It’s the holiday season … a time of dark, cold mornings, short days and busy nights, tending to the hustle and bustle of getting things done for various holiday celebrations, all the while gorging ourselves on delicious — but often calorie-laden — holiday foods. The average day passes quickly, and you usually find yourself collapsing into bed at the end of it feeling completely exhausted.
I will begin with the admission that in this life, I have been extremely blessed. In the course of my work in the natural foods industry, I have been present at nearly every major yoga + music festival around the country. Wanderlusts, Bhakti Fests, Tadasana, Yoga Journal, you name it, I’ve been there distributing snacks, squeezing in some classes and generally reveling in the vibe.
April 2013 marks the beginning of the tenth year of Spiritual Cinema Circle! This month, we celebrate the way that great stories can connect us to the world.
The Last Brickmaker in America, our feature for April, stars the legendary actor Sidney Poitier as a man who has been making bricks by hand for more than 50 years and who proves to be a profound example of how to build life “brick by brick.”
Jill Miller met fellow yogi Elena Brower this past October when they both presented at the Ojai Yoga Crib, and the two immediately struck up a friendship. When Jill found out Elena was about to publish a yoga workbook called Art of Attention (co-authored by Erica Jago), she knew she wanted to have a heart-to-heart interview: teacher-to-teacher, innovator-to-innovator and woman-to-woman. Here is Part Two of her interview. To read Part One, click here.
For over five years, my yoga practice brought me joy and fulfillment, but solely from my studentship. Teachers had always intrigued me with their beauty, strength, confidence and presence, but to actually become a yoga teacher seemed like entering a different realm — one that I thought could not possibly be as blissful as the space on my favorite coral-colored yoga mat.
But every now and then I would think about what it would be like to lead a class, spreading pieces of possibility and shining smiles to all the students. I would cue and they would flow, moving with ease to the perfect music I was playing that matched all the perfect words I was saying.
But then my daydreams would subside, and I would find myself happy to only be responsible for my own moves, my own mind. Why would I want to teach anyway? It would take up so much time. When would I get to do my practice? If I was teaching, I wouldn’t be learning.
But are the two job descriptions — writer and yoga teacher — really that dissimilar? As a writer, my true calling has always been found in the power of connection and inspiration, traits any good yoga teacher should possess. I like to set my own schedule, travel a lot, wear comfy clothes and work in bare feet. I love sharing my insights and experiences, spreading words of wisdom wherever I go.
So, yes, now I am not only a writer. My career of word crafting has united with my passion for movement.
I was reminded this weekend, whilst walking through town, about the magic of staying open. Two strangers openly greeted me with big smiles, and I am ashamed to say I was consciously taken aback. But once I acknowledged it was me they were smiling at, I responded by grinning with appreciation at them (possibly scaring them, apols about that!).
See, after I moved here, I often found myself talking (or rather, trying to talk) to strangers in the street, or at bus stops, or as I queued to pay for groceries. Despite my best efforts, the funny looks I often received in return took their toll, as I assumed they were a negative reaction towards my behavior. This eventually led to me becoming more shy and reserved, and less likely to try to connect with those I met.
Gandhi said, “Be the change you want to see in the world.”
That statement has been moving through my mind for the past several weeks as I read comments on social media and hear so many people feeling helpless and disillusioned. It’s clear to me that we are living in a time of extreme opposites. There are people doing extraordinary work to bring peace and consciousness to the planet, while at the same time there are also people committed to war and violence.
The real question for me is “How do I want to respond and live?” I believe that we are either part of the problem or we are part of the solution. I also believe that our words have power and that what we put out in the universe eventually returns to us in some form.
So instead of being upset about the state of the world, I have decided to do something, and I would like you to join me.
Still, I find that once I’ve gotten into the habit of driving someplace — my daughter’s preschool, the Trader Joe’s on the other side of the highway, the garden store — I tend to keep on driving there, deeming it too far to reach on foot. The funny thing is, once I decide to test walking to a destination once, I realize not only how doable it is but also how satisfying running that errand becomes.
So now I’m on a quest of sorts: to debunk the myth that certain places in my everyday life are too far to reach on foot.
This June, dust off your travel yoga mat and head to beautiful Boulder, Colo., for the second annual Hanuman Festival! More than your typical yoga retreat, Hanuman combines yoga, music and community, all for some great causes.
When: June 8-10, 2012
Where: Boulder, Colorado, near the foothills of the Rocky Mountains
The music: Enjoy concerts featuring Desert Dwellers, Jim Beckwith, Ashlee K Thomas, David Newman (Durga Das), Vamadeva Jaya, DJ Drez, The Pushpams, David “Duke Mushroom” Schommer and many more. Artists will perform during select yoga classes as well as at scheduled concerts.
Off the Mat and Into the World, a program that “uses the power of yoga to inspire conscious, sustainable activism and ignite grassroots social change.”
The Wellness Initiative, which seeks to “improve the physical health, social and emotional development, and academic performance of low-income youth through yoga-based wellness programs.”
Give Back Yoga Foundation supports and fund certified yoga teachers in all traditions to offer the teachings of yoga to under-served and under-resourced socio-economic segments of the community.
Gaiam is especially excited for this event because it’s one of the only yoga festivals to take place right in our own backyard — less than eight miles from our Louisville, Colorado headquarters! Gaiam and Gaiam TV will each have booths at the festival, where participants will be able to check out our newest yoga mats, DVDs and other gear, as well as meet some of your favorite yoga instructors who will be stopping by to say hello or help you perfect your poses.
We chatted with Cara Fogel Ferrick, Hanuman’s sales and marketing director, who gave us the scoop on what sets Hanuman apart (and where that name came from!).
Whenever I visit Europe — whether to explore a few former Soviet bloc countries or to take a 2,000-mile driving trip through Italy and Switzerland’s Ticino region — I’m always struck upon “re-entry” into the U.S. by how BIG everything is here at home.
We drive big cars, especially here in Colorado, where every other vehicle seems to be an SUV. Our cars have big cup holders for our venti Frappucinos and Big Gulp sodas. We live in big houses that we furnish with stuff we buy at big-box stores. Our big refrigerators – and often an extra freezer – are crammed full of food we purchase at big supermarkets. And, alas, we ourselves are big, and getting bigger: According to the American Heart Association, more than 70 percent of American adults are overweight, and of those, nearly 38 percent are obese.
Europeans clearly do things differently from us. Yet their ‘smaller’ lives seem in many ways richer and fuller. I’ve begun to notice some of those differences that we might do well to consider. Here are five that really struck me: