Category Archives: body

Ahimsa and Veganism

by Susan Craig

“The most violent weapon on earth is the table fork.” Mahatma Gandhi

I became a vegan nearly 30 years ago – long before I found Sri Dharma. My decision to stop eating animals was born out of a very hopeless period in my life when I was severely abused. During that darkest days of my life I made a pact with myself that, as small and inconsequential as my life seemed to be, knowing what it felt like to be abused and to be treated as if I had no value, I would do my best not to treat others as if they had no value. This decision included non-human animals; the least that I could do was to stop eating them. Little did I know that this decision, along with the beginnings of an asana practice, would take me on a most amazing journey which recently included finding Sri Dharma Mittra as my yoga teacher.

While the deep pain in my life did not suddenly dissipate as a result of becoming a vegan, I did experience some immediate benefits. My overall physical health improved quickly and dramatically (To this day, at nearly 60 years old, I am far healthier than I was in my teens  and twenties.). Along with that, issues around body image and eating that had been a source of personal torture since my teens disappeared and never returned. These were miracles!

With veganism as a non-negotiable core value, along with the beginnings of an asana practice, I began the slow and arduous climb out of the deep pit that I found myself in. While I have utilized many additional means of recovery support along the way, I believe that the deepest and most profoundly transformative decision that I have made has been to become a vegan. Sri Dharma’s core teachings around Ahimsa certainly support this.

It is a rare individual who has not eaten animal flesh, dairy, and eggs. We have been born into cultures that treat food animals as commodities meant to be eaten. From birth we have been indoctrinated into a culture that tells us that we must consume animals, that it is normal and necessary for health. Upon questioning this indoctrination, however, we find that it is based upon false information. The human body is designed to thrive on a vegan diet. Additionally, on a deeper, spiritual level, the simple act of changing what we put on our plates at each meal – the decision not to participate in the abuse and slaughter of food animals, is liberating  beyond words. The benefits extend far beyond one’s health and spiritual development. As the effects of climate change become become increasingly evident, numerous sources of scientific research indicate that animal agriculture is the leading cause of global warming. (Perhaps the law of Karma is at work here…as we reap, so shall we sew.) What a blessing that, by choosing a plant-based diet, we are improving our own health, we are ceasing to participate in wide-spread violence towards sentient beings, and we are drastically reducing our contribution to the environmental stress on the planet!

In June 2015, I participated in the deeply transformative 200 hour LOAY training with Sri Dharma Mittra. Prior to making the decision to go through the LOAY training, as I searched for my yoga teacher, I started with one screening requirement: I needed a teacher who practiced and taught veganism as a core requirement of being a yogi. This one requirement narrowed the field of potential teachers down to few enough that I could count them on the fingers of one hand. Out of these few, I found myself drawn to Sri Dharma – his wisdom, dedication to his practice and to selfless service, his humility and egoless presence, and his fidelity to practicing and teaching the Yama of Ahimsa or non-violence. Ahimsa literally means A=not, himsa= killing or violence. In the LOAY Teachers’ Manual (2015, p. 4) Sri Dharma says, “Ahimsa means love; ‘thou shalt not kill!’ This applies not only to human beings, but to every living creature.”

Sri Dharma is one of the only yoga teachers of whom I am aware who does not shy away from teaching the yama of Ahimsa to his students truthfully. He regularly states while teaching that one must extend one’s compassion beyond one’s pets and that when one eats animals one is engaging in cruelty. He talks about how when one consumes animal products, one’s body becomes a morgue. In Sri Dharma’s words, “Without taking on the yama of ahimsa, there is little benefit to observing the other four yamas or any other aspect of the holy science of yoga.” (LOAY Teachers’ Manual, p. 5) I know, from the center of my soul, that this information is true and correct. The decision to become a vegan as a core component of one’s practice of Ahimsa will deepen and strengthen one’s  yoga practice. It will simultaneously improve the quality of one’s life immeasurably while benefiting other beings and the health of the planet. I highly recommend it!

Note: For additional information on the benefits of veganism that this blog has room for, I recommend reading The World Peace Diet by Dr. Will Tuttle and viewing the documentary, Cowspiracy.

Susan Craig is a Berkeley, California native who participated in the transformational June 2015 LOAY 200 hour training. Susan strives to practice Karma Yoga each day in her job as a school district administrator where she oversees support services for marginalized youth, as an advocate for animals through vegan activism, and as a teacher of a weekly donation-based yoga class. She resides in Napa in the home of the four cats and a rabbit who rescued her. Susan is most grateful to have found Dharma Yoga and to have Dharma Mittra as her yoga teacher and spiritual guide.

Recipe: Raw Vegan Chocolate Caramel Dream Bars

by Karen Fan

raw-vegan-chocolate-caramel-bars

Makes 8-10 servings

For the base:
1⁄4 cup raw walnuts
1⁄2 cup sprouted raw almonds (soaked 24 hours in water and peeled skin)
6 pitted dates
1⁄4 cup unsweetened coconut flakes
2 Tbsp coconut oil, liquid

For the almond butter “caramel” filling:
1⁄2 cup spouted raw almonds
2 Tbsp coconut oil
9 pitted dates
2 Tbsp brown rice syrup
Pinch of Himalayan sea salt
2-3 Tbsp water

For the chocolate icing:
1⁄2 cup raw cacao powder
2 Tbsp coconut oil
1/3 cup brown rice syrup
2-3 Tbsp water

1. To sprout the raw almonds, soak them overnight and then peel the skin. Set it aside for now.

2. To make the base, place the walnuts, almonds, dates, coconut flakes, and coconut oil in a food processor or high-speed blender and pulse until the mixture resembles fine crumbs. Scoop the mixture into your hands, and if the ingredients hold together, your base is perfect. Press the mixture into a square pan.

