヨガティーチャーとしての自己プロモーション:下品?それとも自分の能力を共有する手段?

 

ヨガを教えるのは大好きだけれど、自分を売り込むことに抵抗を感じたことはありますか?

 

最近その質問を何度か受けました。私の返答をこのブログに載せます。

 

ヨガティーチャー:美しいポーズの自分の写真をフェースブックに載せたり、ブランドを創ったり、ウェブサイトを立ち上げたりすることはヨガ的に見てどうなのでしょう?

 

エイミー:最近よく受ける質問です。

 

ヨガを教えているということは、多分こんなことをして来たというです:

 

  • 何百時間ものティーチャートレーニングを経てきた
  • 更に多大なる時間を継続教育にかけてきた
  • 学ぶために遠地まで足を運んできた
  • 多額の投資をしてきた
  • ヨガを教えるために生きている
  • 生徒に最大限に尽くしてきた

 

それにもかかわらず、多くのヨガティーチャーが、 プロらしくない、いい加減と言われたり、自分を売り込むことで軽蔑されたりします。

 

自分の技術を磨き、価値あるものを提供するために頑張って来た人たちにとってはとてもくやしいことです。 教えることが本物で、熟達していて、意味がある内容とするために惜しみない努力を続けて来たのです.

 

他の職業と違い、ヨガティーチャーには常に何がヨガ的で何がメディアの言うところの「ヨガの商業化」であるかという難問がつきまといます。

 

メディアや、自己プロモーションと精神的プラクティスは油に水のような関係にあり、ヨガのマーケティングは下品で不適当と思う人たちからのしっぺ返しがあるかもしれません。

 

ヨガティーチャーも、他の専門職(医師、マッサージセラピスト、コンピューターコンサルタントなどのような)の人たち同様、自分たちの提供するサービスを声を大にして伝えたいのです。

 

けれどもヨガティーチャーに対するこのような態度は不幸にも、売り込みやソーシャルメディアを利用した宣伝をヨガティーチャーが恐れてしまう結果となっています。

 

精神性と自己プロモーションが実際にそんなに相反するものであるのか、哲学的に議論することもできます。歴史的に、禁欲生活と放棄の精神を讃える伝統もありますが、お金や取引がヨギとして上手に生きて行くために非可決とする、物理的世界をサポートする伝統(会話の中ではずっと静かな声ですが)もあります。指導者には意味のある教えをする責任があり、生徒は自分に最も指導者を選ぶ責任があります。

 

このトピックに関する議論の続きは学者達に任せることにして、ヨガが持たらす様々なメリットを考えてみましょう。

 

  • ヘルス/ウェルネスを改善する
  • ストレスを低減する(ほとんどの病気の原因)
  • 精神性を高める
  • 命を救う
  • 医療費を低減させる
  • 他、沢山...

 

このように誰もが必要とする知識に豊かなヨガティーチャーたちが、マーケティングと精神性とは正反対にあるという見方のために、自分をプロモートすることが出来ずにいるというのは残念なことです。

 

ヨガティーチャーたちがヨガのメリットを教え、自分たちが能力あるティーチャーとして何を提供出来るかを皆に知らしめなかったら誰がそうするのでしょう?

 

もちろん、安っぽいマーケティング戦略の犠牲となり、プロモーションが逆効果になることもあります。ヨガの世界におけるプロモーションに対する特殊な感受性を考慮に入れた上で、どうしたらセンスのいい、優れた宣伝法を取り入れられるのでしょう?

