Self Care Like a Movie Star: Our Yoga Retreat to Sukhavati Bali


Self Care Like a Movie Star: Our Yoga Retreat to Sukhavati Bali

Self Care Like a Movie Star: Our Yoga Retreat to Sukhavati Bali

By Amy Ippoliti and Sarah Diedrick

In the midst of a heavy teaching schedule through Thailand, Malaysia, and Indonesia this past month, we found ourselves seeking out tropical rest spots in between workshops to kill time and rejuvenate.

Before our final stop in Jakarta, Bali seemed like the obvious choice for a pause but there are so many choices, we were a bit overwhelmed. Yeah, first world problems, we know.

Thankfully we chose Sukhavati Bali, a little known sanctuary tucked into the jungle along a river just 30 minutes inland from Seminyak Beach.

You can immediately sense the distinct spirit of Sukhavati right as you arrive on the grounds. We were greeted with statues of Hindu deities, orchids, and the intoxicating smell of plumeria flowers on the leis placed over our heads. There is incense burning continuously around the property and occasionally you’ll catch its smell or see the alluring smoke weaving its way through the air. 

This is just the start of how inviting and breathtaking the experience at Sukhavati is. Our villa was gorgeous and even had an outdoor bathroom! Though, you can choose to stay in a villa with the bathroom inside, if that’s more your thing. We really enjoyed showering outside surrounded by bird songs and sunshine - it felt like bathing under a waterfall.

Daily Pampering
And if it couldn’t get more luxurious than that, we had a variety of Ayurvedic treatments every day. Yes, you heard that correctly. Every day. On the daily menu was a foot bath and neck, shoulders, scalp massage, followed by a four-hands Abhyanga full body massage. The treatment ended with Shirodhara - a form of relaxation therapy that involves pouring a steady stream of warm oil over the forehead for some time to stimulate the third eye point. It was not only totally relaxing but mentally clarifying as well. But wait, we’re not done yet. 

Then, after eating a sublimely delicious and nourishing meal (who knew gourmet Ayurvedic food could be this good?) with wonderful people, a team arrives at your villa to give you your daily facial with simultaneous foot massage...on your bed!

Being pampered daily like this upleveled our entire idea of self-care. There has to be a way to keep this up because we’ve never felt so much vitality and had such glowing skin!Daily yoga and meditation classes are also part of the package as well as a consult with the Ayurvedic doctor on staff.

The People!
What made the experience particularly lovely were the people going through the program. Each day we shared our meals and instantly bonded, having immediately open, deep conversations about our lives, spirituality, yoga philosophy and more.

The level of depth and closeness we were able to achieve so immediately was quite different than your average hotel stay - that’s for sure. We asked the group why that was and they told us that the energy of openness was already present when they arrived and just kept getting passed on to the the newer guests - almost like an ever-living energy that lives at Sukhavati!

The Consciousness
Throughout Asia, we had come to lament how much plastic we found in the ocean as well as the many plastic water bottles offered to us in the hotels and Airbnbs we stayed in. 

Roughly 8 million tons of plastic is dumped into the planet's oceans yearly, and according to a new study, the majority of this waste comes from just five countries: Indonesia, Thailand, the Philippines, China, and Vietnam. These five countries are responsible for up to 60 percent of the total plastic entering our oceans, according to Stemming the Tide.

Sukhavati has taken powerful steps to turn this tide and eliminate plastic waste. All plastic bottles on the property have been replaced with water coolers in each room as well a titanium reusable water bottles provided for their guests. Plastic straws have been replaced with reusable glass straws. Training and implementation of a proper waste disposal and recycling system has been established as well as the use of composting. We have started seeking out the hotels and retreat centers that have this level of awareness - because it feels good to stay in a place that cares -  and Sukhavati was no exception.

The Value
All of this all-inclusive awesomeness comes at a great value as well! For the price you’d pay at a high end resort to go to their spa, eat at the restaurant you'd end up spending just as much or more but with a fourth of the spa treatments. It was truly a phenomenal value!

Yoga Retreats
If you're a yoga teacher and you’re looking for an intimate location to bring your group, Sukhavati Bali can hold 12-13 students who can go through the program and take your yoga classes.


Don't Go Back to Sleep!


Don't Go Back to Sleep!

“The breezes at dawn have secrets to tell you
Don't go back to sleep!
You must ask for what you really want.
Don't go back to sleep!
People are going back and forth
across the doorsill where the two worlds touch,
The door is round and open
Don't go back to sleep!”
― Jalaluddin Rumi

It's been a month since the United States got a new president. On the very first day of his term, millions of people all over the world marched to stand up for Mother Earth, civil rights, and democracy itself.

People woke up.

Here we are one month later - after what John Oliver called 412 years - and I feel myself slowly acclimating and growing accustomed to the daily dramas - the very thing I don't want to happen. (Not to worry - I am staying awake!).

We’ve been faced with an onslaught of jaw dropping headlines on a daily basis and yet we all have big lives to lead.

A friend recently said, “Remember when we were just exhausted from our own lives? Now we have to save the country?”

When life is full, it's far too easy to get used to shocking, breaking news than it is to stop everything, get outraged, and take action.

If you practice yoga it’s tempting to tune out, bury your head in the sand and be a unicorn*.


I am here to beg you.
Take breaks, but don't go back to sleep!

Anne Frank was real. Please Google her.
Apartheid was real. Please look that up.
Fascism is real. Please read 1984.
Oppressive life inside countries like North Korea is real. Please Google it.

If you’ve read history, you know how very lucky we are to have our freedom and how quickly that freedom can be taken away. You and I both know that life is way too short to live even a second without freedom.

This administration has demonstrated that they will discredit the media and the judicial system to gain more power. The executive branch is slowly being filled with grossly unqualified cabinet members who prefer big oil money over the health of the planet. It’s staff is already infighting, resigning, and lying to the American people repeatedly.

My friend Waylon Lewis recently said it perfectly on Instagram, "Give us a government by, of and for the people—let’s end gerrymandering, conflicts of interest, corruption, lying, support of fake news, gas lighting about fake news, blaming “other” whether immigrants or Hillary, and blatant partisanship over true patriotism."

When conservative, Republican Senator, John McCain says,

"If you want to preserve -- I'm very serious now -- if you want to preserve democracy as we know it, you have to have a free and many times adversarial press. And without it, I am afraid that we would lose so much of our individual liberties over time. That's how dictators get started."

you know it’s a big deal.

(Though we wish his actions matched his words in the Senate...but that's another matter).

This is not about the man who took office and the big ugly election that divided us.

This is about preserving our democracy and our freedom, plain and simple.

THAT is what we must unify behind, regardless of who you voted for.

Don’t go back to sleep!

* On being a unicorn (and no offense to unicorns at all!)...
I’ve been told by many to stop posting about politics on my social accounts because yoga should be an "escape" from the daily dramas. They tell me it should be a respite from the politics and stresses of life.
Nothing could be further from the truth.
Why do people feel that this practice should be an escape?
Well, yoga today is largely done in the west as a physical activity that makes us sweat, relaxes, and soothes, rather than a devotional practice that does all that, AND connects us to our deepest self and the world around us.
The kind of yoga I learned when I started this practice 31 years ago (and the yoga that most of my peers are teaching) is not escapist in the slightest.
Yoga is rooted in a philosophical foundation based on the ethical precepts of the Yamas and Niyamas which give the yogi extensive guidelines for how to conduct themselves in society as ethical, conscious, fair, kind, and connected beings.
We are each other’s keepers, we are all we’ve got. And so the Yamas and Niyamas are meant to help us create a society that protects everyone’s innate freedom (svantantrya).
Yoga itself means “union”, “to yoke”, “to connect”, “to engage”.
Therefore if someone is serious about practicing and learning yoga, they wouldn’t do yoga to escape the world, or worse, to escape themselves, they would courageously step onto their mat and do the work of self inquiry and connection.


Yoga: Not for the Faint of Heart


Yoga: Not for the Faint of Heart

Swimming in 31 years of notebooks from my studies of yoga. (And there are a handful missing in this picture!) 📙📘📖📕📗📓📒

In this age of social media, sweaty yoga workouts, and quick rises to fame in the yoga world, people forget that studying yoga is physical, yes, but it's also academic and it takes TIME.