3. To make the caramel filling, place the raw almonds, coconut oil, dates brown rice syrup and sea salt into a food processor or high-speed blender, and process until the mixture is creamy and smooth. Add 2 to 3 tbsp of water to help make the consistency smoother while processing. Spread over the base.

4. To make the chocolate icing, place the raw cacao powder, coconut oil and brown rice syrup in a mixing bowl and stir until the mixture is creamy. Add 2 to 3 tbsp of water to make the consistency smoother. Spread the chocolate icing on top of the caramel filling.

5. Freeze the bars for a few hours. Chill for half an hour before slicing.

Effort as Offering: Changing the way we approach our practice

headstand

by Eileen Lorraine

My life has gone upside down many times; in my yoga life though, inverting has always eluded me. I came up with many viable reasons for this, blaming my gymnastics teacher who denied me my beloved balance beam until I learned to do multiple backward summersaults on the mat. Yawn. I blamed my thick thighs which I felt were far too heavy to lift higher than my hips. Gravity’s got me like. I blamed my unwarranted fear that kept me rooted to the ground no matter how many people kindly attempted to show me their way of going upside down on their heads. Feeling somewhat defeated, I eventually came to accept it as fact. I cannot do a headstand. There, I said it. Let others do it, let others teach it. It just won’t be me.

I suppose all along there was something deeper inside me that wasn’t fully buying such a definitive statement, and what didn’t come as a surprise to those who know my rebellious spirit, I applied to do the Life of a Yogi 500 hour teacher training with the man who dubbed the headstand, the “King of Poses”. In August 2015, I took a micro-sabbatical from my corporate gig and teaching classes in Las Vegas to join 65 other yogis from all over the world in New York’s Dharma Yoga Center (DYC). Feeling much like my first day at a brand new school, I entered the temple thinking, “What the hell did I get myself into?” During our first practice together as a group, Sri Dharma Mittra called sirsasana ten minutes into class. Ten minutes into class?! So I sat while the rest of the room went upside down, all the while trying to fake a look of serenity and confidence in my “watchasana”, when inside I was crumbling. “I want to do that,” I thought. “I should be able to do that! I don’t deserve to be here. I don’t deserve to be a teacher. What am I doing here?” And on and on and on the internal dialog went until sweet relief came when I heard Dharma-ji say, “Ok. Now break the pose.” (Holding self-chastising-asana is remarkably exhausting.)

Soon after, we were paired off into small groups of six. These were to be my peers for the two contact modules during our training, led by my first of two mentors, Andrew Jones. Being paired with Andrew, a senior teacher at DYC, was a gentle gift from the Universe. His soft British accent and kind demeanor invited me to share my dark confession with the group, “I can’t do headstand. And I want to. I really, really want to.” I expected to be met with instructions to go into a headstand and then feel the familiar shame of not being able to go any further than a deep version of dolphin pose. But that’s not what happened. Instead he simply said, “So you can’t do headstand. Its ok, you don’t have to.”

Wait, what?

Four words were all it took. “YOU DON’T HAVE TO,” and I was suddenly set free. Andrew continued, asking if I could consider removing the goal of conquering the pose, to take if off of my to-do list and to remember that asana is not the yoga I was after. That it wasn’t what pulled me away from my life in Las Vegas and called me to spend this time with Dharma-ji. He reminded me that our practice is an offering, and in that sense no matter how little or how much I invert myself, it is enough. For God, it has always been enough. And it was then that I gave myself permission to release the white knuckle grip I had on this pose, to slow down, to open my mind in a way that could finally absorb the technical hints my mentor and peers lovingly shared with me. And little by little over the course of the next eight days, my legs began to go up. It wasn’t until I returned to the security of my home did I fully invert away from the wall, but let me just say, it was an amazing feeling. I’m up, I’m up! I had a huge sense of pride, not for conquering the pose but for being able to let go of my ego enough to make my all my efforts an offering. And let that offering be enough.

Self-realization happens in subtle moments when we witness ourselves for whom we truly are, made of our strengths and our limitations. It happens in the moments when we release what is outside of us and instead go quietly inside, gently encouraging ourselves (with a sweet English accent if possible, it bloody helps!) to experience the moment, not the result. Without bringing compassion to our practice, there is no yoga.

shirshasana1 Shirshasana2 Shirshasana3 Shirshasana4 Shirshasana5 Shirshasana6 Shirshasana7 headstand

Shanti Shanti Shanti Om.

Mineral Rich Vegan Ginger Fudge Cake (Gluten Free)

By Ivy Mok

I had some inspiration from a friend, who was hesitant to bring her mother to a Christmas buffet last year. The next day after buffet, her mother had an appointment for body check. She was afraid the rich meal would yield undesirable results in her mother’s blood test results.

That brought me think of a yoga sutra from Patanjali:

Yoga citta virtti nirodhah. Yoga is stilling the changing state of the mind.

Sri Dharma Mittra explained to us that it was good to always shift one’s mind, and to also to shift one’s consciousness. This is the way to be creative and to be receptive. This is the way to see light in darkness, to see chance in risk, to see love in fear.

When it comes to dessert, people usually think it has to be unhealthy to be tasty. Many famous chefs do not care if they use refined sugar and animal butter lavishly because to them, dessert has to be delicious, and in their mind, deliciousness does not come with health.

I experimented with this recipe a few times and finally came up with this version. This is a gluten free, refined sugar free, vegan cake, with loads of fibers (psyllium husks, flaxseeds, teff flour, almond meal) and it is highly rich in minerals (blackstrap molasses & teff flour). Most of all, it is tasty and it does not make you feeling thirsty or uneasy (common symptoms if you consume too much refined sugar or processed food). It is indeed a nourishing treat.