 

ヘルシーな自己プロモーションをするための3つのステップ:

 

1.ヨガティーチャーとしての自分の能力と目的を明確にする。

 

1対1で教えるのが得意ですか?または10人以下のグループの方が好ましいですか?子供たちが好きですか?女性?男性?または大きなグループを前にした方が最高の能力を発揮出来ますか?プロモーションのメッセージには誰を対象としているのかをはっきりとうたい、そのターゲットに向けて発信しましょう。

 

2.発信するメッセージは独自の、感受性の高いものであること。

 

自分の能力や目的がはっきりしたら、それをもっとも自分らしいメッセージとして品よく創りあげる方法を考えてください。自分を正直に見せ、何が提供できるのかを誠意を込めて伝えたら失敗することはありません。

 

品よくプロモートするということは、 ヨガの世界で何がネガティブな反応を招くのかを知るということでもあります。自分をあまりに派手に強調したら安っぽくなってしまいます。かわりに、生徒さん達があなたから何を期待出来るのかにフォーカスしましょう。

 

メッセージが出来上がったら、公開する前に、親しい友人や生徒さん達に見せてフィードバックを得てください。

 

3.自信を持って発信しましょう!

 

自分のオファー出来ることを多くの人たちと共有できることに自信と情熱を持ちましょう。あなたは人に奉仕しているのです。人の人生に大きなポジティブな変化を持たらすことができるのです。

 

謝ったり弁明したりする必要はありません。自分の持っている「贈り物」をフェースブックやメールで発信しましょう。好意的に受け入れる人も、受け入れない人もいます。でも出してみなければわかりません。もしかしたらあなたのおかげで人生が変わってしまう人もいるかもしれないのです。

Yoga Students Making a Difference During Hard Times

Yoga Students Making a Difference During Hard Times

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Yoga teaches us to take whatever circumstances or challenges we face in life, and create something beautiful.  With the recovery process from “Superstorm Sandy” here in the USA well upon us, I was inspired to share my experience of how yoga students in the Tsunami areas have been coping with loss and making a difference in their communities, so torn apart by what occurred not so long ago. While teaching yoga in Iwate prefecture in Japan, I had the chance to connect with yoga students who lived in areas like Sendai which were utterly devasted by the 2011 Tsunami.

So many people were affected by the tragedy last year.  An attendee from the workshop came up to us at the end of class with a picture book on the tsunami. She showed us a picture of her town in the book before the tsunami and pointed out her house in the picture. She turned the page and there was a picture the same land, utterly in rubble.  She showed us the empty hole and debris that was once her home.

She explained how she was safe inland, but when the tsunami came her mother and grandmother were at the house and got separated in the maelstrom. Rescuers found her grandmother barely breathing and she died outside of a hospital that was too full to accept her. They have yet to find her mother.  She is using yoga to help make sense of what has occurred.

Since the tsunami, countless people who have lost their homes have been living in sterile, pre-fab housing that resembles storage units set in concrete parking lots, without trees, grass, flowers, devoid of nature or aesthetics.  These people not only lost property, but they lost family members, friends, and any sense of normalcy.  Needless to say, incidence of clinical depression in these housing units is high.

A small percentage of the homes lost were traditional Japanese structures that were loved and passed through generations for over 400 years.  These were more than just houses; they were treasured landmarks that represented the history and tradition of an entire culture.

What made these homes even more distinct were the thatched roofs that grew wild grasses and flowers.  Not only were they beautiful, these roofs held the significance of architecture that co-existed with nature through hundreds of years (its origin could trace back even thousands of years), and were deeply revered by their owners, as well as all of Japan.

During the workshop we met a yoga student named Ayako Shida who, inspired by her archival research on these 400 year old “living” homes, had started purchasing potted flowers from disaster area nurseries to help stimulate the local economy. Since the Tsunami she has been organizing volunteer crews to plant these flowers easonally at the temporary housing units for people who lost their homes.  She calls it the Hanasaki Project, literally meaning “the Flower Blooming Project”.

She wanted to do something to improve the living conditions, to brighten the mood, and to help the residents with emotional healing by letting them know that people cared.  A few of the yoga teachers we work with in Tokyo have organized fundraiser classes as well to keep this work alive, as there is no telling when they will be able to settle into to real homes again. We were so moved by her cause that we pledged the workshop proceeds to the project.

Sometimes all it takes to rekindle hope is to know that someone out there cares and to spread a little beauty.