There is an infinite body of knowledge to tap - so much to learn, and so much to know. No one person could ever imbibe it all!

Studying yoga was never meant to be easy. It takes perseverance, dedication, and devotion. There is no such thing as overnight success yet the benefits are worth your efforts tenfold! 

Cheers to your studies!



A Yoga Practice for the Greater Good


A Yoga Practice for the Greater Good

A Yoga Practice for the Greater Good

The aftermath of the election in the United States has reminded me of one thing:

We will never be free, we will never be happy, we will never be at peace until we start making decisions with the greater good in mind rather than our own self interest.

Although I have always given back and have chosen a life of service, earlier this week, for the first time as I was blowing out my birthday candle, I realized that I’ve always made birthday wishes for me or my family but never for anything beyond that.

It’s natural to make selfish birthday wishes - it makes sense - if I’m happy, I’ll be able to help others be happy too.

But yesterday, I consciously made a wish on my candle for the planet.

Self interest is a good thing, but far too often we miss the other end of that spectrum. If we don’t take care of each other and make choices less personal all the time, we’re going to end up miserable and divided. 

Uhhhh, kind of like the USA right now.

In one of the rare moments when Charlie Chaplin actually spoke, he gave a riveting speech in the movie, The Dictator, saying, “We want to live by each other’s happiness not by each other’s misery.”

For example, as we prepare for the next four years ahead, what is most crucial is that we protect mother earth. Her interest is your interest - for no other individual interests will help if the world is burning up, the seas are rising, and the earth is shaking.


To help you move in the world with a more altruistic heart, I’ve designed a contemplation that can be applied as you do your yoga practice.  This is best done as a home yoga practice with no outside guidance.

The aim will be to cultivate your intuition and listen to your body as a microcosm rather than focusing on opening different body parts (such as hips, or shoulders). Then you will gain a deeper appreciation for your body as a whole vs. its individual parts.

If you can get good at that on the mat, then you will get better at choosing the greater good off the mat when it matters most!

Here are the guidelines:

  1. Start in a neutral pose like tadasana or child’s pose
  2. Tune in to the sensations in the whole of your body and notice how the different parts relate to each other up and down the kinetic chain.
  3. Ask for Divine guidance to show you the most optimal ways to move and which poses to practice  that would be most enhancing and healing for your body whole.
  4. Rather than sticking to a set list of poses, choosing an area of the body to focus on, or going for an apex pose, let yourself move -  guided solely by your intuition as it shows you what is best for the whole of your body, rather than just it’s parts.
  5. Do your practice for as long as your body seems to need it.

After honoring your body in this way, notice the following as you move through your day: 

  • Is it easier to be more giving to others?
  • Do you find yourself sacrificing your own pleasures or possessions to help make someone else’s life more abundant?
  • Are you more in tune with anticipating the needs of your loved ones and able to put their needs before your own?
  • Despite the chance to make more money or spend more money, are your financial choices informed by what is best for all beings and the planet?

The sooner we start making decisions and behave without just ourselves in mind, the better life is going to be for everybody, including ourselves.

Enjoy these quotes about the common good:

“No decisions should ever be made without asking the question, is this for the common good?”
- Michael Moore
“For too long in this society, we have celebrated unrestrained individualism over common community. For too long as a nation, we have been lulled by the anthem of self-interest. For a decade, led by Ronald Reagan, self-aggrandizement has been the full-throated cry of this society: "I've got mine, so why don't you get yours" and "What's in it for me?”
- Joe Biden
"A nation is formed by the willingness of each of us to share in the responsibility for upholding the common good."
- Barbara Jordan


The Real Truth About Saddle Bags


The Real Truth About Saddle Bags

Have you ever caught a glimpse of your backside in the mirror and cursed the dreaded “saddle bags” hanging just below and to the side of your buttocks and subsequently been plagued with negative self-talk?

Did you suddenly feel totally out of shape, fat, and flabby?

First of all, let’s get one thing straight. Saddle bags or not, you are beautiful. And your yoga practice is here to support you in a world of body positivity.

That said, I am not writing this to address body image, but rather the physiological and therapeutic aspects of the saddle bag phenomenon.

Here’s the thing: Your saddle bags may may not actually be a sign of fat or excess weight!

For the last century, there’s been a big trend toward flattening the lumbar spine to help engage the core, create length, and prevent “sway back”.

This action had consequences. In the 1930’s they invented suspenders. Why? Because from tucking under so much, no one had butts anymore to hold their pants up.

The epidemic lasted long into the 70’s and 80’s. Especially in the height of the Jane Fonda Workout era. Can you just see it and hear it? You on your back with your tush in the air squeezing your glutes rhythmically up to the sky in a bridge pose with the Jackson 5 crooning, “Can you feel it?”

But you were born with a natural lumbar curve! All that flattening is not only causing chronic and acute lower back problems all over the world, but….wait for it….it may be the cause of saddle bags!

When you go through life with your butt tucked under, your glutes and buttocks literally begin to atrophy and that atrophied flesh has nowhere to go but down and out. Saddle bags are not caused by fat (though they may contain adipose tissue, of course). Saddle bags are a sign of atrophied buttocks settling on your outer thighs!

Sure, a higher percentage of body fat is going to create larger saddle bags, but before you start unnecessarily worrying about your weight, realize that gravity and atrophy are at play here and it may take some time to regain strength in the glutes and lower back so this flesh can rearrange itself more optimally.

In other words, we can stop obsessing about how we look and start focusing on getting your lumbar curve back so that your lower back will be healthy, and your glutes will be strong, long into your older years!

This isn’t a question of body fat, it’s a question of optimal health!

So what can you do specifically to get your lumbar curve back, regain the muscle tone of your glutes, and lose the saddle bags? Practice yoga with good alignment!

Follow these steps in every yoga pose:

  1. Get Grounded
    Stand in tadasana (mountain pose) with your feet parallel. Settle the four corners of your feet into the ground beneath you and feel your connection to the earth.
  2. Be Strong
    Tone your legs from feet to hips and squeeze your thighs toward one another.
  3. Move your Thighs Back
    Keeping the legs toned, pick your right foot, turn your whole leg in and place the foot back down on the ground parallel - do the same for your left. Then move your thighs into the back plane of your body and your chest slightly forward to counter balance. Feel your natural lumbar curve deepen and your sit bones widen. In addition, feel the tone in your glutes and lower back muscles.

  4. Draw Your Tailbone Down
    So that you don’t look like a duck, keep your thighs in the back plane, but draw your buttock flesh downward, lifting your pubic bone up toward your navel to lengthen your natural lumbar curve subtly, but not overly flatten it.
  5. Extend out
    From your hips, extend down through the bones of your legs like you’re getting taller and expand up through your spine, crown and arms energetically, creating space in all the joints.

Give it a try and tell me what you think in the comments below!






Why I Wrote The Art and Business of Teaching Yoga


Why I Wrote The Art and Business of Teaching Yoga


In 1999 Molly Fox, a prominent fitness and yoga teacher invited me to co-lead my very first yoga teacher training in Brooklyn, NY. I was a new teacher, but Molly somehow had faith in me and took me on to help lead her group. In the years that followed I met a dear student, Anne Libby, who took part in one of my  trainings.  She was well versed in business and we often mused about the sometimes flakey and unprofessional reputation of yoga teachers, and other yoga world issues.

We were trying to figure out why Anne and her fellow graduates were having such a hard time finding time slots to teach yoga.  I shared that shortly after I started teaching, I had to turn down offers – so, we wondered, why was it that in only 3 years time it had become so challenging for new teachers?

Anne astutely pointed out that this new problem was because of a dearth of yoga teachers in the city caused by the increased popularity of yoga teacher trainings.

It never occurred to me that I and countless other trainers were contributing to the overall ecology of New York yoga by effectively “birthing” new teachers into the community through our trainings.

Instinctively, I had already stopped offering large teacher trainings in favor of Immersions, and eventually began offering teacher training in much smaller groups. And yet, in that moment sitting with Anne, I knew that I needed to write a book that would help yoga teachers thrive in a crowded market and help them to take the yoga profession more seriously.