Vegan ginger fudge cake
Ingredients (for making 1 loaf, i.e. around 36 cubes)

Dry:
100g teff flour
50g quinoa flour
50g potato starch
25g hazelnut meal
25g almond meal
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground cloves
½ tsp baking powder
¼ tsp himalayan salt

Egg replacement for baking:
3 tbsp ground flaxseeds
9 tbsp warm filtered water

Wet:
1/2 cup unsulphured organic blackstrap molasses
2 tbsp organic extra virgin coconut oil
1 ripe banana (mashed)
2 tbsp freshly squeezed ginger juice
2 tbsp psyllium husks

  • Preheat oven to 350 deg F. Grease a regular loaf pan with coconut oil.
  • Mix the flaxseeds and warm filtered water well until it is thick and creamy. Set aside for later use.
  • Sift all the dry ingredients into large mixing bowl.
  • Combine the wet ingredients thoroughly, add psyllium husk at the end, then add in the flaxseeds mixture, whisk until well blended.
  • Add the dry ingredients (small portions at a time, to make the mixture smooth, even, with no lumps) into the wet, well blended mixture, stir to make sure they mix well.
  • Pour the mixture into the greased pan, bake at 350 deg F until set in the middle with a knife and it comes out clean, around 40 minutes.
  • Cool on rack, then cut it into cubes when it’s completely cool.

Can serve either cool by refrigerating it or serve warm by reheating it in the oven.
Serve best with fruit or herbal tea.

Ingredient highlights:

Teff grain / flour
This is a staple grain commonly found in Ethiopia, color ranges from white to dark red. The
taste is like hazelnut, so it is naturally sweet & nutty. It is a gluten free grain so it is excellent for people with gluten intolerance. It is also high in minerals such as manganese (~8.5mg), magnesium (~175mg), potassium (~400mg), phosphorus (~400mg) and it is rich in vitamin B (thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, pathothenic acid), it has ~7g of dietary fiber per 100g. It also contains choline, vitamin k, and it has very low fat content (~2.5 g per 100g).

Organic unsulphured blackstrap molasses
Blackstrap molasses has the highest antioxidant among all other sweeteners, making it a very healthy kind of sweetener. It is very rich in iron, folate, along with some B vitamins, which all combine to work synergistically to promote red blood cell production.

It also contains high amount of magnesium, calcium. Magnesium is a crucial mineral for
maintaining heart health. People who are magnesium deficient are more prone to muscle
spasms, including heart muscles. Magnesium is also vital in balancing calcium for bone
production and energy. It is necessary for nervous system health. It is essential to over 300
metabolic processes and the synthesis of almost all the other minerals and vitamins.

Blackstrap molasses is also rich in potassium. Potassium deficiency may result in weak
muscles. It helps to calm the nervous system and boosts heart health.

Organic unsulphured blackstrap molasses is particularly rich in manganese, of which its ions function with a number of enzymes, to combat damage of free radicals. Like magnesium, manganese also supports cellular absorption of nutrients, and is beneficial to the nervous system.

 

IvyMokBlog 3A physiotherapist based in Hong Kong, Ivy learned yoga as a remedy for lost souls in a hectic city. She is blessed to quickly find her lineage in yoga despite living on another side of the world from her beloved guru, Sri Dharma Mittra. Constantly a student on all sorts of therapeutic modalities (visceral manipulation, craniosacral therapy), she finds the ultimate medicine for all sorts of ailments is “self-realization.” Ivy is always ready to spread whatever she learned to her students and patients.

Removing Desires and Rising to Raja Yoga

By Jerome Burdi

Of all the yamas, brahmacharya is the greatest struggle for me. It is, however, possibly the most important to really taste true freedom –freedom from desires. Even the gods admire the one who is free from desires.

Swami Sivananda mentions the importance of brahmacharya time and again in his book, Raja Yoga, detailing the Yoga Sutras. I read the book in preparation for the 800-hour Dharma Yoga Life of a Yogi Training in August.

The other yamas — non-violence, not stealing, non-greed, and truthfulness –are much easier practices for me and many other yogis. Curbing desires is the toughest and if it’s not done successfully, all the other yamas can be tainted.

Only when desires are quieted can one progress along the spiritual path.

This is also the essence of Lord Buddha’s teachings: Desire and ignorance are the root of all suffering.

I enjoy Sivananda’s technique of destroying the evil vrittis, or thought patterns. It’s a sort of meditation, an awareness that one must maintain to have success on the path of yoga.

When an evil thought arises, think of its opposite and all the benefits of the good vrittis. When the thought of lust arises, think of brahmacharya; when anger rises, think of love; when pride shows its ugly head, chop it down with humility.

Desires will keep you in a rajasic, overactive state of mind, always unsettled. One must work properly, from a calm, sattvic state of mind.

“When sattva increases, the mind becomes steady like the flame of a lamp in a windless place,” Sivananda wrote. “He who is sattvic can do real concentration and meditation, and can enter into samadhi easily.”

The difficulty is how to find that sattvic mind and finally concentrate.

“Have perfect trust in God and be steady in your sadhana,” is the advice Sivananda gives. “Faith sustains the yogi like a kind, affectionate mother.”

Faith is a crucial component as one moves along the path. Sometimes I feel like I’m getting nowhere in my practice, but then come those moments of holding a difficult asana or having a steady stream of concentration. And that’s it! There’s the bliss! It may not last long, but it’s enough to get me through to the next episode. There’s falling along the way, but the faith gets us back up again and back on the path. We can’t beat ourselves up over the past. We get up and keep moving forward.

“Everything is present for the yogi,” Sivananda wrote. “Everything is here. Everything is now only.”