If you are looking for a way to help the recovery efforts from Hurricane Sandy here are just a few of the organizations and businesses who my New Jersey and New York friends have recommended as making the most out of donations and volunteer efforts.  Please donate!

Occupy Sandy

Help the Cinnamon Snail Food Truck Serve Vegan Meals For Sandy Relief

HONY & Tumblr Hurricane Sandy Fundraiser

Whale Sharks and Fashion Join Forces To Help Put An End to Shark Finning

Whale Sharks and Fashion Join Forces To Help Put An End to Shark Finning

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My partner, Taro just returned from an adventure filming and assisting artist Kristian Schmidt and photographer/marine conservationist, Shawn Heinrichs on an innovative photo shoot in the Philippines combining art, fashion and conservation awareness.  The subjects? Professional model and mermaid Hannah Fraser, extreme athlete and the world's top female proximity-flying base jumper, Roberta Mancino, and of course the majestic, gentle Whale Sharks that have the night sky imprinted on their bodies. The hope is that if more people understand that sharks are more valuable alive than dead, the better chance we have of preserving our oceans and the oxygen we breathe.

Imagine only one year ago the Whale Sharks in this area were getting finned.  Thanks to photography and awareness exposing the harms of shark finning, the village now runs eco-tours to view the sharks.  As if that wasn't heart-warming enough, now these sharks are part of art!

Above: Roberta Mancino an Italian skydiver, BASE jumper, wingsuit flyer and international model. She has participated in more than 7,000 skydives.

Shark Finning is Bad Business

88 million to 100 million sharks die every year for finning  - all for a Chinese delicacy called Shark Fin Soup. 1/3 of open-ocean sharks are threatened with extinction. Shark finning is not only cruel it is totally unnecessary. Shark fins add no flavor, nutritional, nor medicinal value to the soup yet the soup is considered a symbol of prestige in China. The stronger the Chinese economy becomes, the more demand for the soup increases.

Besides how ruthless finning is (fishermen typically haul sharks out of the water, cut off their fins and toss them back to make more room on their boats where they then suffer up to 3 weeks before suffocating to death), there are much broader issues at stake.

Hannah Fraser, professional Mermaid, ocean environmentalist, performance artist and model, posing with the sharks. She is an underwater pro!

If Sharks Die, It Won't Be Pretty

Because sharks are at the top of the food chain and have few predators, their numbers are slow to replenish when a population is overfished. At the rate things are going, we're set to extinguish sharks entirely in only 10-20 years.  Being apex predators, sharks keep the populations of everything else in the food chain in balance. Sharks are critical to the ocean because they keep the numbers of other fish and mammal species in check and weed out the sick, injured and dying so that populations of fish stay strong and healthy. Without sharks the balance of the ocean's food chain is severely threatened. With an excess of fish eating all the algae, oxygen production on the water's surface decreases.  Climate change anyone?

What you can do:

  • Do not patronize a restaurant if you see Shark Fin Soup on their menu. Tell friends and family to do the same. Organizations like WildAid are doing great work to advocate for sharks. Make a donation!
  • Join me next summer along with Taro and Shawn Heinrichs on the Seva Trip of a lifetime!  We'll be swimming with Whale Sharks in Isla Mujeres, Mexico and raising money for WildAid.  Subscribe to get the latest updates on the trip.

Above:  Taro is the one the left in the scuba suit pictured with Hannah Fraser. Hannah made her childhood dream of swimming like a mermaid into a career. She can hold her breath forever!

Above: Roberta Mancino with Kristian Schmidt. When she is not modeling underwater or on land, she does it while jumping out of airplanes!

Above: Great one of Hannah Fraser with Kristian Schmidt in the background catching the shot.

This video captures the undercover investigation conducted by our friend Shawn Heinrichs who has been a champion for marine conservation. He and Taro have schlepped all over Asia documenting shark finning.

 

Self-Promotion as Yoga Teachers: Is it Tasteless or Simply a Method to Share Your Gifts?