Part of writing this book was guilt, since I seemed to be in the right place at the right time, and as a result, never had a tough time finding work. But my heart broke for my students when they graduated and couldn’t make ends meet!

And even though I do not have kids of my own, the teachers I’ve trained have always been my hatch, so to speak, and therefore, like a mother, I felt responsible and protective. So I went about studying business and marketing as diligently as I had studied yoga philosophy and applied it to my own career, until one day I felt ready to share what I’d integrated with others.

With the expertise and help of my partner, Taro Smith, PhD, I shared this body of knowledge as an online course in 2010, called 90 Minutes to Change the World, which is still available today.

The course became a game changer for yoga teachers as it turned out! Our graduates have gone on to grow their classes by 42%, publish books, teach at major events, and increase their earnings dramatically.

It was the course that became the fodder for the book, and the rest is history!

If you teach yoga or are thinking about teaching yoga, we hope this book helps nourish your career, and makes it possible for you to serve and give back wholeheartedly to others through yoga.

To get a copy you can now order on or Barnes & Noble!

Q & A about the Book


What Your Inner Child Can Teach You About Back Fat


What Your Inner Child Can Teach You About Back Fat


Ever catch a glimpse of yourself in the mirror or in a photo and you see “it”? Back fat.

And then you start battling those years of subliminal messaging and airbrushed magazine photos in your head.

Upon seeing the rolls, you may have worked yourself into a frenzy of limiting, non-supportive thoughts, as we are taught to do in our culture.

You are gorgeous. I want you to know that, and I hope that your yoga practice will always support you in creating your world of body positivity.

However, my focus in writing this isn’t really about addressing body image, but rather the physiological and therapeutic aspects of the “back fat” phenomenon.

So here’s my take: your back fat may actually not be back fat.

As we age our rib cage sinks with gravity, nearing closer to the hip bones. And as a result, we lose a lot of length in our lateral or side bodies, creating the appearance of fat when in actuality, it’s folds of skin that don't know where to go anymore.

In addition, the most mobile part of the spine is located between the bottom ribs and the hips. Because this part of the spine is not hindered by the pelvis or the rib cage it is easy to jam the front ribs forward, collapsing this part of the spine (a.k.a.,your mid section or waistline). This also contributes to the folds of skin on our backs.

So you think you have back fat? You may, and that in and of itself is no big thing. Instead, ask yourself, “How long is my side body? Is my rib cage sitting on my freaking pelvis? And what might that be doing to my posture, my organs, and my respiratory system?”

In other words, we can stop obsessing about how we look and start focusing on freeing up our side body in order to breathe easier and more efficiently, make more space for our organs, and improve our orthopedic longevity!

This isn’t a question of body fat, it’s a question of optimal health!

Sure, a higher percentage of body fat is going to create a larger fold, but before you start looking at your rolls and unnecessarily worrying about your weight, realize that gravity is at play here and that you can hold your ribs for optimal alignment, minimizing the appearance of that supposed "back fat".

Of course, one could reduce body fat percentage and that will help decrease the size of the folds. However, until you embrace these folds as a postural issue, they will stay around until you start doing one simple posture modification.

I call it: “Get bright like a toddler”.  And it means:

  1. Stand up tall.
  2. Lengthen your sides starting from the top of your hips up to your armpits until your collar bones are square with the base of your neck. Do this without shrugging your shoulders up toward your ears, just lift from within.
  3. Inflate your mid-section and lift your back ribs up away from your hips.
  4. Finally, pull your shoulders back (or in anatomical terms, pull the head of the humerus ie. the ball-like head of the arm bone that goes into the shoulder socket) back.

Most fitness experts try to target "back fat" by prescribing back extension exercises such as “superman” where you lay on your stomach on the floor or on a fit ball and lift everything off the floor or ball, thinking this will “tone” the back. Which it will, but this does not address sinking rib cage syndrome or posture problems.

If you look at the picture of the toddler below, you’ll see that her whole torso is bright with breath and energy, her armpits are elevated, and her shoulders are not pulled “down away from her ears”. If anything the head of her arm bones and collar bones are elevated.


And here is the rear view on another little tyke. Notice, no skin folds on his back. The head of his arm bones are square with the base of his neck and from hips to armpits, he has nice length in his side body. His midsection is also full and bright.


I figure if babies and toddlers hold themselves like this so recently out of the womb, they've got something to teach us! When I used to take my baby sister to the playground, I observed that the children 3 and under had this bright posture. It's universal. But by ages 4 and up, their posture started to look more like the grown ups. Hit the playground and see for yourself!

In contrast to the toddlers, the photo of myself below is what I call “dull-like-an-exhausted-adult”.  You can't see my face, but I'm hamming it up for the camera and exaggerating the undesirable posture in my body for you.


Notice the head of my arm bones and collar bones drop well below the base of my neck as indicated by the horizontal line and arrows.  My side body (distance between my hips and my armpits) is shortened, and energetically my torso is listing downward with little life or energy in it.

Even without this being a profile shot - you might be able to see that my mid section is collapsed. And not surprisingly, my back skin folds are visible.

It would take just those four little postural changes to even out the folds, open up the breath, protect my back, and make more space for my organs. In this photo you can see the transformation when I do that:


Here my side body is lengthened from hips to arm pits as indicated by the arrows, my collar bones are square across with the base of my neck (indicated by the horizontal line), the head of my arm bones are back, and my mid section is full, with front ribs down. Energetically the whole torso is lit up. Skin folds? They vanished.

Side benefit! Your rhomboids, the muscles between your shoulder blades and spine (that help hold your shoulder blades flat on your back), get very strong when you do this. They might be fatigued at first and you may feel a bit stiff, however as you hold your posture this way more and more, your rhomboids will get in shape and the road to permanently awesome posture begins.

Especially as we clock more years on this planet, the “dull-like-an-exhausted-adult” is an easy posture to find yourself in, but I submit, if you can find the inner toddler inside you, your (supposed) “back fat” will go buh-bye and your body systems will thank you!

Give it a try and tell me what you think in the comments below!


Are You Creating your New Year or is it Creating Itself?


Are You Creating your New Year or is it Creating Itself?


Have you ever noticed that if you start your morning centered with a clear intention that your entire day flows better and feels more balanced? This January, I recommitted to my morning centering ritual and it’s been everything.

After all, your mornings set the tone for your days and your days set the tone for your life.

Think about how much better it would be to flow through each day in a way that’s balanced and harmonious rather than falling victim to the old cliche of what “side of the bed you rolled out on.”

And the good news is that this morning ritual doesn’t have to be a burden - it is downright interesting!

It’s quite incredible that something with such a minimal time commitment (it need not be more than 6 minutes, but of course it can be longer if you like) yields a payoff that can literally change your entire life.

Here is how the ritual works:

The Bare Minimum: Meditate for 6-10 minutes As soon as you wake, do what you’ve got to do in the bathroom, and then immediately sit on your meditation cushion or blanket with your smart phone (still in airplane mode… key maneuver!) or a timer set to 6 minutes.

You can even ask Siri to set a timer and she’ll do it for you!

There are also apps that will sound a meditation bell or a chime when the time is up. One of my favorites is the Enso app. This screenshot shows you how easy it is to drag the timers around.  Enso also stores your progress day-by-day, so you can track how many minutes you've meditated over time.


Getting still for these few moments and watching your breath is a little miracle.

So many of us are plugged into our mobile devices and computers all day but when you meditate you open your mind to the quiet of spirit and you can unleash the floodgates of your insight and potential.

It has only been during my meditation practice that creative ideas flow toward me. It's almost as if the ideas are saying, "Where have you been all day on that smartphone? We have been waiting to come in, but your door was locked!" (Thank you Elizabeth Gilbert for so skillfully articulating this phenomenon for us).

Optional Add-ons to the Bare Minimum There are three little activities I like to add on to the bare minimum ritual either before or after the meditation. Sometimes I will add on just one, sometimes all three. Do these when you want to boost the direction of your life, if you are on a major mission to achieve a goal, or if you are feeling overwhelmed or unsure in life.

  1. Celebrate & Write Down Your Accomplishments In a special journal, write down your recent accomplishments, big and small. This can include simple things like cooking healthy food, being kind to others, or having movie night with your cat, to big things like landing a new job or being interviewed by Oprah. We often dwell on our failures, while forgetting to celebrate our wins, which creates this false illusion that our life is not going as we want it to. The process of recognizing and writing our accomplishments down reminds us of the good we are already doing and helps to keep us on an upswing.
  2. Express Gratitude Write 5 things you are grateful for in a journal or use another of my favorites apps, the Gratitude! App, to record what and whom you appreciate. Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you already know how effective it is to have a gratitude practice in terms of keeping you positive and plugged into the spirit of abundance. The morning is the perfect time to jot down these thoughts.
  3. Visualization Invest 3-5 minutes visualizing the specific goals and dreams you are working to manifest. See yourself enjoying the process of accomplishing each goal. Imagine that your goal has already been realized, and feel the emotions you’ll be feeling at that time. Visualize the specifics - who’s with you, where are you, what are you doing? The nice thing about visualization is that if you’ve only got 6 minutes to dedicate to your morning ritual - but you’re hell bent on achieving these goals - you can combine the visualization piece with your 6 minute meditation. However if you can, it’s ideal to give more time to each.

For an idea of how these add-ons work, this class on YogaGlo touches on these elements.

A word about kids being in the picture....(skip ahead if you don't have any) Now, I’m guessing if you are a parent reading this, you might be doubtful that you’d ever be able to get 6 minutes to yourself in the morning when your kids are up at the crack of dawn needing your attention.

We’ve all heard of those uber devoted yogis who awake before their kids at 4am to do their practice. Please do not feel guilty if that is not your jam!

It’s possible to get those 6 minutes or more in each day, even with your kids already out of bed. It involves asking them for help and providing a bit of structure around your family’s morning routine. Many children actually thrive off of having structure, even if they resist you at first.

Let your kids know that you will be meditating each morning so they know the plan (attach a specific time to it if you feel it will help). Tell your babes why this time is important for your health and your sanity, and explain how it will benefit them when you can show up for them with more peace and clarity.

Of course this depends on how old your children are and how independent they might be at this stage in their lives… but you could establish some simple boundaries by asking them to wake up and take care of their own morning ritual while mommy and/or daddy are meditating - as a side note, this also works if you need to sleep in or take a shower!

Post a simple schedule or checklist in a place they can see, so it’s easy for them to remember the things they need to do in the morning.

Their ritual might include going potty, brushing their teeth, getting dressed, brushing their hair, getting their things ready for school or reading a book before breakfast.

You might be interested in getting them involved with the meditation. Meditating is great for kids! Invite them to sit with you and be clear in letting them know that when they feel done, they should walk away quietly and not disturb you.

There is no right or wrong way to do this, especially when kids are involved, but rest assured, no matter how you do it, you’ll be raising more conscious, independent, peaceful, happy human beings!

Take Action Now Listen, I know you’ve read blogs like this before and it seems all well and good, but then you close your browser and go back to the daily grind.

So here’s how you can take action right now to get these 6 minutes on your radar…

Make yourself a note or add a task to your to-do list right NOW to do the following:

  • Tonight before you go to bed set up the space where you’d like to meditate. It could be right by your bedside, in the corner of your bedroom, or in a separate room all together.
  • Put down something soft to sit on.
  • If possible, place a small table or box low to the ground where you can display items that are sacred to you such as crystals, items you’ve found in nature, candles, flowers, photos of ancestors & loved ones, quotes, etc… Place any objects in this space that remind you of your purpose or the people and places you love. This will touch your soul each morning when you sit. Store your pen and journals here.

When you wake in the morning, this little slice of heaven will be waiting for you.


Remember, it’s only 6 minutes.

Add the other 3 rituals in if they are fun and interesting for you and seem to be changing your outlook during the day. And do it because you enjoy the ritual, not ever because you “should” be doing more to better yourself. Start small and savor the stillness.

You’ve got this. Happy New Year!


Amy Ippoliti's 2015 Holiday Yoga Gift Guide


Amy Ippoliti's 2015 Holiday Yoga Gift Guide


It can be difficult to discern where yoga fits into the larger scheme of the holiday season. Is it here to provide relief from the stress of shopping, travel, family visits, and deadlines in school or work?

Is it here to help people relieve their perhaps overly-filled tummies and help them recommit to health and wellness?

Or here to remind people of generosity in a time of intense consumerism?

My belief: all three! Stress management, wellness, and spiritual fulfillment will always keep drawing people back to the mat, and inspire yoga teachers to keep offering their knowledge to their students, even more so during this time of year.

But let’s face it, we live in the 21st century and the current tradition says that we give our loved ones gifts this time of year.

As modern yogis, I say we embrace the times, but I also say that we do it mindfully and use our gift-giving to impart not only our love, but also the gifts mentioned above: stress-management, wellness and health, and greater spiritual interconnection.

So here’s my (totally biased!) holiday gift guide for the giving yogi, or for those of you looking to give something to your favorite yogi or yoga teacher!

  • Adopt an Elephant! A small $50 annual fee protects and fosters one orphaned elephant through the Sheldrick Elephant Trust. A meaningful gift to nourish someone’s animal loving side. Watch the video on their page - you will melt from the cuteness.
  • A Membership to YogaGlo! For those who want to begin a yoga practice or find a way to practice more, a monthly membership of $18 opens up a huge array of classes from myself and other world-class teachers! I love YogaGlo’s creative approach to organizing classes - take a look through their class collections for specific lessons on managing stress, optimizing wellness, and nurturing your soul!
  • An online course for your favorite Yoga Teacher - A great gift for the yoga teachers in your life is an online course from 90 Monkeys! From anatomy to professional development, 90 Monkeys’ library of courses will get any teacher fired up and excited to serve their students in the New Year. 90 Monkeys donates a percentage of all sales to a curated group of non-profit organizations helping to make the world a better place.
  • Gift Card to Boulder Cycle Sport, Boulder’s premier bike shop! Yoga students and teachers can get overwhelmed with yoga gifts. Do something different and help support their other physical activities.  Perfect if you’re local in Boulder but they also have an online store if you're out of town. For yogis, I particularly love the Roll Recovery, the Swiftwick socks (best winter socks ever!! I reach for them every time), and of course a gift card is always appreciated.
  • Gift Card to prAna - the perfect gift that never goes out of style. prAna's gift cards be used either online or at many of their convenient retail stores. prAna goes out of their way to use sustainable materials and partner with companies and factories that adhere to strict guidelines for safety and efficacy, so that they are able to make the beautiful and functional products in a way that we can all feel good about.
  • The Movie, Racing Extinction -  this film was recently released by documentary academy award winning filmmaker and local Boulder friend, Louie Psihoyos. It also features our dear friend and ocean hero, Shawn Heinrichs. I loved this movie and it majorly sparked my spirit and desire to fight for our planet!
  • Give them ToeSox! A sweet gift for any person looking to get into or to return to the fitness game and their yoga practice: ToeSox! Start your health from the toes up with their socks or sandals - they’ll go nuts for the awesome colors! Spreading toes and love...
  • A Donation to WildAid. Many of you may know that I wholeheartedly support this organization’s passionate and effective efforts to save the planet. A donation goes a long way, and is a great gift for your eco-minded loved ones.
  • Handmade gifts and experiences - Gifting your own hand made baked goods, DIY sugar scrubs, and IOU cards for various experiences such as theater outings, spa days, outdoor adventures and trips are what life is all about!



Amy's YogaGlo Picks for the Week: Self Love Fest!

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Amy's YogaGlo Picks for the Week: Self Love Fest!


Now is one the most important times in the year to keep up with your practice, but also one of the most challenging. There was such a great response to my last playlist of YogaGlo classes on Facebook that we’re moving it over to the blog and I’m releasing new, curated collections to help you all stay strong and motivated! The holidays are notorious for robbing us of personal time, overextending ourselves, and then getting stressed and resentful. You’ll have so much more capacity and energy to be on your A game and to be there for others if you stay connected to your self. So, let’s practice!!

We’ll start with this week’s collection: a SELF LOVE FEST! That’s right, this week it’s all about learning to cultivate love for yourself on and off the mat. Love for the beautiful body that moves you through life, for the mind that helps you make decisions and learn new things, and the heart that beams your light out into the world!