When the mind is filled with passions and desires, you cannot sit still to do your sadhana. The mind is always moving. The asana comes easily for many, but we must remember this is only a preparation so we can sit and work on the higher limbs of yoga that lead to the goal, samadhi, complete union with all of creation.

When I read about the states of mind a yogi can reach, I am reminded of how much work I have to do to reach the goal. The distractions are always coming like hurricane rains, like waves in the sea, or wind atop a mountain. But with practice, the yogi finds stillness. That’s why we do our practice, why we have our faith, why we stay on the path despite the digressions.

Stillness.

In those blissful moments we are mountains. Desire cannot touch us. We are truly free.

 

 

Jerome Burdi is a Brooklyn native who discovered yoga during a shamanic retreat in Brazil in 2010. Since then, he’s been enveloped by the path of the yogi. He left his job as a newspaper journalist to go to Rishikesh, India, and become a yoga teacher. Upon returning to NYC, he discovered Dharma Yoga and has been hooked. Though Jerome grew up in NY, he had to go to India to come back and see Sri Dharma with clear eyes and to hear the truth that is Dharma Yoga. Jerome is also a Middle Eastern style percussionist and holistic nutritionist

Jerome Burdi is a Brooklyn native who discovered yoga during a shamanic retreat in Brazil in 2010. Since then, he’s been enveloped by the path of the yogi. He left his job as a newspaper journalist to go to Rishikesh, India, and become a yoga teacher. Upon returning to NYC, he discovered Dharma Yoga and has been hooked. Though Jerome grew up in NY, he had to go to India to come back and see Sri Dharma with clear eyes and to hear the truth that is Dharma Yoga. Jerome is also a Middle Eastern style percussionist and holistic nutritionist.

The Ying and Yang of the Dharma Yoga 200 hour LOAY Teacher Training

By Kathy Goelz

The temple seems so large and spacious — then suddenly it’s the size of your living room.
You’ll ask yourself when, where, and why –then realize: “Everything is perfect.”
You may come with anxiety, but leave “with a mind settled into silence.”
You will develop a sense of pride — then realize “I am not the doer.”
You’ll stand firm as a warrior– then fall and roll like a circus clown.
You’ll sing and laugh– then cry.
You’ll have doubts– then learn “I can have the best of the best.”
Your pranayama practice will change from “Breathing like a mouse” to “breathing like a horse.”
Yoga becomes not just poses, but an offering. “This is for you my Lord”
You may feel as though you can’t take another class, but do “because it has to be done.”
You will be exhausted and fatigued, but give 100% because the mentors and Sri Dharma will.
You may be confused about God, but that will change to devotion and surrender.
You may not be sure what Yamas and Niyamas are, but just watch Dharma-ji and you’ll learn instinctively.
Maha Shakti will energize you– then 5 minutes later you’ll struggle to stay awake during Yoga Nidra.
You may eat meat now, but learning about compassion and ahimsa you won’t let “your stomach be a grave yard.”
You may never have done volunteer work, but hearing about selfless service will change that.
You’ll walk in alone, and leave as friends and family.
You’ll come with questions, and leave with Self Knowledge!
Om Shanti , Shanti, Shantih

 

KathyKathy Goelz has practiced yoga for 17 years and is now embracing the teachings of Sri Dharma Mittra with a full heart. Goelz started teaching after a Senior Yoga teacher training at Shanti Niketan Ashram’s North Carolina School of Yoga under the supervision of Chandra Om. Since October of 2014, Goelz has been teaching a chair yoga class at the Love Yoga Shala in Patchogue, NY. In March 2015, she completed the Dharma Yoga LOAY 200-hour immersion and hopes to graduate in May. Goelz will continue to teach in her community and at Love Yoga Shala.

 