Self-Promotion as Yoga Teachers: Is it Tasteless or Simply a Method to Share Your Gifts?

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Do you love teaching yoga but sense a disdainful undertone toward yoga teachers who promote themselves?  In recent weeks I've been asked about this frequently and thought I'd post a reply on my blog.

Yoga Teacher: If I put myself on Facebook in beautiful yoga poses, create a brand, and a website, doesn't that go against yoga's values?

Amy:  This question is a hot one right now.

If you teach yoga it is likely you have:

  • Put hundreds of hours of teacher training under your belt
  • Done copious amounts of continuing education
  • Traveled long distances to learn
  • Invested greatly in your education
  • Live and breathe teaching
  • Served students to the fullest

Despite this many yoga teachers are poo poo’ed as unprofessional, flakey, scattered and/or held in contempt for promoting themselves.

This can be infuriating when you've invested so much time building your skill set and creating something of value to offer.  You’ve worked hard on making your offering authentic, proficient and meaningful.

Unlike other professionals, the yoga teacher finds themselves in a conundrum between what is considered “yogic” and what many in the media have been calling “the commercialization of yoga”.

Yoga teachers may get "push back" from the media and others who feel that self-promotion and spiritual practice is like mixing oil and water, and that marketing is at best, tacky and inappropriate.

Yoga teachers, much like any other professional (such as healers, doctors, massage therapists, computer consultants etc), want to get the word out about their services.

Unfortunately the result of this push back toward yoga teachers is that they are petrified to get the word out or to use social media for their cause.

We could debate the philosophical arguments on whether spirituality and self-promotion are in fact so diametrically opposed. Historically there are some traditions that argue for asceticism and renunciation, but there are also those traditions (way less prominent voices in the conversation) which invite us into the physical world where engaging in money and transaction are actually considered part of living a skillful life as a yogi.  The teacher has a responsibility to provide meaningful teachings and the student is also responsible for choosing which teacher suits them best.

We’ll leave that topic for the scholars to more fully flush out.

That said, if we look at what yoga does for people, the benefits and virtues are notable:

  • Improves health & wellness
  • Cuts back on stress (the cause of most disease)
  • Connects people to spirit
  • Saves lives
  • Decreases health care costs
  • And on and on…

It’s a shame that this conundrum around marketing and spirituality has made yoga teachers gun-shy about promoting themselves when they are skilled at offering the very things that help people gain access to these benefits.

If yoga teachers don’t inform people about the merits of yoga and what they can offer as a competent teacher, then how do people find the path to those benefits?

Of course, not all yoga teachers have escaped cheesy marketing strategies and their promotions can come across as a bit tawdry.  Given the sensitivity and "push back" in the yoga world, how can a yoga teacher get the word out with sophistication and finesse?

3 Steps to Healthy Self-Promotion as a Yoga Teacher

1. Define your gifts & goals as a yoga teacher. Do you excel teaching one-on-one? Or do you prefer to teach groups of 10 or less students? Do you work best with children? Women? Men? Or can you more effectively work with a larger reach? Make it clear who you work with in your promotional materials and reach out to that kind of student.

2. Craft Your Distinct Message with Sensitivity Once you are clear on your assets and goals find a way to craft your message that is authentic, totally you, and make it classy.  You can't go wrong if your message shares who you are and what you have to offer with sincerity.

Part of tasteful yoga promotion is recognizing that there is indeed touchiness in the yoga world around promotion; therefore, cheesy marketing that overly glamorizes or emphasizes you is not going to cut it.  Instead focus on what the student will receive by working with you.

Show your promotional material to close friends and students who know you well to get feedback before making it public.

3. Confidently Send Out Your Offering! Be confident and enthusiastic in sharing what you have to provide with others, knowing that you are in service and that what you do makes a difference in the lives of your students.

Be unapologetic about your offering.  Spread your gifts on a website, professional Facebook page and by email. Some will like it, some will not.  You never know, there may be a student out there that has a tremendous shift in their world, because of you!