Game on for a great week of passionate practice:

Self Love Fest - Vinyasa Flow Level 1-2

You are Irresistible - Vinyasa Flow Level 2

Yes, You Matter! - Hatha Level 2

Appreciation Flow - Vinyasa Flow Level 1-2

Yoga for Bliss - Hatha Level 2-3

Enjoy your time on the mat and tell us how your practice goes in the comments section below!

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What Do You Love about Daylight Saving?


What Do You Love about Daylight Saving?

I’ll never forget one October on the day of daylight saving that year, I had heard so many complaints about the dark afternoons, the shorter days, and the impending frigid winter, that I decided to pose the following question to my yoga students in class that night:“I know what you hate about it, but what do you love about daylight saving?”

I handed them a pen and paper and asked them to write it down.

Everyone read their paper aloud.

The students shared various lovely things like:

“We get to drink hot cocoa!” “Snuggle time on the couch with a good book” “Scarves and boots” “Fall Clothes” “Pumpkin pie”

And then from the very back, a student in her 50’s....

“Making Love!!!!”

As you can imagine, the whole class lit up with laughter.

So this month, I hope you’re all contemplating what is good about daylight saving!

What’s to like?

  1. This video, for one:
  2. The days are shorter, yes, but think about the power and potential that lies in the dark. For eg. a baby grows and develops in the dark of the womb, the night restores us for the day, and it’s often in our darkest moments that great dreams are born!
  3. Ski season is near.
  4. You can start partying earlier!
  5. You don’t have to feel guilty about doing your yoga practice indoors when it’s light out, because it probably isn’t this time of year!

Anything good we're missing? Leave a comment with your favorite things about daylight saving.

Photo Credit: Bergreen Photography


Three Ways to Nurture Your Vitality Daily


Three Ways to Nurture Your Vitality Daily


Almost 12 years ago I discovered my first jars of Nutiva Organic Coconut Oil and Organic Coconut Manna and with that deliciousness they certainly were not my last. Nutiva, one of my favorite superfood companies, recently adopted a statement that embodies their vision and mission. “Nurture Vitality”.

In the spirit of embracing change and helping to create a better world, this got me contemplating how I, as a yoga teacher and earth activist, nurture vitality in my own life and what lessons I can teach others to cultivate their own.

Why Nurture Vitality?

People, animals, and our planet are in crisis. We need leaders and we need to wake up. The longer you maintain vitality and stay able-bodied, the longer you can serve the planet and make a difference, no matter what kind of work you do.

Additionally, wellness and longevity are two things I’ve always valued. I’d like to be able to make myself a smoothie or pour a cup of tea when I’m in my 90’s without depending on someone else. And, while I’m still independent, I’d like to be rocking my A-Game when I’m working, teaching, speaking, or writing!

How I nurture vitality changes from year to year. Currently I do it with three different methods:

1. Yoga and Strength Training


Photo by Taro Smith

I’ve practiced yoga since I was 16. The practice has been transformative, helping me reduce stress and be a nicer person. Yoga has helped me learn about myself in deeper ways and choose things that make me happy and more authentic; moreover, my yoga practice helps me be a better leader.

In the last 5 years, I have added strength training (sometimes called “functional fitness”) to my repertoire since yoga alone is not sufficient to maintain vitality.

Benefits of strength training in a nutshell:

  • Keep Strong Bones. 
Through using and stressing your bones, strength training helps maintain bone density; thus, reducing the risk of osteoporosis.
  • Stay at a Healthy Weight. Strength training is critical for increasing lean muscle mass. And when your body has healthy lean mass, it can burn calories more efficiently and maintain a healthy body weight. "If you don't do anything to replace the lean muscle you lose, you'll increase the percentage of fat in your body," says Edward R. Laskowski, M.D., a specialist at Mayo Clinic. As you increase your lean muscle mass, your body will burn calories more swiftly. The more toned your muscles, the easier it is to stay at a healthy weight. Carrying excess weight can be hard on the body, especially when the body’s lean mass has decreased.
  • Increase Balance and Stamina. 
More importantly, the decline in muscle mass with aging is correlated to decreased balance resulting in higher fall rates leading to fractures. Most of us think that cardio workouts are what burn fat, but without a healthy amount of lean muscle mass, the calories we take in will not get burned. The stronger you get the less you will experience fatigue. Increased lean mass is also associated with increased capacity for independence with age.
  • Keep Chronic Issues at Bay. 
Strength training when done in good alignment can reduce the signs and symptoms of many chronic conditions, including back pain, heart disease, diabetes, and arthritis.

The benefits listed above illustrate why strength training is critical and has become one of my favorite activities! Strength training done alongside a yoga practice is a winning combination.

Benefits of Yoga in a Nutshell:

  • Improves Balance
. Yoga’s many standing poses help strengthen the concentric muscles around the ankle, aiding in better balance as you age.
  • Enhances Coordination Skills. 
Moving gracefully in coordination with the breath does wonders for staying coordinated in body and mind.
  • Maintains Flexibility and Joint Health
. When practiced in good alignment, yoga stretches the belly of the main muscle groups, giving them greater elasticity and protecting surrounding joints.
  • Reduces Stress
. A number of studies have shown that yoga can help reduce stress and anxiety. Practicing yoga can also enhance your mood and overall sense of well-being.
  • Increases Mental Sharpness. Yoga is a mindfulness practice and requires concentration. As a result, it brings you into the present moment with greater clarity.

Here is my latest combined strength training and yoga practice ritual each morning - Preferably I like to get outside in nature to do it!

  • 10 minutes warm-up with yoga stretches for my quads, side body, and hip flexors.
  • 15 minutes of intrinsic core work in a circuit with physio bands.
  • 5 minutes of lunges and push-ups circuit.
  • 10 minutes (or longer when time allows) of yoga standing poses and freestyle practice on the mat.

Note: Practicing Acro Yoga can also give you similar benefits to straight up strength training!

2. A Daily Green and Purple Smoothie


Photo by Taro Smith

My body and digestive system responds very well to starting the day with liquid food. Each morning I make a green juice, followed 40 minutes later with a green and purple smoothie! It’s a great way to get everything you need in a 12oz cup: Hydration, fiber, green veggies, antioxidants, healthy fats, and protein in one tasty, easy-to-digest meal.

Throw the following into a blender:

  1. Organic nut milk and water as the base
  2. Nutiva Organic Hemp Seeds
  3. Nutiva Organic Chia Seeds
  4. Nutiva Organic Coconut Manna or a spoonful of avocado
  5. Nutiva Organic Hemp Protein Fiber
  6. Sunflower sprouts, organic dandelion greens and/or lettuce
  7. Plant based protein powder of your choice
  8. Frozen organic wild blueberries
  9. Ice if you like it cold
  10. Optional: Acai smoothie packs unsweetened.

3. Get Enough Sleep!


Just one night of lousy sleep totally changes my ability to do my work. When I sleep well my thoughts are focused, I have energy, and am able to be super productive. With a busy schedule it is easy not to prioritize sleep time, but I try to get at least 8 hours.

Getting a good night’s rest helps you:

  • Have more energy
  • Be in a better mood
  • Improve your sex life
  • Look better and less haggard!
  • Maintain your weight
  • Think clearly and have better memory
  • Maintain your immunity

The benefits are endless, and yet we still stay up too late, use electronics way too close to bedtime (which makes us wired and disturbs rest), and forget to create optimal sleeping conditions for ourselves.

This past year, to nurture my vitality, I’ve been committing to hitting the sac before 10pm each night and rising earlier in the morning, and it’s made such a huge difference!

If you struggle falling asleep, do something before bed that signals to your body that it’s time for rest. Try blending some warm almond milk, ¼ banana, and cinnamon in a blender and pouring a glass after dinner. The calcium and magnesium in these ingredients can serve as a muscle relaxant to help get you nice and sleepy.

You can also try “Legs Up the Wall Pose” (or Viparita Karani) by laying down with your legs leaning against a wall. Hold for 3-10 minutes and focus on your breathing.

There are so many ways to nurture our vitality so we can show up at our best and leave this earth better than we found it. How do you #NurtureVitality? Share your ideas through your photos on Instagram with the #NurtureVitality hashtag, and enter yourself in the Nutiva Instagram #NurtureVitality Giveaway Contest! Details here.