The Fan Behind the Flame of Dharma Yoga

By Jerome Burdi   Sri Dharma Mittra isn’t looking for fame and fortune. He teaches out of goodwill and compassion. “If you have a little spiritual knowledge, you should share it,” Sri Dharma often says. “This is the greatest form of charity.” For 50 years, he has done just that. Though Sri Dharma is the flame of knowledge, he needs those around him to spread it. Otherwise, it could be quite easy in today’s oversaturated yoga world for the jewel of Dharma Yoga to be lost. The work of Sri Dharma’s wife and longtime disciple, Eva Grubler, aka Ismrittee Devi Om, is to fan the flame Dharmaji has ignited in the hearts of hundreds of thousands of students throughout the years. “The popularity of yoga hasn’t affected him, but it has affected his classes because there are so many other places to go,” she said. “He lights up when there’s a full house.” EvadancerEva, the daughter of holocaust survivors, grew up in Queens. Before discovering yoga she was a modern dancer, training at Alvin Ailey’s school while he was still alive. She danced with several companies, was a principal dancer in the film Fame, and choreographed her own work in New York City. Eventually she grew weary of the competitive dance world. “I was ready not to be yelled at, and compared to others.” In the 1980s, Eva was in a health food store on the corner of 13th Street and 6th Avenue in Manhattan where Sri Dharma’s Master Yoga Chart of 908 Postures hung on the wall. “I was asking about the person in the poster and the clerk said, ‘That person is the yogi around the corner at 100 West 14th street. He comes in all the time; I can introduce you.’” Eva found her way up the tall stairs into Sri Dharma’s Yoga Asana Center and fell deep into the practice ever since her first class. “It was amazing,” she said. “He had a beautiful red soft plush carpet. There were no yoga mats at the time. You needed to bring a towel, or a shawl in my case, to spread over your spot. It felt like you were in a loving womb in the lush temple space he created.” Yoga was not popular and certainly not as physically challenging as it is today. Most of Sri Dharma’s students were middle-aged people and dancers who came to practice daily with him. Sri Dharma charged as little as $2 a class. Teachers from other yoga schools came daily to study with him and many of his students went on to teach and open their own schools. “He was known as the only one who gave the advanced postures,” Eva said. “The sensibility is still similar to how he teaches today but it was even kinder and gentler. Everything felt like you were just contained in yourself.” Sri Dharma was quiet and humble, as he is today, but had yet to share the sense of humor his current students also love him for. As yoga grew in popularity in the late 90s and 2000s, many of Sri Dharma’s students rose to fame but Dharmaji wasn’t getting recognition for his hard work, Eva said. Mainly because he is so humble and would never think of going after it. When yoga teacher trainings became popular, students who studied with him for years asked him to run a program to certify them. So, Eva worked to establish a teacher training program for Sri Dharma so his students did EVA WHEEL copynot have to go elsewhere. In 1999, the Dharma Yoga Life of a Yogi Certification program was finally established. “Krishna Das used to chant at the center often and said, ‘I’ll be at Dharma’s.’” Eva said. “So I said it’s time to have the Dharma name on it. I was amazed when Dharma agreed.” “Whatever notoriety Sri Dharma has, we worked hard to make sure he’s out there. He’s ashamed to even charge today’s prices for class. I said, ‘But how can you be any less than what new teachers are charging?’ That’s why he always makes the class longer.” Eva recalled visiting Sri Dharma’s guru, Swami Kailashananda, for meditation classes and lectures and sometimes bringing her and Sri Dharma’s two children. “It was always wonderful to sit under the vibrant rays of the guru,” she said. “Sri Dharma is the energizer battery that continues the work of his guru, day in and day out, for a half century now. “You can still sit in his classes today and hear a man filled with wisdom trying to inspire each person in the room to become better human beings and understand Ahimsa – non-cruelty, especially to all animals, through becoming a vegan.” Eva would like to see the lineage continue. “Our trained teachers sprouting out of the Dharma Yoga Life of a Yogi Certification become a conduit for their teacher, Dharma Mittra, and will pass on his work and legacy to generations of people in times to come.”     Jerome Burdi is a Brooklyn native who discovered yoga during a shamanic retreat in Brazil in 2010. Since then, he’s been enveloped by the path of the yogi. He left his job as a newspaper journalist to go to Rishikesh, India, and become a yoga teacher. Upon returning to NYC, he discovered Dharma Yoga and has been hooked. Though Jerome grew up in NY, he had to go to India to come back and see Sri Dharma with clear eyes and to hear the truth that is Dharma Yoga. Jerome is also a Middle Eastern style percussionist and holistic nutritionist

Jerome Burdi is a Brooklyn native who discovered yoga during a shamanic retreat in Brazil in 2010. Since then, he’s been enveloped by the path of the yogi. He left his job as a newspaper journalist to go to Rishikesh, India, and become a yoga teacher. Upon returning to NYC, he discovered Dharma Yoga and has been hooked. Though Jerome grew up in NY, he had to go to India to come back and see Sri Dharma with clear eyes and to hear the truth that is Dharma Yoga.
Jerome is also a Middle Eastern style percussionist and holistic nutritionist
 

Have Your Sweetness Without the Guilt: Vegan Hot Chocolate Chai

By Sarah Eve Cardell

Do you sense the amazing energy of the New Year? I know I am. Creative juices flowing, rejuvenated desires to deepen my yoga practice, reconnecting with old friends…this year is already feeling magical.

The beginning of the year is a perfect time to renew, recharge, and evaluate all that you are and aspire to be.

As the holidays have come to an end, perhaps it is time to evaluate your physical health and diet. Are you getting sufficient exercise, sleep, and nourishing food?

The best way to stay balanced and well is to start with a healthy diet. It is nearly impossible to feel good without fueling your body well.

In the words of Sri Dharma Mittra, “If you eat dead, toasted, fried, or frozen food, you will feel dead, toasted, fried, and frozen.”

Instead of waiting until the spring (or even bikini season) to take the time to treat your body with love and respect, why not start now?

I have created a delicious hot chocolate chai recipe to keep you feeling warm inside and out. This hot chocolate chai is deliciously creamy, low in sugar and calories.

Traditional hot chocolate generally has 300-500 calories per cup and is loaded with sugar and fat. A comparable 16 ounces (grande) cup of hot chocolate at Starbucks has 400 calories and 19 grams of fat. Eeek!

This hot chocolate chai is low in fat and has only 100 calories. And no refined sugar.

Hot Chocolate Chai
Gluten-free • Vegan • Soy-free
Makes 1 serving

Ingredients:
1 cup unsweetened almond milk
1⁄4 tsp. organic vanilla extract
1⁄4 tsp. ground cardamom
1⁄4 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 tbsp. raw cacao powder
2 tsp. coconut sugar (or to taste)
A pinch of Himalayan salt & black pepper (optional for spicier chai)

Directions:
1. Place all ingredients in a small saucepan.
2. Stir continuously on medium heat until bubbles begin to form and all ingredients are blended uniformly.
3. Pour into your favorite mug and enjoy!

 

Sarah Eve Cardell 2-9Sarah Eve Cardell is the culinary shaman, making magic in the kitchen and healing from the heart. She completed her 200 and 500-hour yoga teacher trainings with Sri Dharma Mittra, who deeply inspired her path to become a vegan chef. Combined with her shamanic studies, a student of the late Ipupiara a Makunaiman of the Ure-e-wau-wau Amazonian tribe, she uses the traditional wisdom from the yogic and shamanic paths to share modern day wellness. Sarah offers vegan and gluten-free cooking classes and catering up to 150 people. Whether in yoga classes, healing workshops and private sessions, or in the kitchen, she assists in creating a safe space in which you can heal you!  www.sarahevecardell.com

 

10 SuperStar Superfoods as featured in LA Yoga Magazine

By Rainbeau Mars

Want to feel younger, healthier and bring your gifts to the world?  The answer is: begin within. Aside from bulking up with herbal and protein supplements, salads, fresh juice and smoothies, we can “Let thy medicine be thy food” by utilizing superfoods to get more nutrient bang for our caloric buck. Though there is an abundant variety around the world, some superfoods can be easily grown in our own backyards. Notice the SuperStar effects on your health when you stock up with these powerhouse favorites in my family’s kitchen.