Learn more about our professional education programs for yoga teachers here.

Is Your Yoga Teacher Burned Out? Learn These Warning Signs

Is Your Yoga Teacher Burned Out? Learn These Warning Signs

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Yoga Teacher Burnout is serious. In fact I stopped studying with one of my early yoga teachers when he snapped at a student next to me. That was before I learned from experience that Yoga Teacher Burnout can be just a phase if handled right away.  If a teacher can learn to recognize the early warning signs, they can nip Yoga Teacher Burnout in the bud by taking action on some key areas of their life and teaching.

People become yoga teachers because they fall in love with the practice.  Yoga helps us feel complete, able to share meaningful experiences with others and can save our lives. Teaching yoga, for many, becomes an extension of that love affair.

Despite all that yoga goodness, most yoga teachers will not argue that their teaching can become stale and even boring sometimes.

Yoga teachers often are barely making ends meet, or working so many jobs that they don’t have time for their own practice.

Many are on autopilot, running ragged, and wondering if they need to change professions.

They have lost their love of prepping classes, teaching from their heart, and connecting with their students — these are just a few of the signs that they are going through a “Yoga Teacher Burnout” phase.

Warning signs of Yoga Teacher Burnout:

  • Gives little or no hands-on adjustments in class.
  • Snaps at students when they don’t understand instructions.
  • Presentation has become uncharacteristically stern, austere and unsympathetic.
  • Seems to be the unhealthiest and most stressed out one in the room, um…even though they are the yoga teacher.
  • They don’t practice yoga any more, they just teach it.
  • Overly uses sound bites and cosmic flowery language that seems like they pulled it out of thin air (or their butt).
  • Gives an adjustment and throws out their back or gets hurt way too easily (because they don’t practice anymore).
  • Mis-directs anger and frustration onto innocent bystanders like their kids and/or significant other.
  • “Forgets” to get a sub for their classes or subs all of their classes out.
  • Grouchy. Snappy. Cranky. Irritable. Crabby. Cantankerous. Prickly. Huffy.

I've been there, and I've seen it in my colleagues. No yoga teacher is perfect.

To be clear, I'm not talking about those difficult days when we must teach through tough times (loss, divorce, illness, etc...) - everyone must go through that at one time or another.  I'm talking about holding up our end of the bargain to model a balanced lifestyle, and use the tools we have at our disposal to get the TLC we need.

The good news is that these warning signs in no way suggest that a teacher is doomed.  Being burned out can be wake up call and an opportunity.

These action steps can quickly make Yoga Teacher Burnout disappear:

  • Going to local classes taught by other teachers Looking at the calendar and finding at least 2 classes a week to attend, taught by peers or a favorite teacher, can be just the ticket to feeling nurtured and inspired again.
  • Social Gatherings Teachers who hang out with their students every now and then are naturally more connected to their student's lives and will not surprisingly get more stoked to teach.
  • Scheduling in down time as though it is a paying gig Teachers should not wait to see if they have any extra time to do a home practice, get a massage or hike in nature. Scheduling in down time as if it were a gig is the only way to make it happen.
  • Optimizing teaching schedule If a teacher has given a class a good 6 months to fill and nothing seems to help, it may be time to find a better time slot. Consider other factors that can cause burn out such as commute, parking, inconvenience to family, etc…
  • Revisiting basic texts and being studious again Improving an understanding of yoga philosophy, anatomy or hatha yoga keeps a teacher fresh. Spending 10 minutes day reading up on the subjects that need strengthening is an instant shot in the arm for weary teachers.

With a little focused care, any teacher can re-kindle the enthusiasm of sharing yoga with others and be the best they can be for their students.

Have you noticed any of these warning signs of Yoga Teacher Burnout in your yoga teacher? Got any additional remedies to add that have worked for you? Or do you teach yoga and relate?  Leave a comment below, I’d love to hear.