How to Use Yoga Philosophy to Go From Victim to Victor

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How to Use Yoga Philosophy to Go From Victim to Victor


My student reminded me the other day that I once, as she put it, “went off” in teacher training on the concept of taking action, or in sanskrit, “Kriya Shakti”. Yeah, I tend to go off on things!

Kriya shakti or action, asks the question: Are you practicing? Are you doing something daily to change the circumstances you’re not as happy with in your life? And are you taking action toward the direction you’d like to go?

For example, if you have a tweaked shoulder, are you doing something daily to nurture it?

It could be as simple as rubbing arnica gel or bio freeze cream into the sore spot. It could be taking turmeric supplements for inflammation. Or actually doing the yoga practice or exercises given to you by your teacher or PT consistently instead of letting the piece of paper they gave you get buried in a pile!

When you take action, you no longer a victim of your circumstances and instead are empowered to shift your circumstances toward more favorable outcomes.

Too often we believe that things are “happening to us” that are beyond our control when in fact devoting ourselves to a different outcome is as simple as taking measures to change, every day.

Taking action goes beyond just the physical - we could be taking any number of empowering actions toward our well being such as:

  • Saving money consistently for our education, a down payment on a house, or retirement.
  • Organizing and decluttering our home or office on a regular basis.
  • Cooking meals in advance on Sundays so we are sure to eat well throughout the week.
  • Having a standing appointment with a trainer to do strength training and functional fitness to support our yoga practice.
  • Committing to a regular yoga class each week.

The next time you catch yourself wallowing, write down five things you can do right now and in the days/weeks/months to come that would help deliver the result you’re hoping for!

Leave a comment below and let us know how you've gone from victim to victor when you've taken action in the past!

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Why Nature is Your Best Friend: My Trip to the Gaia Herbs Farm


Why Nature is Your Best Friend: My Trip to the Gaia Herbs Farm


Have you been in nature on a piece of land that tugs at that genuine spot inside you, beckoning you again to live according to your deepest truth? Every barefoot step on the earth, every sunrise, and every drop of dew reminds you to “live your dharma” (sacred purpose).

I’ve been lucky in my life to travel to remote and beautiful places in the world and I’ve seen and been inspired by so many settings.

The Gaia Farm was the latest, and it is definitely up there as one of the most physically and spiritually galvanizing places in nature I’ve been.


Gaia Herbs offers nearly 200 organic herbal supplements and grows a large portion of these plants on the Gaia Farm in Brevard, North Carolina.

It was not too hard to refuse my old friend, Bill Tipper’s invitation to the farm for a photo shoot, since I love Gaia’s supplements, and I love plants.

As soon as I arrived, I was struck by the orderly and pristine nature of the farm as well as the interesting and diverse crops growing such as ginko trees, gotu kola, Asian pears, echinacea, holy basil, lemon balm, bitter melon, and more…


After three days basking in the farm’s great energy, I returned to Boulder, fired up about my life and living. Here are my biggest takeaways (and some of the photos), which I hope inspire you too!

Living with Consciousness

Gaia is conscious, caring, and precise about sustainability, down to every detail.Every tractor on the farm is operated by bio-diesel from restaurants in Brevard and Asheville.

IMG_1680 Seedlings on their way from the greenhouse to the fields for planting.

  • Every tractor on the farm is operated by bio-diesel from the restaurants in Brevard and Asheville.
  • All of the canisters used for their smoothie boost powders look like plastic, but are actually made out of 100% plant materials. If the bottles ever find their way to the ocean, they will sink to the bottom and dissolve in the salt water.
  • Gaia fertilizes the soil at the farm with compost made from some of the solution used to extract the herbs in the distillery.
  • They are committed to growing organically and maintaining a true seed-to-shelf production which includes generating their own seed stock each season rather than buying seeds from outside the farm.

IMG_0812 Such a practical place to practice yoga. Don't you do yoga on tractors? Easing into baby natarajasana and trying not to giggle!

Be in Nature – The Ultimate Healer

Because of the photo shoot there were a number of opportunities to get close and personal with nature on the farm. Talk about grounded! If you ever get the chance:

  • Lay face down in warm, freshly tilled soil at sunset!
  • Take savasana on some dewy grass at dawn.
  • Walk barefoot in the grass, mud and soil. You can do a pedicure later, it's worth it!
  • Dance and skip wildly through the trees at dusk, preferably with a friend.
  • Sprint barefoot at top speed through newly tilled soil in the morning mist.
  • Take notice of what CEO and founder, Ric Scalzo calls “meetings and awakenings” such as the adorable bumble bee pictured below who we found camped out under an Echinacea bloom.


IMG_0674 This was my favorite bumble bee on the farm! He was sound asleep at dawn cuddled up under the echinacea petals and sparkling with dew. And this is a twin headed flower! I made Bill take a macro shot so I would always remember him. :)

Break Bread with Great Company, Farm to Table Style

There is something so old-fashioned and wonderful about taking the time to prepare, serve, and relish an exquisite meal with friends. Especially when those friends are uplifting, visionary people capable of meaningful conversation who care about the planet!

FullSizeRender-2(1) Sauteed stinging nettles! So good for skin and for allergies.

It’s rare these days to invest our time in sitting around the table just simply talking to one another. On one of the evenings we had the chance to do this with the Gaia team and it was such a treat.

IMG_1701 Chimichurri made from parsley and gotu kola (good for skin, collagen production, and the brain!).

The meal was crafted and prepared by Ric Scalzo, along with Gaia’s staff writer, Stepfanie Romine.

Made up of produce and medicinal herbs grown on the farm, the menu was designed to emphasize the transition between summer and fall.


My new favorite word: Biomimicry

Gaia’s team shared that this very cool word which serves as a guide for everything they do at the farm and how they conduct their lives and business.

From the Biomimicry Institute’s website (there is an institute!), biomimicry is defined as,

“An approach to innovation that seeks sustainable solutions to human challenges by emulating nature's time-tested patterns and strategies. The goal is to create products, processes, and policies—new ways of living—that are well-adapted to life on earth over the long haul.”

Some examples biomimicry:

  • The Shinkansen Bullet Train in Japan is modeled after a Kingfisher’s beak because of the velocity and speed at which they are able to dive-bomb to catch their prey!
  • Pomelo fruit can hit the ground from heights over 30 feet without getting damaged, thanks to a hierarchically organized peel structure. This inspired the recent development of an aluminum composite material being considered for use in safety applications.
  • Schooling fish save energy by swimming in vortices created by their neighbors. Researchers are using similar principles to find optimal positions for wind turbines.
  • Bird Protection Glass - Ornilux’s window glass prevents bird collisions by mimicking the UV reflective qualities of spiders’ webs.

In Summary: Get into Nature!

Everyone knows that we all get inspired, healed, and rejuvenated by being closer to nature. However we can get caught up in staying indoors so easily, so here is your official reminder!

  • Make sure you’re scheduling plenty of time in the woods, at the beach, in the ocean, the mountains, the snow, and on the grass.
  • Find ways to increase nature around your home. Do you have a back yard, balcony, or patio that needs some attention and plantings? Could you adopt a potted plant or terrarium? Could you plan for creating veggie garden to grow your own food? Can you commit to regular gardening and if not, hire a gardener to help maintain your garden?
  • Get outside at least twice a day to breathe the fresh air, feel the sun on your skin, and see the birds and insects.


Do you have a place that inspires you? Tell me about it in the comments below!








4 Ways to Use a Fit Ball in Your Yoga Practice

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4 Ways to Use a Fit Ball in Your Yoga Practice


I love using a fit ball on the sticky mat. Mix up your yoga practice by bringing in a fun toy and experience even more benefits! 4T7A0171

1. Handstand on the Ball

Begin by laying your tummy down on the ball. Walk your hands forward until just your toes are on the ball. Plant your hands strongly on the floor about shoulder width apart and with straight arms, engage your abdominals, push your chest forward toward the ball, and lift your hips straight up and back over your shoulders. Go to your tippy toes on the ball to help move the hips over your shoulders.  Stay here for 3 full, deep breaths and release by stretching your legs back out. This pose engages your core, turns you upside down, opens your heart, and invigorates your whole body!