1.     Cacao – raw chocolate
2.     Chia
3.     Avocados
4.     Kale (and the other dark leafy greens)
5.     Seaweed
6.     Sea Salt
7.     Raw Organic Honey
8.     Lemons
9.     Olive Oil
10.  Garlic

1. Cacao – raw chocolate

Edible, beautifying bliss, cacao is the bean that chocolate is made from. In its raw state, it contains more antioxidant flavonoids than red wine, green tea, or blueberries, making cacao a delicious way to support the immune system, brain and a healthy heart. Have fun incorporating this superfood into your smoothies, desserts, and other compatible recipes.

LIVE CHOCOLATE PUDDING

INGREDIENTS

fresh meat of 1 Thai coconut
1 avocado
3 to 4 dates (soaked and pits removed)
2 to 3 tablespoons cacao powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla powder
pinch of Celtic sea salt
1 teaspoon chia seeds

DIRECTIONS

Combine all ingredients and blend until creamy smooth.

2. Chiachia

Chia seeds are an ancient miracle food that was a staple for the Aztecs. A small serving goes a long way, and the plant grows very quickly (just think of those ch-ch-chia pets) making it a sustainable resource. Chia is rich in omega-3 fatty acids, extraordinarily high in antioxidants, and it is a demulcent (referring to the way it gels up) which helps to strengthen body tissue, reduce inflammation, and aid in healing. One of my favorite ways to eat them is by soaking chia seeds with cinnamon, a little nutmeg, vanilla, fresh almond milk, and a touch of salt and raw honey for breakfast or as a delicious afternoon dessert snack. My daughter likes this too and has her own, simpler version. Often times, both she and my husband, Michael, grab a Mama Chia and go.

CHIA PUDDING

INGREDIENTS

3 cups chia seeds
6 cups pure water
3 to 4 tablespoons maple syrup
cinnamon to taste (optional)
clove to taste (optional)
nutmeg to taste (optional)
½ chopped apple
½ cup chopped strawberries
½ cup blueberries

DIRECTIONS

1.     Put the chia seeds in a bowl and soak. It takes about 10 minutes for the chia to absorb all the water, but leaving the water and chia to soak overnight is okay. Soaked chia alone is good for up to 2 weeks

2.     When the chia is gelatinous, add the chopped fruit and any desired flavorings (sweetener, spices, fruit, etc.). Mix well and serve!

Note: In general, soak chia seeds in 9 to 12 times their volume of water. You can also make chia as a savory, salty, or spicy type of porridge. But the best taste is sweet. You can also try it with cinnamon extract, chai spices, or cacao nibs.

3. Avocadosavocado

Avocados are a great source of digestible protein and balanced fats. Eating avocados can actually help to shed unwanted weight because they feed your body with the healthy fats it craves for optimal metabolism and brain function. Avocados nourish the skin by helping to maintain and rebuild collagen, and are also great for satisfying PMS-related cravings. Eating avocados targets the health and function of the womb and cervix of the female—it even looks just like these organs. Research shows that eating one avocado a week can balance hormones, shed unwanted weight, and prevent cervical cancers. How profound is this fact: It takes exactly nine months to grow an avocado from blossom to ripened fruit.

MEXICALI SOUP

INGREDIENTS

2 to 3 celery stalks
1 to 2 avocados
1 ripe tomato
corn from one cob
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon cumin
1 dash of cayenne, chili powder and/or paprika
Celtic sea salt to taste
handful of chopped cilantro leaves (optional)
2 cups of pure water, slightly warmed

DIRECTIONS

1.     Place all these ingredients in the food processor and pulse until blended but still with texture and chunks.

2.     Spice to your liking and enjoy!

4. Kale (and other dark leafy greens)

Kale is a mainstay for my family, and it’s always a hit with my daughter and her friends! This alkaline and slightly bitter green leafy vegetable is nutrient dense and a versatile food in the kitchen, lending itself well to salads, soups, smoothies, green juice, stir-fries, or steamed vegetable entries. Kale is 45 percent protein based on the total calorie content, and contains folate, which supports healthy cell growth and nourishes hair, skin, and nails.

When using greens like kale, you will want to break down the plant fibers by massaging the greens with lemon, olive oil, and salt to make them more digestible. Kale is listed as one of “the dirty dozen,” according to reports published by the Environmental Working Group, meaning that it is more likely to be sprayed with chemicals and pesticides by growers and should always be bought organic.

EASY KALE SALAD

INGREDIENTS

1 avocado
1 bunch kale
½ lemon
1 tablespoon olive oil
pinch Celtic sea salt

DIRECTIONS

1.     Chop the avocado and kale into bite-sized pieces and place in mixing bowl.

2.     Drizzle with lemon juice, olive oil, and sea salt, then massage until thoroughly marinated. Bon appétit!

Option: Add tomatoes and your favorite herbs. Toss in some hemp seeds for added protein.

KALE CHIPS

INGREDIENTS

2 cups kale, de-stemmed
¼ cup raw cashews
1 tablespoon coconut oil
1 teaspoon curry powder
1 teaspoon Celtic sea salt
1 tablespoon nutritional yeast

DIRECTIONS

1.     In a food processor, mix all ingredients except the kale.

2.     Rub the mix into kale and lay out to dehydrate in the dehydrator at 105° F.

5. Seaweed

Seaweeds, such as kelp, nori, arame, irish moss, or dulse are a nutrient-packed addition to soups and salads.  Naturally enriched with all 98 essential minerals from the sea, including silica and magnesium, seaweed nourishes the kidneys, hair, skin and nails, and like avocados and olives, is a healthy source of the fatty acids that maintain and rebuild collagen. Seaweed is also 5 to 30 percent protein based on the total calorie content (depending on type). So next time you’re craving salt, instead of reaching for a bag of potato chips, eat more high-mineral foods such as seaweeds.

I’d like to mention that there has been some controversy lately about consuming seaweeds and other foods from the ocean due to such modern ecological disasters as Fukushima and the Gulf Oil Spill. While these concerns have their merits, it’s also valid that seaweeds are revered for their ability to assist the thyroid in detoxing from radiation and other poisons, due to its high levels of iodine. However, as a precaution you may prefer to purchase seaweed from more protected sources, such as products from Maine.

MAGICAL MERMAID SOUP

INGREDIENTS

3 cups coconut water or pure water
2 tablespoons coconut oil
¼ cup dulse or kelp seaweed
¼ cup nori, shredded
¼ daikon, shredded
pinch of Celtic sea salt (optional)
1 teaspoon miso (recommended brand:
Shaman Shack Herbs Sea Clear, with fermented kelp and chlorella)

DIRECTIONS

1.     In blender, combine coconut water, coconut oil, miso, and dulse or kelp. Blend until smooth.

2.     Stir in shredded nori and daikon and a pinch of salt and serve.

6. Sea Salt

When cooking, and especially sautéing, I always use dried herbs with a pinch of Celtic sea salt or Himalayan pink salt to season the food. It is a pure source of the 98 essential minerals that is easily assimilated into fuel for your body in the form of electrolytes. For hydration, put a pinch of Celtic sea salt into your water, perhaps even with some lemon juice and raw organic honey as a nourishing replacement for artificially colored and sweetened sports drinks. Something to consider is that when a patient is first admitted to a hospital, they are almost always first given an IV, which is essentially salt water. If used as a first response in the case of illness or injury, why not utilize sea salt as a daily dose of preventative medicine.

RAW POPCORNpopcorn-300x210

This easy recipe is proof that living foods are fun! The popcorn does not have to be dehydrated to be enjoyed and often is eaten before the job is done anyway.

INGREDIENTS

1 head cauliflower
½ cup nutritional yeast
¼ cup olive oil
pinch of Celtic sea salt

DIRECTIONS

1.     Chop the cauliflower florets into small popcorn-sized bits and put them in a bowl.

2.     Add the nutritional yeast, salt, and oil to the bowl and cover the cauliflower completely with the mixture.

3.     Option: You can dehydrate the cauliflower for up to 4 hours or longer for a more distinct popcorn texture and taste.

7. Raw Organic Honey

Raw organic honey has a myriad of health benefits. In addition to being a mineral rich substitute for sugar and sweeteners that are highly processed and weakens the immune system, honey in its raw state is also anti-bacterial, anti-viral, and anti-fungal and can either be consumed or used topically. A potent source of antioxidants and enzymes, raw honey actually boosts immunity and helps to stabilize blood sugar levels when used in moderation. It also contains trace amounts of protein, vitamin c, calcium and iron, and fuels us with simple sugars and starches the body can recognize.

The best part of getting your honey organic and raw, is that in addition to preserving all the nutritious goodness, you are also supporting farmers who harvest their honey in the most humane practices possible and actually support the bee population and well-being, as opposed to some conventional farmers whose disregard as led us to our present plight of the disappearing bees.

BANANA SANDWICH

INGREDIENTS

2 slices of gluten-free or sprouted grain bread, or flax cracker
½ banana (sliced)
1-2 tbsp nut butter of your choice, almond, peanut, cashew, or tahini
1-2 tbsp raw organic honey
1-2 tbsp coconut oil (optional)

DIRECTIONS

1.     Toast your bread slices and spread on coconut oil, nut butter, and honey

2.     Thinly slice the banana in rounds and evenly spread between slices.

21DSClemon8. Lemons

Lemons are a useful way to “cook” raw/living foods without adding heat. When you marinate foods in lemon juice, they begin to oxidize and break down, making them easier to assimilate and digest. Foods may be acidic in composition, like lemons, but it is the food’s effect on the body when it is metabolized that determines whether it is labeled acid or alkaline. In the case of lemons and other citrus fruits, these foods are actually quite alkalizing, although when they are pasteurized they have an acidic effect. Fresh lemons being a sour food also lend much needed contrast to the habitual sweet and salty tastes, and when used in juice and smoothies can have a wonderful detox effect. Add lemons to your morning regimen in the form of a Lemon Liver Tonic, by adding lemon juice to pure water, optionally with raw honey and cayenne. A happy liver is one of the great pathways to beauty, so make lemons your best friends and have them stocked, but make sure to brush your teeth after consuming them because lemons are strong.

LEMONADE

INGREDIENTS

2 tablespoons raw honey
4 cups pure water
6 lemons, limes, orange, or grapefruit

DIRECTIONS

1.     Blend all together in a blender.

2.     Garnish with mint sprigs. (Serves 2)

9. Olive Oil

If you’re feeling hungry as you transition to a healthier nutrition regimen, be sure to eat as many fruits and veggies as you want and get as much liquid fat as possible. Organic extra virgin olive oil is nutritious, hosting beneficial fatty acids, antioxidants, and vitamins E and K. Being anti-inflammatory, olive oil is also shown to help reduce the risk of some chronic diseases by lowering blood pressure and cholesterol and preventing unwanted blood clotting.