2. Boat Pose And Ball

Sit down, hold the ball in your hands, lean back and extend your legs straight out and spread your toes. Try to keep your lower back engaged so that you’re rolling toward the front, rather than the back of your sitting bones. Lengthen your legs so your quads stay toned but not stressed. The weight of the ball increases the load on your abdominals, making this excellent for the core. Breathe here for 3 full, deep breaths and then rest. Repeat 3-5 times to tone the core and build your breath capacity.


3. Backbend and the Ball

Start by sitting on the ball and gradually lean back, letting the ball support your back while keeping your feet grounded. When you feel the ball is in a supportive spot for your back, lift your arms overhead to deepen the stretch and get some traction in your spine. Breathe here for 3-10 full, deep breaths. To release, bend your knees and sit up. This pose is a perfect chest opener for counteracting the many hours we spend hunched over at the computer.


4. Legs up the Ball Pose

Hold the ball as you lay down on your back. Bend your knees and rest your calves on the top of the ball. Make certain the ball is close in to your butt. Reach your arms out at your sides at a 45 degree angle with the palms face up. Close your eyes and rest here for 5-15 minutes, breathing mindfully. This is a wonderful restorative pose when you need to get grounded, rejuvenate after a stressful day, or help to soothe the nervous system.

We would love to hear what some of your favorite fit ball exercises are! Please share below and let's all get the ball rollin'!

Photo Credit: Taro Smith


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You're Not You When You're in Pain


You're Not You When You're in Pain


Have you ever met a couple where one of the partners is warm and likeable and the other is totally unapproachable?

The very first time I met my hosts for our retreat in Europe, a husband wife team, I was totally in love with the wife, and, well, the husband - not so much. She was bright, kind, and generous. He was withdrawn, unfriendly, even sour. I couldn’t understand what she saw in him.

Annually I led retreats at their center, and each year, it was the same. She was a dream to work with, and he, unpleasant and unsociable.

Then one year, I was told that he’d be the one picking me up from the train station when I arrived. I dreaded that car ride.

To my surprise, the man who picked me up was the same guy, but with a whole new personality. He was cheerful, funny, and energetic! This same man I had avoided in past years had transformed into a totally new character.

When I got to the retreat center, I couldn’t wait to ask his wife - “What happened to your husband - he’s like a different man!”

As if it was old news, she replied - “Oh, his doctor gave him some sort of oxygen injection in his back, and now he’s no longer in pain!

I have no idea what kind of treatment he had that was so miraculous, but what struck me as more fascinating is how his chronic pain had totally clouded his otherwise sunny self for so many years.

This Snickers commercial with Aretha Franklin is exactly what I’m talking about!

Since a large part of my work as a yoga teacher centers around helping people get out of pain through alignment and yoga therapeutics, of course I wished I had known sooner that he’d been in pain so I could have gotten him on the yoga mat to help!

When you consider this story, it’s astonishing how pain can make us unknowingly unpleasant and, worse yet, inflict our bad mood on our loved ones and co-workers on a daily basis.

Often times we get so used to the pain, that we don’t even know we’re in it. The first time I ever experienced pain in yoga was in my late 20’s. I was lowering into chatturanga lopsided.

Seeing this, my teacher bellowed from above, “Amy, do you have a problem with your wrist?”, Amazed that he noticed my suffering when I didn’t even know I had a problem, I stammered, “Yes.”

Every since that moment, I gave my vinyasa practice a rest for a time and dove deep into the world of alignment until I knew how to:

  1. Identify my pain and take it seriously
  2. Align my body anatomically in all yoga poses to prevent injury
  3. Help others do the same
  4. Go 3 inches deeper in every pose

It's my mission to make yoga's primary focus be on how we MOVE not just on how we POSE. What good are impressive looking poses if they do not support your body's longevity as you age?

And this is why I decided to devote a full day intensive to the topic of yoga and therapeutics at Yoga Journal LIVE in San Diego!


Creating a Home Yoga Practice and Sacred Space

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Creating a Home Yoga Practice and Sacred Space


  Should you practice yoga together in a group or on your own?

Practicing yoga in a group class brings people together in community, it helps motivate and inspire you to have a consistent practice. That said, yoga can be a very personal experience when you need it to be, and developing a practice at home solo can be a great way to take your practice to new and different places.

At some point, every student of yoga will want to develop their own home practice which can be a very creative and enjoyable experience and one where you develop your own distinct relationship to the art form of yoga.

The only down side of a home practice is that you do not have a teacher present to see you practice and help you with adjustments and verbal cues, especially if you’re just getting started. A teacher can help you improve your form, which can help you go deeper or gain therapeutic relief in poses.

But let’s face it, sometimes our busy lives simply don’t allow us to make it to class. Not to mention, when it's just you, it can be challenging to stay motivated to get on your mat. We’ll use any excuse not to practice!

For this reason, I highly recommend, an online service that brings world-class teachers into your home, hotel room, or wherever your busy life may take you.

YogaGlo has classes as short as 5 minutes or as long as 120. (Becoming a member of is free for the first 15 days, and then costs only $18 a month – the price of a single class at most studios. I teach on the site too, so I hope to see you there!)

If you’ve been wondering about practicing yoga at home, either on your own or guided by an online class and were not sure how to start, the first thing to do is to establish a space in your home where you can roll out a sticky yoga mat.

You can have a lot of fun creating a sacred sanctuary of your own.


Here are some ideas to get you started and help you make your home studio most practical and appealing:

  • Find or create a clean, uncluttered space with plenty of natural light, preferably with plenty of wall space so you can do inversions!
  • A wooden floor is ideal.
  • A low table to place sacred objects such as crystals, photographs of loved ones or teachers, candles, fresh flowers, or objects from nature (anything that holds value and meaning for you).
  • A simple container to house yoga props such as blocks, blankets, mats and straps.
  • A music system for ambient music (can be a simple speaker you connect to your smart phone). If it helps, create a playlist that motivates you to stretch and breathe
  • A bookshelf to hold books about yoga, nutrition, spirituality
  • A low laying chair to curl up on with a book

Disclaimer! Never wait for your yoga space to be perfect before practicing yoga. Even if your sanctuary is not exactly how you would like it to be, it's better to practice than to wait for the perfect set up or décor. Getting on the mat is far more valuable, even if the surroundings aren’t quite there yet!

Have you created a home yoga practice space in your home? Do you have a home yoga practice? Share your ideas and insights in the comments below!

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My Daily Springtime Smoothie


My Daily Springtime Smoothie


If you've ever taken a weekend workshop with me, you've seen me plunk down in front of the classroom with a dark purple, mysterious smoothie in hand. As you can imagine the first thing I get asked is, "What on earth is in that??" I’m here to spread the smoothie love and let you in on the ingredients I use, particularly in the spring time when seasonal greens start coming back.

One of my favorite things to put in smoothies this time of year is dandelion greens. Not only are they are full of nutritional benefits, but they are so huge and beautiful in spring, they are irresistible. I especially love getting them from my local farmers market.

Eating dandelion greens also indirectly supports honey bees because to eat them means that people will have to stop using weed killer on their dandelion flowers, which poisons the bees!


Some of the many nutritional benefits of dandelion greens:

  • They are detoxifying, cleansing, and purifying
  • High in antioxidants and phytonutrients
  • They contain lutein and zeaxanthin - two nutrients important for healthy eyesight. A daily serving of these daily lowers your risk of cataracts and age-related macular degeneration, according to the American Optometric Association.
  • They contain considerable amounts of vitamins A and K, both of which positively affect your blood – assisting with the formation of blood clots and supporting new blood cell growth. Vitamin A also contributes to healthy eye function and boosts your immune system, while vitamin K helps keep your bones healthy.
  • Incorporating dandelion greens into your diet will also give you an excellent source of vitamin C, as well as a solid dose of calcium and protein, which will positively affect your bones.
  • Dandelion greens also contain many anti-inflammatory properties and much more!


Now let's put those nutritional benefits to work along with the other super food ingredients!