Olive oil is one of the most volatile oils and is best stored in a dark glass bottle away from heat, and should never be used as a cooking oil. Instead, olive oil can be used in fresh, raw meals or added to a dish as a final step in its preparation.

OLIVE PESTO

Serve over vegetable pasta or on dehydrated crackers.

INGREDIENTS

½ cup pitted, sun-cured black olives
¼ cup basil
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
½ teaspoon chili powder

DIRECTIONS

Combine all ingredients in a blender or a food processor and puree. Makes 2 servings.

10. Garlic

Affectionately called “the stinking rose,” garlic is an amazing nutritional powerhouse that is rich in antioxidants and sulfur-compounds which support the immune system. Garlic could be your first line of defense during cold-weather flu seasons and has many wonderful medicinal properties. According to Ayurveda, it is a bit stimulating (called rajasic in Sanskrit) and can be too strong for everyday use.  A great source of manganese, selenium, vitamins B6 and C, in its raw state, garlic is anti-bacterial, anti-fungal and anti-inflammatory, supporting the respiratory and circulatory systems by helping to lower blood pressure and cholesterol. It is also a very thermogenic herb, cultivating our internal heat and metabolism.

RAW COOLING GAZPACHO

INGREDIENTS

1 whole tomato, chopped
1 whole cucumber, chopped (if organic, keep the skin on; it’s a beauty food!)
2 to 3 tablespoons olive oil
1 clove of garlic
1 teaspoon Celtic sea salt
1 bunch of cilantro or basil
1 cup pure water
juice of half a lemon

DIRECTIONS

Put everything in the food processor and pulse until it combines. Go slowly to ensure that your mixture remains somewhat whole and not overly blended.

No matter what a person’s present daily eating habits, start including any or all of these 10 vital foods to experience a myriad of benefits both physically and spiritually. When transitioning, think about thriving and nourishing rather than dieting or withholding. As we are part of the solution and creating actions that are part of the healing of ourselves and the planets, we begin to shine with radiance.

 

21DSCstrawberryEver since her birth in a tepee under a double rainbow, Rainbeau Mars has helped inspire others on their journey to a greener, healthier way of life. The renowned yogi (and former face of Adidas) has sold more than 2 million yoga DVD’s worldwide. Her new book the 21 Day Superstar Cleanse outlines her signature zero-calorie-restriction vegan cleansetaking readers on an adventure of food, fun, fitness, and personal awakening! Featuring more than 75 recipes, positive affirmations, yoga poses, and a foreword by Woody Harrelson, the tome has already been endorsed by celebrities including Josie Maran & James Cameron. Mars has also previously shared her unique health insights on top tier press outlets including Good Morning America, E! News, and more.

 

Photo Credits for all images belong to Jeff Skeirik (aka Rawtographer)

Sharing Spiritual Knowledge is the Highest Charity

By Ivy Mok

Sri Dharma Mittra’s love was emitting to me long before the Life of a Yogi 500-hour teacher training. Back in 2009, knowing nothing about Dharma Yoga, I was attracted to a flyer of Andrei Ram’s Dharma Yoga workshop in Hong Kong. I met Andrei and he gave me a postcard with photos of Sri Dharma in beautiful asanas. I said to myself, “This is the teacher I have to follow.”

The rest of the story is simple: Life of a Yogi 200-hour teacher training in 2010, several workshops with Andrei Ram — a senior disciple of Sri Dharma’s and a mentor in the teacher training — and finally the 500-hour training in 2014.

I practiced asanas because I felt good afterwards, emotionally. I was weak, stiff, shy, and far from adequate. Yoga somehow made me feel better with my physical self. I wanted to learn yoga beyond the asanas. I did not search for other teachers because I just knew right things would come.

Then, Andrei appeared. Then, Sri Dharma Mittra.

“Yoga without yama is like spaghetti without sauce,” Sri Dharma says.

Although he puts emphasis on yamas and niyamas, Sri Dharma never let the asanas fall by the wayside. Everyone who’s heard of Sri Dharma thinks about the breath-taking poses. Why would a teacher with such a strong asana practice teach students to focus on yamas (moral codes) instead of asana? This is quite unconventional compared to teachers out there nowadays.

I kept Sri Dharma’s words in my heart and started to be more serious about my asana practice. I practiced constantly and I saw some changes: The stronger asana practice I had, the stronger will power I attained; the more asana practice, the subtler perception, the more equanimity.

I built a better relationship with my physical being and I felt more of the benefits that yoga has to offer on my mental and even spiritual planes.

Sri Dharma always says: “The best job is being a yoga teacher.”

I could not quite connect with that idea initially. I started teaching yoga in 2009. I was mediocre in asana practice and I was teaching in a studio where I usually practiced. It was quite embarrassing for me going to the same classroom, facing more than 40 students – who were also my classmates. The peer pressure thing, the shy attitude, was indeed the work of ego.

Sri Dharma always asks us to “give up your ego, tune your mind to the higher mind.”

This has made an imprint in my heart. It’s my daily prayer. The constant practice and the practice on teaching actually removed my ego. I never expected it could be done via asana practice. When I now go to teach, I forget about myself. I just share what I learned from Sri Dharma’s yoga lineage. With this, I truly feel what Sri Dharma says, “sharing spiritual knowledge is the highest charity and the best thing to do.”

Without expectation, I am blessed to be able to learn and to be able to share what I learned.

 

IvyMokA physiotherapist based in Hong Kong, Ivy learned yoga as a remedy for lost souls in a hectic city. She is blessed to quickly find her lineage in yoga despite living on another side of the world from her beloved guru, Sri Dharma Mittra. Constantly a student on all sorts of therapeutic modalities (visceral manipulation, craniosacral therapy), she finds the ultimate medicine for all sorts of ailments is “self-realization.” Ivy is always ready to spread whatever she learned to her students and patients.