Here's the Recipe:

2-3 Handfuls of Dandelion Greens 8-12 oz Almond Milk (to desired thickness) 1 Tbsp Goji Berries ½ Cup (or more) Frozen Wild Blueberries 1 Serving of Vega One protein powder - (Any flavor will do - they all are yummy!) 1 tsp Vitamin C (Healthforce Nutritionals) 2 Tbsp Hemp Seeds 1 Tbsp Chia Seeds 1 tsp Nutiva Coconut Manna or Coconut oil ½ Unsweetened Sambazon Acai Smoothie packet Optional – 1/2 Frozen Banana if you prefer a sweeter taste

Throw it all in and blend!


I hope you enjoy my daily smoothie as much as I do. I would love to hear which nutritionally packed ingredients you like to toss into your smoothies!


My Secrets for Glowing Skin


My Secrets for Glowing Skin


At age 45, I am flattered when people write me or comment about my skin. And I get asked frequently about what I do to take care of my skin and make it glow. So, I’m finally putting it all down in writing for you! Is it vain to care about how your skin looks? Sure it is. But healthy skin also comes from a healthy lifestyle on the inside and a desire for self care as well. Therefore I think there is absolutely no shame in caring about your skin or how it looks.

Getting glowing skin is a combination of external and internal health habits.

Taking care of my skin, or at least "the idea" of it, actually started at a young age, when my mother attempted to impart the virtues of self-skin care to me and my sister. Of course, as with many things our mothers try to teach us, I didn't really "get it" until I was about 30, when it dawned on me that I was getting older.

AmyIppolitiSkin2So I scheduled my first facial at a Jurlique concept store and spa in New York City.

After the facial, I was high for three hours! (Some of you might remember the yoga class I taught right afterwards...)

Something about the nourishment, aromatherapy, and pampering made me feel like I was on a cloud.  It left such an impression that I was ready to do whatever my aesthetician told me to do to get this feeling on a daily basis. I bought the cleanser, the serums, the mists, the moisturizers, the masks, the eye creams - and I haven't looked back since!

Ever since that pivotal moment, skin care has been a major part of my day and a lovely ritual. Long gone are the days of just washing my face with soap, putting on a basic face cream, and walking out the door.

For 15 years I've followed a complete ritual, which can seem (and is!) expensive and time consuming, but it's been an investment in myself that has paid off. When you live in a dry climate with 300 days of sunshine a year like I do, the environment can take a toll on your skin. Despite having lived in Colorado for 10 years, I've been able to protect my skin and keep the glow with a 5-step daily process.

My Daily Skin Care Ritual: For this 5-step ritual, I use all Jurlique products which are 99.9% organic, natural, and chemical free. Jurlique is an Australian company that makes an all natural, organic line of skin care products with biodynamically grown ingredients free from synthetic chemicals, pesticides, herbicides and insecticides.

This line may or may not work for your particular skin, and if it doesn't, I encourage you to find an organic, chemical free line like Dr. Hauschka, Weleda, or Pangea Organics. As long as it resonates with your skin (no rashes, no breakouts or burning!).

  1. Cleanse with a cream or foaming cleanser (not soap!).
  2. Apply a cream exfoliator and rinse. Do this daily if specified for daily use, if not alternate days. Do this step only in the evenings.
  3. Apply a toner mist (blot into skin with fingers).
  4. Apply serum and eye cream.
  5. Apply moisturizer with sunscreen for daytime (reapply mid day especially if you are in intense sun/altitude); apply night cream before bed.

Tip: your skin benefits most when it has direct contact with your products, so be sure to cleanse first!

In addition to the daily regimen...

  • Exfoliate with a Clarisonic 3x per week in place of step 2. If you don't have a Clarisonic, just use the exfoliating cream.
  • Once a week, use a detoxifying, hydrating mask. Weekends are a good time to fit this in.
  • Get a monthly facial if possible (let the professionals do a deep cleanse, massage, and treat your skin; a good aesthetician can also help you find the right products for your skin).
  • Considerations for a dry climate - use a facial steamer 1-3x per week and especially before your weekly mask (I like the Panasonic EH-SA31). Run a humidifier in your bedroom while you sleep.
  • Remember, whatever you're doing to your face, you should also be doing to your neck!
  • For lip care, I find that most chapsticks and lip balms actually dry out my lips. The one natural product I've found that works to moisturize and protect is Alba Unpetroleum Jelly in a tube or their chapsticks, which are fantastic.

AmyIppolitiAssistAlright. Now you know what I do for my skin externally, but skin care is two fold - what you put in your body also makes a huge difference!  Below are some ways I tackle the health of my skin from the inside out.


  • Drink tons of water - use a hydration calculator online to find out how much you need.
  • Green juice daily - suggested juicer Omega VRT 350.
  • Omega 3’s critical - I like using a vegan fish oil equivalent by Premier Labs, called DHA.  As I age, this supplement has made all the difference (not just for my skin, but for my hair, nails, and my memory)! When I am not taking it, my skin looks dry and less glowing. I take a high dose, but as always, check with your health care provider as to what amount is right for you.
  • Welcome good fats into your diet such as coconut, coconut oil, avocado, extra virgin olive oil, hemp seed oil, sprouted nuts and seeds, etc.
  • A high fiber diet is key too - chia seeds, greens, and fiber supplements help keep the gut clean and moving, which is great for the skin.
  • Many people also find that dairy products negatively affect their skin, likely due to the difficulty in digesting dairy. I've been dairy free most of my life.

There you have it! What do you do to keep that beautiful glow? Comment below and let's continue to share and spread the skin care love!


Plant Based Love Salad


Plant Based Love Salad


We know that leaning toward or switching completely to a plant based diet is the single most important way to help the environment. The production of beef and other animal protein consumes huge amounts of water, fossil fuels, topsoil, and destroys our forests, while polluting our water and air. And don't even get me started about the worst perils of meat production...Meat production causes more greenhouse gases, carbon dioxide (CO2), methane, and nitrous oxide to spew into the atmosphere than either transportation or industry!

So if you're like me, you're constantly looking for high protein plant based foods! The good news is, these foods are out there in abundance.

I was thrilled to find a product called Sprouted Mung Beans, by TruRoots, and even more happy to discover that each serving has 10 grams of protein.


This past Valentine's Day I made brunch for a friend, and I had a vision of combining the mung beans with quinoa to pack in even more protein awesomeness.

After a trip to the market it was clear what was in season and I shopped accordingly to add some magic to the overall vision of protein combining.

The result is the Plant Based Love Salad! I hope you enjoy it as much as we did!

Ingredients: 1 Bunch Baby Asparagus 1/4 Jicama 1 Purple carrot 1 Celery Stalk 4 Radicchio Leaves Arugula ½ Red Onion 1 Cup TruRoots Sprouted Mung Beans ½ Cup Quinoa (preferably TruRoots Sprouted) Real Salt Extra Virgin Olive Oil Nutiva Refined Coconut Oil, Sunflower Oil or Nutiva Sunflower and Red Palm Oil (don't worry, it is harmless to orangutans!) Tessa Mae’s Lemon Garlic Dressing Lemon (optional)

To prep the baby asparagus, find the "natural breaking point" on each asparagus spear’s end, separating the tender flesh toward the tip from the woody end, wash, and prepare a shallow baking pan.

Place the clean asparagus in pan and coat with Nutiva Refined Coconut Oil or Nutiva Sunflower and Red Palm Oil and bake at 375 for 20 minutes, stirring 2-3 times in the process. At 15 minutes in, salt the asparagus generously.

While that is cooking, dice and combine the following vegetables in a large mixing bowl:

1 Purple Carrot ¼ Jicama 1 Celery Stalk 1/2  Red Onion (sautéed first in oil until translucent) 4 Radicchio Leaves, julienned


Cook the quinoa according to package directions Cook the mung beans according to package directions and strain


Once the asparagus is done, chop the roasted spears into 1/3 inch lengths and mix into the other veggies.

Toss the cooked quinoa and strained mung beans into the bowl and add a splash of olive oil and salt to taste.

plantbasedlovesalad2Combine the veggies with the quinoa and mung bean mixture and do a final salting to taste along with a tablespoon of lemon garlic dressing. You can also squeeze fresh lemon on to taste.

Serve on top of a clean fresh bed of Arugula and enjoy!

Makes 4 - 5 servings.

I would love to hear how yours turns out and if you made any yummy variations!